Update (5/2): When this was published, the Samsung Galaxy Book 3 Ultra was priced at $1,799.99. It is now $2,399! Yikes! In this case, the Galaxy Book 3 Ultra is no longer the better deal over the MacBook Pro. It's back to #TeamApple!
Samsung won’t let Apple breathe. It came for its throat in the smartphone space with the Galaxy S23 series, giving the iPhone 14 line a run for its money. And now, the Korean-based tech giant is gunning for MacBooks — and Apple better watch its back!
Save for a few gems like the 2020 Galaxy Book Flex 15, a stunning convertible with a traffic-stopping cerulean chassis, and the high-performing 2022 Galaxy Book 2 Pro 360, Samsung’s laptops have been disappointing, particularly its blazing-red Chromebooks. (No, a fire-engine red chassis isn’t going to distract us from how terrible the battery life is, Samsung.)
As such, I didn’t expect much when Samsung launched the Galaxy Book 3 Ultra. I thought it’d be another mid offering from the reigning king of Android phones. However, as evidenced from our “We asked 5 laptop experts” piece (where we asked five brilliant laptop reviewers which laptop is the best of 2023 so far), two of them gushed about the Galaxy Book 3 Ultra like it was the best thing since sliced bread.
When I took a closer look at the numbers, I was blown away. “Wait a minute!” I thought. “For some tasks, the Galaxy Book 3 Ultra is actually better than the 14-inch MacBook Pro!” Some tasks is the operative phrase here. MacBooks are the reigning champs of power efficiency, for example, but they have their weak spots, too, allowing rivals like the Galaxy Book 3 Ultra to shine.
Which MacBook Pro am I comparing to the Samsung Galaxy Book 3 Ultra?
We are pitting the cheapest models together: the base 14-inch MacBook Pro with the M2 Pro chip and the entry-level Samsung Galaxy Book 3 Ultra. Check the chart below to get a breakdown of the specs.
|Row 0 - Cell 0||Galaxy Book 3 Ultra||MacBook Pro|
|CPU||Intel Core i7-13700H||M2 Pro chip|
|Graphics||RTX 4050 GPU||16-Core integrated GPU|
|Storage||1TB SSD||512GB SSD|
|Display||16-inch, 3K 120Hz AMOLED||14-inch Retina XDR display (3024 x 1964)|
|Ports||2 Thunderbolt 4, HDMI 2.0, 1 USB 3.2, a MicroSD card slot||3 Thunderbolt 4, HDMI, SDXC card slot, headphone jack, MagSafe 3|
|Dimensions||14 x 9.9 x 0.65 inches||12.3 x 8.7 x 0.6 inches|
|Weight||3.9 pounds||3.6 pounds|
As of this writing, the Galaxy Book 3 Ultra in question is $1,799.99 at Samsung. Its competitor, the M2 Pro-packed 14-inch MacBook Pro, will set you back $1,999 at Apple.
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s dive into three ways the Samsung Galaxy Book 3 Ultra outperforms the 14-inch MacBook Pro.
1. The Samsung Galaxy Book 3 Ultra has better overall performance than the 14-inch MacBook Pro
Apple thought it had it in the bag by outfitting the 14-inch MacBook Pro with the M2 Pro chip, which is packed with a 10-core GPU and 16-core GPU. Personified as a human, it likely kicked its feet up and thought, “Ha! I’m untouchable now!” Sadly, the Galaxy Book 3 Ultra, stuffed with an Intel Core i7-13700H CPU and an Nvidia GeForce RTX 4050 GPU, launched and crushed the MacBook Pro’s ego — ouch!
|Galaxy Book 3 Ultra||12,212|
Let’s start with Geekbench 5.5, which measures how well a CPU can perform a multitude of everyday tasks, from cropping images and rendering PDFs to using speech-recognition AI assistants (e.g., Siri) and machine-learning workloads. Looking at the multi-core scores, the MacBook Pro delivered a spectacular score of 12,125, however, its Samsung rival narrowly outpaced it with a mind-blowing score of 12,212.
2. The Samsung Galaxy Book 3 Ultra delivers better graphics performance than the 14-inch MacBook Pro
It’s no surprise that the Galaxy Book 3 Ultra, packed with a beastly Nvidia RTX 40-series graphics card (an RTX 4050 to be specific), outperformed the 16-core GPU inside the 14-inch MacBook Pro. First and foremost, it’s important to note that neither the Galaxy Book 3 Ultra nor the 14-inch MacBook Pro target gamers, but for kicks and giggles, we decided to run gaming benchmarks on both laptops to determine their graphics’ capabilities.
When we ran the Sid Meier’s Civilization VI: Gathering Storm test on the Galaxy Book 3 Ultra, it delivered an average of 94 frames per second, beating the MacBook Pro by a landslide. On the same test, the Apple laptop could only muster an fps score of 58.
|Row 0 - Cell 0||Galaxy Book Ultra||MacBook Pro|
|Sid Meier’s Civilization IV: Gathering Storm||94 fps||58 fps|
|Rise of the Tomb Raider||54 fps||43 fps|
We also ran Rise of the Tomb Raider on both laptops, and still, the Galaxy Book 3 Ultra outperformed the 14-inch MacBook Pro, but interestingly, the delta is narrower (54 fps vs. 43 fps).
The Samsung Galaxy Book 3 Ultra’s display is more color-accurate than the MacBook Pro’s panel
Both Samsung and Apple use fancy-schmancy, marketing mumbo jumbo terms to describe their laptop displays. If you check out the 14-inch MacBook Pro, Apple will tout that it has a “Liquid Retina XDR display.” With the Galaxy Book 3 Ultra, Samsung boasts that it has a “3K AMOLED touchscreen.”
No disrespect to Apple nor Samsung, but as snazzy as those words sound, they mean absolutely nothing to the average consumer. Luckily for you, we ran display tests on both the Galaxy Book 3 Ultra and the MacBook Pro, allowing informative figures — not flashy, empty words — to tell you which panel reigns supreme. And according to the numbers, the Galaxy Book 3 Ultra’s panel is better. It covers more of the sRGB and DCI-P3 color space than the MacBook Pro — just check out the chart below.
|Row 0 - Cell 0||Galaxy Book 3 Ultra||MacBook Pro|
On top of that, the Galaxy Book 3 Ultra has a more color accurate display with an incredible Delta-E score of 0.15 (closer to zero is better). Conversely, the MacBook Pro has a Delta-E score of 0.20. That being said, the Galaxy Book 3 Ultra may be more suitable for professional photo editors, illustrators, and graphic designers.
However, it’s worth noting that if you’re an on-the-go professional who often works outside or sits near bright airport windows, the MacBook Pro might be a better option for you because it has a brighter display (441 nits) compared to the Galaxy Book 3 Ultra’s 378-nit display.
Of course, as mentioned at the outset, MacBooks still reign supreme when it comes to power efficiency. (If you take a look at our laptops with the best battery life page, Macs have taken over.) The M2 Pro 14-inch MacBook Pro, with a runtime of 16 hours and 38 minutes, almost has double the battery life of the Galaxy Book 3 Ultra, which lasts 10 hours and one minute on a charge. Is 10 hours bad? Not at all, especially for a laptop with such powerful components inside like an RTX 40-series GPU, but over 16-hours of battery life is truly spellbinding.
And although the Samsung laptop outpaced its Apple rival in overall performance, the MacBook Pro excelled in our Handbrake video-editing test. It only took 5 minutes and 3 seconds to convert a 4K video to 1080p, but it took the Galaxy Book 3 Ultra 5 minutes and 26 seconds to complete the same task.
The moral of the story? Don’t automatically think that the 14-inch MacBook Pro is the better buy when our tests tell a different story. If you’re gung-ho about overall performance, display accuracy, high DCI-P3/sRGB coverage, and faster graphics, the Samsung Galaxy Book 3 Ultra topples its Apple rival.