Best selling netbook

Samsung N230 Review

Mon, Aug 16, 2010 at 10:03 am

Reviews, Samsung

Trackpad

The N230’s trackpad is of a good size, and has a widescreen feel to it, which matches the display. It supports multitouch, which allows you to pinch zoom with two fingers, go forwards and backwards while browsing with three, and also scroll up and down the page with two. The right hand side also allows you to scroll with one. I found these features to work well.

N230 Trackpad

N230 Trackpad

It has a nice slightly matte finish to it, and while it is flush with the palm rest you can feel the edges of the trackpad from the differing finishes. The two button rocker works well with a firm clear click, but is also very quiet to use.

Performance

The Samsung N230 is powered by the now common Intel Atom N450 1.6Ghz processor. It is a single core processor, but supports hyperthreading so shows up as two cores in windows.

This processor, RAM and graphic combination is fairly standard so we can expect it to perform on par with the other N450 powered netbooks. This generation of Atom processors isn’t any faster than the last, but they do consume less power, resulting in longer run times and cooler operation.

To get a comparison score I ran the N230 through the CrystalMark 2004R3 benchmarking software. It scored 27512, which is on par with other N450 powered netbooks.

  • CrystalMark : 27512
  • ALU: 5039
  • FPU: 4685
  • MEM: 6216 | (Read: 1953.16 MB/s (1953), Write: 1378.52 MB/s (1378))
  • HDD: 8136 | (Read: 68.99 MB/s (2759), Write: 63.12 MB/s (2524))
  • GDI: 1889
  • D2D: 1101
  • OGL: 446

Note: Just to point out, the N230 comes with its own Windows power plan called “Samsung Optimized” set as default. When on this profile and the netbook is running from battery power, it caps / limits the processor speed to 50%, so it’s basically running at just 800MHz.

If the netbook feels slow I would recommend you change to the “Balanced” power profile which will speed up and slow down the CPU speed as is needed, giving you 100% power if needed. OR edit the max speed limit on the Samsung profile.

Battery Life

As netbooks are often used on the go, battery life is one of the most important features of a netbook. The 6-cell battery version of the Samsung N230 which I have here has a very impressive quoted battery life of 13.8 hours.

It is of course quite common for manufacturers to inflate these quoted values somewhat to give them the edge over their competitors, but I have always found Samsung’s values to be fairly accurate in non-demanding situations.

The 6-cell battery is rated at 66Wh (5900mAh).

Samsung N230 Battery

Samsung N230 Battery

I have tested the Samsung N230 battery life by using a new method which I believe will give more accurate results. I ran BatteryMark software to record the status of the battery over time (without stressing the CPU), while also running a simulated Firefox web surfing session, which visits a high number of web pages.

My results found the N230 to last for a very impressive 12 hours 21 mins on power save mode, with 50% LCD brightness, and Bluetooth off. This is the most impressive battery life I have seen to date of any netbook, making the Samsung N230 an ideal travel companion.

I also run a Battery Eater benchmark on the N230, where it stresses the CPU to drain the battery as fast as possible. During this test the N230 managed to last a full 8.5 hours, which is the longest I have seen of any netbook I have tested to date.

Samsung N230 Battery Eater Graph

Samsung N230 Battery Eater Graph

The graph has a long pause in the middle, due to windows going into standby after four hours.  Without the pause, the graph shows just over 8.5 hours.

Display

The 10.1-inch LED backlit LCD has a standard 1024 x 600 pixel (WSVGA) resolution which is common to find on a netbook. But which is more uncommon and great to see is a non-gloss matte finish on the display. This helps reduce the number of reflections and glare bouncing back from the display. As a netbook is designed to be used anywhere, having the matte display means you don’t have to be as picky about the locations you choose to use it.

Samsung N230 Display

Samsung N230 Display

You can easily change the displays brightness using the keyboard, and select between eight different levels. I found 50% brightness to be sufficient for indoor usage.

I can’t measure for sure, but the colors seemed to be richer on the N230 when compared with the display of the N210.

Samsung have also included a tool called “Easy Resolution Manager”, which allows you to set a higher resolution of 1024 x 700 pixel, which gives you some extra screen space, but does reduce the clarity of the image, as it isn’t the displays native resolution.

The bezel around the display is also noticeably slimmer than that of the N210, especially at the top, which makes the overall footprint of the netbook smaller.

Noise / Heat

When it comes to noise and heat, the N230 performs very well in both departments. During normal usage the N230 is practically, if not completely silent.  The fan seems to be off for the most part, and kicking in on very few occasions, but never ramping up to full.

The hard drive is also very quiet, and it is very hard to hear its activity.

I am also very impressed by its running temperature, even during a half hour stress test the N230 remains totally cool to the touch at the top side even around the touchpad, with the bottom left slightly warm to the touch.

Overall, the Samsung N230 is a very quiet netbook and stays cool during usage.

Audio

While audio from portable computers, whether it be a full size laptop or a netbook are normally quite poor due to their small sized speakers which typically produce a rather tinny sound. I must admit I was rather impressed with the sound produced from the Samsung N230.

So much so, I took a further look at the technical specifications where it confirmed that it had a 2.1 channel system with two stereo speakers and a small dedicated sub-woofer for extra bass.

SRS Audio

SRS Audio

The speakers support SRS 3D technology which improve the overall audio quality. Many settings including bass can be adjusted by the pre-installed SRS 3D software.

Software

The Samsung N230 comes with Windows 7 Starter Edition (32-Bit) pre-installed, along with a number of Samsung utilities. Windows 7 runs very well on just 1GB of RAM, but of course, it you wish to boost the N230’s performance when running many applications, you can easily upgrade the RAM to 2GB.

When you first boot the N230, Samsung’s partition manager will load up. This allows you to partition the 250GB hard drive into a single or two partitions. The second partition can be used for Samsung’s backup utility.

Next up is the Easy Resolution manager. This allows you to easily select a higher resolution of 1024 x 768, this gives you some extra height space on the screen, which can be useful for viewing applications which don’t fit on the native resolution. Using Windows you can select a resolution up to 1152 x 867, but as this isn’t the native resolution, image quality is degraded.

Resolution Manager

Resolution Manager

Samsung Update Plus allows you to keep the netbook up to date with the latest hardware drivers and BIOS updates.

Finally there is a speed profile utility which allows you to change from “Silent”, “normal” and “speed” modes, and a USB charging option which allows you to change a USB device while the netbook is turned off.

Samsung Speed Manager

Samsung Speed Manager

Conclusion


I have had very high hopes for the Samsung N230, and I’m very glad to say the N230 has met and even surpassed my expectations. Up until now the Samsung N210 has been my favorite and highest recommended netbook, but this position has now been replaced by the Samsung N230.

Samsung have just about got everything right, not only have they blessed with N230 with a very slim and stylish design, they have also given it a very high build quality, with an excellent keyboard and trackpad.

When you combine this quality and design with the 3 or 6-cell battery it also provides a class leading battery life performance which makes for an ideal netbook.

The RRP is $399 but you can buy the Samsung N230 for around $349 from Amazon in the US.

If you’re in the UK, it’s available for £349 £337 from Amazon UK.

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11 Responses to “Samsung N230 Review”

  1. Sue Morgan Says:

    Hi

    Thank you for this review. I have just bought the N230 and, with 1GB RAM I’m finding it a bit on the slow side. I was told by a MEMORY expert that the memory is not upgradeable so I am very heartened by your review which says to the contrary.

    It was actually your positive and informative reviews of earlier Samsung models which prompted me to buy the latest N230. As a non-expert computer user I find your review of the N230 to be thorough and fair.

    I have only had the machine a few days and, as it is my first netbook everything seems rather small amd strange at the moment. I hope that I will find the N230 every bit as good as your review suggests. Watch this space….

    Sue

    Reply

    • Matt Says:

      Hey Sue, no problem.

      The Samsung N230’s RAM is definitely upgradeable, I just doubled checked to make sure the RAM wasn’t soldered or anything silly. I’m glad this was good news to you.

      I have added a note to the performance section of the review, which writes about the power profiles, and how by default the CPU is limited to 50% (800MHz) when running on battery, and how to change this. This should hopefully help your speed issue.

      Extra RAM can also help, but it’s most helpful when running a number of applications at the same time.

      It can take a little while to get used to the smaller netbook sized screen etc, but I hope you very much enjoy the N230.

      Reply

  2. Jez - SammyNetbook Says:

    Sue, the Sammy Netbook range is RAM upgradeable, it’s fairly cheap and easy to do – there are instructions in your manual. Given the price it is worth doing, but don’t expect a massive boost in performance!

    Reply

  3. Nev Says:

    Hi there, I currently have a samsung 220 with the Broadcom Crystal HD PCIE card installed to take HD Video Playback of the CPU. Can you tell me if the 230 has the same Broadcom Crystal HD Support.

    Thx
    Nev

    Reply

  4. jeffery king Says:

    i once have a samsung N210 but it was stolen i want to buy the latest n230 did it have more advance feautures as the N210 also how can i PURCHASE THIS ONE am from sierra leone

    Reply

  5. Priyanka Says:

    This netbook looks cool. 13.8 hours of battery back up is just awesome. I am using an Intel Atom processor based netbook since last year and it is still giving 6 hours of battery back up.

    I would say that netbooks certainly have some advantages over notebooks like the light weight and compact design.

    Reply


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