Samsung has been a long-time player in the laptop market, but the company has yet to leave its mark in the PC gaming sphere (at least in the US market). That all changes this year though, as the manufacturer announced its new line of Samsung Odyssey gaming notebooks at CES 2017. The company will enter the market with a 15-inch, mid-range laptop in February following up with a higher-end, 17-inch model in April.
Samsung is typically known for their stylish understated designs, but the company went for a more traditional gaming aesthetic with the Samsung Odyssey. The black (or white) hard plastic chassis is offset by red LED lighting outlining the new line’s Odyssey logo on the display case. A similar thin LED light strip runs around the angled plastic surrounding the trackpad, and finally the Odyssey features a full RGB backlighting.
Sleek Gaming PCs
While the two gaming laptops looked rather bulky next to their Samsung counterparts, they’re actually pretty sleek in the world of gaming PCs, as the 17-inch model weighs 8.4 pounds and the 15.6-inch is 5.6 pounds. Our one gripe about the design is that hard plastic chassis does seem to easily smudge. Even after handling the Odyssey for a few minutes NBR did notice a number of streak marks along the display case.
The bottom of the chassis houses a large red ventilation grid that Samsung coined Hexaflow. The bottom panel can also be removed to give users access to after purchase upgrades, giving instant access to RAM or installing larger NVMe SSDs. Unfortunately, NBR didn’t get to see the cover removed first hand, but Samsung did ensure us that you can expect instant access to those areas.
Another nice surprise (especially at the Odyssey 15’s price point) was the inclusion of a mechanical keyboard. Samsung couldn’t tell us exactly what switches they were using, but having tried the laptop, they felt somewhat similar to Cherry MX Reds or perhaps even Stealth Browns with reduced action. Either way, the action is very low even for a gaming laptop. Feedback felt consistent, with quick key registration in rapid succession.
Samsung Odyssey Display
The one area where the Odyssey really seems to lag behind is its display. Both the Samsung Odyssey 17-inch and 15-inch variants offer a simple FHD panel with a brightness of 300 nits and 280 nits respectively. The picture and readability were decent enough, but colors didn’t pop, especially when viewing the Odyssey alongside the rest of Samsung’s laptop lineup. The FHD panel is somewhat understandable at the Odyssey 15’s price point, but if the 17-inch model ends up being priced closer to $2,000 than the lackluster display will be far less forgivable.
While the display may not be amazing Samsung certainly makes up for that with an impressive array of specs. The 15-inch Odyssey features a Kaby Lake quad-core Intel Core i7 CPU, Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 GPU (with 4GB of GDDR5), and up to 32GB of DDR4, with up to 256GB of PCIe SSD storage, and up to a 1TB HDD. The 15-inch model will ship with two SODIMM slots, while the 17-inch variant will ship with four. Samsung has yet to announce what GPU the 17-inch Odyssey will feature, but other than that the specs align with its smaller counterpart.
Overall the specs are fairly robust for a mid-range gaming notebook. NBR was particularly impressed by how well the Odyssey 15 performed while playing Overwatch. The gaming laptop recorded a steady 70 fps at 1080p resolution on high settings. While the Odyssey 15 isn’t going to be able to crush every game on the market at max settings it will play everything with solid performance.
Another area where the two models differentiate is ports. It makes sense that due to the smaller form factor the 15-inch would have fewer connectivity options. The 15-inch model features one USB 3.0 port, two USB 2.0 ports, an HDMI connector, an Ethernet connector, a 3-in-1 card reader, and a headphone and microphone combo jack. The 17-inch a Type-C (Thunderbolt 3) port, four USB 3.0 ports, an HDMI connector, an Ethernet connector, a 3-in-1 card reader, an audio jack, and a microphone jack.
Samsung hasn’t reinvented the wheel here, but the Odyssey 15 is shaping up to be a very solid entry in the PC gaming market. Since Samsung has yet to release the GPU specs or the price point for the 17-inch version that’s a bit more up in the air. A lot of that will likely come down to the price point. The Samsung Odyssey 15 will be made available for purchase in February starting at $1,200. The Samsung Odyssey 17 will be made available for purchase starting in April.