Apple MacBook Pro Retina 13in Vs Samsung Ativ Book9 Plus

1/16/2014 9:33:48 AM

A small but increasing number of laptops now have super-high-resolution screens far in excess of 1080p. Two of the latest models that come into this category are the Apple MacBook Pro with Retina 13in and the Samsung Ativ Book 9 Plus, which runs Windows 8.1. Both are great laptops and give us a taste of what we can expect as these super-high-resolution screens become the norm on other, cheaper laptops in the future.


On paper, the Ativ Book trounces the MacBook when it comes to resolution, the Ativ Book’s 13.3in screen has a resolution of 3200x1800 pixels, while the MacBook has 2560x1600 pixels.

However, there are more Mac OS X than Windows programs optimized for those levels of resolution. While the Mac versions of Chrome and Photoshop CC are optimized, the Windows versions are not. the Mac’s advantage even extends to the free, bundled software - Apple’s iWork and iLife suites are optimized, but Samsung only bundles one optimized program - the basic S PhotoStudio. Both Microsoft Office 2011 for Mac and Office 2013 for Windows are optimized, though. Non-optimized programs have incredibly tiny, blurry text and icons in their interfaces, making them difficult to use.

Apple MacBook Pro Retina 13in


Both the Ativ Book and the MacBook have 13.3in screens with excellent image quality. Both screens are very bright and, thanks to their extreme clarity, text looks incredibly crisp -almost as though it were painted onto the screen. Photos are vibrant with rich colors and even the smallest details are rendered clearly visible, the Ativ Book’s screen is a tad brighter, but also a little grainier.

Ativ Book’s screen is a tad brighter, but also a little grainier

WINNER: MacBook Pro Both screens have equally good image quality, but the MacBook’s superior software optimization edges it, even though its screen has fewer pixels than the Ativ Book.

Build quality and weight

Both laptops are pretty thin and made of sturdy, rigid metal that give them a classy appearance, the curvy Ativ Book is dark blue with a shiny silver trim, while the MacBook is all minimalist black glass and bare metal. It’s a Mather of Taste, and though it’s close, we prefer the Ativ Book’s look, the MacBook does have a sturdier screen hinge though - the Ativ Book’s hinge wobbled when we dumped some heavy books next to it on a table.

the Ativ Book weighs 1.4kg, which is 200g lighter than the MacBook, but the difference becomes negligible if the chargers are added to the load - the Ativ Book weighs 1.7kg while the MacBook is only slightly heavier at 1.8kg.


There’s nothing to separate the two when it comes to build quality and weight.

MacBook is only slightly heavier at 1.8kg

Performance and battery life

The Ativ Book and the MacBook both come with 4GB of memory and 128GB SSDs as standard, but only the MacBook is customizable. You can do this when ordering online by adding more memory and storage if you need to. Ms is handy, as both laptops are very difficult to upgrade yourself.

The MacBook’s 2.4GHz Intel Core i5 4288U processor sounds like it should be significantly faster than the Ativ Book’s 1.6GHz Core i5 4200U processor, and in our benchmark tests the MacBook was indeed 10 per cent quicker, the MacBook also has a faster graphics chip. Its Intel Iris 5100 integrated graphics chip played new 3D games with detailed graphics smoothly, whereas the Ativ Book’s Intel HD 4400 chip struggled unless graphics detail was significantly reduced.

MacBook was indeed 10 per cent quicker

The MacBook also has far longer battery life. When scrolling through documents constantly, its battery lasted an unbelievable 21 hours, while the Ativ Book died after a very respectable 13 hours 45 minutes. We were so astonished, we repeated the test with the same results. In a more demanding continuous video-playback test, the MacBook lasted nine and a half hours, with the Ativ Book only managing five hours 15 minutes.

WINNER: MacBook Pro Its battery life and 3D performance easily beats the Ativ Book’s.

Command and control

The Ativ Book has a touchscreen, unlike the MacBook. We’re not fond of touchscreens on laptops. Even though this one is very responsive, using an upright touchscreen at arm’s length for long periods induced aches and pains.

MacBook’s touchpad goes even further

Both the MacBook and Ativ Book have excellent keyboards, with large keys that give plenty of feedback when pressed and light up so you can use them in darker conditions. Although the Ativ Book’s keys give more feedback, we preferred the MacBook’s keys, which have more travel. It’s a similar story with the touchpads. Both are large, accurate and very responsive, have built-in buttons and support basic multi-touch gestures such as pinch to zoom, the Ativ Book’s touchpad also replicates a number of Windows 8.1’s touchscreen gestures, such as swiping in from the right to activate the Charms bar. But the MacBook’s touchpad goes even further, supporting a wider range of gestures, such as swiping with two fingers to go backwards or forwards in a web browser, and swiping upwards with three fingers to see an overview of all your open programs.

WINNER: MacBook Pro It was tight in this category, but the MacBook’s wider range of slick touchpad gestures clinches it.


The MacBook has a more flexible range of ports and connections, the Ativ Book runs 802.11n Wi-Fi, while the MacBook has the faster 802.11ac. the Ativ Book features a micro HDMI port, so you’ll need an adapter if you want to connect most monitors and TVs. the MacBook has a full-size HDMI port.

The Ativ Book uses Samsung-specific miniature VGA and Ethernet ports, so although an Ethernet adapter is included in the box, a VGA adapter will cost you £20 (

The MacBook doesn’t have either VGA or Ethernet ports, but it does have two thunderbolt 2 ports, which are very flexible as far as what they can connect to. Ethernet, VGA and other adapters are available for these ports for $40 each ( You can also use the thunderbolt ports to connect to incredibly fast thunderbolt hard drives and SSDs. You can connect two additional monitors to the MacBook, but only one to the Ativ Book.

WINNER: MacBook Pro

The faster Wi-Fi and versatile thunderbolt

Ports make Apple’s laptop the winner.


Apple MacBook Pro Retina 13in

·         2.4GHz Intel Core i5 4288U dual-core processor

·         4CB memory

·         128GB SSD

·         Intel Iris integrated graphics

·         13.3in 2560x1600-pixel screen

·         802.11a/b/ g/n/ac

·         MacOS X 10.9 Mavericks

·         1.6kg weight (1.8kg with charger)

·         18x123x219mm (H x W x D)

·         One-year warranty

Samsung Ativ Book9 Plus

·         1.6GHz Intel Core Ì5 4200U dual-core processor

·         4GB memory

·         128GB SSD

·          Intel HD 4400 integrated graphics

·         13.3in 3200x1800-pixel screen

·         802.11a/b/ g/n "Windows 8.1

·         1.4kg weight (1.7kg with charger)

·         14x320x223mm (H x W x D)

·         One-year warranty


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