Chuwi LarkBook review – premium build, budget specs and affordable price

10 Comments

  1. dwick

    February 2, 2021 at 10:09 pm

    Ya… this seems updated/sexier version of the Apollo Lake-based Chuwi LapBook 12.3 I purchased about 4 years ago – albeit for only $330 from GearBest. The LapBook has similar premium materials and build quality plus excellent IPS panel. Slightly better battery life – probably because of just standard Intel Graphics. Absolutely zero problems with the LapBook and, for what it is, I remain very satisfied with it even today. But agree Chuwi's nearly non-existent technical support is a concern/issue/risk… and for that reason I'm leery of spending much more than $300 for Chuwi kit.

    • Andrei Girbea

      February 3, 2021 at 10:29 am

      Thanks for the feedback. I'm trying to pass this back to them as well, the fact that they need to further improve their site and their support/post-sale services.

  2. Etienne

    November 28, 2021 at 2:11 pm

    I bought surbook mini a few years ago. I was quite satisfied (notably by overall build quality and screen) except the little misadventure I had when tablet dropped from bed to flour and screen glass broke.
    Recently I tried to change the top but it got worse, as it completely broke it.
    So I recycled the motherboard to make it a small fanless mini PC which I'm still using.

    Regarding the tested unit, they released a newer model LarkBook X, with improved hardware based on N5100 CPU.
    With regret they still use jack as main charging means (you can use USB-C but I find it absurd including depreacted jack charger nowdays).
    BTW, it is advertised 40W charging which I presume should be faster than you unit?

    N5100 is probably the best improvement (even if N6000 would have even been better).
    Do you think these improvements will be enough to overcome the weakness you noticed on this model?

    • Andrei Girbea

      November 28, 2021 at 3:03 pm

      I haven't tested the updated LarkBook X, but the upgraded hardware and battery should address some of my complaints with this older model. Don't expect much in terms of multitasking performance, though, with the Jasper lake N5100. Also, the X goes in a price segment where you could also find more powerful options from previous years, if you're willing to sacrifice somewhat on built quality and design. So its worth it would depend on your specific needs.

  3. Etienne

    November 28, 2021 at 4:58 pm

    Thanks for your useful advice. After seeing recent YT video test, just ordered it today from EU warehouse (Spain).
    I hesitated a bit because, as you said the price can offer better performance..
    I thought my main usage would be chromebook like (movies, light tasks and remote desktop)
    so important criteria were good screen and quietness (fanless design as my previous surbook mini).

    I'm also planning to use it later in combination with a more powerfull miniPC (something in 15-30W TDP range) so I can run some games and more demanding apps remotely.

    Decent wifi connection will be required, so I will pay attention to drivers as you mentionned some troubles.

    Regarding warranty… this is also somehting to consider I agree.
    Based on my previous experience with chuwi surbook mini, if it wasn't for the screen which broke too easily to my taste, I kept a positive opinion of the overall build quality.

    • Andrei Girbea

      November 28, 2021 at 5:02 pm

      If you have the time, let me know how you feel about it once it arrives and get to use it for a bit. Curious about your feedback.

      • Etienne

        November 28, 2021 at 5:08 pm

        Yep, will let you know. Hopefully France to Spain delivery time will be reasonable..

  4. Etienne

    December 4, 2021 at 8:05 am

    I received my unit yesterday. Very fast delivery from Spain to France (and not the other way as I wrote before).

    Right from the start, I noticed some noise in the hinges so for my first impression wasn't particularly reassuring.

    But you barely forget it when you start and see the outstanding screen. I knew it was good but didn't expect it to be that good!

    This makes me wonder why they chose such an high-end screen on this device, when the rest is unfortunately not as good.

    The thing I knew could be a downside, was the limited performance of N5100.
    While it is definitely not a powerhouse, surprinsingly this isn't what bothered me most on this device.
    I find it decent for lots of tasks such as browsing, movies, which is usually 90% of what we do.

    Being annoyed by the hinge noise, I did several open/close until I noticed something that definitely was worth worrying about.
    There was a huge (at the point you jump when you hear it), cracking noise in the hinge.

    This may be specific to my unit though. But previously hinges was weakest point on previous models. Here they changed the design but obviously issues still remain.

    The other thing which gave me a very mitigated impression was touchpad experience.
    Contrary to MBP where glide and accuracy are so perfect that you could do without mouse.
    Here the experience is quite opposite: the surface feels too grippy, the click too hard and I find it too intolerent. You often accidentally trigger zooming when using 2-3 fingers gestures.

    On the other less important downsides I noticed:

    – slow charging: although it is supposed to support 40W charge I couldn't reach this .
    I got 30W power at most (and this wasn't even pure charging, but while both charging and powering).
    When charging only (while device is off), I only got 18W (which is same as my phone..)
    – battery life: while not being bad, I would say it is only average especially for an ultra low powered CPU (6W) which you would expect to last longer.
    – possible graphics throttling: I'm not sure about it but on some graphics demo I observed framerate drops after some seconds. In the meanwhile it seems CPU immediately switch to lower freq when graphics are used heavily
    It seems strange as this doesn't happen when stressing the CPU only which contrary to GPU It is quite able to sustain power . This need to be further investigated as T° on the other hand always remains beyond 70°C so
    – connections don't give an impression of great sturdiness: you see USB-C is a bit flimsy and the normal USB too tight, probably not a big deal though.

    To conclude, for the reasons I mentionned, unfortunately I won't keep this laptop.

    The issue with the hinge is really weird, especially for a device of this price (nearly 400€) that you expect to be exempt from such defect..

    Also for my intended usage, touchpad input has to be much better and beyond reproach.

    My own view, but afterward I wondered if after all putting twice the price on discounted MB Air M1 for instance wouldn't be more interesting to have similar awesome screen, much more power, impressive battery life, outstanding sound and inputs.
    The ability to sell it much more easily later while benefitng from service, warranty…

    Nevertheless, I don't think it lacks a lot to this laptop to be near perfect for its price notably if Chuwi

    – solved the issue with hinges
    – enhanced touchpad experience
    – improved connections: removing the jack and adding another usb-c + normal usb
    – switched to a slightly more powerfull CPU such as N6000 or even 10W jasper lake with efficient passive cooling to prevent throttling

    To keep price low, they could eventually remove touch and maybe lower a bit screen resolution to FHD which is still acceptable on 14".

    As final word, the screen once again is really impressive.
    It is pleasant to see a Chinese brand offering premium screen on their devices when you see so many other brands still putting lower screen on more expensive device.

    I would say they have a solid base to improve upon and I think they can provide near premium experience if they keep on improving on their weak points including service, warranty.
    If you get a unit without the hinge defect, if you don't pay too much attention to touchpad, and you can do with limited power, average battery life, I would say this laptop is probably still interesting though.

    • Andrei Girbea

      December 5, 2021 at 10:43 am

      Thanks, much appreciated. The craking hinge is problematic.

      As for spending more and go up to an MBA, that's put to you. There are however a couple of other options in between, based on your budget. An IdeaPad 5 Pro 14 or a ZenBook 14 OLED might be worth a look, but I'm not sure of the prices over there.

      I still find that CHuwi to be pretty good for what it costs (if not for the faulty hinge), although a little unbalanced. As you're saying, they put too much effort into the chassis and screen quality, and as a result, some aspects are compromised, such as the touchpad and hardware.

      • Etienne

        December 6, 2021 at 11:28 am

        Yep I'm not a mac user at all, but given the limited power of the chuwi, I thought it would still be possible to emulate windows or run linux on the MB air and still have better performance + all benefit from apple's hardware (except the screen in 13" which is a bit too short for me).

        Regarding the Ideapad 5 Pro, this is indeed the one I'm looking for.
        I made an order during BF but canceled it and took Chuwi until I'm decided.
        Unfortunately now prices have jumped above 1000€ on Lenovo's website, so will need to wait until they get low again and I can order it…

        After using a bit more the Chuwi, I could accomodate a bit with touchpad and in Linux, I find it quite (much) faster than on windows, which makes it definetely usable for everyday tasks.

        If there wasn't this hinge issue, I might have kept it…
        I would say to Chuwi to keep up on screen quality and build materials, improve the rest, even if price get a bit higher.

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