Samsung’s Series 5 550P is a hefty ol’ desktop replacement laptop, not to be confused with the slim n sleek Series 5 ultrabook we looked at back in the spring.

It’s on sale now for around £850.

“Wot, another series 5,” you ask. But despite Samsung releasing a series 5 ultrabook in the spring, this is an altogether different beast. It’s a sturdy 32mm thick and at 3kg, it’s light enough to be portable, just about — there’s certainly no mistaking this beast for an ultrabook, though it does look relatively slimline next to its even bigger brother, the Samsung Series 7 Gamer.

Ultrabooks, as we know, are lightweight and great fun, but when you need to get serious, you’ll need a serious laptop, and the Series 5 550P certainly has some serious performance credentials. Its 17in screen is more than big enough to allow you to work comfortably in several windows at once, and features an impressively sharp pixel count of 1600×900 — not quite full 1080p HD, but certainly getting close, which is very welcome at this price point. It has an anti-reflective coating too, which seemed to do the job, allowing us to work easily by the window on a bright day.

The keyboard is nicely spaced and responsive too — easy for big fingers to batter away on, and the touchpad has actual buttons too, which are always welcome. The only problem is the lack of backlighting, which can get a bit irritating if you’re accustomed to working in lowish light.

It has a decent set of connections, with four USB slots (including a pair of fast 3.0s), single HDMI, VGA and Ethernet ports, as well as separate microphone and headphone jacks and an SDXC multicard reader.

The 2.1 JBL speaker system pumps out a pretty good sound too, with the subwoofer refusing to get rattily even with the battle scenes from Avatar on Blu-ray at top volume. There’s possibly a slight trade-off with midrange and treble detail, which you’ll notice more when listening to music rather than watching films, and if that’s an issue, headphones are your best bet.


The processor is a 2.3GHz quad-core Intel ‘Ivy Bridge’ Core i7-3610QM backed by 8GB RAM — powerful stuff in other words. It delivered a PCMark benchmark rating of 2563, which puts it just behind Samsung’s Series 7 Gamer behemoth but ahead of the Series 9. To put that in perspective it made blisteringly fast work of encoding our test 11-minute movie for iTunes — just 1min 33secs, putting it a smidgeon ahead of the Toshiba Satellite P855-G10 and therefore any other laptop we’ve tried. Frame rates when playing Portal were excellent too, sitting comfortably around 290-300fps.

Battery life could be a bit better though. Even though this is a machine that’s likely to spend most of its time plugged into the mains, you’ll still want to go off-piste from time to time, and three hours really isn’t a lot of time to get much done — especially since using Wi-Fi will drop that time considerably. Fortunately, it charges up pretty quickly.

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