Samsung Notebook 9 Pro review: This feature-packed 15-inch laptop makes a few compromises – PCWorld

You buy a big and heavy 15.6-inch laptop so you can get real work done faster—that means a burly quad-core CPU and discrete graphics.

Samsung’s Notebook 9 Pro packs those in, then adds an excellent 4K Ultra HD touchscreen and a 10Gbps USB 3.1 Type C port to the mix. At $1,500 MSRP (available at Best Buy), it’s priced the same as competing laptops that have fewer high-tech features. That’s a hell of a deal.

Room to work

The Notebook 9 Pro has the classic look of a Samsung laptop, with a black, anodized-aluminum chassis and brushed-aluminum accents. At 4.5 pounds, this 15.6-inch notebook feels solid but is a little slippery, too—you’ll need to keep a good grip on it. Our review unit also had an overly stiff hinge that I had to crank on in order to reach its maximum 140-degree viewing angle, which made opening it while walking extra dangerous.

While the Notebook 9 Pro is big at 14.75 x 9.75 inches, it’s also surprisingly thin. The spots I measured on the body ranged from 17mm to 18mm thick, similar to the girth of Apple’s 2014-vintage MacBook Pro 15. Dell’s XPS 15 isn’t as wide nor as deep, but it’s thicker at 19mm to 20mm.

dell xps 15 dell xps 13 samsung book 9 pro hp spectre x360 15 Gordon Mah Ung

Dell’s new XPS 15 in the lower left corner with Samsung’s Notebook 9 Pro to the right. In the upper right is HP’s new Spectre X360 15T and a Dell XPS 13 on the upper left.

More impressive is this laptop’s eye-catching screen. Samsung didn’t provide detailed specs, but it’s sourced from the company itself. You get a 15.6-inch 4K Ultra HD (3840×2160) panel with full 10-point touch. A very light anti-glare coating cuts down on reflections. The screen is rated at 350 nits, but I measured it a little over that at about 380 nits dead-center on our unit. Backlighting is very even, more so than on contemporaries like the Dell XPS 15 and the HP Spectre x360 15T. The backlighting does use PWM, which strobes the backlight when you reduce the brightness, for those who are sensitive to screen flicker at low brightness levels.

Samsung also includes some image-tweaking utilities such as an HDR (high-dynamic range) mode. HDR is probably overstating the effect, but it does a help with shadow detail without blowing out highlights in images.

It does have to be said that while high-resolution images look much sharper thanks to the use of a 4K UHD resolution panel instead of a cost-conscious 1920×1080 screen, you do really need get up close to the screen to see it. Nevertheless, this display’s size and resolution make it ideal for working on spreadsheets and in other situations where you need to see a lot of elements on the screen.


The Notebook 9 Pro comes equipped with a full-size HDMI port, combo headset jack, three USB 3.0 Type A ports, a Kensington lock port, and a USB 3.1 Type C port. From what I can tell, that USB-C port is full 10Gbps USB 3.1, but its implementation is odd. On most laptops with USB Type C, you get USB 3.1 at either the full 10Gbps speed or the slower 5Gbps (what is sometimes still called USB 3.0)—or you get a Thunderbolt 3.0 port that also supports 10Gbps USB 3.1. In this laptop, Samsung uses Intel’s Thunderbolt 3 controller but enables only the USB support.


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