I’m gaming on a Samsung Galaxy Book 3 ultra and it’s not even plugged in! This is one of the most exciting laptops I’ve reviewed in a long time. Canon’s brand new RTX 40 series of graphics cards, this gorgeous 16-inch 120Hz AMOLED display, and also the most oversized trackpad I have ever seen make galaxy book ultra the dream create laptop. It wants to properly rival the Dell XPS’s, ZenBook Pros, and MacBook Pros of this world. Or do a few slightly annoying decisions and a few compromises, and also a pretty hefty price tag actually make this one to miss? And could this be the first of a new breed of laptop, the gaming Ultrabook?
So, the Book 3 Ultra is Samsung’s fancy new top-of-the-line laptop for 2023 and also their first with a dedicated graphics card. It comes in 14 and 16-inch flavors and they arrive alongside the Galaxy Book 3 Pro, which is lighter and more portable but has lower power CPUs and integrated graphics. But it is this Ultra that gets all the power, and as you would expect, the highest price as well. This starts under 2500 pounds or around 2200 dollars.
Also Read: Samsung S95B OLED TV Review 2023
Galaxy Book 3 Ultra Specs
You get an RTX 4050, a 13th gen i7, and 512GB of storage. This is also an Intel Evo certified laptop and in its base configuration, it is about 250 pounds less than a base MacBook Pro 16 with an M2 Pro. If you do want to max this out though, you can get a 4070 and i9 processor and a terabyte of storage for around three grand.
Now, both CPU options, either the i7 or the i9, are 45-watt Intel 13th gen H series chips, meaning they’re much more powerful than the usual P-Series that we get in smaller and lighter laptops. Beyond that, there is either 16 or 32GB of RAM, a fairly average size 76 watt-hour battery, Wi-Fi 6E, a fingerprint reader, a very impressive 1080p webcam, and also some pretty decent quad speakers.
However, straight away, there was a bit of a problem because with the top-spec version here in the UK, at least, it tops out with 16GB of RAM, which with a 4070 and an i9 is ridiculous. It’s a deal breaker. In the US, they have updated the store to show a 32GB version SKU of this. Because the worst part is, it’s soldered-on memory. You can’t get it yourself. And if you are going to go for a top-spec model, you need at least 32GB of RAM. I mean, my MacBook Pro has up to 96GB. The Dirks bs17 is 64. It’s a very strange choice. And so I think unless they do add a 32GB option or SKU here in the UK and other regions, I would avoid the highest-priced version of this. It just doesn’t make sense. I think it would be a bottleneck. But the entry-level model with the 4050 and the i7 and 16GB of RAM, I think, is still definitely worth considering.
In better news, this gets Nvidia’s 4050 and 4070 GPUs. Now, I’ve got the top dog here with all of its 4608 Cuda cores, its eight gigs of GDDR6 VRAM, and also its 60-watt TGP, which makes it kind of a mid-level model for this GPU. And while you do get far higher frame rates in your games and performance in your applications compared to an integrated XE chip like we get in the Galaxy Book 3 Pro, as you would expect for this form factor, it doesn’t really compete with a proper gaming laptop. In fact, even versus a last-gen RTX 3070 Ti mobile GPU, this 4070 has 28 fewer Quad cores, its memory bus is only half as wide, and we also get a lot less bandwidth. So with this, we’re trading some of that raw power for much greater portability.
Galaxy Book 3 Ultra Display
Let’s talk about this screen because it is a whopper of an upgrade over the previous Galaxy books, which were always pretty good. I love the fact that Samsung gave us AMOLED displays, but they were always stuck to 60 hertz and 16 by 9, which made them feel a bit dated. I am very happy to report that not only do we get a better AMOLED panel this time around, but it’s also 16 by 10 and 120hertz, so everything feels so much faster.
The Samsung reckons their new Dynamic AMOLED 2x panel is brighter, with better HDR and more accurate colors. The 3K resolution is nice and sharp, and it’s kind of like a halfway house between Quad HD Plus and 4K, so it’s a good balance for battery and performance, and very similar to what you get on the MacBook Pro. But of course, it’s not ideal if you do want to watch or edit 4K natively, and it’s also very, very glossy, picking up every reflection in the room.
However, color accuracy is fantastic; I measured 100% sRGB, 95% Adobe RGB, and 99% DCI P3, making this ideal for graphics artists, designers, and anyone doing color-sensitive work. Brightness is also impressive, and in fact, I measured a much higher max brightness than even Samsung claims. I recorded around 530 nits in SDR and 740 in HDR. It also hits the DisplayHDR 500 true black standard, and HDR content, in particular, looks incredible on this. This is an absolutely standout display.
The build quality is also top-notch. We have aluminum chassis, there’s no flex or anything. It’s a really well-made laptop and, of course, incredibly thin and light given the performance and also the 16-inch screen size. Now you can open it with one finger which adds to that premium nuts a little bit, and that is as far as the screen goes back. Although you’ll notice we do get quite a bit of screen wobble, not ideal. And actually, if I just sort of put it into a comfortable viewing position and then sort of pick it up, and let’s pretend I’m on a train or a plane, there’s a bit of shaking. That screen wobble is a bit annoying, I have to say, and it does eventually start pushing the screen down as well, so a beefier hinge would have been nice to see.
Also, I’m sure Samsung is compromising for something because the size of galaxy book 3 ultra trackpad. It is massive, and it’s very nice to use. The problem is it kind of just squashes the keyboard up a little bit. We have these tiny, tiny arrow keys, these shortened function row keys. There is room for a numpad on the side, which is nice. I would have preferred if it just made this a bit smaller but then expanded the keyboard a little bit. And also, the keys aren’t really my favorite. There’s a sort of very rubbery softness to them, which isn’t particularly satisfying. Perfectly fine, just not one of my favorite keyboards.
But no complaints about the size of this thing. It’s just 1.79 kilograms or a hair under four pounds, which for a 16-inch laptop with these specs is very impressive. Although if portability is your top priority, then you should definitely consider its smaller 14-inch brother.
As for connectivity, we have dual Thunderbolt 4 USB-C’s, one USB-A 3.2, a Micro SD card reader, audio jack, and HDMI 2 port. Again, it’s just one’s frustrations given the price of this thing and also its target audience. With these specs, you really would expect an HDMI 2.1 port and also a full-size SD, so that is a bit of a shame. I guess they were just prioritizing keeping it as thin as possible. On the inside, we have this Vapor chamber cooler, dual fans, and also the PCI4 SSD is upgradable. There’s also a second SSD slot, so lots of potential for upgrading the storage but not the RAM.
Then, we also have a 76-watt hour battery. Speaking of battery life, I’m getting around seven to eight hours of general light use and maybe an hour and a half of gaming using the GPU without power. Keep in mind, though, that gaming potential is pretty dependent on being plugged in. On battery, Cyberpunk’s performance dropped around 45%, and I lost close to 80% of my FPS in Siege, taking it from well over 100 to just over 30 FPS. You will, of course, get the best performance plugged in. And actually, I should say samsung galaxy book 3 ultra use just USB-C cable. There is no big power adapter or brick that you have to lug around with you. It’s a 100-watt charging, so in 90 minutes, I believe you can go from zero to 100. And of course, being USB-C, you can charge your phone with it as well.
But the next question is just how fast is this Samsung Galaxy book 3 ultra? Well, firing up a bit of Premiere Pro and opening my 4K project, everything was nice and fast, even with processing effects and color correction. And of course, in any 3D apps like Blender, or of course gaming, having this 4050 or in my case 4070 makes all the difference.
For example, in F1 22 at Quad HD, I maxed out this 120Hz panel using medium settings and I got around 80 FPS. At Ultra, of course, ray tracing does tank that figure considerably, although frame generation, Nvidia’s new frame interpolation tech which is exclusive to these new 40 series cards, definitely helped to boost the FPS in Cyberpunk, which is still a hugely demanding title. You can actually max out the settings with tracing and still get 43 FPS at QHD plus with DLSS. Center Performance drop to high settings without RT and with the LSS, and this will manage just over 100 frames per second.
In Forza Horizon 5, I hit a solid 60 on medium to high settings and low 40s with everything cranked to the extreme. And then in my old benchmarking favorite, Rainbow Six Siege, the Samsung hit a super smooth 144fps with the LSS set to balanced. And just as importantly, the Book 3 Ultra performed well in the Time Spy frame stability stress test, meaning that there was really hardly any GPU throttling. And so I think that vapor chamber and the dual fans are doing a really good job here. And most of the time, galaxy book 3 ultra basically silent. Really only if you’re running sustained loads or gaming do you hear that fan wear up. And you do have different fan profiles and performance profiles within the Samsung settings as well, which you can tinker with. But compared to some of its Windows rivals, the fans, the cooling, the temps, and also the performance, particularly on battery life, is all very impressive. And as for sound quality, the quad AKG-tuned speakers get decently loud and clear, and importantly, they don’t sound tinny.
The webcam as I let the screen settle and stop shaking for 1080p video, and actually, the quality is really nice, better than other webcams I’ve tested. We are in studio lighting here, and you can see my little conception going on there. Let me know how it sounds as well. Galaxy Book 3 Ultra is using the built-in speakers and microphones. I do quite like that we get a few extra little tools to play with. We have the eye contact mode, which is supposed to make your eyes always appear to be looking at the camera. We’ve got background blur, and we’ve got auto-framing. It’s a lot of nice Samsung extras to improve the webcam. Samsung galaxy book 3 ultra webcam or camera up here does not support Windows Hello for face unlocking. You have to rely on the fingerprint reader.
Samsung Extras on Galaxy Book 3 Ultra
The other advantage of choosing a Samsung device is that we get additional connectivity and smart features that work with other Galaxy devices. For example, Multi-Control allows you to share your mouse and keyboard with your Galaxy S series phone or tablet. We also get Instant Hotspot, which allows your Galaxy phone to transfer raw photos directly to the laptop automatically, and there’s Quick Share, which is essentially Samsung’s version of Apple’s Airdrop.
Galaxy Book 3 Ultra vs MacBook Pro
The last question is, how does this compare to the MacBook Pro 16 with an M1 Pro, which is also in the same price range of around £2,500?
The Samsung laptop does cost about £250 more in its base configuration with 512GB storage and 16GB RAM, but with an i7 13th gen processor compared to the M1 Pro. For some people, this comparison may be pointless because they prefer either Mac OS or Windows 11, and that’s completely understandable. In my experience, the MacBook Pro M1 is faster, quieter under load, and the biggest advantage is that you get the same performance whether you’re on battery or connected to power. Additionally, the MacBook Pro has HDMI 2.1, more Thunderbolt 4 ports, a full-size SD card slot, better speakers, a better webcam, a better keyboard and trackpad, and a brighter screen with thinner bezels, although some people may not like the notch.
As for the Samsung Galaxy book 3 ultra, it is still very impressive by Windows laptop standards, particularly in terms of performance and battery life. It stays cool and reasonably quiet, has a build quality that is up to Apple standards, and the AMOLED screen, while not as bright, wins in terms of having higher contrast and deeper blacks. Although the MacBook’s mini LED isn’t far behind. I know these Windows vs. Mac comparisons can be controversial, but frankly, I don’t care. I use the best tech available at the moment for my use cases, and for me, the clear winner is the MacBook Pro 16. However, if you prefer Windows, want to play proper games, and not just stream them over the cloud or play Apple Arcade, or you really want the performance of the 4050 or 4070 graphics card, then the Samsung laptop is definitely worth considering.
Okay, The Galaxy Book 3 Ultra is a very capable thin and light semi-workstation laptop. I think there’s a lot of strong competition out there, and I do have a few issues – the screen’s a little wobbly, there’s no full-size SD, no HDMI 2.1, the keyboard isn’t my favorite, and the lack of a 32GB RAM option on the highest spec, at least for now, is just baffling to be honest. But aside from that, performance is good, battery life is decent, the webcam is fantastic, and the build quality is generally really nice. The thermals are good, and I like the trackpad. However, it is worth bearing in mind that this is a whole lot lighter than your MacBook Pro 16s or Dell XPS 17s of the world, so in terms of that pursuit of performance and portability, maybe Samsung’s cracked it. My recommendation would be to stick with the base option of the i7 450 with 16GB of RAM.
Samsung Galaxy Book 3 Ultra Review
The Galaxy Book 3 Ultra is a very capable thin and light semi-workstation laptop. I think there's a lot of strong competition out there, and I do have a few issues - the screen's a little wobbly, there's no full-size SD, no HDMI 2.1, the keyboard isn't my favorite, and the lack of a 32GB RAM option on the highest spec, at least for now, is just baffling to be honest. But aside from that, performance is good, battery life is decent, the webcam is fantastic, and the build quality is generally really nice. The thermals are good, and I like the trackpad.
- Trackpad, Performance, Battery and Design8