Samsung Series 9 (13 in) review:

Samsung Series 9 (13 in)

The 13-inch Series 9 has a second-generation Intel Core i5 CPU, but it's not the same processor that we've seen on recent fast mainstream laptops. This Core i5-2537M CPU runs at 1.4 GHz, and is a low-voltage processor more akin to the Core 2 Duo on the MacBook Air. Our benchmark tests confirm that: in terms of multitasking, it lags behind recent "Sandy Bridge" laptops. However, it's pretty close to that 13-inch MacBook Air we recently reviewed.

Single-task speeds fared better, and to many people the laptop will feel perfectly fine for most uses. You're paying for portability with system speed. We found that our Series 9 ran a little warm after using it for video streaming and games, not surprisingly: a set of small rear vents are tucked behind the screen's hinge, but two grilles under the chassis felt like they were pushing some warm air (along with some quiet fan noise) to the underside as well.

The Series 9 uses Intel second-generation integrated Intel HD 3000 graphics, just like Apple's 13-inch MacBook Pro. These integrated graphics are capable of being used for games and graphics-intensive programs, and yielded functional but not spectacular results, suffering a bit from the Series 9's slower CPU: Unreal Tournament III, a graphically nondemanding game, ran at 32.9 frames per second with medium settings at native 1,366x768-pixel resolution. Street Fighter IV benchmarked at around 16 frames per second, which, according to Street Fighter IV's tool is "unplayable." Bottom line: these graphics are better than were ever possible on thin-and-lights using last year's Intel integrated graphics, but they're not quite as good as the Nvidia GeForce 320M graphics on the MacBook Air.

Multimedia multitasking test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Samsung Series 9 NP900X3A (13-inch)

Adobe Photoshop CS3 image-processing test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Samsung Series 9 NP900X3A (13-inch)

Apple iTunes encoding test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Samsung Series 9 NP900X3A (13-inch)

Video playback battery drain test (in minutes)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Samsung Series 9 NP900X3A (13-inch)

Juice box
Samsung Series 9 NP900X3A (13-inch) Average watts per hour
Off (60 percent) 0.37
Sleep (10 percent) 0.59
Idle (25 percent) 6.4
Load (5 percent) 20.33
Raw kWh 25.38
Annual energy cost $2.88

Annual energy consumption cost
Samsung Series 9 NP900X3A (13-inch)

Despite being so thin, the Series 9 definitely delivers on battery life: we achieved 5 hours and 22 minutes using our video playback battery drain test, which is excellent for this light a laptop. In fact, it bests the oft-mentioned-in-this-review MacBook Air by nearly half an hour. When it comes to how often you'll use a highly portable laptop like this, battery life matters immensely. This is enough to get you through a plane flight, albeit not a trans-Atlantic one.

Samsung includes a three-year warranty with the Series 9 NP900X3A, which at least adds some value to the high sticker price of the laptop: most other laptops only have one year of coverage. Samsung's Web site is easy to navigate, and the toll-free number is easy to find (1-800-726-7864).

Samsung Series 9 NP900X3A (13-inch)
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit); 1.4GHz Intel Core i5-2537M; 4096MB DDR3 SDRAM 1333MHz; 64MB(Dedicated) Intel GMA HD; 128GB Samsung SSD

Dell Vostro V130
Windows 7 Professional; 2.26GHz Intel Core i5 U470; 4096MB DDR3 SDRAM 1333MHz; 64MB (Dedicated) Intel GMA HD; 500GB Western Digital 7200rpm

Apple Macbook Air 13.3-inch
OS X 10.6.6 Snow Leopard; 1.86GHz Intel Core 2 Duo; 2048MB DDR3 SDRAM 1066MHz; 256MB Nvidia GeForce GT 320M; 128GB Apple SSD

Lenovo IdeaPad U260
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit); 1.33GHz Intel Core i5 U470; 4096MB DDR3 SDRAM 1066MHz; 64MB (Dedicated)/1696MB (Total) Intel GMA HD; 320GB Hitachi 5400rpm

Acer Aspire TimelineX 1830T-68U118
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit); 1.46GHz Intel Core i7-680UM; 4GB DDR3 SDRAM 1066MHz; 128MB (Dedicated) Intel GMA HD; 500GB Western Digital 5400rpm

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