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November 5, 2010

Hands on with the stunning Samsung RF510

Last week I got a brand new Samsung RF510, one of Samsung’s new high-end consumer laptops. Overall I’ve been impressed with the RF510, particularly its beautiful industrial design. The model I’m testing has an Intel Core i7-720 processor, 4GB of RAM, a 640GB 7200rpm drive split into two partitions (as is the trend recently amongst many PC makers), NVIDIA GeForce GT 330M graphics, and a standard 1366 x 768 display. It also features HDMI and a chargeable USB 3.0 port, meaning that you can charge a Zune, phone, or just about any other USB-compatible device even when the PC is off. You can get one identical to mine for $979 from



Overall, I found performance to be very good on the RF510 using Samsung’s standard out-of-the-box image (the only change I made was upgrading IE8 to IE9 beta, and swapping out Norton Anti-Virus for Microsoft Security Essentials). With a monster processor like a Core i7-720, it was no surprise that the computer didn’t break a sweat running my normal test workload of Outlook, Word and PowerPoint 2010, Windows Live Mail, Windows Live Messenger, Internet Explorer 9 beta and Zune. That huge 7200 rpm drive was a big help too; even with my full profile, which includes over 2GB of mail on the server and many more in archived folders, Outlook only took a few seconds to fully load.


When I ran stopwatch tests using my Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph I got good results. While some of the machines I’ve tested in the past do beat these marks, you’re not going to be disappointed with how fast the RF510 feels.

Startup (cold boot): 30.5 seconds

Shutdown (no apps open): 11 seconds

Sleep (from lid close to power-down): 11 seconds

Wake (from lid open to working desktop): 2.5 seconds

Video performance was outstanding, which is to be expected with an NVIDIA GeForce GT330M running alongside that Core i7 and 4GB of RAM, and I was able to play multiple online videos from and YouTube simultaneously without buffering problems. Casual games like Plants vs. Zombies offered perfect gameplay and more robust games like Street Fighter 4 (a usual suspect for me when I test games) ran hitch-free even in full screen mode.

Battery life was adequate at about 4 hours (tested under real-world working conditions, with Zune music playing continuously). Keep in mind that the Samsung RF510 is a power machine, not a carry-it-around-all-day ultraportable, so you’re likely to not be unplugged for hours on end. For me, the exceptional performance more than outweighed the battery life.

Look and Feel

Samsung is an interesting company when it comes to PCs, and they have a little bit of what I call “Hyundai Syndrome”. Let me explain:

For years, Hyundai made pretty good cars that looked kind of run-of-the-mill. Then, almost out of nowhere, they started making truly beautiful things. Compare a Sonata from 4 years ago and one of the stop-and-stare beauties from the 2011 lineup and you’d be excused if you thought they came from completely different companies. Their new stuff is really well built, gorgeous inside and out, and can compete with the best luxury brands in the world.

Samsung is kind of the same way – they have been a world leader in electronics for decades (many of you probably have Samsung TV in your house or a Samsung phone in your pocket right now) and their PCs have always been sturdy and reliable. Recently though, the Samsung design team has cranked it up a notch and their new PCs, like the RF510, are some of the most beautiful on the market. Across the board I am impressed with Samsung’s build quality, attention to detail, and smart aesthetic choices.


The RF510 is a thoughtful blend of aluminum and polycarbonate. For example, the laptop’s lid looks black at first glance, but let it catch a bit of light and you find that it’s actually a deep chocolate brown that’s minutely textured with tiny concentric circles – Samsung calls it a “radiant burst” – that gives the case a unique, subtle depth. Inside the palm rest is brushed aluminum and the power, volume and Wi-Fi buttons are elegant and graceful. For a big computer the RF510 feels well proportioned, well balanced and well weighted. It’s a joy to hold and carry around, which is something that you’ll find I rarely say about 15” PCs.


The glossy HD 1366 x 768 display looks great, with nice color depth, rich blacks and sharp whites. Edges are clean and I found that despite being glossy, I didn’t get eye strain after working on it for several hours straight.

Final Thoughts

Although they’re not the loudest or most prolific PC manufacturer, Samsung makes some of the most elegantly built computers available today. The RF510 is a prime example of that; thoughtful industrial design, great specs, and a reasonable price make it an excellent choice for anyone looking for a power 15” laptop.

Have a question about this or any other PC?  Post a comment, hit me on Twitter, or Ask Ben Anything via email.  Your question might appear in my monthly Ask Ben Anything Q&A column!