- The Samsung Galaxy Book3 Ultra is powered by the Intel Core i9-13900H processor.
- It features NVIDIA’s GeForce RTX 4070 discrete GPU and maintains a thin and light form factor.
- The laptop seamlessly connects with the Galaxy device ecosystem.
Samsung launched the Galaxy Book3 series laptops along with the Galaxy S23 smartphone lineup at the Galaxy Unpacked event in early January 2023. In the laptop lineup, the Galaxy Book3 Ultra is the most premium model and has the most impressive features, which we sampled for a long duration. Aimed at content creators, professionals and gamers, the Samsung Galaxy Book3 Ultra is packed with powerful hardware and priced from $2,199 onwards.
I am a MacBook Pro 16 user and I apply the device heavily for content creation. However, I have always been looking for a Windows-based laptop that could run on a par with the MacBook Pro 16 and I think Samsung has done a great job with the Galaxy Book3 Ultra in this regard. Featuring top-of-the-line specs such as the Intel Core i9-13900H processor and NVIDIA’s GeForce RTX 4070 discrete GPU, this maxed-out version, which we are currently testing, is priced at $3,000 but can be purchased for around $2,399 with discounts.
Typically, Windows laptops do not offer hours of battery life, but Samsung and Intel have worked that out as the Galaxy Book3 Ultra offers a long battery life and powerful performance. Although Apple’s seamless ecosystem connectivity sets its devices apart, Samsung is offering the same connected ecosystem experience with its Galaxy devices.
Here is our in-depth analysis of the Samsung Galaxy Book3 Ultra after having used it for around two months.
Design: Sleek, lightweight and elegant
As a competitor to the MacBook Pro 16, the Samsung Galaxy Book3 Ultra scores full marks on sleekness. It offers a sturdy design while looking elegant at the same time. Despite the all-aluminum body, it weighs about 1.78 kg, which is an impressive feat. In comparison, the MacBook Pro weighs 2.1 kg. The clean graphite finish with just a Samsung logo on the lid adds to its neat look. The lid can be opened with one hand, and the hinge is sturdy too. However, due to its thin profile, the upper side of the screen wobbles slightly as you type.
The laptop comes with a full-size keyboard and a separate number pad. The keys have enough travel to offer a good typing experience. The power button comes integrated with a fingerprint scanner, offering secure access, thanks to Windows Hello. Below the keyboard is a huge, awkwardly placed off-center touchpad on which the click is not very satisfying. Overall, the touchpad offers an average performance. It is a bit of a letdown, especially for someone like me who does not use a mouse, but it should not be a big issue for those who do.
“The Galaxy Book3 Ultra looks elegant. It has a thin, lightweight profile while packing ‘almost’ all the necessary ports.”
In terms of connectivity ports, you get an HDMI out and two USB-C Thunderbolt 4 ports on the left. A USB Type-A, 3.5mm jack and a microSD card slot are placed on the right. However, having an SD card slot would have been better as most content creators shoot on mirrorless cameras that have SD cards.
Intel “EVO” Inside: Power, efficiency and more
On the hardware side, the Galaxy Book3 Ultra is powered by a 13th-gen Intel Core i9-13900H processor made on Intel 7 (10nm node). It comes with a 14-core CPU that has six performance cores with a max turbo frequency of 5.4GHz, eight efficiency cores with a max turbo frequency of 4.1GHz, and a total of 20 threads. It offers a TDP of 45W (with max support for 60W, while the processor is capable of up to 115W), making it a high-performance system for gamers, professionals and content creators. Our laptop configuration also included 1TB SSD, 32GB of RAM and NVIDIA’s GeForce RTX 4070 laptop GPU with 8GB GDDR6 VRAM (60W TGP – Total Graphic Power).
“The hardware on the Galaxy Book3 Ultra makes it the most powerful laptop with a sleek form factor.”
The Book3 Ultra is also Intel EVO certified, meaning it offers core features including:
- Instant wake where the system wakes up from sleep in under a second.
- A battery life of over nine hours in real-world usage (FHD resolution).
- Fast connectivity options such as the Thunderbolt 4 and Wi-Fi 6E.
- Quick charging feature where users can get up to four hours of usage on just 30 minutes of charge.
Commenting on the laptop market and Samsung’s positioning, Senior Analyst William Li said, “The MacBook Pro series has been the role model for premium laptops for a while, largely due to both its powerful hardware and seamless ecosystem support. Although Samsung is not yet a Tier-1 vendor in the PC industry, the accumulated product development efforts, new product launches and the competitive Galaxy ecosystem have earned it a ticket to the next battlefield. With Samsung’s efforts to make a mark in the laptop business, the new AI PC chapter in 2024 is likely to boost its ambition of gaining more share.”
Powerful performance: Hybrid laptop for work and play
There is often a tradeoff with Windows laptops, but that is not the case with the Galaxy Book3 Ultra. The device features a 16-inch, 10-bit 3K AMOLED display with a 120Hz refresh rate. It has a 16:10 aspect ratio, 2880×1800 pixel resolution and supports HDR. The screen is sharp and offers excellent color reproduction with deep blacks, bright whites and vivid colors. Moreover, the thin bezels around the display frame ensures an immersive viewing experience.
“Watching content, be it gaming or a movie is a treat for the eyes.”
The Galaxy Book3 Ultra is Samsung’s most powerful laptop and offers top-notch performance. Day-to-day tasks like checking emails, browsing the web, Teams calls, and more are smooth. Even with all these apps running in the background, and multitasking on Word, PowerPoint while also editing a video on DaVinci Resolve, there were no signs of lagging.
As this is a laptop meant for content creators, we tested its video editing performance. We loaded a five-minute 720p podcast video on DaVinci Resolve, added intro and outro animations with some background music, a couple of lower thirds (title graphics) and rendered the video in 1080p (30fps). The Galaxy Book3 Ultra took one minute and 18 seconds to render the video. We did the same on the MacBook Pro 16(with M1 Pro SoC) and it took 59 seconds. The MacBook Pro is clearly the winner here, but the Galaxy Book3 Ultra with Intel Core i9 processor, without a dedicated NPU, comes impressively close.
Having the NVIDIA RTX 4070 means you also get technologies like DLSS and ray tracing. We did try our hand at gaming but did not get enough time to run the laptop at its full potential. We managed to run old classic games such as Left4Dead2 and Counter-Strike: GO with maxed graphics settings and they ran smoothly.
We also tried out Forza Horizon 5, which is a graphics-intensive game. With maxed-out settings 3K display resolution (and laptop on high-performance mode), it offered up to 60fps initially, but after five minutes or so, the PC started to heat up and the frame rate dropped to about 49fps as the GPU took the maximum load. Some throttling was noticeable as the device worked to keep the thermals under control. We did not push it further beyond that, but this is a tradeoff of having a thin chassis.
“Gaming performance is good, but for intensive gaming titles, you may have to rely on a proper gaming laptop or desktop.”
In terms of battery life, the Galaxy Book3 Ultra is rated at 76Whr and can be charged using the bundled USB-C 135W wall charger. During our usage, we noticed that a full charge took about two hours. Battery life depends on individual usage, and we tested multiple scenarios:
- On a full charge, the battery would only last for about three hours when on a Teams video call, with screen brightness at 60%, speaker at full volume, and camera with a blurred background effect at all times. That is about 40 minutes less than what we get on a MacBook Pro 16 with the same usage.
- The battery lasts nearly the entire workday for regular work with Teams running in the background, some web browsing, listening to music and writing blogs. The laptop only needed charging around the last hour.
- With heavy-duty tasks like podcast audio or video editing workloads or mild gaming, the laptop offers a battery life of around four-and-a-half hours.
For an immersive audio experience, the laptop also has a quad-speaker system tuned by AKG and supports Dolby Atmos too. The output is good but lacks the bass and punch like in the MacBook Pro. However, with some Dolby tuning, the audio gets slightly better.
Samsung Studio Plus: AI effects for your video calls
Ever since the COVID-19 pandemic subsided, a lot of businesses and professionals have been following a hybrid work model. Some are still working from home, some are working from co-working spaces and cafes, while others are back to the office full-time. To help tackle these situations and to make sure one has a consistent look during video calls, Samsung Studio Plus with AI works really well.
There are key features, such as the Face Effect which can add subtle looks or smooth complexion. The Background Effect lets you blur the background while keeping you in focus.
The Auto Framing feature uses AI to detect you in the frame, crop and keep your face in focus. The camera can also track you around as you move. And finally, there is the Eye-Contact feature, which also uses AI to make your eyes appear to be looking at the camera, even if you look elsewhere – to the content on the screen, for example. So, even if you have a script or a list of pointers offscreen that you are looking at while presenting online, this feature makes you appear like you never looked away from the screen.
“The AI video effects on the Samsung Studio Plus app is a great addition for those hybrid work use cases.”
The Samsung Studio Plus app works well with the default 1080p camera and activates when you start the camera app, or start a video call on Zoom, Teams or Google Meet.
The Galaxy Book “Connected Ecosystem” Experience
The connected ecosystem experience offered by Apple is something that sets it apart. Samsung is one of the OEMs with a huge portfolio of products across different categories that offer seamless connectivity. For instance, the Samsung Galaxy smartphone seamlessly connects with the Galaxy tablet, Galaxy smartwatch and Galaxy TWS, with a multi-point connectivity.
The Galaxy Book brings a host of interesting features to elevate user experience:
Samsung Account: You need to sign in with the same Samsung account as on your Samsung smartphone, which will sync details like your passwords saved on Samsung Pass. This will let you sign with and authenticate using your fingerprint, without punching in the credentials. Your Samsung Notes will also get synced and so will the IoT devices that you have added in the SmartThings app. With the SmartThings app on your PC, you can control all your IoT devices from one place.
Multi Control: When the Samsung laptop and smartphone are close, you can move the mouse cursor to the right of the screen, onto your smartphone (where the smartphone will effectively act like an extended display). You can use the cursor to scroll through the web pages on your phone, scroll through the UI and more.
Samsung Gallery: You can access all your photos and videos in the smartphone gallery directly from the Samsung Gallery app on your Galaxy Book3 Ultra. You can even wirelessly transfer items from your smartphone to your PC with a drag-and-drop move.
Bixby, Samsung Flow: Samsung has also included the Bixby assistant to the Windows laptop, which allows voice commands for weather updates, playing music, opening apps, and more. You can even give commands, like start a drier, or turn the light on and off, provided they are connected with SmartThings. During our usage, it was a hit and miss, so maybe Samsung needs to fine tune it more.
With Samsung Flow, you can get all your Galaxy smartphone notifications on your PC. There is also a clipboard feature where you can copy/paste text between devices, just like on the iPhone/Mac.
YourPhone: This is a Microsoft app emulator that lets you run Android apps on Windows, among other features. It is not an exclusive feature for Samsung phones, and is available for other Android phones via the “Link to Windows” app. You cannot play games but can definitely run apps like WhatsApp, Instagram or Facebook to scroll through timelines, or launch Netflix or the Maps app among others.
With YourPhone app, your smartphone screen can be mirrored on the PC. There is a call and messaging app, that lets you make and receive calls on PC, and even send, receive, and reply to text messages right from your PC.
Do note, for all these features to work, your PC and smartphone need to be on the same Wi-Fi network. We would like to highlight that during our usage we faced some glitches at times with some apps. The laptop needs more fine-tuning to make the experience seamless.
“The connected ecosystem experience with Galaxy devices adds great value as a differentiator from the competition.”
The Samsung Galaxy Book3 Ultra is a great laptop for creative professionals, content creators, and gamers. Despite its ultra-portability, it does not compromise on heavy-duty performance apart from intensive gaming.
Along with a great screen, good battery life, and AI video call features, the Galaxy Book3 Ultra has a lot more to offer. The Galaxy-connected ecosystem experience is a value addition for Samsung smartphone, tablet, and TWS users.
However, there are a few things that Samsung can improve on with future generations of the device. The camera could be improved to offer higher resolution and capture accurate skin tones. The speaker system can be better to compete with the MacBook Pro. Battery life and thermal management can be improved further, ideally with a new processor and further optimization. Lastly, the “Galaxy Book Experience” app can be polished to work seamlessly without glitches.