Review Samsung R525 Eikee NP-R525-JS01DE Notebook
The impression arises that there are only new devices in the high-end division since the colleagues are fetching one Apple MacBook after the other. We will provide counter-evidence with the 15.6 incher, Samsung R525 Eikee. Potential buyers can acquire a notebook which Samsung claims to have a good value for money ratio starting at 535 euro.
We are skeptical about one statement though: the latest 3D games in HD quality. The ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5470 has already often been in review and always proved to be a GPU of the lower midrange, hardly suitable for gaming. Has Samsung played around with the clock rates or conjured up something else? We don't expect a performance rocket, especially in combination with the AMD Prozessor Athlon II M320 (2.1 GHz). The Samsung R525 Eikee can convince us with many other features, anyhow. Find out what they are in this comprehensive review.
The R525 is a plain notebook in terms of materials and chassis construction. Varnished and unvarnished plastic parts are cleanly placed next to each other. The gray-in-gray looks doesn't try to attract attention with effects or exaggerated high-gloss use. However, there are a few details that give the case an attractive appearance.
The lid's finish has irregular white lines on a dotted black background. The lid's flat edges attempt to make just as a beveled form as the base unit. The coated lid is fairly insensitive to fingerprints, due to the fine, white dots. There is a bar with a blue finish above the keys, below which the loudspeakers have been placed. The bar's lower edge has a weak color gradient (dark to light blue).
The wrist-rest is pleasantly roughened by a haptic texture on the surfaces. Thus, the R525 has grip and fingerprints don't even have a chance. Because the surface doesn't have a finish, unsightly scratches should be ruled out in this area. The wrist-rest is stable and can't be pressed in with a finger. Unfortunately, we can't say the same for the case's bottom. The RAM cover can be depressed evidently, just like the area underneath the optical drive.
We only have to complain about the lid in terms of stability. We can dent its surface evidently with little force. The torsional stiffness could also have been better. In return, the tight hinges are firmly in place and hold the lid without a notable teetering. The lid can be opened to a maximum of 130 degrees. A counterforce in the display hinge makes sure that the lid closes tight. Nevertheless, the force isn't sufficient. It can open a centimeter during an unsecured transportation quickly. In this case, pens or the like can slip in and damage the display.
Samsung's R525 addresses undemanding natures when it comes to ports. Almost all connections have been bundled on the case's left side. That has the advantage that users never have to look around long. Aside from the DC-in, we find a VGA (D-sub), a USB port, an Ethernet port, two audio sockets and a HDMI port here. The cardreader is on the front.
The port placement is praiseworthy. Both USB 2.0 ports placed on the right are in the far back so that the mouse hand doesn't get tangled up with the USB cables. Unwieldy cables, like VGA and HDMI as well as the power socket, are also in the rear area on the left. Lefties can put the mouse here without problems.
Fortunately, the WLAN module hasn't become victim of economizing. A draft-n module from Atheros (AR9285) does its work in the Samsung R525. The wired network card doesn't have gigabit Ethernet (Marvell Yukon 88E8040 PCI-E). Bluetooth isn't onboard, either.
Samsung has built a feedback-strong keyboard into the R525 Eikee. The keys all sit close together, but all are on a small base. The accuracy for touch-typing fingers is very good, even if the touch-typing markers on F and J can hardly be felt. The keys have a clear pressure point and a long key stroke length. The key stroke is comparatively firm. The keyboard's surface doesn't yield anywhere; it even lies firmly over the DVD drive.
In our opinion, the spacial separated arrow keys underneath the large shift and enter key is very positive. At last, a manufacturer makes the effort and lets the arrow keys protrude a centimeter into the wrist-rest. There is then even room for a second FN key. Volume and brightness can thus be set single-handedly. Typing on the keyboard is a piece of cake. This is also due to the non-slip and wide wrist-rest. Large men's' hands have enough place. The number pad is invaluable for entering many numbers. Besides that, it's also useable for games.
The touchpad is almost integrated evenly on the wrist-rest. Samsung lets the pad's bezel light up in blue during activity so that it can't be overlooked by the user in the dark. The pad can be used pleasantly, despite its seemingly small size because the matt surface is sensitive up to its outer areas. Two finger gestures, for example scroll or zoom, are recognized because it's a multi-touch pad. If you never touch a touchpad with two fingers, you can use the vertical and horizontal scroll bar instead. They aren't marked, though. The pad's keys click very easily, but emit a cheap sounding click noise.
Samsung builds its own 15.6 inch HD Ready screen (LTN154X3-L01) into the R525. It has a native resolution of 1366x768 pixels. The 16:9 isn't AR-coated and always provides for more or less intense reflections. The display's contrast or 194:1 is very low. The matt colors are however optically improved by its glare quality. Thus, the subjective impression is better than the assessment.
The LED backlight distributes the brightness evenly over the screen (88 percent). We established a maximum rate of 221 cd/m2 in the upper left. The brightness decreases to less than 200 cd/m2 in the lower left and right. This difference isn't visible to the eye.
The Samsung R525's display isn't suitable for outdoor use despite the good luminosity. The glare characteristic provides for view obstruction due to reflections. Users who like to read emails on the go will have to look for a shadowy place, in any event.
The viewing angles describe if colors or writing are still clearly seen when looking at the screen from the sides. Users have little elbowroom with the R525's 15.6 inch screen. When the sight deviates upward or downwards (vertical), the colors already bleach noticeably at 20 degrees. We can drift up to 45 degrees from the center towards the left and right (horizontal). Now the colors invert and the display dims.
Samsung equips its all-rounder with an AMD processor, the AMD Athlon II M320 (2x2.1 GHz). The starter dual core processor belongs to the weakest Athlon II CPUs. It only has an L2 cache of 1MB. The CPU with a TDP of 35 watts is on the AMD chip set, RS780, and is supported by a 4096 MB DDR2 RAM. The RAM controller is in the processor - a trait that Intel first discovered for themselves with Arrandale.
The manufacturer states: "Highlight: Strong graphic performance" on the Samsung product site. Samsung builds an ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5470 with a 512 MB GDDR3 video memory into the case. The GPU belongs to the lower midrange and has rarely proved to be suitable for contemporary games in previous test notebooks. We'll determine if this has changed in the R525 in combination with the weak Athlon II M320 in the part about graphic performance.
The Athlon II M320 (2.1 GHz) has to accept a comparison with Intel's latest Core i3 processors in the processor benchmarks. They design the same price range and are found in laptops up to about 700 euro. Cinebench R10's multi-core render test (3456 points) puts the Athlon on par with the Core 2 Duo T5550 (1.83 GHz) or the Pentium T4200 (2.0 GHz). The distance to the Core i3-330M (2.16 GHz) is gigantic: 2000 points. Thus, the i3-330 calculates about 50 percent faster than the Athlon II M320 with the same clock rate. The result is the same in the 64 bit render test.
|PCMark Vantage Result||3488 points|
Does the weak processor leave traces in the system's overall performance? Yes, but not as many as expected. We use PCMark Vantage to make a statement. The test checks all components of the computer, including the DDR2 RAM, the hard disk and the graphic card. 3488 points is the result of the Samsung R525's efforts. A Core i3-330M system with the same graphic card (Acer Aspire 5741G-334G50Mn) achieves 4684 points. The slower DDR2 RAM, the slow computational speed and the lack of hyperthreading (HT) are responsible for the difference. That leads to losses in all subtotals of PCMark Vantage.
Does anything speak for Athlon II? Yes, because the experienced application performance is fast and is on par with a Pentium T6600 system. The Athlon II only stumbles when a lot of applications are running simultaneously.
|3DMark 03 Standard||9718 points|
|3DMark 05 Standard||6407 points|
|3DMark 06 Standard||2898 points|
|3DMark Vantage P Result||933 points|
The Eikee has a 320 GB hard disk from Samsung onboard (HM321HI). The hard disk is very quiet. Its bearings are based on the Fluid Dynamic Bearing Technology. The HDD can only be heard due to a quiet noise. The 320 GBs are read with 69.2 MB/s in sequential read. A slightly above average rate that many 5400 rpm HDDs reach.
Samsung praises the R525 Eikee with the highlight "strong graphic performance": "Enjoy the latest 3D games in HD quality. The built-in DirectX11 technology accelerates the ultra realistic gaming environment." A look at our notebook graphic comparison shows that the ATI Mobility Radeon HD5470 is in the lower range of performance category 2. The mainstream GPU is often used in notebooks so that they even have a graphic card. The HD5470 is well known from our reviews. It has often enough confirmed its insufficient gaming competence (current games!).
The Radeon HD5470 has a 512 MB GDDR3 video memory. The same clocks with 750 MHz, the core with 800 MHz. Samsung clocks the memory down by 50 MHz and clocks the core up by 50 MHz in comparison to the Aspire 5741G. This is so marginal that it isn't noticeable in the performance. We determined a weak 2898 points in 3DMark06 (Aspire 5741G: 3057 points). Even an Nvidia GeForce GT 325M with a low core rate of 450 MHz achieves 5943 points (Asus N61JV).
The 3DMark Vantage is hardly influenced by the processor and shows what only the HD 5470 is capable of. The established 933 points are the typical level for the HD 5470. The GeForce G 210M or the old HD 3650 reach a similarly low score. If you are really up to games, you should look at a HD 5650 (2786 points) or a HD 5730 (3825 points).
Comprehensive gaming test are superfluous in view of the low 3D rates. Merely older games a la Left4Dead run without restrictions in high details. As soon as it gets more challenging (Call of Juarez benchmark), the frame rate collapses.
|Call of Juarez Benchmark (2006)||12.8||fps|
|Left 4 Dead (2008)||43.92||fps|
The Samsung R525 is equipped with an AMD Athlon II M320, which is said to have a high TDP of 35 watts. The TDP is the maximum power consumption of these components. It is usually only reached by pure CPU applications or by our stress test. The base unit is exemplary capable of managing waste heat in every state of load. It appears that Samsung has a hand for ergonomic strong notebooks. The test samples R580, R780 and N220, already proved to be very quiet and cool.
Samsung always treats its notebooks to a silent mode (FN+F8), which we also gladly use in the R525. The fan remains mainly disabled in simple office tasks, like Word, Excel, mail or web browser. Even short periods of processor load don't change that. Only continuous CPU benchmarks produce so much waste heat that the fan is enabled temporarily even in silent mode. Samsung's own 320 GB hard disk (Samsung HM321HI) isn't treacherous, either. It is so super silent that we record the minimum idle level (29.7 dB(A)) for it.
The silence is paid for with a low performance, though. The clock rate of the already slow 2.1 GHz Athlon processor is limited to 800 MHz. This is enough for surfing or typing in Word. Image editing is no longer fun.
Now we turn on the speed mode and demand the maximum from the CPU and GPU (stress test). Strange: The fan soon rotates with it maximum power, but the noise level never exceeds 33.2 dB(A). That isn't only remarkable because of the AMD's high TDP of 35 watts, but also because the HD 5470 now calculates to the full. Read in the next part if the waste heat's temperature surges.
29.7 / 30.7 / 30.9 dB(A)
||33.6 / dB(A)|
||33.1 / 33.2 dB(A)|
min: , med: , max: (15 cm distance)
R525 owners won't experience any bad surprises during maximum load in terms of waste heat. The case's upper side reaches 40 degrees after a two hour stress test (Furmark and Prime95). That sounds like a lot, but the average is only 33.6 degrees and the wrist-rest doesn't exceed 35 degrees. The base plate is also still useable on the lap, however the vent shouldn't be covered. We measured just under 43 degrees in its immediate vicinity.
The mainboard sensors report a CPU temperature of only 60 degrees after two hour of stress. The GPU was also loaded and reached 62 degrees. These rates are more than safe and speak for an excellent heat dissipation via the heatpipe.
The case stays cool to lukewarm while surfing in the internet (silent mode). We discovered the only warm area in the immediate vicinity of the vent (31.7 degrees). The upper side only heats up marginally in the upper right (29.7 degrees). We measure 25 to 29 degrees on the wrist-rest.
(±) The maximum temperature on the upper side is 40 °C / 104 F, compared to the average of 36.7 °C / 98 F, ranging from 21.1 to 71 °C for the class Multimedia.
(±) The bottom heats up to a maximum of 42.8 °C / 109 F, compared to the average of 39 °C / 102 F
(+) In idle usage, the average temperature for the upper side is 27 °C / 81 F, compared to the device average of 31 °C / 88 F.
(+) The palmrests and touchpad are reaching skin temperature as a maximum (34.9 °C / 94.8 F) and are therefore not hot.
(-) The average temperature of the palmrest area of similar devices was 28.9 °C / 84 F (-6 °C / -10.8 F).
The sound quality of the stereo speakers above the keyboard might be able to convince the office friend, but aren't suitable for entertainment. Midranges are too strongly emphasized and there aren't any basses. The R525 doesn't have a subwoofer. The sound is slightly improved by the SRS sound enhancer. They make the sound a bit more balanced and virtual. The volume is adequate for the 15.6 inch design. The little membranes remain stable at maximum level.
An external sound system can be connected on the left via the 3.5 millimeter jacks. We tested with two active Yamaha speakers (YST-M20SDP). The volume tethered to the notebook is comparatively low but static-free (audio test - no measurement).
The R525 is adequately suitable for on the go with its feasible brightness and the good input devices. Unfortunately, the short battery life prevents movie fun in the train or surfing in the café. When the user inserts a DVD, it's already at its end after 1:45 hours (DVD rendering 105 minutes). It's not even possible to surf for two hours on internet (WLAN test). Now if you insert a power hungry UMTS surf stick, you can count yourself as lucky if you are still online after 1.30 hours.
The Samsung R525's maximum idle runtime is around 233 minutes. These 3:53 hours are unrealistic, though. WLAN was disabled, the brightness was at its lowest level and the processor was idle. The real runtime is not quite two hours. Thus, all our measurements are remote form the manufacturers claim of "up to 4.4 hours". At least the buyer can check the current charge state via the LED battery indicator.
The Samsung R525 has a high level of power consumption for its performance category. The effective power of 52 watts under simple load by 3DMark06 is still close to the dedicated ATI graphic solution. The power consumption without load (idle, maximum energy savings, WLAN off) is very high with 17.1 watts. Even systems with a strong dedicated graphic card, like the Acer Travelmate 5740G (HD5650) or the 17 incher, Samsung R780 (Nvidia GT 330M), are satisfied with 10.8, respectively 14.2 watts in idle conditions. The processors in both devices have an identically high TDP of 35 watts, but their power consumption in idle appears to be much lower.
Energy savers should also watch the R525's standby consumption. The adapter needs 1.4 watts in standby. When we turn the R525 off, it still needs 0.7 watts (both without battery charging).
|Off / Standby||0.7 / 1.4 Watt|
|Idle|| 17.1 / 21.9 / 26.9 Watt|
52.1 / 63.1 Watt|
Samsung provides a handy 15.6 incher with the R525 in the basic configuration. If it's an office or multimedia notebook will ultimately have to be decided by the applications intended by the customer. The matt work surface, the well made key layout and the low emissions speak for an office use. Typing is fun on the feedback-strong keyboard and playing around with the silent mode is a pleasure.
Samsungs speaks of multimedia and ties this to the "strong graphics performance". We couldn't experience a good gaming suitability with the built-in ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5470, though. Quite contrarily, the gaming performance is even additionally limited by the weak AMD Athlon II processor. We're talking about the latest, fairly hardware demanding games. If you surrender to so-called casual gaming and dig older games, you actually can play smoothly with the R525 Eikee. See our notebook graphic card comparison for further information.