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Samsung Ativ Book 9 Plus - Heat, Noise, Keyboard and Verdict

Andrew Williams

By Andrew Williams



  • Recommended by TR
Samsung Ativ Book 9 Plus


Our Score:


Samsung Ativ Book 9 Plus – Heat & Noise

When performing light tasks, the Samsung Ativ Book 9 Plus is silent. The rear part of its underside does tend to get a little warm, but that is fundamentally unavoidable in a slim aluminium laptop like this.

Under pressure, the fans kick in, whose output sits towards the rear of the Ativ's bottom panel. It uses a pair of fans to avoid having them have to rev too hard. And that - along with the efficient innards - helps to keep the laptop pretty quiet in all situations.

Samsung Ativ Book 9 Plus – Keyboard

The Samsung Ativ Book 9 Plus has a low-profile Chiclet keyboard that’s very similar to the keyboard of the last Samsung Series 9 laptop we looked at. It doesn’t have the firm resistance and meaty key press action of something like the Lenovo Thinkpad X1, but it is crisp and even.

Clearly-marked second functions are used across the F1-12, arrow and control keys, giving you quick access to the screen/audio settings menu, as well as the usual brightness and volume controls. It also lets the keyboard pack in, Home, End and Page up/down buttons without squishing any of the keys unduly. Shallow travel aside, it’s a comfortable keyboard to type on.

The Samsung Ativ Book 9 Plus also has a keyboard backlight that shines a cool white glow through the keys’ lettering. Secondary function keys give you a great level of control over the level of the keyboard light too. This really is a near-perfectly executed keyboard, restricted only by the size demands of the Ultrabook class.

Samsung Ativ Book 9 Plus – Touchpad

The Samsung Ativ Book 9 Plus’s touchpad is also great. Like the MacBook Air, it has a textured glass top layer that feels fantastic on the fingers. It’s smooth, it’s responsive and it looks great too.

In the usual Ultrabook style, the touchpad is oversized and its buttons are built into the pad itself rather than sitting below it. Like the keyboard, it’s a cracker.

Anything else to consider?

This is a flagship laptop, but there are a few things to mull over when buying a laptop of this type. You don’t get an optical drive, there’s no dedicated graphics chip and connectivity is a little limited compared with a leviathan desktop-replacer.

If your Samsung Ativ Book 9 Plus is going to spend a lot of time out of the house, or even being taken from room to room, its design is perfect for the task. But if it’s going to sit on a desk at home all its life, you’re missing what it’s all about.

Should I buy the Samsung Ativ Book 9 Plus?

The Samsung Ativ Book 9 Plus is a luxury laptop. While you can customise your spec a little to stop the price from floating into the stratosphere, there are few compromises in its design – and that’s reflected in the laptop’s £1,200 starting price.

Is it poor value? No, but if you’re willing to step down a spec rung or two, and don’t mind trading the fantastic display and touchscreen, the Samsung Ativ Book 9 Lite offers a similar body for half the price.

Serious typists may prefer the (admittedly less pretty) Lenovo X1 Thinkpad Carbon and the cheaper (but chunkier) Samsung Series 7 Ultra is a better gaming machine. And if you're not bothered about the top-notch screen, the Sony Vaio Pro 13 offers very similar performance and similarly slim-line design for less money.

However, if a Windows 8 alternative to the MacBook Air is what you’re after, you really can’t do much better. Other laptops with as high-res screens as this will come soon, but for now this is the screen King of super-slim laptops.

SEE ALSO: Top 10 best laptops round-up


It may not come cheap, but the Samsung Ativ 9 Plus looks and feels its money. It’s a great looking laptop of near-flawless build quality and a brilliant screen. The superb screen resolution ensures that other laptops using similarly up-to-date components will offer better battery life, but thanks to the optimisation of the Intel Haswell CPU, it lasts for a full day of work anyway. Ultrabooks don’t get much better than this.

Overall Score


Scores In Detail

  • Battery Life 8
  • Build Quality 9
  • Design 9
  • Heat & Noise 8
  • Keyboard 7
  • Performance 8
  • Screen Quality 9
  • Touchpad 9
  • Value 8

Timi Azeez

August 29, 2013, 3:43 pm

I have to say, don't forget that the MAc Air uses a very low resolution than this laptop so it wasn't feasable to be at least 12hrs. Try the ativ book 9 at 1080p and see if the battery life gets better.


August 29, 2013, 5:11 pm

"Want something that’s a bit like a MacBook Air, but with Windows 8 and better specs?" Yes please... But if you could get rid of the awful and near enough unusable Windows 8 that would be great.


August 29, 2013, 5:24 pm

Did you check that the video report on the right side works is actual the mini DisplayPort that you say it is and not the Samsung proprietary mini VGA port supplied on the previous Series 9s. Samsung's specs http://www.samsung.com/uk/c... say it is the latter but most users would prefer the mini DisplayPort.


August 29, 2013, 5:32 pm


I have Windows 8 installed on my Macbook Air. Apart from the start menu (which you can get back easily), it's an improved version of Windows 7. I really can't see why so many people have a problem with it.

I think I might get myself one of these as the odd keyboard layout on the Macbook air bugs me, and I don't use OS X.


August 29, 2013, 7:19 pm

Just out of curiosity, is the clutch cover over the hinge mechanism metal or plastic?


August 29, 2013, 7:30 pm

I love windows 8, each to their own.
Love to know how you get an i7 one, can't find any listing for it anywhere.

Close but no cigar

August 29, 2013, 10:04 pm

FANTASTIC to finally start getting laptops with decent resolution. Well overdue.

BUT... why this obsession with ultra thin? Absolutely I can understand it being very nice to get down from 30mm thick to something more reasonable, and weight is a big issue as regards portability, but does it really matter if the thing is 13.6mm vs 15 or 16mm thick when it so often comes at the cost of a decent number of USB port, a large performance hit or your have to fart about with (where the hell has it gone now!) proprietary cables for ethernet? ...the latter especially when it doesn't have 802.11ac.


August 29, 2013, 10:53 pm

Your score verdict isn't consistent with the description. I guess 9/10 for design is there because of availability of ports, but 7/10 for what you basically described as perfect in the chiclet department and 8/10 for build quality for 'can't do much better' seems uncalled for. And then you add to 'cons' a pivotal one many users would love to hear more about--but don't--that is display scaling in Windows 8. How about 'review of S9+, v. 2.0'?

Charlie Moritz

August 29, 2013, 11:41 pm

And value 8/10 for a laptop that is priced out of 80% of people's budget. Who spends this much on a laptop when you could buy a tablet for on the go and a more powerful home PC for the same price?

Linh Nguyën

August 30, 2013, 12:06 am

I agree. A "near-perfectly executed keyboard" that only gets 7/10?

Linh Nguyën

August 30, 2013, 12:07 am

How do you use your Windows computer that makes W8 unusable?

Linh Nguyën

August 30, 2013, 12:10 am

Already preordered one from Amazon, but wish they had an SKU with matte screen.


August 30, 2013, 6:46 am

"The Samsung Ativ Book 9 Plus is available in a bunch of different spec line-ups, topping-out with a Haswell-generation Intel Core i7 chip, 512GB SSD storage and 8GB RAM.
Our more conservatively-specced model has a 128GB SSD, 4GB of RAM and a Haswell-generation Intel Core i5 CPU."

This is NOT true. Samsung only offers this very conservatively-specced model which is not comfortable for extensive Internet browsing.


August 30, 2013, 8:41 am

Hi, We had a chat with Samsung before the review and they talked of plans to offer other spec configs. We'll get clarification of these plans later today and get back to you peeps.


August 30, 2013, 10:19 am

The ultrabooks are getting pricey, this is debatable, but you might be right they should give less points for that and pressure manufacturers a little (unless they get paid for good reviews of products they get, which is VERY common these days).

I couldn't disagree more with the desktop+tablet argument, however. I own one 13" laptop and two tablets (10" and 7") and they simply work in different uses scenarios for me. When doing M$ Office work + browsing + accessing my pdf library when not connected to the power outlet, I'm doing it efficiently on a laptop (even more on a 22" display, but I wouldn't want to carry it around), while some things are irritatingly unusable on a tablet, even one with a physical keyboard (multi-tasking is just too slow!). If you don't need an ultrabook, you don't need an ultrabook. In fact, I'm just getting the X3E (FHD matte version of the Series 9) to have a lightweight mobile workstation to carry around. I don't feel I'm sacrificing much, as I'm neither a heavy gamer nor a graphic designer. Why would I want a more powerful home PC which I wouldn't want to carry around or take with me for a 13-hour flight?


August 30, 2013, 10:32 am

That resolution is insane :D

Though under 'key features' you say the vertical res is 1,300px while under the screen section of the article you say it's 1,800px.


August 30, 2013, 11:36 am

Now just bring this resolution, and higher, to monitors please! I'd settle for a 4k resolution, just don't price is insanely high.


August 30, 2013, 11:55 am

An Intel i series chip and 4gb is more than ample for any amount of internet browsing, the network connection will be limiting factor well before you run into cpu/memory limitations.


August 30, 2013, 2:31 pm

Any news on the alternative specs?


August 30, 2013, 2:50 pm

Drum roll...... sadly in the UK we'll only be getting the version we tested here. Sadface. I'll update the review soon as poss.


August 30, 2013, 4:53 pm

If all you do is internet browsing, then get a tablet.

I actually intend to do work on this laptop, which means running virtual machines, simulations, and compiling code.

8GB of RAM and 256GB SSD should be a bare minimum in 2013, especially considering the price Samsung is asking vs actual prices of RAM/SSDs these days.


August 30, 2013, 5:02 pm

Why would you need more than one USB port on an ultrabook? And Ethernet port? Does anyone still use those? Last time I did was in 2004.

Lack of 802.11ac is surprising, however.

As far as thicker and heavier laptops, if that's your preference, there are plenty of those on the market. Frankly, even this one is a bit too heavy for my liking.


August 30, 2013, 7:41 pm

Has Samsung release the i7, 8gb, 512 Ssd Book 9 Plus Anywhere Yet?

Matthew Bunton

August 31, 2013, 1:43 am

Its great to see higher res screens starting to appear on laptops they have been 1080p for far too long.

Looking forward to the 4K monitors when they are more affordable.


August 31, 2013, 5:58 am

Not a bad machine, but the 1.3 kg is nothing to write home about, and until Windows is adapted to handle these kind screens, the extra resolution is not that helpful. In that format, I would rather have a lighter machine.

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