This is the first Gemini Lake laptop we’ve seen, although it doesn’t come from a mainstream notebook manufacturer, rather a Chinese vendor called Jumper which has produced a number of devices – including the EZBook 3 Pro, EZBook 2, EZpad 6 Plus and the EZpad 5S – which have received reasonably decent reviews in the past.
Online Chinese retailer, Gearbest, sells the Jumper EZBook X4 (opens in new tab) for just $280 (around £215) at the time of writing. Note that while this price includes delivery, it is exclusive of any taxes that may be levied by HMRC or the courier companies on behalf of the vendor. Want to buy tech from online Chinese retailers? Read this first.
The EZBook X4 is the follow up to the EZBook 3 Pro and uses exactly the same chassis as the Teclast F7 although – as we will find out – there are some notable differences inside.
The lines between manufacturers and designers of laptops have blurred and this helps to explain why there are so many laptops which share the same design.
The Teclast F7 and the EZBook X4 (pictured side-by-side below) share the same chassis which may be due to the OEM (original equipment manufacturer) discounting or clearing out that particular chassis model.
That’s not to say that this is a bad thing if it helps save a few bob. But in a world where everyone wants to be different, this is going against the grain. So just to recap, you get a metal chassis with a brushed aluminum finish, embellished with silver lines, a notch below the (large) touchpad, a fairly thin bezel, a single large hinge, two microphones and one centrally located webcam. On the lid, you will find the Jumper logo.
On the underside of the notebook are four rubber feet, a flap that hides your SSD and a handful of screws that allow you to open up the laptop. You also get a decent array of ports (similar to the F7): two full-size USB 3.0 ports, a microSD slot, proprietary power input, a mini-HDMI port and an audio port.
Here is the Jumper EZBook X4 configuration sent to TechRadar Pro for review:
CPU: Intel Celeron N4100 quad-core 2.4GHz
Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 600
RAM: 4GB DDR4L
Screen: 14-inch 1920 x 1080 resolution
Storage: 128GB SSD
Ports: 2 x USB 3.0, audio jack, microSD card slot, mini-HDMI
Connectivity: 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0
Camera: 2MP front webcam
Size: 333 x 220 x 13mm (W x D x H)
We were lucky to have tested the Teclast F7 just a few weeks ago. We didn’t expect a big jump in performance as Apollo Lake parts make way for Gemini Lake ones, and our benchmark results are a mixed bag (see below).
Jumper has bundled a 12V,2A power supply unit that’s much smaller than your average PSU, and that’s great if you have to move around. The keyboard is a backlit model with two lighting strengths (use Fn + space to trigger it) and large keycaps, while the touchpad is generously proportioned.
Usage and performance
Compute performance generally seems to be slightly better than the older N3450-based laptop, but video numbers are down for some reason, sometimes by as much as 25%, which is puzzling given that both the UHD Graphics 600 (on Gemini Lake) and the HD Graphics 500 (on Apollo Lake) are very similar.
The impact of less RAM (the X4 has 4GB of RAM, the F7 has 6GB) might explain some performance discrepancies, especially when considering the amount of available system memory. You can upgrade the memory, though, which is a boon compared to sealed rivals.
The on-board battery is a 9.6Ah/49Whr model while wireless connectivity is assured by the ubiquitous Intel Wireless-AC3165 module which, as its name implies, delivers 802.11ac Wi-Fi.
Here’s how the Jumper EZBook X4 performed in our suite of benchmark tests:
Passmark CPU: 2102
CPU-Z: 132 (single-thread); 465 (multi-thread)
Geekbench: 1854 (single-core); 5217 (multi-core); 5944 (compute)
Cinebench: OpenGL: 11.74 fps; CPU: 178
CrystalDiskMark: 561MBps (read); 473MBps (write)
Atto: 565MBps (read, 256mb); 474MBps (write, 256mb)
Windows Experience Index: 4.5
The speakers are reasonably powerful with little distortion and plenty of definition, and they nestle near the base of the display.
Speaking of the latter, Jumper judiciously opted for a 14-inch matte Full HD display with a reasonably bright output. It’s good enough for non-professional tasks although more demanding users might complain about the lack of contrast and color fidelity.
Touch typing on the keyboard is enjoyable. There’s good feedback, decent travel and enough distance between the keys. The only niggle we have is the fact that the keys are silver colored, and white characters on silver isn’t a great idea, especially in bright sunlight.
Perhaps the biggest issue of them all pertains to the trackpad. We found it to be inconsistent and unreliable, unlike the F7 which uses the same model. It is therefore likely to be a hardware-based problem which means that it will only be resolved via an updated model. Or we could have received an X4 with a dodgy touchpad, in which case, one can question the firm’s quality control processes.
The problems we encountered varied from non-responsive cursor movements, or jerky movements, to unregistered clicks – those sort of annoyances.
Battery life was excellent, exceeding six hours playing our YouTube count-up file at 100% brightness with the slider up to best performance.
The EZBook X4 is the first Gemini Lake laptop to land in our office but the older generation is still good value for money.
First and foremost, there’s the Teclast F7 (opens in new tab) which has an older CPU, a higher price tag ($300 – around £230) and based on our testing, a much shorter battery life – but comes with 50% more RAM and an arguably better touchpad.
If you don’t mind using a tablet PC with a keyboard and are happy with a smaller display, then the Alldocube KNote 5 (opens in new tab), with a Surface Type Cover-esque keyboard, may well fit the bill at $310 (around £235). You can’t upgrade the system memory though and connectivity is limited; but at least you get 802.11ac Wi-Fi.
Jumper’s EZBook 3S (opens in new tab) comes with an older CPU based on Apollo Lake but has 50% more RAM, is marginally cheaper and packs a much bigger SSD (256GB) which makes it a better choice if you want more storage capacity. A cheaper version with 64GB eMMC exists – the savings on the EZBook 3 Pro (opens in new tab) are worth it (almost $90 – around £70), which you could invest in a separate M.2 SSD.
The LapBook 12.3 (opens in new tab) from Chuwi is another cheaper alternative. It has 6GB RAM and a smaller display but a much higher screen resolution (140% better). The flipside is that it uses an older N3350 Celeron CPU and comes with a much smaller amount of (much slower) eMMC storage. You can add an M.2 SSD to it, though.
The business take
Bar the touchpad issue, the Jumper EZBook X4 is an excellent laptop for consumers and businesses alike. It has better battery life, better performance and is cheaper than the competition – although not by much.
There’s not much that the guys at Jumper can do to make the product better as this particular hardware combo has reached maturity. If you can cope with the usual caveats associated with purchasing hardware from mainland China, then the EZBook X4 should be high on your list.
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