Samsung Galaxy Book 4 Pro Review: A Brutal Reality Check

After almost five years of reviewing laptops, today marks a significant first—a dedicated review of a Samsung laptop, the Galaxy Book 4 Pro 14. Initially,

I planned to cover all the new Samsung laptops, but due to delays, this is the only one that arrived. Let’s delve in and see how well it stacks up against its competitors and whether it’s worth buying.

Spoiler alert: this laptop tries to emulate the MacBook Air but fails on many fronts, especially performance.

Forget the tired trope of laptops as productivity workhorses – reliable, yes, but uninspiring. The Samsung Galaxy Book4 Pro shatters this narrative. It’s a sculptor’s chisel, not a blunt hammer, designed to meticulously craft your digital reality.

Don’t be fooled by its sleek design; within its metallic frame lies a powerhouse built for the modern creative professional.

Think of software development as a symphony. Traditional laptops, often plagued by sluggish processors and limited memory, are like a lone trumpet – capable of melody, but lacking the depth and richness of a full orchestra.

The Galaxy Book4 Pro, on the other hand, boasts a conductor’s baton – the Intel® Core™ i7 processor and cutting-edge graphics card working in perfect harmony to orchestrate complex applications effortlessly.

This translates to seamless multitasking, smooth rendering of intricate designs, and the ability to translate your vision into reality with remarkable fluidity.

Some might scoff, clinging to the outdated notion that serious creative endeavors require bulky desktops.

But the Galaxy Book4 Pro defies this limitation. It’s the virtuoso violinist who performs flawlessly on a compact electric instrument, proving that exceptional power can coexist with stunning portability.

As a graphic designer, on a bustling train journey, effortlessly manipulating intricate 3D models on their Galaxy Book4 Pro.

This is the future of creativity unbound – unleashed from the constraints of stationary workstations.

But the magic of the Galaxy Book4 Pro goes beyond raw muscle. It’s about precision and control. The stunning AMOLED 2X display is your canvas, offering a level of detail and color fidelity that rivals the best artist’s palette.

As a photographer, meticulously color-grading a breathtaking landscape shot, each subtle shift in tone rendered with pinpoint accuracy. This is the difference between a mass-produced print and a signed masterpiece – a testament to the Galaxy Book4 Pro’s ability to elevate your creative workflow.

Now, let’s delve deeper into the realm of software development. The Galaxy Book4 Pro isn’t just about artistic expression; it’s a developer’s dream machine.

As a programmer, wielding the power of AI-powered tools like Samsung Studio, crafting lines of code with the efficiency of a master chef. The Galaxy Book4 Pro becomes an extension of their creativity, streamlining complex tasks and allowing them to focus on the art of building innovative software.

It crams a hot Intel processor into a tiny chassis, resulting in it massively underperforming compared to the Air and every other laptop we’ve tested with the same Intel processor.

Priced around the same as the Air with similar configuration, there’s really no compelling reason to buy this laptop over that one. However, if you’re insistent on a premium Windows laptop for light use, yes, this one is viable. Here’s our full review.

Specifications

  • Processor: Intel Core i7-1360P
  • Graphics: Integrated Intel Iris Xe Graphics
  • Display: 14-inch 2880×1800 AMOLED, 60/120Hz refresh rate
  • RAM: 16GB LPDDR5 (soldered)
  • Storage: 512GB NVMe SSD
  • Ports:
    • 2 x USB-C Thunderbolt 4
    • 1 x HDMI 2.1
    • 1 x USB-A 3.2
    • 1 x MicroSD card reader
    • 1 x Headphone/mic combo jack
  • Battery: 63Wh
  • Weight: 1.23 kg (2.71 lbs)
  • OS: Windows 11 Home

Pros

  • Design and Build Quality:
    • Sleek, minimalistic design with a robust chassis.
    • Moonstone Gray color resists fingerprints.
    • Solid hinge prevents screen wobble during touchscreen use.
  • Display:
    • High-resolution 2880×1800 AMOLED panel.
    • Variable refresh rate of 60 or 120Hz.
    • High color accuracy and wide color gamut.
    • Brightness over 400 nits.
  • Port Selection:
    • Includes modern (Thunderbolt 4) and legacy (USB-A) ports.
    • HDMI 2.1 port supports high resolutions and refresh rates.
  • Battery Life:
    • Decent battery performance with around 12 hours of video streaming.
  • Keyboard and Trackpad:
    • High-quality, precise keyboard with good backlighting.
    • Smooth and accurate trackpad with excellent palm rejection.

Cons

  • Performance:
    • Underwhelming performance in both everyday tasks and high-performance benchmarks.
    • Runs warm with fans constantly active, which can be distracting.
    • Poor graphics performance, struggling even with integrated GPU tasks.
  • Thermal Management:
    • Keyboard deck and underside become uncomfortably hot during use.
    • Loud fan noise during high-performance tasks.

Design and Build Quality

The Galaxy Book 4 Pro 14 boasts a sleek, minimalistic design and a lightweight build, comparable to the MacBook Air.

However, it’s slightly heavier than the ThinkPad X1 Carbon and MSI Prestige 13, making it portable but not the lightest.

The chassis is robust, with no screen flex and minimal keyboard deck flex. The Moonstone Gray color is fingerprint-resistant, adding to its premium look.

One noteworthy feature is the tight hinge, which ensures the screen doesn’t fall back while using the touchscreen. This solid construction gives it a premium feel, comparable to other high-end laptops.

Keyboard and Trackpad

The keyboard is reminiscent of the MacBook Air, offering a precise, high-quality feel but with low travel.

The backlight is bright and illuminates all keys clearly, including secondary functions. The dark-colored keys contrast nicely with the light-colored backlight, making typing in dim environments easier.

The fingerprint reader is integrated into the power button at the top right corner, although this placement displaces the delete key, which is less intuitive.

The trackpad is smooth, accurate, and features excellent palm rejection, but the click is noticeably loud.

This might not be a dealbreaker, but it’s a noticeable difference if you’re used to quieter trackpads.

Display

The display is one of the standout features of this laptop. It’s a 14-inch, 2880×1800 AMOLED panel, which Samsung claims is an advanced version of OLED—thinner, lighter, and more flexible.

It supports a variable refresh rate of 60 or 120 Hz and is highly color accurate with a wide color gamut.

The display achieves brightness levels over 400 nits and has no noticeable screen door effect. However, PWM flickering is present at all brightness levels, a common issue with OLED panels.

Touchscreen

The touchscreen responds well to scrolling and clicking with your finger but does not offer pen support. If pen support is a must for you, consider the 360 version of this laptop.

Ports and Connectivity

Port selection is decent. On the left, it has two USB-C Thunderbolt 4 ports, both supporting charging, and an HDMI 2.1 port capable of 8K at 60Hz or 4K at 120Hz.

On the right, there’s a MicroSD card reader, a USB-A port, and a headphone/mic combo jack.

This mix of ports provides a good balance of legacy and modern connectivity options, although having the Thunderbolt ports on both sides would have been more convenient.

Audio Quality

The speakers are loud with decent bass for a laptop of this size, but overall, they sound lifeless and flat.

Turning on Dolby Atmos made the sound worse, which was disappointing. Compared to the MacBook Air or other premium 14-inch laptops, the speakers fall short.

Webcam and Security

The 1080p webcam performs adequately with no major complaints except for the lack of a physical privacy shutter.

For security, it features a fingerprint reader integrated into the power button, providing quick and secure access.

Performance

Everyday Use

For light tasks like web browsing and word processing, the Galaxy Book 4 Pro 14 is snappy enough.

However, it tends to run warm, and the fans are always active. They aren’t overly loud, but in a silent room, you can sometimes hear them.

I used this laptop for a full day to write a script and found the warmth manageable and the laptop quiet enough. So, your sensitivity to fan noise might vary.

High-Performance Use

This is where the Galaxy Book 4 Pro 14 truly disappoints. Despite being set to its highest performance mode, it significantly underperforms in benchmarks compared to its competitors.

In Geekbench, which tests a variety of common performance tasks, it lags behind the MSI Prestige 13 and MacBook Air 13 with M3.

But things get worse during Cinebench 2024, which maxes out the processor. Here, it underperforms compared to older models like the MacBook Air M2 from two years ago.

The Galaxy Book draws a decent amount of power, more than the Prestige 13, which has the same processor, and significantly more than the MacBook Air. This is surprising because we expect better performance with such power draw.

Repeated tests yielded similar results, and during a 10-minute torture test, it performed better than on a single run. This indicates thermal constraints and how manufacturers throttle the processor’s wattage to manage heat.

During benchmarks, the keyboard deck felt hotter than almost any other laptop, and the underside was ridiculously hot. Fan noise was also loud. For high-performance tasks, this laptop just doesn’t cut it.

Graphics

Graphics performance is equally disappointing. In the Time Spy test, the Galaxy Book 4 Pro 14 struggles against laptops with the same integrated GPU.

It performs so poorly that it’s on par with AMD’s Radeon 780M integrated graphics. Light gaming like League of Legends is feasible, but the laptop gets warm, and there’s noticeable lag when switching back to Windows.

Battery Life

Battery life is a mixed bag. On battery, you can get full performance, but as shown, it isn’t saying much. In a Cinebench loop for 30 minutes, it performed well with 68% battery remaining, which is good given its smaller 63Wh battery.

However, it performed worse than Apple’s MacBook Air, which has an even smaller battery.

For a more realistic test, streaming Netflix over Wi-Fi for four hours, the Galaxy Book had 69% battery remaining, indicating around 12 hours of runtime, but again, the MacBook Air outperformed it.

Upgradability

Upgrading this laptop is challenging. The memory is soldered and maxes out at 16GB for the 14-inch version, with the 16-inch model configurable up to 32GB. Storage upgrades are possible but cumbersome due to hidden screws under the rubber feet.

Samsung Ecosystem Integration

Samsung’s ecosystem integration attempts to mimic Apple’s but falls short. Features like Quick Share often fail to work seamlessly, and the ecosystem doesn’t match Apple’s.

Connecting my Samsung S23 Plus phone to the same Wi-Fi or via Bluetooth didn’t work smoothly with Quick Share, leading to frustration.

Pricing and Value

At $1,450 for the 14-inch model with 16GB of memory and 512GB of storage, the Galaxy Book 4 Pro 14 is priced similarly to the MacBook Air with M3.

Given its performance issues, the MacBook Air is the clear better choice.

Conclusion

The Samsung Galaxy Book 4 Pro 14 is designed to look appealing but falls short in practical use. Samsung focused on superficial aspects like a stunning display and high-quality chassis, but the laptop’s performance and functionality are lacking.

For the same price, the MacBook Air with M3 offers superior performance, battery life, and ecosystem integration.

If you need a premium Windows laptop for light tasks, the MSI Prestige 13 or HP Spectre 14 are better options, offering better performance, lighter builds, and more comfortable keyboards.

The Galaxy Book 4 Pro 14 is a “me too” product that misunderstands what makes the MacBook Air successful—namely, Apple’s M series processors and cohesive ecosystem.

Samsung’s effort to mimic Apple falls short, leaving the Galaxy Book 4 Pro 14 as an overpriced, underperforming alternative in a competitive market.

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