Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 13 review


We’re always happy to see a sleek ultraportable laptop for under $ 1,000, especially if it has convenient HDMI and USB Type-A ports as well as USB-C / Thunderbolt ports, unlike the Dell XPS 13. The Samsung Galaxy Book Pro ($ 974.99 based on testing) not only ticks those boxes, but also has a chic AMOLED display like those on Samsung’s smartphones, all in an ultralight 1.96-pound package. So why isn’t this review wearing our Editors’ Choice award badge? Because the Galaxy Book Pro based the model is also the to the maximum model, with 8GB of memory and a 256GB SSD when multitasking is looking for double those amounts, especially in this price range. It’s a stylish and tempting choice for everyday Microsoft Office and online work, but power users will want something more configurable.

Two sizes, two windows

The Galaxy Book Pro clamshell model (which differs from the classic Galaxy Book by its AMOLED versus IPS screen technology) comes in 13.3-inch and 15.6-inch screen sizes, both with the familiar Full HD resolution. (1920 x 1080 pixels) and 16: 9 aspect ratio instead of the larger 16:10 or 3: 2 formats that have become popular in recent times. Samsung does not offer a higher resolution panel or touchscreen option. Our Windows 10 Pro test unit (model NP930XDB-KH1US) is listed among Samsung Professional Products for $ 1,099.99 on sale for $ 974.99; a consumer model otherwise identical to Windows 11 Home for $ 999.99.

(Photo: Molly Flores)

Coated with an aluminum-magnesium alloy that the company calls Mystic Silver (with a white keyboard), the Intel Evo-compatible laptop combines its 8GB of RAM and 256GB SSD with a Core i5-1135G7-2 quad-core processor. , 4 GHz. Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth are standard, as is a fingerprint reader built into the power button (which you might not use much as opening the cover turns the system on).

Thirteen-inch subnotebooks are all roughly the same size on the ground, though the Samsung is one of the thinnest and lightest at 0.44 by 12 by 7.9 inches and 1.96 pounds. The Dell XPS 13 OLED measures 0.58 x 11.6 x 7.8 inches and the 2.2-pound HP Pavilion Aero measures 0.67 x 11.7 x 8.2 inches. The lightness of the Galaxy Book Pro is reflected in its considerable flexibility whether you grip the corners of the screen or tap the keyboard. Its screen bezels are thin, but the top center webcam doesn’t have a privacy shutter.

Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 13 rear view

(Photo: Molly Flores)

Laptops aren’t thinner than the Samsung, at least not with real ports. An HDMI video output connects two USB Type-C ports, one with Thunderbolt 4 capability, on the left side. A USB 3.2 Type-A port, a microSD card slot and a headphone jack are on the right. The compact power adapter has a USB-C connector.

Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 13 Right Ports

(Photo: Molly Flores)

Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 13 ports left

(Photo: Molly Flores)

Not the brightest, but the most beautiful

The 1080p AMOLED display delivers inky blacks and white backgrounds, with phenomenal contrast. (Samsung estimates its contrast ratio to be 1,000,000: 1.) The latter allows the screen to appear extra-bright, although in reality it did not excel in our hardware brightness measurement (see the results of tests below). The colors are rich, vivid and well saturated, and the fine details are clear. Glare kicks in at extreme viewing angles.

Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 13 left corner

(Photo: Molly Flores)

The speakers mounted at the bottom produce a somewhat muffled and muffled sound; bass is sparse (drum beats sound like static) and overlapping tracks are hard to hear. The sound gets louder and harder if you enable Dolby Access software, which offers music, movie, game, voice, and custom modes and an equalizer.

The backlit keyboard has a shallow but fast typing feel; it associates the Fn key with the cursor arrows instead of the dedicated Home, End, Previous page and Next page keys. The arrows and keys in the top row, including Esc and Delete, are small. Press Fn + F11 to cycle through optimized, quiet, and high performance cooling fan modes. (We used the high-performance mode for our benchmarks, except for the optimization for the battery test.) The buttonless touchpad glides and taps smoothly but clicks stiffly.

Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 13 Keyboard

(Photo: Molly Flores)

Samsung preloads the Galaxy Book Pro with nearly 20 house brand apps ranging from security tools (applying an opaque effect to thwart screen snoopers or emailing you a photo of anyone who tries to log in while you are away from the machine) to the screen color modes (native, sRGB, Adobe RGB or DCI-P3), as well as tools for exchanging files with your Galaxy phone. The weirdest part is the beauty filter, which works with the webcam to whiten skin or redden lips, apply foundation or blush, or give you a “cute nose” (by narrowing your nostrils) or a “Thin chin” (making you look less jovial). Without the help of software, the 720p camera captures blurry and out of focus images with a fair amount of noise or static electricity.

Galaxy Book Pro review: Trim ultraportables put to the test

For our benchmark round, I pitted the Galaxy Book Pro against the aforementioned HP Pavilion Aero and Asus ZenBook 13, both of which have an eight-core AMD Ryzen 7 5800U processor. The remaining two slots went to Lenovo ultraportables with the same Core i5-1135G7 processor as the Samsung: the ThinkBook 13s Gen 2 and the ThinkPad X13 Gen 2. You can see the competitor’s basic specs in the table below.

Productivity tests

UL’s leading benchmark for PCMark 10 simulates a variety of real-world productivity and content creation workflows to measure the overall performance of office tasks such as word processing, spreadsheets, web browsing, and video conferencing. We also run the PCMark 10 Full System Drive test to assess a laptop’s load time and storage throughput. (Learn more about how we test laptops.)

Three benchmarks focus on the CPU, using all available cores and threads, to assess a PC’s suitability for CPU-intensive workloads. Maxon’s Cinebench R23 uses that company’s Cinema 4D engine to render a complex scene, while Primate Labs’ Geekbench 5.4 Pro simulates popular applications ranging from PDF rendering and speech recognition to machine learning. Finally, we use the open source HandBrake 1.4 video transcoder to convert a 12 minute video clip from 4K resolution to 1080p resolution (lower times are better).

Our latest productivity test is PugetBench for Photoshop from workstation maker Puget Systems, which uses version 22 of Creative Cloud from Adobe’s popular image editor to gauge a PC’s performance for content creation and content creation. multimedia applications. This is an automated extension that performs a variety of general and GPU-accelerated Photoshop tasks, from opening, rotating, resizing, and saving an image to applying masks, gradients. and filters.

The Samsung disappointed our processor tests, which were predictably dominated by the eight-core Ryzen 7 chips from Asus and HP, but easily erased the 4,000 points that indicate competent office productivity in PCMark 10. This isn’t the fastest by far, but its gorgeous display makes it a favorite for Photoshop work, unless you want higher than 1080p resolution.

Graphics tests

We test the graphics of Windows PCs with two DirectX 12 gaming simulations from UL’s 3DMark suite: Night Raid (more modest, suitable for laptops with integrated graphics) and Time Spy (more demanding, suitable for gaming platforms with discrete GPUs).

We’re also running two tests from the GFXBench 5 cross-platform GPU benchmark, which emphasizes both low-level routines such as texturing and high-level, game-like image rendering. The 1440p tests Aztec Ruins and 1080p Car Chase, rendered offscreen to accommodate different display resolutions, exercise graphics, and compute shaders using the OpenGL programming interface and hardware tessellation, respectively. The more frames per second (fps) the better.

Intel’s 11th generation Iris Xe integrated graphics outperform their predecessors and rivals AMD, but are far from even a low-end discrete GPU. None of these ultraportables are in the same zip code as a real gaming laptop when it comes to playing fast-paced titles, though they’re good for casual gaming and video and audio streaming. (For more on this topic, check out our in-depth dive into laptop graphics in 2021.)

Battery and display tests

We test the battery life of laptops by playing a locally stored 720p video file (the open source Blender movie Tears of steel) with 50% screen brightness and 100% audio volume. We make sure the battery is fully charged before testing, with Wi-Fi and keyboard backlight turned off.

We also use a Datacolor SpyderX Elite monitor calibration sensor and its Windows software to measure the color saturation of a laptop screen – what percentage of the sRGB, Adobe RGB, and DCI-P3 color ranges or palettes the screen can display – and its 50% and its peak brightness in nits (candelas per square meter).

The Galaxy Book Pro’s screen may only show 323 nits at peak brightness in SpyderX tests instead of the 400+ we usually look for, but its AMOLED technology makes it much brighter and its color fidelity is off the charts. . Laptop screens, at least Full HD as opposed to 4K screens, are no better. The Samsung is also on par with the ThinkPad for the most exceptional battery life, capable of giving you not one but two full days of work or school.

Verdict: fine and feathery, but not the test of time

Sure, it’s a Windows laptop, but strange as it sounds, we found ourselves thinking of the ultralight Samsung Galaxy Book Pro like it was a really good Chromebook – too short in length. Powerful, in memory and in storage for demanding content creation or video editing jobs, yet a pleasure to use for everyday word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, email and browsing.

Front view of Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 13

(Photo: Molly Flores)

It doesn’t deserve our highest recommendation as there are too many great subnotebooks that can be configured with 16GB RAM or 1TB SSD, but it fills a nice niche at a reasonable price.

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About Georgia Duvall

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