Samsung rebranded its laptop range recently, turning 'Series' products into 'Ativ'. The Samsung Series 7 Chronos we reviewed before cost under £600 but the Ativ Book 8 is priced at more than double this. It will set you back a cool £1350 so read on to find out if this laptop is now worth the big bucks. (See all high-end laptop reviews.)
Samsung Ativ Book 8: What's changed?
So the Series 7 Chronos has morphed into the Ativ Book 8, but what's changed other than the name? Well the laptop looks extremely similar in terms of style and still runs Windows 8, but there are some important changes that help explain the price hike. (See also: what's the best high-end laptop?)
The Chronos model we reviewed earlier this year didn't have a touchscreen but the Ativ Book 8 does. Whether this is an upgrade or not is another matter; we rarely use the touch facility on a laptop. (Take a look at our review of the Samsung Ativ Book 9 Plus too.)
A potentially better improvement is that screen resolution is now a full-HD 1920 x 1080 pixels – for many, a more suitable spec for a 15.6in screen size. Viewing angles are excellent but the glossy surface counteracts this somewhat – a shame considering the older model had a nice non-reflective matt finish. But shiny is something nearly unavoidable for touchscreens.
You might assume that the Ativ Book 8 comes with the latest fourth-generation Intel Haswell processor. However, it has a third-generation Ivy Bridge chip - in this case a Core i7-3635QM which is clocked at 2.4GHz (3.4GHz with Turbo). There's 8GB of DDR3 1600MHz RAM and a large 1TB 5400rpm hard drive.
The Ativ Book 8 is a still a workhorse laptop and could make a good desktop replacement. It scores a mighty 4458 points in PCMark 7. While these scores are impressive, the Ivy Bridge chip is a negative point when it comes to battery life.
The Chronos range has once exhibited good battery life and Samsung touts a total of 10.5 hours for this Ativ Book 8. In our usual video playback over Wi-Fi test the laptop lasted just 5 hours and 50 minutes. We were hoping for better, especially since it now packs a larger 91Wh battery.
An AMD Radeon HD 8870M graphics card with 2GB GDDR5 of memory means that it's more than capable of gaming. The Ativ Book 8 managed an impressive framerate of 62 fps in Stalker: Call of Pripyat with a 720p resolution. At the laptop's native 1080p, the performance only dropped to 54 fps.
The older model also had a slot-load DVD optical drive; the Ativ Book 8 does not. You might think this is because Samsung has trimmed the laptop down so it no longer fits, but we've measured it – it's the same 24mm thick chassis.
So what's it got instead? The answer is a full-size VGA port which doesn't require an adaptor and an additional USB 2.0 port. That's on top of the HDMI, 2x USB 3.0, SDXC card slot, gigabit ethernet and combined mic and headphone socket.
Unchanged is the fact that this laptop is in some ways a joy to use with a nicely designed keyboard with separate number pad. The trackpad is very large and responds well to input. However, we found clicking the integrated mouse buttons would usually send the mouse pointer flying, an annoying hindrance to easy use.
Build quality is good with a nice brushed aluminium lid and keyboard surround while the underside remains plastic. It's hardly a very travel-friendly laptop at just over 2.5kg.