There is no shortage of gaming machines on the market, but recently a new contender has arrived, as Samsung has offered its first gaming-focused laptop — the Samsung Series 7 Gamer laptop — which first came out last year as a Windows 7 machine and later was re-released with Windows 8 onboard.
A lot of gamers like to build their own machines (it's usually less expensive to do so), but for those who don't have the ability or desire to do so, these gaming machines are out there to consider.
I recently had the chance to use the Series 7 Gamer, and I have a full rundown on what it has to offer.
First things first, this machine definitely has the look of a gaming machine. You have the extra-large screen, the backlit keyboard, and a design built for proper cooling when the machine is running at a more intense level.
The weight on the machine is 8.39 pounds. This is quite large, but it is also a lot of machine. Due to this, it's not very portable, but if you wanted to give yourself a workout you could lug it around with you.
Samsung recently unveiled at CES this past January their upcoming next generation of Series 7 machines, which will tone down the weight a little bit as they aim for more portability.
Matt Crocker, product marketing manager at Samsung, said the company had the "core mission of being the best mainstream mobile gaming rig available.
First, you have the dial on the machine that allows you to choose your mode: Eco Mode for battery conservation, Library Mode when you want to keep quiet, Standard Mode for a more balanced approach, and then the Gaming Mode — for a full-on approach to give the best gaming experience.
Since you aren't always going to be doing the same thing with the machine, this is a nice feature, though the dial is a bit difficult to move at times.
When you are in Gaming Mode, the Windows key is deactivated to avoid interruptions in game play. The trackpad can be deactivated too, to avoid similar interruptions.
Since intense gaming can heat a machine up pretty quick, Samsung uses a differentiated cooling system that "runs at high performance level while maintaining cool operating environment," according to Crocker. "We revved the cooling and managed so you're optimizing air. Vents open in back, which allows for more air flow out."
Audio and video have also been optimized for gaming (more on that later). And when put into gaming mode, the machine will instruct the processor and graphics card to step things up to the proper levels. The processor is turbocharged in Gaming Mode.
The keyboard on the Series 7 Gamer is amply sized, and features a full additional set of number keys on the right. It's backlit for use in darker environments, and the standard gaming keys &mdash WASD — light up in a different color in gaming mode (red, vs. the blue on the rest of the keys). The backlighting is turned off in Eco Mode, and the keyboard will be backlit in white in Standard Mode. The touchpad is responsive on the machine, and my only complaint about the design is that it was occasionally awkward to type, as the keyboard is quite high from the bottom of the laptop.
While this is a gaming machine, you won't find any games packaged with the Samsung Series 7 Gamer, as there are no bundling options with this model. Providing the games is up to you. But Crocker said that whatever games you play, the machine will be up to the task.
"We've put most aggressive games on there and it runs like a charm," he said.
This, of course, could change in the future if games continue their evolution of being more and more hard on machines; but for the foreseeable future, you should be safe with this machine.
When you get into gaming, battery life is going to suffer. Depending what mode you are using, the Series 7 Gamer will usually give you between 2 and 3 hours of battery life.
2 hours is about what you can expect in the Gaming Mode, and then you can get 3 hours or maybe a little more in Eco Mode.
That's not a lot, but it's not claiming to be an ultrabook with extended battery life. It is what it is, and gamers won't be surprised by these numbers and will likely keep it plugged in a lot of the time, especially when gaming.
Also, as a side note, I must mention that the 8-cell, 200-watt battery itself is quite large and heavy compared with regular laptops' batteries.
This is another very important area if you're buying a gaming laptop. You want to see everything as vividly as possible.
In this area, Samsung has come through with some great numbers and performance. The 17.3-inch screen features a SuperBright Plus display, with a full-HD resolution of 1920x1080. In addition, the brightness level of the screen is 400 nit, which is twice as bright as a standard screen, and the color range offered is 16 million colors.
Crocker said that In addition to the high end of the color spectrum, it also will improve your view in darker games, offering a wider variety of grays and blacks and better shadowing effects.
PROCESSOR, STORAGE, etc
Machines of this nature are all about power, and so the obvious question is what did Samsung use to keep this machine humming.
In terms of graphics, you get the latest NVIDIA GTX675 graphics card, and your processor is an Intel Core i7 Processor (2.30GHz, 6MB L3 Cache).
The impressive specs continue, with a whopping 16GB of RAM, as well as a pair of 750GB hard drives, for a grand total of 1.5 terabytes of storage space.
These are the standard specs, with no real tinkering room, but that's OK. They're strong enough that you don't really need to tinker.
The machine now features the Windows 8 operating system, which I didn't like at first but is growing on me the more I get used to its quirks.
To make sure the sound of your gaming experience is also top-notch, the machine includes Dolby Home Theater sound (stereo speakers and subwoofer), which helps with the overall experience and sort of envelops the room in sound. You can also connect the machine to external speakers or a home theater system.
The machine features a 2.0 megapixel webcam for video chat, and a variety of included software, including:
— Adobe Acrobat Reader
— Microsoft Office Starter 2010
— Trial version of Norton anti-virus software (60 days)
You're pretty much covered here.
For starters, you get a standard Blu-ray disc drive, so not only can you insert your games here, but also you can watch Blu-ray films on a nice large screen.
Then, your full array of ports includes: 1 DisplayPort, 1 HDMI port, 1 VGA port, 1 Ethernet port, 2 USB 2.0 ports, 2 USB 3.0 ports, a 7-in1 Multi-card reader, plus the plug-ins for Microphone and Headphone.
This is a lot of machine, with a lot of power, so it ain't gonna be cheap.
The Samsung Series 7 Gamer will cost you $1,899, so obviously you're going to need to be a pretty serious gamer if you are going to pick up a machine like this. It's not for the casual user. Still, Crocker said that with all it offers, compared to the competition, it's a number some people might agree with.
"The price vs. power ratio is optimized for the consumer. Most ability, most power, most graphic performance; you can have something that can tackle everything and have it at an economical price for a gaming machine. We want it to be attainable," he said.
When you look at the hard numbers, this does in fact turn out to be the case, as many gaming machines with similar specs cost well over $2K. So while it's not exactly cheap, it could be much worse.
While this is Samsung's first machine targeted directly at gamers, they definitely don't look like beginners. Hardcore gamers can be pretty loyal to their equipment, but the numbers here don't lie. Samsung didn't come with a weak offering here, and gamers who are seriously shopping around for a new machine should definitely consider this option.
And if you're waiting for something a little lighter, the new machines Samsung unveiled at CES will be coming pretty soon and might better fit your tastes.
On the Web
For more information on the Samsung Series 7 Gamer laptop, visit www.samsung.com.