Samsung Series 7 Chronos review

Samsung unleashes a high-end desktop replacement, but can the Series 7 Chronos topple the mighty MacBook Pro?

Quad-core power

The Chronos hasn't been neglected when it comes to components. The Core i7-3635QM isn't a Haswell processor, but it's still a quad-core part that runs at 2.4GHz, and its Turbo functionality sees its pace rising to 3.4GHz when extra power is required.

It's paired here with 8GB of RAM. The Intel chip rattled through our application benchmarks to score 0.9 one of the best we've seen from a notebook, and only a sliver behind the MacBook Pro's 0.92. Suffice to say that it's enough to power all but the most demanding of office applications.

Samsung has crammed a high-end graphics core inside the Chronos. The Radeon HD 8870M is one of the most powerful laptop GPUs AMD produces, and it returned a score of 38fps in our 1,920 x 1,080 High-quality Crysis benchmark. That's the sort of graphics power that will handle the latest games as well as high-end graphical applications, and it's also six frames faster than the MacBook could manage in the same test.

Neither high-end component caused the Chronos undue stress in our thermal tests. The processor's top temperature of 82C is well within the chip's safe limits, and the graphics core's peak temperature of 74C is even better. There was no sign of heat on the chassis itself, and little noise from the internal fans an improvement on the MacBook, which became warm to the touch across much of its exterior.

Storage, connectivity and battery life

The Chronos packs a huge 1TB hard disk, but this huge amount of space means a lack of speed. The disk scored a poor 98MB/sec and 88MB/sec in our sequential read and write benchmarks. There's no comparison when it's lined up against the 256GB SSD installed in the MacBook: in those same benchmarks, it scored 477MB/sec and 419MB/sec.

Connectivity is good: dual-band 802.11n Wi-Fi, pairs of USB 3 and USB 2 ports, Gigabit Ethernet and both D-SUB and HDMI outputs are all scattered around the machine's edges, and there's an SD card slot too.

The Samsung's eight-cell battery lasted for 8hrs 36mins in our light-use benchmark, which scrolls through web pages with the screen calibrated to 75cd/m2. It's an excellent result but, again, Apple pips it: in OS X the MacBook ran out of juice after a stupendous 10hrs 34mins.

Overall

Samsung has put together a superb high-end laptop with the Chronos, and there's a lot to like about this office workhorse: a superb screen, lashings of power, a cracking keyboard and an attractive, sturdy chassis. The MacBook Pro's Retina display, aluminium exterior and better battery life means the Apple machine is the better all-round package, but the Chronos is the best alternative we've seen and it's a massive 400 cheaper.

Verdict

With a high-end quad-core processor, discrete graphics and one of the best keyboards available on the market the Chronos 7 is the Windows 8 laptop of choice if money isn't a problem. The pixel density may not be as high as the MacBook Pro, but it's £400 cheaper.

OS: Windows 8 64-bit Processor: 2.4GHz Intel Core i7-3635QM RAM: 8GB DDR3 Storage: 1TB hard disk Screen: 15.6in 1,920 x 1,080 touchscreen Connectivity: Dual-band 802.11n WiFi, Gigabit Ethernet, Bluetooth 4.0 Ports: 2 x USB 3,2 x USB 2, HDMI, D-SUB, SD card slot, audio jack Dimensions: 376 x 250 x 30mm (WDH) Weight: 2.5kg (2.9kg) Warranty: 1yr RTB warranty

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