The Samsung 550P7C (or Samsung NP550P7C-S02UK, to give our sample its full model name) makes no bones about being a performance beast, at least where its CPU is concerned. There’s a quad-core Intel ‘Ivy Bridge’ Core i7-3610QM that runs at 2.3GHz but can turbo clock up to 3.3GHz and supports up to eight virtual cores through hyper-threading.
It will happily munch its way through whatever you’d care to throw at it, whether it’s intensive multi-tasking or video editing. The processor is backed by a reasonably generous 6GB of RAM, and though we wouldn’t have minded seeing 8GB here, it should again be adequate for most power users.
Storage is our first minor let-down. Though 1TB of hard drive is nearly as good as it gets in terms of capacity, it’s only a 5,400rpm drive and without hybrid SSD cache to speed up common operations and boot times, and this shows in our performance results too.
At least this is a laptop you can open up yourself, so you could always upgrade to a solid state drive at a later date without voiding your warranty – Samsung even provides instructions on how to do this and a mSATA to SATA adapter cable in the box, which is a really nice touch.
Decent gaming is definitely a possibility on this Samsung Series 5 550P7C, thanks to its relatively powerful Nvidia GeForce GT 650M graphics card with 2GB of RAM.
TrackMania Nations Forever (average fps, 720p, Medium Detail)
S.T.A.L.K.E.R: Call of Pripyat (average fps, 720p, Medium Detail)
Just for reference, that’s the same chip found in the Eurocom Monster gaming laptop, and it definitely puts this Samsung into the ‘gaming class’ of portable machines. For example, even maximum settings on Stalker at the screen’s native 1,600 x 900 res didn’t faze the 550P7C.
(40 percent screen brightness, wireless radios disabled, mixed productivity)
It’s not unusual for large, desktop-replacement laptops to suffer from poor battery life, and unfortunately this particular Series 5 conforms to that norm. Mind you, for its size and power a solid three hours isn’t too shabby, but keep in mind that with wireless turned on and when using the 550P7C’s dedicated graphics, this will go down. At least its quick charging means you won’t need to leave it plugged in too long.
As mentioned, the Samsung 550P7C can be found for £735 with the £100 cashback Samsung is offering at the moment. Realistically, it doesn’t have much brand-name competition at this discounted price. Even for £835 it’s still a good buy, if not quite the bargain it currently is.
Just to give a bit of context, a comparable Dell Inspiron 17R Special Edition will set you back nearly £900… Don’t be fooled by otherwise similarly specced machines with GeForce 560M or 630M cards either, as these are vastly inferior for gaming.
If gaming is not important to you then there are plenty of alternatives, and if you don’t mind going a little smaller there’s always the delectable Samsung Series 7 Chronos. However, for this particular mix the 550P7C is priced very well.
If you’re after an unapologetic desktop replacement that can handle anything from video decoding to gaming, Samsung’s Series 5 550P7C is a great buy. This powerful 17-inch laptop might have a few shortcomings, but its looks, usability, performance and excellent value for money more than make up for them. Gamers will be especially pleased with the Nvidia GeForce GT 650M graphics, which lets you play many titles at full settings on the Samsung 550P7C’s 1,600 x 900 screen.
Score in detail
Screen Quality 7
Battery Life 5