Samsung Series 9 900X3D review
A fantastic Ultrabook that boasts superb build quality and a balanced specification at an appealing price
When Samsung’s Series 9 arrived on the scene, it was a revelation. Combining outstanding build quality with a svelte, millimetre-perfect figure, it had only one weakness: its price. Now, the Korean manufacturer has revisited its premium Ultrabook, trimmed the specification and cut the price to only £834 inc VAT.
Visually, Samsung hasn’t changed a thing, and with good reason: the Series 9 remains one of the swankiest laptops money can buy. The main alteration is the colour: the previous model we reviewed came in a dark, lustrous blue; the Series 9 900X3D is finished in sparkly, matte silver.
Squint and you could mistake it for an Apple MacBook Air, but the Series 9 has a look of its own. Unlike the Dell XPS 13, which grabs attention via flashy carbon fibre and shiny chamfered edges, its smooth curves and simple lines create a more understated figure.
It’s beautifully constructed, too. Despite weighing only 1.11kg, it feels rock-solid throughout. The lid is only 4mm thick, yet barely moves when you try to yank it to and fro, and we almost hurt our wrists trying to find any give in the base. No other Ultrabook, the MacBook Air included, can match the standard of its build.
The Series 9 oozes quality. The keyboard backlight smoothly comes to life when the lights go down, and, while we’d like more feedback from the short-travel keys, the spacious, Scrabble-tile layout and grippy, matte keycaps make amends. The glass touchpad is top class: Windows 8’s edge-swipe gestures feel slick and activate reliably; zooming, pinching and two-fingered clicks all work with zero effort.
Pushing such refined design below the £1,000 mark clearly hasn’t been easy, and the main compromise is performance. Samsung has, in fact, downgraded the CPU from the last model to a 1.4GHz Core i5-2537M, and, with 4GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD, the 900X3D is anything but top of the range. Its overall score of 0.52 in our Real World Benchmarks is a long way behind the XPS 13’s 0.73.
|Price ex VAT||£695|
|Price inc VAT||£834|
|Features & Design||5|
|Value for Money||5|
|Warranty||1 yr return to base|
|Dimensions||314 x 219 x 13mm (WDH)|
Processor and memory
|Processor||Intel Core i5-2537M|
Screen and video
|Resolution screen horizontal||1,600|
|Resolution screen vertical||900|
|Resolution||1600 x 900|
|Graphics chipset||Intel HD Graphics 4000|
|VGA (D-SUB) outputs||1|
|Hard disk usable capacity||111GB|
|Replacement battery price inc VAT||£0|
|Wired adapter speed||100Mbits/sec|
|802.11 draft-n support||yes|
|Integrated 3G adapter||no|
|Wireless hardware on/off switch||no|
|Wireless key-combination switch||yes|
|PC Card slots||0|
|USB ports (downstream)||1|
|PS/2 mouse port||no|
|9-pin serial 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||no|
|MMC (multimedia card) reader||no|
|Smart Media reader||no|
|Compact Flash reader||no|
|Pointing device type||Touchpad|
Battery and performance tests
|Battery life, light use||7hr 22min|
|Overall Real World Benchmark score||0.52|
Operating system and software
|Operating system||Windows 8 64-bit|
|OS family||Windows 8|