Chuwi HeroBook full review

Chinese brands such as Xiaomi, Huawei and Oppo repeatedly show us that quality does not have to be linked to excessive pricing, and laptop maker Chuwi is no different. Its line of Windows 10 laptops includes relatively low-spec models that are affordable but also capable.

Compare this Chuwi HeroBook to an HP Envy or MacBook Air and you're going to be disappointed, but at a tenth of their price some of its shortcomings can be overlooked.

The HeroBook is not a powerful laptop, nor is it the most attractive we've seen. But it is all you need to get online, play 4K videos and type up emails and documents. What's more, it offers a large - if low-resolution - screen, a portable design and long battery life.

Where to buy Chuwi HeroBook in the UK

The cheapest place we found the Chuwi HeroBook at the time of writing was Geekbuying, a Chinese retailer that ships products to the UK at no extra charge (you may, however, incur import duty, at 20% of the value on the shipping paperwork).

Current pricing for the HeroBook is just £140.68, or if you're buying in the US or Europe $165.99 or €148.28. At this price it's cheaper than any laptop in our best budget laptops chart.

We reviewed the HeroBook with a 1366x768-pixel display, though we have since found a full-HD model on Amazon US for $219.99. This version is not yet available on Amazon UK.

Unlike some mainstream laptops you don't get to customise the HeroBook's spec, but you can bump up the meagre 64GB of internal storage with a microSD card (up to 128GB) or an M2 SSD.

Chuwi HeroBook

Chuwi HeroBook Build & Design

Chuwi makes affordable laptops that are more attractive than the HeroBook, including the ultra-thin AeroBook and virtually bezel-less LapBook Air, but the HeroBook is no ugly sister.

We do have some reservations with the display, a 16:9 TN panel which may be too dull for use in some conditions (though the matte coating helps), and by today's standards is pretty low-res at just 1366x768 pixels. Neither are we in love with the keyboard, which has sizeable 17mm key caps with 3mm travel, but it's all a bit clunky and loud. It's also a US keyboard. But the HeroBook otherwise has a nice design.

Chuwi HeroBook

It's plastic, sure, though we can't really expect a fancy aluminium coat at this price. Despite its affordability the HeroBook has relatively slim bezels, a huge 5.75in multi-touch trackpad and a sizeable 14.1in display. It's also easily portable, weighing in at 1.5kg and just 21mm thick.

Around the edges you'll find a smattering of ports and connections, with two USB (1x USB 2.0, 1x USB 3.0), Micro-HDMI, a 3.5mm headphone jack, DC charging port and the aforementioned microSD slot. Above the display is a 0.3Mp webcam, which is low-resolution but sufficient for video calls.

Chuwi HeroBook

There is an odd marking on the left-hand side where it looks like there should be a USB-C port but is not, which suggests to us that Chuwi is using the same chassis as for one of its other models. On the underside of the HeroBook is a little trapdoor, under which you can quickly add in an M2 SSD.

You won't find any fan vents or speaker grilles around the chassis, despite the fact Chuwi insists there are stereo speakers inside. Actually the speaker is hidden below the hinge, and it's not remotely good quality with muffled, often tinny audio, and lacking any kind of bass, but it is plenty loud enough for watching movies and YouTube clips.

Chuwi HeroBook

YouTube music clips perhaps not, since it just murdered one of our favourite Pink tracks. We would strongly recommend connecting some portable speakers if you want to continue enjoying your favourite music, since it was actually pretty painful to hear.

Of course, while the plastic design is not ideal for dissipating heat, the low-power processor inside isn't going to get as hot as those in some power laptops. A bonus of this is the HeroBook's entirely silent operation.

Chuwi HeroBook

Chuwi HeroBook Core Hardware & Performance

Running the show is a 14nm Intel Atom x5-E8000, which is clocked at 2GHz. It's a low-power chip that runs at just 5W, which means good things for battery life, but it's not so great for performance.

As we noted above the HeroBook is capable for daily computing tasks, but its integrated Intel HD N3000 graphics are not up to much for gaming, comparable to the GeForce 310M or Radeon HD 5450, and this laptop is also pretty light on memory with just 4GB DDR4 RAM.

As soon as you have more than a few tabs open in the browser or several programs open at once you'll note everything starting to slow down.

Chuwi HeroBook

We ran a few basic benchmarks on the HeroBook, though we weren't expecting to be blown away.

In Geekbench 4 it managed 2305 points multi-core and 773 points single-core. When you consider that today's top phones score in excess of 10- or 11,000 points, that really does make the HeroBook seem rather pathetic, but remember that most phones now offer more power than people will ever actually use. For a budget laptop things could be worse.

In PCMark10 it turned in similarly low performance, with an overall score of 820 points. We also saw 2,500 points for Essentials, 1,182 for Productivity, but just 509 for Digital Content Creation.

We also ran 3DMark Cloud Gate, and it turned in a lowly 1,476-point score.

There's a 5,000mAh or 38Wh battery inside the HeroBook, and thanks to a low-power processor and a low-resolution display it is capable of good things in terms of runtime. Chuwi claims you can get up to 9 hours usage, which of course is entirely dependent on what you do with it, and we saw more like 5 hours in real-world use.

We're pleased by its support for 24W quick-charging. It's frustrating that this isn't over USB-C, however, and you should also note that the HeroBook ships with an EU two-pin plug, so you'll need to carry an adaptor.

Chuwi HeroBook Conclusion

This is not the most attractive or most powerful laptop we've ever seen, but it is one of the cheapest. If you're on a tight budget and just need a laptop to get online, type emails and watch video, the HeroBook is all you need. A portable design, a large screen and decent battery life help to make up for some of its shortcomings.

This review has been adapted from an original article written by Sara Piquer-Marti on PCWorld.es.

Specs

Chuwi HeroBook: Specs

  • 14.1in (1366x768, 16:9) anti-glare display
  • Windows 10 Home
  • 2GHz Intel x5-E800 14nm quad-core processor
  • Intel HD Graphics N3000
  • 4GB DDR4 RAM
  • 64GB eMMC storage, m2 SSD and 128GB microSD expansion slots
  • dual-band 802.11n Wi-Fi
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • 1x USB 3.0
  • 1x USB 2.0
  • Micro-HDMI
  • 3.5mm headphone jack
  • stereo speakers
  • 0.3Mp webcam
  • 17mm keycaps, 3mm keypitch
  • 5.75in multi-touch trackpad
  • 5,000mAh (38Wh) battery, 24W fast charge (DC), claimed 9-hour battery life
  • 332x214x21.3mm
  • 1.39kg