Really cheap notebooks are a chapter in itself. While the Chinese mobile phone manufacturers from Cubot to Xiaomi have already proven many times that there are also good mobile phones for less than 200€, the really convincing cheap notebooks are still relatively rare; here we can name Jumper EzBook 3 Pro. With the Teclast Tbook F7, a new candidate is now entering the race. Costing only 250$, the manufacturer promises an office-suitable notebook with SSD, 14-inch Full-HD display, 6GB RAM and a stylish metal case. Find out in the following review whether all that glitters on the device is really gold.
Design and build quality
When looking at the Teclast F7 in a sober way, nobody would think that this notebook costs less than 400$. Thanks to the metal casing, the laptop is very stable and of high quality. The good impression is also confirmed when touching it. The casing is torsion-resistant, shows no inaccuracies and does not creak even under pressure load. With a depth of 1.3cm at the thickest point at the back and 1cm at the front, the Teclast F7 is extremely slim. The weight of 1.3kg is also very comfortable, making it easy to store in your backpack or shoulder bag.
Connectors include two USB 3.0 ports, micro-HDMI, a headphone port, a micro-SD slot and a power supply port. On the bottom side there is also a detachable shaft under which the M2-SSD is hidden. It can be replaced if you want to upgrade the memory of your notebook. Four rubber studs on the underside ensure a stable footing. However, the Teclast F7 has to put up with one criticism: When closed, it takes quite a lot of effort to open the laptop. Two hands must definitely be used here.
The Teclast F7 houses a large touch pad of 10 x 8cm. The lower area can be pressed down to simulate a right or left mouse click. As far as the accuracy of the touch pad is concerned, Teclast can only be praised for its built-in quality. While in this price range you actually expect inaccurate trackpads without multi-touch support, but the manufacturer placed value on a pleasant operation. The touch pad comes from the renowned manufacturer Synaptics and works with the Windows Precision Drivers. Wipe gestures for scrolling or zooming are therefore no problem and are surprisingly easy to use. So with the Teclast F7 you are not forced to carry a mouse around with you to avoid a nervous breakdown when operating the notebook. Very nice!
The keyboard of the Teclast F7 has a QWERTY layout and is therefore actually designed for the US market. In Windows, the input language can of course be changed, but then the labeling is wrong, in case you’re only used to the QWERTZ layout. If you occasionally have to look at the keyboard when writing, you should therefore use keyboardstickers. A keyboard cover specially produced for the Teclast F7 with the QWERTZ layout (such as for the Xiaomi notebooks) is not available for the Teclast.
Apart from that, the keyboard has a very high build quality and surprises with its good quality, just like the touch pad. The keystroke is easy to use and has good feedback. There is no cheap rattling noise during typing and the Teclast doesn’t make more typing noise than my MacBook Pro, which is 5 times as expensive.
At 14 inches, the Teclast F7 is one of the larger notebooks. The display resolves with Full-HD at 1920 x 1080 pixels, resulting in a pixel density of 157ppi. So if you take a closer look, you can still see individual pixels, but the image is definitely sharp enough for everyday use – the competition actually never offers a higher resolution. Incidentally, the panel is not a cheap TN panel, but IPS. Here, too, high-quality hardware was used. The colours appear strong and bright and the contrasts are also satisfactory. As is typical for IPS, a very high viewing angle stability is also provided. The brightness of the display is absolutely sufficient for the use in the flat and usually you get along with 50 or 75%. However, the panel is not suitable for outdoor use. One reason for this is that the brightness is not sufficient. On the other hand, the display is not anti-glare, so that you have problems with readability when exposed to sunlight. The illumination is satisfactorily uniform. On closer inspection, it becomes apparent that there are small halos on the sides which are brighter than the rest of the display. However, this is not noticeable during use.
Overall, the display of the Teclast F7 is still very good despite its poor readability outdoors. IPS technology is not a matter of course in this price range and colours, contrast and brightness are also harmonious. Displays, which are also suitable for outdoor use, are only available in notebooks for at least 400$.
The Teclast F7 features the popular Intel N3450 of the Apollo Lake series. The Intel processor clocks at 1.1 GHz in the basic clock rate and reaches up to 2.2 GHz at full load. It is supported by 6GB DDR3 RAM, which are firmly soldered. Multitasking is therefore no problem: the notebook gets along well with several browser tabs and a few programs. The graphics are provided by the integrated Intel HD 500 GPU, which is a slimmed-down version of the Intel i-Series GPUs for the CPUs of the Apollo Lake series. Sufficient storage space is provided by the 128 GB SSD memory, which can be expanded with the Micro-SD card connection, or even completely replaced. The speed of the SSD with 531MB/s in reading and 438MB/s in writing is more than decent for such an inexpensive device. Those who need more memory can either replace the SSD via the slot, leave a micro-SD card or a small USB stick permanently inserted and access cloud memory.
As far as everyday performance is concerned, the Teclast F7 is very suitable for office use. I used the notebook for 4 days to write texts for Chinahandys.net, manage our website and hold video conferences via Skype. The operating speed was sufficient throughout and I didn’t long for my desktop PC, which is really surprising at such an affordable price. Of course, the notebook is not suitable for intensive tasks such as video editing, sprawling multitasking or gaming. However, you can use Photoshop or play League of Legends at low graphic details with good frame rate and CS:Go with usable frame rate. 4K videos can also be played without restriction. When scrolling the video, the Teclast F7 occasionally takes a second to start playback, but this is bearable.
How to remove performance restriction
The Teclast F7 can achieve even more performance with a simple trick (shown by Techtablets.com). Attention: with the increasing power, also higher waste heat is produced, with which the F7 cannot cope in the worst case. This measure is at your own risk. For this purpose, the limitation of the power consumption in the bios must be lifted. This allows the notebook to use more than 9V when more resources are needed. However, the battery life is somewhat shorter due to the higher energy consumption. This is how it works:
- Press the Escape key during startup to enter the bios
- Select the tab “Advanced”.
- Go to “CPU Configuration” and then to “CPU Power Management” and there to “Power Limit 1 Enable”. Set the entry to “Power Limit 1 Disabled””.
After a few benchmarks and gaming tests, we can recommend this setting without hesitation. There is no overheating and even during gaming the CPU does not heat up to more than 80°C. But it does no harm to keep an eye on the temperature, especially in midsummer. They did a nice job here. The reason why it does not overheat is that the Teclast has a very large passive cooler compared to other Apollo Lake units.
Overall, the Teclast F7 Pro is more than satisfactory in terms of performance. Of course, you can’t expect high-end performance. Office tasks such as browsing, YouTube, Word and simple games run very quickly and without annoying loading times.
The Teclast F7 is delivered with preinstalled Windows 10 Home Edition. The system is set to English, but you can simply download and install another language package in the language settings. Fortunately, the Windows 10 system is already activated and there are no unnecessary programmes on the OS. If you want to reinstall Windows, you should first read out the licence-key with an appropriate tool. Actually the digital license should remain however deposited.
Wifi with b/g/n/ac is available for wireless connection to the Internet. Here too, the Teclast F7 scores with current standards. During downloading, the notebook draws up to 100Mbit from my 120Mbit line, so that enough bandwidth is still available for watching 4K videos on YouTube. Bluetooth is also supported with the quite new 4.2 standard and works without problems in the test.
The two USB 3.0 slots can be used to connect to third-party devices. My USB dongles and 8TB external hard drive were recognized without problems. However, the speed of the Micro-SD card slot is somewhat limited (25MB/s reading and 20MB/s writing). For saving external data and as a “data grab” that’s fine, but you have to be patient when copying. Displays with Full-HD resolution at 60hz can also be connected to the Micro HDMI port.
The internal speaker is located below the hinge and is therefore not visible. The sound is of average quality and is enough to watch a YouTube video from time to time. There is hardly any overdriving, but there are hardly any basses either. For a decent sound experience you have to connect Bluetooth boxes or use the 3.5mm headphone jack. With both options you get a good quality.
The webcam has 2 megapixels. The image is relatively blurry and is just about suitable for occasional Skype conferences. However, it is pleasing that the internal microphone records the own voice with a good quality.
The battery of the Teclast F7 measures 38Wh. It is charged with a 12V/2A adapter, which takes 2 hours and 45 minutes. The notebook’s battery performance can be rated as average. If you torture the Teclast F7 with 3D games and full brightness, it will only last 2 hours with one charge. Finally, the battery also shows that the F7 is not the right device for such applications. But if the brightness is set to 50 to 75%, simple office work can be done for a nice 6 hours without any limitation in power consumption and 7 hours with this limitation. Streaming a full-HD YouTube video at 50% display brightness, the notebook still lasts for 8 hours. All in all, the battery life is not exhilarating, but the Teclast F7 puts you in a good position for everyday use.