Samsung Notebook 9 (2017) review

A powerful and portable laptop, if clumsily priced

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It might have discrete Nvidia graphics, but we wouldn’t go in expecting too much from the Samsung Notebook 9’s pixel-pushing performance. It’s not a gaming laptop, nor is it advertised as being such.


Here’s how the Samsung Notebook 9 (15-inch) performed in our suite of benchmark tests

3DMark Sky Diver: 5,661; Time Spy: 531; Fire Strike: 1,418 Cinebench CPU: 319 points; Graphics: 36 fps Geekbench 4 Single-Core: 4,454; Multi-Core: 8,742 PCMark 8 Home: 3,024 PCMark 8 Battery Life: 4 hours and 51 minutes Battery Life (TechRadar movie test): 9 hours and 23 minutes

On the other hand, the Samsung Notebook 9 is a commendable choice for nearly everything else. 

That 2GB of GDDR5 video memory boasted by the onboard GeForce 940MX chip goes a long way when you’re talking about graphics-intensive photo or video editing. 

So, while it was a chore to play Dragon Ball FighterZ on the Samsung Notebook 9 at medium settings, you’re bound to find success with productivity tasks.

What’s more, since it utilizes Nvidia Optimus graphics switching tech, the Samsung Notebook 9 should theoretically have a lengthy battery life in addition to a boatload of power. 

After putting this theory to the test, we can confirm the credibility of these claims, too. 

Battery life

What it lacks in other areas of our benchmark testing, the Samsung Notebook 9 more than makes up for with its phenomenal battery life. At 4 hours and 51 minutes, according to the PCMark 8 battery life test, the Samsung Notebook 9 performed markedly better than the 3 hours and 38 minutes persevered by the Dell XPS 15 and even the 4 hours and 35 minutes of the Lenovo Yoga 720.

In our own in-house battery test, wherein we loop the hit film Guardians of the Galaxy in VLC Player until the system dies, the Samsung Notebook 9 blew us away, lasting a whole nine hours and 23 minutes before reaching a temporary demise.

We liked

The Samsung Notebook 9 doesn’t have the best graphics for gaming, as you can tell by its lackluster 3DMark scores (1,418 in Sky Diver as opposed to the Dell XPS 15’s 15,373). Even though it’s an Intel Core i7, it doesn’t have the best processor either, as it’s a ‘U’-series i7 rather than an ‘HQ’-series. 

What it does have is a thin and light design that won’t strain your back, a beautiful screen, a formidable keyboard and a trackpad that we surprisingly don’t hate. It supports fast-charging and a wide range of other features that you’ll only find on Samsung notebooks through a built-in app that also took us by surprise – oh, and that battery life can’t be beat. 

We disliked

The pricing is admittedly a little weird. It doesn’t make sense that the non-hybrid Samsung Notebook 9 would cost more than the Samsung Notebook 9 Pro that doubles as a tablet, especially when the only internal difference between the two products seems to be that the Pro leverages a comparable grade of AMD graphics in place of Nvidia.

Other than that, the only complaint we have is that the heavily advertised ‘HDR Video’ function doesn’t give you permission to tick that elusive ‘Stream HDR Video’ option in the Windows 10 video playback settings; it’s only applicable to the integrated Samsung Settings app automatically pinned to your taskbar when you log in to your computer for the first time. For that reason, we’re hesitant to call this HDR at all.

Final verdict

The Samsung Notebook 9 is an anomaly, in that it seems like it was priced erroneously and yet it’s still somehow worth the cost of entry. It doesn’t have the fanciest internal components, but it’s powerful enough to get the job done, whatever that job may be, plus it has the advantage of featherlight portability.

Furthermore, it should be a crime to mention the Samsung Notebook 9 without applauding its battery life in the same breath. It doesn’t come close to the apparently immortal MacBook Air, yet it knocks its immediate rivals out of the water. This is a laptop that’s built for enduring long projects on the fly, without the concern for misplaced chargers, and therefore worthy of our ‘Recommended’ award.

Gabe Carey
Gabe has been writing about video games and technology since he was 16 years old. Currently serving as a Contributing Editor & Producer for TechRadar, where he keeps articles fresh and up to date on the reg, you may recognize his byline from Digital Trends, TechSpot and Kotaku UK. He can't tell if his adoration of Sonic the Hedgehog is genuine or ironic anymore.