First Impressions: Samsung's Galaxy Book S Lakefield is here - Almost 75% brighter thanks to outdoor mode
The Intel version of the Samsung Galaxy Book S for 1129 Euros is slightly more expensive than the recently reviewed ARM version (1099 Euros). The biggest difference is obviously the processor, but there are more changes when you have a closer look and we would have liked to see some of the features on the ARM Galaxy Book S.
At 940 grams, the Intel version of the Galaxy Book S is even slightly lighter, but you will not notice the difference even in a direct comparison. However, the Intel model also comes with the preloaded Samsung settings app, which offers a few useful features. This includes the limitation of the maximum battery charge if you mainly use the device with a power adapter or the outdoor mode for the touchscreen. The screen is basically the same 1080p touchscreen from BOE and the luminance in the center is also comaparable at 380 nits. Once you activate the outdoor mode (via app or Fn+O), however, the maximum luminance is increased by almost 75% to 655 nits. This can be very helpful outdoors in combination with the glossy screen. It will obviously affect the battery runtime as well, but we still have to test this.
Intel Lakefield Hybrid Processor
We have already covered the specs and the performance of the new Lakefield processor in a separate article. Compared to the Snapdragon 8cx processor of the ARM model, the CPU performance is a bit better, but the graphics performance is almost on the same level. The x86 processor is much more convenient in practice since 64-bit apps are supported. While you have to check if there are suitbale versions for the ARM processor, you can just use the Intel Galaxy Book S like a regular laptop.
The subjective performance impression is very good for common tasks. We did not notice any limitations or delays when we installed applications and benchmarks. The Intel CPU is also passively cooled, so there is no annoying fan.
The Intel processor also includes a faster Wi-Fi 6 module (AX200), but Samsung does not include an LTE modem, even though Intel's XMM 7560 is supported by the Lakefield processor. This is a big drawback compared to the ARM version and we cannot really understand this decision for such a mobile device.
Keyboard Illumination and Battery Runtime
Our criticism of the keyboard illumination (in this case white instead of green) also applies for the Intel model. We did find the brightness sensor (which only controls the keyboard illumination) on the Intel model in the lower right display bezel, but the basic problem is the same, because you cannot deactivate the sensor and control the illumination manually. If it is not completely dark, the illumination is just turned off automatically. You can at least change the duration before the illumination is turned off when you do not type. There should be an option to control the illumination manually and not just via sensor.
The Intel model uses a bit more power in almost every scenario, which is also noticeable in the battery runtime. Samsung advertises a lower runtime, and our results so far confirm that: The load test runs for almost 4 hours (without outdoor mode), 2 hours less than the ARM model. The Wi-Fi test at 150 nits is still running, but it should result in about 11-12 hours compared to more than 16 hours for the ARM model.
First Impression - More convenient, but the lack of LTE does not make much sense
Intel's new Lakefield processor is a standard x86 processor, which means it supports 64-bit applications. This means you can just install any application without thinking about the compatibility. The subjective performance impression is okay and the implementation of the Wi-Fi 6 module is definitely good, but we cannot understand the lack of an LTE modem. This means you have to waive a big advantage of the Galaxy Book S ARM. The outdoor mode for the display is also a welcome feature, but we do not know why the ARM model does not get this mode, since it seems to be the exact same 1080p touchscreen.
We will perform our standard benchmarks and measurements over the next couple of days. Besides the performance of the new processor, we are especially eager to see the efficiency and the battery runtimes. We will also check the effects of the outdoor mode for the display.