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.