Samsung’s Galaxy Book Odyssey 2021, like many laptops, is a story of compromise.
The latest Samsung professional gaming-oriented laptop (choose other performance-oriented descriptors as needed) has Intel H-series processors 11th. A really exciting take could be the Nvidia RTX 3050 Ti. This is a laptop-friendly version of one of Nvidia’s RTX graphics cards, an intake that suggests the Galaxy Book Odyssey should be a capable gaming machine that isn’t just great for work and creative endeavors.
The reality … is a little more complicated.
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From the point of view of the basic appeal of the curb, the new Galaxy Book Odyssey is very beautiful. My Mystic Black (“mystic” seems to mean “bluish”) is surprisingly thin at just over half an inch (technically 0.7 inches) and at four pounds, it weighs just a little more than I’d like it to be. The aluminum case is a nice touch too. The black finish picks up more fingerprints than I’d like, but it feels reasonably high quality for a $ 1000 laptop. It also feels comfortably cool until you put it through its paces.
Samsung also offers plenty of connections: three USB-A 3.2 ports, two USB-C ports (both Thunderbolt according to Samsung documentation), an HDMI port, an Ethernet port (!), A headphone jack and a microSD card slot . Aside from swapping out the microSD card slot for a full SD slot, I’d say the Galaxy Book Odyssey has everything you need to get things done.
Like the smartphones from Samsung, the Galaxy Book Odyssey comes with a certain polish. The device is not bright, angular or RGB, as is the case with many gaming laptops. The top part of the laptop sleeve that holds the screen has an almost two-tier design – the edges fall in the middle, where Samsung’s Odyssey logo is located. It feels strange to nag, but I really don’t like the Odyssey logo. I know Samsung wants to differentiate its gaming and creator-focused products from the more traditional Windows laptops and Chromebooks for businesses and consumers alike. But with a simple “Samsung” in the corner, I would have been happy. The Galaxy Book Odyssey “O” just looks out of place.
The Galaxy Book Odyssey’s keyboard is large and sits next to the Dolby Atmos-enabled speakers. Personally, I’d trade in the included numeric keypad for even bigger, better speakers, but I understand that people like to have extra keys for games with lots of hotkeys or optional keyboard shortcuts. Due to the number pad, the Galaxy Book Odyssey’s trackpad is off-center. I totally understand that this is common practice, but I never got used to it. The trackpad also doesn’t really compare to what you’d find on something like the 2021 MacBook Pros in terms of smoothness or ease of use. By no means terrible, but it doesn’t feel as high quality as Samsung’s other Touches.
The polish and refinement extend to Samsung’s own pre-installed Windows apps that translate its One UI design language into Windows 11. I really don’t mind! I’ve never used a One UI phone full-time, but I think the big text and icons and the generally more visual and welcoming design work well with Windows 11, which is already trying to be much more readable from a distance than it is in the past versions of Windows.
Samsung’s apps let you transfer your data from one Galaxy Book to another, view photos stored on your Samsung phone, and enable a Spotlight clone called Quick Find (Windows 11 already more or less does this). They’re all fine, but probably most useful to people already deep in the Samsung ecosystem. The one Odyssey-specific app, Odyssey Control, gives access to the kind of stats I expected I would need to monitor on a gaming PC: CPU, GPU, and memory usage, as well as current fan speeds. The really interesting trick was the Odyssey mode, which allows you to tweak the Galaxy Book Odyssey’s 15.6-inch LED display between different settings for different types of games.
FPS “adjusts the dark areas to make the enemy easier to see”, RTS “emphasizes colors for good visibility of the game screen”, RPG “applies blue light filters for more comfortable viewing” and AOS “adjusts the contrast ratio to increase visibility improve. “I loved the way the display looked with those settings off, but it’s cool that Samsung is offering the presets as an option.
Okay performance (relative)
Full Disclosure: While I’ve often threatened to build my own gaming PC and craved (respectfully) other gaming laptops, I never pulled the trigger to get one. That’s part of what made the Galaxy Book Odyssey so enticing to me. I might not be a great creator (I just edit a few photos at most, type a few text documents, and occasionally remove the sound from some video clips), I’m someone interested in exploring the wide world of PC gaming. The Galaxy Book Odyssey seemed like a tasteful, no-fuss way of dipping a toe. That is both true and not true.
The Galaxy Book Odyssey could play anything I threw on it. Whether there were new releases like Forza Horizon 5, Halo infinite, or Resident Evil Village, or older titles like Metro exodus or Minecraft, the Galaxy Book Odyssey started its somewhat noisy fan and trotted along. And that works even at high settings. Visually intense games like control however, definitely had problems, chugging and stuttering at high settings, and even dropping frames on medium, which was also about the point at which Nvidia’s GeForce Experience app recommended the settings.
In general, I’d say if you’re looking for the high-resolution, 4K, and ray-tracing experience I personally associate with PC gaming, the Galaxy Book Odyssey can offer it, just generally at not nearly a constant 30 or even 24 frames per Second. As we speculated when Samsung announced this laptop, this is a device with 1080p and medium settings. You can slide it and it’ll handle it – through the muffled howl of an ubiquitous fan – but you’re best to do it a little. For me personally disappointing, but realistic in view of the Nvidia RTX 3060 Ti, Intel Core i7 and 8 GB of RAM in the model provided by Samsung.
Fan performance and battery life could also be an issue. Samsung promises the Galaxy Book Odyssey around 12 hours of battery life on a single charge of the 83 Wh battery, but that’s really the case with more casual, web browsing, and word processing workloads. I spent an average of just over 11 hours with the Galaxy Book Odyssey during a normal work day. Play Halo infinite On medium settings and a pleasant brightness, the Galaxy Book Odyssey raised the battery warning in an hour, great. By no means a scientific study, but if you plan to use your Galaxy Book Odyssey primarily for gaming, leave it plugged in.
My constant companion throughout this experience has been the fan of the Galaxy Book Odyssey. It is an exaggeration to say that the fans are running all the time, but the Galaxy Book Odyssey aggressively tries to cool even outside the context of gaming or resource-intensive creative tasks. One of the first things I did was download Chrome and start browsing. Yes, I know Chrome isn’t exactly the lightest or most energy efficient browser, but the Galaxy Book Odyssey got this fan up and running almost immediately when I started rocking multiple tabs. He knows his limits and cools accordingly.
Strange (to me)
If there is one thing I can emphasize about the Samsung Galaxy Book Odyssey, it is knowing what you are getting yourself into. If you want something that can play new versions at the highest quality and settings, there may be a dedicated, more explicitly gaming-focused device that works better. The Galaxy Book Odyssey is really meant more for work and creative endeavors, with a little gaming on the side. Because of its size, weight, and overall battery life, it works best when plugged in and on a desk rather than on your lap on the couch.
…more Per work and creative tasks first with a little game on the website.
For me, this is one of the core tensions of gaming laptops. I generally associate portable devices and laptops with someone who is comfortable with having more hands. You’re sacrificing some of the customizability of desktop gaming PCs for portability and the ability to use something without worrying about settings. To get the performance I wanted out of the Galaxy Book Odyssey, I had to dive into settings and think about where I wanted to work and play from. Not exactly hands-free or straightforward as I wanted or expected. The Galaxy Book Odyssey has a beautiful screen, more than acceptable performance, and a design that looks so sleek compared to many popular, over-the-top gaming laptops. It also makes sense to me that I don’t want to do PC gaming on the go like this. That answer could be with Valve’s Steam Deck, but we’ll have to wait and see.
The Galaxy Book Odyssey isn’t the laptop for me, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be for you, provided you understand its limitations and focus more on the business side of your laptop than its gaming chops alone .