Does your daily workload entail graphics-heavy tasks? Are you both a gamer as well as a creative person? Are you also someone who needs something sleek and powerful? If you tick those boxes, I have something for you.
I recently got the 16-inch Samsung Galaxy Book3 Ultra for review. Straight off the bat: this is a powerhouse of a laptop. Like the Galaxy S23 Ultra smartphone, this laptop defines “Ultra”. It’s got a dedicated GPU, a large and expansive 16-inch display, seamless integration with other Galaxy devices, excellent battery life and much more. Add to that a lightweight design that doesn’t bog down your laptop bag and you’ve got a winner on your hands.
What’s inside the “Ultra” laptop? Here is a brief look at the specifications of this laptop.
Display: 16-inch 3K AMOLED (2880x1800) with a 120Hz refresh rate and 201 PPI; Processor: Intel’s 13th-gen Core i7-13700H or i9-13900H; GPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX4050 (6GB) or 4070 (8GB); RAM: 16GB or 32GB; Storage: 512GB or 1TB; Camera: 1080p Connectivity: WI-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.1, USB-A, 2x Thunderbolt 4, headphones, microSD, HDMI2.0; Weight: 1.79kg.
That stunning 16-inch 3K OLED display, with a smooth 120Hz refresh rate, is the star of the show. As with smartphones, Samsung is also on top of the display game here. It’s possibly one of the best displays on a laptop. It’s got accurate and punchy colours, good colour contrast, and deep blacks. The display has a peak brightness of 500 nits, which means that outdoor legibility shouldn’t be a problem. If you like to consume media or play games, then you’re in for a visual treat.
There’s a 1080p webcam above the display that is worthy of being in an “Ultra” device. The images are crisp and especially sharp over a video call. There’s a Studio Mode camera software that includes auto-framing. This ensures that you stay in the frame if you move around. It also includes background effects like the blur filter.
There is a backlit keyboard that is comfortable to type on with good travel and tactile response. This isn’t a gaming keyboard, however, since gamers would want a lot more feedback, but for writing this is good enough. It’s basically a full-size productivity keyboard that comes with a number pad. The power button in the top right corner doubles as a fingerprint reader, which is fast and accurate.
The thing that irked me was the off-centre touchpad. Samsung has centred the Ultra’s gigantic touchpad and it doesn’t cover the entire keyboard. Palm rejection is good though. I also had a problem where the cursor would suddenly start moving very slowly, almost to a point where it was unusable. A restart usually fixed it, but it happened on numerous occasions. On a third reset of the laptop, the issue seems to have been fixed. One more thing to note is that this isn’t a haptic touchpad. The top part of the touchpad is a dead zone (where you can’t click).
If you have a Galaxy smartphone and/or tablet then you get the advantage that the ecosystem provides (just like Apple does).
There’s Multi Control, wherein you can control your S23 with the Galaxy Book3 Ultra’s keyboard and trackpad. I’m not sure in which scenario you’d want to do this, but for what it’s worth, it works perfectly fine.
There’s also Quick Share (basically Samsung’s version of Apple’s AirDrop) where you can transfer photos, videos, documents and other files between Galaxy smartphones and laptops. Using Expert RAW, you can automatically upload those RAW files to the laptop.
Just hit the F1 key and you get all the setup options. There’s an Easy Bluetooth connection, to connect your Galaxy Buds earbuds.
Once you connect a Galaxy phone to your laptop (with the Phone Link app), you can access your calls, messages, notifications, photos and apps. The last one is crucial here as it only works with a Galaxy smartphone. Basically, any app can be launched on the Galaxy Book3 Ultra and be used.
The day-to-day performance of the Galaxy Book3 Ultra was fantastic. I had absolutely no lag or stuttering when launching apps, running multiple Google Chrome tabs, playing videos/Spotify in the background and running Adobe Photoshop.
The laptop breezed through Adobe Photoshop tasks thanks to the discrete GPU. During the stress test of the laptop, the fans never got too loud and the chassis was never uncomfortably hot. That’s a good sign for a laptop of this stature.
Gamers though, may be slightly disappointed. The Galaxy Book3 Ultra lagged behind gaming laptops from Asus and Lenovo, delivering fewer frames per second in major games and also throttling faster than those competing laptops.
I was very impressed by the set of four speakers as there was very little distortion at higher volumes. It got loud and was crisp with good clarity. The microphones were also very good as my voice was clear and audible to everyone else on various video calls.
The battery life was above average. I got about eight hours on a day where I did a lot of work and a little bit of downtime. With a mixed usage of typing out articles, attending meetings via video calls and watching a movie, the laptop easily got me through an entire day. Naturally, the laptop died much quicker when I was gaming. This laptop doesn’t have the best battery life out there but it’s definitely top-tier. There’s a 100W charger that can juice up the battery to full in about 70-75 minutes.
The Galaxy Book3 Ultra will certainly please a lot of Samsung fans out there. Building an ecosystem isn’t easy and Apple is miles ahead of the competition. Nonetheless, Samsung has done a commendable job of incorporating all its products to provide the best for Galaxy fans.
Currently, the Galaxy Book3 Ultra is retailing for ₹2,81,990 on Samsung’s website. Personally, that’s too much money for what this laptop delivers. Most people would instantly think this laptop to be slightly overpriced. They wouldn’t be wrong.
There’s a lot of positives for the Galaxy Book3 Ultra. From a fantastic OLED display to great productivity performance and from a large selection of ports to seamless integration with other Galaxy devices -- the laptop delivers on most fronts.
Still, at almost ₹3 lakh, this laptop cannot be an outright recommendation. Gamers can look elsewhere as they’ll get better-specced laptops for similar, if not cheaper, prices. The Galaxy Book3 Ultra is thinner and lighter than almost all gaming laptops and that’s its big advantage.
Sahil Bhalla is a Delhi-based journalist. He posts @IMSahilBhalla.