Samsung Notebook 9 Pro Review: Stop, Look, but Don’t Listen

 

While Samsung is well known for manufacturing phones, they are a less prominent laptop maker. I don’t think it’s always been that way; I remember years ago going to a Best Buy and seeing the latest laptop from Samsung which at the time was advertised as the thinnest laptop in the world. While I don’t remember what model it was, I think it was quite a bit under half an inch while most laptops at the time were still pushing an inch of thickness.

It’s because of that unpopularity though that I haven’t ever gotten the chance to use a premium Samsung Windows laptop. The NoteBook 9 Pro is my first trial. I am surprised to say that I will definitely consider Samsung when purchasing my next premium laptop, and I would have never said that before.

Design

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The design of the Samsung laptop is both amazing and boring at the same time. The curves are quite sleek, the chassis is quite thin, and the footprint is quite small, but it doesn’t have any of the sexiness of many other laptops on the market. I think there are two major contributing factors to this: one, the color is a quite bland dark grey that hides many of the curves, and two, there are no unique angles or design elements that set this apart from a cheaper computer. For most people, I think that’s absolutely fine. As a long term device, you will appreciate the fact that it was designed with functionality in mind and won’t be prone to breaking from any thin panels or unique hinges.

While the footprint may not be quite as small as other competing laptops such as the XPS 15, the NoteBook 9 Pro has quite small side bezels and not too much heft. If I was a college student, I wouldn’t mind lugging this around in my backpack all day if necessary, any more than I would most 15 inch laptops.

The 360-degree hinge is significantly more sturdy than a lot of competing laptops on the market. For example, I was frustrated at the Surface Book because every time I typed aggressively on it the entire top panel would bounce. I don’t have any issues like that here.

There is a small amount of creak on the bottom part of the computer, but it is not a deal breaker.

There is a small lip around the keyboard deck that keeps the screen from making impact with the metal base. Unfortunately this lip isn’t very comfortable on your wrist.

Display

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While on paper, there doesn’t seem to be anything special about a 15.6″ 1080p glossy touch-screen display, this is one of my favorite displays that I have ever seen on a laptop. It is incredibly crisp. It’s quite ironic that this 15″ display has a lower resolution than Samsung’s 6″ phones.

Performance and Battery Life

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I am still unsure of the purpose of adding dedicated graphics to these high end consumer laptops. The Radeon 540 is nice to have, similar-ish to a Nvidia MX 150, but I am unaware of any applications that the average consumer would utilize the dedicated graphics for. Maybe I’m wrong, but I don’t think the average individual is doing light photo editing. I think it  is more likely that manufacturers add the MX 150 or in this case the Radeon 540 to list it on their specifications list.

I noticed, relative to other high end 15 inch laptops, that the fan doesn’t turn on nearly as much. My guess is that the 1080p screen largely contributes to this.

Battery life has proven to be quite impressive. I haven’t used the device for an entire day, but it always seems to have battery when I open it up.

Keyboard and Trackpad

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The keyboard does not have a lot of resistance, but it does have a good amount of travel, which is nice. There is good key separation and the layout is perfectly acceptable. I would rank it higher than the Spectre x360 and XPS (13 or 15 inch) but lower than the MateBook X Pro, Surface Laptop and any business computer.

The trackpad is incredibly large. While it’s not quite as big as a MacBook Pro’s touchpad, it is more than large enough for comfortable use. It’s also very quick and responsive. The only issue I have with it is I often accidentally hit it with my palm while typing, and it doesn’t have the best palm rejection.

 

Audio

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I don’t typically review the audio on the laptops I review, but I have to make note when a laptop has really good or really bad audio quality. Unfortunately this one is the latter. When I was trying to use the Notebook 9 to watch Netflix, I flipped it into tablet mode, and turned the volume all of the way up, only to be still unable to hear it. I tried flipping the screen, but it didn’t work. I feel I have a relatively low bar for audio quality, but the Notebook 9 doesn’t reach it.

 

Other

  • The most comparable products that I have used is the Spectre x360 15-inch and the Dell XPS 15 2-in-1. While I have not used the XPS 2-in-1, this is clearly a lot better option than the Spectre in design, cooling, screen quality. The Spectre obviously has better speakers.
  • I would also take this over the 15-inch Yoga 720. Although the Yoga is priced cheaper, and has a better graphics card, it feels significantly less premium.
  • Similar to the Surface Laptop, the device automatically powers on when you open the lid, and there is a big blue LED to let you know. That’s a nice touch.

 

Bottom Line

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Before the Notebook 9 Pro, I would have never considered purchasing a Samsung laptop. I’m too used to looking for Dells, HPs or Surfaces. That has changed substantially. The Notebook 9 Pro is an incredible all-around laptop worth considering if you are looking for a premium 2-in-1.

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