If we hadn’t just spent time ogling HP’s Envy 17, we might have appreciated the Samsung RF710’s aesthetics more. After all, it too sports a sleek, sophisticated design. It’s just that everything about the RF710 looks low-rent compared to the Envy 17. That’s not so surprising, considering that the RF710 costs more than $1,000 less. The two notebooks have nearly the exact same dimensions, but the RF710 is a pound or so lighter. That’s because, rather than sporting an all-metal chassis, as the Envy 17 does, the RF710 is primarily plastic. It’s made to look nice, with a metallic finish offsetting the chiclet keyboard, and a glossy black finish on the lid and screen bezel—which will unfortunately be marred by fingerprints in short order.
A row of buttons above the RF710’s chiclet keyboard let you control or mute volume and enable or disable Wi-Fi.
The screen itself is also of a lesser quality, with a lower resolution of 1600x900 and noticeably less-vibrant colors. You can connect the RF710 to a larger display using either its HDMI or VGA port, which might do better justice to the Blu-ray movies you can play in the notebook’s optical drive.
Fortunately, Samsung didn’t skimp on its processor. The RF710 boasts the same 1.6GHz Core i7-720QM that we found in the Envy 17, and therefore achieved similar leads over our zero-point in the content creation benchmarks—and one inexplicably large lead in ProShow, a result that was replicated in a second run.
In gaming, the RF710 performed adequately. Its Nvidia GeForce GT 330M ran toe-to-toe with the Envy 17’s HD 5850 in Far Cry 2, our more demanding gaming benchmark, but it was blown away by the HD 5850 in Call of Duty 4. Either way, you’re looking at a notebook that’s going to do its best gaming on older titles.
But for the price, the RF710’s trade-offs seem reasonable. It might not be constructed of premium materials, but it still seems well made. It offers robust processing power and decent gaming capabilities in a slim profile, and an easy-to-access free drive bay makes it possible to add extra storage. It also comes complete with two USB 3.0 ports. If you’re looking for a well-rounded machine at a budget price, the RF710 fits that bill.
Quad-core CPU; decent at games; lightweight for a 17-inch notebook; good price.
We’d prefer a 1920x1080 screen; GPU isn’t great for new games; glossy black lid means smudges.
1.6GHz Intel Core i7-720QM
Samsung 640GB 5,400rpm
Blu-ray ROM / DVD+/-RW
Nvidia GeForce GT 330M
HDMI, VGA, Mini DisplayPort, Ethernet, two USB 2.0, two USB 3.0, headphone out, mic in, 4-in-1 media reader, webcam, Bluetooth, 802.11g
6 lbs, 9.2 oz / 7 lbs, 9.2 oz
Premiere Pro CS3 (sec)
Photoshop CS3 (sec)
Far Cry (fps)
Call of Duty 4 (fps)
Battery Life (min)
Our zero-point notebook is an iBuypower M865TU with a 3.06GHz Core 2 Duo T9900, 4GB DDR3/1066, a 500GB Seagate hard drive, a GeForce GTX 260M, and 64-bit Windows 7 Professional. Far Cry 2 tested at 1680x1050 with 4x AA; Call of Duty tested at 1680x1050 with 4x AA and 4x anisotropic filtering.