Joined: 15 May 2012
|Posted: Thu Aug 30, 2012 3:00 am Post subject: Lenovo 57Y6455
|Review Samsung Series 5 535U4C Notebook
Time to break new ground. That's what Samsung's engineers must have decided when they collaborated on the technical specs of the newest member of the Series 5. Until now, all variants of the series incorporated processors from Intel - and, if available - dedicated GPUs from Nvidia. Lenovo u410 Battery The Series 5 535U4C, on the other hand, is powered by AMD. At the core of the compact 14-inch system is the Trinity-CPU A6-4455 with the integrated graphics card AMD Radeon HD 7500G. Should additional performance be required, the notebook can utilize the dedicated (middle-tier) AMD Radeon HD 7550M, which supports DX11. Unlike AMD's Crossfire technology, the two cards don't work in parallel. LENOVO IdeaPad Z480AX Battery Depending on the demands, either one or the other cards is supposed to tackle the workload: the integrated card is used for simple tasks (and conserves power), the dedicated card comes into play when 3D power is required. AMD recently started calling their automatic graphics-switching "Enduro"; Nvidia's equivalent "Optimus" has been on the market for a while and works quite reliably.
LENOVO IdeaPad Z380 Battery Even though the 535U4C is not an Ultrabook, Samsung pretty much adheres to Intel's guidelines. The CPU is dual-core Ultra-Low-Voltage model with a clock speed of 2.1 to 2.6 GHz and has a TDP of 17 watts. Other essential specs: eight GB RAM, optical drive, non-glare display, and a fairly low weight of 1.84 kilogram (4.06 pounds).
In addition to our test model with AMD CPU, Samsung offers another 14-inch in the same series (530U4C) with a Intel Core i7-3517UM and eight GB of RAM. The MSRP of the notebook is 999 Euro. LENOVO IdeaPad Z480 Battery
The chassis of the Series 5 535U4C is very similar in style to the already reviewed Samsung 530U3B-A01DE. For more information, please take a look at the previous review. Differences compared to the 13.3-inch model are due to the slightly larger dimensions. The 535U4C is about 440 grams (0.97 pounds) heavier and now weighs in at 1840 grams (4.06 pounds) - still a comparatively low weight for a 14-inch notebook. LENOVO IdeaPad Z580 Battery The dimensions are 20 x 333 x 229.5 millimeter (0.79 x 13.11 x 9.04 inches). While the 535U4C is not an ultra-thin notebook, overall it is very compact, especially considering that Samsung included an optical drive.
As far as the materials and the construction are concerned, we don't have any complaints. In that aspect, the 14-inch model is just like its little brother. Build quality and appearance of the aluminum and fiberglass notebook are top-notch. Lenovo 0A36281 Unfortunately, Samsung did not improve the overall stiffness of the chassis. Hence both the display and the base unit of the 14-inch model lack torsional rigidity. In addition, the area above the keyboard is fairly soft and "gives" when pressure is applied.
We also thought that the single display hinge could be improved. Despite the fact that it is 23 cm (9.06 inches) long, it doesn't do a very good job holding the display in place. Even light touches cause the display to bounce for several seconds. In addition, the display can't be tilted backwards more than 135 degrees.
Lenovo 0A36282 The type, number, and position of the ports are almost identical to the 13.3-inch model. The most significant change is the inclusion of an optical drive on the right hand side towards the back. In addition, the VGA port is now full-sized. The smaller models in the series require an adapter cable to hook up a display - and that cable is not included in the box of the most recent generation. The LAN port has a hinged drop-down element so the port is only open when a RJ45 cable is plugged in. This detail leads to lower overall height of the port. The location of the ports is quite user friendly, save for USB 2.0 port on the right side of the chassis. Lenovo 0A36283 This port (which frequently will be used to plug in an external mouse) is at the height of the palm rest and has the potential to clutter the desk a little. There are no ports at the back and front of the notebook. HDMI, headphone jack, and Kensington lock slot complete the generous port selection.
The AMD Ultra-Low-Voltage Trinity-APU is also used in much smaller notebooks. Consequently, the cooling system of the Samsung Series 5 535U4C should have no issues dealing with the thermal output of the APU. Lenovo 42T4863 As expected, the temperatures we encountered were no reason for concern. During normal use, when both the processor and the graphics card are mostly at idle, the temperature on the top never increased above 38 degrees Celsius (100.4 degrees Fahrenheit).The warmest spot is near the power jack. At the bottom in that location we measured 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) - perfectly OK still to have the notebook sitting on the lap. We also noticed that the palm rest is very cool on the right side but heats up a bit towards the middle and especially the left side. 34 degrees Celsius (93.2 degrees Fahrenheit) are still quite acceptable. Lenovo 42Y4864
Under full load (during the stress test with FurMark and Prime95), the temperature of the base unit increases by quite a bit. The hot spot is again the area near the power jack. 50 degrees Celsius (122 degrees Fahrenheit) is a little too hot for our taste. The palm rest, however, is barely warmer than during idle.
Lenovo 42T4867 Processor and graphics card get a lot warmer. During the stress test the AMD A6-4455M reaches temperatures of 89.5 degrees Celsius (193.1 degrees Fahrenheit). The result is throttling to below the base frequency of 2.1 GHz - down to 1.5 GHz. The processor bounces back quickly though and overclocks to 2.7 GHz (HWiNFO64). The integrated AMD Radeon HD 7550M heats up to 81 degrees Celsius (177.8 degrees Fahrenheit) and throttles back accordingly. The frequency range adjusts from 150 to 900 MHz. This temporary throttling does not decrease the overall performance of Series 5 535U4C. We could not discern any difference while playing games or running the 3DMark06 benchmark test while the laptop was heated up. Lenovo 42Y4868
Despite the fact that the system features a dedicated graphics card and a larger display, Samsung decided to use the same battery that the 13.3-inch model ships with. The lithium polymer battery has a capacity of 45 Wh and is not replaceable by the user. Looking at the result of our tests, we understand why Samsung decided to not switch to a larger battery (even though it would have been beneficial). Lenovo 42T4873 Compared to the 13.3-inch Series 5 530U3C-A01DE, power consumption of our test system is up only slightly during idle. 7.8 to 12.5 watts are certainly not unreasonable. We expect about 10 watts during every-day use. During CPU and GPU intensive tasks, power consumption goes up of course - especially because of the dedicated graphics card. We measured a maximum value of 38.5 watts - certainly quite acceptable. All in all, the Samsung Series 5 535U4C is quite energy efficient.
Lenovo 42Y4874 Even though the system isn't very power hungry, overall battery life is not particularly great since the battery is quite small. When we checked the maximum run time using the Battery Eater Reader's test, we got slightly more than eight hours. The minimum battery life (established with the Classic test) is quite decent at 01:48 hours though. Since both of those measurements are not that useful to determine every-day performance, we ran our WLAN surfing test. With brightness set to 150 cd/m2, it took four and a half hours before the system shut down. This is not that impressive - we would have expected at least five hours for a notebook in this category. Lenovo 42T4901
The system is well suited for DVD playback. The Samsung Series 5 5354U4C lasted for well over three hours - long enough even for two movies back to back.
Lenovo 42T4902 With the nod towards the AMD Trinity platform, Samsung incorporates a slightly less powerful architecture than the Intel architecture used in the smaller 13.3-inch models. Since the 535U4C doesn't have Intel components, it can't be called an Ultrabook anymore either. The AMD A6-4455M has clock speeds from 2.1 to 2.6 GHz and utilizes two Piledriver cores. Although the CPU is definitely not a speed demon, the notebook should work out well as a mobile companion - as long as the tasks are not tooCPU intensive. The eight GB DDR3 SDRAM are also more than adequate. Lenovo 42Y4940
More interesting than the CPU with its integrated graphics card AMD Radeon HD 7500G is the (also installed) AMD Radeon HD 7550M. This middle-tier GPU promises plenty of 3D muscle.
We already talked about the CPU - what's missing is a discussion of its performance. Lenovo 45N1024 We use the well-known tools Cinebench R10 und R11.5 and other benchmark tests to determine CPU performance. Examples are the single-thread test SuperPi, the multi-thread test wPrime, and the tests WinRAR and TrueCrypt (which simulate "real" conditions encountered during daily use). The AMD A6-4455M supports overclocking under load and when temperature permits. The frequency range is between 2.1 and 2.6 GHz. During our tests, the technology (called Turbo Core 3.0) worked without issues. Lenovo 45N1025
Both Cinebench programs confirm the suspicion that the AMD A6-4455M is no performance powerhouse. During rendering with one core (Cinebench R10 32bit), the Series 5 535U4C only managed to reach 1943 points. This is about half of what the Apple MacBook Air (with Intel Core i5-3427U) is capable of - and its CPU is also dual-core and features the same TDP of 17 watts. The performance of the Intel processor also scales better when both cores are used. The multi-thread rendering test shows a factor of 2.1 for Intel, whereas the AMD CPU in the Samsung only manages a factor of 1.34 when both Piledriver cores are working. Lenovo 0A36285 This increase is exactly the same as the step from Cinebench R10 32bit to 64bit. The reason for the unimpressive scaling? The Trinity architecture. Technically, the cores are not separate. Rather, the CPU is comprised of two integer cores sharing a FPU unit and the cache.
The prime number tests wPrime and SuperPI also confirm the somewhat lackluster performance of the AMD CPU. The A6-4455M in the Samsung 535U4 scores about the same as the AMD A6-3400M - which sports a core frequency of only 1.4 GHz and dates back to the Llano-era. In the multi-thread test wPrime, the Trinity CPU scores even lower and performs roughly like the AMD E-450. Lenovo 0A36286
What is true for the processor, can also be said about the system performance: it's not exactly overwhelming. To evaluate the performance, we use PCMark 7 and PCMark Vantage. Unfortunately, PC Mark 7 always got stuck in an endless loop in the section "Video Playback" - so we don't have any results here. The 3947 points our test system scored in the PCMark Vantage test puts its performance between the Sony Vaio VPC-EH3C0E/W (Intel Pentium B960; Intel HD Graphics) and the Toshiba Satellite L755D-14U (AMD A6-3420M; AMD Radeon HD 6520G + HD 7450M Dual Graphics). Lenovo 42T4877 Both of those models are based on the respective previous generation architecture: the Sony has a Sandy Bridge and the Toshiba a Llano based processor.
Overall system performance is unimpressive. The culprit could be the choice of hardware components on one, and the driver model and controller architectures on the other side. A slow hard drive is also frequently one of the main bottlenecks.
Lenovo 42T4878 After the disappointing performance during the 3DMark tests, we didn't expect too much as far as the gaming performance of the Samsung Series 5 535U4C is concerned. To get an idea how the dedicated card compares to the integrated graphics, we ran our benchmarks for each GPU. Our database only lists the performance of the (more powerful) dedicated graphics card.
Lenovo S200 In every test, the AMD Radeon HD 7550M was superior to the integrated HD 7500G. The difference in performance was quite significant at times. Running Batman: Arkham City using the HD 7550M, we recorded 41 fps using low and 34 fps using medium details - frame rates high enough for decent performance without any stuttering. For the 7500G, we measured 32 and 26 fps, respectively - already a bit too low. Anno 2070 had the dedicated card pull ahead even further. Details should be set to low for both graphic options. We also recommend the lowest settings for F1 2011. Call of Duty: Black Ops, on the other hand, runs OK with the 7550M set to medium details; the internal graphics card is operating near its limit here at 22 fps. Lenovo 121001071
We then compared the results of various other notebooks playing Anno 2070 to our test system and were able to confirm what we saw during the 3DMark tests: the uninspiring performance of the 535U4C translates directly to sub-par gaming performance. Systems with a (theoretically weaker) GeForce 610M bested the Samsung by a fair margin. Even an Intel HD Graphics 4000 is able to keep up with the dedicated AMD Radeon HD 7550M in this 14-inch notebook. The results are simply very disappointing. The dedicated graphics card isn't beneficial here, especially considering that it increases the system price and is both more power hungry to boot. Lenovo 121001091
For our final verdict, we look at all the positive aspects of the Series 5 535U4C and work our way to the flaws. Let's start with the chassis. Build quality is superb, and the materials used (aluminum and fiberglass) would even look at home on a much more expensive notebook. The 14-inch notebook is visually appealing and timeless. Unfortunately, the system is not quite as sturdy as we would like. Lenovo 121001094
As far as the port selection is concerned, the Samsung comes well equipped. Even full-sized LAN and VGA ports are included. The inclusion of a DVD-RW drive makes the Series 5 535U4C a perfect all-round system. We also liked the keyboard and the touchpad - with a few reservations. Lenovo 121001096
The new model scores well as far as mobility is concerned. The weight is pretty low for a 14-inch system, the battery life OK. Since the display is both non-glare and bright, users can work outdoors away from any outlet for several hours. Although we appreciate the matte display and its impressive brightness, we do wish for better contrast and a better viewing angle stability. Lenovo 57Y6454
Another point of criticism is the sub-par power output. We knew we wouldn't get wowed by the performance of the Trinity CPU and the two graphics card in the first place - but both the processor and the graphics system disappoint and perform below expectations. The hard drive is also sluggish and slows the system down further. The notebook is suitable for gaming - as long as the games are set to low details. In theory, the AMD Radeon HD 7550M should be capable of much better performance. We suspect that the graphics switch-system Enduro and underdeveloped drivers are the culprit. Lenovo 57Y6455
So what is the bottom line? We think that the negative aspects overwhelm the positive ones and are therefore hard pressed to recommend the Samsung Series 5 535U4C. Both the driver model and the integration of the two graphic cards could use some improvement. An interesting alternative is the Samsung 530U4C, which features an Intel ULV CPU, a GT 620M GPU, and the more usable Optimus graphics-switching technology from Nvidia. Unfortunately that system costs about 200 Euro more.