Samsung has finally made the Series 9 11″ Windows powered ultraportable available for sale, joining the pricy Series 9 13″ notebook. Both of these new Series 9 notebooks are designed to take on the MacBook Air 11″, and while we know it’s not all in the specs we wanted to take a look at the differences between these new ultraportable 11″ notebooks to see which one comes out on top. We already know the Series 9 and the MacBook Air boot and wake from sleep at about the same speeds.
Surprisingly, the MacBook Air beats out the 11.6″ Series 9 in price. While Apple is typically known for higher prices, the 11 inch MacBook Air can be had for $999 from Apple, whereas the Samsung Series 9 11-inch notebook will run $1,199 from Samsung. You can find both of these models for roughly $50 off retail on occasion, but even with the discounts the MacBook Air is the clear winner.
The Samsung Series 9 has a 1.33GHz Intel Core i3 Mobile processor compared to the 1.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor found in the Base MacBook Air. While the MacBook Air has a faster clock speed, the Core 2 Duo is an older processor. This one is closer than you would expect because the 11.6″ Series 9 doesn’t use the new 2nd Generation Core i family of processors with faster speeds and greatly improved integrated graphics, but the Samsung Series 9 does come out on top here.
Both the base MacBook Air and the base Samsung Series 9 11.6″ notebooks come with a minimal 64GB of storage. Despite claims from Samsung that this means, “You’ll have room to bring it all with you,” users are likely to feel the strains pretty fast on both systems. Thankfully both of these notebook use Flash or SSD hard drives which deliver faster speeds and allow even slower processors to perform pretty amazingly. Storage is pretty much a draw when comparing these base models.
Both of these notebooks use an 11.6″ display and deliver a relatively high, for this size, 1366 x 768 resolution that allows you to “see” more on the display. Both the MacBook Air and the Series 9 have a glossy display, but the Series 9 offers a 340 nit display for a “SuperBright” screen. Apple doesn’t list he nit rating for the display on the 11.6″ MacBook Air, which leaves us to go on the eye’s on comparisons we have had. Again, there’s not a clear winner here, so another draw.
The MacBook Air comes with NVIDIA GeForce 320M graphics with 256MB RAM and the Samsung Series 9 uses the integrated graphics that come with the first gen Core i family of processors. In this case, the MacBook Air takes an edge thanks to the more powerful discrete graphics, but the Series 9 fires back with Intel Wireless Display support. Ultimately, the more powerful graphics on the MacBook Air give it the edge, especially since you need a $99 adapter to use Wireless display.
The MacBook Air 11.6″ notebook comes with 2GB RAM as does the Samsung Series 9, but if you want to, you can upgrade the MacBook Air to 4GB RAM, something not possible on the Series 9 model. Even though you’ll need to pay more for the 4GB of RAM on the MacBook Air, it’s still the winner.
The Samsung Series 9 11.6″ notebook is rated for up to 7 hours of battery life compared to the 5 hours on the MacBook Air. Unfortunately, we can’t take Samsung at its word for 7 hours of battery life. This is another draw, since the end result with the Samsung Series 9 will likely be around 5 hours, and Apple is usually spot on with the battery life. Another draw here.
The MacBook Air has an aluminum unibody finish which is well known across the MacBook Pro line. This finish provides a strong body and a classy look for the MacBook Air. The Samsung Series 9 is made of duralumin, a material that Samsung claims is twice the strength of aluminum. This category comes down to personal preference. We do like the looks of the MacBook Air, but the Series 9 is just a sexier notebook in our opinion. We’ll call this one a draw as well, but deep down we know who the winner is.
Both of these notebooks have a chiclet style keyboard and offer a decently sized area for typing, but we have to choose the Samsung Series 9 as the winner because it has a backlit keyboard.
Connectivity and Ports
The MacBook Air 11″ has 2 USB 2.0 ports, a Display Port adapter, headphone jack and Bluetooth. The Samsung Series 9 has 1 USB 3.0, 1 USB 2.0, headphone, microphone, HDMI and built in network port as well as Bluetooth 3.0. In this case, the Samsung Series 9 has more ports, and more advanced tech. With just 64GB of internal storage, the USB 3.0 port will be very handy. The Samsung Series 9 is the winner.
The Samsung Series 9 11.6″ notebook and the 11″ MacBook Air are pretty similar in size. As for the thickness, they both measure in at 0.65″ at the thickest. The Series 9 is slightly less wide, but a little more deep than the MacBook air. As for weight, the MacBook Air is 2.3 pounds and the Samsung Series 9 is 2.31 pounds. Unless you plan to measure and weigh your notebook every day, this is another draw.
When you look at the long term longevity of a notebook, the inclusion of a longer warranty is important. Apple includes a one year warranty with the purchase of the MacBook Air. Samsung, however, includes a 3 year warranty with the Samsung Series 9, which is about as long as many consumers keep their laptops. The winner here is Samsung.
11″ Notebook Showdown Scorecard
MacBook Air – 3
Samsung Series 9 11.6″ – 4
Draw – 5
Overall 11″ Notebook Winner
It was a close one, and in the end it’s a photo finish. Despite the Series 9 having one more win than the MacBook Air 11″, the real winner will depend on which notebook fits your needs better. If price is key, then the MacBook Air is likely to be your choice, but if you want more ports, connectivity options and a newer processor then the Samsung Series 9 may be a better pick.