Samsung Notebook 5 (NP550XTA-K01US) BGA Turdbook Hater's Review

Discussion in 'Samsung' started by Mr. Fox, Sep 2, 2018.

  1. Mr. Fox

    Mr. Fox Undefiled BGA-Hating Elitist

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    After more than a decade of being a laptop enthusiast/overclocker, I recently abandoned über-expensive high performance notebooks with desktop CPUs and high end mobile graphics cards in favor of using a real desktop computer. Still needing something for email and web browsing while traveling, using a disgusting touch-screen tablet or Chromebook just made me feel sick to my stomach because I hate that kind of garbage technology. Those are glorified smartphones and I really hate using a smartphone for that. Here is my down-and-dirty review of this fancy little BGA turdbook.

    [​IMG]

    After being discouraged by the ludicrous pricing of all of the pathetic BGA notebook garbage options, I stumbled onto the Samsung Notebook 5 at Best Buy. It's on sale now for $499.
    While is it a pretty wimpy product in terms of performance, and BGA, the metal chassis, striking good looks and 1920x1080 display got my attention. It was at the edge in the price range I wanted, and everything else in this price range is flimsy plastic trash with 1366x768 display resolution. I wrestled with the idea of buying it, and finally pulled the trigger with the knowledge that I could take it back for a refund within 14 days.

    The performance of the AMD Ryzen 5 Mobile 2500U has a CPU-Z benchmark score that falls in between the i7-2600K and the i5-7600K. Like most laptops, the BIOS is almost worthless in terms of options. This one has a tacky-looking UI that is in Windows 10 style... about 4 ugly pastel-colored tiles with almost no useful options. But, I was pleased to see that I had an option to disable Secure Boot and disable the TPM module. I did both immediately. I cannot find any way to manipulate CPU voltage, power limits or clock speeds. (That was one of the first things I tried to do to get a little better performance from it.)

    The Radeon Vega 8 Mobile isn't impressive, but it seems to be as good or better than the Intel integrated graphics that everything else in this super-low price range would have. The GPU memory runs no faster than the shared DDR4 memory speed. MSI Afterburner and Sapphire Trixx will not allow manipulation of the GPU core clock or voltage. That was the second thing I tried after looking for a way to better tune the CPU. AMD seems to have intentionally locked the APU down as tight as a gnat's posterior orifice.

    It appears the motherboard has 4GB or DDR4-2400 soldered to it, with one slot populated by a 4GB DDR4-2400 SO-DIMM. The WiFi/BT card is permanently soldered to the motherboard. There is an available M.2 slot. I tried one of my 960 Pro NVMe drives in that slot, but it appears to not support NVMe (PCI-e) storage. I will have to try an M.2 SATA SSD in that slot. The 1TB HDD is fine for file storage, but it's sluggish... as anyone should expect a HDD to be.

    Battery life using the high performance profile with all power saving features disabled looks to be in the 6 hour range. With the power saver profile, one can probably squeeze between 6 to 8 hours from it. I generally never run on battery, so it's not something I can speak to precisely. That's what the task bar tray icon shows when I hover over it.

    I really hate clickpads (touchpads without buttons) but have to admit that this one is the best I have ever used. It's not nearly as spastic as the others I have used. It offers much better cursor control than any other clickpad I have used on a Windows notebook. I would prefer a touchpad with buttons, but I generally use a wireless mouse and avoid using touch-based input devices whenever possible. I forced myself to use it 2 days with the buttonless clickpad and tolerated it as well as I could ever hope to.

    In summary, it's a decent buy for under $600. I would absolutely recommend it on that basis for anyone looking for a nice looking, well-built entry-level consumer notebook that will do a great job of web browsing, email and watching videos on YouTube or Netflix for the lowest price possible. If you expect to do anything more demanding than this, then expect to at least double the price for an entry level BGA gaming trashbook. Adjusting my expectations to match the price, I think I am going to keep it and use it for the purpose I intended when purchasing it.

    Most of all, I am really pleased with the 1080p screen and chassis build quality. Those are what attracted me to in to begin with, and those will ultimately be the reasons I decide to keep it, if I decide to keep it. I am not willing to use a system with a lower display resolution and there is nothing better I can find in the sub-$600 price range. Kudos to Samsung for making this truly super low-priced option available with decent built quality and s FHD display.

    Pros:
    • Metal chassis
    • 1920 x 1080 display resolution
    • 4C/8T CPU with slightly better than anemic performance
    • There is an undocumented M.2 2280 SSD slot in the chassis that may support an M.2 SATA SSD
    • Buttonless clickpad is more tolerable than others I have used
    • Under $600
    Cons:
    • No keyboard backlighting
    • Latest BIOS Update from Samsung to "improve performance and stability" lowers CPU boost clock by about 100MHz
    • 8GB of DDR4-2400 memory in "Dual Channel" is 4GB on the motherboard, plus one slot with 4GB stick of same
    • WiFi/BT module is soldered to the motherboard
    • Single pipe heat sink is "tripod" design and cooling system is very small (but, the CPU and GPU temps are OK in spite of this)
    • There is an undocumented M.2 2280 SSD slot in the chassis that does not support NVMe
    • Almost everything else pathetic (excluding the above pros) that you would expect in this price range for a low-budget BGA turdbook
    Nice looking aluminum lid...
    [​IMG]Nice looking aluminum bottom cover...
    [​IMG]
    Nice looking aluminum top cover...
    [​IMG]
    Nice 1080p display...
    [​IMG]
    Right side USB port and Kensington lock slot...
    [​IMG]
    Rear panel exhaust vents...
    [​IMG]
    Front panel... nothing except a finger slot to raise the lid...[​IMG]
    Left side power jack, LAN, HDMI, USB (2) and headphone jack...[​IMG]
    1TB HDD, One SO-DIMM, wimpy heat sink and fan (but temps are OK)...
    [​IMG]
    Empty M.2 slot (does not appear to support NVMe... haven't tested SATA yet)...
    [​IMG]
    CPU-Z Validation: https://valid.x86.fr/nwn0sg - AMD Ryzen 5 Mobile 2500U @ 3168.58 MHz
    CPU load temps...
    [​IMG]
    CPU-Z benchmarks...
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG] [​IMG][​IMG] [​IMG][​IMG] [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2018
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  2. Mr. Fox

    Mr. Fox Undefiled BGA-Hating Elitist

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    If anyone can figure out a way to overclock the APU (CPU and GPU cores) please share it in this thread. I have about 12 days left to decide whether or not I am going to keep it or return it to Best Buy for a refund.
     
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2018
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  3. Robbo99999

    Robbo99999 Notebook Prophet

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    I reckon an M2 SSD would do some wonders for that laptop - don't want to rely on slow HDD's for operating systems nowadays! Yeah, that would speed up the whole laptop user experience.

    You say the CPU performance of that little AMD CPU is similar to i7-2600K - hey that's pretty good!
     
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  4. Arrrrbol

    Arrrrbol Notebook Evangelist

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    Another way to look at it: better performance than a Macbook for less than half the price. I can't believe they are still using dual cores on those, they should have been relegated to the dustbin of history at least 5 years ago.
     
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  5. Robbo99999

    Robbo99999 Notebook Prophet

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    WUT, dual cores! I know nothing about Macs apart from their expense, history of using inferior hardware at inflated costs, and closed wall gardens - sounds like a good buy-in doesn't it!
     
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  6. Danishblunt

    Danishblunt Notebook Virtuoso

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    You overclock the APU via the BIOS, if you don't have the options in the BIOS you could upload it and people like me could unlock it.

    Overall the review is uselss. Almost no accurate information, only garbage subjective opinions.
     
  7. Dannemand

    Dannemand Decidedly Moderate Super Moderator

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    Hey @Mr. Fox. Thank you for posting your review. I cannot believe how similar it looks to my NP700Z3A and the original Series 7/Chronos models -- which date back to 2011. I guess they came up with a somewhat timeless design.

    @Danishblunt: There is absolutely nothing wrong with posting a review (on NBR, of all places) that reflects a member's personal experience and opinion about a device. I find such reviews at least as useful as ones containing endless lists of benchmark scores (which of course have value too). This review in particular contains a wealth of pictures, including a lot of objective CPU-Z and HWiNFO data.

    There IS, however, something wrong with the tone of your post. We're used to a "mature" tone here in Samsung. Just as Mr. Fox is entitled to post his opinion about the NP550XTA, you are entitled to post your opinion as well -- within reason. I am sure you are already familiar with our top forum rule on NBR:

    Just be careful, you're walking on the edge.
     
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  8. hfm

    hfm Notebook Virtuoso

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    Had to wade through and :rolleyes: at the extremist opinions littered throughout, but I know your style and opinions well by now, so it was expected. :p

    Samsung is kind of killing it with the ultrabooks these days, but they strangely don't get much visibility. I'm eyeing the Notebook 9 15" (16GB model) very seriously due to it's inclusion of 4-lane Thunderbolt 3. It's insanely light at 2.82 lbs... unreal for what you get. I could dual-boot linux and windows on that thing and ditch my MacBook for dev work pretty easily. And the battery on it is insane.

    This does sound like the perfect little laptop to just do some light work on. Have to agree there. Obviously no one would ever expect this thing to be anything other than what it is, a $600 ultrabook.

    EDITS:
    oh wow you got it for $499.. that's not bad at all..
    You could just dump a 2.5" SATA SSD in there if the m.2 slot doesn't work out. Would probably help it immensely for performance perception in general use.
     
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2018
  9. Grant B Gibson

    Grant B Gibson Notebook Deity

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    For $499, this is likely the best ultrabook you can get, and its seems to be suprisingly well made. The design reminds me a lot of the school chromebook I'm typing this one, but far less cheap. Overall, I hope you had a fun time with it
     
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  10. GrandesBollas

    GrandesBollas Notebook Consultant

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    Brings back too many nightmares of this POS:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HP_Mini

    Happiest day in my life (post family stuff) was tossing this in the trash can.

    Comes to prove - size does matter
     
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