Now you’re probably thinking, in the performance section, why have I compared an entry-level N3450 to something like the Core i5-7200U or Core i3-6100U when it’s obvious these CPUs will be significantly faster? The reason is simple: in the $400 to $500 price bracket where the Chuwi Lapbook Air sits, you can buy laptops that include processors like this, which provide significantly more performance.
This Dell Inspiron 13-inch convertible, for example, costs the same amount as the Lapbook Air yet it features a Core i3-7100U, and would be a decent alternative if you still want something portable but crave decent performance. If you care less about form factor, Acer has a $350 15-inch notebook that gives you, once again, the Core i3-7100U. Or for $40 more you can get this HP system with a Core i5-7200U.
Now granted these aren’t equivalent systems: the Acer and Dell models I mentioned pack just 4GB of RAM, while the HP system doesn’t include a 1080p display. All use 1TB hard drives instead of the 128GB SSD in the Lapbook Air.
But if you’re looking at getting the best performance for your dollar, all three models provide a lot more performance even when hampered by a hard drive, and it’s much easier to swap out a slow hard drive for an SSD than it is to swap out a slow CPU for something faster.
And that’s the real crux of the problem with the Lapbook Air: the Celeron N3450 isn’t meant for this price point; it’s more commonly found in sub-$300 laptops where cost cutting in every aspect is common place. For $430, it’s all well and good to have an excellent design, but not before you deliver a reasonable level of performance at the price.
Now I do like some things Chuwi has attempted here. The SanDisk DF4128 SSD isn’t going to blow you away with speed, but it does provide a noticeable upgrade over a hard drive, and there’s even a accessible M.2 expansion slot for adding more storage in the future.
Getting Intel Wi-Fi ac in this sort of system, rather than a dirt cheap Wi-Fi n module, is a nice bonus, too. But some extra cash could have been put into the processor had Chuwi opted for 4GB of RAM instead of 8GB, because 8GB has little benefit over 4GB with such a slow CPU and again, RAM is easier to upgrade than a CPU.
It’s hard to recommend this system to most people, though, because the performance simply isn’t up to scratch for the asking price. This isn’t a bad laptop at all – the design is fantastic, the keyboard is great, there’s decent features for an entry-level laptop, and the display isn’t awful – but it should either cost $50-100 less or it should come with a faster processor. It’s as sample as that.
As it stands right now, I can only recommend the Lapbook Air to those who value design and portability above all else. Other buyers looking to spend around $450 should look into some of the systems from Dell, HP and Acer I mentioned earlier, which offer more performance for the price.
- Chuwi LapBook Air on Newegg
Pros: Excellent entry-level design. Great backlit keyboard. Handy features like easy M.2 expansion, Wi-Fi ac, and an SSD for faster loading times.
Cons: Slow, even at this price point. Sluggish trackpad. Chuwi’s website suggests this laptop is a lot slimmer than it really is.