Samsung’s NP300E5A is the Core i3 model in its Series 3 family of “essential” laptops and is priced to appeal to those who want an affordable but not wholly gutless notebook PC. To this end for your money you get an Intel i3-2330M 2.2GHz processor with 4GB of RAM and a 500GB HDD.

To help keep the cost down there’s no discrete graphics, instead it relies on Intel’s integrated HD 3000 GPU. That means that serious gaming is pretty much out of the question though to be fair it can play Crysis just as long as you dial the graphics down.

There more than enough power on hand for anything less demanding though. The PC Mark 7 benchmark test threw up a score of 1820, which isn’t at all bad for a machine with a price tag south of £500.

Connectivity wise you get three USB ports though none of them are USB 3.0 nor do you get a eSata/USB combo port either. You do get the obligatory SD card reader though and an HDMI output and a DVD-RW drive.

The keyboard uses chiclet style keys which are very well placed and very comfortable to type on. Thanks to a wide chassis there is even room for a numeric keypad. The off-centre trackpad is big and well calibrated and the two mouse buttons have a very positive action. All told this is a very pleasant machine to use.

The bog standard 15.6in 16:9 screen has an equally bog standard 1366 x 768 resolution but unusually it’s a non-reflective panel and the colours aren’t as dull as you often find on some matt displays. The viewing angles are rather good too.

What really separates the Samsung Series 3 range from other budget laptops is the black and silver colour scheme and what Samsung calls a Duracase body. This means the lid is corrugated for extra and strength and stiffness and is scratch resistant.

The silver and black styling continues on the chassis top with the silver wrist pads and trackpad set against the black finish of the rest of the deck. All in all it’s a very nice looking machine and a major improvement over the sea of cheap black plastic you usually get on budget machines.

The 4,400mAh battery gives pretty decent results. I played a 720p video for just over four hours before the lights went out and in day-to-day use you can expect around five and a half hours from a charge just so long as you keep the screen brightness at a reasonable level.

Look on Samsung's website and you will only find the more expensive Core i5 Series 3 models. That’s because the Core i3 version is exclusive to Currys, Dixons and PC World who will flog you one for a very reasonable £430.

MyDadRocks Rating: 8.5/10

MyDadRocks Verdict
The matt screen, excellent keyboard and stylish and slightly toughened body are enough to set the 300E5A appart from the hordes of budget 15.6in laptops available. For the vast majority of people it’s all the computer they will ever need and should give a good few years of pleasurable and reliable service.

Spedification
Display: 15.6in 1366 x 768 non-reflective
CPU: Intel i3-2330M 2.2GHz, 4GB of DDR3 RAM
Storage: 500GB HDD
Camera: 1.3MP webcam
Networking: 802.11n WiFi, Bluetooth 3.0, Gigabit Ethernet
Connectivity: USB2.0 x 3, VGA, SD Card, HDMI, 3.5mm audio
Battery: 4,400mAh lithium-ion
Dimensions: 368 x 243 x 33mm / 2.3Kg
Price: £430

Info: http://www.samsung.com/uk/consumer/pc-peripherals/notebook-computers/essential/NP300E5A-A06DX

Review by Brian Keyes

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