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Posts Tagged ‘apollo lake’

$175 Bben MN17A Celeron N3450 Apollo Lake Mini PC Comes with an mSATA SSD Slot

February 16th, 2017 9 comments

The first Apollo Lake mini PC available from China was Voyo V1 VMac Mini with a Celeron N3450 or Pentium N4200 processor, but there’s now a new model with Bben MN17A with Celeron N3450, 4GB RAM, and 32GB eMMC flash, and the ability to add your own storage via an SSD bay.

Bben MN17A mini PC specifications:

  • SoC – Intel Celeron N3450 quad core processor @ 1.1 GHz / 2.2 GHz and 12 EU Intel HD graphics 500 @ 200 MHz / 700 MHz; 6W TDP
  • System Memory – 4GB DDR3L (up to 8GB)
  • Storage – 32GB eMMC flash (Options for 16, 64 or 128 GB) + mSATA SSD bay + micro SD slot up to 128 GB
  • Video Output – HDMI 1.4b port up to 4K @ 30 Hz
  • Audio – HDMI + 3.5mm audio jack
  • Connectivity – Fast Ethernet, dual band 802.11 b/g/n/ac WiFi, and Bluetooth 4.2 (Intel 3165 wireless card)
  • USB – 1x USB 3.0 port, 1x USB 3.1 Gen 1 (5 Gbps) type C port, 2x USB 2.0 ports
  • Misc – Reset and power buttons, power LED
  • Power Supply – 12V/1.5A via power barrel or USB type C port
  • Dimensions – 145 x 70 x 17.35 cm

The device comes with a fan, so we’ve yet to get an fanless Apollo Lake mini PC coming out of China. The specifications are fairly similar to the ones of Voyo VMac Mini, except for the slower Fast Ethernet port, a full HDMI port replacing a mini HDMI port, and better wireless connectivity with 802.11 ac and BLE 4.2. The SATA bay is a small advantage over Voyo VMac Mini which can also be upgraded but needs a teardown. The product page does not mention whether it’s an mSATA or M.2 interface, but after a chat with Bben, they confirmed it was a mSATA interface.

You can get the computer with 4GB RAM and 32GB for as low as $175 shipped, as long as you select an unlicensed version of Windows 10. If you want an activated version of Windows 10, it will cost you $14.50 extra. You may also consider purchasing from BBen official Aliexpress store instead with pricing starting at $167.50 + shipping. For reference, Voyo V1 Vmac Mini mini PC with Celeron N3450, 4GB RAM, 64GB eMMC flash, and Windows 10 Home activated sells for $159 including shipping.

Via AndroidPC.es

$369 CHUWI Hi13 2-in-1 Windows 10 Tablet is Equipped with a 3000×2000 Display, Supports Ubuntu / Linux

February 15th, 2017 8 comments
I’ve recently reviewed CHUWI LapBook 14.1 laptop powered by an Intel Apollo Lake Celeron N3450 quad core processor, and found it to be a perfectly usable entry-level laptop with a few caveats like potential issues with USB ports, and the lack of brightness keys. The company is now about to launch with a higher end model, with the same processor, but instead of a 14.1″ Full HD display it will come with a high resolution 3000×2000 touchscreen 13.5″ display. The tablet will sell with Windows 10, but the company also claims support for Ubuntu, and other Linux distributions will likely work too.

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CHUWI Hi13 specifications:

  • SoC – Intel Celeron N3450 quad core “Apollo Lake” processor @ 1.1 GHz / 2.2 GHz (Burst frequency) and 12 EU Intel HD graphics 500 @ 200 MHz / 700 MHz (Burst freq.); 6W TDP
  • System Memory – 4GB DDR3L memory
  • Storage – 64 GB eMMC storage + micro SD slot for up to 128GB extra
  • Display – 13.5″ touchscreen display with 3000 x 2000 resolution, 3:2 aspect ratio
  • Video Output – micro HDMI port
  • Audio –  Via HDMI port, 4x speakers, microphone, 3.5mm audio jack
  • Connectivity – Dual band 802.11 b/g/n/ac WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0 LE
  • Keyboard – Detachable metal rotary QWERTY keyboard
  • USB – 2x USB port on keyboard, 1x USB type C port on tablet with support for power, data, audio & video
  • Camera – 5MP rear camera, 2MP front-facing camera
  • Battery – 10,000mAh battery, fast charging with 24W power supply
  • Dimensions – 334 x 222 x 9.2mm
  • Weight – 1080 grams (tablet only)
The 2-in-1 hybrid tablet/laptop will also sell with a Chuwi HiPen H3, and the older HiPen H1 stylus also works with it.
 The company also provided a comparison table between CHUWI Hi13, Microsoft Surface Book, and Apple iPad Pro.
Hi13 Surface Book iPad Pro (12.9-inch)
Price $369 Starting at $1499 Starting at $799
Operating system Windows 10 (Ubuntu OS support) Windows 10 iOS 10
Screen size 13.5 inch 13.5 inch 12.9 inch
Resolution 3000 x 2000 3000 x 2000 2732 x 2048
Pixel density (PPI) 267 267 264
Aspect ratio 3:2 3:2 4:3
Speakers Four speaker audio Two speaker audio Four speaker audio
Thinness 9.2mm 13.0mm 6.9mm
Processor Quad-core Intel Apollo Lake Dual-core Intel Core i5/i7 Dual-core Apple A9X
Fanless design Yes No Yes
All-metal design Yes No Yes
Type-C port 1 x USB Type-C None None
HDMI port 1x Micro HDMI None None
Stylus HiPen H3 Surface Pen Apple Pencil
Keyboard Detachable rotary keyboard Detachable rotary keyboard Keyboard cover

While there are some similarities, the cheapest Surface Book comes with 8GB RAM and a 128 SSD, and a dual core Core i5 processor that will be much faster than the Apollo Lake processor, and usable for video editing and recent 3D games, which won’t be the case for CHUWI Hi13. Nevertheless, that could still be an interesting option for people looking for a device with a high resolution display for less than $400.

CHUWI Hi13 will be officially released on February 20, with pre-orders for $369 starting on the same date, I’ll update the post with pre-order links and the product page once they become available.

Intel Atom Z3735F (Bay Trail) vs Intel Celeron N4200 (Apollo Lake) Benchmarks Comparison

February 14th, 2017 3 comments

Intel introduced new processors every year, but in most cases the performance improvement from new processor with a similar power profile is only incrementally better, as we’ve seen in our Atom X7-Z8700 vs Pentium N4200 benchmarks comparison, which means it’s not really worthwhile to upgrade performance-wise, unless you really a specific feature or interface found in the new processor. But what if we compare to processor from 2 to 3 years ago? Intel Atom Z3735F was a popular choice two years ago, and if you’re looking for a cheap Intel mini PC or TV box, that’s still the cheapest option with prices under $80. So I’ve decided to compare Intel Atom Z3735F (Bay Trail) processor with 2W TDP to the latest Pentium Celeron N4200 (Apollo Lake) with 6W TDP.

To do so, I gathered benchmarks results from MeLE PCG03 mini PC (PCMark 8) and PCG01 TV stick (Passmark + 3Dmark) for the Atom processor, as well as Voyo VMac Mini for the Apollo Lake processor. Please note that I only have PCMark 8 Home Baseline for PCG03, and not the Accelerated benchmark with OpenCL, but based on my results with K3 Wintel Keyboard PC, and reviews from Anandtech and IXBT, there’s no difference between PCMark Home Baseline and Accelerated for Atom Z3735F processor as it seems OpenCL is not supported in Atom Z3735F SoC (at least by PCMark), so I used PCMark 8 Home Baseline results for MeLE PCG03, and PCMark8 Home Accelerated for Voyo Vmac Mini. Unsurprisingly, the Pentium processors is faster in all tasks, and I highlighted the tests where it is at least twice as fast in green.

Benchmark MeLE PCG03 / PCG01
Intel Atom Z3735F @ 1.33 / 1.83 GHz (2W TDP)
Voyo V1 Vmac Mini
Intel Pentium N4200 @ 1.1 / 2.5 GHz (6W TDP)
Ratio
PCMark 8
Overall Score 1,105 1,846 1.67
Web Browsing – JunglePin 0.58064s 0.52267s 1.11
Web Browsing – Amazonia 0.19591s 0.18459s 1.06
Writing 11s 6.89837s 1.59
Casual Gaming 6.7 fps 10.38 fps 1.55
Video Chat playback 30 fps 30.02 fps 1.00
Video Chat encoding 318 ms 196.66667ms 1.62
Photo Editing 2.7s 0.45915s 5.88
Passmark 8
Passmark Rating 466 1,052.1 2.26
3DMark
Ice Storm 1.2 14,069 2,3511 1.67
Cloud Gate 1.1 1,156 2,347 2.03
Sky Diver 1.0 439 1,384 3.15
Fire Strike 0 (Driver failure) 267 N/A

The main surprise here is how little difference there is for PCMark 8 web browsing benchmarks. Video chat is the same because the video was already rendered at 30 fps previously, and Photo editing is much faster, simply because of OpenCL support, and not because the processor is about 6 times  faster. Passmark 8 and 3DMark benchmark show a clear boost of 2 to 3 times between an Atom Z3735F mini PC/Stick and a Pentium N4200 processor for the overall system and 3D gaming. If you own an Atom Z3735F mini PC, you’ll clearly feel a performance difference if you upgrade to an Apollo Lake processor. Beside the system performance, you’ll also benefit from faster interfaces like USB 3.0, Gigabit Ethernet, and potentially SATA, as well as better multimedia capabilities with for example H.265 video decoding. You’ll have to pay 2 or 3 times more for an Apollo Lake mini PC, but contrary to most Bay trail mini PCs, it will be usable as an entry-level computer.

CHUWI LapBook 14.1 Windows 10 Firmware, Drivers, and BIOS

February 13th, 2017 No comments

In case you’ve installed another operating system like Ubuntu on CHUWI Lapbook 14.1 laptop, and want to re-install Windows 10, CHUWI has released Windows 10 firmware, drivers, and LapBook 14.1 “BIOS” in their forums.

So I’ve re-installed Windows 10 on the laptop using the Windows 10 image. You’ll need to download the 8 files CHUWI LapBook 14.1 Windows.part1.rar to CHUWI LapBook 14.1 Windows.part8.rar, and after extracting them you should get a “CHUWI LapBook 14.1 Windows” directory with all necessary files to reinstall Windows.

The files take 8GB, so it may not fit on all 8GB flash drives, and you may need to use a 16GB or greater drive. I just copied the files to an 64GB flash drive formatted with NTFS, insert the drive into the USB 2.0 port of the laptop, and I could start the installation process at boot time.

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However, it quickly failed as it tried to install Windows 10 on the flash drive itself:

Virtual Disk Service Error:

The operation is not supported on removable media.

The system cannot open the device or file specified.

Then I remember I had to set the USB drive label to WINPE for this to work. So I have to repartition the drive, format it to NTFS, set the label WINPE, and copy the files again. I reinserted the drive into the laptop, and update started successfully and went much further this time.

Note that by default CHUWI LapBook 14.1 boots from USB first, but if you have changed the settings in the BIOS, you’ll have to press F7 at boot time in order to select the drive. The installation went ahead, and after a while the laptop shutdown. I removed the USB drive, and pressed the power button to carry on with the installation.

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At this point System Preparation Tool 3.10 windows pops up, and I just clicked on OK which rebooted the laptop again, and brought me to the usual Windows 10 setup wizard where you select the language, WiFi network, setup and account, etc…

I just went through it as usual, and everything works.

If you have one of the earlier model, and your BIOS is older than version “A2W6_NA14.012”, you may to upgrade the BIOS by downloading “LapBook 14.1 BIOS 20161230.zip” and extracting the files to a USB flash drive formatted with FAT32/NTFS, insert it in the laptop, and boot it to complete the update.

Installing Ubuntu 17.04 on CHUWI LapBook 14.1 Apollo Lake Laptop

February 7th, 2017 30 comments

Since I’ve completed the review of CHUWI LapBook 14.1 with Windows 10 last week-end, I’ve decided to give it a try with a Linux distribution, and I chose to go with a daily build of Ubuntu 17.04 since we’ve seen Apollo Lake platforms need a recent Linux kernel. While Ubuntu 17.04 will be officially release in April 2017, likely with Linux 4.10, the current (alpha) build comes with Linux 4.9. I had already quickly booted Ubuntu 17.04 on the Laptop from a USB drive flashed using Rufus right after the review, but today I’ve just decided to wipe out Windows 10, and replace it with the Linux distributions and check what works, what does not.

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The first thing you’ll have to do is to press Esc while starting the laptop to enter the BIOS / UEFI “Aptio Setup Utility”, go to the Boot menu, and change from “Windows” to “Linux” for “OS Slelect” (sic.) option.

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If you don’t do that, you’ll only have a cursor on the top left of the display when you boot Linux from the USB flash drive. Save to apply the options, and at next boot your bootable USB flash drive should boot into Ubuntu. If not, press F7 at boot time to access the boot menu shown below.

In my case the flash drive was the first boot device so it started automatically, and after a few seconds, you’ll be asked to try or install Ubuntu.

I’d recommend to just try the first time, and if you can login and connect to WiFi, you can do the actual installation, which I did, and after a few second I got to the graphical installation program asking me to select the language.

So I carried on, connecting to my wireless access point in the process, and selecting US keyboard. I also checked “Download updates while installing Ubuntu” and “Install third-party software…”

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I was stuck in the installation in the next screen “Installation Type”, after after selecting Erase disk and install Ubuntu, the Install Now button was grayed out. I tried to select other option, but no luck the button was still unusable.

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I went back a few times, and I tried again, and after several attempt, I could finally click on Install Now.

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At this stage it warns me it will destroy all data on selected partitions, meaning here that it will completely wipe out Windows 10, and I have not yet a recovery method. I have asked CHUWI for a recovery firmware image or Windows 10 drivers, but I have yet to get an answer. Nevertheless I clicked on Continue, and the installation proceeded.

Then remove the USB flash drive, rebooted the laptop, and within half a minute or so, I could browse the web and watching YouTube videos in Ubuntu immediately.

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Details app still shows “Ubuntu 16.10”, but checking parameters in the command line shows it’s definitely Ubuntu 17.04:

All specifications are correctly detected with an Intel Celeron N3450 processor, 4GB RAM, 64GB eMMC flash. I also tested all hardware ports and features to check which drivers may be missing.

Features Results
Display OK
Keyboard OK
Mousepad OK
WiFi OK
Bluetooth Pairing with phone OK, file transfer failed
USB 2.0 port OK
USB 3.0 port OK
micro SD slot OK
Headphone jack OK
Speakers OK
Microphone OK
Webcam OK
mini HDMI OK

So everything works, except Bluetooth which can pair with my phone, but I could not transfer files in any direction. So the driver might be OK, with some other issues in Ubuntu? If you’ve read the Windows 10 review you know that I had three USB flash drive, and only one would work in both USB 2.0 & 3.0 ports. In Ubuntu, I still have one that is not recognized at all (and nothing in dmesg), so I guess it might be a contact issue, but the other two work with both USB ports. When I connected the mini HDMI port to my TV, the laptop switches automatically to extended desktop mode.

There may be some issues that I missed, but so far CHUWI LapBook 14.1 looks like a perfectly usable $250 Ubuntu laptop if you use a distribution with a recent Linux kernel. If you are interested you can pre-order it on GearBest or Banggood.

Intel Atom x7-Z8700 (Cherry Trail) vs Intel Pentium N4200 (Apollo Lake) Benchmarks Comparison

February 7th, 2017 9 comments

Mini PCs based on Intel Apollo Lake processors have started selling, and they supposed to be upgrades to Braswell and Cherry Trail processor. I’ve recently had the chance to review Voyo VMac Mini mini PC powered by Intel Pentium N4200 quad core processor, that’s the fastest model of the Apollo Lake N series, and of course I ran some benchmarks, so I thought it would be interesting compare the results I got with an Atom x7-Z8700 “Cherry Trail” mini PC, namely Beelink BT7 which I reviewed last year.

Both machines are actively cooled with a small fan, and storage performance is similar, albeit with a slight edge for the Apollo Lake SSD. A ratio greater than one (green) means the Apollo Lake processor is faster, and if it is lower than one (red) the Cherry Trail processor win.

Benchmark Beelink BT7
Intel Atom x7-Z8700 @ 1.6 / 2.4 GHz (2W SDP)
Voyo (V1) Vmac Mini
Intel Pentium N4200 @ 1.1 / 2.5 GHz (6W TDP)
Ratio
PCMark 8 Accelerated
Overall Score 1,509 1,846 1.22
Web Browsing – JunglePin 0.59309 s 0.52267 s 1.13
Web Browsing – Amazonia 0.19451 s 0.18459 s 1.05
Writing 8.53975 s 6.89837 s 1.24
Casual Gaming 7.96 fps 10.38 fps 1.30
Video Chat playback 29.99 fps 30.02 fps 1.00
Video Chat encoding 301 ms 196.66667 ms 1.53
Photo Editing 0.65544 s 0.45915 s 1.43
Passmark 8
Passmark Rating 846 1,052.1 1.24
3DMark
Ice Storm 1.2 23,999 23,511 0.98
Cloud Gate 1.1 2,185 2,347 1.07
Sky Diver 1.0 1,131 1,384 1.22
Fire Strike 276 267 0.97

The performance is usually faster in the Apollo Lake processor by  between 5 to 50+% depending on the tasks with video encoding and photo editing gaining the most. Browsing is only marginally faster by 5 to 13%. PCMark8 reports a 30% higher frame rate for casual gaming, but 3DMark does not how that much improvement, and in some cases not at all, except for Sky Diver 1.0 demo. Intel Atom x7-X8700 SoC comes with a 16EU Intel HD graphics Gen 9 @ 200 / 600 MHz, while the Pentium SoC comes with 18 EU (Execution Unit) of the same gen9 GPU @ 200 / 750 MHz, and should be a little faster in theory.

So based on those results, there’s a clear – although incremental – performance improvement using Apollo Lake over Cherry Trail, but depending on the use case it may not always be noticeable in games or while browsing the web.

Supermicro A2SAV mini-ITX Board Powered by Intel Atom E3940 SoC Features 6 SATA Ports, Dual GbE, and Up to 9 USB Interfaces

February 6th, 2017 14 comments

Intel introduced three Atom E3900 series Apollo Lake processors last fall that target IoT, industrial and automotive applications, and Supermicro has designed A2SAV mini-ITX board powered by Atom x5-E3940 SoC that comes with lots of interfaces include 6 SATA ports, two Gigabit Ethernet RJ45 ports, and up to 9 USB interfaces accessible from connectors or headers.

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Supermicro A2SAV motherboard specifications:

  • SoC – Intel Atom x5-E3940 quad core “Apollo Lake” processor @ 1.6 / 1.8 GHz with 2MB L2 cache, 12 EU Intel HD graphics (6.5W TDP)
  • System Memory – 1x 204-pin DDR3 SO-DIMM socket for 2, 4, or 8GB 1866/1600/1333MHz Unbuffered non-ECC 204-pin SO-DIMM DDR3
  • Storage
    • 6x SATA3 ports include 2x from SoC, and 4x via Marvel 88SE9230 controller
    • 1x SATA DOM (Disk on Module) power connector
    • 64Mb SPI Flash EEPROM with AMI UEFI BIOS supporting Plug and Play (PnP), DMI 2.3, ACPI 5.0, USB Keyboard, SMBIOS 2.7.1, and UEFI
    • mSATA and M.2 (See  expansion below)
  • Connectivity – Dual GbE LAN with Intel i210-AT controller
  • Video Output – 1x VGA, 1x Display Port, 1x HDMI, 1x eDP (Embedded Display Port)
  • USB – 2x USB 3.0 ports (rear), 7x USB 2.0 port (2x rear, 4 via headers, 1x type A)
  • Serial – 3x COM ports using RJ45, RS232 and RS485 ports
  • Expansion
    • 1x PCIe 2.0 (in x8) slot
    • 2x M.2 PCIe 2.0, M Key 2242/2280
    • 1x Mini-PCIe with mSATA
  • Misc – Voltage and temperature monitors, chassis intrusion header and detection, system overheat LED, 2x 4-pin fan headers
  • Power Supply – ATX Power connector, 4-pin 12V DC power connector
  • Dimensions – 17.145cm x 17.145cm (Mini-ITX form factor)
  • Temperature Range – 0°C to 60°C

The company can provide mid and mini-tower chassis for the board, as well as a 1U chassis all “optimized for A2SAV motherboard”. There’s no list of supported operating systems yet, but Windows 10 (IoT), and various Linux distributions will certainly run on the board.

Supermicro product page has a few more details including some documents, but it does not mention pricing information. However, the board is listed for back order on Arrow Electronics for $253.73 (back order), and TigerDirect has the light version of the board, named A2SAV-L, with just two SATA ports and fewer USB ports for $169.99.

Thanks to Paul for the tip.

CHUWI LapBook 14.1 Apollo Lake Laptop Review – Part 2: Windows 10 Benchmarks, User Experience, and Battery Life

February 5th, 2017 14 comments

CHUWI LapBook 14.1 is the one of the first Apollo Lake laptop on the market. It features a 14.1″ IPS display, a Celeron N3450 quad core processor, 4GB RAM and 64 GB storage. The company has sent me a sample for review, and I had already check out the hardware in “CHUWI LapBook 14.1 Apollo Lake Laptop Review – Part 1: Unboxing & (Partial) Teardown“, so since then I’ve played with it including checking emails & news, writing a blog post on CNX Software, and watching some YouTube videos, as well as running benchmarks and estimating battery life, so I’ll report about my experience with the laptop in the second part of the review.

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CHUWI LapBook 14.1 System Information

LapBook 14.1 runs an activated version of Windows 10 Home 64-bit on an Intel Celeron 3450 “Apollo Lake” quad core processor @ 1.1 GHz / 2.2 GHz with 4 GB RAM (3.84 GB usable)

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The internal storage is a 64GB eMMC flash with a 57.1 GB Windows partition. The 64GB storage could mean it does not quality for a discounted Windows 10 license, as the requirements are  4GB RAM max, 14.1 display size max, and up to 32GB eMMC flash/SSD.

64GB storage will be filled quickly in Windows 10, especially if you have lots of emails, and store more and more pictures over time. It’s possible to extend storage via the micro SD slot, and possibly via an M.2 connector inside the device. USB storage is also an option, but as we’ll see below, I would not recommend it with this laptop.

I have taken a screenshot of Device Manager for people who want more details about peripherals.

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HWInFO64 mostly reports about the Intel Celeron N3450 processor, and as expected it’s exactly the same part number (CPU/Stepping/SSPEC) as on Voyo VMac Mini.

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The motherboard is named Hampoo A2W6_NA14 with the UEFI BIOS dated 12/30/2016.

CHUWI LapBook 14.1 Benchmarks

Let’s run some benchmarls on the laptop and compare them to Voyo VMac mini Celeron N3450 mini PC benchmarks results.

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LapBook 14.1 got 1,584 points in PCMARK 8 Home Accelerated 3.0, which compares to 1,566 points on Voyo VMac Mini that contrary to the laptop is actively cooled. So basically the score are identical here.

3DMark results are also pretty close with Ice Storm 1.2 (20,982 points), Cloud Gate 1.1 (2,092 points), and Sky Diver 1.0 (931 points), against respectively 18,892, 2,130, and 941 points for Voyo VMac Mini (N3450).

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The laptop achieved 830,7 points in PassMark PerformanceTest 9.0, against 998.4 points for the mini PC which is faster in all 5 categories: CPU, 2D Graphics, 3D Graphics, Memory, and Disk.

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Internal storage performance is acceptable with 256/116.4 MB/s sequential R/W speeds, and decent random read and write speeds, but not quite as fast as some other low costs devices.

For example, Voyo V1 VMac Mini SSD achieved about 500 MB/s read speed and 200 MB/s write speed, with significantly faster random R/W operations too.

CHUWI LapBook 14.1 User Experience

Two big parts of deciding whether a laptop is worth your consideration are the display and keyboard. The latter feels really nice to use, but unfortunately lacks brightness adjustment keys, which can be a pain is you set the brightness really low at night, and then need to use the laptop in broad daylight. I’m quite happy with the Full HD display, but you have to know it’s a non-touch display, it does not rotate that much (see video below), and viewing angles are not that great on the side. For my personal use, those did not affect me at all.

I’ve run some typical tasks, and shot a video with:

  • Multi-tasking – Launching and using Firefox, Thunderbird, LibreOffice, and Gimp at the same time
  • Web Browsing with Firefox
    • Loading multiple tabs with CNX Software blog
    • Playing a flash game  (Candy Crush Saga)
    • Playing a 1080p YouTube Videos
  • Gaming with Asphalt 8

Overall, I’m quite happy with the performance considering it’s a low power, fanless, entry-level laptop. I could load my hundreds of thousands emails in ThunderBird, while browsing the web with multiple tabs, and editing photos with gimp. 1080p YouTube videos are watchable in Firefox, although there are a few dropped frames here and there from time to time. I did not really notice it, and if you want slightly better playback, you can use Microsoft Edge browser with YouTube. Asphalt 8 feels a little smoother than in VMac Mini (N4250) possibly because the display is smaller.

The laptop also comes with a mini HDMI port to connect to an external display. A cable is not included so you’ll have to buy your own adapter or cable.

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Once connected Windows 10 will default in clone mode, but I had no trouble switching to extended display, and I had two Full HD independent displays.

I used a USB mouse connected to the laptop for close to 5 hours, and I had no problems, but this was another story with USB flash drives.

USB 2.0 Port OK Not detected OK
USB 3.0 Port OK Not detected Detected, but not mounted (“No Media”)

The laptop has two USB ports, one 2.0 port, and one 3.0 port, as you can see I did not have always have luck with my flash drives, especially the USB 3.0 port. This is what my DataTraveler G4 USB 3.0 flash looked like in Disk Management while connected to the USB 3.0 port.

“No Media”, but if I plugged the very same flash drive to the USB 2.0 port, it could be mounted.

A USB hub allowed me to work around the issues. However, I downloaded some system info and benchmarking tools on the laptop, copied them to one of the USB drive, but once I try to install those on another computer some of the files appeared to be corrupted. So I would not trust USB storage with important data, or you have to make sure you run some data sanity check (e.g. MD5) on your files. It’s also possible I was just unlucky, but it’s something to keep in mind.

CHUWI LapBook 14.1 Battery Life

Battery life is also an important aspect. While companies like Hewlett Packard are using MobileMark 2014 for testing battery on their Windows 10 laptops. but it’s a paid program, and I could not find a free battery testing application. So instead, I did my own “real use” case by charging the battery to 100%, and doing things on the laptop,  I normally do on my desktop PC in a typical day with two main use cases:

  1. Working outside from 9:00 to 12:00 with 100% brightness, checking emails, browsing the web, and editing pictures in Gimp
  2. Play YouTube videos in Firefox indoor with brightness set to 25% from 12:30 to about 14:00

When I started, Windows expected about 5 hours and a half of battery life.

I’d like to note I have lots of messages in Thunderbird because of mailing lists and RSS feeds (a few hundreds thousands), so Thunderbird was pretty active during the morning.

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After 3 hours I had 37% of battery capacity left. I had lunch, and then I went indoor to watch YouTube videos, and it lasted about 1h30 until the battery was fully depleted. So I had 4h30 of battery life on a charge.

An earlier full charge of the battery from 13% to 100% took just under 3 hours.

Conclusion

CHUWI LapBook 14.1 laptop almost matches all my needs. It is lightweight, the full HD display is good enough for me, battery life is good for about 5 hours, performance is acceptable for tasks such as web browsing, office applications, watching YouTube videos, and occasional light gaming. Normally I like to get at least 512 GB storage in a laptop, and that one only comes with 64GB eMMC flash with average performance, but it can be expanded with a micro SD card and possibly and M.2 SSD, but the latter are still quite expensive compared to hard drives. I also miss the keys to adjust brightness, and the main issue I found on the device is that USB mass storage is unreliable with some flash drives not  supported, and potentially data corruption when they are.  One of my other requirements is to run Ubuntu, so I’ll try to install Ubuntu 17.04 (daily build) on the laptop.

I’d like to thank CHUWI for sending an early sample of the laptop, which is not yet for sale, but available for pre-order on sites like GearBest and Banggood for $259.99 and up with shipping scheduled by the end of February.