Samsung is not a name that the majority of people know, at least in regards to computers. When you think of Samsung, usually the first thing that pops into your head is "HDTV". They are primarily a electronics/appliance company, not a computer company. Yet if you go to Samsung's website, you see a whole lineup of notebooks (twenty-three to be exact). That does not include netbooks, or even their new Chromebook. In fact, some of the other notebook models still available and still supported are not even shown on their website. Samsung does not sell notebooks directly, rather it sells them through retailers (online and physical).
One notebook in particular, the RC512, is not shown on the Samsung product page, but is still available and supported. Before it is asked, this laptop is definitely not last generation. I bought the RC512-S01 through Best Buy at one of their physical locations. If you check the Best Buy website, you will not find this model anywhere, because it is sold in some stores only. In fact, it appears to be Best Buy specific. If you manage to get your hands on the RC512-S01, then the asking price is $899 new. So what do you get for that price? Let's look at several categories: Specifications, Performance (web browsing, media, games and apps), Design, Special Features, and Support.
The Samsung RC512-S01 has a interesting set of specifications for its price range. Most retail outlets seem to carry a laptop with an Intel Core i5 processor for the same price as the Samsung, however the processor here is a quad-core Intel Core i7-2630QM. The processor uses hyper-threading technology to allow for up to 8-threads of process power. This means that there are four physical processor cores and four virtual cores. I imagine as apps become more multi-core aware this will become more important. This Intel Core i7 also boasts a 2.0 GHz core clock speed with speed up to 2.90 GHz using TurboBoost 2.0. This allows the processor to increase speed for short periods of time when running high performance tasks. The processor also has 6 MB of cache and is fully 64-bit compatible.
Like most Sandy Bridge Intel Core i5/i7 processors (except for the unlocked K series), the processor has an integrated Intel HD 3000 graphics chip (HD 2000 in desktops). The default amount of RAM is 6 GB of DDR3 PC3-10700 RAM. The RAM is, of course, manufactured by Samsung (Samsung makes a lot of RAM in their own factories). The hard drive is a 5400 RPM Hitachi TravelStar 750 GB hard disk. There is also an integrated wireless card, which is an Intel Centrino WiMax 6250 b/g/n card. The display comes as a 15.6-inch HD display with a max resolution of 1366 x 768.
Another piece of information: the Samsung RC512 has a dedicated NVIDIA GeForce GT 525M graphics card with DirectX 11 support and NVIDIA Optimus technology (more on that later). The machine has two USB 3.0 ports, two USB 2.0 ports, a HDMI port, a VGA port, and a Blu-ray drive as well. All of these parts are combined with an Intel HM65 series board. Some of the parts, like the Blu-Ray drive, are rarely seen in a sub $1000 dollar machine; however seeing them in this machine may be a break for those wanting high-end parts in a affordable package.
The machine performs quite well for its price range. The machine seems to handle HD video well, and can easily handle displaying both video and web-browsing at the same-time; the screenshot below shows this in action.
As noted in the screenshot, the processor usage remains at 6 percent while performing these tasks, and RAM usage stays at 1.73 GB. This is very low and easily allows you to multi-task at the same time. More on the performance on the next page.
Stock images courtesy of Samsung