Notebookcheck

Samsung Chromebook 2 (XE500C12) Notebook Review

Allen Ngo, 06/03/2015

Long, cool, and quiet. Compared to last year's model, the Samsung Chromebook 2 is largely the same in terms of features and appearance. However, the manufacturer has improved upon one key aspect that propels this updated model near the top of the Chromebook list.

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The original 11.6-inch Samsung Chromebook was released in 2012 and was one of the very first of its kind. It gave the core basics with added security and nothing more for just $200 USD. Now, Samsung has refreshed the series with the Chromebook 2, which unsurprisingly ups the overall quality without adding any frivolous features.

Our model today is the XE500C12 and is just one of four Chromebook 2 configurations available and the only configuration with an Intel Celeron CPU. Key major differences between the Chromebook 2 models and the first generation Chromebook model are detailed below. Otherwise, features such as USB, MicroSD reader, HDMI, battery capacity (30 Wh), and storage capacity (16 GB) are the same.

The Chromebook market has grown a bit bigger since its debut in 2011, so let's see how Samsung's second round compares to the current competitors.

Model XE303C12 XE500C12 XE503C12 XE503C12 XE503C32
CPU 1.7 GHz Exynos 5250 Dual 2.16 GHz Celeron N2840 1.9 GHz Exyno 5 Octa 5420 1.9 GHz Exyno 5 Octa 5420 2.0 GHz Exyno 5 Octa 5800
Display 11.6-inch 1366 x 768 11.6-inch 1366 x 768 11.6-inch 1366 x 768 11.6-inch 1366 x 768 13.3-inch 1920 x 1080
RAM 2 GB DDR3L 2 GB DDR3L 4 GB DDR3L 4 GB DDR3L 4 GB DDR3L
WLAN 802.11a/b/g/n 802.11a/b/g/n/ac 802.11a/b/g/n/ac 802.11a/b/g/n/ac 802.11a/b/g/n/ac
Samsung Chromebook XE500C12-K01US
Processor
Memory
2048 MB 
, DDR3L-1333
Display
11.6 inch 16:9, 1366x768 pixel, TN, glossy: no
Storage
16 GB eMMC Flash, 16 GB 
, 14.9 GB free
Connections
1 USB 2.0, 1 USB 3.0 / 3.1 Gen1, 1 HDMI, Audio Connections: 3.5 combo, Card Reader: MicroSD
Networking
Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 7260 (a/b/g/n/ac), Bluetooth 4.0
Size
height x width x depth (in mm): 16.8 x 289.6 x 204.7 ( = 0.66 x 11.4 x 8.06 in)
Battery
30 Wh Lithium-Polymer, 2-cell, 4080 mAh
Operating System
Google Chrome OS
Camera
Webcam: 720p
Additional features
Speakers: 2 W stereo, Keyboard: Chiclet, Keyboard Light: no, Wunderlist, Little Bridge, AirDroid, 12 Months Warranty
Weight
1.2 kg ( = 42.33 oz / 2.65 pounds), Power Supply: 200 g ( = 7.05 oz / 0.44 pounds)
Price
230 Euro

 

Case

Samsung advertises the Chromebook 2 as a notebook with a premium "leather-like" design. The outer lid is carefully textured to imitate that leather look down to the sewn edges and corners. While this looks excellent in pictures and product shots, the gray surface is still hard plastic and indicative of an inexpensive notebook. However, the new design is still an improvement over the smooth matte plastic of the original Samsung Chromebook and looks classier than its price and feel would otherwise suggest.

The rest of the notebook is smooth plastic all-around from the bottom panel to the hand rests and display bezel. Build quality is good for the price as surfaces feel rigid, though we can still observe moderate depressions on both the center of the keyboard and outer lid with applied pressure. Resistance to twisting is adequate as well with no major creaking issues. The lid is especially good in this regard as it looks and feels thicker than most displays on cheap or ultrathin notebooks. The hinges are equally strong at holding the display in place up to its maximum ~135 degree angle with no rocking when typing.

Compared to competing 11.6-inch Chromebooks, the Samsung Chromebook 2 is not significantly smaller or larger with the exception of the unusually thick Acer C720 and larger touchscreen-enabled Lenovo N20p. At about 1.2 kg, our Samsung comes out heavier than the HP Chromebook 11 by just over 100 grams.

Connectivity

Available ports include just the core basics with the notable full-size HDMI port. Competing Chromebooks may include the less common micro-HDMI port, such as the Lenovo N20p, while others like the HP Chromebook 11 may include no HDMI ports at all. We were able to mirror and extend our display to an external 1920 x 1200 resolution monitor with no issues.

There is no Kensington Lock here, however, nor is there a card reader for full-size SD cards.

Front: No connectivity
Front: No connectivity
Right: 3.5 mm audio, 1x USB 2.0
Right: 3.5 mm audio, 1x USB 2.0
Rear: No connectivity
Rear: No connectivity
Left: 1x USB 3.0, HDMI-out, MicroSD reader
Left: 1x USB 3.0, HDMI-out, MicroSD reader

Communication

With no RJ-45 in sight, the Chromebook 2 relies on wireless networks to make the most of Chrome OS. Luckily, the model comes standard with 802.11ac compatibility via an Intel dual-band 7260 half-mini PCIe module. More recent Chromebooks are beginning to carry the same Intel WiFi card for wireless-ac including the Acer Chromebook 11 and Lenovo N20p. We experienced no range or wireless issues when connecting to a standard home network.

It's a bit disappointing to see no SIM card slot on the Chromebook 2. Larger models like the HP Chromebook 14 have a SIM slot for improved versatility.

Security

As is standard on Chromebooks, all local data is automatically encrypted with keys stored in a dedicated TPM module.

Maintenance

The bottom panel requires a standard Philips screwdriver to pop open. It can still be difficult to remove as the panel must be pried open with a sharp edge, so there is still risk of damaging the notebook. Nonetheless, users won't find any expandability options as the RAM, half-mini PCIe WLAN card, CPU, and other critical components are soldered onto the board.

Accessories

There are no dedicated accessories for the Chromebook 2. Instead, Samsung offers generic USB-Ethernet dongles and portable mice.

Warranty

The standard one-year limited parts and labor warranty applies. Extended service plans for accidental coverage are available directly from Samsung for two years or three years total for $99 and $199, respectively.

Relatively easy to access internals
Relatively easy to access internals
Intel WLAN card is soldered onto the board
Intel WLAN card is soldered onto the board

Input Devices

Keyboard

The keyboard is the standard Chromebook fare with generally shallow plastic keys and relatively soft feedback similar to most Ultrabooks. However, the fact that the Chromebook layout requires fewer keys than standard Windows notebooks means that the individual keys here are larger and more comfortable to use despite the average tactile feedback.

Touchpad

The adequately sized touchpad is responsive and easy-to-use with no jumping cursors or other related issues. Multi-touch is supported for simple scrolling, though Chrome OS has yet to integrate pinch zooming.

The integrated mouse click itself provides satisfactory feedback and depth. To avoid the loud clicking sound, we found it easier to simply tap on the surface instead.

10 x 6 cm matte touchpad
10 x 6 cm matte touchpad
27.5 x 10.5 cm standard Chromebook keyboard
27.5 x 10.5 cm standard Chromebook keyboard
Half-sized arrow keys
Half-sized arrow keys

Display

The 11.6-inch matte panel provides an almost antiquated resolution of 1366 x 768 pixels. Contrast is average at best and the display backlight is only about 200 nits as advertised by Samsung and confirmed by our own measurements. Nonetheless, we can't fault the manufacturer for the unexceptional display as this is more or less similar to competing 11-inch Chromebooks in specifications and resolution. The HP Chromebook 11 in particular includes a much brighter display with higher contrast levels to boot.

222.1
cd/m²
213.3
cd/m²
206.8
cd/m²
208.2
cd/m²
201.8
cd/m²
185.3
cd/m²
201.6
cd/m²
197.6
cd/m²
172
cd/m²
Distribution of brightness
X-Rite i1Pro Basic 2
Maximum: 222.1 cd/m² Average: 201 cd/m²
Brightness Distribution: 77 %
Center on Battery: 201.8 cd/m²
Contrast: 387:1 (Black: 0.521 cd/m²)
ΔE Color 11.11 | - Ø
ΔE Greyscale 11.8 | - Ø
Gamma: 2.04
Samsung Chromebook XE500C12-K01USLenovo N20 ChromebookAcer CB3-111Acer C720-2800 ChromebookSamsung Chromebook XE303C12-A01USHP Chromebook 11
Screen
27%
20%
6%
2%
33%
Brightness201269
34%
198
-1%
228
13%
213
6%
300
49%
Brightness Distribution7792
19%
87
13%
95
23%
87
13%
86
12%
Black Level *0.5210.48
8%
0.38
27%
0.624
-20%
0.668
-28%
0.556
-7%
Contrast387565
46%
547
41%
375
-3%
322
-17%
578
49%
Colorchecker DeltaE2000 *11.119.97
10%
9.48
15%
6.15
45%
Greyscale DeltaE2000 *11.810.66
10%
9.31
21%
6.26
47%
Gamma *2.042.342.262.41
CCT14412 45%12855 51%10638 61%6868 95%

* ... smaller is better

Further color analyses with a spectrophotometer reveal all the properties of an inexpensive TN panel including an overly cool color temperature, poor grayscale, and inaccurate colors across all saturation levels. To be fair, most other Chromebooks exhibit similar results with the exception of the pricey Google Chromebook Pixel.

Grayscale
Grayscale
Saturation Sweeps
Saturation Sweeps
ColorChecker
ColorChecker
Colorspace
Colorspace

The display backlight is more than adequate for indoor use. When outdoors, however, the screen quickly becomes washed out. Working under shade does little to help, let alone on a bright or overcast day. Maximum brightness does not artificially drop when disconnected from the AC adapter, so users are recommended to work on the full 200 nit brightness setting when possible.

Viewing angles are standard for a TN panel. Colors invert and degrade almost immediately when viewing from below the normal, but are otherwise stable for the sole user viewing straight ahead.

Weak backlight for outdoor use
Weak backlight for outdoor use
Standard TN panel viewing angles
Standard TN panel viewing angles

Performance

The Celeron N2840 is uncommon even on budget notebooks and is mostly found on small inexpensive models such as the HP Stream 11 x360 and Toshiba Satellite Radius 11. Raw CPU performance is generally on par with a Tegra 4 and AMD A4-4355M according to 3DMark Ice Storm and 3DMark 11 Physics tests, respectively. More benchmarks and technical information on the Celeron N2840 can be found on our dedicated CPU page here.

The low computational power and 7.5 Watt TDP work in Samsung's favor due to the low CPU demands and overhead of the operating system. Operations such as browsing and launching applications are responsive and quick with minimal delays.

The 2 GB RAM may also sound low, but Chrome OS is again built with minimal specifications in mind as it handles low memory more efficiently than Windows. Running five tabs on Chrome with Google Maps open already eats up nearly the entire 2 GB, but the system does not lag or buckle as significantly as would a Windows machine under the same conditions.

All ChromeBook 2 models with Exynos processors offer 4 GB RAM as standard instead. The modules are soldered in all cases and are thus not upgradeable.

Peacekeeper
Peacekeeper
Octane v2
Octane v2
WebXPRT 2015
WebXPRT 2015
Discussion
Peacekeeper - --- (sort by value)
Samsung Chromebook XE500C12-K01US
1385 Points ∼22%
Samsung Chromebook XE303C12-A01US
1005 Points ∼16% -27%
Acer Chromebook 13 CB5-311-T0B2 (Chrome 37.0.2062.119)
1255 Points ∼20% -9%
Lenovo N20 Chromebook (Chrome OS 39.0.2171.96)
1593 Points ∼26% +15%
Toshiba Chromebook CB30-102
2765 Points ∼45% +100%
Acer Chromebook 15 CB5-571-C9GR
2905 Points ∼47% +110%
HP Chromebook 14 G1
3029 Points ∼49% +119%
Google Chromebook Pixel
3613 Points ∼58% +161%
Sunspider
1.0 Total Score (sort by value)
Samsung Chromebook XE500C12-K01US
663.6 ms * ∼16%
Samsung Chromebook XE303C12-A01US
736.8 ms * ∼18% -11%
Acer Chromebook 13 CB5-311-T0B2
634.6 ms * ∼16% +4%
Lenovo N20 Chromebook (Chrome OS 39.0.2171.96)
548.2 ms * ∼14% +17%
Toshiba Chromebook CB30-102
455.3 ms * ∼11% +31%
Acer Chromebook 15 CB5-571-C9GR
334.7 ms * ∼8% +50%
HP Chromebook 14 G1
347.4 ms * ∼9% +48%
0.9.1 Total Score (sort by value)
Samsung Chromebook XE500C12-K01US
741.3 ms * ∼7%
Samsung Chromebook XE303C12-A01US
774.3 ms * ∼7% -4%
Google Chromebook Pixel
225.2 ms * ∼2% +70%
Octane V2 - Total Score (sort by value)
Samsung Chromebook XE500C12-K01US
8089 Points ∼18%
Samsung Chromebook XE303C12-A01US
4943 Points ∼11% -39%
Acer Chromebook 13 CB5-311-T0B2
6843 Points ∼15% -15%
Lenovo N20 Chromebook (Chrome OS 39.0.2171.96)
7397 Points ∼16% -9%
Toshiba Chromebook CB30-102
8758 Points ∼19% +8%
Acer Chromebook 15 CB5-571-C9GR
13238 Points ∼29% +64%
HP Chromebook 14 G1
12008 Points ∼27% +48%
Mozilla Kraken 1.1 - Total Score (sort by value)
Samsung Chromebook XE500C12-K01US
4294.8 ms * ∼7%
Samsung Chromebook XE303C12-A01US
5476 ms * ∼9% -28%
Acer Chromebook 13 CB5-311-T0B2
4696.6 ms * ∼8% -9%
Lenovo N20 Chromebook (Chrome OS 39.0.2171.96)
4233.5 ms * ∼7% +1%
Acer Chromebook 15 CB5-571-C9GR
2332.4 ms * ∼4% +46%
HP Chromebook 14 G1
2564 ms * ∼4% +40%
WebXPRT 2013
Offline Notes (sort by value)
Samsung Chromebook XE500C12-K01US
670.1 ms * ∼14%
Acer Chromebook 13 CB5-311-T0B2
887.7 ms * ∼19% -32%
Lenovo N20 Chromebook (Chrome OS 39.0.2171.96)
696.4 ms * ∼15% -4%
Acer Chromebook 15 CB5-571-C9GR
433.6 ms * ∼9% +35%
HP Chromebook 14 G1
472.1 ms * ∼10% +30%
Stocks Dashboard (sort by value)
Samsung Chromebook XE500C12-K01US
634.7 ms * ∼17%
Acer Chromebook 13 CB5-311-T0B2
821.7 ms * ∼22% -29%
Lenovo N20 Chromebook (Chrome OS 39.0.2171.96)
525.1 ms * ∼14% +17%
Acer Chromebook 15 CB5-571-C9GR
406.7 ms * ∼11% +36%
HP Chromebook 14 G1
329.5 ms * ∼9% +48%
Face Detection (sort by value)
Samsung Chromebook XE500C12-K01US
748.1 ms * ∼6%
Acer Chromebook 13 CB5-311-T0B2
1011 ms * ∼8% -35%
Lenovo N20 Chromebook (Chrome OS 39.0.2171.96)
824.6 ms * ∼7% -10%
Acer Chromebook 15 CB5-571-C9GR
497.2 ms * ∼4% +34%
HP Chromebook 14 G1
619.1 ms * ∼5% +17%
Photo Effects (sort by value)
Samsung Chromebook XE500C12-K01US
519.2 ms * ∼6%
Acer Chromebook 13 CB5-311-T0B2
521.5 ms * ∼6% -0%
Lenovo N20 Chromebook (Chrome OS 39.0.2171.96)
579.5 ms * ∼6% -12%
Acer Chromebook 15 CB5-571-C9GR
256.4 ms * ∼3% +51%
HP Chromebook 14 G1
237 ms * ∼3% +54%
Overall Score (sort by value)
Samsung Chromebook XE500C12-K01US
653 Points ∼29%
Acer Chromebook 13 CB5-311-T0B2
528 Points ∼23% -19%
Lenovo N20 Chromebook (Chrome OS 39.0.2171.96)
642 Points ∼28% -2%
Acer Chromebook 15 CB5-571-C9GR
1074 Points ∼47% +64%
HP Chromebook 14 G1
1068 Points ∼47% +64%
WebXPRT 2015 - Overall Score (sort by value)
Samsung Chromebook XE500C12-K01US
137 Points ∼25%
Browsermark
2.1 (sort by value)
Samsung Chromebook XE500C12-K01US
2240 points ∼31%
Acer Chromebook 13 CB5-311-T0B2
2119 points ∼29% -5%
Lenovo N20 Chromebook (Chrome OS 39.0.2171.96)
2245 points ∼31% 0%
Acer Chromebook 15 CB5-571-C9GR
4215 points ∼59% +88%
HP Chromebook 14 G1
4204 points ∼58% +88%
--- (sort by value)
Google Chromebook Pixel
5146 points ∼72%

Legend

 
Samsung Chromebook XE500C12-K01US Intel Celeron N2840, Intel HD Graphics (Bay Trail), 16 GB eMMC Flash
 
Samsung Chromebook XE303C12-A01US Samsung Exynos 5250 Dual, ARM Mali-T604 MP4, 16 GB eMMC Flash
 
Acer Chromebook 13 CB5-311-T0B2 Nvidia Tegra K1, NVIDIA Tegra K1 Kepler GPU, 32 GB eMMC Flash
 
Lenovo N20 Chromebook Intel Celeron N2830, Intel HD Graphics (Bay Trail), 16 GB eMMC Flash
 
Toshiba Chromebook CB30-102 Intel Celeron 2955U, Intel HD Graphics (Haswell), 16 GB eMMC Flash
 
Acer Chromebook 15 CB5-571-C9GR Intel Celeron 3205U, Intel HD Graphics (Broadwell),
 
HP Chromebook 14 G1 Intel Celeron 2955U, Intel HD Graphics (Haswell),
 
Google Chromebook Pixel Intel Core i5-3427U, Intel HD Graphics 4000, 32 GB SSD

* ... smaller is better

Storage Devices

Chromebooks typically have small SSDs as the focus is on Cloud storage and Internet connectivity. The internal 16 GB eMMC is the only choice available on the Chromebook 2 with no larger sizes available. Fortunately, users can expand local storage with a MicroSD card. The actual slot is recessed quite well on the Chromebook 2, so it may be difficult for larger hands to properly insert the card.

Gaming Performance

The integrated Intel HD 4000 GPU is old hat by now as it is the integrated GPU solution for Ivy Bridge processors in 2012. Games are limited to in-browser titles and those from the Chrome store. The graphics are enough for 2D and simple 3D titles like Tank Riders.

Tank Riders
Tank Riders
Cut the Rope
Cut the Rope

Emissions

System Noise

Like the original Samsung Chromebook, the Chromebook 2 includes a solid-state drive and fanless design and is thus noiseless in all situations.

A single passive heat pipe provides all the necessary cooling
A single passive heat pipe provides all the necessary cooling

Temperature

Surface temperature are very cool and uniform even when under heavy processing loads. When idling, the rear of the notebook is almost identical to the front with no significant temperature gradient.

At worst, we were able record a surface temperature of 34 C when playing multiple 720p videos while running Octane v2 on a loop. Despite the unrealistic situation and lack of any active cooling, the keyboard, palm rests, and touchpad all remain cool and comfortable to use.

Max. Load
 28.2 °C30.8 °C28 °C 
 26.8 °C28.4 °C26.6 °C 
 24.4 °C24 °C23.4 °C 
Maximum: 30.8 °C
Average: 26.7 °C
28.8 °C34 °C33.4 °C
26.8 °C27.8 °C28 °C
25 °C25.4 °C25.8 °C
Maximum: 34 °C
Average: 28.3 °C
Power Supply (max.)  30.8 °C | Room Temperature 20 °C | Fluke 62 Mini IR Thermometer

Speakers

Speakers on bottom of notebook
Speakers on bottom of notebook

The 2 Watt stereo speakers are an upgrade from the 1.5 W speakers on the first Samsung Chromebook. Sound quality is good for such a small notebook with no static or horribly imbalanced audio. Maximum volume is louder than what most people will need. Bass, of course, could still use improvement. Better audio is provided through the 3.5 mm audio jack or via HDMI.

Battery Life

Non-removable Li-Ion polymer battery module
Non-removable Li-Ion polymer battery module

The integrated 30 Wh Li-Ion battery pack is of the same capacity as the one in the original Samsung Chromebook. Despite this fact, runtimes on the Chromebook 2 are very good at over 8 hours of constant WLAN usage on a display brightness of 150 nits (setting 14/16). Samsung advertises 9 hours of use, so users can expect a full day of work out of the notebook before needing to recharge. The recharging itself is quite quick as well at about 1.5 hours from empty to full capacity.

When compared to other 11.6-inch Chromebooks, the 30 Wh battery is similar in capacity to the HP Chromebook 11, but is smaller than the ones in the Acer Chromebook 11 (36 Wh), Lenovo N20p (34.8 Wh), and Acer C720 (45 Wh). Nonetheless, the Samsung can last for just as long if not longer as our updated WiFi test is more strenuous than our older test used on previous Chromebook models. At worst, users can expect 4.5 hours of use on maximum display brightness while running very high processing loads non-stop.

Battery Runtime
Idle (without WLAN, min brightness)
16h 46min
WiFi Surfing v1.3
8h 17min
Load (maximum brightness)
4h 38min
Samsung Chromebook XE500C12-K01USAcer CB3-111Lenovo N20p-59426642 ChromebookAcer C720-2800 ChromebookSamsung Chromebook XE303C12-A01USHP Chromebook 11
Battery Runtime
-3%
-9%
-28%
-48%
-26%
Reader / Idle1006980
-3%
361
-64%
Load278253
-9%
199
-28%
190
-32%
206
-26%
WiFi v1.3497
WiFi568577544240308

Pro

+ Incredible battery life
+ Runs very cool
+ No system noise
+ USB 3.0 and HDMI-out
+ Small and lightweight
+ No creaking; Strong lid
+ Inexpensive

Cons

- Display not bright enough for comfortable outdoor use
- No SIM slot
- No keyboard backlight
- Plastic construction
- Non-removable battery

Verdict

In Review: Samsung Chomebook 2 XE500C12. Test model provided by Samsung US
In Review: Samsung Chomebook 2 XE500C12. Test model provided by Samsung US

The Samsung Chromebook 2 is a no-frills Chromebook that performs well in core aspects where target users are more likely to care about. Build quality feels thick, the keyboard and touchpad work reliably, and the notebook runs quiet, cool, and with a very long battery life. These features alone make this inexpensive Chromebook a worthwhile purchase.

With that said, the model may be a bit too barebones as it lacks SIM support or touchscreen features as found on the Lenovo N20p. Display brightness is not nearly as bright as the HP Chromebook 11 and the leather-like outer lid doesn't feel as nice as it looks. These flaws generally apply to all Chromebooks as the affordable prices exclude extra features to create a low barrier of entry. Thus, it would be a bit unfair to target Samsung for such omissions. When taken as a successor to the original Samsung Chromebook, however, the Chromebook 2 improves upon all vital features.

The Samsung Chromebook 2 is a no-frills Chromebook that performs well in core aspects where target users are more likely to care about.

Samsung Chromebook XE500C12-K01US - 06/03/2015 v4(old)
Allen Ngo

Chassis
75 /  98 → 77%
Keyboard
86%
Pointing Device
90%
Connectivity
49 / 81 → 60%
Weight
73 / 78 → 88%
Battery
92%
Display
74%
Games Performance
55 / 68 → 81%
Application Performance
75 / 87 → 86%
Temperature
95 / 91 → 100%
Noise
100%
Audio
75 / 91 → 82%
Average
78%
82%
Subnotebook - Weighted Average

Pricecompare

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Samsung Chromebook 2 (XE500C12) Notebook Review
Allen Ngo, 2015-06- 3 (Update: 2015-06- 3)