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Samsung Galaxy Book3 Ultra review: a lean, mean Windows machine

Windows 11 workstation has top creative and gaming performance housed in a sleek 16-laptop design


PROS

  • Seamless integration with other Galaxy devices

  • Excellent performance, battery life

  • Big, beautiful display

  • Relatively lightweight


CONS

  • Disappointing audio

  • The off-center touchpad may bother some

Samsung is ready to take its Ultra branding to the final frontier — at least, as far as its mobile products go. After introducing an Ultra variant of its tablets last year, the company is launching a similar model of its Galaxy Book laptops in 2023.


Samsung Galaxy Book 3 Ultra Specs

Price as reviewed

$2,400

Display size/resolution

16-inch 2,880 x 1,800 AMOLED display

CPU

2.4GHz Intel Core i7-13700H

Memory

16GB DDR5 6,000MHz RAM

Graphics

​6GB Nvidia GeForce RTX 4050 Graphics

Storage

1TB Samsung M.2 PCIe 4x4 2280 SSD

Ports

Thunderbolt 4 USB-C (x2), HDMI 2.0, microSD card slot, USB-A 3.2, 3.5mm combo jack

Networking System

Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.1

Operating System

​Window 11 Home 22H2


The Galaxy Book 3 Ultra (hereafter referred to as the Ultra) starts at $2,200 or £2,449 in the UK. It's not available in Australia, but the UK price converts to AU$4,575.


ports

The Samsung Galaxy Book 3 Ultra is as close to a MacBook Pro experience as you'll get with Windows and Android. The headline might be hyperbolic (what isn't on the web?), but the fact is there are no other Windows laptops that integrate Android devices quite like the Galaxy Book 3 does.


The Ultra is available in a small choice of configurations that vary by country, including models with an Intel Core i7-13700H processor and Nvidia GeForce RTX4050 graphics card, or a Core i9-13900H and RTX4070 at the top end as tested. Note, a model with 32GB of RAM or greater is not available in the UK, which may be a deal killer for some.



The laptop also has an advanced cooling system that uses dual fans and vapor chamber technology to keep the laptop cool and quiet under load. The laptop also has a performance mode that can boost the CPU and GPU performance by increasing the fan speed and power consumption.


As you would expect for the hardware, the Ultra is an extremely powerful machine, keeping pace with Apple’s top laptops and gaming rigs across a range of tests. It is able to produce high frame rates in a variety of demanding games at 1080p resolution with high graphics settings, which look fantastic on the glorious screen.


The vivid colors and sharp contrast are stunning; the device covers 100 percent of the sRGB gamut, 98 percent of AdobeRGB, and 100 percent of P3, and it maxes out at a commendably high 434 nits of brightness. The one thing I’ll note is that glare is pretty striking, and having brightness lower than 60-ish percent often means staring at my own reflection.


Secondly, there’s all the Galaxy ecosystem stuff. Samsung is trying to replicate the seamlessness that Apple’s MacBooks offer to iPhone users with features like AirDrop and Universal Control and is pushing a number of interoperability features across its laptops.


The refresh rate is dynamic, too, only using 120Hz when it's needed, and dropping to 60Hz when it's not. It can also be fixed to 60Hz or 120Hz.


The laptop's backlit keyboard is comfortable to type on, with good travel and a pleasing tactile response. It's a full-size keyboard with a number pad.


The power button in the top right corner is also a fingerprint reader. Samsung centered the Ultra's giant touchpad on the main keyboard instead of the entire keyboard, so it is off-center.


The display also supports touch input, which works smoothly and accurately. The laptop also comes with an S Pen stylus that can magnetically attach to the side of the laptop.


The S Pen has 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity and tilt recognition, making it great for drawing and writing on the screen.


But its maximum power is only available when it is plugged in and set to high-performance mode. That’s typical of the kind of PC hardware it has inside but isn’t the case for Apple’s competitor.


Even at full tilt, the fans in the Ultra manage to avoid being overly noisy compared with some hairdryer-like laptops. In more mundane day-to-day productivity work, it runs essentially silently, which is most appreciated.


The Galaxy Books are starting to look boring, with the same MacBook-esque design they’ve come in for years. Like the Galaxy S23 phones, parts of the Book 3 series were built from recycled plastics from discarded fishing nets.


The other phone-related features are done with the Phone Link app. Once you connect a Galaxy phone to it, which is as simple as scanning a QR code, you'll have access to your calls, messages, notifications, photos, and apps.



The one other oddity I found with the chassis was in the touchpad. It’s massive, which I appreciate, but it occasionally inadvertently clicked when I pressed the palm rest. I wouldn’t say this happens frequently, but it happened enough to be annoying, especially for a $2,300 device.

On the other hand, the Ultra does have one pleasant surprise in store: battery life. We were expecting this high-resolution, Nvidia-powered device to be a longevity disaster, and it actually was not that.


On average eight hours and eight minutes to a charge, and that was with a dynamic refresh rate (which is the out-of-box setting).


The laptop comes with a 135 W power adapter that can charge the battery from zero to 50% in about 30 minutes. The laptop also supports fast charging via USB-C PD (Power Delivery) protocol.


We think you should wait till we can get one in for testing to determine how it stacks up against the competition on performance and battery life before dropping your money.



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