The first generation Samsung series 9 notebook was one of the first ultrabooks to hit the market. There were only a couple of issues with it to earn a recommendation over a MacBook Air. The use of glossy plastics on the inside which not only looked a bit cheap but was a finger print magnet as well and the fact that even though it cost £1,300 did not pack a high resolution display.
Samsung Series 9 (900X3B-A01UK) Video Review
|Design||– Sand-blasted aluminium chassis
– Matt finish
– Solid chassis
– Size 314 x 219 x 13 mm
– Weight 1.2 kg
The original Series 9 was already a very small and light notebook already but Samsung managed to reduce both the size and the weight even further. The 900X3B is 3 mm thinner than its predecessor while also 100 g lighter than both the Zenbook UX31E and the MacBook Air 13. It may not be as thin as the Zenbook and Air but thanks to the ultrathin screen bezel it is more than 1 cm more narrow.
Unlike the Zenbook and the Air 13 which both feature a silver aluminium chassis the Samsung 900X3B features a nearly black sand-blasted aluminium. Not only it makes it stand out from the other silver/gray ultrabook crowd but it gives it a finger-print resistant finish that is both pleasant to look and to touch. Under some lighting and angles it even appears slightly bluish which we absolutely love.
Trying to find something wrong with the design of the Samsung 900X3B is nearly impossible. It looks stunning and the build quality is top-notch making it one of the most solid ultrabooks we have ever seen.
|Connectivity||– 1 x USB 3.0 + 1 x USB 2.0
– HDMI, VGA (via dongle)
– WiFi b/g/n
– Bluetooth 3.0
– Gigabit LAN (via dongle)
The connectivity also offers every port you would ever need in an ultrabook. Starting with the left-hand side you will find 1 x USB 3.0, Micro HDMI and a LAN port (via the included dongle) while on the right-hand side there is 1 x UBS 2.0 port, VGA port (via dongle which is not included), Mic/headphone combo port and an SD card reader.
Wireless connectivity includes a B/G/N WiFi and Bluetooth 3.0.
|Keyboard & Touchpad||– Backlit keyboard
– Button-less touchpad
We were slightly worried about the shallow keys on the Samsung 900X3B before we got it in for the review. But after using it for longer periods there is nothing to worry about. We had absolutely no problem typing on the Samsung 900X3B. The keys offer just the right amount of feedback, they are well spaced and the keyboard overall showed almost no flex which can’t be said about some of the other cheaper ultrabooks. It also offers backlighting for typing in the dark, a feature which both the Air and the Zenbook are lacking.
Multi-touch touchpads can sometimes be annoying to use on Windows notebooks but Samsung again did a good job with the drivers. The large button-less touchpad is very responsive and the matt surface feels great to use. All the multi-touch gestures work great with scrolling being one of the smoothest we have ever experienced on a PC. That said the Air’s touchpad is still better than any of the Windows notebooks.
|Screen & Speakers||– 13.3 inch (1600 x 900px)
– Anti-glare finish
– Bright and high contrast
– Loud speakers
If you haven’t fallen in love with the Samsung 900X3B yet then you most certainly will after looking at its screen. Starting off with very narrow bezel which makes it look very elegant. It features an anti-glare finish which makes it more usable then both the Air and the Zenbook outdoors and indoors where reflections are a concern. Unlike its predecessor it features a high resolution 1600×900 px screen surpassing Air’s and matching Zenbook’s resolution.
But that’s not all. The screen brightness is also very good with excellent contrast, vivid colors and great viewing angles.
We were also positively surprised with the speakers. They offer both a very loud and quite deep sound which is distortion free but gets a bit unclear at high volume levels. But this not being an entertainment notebook we can’t really take this against it, especially with other ultrabooks not performing any better.
|Performance||– 1.6 GHz Intel Core i5-2467M
– 4 GB DDR3 memory
– 128 GB SSD
– Intel HD Graphics 3000
– 3DMark 06 score 4,076
– Windows 7 Experience score 5.7
Like other ultrabooks packing latest generation Intel processors the Samsung 900X3B had absolutely no problem processing any tasks we threw at it. The 1.6 GHz Intel Core i5-2467M, 4 GB RAM and 128 GB SSD drive make sure the overall performance is quick and responsive. Especially the Windows 7 boot times are greatly reduced compared to other notebooks packing standard hard drives.
The Air and Zenbook offer faster Intel Core i7 processors but there really isn’t any noticeable difference while working on your daily tasks. Thanks to the integrated Intel HD Graphics 3000 it had no problem playing full HD content. Whether it was a Blu-ray rip or YouTube videos the playback was very smooth. You will even be able to play some of the latest video games if you turn the details all the way down. In our 3Dmark 06 test it scored 4,076 points. Check our gaming video test below to see how it performed in our gaming test.
Samsung 900X3B-A01UK Gaming Test
The Samsung 900X3B stayed cool and quiet while performing common tasks such as web browsing and document editing with fan being pretty much inaudible. We could only hear it if we stuck our ear right next to the laptop. But if that’s not quiet enough for you Samsung included a Silent Mode button on the keyboard. Press that and the fan gets switched of completely but it the notebook might get warmer as a consequence so we recommend this mode for web browsing and document editing only. If you will be watching HD video or playing games you will be better off with the Silent Mode turned off.
|Windows 7 Experience Index assesses key system components on a scale of 1.0 to 7.9|
|Battery Life||– 40WHr battery
– 7 hours of reading documents
– 5 hours of web browsing
– 4 hours of watching video
– 3 hours of gaming
An ultrabook is really only as good as its battery life. Samsung claims a 7 hour battery life with the user-non-replaceable 6-cell 40 WHr battery. In our test we have found that this mark is spot on. With brightness turned down and WiFi turned off you will be able to squeeze out just over 7 hours of document reading and editing. With WiFi on the battery will last about 5 hours for web browsing, 4 hours watching videos and 4 hours of gaming. This is pretty much on par with both Air 13 and Zenbook.
Just looking at the high £1,200 RRP the Samsung 900X3B doesn’t seem like a better option compared to the Asus Zenbook UX31E and the MacBook Air 13. But once you start looking what you get for those extra £100-£200 it definitely looks like the best option to us. This goes to the fact that it packs an anti-glare screen and a back-lit keyboard making it more suitable for working outdoors and in the dark while also in our opinion looking better then both thanks to the sand-blasted black-bluish aluminium chassis and thinner screen bezel. To add even more value it comes with a 3 year of warranty if purchased at John Lewis which is more than all of its competition.
We have always managed to find something wrong with any gadget we have reviewed but Samsung 900X3B left us scratching our heads to what cons should we list at the end of our review aside from the speakers not sounding as clear as we would have liked at the high volume levels.
Unless you really can’t live without Mac OS X or prefer the silver aluminium chassis the Samsung 900X3B is the best ultrabook currently available.