Samsung Notebook 9 Pro (13-inch, 2019) Review

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$1099
Editors' rating:
The Pros

Premium design; Decent performance; Solid battery life; Competitively priced

The Cons

Display could be brighter; Meh speakers

Verdict

The Samsung Notebook 9 Pro (13-inch, 2019) offers good performance and solid battery life in an aluminum design for a good price.

If a MacBook and 2-in-1 Windows laptop had a baby, it would be the Samsung Notebook 9 Pro. For a relatively affordable $1,099, Samsung's latest Notebook offers decent performance and solid battery life packed in a light, premium chassis. And MacBook fans will enjoy its bouncy keys. This 13-inch laptop's display is dim and the speakers are less than desirable. But overall, the Samsung Notebook 9 Pro is a great 2-in-1 laptop for the price.

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Samsung Notebook 9 Pro Price and Configuration Options

I tested the base model of the Samsung Notebook 9 Pro, which costs $1,099 and comes with an Intel Core i7-8565U processor, 8GB of RAM, a 256GB SSD and an Intel UHD 620 GPU. Compare that with the 13-inch MacBook Pro, which costs $1,499 for similar specs.

The only other Notebook 9 Pro model costs $1,299 and packs a beefier 16GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD. The Samsung Notebook 9 Pro will be available to purchase on March 17 exclusively at Best Buy and on Samsung's website.

Design

The Samsung Notebook 9 Pro has a silver aluminum chassis with a Samsung logo stamped on it -- its design is simple, but it looks premium. And while the chassis has diamond-cut edges, they don't look as good as they sound, mostly because they're reminiscent of a tin can.

The Notebook 9 Pro's interior is eerily similar to the MacBook's design -- its silver deck is home to a black keyboard with rounded keys. When you fold this machine into a tablet, its lid perfectly aligns with the underside, which satisfies my inner perfectionist. It's also nice to see the webcam on the top accompanied by slim bezels.

At 2.7 pounds and 12.1 x 8.1 x 0.55 inches, the Samsung Notebook 9 Pro is lighter and thinner than its ultraportable competitors. However, the HP Spectre x360 (13-inch, 2019) at 2.8 pounds, 0.6 inches; Huawei MateBook 13 at 2.9 pounds, 0.6 inches; and Lenovo Yoga C930 at 3.1 pounds, 0.6 inches are still sexily slim machines.

Ports

The Samsung Notebook 9 Pro has decent ports for its size, but it would have been nice to see a USB Type-A port.

On the left, there's a headphone jack and two Thunderbolt 3 ports, while on the right, there's one USB Type-C charging port, the power button and a microSD card slot.

Display

While the Samsung Notebook 9 Pro's 13.3-inch, 1920 x 1080 glossy panel is colorful and sharp, it's dimmer than we would have liked.

In the trailer for Aladdin, Jasmine's pink dress with gold and green accents popped on the Samsung Notebook 9 Pro's display, while the threading of Aladdin's clothes in the next scene was pronounced. However, it was difficult to make out darker scenes, like those in the Cave of Wonders, due to the intensified glare on the display.

In the trailer for Aladdin, Jasmine's pink dress with gold and green accents popped on the Samsung Notebook 9 Pro's display.

Our colorimeter clocked the Samsung Notebook 9 Pro's panel for 118 percent of the sRGB spectrum, which matches the premium laptop average. It beat the Yoga C930 (100 percent), but the Spectre x360 (150 percent) and Huawei MateBook 13 (122 percent) were more vivid.

MORE: Laptops with the Most Colorful Screens

At 254 nits, the Samsung Notebook 9 Pro's screen is frustratingly dim, as it falls well below the 328-nit category average. While the Spectre x360 (287 nits), MateBook 13 (318 nits) and Yoga C930 (273 nits) didn't make the average either, they were brighter.

Keyboard, Touchpad and Stylus

Despite having low travel, the Samsung Notebook 9 Pro's keys are quite bouncy. While I didn't find the keyboard satisfying, anyone who's partial to MacBook's butterfly switches will enjoy the Samsung Notebook 9 Pro's typing experience. The keys themselves are well spaced, but they have dull backlighting.

I mustered 65 words per minute on the 10fastfingers.com typing test, which is just under my 66-wpm average. The Notebook 9 Pro's keys travel at 0.9 millimeters and require 63 grams of actuation force. We prefer 1.5 mm of key travel and a minimum of 60 grams of force.

Using the included Active Pen, I drew a poor representation of eggs and waffles, but the digital ink glided smoothly across the Samsung Notebook 9 Pro's panel without stuttering. The stylus features 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity. The button closest to the tip acts as an eraser, while the other one acts as a right-click and select function. Unfortunately, they're not reprogrammable, and also, there isn't a garaged slot to house the pen.

MORE: The Laptops with the Best Keyboards - Comfort, Accuracy

The 4.7 x 2.5-inch touchpad is remarkably soft and comfortable to use. It's also responsive to Windows 10 gestures like two-finger scrolling and three-finger tabbing.

Audio

The bottom-firing speakers on the Notebook 9 Pro are loud enough to blast System Of A Down's "Chop Suey!" across a small office, but they're not the best-sounding ones. The guitar strumming and drums during the intro sounded sharp and scratchy, like someone cranked the treble a little too high. The vocals were pronounced throughout the song, but the electric guitar and bass sounded hollow.

MORE: 5 Tips for Quality Notebook Audio

In the Samsung Settings app, you can adjust the audio with a couple of presets like Music and Movies, but I would just leave it on Standard because it sounded the most balanced.

Performance

Powered by an Intel Core i7-8565U processor with 8GB of RAM, the Samsung Notebook 9 Pro sped through the 40 Google Chrome tabs and five 1080p YouTube videos that I threw at it without stuttering.

On the Geekbench 4.1 overall performance test, the Samsung Notebook 9 Pro scored 15,432, which beats the 13,328 premium laptop average. With the same CPU, the Spectre x360 and MateBook 13 hit 14,935 and 17,214, respectively, while the Yoga C930's Core i7-8550U averaged 14,739.

If a MacBook and 2-in-1 Windows laptop had a baby, it would be the Samsung Notebook 9 Pro.

The Samsung Notebook 9 Pro took a sluggish 24 minutes and 36 seconds to transcode a 4K video to 1080p, which is a few minutes slower than the category average (21:45). The Spectre x360 (22:30), Lenovo Yoga C930 (20:45) and MateBook 13 (18:30) did it much faster.

MORE: Best Laptop Processor: Laptop CPUs Compared

Samsung's 256GB SSD copied 4.97GB of data in a decent 13 seconds, for 392 megabytes per second. While that's slower than the average premium laptop (543 MBps), it beats the Yoga C930's 256GB SSD (339 MBps) and matches the Spectre x360's 256GB SSD. The MateBook 13's 512GB SSD had the fastest transfer rate, at 636 MBps.

Graphics

With an Intel UHD 620 GPU, the Samsung Notebook 9 Pro scored 61,662 on the 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited graphics benchmark, coming up short of the 87,638 premium laptop average.

The Spectre x360 (90,977) and Yoga C930 (85,758) did much better with the same GPU, while the MateBook 13 (141,995) excelled with an Nvidia GeForce MX150 GPU.

Battery Life

Despite the Samsung Notebook 9 Pro being superslim, it has a big enough battery to get you through the workday. After continuously surfing the web over Wi-Fi at 150 nits of brightness, the Notebook 9 Pro lasted 8 hours and 53 minutes, which beats the average premium laptop (8:29) as well as the Yoga C930 (8:09) and the MateBook 13 (6:15). However, the Spectre x360 came out on top, surviving 12:07 on a full charge.

Webcam

The Samsung Notebook 9 Pro's 720p webcam took grainy shots of my face, and it was difficult to make out where my hairline started and ended. The blue in my shirt was relatively accurate, but half of the ceiling was consumed by white light due to being overexposed.

Heat

This sleek ultraportable runs surprisingly cool. After streaming a 15-minute HD video, its underside measured only 88 degrees Fahrenheit, which is well within our 95-degree comfort threshold. Meanwhile, the center of the keyboard and touchpad hit 85 and 82 degrees, respectively. The hottest it got was 91 degrees near the hinge on the underside.

Software and Warranty

Samsung includes quite a few of its own branded apps in the Notebook 9 Pro. The most interesting one is Samsung Settings, which allows you to configure settings for power management, the color of the display and audio effects. Another notable one is Samsung Security, which allows you to enable Secret Screen, to make apps difficult to see by increasing opacity.

There's also Samsung PC Cleaner (kills apps through managed backups), Samsung Recovery (creates backups), Samsung Update (updates Samsung apps), Samsung Flow (allows phone connectivity), Samsung Gallery (photo app) and Samsung Notes (note-taking app).

On top of that, you get Windows 10 bloatware, like Candy Crush Friends, Candy Crush Saga and Township.

Samsung offers the Notebook 9 Pro with a one-year limited warranty. See how Samsung performed on our Tech Support Showdown and Best and Worst Brands rankings.

Bottom Line

The Samsung Notebook 9 Pro (13-inch, 2019) offers solid power and productivity for the price. Its superslim aluminum chassis is packed with an 8th Gen Core i7 CPU and dependable battery life for just $1,099, which is $200 less than its competitors. However, you will have to deal with its dim display and scratchy speakers.

If you have the extra money to spend, we suggest getting the HP Spectre x360 ($1,349), which will give you longer battery life and a brighter and more colorful display as well as stronger graphics.

But for the price, the Samsung Notebook 9 Pro is a good choice if you're looking for an ultraportable 2-in-1 laptop.

Credit: Laptop Mag

CPU Intel Core i7-8565U processor
Operating System Windows 10
RAM 8GB
RAM Upgradable to
Hard Drive Size 256GB SSD
Hard Drive Speed
Hard Drive Type
Secondary Hard Drive Size
Secondary Hard Drive Speed
Secondary Hard Drive Type
Display Size 13.3
Highest Available Resolution 1920 x 1080
Native Resolution 1920x1080
Optical Drive
Optical Drive Speed
Graphics Card Intel UHD 620 GPU
Video Memory
Wi-Fi
Wi-Fi Model
Bluetooth
Mobile Broadband
Touchpad Size 4.7 x 2.5-inch
USB Ports 3
Warranty/Support One-year limited warranty
Size 12.1 x 8.1 x 0.55 inches
Weight 2.72 pounds
Company Website