Samsung unveiled the clearly MacBook-inspired systems ahead of WWDC 2019. Here's a point-to-point comparison between the two systems.
Samsung announced new 13-inch and 15-inch laptops ahead of WWDC 2019 on Monday, a fitting (though slightly curious) timing, considering their visual similarities to and similar build materials as MacBook Pro devices. Naturally, the four newly-introduced Notebook 7 models are shipped with Windows 10, while the exclusivity of OS X is as much a draw for MacBooks—or any other Apple computer—as the hardware itself.
TechRepublic provides a point-by-point comparison of Samsung Notebook 7 vs. MacBook Pro models to help you decide what system is best for your needs.
Samsung's Notebook 7 is equipped with one display option across both sizes—a standard 16:9 1920x1080 panel, available on both the 13.3" and 15.6" variants. Samsung touts it as "a gorgeous glass display in full HD and slim body," with "a high screen-to-body ratio and barely noticeable bezels," in a press release. Curiously lacking is any mention of display type—it is unclear if the Notebook 7 is equipped with an IPS display, which would provide better color reproduction.
For comparison, MacBook Pro displays are 16:10, providing slightly more vertical screen width, often preferred by professionals for ease of use. Likewise, MacBook Pro units are equipped with HiDPI (Retina) displays, for higher pixel densities. The 13.3" MacBook Pro is equipped with a 2560x1600 panel, while the 15.4" model uses a 2880x1800 panel. In addition to the higher pixel density, MacBook displays have a "wide color" (P3) gamut, and 500-nits brightness.
CPU, GPU, and RAM
Samsung opaquely describes the Notebook 7 as being equipped with an 8th-generation Intel Core processor, though provides no specific SKUs. For graphics hardware, the 13" version uses only Intel's UHD integrated graphics, while the 15" version provides the option of an NVIDIA GeForce MX250, offering modest performance increases. The high-end Notebook 7 Force, targeted toward gaming and content creation, is equipped with an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650.
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The 13" MacBook Pro uses Intel's higher-performance Iris Plus 655 graphics hardware, while the 15" MacBook Pro is equipped with AMD Radeon Pro 555X, with software switching to the integrated, lower-power UHD Graphics 630 depending on workload, to conserve battery life. Depending on configuration, the GPU can be upgraded to a Radeon Pro Vega 16 or 20, for higher performance.
For RAM, the Notebook 7 can be equipped with up to 16GB LPDDR3 RAM, and the Notebook 7 Force had one SO-DIMM slot, and either 4GB or 8GB onboard, for up to 24 GB DDR4 RAM. The 13" MacBook Pro can be ordered with either 8GB or 16GB LPDDR3 RAM, while the 15" can be ordered with 16GB or 32GB of DDR4 RAM, though neither are upgradeable after purchase.
Ports, storage, and upgradability
MacBook Pro devices are equipped with four USB-C ports, and a 3.5mm headphone jack. Apple's adoption of USB-C is a point of contention, as existing devices overwhelmingly use standard USB Type-A ports, requiring the use of dongles for plugging in existing devices.
Samsung offers a fuller array of ports, with one USB-C port, two USB 3.0 (Type-A) ports, one HDMI port, and an HDMI port for connecting to a projector or external display. There's also a 3.5mm headphone jack.
The Notebook 7 can be ordered with up to a 512GB NVMe SSD, with one expandable SSD slot available on the 15" models. The Notebook 7 Force adds an additional 2.5" SATA drive bay, allowing for the addition of a traditional platter hard drive.
MacBook Pro units are SSD-only systems, and cannot be upgraded after purchase, though are offered in higher capacities than the Notebook 7. The 13" model can be equipped with a 256GB, 512GB, 1TB, or 2TB SSD, while the 15" model adds the option for a 4TB SSD, at a significant price premium of $2,800.
Weight and battery
Samsung's Notebook 7 series is generally lighter than the MacBook Pro, but is equipped with a smaller battery. The 13" model weighs 1.29 kg (2.84 lbs), with the 15" model weighing in at 1.69 or 1.79 kg (3.72 or 3.94 lbs), for the Intel and NVIDIA GPU models, respectively. The Notebook 7 Force is listed at 1.85 to 1.91 kg (4.07 to 4.21 lbs), depending on configuration. For batteries, the Notebook 7 is equipped with a 55Wh battery, except the Notebook 7 Force, with a smaller 43Wh battery.
MacBooks are just a touch heavier, with the 13" model listed as 1.37 kg (3.02 lb) and 15" model listed as 1.83 kg (4.02 lb) respectively. The 13" and 15" models are equipped with a 58Wh and 83.6Wh battery, providing a longer battery life than the Notebook 7.
The Notebook 7 might win out on price—CNET reports that they will start at $1,000, though the configuration for that price point is unclear. The 13" MacBook Pro starts at $1,299, which is a significant price premium.
MacBook Pro systems do offer higher quality for the price—particularly for display quality—though the lack of aftermarket upgradability stings, considering the pricing Apple demands for more RAM or SSD storage.
Despite a fourth revision, Apple's butterfly keyboards are still a point of concern for potential buyers, as dust-related keyboard failures are an inconvenience, at best. The keyboard on the Notebook 7 is slightly oddly-spaced to accommodate the fingerprint reader, which is (peculiarly, for a PC) not embedded in the touchpad.
For creative workloads—particularly photo and video editing—you might already be invested in the Apple ecosystem. Samsung's Notebook 7 is likely not a compelling alternative in that case. For Windows 10 users, the Notebook 7 could offer a MacBook-like build quality, but aside from that, it is fundamentally a PC.
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