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Samsung Series 9 900X3A review

Ardjuna Seghers




  • Recommended by TR

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Samsung Series 9 900X3A
  • Samsung Series 9 900X3A
  • Samsung Series 9 900X3A
  • Samsung Series 9 900X3A
  • Samsung Series 9 900X3A
  • Samsung Series 9 900X3A
  • Samsung Series 9 900X3A
  • Samsung Series 9 900X3A
  • Samsung Series 9 900X3A
  • Samsung Series 9 900X3A
  • Samsung Series 9 900X3A
  • Samsung Series 9 900X3A
  • Samsung Series 9 900X3A
  • Samsung Series 9 900X3A
  • Samsung Series 9 900X3A
  • Samsung Series 9 900X3A
  • Samsung Series 9 900X3A
  • Samsung Series 9 900X3A
  • Samsung Series 9 900X3A
  • Samsung Series 9 900X3A
  • Samsung Series 9 900X3A
  • Samsung Series 9 900X3A
  • Samsung Series 9 900X3A
  • Samsung Series 9 900X3A
  • Samsung Series 9 900X3A


Our Score:



  • Thin & light
  • Duralumin construction
  • Amazing screen
  • Sandy Bridge internals
  • Superb glass touch pad


  • Not as sexy as the Macbook Air
  • Fingerprint magnet
  • Expensive

Key Features

  • 13.3in ultraportable, only 16mm thick
  • Intel dual-core Core i5-2537M
  • 128GB SSD, 4GB RAM, USB 3.0
  • Brushed Duralumin finish
  • Samsung quick-boot
  • Manufacturer: Samsung
  • Review Price: £1,323.98

When it comes to designer computer hardware, few companies are as emulation-worthy as Apple. Its 13in Macbook Air has been the standard by which sleek ultraportables have been judged since the original Air came out in 2008. Few companies are in a better a position to challenge this dominance as Samsung, and indeed the Korean giant attempted to do so with its X360. While a very stylish machine, it wasn't without its faults and wasn't as thin or sleek as the Air. However, this time around Samsung is back with a rival machine that's not only thinner and lighter than the Macbook Air, but packs in goodies like a Sandy Bridge Core i5 processor, USB 3.0 and a backlit keyboard without compromising on battery life. Can the 13.3in Series 9 900X3A beat Apple's latest?

Well, it certainly kicks the competition to the curb when it comes to specifications, connectivity and performance. But as it's aimed at the designer crowd, let's take a look at its visual appeal and build first.

Samsung Series 9 900X3A

Though Samsung quotes its laptop as being thinner than the latest Air revision, things aren't quite as straightforward as that. While Apple's laptop tapers from 17mm to a super-svelte 3mm, Samsung's effort 'only' manages 16.3mm to 15.9 from end to end. Impressive as that might be considering the amount of connectivity and processing power stuffed inside the 900X3A's chassis, it means that it doesn't look nearly as slim and minimalistic as its rival.

Samsung Series 9 900X3A

Thankfully it's also lighter, though again only just: at 1.31kg compared to the Air's 1.32kg, the difference is not really noticeable.

What about build? For its outer shell and palm rest the 9 Series uses Duralumin, an aluminium alloy that's twice as strong as the regular stuff, to ensure this is one of the more rugged metal-clad laptops around. However, whether this impression is true or not, it simply doesn't feel as sturdy in the hand as Apple's milled aluminium chassis.

Samsung Series 9 900X3A

Essentially, the Air feels like it's been carved out of a single block of metal, while the 900X3A feels like metal panels have been attached to a frame. Don't get us wrong; the 900X3A is still one of the best-built ultraportables we've had through the office, with perfectly fitted parts and barely a hint of flex. And it looks pretty special too, especially given the black livery.

Samsung Series 9 900X3A

That said, while the lid sports a brushed finish that's very attractive and the silver Samsung logo set to the side is by no means unsightly, even picking the 900X3A up once will result in a plethora of highly visible fingerprints, and the lid's hinges also break up the laptop's smooth lines. Furthermore, the lid's metal top layer extends over the plastic screen surround below, a design feature that isn't particularly appealing and gives an incoherent impression. The effect is exacerbated by the edge being left unpainted; a touch that would otherwise be desirable but here does highlight this issue.


April 8, 2011, 2:17 pm

'Thanks to its Sandy Bridge processor paired with a fast 128GB SSD,
the 900X3A trounces most laptops in the performance stakes.'

But the graphs show the test results for the Samsung X360? Or am I just missing something?


April 8, 2011, 3:12 pm

No, our bad, the top result was just wrongly labeled.
Thanks for pointing that out - fixed.


April 8, 2011, 3:41 pm

What?? No 11 inch version for europe? Gutted

Geoff Richards

April 8, 2011, 3:45 pm

@fireflud - we know! I wonder if enough of us clump together whether Samsung would consider reversing that decision...? :D

simon jackson

April 8, 2011, 3:50 pm

Very disappointed we're not going to see the 11 inch version :/ I'm in the market for an ultraportable, and whilst i think the 13 inch version is compact enough, and certainly very light and slim, i'd probably be inclined to trade some performance for an even smaller form factor. And what's the deal with ordering this sort of thing from the US? I'd always assumed this is one of those things i could just do - ordering over seas isn't usually a problem - but everywhere i've looked for a samsung series 9 wont ship the product internationally. What gives?

Great review by the way!


April 8, 2011, 4:43 pm

@Ardjuna: Ahh, now the laptop seems like a much more attractive proposition. Glad I could help.


April 8, 2011, 5:42 pm

@ Geoff: if they could bump the RAM to 4GB and SSD to 128GB on the 11inch version and make it available this side of the pond, I'll be the first in line :)


April 8, 2011, 7:08 pm

@simon jackson:
To be honest, this decision baffles us too. Good luck getting it from across the Atlantic!

Glad you like the review :)

Tim Sutton

April 8, 2011, 8:24 pm

Anyone looking to import from the US should take a look at http://www.bundlebox.com/

With shipping and VAT it doesn't usually work out much cheaper than buying here, but its MASSIVELY handy.


April 8, 2011, 10:46 pm

I love the look of this as I'm a bit bored of Apple's brushed aluminum look. If I was in the market for a new notebook this would be it, however I'm happy enough with my Macbook for now.


April 8, 2011, 11:12 pm

Can a microSD card still be accessed from within Windows 7 with the flap closed flush?

DOES the flap close flush with a card inserted?


April 9, 2011, 4:42 pm

I honestly cant believe why they are not able to offer IPS screen for the price that they are charging.
Small things like this makes the overall package compelling.


April 9, 2011, 6:41 pm

Samsung UK site says this: "Adding to the outstanding performance is the Intel® Coreâ„¢ i7 / i5 Processor" - does anybody know when the core i7 version will be available?
Not that the core i5 are available yet either.

Any specs for the 11inch version, by any chance?


April 11, 2011, 2:58 pm

An excellent question. Normally, the flap can't close once a microSD card is inserted, but if you push it in (as you usually would to eject it using the spring mechanism) you can close the flap and the card can still be read from - just take care when opening the flap again as the card will be loose.

Don't forget that Apple doesn't either, and to be honest the 900X3A's TN screen is so good it's almost not an issue.

For now, Samsung will only be selling the configuration as reviewed.
And there are no European specs for the 11in as it won't be coming out here.


July 27, 2011, 2:23 pm

Ardjuna, don't you think it's worth mentioning there's no DVD drive, or is it assumed that this standard on all 'slim' laptops nowadays.

Also 128 GB SSD (effectivley 98GB) is a quite stingy, especially as there's not much indication on the net of how to get this bumped upto 256 GB - same goes for the 4 GB to 8GB upgrade.

Are Samsung just holding back, trying to drip feed us the good stuff or is there more to it?


September 14, 2011, 3:50 am

Hmmm these reviews may be missing something? I've heard that WIFI on these thin samsungs is an issue. they don't have the powerful antennae (normally embedded behind the display) so they have a hard time sniffing out and latching on to quality signal.

Anybody hear/experience anything related to this?


February 22, 2013, 12:39 am

I was given one of these bad boys and I've put it to good use. The legitimate downsides are that it had moody wi-fi, not as durable as they would like (one of the curved panels on right side bent back (and i treat it like a princess)), and the power port on mine is broken. I need to wiggle it to get it to work. This kinda sucks, but other that it being kinda frail, I've never seen a machine start up as fast as this one, nor have I seen one that is legitimately cool. people see macbooks all the time and people see a mackbook air and they thing 'that dud's got money... showoff.." while this laptop people just say, "Woah that is sexy! Look at those sweet curves!" runs games fine (to an extent) and overall good computer!
(need to disassemble it to fix power port though)

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