Samsung Series 9 900X4C (15in) review

14 Aug 2012

Samsung supersizes its Ultrabook to create a svelte 15in stunner, but the looks come at a high price

Price when reviewed: 
1,150(£1199 inc VAT)
4

The trend for slim and light laptops shows no sign of abating, with Samsung now adding to its range with the 15in Series 9 900X4C. It shares the same wafer-thin design as its 13.3in cousin, but swells the screen size and crams in Intel’s Ivy Bridge for good measure.

The Series 9 900X4C is in a different league to most 15in laptops: it’s a mere waif by comparison, measuring just 15mm thick. And while it’s not quite as endearingly petite as its smaller stablemate, it’s gorgeous to look at. The glamorous dark blue anodising contrasts against the flash of milled aluminium around the laptop’s edges, and the chassis tapers to a delicate sliver along its front edge.

Samsung Series 9 900X4C (15in) - front

Despite its dainty profile, the metal unibody design combines stunning looks with good build quality. Yank unkindly on the thin lid and it barely flinches. Lean on the base beneath, and it too is rock-solid. It’s also light: at just 1.67kg it’s a real luxury lightweight.

That luxury continues elsewhere. A brightness sensor embedded in the bezel automatically adjusts the onscreen brightness (although it can be switched off completely), and another sensor ensures that the keyboard backlight is only enabled when the lights go down.

Those Scrabble-tile keys glow blue when the backlighting is enabled, and combine with a spacious, comfortable layout. If there’s a moan, it’s due to the shallow key action: cramming so much into a tiny chassis means that each key depresses barely a couple of millimetres, and there’s only a slight dig of feedback. It’s easy enough to acclimatise to, but it’s lacking in feel compared with the best laptops at this price point.

Samsung Series 9 900X4C (15in) - top-down

As for the touchpad beneath, Samsung has integrated the buttons into the surface of the touchpad itself. Clicking the bottom-left and -right corners of the pad works exactly as you’d expect, but it’s possible to press anywhere else on the pad for a left-click, or dab with two fingers to emulate a right click. Three- and four-fingered upward and downward flicks, meanwhile, serve to switch between or minimise running applications.

Inside, one of Intel’s latest Ivy Bridge processors takes centre stage. The Core i5-3317U operates at a nominal 1.7GHz and is capable of boosting up to 2.6GHz. Alongside, there’s 8GB of RAM and a 128GB Sandisk U100 SSD, and that combination achieved a result of 0.64 in our benchmarks – fast enough for most purposes.

Details

Price ex VAT £958
Price inc VAT £1,150
Overall rating 4
Features & Design 5
Value for Money 4
Performance 4

Warranty

Warranty 1 yr return to base

Physical specifications

Dimensions 356 x 236 x 15mm (WDH)
Weight 1.670kg
Travelling weight 2.2kg

Processor and memory

Processor Intel Core i5-3317U
Motherboard chipset Intel HM75
RAM capacity 8.00GB
Memory type DDR3
SODIMM sockets free 0
SODIMM sockets total 2

Screen and video

Screen size 15.0in
Resolution screen horizontal 1,600
Resolution screen vertical 900
Resolution 1600 x 900
Graphics chipset Intel HD Graphics 4000
Graphics card RAM N/A
VGA (D-SUB) outputs 1
HDMI outputs 1
S-Video outputs 0
DVI-I outputs 0
DVI-D outputs 0
DisplayPort outputs 0

Drives

Capacity 128GB
Hard disk usable capacity 119GB
Spindle speed N/A
Internal disk interface SATA/600
Hard disk Sandisk SSD U100
Optical disc technology N/A
Optical drive N/A
Battery capacity 8,400mAh
Replacement battery price inc VAT £0

Networking

Wired adapter speed 1,000Mbits/sec
802.11a support yes
802.11b support yes
802.11g support yes
802.11 draft-n support yes
Integrated 3G adapter no
Bluetooth support yes

Other Features

Wireless hardware on/off switch no
Wireless key-combination switch yes
Modem no
ExpressCard34 slots 0
ExpressCard54 slots 0
PC Card slots 0
USB ports (downstream) 1
FireWire ports 0
PS/2 mouse port no
9-pin serial ports 0
Parallel ports 0
Optical S/PDIF audio output ports 0
Electrical S/PDIF audio ports 0
3.5mm audio jacks 1
SD card reader yes
Memory Stick reader yes
MMC (multimedia card) reader no
Smart Media reader no
Compact Flash reader no
xD-card reader no
Pointing device type Touchpad
Audio chipset Realtek HD Audio
Speaker location Front edge
Hardware volume control? no
Integrated microphone? yes
Integrated webcam? yes
Camera megapixel rating 1.3mp
TPM no
Fingerprint reader no
Smartcard reader no
Carry case no

Battery and performance tests

Battery life, light use 9hr 46min
3D performance (crysis) low settings 26fps
3D performance setting Low
Overall Real World Benchmark score 0.64
Responsiveness score 0.77
Media score 0.67
Multitasking score 0.49

Operating system and software

Operating system Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
OS family Windows 7
Recovery method Recovery partition