Well, I became sick of carrying my non-retina macbook around and using RDP on it because nothing looks correct with the 1280×800 resolution especially if you RDP into remote desktops. I also don’t like taking the CyberPowerPC FangBook HX6 with me because it is too big for every day use. The old Dell 702X is now retired and really is too big to carry around … that left me with no real solution for a work computer that I can easily carry every day and also travel with.
I decided to go shopping and found the Asus T300 Chi on sale for under $500 and decided to pick it up. This is the Chinese version of the 12.5″ Macbook, same style metal body and almost the same keyboard layout. The screen is a healthy 1080P resolution and even the name Chi means “Air” in Chinese (Mandarin). They use this in promos for saying the laptop is thinner than air (making a pun at the Macbook Air) It also has the same Intel M type processor as the new 12.5″ Macbook, which I laughed at when I first heard of the .8 Ghz (yes 800 Mhz) …. but then I saw the benchmarks and my jaws dropped … at .8Ghz this processor was running almost at the same pace as the fourth generation I5 4200U clocked at 1.6Ghz … but how was this possible ? The answer is architecture …. Mhz/Ghz do not matter if the processor architecture is not efficient. A way to think about it is like a old 90s Mustang GT’s with the big 5.0L 8 cylinder engines. They were great cars and ran 0-60 in 6.4 seconds and a 1/4 mile in about 14.9 seconds. Now the new Mustang has a small EcoBoost 2.3L 4 cylinder… laugh when you first hear 2.3L 4 cylinder but then you hear the performance numbers which is 0-60 in 5.6 seconds and 1/4 mile in 14.1 seconds … how can something that is measurably smaller be faster? This is the same case with the Intel M processors … they are much more efficient. With lower clock speeds they can match or beat higher clocked processors which is an amazing feat … not to mention these new processors are fan-less (yes there are no fans in these laptops!). Intel has been working hard on reducing their die size to 14 nano-meters and with that die reduction comes better power usage and lower chip temperatures
See benchmarks here
That is not to say these new M processors are faster than the new I series processors or the fastest processors, they are not meant to be. They are meant to be faster than last generation low powered “I” series processors and more power efficient. Also for the form factor and low wattage, these processors absolutely are amazing.
In terms of gaming, this little laptop can play league of legends at 1080P with medium default details at 40-60FPS … which is amazing for a little fan-less computer. I uploaded a sample to youtube here. As you can see this little laptop is pretty good in terms of gaming … this little laptop plays league of legends better than my mid 2012 Macbook Pro with an I5 processor clocked at 2.5 Ghz … more than 3 times the clock speed of the processor in this machine and it still does not play the game any better. If your jaw isn’t dropping, I don’t know what will amaze you in terms of how much technology has changed since Intel released these low powered processors. This little processor only consumes 4 watts of energy and is more powerful than last generation I5 processors clocked at 2 to 3 times higher … and also use 2-4 times less wattage ! You can read more about the specs of these new M processors here . These are the Broadwell based processors, the new Skylake M cores just came out and I can only imagine they are faster than what I already experienced with these Broadwell generation M processors.
Enough about the performance, more about the laptop/hybrid tablet. The whole laptop including the wireless Bluetooth base weighs in at just about 3lbs. It is an all metal outer shell much like the Macbook and feels very premium in terms of weight and fit/finish. It is about .64 inches thick which is .04 inches thinner than the Macbook Air (which is already very thin). The model I bought comes with the .8Ghz M5Y10C processor, 4Gb of ram and 128 GB SSD and 1080P screen. There is an option for a higher resolution screen and a faster processor, but for what I need this laptop for, I do not need the higher resolution screen. The keyboard layout is very nice for a 12.5″ laptop, typing is very natural and I can type very fast on this laptop as if it were a full sized keyboard. The touch screen is very responsive and the trackpad is decent, not the best trackpad I have used but it isn’t the worst either. The trackpad reminds me of the trackpad in the X202E I reviewed also from Asus. Overall I think this is one of the best portable hybrid Windows machines out right now. My old Surface had an issue with the covers, since it was not hard like the Chi’s laptop base, it would flop when typing on your lap. The other transformers I have used from Asus were too slow .or had really low resolution screens. This is finally the perfect balance of performance, portability, screen quality/resolution and affordability. If you have the chance, pick one of these laptops up, you will not regret it. The only downside is the keyboard needs to be charged separately from the screen, this creates an awkward wire situation where you run a wire from the screen to the keyboard to charge it, luckily the keyboard battery lasts 10-15 hours from my experience and does not need to be charged all the time. I highly recommend this laptop for students and professionals as the ultimate portable Windows travel machine