At CES 2011, Samsung revealed its answer to the Apple MacBook Air–the Series 9 notebook. This ultrathin laptop has impressive hardware, but it also has an impressive price tag. As of this writing, the 13″ Samsung Series 9 (Model: 900X3A) has a suggested retail price of $1,649.99 (US). The 11″ Series 9 (Model: 900X1A) has a suggested retail price of $1,199.99 (US).
Samsung sent TechRepublic a 13″ Series 9 to test, and I just couldn’t resist taking it apart. I’m glad I did. I discovered that the Series 9’s case is easy to open, it uses quality internal hardware, and you can upgrade the RAM. I only have one real complaint about the Series 9–listed below.
Full teardown gallery: Cracking Open the Samsung Series 9 (13.3-inch) ultraportable notebook
The 13″ Samsung Series 9 has a unique Duralumin case and weighs 2.88 pounds and measures 12.9″ (W) x 8.9″ (D) x ~0.62″ (H).
Our 13″ test machine had the following technical specifications:
- Processor: 1.4GHz Intel Core i5-2537M
- GPU: Intel HD Graphics 3000
- RAM: 4GB DDR3 (8GB max)
- Storage: 128GB Samsung SSD
- Display: 13.3″ LED display (400nit; 1366 x 768 max resolution)
- Battery: 6-cell Lithium, 6300 mAh (up to 7 hours of battery life)
- Ports: Micro HDMI, Ethernet (requires dongle), 1 USB, 2 USB, Micro DS Card slot, headphone jack, mic-in jack
- Speakers: 3W Stereo speakers with HD audio
- Camera: 1.3MP HD webcam (optional)
- Input device: Touch pad (supports multitouch)
- Wireless: 802.11 b/g/n WiFi and Bluetooth V3.0 High Speed
- Warranty: 3-year
- Operating system: Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit)
Internal hardware and chips
- 128GB Samsung SATA II SSD - MZMPA128HMFU-00000
- Samsung 4GB DDR3 SODIMM M471B5273CH0-CH9
- Broadcom 4324A-BRCM1048 802.11b/g/n WLAN+BT PCI-E Mini Card
- Intel Core i5-2537M Processor (3M Cache, 1.40 GHz)
- Intel BD82HM65 Platform Controller Hub (PCH)
- Realtek RTL811E Integrated Gigabit Ethernet Controller for PCI Express Applications
- Texas Instruments TS3L500AE 16-bit to 8-bit SPDT Gigabit LAN switch (markings TK500AE)
- SMSC MEC1310 Keyboard and embedded controller
- NEC USB 3.0 controller (D720200AF1)
- Macronix MX25L5121E 512Kb CMOS Serial Flash Memory
- SMSC EMC2112 Fan controller (link to newer EMC2113)
- Parade PS810 HDMI/DVI Level Shifter
- Synaptics T1320A Touchpad controller
- Realtek ALC269 - High Definition Audio Codec with Embedded Class D Speaker Amplifier
- Genesys Logic GL823 USB 2.0 SD/MMC Flash Card Reader single chip
- Intersil ISL95831 3+1 Voltage Regulator for IMVP-7/VR12 CPUs
- Intersil ISL6255 Highly Integrated Battery Charger with Automatic Power Source Selector for Notebook Computers
- Alpha & Omega AON6786 30V N-Channel MOSFET
- Alpha & Omega AON6912A 30V Dual Asymmetric N-Channel MOSFET
- Advanced Power Electronics AP0803GMT-HF 30V 50 A Single N-channel Power MOSFET
- Texas Instruments TPS54319 2.95-Vto6-VInput, 3-AOutput, 2-MHz, Synchronous Step-Down
- Switcher With Integrated FETs
Cracking Open observations
The Series 9’s Duralumin case is sturdy, but it doesn’t offer the same rigidity as the MacBook Air’s unibody aluminum enclosure.
The Series 9 uses standard Phillips screws both inside and outside the case. This fact meant I didn’t need to constantly swap driver bits during the teardown or purchase a special screwdriver.
Unlike the MacBook Air (2010), the Series 9 uses standard DDR3 SODIMM DRAM chips. The Series 9’s motherboard has two, 204-pin SODIMM slots and can support up to 8GB of RAM. The MacBook Air’s 2GB of Elpida 1066MHz DDR3 SDRAM was soldered to the machine’s motherboard. I was glad to see that our test machine came with a single 4GB chip. This allows you to upgrade the RAM by purchasing a second 4GB chip. Too many PC manufacturers fill their machine’s memory slots with low-density chips, which forces you to buy all new chips when upgrading the RAM.
My only real complaint with the Series 9 is its GPU. Samsung used the Intel Core i5-2537M processor’s integrated Intel HD Graphics 3000 technology. For the Series 9’s price tag, I would have preferred it to use a separate GPU, such as the MacBook Air’s NVIDIA GeForce 320M.
Stay tuned for our full review
TechRepublic’s Jason Hiner will put the Samsung Series 9 through its paces next week and writing a full review–provided I can put it back together.