The glossy black plastic hood is sure to pick up every fingerprint going, but apart from that, the NP700G7A is a well-finished product. The various parts have been assembled nicely with no wobbles or loose-feeling pieces. Plus, the brushed aluminium keyboard surround and wrist-rest add a stylish touch.
The keyboard keys are backlit and they're comfortable and instinctive to type with. On the whole, the keyboard is pleasant to use and you won't find yourself hitting the wrong keys too often. Like Medion, Samsung has paid particular attention to the WSAD keys—those most frequently used by gamers (right-handed gamers in any case) for moving around in FPS games like Call of Duty, Doom, etc.
The touchpad doesn't stick to your finger or hinder glide, and is equipped the main multitouch functions. It's nice and big, and offers a decent scrolling speed. For gaming, we'd still recommend a mouse, though, as it's pretty much impossible to play as well with a touchpad.
The webcam (720p) is perfectly fine for chatting over the web or video-conferencing, which isn't bad for a built-in model. For high-quality movies, however, you'll definitely need a better device. All in all, movement could be rendered more accurately and the image could be more detailed.
This laptop has a good range of connections, spread over the sides and rear edge of the device. There are four USB ports (2 x 3.0 and 2 x 2.0), an Ethernet port, an SD card reader, a headphones socket and a microphone socket. On top of that, the NP700G7A has a Blu-ray player, which goes very nicely with the Full HD screen. You don't have to stick with watching content on the laptop screen either, as this 17.3-inch notebook has three video output ports—VGA, DVI and HDMI—for connection to a TV or monitor.
On the right-hand edge of the laptop there's a thumb-wheel for changing power-saving settings on the fly. At the highest setting, performances are all set to the max, while at the lowest setting, energy saving options help make the battery last longer. This is a handy addition that doesn't look out of place on the laptop. Plus, it's much quicker than using the power management function in Windows.
Seeing as they come loaded with powerful components, gaming laptops are often noisier than average. Samsung, however, seems to have done a good job with the NP700G7A, as in an environment with some background noise you'll barely notice this laptop at all—when gaming with the sound on it'll soon be drowned out. Heat is handled well too, with temperatures kept under 40°C. Plus, hot air is expelled from the back of the laptop so you won't end up with red-hot knees. For a laptop with components like this, that's really not bad at all. Nice work Samsung!
Temperature readings from the NP700 with the components working hard.
Readings taken with a Fluke Ti25 camera.
Power saving settings dial
Hood (complete with fingerprints)
Power port, Ethernet, VGA, HDMI, DisplayPort, USB 3.0 (X 2), SD card slot, mic and headphones ports
2 x USB 2.0 ports, DVD burner and Blu-ray player
Processing Power: Very Good
The NP700G7A processor is very powerful, but that's no real surprise since we'd already seen this CPU in action in the Medion X6813. The processor in question is the four-core Intel Core i7-2630M, which can run two processes in parallel in each core. With programs that are designed to share out their processing needs among several CPU cores, it'll be twice as effective as a processor like the Core i5-2430M. From office computing and decompressing files to HD video encoding and 3D modelling, nothing is beyond this machine and it does everything nice and quickly.
Windows 7 Home Premium (64 bit) starts up in 32 seconds. It then takes between 10 and 15 seconds to launch the various programs and connect to a Wi-Fi network. It then takes just under 15 seconds to turn the computer off fully.
This laptop is quicker than average thanks to a little 8 GB SSD that's built onto the motherboard. This drive isn't designed to store personal files or data, but is used by the computer to store frequently used items. This helps the PC load up frequently used programs or files more quickly and it also helps the computer boot up more quickly after being on standby or in sleep mode compared with models that only have an HDD.
Games: Excellent in 2D, Less Excellent in 3D
Thanks to the AMD HD6970M graphics card, the NP700G7A offers excellent performances in games ... so long as you stick to 2D. This 17.3-inch laptop can handle pretty much all the latest games with no problems at all—you'll only need to turn graphics detail down in a handful of particularly power-hungry games (e.g. Crysis, Metro 2033).
Creating an extra image to deliver stereoscopic 3D means extra work for the graphics card. This instantly reduces the number of games you can play without making some kind of compromise. Since you can't reduce the resolution using TriDef (the 3D gaming software on the NP700G7A), graphics detail will need to be pushed down to a mid-range setting to keep things running reasonably smoothly.
Audio: Average but AdequateThe audio input and output are nothing out of the ordinary, but they do their job just fine. Sound quality is acceptable, with a decent volume level, but the output could still be cleaner and crisper.
The 2.1 speakers and Dolby audio processing should, in theory, make for excellent audio quality. However, it's actually pretty bog-standard stuff in the end. While overall quality is on par with competitor laptops, we were hoping for something a little better.