Samsung Ativ Book 9 Lite Notebook Review

by - 8 years ago

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Introduction


ativbook9lite

Before I even start this review, I’m going to lay down the law so to speak. The term Ultrabook adheres to a device that follows Intel’s strict guidelines and while the device that we’re looking at today may look Ultrabook-esque, it features AMD CPU architecture and therefore cannot be claimed as an Ultrabook, though for the most part (barring the exclusion of an Intel processor) it pretty much is an Ultrabook.

What Samsung have done to create this notebook is to take the fundamental aspects of their Ultrabook range (Ativ Book) and given it the same treatment as its big brother; the Ativ Book 9 Plus, but to keep costs down an AMD quad-core processor has been used as opposed to the more expensive and slightly more powerful Intel equivalent. While Intel fan-boys across the world will be shouting at their screens right now, you have to remember that a device such as this has limited purposes and no matter what CPU the manufacturer favours, it will not see Crysis 3 being  run with all the settings turned right up to the max.

The term Ultrabook and the very similar AMD equivalent offer an unrivalled range of features in a convenient, small form factor that allows for superb battery life, fantastic connectivity options and of course the added portability factor due to the size and most importantly, the weight of a lightweight product like this.

As a journalist (as that is effectively what our line of work falls under) you’ll generally have a stereotypical view in your mind of me sitting in Starbucks with a Macbook Air/Pro in front of me and a large Americano steaming away as I ponder the latest happenings in the tech world; but whilst I am a typical journalist and I have coffee running through my veins, I don’t spend all my hours sitting in a coffee shop such as Starbucks or Costa waiting to chase the news. What I do instead is to attend pre-arranged press conferences and launches – typically in London and to get the news out as soon as possible or to make taking note down easier, I prefer to take either a tablet or more ideally a small laptop with me to type my notes on to – I still keep my trusty notebook and pen in the bag though!

This scenario is exactly where the Ativ Book 9 Lite comes into play. With a lightweight design, lightning fast performance and small form factor, on paper it ticks all the right boxes and to top that all off that it features a touchscreen panel. What’s more the Ativ Book 9 Lite retails at just a fraction of the price of an equally spec’d Ultrabook the features an Intel CPU at its heart.

This notebook that I’m having a look at today comes in one of two almost identical specifications, but with one component that is different between the two, but one that also affects the price quite considerably. This sole item that I’m referring to is the screen. Many laptops, notebooks and Ultrabooks that are coming to the market are now featuring touch-screen capabilities and the Ativ Book 9 Lite is yet another system that has this option available, although if you’re not a fond user of this new feature, or you simply don’t need it, then the Book 9 Lite does offer a non touch panel for a slightly lower price point.

ativebook9litespecs

In terms of the specifications, Samsung are a bit vague as to the CPU but after some digging we can see that it’s Socket FT3 (BGA769) A4/A6 APU 1.4GHz Quad Core offering which of course supplies the GPU side of the machine too.

AtivBook9Lite_cpuz

The box in typical Samsung stylish is clean, crisp and to the point with a large image of the device and subtle branding. The image on the front showcases the Mineral Ash Black colour, though the model we have today is Marble White.

AtivBook9Lite_Package

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A Closer Look


The first thing that anyone will note before they open the notebook up and start using it is the remarkably lightweight build. As mentioned through the introduction, one of e key focus points for Ultrabooks and their AMD counterparts is the overall weight and this needs to be kept as low as possible. If I were to take my Dell XPS15 laptop, which weighs around 2.5x the amount that this does, I’d soon start to feel the weight on my back and when you’re on the train and then walking to meetings, this is the last thing that I want to have. The Book 9 Lite is a shade over 1.5kg and for this type of system this is around the average that we are starting to see.

AtivBook9Lite_Full

When lifting the lid up on the Book 9 Lite, it is worth noting that this is not really a one-handed operation. Due to the fact that this unit is so light, when you try to lift the screen up, there is no bulk in the base to hold it down. This not really a problem, it’s just something worth noting.

AtivBook9Lite_Open

As we will see as I go further into the notebook, Samsung have tried as much as they can to keep the overall appearance clean and free of any clutter. On the underside we typically see a ton of stickers and removable covers for storage and memory upgrades, but with this system, the base is made up of a single piece of plastic. Not only does this make the manufacturing process much easier, but it also saves on a little bit of weight with less screws and plastics needed. It may only be a small amount of weight, but when you’re working on this end of the notebook scale, every gram counts.

AtivBook9Lite_Underside

Like the underside, the lid of the Book 9 Lite is also very clean and crisp with a gloss effect to the Marble White coloured plastic. To the left hand side of the cover is a chrome effect Samsung badge which gives just enough contrast to break up the pure white finish a little and to make the system look a little less than a white box product.

AtivBook9Lite_Closed

Lifting the lid and looking at the keyboard, Samsung have provided a compact 81-key chiclet keyboard with the same off-white finish that the rest of the casing uses. The printing on the keys has not been made to bold and in between the keys is a comfortable amount of spacing, so there is no worry when it comes to typing long articles or documents when it comes to hitting the wrong key.

AtivBook9Lite_Keyboard

The keys themselves may only be slightly raised above the surface of the chassis, but there is just enough travel and resistance on the keys to get a good response from the board as well as the ability to type on the board for a long period before the tips of your fingers start to ache from the pressure – unlike some mechanical keyboards for example which I find too noisy and which also tend to make my fingers ache after a relatively short period of typing.

AtivBook9Lite_KeyboardProfile

In front of the keyboard is a large touch pad with left and right-click buttons on the two lower corners in a one piece design. The surface of the touch pad is not too smooth, nor is it too rough. There is enough of a texture to get a good feedback and to give a smooth operation on-screen.

AtivBook9Lite_Touchpad

Around the notebook there is little branding in terms of features, although in the bottom corner to the right of the touchpad, there are two light grey features mentioned which are included with the system. SideSync is one of Samsung’s own technologies which allows for a seamless integration with one of Samsung’s own Android smartphones. More on this technology can be found over on Samsung’s website here. The second second feature that is highlighted is HomeSync Lite which allows this system to act as a cloud hub for up to 6 other Samsung devices such as smartphones and tablets, where they can simply back up their data to the notebooks internal storage – which can also be accessed remotely if needed.

AtivBook9Lite_SideSync

Towards the left hand side of the space between the keyboard and the screen we find a row of four LEDs to indicate system power and charging status to the left and caps / Fn lock to the right. The LEDs themselves are small and discrete and are just bright enough to see, but not too bright as to distract your attention.

AtivBook9Lite_Status

On the opposite end, again above the keyboard is a slim power button.

AtivBook9Lite_Power

Like the outside of the Book 9 Lite’s chassis, the inside of the system features very little in the way of branding. The only thing that we see that breaks up the white surface is a reflective Samsung logo that is set into the lid beneath the front of the screen. Below this branding we can see a rubber strip which is set into the lid around the outside of the touch-screen panel. Having a rubber strip run around the entire perimeter of the screen is a little unusual and typically we see two or four rubber feet on the corners of the screen to protect both parts of the notebook from damaging each other, but with the Book 9 Lite, this strip also acts to stop any dirt getting in-between the screen and keyboard when the system is in a rucksack for example, keeping it nice and clean for when you come to next use it.

AtivBook9Lite_Seal

Above the screen the Book 9 Lite features a small 720p quality web cam with a microphone positioned to either side. It would have been nice to see this finished in white to make it blend in, but the little bit of black doesn’t intrude the bezel too much and does not ruin the style of the unit.

AtivBook9Lite_Webcam

With the notebook closed and looking at it from the side we can get a look at the low profile and form factor that makes units like this so unique. Typically mainstream notebooks and laptops are rather thick as they pack in a wide array of components, but with Ultrabooks and their equivalents, the motherboard and additional components have been made as thin as possible and this is, to a degree, restricted by ports as an example as these have to follow a set standard. From the front to the back, the Ativ Book 9 Lite has a tear drop shape to it, with the system measuring little more than 17.4mm thick at most. Comparing this to my Dell laptop once again, we are looking at something here that is at least half the thickness.

AtivBook9Lite_Profile

On the left hand side of the base Samsung have packed in a DC power jack, SuperSpeed USB3.0 port, micro-HDMI port and instead of an RJ45 Ethernet port which would interfere with the dimensions of the chassis a mini-Ethernet port is found instead. The included RJ45 to mini-Ethernet adaptor connects here and this gives the notebook a standard Gigabit Ethernet connection option.

AtivBook9Lite_PortsLeft

On the other side, the array of ports on offer is also minimal, with a USB2.0 port, 3.5mm combo port for both microphone and headphone connections, a micro-VGA port (adaptor sold separately) and a Kensington lock point.

AtivBook9Lite_PortsRight

Turning the notebook back over and look at the underside, there are four large rubber feet which slightly protrude from the base of the unit and on either side towards the front of the case are two square grills behind which lie two small 1.5w speakers.

AtivBook9Lite_Speaker

Also on the left had side is a full-sized SD / SDHC / SDXC card reader with a spring-loaded cover for when a card is not inserted.

AtivBook9Lite_SD

Whilst the laptop is relatively low powered, there is still the need to have active cooling in place and towards the back of the underside is a small intake grill, with an exhaust vent found on the rear of the system.

AtivBook9Lite_Vent

Delving into the insides of the Book 9 Lite, we can get a look at exactly what makes this system tick. As we can see, the motherboard takes up little more than half of the systems footprint, with the ultra-slim battery taking up the front half of the space available.

AtivBook9Lite_Open

One of the key features that sets Ultrabooks and their equivalents apart from other laptop systems is the astonishing battery life that they have in comparison to a full fat laptop system. Packed in to the Book 9 Lite is a 2 cell 30Wh batter, offering 4080mAh of capacity. Unlike most systems, the battery here is not a user serviceable part and will require the system to be sent to Samsung for replacement when its health diminishes.

AtivBook9Lite_Battery

As highlighted in the introduction, Samsung don’t state too clearly so what CPU is used in this system and after some digging around we find that its one of AMD’s A4/A6 socket FT3 (BGA769) Quad-core chips, offering up to 1.4GHz clock speeds. What we will also note here is that the CPU is directly attached to the motherboard and consequently is not replaceable. The slim blower-type fan to the right keeps the CPU cool, although this can bet changed within the system settings to run in passive mode for a totally quiet operation.

AtivBook9Lite_CPU

Like the processor, the system’s memory is directly soldered to the motherboard and this also means that there is no room for upgrades in the future. The Ativ Book 9 Lite comes with one option of 4GB 1066MHz DDR3 memory and is made up of Samsung’s own DRAM packages.

AtivBook9Lite_Ram

Towards the left hand side of the notebook is the only upgradeable component that is to be found. Whilst the system only comes with the option for 128GB of mSATA based SSD storage, Samsung’s mSATA drive can be taken out and replaced with a 256GB drive if wanted in the future.

AtivBook9Lite_SSD

The last major component that we can find on the rather small motherboard is the wireless adaptor which is provided by Lite-On technology to give this system 802.11b/g/n and Bluetooth v4.0 connectivity.

AtivBook9Lite_WiFi

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Test Procedure


To test this system, we want to stress every component of the system to check stability and performance, giving us an idea as to why those particular components were picked for this system.

This particular system comes pre-installed with Windows 8, but of course this can be customised upon checkout. To give us a baseline performance that is easy to compare, we ran the Windows Experience Index test and the results can be seen below:

AtivBook9Lite_WinExperience

Many different software applications are used to gain the broadest spectrum of results, which allows for the fairest testing possible.

Hardware used:

  • Acoustic dBA meter
  • AC Power meter

Software used:

  • 3DMark 11
  • 3DMark 2013
  • AIDA64
  • Cinebench R11.5
  • Cinebench R15
  • CrystalDiskMark
  • CPU-Z
  • PCMark 7
  • PCMark 8
  • Powermark
  • Super PI

For obvious reasons, I’m not going to put the Ativ Book 9 Lite through the torture of running every single game that I normally would on any other laptop. There is a very good reason for this and it all falls down to what this laptop is designed for. Ultrabooks and their equivalents on the whole are not built for high intensity gaming nor are they designed to be powerhouses when compared to the high-end gaming laptops that we see around. Because of this I’ll save you the torment of looking at benchmarks that would make this unit look terrible in the gaming light.

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PCMark 7


PCMark 7 provides a set of 7 suites for measuring different aspects of PC performance with a high degree of accuracy. Overall system performance is measured by the PCMark Suite. The Lightweight Suite measures the capabilities of entry-level systems and mobility platforms unable to run the full PCMark suite. Common use performance is measured by the Entertainment, Creativity and Productivity scenario suites. Component performance is measured by the Computation and Storage hardware suites. The Storage suite is ideal for testing SSDs and external hard drives in addition to the system drive.

AtivBook9Lite_PCMark7

PCMark 7 gives us a result that on a typical desktop system would look pretty dire, but what we have to consider here is that the power of everything has been dialled down in order to conserve power and consequently reduce the system temperatures. notebooks of this type are not expected to have break neck speeds and high levels of power.

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PCMark 8


CMark 8 is the latest version in our popular series of PC benchmarking tools. Improving on previous releases, PCMark 8 includes battery life measurement tools and new tests using popular applications from Adobe and Microsoft. Whether you are looking for long battery life, or maximum power, PCMark 8 helps you find the devices that offer the perfect combination of efficiency and performance for your needs.

AtivBook9Lite_PCMark8

PCMark 8 reiterates the result that we see within PCMark 7 showing that the bottleneck that these systems face is around the processing power.

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3DMark


3dmark13

“The new 3DMark includes everything you need to benchmark your hardware. With three all new tests you can bench everything from smartphones and tablets, to notebooks and home PCs, to the latest high-end, multi-GPU gaming desktops. And it’s not just for Windows. With 3DMark you can compare your scores with Android and iOS devices too. It’s the most powerful and flexible 3DMark we’ve ever created.

Fire Strike is our new showcase DirectX 11 benchmark designed for high-performance gaming PCs. It is our most ambitious and technical benchmark ever, featuring real-time graphics rendered with detail and complexity far beyond what is found in other benchmarks and games today.”

3D Mark 2013 Ice Storm

AtivBook9Lite_3DMark_IceStormUltimate

3D Mark 2013 Cloud Gate

AtivBook9Lite_3DMark_CloudGate

3D Mark 2013 FireStrike

AtivBook9Lite_3DMark_FS

The two 3DMark tests that I tend to run (namely Fire Strike and Fire Strike Extreme) are aimed at pushing mainstream and high-end gaming systems to their limits. As we know, this system is not designed for that purpose, so instead I’ve chosen to run the Ice Storm and Cloud Gate workloads, which are better suited for this type of system.

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3DMark 11


3dmark11

3DMark 11 is the latest offering from Futuremark, taking full advantage of DirectX 11 by utilising tessellation features and volumetric lighting. It takes your graphics and CPU hardware to the edge to simulate the most extreme conditions whilst working as a stand point to compare results with other users online.

3DMark 11 Performance

AtivBook9Lite_3DMark11_Perf

3DMark 11 Extreme

AtivBook9Lite_3DMark11_Xtr

Like the newer version of 3DMark, 3DMark11 is too much for this notebook to handle. low power mobile graphics such as the Radeon HD 8250 that is found on the A4/A6 CPU are enough for day-to-day work and video playback, but when it comes to games, you are restricted to the more basic games such as Plants Vs Zombies which comes bundled with Windows 8.

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HD Video Playback


We opted for some Iron Man 2 to assist us with this test, utilising the 1080p HD MKV file to check on CPU utilisation. Running the movie using VLC Player and using a predefined action scene, we check the CPU usage to see how it fairs with HD video playback.

AtivBook9Lite_Powermark_HDPlayback

Due to the graphics being integrated into the processor, when playing back high-definition content, the CPU usage is a little higher than normal however this is as expected.

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CPU Performance


Cinebench

CINEBENCH is a real-world cross-platform test suite that evaluates your computer’s performance capabilities. CINEBENCH is based on MAXON’s award-winning animation software CINEMA 4D, which is used extensively by studios and production houses worldwide for 3D content creation. MAXON software has been used in blockbuster movies such as Spider-Man, Star Wars, The Chronicles of Narnia and many more. CINEBENCH is the perfect tool to compare CPU and graphics performance across various systems and platforms (Windows and Mac OS X). And best of all: It’s completely free.

Cinebench R11.5

AtivBook9Lite_Cinebench

Cinebench R15

AtivBook9Lite_Cinebench15

Cinebench is not a test that favours AMD processors even on a good day, so it is no surprise to find that the scores are low, but they do achieve the end result all the same.

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CPU Performance Continued


Super PI

Super PI is a computer program that calculates pi to a specified number of digits after the decimal point—up to a maximum of 32 million. It uses Gauss–Legendre algorithm and is a Windows port of the program used by Yasumasa Kanada in 1995 to compute pi to 232 digits.

AtivBook9Lite_SuperPI

Like Cinebench, SuperPI is not a benchmark that favours AMD chips. With a time of just over half hour to complete a 32M run, the Intel chips may beat it hands down, but this time is only around 50% longer compared to the FX-9590 flagship Piledriver CPU that I tested only the other day.

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Memory Benchmarks


AIDA64 Memory Bandwidth

AIDA64 Extreme Edition is a streamlined Windows diagnostic and benchmarking software for home users. AIDA64 Extreme Edition provides a wide range of features to assist in overclocking, hardware error diagnosis, stress testing, and sensor monitoring. It has unique capabilities to assess the performance of the processor, system memory, and disk drives. AIDA64 is compatible with all current 32-bit and 64-bit Microsoft Windows operating systems, including Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2.

AtivBook9Lite_AIDA_Memory

The memory bandwidth that we get here is more than enough for general day-to-day light work such as word processing and internet browsing, an environment where this system will spend most of its working life.

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Storage Benchmarks


AIDA64 Storage

AIDA64 Extreme Edition is a streamlined Windows diagnostic and benchmarking software for home users. AIDA64 Extreme Edition provides a wide range of features to assist in overclocking, hardware error diagnosis, stress testing, and sensor monitoring. It has unique capabilities to assess the performance of the processor, system memory, and disk drives. AIDA64 is compatible with all current 32-bit and 64-bit Microsoft Windows operating systems, including Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2.

AtivBook9Lite_AIDA_SSD

CrystalDiskMark

CrystalDiskMark is a small HDD benchmark utility for your hard drive that enables you to rapidly measure sequential and random read/write speeds.

Here are some key features of “CrystalDiskMark”:

  • Sequential reads/writes
  • Random 4KB/512KB reads/writes
  • Text copy
  • Change dialog design
  • internationalization (i18n)

AtivBook9Lite_CDM

Looking at the performance that the mSATA SSD has to offer, we see a turn around in events, with a heap of performance on hand. With speeds of just over 480MB/s recorded, the fast read speeds that we see here soon make up for the hold back in performance that we see from the processor and memory.

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USB Benchmarks


AIDA64 USB 3.0 Storage

AIDA64 Extreme Edition is a streamlined Windows diagnostic and benchmarking software for home users. AIDA64 Extreme Edition provides a wide range of features to assist in overclocking, hardware error diagnosis, stress testing, and sensor monitoring. It has unique capabilities to assess the performance of the processor, system memory, and disk drives. AIDA64 is compatible with all current 32-bit and 64-bit Microsoft Windows operating systems, including Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2.

AtivBook9Lite_AIDA_USB

CrystalDiskMark

CrystalDiskMark is a small HDD benchmark utility for your hard drive that enables you to rapidly measure sequential and random read/write speeds.

Here are some key features of “CrystalDiskMark”:

  • Sequential reads/writes
  • Random 4KB/512KB reads/writes
  • Text copy
  • Change dialog design
  • internationalization (i18n)

AtivBook9Lite_CDM_USB

Like the SSD performance, the USB3.0 performance that we get offered is also very respectable with read and write speeds just pushing over the 275MB/s and 165MB/s barriers respectively.

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Powermark Battery Performance


PMark_Logo

The purpose of the workloads is to simulate realistic usage scenarios of portable computing devices. Short test scenarios are looped until the per-iteration run time (five minutes by default) is reached or the battery charge end condition is met. The workloads selected for the benchmark are run in order, each workload once per iteration. Iterations are run until the battery charge has dropped to the desired level or the benchmark is cancelled. Once the battery charge end condition has been met Powermark generates a result based on the time elapsed and battery charge consumed by the workloads. In order to maintain the specified workload weighting the results of the final iteration (during which the battery charge fell to the desired level) is ignored.

Web browsing

The web browsing workload opens Internet Explorer and serves content from a local custom-made web server. The content is a modified version of Peacekeeper 1.0 Community site test. The computational load is mostly JavaScript based and performs following tasks:

  • Encryption
  • XML parsing
  • Data filtering
  • String sorting
  • Window scrolling
  • Word processing workload

The word processing workload is a text editor look-a-like application. It is implemented using RichTextBox control in Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF). Typing in the editor is simulated and throttled to match typing speed of a user. The workload content is based on a Wikipedia article on batteries.

Video playback

The video workload simulates watching movies on a portable device.

Clip details:

  • Codec: H.264
  • Duration: 8:43
  • Resolution: 1280 x 720
  • Frame rate: 25 frames per second
  • Bitrate: approx. 5000 kbps.

Gaming 

The gaming workload renders a DirectX 9 Shader Model 2.0 scene to simulate the graphics workload of a mainstream game. The scene features cascaded shadow maps and high-resolution shadow mapped point lights.

Balanced Workload

AtivBook9Lite_Powermark_Balanced

Productivity Workload

 

AtivBook9Lite_Powermark_Productivity

 

Entertainment Workload

AtivBook9Lite_Powermark_Entertainment

Whilst Powermark shows that the Ativ Book 9 Lite offers up to just under 6 hours of battery life from a single charge, we found that with moderate use throughout the day, it is possible to get up to eight hours of use out of the battery. Simple steps such as dimming the screen, disabling the WiFi when out and about and setting the laptop into quiet mode where it disables the fan are just an example of how you can increase the length of time that you can get out of a single charge.

 

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Acoustics


Noise is generally the bain of most consumers lives and in the hope of finding the quietest operation, we feel it’s necessary to show you the audio level of components. Typically with a desktop system we would fit a

AtivBook9Lite_Acoustics

With the laptop offering the option to disable the CPU fan, idle acoustics are effectively 0dBA, the levels that our sound meter picking up here is in an ambient room for a reference point of view. When the fan does need to spin up, it is so quiet that you barely hear it start and then stop once again.

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Power Consumption


To test power consumption, we monitor the overall power of the system through a plug-in electricity usage monitor at an idle and load state. This allows us to show the fluctuation between how much power draw the graphics card takes at idle and at load. By monitoring the overall usage of the whole system, it gives an easy comparison if you wish to do the same yourself as opposed to buying very expensive individual testing equipment.

AtivBook9Lite_Power

Power draw is one of the many aspects that sets this system up as a rival to an Intel based Ultrabook. When running the system from the mains, the amount of power that it draws is very minimal and even at full load is less than that of a typical LCD monitor.

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Temperatures


Measuring temperatures is all about being consistent therefore we keep a steady eye on monitoring the ambient room temperature to make sure that it stays the same. While this is constantly being monitored, we measure the idle temperature of the card using HWMonitor over a 15 minute period. Once this has been recorded, we set FurMark into motion for 15 minutes and record the results again.

AtivBook9Lite_Temps

Even though this notebook has a low-level of power consumption and a lower performance level, the processor does run a little warm at idle as a result. What we did find, however, is that even with the system running in a passive mode, the idle temperatures barely reached 50 Celsius and when pushing the system during the benchmarking tests, the tiny cooler that is in the chassis was able to keep temperatures comfortably the 60 Celsius mark.

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Final Thoughts


Pricing

Samsung’s Ativ Book 9 Lite is available in a couple of slightly different configurations, with touch-screen an optional extra and the notebook also coming on one of two colours – Marble White and Mineral Ash Black. The Marble White unit that I’ve had to look at here comes with the optional touch-screen added in and in the US is available directly from Samsung for $649.99. In the UK, there are a number of retail outlets that are stocking the Book 9 Lite as seen here with Curry’s stocking the unit for £599.00 and Amazon UK offering both colours and options for up to £579.99.

Overview

Since their first release on to the market, Intel’s Ultrabooks and their counterparts that have AMD processors inside have paved a whole new pathway into our connected and mobile lives. Whilst a number of users are still choosing to have a single full-fat laptop for use in the home or office, but also for use whilst out on the go, there is a growing trend, especially amongst us journalists, to have both options to hand. Naturally as a technology reviewer I’ve got nothing but computer components around me and personally I do have both a custom desktop system and a Dell XPS15 high performance laptop that I take with me to shows and events around the world, but having a system that is light, small and easy to take around with me to meetings and press conferences is yet another thing that I’ve got on the itinerary of tech gadgets and products that I own.

The Ativ Book 9 Lite it has to be said has been a great system to take around me during the time that I’ve had it. Its lightweight build and small form factor have made it easy to slip in and out of my bag and easy take notes down on or write short articles whilst I’ve been at press events and with a battery life that has been able to last me a whole day, the need to take the charger with me has added to the minimal weight that it packs.

The styling of this unit is both simple yet stylish. Whilst its nice to see matt, gloss and brushed effects to black or grey plastics as we typically see on many laptops, having all of those effects on a white system simply wouldn’t work in my eyes. The simple smooth glossy finish to the back of the lid and the lightly textured area around the keyboard is more than enough for this system and with its subtle branding laid on top, it looks the part to say the least.

When it comes to the performance aspect of what the Book 9 Lite has to offer, my feelings on how the system performs is a bit of a mixed bag. On the front of battery life as I mentioned above and with the fast read and write speeds to the mSATA SSD, I’m very impressed; however when we look at the core processing power when comparing this system to a Core-i3 powered Ultrabook, sadly AMD’s APU doesn’t quite cut it for me. When working on the internet, which as you can imagine I do virtually all the time, I found that the browsing experience was let down by the time it took to change tabs and scroll down pages. Even using the system when plugged in and set to ‘High Performance’ mode within Windows seemed to made me feel a little let down.

Other things that I felt a little disheartened about was with the display. Face on, the 1366×768 LED panel is great to look at, but as the angle of viewing started to change, the screen quickly lost its edge and at an angle of 45° from face on, the colour and brightness started to go and looking at an even shallower angle was nigh on impossible. From this point alone, if a crisp and clear screen is something that you are looking for, the Book 9 Plus is going to be more suited to your requirements with its FHD 1920×1080 panel. The other thing that has left me a little disappointed is the response from the touch-screen panel. I have to say that I was a little dubious over the addition of the touch-screen to the notebook, but with Windows 8 it quickly comes into its own and when scrolling up and down web pages it soon became a natural reaction to touch the screen and scroll up/down. What left me a little bit down about the touch features was the response, or the lack there of when trying to touch on a web link for example. In some case I’d have to tap the link two or three times before the screen responded and in other cases I changed straight away to the touch pad. All I can say from this is if you’re using the screen to move and up and down a web page for example, the screen is a great addition, but when it comes to navigation, stick to the trusty touch pad.

So the question I hear you asking by now is how would I rate the Ativ Book 9 Lite on the whole? When it comes to a make or break decision, for me it simply comes down to what type of user you are. If you’re after something that is small and convenient and you only do a bit of light web browsing or office type tasks then by all means go for this and enjoy it. If you’re a bit more of a power user who is going to be using a compact notebook for more than ‘light use’, then you’re going to better of in looking at the Book 9 Plus or another Intel based Ultrabook instead.

Overall it’s a great system for basic needs and a bit of light use, but anything more and it will be worth spending that bit more and getting something with a bit more power.

Pros

  • Ultrabook-type design
  • Touch-screen
  • >6 hours of battery life
  • Lightweight build
  • Good price for a basic system for web-browsing

Cons

  • Slow A4/A6 CPU makes this system only suitable of light use
  • Touch-screen can feel a bit unresponsive

“Samsung’s Ativ Book 9 Lite is a great little unit for anyone who is after a small, compact and stylish unit for light use such as web browsing; but if your needs are a little more demanding, the Book 9 Plus or another Intel based Ultrabook may be more suited to your needs.”

Thanks to Samsung for providing this review sample.

Article Index

  1. Introduction
  2. A Closer Look
  3. Test Procedure
  4. PCMark 7
  5. PCMark 8
  6. 3DMark
  7. 3DMark 11
  8. HD Video Playback
  9. CPU Performance
  10. CPU Benchmarks Continued
  11. Memory Benchmarks
  12. Storage Benchmarks
  13. USB Benchmarks
  14. Battery Life
  15. Acoustics
  16. Power Consumption
  17. Temperatures
  18. Final Thoughts
  19. View All

Author Bio

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