Just arrived: Samsung 700G7A
Not a name you'd normally associate with gaming notebooks, Samsung's latest 700G7A has just turned up in the office ready for review in issue 235. With its 17.3inch, 1080p screen and £1500 price tag, it's up against some fairly serious opposition from the likes of Alienware and ASUS, but I think it'll do rather well.
First off, it's got a great screen – which is sadly still unusual for a high price laptop in which you'd expect everything to be the best. Part of the reason is that Samsung has a lot of know how when it comes to display technology, but it's also because this is a high frequency monitor designed for 120Hz 3D.
Which means that in 2D mode, it's as good as any laptop display I've seen barring Apple's IPS ones.
Secondly, it's got great specs. Unlike most of its peers in the 3D-laptop world, the 700G7A uses an AMD video card rather than an NVIDIA one. If you watch stereoscopic movies, the glasses are lightly and slightly cooler looking – more like a character in a Daniel Suarez novel than the lead from Joe 90.
More pertinently, though, AMD's notebook video chips are much better value than NVIDIA's at the moment. A similarly priced laptop with a GeForce on board would likely come with a GTX 560M. The Samsung 700G7A packs a Mobility Radeon HD6970M, which more or less doubles most of the benchmarks I've run at high detail settings. That's because the AMD chip is roughly the same as a respectable Radeon HD6850 on the desktop, while the GTX 560M is somewhere between a GT 545 and a GTS 450
Shogun 2's high detail 1080p benchmark goes from 14fps on the GTX 560M to 30 on the HD6970.
Aside from performance, the 700G7A is also really well built. The mostly plastic chassis isn't particularly good looking, but at 3.5Kgs its reasonably light for a 17inch. Most importantly the keyboard is well designed for gaming and there's plenty of I/O connectors, including an easy to upgrade hard drive bay for adding extra storage if you need it.
There's also a rotating dial on the side for switching between an overclocked game mode, general purpose mode, silent 'library' mode and maximum battery saving mode. The last is a bit of a joke – even with the dial locked here you'll be lucky to get two hours out of it because it doesn't switch to the on-board Intel graphics – but you can customise each setting far better than on other laptops, and there's something about its physical presence I love.