There is a recent trend in the portable computing space to go smaller and smaller, with super-slim ultrabooks and the like becoming extremely popular for those who need their basic remote computing needs fulfilled. However, Samsung continues to support the market for more powerful, albeit slightly heftier laptops – a market which anyone who wants the option to play games will probably appreciate.
The Series 7 Chronos falls into this market, although I would not call it a “gaming laptop”. Don’t expect any of the bright colours, or extravagant design features that Alienware has become known for. There is no indication that the design team behind this machine was targeting gamers, and there is not a single sign of the pandering “gamer slang” to be found anywhere – amen. What we do have, is a powerful laptop packed in a solid, neat and elegant shell.
The brushed chrome aesthetic is simple and tasteful, and resists finger prints quite admirably. The laptop is extremely slim, considering what it’s packing underneath the hood, and although I wouldn’t call it heavy, it is not super light, weighing about 2.5 kilograms. I have been told by a few friends that it looks like it’s trying to be a MacBook. Except that MacBooks are white and shiny, and come standard with a glossy plastic finish. In fairness, the Chronos’ keyboard keys are strikingly similar to Apple’s, but beyond that, I see no meaningful resemblance. Put simply, the Chronos is a tightly designed machine, with minimalist, unique and tasteful design elements.
But it’s what’s under the hood that sold me on the machine at the end of the day. The particular laptop I purchased came with an Intel Core i7-3615QM CPU clocked at 2.3 GHz, 8GB of DDR3 RAM running at 1,600MHz, and an NVIDIA GeForce 640M graphics card. These specifications are by no means top of the range, but they do enable you to play pretty much anything currently available. The laptop handles Far Cry 3 admirably on medium settings at a resolution of 1,600 x 900. It was also able to handle Battlefield 3 quite well on medium settings, and it ploughed through less demanding titles such as Modern Warfare 3, StarCraft II and Dota 2 with all settings maxed out effortlessly.
The machine I purchased came fitted with a 1TB 7,200 RPM hard drive, as well as an extra ExpressCache 8GB solid state partition which is used for booting Windows. It’s not quite the same as having a dedicated solid state drive, but it does provide a compromise whereby the laptop offers large storage potential, and boots a little quicker than what we’d expect from a regular hard drive.
The 15.6-inch SuperBright 300 nit anti-reflective LED display is crisp and clear, although the machine I purchased was limited to a resolution of 1,600 x 900. Full HD would have been nice, but given the relatively small size of the screen, it’s really not necessary. Other features include a slot loading DVD writer, Gigabit Ethernet LAN input, 802.11b/g/n WiFi, Bluetooth 3.0, HDMI out, headphone and earphone out, two USB 3.0 slots and one USB 2.0 slot, three-watt stereo speakers, and an eight-cell battery that lasts around 4-5 hours, depending on your usage.
All in all, I could not be much happier with the Samsung Chronos. I paid R13,500 for it at Dion Wired, and an identical machine with Windows 8 instead of Windows 7 was also available for R16,000. For under R15,000 you will struggle to find a laptop that marries design, build quality and power so successfully, and for that, I tip my hat to Samsung.