Samsung Series 5 Chromebook cracking open hardware analysis

The Samsung Series 5 is easily disassembled and has replaceable components, but there's at least one surprise inside the first commercial Chromebook.

Starting today, consumers and businesses can purchase the Samsung Series 5—the first commercially-available Chromebook. Businesses can also rent them for $28/month per user through Google's Chromebooks for Business program. When they were first announced, I characterized the Series 5 and Acer's companion Chromebook as being "more netbook than notebook". And in his first TechRepublic blog post, Kevin Purdy looked at "what Chromebooks can and can't do".

The Samsung Series 5 is available in two flavors—a Wi-Fi + 3G model for $499.99 (US) and a Wi-Fi-only model for $429.99 (US). You can purchase the Series 5 from Amazon.com and BestBuy.com. The Samsung Series 5 weighs 3.3 pounds and measures 11.6" (W) x 8.6" (D) x 0.8" (H).

We got our hands on the Samsung Series 5 early, and I couldn't resist cracking it open. While Series 5's design and internal hardware was as expected, there were a few surprises—RAM solder to the motherboard.

Full teardown gallery: Cracking Open the Samsung Series 5 Chromebook

Cracking Open analysis:

  • Simple to crack open and dissect: Samsung used standard Phillips #0 and #1 screws both outside and inside the case. Four of the seven outer case screws are hidden under the machine's rubber feet, but the feet are easily removed and reattached.
  • Shares components with the Google CR-48: Not surprisingly, the Series 5 shares components with the original Google CR-48 Chromebook, such as the SanDisk 16GB SSD (SDSA4DH-016G) and Qualcomm Gobi2000 WWAN card.
  • Some replaceable components: The wireless cards, SSD, and battery are all easily removed, but you must remove the computer's back cover to do so.
  • RAM is soldered to the motherboard: Unlike the CR-48, but like the Apple MacBook Air, the Series 5's RAM is soldered to the motherboard, making a RAM upgrade impossible.

Internal hardware and chips:

According to IHS iSuppli, the total cost to produce the Series 5 is $334.32 (US). The motherboard is the most expensive component at $86.37 (includes the Intel Atom N570 processor and other attached chips). At $58.00, the 12.1-inch LED back-lit LCD display is the second most-costly component. The 7.4V Li-Polymer battery ($48.20), Qualcomm Gobi2000 WWAN card ($42.85), and 16GB SanDisk SSD ($28.00) also add to the unit's price tag.

Here's a breakdown of the Series 5's major hardware components:

Update 12/19/2011: This post originally appeared in our TR Dojo blog.


Bill Detwiler is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and Tech Pro Research and the host of Cracking Open, CNET and TechRepublic's popular online show. Prior to joining TechRepublic in 2000, Bill was an IT manager, database administrator, and desktop supp...

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