Samsung Ativ Book 9 Lite review
Samsung works some penny-pinching magic to produce a serviceable Ultrabook-style touchscreen laptop on the cheap
We’re used to Samsung churning out premium-priced Ultrabooks and high-end smartphones, but the ATIV Book 9 Lite bucks the trend. This is a slim, svelte laptop that promises an Ultrabook-like experience on the cheap.
If you can’t shake the feeling that you’ve seen the ATIV Book 9 Lite before, there’s a good reason for that: the DNA of Samsung’s legendary Series 9 range of Ultrabooks is evident in every curve and chamfer of this cut-price laptop. Squint slightly and it’s easy to mistake it for its far pricier predecessor. The Lite is finished in the same dark blue – although there is a more eye-catching white model, if that takes your fancy – and everything from the teardrop hinge design to the scrabble-tile keyboard echoes Samsung’s top-end model.
Inevitably, Samsung has had to make some major compromises to get the price so low. The first casualty is materials. Where the Series 9 was hewn from solid-feeling metal, the ATIV Book 9 Lite has to make do with plastic. It’s good, sturdy-feeling plastic, though, and while there’s a little flex to be found if you force the lid and base, this is a seriously solid-feeling laptop for the money. It’s attractive by budget standards, too. While the lid has a fake brushed metal effect with a glossy finish, the interior and underside are all finished in an attractive matte blue.
The ATIV Book 9 Lite also isn’t as thin or light as many of the Ultrabooks we’ve seen. It’s 6mm thicker than Samsung’s Series 9 – including the rubber feet on the base, the Lite measures 19mm thick – and, rather ironically given its name, it weighs a fairly hefty 1.55kg. Thankfully, the fairly compact mains charger doesn’t add too much to the weight: throw both in a bag and the pair come to a very reasonable 1.88kg.
At the heart of the ATIV Book 9 Lite, an AMD processor takes pride of place – though curiously you’d be unable to tell it from the specification on the box, or from delving through Windows 8’s Device Manager. The CPU is described mysteriously simply as a “Quad-Core Processor (up to 1.4GHz)”, with no manufacturer or model name to be found. The presence of an AMD Radeon HD 8250 GPU gives the game away, however, as it’s an integral part of AMD’s A6-1450 APU, which is partnered here with a 128GB Samsung PM841 SSD and 4GB of DDR3 RAM.
It’s a combination that feels perfectly spritely in casual use, with applications loading and opening quickly. When we recorded the time taken to restart the system, the Lite arrived back at the Start screen in 25 seconds. That’s a testament to the PM841: while it doesn’t rival top-flight SSDs for all-out speed, it generated some impressive figures in the AS SSD benchmark, reading large files at an average of 481MB/s and writing them back at a less notable 108MB/s.
When it comes to hard work, however, the ATIV Book 9 Lite struggles. The A6-1450’s four cores run at a slow 1GHz, boosting up to a maximum of 1.4GHz, and in our Real World Benchmarks it managed an overall score of just 0.35. That lags behind most budget laptops, and it’s even a fair way off the pace of older Sandy Bridge low-voltage chips. Graphics performance is below par too – an average of 24fps in our least taxing Crysis benchmark indicates that gaming potential is limited to the most undemanding titles.
|Price ex VAT||£500|
|Price inc VAT||£600|
|Features & Design||5|
|Value for Money||6|
|Warranty||1yr collect and return|
|Dimensions||324 x 224 x 19mm (WDH)|
Processor and memory
|SODIMM sockets free||0|
|SODIMM sockets total||0|
Screen and video
|Resolution screen horizontal||1,366|
|Resolution screen vertical||768|
|Resolution||1366 x 768|
|Graphics chipset||AMD Radeon HD8250|
|VGA (D-SUB) outputs||1|
|Hard disk||Samsung PM841|
|Replacement battery price inc VAT||£0|
|Wired adapter speed||1,000Mbits/sec|
|802.11 draft-n support||yes|
|Integrated 3G adapter||no|
|Wireless hardware on/off switch||no|
|Wireless key-combination switch||yes|
|USB ports (downstream)||1|
|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, touchscreen|
|Camera megapixel rating||0.9mp|
Battery and performance tests
|Battery life, light use||7hr 52min|
|Battery life, heavy use||3hr 33min|
|3D performance (crysis) low settings||24fps|
|3D performance setting||Low|
|Overall Real World Benchmark score||0.35|
Operating system and software
|Operating system||Windows 8 64-bit|
|OS family||Windows 8|