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Chuwi SurBook Mini Review – How Good Is This Cheap Surface Clone?

The Chuwi SurBook Mini is a Windows tablet out of China with a kickstand, keyboard and stylus. How good is this Surface clone? Read my review to find out.

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The Chuwi SurBook Mini is a 10.8-inch Windows tablet that is quite similar to the Microsoft Surface 3 but with more recent hardware. Its highlights are a very nice full HD display, an Intel Celeron N3450 quad-core processor, and a design that is almost identical to the Surface series. It costs just under 250 Dollars. How good can such a cheap Windows tablet be? That’s what you’ll find out in my Chuwi SurBook Mini review.

Chuwi SurBook Mini on* GearBest

Design & Build Quality

Chuwi SurBook Mini with kickstand

As you can see, the design of the SurBook Mini is indeed very similar to the Surface series from Microsoft. On the back, we’re getting a kickstand and we even get those fan slots around the device – even though there are no fans.

The build quality is very nice. It has a full metal body, feels very solid and quite high-end. On the top, there is a small plastic part but the rest is aluminum. That goes for the kickstand and its hinge too. It really feels solid and you can pull out the kickstand quite far.

It is not the thinnest Windows tablet but its 8.8 millimeters are still alright. The same goes for the weight. It is 748 gram which is fine for a Windows device. But pretty much all Android tablets are lighter.

Ports, Camera & Speakers

As with the Surface series, there is a microSD card slot underneath the kickstand. It can hold cards with a capacity of up to 128GB. On the right side, we’re getting a 3.5-millimeter audio jack, two normal sized USB 3.0 ports and one USB Type C connector in the middle. The latter one is used to charge the tablet.

The normal size USB ports work as expected and you can connect hard drives or other accessories. The USB Type C connector works as well, but not always perfect. The connection itself is fine but because the frame is angled a bit, not all USB Type C cables fit perfectly. Most do, but not all and I really have to jam my Type C adapter in there to get a connection.

Chuwi SurBook Mini USB Type C ports

All the way on the bottom is a connector for an optional keyboard cover which looks almost identical to Microsofts Type Cover. As of now, it is not available yet. Instead, I’ve used the device with my Microsoft Universal Mobile Keyboard and that works great.

The 2-megapixel front-facing camera is disappointing. It’s fine if you use it outside but in dim lighting situations, the quality is bad. I really wish we would get better resolution cameras in Windows tablets. On the back, we get a 2-megapixel camera and the quality is not much better. You won’t be able to scan documents with it nicely unless you’re in a very bright office.

The fake fan slots are not totally useless. On the left side, we get two speakers underneath them. Apparently, those are two speakers but since they are both placed on the same side, you won’t get any kind of stereo feeling. The sound quality is fine for some YouTube but if turn up the volume all the way the audio quality drops a bit.

Fully laminated full HD screen

Chuwi SurBook Mini test

Let’s take a look at the screen which is one major highlight of the Chuwi SurBook Mini. It’s a 10.8-inch display with an aspect ratio of 3:2 and a full HD resolution of 1920 x 1280. In addition to that, the screen is fully laminated so there is no gap between the IPS panel and the touchscreen. That’s awesome and quite rare for cheap Windows tablets.

At the same time, the display is very bright at around 450 nits. That’s a lot, especially at this price. Because of that, I’ve been able to work outside quite nicely. There are some downsides to the screen too. It does not seem to feature any kind of gorilla glass. Instead, they pre-applied a screen protector which attracts fingerprints easily.

I’ve also noticed a problem with the touchscreen. If you touch it very fast, the touch is not always registered. As you can see in my video, that is only the case if you touch the screen very fast. Otherwise, the touchscreen works as expected. Now, once I’ve known this I didn’t have any problems. But still, it would be nice if Chuwi releases some kind of update to fix that.

Overall, I really like the display. Colors look nice, the contrast is great, and the viewing angles are good too. It’s one of the nicer screens I’ve seen in this price range and I enjoyed watching YouTube and Netflix on it. It’s also not possible to get a nicer screen on a Windows tablet at this price. From more famous brands we usually get tablets like the Lenovo MIIX 320 which start out with an HD resolution only.

By the way, you can get an active stylus for the SurBook Mini. I didn’t try the pen but it is not pressure-sensitive anyways. So while it should be more precise than your finger, don’t expect to get anything similar to a Surface Pen or Apple Pencil.

Hardware & Performance

Chuwi SurBook Mini Design

Inside the Chuwi SurBook Mini runs an Intel Celeron N3450 with 4GB of RAM and a 64GB internal storage. The N3450 is a quad-core processor of the Apollo Lake generations which runs at 1.1 to 2.2GHz.

As you can see in my benchmark comparison, the performance is much better than a typical Intel Atom x5 tablet. The x5 usually sits inside tablets like the Lenovo MIIX 320 or ASUS Transformer Book Mini. But, obviously, the performance is not as good as an Intel Core processor. You can play simpler games like Asphalt Xtreme or even Cuphead but don’t expect to play the latest Call of Duty on here.

I wouldn’t recommend it as a gaming tablet. In this price range, I would choose an Android device for that. Instead, it’s more of an Office tablet and for that it is great.

In fact, I worked quite a lot with the Chuwi SurBook Mini. The performance is good enough to have several tabs in Chrome open and write in Microsoft Word at the same time. You can do some decent multitasking on here. Even while editing a 24-megapixel RAW file in Photoshop, I was still able to switch between Chrome and Photoshop without any lagging. You might see some lagging though, if you are editing several files in Photoshop at the same time.

Photoshop runs not bad at all on this tablet. I edited several pictures on here and didn’t encounter any major problems. As you might expect, the rendering of some filters or the preview while exporting might take a bit longer. But overall, it’s certainly possible to do some light Photoshop work.

YouTube runs well too. Tablets with an Atom x5 have huge problems with YouTube. But here I’ve been able to watch two full HD videos at the same time without any stuttering. Sometimes it takes a second though to switch to full-screen view.

So overall, the performance is pretty good. Especially at this price and especially if you consider that we get an Atom x5 chipset only with famous competitors like Lenovo, ASUS or Acer.

Windows 10 on tablets

Let’s talk just a bit about Windows 10. On here runs the same Windows 10 you probably are familiar with from your notebook or desktop PC. It’s a tablet so if you’re using it without a mouse and keyboard I recommend activating the tablet mode. That way it is much easier to use it with your fingers.

I recommend browsing through the Windows store too because inside you find touch-friendly apps like feed readers or Netflix. The Windows store is far from perfect but there actually are some nice apps in there. And usually, it’s much easier to navigate those on a touchscreen than the corresponding websites.

Battery life

Let’s take a look at the battery life. The 8000mAh battery of the Chuwi SurBook Mini lasted just over 6 hours in my standard battery test. So, like with all Windows tablets, that is not perfect. But considering the price and the bright screen that is not too bad. For my battery test, I’m always looping an HD video at 50 percent brightness and activated WiFi.

How long the battery lasts in real life use obviously depends on what you’re doing. I usually got just over 4 hours to just over 6 hours when doing Office work like Microsoft Word, Chrome, and some light Photoshop editing. Because the display is so bright, you might be able to get a bit more out of it. I usually had the brightness set to 50 percent and WiFi and Bluetooth were activated the whole time.

Chuwi SurBook Mini Review: Final Verdict

Chuwi SurBook Mini unboxing

So, can I recommend the Chuwi SurBook Mini? Considering the price, the build quality and the display are great. The performance is pretty good too and certainly fine for office work. While the battery life is far from perfect, it is not really possible to get a better battery life at this price. It’s kind of sad though that there is a small problem with the touchscreen. I hope Chuwi will release an update for it.

Overall and especially when considering the price, I think the Chuwi SurBook Mini is a very good Windows tablet. I enjoyed using it. More famous brands like Lenovo, ASUS, and Acer usually offer much weaker hardware in this price range. By now, I would recommend staying away from Atom x5 tablets. They are pretty slow.

The next best alternative is the Acer Switch 3 which offers a bit faster processor, and a bigger but darker display. Depending on the country it costs between 400 and 500 US Dollars but including accessories like a keyboard. Another Chinese based and very similar priced alternative is the Cube Mix Plus. While the design is not as nice and the screen is not fully laminated, it offers a much better performance with its Intel Core m3 processor. And the 128GB SSD is replaceable.


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Chuwi SurBook Mini unboxing
Chuwi SurBook Mini Review:The Chuwi SurBook Mini offers a lot of nice features. That includes a laminated full HD screen, a fast Intel N3450 processor and a nice build quality with its metal body. Considering its price, it is a pretty nice Surface 3 clone out of China.
Positive
  • Good build quality
  • Laminated full HD screen
  • Decent performance
  • Good value
Negative
  • Battery life coule be better
  • Cameras almost useless
  • Some Typ C cables might not work
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