A Premium $399 Laptop? CoreBook Pro Review

A Premium $399 Laptop? CoreBook Pro Review
8 min read
17 September 2020

Cheap laptops are getting good. The Chuwi CoreBook Pro is a smaller laptop that punches well above its $400 price range. They seem to be prioritizing the design and screen at the expense of the specs, but again it is only $400 USD, so while you won’t be video editing or gaming, I think the CoreBook Pro would be a better option than similarly priced Chromebooks, as you still get the full Windows experience.A Premium $399 Laptop? CoreBook Pro Review The lid and bottom panel are both metal, then the interior keyboard area seems to be plastic, it’s giving off serious MacBook vibes with its space gray finish.A Premium $399 Laptop? CoreBook Pro ReviewOverall it has a premium feeling to it for the price point, there aren’t any sharp corners or edges but there is some flex when pushing down on the keyboard. The metal lid was very solid though.

The weight is listed at 1.34 kg or 2.95lb. With the small 65 watt power brick and cables for charging we’re looking at under 1.7 kg or 3.7lb all up.A Premium $399 Laptop? CoreBook Pro ReviewAs a 13” machine, it’s on the smaller side too, so it’s quite portable, though it is a bit deeper to accommodate the 3:2 display, which has 6.5 mm thin screen bezels on the sides. The glossy IPS screen has a 2160 by 1440 resolution. It’s not a touch screen, but it’s got decent color gamut and ok brightness, below the 300 nits I like to see, but again for a $400 machine not bad at all.

Backlight bleed wasn’t too bad, this is a worst case and I never noticed it during normal use, but results will vary between laptops.A Premium $399 Laptop? CoreBook Pro ReviewThere’s a 720p camera above the screen in the middle, no Windows Hello support, again no surprise at the price point.

It can’t quite be opened up with one finger, but the screen is capable of going the full 180 degrees back.A Premium $399 Laptop? CoreBook Pro ReviewThe chiclet keyboard has white backlighting which illuminates all keys and secondary key functions, it’s not super bright and the lighting was a little patchy. Key brightness can be adjusted between two levels or turned off with the F5 shortcut key. The layout is a little different to what I’m used to, with delete below backspace and the backslash down the bottom, but compromises need to be made with a smaller device like this. It worked well for typing with though.

The power button is on the top right of the keyboard, it doesn’t light up and has a red accent, so I thought it might be a fingerprint scanner, but it’s not, so I guess it’s just so you can feel it's different and don’t accidentally press it.A Premium $399 Laptop? CoreBook Pro ReviewThe precision touchpad is plastic, and mostly worked well, but mine occasionally had this sort of double click where after pressing down I could press further, which felt a bit strange when it happened.

Fingerprints were a little harder to see on the silver finish, but were easy to clean with a microfiber cloth. On the left from the back there’s the power input and USB Type-C port, and the Type-C port can also be used to charge the laptop.A Premium $399 Laptop? CoreBook Pro ReviewThe right side has a MicroSD card slot, 3.5 mm headphone jack, and a USB 3 Type-A port right at the back.A Premium $399 Laptop? CoreBook Pro ReviewThere’s nothing going on over on the back or front, both are just clean.

Underneath has some air vents towards the back, as well as thick rubber feet which did an excellent job of preventing movement.A Premium $399 Laptop? CoreBook Pro ReviewThere’s a little hatch with two screws that gives you quick and easy access to the second M.2 slot which I thought was a nice touch.A Premium $399 Laptop? CoreBook Pro ReviewTo get the bottom panel off though, you’ve got to take out 11 more phillips head screws from the base, then two more from underneath the rear rubber feet.A Premium $399 Laptop? CoreBook Pro Review There’s not really any incentive to get in here unless you need to change the primary M.2 drive that it ships with, as other components are soldered to the motherboard, pretty standard at this size, but at least the battery is replaceable. The 8gb of soldered memory does at least run in dual channel though, and we’ve got Wi-Fi 5, so neither can be upgraded by the user.

The speakers are on the bottom along the front, they sound ok, a little above average for a laptop of this size but at max volume there was some chassis vibration or distortion sounds, and the latencymon results were looking alright.A Premium $399 Laptop? CoreBook Pro Review The CoreBook Pro is powered by a 46.2Wh battery, and it lasted for just over 5 hours in my YouTube playback test with screen brightness set to 50%, background apps disabled and keyboard lighting off. A Premium $399 Laptop? CoreBook Pro ReviewAt idle it was cool to the touch, barely getting to 30 degrees Celsius on the keyboard. A Premium $399 Laptop? CoreBook Pro ReviewEven under heavy CPU stress test it was hardly much warmer at all, 40 right up the back worst case where you don’t even need to touch. A Premium $399 Laptop? CoreBook Pro ReviewIt was silent at idle, then even with the stress test going it wasn’t loud at all. Despite this, the internals were cool at idle, and not bad at all when under load, but this is because the 6th gen i3 was running at around 12 watts with a 2.4GHz clock speed, which is base clock, no turbo for this chip, so basically it’s hitting full speed under stress test.

As expected, the dual core i3 isn’t exactly a performance powerhouse, but should be fine for basic productivity tasks and it does at least have hyperthreading. A Premium $399 Laptop? CoreBook Pro ReviewThe Cinebench score is at least a fair bit ahead of my more expensive Xiaomi Mi Air which runs a lower powered dual core processor.

Although not a gaming laptop by any means, the integrated graphics on the Intel chip can run basic games at low resolution, Dota 2 was playable with low settings at 720p.

I’ve used Crystal Disk Mark to test the storage, and the 256 GB SATA SSD was doing fineA Premium $399 Laptop? CoreBook Pro Review though the SD slot was on the slower side, but hey better to have it than not. A Premium $399 Laptop? CoreBook Pro ReviewWell, maybe. The MicroSD card clicks in, but I found it difficult to insert it because it sits the full way into the chassis, and this also made it difficult to remove as I basically had to try and use my fingernail to push the card in to click it out.

Basically you’re getting a nice and portable machine with a decent screen and above average build quality with Windows 10 for just $400, sounds like a fair deal to me. The compromise is of course in the hardware specs, but if your workload can get by with 8gb of memory, Wi-Fi 5 and a dual core processor, which many productivity tasks easily can, then the Chuwi CoreBook Pro could be worth considering. Especially if you’re otherwise in the market for something like a Chromebook. The only issues I personally had were with the double pressing touchpad, not sure if that’s just my unit though, and the MicroSD slot was a little difficult to use.

I’m interested to hear what you thought about the CoreBook Pro in the comments, would you be interested in more of these sorts of reviews?

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JT 1.5K
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