I was stoked when Samsung told me that I would get a first-hand look at its new Notebook Odyssey at a press event on the upper floors of Microsoft's Manhattan flagship store. I previously covered the unveiling of the gaming laptop at CES 2019, and was impressed with what Samsung was touting: a fully redesigned gaming rig with a portable, all-metal chassis and RTX graphics.
My excitement only grew when I entered the Microsoft Store to find the 15.6-inch gaming laptop running Fortnite. Unable to fight the gaming itch, I risked embarrassment and dropped into a round of solo play for my first experience playing Fortnite on PC. Both the Notebook Odyssey and my uncharacteristically passable play were much better than I had anticipated.
|Row 0 - Cell 0
|Samsung Notebook Odyssey
|15.6-inch, 1080p, 144Hz
|Intel Core i7-9750H
|Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060
|USB-C, 3 USB 3.0, HDMI, Ethernet, headphone jack, security lock slot
|14.1 x 10.7 x 0.78 inches
Even with the graphics settings cranked up to Epic, Fornite ran without any hiccups thanks to the RTX 2060 inside the Notebook Odyssey. I didn't notice any frame drops, lag or stuttering. In fact, my no-skin character's movements looked extra smooth on the 144-hertz display as I frantically bunny hopped my way to a 20th-place finish.
The new Notebook Odyssey feels like a change of attitude from Samsung. Last year's model gave us little faith that the Korean tech giant belonged in the gaming laptop space. That forgettable machine was made entirely of plastic, the fans were very loud, the display was dim, and to top it off, Samsung was charging a fortune for it.
Price aside, Samsung appears to have solved all of the problems we had with the previous version. It all starts with the chassis, which is now made of aluminum, not the cheap plastic used on the 2017 model. Also gone is the unnecessary gamer aesthetic around the touchpad, which did nothing but confuse us.
The new design is a definite improvement, although I can't help but think Samsung is trying too hard again. The lid of the new Notebook Odyssey is innocent enough. Three Wolverine-like indentations run diagonally on both sides of Samsung's ugly Odyssey logo (seriously Samsung, you're better at branding than this).
And Samsung, once again, went over-the-top with the Notebook Odyssey's touchpad, which has a -- to put it politely -- unique black wood-grain design. It's the same strange texture found on the Odyssey logo but is much more noticeable on an oversized touchpad. At least the pattern shouldn't have any functional impact on the touchpad.
The Notebook Odyssey's keyboard feels very shallow, but a slight curve in the keycaps and a pleasant clickiness save the typing experience. Still, if you're going to use the Notebook Odyssey for long gaming sessions, do yourself a favor and buy an external keyboard. You may as well get one with RGB backlighting as well since the Notebook Odyssey's keyboard only glows red.
Despite some of my qualms with its design, the Notebook Odyssey isn't a bad looking laptop. An LED-illuminated Odyssey logo above the keyboard changes colors depending on the status of the laptop (green for idle, red for on), vents on the deck the back edge give the laptop an aggressive look, and the 15.6-inch display is flanked by thin bezels on three sides (the bottom bezels is still chunky).
Speaking of the display, I can say with confidence that the 15.6-inch, 1080p G-Sync panel is a huge improvement over the dim screen of its predecessor. Colors looked very vivid, and the screen seemed to get very bright (albeit, in a dark room). I'm interested to see how well it does in our lab testing, but my first impressions of the display were very positive.
The 2019 Notebook Odyssey's performance also seems great, or at least as good as you'd expect from a laptop armed with components as powerful as an Intel Core i7-9750H CPU, 16GB of RAM, a 512GB SSD and an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 GPU. Obviously, we're going to have to get our hands on a review unit to get a better idea of real-world performance, but so far so good.
What's not so good is the pricing. The Notebook Odyssey with a 9th Gen Intel Core i7 CPU went on sale today for $1,999. That's a tough ask, especially when you can buy the Dell G7 15 (2019), a laptop we criticized for being a not-so-great value, for $1,778.
We'll be sure to put the Notebook Odyssey through its paces when we receive a review unit to see if it lives up to its lofty price.
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Phillip Tracy is the assistant managing editor at Laptop Mag where he reviews laptops, phones and other gadgets while covering the latest industry news. After graduating with a journalism degree from the University of Texas at Austin, Phillip became a tech reporter at the Daily Dot. There, he wrote reviews for a range of gadgets and covered everything from social media trends to cybersecurity. Prior to that, he wrote for RCR Wireless News covering 5G and IoT. When he's not tinkering with devices, you can find Phillip playing video games, reading, traveling or watching soccer.