Summary and Conclusion
Performance Summary: In our SiSoftware Sandra tests, the Samsung R580 didn't fare as well as we expected in the CPU department, but hung in there nicely in the physical disc and memory tests. The CPU continued to put up mixed results throughout our tests; it performed ell in PCMark Vantage and in our gaming benchmarks, but it lagged behind in other tests and the machine didn't seem too speedy when it came to boot-up and application load times. The Core i5 performed best in multi-threaded applications, but we've seen equal performance from older Core 2 Duo chips in everyday tasks. We also think the machine was held back due to its memory configuration and the 32-bit version of Windows 7 Home Premium; we wish the 64-bit edition has been installed on the machine to fully take advantage of the system's 4GB of RAM. The large amount of bloatware pre-installed on the machine also slowed things down right from the start. Multimedia playback and gaming were both excellent, with the 4GB of RAM and discrete GT 310M GPU able to help the Core i5 power through.
The R580 had some serious pros and some serious cons. It's priced really well for what it is, and its specifications are worthy of praise. But the real-world performance just wasn't there (application loading, specifically). We felt that the CPU really shined during intensive tasks, but we would've preferred a more snappy desktop experience to go with it. Also a 64-bit OS should have been included since it ships with 4GB of RAM, and we would've preferred a somewhat less vivid design. Overall, the sub-6lb. frame wasn't too heavy given the horsepower available, and the amount of ports were acceptable for a machine of this price (under $850 starting).
One of the more curious design choices was the keyboard. We didn't appreciate the cramped feeling it had due to squeezing in a numeric pad, and this also caused some keys (Shift, Enter, Arrow Keys, etc.) to be tweaked, re-sized and repositioned. We didn't enjoy the typing experience very much, though the multi-gesture trackpad was extremely nice. The glossy 15.6" panel was only average (some of the colors were muted, and the reflections were intense), and the 1366x768 resolution is too low for an LCD of this size. All in all, the sub $850 price tag along with its cutting edge CPU make the machine worthy of consideration, but in the end we just don't think the pros outweigh the cons. It's a fine machine, and it'll serve you well if you end up with one, but we think there are better choices out there in the $800 to $1000 realm if you really hunt.