May 05, 2012, 7:30 AM — Razor-thin laptops are nothing new, thanks to the influx of Ultrabooks in the market. But Samsung's latest Series 9 laptop isn't quite an Ultrabook--it's better. The 2012 Series 9, which comes in two flavors (13.3-inch and 15-inch) is thinner, more powerful, and simpler than both its predecessor and the average Ultrabook.
This review is for the 15-inch Series 9, which costs $1500. The 15-inch model is a mere 0.6 inches thick, which is thinner than the 0.7-inch thickness standard for 13.3-inch (and smaller) Ultrabooks. The Series 9 weighs in at just 3.7 pounds, minus accessories.
Our review model comes packed with an Intel Core i5-2467M processor, 8GB ofRAM, and a 128GB SSD. It also features built-in Wi-Fi 802.11n/a/b/g, a built-in webcam and microphone, and a full-size backlit keyboard. It runs a 64-bit version of Windows 7 Home Premium, and relies on integrated Intel HD 3000 graphics.
In our WorldBench 7 benchmark tests, the Series 9 scores an impressive 154. Thanks to this very high score and some very long battery life, it earned a overall performance score of 91 (relative to other ultraportable laptops). The average overall performance score of past three ultraportables we've tested is 76, so the Series 9 scores very well for its category.
Graphics performance on the Series 9 is also good for its category, but not great overall. In our Dirt 3 graphics tests, the Series 9 managed an acceptable frame rate of 43.9 frames per second, but only at low quality settings and resolution. Of course, when we upped the quality settings to high and the resolution to 1366 by 768 pixels, the Series 9 eked out a barely-playable frame rate of 15.6 FPS. This laptop is no gaming machine, but it's not meant to be, as it has no discrete graphics card.
The Series 9 also does well when it comes to battery life, which is surprising, considering it's got a 15-inch screen. We managed to get seven hours and 36 minutes out of the Series 9. The average battery life of the past three ultraportables we've tested--all of which have 14-inch or smaller screens--is six hours and 21 minutes.
Design: Chassis, Keyboard, Trackpad