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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BrokenCrayons - Friday, March 10, 2017 - linkChuwi hits all the right specifications for RAM and storage space that I'd like to see in a budget laptop and being fanless is nice too. I'd actually prefer a 11.6 inch screen and a 1366x768 screen because, for a small and cheap portable, 14 inches is actually more than I'd need and I'd rather push fewer pixels with the relatively weak GPU. Some of the touchpad and heat concerned expressed in the Amazon review section are a bit off-putting as well and I don't like an all white system. I just with HP would offer up a 64GB version of their Stream 11. If they did, I'd be falling all over myself to buy one.
DanNeely - Friday, March 10, 2017 - linkAccording to what I found the really cheap windows license comes with a 32GB SSD requirement from MS. Assuming that's still the case 64GB would require HP to charge nearly $100 more for $10 of hardware, Chuwi is probably cheating MS to hit this price with 64GB.
Bullwinkle J Moose - Friday, March 10, 2017 - linkDoubtful that 32GB is really an MS requirement but more likely the minimum recommended size for a boot drive
I've restored Win 8.1 32-bit to 16GB and 64-bit 8.1 to 20GB boot partitions before
32GB is likely the smallest SSD boot drive you will see in actual use
If I had problems booting Windows from the internal M.2 slot, I would run Windows to Go from the USB3 port which is fast enough for this class of processor and can then easily switch to a Linux thumb drive whenever I like
A 256GB Corsair GTX thumb drive would boot Windows a hell of a lot faster than that internal 64GB eMMC drive anyway and provides better security for my data
For example, anyone stealing the laptop would have an empty internal drive while my data remains safe in my pocket until the insurance replaces the hardware
DanNeely - Saturday, March 11, 2017 - linkI'm pretty sure it's legit. That was just the 1st cite I found, but matches what I've seen a few other places since W10 launched. MS has offered heavily discounted windows installs to low end computers since the initial linux based netbooks appeared almost a decade ago. In one way or another they've always limited it to the lowest tier of systems. The fact that mainstream makers either don't offer 64GB varients or charge prices significantly above the cost of the extra flash (eg the HP stream is $200 vs 260 on Amazon) is strongly suggestive that its where they're currently setting the cutoff.
32GB is restrictive enough (to the extent of causing problems with major win10 updates) that I wish MS would raise the limit to 64GB; but I haven't seen any evidence that they have. Other than that, the numbers are IMO reasonable for the netbook class system that have always been the targets of the program.
dragosmp - Friday, March 10, 2017 - linkWould you test the Asus 402 and 403 ? In a similar sort of vein, they're apparently marketed as "premium budget notebooks" and go for 250-350$. The difference is the 403 is 1080p and the 402 is 768p.
I think this category has some potential. If I found a 4GB/1080p e403 in the UK I'd buy one now.
crimson117 - Friday, March 10, 2017 - linkI'm really hoping this laptop makes a Chewbacca sound when you open the lid.
andychow - Friday, March 10, 2017 - linkIn the registry, change the ExcludeFromCPL value for windowslogon to get the option in the sound panel, or just replace the windows logon .wav file directly.
pattycake0147 - Friday, March 10, 2017 - linkOr provide you with some chewy granola bars in the box.
wolfemane - Friday, March 10, 2017 - linkNice! Very cool to see a review of this cool little device!!! I got one of these for my wife this past Christmas. Was on a flash sale @ Newegg for $200 and she really wanted a super cheap 2 in 1 type system that supported micro sd. Before recovering it I had 0 faith in the product at that price and really thought a far more expensive known brand would be better for what she was going to use it for. Boy was I wrong. Other than our main computers it's the single most used device in the house. A bit heavy, but works far better than I would have ever expected of such a cheap device. Color accuracy of the screen is the shining aspect of this little machine. The color accuracy is so good, and the performance is good enough to do basic quick photoshop work, that my wife now uses it to give clients "sneak peaks " post photo op.
coder111 - Friday, March 10, 2017 - linkHow well does this run Linux?
Is there a version with Linux preinstalled?