The Samsung Notebook 9 Pro was announced at Computex 2017, delivering a reversible display, its own S-pen digital inking, and a dedicated GPU. It's a slightly older device, but there are tradeoffs; namely the price.
If you were in the market for a new 2-in-1 with inking support, which should you dive in on? Ultimately, it depends on your needs, and your budget.
Comparing Surface Book 2 and Samsung Notebook 9 Pro
|Category||Surface Book 2||Samsung Notebook 9 Pro|
|Display||13.5-inch or 15-inch PixelSense Display||13.5-inch or 15-inch LED|
|Resolution||3000 x 2000|
3840 x 2160 (4K)
|1920 x 1080 (HD)|
|OS||Windows 10 Pro||Windows 10 Home|
|CPU||Core i5-7300U (3.2GHz)|
Core i7-8650U (4.2GHz)
|Core i7-7500U (2.7 GHz)|
|Up to 256 SSD|
|Graphics||Intel HD Graphics 620|
GTX 1050 (2GB)
GTX 1060 (6GB)
|13-inch: Intel HD Graphics 620|
15-inch: AMD Radeon 540 (2GB)
|Front camera||5MP (Windows Hello)||720p|
|Ports||Two USB Type-A 3.1 (Gen1)|
USB Type-C with video, power in/out and USB 3.1 (Gen1) data
Headphone and microphone
Full-size SDXC card reader (UHS-II)
|HDMI, Headphone and microphone, USB Type-C with video, 2x USB 3.0, MicroSD|
|Sensors||Ambient light sensor|
|Keyboard||Full-sized, backlit||Full-sized, backlit|
|Weight||Up to 4.20 lbs (1.9 kg)||Up to 3.7 lbs|
|Dimensions||13-inch: 12.3 inches x 9.14 inches x 0.59 to 0.90 inches|
15-inch: 13.5 inches x 9.87 inches x 0.57 inches to 0.90 inches
|13-inch: 12.21 x 8.54 x 0.63 inches|
15-inch: 13.67 x 9.41 x 0.67 inches
|Price||Starts at $1,499||Starts at $949|
The key differentiator here is price. The Samsung Notebook 9 Pro is cheaper than the Surface Book 2 across the board, starting at just $949 vs. the Surface Book 2's entry point at $1,499. Naturally, that's due to a combination of tradeoffs.
First and foremost, the Surface Book 2 has a superior screen at every level, hitting higher resolutions than the Samsung Notebook 9 Pro's 1080p standard HD restrictions. If you're a digital artist, there's really no competition here. And even beyond the screen resolution, the specs for creative types, gamers, students, and beyond, are thoroughly better on the Surface Book 2 range. But there are price considerations to make, too.
At the lower-end, the Surface Book 2 and Notebook 9 Pro 13-inch models have more comparable specs, with Intel HD 620 graphics across both, similar sized screens, processors, and RAM. At this end, the Notebook 9 Pro 13-inch begins to make more sense than the extra $550 dollars you'll pay for a similarly spec Surface Book 2. The main benefits of picking up the lower end Surface Book 2 over the Notebook 9 Pro includes the more beautiful display, faster CPU, and the bigger battery life. As we head up to the more expensive models, the Surface Book 2 begins to outperform the Notebook 9 Pro in a huge way.
At the high-end, you can grab a Surface Book 2 with 1TB of SSD storage, a GTX 1060 GPU, and a crazy fast Core i7-8650U CPU, which packs 4.2 GHz against the Notebook 9 Pro's 2.7GHz. The Surface Book 2 also shatters the Notebook 9 Pro on listed battery life, claiming up to 12 hours with an 80WHr battery, compared to the 54WHr batteries found in every Notebook 9 Pro, which lists at around 6 hours. If you're planning on taking these devices to lectures, in the field, or at work, the Notebook 9 Pro will struggle to provide that realistic "all-day" battery life.
Also, there are features to consider. The Surface Book 2 has a detachable display, providing a clipboard-like experience. While I've found the scenarios where you might find this useful to be incredibly niche, it's still worth thinking about. The Notebook 9 Pro instead has a reversible hinge, allowing you to fold the display backwards to get tent and canvas modes. On the Surface Book 2, you have to detach the display and flip it around if you wanted to use it while still connected to the base (where the GPU and larger batteries are located).
Both devices have inking support, and by all accounts the Samsung S-pen is actually quite good, supporting up to 4000 levels of pressure sensitivity. The Surface Book 2 edges it out slightly, with 4096 levels, and comes with tilt support and a co-processor to improve latency between the pen and the screen. If you're willing to pay the premium price point, the Book 2 will provide a premium inking experience. Frankly, the same could be said about every aspect of these devices.
Which should you buy?
The million (thousand?) dollar question is, which should you buy? Ultimately, the Samsung Notebook 9 Pro is a Surface Book-like device with more affordable specs and features. Almost every aspect is slightly less "premium" than the Surface Book 2, resulting in a lower price point. If you're on a tighter budget, it looks as though the Notebook 9 Pro will still serve well for light gaming, light creative work, and should prove speedy for regular tasks like Office, browsing, and beyond.
The Surface Book 2, particularly at the higher-end, is a powerhouse. The d-GPUs on offer, combined with the faster CPUs, better screen, and huge batteries beat the Notebook 9 Pro at almost every level. The Surface Book 2 15-inch even comes with Xbox Wireless, allowing you to connect Xbox controllers and certified headsets without a dongle. This will run modern games extremely well, and provide great support for VR, Windows Mixed Reality, and higher-end creative and professional tasks. But whew, it is expensive.
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Jez Corden a Managing Editor at Windows Central, focusing primarily on all things Xbox and gaming. Jez is known for breaking exclusive news and analysis as relates to the Microsoft ecosystem while being powered by caffeine. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his Xbox Two podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!