Every once in a while, we get surprised. It seems to be a rare thing in this industry these days, but it does still happen from time to time. The Chuwi Lapbook 14.1 was one such surprise when we reviewed it earlier this year. Chuwi hasn’t been around for a long time, but in one fell swoop, they forever changed the expectations on a budget laptop. Reasonable components, coupled with a good IPS display, instantly changed the expectations on any budget offering from the big PC makers. So far, they’ve not really responded, and the LapBook 14.1 is easily the top pick for anyone wanting a 14-inch laptop for not a lot of money.

So, imagine the shock when this still relatively unknown PC maker surprised us again. Earlier this year, they announced the LapBook 12.3, which is now available. It takes the same basic internals from the LapBook 14.1, couples it to the same display found in the Surface Pro, and packs it all into an all-aluminum chassis. The budget bar has been raised again.

The underlying platform is almost unchanged from the LapBook 14.1 that we reviewed in March. At the heart is an Intel Celeron N3450 CPU, which is a quad-core processor based on the Intel Atom lineup, but the latest Goldmont architecture. This isn’t going to be a blisteringly fast laptop, but the N3450 holds its own in light tasks. In addition, Chuwi has bumped the RAM from 4 GB in the LapBook 14.1, to 6 GB in the LapBook 12.3. That’s a very respectable amount for this PC. Storage remains the same 64 GB of eMMC, which isn’t a lot, but is much better than the 32 GB seen in most PCs in this price range. The LapBook 14.1 also had an M.2 slot inside where you could add a SSD if desired, and the LapBook 12.3 makes that even easier with a removable panel on the bottom to access the M.2 slot.

Chuwi LapBook 12.3
CPU Intel Celeron N3450
1.1-2.2 GHz
2MB L2 Cache
GPU Intel HD Graphics 500
12 Execution Units (Gen 9)
200-700 MHz
Memory 6 GB Dual-Channel
Display 12.3" 2736x1824 3:2 IPS
Storage 64 GB eMMC
Expandable up to +128GB microSD plus M.2 slot (2242 SATA)
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 300 x 223 x 16.7 mm
11.8 x 8.78 x 0.66 inches
Weight 1.45 kg / 3.18 lbs
Battery 37 Wh, 24W AC Adapter
Wireless Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 3165
1x1 with Bluetooth 4.2
Price $310-$330 USD

The star of the show though is the display, with its 267 pixels-per-inch. The 2736x1824 resolution means that it’s also a 3:2 display, giving a bit more display height than a standard 16:9 laptop, and for productivity tasks, that’s been a winning aspect ratio on Microsoft’s Surface lineup. There’s no touch though, but you can’t have everything for this price.

Speaking of the price, this all-aluminum laptop, with a higher resolution display, and more RAM than the LapBook 14.1, can still be had for around the $300 USD mark. At the time of this writing, it’s going for $330 on Amazon, compared to $270 for the larger, plastic, LapBook 14.1, and it can be found for less on other sites. That’s a remarkable price for a device with these kinds of features, and you’d be hard pressed to find a computer that offers more, for less. Let’s dig into the Chuwi LapBook 12.3.

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  • cfenton - Wednesday, September 6, 2017 - link

    How are they doing 6GB of RAM in dual-channel? Is it just Flex Mode, or am I wrong that dual-channel only works fully with matching capacities?
  • Ryan Smith - Wednesday, September 6, 2017 - link

    Apollo Lake supports LPDDR4, which is readily available in 12 and 24 Gbit sizes.
  • cfenton - Saturday, September 9, 2017 - link

    I had no idea. Thank you for the answer.
  • serendip - Wednesday, September 6, 2017 - link

    What's with the poor battery life? I've got a Teclast tablet with an iPad screen (how do they get these surplus parts?) and it lasts 9-10 hours with web browsing or Excel crunching. It uses a more efficient but slower Z8500 Atom and a smaller yet still hi-DPI screen.
  • sarscott - Wednesday, September 6, 2017 - link

    Bought the Chuwi 14.1 Lapbook and the screen is great for the price and I like the look and feel very much. There is one major fault that is causing me to return the Lapbook: Overheating! When cool, in a very cool room, the laptop performs great but even in an air conditioned room at 74 degrees the laptop overheats just trying to play a 10 bit HVEC mkv. There is a mod to add a copper shim but I feel that is too much effort for the price. Of minor annoyance is the trackpad requires a complete reinstall of the Windows OS to function normally as a touchpad. Otherwise the touchpad is only recognized by Windows as a mouse which disallows any sort of modification of the Touchpad like disabling the horrendously dysfunctional Tap to Click function. One minor downside is the internal eMMC is slow but you can install a m.2 SSD to make the Lapbook much faster. In summation, if I have to spend time and money installing a copper shim and m.2 SSD the $270 price I paid seems too much as I can buy a Spin 5 with an i5, 8GB of ram, 256 SSD, and better IPS display for $450 brand new at Walmart. The SSD alone adds $100, then factor in my time and extra cost for the shim and thermal paste and your close to $400 already! For any extra $50 to $70 you can get a much better laptop, albeit not as thin, with a better warranty and english speaking customer service!
  • kmmatney - Wednesday, September 13, 2017 - link

    I haven't not purchased this laptop, but have had similar experiences with other chinese products. Just too many problems, both software-wise and hardware wise, and usually it's hard to get support. It's just better to just pay a little bit more for a known brand like Acer, etc... Not much more money, but much better quality control and support. For now, I've completely given up on electronic products from lesser known chinese brands.
  • Nevod - Thursday, September 7, 2017 - link

    Just recently I've been looking through convertible atombooks looking for something with Surface display, yet there was nothing. The best thing was Acer Spin 1, but it has it's drawbacks and second generation is slowly coming out.
    Now there's this, but without touch and on a 12" display, not 13". And Gemini Lake is coming out.
    Maybe 6 mothns later something really optimal will appear.
  • vortexmak - Thursday, September 7, 2017 - link

    Can you please review the Chuwi Surface competitors
  • LiverpoolFC5903 - Friday, September 8, 2017 - link

    A Core M3 or M5 machine would have been a good inclusion in the benchmarking process. Its GPU is significantly better than the first gen Core M.

    You can get machines like the Cube i7 book for 350 USD, with a Core M3 (M6Y30), Full HD IPS panel with multi touch support, a 64/128 GB SSD + Full keyboard + trackpad. All the works are there.

    Compare that with this. The processor in the Chuwi is at best a tablet processor. Its going to struggle with anything remotely intensive, including basic software like SPSS or Stata.
  • Hurr Durr - Friday, September 8, 2017 - link

    >basic software
    >IBM analytics

    Yeah, right. I guess Photoshop is a basic image resizing program as well now.

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