Put aside Ultrabooks that cost $2,000, and there's a whole other world of low-cost laptops aimed at another vast and important market. Whether that market includes young kids, college students or anyone else on a budget, being able to stretch your dollar for value is vital to a lot of PC users.
I usually cringe at the idea of a 14-inch laptop that costs less than $300 (around $270, to be exact). How could something that cheap be any good, you ask? Luckily, I was pleasantly surprised by the CHUWI 14.1 LapBook. Not only is it much better than it probably should be, it looks great too.
CHUWI 14.1 LapBook technical specifications
For less than $300, you won't be running the latest Intel Core processor, but CHUWI uses a reliable 7th-Generation "Apollo Lake" Celeron N3450 64-bit quad-core processor. Clocked at 2.2GHz, that CPU handles Windows 10 just fine, loading up Store apps with ease. It also delivers a far better experience than an Intel Atom "Cherry Trail" processor, which is what you usually find in these kinds of devices.
For graphics, you're looking at Generation 9 Intel HD Graphics 500.
|Category||CHUWI 14.1 LapBook|
|Processor||7th-Gen ("Apollo Lake") Intel Celeron N3450 at 1.1GHz with burst to 2.2GHz|
|Internal storage||SanDisk 64GB eMMC|
LPDDR3 1600 MHz
|Display||14.1-inch IPS 1080p matte non-touch|
|Ports||one USB 3.0, one USB 2.0, 3.5mm jack, micro TF Card, micro HDMI|
|Wireless||Intel AC-3165 (2.4/5GHz)|
|Weight||3.2 lbs (1.45 kg)|
For storage and memory, there is only 64GB to keep your things, but you can expand that with a micro TF card. Storage is eMMC with a SanDisk DF4064 component inside. RAM is at 4GB but clocked at a decent 1,600MHz.
Oddly, the USB ports are upside down, which is no big deal, just different. But you at least get two of them.
Having an Intel wireless card with dual-band support for 2.4/5GHz frequencies is also a nice touch for a budget machine. I had no issues with connectivity, and download performance was satisfactory.
This design is familiar (and that's OK)
The CHUWI is all white plastic except for around the bezel, hinge, and keys, which are a nicely contrasting black. CHUWI has its label on the cover, at an angle in the upper corner. That placement looks pleasant when you're glancing at a closed laptop, but those observing you using it will see an upside down logo, which again is peculiar.
With a sloping, wedge design the LapBook starts at 20mm at its thickest point but slims down to just 9mm near the front. The back is flat, which makes it ideal for carrying.
The CHUWI 14.1 LapBook seems to borrow its design from the original MacBook Air. That's fine, because it works here, too.
Build quality is surpassingly high. There are no creaks, the seams line up, the chassis doesn't flex, and overall it feels solid. The bottom of the CHUWI is clean with domed rubber feet. Because this is an Intel Celeron, there are no intake or exhaust ports. The USB ports are unusually stiff, requiring a bit of extra force to insert a device, but that's just a minor distraction.
Above the keyboard are three blue LEDs. The first is merely a power-on notification that stays lit while the other two are for caps lock and number lock. There are also two visible microphone holes with cute little icons for visual indication. While none of that is groundbreaking, they are nice touches that I appreciate.
There are two speakers on the bottom near the edges. The speakers have a lot of highs to them, with little bass or richness, but they can get quite loud without distortion.
IPS Display is impressive
Here's the deal with budget laptops: One area they always cut back on dramatically is the screen. Many laptops in this price range opt for a twisted nematic (TN) type panel. In-plane switching (IPS) technology, which has much greater viewing angles (178° degrees), is typically reserved for mid-range to high-end machines.
What makes the CHUWI LapBook unique is the inclusion of IPS technology. The colors are a bit washed out and yellow, but the viewing angles and overall look are still miles ahead of TN. It makes a world of difference too, because TN panels only look OK from head on, and they tend to have a milky, very washed out look.
The other perk here is that the display bezels are unexpectedly narrow. While Dell doesn't need to worry about its XPS Infinity Edge being challenged anytime soon, it is unusual to see such refinements at this price point.
Luckily, despite the thin bezel, there is still room for a traditional webcam on the top. Having said that, it's likely one of the worst I have ever used. It gets the job done, but even in ideal lighting it's rough.
At just 1920 x 1080, this is not a high-resolution display. But in a 14.1-inch layout, it's more than enough. Brightness is just OK, and I could use it at 100 percent even indoors, so going outside with this device probably won't work well. Being non-touch the display is also matte (anti-glare), which is great for long sessions when writing.
Overall, the CHUWI 14.1 display is a strength of this laptop, especially for the price.
A satisfying keyboard
Another frequent weak area for budget laptops is the keyboard. Again, CHUWI over delivers. They keys have ample travel but are not too mushy. It's also a full-size keyboard with chicklet-style keys. It's roomy, and I had no problem typing on it. In fact, I enjoyed it.
The black keys sitting against the all-white chassis give good contrast, which helps with the fact there is no backlighting. I've seen laptops that cost more than a $1,000 without backlit keys, so I can't ding the CHUWI for that. But it is worth noting.
The media keys for volume and playback require holding the Function key, which is not uncommon. A bit more unusual though is the fact that there does not appear to be a keyboard shortcut for display brightness.
The overall key layout is traditional with no odd design choices.
Finally, to power the device on and off, a power button sits at the upper right of the keyboard, which again, is a familiar design from Apple. I like it, though. There are no weird moments with trying to find a flush button on the side, and it blends in nicely.
A trackpad that is hard to love
Falling into the familiar territory of budget machines is the merely adequate touchpad. It's a bit rough in texture, and the click is stiff and can be uneven. Scrolling is also reversed for PC users, and two-finger scrolling down makes the page go down and the opposite for going up. Ironically, that is how MacBooks handle scrolling, which seems to be an overall theme here.
Still, two finger scrolling works, as do Windows 10 gestures such as three- and four-ringer taps for Cortana and the Action Center. Heck, even three-finger swipe ups for the task view work with ease. Those are all little surprises, considering this is far from a Precision touchpad.
While I don't love the LapBook's touchpad, it is above average for this price range.
CHUWI LapBook Performance
Intel Celeron processors are not known to be very powerful, but the 7th Generation Apollo Lake holds its own on the modern Windows 10 OS. Store apps load just fine, and browsing feels like most other laptops.
Gaming is also doable for some casual titles, but the CPU will run hot for more intensive games, making it less than ideal as a gaming machine.
Geekbench 4.0 Benchmarks (Higher is better)
|Device||Single Core||Dual Core|
|CHUWI 14.1 LapBook||1,365||3,818|
|Surface Book Core i7||3,948||7,415|
Geekbench 4.0 Graphics OpenCL (Higher is better)
|XPS 13 (9360) HD620||19,410|
|Surface Book HD520||18,197|
|CHUWI 14.1 LapBook||8,027|
For internal storage, the CHUWI is not exceptional compared to an expensive PCIe NVMe SSD, but it is faster than most hard disk drives (HDD) and other low-end offerings such as the Kangaroo Notebook.
CrystalDiskMark (higher is better)
|CHUWI 14.1 LapBook||265 MB/s||118 MB/s|
|Surface Book 512||782 MB/s||573 MB/s|
|Dell XPS Tower SE (HDD)||133 MB/s||150 MB/s|
|Kangaroo Notebook||128 MB/s||43 MB/s|
What do I say about the performance in something this budget friendly? I'll take a Intel Celeron with burst up to 2.2GHz any day over a 1.8GHz Intel Atom, which is what typically ships with these devices.
When used for writing, email, productivity, casual games, some photo editing and web browsing, the CHUWI 14.1 LapBook is downright enjoyable.
The best sub-$300 notebook available
The CHUWI 14.1 LapBook is an impressive offering from a relatively new company. Sure, the design is derivative, but it is also well done. Build quality is much better than I expected it to be, with a solid chassis and honestly one of the best typing experiences I have had on any laptop. Battery life is solid and not embarrassing at around seven to eight hours. It's also nice to see a white and black color scheme in a sea of black or chrome laptops these days.
The real standout feature though is the 14-inch IPS display. It's rare to find a decent screen in the sub-$300 price range, let alone one with IPS technology. Just a few years ago, such a display would have been high end, and I love the 14-inch size.
The CHUWI has a few oddities, as well, including upside USB ports, no display brightness shortcuts, and a sensitive touchpad. But those are minor complaints.
I could also lament the small storage space or the inability to upgrade RAM to more than 4GB, but at $270 it seems odd to highlight those. While you should be aware of the LapBook's limitations, CHUWI went beyond expectations for this price point.
Overall, the CHUWI 14.1 LapBook is one of the most impressive budget laptops I have tried. Everything from the size, weight, build quality, and even performance, exceeds preconceptions of a $270 PC. I'm a big fan of the 14-inch display, both for quality and size. It's the ideal sweet spot for productivity.
Update: Use the discount code TIUGTN5W during checkout to save an extra $24 from Aamzon
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- Excellent value.
- Quality IPS display.
- Fanless design.
- Exceptional typing experience.
- Decent port options.
- CPU is much better than Intel ATOM.
- No USB Type-C.
- Trackpad is sensitive, odd.
- Quirky reversed USB ports.
- Mediocre webcam.
- Display is dim for outdoors.
Daniel Rubino is the Executive Editor of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft here since 2007, back when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Microsoft Surface, laptops, next-gen computing, and arguing with people on the internet.
Does it come with a Wookie crossbow?
Thanks for the review Dan. In general use, how does the Apollo lake Celeron compare to say the Core M3? Is it noticeably slower?
I would not say noticeably. The CPU felt great. I would think other things like the slower storage would become more of a factor, but for Store apps and light computing it felt like any other Ultrabook. We'll also be doing a video review of this a bit later, but Mark is on vacation. There I'll do a bit more on the performance.
it looks like this
ATOM = very slow almost unusable nowadays Celeron/Pentium = usable for BASIC tasks but nothing more M3 = nice basic CPU for almost everything
The mobile and low-end Celeron/Pentiums are just Atoms with higher TDP. In the case of the dual-core Celerons, a quad-core Atom is actually significantly faster when multitasking, which using like 4W less power.
It's about 30% faster than Cherry Trail was, but still like 30% slower than Core M.
I don't know which world you live in but for many people around the world, 300 dollars is still a lot of money. Having said that, how do the HP Streams, Asus X200/550 and the Lenovo Miix series compare with this ?
Where did I say or imply $300 is not a lot of money for some people? I did note that quality tends to suffer greatly at that price range e.g. TFT panels or Atom processors. That's not opinion, just fact.
I was wondering something similar. As I have HP Stream laptops for my kids to use, I'd love to see benchmarks against similar systems instead of high-end ones. I do understand the need for a high-end benchmark for comparision, but would rather see how this performs against a similar system.
Very interesting laptop. Not bad for the price at all.
What is that wallpaper, can you give us a link, please
are speaker any good at low to mid volume level
Very interesting. I've seen lots of people here complain about Chuwi's customer service / warranty though. So, that's something to consider.
That selfie though lol
What kind of review was this, not a word mentioned of battery life. Knowing how they hype certain products, it must've been left out on purpose...
Actually, a whole sentance was. "Battery life is solid and not embarrassing at around seven to eight hours."
Mayblast must've left that out on purpose...
The Chuwi has a M.2 Sata3 SSD slot, I use a 2242, but maybe you could use a larger one. It runs at full Sata3 speeds and the Bios does recognize the drive, so it's possible to use it as a system drive instead of the eMMC.
If that's the case, that's really impressive. Storage always takes a hit in a system like this, but if you can expand it with a decent SSD, that'd make this even more enticing.
Interesting. Turn this little device into a ultrabook.
Processor aside, let's be honest. Windows 10 runs like a three legged dog on anything less than 8 GB ram.
In that case focus on the bright and brightest sides. 3 > 2 > 1 So, 3 legged dog is not a loose loose situation with 4GB-RAM
A three legged dog can still outrun me. I've seen decent performance of Win10 on my systems with 2GB of RAM. This one's 4GB is great for a budget system.
You are right. My comment isn't applicable to this article and shouldn't have be expressed as this article is only implying that the Chuwi is a good performer in relation to other budget laptops.
This laptop looks like the Irulu spiritbook laptop but with better specs.
CHUWI seems to be getting a name for themselves these days, a few weeks ago I bought a Chewi HI10 Pro, a 10" tablet dual booting Windows 10 and Android 5.1 and I quite like it, adding a clipon keyboard and can be used as a laptop. Ordinary battery life but good besides that. 64 gb storage, 4 gb RAM, 1920x1200 resolution. It's got an Atom x5, Windows runs all right but Android flies like crazy. 290$ CAD on Amazon and 70$ CAD for keyboard clip on. I really will recommand them for people looking for cheap but good computing.
I think Martin you should look at a similar product from Teclast, it costs about 225 ! Visit tinydeal.com
Two notes -
1) Apollo Lake *is* the latest generation Atom. They have relabled some SKU's as Celerons, but it is actually the Goldmont iteration of the Atom line of CPUs. Glad to see its performing so well however.
2) The $249 version that pops up has a counterfeit Windows 10 license. It is mentioned on the chinese webpage for this manufacturer. The $265 version includes a legit Win10 license. If you plan to toss Linux on this, feel free to use the $250 version (seems some are installing Ubuntu fine on it), but if you want Windows you should pay for the legit version or you are likely to be cut off from updates at some point.
I've never understood the allure of high resolutions on small laptops running windows. You almost inevitably have to turn some form of scaling on (125 or 150%), and so many apps/websites/etc don't play with scaling well at all, and it's all just a mess. Unless you're regularly connecting your laptop to a very large external monitor, pining over higher resolutions than 1920 x 1080 just seems silly.
The allure is that high-res screams look better than low-res screens. Sure, the way that Windows handles scaling is (still) terrible, but it's gotten better since Windows 7, and eventually apps will get updated to work better now that high-res screens are incredibly common.
Not really, when your eyes aren't great as you get older, you don't notice it. What happens is when you use a high res screen to remote desktop into, all the apps on the other screen are two freakin tiny.
My eyes are good enough that I can definitely tell the difference between 1080p at 125% and a native 768p screen at 14", but I definitely don't need 4K or anything. Great news! Newer versions of Windows (8, Server 2012 and up) support display scaling in RDP sessions. But some stuff still doesn't scale right. Also, the UWP Remote Desktop app from the Store lets you chose whatever resolution you want, with any scaling you want. So, I leave my Surface Pro 4 set to native resolution and then set my RDP sessions to run at 1280x800. It's not perfect, but it's a lot better than it used to be!
I have vision problems and a 4K screen on Windows 10 is the solution. What most people don't understand is that the higher resolution actually makes smaller text more readable. Without scaling, I would be lost, but before 4K I was already over scaling and still couldn't read the fuzzy text. Once you go 4K, it's really hard to go back.
^ This. I've got a 15" laptop with a 4k screen and the text on it looks like printed paper - it's that good and has a good high DPI. After spending time on it, going back to my work laptop's 1080 screen looks like garbage (although it's a Dell so that is somewhat to be expected.). Give me the hightest DPI you can any day.
4 GB is insufficient RAM for Edge in the Creators Update!
LOL. What are you talking about? Is this a joke? I'm running Creators Update on my 10 years old PC and Surface Pro 1. They both hav 4Gb. And the Edge runs there like a fun.
Open some more tabs in Edge and the check the RAM usage. On different machines but with latest build I see about 500 MB per tab! This is not new for this build. Reason likely is the enhanced security of Edge, having each tab running its own environment. Hence, already some 4 tabs open means a lot of swap traffic to background memory. If that it is a hard disk, then the device gets bogged down. With an SSD that may not be such an issue. Nevertheless, I would recommend a minimum of 8 GB RAM for the Windows Creators Update.
Scrolling is also reversed for PC users, and two-finger scrolling down makes the page go down and the opposite for going up. Ironically, that is how MacBooks handle scrolling,That's not how it works on Macs. Scrolling on modern Macs and PCs is almost always exactly the same. Every PC and Mac I've used in the last 5 years has had inverted scrolling, i.e., pushing up scrolls down, as though you were pushing a piece of paper. So, is that how this works? I have seen some really cheap Chinese laptops that scroll the other way (down goes down), but I'm hoping that's not how this works.
On most every laptop I've had I could chancee that scroll direction in settings
On cheap Chinese laptops, the kind that Chuwi is know for, that is often not the case. Many of them don't actually have trackpad drivers, it just emulates a mouse with a scroll wheel.
I've always pictured the scrolling difference between PC and Mac as laying a frame over the page you are reading. You can move the frame up or down to see more text or you can move the paper up or down behind the frame. If you move both that's parallax 🙂
Yeah, back in the days when PCs had 1-finger scroll zones on the edge of their trackpads, but it hasn't been like that for a while. In the last 5 years or so, since multitouch trackpads (and touchscreens) have become the norm, virtually all PC manufacturers have adopted Apple's method for two-finger scrolling.
You can also change it in Mac OS. This inverted scrolling is junk, Mac or PC.
Uggh, pet peeve of mine I would think most tech people have got past by now. Daniel, all active matrix displays have a TFT layer to drive the display. You're writing about the difference between a Twisted Nematic display and an In Plane Switching display. TN vs IPS https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/IPS_panel .
Fair enough, thanks.
I like it but 2 weeks ago I scored a ThinkPad demo model for $129 and it was loaded with W10 and runs great. Never know what you will find at F**s😃 https://www.windowscentral.com/e?link=https2F%2Fclick.linksynergy.co...
Seems like a nice little device! 😀
Misread your post and was hoping to see a decent 14in LAPDOCK for my 950XL :)
Looks great. I would love to see a all black version.
"Scrolling is also reversed for PC users, and two-finger scrolling down makes the page go down and the opposite for going up. Ironically, that is how MacBooks handle scrolling, which seems to be an overall theme here." Ok, grandpa. Time to get with the program. It took me half an hour to get used to Australian scrolling when I was first exposed to it on a ChromeBook. Then it took me a few months to get to really like it. Then it took me a few more to switch every single touchpad over to Australian scrolling. Now I find it frustrating when a laptop is configured to do it the weird, old-fashioned way. Luckily it seems more often than not touchpads are configured to do it naturally. Every single touch screen ever made scrolls that way. It only makes sense to configure touchpads the same way too.
Every PC I have used (50, in the last 3 years) does scrolling in the traditional way for PC. This is the exception and I noted that.
The reason Windows generally scrolls in the other direction is because it makes the touchpad the same as the touchscreen. That way, if a user moves from a touch-enabled device to one like this that lacks touch, there SHOULD be minimal change to the UX. Instead, this method forces you to think of scrolling as grabbing the scrollbar and dragging it in the direction you're scrolling. It's reasonable, but backwards and inconsistent with supporting users who go back and forth with touch screens. I'm the opposite from Daniel on this -- when the Dell Canvas starts shipping, assuming the final reviews are good as the first impression reviews from CES, I'm looking forward to adding full touch support to my desktop experience too. Two big screens back on my desk, and one Canvas touch screen (with pen support!) just above my keyboard tray. Mouse is best for some things, keyboard for others, and touch for others (and pen for some things too and probably that new wheel that sits on the Studio and Canvas will prove optimal for certain actions too). It's not a function of screen size for me, but is of position -- I don't want to a touch desktop monitor, because I can't easily reach them.
Upside down ports? DEAL BREAKER!!!!!
I hate to say this, but I don't buy non-touchscreen computers. Once you go touch, you never go back.
I personally don't agree, but I understand the sentiment ;) I don't use touch on anything above 12" for some reason.
I thought I never either Daniel, until i find myself fingerstabbing screens and nothing happening....Touch is a necessity now! I hate using mac notebooks now becuase of this....no touch....NO DICE!...that stupid little touchbar is a joke.
Sounds great for the price. We can even not worry about Windows updates in the future with 64GB of storage!
Daniel why not try and put your M.2 SSD into this laptop, i think the user experience will improve a lot after that upgrade from the slow emmc storage in this laptop.
I could, I may. I'll take a look this weekend and see about doing a followup. It's just kind of funny as the SSD may be worth more than the computer lol
It will be a useful comparo as people can buy the cheaper Crucial MX300, WD Blue or Samsung 850 EVO M.2 SSD and it will still be very very fast and will make this a bargain Ultrabook. As the empty Slot is anyway a Sata 3 slot, it perfectly suits the mid range M.2 SSDs and PCIE SSDs anyway wont work in this slot. Here is a youtube video which shows SSD installed, you can change boot settings in BIOS: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MeaDRlm1N0c
TFT displays need to be phased out even at the lowest levels. Let IPS reign supreme.
no more Atom plz only Core M should be considered for even a tablet which is much better solution for any windows device.
IMO...Chuwi laptops are crap. Poor support, bad drivers, crash crash crash, restore,restore,restore. Spend more get MUCH more. My Chuwi has been sent to the local dump...RIP.
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