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Samsung Notebook 9 Pro review: Good at almost everything, including light gaming

The Samsung Notebook 9 Pro is aiming for the middle, in a good way. Compared to other models we’ve tested recently that offer a high-resolution touchscreen display, a 360-degree hinge, a cool metal chassis, and even pen support, it’s carefully designed to offer a little bit of everything, with a few standout features: a discrete Radeon RX 540 GPU, an integrated S-Pen with special Samsung applications as well as Windows 10 inking compatibility, and impressively long battery life.

Given its good overall showing, the Samsung Notebook 9 Pro is a laptop many people can like, including entry-level gamers. You’ll see us comparing it to two other 15-inch laptops with 360-degree hinges: The Lenovo Yoga 720 is very similar in design and price, but its Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 discrete GPU makes it heavier and hotter as well as faster. The 15-inch HP Spectre x360 is considered a class leader, but you might be surprised at how it performed in our tests compared to the Notebook 9 Pro. 

Price, specs, and features

The Notebook 9 Pro model we tested (poetically named NP940X5M-X01US) costs $1,300 as configured and is the higher-end of the two SKUs in this product line (we’ll briefly describe the other SKU below). 

CPU: Intel Core i7-7500U. This is a 7th-generation Kaby Lake dual-core CPU with a base clock of 2.7GHz and a maximum clock speed of 3.5GHz. It’s a pretty good chip, but as you’ll see in our tests, the performance difference between dual-core and quad-core CPUs is significant.

RAM: 16GB of DDR4 RAM. You’ll still see some laptops with just 8GB, but 16GB is the sweet spot right now. 

samsung notebook 9 pro ventilation grilles Melissa Riofrio/IDG

The Samsung Notebook 9 Pro has subtle grillwork on the bottom panel for air intake, and along the hinge for exhausting warm air. The fan is whisper-quiet. 

GPU: AMD Radeon RX 540 with 2GB of GDDR5 memory. This lower-end discrete GPU isn’t going to burn any barns, but it’ll suffice for light gaming. 

Display: 15-inch, FHD (1920×1080) IPS LED touchscreen whose top bezel houses a 720p webcam and a facial sensor for use with Windows Hello. The display offers a measured maximum brightness of 344 nits (in line with Samsung’s 350-nit spec). You wouldn’t want to crank it up all the way, however, especially when running on battery, as brighter displays consume more power. 

samsung notebook 9 pro right side ports Melissa Riofrio/IDG

The ports on the right side of the Samsung Notebook 9 Pro include microSD and two USB-A.

Storage: 256GB SATA3 M.2 SSD. A Samsung model, natch, and a good size.

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