First Impressions: Samsung Galaxy Book 3 Ultra Review
A high-end laptop with plenty of skills and a stunning display, the Samsung Galaxy Book 3 Ultra could be the brand’s best yet.
- UKRRP: £2449
- Display3K Dynamic AMOLED panel with 120Hz refresh rate
- Size16.6mm thin, 1.79kg
- PerformanceNvidia RTX 4070/4050 GPU, Intel 13th Gen CPU
Samsung’s first Unpacked event of the year didn’t just play host to the expected reveal of the Galaxy S23 series of Android phones, but also to a trio of new laptops – including the very tempting Galaxy Book 3 Ultra.
The Galaxy Book 3 Ultra sits aside the Galaxy Book 3 Pro and Galaxy Book 3 Pro 360 and acts as the flagship of the bunch. It goes big on performance, with Nvidia graphics and high-end Intel chipsets paired with a glorious AMOLED 2X display.
I spent around an hour with the three Galaxy Book 3 models unveiled at Unpacked ahead of launch at an event arranged by Samsung, and here are my initial thoughts.
Screen and Design
- Excellent high-resolution AMOLED screen
- 16-inch display size
- Sleek, light design
The front of the Samsung Galaxy Book 3 Ultra is dominated by a fantastic 16-inch screen. While the more affordable Galaxy Book 3 Pro comes in either 14 or 16-inch sizes and the 360 model offers a rotating display, the Ultra offers a single, rigid size.
It also lacks a touchscreen – again, you’ll want to go for the Galaxy Book 3 Pro if this is something you’re after.
However, the display Samsung has chosen is, from my early time with the machine, fantastic. The 16:10 aspect ratio is a smart choice, giving you more verticality than you might expect. It’s also an OLED display – or a Dynamic AMOLED 2X, in Samsung’s words – so blacks are deep, colours pop and there’s excellent HDR performance.
Other boxes are ticked too: there’s support for a 120Hz high refresh rate and the resolution is sharp at 2880 x 1800 (Samsung calls this 3K). That might be as high as some 4K laptops, but personally, 4K always feels like overkill on a laptop and the reduction here should hopefully improve battery life. Samsung also claims 500 nits of brightness, though we’ll need to properly test this with a colourimeter to know for sure.
In terms of design, I would say the Galaxy Book 3 Ultra looks sleek without being overly interesting. Branding is kept to a minimum, which is welcome, with just a small Samsung logo on the lid but the overall look is very similar to what Samsung has produced before.
It’s a slim and relatively light laptop, especially when you consider the 16-inch screen. It’ll tip the scales at 1.79kg, making it a little lighter than the Dell XPS 15 at 1.94kg and noticeably more so than the 2.2kg MacBook Pro 16.
The keyboard has a good amount of travel and the trackpad is large, though I will need more time with the laptop to properly judge these aspects.
Specs and Performance
- Nvidia RTX 4070 or 4050
- Up to 32GB memory
- 13th Gen Intel i7 or i9 processors
Judging laptops in such a short amount of time is virtually impossible and I will need to get all three models into our labs for proper testing to see how they compare to the best laptops around, including the MacBook Pro and Dell XPS family.
So while benchmarks and proper performance tests will have to wait, for now, I can delve a little into the specs on offer with the Galaxy Book 3 Ultra.
This is a high-end device, aimed at a similar audience to the MacBook Pro 16-inch and the internals match those ambitions. There’s a choice between an Nvidia RTX 4070 or 4050 for graphics, and a 45w 13th Gen Intel processor – either an i7 or an i9.
You can configure the Book 3 Ultra with up to 32GB RAM (a way off Apple’s 96GB memory limit) and there’s a decent port selection too, with both USB-A and HDMI joining the now common USB-C. There’s even a Micro SD slot, which might be better than nothing but not as useful as a full-size SD card slot. There’s also a 1080p webcam on the front for Zoom meetings and the like.
As is becoming more common with Windows laptops trying to distinguish their software from each other, Samsung is really pushing how well the Book3 Ultra integrates with its Galaxy phones, including the Galaxy S23 Ultra. You can copy and paste between phone and laptop, use a tablet as a second screen and create an instant hotspot to easily connect the laptop to the internet.
A neat demo Samsung showed off during the event was transferring an image taken from the Galaxy S23’s Expert RAW app straight into Lightroom on the Galaxy Book 3 Ultra ready for editing.
Samsung is taking laptops seriously again and it’s great to see. The Galaxy Book 3 Ultra is a no-nonsense machine designed to take on the MacBook Pro 14 and 16, offering powerful Intel CPU and Nvidia GPU options that should entice creators and professionals.
It’s not the most inventive when it comes to design and it generally feels like other Samsung laptops, yet there’s no doubt the AMOLED display is glorious.