The Samsung Notebook 9 feels so light that it's hard to believe it's a 15-inch laptop. In fact, at 2.7 pounds, this is among the lightest notebooks with this size screen we've ever tested. There's also a lot to like about the notebook's fast overall performance, impressive battery life, and bright and colorful display. At $1,399, the build quality of the chassis and keyboard don't quite live up to the price tag, but frequent travelers who want a big display in a portable design should put this Ultrabook on their short list.
The Notebook 9's sleek, lightweight chassis does a nice MacBook impression, but doesn't quite go all the way. I'm a big fan of the laptop's simplistic, silver design -- adorned by nothing but a shiny Samsung logo on the lid -- but its magnesium-alloy chassis feels pretty cheap and bendable for a premium notebook.
Fortunately, the Notebook 9's feathery 2.73-pound body and impressively slim 0.61-inch edges make it an excellent travel companion. It's a bit slimmer and much lighter than the HP Spectre x360 (4.4 pounds, 0.7 inches) and downright petite compared to the similarly specced MSI Prestige PE60 (5.4 pounds, 1.1 inches). Among 15-inch machines, only the LG Gram 15 (2.16 pounds) is lighter than the Samsung.
Considering how many laptops are abandoning ports in favor of slimness, I was pleased to find a healthy amount of connections on the Notebook 9's skinny edges. On the left, there's a USB 2.0 port, a headphone jack, a USB Type-C port and a power input, while two USB 3.0 ports, a microSD card reader and an HDMI port sit on the right. The Notebook 9's port selection should be plenty for getting work done, and it doesn't add much bulk to the laptop's design.
Whether I was editing work documents or watching movie clips, the Notebook 9's 15-inch, 1080p display looked incredibly crisp and vibrant. The Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 trailer really shone on this thing -- Drax's red tattoos popped against his green skin, and I could make out every tiny detail, from the strands of Rocket Raccoon's fur to the lush red foliage that filled out a sunny-looking planet.
The Notebook 9's excellent real-world colors were backed up by our benchmarks. Samsung's laptop reproduced a solid 114.9 percent of the sRGB color gamut, virtually tying the Spectre x360 and MSI Prestige PE60 (both 113 percent) and besting our 94-percent average.
But where the Notebook 9 really stood out was in its color accuracy, with a Delta E rating of just 0.23 (closer to 0 is better). The Prestige and Spectre were much further off at 5.1 and 3.5, respectively, as is our 2.23 average.
In our lab tests, the Notebook 9 turned in an average brightness of 262. That tops the MSI Prestige's 1080p display (192 nits) and the HP Spectre x360's 4K screen (255 nits), while coming up just short of our 277-nit mainstream notebook average.
The Notebook 7's bottom-facing stereo speakers offer decent clarity, but they aren't very loud. The tropical guitars and soaring vocals of Paramore's "Hard Times" came through cleanly, but the bass was virtually inaudible.
I had similarly mixed results when switching gears to the relentless heavy metal of Mick Gordon's "Doom" soundtrack. The album's pounding drums and synth sounded clear, but guitars were muddy, and each track simply lacked the volume and punch that I'm used to.
Keyboard, Touchpad and Fingerprint Reader
The Notebook 9's keyboard is frustrating, because it manages to feel both snappy and hollow at at once. I had no issues hammering away at work documents and easily sped through the Key Hero typing test at 93 words per minute with near-perfect accuracy. But like the rest of the Notebook 9, the keys just feel cheap and just a bit too shallow -- the more I used them, the more uncomfortable I found them. It doesn't help that the entire chassis seems to sink down if you put just a little extra pressure on the keyboard.
I don't have many complaints about the laptop's touchpad. While it could provide a snappier click, it made it easy for me to navigate pages and pinch-to-zoom.
The Notebook 9's fingerprint reader is conveniently placed on the right side of the keyboard and works like a charm. After a quick setup process, I was able to use a quick finger scan to log into Windows within seconds.
Packing an Intel Core i7-7500U CPU with 16GB of RAM, the Notebook 9 zipped through any task I threw at it. I never experienced any slowdown on Samsung's laptop, even as I bounced between over a dozen Chrome tabs (including five Twitch streams) while running a full system scan.
The Notebook 9 netted a 8,369 on the Geekbench 4 performance test, topping the Spectre x360's 8,017 (Core i7-7500U) while trailing the Prestige's 12,678 (Core i7-7700HQ) and our 11,333 average.
On our spreadsheet test, Samsung's laptop matched 20,000 names to addresses in 3 minutes and 37 seconds. That's about on par with the Spectre x360 (3:34) and Prestige (3:39), and slightly better than our 3:55 mainstream notebook average.
The Notebook 9's 256GB SSD copied about 5GB of files in just 11 seconds, for a very fast transfer rate of 451.8 MBps. That tops the Prestige's 128GB drive (231.3), the Spectre's 512GB SSD (282.1 MBps) and our 200-MBps average.
Armed with a discrete Nvidia 940MX GPU, the Notebook 9's strong CPU performance is backed by solid graphics muscle.
Samsung's laptop can handle a good amount of light gaming -- it ran racing game Dirt 3 at a solid 45 frames per second, which is significantly more playable than the Spectre's 29 fps (Intel HD Graphics 620).
On the 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited test, the Notebook 9 scored 93,454. That tops our 90,179 average, while trailing the Spectre (93,759) and the GTX 1050-powered Prestige (98,160).
The Notebook 9's 720p webcam is fine for quick Skype calls, but that's about it. Almost all of the photos I took on the laptop were pretty grainy, with lots of pixelation in my face and a big, dark blur where my beard normally is.
You can count on the Notebook 9 to get you through a long workday unplugged. The laptop lasted 9 hours and 39 minutes on our battery test (continuous web surfing over Wi-Fi), topping the Spectre x360 (8:36), the Prestige (4:13) and our 6:59 15-inch notebook average.
You shouldn't have to worry about the Notebook 9 burning a hole in your lap. After playing 15 minutes of HD video, the temperature of the laptop's touch screen increased to 73 degrees, while the keyboard and underside reached 82 and 81 degrees, respectively. Those numbers are all well below our 95-degree comfort threshold.
The Notebook 9 comes loaded with a handful of Samsung apps, many of which will be more useful to you if you own a Samsung phone. SideSync lets you beam your smartphone's screen to your PC, while PC Gallery and PC Message are useful for quickly accessing your Galaxy phone's photos and texts. There's also a built-in Online Support tool for getting quick customer service.
Overall, the Notebook 9's software suite is pretty unobtrusive, but non-Galaxy owners might not get a whole lot out of it. See how Samsung fared in our Best and Worst Laptop Brands and Tech Support Showdown.
The Notebook 9 starts at $1,249, which gets you an Intel Core i7-7500U CPU, 8GB of RAM, a 256GB SSD and Intel HD 620 graphics. Our $1,399 configuration ups the RAM to 16GB and includes a discrete Nvidia 940MX GPU.
If performance and portability are your priorities, the Notebook 9 delivers. This laptop's Core i7 processor and Nvidia GTX 940 can handle a full workload and even some light gaming, while its 9.5-hour battery makes it easy to get things done on the go. The notebook's slim and lightweight design makes it perfect for the road, and its colorful 15-inch screen is ideal for binging on movies and shows.
However, despite these great specs, the Notebook 9 simply doesn't feel like a premium product. The keyboard is a bit too loose and shallow, and the entire chassis feels too flexible and chintzy. If that's not a deal breaker for you, the Notebook 9's performance will satisfy. But if you want something sturdier (and sleeker), consider the HP Spectre x360, which packs a 4K screen and convertible design for a similar price.
Credit: Shaun Lucas/Laptop Mag