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Samsung Galaxy Book 3 Ultra vs. MacBook Pro 16-inch

Apple’s MacBook Pro 16 has emerged as one of the best laptops you can buy in the 16-inch class. It’s incredibly well-built, elegantly designed, superfast and efficient, and has the best keyboard and touchpad on a laptop today. It’s a hard machine to compete with outside of its high price.

But that didn’t stop Samsung from pushing out the Galaxy Book 3 Ultra, which is stocked with fast Intel and Nvidia components and aimed at providing a competitive but lighter 16-inch machine. The Galaxy Book3 Ultra looks good on paper, but can it compete with the MacBook Pro 16?

Specs

Samsung Galaxy Book 3 Ultra Apple MacBook Pro 16
Dimensions 14.0 x 9.86 x 0.65 inches 14.01  x 9.77 x 0.66 inches
Weight 3.91 pounds 4.8 pounds
Processor Up to Intel 13th-gen Core i9 Apple M2 Pro
Apple M2 Max
Graphics Nvidia RTX 4050
Nvidia RTX 4070
Integrated Apple GPU
RAM 16GB
32GB
16GB
32GB
64GB96GB (M2 Max)
Display 16.0-inch 16:10 OLED 2X 3K (2,880 x 1,800) at 120Hz 16.2-inch 16:10 Liquid Retina XDR (3456 x 2234) at 120Hz
Storage 512GB SSD
1TB SSD
512GB SSD
1TB SSD
2TB SSD
4TB SSD
8TB SSD
Touch No No
Ports 2 USB-C with Thunderbolt 4
1 USB-A
1 HDMI 2.0
1 3.5mm audio jack
1 x microSD card reader
3 x USB-C 4 with Thunderbolt 4
1 x HDMI 2.0
1 x 3.5mm audio jack
1 x SD Card reader
Wireless Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.1 Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.2
Webcam 1080p 1080p
Operating system Windows 11 MacOS Monterey
Battery 76 watt-hour 100 watt-hour
Price $2,400+ $2,499+
Rating Not yet reviewed 5 out of 5 stars
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Design

The Galaxy Book 3 Ultra and MacBook Pro 16 are almost exactly the same size in width, depth, and thickness. The Samsung is considerably lighter, though, at almost a pound less. That might matter to you, depending on how you plan to use the device, but for many people, a pound isn’t going to make a huge difference.

Both laptops are constructed of aluminum, but we haven’t had a chance to fully check out the Galaxy Book 3 Ultra’s build quality. Samsung makes solid devices, so we’re sure it’s robust, but it has a high standard to meet in competing with the MacBook Pro 16. Apple’s high-end laptops are universally rigid, with unibody CNC machine chassis and lids that resist all bending, flexing, and twisting.

Aesthetically, the Galaxy Book 3 Ultra sports a minimalist design in a Slate color scheme with different lines, but is no more complex than the equally minimalist MacBook Pro 16 that comes in Silver and Space Gray. Both are straightforward and elegant designs that aren’t meant to draw attention, and both are attractive.

Samsung Galaxy Book 3 Ultra next to a Samsung Galaxy S23.
Joe Maring/Digital Trends

We know that the Magic Keyboard on the MacBook Pro 16 is the best you can get on a laptop today, with shallow keys that are nevertheless snappy, precise, and consistent across every key. We haven’t tested the Galaxy Book 3 Ultra’s keyboard yet, so we’ll have to wait to see how it compares. The MacBook Pro 16’s very large Force Touch haptic touchpad is also the best around, with a precise response across the entire surface and realistic virtual clicks. The Galaxy Book 3 Ultra’s mechanical touchpad is also large, and we’ll report back on its responsiveness once we’ve had a chance to test it.

Connectivity is mixed, with the MacBook Pro 16 having one more Thunderbolt 4 port while the Galaxy Book3 Ultra throws in a legacy USB-A port. The MacBook benefits from a full-size SD card reader compared to the microSD version in the Samsung, and both laptops have the latest wireless connectivity.

Logging in without a password is easy on both laptops, with fingerprint readers embedded in their respective power buttons. And both laptops offer different tools to link up with and interact with each company’s smartphones and tablets.

Performance

The new MacBook Pro seen from the side.
Luke Larsen / Digital Trends

The MacBook Pro 16 has been updated with Apple’s new M2 Pro and M2 Max CPUs, which are incremental but meaningful updates over the M1 versions. The M2 Pro and Max have more CPU and GPU cores than their predecessors, and promise meaningful performance improvements over what was already a class-leading laptop. The MacBook Pro 16 with the M1 Max has the highest laptop score in our PugetBench Premiere Pro benchmark database, demonstrating real-world performance advantages over equivalent Intel Windows laptops.

The Galaxy Book 3 Ultra will utilize Intel’s 13th-gen Raptor Lake CPUs, up to the Core i9. We don’t know the specifics, though, and so core and thread counts will have a bearing on how fast the laptop is on CPU-intensive tasks. Samsung will offer a choice of Nvidia GeForce RTX 4050 and 4070 GPUs, which will speed up apps like Adobe’s Creative Suite that can utilize the GPU, but we doubt that the combination will keep up with the MacBook Pro 16 M2 Max.

Someone using a Samsung Galaxy Book 3 Ultra.
Joe Maring/Digital Trends

Of course, that version of the MacBook starts at $3,500 and costs as much as $6,500 when fully configured. We expect the Galaxy Book 3 Ultra to be less expensive than that, so for creators on a budget, there may not be as much of a difference. Both laptops will be overkill for even the most demanding productivity users, and the Galaxy Book 3 Ultra is likely to be the faster gaming laptop.

Battery life should be a win for the MacBook Pro 16. Apple’s M2 Pro and Max CPUs are incredibly efficient while being so powerful, and the latest MacBooks have seen some of the longest battery life results we’ve recorded. We’ll be surprised if the Galaxy Book 3 Ultra is in the same league.

Display

Specs for the Samsung Galaxy Book 3 Ultra.
Joe Maring/Digital Trends

The Galaxy Book 3 Ultra will offer a single display option, specifically a 16.0-inch 16:10 OLED display running at 3K resolution and 120Hz. It’s likely to provide the usual wide and accurate colors and extreme contrast of OLED displays, with the added benefit of a high refresh rate for smooth Windows 11 animations and gaming.

The MacBook Pro 16 utilizes a 16.2-inch 16:10 mini-LED panel at 3456 x 2234 and 120Hz. It will be sharper than the Samsung’s display, and also brighter thanks to mini-LED technology. Colors aren’t likely to be as wide or accurate, though they’ll still be excellent for creators, and contrast will be as deep. Thanks to the display’s incredibly high brightness, the MacBook Pro 16 offers up some of the best HDR you’ll find in a laptop today. The Galaxy Book 3 Ultra maxes out at just 500 nits of HDR brightness.

Both are excellent displays, but the MacBook will likely get the nod thanks to its higher brightness. Extremely discerning creators, though, might opt for the Samsung’s panel thanks to wider and more accurate colors.

On paper, the MacBook Pro is still strong

The MacBook Pro 16 is incredibly well-built, superfast and efficient, has a beautiful display, and boasts the best keyboard and touchpad available on a laptop today. It’s also very expensive, starting at around the same price as the Galaxy Book 3 Ultra, but offering configuration options that push its price well past $6,000.

The Galaxy Book 3 Ultra’s performance and battery life will need to be tested before we can draw a firm conclusion. But from what we can tell, it won’t be as fast or as long-lasting as the MacBook, and its sole advantage is likely to be wider and more accurate colors. The MacBook Pro 16 will likely retain its place at the top, even though the Galaxy Book 3 Ultra may end up being a solid alternative.

Mark Coppock
Mark has been a geek since MS-DOS gave way to Windows and the PalmPilot was a thing. He’s translated his love for…
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