The era of Air clones is certainly in full swing, with more and more “ultrabooks” popping up. There is a bigger question in all of this though, do ultrabooks offer enough to one-up the Macbook Air, or are their just a cheap substitute?
The answer to this question is a loaded one, and will depend a lot on what you are personally looking for in a thin-and-light style laptop.
Today we put the Samsung Series 9 ultrabook to the test, starting in our typical fashion of revealing the spec sheet:
- Intel Core 95-2467M Processor
- 13.33” display with 1366×768 resolution
- Intel HD Graphics 3000
- 128GB SSD
- 4GB of DDR3 RAM
- 802.11n wireless
- 5 hours and 14 minute average battery life
- 2 USB ports
- 10/100/1000 Ethernet
- Bluetooth Integrated
- Weight: 2.9 pounds
- Width: 13 inches
- Depth: 9 inches
From a design point of view the Series 9 is gorgeous, simplistic, and honestly rather reminiscent of the Air (though this is the case with almost every ultrabook out there). It is lightweight, and an enjoyable looking unit if you want a thin-and-light.
The case itself is made from ‘duralumin’, an aluminum alloy first made for rigid airships and planes, so that in itself is pretty cool. All in all, this feels like a sturdy device and not something that is going to fall apart in your hands.
As for the display? The 1366×768 resolution works appropriately for this screen size and honestly its colors, excellent viewing angles, backlight, and matte antiglare finish really make the screen stand out more than you think it would.
So overall, screen quality certainly isn’t something that I would complain about with the Series 9.
Diving straight in to the good stuff, the Series 9 features a new Sandy Bridge Core i5, though the clock speed is just 1.4GHz. Don’t let that fool you, even though the Air is 1.86GHz in speed, the Series 9 is a much faster ride in almost every way.
Not to mention that the ‘turbo mode’ on these (i5 2537) processors allow them to go up to speeds of 2.3GHz when needed.
To put this out into benchmark terms, the Series 9 earned a score of 103 on WorldBench, while the 13-inch Macbook Air scored just a 90.
On the hardware front, the 5.5 hour battery life on run-down tests shows the Series 9 can handle a good amount of use that isn’t amazing but nor is it bad, by any means.
Like pretty much every ultrabook out there though, the Intel HD 3000 graphics limit the true potential of this machine, and if you are looking for the ‘ultimate gaming experience’, you should look elsewhere.
Of course if you are playing casual games, older games, or some newer games at lowest settings, this should handle well enough.
If you are thinking that the Nvidia GeForce 320M in the MacBook Air has the Intel HD 3000 beat though, you’d be wrong.
In practice, there are little differences in performance capability between these two graphics chips from what I can see.
Despite a slightly higher price, I honestly think the Series 9 manages to stand out as one of the few that isn’t just a cheap ‘me too’ clone of the Air. Yes, there is no denying strong similarities, but in some ways the Series 9 outperforms Apple’s Air.
For those looking for a great mobile solution, you will find a strong build, a great brand, and an experience that likely will have little to regret.
You can purchase the Samsung Series 9 from the Microsoft store for $1,299.