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Home > Ultrabook Reviews & Notebook Reviews > Samsung Series 7 Ultra (NP740U3E-A01UB) / Samsung ATIV Book 7


Samsung Series 7 Ultra (Samsung ATIV Book 7)

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Where to Buy (Best Buy)

What's Hot: Elegant aluminum casing, awesome 1080p touch screen, upgradable RAM and SSD.

What's Not: Faint keyboard masking is often hard to see, no dedicated graphics option for the US version as of this writing. Display auto-brightness is horrid and should be disabled.


Reviewed April 8, 2013 by , Editor in Chief (twitter: @lisagade)

Just 5 years ago Samsung notebook computers were hard to find in US stores. The company had previously abandoned our cutthroat shores, while gracing Europe and Asia with their wares. That's clearly changed, and Samsung laptops are readily available in US online stores like Amazon and in bricks and mortar stores like Best Buy. The Samsung Series 7 is one of my favorite across Samsung's laptop and Windows tablet line: it offers higher end amenities with a lower price tag than the spendy Series 9 models. You still get a well made product with a metal casing and good looks, it's just not as excruciatingly sculpted or light as the Samsung Series 9. In trade, you get some very useful features that in my book count for more than best of breed looks: a touch screen, readily upgradable internals and more ports.

Samsung Series 7 Ultra

What you Get

The Samsung Series 7 Ultra isn't an everyman laptop at a budget price, rather it's a part of Samsung's premium collection. At $999 for the model with an Intel Core i5 CPU and Intel HD 4000 graphics, it's by no means cheap, but you do get that classy aluminum chassis, a full 1080p HD touch screen, lots of ports by Ultrabook standards and upgradable RAM and SSD parts. Sweet. And to be fair, $1,000 is the going rate for name brand Ultrabooks with an Intel Core i5, touch models still command even more of a premium. The Samsung Series 7 Ultra weighs 3 lbs. 9 ounces, and that's fine by 13.3" Ultrabook standards but heavy compared to the 2.55 lb. Samsung Series 9 Ultrabook and the 2.9 lb. Asus Zenbook Prime UX31A (non-touch). The touchscreen adds about 200 grams of weight as do the upgradable internals, and the added ports take their toll. But we do love those ports: gigabit Ethernet (no dongle required, that's a rare treat on Ultrabooks), 3 USB ports, a full size HDMI port, 3.5mm combo audio and a full size SD card slot. The Series 7 Ultra is just a few ounces heavier than the Zenbook UX31A Touch, and weighs about the same as the Dell XPS 12.

Samsung Series 7 Ultra

In this review we look at the NP740U3E-A01UB model that's available at Best Buy. It runs on the updated 1.8GHz Intel Core i5-3337U ULV CPU with 4 gigs of RAM and a 128 gig SSD. It has a glossy 1920 x 1080 touch screen with wide IPS viewing angles that's powered by Intel HD 4000 integrated graphics. Versions with dedicated AMD Radeon HD 8550M and HD 8570M graphics are available overseas, but we're not sure if and when those models will hit US shores. The HD 8570 would be interesting but the 8550 doesn't offer enough of a performance boost over Intel HD 4000 integrated graphics to entice me. The laptop has dual band Intel WiFi 802.11b/g/n 6235N with WiDi wireless graphics, Bluetooth 4.0 and a 720p webcam. Samsung is changing their Windows laptop names, and eventually the Series 7 Ultra will be called the Samsung ATIV Book 7.

Design and Ergonomics

This is a very good looking Ultrabook with clean lines and an understated and fingerprint resistant aluminum casing top and bottom. Folks in our office said "nice looking notebook!" when they first laid eyes upon it. It looks classy and not too flashy, though it lacks the Samsung Series 9's chiseled profile or the Asus Zenbook Prime's tapered, swirled and razor-edged wow factor. In trade you get a more affordable price, particularly compared to the Series 9 full HD model, and an easily removed bottom panel that grants access to internals and those added ports.

Samsung Series 7 Ultra

On the left side you'll find the charging port. At first, the charger doesn't seem to go all the way into the port, so it wiggles and falls out of contact easily, and it also leaves the metal barrel partially exposed. But jam that charger's plug with more force than normal and it does go in all the way. Why the weird design, Samsung? I worried that I might be break the charging port when using that much force, but that's how it's designed.

Also on the left you'll find a drop-down gigabit Ethernet port (a glorious luxury for the business traveler), USB 3.0 port, full size HDMI port, combo audio jack and mini-VGA port (adapter to full size VGA sold separately). Two USB 2.0 ports and a Kensington lock slot are on the right side. We do wonder why Samsung went with only one USB 3.0 port and two USB 2.0 ports, but if you're plugging in mice and keyboards, USB 2.0 is perfectly appropriate since newer, higher end external hard drives/flash drives are the only significant USB 3.0 peripherals on the market appropriate to an Ultrabook.

Ten Phillips head screws affix the aluminum bottom plate to the laptops underside, and once you remove those you have access to two RAM slots, the standard mSATA SSD connector and the wireless card. By Ultrabook standards, that's heaven. The Samsung Series 7 Ultra has no flex and feels solid: good stuff. The aluminum bottom plate has a tenacious plastic strip inside along the back edge that makes it a little harder to pop off the rear edge of the back panel (use a plastic card or credit card to release the plastic tabs).

Samsung Series 7 Ultra




Samsung Series 7 Ultra Video Review


Samsung Series 7 Ultra vs. Asus Zenbook Prime UX31A Touch Comparison Smackdown


How to Open the Samsung Series 7 Ultra Bottom Cover for RAM and SSD Upgrades


Samsung Series 7 Ultra vs. Samsung Series 9 Comparison Smackdown

Keyboard and Trackpad

Samsung Series 7 laptops leave us baffled: we've yet to love the keyboard but we always type extremely well with it. The Ultra is no exception: the flat keys don't have a lot of travel and the feel isn't great but we manage excellent typing speeds. Leaving perception aside, this is an effective keyboard. There's little in the way of key dampening unlike Lenovo ThinkPad and the latest Zenbook Prime keyboards, but we managed equally good and in some cases better typing speeds.

The keyboard's backlight was shy and sometimes a distant ceiling light discouraged the backlight from coming on until we hit the appropriate Fn key to revive it. The ambient light sensor is above the display to the right of the webcam, so it sees ceiling lights more readily compared to units with sensors above the keyboard deck. As a consolation, your hand won't cover a deck sensor and trigger the backlight. The light silver keys with 4 stage white backlighting (not the brightest we've seen) make it hard to see the keys in indoor lighting when backlighting is on. In bright light with key backlighting off and in darkness with backlighting on, key masking is quite visible; it's only a problem in rooms lit with moderate lighting. Verdict: it might bug you, but it's a good keyboard that's suitable for those who type at length. We love the Fn lock key: press it and you won't need to use Fn for the various multimedia, brightness, lighting and volume controls. But you will need to enable Fn lock every time you boot the computer.
The Elan Trackpad is large, with well-defined borders so you won't unwittingly wander off. It works well and supports Windows 8 gestures like pinch zooming, and we have no complaints. Be sure to download the trackpad driver updates that the Samsung updater offers: they do offer improvements. Though I prefer the slightly rougher texture of the Asus Zenbook Prime's trackpad, the Samsung Series 7 Ultra's works equally well and offers more customizable settings including 3 and 4 finger gestures.

Full HD Touch Screen

This is a superb display. The laptop uses the same CMN1343 IPS panel as the Asus Zenbook Prime UX32VD and UX31A (non-touch) models. Black levels are excellent, contrast is very good and it nearly covers the Adobe sRGB color gamut. It is a gloss display, typical of touch panels, and that means glare. Lots of bright ambient light can reduce perceived contrast and it's a bit more reflective than the competing Asus Zenbook Prime UX31A Touch Ultrabook. In fact, in our comparison video, you'll note that the Samsung seems to have less contrast, but that's a result of glare captured by the camera. In person, it has equally good contrast and blacks.

Color balance out of the box is good with a slight cool (blue) bias that's typical of PC displays. Calibration can bring it to a neutral color calibration. At 350 nits brightness, this is a bright panel that competes well with the 350 nit Zenbook Prime UX31A Touch model, and we found it more than adequate for use in bright settings. Indoors under home lighting, we rarely wanted to raise brightness above 50%. The ambient light sensor settings are a horror. The Series 7 twitches when a cloud passes by the nearest window and it sets the display to a dismally dim level for most indoor scenarios. Do yourself a favor and disable it ASAP: first turn off auto-brightness in Windows 8 general settings in the Charms menu. Then tap on the battery icon in the taskbar to bring up power plan settings. Go to advanced power plan settings and turn off adaptive brightness under display settings. Alternatively, you can disable the ambient light sensor in the UEFI BIOS (hit F2 when the computer boots to enter BIOS). Why Samsung went with these twitchy and dim settings, I can't imagine, but they've been doing it for a few years now on their Windows tablets and Ultrabooks.

Performance and Horsepower

Currently in the US there's just one Samsung Series 7 Ultra model and it has Intel HD 4000 integrated graphics with no dedicated graphics and a touch screen (overseas models are available with and without the touch screen and have low-mid range dedicated graphics suitable for light gaming and video editing). It ships with the 1.8GHz Intel Core i5-3337U ULV CPU, which is a minor refresh of the third generation Ivy Bridge 1.7GHz CPU common on Ultrabooks for the past several months. It has a Samsung PM841 128 gig SSD drive, which is the mSATA counterpart to the excellent SATA Samsung PM 840 SSD drive that's available aftermarket.

The laptop has 4 gigs of DDR3 1600MHz 1.35v RAM, and that's a single 4 gig SODIMM, leaving a second slot open for future upgrades up to 16 gigs total. Note: overseas models with dedicated graphics may have only one RAM slot. Performance benchmarks on PCMark 7 were a little lower than expected out of the box, but once we upgraded to 8 gigs of RAM (two 4 gig DIMMs) in a dual channel configuration, the score jumped a few hundred points and matched our expectations. Dual channel improves integrated graphics performance, and requires only that you have matching RAM in each slot (same capacity, speed and latency). Most Ultrabooks like the Asus Zenbook Prime UX31A Touch have their memory soldered to the motherboard, but it's often done (as with the Asus) in a dual channel configuration, so you get that speed boost out of the box-- that's a good thing since you can't upgrade the Zenbook Prime's RAM later.

Like all current Ultrabooks, the Series 7 Ultra is more than capable of MS Office work, photo editing with Photoshop, light to moderate video editing, gaming with older titles and 3D gaming with more forgiving titles like Civ V and Left4Dead 2. In fact, you can play Skyrim at 1366 x 768 resolution and low settings at 30 fps.

The laptop's fan is nearly silent when doing productivity work, and is clearly audible when playing Civ 5 or BioShock Infinite for 30 minutes, but it doesn't roar like my HP Envy 15 gaming and multimedia machine. Don't get too excited about BioShock Infinitie, the game only runs at 27-30 fps at the lowest quality setting and resolution set to 1366 x 768 on our Intel HD 4000 graphics. The keyboard deck does not get hot and the undersides, despite being conductive aluminum, stay in the comfort range, even when gaming (just don't block the long row of vents on the bottom when gaming!).


PCMark 7 (stock, 4 gigs RAM, one RAM module): 4469

PCMark 7 (8 gigs RAM, 2 matching RAM modules in dual channel): 4690

Windows Experience Index:
Processor: 6.9
RAM: 7.4
Graphics (for Aero): 4.6 (5.5 with dual channel RAM config and latest BIOS)
Gaming Graphics: 6.4
HDD: 7.8

PCMark 7 Benchmark Comparison Table

Samsung Series 7 Ultra 4469/4690
Samsung ATIV Book 9 Lite 2218
Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus 5050
Samsung Series 9 Full HD 4448
Asus Zenbook Prime UX31A Touch (Core i5) 4670
Dell XPS 13 (FHD, 1.7GHz Core i5) 4517
Dell XPS 12 (Core i5) 4678
Sony Vaio Duo 11 (Core i5) 4772
Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 13 (Core i5) 4427
Asus Taichi 21 (Core i7) 4952
Acer Aspire S7 (Core i5, 11.6") 4728
Microsoft Surface Pro 4657

CrystalDiskMark SSD Scores

crystaldiskmark results


The Samsung Series 7 Ultra has Intel Centrino 6235N dual band WiFi with WiDi wireless display and Bluetooth 4.0. This is a very good wireless card and reception was excellent at close, medium and long range from our Apple Airport Extreme wireless router. Data transfer speeds were consistent and we managed max transfer speeds for our service (25Mbps up and down) at distances up to 30 feet with a wall between. The antenna routes above the display where there's a small plastic window that improves reception. Note that advanced power management settings may lower the WiFi radio's transmit power in Windows 8, so check those settings if you're having trouble with wireless signal strength on Windows notebooks. The Samsung Series 7 Ultra actually performs well with the default aggressive WiFI power settings, but Asus Ultrabooks often don't.

Speakers Worth Listening To

Sound doesn't often figure prominently in our Ultrabook reviews because 13" Ultrabooks almost uniformly have unimpressive speakers with low volume and tinny audio via the built-in speakers. The stereo JBL speakers (2 watts each) are a wonderful exception, and they sound noticeably louder and fuller. Sound isn't harsh or thin and we could more easily make out softly or quickly spoken words in movies. They won't beat out the even bigger and louder JBL speakers in the latest Samsung Series 7 Chronos or the Lenovo IdeaPad Y500, but unlike most Ultrabook speakers, they're actually enjoyable and sufficiently loud. They certainly sound much better than the speakers in the Asus Zenbook Prime models and the Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 13.

Great Battery Life

There's more good news here. The beefy 57 Watt/hr Lithium Ion 4 cell battery delivers excellent battery life. Samsung designed it with the dedicated graphics option in mind, and dedicated graphics are battery hungry. On our US version with integrated graphics we routinely got 6 to 6.5 hours on a charge at 50% brightness with WiFi on using the factory default Samsung power plan. With very frugal settings, you could likely squeeze 7 hours of actual use time from the battery. The laptop ships with a very small notebook style brick 40W charger with detachable cord (60W if you get the model with dedicated graphics). It's battery is sealed inside, though if you remove 10 screws from the bottom and open up the laptop you can get to the battery.


The Samsung Series 7 Ultra is an easy Ultrabook to recommend. It has excellent build quality and materials, an attractive aluminum casing that resists fingerprints and a superb 1080p touch screen. The Samsung Series 5 is an attractive and more affordable model, but the display can't compare and most ship with slower conventional HDDs. Performance is good and though Samsung loads a bit of bloat, we actually like their Software Update app that informs you of new software and lets you pick and choose the apps you wish to install or update. Likewise, their recovery app is a full-featured solution that can handle advanced tasks like migrating your data to a new SSD in addition to the usual recovery tasks (it can even back up the recovery partition and allow you to remove the huge 20 gig restore partition). The upgradable RAM and mSATA SSD drive offer a level of customizability and future proofing that you rarely see on Ultrabooks with soldered parts and battery life is excellent. Recommended, particularly for those who like the Zenbook Prime UX31A Touch but want upgradable memory and SSD options.

Price: $999




Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus Review

Samsung ATIV Book 9 Lite Review

Samsung Series 9 Review (full HD model)

Asus Zenbook Prime UX31A Touch Review

Asus Zenbook Prime UX31A Review (non-touch)

Asus Zenbook Prime UX32VD Review

Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 13 Review


Samsung Series 7 Ultra


Samsung Series 7 Ultra


Samsung Series 7 Ultra


Samsung Series 7 Ultra


Samsung Series 7 Ultra


Samsung Series 7 Ultra

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Display: 13.3", 1920 x 1080 IPS display with 10 point capacitive multi-touch. 350 nits brightness. Intel HD 4000 integrated graphics. Full size HDMI and mini VGA port (adapter to full size VGA sold separately). Has Intel WiDi wireless display for wireless streaming to AV gear.

Battery: 57 Watt/hr Lithium Ion 4 cell rechargeable. Battery is sealed inside.

Performance: 1.8GHz Intel Core i5-3337U ULV CPU. 4 gigs RAM (16 gigs max), DDR3, 1600MHz, 1.35v. 128 gig Samsung PM841 mSATA SSD drive.

Size: 12.76 x 8.82 x .74 inches. Weight: 3.6 pounds.

Camera: 720p webcam with mic.

Audio: Built-in 2 watt apiece JBL stereo speakers, mic and 3.5mm standard stereo combo headphone/mic jack.

Networking: Integrated Intel 6235 dual band WiFi 802.11b/g/n and Bluetooth 4.0. Gigabit wired Ethernet jack.

Software: Windows 8 Home Premium 64 bit. Norton Internet Security trial, Samsung's S Camera, S video player and image viewer, Samsung Recovery and Samsung Update.

Expansion and Ports: 1 SDXC full size card slot, 3 USB ports (one 3.0 port and two 2.0 ports), full size HDMI, mini VGA, 3.5mm audio and RJ45 Ethernet.



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