Home / Computing / Laptop / Samsung Series 9 900X3A / Specs, Performance and Battery

Samsung Series 9 900X3A - Specs, Performance and Battery

Ardjuna Seghers

By Ardjuna Seghers

Reviewed:

Summary

Our Score:

8

The good news continues with the 900X3A's specifications, with the headline being its use of a dual-core Intel Core i5-2537M. Intel's new Sandy Bridge low voltage mobile processors provide the best efficiency to performance ratios on the market, so though its standard clock speed is only 1.4GHz, this can turbo clock up to 2.3GHz and utilizes Hyperthreading to provide up to four virtual cores. Its CPU alone makes the 900X3A the most powerful ultraportable in its class, and will completely wipe the floor with the Macbook Air's paltry 1.86GHz Core 2 Duo, which is by now two generations behind.

The 9 Series also ships with 4GB of RAM as standard, an upgrade for which Apple charges £80. It's configured in a single stick of 4GB taking up one of the two DIMM slots so Samsung can conceivably offer models with 8GB of RAM in the future. What's more, though Samsung obviously doesn't encourage ripping the laptop apart, it may theoretically be possible to upgrade these yourself.

Samsung Series 9 900X3A

Thanks to its Sandy Bridge processor paired with a fast 128GB SSD,

the 900X3A trounces most laptops in the performance stakes.

For storage there's a capacious 128GB SSD (leaving you with a 98GB capacity as a 21GB section is reserved for a recovery partition), and though the 13.3in Air offers the same capacity, its SSD is likely to be slower due to using an older controller. We're yet to confirm how this is configured, and thus how easy it might be to upgrade, but we suspect it will be something of a chore to do so.

The only area where the Air still wins out in terms of internal specs is in offering dedicated graphics, albeit in the shape of the rather dated Nvidia GeForce 320M. This is better for light 3D gaming and Photoshop, but Intel's integrated HD-3000 solution comes out tops for hardware video decoding.

As expected, the OS of choice is Windows 7 Home Premium, and the install is fairly clean with only a few Samsung applications. Samsung's proprietary fast-booting software ensures that Windows boot times are reduced to as little as a claimed 15 seconds, and in our testing the 900X3A came close with an average of 20 seconds. One minor annoyance is Samsung's Wireless app which keeps notifying you of the available connections every five minutes, but this can easily be turned off.

Samsung Series 9 900X3A

As with the Air, the six-cell, 46Wh battery in the 900X3A is non-removable, so we were hoping Samsung's quoted battery life of seven hours wasn't an exaggeration. Again, the Series 9 allayed our fears by providing over four hours with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth enabled, while switching these off and lowering the brightness to the 40 percent equivalent we run the Productivity test at on other laptops resulted in a solid seven hours and 20 minutes.

In general use the 900X3A stays cool, only getting warm on the left and running very quietly even under load. In fact, in anything but the quietest environment it's completely inaudible.

Finally, we come to value, and this might come as a bit of a shock: the MSRP of the 900X3A is a whopping £1,299! However, to put this seemingly high price into context, keep in mind that Apple charges £1,227 for its Air with 4GB of RAM and an Ethernet adapter. For only £70 more, the Samsung might not look as sexy or offer as high a resolution on its otherwise superior screen, but provides a vastly better processor and platform, fast external connectivity with USB 3.0, a backlit keyboard and, of course, Windows 7.

Samsung Series 9 900X3A

Our only real complaint, aside from the somewhat underwhelming design (again, only when compared to the Macbook Air – among Windows 7 laptops it has few rivals) is its high-maintenance glossy finish, and it would have been nice to see an included cleaning cloth and carrying case when paying this much.

We're also rather disappointed that the 11in Series 9 is not set to be making it over to this side of the Atlantic; yet another case of Europe being left out in the cold. Hopefully, if the 13in model is successful, Samsung will be persuaded to change its mind.

Verdict

Lighter and arguably thinner than Apple's Macbook Air, the 13.3in, Series 9 900X3A may not be as pretty and attracts more fingerprints, but offers far more power and connectivity. Combined with a truly excellent screen, surprisingly good speakers, the best touchpad on any Windows laptop and decent battery life, if you're looking for one of the thinnest and lightest Windows 7 machines around it's an excellent choice and well worth its high asking price.

Overall Score

8

Scores In Detail

  • Battery Life 8
  • Design 8
  • Features 10
  • Performance 9
  • Value 7

edge360

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?

TechVegan

April 8, 2011, 3:12 pm

@edge360:
No, our bad, the top result was just wrongly labeled.
Thanks for pointing that out - fixed.

fireflud

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!

edge360

April 8, 2011, 4:43 pm

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

fireflud

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 :)

TechVegan

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.

Sleeper

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.

ThaDon

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?

Caleb9ce

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.

munky

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?

TechVegan

April 11, 2011, 2:58 pm

@ThaDon:
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.

@Caleb:
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.

@munky:
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.

YG

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?

kiers

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?

Russ

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)

comments powered by Disqus