For years, Samsung laptops have reminded me of a child forced by his parents to play sports. They keep showing up, but the obvious lack of effort makes you wonder if they even want to be there. Recently, however, Samsung has started kicking the ball in the right direction. Products like the Galaxy Book Pro 360 and Galaxy Chromebook 2 are successful because they’ve borrowed the best bits from Samsung’s beloved smartphone series.
So when I saw the Galaxy Book, a $750 (our review unit is $1,000) clamshell laptop under Samsung’s “Galaxy” brand, I thought it might be a device to recommend to the many people who ask me for a capable Windows PC that costs less than a grand. I was hoping Samsung had passed on some of its best laptop features to this mid-range device the same way HP did with its Envy line, but alas, those delicious treats are reserved for more expensive products. .
To be honest, this review was not easy to write. You see, good gadgets are fun to test because they’re exciting, and bad ones are easy to review because they let you turn pent-up pandemic-fueled frustration into 2,000 words. This Galaxy Book sits somewhere in the boring in-between space – a device so innocuous it’s offensive, so vanilla it’s completely tasteless.
Practical but lifeless design
But enough of the melodramatics, this is a product review for god’s sake, so I’ll reluctantly give you a quick rundown of the Galaxy Book’s design. It is a rectangle; it’s money everywhere; and there is a Samsung logo on the lid. If you haven’t guessed it already, the display is 16:9 and there are no extra letters before “LCD”. And just when I was interested in a feature, that black rectangle on the top row of keys is actually just a power button, not even the most basic form of biometric login.
If this was me 10 years ago walking the aisles of Fry’s (RIP), I would have wandered right past the Galaxy Book en route to office components and energy drinks. Perhaps the slim bezels would have caught my eye, and if I had picked up the laptop, I might have been impressed with its sleek 0.6-inch chassis, which makes it portable even by laptop standards. ‘today. I can’t fault the build quality either – the 180 degree hinge is stiff but turns smoothly and the aluminum surfaces don’t move when I apply pressure to the lid and keyboard.
And while that’s not exciting, the Galaxy Book earns practical points for its generous selection of ports. On the left edge of the laptop are two USB Type-C inputs, a USB Type-A 3.2 port, and an HDMI 2.0 input. Turn to the right and you’ll find a second USB-A port, headphone jack, microSD card slot and lock slot. That’s all you need to connect an external mouse, monitor or keyboard.
You might want the latter because the Galaxy Book’s keyboard is shallow. Otherwise, that’s fine. The keys are well spaced and large enough for large hands, and there’s even a small number pad on the right. Nothing here is undersized except the arrow keys, and these are cleverly separated in an inverted T-shape, making them easy to find without looking down. What I can’t excuse is that those keys aren’t backlit – charging $1,000 for a laptop without illuminated keys in 2022 is downright offensive.
While I had no problem adjusting to the keyboard, the keys themselves lack the satisfying tactility that’s becoming increasingly rare on ultraportable laptops. I typed at a fast 114 words per minute with 96% accuracy on a typing test, which can be attributed to the shallow key depth and low actuation required to register a keystroke.
The touchpad is also just okay. The surface is large and I moved my cursor easily around Windows 11, but my fingers didn’t glide over this plastic rectangle as easily as they would over glass. Loud and stiff left and right click buttons are also a letdown.
A surprisingly poor display
What bothers me the most is the screen – yes, the Galaxy Book’s weak point is the one thing you’d expect a top-tier display vendor to nail. The laptop’s 15.6-inch 1080p anti-glare panel prevents poor viewing angles. Sit to the side a few degrees or be lazy by tilting the lid directly towards your face and the colors wash out.
Take ESPN’s webpage, for example. When I look at the screen from the front, the background is gray while the content blocks are white. Tilt the panel even a few degrees down and everything looks white. When I tilt it up, the opposite effect occurs and the content appears dark.
Things got a lot better when I oriented those pixels directly into my retina. Display-centric graphics were colorful, and because the panel is matte it can be viewed in bright conditions without glare, even though our colorimeter clocked its peak brightness at a low 235 nits.
I wish I could say there was more emphasis on the speakers, but these are your regular dual drivers. They sound great but don’t even have a hint of bass and are just loud enough for solo listening. I should also take a second to alert you to the 720p webcam which, to put it mildly, is tragic.
Fast performance, but ignore the discrete GPU
The Galaxy Book’s saving grace is its speedy performance. For the price of a base-model flagship laptop, you can get the Galaxy Book fully loaded with an Intel Core i7-1165G7 processor, 16GB of RAM, and a 512GB SSD.
I encountered no stuttering after loading dozens of Google Chrome tabs while working and noticed no lag while streaming Australian Open tennis on ESPN+ over the weekend. Best of all, the Galaxy Book never screamed at me or got too hot, even after watching a 20-minute 1080p video on YouTube in addition to several other active background processes.
I’ve been clear enough that the Galaxy Book isn’t an interesting laptop, but there’s one spec that caught my eye: the Iris Xe Max graphics. Released last year, Iris Xe Max is Intel’s first discrete mobile GPU, and while the company admits it’s not intended for gaming, the solution supposedly improves video encoding and editing. graphic.
It seems true. The Galaxy Book played Civilization IV at 1080p resolution, a barely playable 32fps, but otherwise we did well in our benchmarks against other ultraportable laptops with integrated graphics or entry-level discrete solutions . On Geekbench 5, a synthetic test used to determine overall performance, the Galaxy Book achieved a multi-core score of 5277, which is just short of the Surface Laptop Studio (5879). When rendering a 3D image in Blender using the GPU, the Galaxy Book took 8 minutes and 45 seconds, which is much faster than the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Titanium Yoga (13:22) but not better than the Surface Pro 8 (8:30).
Keep in mind that Intel has already announced 12th Generation Core Mobile Chips, which balance core performance and efficiency to deliver faster speeds and longer battery life. Samsung will likely update its Galaxy laptops with these new chips once they become available, so we recommend waiting a few months if you’re not in a hurry. I should also point out that the Galaxy Book uses U-series chips, so you won’t get the same performance as other (usually larger) 15-inch laptops that use H-series processors.
Not the best battery life to get the job done
I don’t know if Intel’s weak discrete GPU is to blame, but I expected more from the Galaxy Book than 7 hours and 45 minutes of battery life on our runtime test, which involves playing video at 200 nits of brightness until the laptop turns off. The Galaxy Book’s below-average runtime was well below the Galaxy Book Pro’s (14:46) and roughly matched the Acer Aspire Vero (7:47).
To make matters worse, the included charging cable, while thankfully USB-C, is rather short at around seven feet. On the other hand, the AC adapter is about the size of those you used with your smartphones. It’s easy to overlook such a small detail, but believe me, throwing that little charger in your backpack or luggage instead of a giant power supply saves a ton of space.
The Galaxy Book is for people who want a laptop that gets the job done, with no bells and whistles to complicate things. It’s for people who don’t particularly care about tech but need something super simple in a portable package with a big screen and solid build quality. And while that’s not a tech critic’s cup of tea, the truth is, you probably know someone who fits the bill, whether it’s a parent, grandparent, or high school student.
The problem is, you don’t need to spend $1,000 to get basic computer experience. If you like the idea of the Galaxy Book, I suggest going with the $750 model and upgrading to a Core i5 processor, which is plenty fast for a device best used for browsing the web and running apps. based. Or, better yet, you could save even more money on something like the Google Pixelbook Go Where Lenovo Yoga C740 and benefit from additional features and longer battery life.
Ultimately, the Galaxy Book is a clear reminder that Samsung’s laptop division plays second, if not fifth, fiddle to everything the Korean tech company has going – so if you need a capable laptop under $1,000, look elsewhere.