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Samsung Ativ Book 9 Plus - Performance, Battery Life and Speakers

Andrew Williams

By Andrew Williams



  • Recommended by TR
Samsung Ativ Book 9 Plus


Our Score:


Samsung Ativ Book 9 Plus – Internal Speaker

It may not compete with a 50-inch plasma telly for watching films on, but the screen makes the Samsung Ativ Book 9 Plus a perfect laptop for some casual movie-watching. This is only improved further by the seriously surprising performance of the internal speakers.

In a laptop this thin and light, you’d expect the speakers to be pretty weak and weedy, but they’re excellent – for a laptop, that is. There’s a nice bit of low-end beef to the sound, and the top-end is fairly smooth and detailed, rather than harsh and brittle as we tend to see in a laptop this size.

The speaker grilles sit on the underside of the Samsung Ativ Book 9 Plus, firing out from each end, producing a reasonable stereo image when you’re sat in front of the laptop. There’s some software tweaking of the sound too. DSP modes let you alter the bass and treble - and add reverb or a 3D effect.

The only slight downside is that it is not tremendously loud – Samsung seems to have calibrated the speaker’s output carefully to avoid ugly distortion.

Samsung Ativ Book 9 Plus – Performance

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 spec offers a good balance between performance and price, and is a big performance upgrade over the last i5-equipped Samsung Series 9 NP900X3D.

Performance-wise, the latest Core i5 is roughly on par with a last-gen Ivy Bridge Core i7 processor – as seen in the Lenovo Ideapad Yoga 11S.

In the PC Mark 07 benchmark it comes out with 4,404 points, which is a solid score that matches the top-end Ultrabooks of today. It uses a low voltage processor for greater battery efficiency, though. It runs a lot cooler than a desktop CPU.

One of the most serious improvements in the Haswell generation of Intel CPUs is seen in the GPU. This is not a gaming laptop, but gaming performance isn’t quite the unmitigated mess that an integrated graphics laptop of a year or two ago would have been. It uses the Intel HD4400 graphics chip, which offers better performance over last year's HD4000 model.

In the 3DMark bench, the Samsung Ativ Book 9 Plus scores 25,267 in the low-end Ice Storm test and 4,008 points in the mid-range Cloud Gate test. That these test scores bump to over 34,000 points and 4,259 respectively when the resolution is lowered to 1080p is telling.

While the HD 4440 GPU can handle mid-level games at respectable rates, if you're thinking the laptop's high screen resolution will be a gaming winner, think again. It'll cause a significant performance dip in any titles with visuals worth upping to that resolution - and most games aren't optimised for such a resolution anyway.

What really helps the Samsung Ativ Book 9 Plus's day-to-day performance is the SSD drive, which enables quick boot-up times. It can boot up from cold in 10 seconds, and from standby in a shade under two seconds.

Our model had a 128GB SSD, but you can upgrade to 512GB if you have a couple of limbs going spare to cover the cost.

Samsung Ativ Book 9 Plus – Battery Life

Battery stamina is good by standards of the past few years, but it doesn’t have quite the jaw-dropping stamina of the Haswell-equipped MacBook Air.

Samsung claims the laptop will last for 11 hours, and to give it a proper test we tried a few different usage tests. With maximum brightness (but not with outside mode engaged), the Samsung Ativ Book 9 Plus lasts for six hours 53 minutes. At medium brightness that stretches out to eight hours.

As we were still a ways away from Samsung’s claimed figures, we dropped the screen brightness to minimum, turned off Wi-Fi and switched the keyboard backlight off completely. In this setup, the Samsung Ativ Book 9 Plus lasts for around 10-11 hours. However, it really doesn’t represent normal usage as the screen is really too dim for comfortable viewing in most situations.

After seeing quite how long the Macbook Air squeezed out of its battery thanks to its efficient Intel Haswell CPU, we were a tiny bit disappointed, but there’s an obvious reason why. Its high screen resolution takes its toll on power consumption, and Windows 8 is generally a little less battery-efficient than Mac OS X.

Is gaining the higher-quality screen worth the battery sacrifice? Yes, given that the Samsung Ativ Book 9 Plus still lasts for a full day’s work. However, if on-the-road stamina is a key concern, also consider the Sony Vaio Pro 13.

The Vaio Pro 13 lasts for almost exactly the same time, but you can get a neat and light battery pack that extends it to 13 hours.

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/cons... 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'?

Actionable Steps

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.

Chris Beach

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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