Samsung Series 9 900X3D review

7 May 2013

A fantastic Ultrabook that boasts superb build quality and a balanced specification at an appealing price

Price when reviewed: 
834(£834 inc VAT)
Buy it now for 
5

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.

Samsung Series 9 900X3D

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.

Samsung Series 9 900X3D

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.

Details

Price ex VAT £695
Price inc VAT £834
Overall rating 5
Features & Design 5
Value for Money 5
Performance 4

Warranty

Warranty 1 yr return to base

Physical specifications

Dimensions 314 x 219 x 13mm (WDH)
Weight 1.110kg
Travelling weight 1.4kg

Processor and memory

Processor Intel Core i5-2537M
RAM capacity 4.00GB
Memory type DDR3

Screen and video

Screen size 13.3in
Resolution screen horizontal 1,600
Resolution screen vertical 900
Resolution 1600 x 900
Graphics chipset Intel HD Graphics 4000
VGA (D-SUB) outputs 1
HDMI outputs 1

Drives

Capacity 128GB
Hard disk usable capacity 111GB
Replacement battery price inc VAT £0

Networking

Wired adapter speed 100Mbits/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 no
MMC (multimedia card) reader no
Smart Media reader no
Compact Flash reader no
xD-card reader no
Pointing device type Touchpad
Integrated microphone? yes
Integrated webcam? yes
Fingerprint reader no

Battery and performance tests

Battery life, light use 7hr 22min
Overall Real World Benchmark score 0.52
Responsiveness score 0.61
Media score 0.56
Multitasking score 0.38

Operating system and software

Operating system Windows 8 64-bit
OS family Windows 8

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