Samsung Series 7 All-in-One review: Beautiful design, but average performance
Samsung possesses one of the better design aesthetics in the industry, and it shows in the design of the 23.6-inch display model of the Series 7 All-in-One. This $1000 PC will draw many an admiring look, and its Core i5 CPU helps it deliver smooth everyday performance and wonderful movie viewing. But gameplay is strictly low-res, and as with most all-in-ones, you're paying a lot for the form factor.
One of the first things you'll notice about the Series 7 is that the power button is on the front. Most all-in-ones force you to hunt for it. Fortunately, the LED that back-lights the button is relatively low-key and shouldn't bug you when you're watching a movie or listening to music.
The bezel surrounding the display and most of the PC is black, while the attractively styled base and edge trim are silver. Unlike some all-in-ones we've seen recently, the base/stand doesn't block access to the surface it sits on. You can fit stuff underneath, including the keyboard, when you're not using it, and you can easily reach the desk or table area behind it.
The keyboard and mouse that Samsung ships with the Series 7 are wireless and are styled to match the all-in-one. The short-throw keyboard has a decent feel, but bangers might not like its relatively weak tactile feedback. The heft of the mouse is slightly above average, primarily because of the battery inside. To most users it will feel solid but not heavy.
The Series 7 comes with plenty of ports. On the left, hidden behind a flip-open panel are an SD-Multi slot, two USB 3.0 ports, and headset and microphone jacks. On the back are a Kensington lock port, a power jack, ethernet, three USB 2.0 ports (one of which is occupied by the keyboard/mouse wireless dongle), an HDMI input and output, and a DisplayPort jack. The right side houses a DVD-RAM burner.
Samsung's manual for the Series 7 describes such options as a TV tuner, a TV antenna jack, and a Blu-ray drive. Alas, those are available only on international models. Apparently, we don't watch TV or high-definition movies on disc here in the United States. Who knew? You can add easily a TV tuner via USB, at your own expense.
Components and performance
Our test unit, Samsung's model DP700A3D-A01US, featured an Intel Core i5-3470T, 6GB of DDR3-1600 memory, and a 5400-rpm, 2.5-inch, 1TB, Seagate ST1000LM024 hard drive. This configuration registered a 62 on our PCWorld Labs' WorldBench 8 test suite--a decent mark, but nothing to write home about. It seemed to handle most tasks smoothly and responsively.
The integrated Intel HD 2500 graphics core, on the other hand, is hopeless for anything other than extremely casual games. Nothing even moderately ambitious will look good at the 800-by-600-pixel resolution you'll need to use to achieve tolerable frame rates. The other configuration available in the United States--the $1700 DP700A7D-S03US--boasts a 27-inch display and discrete graphics in the form of an AMD Radeon HD 7850M. That setup should perform significantly better with A-list games.
Our test system may heave been subpar for gaming, but movies looked and sounded great. Despite the absence of a subwoofer, I was surprised that I could hear audible bass tones. I wouldn't call it "thumping," but you won't immediately reach for the headphones. The included Dolby Home Theater software helps quite a bit with the quality and spaciousness of the sound.
The DP700A3D-A01US runs Windows 8, and Samsung provides CyberLink's PowerDVD and Power2Go for movie playback and disc burning. You also get several Samsung apps for the Windows 8 modern interface, including more-capable photo and movie players (the software supports DVD movie playback, but not Blu-ray).
The bottom line
With the Series 7 All-in-One, Samsung delivers a solid, nice-looking all-in-one PC that has few weaknesses other than as a gaming machine. For everyday standard computing chores, it should do nicely. That said, it would be nice to see options such as a solid-state drive, a discrete graphics card, TV connections, and a Blu-ray drive to pump up performance and fill out the entertainment package.