The Samsung RF710 is an entertainment laptop with 17in screen and Blu-ray Disc drive, backed up with an Intel quad-core processor and two 500GB hard drives

Following our review of the Samsung RF510, we have its bigger brother – offering more than just two extra inches of screen space.

The RF510 is a 15.6in-screen entertainment-focused laptop at a sub-£800 price level. The Samsung RF710 here is available with the same Intel Core i5-460M processor; but we were loaned a top-spec version with a quad-core processor, namely, the Intel Core i7-720QM.

This processor bears a nominal speed of just 1.6GHz, although with a little automatic turbo-boosting means it can reach 2.8GHz for short bursts.

The slightly increased chassis size also allows more internal space, to fit not one but two hard-disk drives. With two 500GB 2.5in drives fitted, there’s a useful total of 1TB storage available.

Other specificatins are broadly the same, including an nVidia GeForce 330M graphics processor with 1GB of DDR3 memory. This allows the Samsung RF710 to comfortably play many modern Windows games.

The screen is ‘only’ 1600 x 900 pixel resolution, but with the help of the laptop’s HDMI port, you could pipe out the action to a full-HD 1920 x 1080 flat-panel television.

In our gaming tests, the Samsung RF710 could play FEAR at Maximum detail settings at a slick 68 frames per second.

Build quality of the Samsung RF710 is good, featuring a high-gloss black lid which opens to reveal a two-tone deck. The keyboard takes Scrabble-tile keys, black matt finished and comfortable for typing. The large size of the Samsung RF710 aptop means an extra number keypad is easily accomodated to its right.

The 90 x 55mm trackpad and its separate left/right click buttons are similarly comfortable to use.

We found the glossy LCD display typically intractable to use, although colour and contrast were judged good. Viewing angles were wide enough for more than one person to view the screen (although the less criticial below-axis angle was poor), which is important for a media centre such as this, likely to be viewed by more than one person at a time.

It’s the built-in Blu-ray drive that may attract just such a social gathering. As is typical of the format, Samsung has opted for a combo drive that will read and write various DVD discs, but only read BD media. In other words, the Samsung RF710’s Blu-ray drive is designed for enjoying high-definition films, rather than making them.

In our lab tests, the Samsung RF710 scored lower than the dual-core-equipped RF510. The WorldBench 6 score of 104 points is below the 112 points reaped by the 15.6in model, although this is not unusual since the benchmark test is based on typical Windows programs that do not fully take advantage of multi-core processing. So ultimately, here at least, 4 x 1.6GHz does not crunch numbers as quick as 2 x 2.53GHz.

But if you should elect to watch an HD film while chatting on Skype while rendering some Photoshop images while compressing video while scanning for Windows viruses, this quad-core processor may take the challenge in its stride better.

You wouldn’t want to be doing much of this when away from the mains power though. The Samsung RF710's combination of large display, powerful graphics, hot-running processor, two hard disks and a measly 48Wh battery mean that battery life is short.

In the MobileMark 2007 Productivity test, the Samsung RF710 could run for little over three hours (186 mins) before expiring.

NEXT PAGE: our expert verdict >>

Samsung RF710-S03UK: Specs

  • 1.6 GHz Intel Core i7-720QM
  • 17.3in (1600 x 900) LED-backlit glossy display
  • Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
  • nVidia GeForce GT 330M with 1GB memory
  • 2 x 500GB 2.5in SATA HDD
  • 6GB DDR3 RAM
  • Blu-ray ROM/DVD±RW drive
  • 2 x USB 3.0
  • 2 x USB 2.0
  • HDMI, VGA
  • SD card slot
  • 802.11b/g/n
  • gigabit ethernet
  • webcam
  • stereo speakers
  • headphone and audio in jacks
  • 48Wh removable lithium-ion battery
  • 416 x 276 x 32-38 mm
  • 3054g
  • 1.6 GHz Intel Core i7-720QM
  • 17.3in (1600 x 900) LED-backlit glossy display
  • Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
  • nVidia GeForce GT 330M with 1GB memory
  • 2 x 500GB 2.5in SATA HDD
  • 6GB DDR3 RAM
  • Blu-ray ROM/DVD±RW drive
  • 2 x USB 3.0
  • 2 x USB 2.0
  • HDMI, VGA
  • SD card slot
  • 802.11b/g/n
  • gigabit ethernet
  • webcam
  • stereo speakers
  • headphone and audio in jacks
  • 48Wh removable lithium-ion battery
  • 416 x 276 x 32-38 mm
  • 3054g

OUR VERDICT

The Samsung RF710 is not a cheap laptop at over £1100, but it is well specified and capable of good performance. The storage available and strong gaming potential bode well for home-entertainment use, although the value of the slower quad-core processor is less certain when more efficient dual-core versions are available.

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