Phone, Smartphone, Notebook and Gadget Reviews and buyers guide

Home > Ultrabook Reviews & Laptop Reviews > Samsung ATIV Book 9 Spin


Samsung ATIV Book 9 Spin

Editor's rating (1-5): rating starrating starrating starrating starrating star

What's Hot: Stunning design, extremely slim and light yet powerful. Lovely display, great trackpad and very good keyboard.

What's Not: A bit expensive, attracts fingerprints.


Reviewed January 11, 2016 by , Editor in Chief (twitter: @lisagade)

Samsung ATIV Book 9 Spin

Samsung doesn't offer many laptop models in the US, and when they do, they're generally stunningly designed high end machines with an attention to assembly and materials that brings to mind luxury sports cars and Apple products. Rumors swirled in 2015 that Samsung was going to abandon their PC efforts, and in fact we didn't see significant new models. Near the end of 2015 Samsung reaffirmed their commitment to making laptops and we saw two new models, our 13.3" Samsung ATIV Book 9 Spin and the 15.6" ATIV Book 9 Pro. The Pro goes after the Dell XPS 15 and 15" Retina MacBook Pro; a new segment for Samsung. The Spin is the ATIV Book 9 Plus and older Series 9 reborn with the popular 360 degree hinge, like those of the Lenovo Yoga models and HP Spectre x360. It competes with the Spectre and Yoga 900 directly, and indirectly with the 13" MacBook Pro with Retina display and even the Microsoft Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book, though it lacks the pen input and detachable keyboard of these two Microsoft products. There are those who buy the Surface Pro and Surface Book simply because they want a light, prestigious and well made laptop, even though they don't need the pen and pure tablet features, and that's where this Samsung competes nicely.

For those who want a traditional laptop without the 360 degree hinge, but prefer something that's insanely light without compromise, there's the spring 2016 Samsung Notebook 9, available in 13 and 15 inch sizes. The 13" weighs just 1.9 lbs. and sells for $999, which the 15" is 2.9 pounds and costs $1,199.

Specs at a Glance

There's only a high end configuration with a $1,399 list price (sometimes discounted to $1,299 at Best Buy, the largest store to offer the ATIV Book 9 Spin). It has an Intel 6th generation Skylake Core i7-6500U clocked at 2.5 GHz with Turbo Boost to 3.1 GHz, 8 gigs of RAM and a 256 gig SSD. Dual band Qualcomm Atheros WiFi 802.11ac, Bluetooth and a lovely QHD+ 3200 x 1800 anti-glare touch screen are standard. The ATIV has Intel 520 integrated graphics (you won't find dedicated graphics on a 13" laptop this thin and light). This is one of the lightest 2-in-1 13.3" convertibles on the market, and it weighs just 2.87 pounds. The recently announced Lenovo Yoga 900s is even lighter, but it runs on the lower power, slower Intel Core M platform.

Design and Ergonomics

If it's still stunning, don't change it. That could be Samsung's motto for their Series 9 and ATIV Book 9 laptops that sport ever slimmer interpretations of a design they created several years ago. I honestly love the look and feel, and have no desire to see them change the industrial design. This is one of the slimmest laptops on the market, and it's just as light as the QHD Dell XPS 13, and that's a traditional laptop without the beefy hinges of a convertible. The Samsung's unibody casing is matte black aluminum alloy with die cut sides for that signature bare aluminum flat cut look on the sides. It's rigid and thin like a Katana and there's absolutely no flex. Samsung's QA on their high end laptops (which is all they make these days) is exacting and impressive. Every major internal component and even the bottom cover had a QA signoff in permanent marker. Not a seam is out of place and there are no sharp edges, not even the straight cut sides. I've dropped ours 2 feet onto a wooden coffee table twice by accident, and it didn't suffer at all--not even a scratch.

The metal bottom cover is affixed with tiny Phillips head screws and it's easy to remove for service and upgrade--there are no annoying plastic clips to fight, the cover apparently doesn't need them to stay perfectly aligned in place. Our only complaint is that the bottom surface is fairly slippery and that combined with the light weight mean the laptop slides on my legs unless my legs are perfectly level. The stereo 2 watt speakers fire from the bottom edge near the curve so they're not quite muffled by a desk or your legs. They're incredibly loud and full for a 13" laptop--Samsung does an excellent job with audio.

The hinges are firm yet you can open the lid with one hand. There's relatively little bounce when using the touch screen thanks to the firm hinges. The hinges rotate 360 degrees so you can use the ATIV Book 9 Spin in laptop, tablet, tent and presentation modes. Whether in tablet, laptop or presentation mode, the ATIV Book 9 Spin keeps cool. There are no bottom vents, rather the vents are along the back edge where the display meets the body, so you won't have to worry about your legs blocking ventilation. We rarely heard the fan unless playing a demanding game like Civ 5. For those who find the Core i7 HP Spectre x360 a little too toasty, the Samsung is a chilly alternative.

Ports are typical for a 13" Ultrabook, with 3 USB 3.0, full size HDMI, 3.5mm audio and a microSD card slot. We'd have liked a USB-C port, but only the bigger ATIV Book 9 Pro gets one. The power button is on the side and there are volume controls on the side as well (for use in tablet mode). The laptop has the usual Fn row multimedia controls with volume, brightness, display output, WiFi on/off and more. The keyboard is backlit in white for good contrast with the black keys and interior. Despite low 1.3mm key travel, I had no trouble typing out several long reviews thanks to nicely damped keys and good tactile feel. It's a very pleasing keyboard. The trackpad is offset to the right relative to the spacebar, and that takes a little getting used to.

The large glass trackpad is superb--every bit as good as the new late 2015 Dell XPS 13, XPS 15 Infinity and the Surface Book. The surface is slicker and quicker than Dell's and is more like the Mac's. It's precise and reliable for cursor movement and two-finger right-clicks and pinch zooming work well.



Samsung's uses thier own PLS (an IPS-like technology) QHD+ panel. They've used an anti-glare coating that's very effective, and it's rare to see a touch screen that's not glossy. The anti-glare coating does reduce black levels a bit, but it's a tradeoff I'll take because glare is such an issue on reflective glossy displays. The 3200 x 1800 panel has 276 PPI, which is high for a laptop and is the same PPI as Microsoft Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book. It's a crisp and sharp looking display and even tiny text is easy to read. Color saturation is excellent and it exceeds 100% of sRGB and covers 86% of Adobe RGB. That's significantly better than the 75% Adobe RGB average in this price segment. Color calibration from the factory is almost perfect, and Samsung has several color modes you can choose from--some derived from their TV heritage.

It's not absolute perfection however, PLS panels don't represent yellows accurately when the laptop is running on battery power (apparently driving the yellows uses more power than other colors, so yellows look dirty or mustardy). When we raised brightness above 60% on battery power, yellows looked good (Windows' folder icons and Sponge Bob both look as they should). When plugged into the AC adapter, yellows are always rendered correctly. So it's livable and easy to work with--if you're a photo or video pro either raise the brightness above 60% or plug in the AC adapter when you need color accuracy. Contrast isn't stellar according to our colorimeter at 450:1, but it's hard to measure on the latest generation PLS displays with dynamic color and contrast. It doesn't look low contrast, in fact it's one of the nicer displays on the market.

Brightness is very high, and our unit hit 377 nits, surpassing Samsung's 350 nit claim. The ATIV Book 9 Spin has an outdoor mode (reminiscent of Samsung Galaxy phones) that boosts brightness to an unusual and insane 700 nits. Outdoor mode combined with the anti-glare coating make the Ultrabook very usable outdoors.


Deals and Shopping:


Samsung ATIV Book 9 Spin Video Review


Samsung ATIV Book 9 Spin vs. Microsoft Surface Pro 4 Comparison

Performance and Horsepower

As mentioned, Samsung only offers a high end configuration with 8 gigs of dual channel DDR3 RAM, a 256 gig M.2 SSD (SATA interface) and the Intel 6th generation Skylake Core i7-6500U clocked at 2.5 GHz. For the price I'd have liked DDR4 RAM for a small performance improvement and a PCIe SSD for even faster drive speeds. Since the SSD slot is accessible for upgrades, you could install a higher capacity SSD, and the slot probably also supports PCIe, but that's an assumption, not a promise. The Samsung performs similarly to other Core i7 dual core 15 watt Ultrabooks of the Skylake generation in benchmarks. Experientially it feels fast thanks to the relatively clean Windows 10 install that has no performance-robbing bloatware unlike HP and Lenovo laptops. It's spritely and it's fast enough for Photoshop with large RAW files, compiling medium size programs and general productivity work. 13" Ultrabooks this slim and light don't have dedicated graphics since there isn't sufficient room for cooling, so Intel HD 520 integrated graphics is your only option. It's strong enough to run Photoshop nicely and Intel graphics handle full HD and higher video playback handily. We had no trouble playing Civ V and Skyrim at 1920 x 1080 (low settings for Skyrim). Ultrabooks with integrated graphics aren't gaming laptops, so don't expect to play Far Cry 4 or Fallout 4 at high frame rates and resolutions.



PCMark 8 Home: 2884
3DMark 11: 1589
Geekbench 3: 3256, multi-core 7001
wPrime: 16 sec.


Battery Life

If you need all day battery life, this isn't your laptop. The Samsung ATIV Book 9 Spin's 39 Whr battery averaged 6 hours of productivity work and streaming video at 40% brightness with WiFi on. That's similar to Microsoft Surface Book 4, but shorter than the lower resolution full HD HP Spectre x360 (HP's high res x360 has similar battery life), 13" Retina MacBook Pro and Surface Book. That's the price we pay for thinness and lightness.

The laptop ships with Samsung's usual very small charger with plenty of cord, and it charges quickly.



The Samung ATIV Book 9 Spin is one of the most elegant, attractive, slim and light 13" Ultrabooks on the market. Despite its incredibly slim design it's also very rigid and strong--no need to baby it. That's pretty much the same thing I said 2 years ago in my Samsung Series 9 and ATIV Book reviews for the non-convertible models. Samsung's still at the top of the heap for industrial design and quality, but I fear their near disappearance from the market in 2015 hurts, and they've dropped from most shoppers' radar. Let's hope great new models like this change that, along with Samsung's more aggressive pricing--you're paying one or two hundred dollars more than some of the competition, while their older laptop lines were often $500 higher. That said, it is cheaper than a similarly equipped Dell XPS 13 ($1,649) or a 13" Retina MacBook Pro ($1,500) and neither of those is a convertible. Still, it's a laptop for those with money to spend who are willing to pay for top notch design, materials and attention to detail. The more affordable HP Spectre x360 is a fine alternative with an also classy chassis and it adds pen capabilities--but it's heavier and bigger and not as slim.

Despite the price, there's a lot to love here. The Spin has a very good matte display that's color accurate and has higher than average gamut, and if you can live with having to raise brightness to get correct yellows, it's a pleasure to use for photo and video editing. Performance is excellent and the machine ships without bloatware. The keyboard has short travel, but it's still one of my favorites thanks to excellent tactile feel and damping. Battery life is thoroughly average at 6 hours, but we'll forgive the ATIV Book 9 Spin because it's so darned light and thin.


Price: $1,399

Related Reviews:

Samsung Notebook 9 Review

HP Spectre x360 Review

Lenovo Yoga 900 Review

Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga 260 Review

Samsung Galaxy TabPro S Review

Razer Blade Stealth Review

Microsoft Surface Pro 4 Review

Microsoft Surface Book Review

Dell XPS 13 Review

13" Retina MacBook Pro Review


blog comments powered by Disqus


Display: 13.3", QHD+ 3200 x 1800 PLS display, anti-glare touch screen. Intel HD 520 integrated graphics. HDMI port.

Battery: 2 cell, 39 Whr Lithium Ion rechargeable.

Performance: 2.5 GHz Intel Skylake 6th generation Core i7-6500U 15 watt processor with Turbo Boost to 3.1 GHz. 8 gigs DDR3 RAM (soldered on, not upgradeable). 256 gig M.2 SSD (SATA interface).

Size: 12.39 x 8.69 x 0.59 inches. Weight: 2.87 pounds.

Camera: 720p webcam.

Audio: Built-in stereo 2 watt speakers, mic and 3.5mm standard stereo headphone jack.

Networking: 2 x 2 Qualcomm Atheros dual band WiFi 802.11b/g/n/ac and Bluetooth 4.1.

Software: Windows 10 Home 64 bit.

Expansion and Ports: 3 USB 3.0 ports, HDMI, 3.5mm audio and microSD card slot.



All Phone Reviews
Smartphone Reviews
Android Phone Reviews
Windows Phone Reviews
HTC Phone Reviews
LG Phone Reviews
Motorola Phone Reviews
Nokia Phone Reviews
Samsung Phone Reviews
Sony Phone Reviews
AT&T Phone Reviews
Sprint Phone Reviews
T-Mobile Phone Reviews
Verizon Phone Reviews
Unlocked GSM Phone Reviews


All Tablet Reviews
Android Tablet Reviews
Tablet Comparisons
Android Tablet Comparisons



Laptop Reviews
Ultrabook Reviews
Laptop Comparisons
Best Ultrabooks



Bluetooth Headsets
iPhone and iPad Accessories
eBook Readers
Camera Reviews

iPhone Game Reviews
iPad Game Reviews

iPhone Case Reviews
iPad Case Reviews


RSS News Feed

About Us

Contact Us


Site Map