Samsung Series 9 15″ NP900X4C Ivy Bridge Ultrabook Overview and SSD Performance Analysis

The most confusing thing to me is why Samsung,  a company that makes one of the top SSDs on the market, would venture elsewhere to supply SSDs for their own Ultrabook, an Ultra that is arguably the best on the market in many respects.

Our report today will be an overview of the new Samsung Series 9 15″ Ivy Bridge Ultrabook along with a more detailed analysis and very biased opinion with respect to where Samsung seems to be falling short in their quest for the perfect Ultra.

MY SERIES 9 HISTORY

To start the ball rolling, I had been anticipating release of the Series 9 Ivy Bridge Ultra as much as I had anticipated the first release of the Series 9 just over a year ago.  The fiasco that I experienced back then, with four returns and being caught off guard on the other side of the world without a suitable laptop, would scare anyone off.  It seems there was a small problem with the wi-fi that prevented it from working anywhere but in the comfort of ones office.  But still, I followed the Series 9 story and persevered, today caving in and purchasing the new 2012 release of the Samsung Series 9 15″ Ivy Bridge Ultrabook.

As smart as some might think I may be, I actually wrote a review identifying the wi-fi problem and then got caught in a cycle of exchange only to realize my stubborn nature while sitting in the Hong Kong International Airport with no wi-fi whatsoever.  Sitting beside me was my wife plucking away on the Dell XPS M1330 that got us all started in SSDs and telling me how she had 4 bars.

BUT THAT WAS THEN…

Since that time, I have had just about every Ultra in my hands and had started a love affair with the Toshiba Z830 that has been loyal and stayed by my side for several months now.  At one point, I was even able to get it to push it’s performance into SATA 3, a feat that even Toshiba said wasn’t possible. Even so, I found myself watching the progress of the Series 9 as it grew and remained in awe of it’s amazing shape and design.  I admired Samsung’s quest for the perfect Ultra and knew we would meet again.

After all, the Series 9 is the lightest 15″ laptop in the world at 3.5 lbs and just over a half inch thick as it sits.  That is as high as your portable Blackberry Torch device.  As well, it is constructed of an aluminum unibody design, has an Intel Ivy Bridge Core I5-3317U processor, 8GB of Samsung DDR3 RAM and an SSD to make things right.

It comes standard with a LED 1600×900 resolution that tops it’s class with 400nit brightness, has some great viewing angles, a non-gloss screen and the final picture is created through Intel HD 3000 integrated graphics. It’s color is mineral ash black, it feels as solid as pure steel and it includes two USB 3 ports, a USB 2 port, mini-HDMI, external LAN dongle, and other ports to include a SD card slot, a luxury that we have seen others drop in the last year.

Other mentionables include a backlit keyboard with ambient light sensor for preserving battery life, monster trackpad with built in left and right buttons, excellent quality speakers on the left and right sides of the base, and a oversized 65watt hours battery tucked inside that Samsung claims will get nine hours.  That is unheard of for any 15″ laptop.

Here is a shot of our star sitting back and relaxing away from the action.

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Martyn
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Martyn

Nice review,
I purchased the 15 inch today from JBHIFI in Australia as it was on special for $1400 AU which had i7 ivy bridge instead of i5. Mine also came with the samsung SSD. I read a few forums and it seems only some machines have the samsung SSD which is a bit disappointing especially when you are paying for their higher end machines.

Les@TheSSDReview
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Agree totally. To me, disappointing is the fact that companies do not differentiate and list which SSD is installed, especially with such varying differences in performance. This was first seen in our Zenbook review and it’s good to have it spoken of here as well as I was not sure.

interhead
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interhead

My samsung PN900X4C got the mz -mpc1280/okn samsumg ssd. New series! it is a much better disk but not faster than sandforce.

Les@TheSSDReview
Guest

There are many that would prefer the SSD you have in that system to any other. It is a good thing to see that they are now installing them, the unfortunate part is the lack of identification that allows us to know what we are getting.

Brian
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Brian

Les, I just purchased a used Samsung 9-15 ivy bridge and would like to upgrade the SSD. With what is now available what would you suggest. I would like to go to 500GB. Thanks, Brian

Stoli67
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Stoli67

Does the box say which SSD is installed – so you can check before you buy it?

Les@TheSSDReview
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No, like the Zenbook one only knows after testing and understanding the performance, or lack thereof.

Satpal Chander
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Satpal Chander

I can’t believe that Samsung haven’t put a 1080p screen on this 15″ ultrabook. The new Zenbooks 11″&13″ both have 1080p ips screens. Also surprised that they didn;t manage to squeeze a discrete gfx card into this 15″ chasis.
In all honesty if Apple can pack a Nvidia 650m and a quad core i7 ivy bridge into a package thats only ~1lbs heavier, then surely someone like Samsung should be able to produce something in the same league. The new MBP Retina is just about my perfect laptop, apart from the price!!!

Les@TheSSDReview
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Never been a Mac Guy bt have to admit I may cave in once the new MacAir is released. Agree totally with the gfx card, however this screen s amazing. I almost wonder if battery life becomes a concern with the two factors you spoke of.

Satpal Chander
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Satpal Chander

If the claimed run time on the MBP is as stated (7hrs) then, can we assume that Windows is the problem with battery life?

BTW great site.

Les@TheSSDReview
Guest

Thank you…

jon
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jon

So am I reading this correctly that the reviewer only loves this ultrabook AFTER he replaces the SSD?

Les@TheSSDReview
Guest

No, not at all. This ultrabook is one of, if not, the best on the market right now. It’s Achilles heal is the SSD which 99% of the population will never notice. I, on the other hand, run a website that has evaluated just about every SSD released in the last three years and I would be foolish NOT to put the best mSATA SSD available in the system since I have it right in front of me with countless others. My analysis, in the end relates that for the crowd in which it was intended, this is probably the… Read more »

jon
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jon

Thanks. Some other questions: The AO3US (i7 model) doesn’t seem to be out in the states yet. Samsung doesn’t even advertise the AO3US on its own website– why is this? Any idea when to expect it in the US and is it worth the wait rather than just purchasing the AO2US (i5 model)? Also, do you expect other significant upgrades to the series 9 over the next few weeks?

Les@TheSSDReview
Guest

Samsung doesnt announce until release much like others which is why the i7 is not public (for the most part) yet. Unless you have a specific reason, 99.9% of the population could never visibly tell the diff between the i5 and i7.

jon
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jon

Amazon is selling an i7 version that comes with a serial ATA 256 GB SSD. Any idea which SSD this is and if it’s any good?

http://www.amazon.com/Samsung-Series-NP900X4C-A03US-15-Inch-Laptop/dp/tech-data/B0082PZ1JU/ref=de_a_smtd

Les@TheSSDReview
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As ours is the SanDisk and all I have read are the SanDisk…

keithcombs
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keithcombs

Are you saying the SSD you installed is the best?

Les@TheSSDReview
Guest

If we are looking at the complete analysis we did on the MyDigitalSSD 256GB SMART Drive, I would have to say that, most definitely, this SSD has shown itself to be the top on the market BY A STRETCH for capacity (256GB), performance (Vantage scoring) and price. Do you know of another that can grab top spot in all three qualities?

Now, this is actually the ADATA XPG SX300 SSD and, if ADATA puts out a similar priceon release, the tables turn as we know ADATA will be offering a 5 year warranty, vice 3, for this same drive.

keithcombs
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keithcombs

Yes. the Samsung Series 830 mSATA, right? Oh wait, you said available.

Did you do a side-by-side compare of the Sammy 256GB mSATA SSD and the MyDigitalSSD?

Les@TheSSDReview
Guest

You are dead on. the Samsung 830, as much as I like that mSATA SSD, is not publicly available. Furthermore, it’s performance did not match in any of our testing and a side by side isn’t necessary when we pride ourselves in consistency throughout our testing. So the 830 gets hit in availability, price and performance at the end of the day. Let me guess….that is the SSD in the new Surface??? Send me one and I will get it tested right away. By the way, I have very close contacts in Samsung and they all experienced my jumping up… Read more »

keithcombs
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keithcombs

I can’t answer that. Wink.

Please tell Samsung on your end to make the 13.3″ Series 9 with 8GB RAM and the 256GB Series 830 mSATA. That would be my dream machine until they come out with a 15″ PLS screen.

Thanks Les. Your site rocks as usual.

Les@TheSSDReview
Guest

Samsung is a funny company and heeds the advise of those ‘outside the group’ very carefully and so they should. Do you know of any other company that sells 2 televisions in every second of the day? As well, spot open here if your ever interested in joining the team Keith! eheh Until, you are always welcome to make guest contributions and I wil be waiting for that Surface for review!

Gordon
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Gordon

You mentioned you swapped your old Toshiba Z830 for the Samsung Series 9.
Any reason why?
Currently, the issues I’m getting with my Z830 include: Fan noise, a glossy screen, and a (counter intuitively) bulky power cable.
Does the samsung series 9 ultrabook have these issues?

Les@TheSSDReview
Guest

The fan is not noticeable with the Series 9, the screen is a matte but not so that it appear matt and the cord is very thin given exception to the adapter which, peculiar enough, is shaped lik an SSD eheh. Love the Toshiba, however, very disappointed that they havent sent out that upgrade to run it at SATA 3 levels asI had discovered initially. The one thing in the industry right now that disturbs me is that, although we have advance to SATA 3, notebook manufacturers have fallen behind and believe the consumer will be just as happy with… Read more »