[Canada Computers] [Canada Computers]/$200/13.3 IPS FHD(1920x1080)/Fanless/N3450/4GB RAM/32GB SSD+m.2/12.9mm metal chassis/Poorman's XPS 13
- Deal Link:
- Canada Computers
I know the price is $30 more now than the $199 when I posted the deal last week. But when I bought this for $200, I took a risk as there was absolutely no review of this laptop online, nothing. On the other hand, you know exactly what you will be getting if you buy it now.
I looked at the description of "12.9mm thin" and I told myself this had to be a lie, as the newest xps 13 is at 11.6mm. Therefore my fall-back plan was to manage a free return with full refund through Canada Computer's customer service, citing the incorrect height description. I was also encouraged by the fact that Canada Computers isn't registered in Manitoba, that is, they couldn't legally charge me the 8% RST, therefore I only had to pay $215 all-in.
But now that I own this laptop, I feel that this is the best $200 I have spent when it comes to laptops.
I am posting this deal, along with my review of this laptop (both performance and physical build) below, with a short list of lessons I learnt at the end, I hope you find this post helpful even if you choose not to buy this laptop.
Disclaimer: this laptop is not meant for demanding tasks like photoshop or autocad. You are buying a machine for casual use, such as, streaming (on its own FHD IPS screen or onto a TV/monitor via a micro-HDMI-to-HDMI cable), light gaming (such as hearthstone), internet surfing (reddit, RFD, etc.), university and highschool (note taking & homework done in MS office). Without adding a new m.2 drive to it, in order to not be frustrated, you have to a, do a fresh installation of windows 10 (I talk more about this below) because it doesn't even have enough space to update its stock windows 10 to the newest version; and b, do almost everything they mention on this page and multiple pages associated with it, it is a bit of work, but I believe it's worth the hassle: not only you get to spend less than $300 for an amazing ultrabook, but you also learn some tricks along the way.
First and foremost, I want you to know that there is basically no customer service or technical support provided by the manufacture, as you are paying $250 for a machine that feels like a macbook air/xps 13. Yes, these Chinese manufactures can keep their cost low because they spend almost nothing on R&D or customer support.
Fedex delivery, required signature, well packaged.
The CPU N3450, as expected, is relatively weak, 4GB single channel ram is decent and is definitely not the bottleneck of performance (the bottleneck is the CPU), SSD is quite sub-par as it's eMMC, benchmark shows that this machine is close to the bottom 1/7 of all laptops (14% percentile), here are the results from two separate runs:
here is the link to one of these runs:
The disk size of 32GB (or, 29GB) actually doesn't bother me at all. It is more than enough for me:
as you can see, with the newest version of windows 10 (10.0.17763.168), after installing the following: Chrome, Hearthstone, hearthstone tracker, Microsoft office (Excel, Word, power point), Adobe Acrobat Professional 11, Sogou input, and a bunch of small programs such as hardware monitor, cpuz, etc., I still have close to 7GB of space left. Therefore, even though it has an mSATA slot, I won't be expanding its storage.
The battery life is quite decent. Under power plan "high performance", with unlocked CPU wattage, playing youtube video at 1080, it can last around 4+ hours. I am sure if you turned on battery saver and put the cpu power limit back to 6 Watt, it should be able to last 6+ hours easily. I was watching a movie (2 hour movie) last night without plugging it in, streamed the movie onto my FHD TV with my mini-hdmi-to-hdmi cable (used second monitor only mode, so laptop's screen was off), after the 2 hour movie, I looked at the battery life, it said "9 hours remaining", I was like, , so much better than an apple TV!
The FHD 1920*1080 resolution is nice, that's about it, don't expect something breathtaking. It is IPS, however.
Despite the somewhat inferior specs, the machine has a very thin yet sturdy and premium feel full metal body, even the track pad is metal. The build quality is basically similar to a macbook air or a dell xps 13.
the description of "12.9mm thin" isn't a lie and that actually accounts for the rubber feet!
it has a micro-hdmi, and I have no problem streaming movies onto my FHD TV (somehow I have a micro-hdmi to hdmi cable that connects this laptop to my TV). the CPU is capable of 4k output according to here.
Things I learnt from buying and setting up this machine:
1, Windows 10 rocks. it is much smaller compared to Windows 7 in size and it finds all of the drivers for you, you just need to try your best to get used to it and learn where everything is.
2, best way to fully utilize windows 10 is to always do a fresh installation on your new laptop with the most up-to-date windows 10 installation media, this will save your laptop from having to update its stock windows 10 through microsoft update (in this case, I think it came with 1709, so 1803, and then 1809). unlike windows 7, where the ISO doesn't really change anymore. for windows 10, the installation media you create is always the latest version, in my case, version 1809.
3, don't install snappy driver under windows 10, there is no need and it might force you to do a fresh install of windows 10
4, don't try to install windows 7 onto these machines with eMMC flash and only usb-3 ports, it's just not worth the hassle. windows 10 is almost strictly better than windows 7 anyway. i used to be a windows 7 believer, but i have seen the light! However, you know those Windows 7 professional CoA (Certificate of Authenticity) you see on the back of older laptops? Those are still good as of today! I just used the W7P CoA from an old refurb dell latitude E6430 that I have to upgrade the windows 10 home that comes with this laptop to windows 10 professional, all I needed to do was to enter in the serial on the CoA!
5, N3450 and 4 GB of ram is actually sufficient for light gaming, surfing and streaming under windows 10, which is the OS that N3450 is designed for, you just need to make sure that you follow this page:
it is a bit of work, but it's worth it.
6, it boots (cold boot) up in a couple of seconds. when I am playing hearthstone, watching twitch or streaming onto my TV (i.e., when I am not multi-tasking), i actually don't notice any difference between this machine and my i7-6700HQ + 16GB ram dell inspiron 15!
To be honest, I really wish the CPU was something like a 5th generation i3, but again, N3450 generates so little heat (even after I unlock the CPU wattage, the highest I have seen is 60 Celsius) and requires no active cooling, this enables the 12.9mm thin fanless body. and the effective speed of a 5th generation i3 and this CPU is actually not materially different, despite what the benchmark suggestions.
Here is how you can expand the storage with a M.2 2280 SSD, credit to @amputato
here are some other reviews by fellow RFDers, i.e., I am trying to be as unbiased as I can:
LittleStone wrote: ↑ I'm using the even lower spec N3350 14" version. These are basically Canada Computers' rebranded Jumper Ezbook. There's m.2 (no nvme, Sara mode only). A cheapo SSD makes this usable for web browsing and light office work. I use it to watch live streaming. Speakers and webcam suck, but it's expected.
I'm still trying to get Chromium OS to work. Cloudready mostly function but touchpad doesn't work. Ubuntu is working fine even with touchpad.
TheRealSwatson wrote: ↑ So I got mine today, still updating windows 10. Havent touched TDP yet but I have to say i am VERY pleased with what I got for $199. Possibly best $200 i have spent. Body is straight up a macbook air with slight changes. Great feeling trackpad, decent keyboard with good travel and feel. Webcam is about the same quality as a macbook air. So, usable. Screen is very nice, backlight could be stronger but it's not so dim to be a problem. Speakers are bare minimum but they work. Battery seems decent as well. Hinge is very macbook esque as well. The power adapter is pretty much hot garbage though.
I would still buy at the new $249 price (even full price of $299 is cheaper than comparable specs) but you arent matching this $199 deal any time soon. Kudos to OP
TheRealSwatson wrote: ↑ No unfortunately, it's soldered. The American version of this uses two 3GB soldered dies. I was hoping they would at least have two 2GB dies if it was soldered but it's just one 4GB die so it's single channel only. This technically limits performance a bit but you have to remember this is an Atom quad core basically.
The manufacturer is listed as Canada Computers directly. I was able to increase TDP to 15watts from 6 watts but it's mostly useful for getting the GPU to clock up and stay there. Added some thermal paste and a thermal pad to help with this. The heatsink screws are too weak, I broke 2 of 4 just by overtightening and I was being very careful after the first one broke, but mounting pressure seems to be more than adequate as I can run prime 95 or games that take the cpu to 14-15W and stay under 75C
pouletdeboeufvege wrote: ↑ Very first impression : form factor is indeed fantastic with nice metal cover minus the ugly ismart logo. But a least it’s not on the front bezel like the vivo that I got ealier.
Linux that worked with the vivo does not boot from usb even after playing with a few bios configs.. hope to be be able to get it work as it could give a bit more breathing room..
Screen is somewhat cheap, I dont remember having had a device with that much light bleeding, just for that the vivo is well worth the premium in $$$
Still could be just perfect for my first intended usage, note taking and just playing around.
Still, impressed by what they can offer at such low cost.
timm3h wrote: ↑ I just picked one up today and figured I would give a quick review. I bought this for surfing the web, using Microsoft Office and Coding
The initial one I bought worked for the setup, but then did not work afterwards. It wouldn't power on. I took it back to the store, swapped it only to realise that the power cord port is on the left side and I had been plugging it into the headphone jack port...
Bang for the buck, you can't beat the price.
I have an XPS 15 and a 2017 macbook pro 13'
What I liked:
1080 resolution screen
Good battery life
Size/ weight. This thing is ultra portable.
What I dislike so far:
The power adapter cord is a bit short, and the connector should not be designed in a way that it can fit into the headphone jack.
The keyboard is not centered under the mouse, there is a row of buttons on the far right. This will just take some time to get used to.
The track pad isn't slippery enough and clicking and dragging is a bit of a pain. Try playing solitaire in store and you will see what I mean.
There is no back-lit keyboard, but I can't expect it for this price range.
There really is no support website, or any support I could find on the web. The instructions that come with the computer are a joke.
I have installed VS Code and Chrome on it. Chrome is a CPU hog 50-75% 600MB RAM. VS code uses around 15% when in the front ~400MB of RAM. As stated before by others, the CPU is the bottleneck.
After installing both I have 10.3 GB free storage.
Next steps for me, would be to try the speed up tutorial and try firefox instead of chrome.
No regrets at this point and I am happy with my purchase.
Thanks again to OP for posting a detailed review that got me considering this in the first place.
Mrafki1 wrote: ↑ Bought this laptop for my sister and here are my thoughts.
- The size and construction surprised me, for something so cheap the laptop seemed to be built fairly well.
- Since my sister just needs to browse the web the onboard 32GB EMMC storage was perfect after updating win 10 and installing chrome I had around 7gb free space.
I also threw in my old microSD card into the slot and it gave an additional 64gb of storage for photos and videos if she ever needs it.
- Keyboard surprised me as well, while the keyboard is certainly mushy it isn't as bad as I was led to believe and it is far superior to some keyboards I have tried on Chromebooks and lower end laptops.
- Battery life is solid got about 6 hours on one full charge.
- The screen had some noticeable light bleed on the bottom right, was a non-issue for my sister however because she didn't notice it and when I asked her if I should return it for a new one she said no.
- The keyboard is off center and takes some getting used to when typing.
- The fingerprint scanner was more of an annoyance than anything since it got in the way of me using the already small trackpad.
- The trackpad is very slippery and takes some getting used to.
All in all, I am very happy with this purchase. I see a lot of people complaining about this laptop on this thread but it's $200. You have to understand that at that price point you aren't going to get a 100% perfect product and you get what you pay for. I think this laptop is perfect for the type of people that only use a laptop to browse the web and watch movies.
fortissimo wrote: ↑ Interesting.
I don't notice any light bleed. IMHO, the keyboard is not off centre, the trackpad is. I don't mind the fingerprint sensor. The trackpad isn't that small, you have never seen small ones if you say so. The trackpad isn't too slippery (earlier comment said it has too much friction IIRC), so I guess it's very different for different people. (You can always use a mouse anyway, for me, even the best trackpad is still a compromise anyway).
Battery life should be between 5 to 5.5 hours. 6 is a bit stretching it. The TDP is 6W and the battery is 34W, you do the math. (Battery Bar also showing it runs at about 5.8W on mine, on average).
Keyboard isn't that mushy to me (and I am typing on an IBM keyboard right now, so I should be critical on this), but what it doesn't have is enough travel, but you expect that from a thin device. Use an external keyboard like I said about trackpad.
I got almost 12 GB free space after doing a run of "clean up disk", before I had about the same as yours, about 7GB.
MicroSD is ok for a removable data storage, but it is not meant for constant data read and write like a regular disk drive. If you really need more space regularly, put in an m.2 drive instead. They start at about $40. for a name brand one. (THe earlier mentioned WD Blue is about $65. at CC).
I agree the construction and built quality is very good, both inside and outside (I have opened and checked), it's not a cheap junk as one would expect from a no name computer.
The power adapter has the 2 pins of the same width, not an North America standard (I forgot to check if it's UL or CSA approved, I doubted.).
Weak link is the camera, only 2Mp, but not unexpected at this price. There are 2 mics though, now that is a surprise on a low cost device. However, I don't know if there is software to make use of them in a noise cancellation array mic mixing or not. Would be nice, but there is no special mixer I can find in the system.
The best for me is the FHD IPS LCD. This is really really good, regardless of price. I am impressed and it beats many of my other laptops.
-OY- wrote: ↑ yes, using the m2 sata as the boot drive. Performance increase is insane since the CPU no longer has to wait for the disk. Well worth the $65 for the drive.
Also, I fixed the physical touchpad buttons by installing the latest mainline kernel 4.20. I am thinking of writing a blog post of how to get Linux on this machine since it took me awhile to figure all this out.