Whatever your opinion of the technology, there’s no doubt that 3D is here to stay, thanks to a stream of TVs in the shops, films in the cinema and Blu-Rays on the shelves. The technology is steadily infiltrating other aspects of tech as well, as the latest entertainment laptop from Samsung proves. This beast of a machine comes with a pair of active-shutter 3D glasses in the box and couples that with an AMD Radeon HD 6970M mobile graphics chipset. Combined with TriDef’s software and 3D drivers, this allows you to play games, watch 3D movies and even convert 2D DVDs into 3D.
It isn’t the first 3D laptop we’ve seen, but it’s the most convincing. Although the TriDef system requires some setting up for games to work properly, the 3D is very effective indeed. The foliage of Crysis seems almost to brush against your face as you bushwhack through the jungle, and scenes have amazing depth.
The laptop does a good job of playing 3D movies, too. A copy of CyberLink PowerDVD 10 is also included, which is better at converting 2D movies to 3D than the TriDef software, and it will also play 3D and standard Blu-ray discs. The slim, lightweight Samsung-branded glasses included with the laptop are the most comfortable we’ve used. What’s most impressive about this laptop, though, is the 17.3in 1920 x 1080 screen. With our X-Rite colorimeter, we measured a maximum brightness of 360cd/m2 and a contrast ratio of 923:1, which is plenty to offset the darkening effect of the 3D glasses. Without glasses it looks gloriously crisp and colourful.
The 3D is by no means the Series 7 Gamer’s only strength. It has a beefy quad-core 2.2GHz Intel Core i7-2670QM CPU, 8GB of RAM, and a huge amount of storage, with twin 1TB hard disks and an 8GB SSD used exclusively by Samsung’s ExpressCache system. The latter is aimed at speeding up application launch times, although our tests indicated only small improvements.
In concert with its top-end AMD Radeon HD 6970M graphics chipset, the Series 7 sailed through our tests. In the PC&TA benchmarks, a score of 0.84 puts it right up there with the fastest of laptops, and gaming performance was exceptional. In the Low, Medium and High quality Crysis tests it scored 135fps, 84fps and 56fps respectively. Frame rates in 3D halve, however, so quality settings will need to be tweaked for smooth gameplay.
It’s a nicely put together laptop, too, with just enough lights to mark it out as a ‘gamer’ without looking too garish. Audio is loud and balanced from the onboard speakers, and the touchpad and keyboard are lovely to use. The latter has silky-smooth keys and a soft, yet positive action, plus a blue backlight that can be switched on and off and adjusted in intensity. Connectivity comprises two USB 3 and two USB 2 ports, plus three types of video output to suit all displays: HDMI, DisplayPort and D-SUB.
There are downsides to such a blunderbuss approach to laptop construction, though, and the first is size. The Series 7, even by gaming laptop standards, is massive: it’s 54mm thick and weighs 4kg; and with a small 5900mAh battery, stamina isn’t great, lasting only 2hrs 50mins in our light-use battery test.
However, if you need a powerful home system that you can put away at the end of the day, or a portable entertainment and gaming centre with 3D support, the Series 7 Gamer has plenty going for it. It may be expensive, but for a proper power gaming laptop the price is actually quite reasonable, considering the ultra-beefy specs.