The Chuwi LapBook 14.1 Review: Redefining Affordableby Brett Howse on March 10, 2017 8:00 AM EST
In this industry, it is all too easy to focus only on the high end of the PC market. Manufacturers want to show off their best side, and often provide samples of high-end, high-expense devices more than their other offerings. While these devices are certainly exciting, and can set the bar for how products should perform, there is definitely a gap compared to being able to review the other end of the market. A couple of years ago, HP launched the HP Stream 11, which at the time was a solid entry into a new price bracket, but it was, of course, a device with a lot more compromise than HP’s more expensive offerings. But, HP was not sampling the Stream 11 to very many people, as can be the case on devices like this, so I went ahead and purchased the Stream 11 for review.
When Chinese manufacturer Chuwi reached out with an opportunity to take a look at the Chuwi LapBook 14.1, it was a great chance to see how this market has evolved over the last several years, and to see how another manufacturer tackles the inescapable compromise of this end of the market. The Chuwi LapBook 14.1 offers a lot of computer for the money. The price has varied a bit over the last six weeks, but it has been as low as $249.99 USD, and is currently for sale for $264.99.
As its name would suggest, the Chuwi LapBook 14.1 is a 14.1-inch laptop, featuring an Intel Celeron N3450 CPU, which is the latest 14 nm Atom cores, codenamed Goldmont, and in this case, it’s a quad-core model which can hit 2.2 GHz in its 6-Watt TDP. We’ll dig into Goldmont more in a bit, but Goldmont in this configuration is known as Apollo Lake, and it features Intel HD Graphics 500 with 12 EUs up to 700 MHz. The LapBook also features 4 GB of RAM, and 64 GB of eMMC storage, as well as a MicroSD slot for expansion up to another 128 GB of storage.
Where the Chuwi LapBook stands out though is in the display. The LapBook features a 1920x1080 IPS panel, when most laptops in this price range feature 1366x768 TN displays. Most, but not all, with HP offering a Carrizo-L powered 14-inch notebook with IPS as well, so while Chuwi is not alone in this market, the IPS display is a huge step up over the TN competition. The LapBook also features 8 mm bezels, which is quite a bit thinner than most laptops, and especially laptops at the $250-$300 price range.
|Chuwi LapBook 14.1|
|CPU||Intel Celeron N3450
2MB L2 Cache
|GPU||Intel HD Graphics 500
12 Execution Units (Gen 9)
|Memory||4 GB Dual-Channel|
|Display||14.1" 1920x1080 IPS 60 Hz|
|Storage||64 GB eMMC
Expandable up to +128GB microSD
|I/O||1 x USB 3.0 Port
1 x USB 2.0 Port
1 x micro HDMI
micro SD Card Slot
1 x Headset Jack
|Dimensions||330 x 227 x 9-20 mm
13 x 8.93 x 0.35-0.79 inches
|Weight||1.5 kg / 3.3 lbs|
|Battery||45 Wh, 24W AC Adapter|
|Wireless||Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 3165
1x1 with Bluetooth 4.2
Chuwi has also gone with an 802.11ac wireless card from Intel, which is good to see. It’s a single channel only, but assuming you have an 802.11ac router, it will offer a lot more performance than an 802.11n model.
Overall, the Chuwi LapBook packs quite a bit in for just over $250, with 64 GB of storage, 4 GB of RAM, a FHD IPS display, and all in a 9-20mm thick package weighing in at a few pounds. It’s very portable, it has decent specifications, and the price is good, but specifications don’t make a computer, so let’s dig into it a bit more to see how it stacks up.
Chuwi is offering a $24 discount code on Amazon for AnandTech readers. Please enter the code TIUGTN5W at checkout
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DanNeely - Friday, March 10, 2017 - linkThat means Chuwi charges $15 for the real one. It doesn't necessarily mean that's what MS is charging them for it, MS does offer cheaper licenses for low end hardware. With a 64GB SSD this laptop doesn't qualify for any of the thresholds that MS was using last fall though. OTOH MS has been having problems with companies buying the really low end cheap OS license and using it on non-qualifying machines. So it's entirely possible your choices are a fake licence and one not valid for the hardware you're actually getting...
wumpus - Saturday, March 11, 2017 - linkScary. The reviewer blew away windows with no reassurance that Linux was going on this thing (it failed to give the option numerous times). I'd recommend learning to use Knoppix (or some other "live OS") and use dd|compress to save the windows image onto a USB stick or something.
GekkePrutser - Sunday, March 12, 2017 - linkYep I also do exactly the same as that (using GRML as live OS).
I always keep the image in case I need to return or want to resell the laptop.
hojnikb - Friday, March 10, 2017 - linki really wish there were more super cheap laptops in 11-14" range. Something like a 720p 11" display that can run linux for ~100$
Can't find those.
dragosmp - Friday, March 10, 2017 - linkrefurb x205ta aren't too far from that mark
BrokenCrayons - Friday, March 10, 2017 - linkI've owned a x205ta and it was a nightmarishly miserable disaster for Linux conversion. As of early last year, there was a 33 page long forum thread in the Ubuntu forums documenting the struggles of people to get Linux working and stable on it. Maybe things have changed since then, but I'd suggest looking elsewhere for a Linux laptop, but people were running them without audio support, with skittish wifi, and periodic crashing. I struggled with one for a couple of months before restoring Windows 8 and donating it to a local charity for resale.
andychow - Friday, March 10, 2017 - linkI've been waiting for the PINEBOOK ARM Linux Laptop to come out. ARM chip, but 79$ and 99$ for the 11" and 14" laptop, 720p display.
hojnikb - Saturday, March 11, 2017 - linkSame here. Looking for this one just because it's cheap and small, so if i lost it or break it, i don't care.
Too bad not much info about it.
BFH - Saturday, March 25, 2017 - linkRefurbished Acer C720 chrome book fits the bill. I got one for $140 3 years ago.
Arbie - Friday, March 10, 2017 - linkThanks for looking into this market and providing a unique review. I see these products available but there's rarely any reliable info on how they really perform. Especially on battery life, where I always suspect the worst since the metrics are so fuzzy. At least, with this review, the picture is clear.
I bought an HP Stream 11 when they were closed out, and it does fine for web browsing including Youtube-type videos, document editing etc. So this Chuwi machine should satisfy those needs very well.