Home' LAPTOP Magazine : December 2010 Contents Samsung
CPU: 2.4-GHz Intel Core i5-450M Operating
System: Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit)
RAM/Expandable to: 4GB/8GB Hard Drive
Size/Speed: 500GB/5,400 rpm Display Size/
Resolution: 15.6 inches/1366 x 768 Graphics/
Video Memory: ATI Mobility Radeon HD545v/1GB
Wireless: 802.11b/g/n Ports: Three USB
2.0, HDMI, VGA, Ethernet, headphone, mic,
Kensington Lock Card Slots: SD card reader
Size: 14.9 x 10.1 x 1.4 inches Weight: 5.5
pounds Warranty/Support: One-year limited/
toll-free, 24/7 phone
Polarizing faux-wood desgin
Short battery life
Small touchpad and buttons
Since entering the U.S. notebook market, Samsung
has established a reputation for pairing powerful
components with head-turning designs. The
Samsung R540-11 continues that trend, though
not necessarily in the best way. This laptop has the
power to best even more expensive machines in its
weight class and offers smooth Blu-ray playback.
However, while the faux wood pattern on the lid
and deck will certainly get stares, you'll either love
it or hate it.
At 5.5 pounds, the R540 is
light for a notebook with this size
display. The plastic lid sports a
wood grain pattern, making it
look like a Formica countertop.
On the inside, the palm rest and
chassis at least have etched
grains instead of painted-on
ones. We give Samsung props
for trying something different,
but we much prefer the look
and feel of the ASUS's U33Jc,
which uses real bamboo.
The R540 has amply sized
keys and a full number pad.
We were able to type quickly,
though we felt some flex. The 2.8 x 1.6-inch
touchpad isn't large, but it felt smooth and offered
next-to-no resistance. The twin touch buttons,
likewise, are easy to press, although they're on
the noisy side.
The 15.6-inch display has a resolution of 1366
x 768 pixels, which is good enough to watch 720p
video. Although it has a Blu-ray player, the benefits
might be lost on this lower-resolution display. Video
looked sharp, colors accurate, and the screen bright,
but thanks to the display's glossy finish we had a
hard time making out the picture when watching
from the sides.
The twin speakers produced fairly strong sound.
"Maria, Maria" by Santana sounded as it should
both at medium and high volumes, and at all times
we were able to make out the
strong bass notes.
The webcam's VGA video
was adequate, but during a
Skype call voices sounded
The R540-11 comes with a
2.4-GHz Intel Core i5 proces-
sor, ATI Mobility Radeon graph-
ics, and 4GB of RAM. These
components combined to blow
past the mainstream notebook
average on PCMark Vantage.
The Toshiba Satellite A655
has nearly identical specs,
save for the graphics card,
but only scored 5,224.
On our transcoding test, the R540-11 shaved 6
seconds off the category average. Boot time was also
a tiny bit faster than most mainstream systems.
On 3DMark06, the graphics card really made
its difference known, with a score nearly 1,000
points above what we'd expect from this class of
The company's latest 15-inch notebook has good gaming chops
and Blu-ray playback, but its design isn't for everyone.
While by no means a gaming rig, the R540
can plow through mainstream titles at native
resolution and can handle more demanding titles
if you dial the pixels down. In World of Warcraft,
the R540 reached playable frame rates even at
1366 x 768. In the more graphically demanding
Far Cry 2, the R540-11 managed a playable 19
fps at its native resolution.
The battery life on the R540-11 was disappoint-
ing, lasting only 2 hours and 47 minutes. But it's
worth noting that the Toshiba Satellite A655 lasted
a similarly short 2:55.
The Samsung R540-11 delivers fast perfor-
mance, smooth graphics, and a Blu-ray drive for
a reasonable price. However, some may be turned
off by the faux wood look. If you can do without
Blu-ray, we think the $899 Toshiba Satellite A655
is a better deal. That notebook's design isn't
nearly as daring, but it offers almost identical
specs and even better graphics performance.
LAPTOP | December 2010
The faux-wood deck on
the R540-11 is unique but
feels somewhat cheap.
BENCHMARKS Score Category
PCMark Vantage 5,971
LAPTOP Battery Test
LAPTOP Transfer Test
Boot Time (min:sec)* 0:59
(autodetect/max) 188/31 fps 79/26 fps
Far Cry 2
(autodetect/max) 56/19 fps 32/16 fps
Test (min:sec)* 0:56
Efficiency Rating* 28
* Lower is better
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