Usage and performance
The one big weakness of the F7 is its battery life. At just over two hours, it is simply not good enough and is about half what other devices based on Intel’s N3450 CPU managed to achieve. We retested the F7 several times using the same YouTube test (running a count-up timer at 100% brightness until shutdown) and got almost the same figures.
Here’s how the Teclast F7 performed in our suite of benchmark tests:
Passmark CPU: 2134
CPU-Z: 158 (single-thread); 613 (multi-thread)
Geekbench: 1374 (single-core); 4227 (multi-core); 7974 (compute)
Cinebench: OpenGL: 12.35 fps; CPU: 163
CrystalDiskMark: 552MBps (read); 456MBps (write)
Atto: 557MBps (read, 256mb); 458MBps (write, 256mb)
Sisoft Sandra (KPT): 2.21
Windows Experience Index: 4.2
However, when it came to sheer performance, this laptop exceeded all the N3450-based devices we’ve tested on all benchmarks – and that is partly because of the speedy SSD used, one that easily outdid eMMC-based hardware. This is definitely the way to go.
The F7 is also one of the very few Chinese laptops that come with an unlocked BIOS, and we checked it to make sure that the Power Limit option was not disabled. Disabling it would bump up the speed of the CPU which would have a detrimental impact on battery life (but would improve overall performance).
The keyboard felt snappy, with decent travel and feedback. The touchpad was also very responsive and accurate, one of the best we’ve seen on value laptops. The display, a matte IPS affair, was similarly impressive with good color accuracy.
Jumper’s EZBook 3S (opens in new tab) is marginally more expensive but packs a much bigger SSD (256GB) which obviously makes it a better choice if you want more storage capacity. The rest of the specification (RAM, CPU, screen dimensions, connectivity) are exactly the same which makes the final decision easier. A cheaper version with 64GB of eMMC storage exists, but the savings to be made on the EZBook 3L Pro (opens in new tab) are a false economy. Foot the extra $30 or so instead.
The LapBook 12.3 (opens in new tab) from Chuwi is another slightly cheaper alternative. It uses the same CPU/RAM combination and has a smaller display but a much higher screen resolution (140% higher, in fact). The flipside is that it comes with slower eMMC storage, with less capacity, too. You can add an M.2 SSD to it though.
And if your budget can’t extend to $299.99 (£227), there’s the Yepo 737A (opens in new tab) which sports the same hardware (with a slightly smaller display and form factor) with a 64GB eMMC storage subsystem. However, you can use the savings (a substantial $80 – around £60) to add a much bigger M.2 solid-state drive for considerably smoother performance.
The dark horse of the competition remains the DeeQ A3 (opens in new tab) which costs the same as the F7 at the time of writing. It is peculiar in that it uses a Celeron J1900 processor, a desktop chip, plus it combines 8GB of RAM with a 64GB SSD and a 500GB hard disk drive. Expect it to be heavier and have a worse battery life than Teclast’s laptop.
We couldn’t find a similarly configured, brand new laptop (thin-and-light, Full HD display, 6GB RAM or more system memory, 128GB or more storage) for less than $500 or £500.
The business take
This is an excellent entry-level laptop. Windows 10 runs smoothly, it is portable, reasonably quick and has a good pair of input peripherals and an equally good quality display. The battery life is appalling, though, and is this device’s most glaring weakness.
We might have been unlucky with a dodgy unit as no battery-related issues have yet been reported (one reviewer mentioned a shorter battery life, but nothing as extreme as what we experienced). Businesses will like its clean, conservative design and balanced performance, while tweakers will appreciate the fact that this laptop’s BIOS is unlocked.
Bar the short battery life – which could be an issue pertaining to this being a preproduction model – this is one of the best sub-$300 laptops on the market. That said, there’s a new wave of Gemini Lake laptops around the corner – but for now, the Teclast F7 is the one to beat in this price bracket.
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