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The first thing you notice when powering up the laptop is how noisy it can be even at rest. Switching the machine on, the CPU spiked to 3.5GHz momentarily before slowing down to 800MHz.
Once you get used to this occasional white noise, using the Lafite III is a pleasurable experience – the matte screen is an IPS model, meaning great viewing angles, along with vibrant and accurate colours.
The keyboard is a backlit affair with keys delivering good feedback (albeit on the softer end of the spectrum) and excellent travel. This is (subjectively) great for anyone looking for a good touch-typing laptop.
There is some flex in the keyboard but not enough to have a negative impact on the typing experience. The touchpad is excellent and highly responsive, as well as being nicely integrated with the palm rest, and benefiting from a thin silver border that delineates the area.
The two speakers deliver an average audio experience which was, again, to be expected. As for the laptop’s battery life, it reached 3 hours 50 minutes on our count-up timer test, which was a disappointment but understandable given the components used (remember that this machine has an additional hard disk drive).
Passmark CPU: 5556
CPU-Z: 740 (single-thread); 1664 (multi-thread)
Geekbench: 2112 (single-core); 4073 (multi-core); 4375 (compute)
Cinebench: OpenGL: 11.15 fps; CPU: 162
CrystalDiskMark: 1921 MBps (read); 709 MBps (write)
Atto: 1946 MBps (read, 256mb); 710 MBps (write, 256mb)
Sisoft Sandra (KPT): 5.3
Windows Experience Index: 5.7
The Lafite III performed admirably throughout all our benchmarks as one would expect. A generous amount of system memory (although not in dual-channel mode) and a fast SSD means that there’s no real bottleneck for mainstream use cases. It can also carry out more specialist scenarios like RAW image editing or financial analysis, but be aware of its limitations.
There are only a couple of other alternatives on the market in the UK. You will find a greater variety in the US where Clevo resellers are far more numerous.
The Asus Zenbook UX390UA is available at the time of writing for £999 ($1,320), a tad more than the Lafite III. It has a smaller display which translates into a higher pixel density, and a much smaller footprint and a sub-1kg weight. There are far fewer ports but the 512GB SSD and the longer battery life should make up for this.
The Dell Inspiron 13 5378 is certainly not as thin, nor does it have as many connectors as the Lafite III, but it offers a touchscreen display and a more comprehensive aftersales warranty (PC Specialist offers a one-month collect and return service only, which can be upgraded). Also bear in mind that Dell has regular promotions.
As for the other vendors (HP or Lenovo), equivalent thin-and-light systems – with 16GB RAM and a Core i7 CPU – cost more than £1,500 ($2,000), a significant premium. Competition is far more aggressive should you opt for a lower specification.
If you want an Ultrabook that can support up to 32GB of RAM, multiple hard disk drives, multiple displays and offers tons of connectivity options, then the Lafite III is the ideal candidate – especially if you don’t want to break the bank.
But the laptop is not without its flaws.
The warranty should be better, as the baseline coverage is a pitiful one month only. However, note that upgrading to a 12-month collect and return service only costs £5 – it’s hard to see why PC Specialist doesn’t simply absorb this minimal cost and make that the default warranty. At any rate, if you do buy this notebook, make sure you select the warranty upgrade, as it would be foolish not to for the sake of saving a fiver.
Another downside is the finish of the Lafite III which should have been better considering the cost of this notebook. If far lesser known companies like Chuwi or Jumper can do it, then PC Specialist (and indeed Clevo) simply has no excuse.
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Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website builders and web hosting when DHTML and frames were in vogue and started narrating about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium.