With Odyssey Z, Samsung takes another shot at gaming laptops

After failing to gain traction for its Odyssey line of gaming laptops, Samsung rolls out a flashier approach with its new hexacore model.

Lori Grunin Senior Editor / Advice
I've been reviewing hardware and software, devising testing methodology and handed out buying advice for what seems like forever; I'm currently absorbed by computers and gaming hardware, but previously spent many years concentrating on cameras. I've also volunteered with a cat rescue for over 15 years doing adoptions, designing marketing materials, managing volunteers and, of course, photographing cats.
Expertise Photography | PCs and laptops | Gaming and gaming accessories
Lori Grunin
2 min read

The vents on the underside of the Odyssey Z look novel.

Sean Hollister/CNET

If you didn't realize -- or forgot -- that Samsung made gaming laptops, you're not alone. The company launched the line last year at CES 2017,  but received a somewhat mixed reception; some folks felt it was overpriced for its cheap-feeling body and run-of-the-mill components. Surprising for a company with premium mainstream laptops and phones. 

The reboot, the 15-inch Odyssey Z, incorporates some interesting new design elements in an eye-catching silver chassis that's somewhat more compact than its ancestor. It incorporates the hexacore version of Intel's  eighth-generation i7 CPU, but while that's relatively novel at the moment, Samsung doesn't plan to ship the Z until the fall, at which point it will be part of a large herd. There's no pricing as yet, either.

Some of the base design elements -- its profile, the curved keycaps, the connectors -- remain the same as the older model. But now it has vents everywhere and a new cooling system that sounds like a typical dual-fan-with-vapor-chamber, though Samsung has all sorts of exciting branding for it -- the Z AeroFlow Cooling System with Dynamic Spread Vapor Chamber, Z AeroFlow Cooling Design and and Z Blade Blowers. Samsung claims the fan noise can go as low as 22dB, but that could be with all the heat-generating components throttled back (for comparison, Max-Q design notebooks are supposed to hit a maximum of 40dB).

Samsung Odyssey Z is silver and red and shiny all over

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In its attempt to stand out from the crowd, Samsung also made some debatable design choices. For instance, the touchpad is on the right side of the 10-keyless chiclet keyboard, a location we really didn't like when we tested the original Asus ROG Zephyrus, and which Asus subsequently moved back to center in its successor. It also looks like it only has red backlighting. 

Samsung provides generic specs for the display, which never bodes well. In this case it's the "15.6-inch Full HD" display. Then again, it could have some whizzy new as-yet unannounced display (like a QLED) that is why we won't see the Z for many months. That'd be nice.

And its silver chassis will certainly make it stand out in a sea of black, brown and primary-color laptops.

Otherwise, the specs are pretty ho-hum unless it's not terribly expensive:

  • Eighth-generation six-core Core i7
  • Up to 16GB DDR4 memory
  • Up to 1TB NVMe PCIe SSD
  • Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 (Samsung refers to the standard parts as "Max-P")
  • 1 x USB-C (unclear as to whether it supports Thunderbolt 3), 4 x USB Type-A (2 3 x .0, 2 x 2.0), 1 x HDMI, and 1 x headphone/mic
  • 5.3 lbs/2.4kg
  • 14.8 x 10 x 0.7 in/376 x 255 x 18 mm