In the past few years, Intel’s dominance in the consumer processor market has waned. AMD’s rise has caused problems for Intel since 2010 but in 2020 Apple embarrassed it by ditching its Mac chipsets and launching its M series of processors. Apple’s MacBooks now offer over 20 hours of battery life while delivering significantly better performance than Intel-powered machines. However, under CEO Pat Gelsinger, Intel has improved, and its latest 13th Gen Raptor Lake release shows things are looking up for the US semiconductor chipmaker.
I tested the new Samsung Galaxy Book3 Pro, which, despite its “Pro” moniker, is more of a rival to the MacBook Air. In fact, it sits somewhere between a MacBook Pro and a MacBook Air. And thanks to Intel’s new silicon, it offers a viable alternative.
Raptor Lake on Intel’s 10nm SuperFin
Intel’s ascendancy has always been rooted in the fact that its chipmaking business is the best in the world. In 2010, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company Limited (TSMC) overtook it and Intel ceased to be the top predator in microprocessor manufacturing. Its timelines got derailed, and in doing so, it released buggy, substandard products and outdated processors. Raptor Lake was also late launched, but it’s competitive enough and its base i7-1360P chipset is fast on the Samsung GalaxyBook3 Pro.
The processor is as fast as the latest MacBook Air M2, if not faster. As a bonus, it supports Xbox Game Pass and can handle light games. The most impressive thing about my experience with the Galaxy Book3 Pro is that it never slowed down or overheated, even when I ran over 50 tabs on Microsoft Edge while running Notion, Lightroom, Word and Reader in parallel. VLC. I also did some light video editing and Intel’s Xe graphics held up well.
It also has a decent battery life of six to seven hours. Now that’s not Samsung’s claimed nine hours, and a far cry from the 20 hours that Apple’s ARM-based M-series processors can deliver. But it’s still convenient for most people. I often commuted between South Delhi and Gurugram and even when I was stuck in traffic the laptop did not lose performance on battery power.
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Headache for the Lenovos & HPs of the world
The usual headliners of the Windows laptop ecosystem are Lenovo, Dell, and HP. However, Samsung is flexing its muscles and these incumbents might run into some issues.
The GalaxyBook3 Pro laptop comes with a gorgeous 14-inch AMOLED display. Its colors pop like candy from the panel. It’s usually the type of screen found on Samsung’s Galaxy phones, and it’s rare on laptops because it’s expensive to implement. So it’s no exaggeration to say that this notebook may have the best panel in the segment. I watched Star Trek: Picard (2020) and The Mandalorian (2019), and boy, those sci-fi shows looked great on the notebook.
The keyboard and trackpad are also superb. The chiclet-style springy keys are well-spaced and the roomy trackpad is almost as smooth as the Mac’s, so you’re ready for a great everyday experience. On top of that, there’s a Windows Hello-friendly webcam that works great for Zoom calls. You also get two USB-C ports, a USB A port, an HDMI connector, and an SD card reader. The USB-C connectors can also do 65-watt fast charging with the included charger, which is another handy thing. On a Mac, you wouldn’t have as much flexibility.
It’s the epitome of a portable laptop. The 14-inch model is largely made of aluminum and therefore weighs only 1.17 kg and is 11.3 mm thick, which is sometimes thinner than phones. It leaves behind the Apple MacBook Air in this regard, and even the 12.9-inch iPad Pro, which feels heavier, especially when the Magic Keyboard is added to it.
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Not as solid
Samsung’s latest laptop has a lot to offer, but it’s not without its flaws. First, the laptop’s hinge is too flexible, causing the screen to shake on the desk when someone types frantically. If you use the laptop on the go, the screen will flicker a lot. The screen is also highly reflective, making it less than perfect in direct sunlight. However, the superb brightness levels of the AMOLED screen help to compensate for this.
Overall, the Galaxy Book3 Pro doesn’t feel as solid as products like the Lenovo ThinkPad or MacBook Air. Maybe a little more weight and a few millimeters thicker could have offset that.
With a laptop as thin as the Galaxy Book3 Pro, there’s no way to get good enough speakers. Samsung says the AKG-tuned speakers are great but barely audible. The Galaxy S23 Ultra smartphone has better speakers than the laptop.
Finally, the fingerprint reader is unreliable.
The Samsung Galaxy Book3 Pro costs more than Rs 1,35,000, which makes it more expensive than the Apple MacBook Air M2. The latter has better battery life and better build quality, but offers similar performance. The Samsung laptop offers a better and bigger screen, gaming potential and more flexibility with ports.
Ultimately, the decision will come down to which ecosystem you use. If you’re rooted in Apple’s ecosystem, Macs are obviously going to be very appealing. But let’s say if you have an iPhone but don’t want to use macOS, but prefer Windows, then this laptop makes sense, especially now with Intel’s Unison app, you can synergize your iPhone with a Windows laptop powered by Intel. If you have an Android phone, the Galaxy Book 3 Pro will make more sense. However, creative professionals will likely opt for laptops from Apple because they offer better software.
Sahil Mohan Gupta is Editor-in-Chief, Technology at Acko Drive. Views are personal.
(Editing by Ratan Priya)