I want a Samsung Ultrabook...but which version do I want???
March 3, 2013 8:35 AM   Subscribe

Argh! I've spent half a day agonizing about this. I'm on a budget, I need a new laptop, I do not want to cheap out and then regret it, but I don't want to pay for stuff I don't need.

My priorities are: very thin, very light, excellent screen, nice keyboard, fast, good-looking. I will be using it mostly for accessing legal databases, surfing the net, email, and...that's about it, really. (No gaming whatsoever, very little multimedia stuff.)

I have decided to go with the Samsung Series 9 15" (please take it as a given that I do not want any other brand, and I do not want a Mac). Today, I hit up a few local computer superstores. It appears that my choices are: the NP900X4C-AO5AU for $1648, or the NP900X4C-AO6AU for $1399. (I'm in Australia, hence the model numbers and exorbitant prices.) As far as I can tell, the main difference is that the cheaper model only has 4G of RAM, and the pricier one has 8G. There are other differences that I'm forgetting, but I'm thinking that since they both have all my 'main criteria', I should just save $249 and buy the older, cheaper model?

I don't know enough about computers to know whether this is a bad idea. Given my requirements, am I really likely to need more than 4G anyway?? I'm not loading the thing up with a ton of music and photos and videos, or anything. Or running many programs on it (like, at all).

Any advice much appreciated...I'm floundering here.
posted by Salamander to Computers & Internet (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
You may not need more RAM right now, but you may want at least the ability to add more if your needs change -- I can't find the second model, but do you know what the total RAM capacity is?
posted by sm1tten at 9:01 AM on March 3, 2013

Take the cheaper model. It will do everything you'll need it to do. I have a Samsung laptop myself. The build quality is very good and the specs are more than enough for the type of use you describe.
posted by Orchestra at 9:24 AM on March 3, 2013

More RAM future-proofs your computer a bit, but 4 Gb of RAM is enough to smoothly run Windows 7 or 8. And down the road, if you find you need more, you could just install extra RAM yourself (or get a techy friend to help you). It will cost much less than $250.
posted by bluefly at 9:32 AM on March 3, 2013

I found this article helped me narrow down my options.
posted by invisible ink at 1:50 PM on March 3, 2013

Thanks for the answers - invisible ink, that article really was very helpful!

A new spanner in the works: apparently a new Samsung ultrabook is being released 'after Easter' (?). The guy in the store that is currently selling the cheaper Series 9 seemed to imply that prices on all the current models will come down after that. He pretty much told me NOT to buy one right now!

The thing is...whenever you buy a computer, a better/cheaper model will come out within a few months...right? And the one you just bought will then be cheaper...right? So, by that logic, the cheaper one I'm looking at today, was someone else's 'ultimate machine' last year, and one's computing needs don't change that quickly, so.....
posted by Salamander at 8:21 PM on March 3, 2013

Agreed that if you are on any kind of budget the thing to do is to get the smaller amount of RAM and do the upgrade yourself later if you need it. You will probably save about $200 that way, and you may well find that 4GB is plenty for your purposes. (The amount of RAM you need has more to do with what kind of programs you want to run and how many things you want to be able to do at once than with the amount of media you want to store on the computer, by the way.)

So if the only difference between the two models is $250 and 4GB of RAM, and if you are on a budget, hold onto that $250.

Also, there is never a good time to buy a new computer. You are right that upgrades come along so fast that if you wait a month you will probably be able to get a somewhat nicer computer for the same money, or the same computer for a bit less. The question becomes, when do you really need your laptop?

It's always best to wait for as long as you can, for the reason that you describe. You can't wait forever, though! Put off buying your new laptop for as long as possible, but realize that the upgrade treadmill churns eternally so if you are trying to wait for the perfect time then you will be waiting forever. Eventually you just need to buy a new laptop, and you should take whatever the best deal you can get is at that time.

Also realize that if you keep putting it off long enough you will no longer have the option of a Windows 7 laptop, but will instead be forced to buy a Windows 8 machine. A lot of people have been saying that Windows 8 is noticeably worse than Windows 7, for what that's worth, and that it might be a version of Windows that's worth skipping. Might be worth taking that into consideration.
posted by Scientist at 11:29 PM on March 3, 2013

I'm not sure about those Samsungs, but be a bit careful about "upgrading the RAM later". More and more ultrabook-type laptops are coming with RAM soldered to the motherboard and cannot be upgraded. For what it's worth, the Samsung AU website says that the A05 comes with twice the RAM, plus a bigger SSD and a faster CPU. I'd pay the extra $250 just for the bigger SSD. Here is the comparison.

Samsung have certainly announced some nice models that will be out shortly though. (And Windows 8 is fine).
posted by markr at 5:15 PM on March 5, 2013

I'm not sure about those Samsungs, but be a bit careful about "upgrading the RAM later". More and more ultrabook-type laptops are coming with RAM soldered to the motherboard and cannot be upgraded.

That's true of some Samsung series 9 (the smaller ones can't be upgraded), but the 15" models listed in the post do allow for user upgrade of RAM; it has normal memory slots -- no soldering to motherboard. But it's a good point to watch out for, especially if you are considering buying a future model. (I just got a new laptop a few weeks ago, and Windows 8 is fine for me, too).
posted by bluefly at 8:04 AM on March 6, 2013

I went with the cheaper model and I absolutely love it! It's a pleasure to use, and the battery life and screen are even better than I expected. Thanks for all the advice!
posted by Salamander at 9:08 PM on April 2, 2013

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