Apple’s 2015 Macbook (Sans Pro this time) is one sexy machine and we’ve decided to put it up against some of the tightest looking Windows laptops, the Samsung Ativ Book 9, the 12 inch version.
We’ve long been a fan of the 12 inch form factor, pushing the size up from the standard 11.6 inch actually adds a level of usability when attempting to multitask and maximize your screen real estate. In the Windows world 11.6 inch devices haven’t gotten the same kind o specification love as Apple’s Macbook Air (if you’re after a comparison of the Macbook (2015) and the Macbook Air (2015), we’ve got that for you). But the 12 inch form factor hasn’t been ignored by Windows and Samsung who has long made some of the best built laptops on the market for the past few years now, actually beat Apple to the 12 inch fanless ‘Retina’ notebook.
Let’s take a closer look at how these two devices stack up.
|Macbook (2015)||Samsung Ativ Book 9|
|OS||OS X||Windows 8.1|
|CPU||Intel Core M||Intel Core M 5Y31|
|Screen||12.” 2304 x 1440 pixels||12.2″ 2560 x 1600 pixels|
|RAM/Storage||8GbRAM, 256GB, 512 storage||8GB, 128, 256 & 512GB storage|
|Graphics||Intel HD Graphics 5300||Intel HD Graphics 5300|
|WiFi||802.11ac Wi-Fi wireless networking; IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n compatible||802.11ac Wi-Fi wireless networking; IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n compatible|
|Connectivity||USB C or USB 3.1 Gen 1 (up to 5 Gbps) which also provides HDMI & Digital AV Multiport by adapters; Native DisplayPort 1.2 video output||2 x USB 3.0 * Mini HDMI port|
|Features||Keyboard backlit with each key housing individual LEDs||Backlit Keyboard seems to depend on region|
|Weight||2.03 pounds||2.06 pounds|
|Size||11.04 x 7.74 x 0.14-0.52||11.19 x 8.37 x 0.46 inches|
|Battery||39.7 watt hour||?? – battery life claim identical at 10.5hours|
Display – High Definition Goodness For All
Samsung has long made some of the best notebooks on the market, so that they came out with a 12 inch device with a screen resolution of 2560 x 1600 and a brightness of 700nits already makes it a force to be reckoned with.
Apple’s Macbook is the newest addition to their line up and it’s 12 inch display is 2304 x 1440 and is super thin, 0.14 inches across it’s thinnest wedge (0.52 across the rear).
Where the Macbook will fall ahead is potentially in display brightness. It’s not clear how many nits their display will offer, but they do claim that they will achieve the same level of brightness using 30% less power. This means their display should be around 300nits as that is what the Macbook Pro 2014 13″ edition measured in at. This means the Ativ Book 9 has the potential to be twice as bright and offer a matte display which would make it the superior device for outdoor visibility. There is also a slight size difference, the Macbook is 12 inches and the Ativ Book 9 12.2 inches.
Sticking to your Design Language
The Macbook (2015) has got Apple’s classic Air design but it’s thinner at its thickest point it’s just 13.1mm thin which is 24 percent thinner than the current 11-inch Macbook Air. The Samsung Ativ Book 9 has the same lines found in the series, but one huge difference, this one is made of aluminum. This is the first in the line to opt for a metal finish over plastic.
Design wise the Macbook seems to draw a little bit from the iPhone or iPad line with it’s rounder corners and it’s thinness really helps to drive home this comparison. The Macbook measures in at 11.04 x 7.74 x 0.14-0.52″ which is 13.1mm thick. The Ativ Book 9 is 11.19 x 8.37 x 0.46″ or a thinner 11.6mm.
Samsung has never disappointed with their keyboards, the travel on they keys was always substantial and the spacing perfect. Apple has always delivered on their keyboards and have upped the ante a little by making their key’s 17% larger and as you can see in the photo, they’ve got a fantastic edge to edge keyboard design. HP has delivered similar experiences in the past on their netbooks and it’s a shame they never took that innovation anywhere else. Kudos to Apple for making use of all the available surface area.
There are some cool add ons that deserve a mention. The new MacBook comes with the new Force Touch trackpad, which allows you to perform shortcuts when you put more force into a click. The new butterfly mechanism on the keyboard also makes for a better typing experience. The MacBook Air also happens to have more bleeding light from the keys, as the new MacBook has a single LED light in each key, as opposed to using the same light source.
Performance – Ultra Thin Means Intel’s Core M
What both devices have in common is that they’re both running Intel’s Core M. It’s not like other comparison’s that we’re making between Core Series devices. Core M is a fanless and allows for the devices to be super thin, it also however, means that this is a cut on performance which you get back in battery life of course.
In a side by side however, since Apple’s Macbook comes with 8GB of RAM as standard, it will be snappier than the Ativ Book 9 that is sporting 4GB as it’s base configuration. And since it’s Apple was can only guess that they’ve done a better job at optimizing OS X than Windows 8.1 has. As a Windows Users I have to admit that the resolution scaling has only recently become less annoying, Apple would never let such glitches happen on their devices, that’s the beauty of only having a few devices to optimize for..Windows has an entire ecosystem of partners to try to wrangle in. We’re going to have to wait until the performance tests start coming in, but my gut tells me that the history of Intel’s work with Apple is going to yield some superior results.
Graphics wise if you’d like to learn more about Intel’s Core M the Notebookcheck guys have done a very detailed analysis on Intel’s HD5300 graphics which both devices support. The bottom line is, if you are planning on doing any graphics work or gaming, you should consider the Core i series Macbook Air or the Macbook Pro. Both deliver higher performance in terms of graphically intensive activities.
Here is an excerpt from the overall NotebookCheck analysis:
Depending on the specific CPU, the maximum GPU frequency varies between 800 and 900 MHz. Due to the very low TDP, however, the average clock in 3D applications will be significantly lower. Therefore, the HD 5300 just barely outperforms the old HD 4000 or HD 4200, but requires much less energy for the same performance.
This means that the HD4400 graphics found in the 2014 Macbook Air, whose graphics have higher performance gains than the HD 4000 or HD 4200 discussed above. That’s not to say that the average user will be disappointed, but that the user of the Macbook (2015) shouldn’t have intense graphic requirements.
Apple Pushing the Industry Forward with USB C
At first glance you might think that Apple is going to route of pushing proprietary connectors on you, and well you might be right, but USB C is the future and Apple just got there first. They’re able to reduce the number of ports on the device by having the ports they’ve included dfo everything. Samsung has 2 USB 3.0 ports which is good, you can connect an extra display and transfer documents quickly, but USB C can do so much more. USB C can handle up to 5 Gbps transfer speeds and this ability leads to the port also being able to handle HDMI & Digital AV Multiport as well as Native DisplayPort 1.2 video output. You’re going to need adapters for these activities, but in theory you’ll be able to use the USB C connector in any device (unless Apple does something special to the dongles they sell).
Pricing and Final Thoughts
Both brands are known of their exceptional keyboards, solid build quality and vibrant displays. Where Samsung pulls ahead in my books is that the display can often be found in matte which is great for outdoor visibility. When it comes to pricing, the surprising thing is that Apple actually is more competitive in terms of storage, the 256GB edition will cost you $1,299 while the Ativ Book 9 12″ costs you $1,399 on Amazon you can pick up a 128GB Ativ Book 9 for $1,199.
If you’re looking for a Windows equivalent of the Macbook (2015) you’ve got a fierce competitor here. The higher storage capacities on the Macbook could sway some people, but for me I might venture to the Macbook purely because of the USB C connector, as a technology journalist I’m curious to understand how things would change for me when I can’t plug in a USB anymore. The bridge between a new and old system is here, if you don’t want to live on that bleeding edge, then I would choose the Samsung Ativ Book 9. You’re either going to be all in all Apple’s cloud infrastructure or have to always have a USB C to USB adapter with you at all times…just in case.