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Samsung Series 9 900X3B review

Ardjuna Seghers




  • Recommended by TR

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Samsung Series 9 900X3B
  • Samsung Series 9 900X3B
  • Samsung Series 9 900X3B
  • Samsung Series 9 900X3B
  • Samsung Series 9 900X3B
  • Samsung Series 9 900X3B
  • Samsung Series 9 900X3B
  • Samsung Series 9 900X3B
  • Samsung Series 9 900X3B
  • Samsung Series 9 900X3B
  • Samsung Series 9 900X3B
  • Samsung Series 9 900X3B
  • Samsung Series 9 900X3B
  • Samsung Series 9 900X3B
  • Samsung Series 9 900X3B
  • Samsung Series 9 900X3B
  • Samsung Series 9 900X3B
  • Samsung Series 9 900X3B
  • PCMark benchmark series 9
  • Battery
  • gaming benchmark


Our Score:



  • Best screen we’ve ever seen on a portable laptop
  • Thinnest and lightest 13in laptop in the world
  • Gorgeous design
  • Good connectivity and audio
  • Great backlit keyboard


  • Average battery life
  • Average performance

Key Features

  • 1600 x 900 matt PLS screen
  • Sandblasted metal unibody chassis
  • Backlit keyboard
  • Super slim design
  • Manufacturer: Samsung
  • Review Price: £1,199.00

The Samsung Series 9 900X3B is the most attractive and premium-feeling 13-inch ultraportable we’ve seen since the 2011 Macbook Air. Have Ultrabooks finally come of age? Well, no, because Samsung doesn’t class the Series 9 900X3B as an Ultrabook, despite it meeting or exceeding every ‘requirement’. Frankly, this is because the company feels Ultrabooks have become too mainstream, and its new Series 9 is a premium ultraportable for which you pay a premium price. But does it do enough to elevate it above the norm? Yes, and then some.

We’ve already mentioned that the Samsung Series 9 900X3B is an amazing looking laptop, but it's also incredibly thin, with its sub-13mm profile making it the slimmest 13-inch laptop we’ve seen. But merely being the thinnest isn’t enough; it’s also the lightest, weighing a mere 1.15kg. It has the best screen of any ultrabook we’ve seen, and isn't far off being the best we've seen on any laptop ever.

Samsung Series 9 900X3B 3

It's a 13.3-inch matt-finish panel with a high 1,600 x 900 resolution and near-flawless viewing angles resultant of it using PLS technology. MacBook Air aside, it even has the best speakers. Its backlit keyboard is great to type on and its touchpad easily matches up. And to top it all off, Samsung claims the Series 9 900X3B has up to 10-hours battery life!

Samsung Series 9 900X3B 9

Unlike many ultrabooks that use several bolted together panels, the Series 9 900X3B comes packaged in a true unibody chassis, like that of the MacBook Air. The entirety is anodised gunmetal blue/grey, aside from the edges which have been left bare aluminium, making for a nice contrast and further emphasising that incredible thinness.

Samsung Series 9 900X3B 14

Build quality matches its design. Far more so than other, already-impressive unibody ultrabooks like the Asus Zenbook UX31, the Samsung 900X3B really is rock-solid. There’s not a hint of flex or creak, and it just exudes quality. Even the hinge has a far more deliberate action than we’re used to from thin laptops.

Finally then we have a Windows PC laptop that matches the best Apple has to offer not just in looks but in feel too. Thankfully, the new Series 9’s finish also picks up far fewer fingerprints than its brushed black duraluminum predecessor.

Samsung Series 9 900X3B

Despite being the thinnest Ultrab… - sorry, we mean ultraportable - we’ve seen, Samsung hasn’t compromised on the Series 9’s connectivity, which is an impressive feat in itself. On the left you’ll find the laptop’s single USB 3.0 port for hooking up fast storage, followed by a microHDMI port for outputting digital video. Samsung does not supply a regular-size HDMI adapter but then microHDMI cables are cheap and plentiful. The next port is microGigabit Ethernet, which uses a supplied adapter to plug into conventional wired networks.

On the right there’s a full-size SDXC card slot, microVGA port (again with included adapter), a 3.5mm headphone and microphone combi jack, and a USB 2.0 port. For wireless there’s Bluetooth 4.0 and Wi-Fi N. That pretty much covers every possible requirement, and the only absentee on the Samsung Series 9 900X3B we would have liked to have seen is ThunderBolt.


March 13, 2012, 8:15 pm

Your articles doesn't actually say how long the battery life turned out to be in your tests/review.


March 13, 2012, 8:16 pm

One of the nice things about Apple laptops is that they all support WQHD (2560x1440) and WQXGA (2560x1600), so can drive 27" and 30" monitors at their native resolution.

Such support is remarkably hard to find on non-Apple laptops, despite many of them possessing a GPU capable of doing so. I had a colleague return an expensive Sony VAIO after discovering that it couldn't drive his 27" Dell monitor.

Does this Samsung support these resolutions via its microHDMI port or some adapter?

Michael 2

March 13, 2012, 11:34 pm

i find it astonishing that the tech press repeatedly publish articles describing Apple laptops as expensive vs 'Windows' laptops.

I'd love to have a nice Windows machine but from my perspective I can't see any machine that equals a MacBook at ANY PRICE once you consider: design (personal yes, but these days critical!), performance, and price.

Also consider that the MacBook range are discounted to the tune of 10-16% to many who work for large organisations including the NHS and Students.

Unless you REALLY need Windows - which most don't - Grab yourself a superb bargain, and get a MacBook.


March 14, 2012, 1:20 am

I could not understand why all the hype about this new laptop?

What I could understand is that it is outperformed by a 7-8 months old Macbook Air - that is also currently cheaper and widely available. Just compared with the 13" Air review and 8 months ago it was marked 7 for features and 7 for value while this one got nines ?!?

I am not bashing the product, just was curious, is there some sort of anti-apple sentiment. I am a Windows user and would actually consider this Samsung if the graphics card was a bit better. If I put up with the graphics performance would I be better of getting an Air and putting Win on it, as far as i know Apple provide full driver support?


March 14, 2012, 4:52 am

About time someone matched apples feature set blow for blow. Maybe my next laptop will be windows now which will finally allow me to ditch osx and its various irritations once and for all. Still that wont be for a few years yet.


March 14, 2012, 6:00 am

I don't trust this review - I mean, a MacBook Air beater? Come on?

Isn't it just another clone of Apples brilliant design ideas, outstanding engineering and incomparable ingenuity?

Despite the Mac genome of a sleek and clean look, the alu unibody, backlit keyboard, touchpad etc. In my mind, it will always just be a wannabe MacBook Air, just another bamboo PC with Windows.

Honestly, if this is a trusted review, why would anyone ever write such an overly positive recommendation of this copy product, when you can get the real deal, being in every aspect a better and original product, and for an even lower price tag that runs both OSX and Windows - if anyone should ever want it or need it, on a Mac?

Is it just the claim of a better screen or, is it something else? I don't trust it? Do you?

Jon Williamson

March 14, 2012, 11:53 am

Another gorgeous and highly tempting ultrabook ruled out for me by its lack of a built in 3G card... what is the point in having something so lovely and portable if you have to attach an ugly dongle to it to allow it to connect out of your house?

(I might post this on each ultrabook review until manufacturers get the idea - I can't get one until there's 3G connectivity!)

Michael G

March 14, 2012, 3:32 pm

I don't get why people are so against this review, and so against the idea of somebody, shock horror, making a product better than Apple. Have you used it yourself? Have you spent a few hours actually using this laptop? No - but the reviewer has, and that is obviously how they have based their opinion.

Yes, this current generation of laptops have obviously been massively influenced by Apple. That doesn't mean they are not better, the whole notion "original is best" is ridiculous and completely takes away the whole notion of innovation - which is about taking existing ideas and making them better.

Stop being so close minded, this is obviously a stunning, beautiful and brilliant laptop that deserves to be given a chance. Dismissing it, without having used it, and seemingly because it doesn't have an Apple badge, is complete nonsense.

It would be interesting to see what all these comments read as, had it indeed been Apple.


March 14, 2012, 3:49 pm

>> various irritations

Have you any examples of these, all OS's have there quirks. Just curious what quirks you have with OSx.


March 14, 2012, 4:10 pm

Must admit, even being firmly in the camp of 'openly hostile' towards Apple's business model - even I would rather take a Mac Book over this, for the same price.

The deciding factor? Well, the seamless integration of Windows 7 (which I much prefer over OSX) with Apple hardware and the ability to use OSX as well. If you're looking at this budget and specifically in this category, Apple makes sense even if you're a MS person.

It still seems strange / wrong that only Apple PC's are capable of officially supporting their direct competitors OS. This should be a two way street.


March 14, 2012, 4:12 pm

It's got me a little confused too,. From re-reading this article the £100 extra you pay for the Samsung is down to Quality & Style. The extra performance of the air doesn't seem to be factored in here.


March 14, 2012, 5:10 pm

>> It still seems strange

Although it would be nice, I wound't say it's strange / wrong.


March 14, 2012, 5:22 pm

Did you actually read the review, or just look at the pictures? And with a monochrome monitor at that, because there's some colour to this Samsung and it's not simply another spin-off from the anaemic Ive conveyor belt.

So, perhaps the Samsung's better screen, or the significantly lighter weight, or the thinner chassis, or the better connectivity (USB3 is the superior choice, as Thunderbolt is so scarce that it's next to useless, and will remain so until the Windows community adopt it. Firewire anyone?), or the better battery - even the pre-production model, and TR believe that the production battery will have more stamina yet.

All of the above are essential for an ultraportable, and would warrant its high praise. Applefans obviously won't buy anything without the fruit badge, but many of the rest of us will seriously consider this.


March 14, 2012, 5:30 pm

I agree with Michael G. What do these people want? It's lighter, thinner, has a better screen, better battery (matching the MBA at the moment, but with perhaps more to come from the production battery) and more widely supported connectivity. If it was the next MBA with these same improvements they would all be screaming and booking their places in the queues outside the Apple Stores, but as it's only a lowly Samsung then it's a non-starter?


March 14, 2012, 6:41 pm

It's shown in the battery graph, but I will add it to the review. Thanks for your comment :)


March 14, 2012, 6:58 pm

All Intel Sandy Bridge laptops with HD3000 graphics (which is also what the MacBooks use) should support 2560 x 1600 through DisplayPort and over HDMI. We will test this to make sure and get back to you.


March 14, 2012, 7:16 pm

It's because generally, they are. The MacBook Air at least provided good value because the ultraportable competition was always either not quite as well-built, attractive or fully featured, but compared to the 900X3B the only area where the Air still wins (OS preferences aside, obviously) is possibly standby battery life.
The Samsung is thinner, lighter, and has a far better screen... Performance should be equal, our sample seemed to be performing slightly below what it should considering its specs.


March 14, 2012, 7:25 pm

Have you read the review? It's thinner AND lighter than a MacBook Air, has a FAR better screen, more flexible connectivity, is at least as attractive (somewhat subjective, obviously) and offers comparable performance and battery life.

If you check the scores again, performance on this Samsung is also 7 (!), and when it came out the MacBook Air without a PLS/IPS screen cost £1350 at the time of review, compared to £1200 for this Series 9 - hence the lower value score.

I hope this clears up any confusion.

Aside from its higher resolution, the matt screen is PLS (Samsung's IPS equivalent) compared to the TN panel in the Air - this alone is worth the extra £100 it currently demands.


March 14, 2012, 7:33 pm

What @Overmars said.

Also, see my replies to @Michael 2 and @Everlast66.

So you don't trust our review because you can't accept that a "clone" can be better than the so-called original? (on which note, Sony had super-slim ultraportables long before the MacBook Air ever came out)

Also, the Air - while an excellent and TR Recommended product - is most certainly NOT "in every aspect a better [...] product".


March 14, 2012, 7:34 pm

We're with you on the hankering for inbuilt 3G @JonWill, at least as an optional extra...


March 14, 2012, 7:37 pm

Good point @ElectricSheep. However, personally I would rather have the better screen, even if it meant (officially) forgoing the delights of MacOS.

It is not so strange, but certainly very wrong! :)


March 14, 2012, 8:06 pm

I second @Keithe6e; curious to see which quirks in particular you find annoying compared to Windows 7? Cheers.


March 14, 2012, 8:17 pm

Nice one Samsung. No other manufacturer has ticked all the boxes with their ultrabook (or whatever you want to call them)

Now there is a real alternative to the Apple.

Stop going on about the price. It'll drop. Apple's won't.


March 14, 2012, 9:30 pm

@Ardjuna: Aside from...

I was using your comments, not mine.

>> even costing £100 more than the 13in MacBook Air. However, if you value quality and style, it's worth every penny.

I'm sure this is a fantastic machine and worth every penny, but it does still seem strange that a product made 8 months ago would still give this machine a run for it's money, and having 10% faster performance is nothing to sniff at.

Anyway, I still want one.


March 15, 2012, 12:06 am

Could always go with wireless tethering, if that's you're only niggle.

Can't imagine that many people looking at a premium device like this wont have a suitably-equipped smart-phone to deliver 3G data in a pinch.

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