Ivy Bridge, 8000-series Radeons team up in new Samsung notebooks

Samsung is showing a little bit of everything at CES this year, including cameras, televisions, and a new top-loading washing machine. The firm also has a couple of interesting Series 7 notebooks with Ivy Bridge CPUs and discrete Radeon graphics—and one of them is an ultrabook. That particular model is the appropriately named Series 7 Ultra, which will be available in touch and non-touch configurations. Both versions have a 13.3" display with a 1080p resolution.

The Series 7 Ultra's metal chassis meaures 0.7" thick on the standard model and 0.74" for the touchscreen variant, with respective system weights of 3.2 and 3.6 lbs. That might seem a little hefty, but these machines combine Radeon HD 8570M discrete graphics processors with either Core i5 or i7 CPUs; they're not exactly short on horsepower. The Radeon GPU has 1GB of dedicated memory, and up to 16GB of RAM can be plugged into the system.

On the storage front, SSD capacities are available up to 256GB. A version of the machine with built-in LTE connectivity is also in the cards, although it looks like that option will be reserved for touchscreen models. Samsung estimates battery life at eight hours.

If you want a bigger display, the Series 7 Chronos offers a 15.6" touchscreen with the same 1080p resolution as the Ultra. This larger model measures 0.8" thick and tips the scales at 5.2 lbs, but its internals are even more potent than those of the ultrabook. The CPU is Intel's quad-core Core i7-3635QM, a 45W chip with a 3.4GHz peak Turbo speed. AMD supplies the Radeon HD 8870M GPU, which comes with 2GB of its own memory.

Like the Series 7 Ultra, the Chronos can be configured with up to 16GB of system RAM. Samsung is shipping the system with Condusiv's RAMaccelerator software, which promises up to a "150 percent increase in speed for browsing and running apps." Sounds fishy to me, and I can't help but wonder why Samsung didn't go with a solid-state cache to complement the system's mechanical hard drive. The claimed 11-hour battery life is a pleasant surprise, though.

Both Series 7 systems sport backlit keyboards and large, clicky touchpads. The Chronos serves up an extra USB 3.0 port and a numpad, but that's about it for extras. Unfortunately, Samsung's press materials make no mention of whether either system uses an IPS panel. Our own Scott Wasson has seen both notebooks, and he says the screens look gorgeous even under the harsh lighting typical of trade-show settings. Fingers crossed.

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