If you’re in need of a laptop but don’t want to spend a fortune, there are affordable options available. Even well-known brands like Acer or Lenovo offer budget-friendly models. But what about no-name devices from China? We took the plunge and took a closer look at two cheap laptops from Banggood. In this article, we’ll show you what kind of hardware you can get for little money, what special features to consider, and whether importing is worth it.
Affordable Providers and Manufacturers
Asian retailers like Banggood and Aliexpress offer a wide range of affordable laptops. However, brands like Chuwi, Teclast, Jumper, or Alldocube are not well-known in most parts of the world. For our evaluation, we chose the Teclast F7 Plus 3 priced at 329 Euro and the Chuwi Gemibook Pro priced at 310 Euro. The latter is also available in Czech warehouses, which significantly speeds up shipping. These are not netbooks in the 11-inch format, but rather full-fledged 14-inch models with IPS displays and Full HD resolution. It can even get cheaper: the compact Jumper Ezbook 3 Pro with a size of 13.3 inches costs only 200 Euro on Banggood.
They offer five more devices from lesser-known manufacturers such as Bmax, Coolby, Cenava, or Alldocube in the price range below 300 Euro. There are over 25 notebooks with Windows 10 operating system for up to 350 Euro. Aliexpress also offers affordable Chuwi models in sizes 11.6 and 14 inches. The cheapest laptop we could find is the compact Chuwi Herobook Air with an 11.6-inch display for 177 Euro.
Design and Build Quality
Most budget laptops are clamshell models without touchscreens. The screen aspect ratio is usually 16:9, as seen in the Teclast F7 Plus 3, but there are a few models with a 3:2 aspect ratio, such as the Chuwi Gemibook Pro. Not surprisingly, plastic dominates the casing material, although there are some exceptions with metal casings. These products come in various sizes, ranging from 11.6 inches to 15.6 inches.
At first glance, the Chuwi Gemibook Pro looks surprisingly high-quality for its price. The 14-inch device, with its 3:2 aspect ratio, resembles modern notebooks like the Huawei Matebook 14s. This is achieved by using metal on the back of the display, while the lower part of the casing is made of plastic. The bezels around the screen are pleasantly thin. Weighing just under 1.3 kilograms, the Gemibook is light and easy to carry. It has compact dimensions of 31 x 23 x 2 centimeters. The build quality is better than expected for the price, although the keys on the keyboard feel a bit mushy and lack a solid tactile feedback.
In terms of aesthetics, the Teclast F7 Plus 3 is less appealing. It is made entirely of plastic, as is typical for budget laptops. It has a fairly large bezel below the display. The build quality is not as impressive, as the casing and keyboard rattle noticeably. It has a weight of 1.3 kilograms and dimensions of 32 x 22 x 2 centimeters, which are similarly compact to the Chuwi model.
The main reason for the low prices of these laptops lies in their weak hardware. Most of them use Intel Celeron processors from the not-so-new Gemini Lake series, such as the N4020 with two cores or the N4120 with four cores. These processors are from 2019. Occasionally, you’ll find notebooks with the quad-core Intel Pentium Silver processor or the dual-core AMD 3020e processor. While these CPUs offer comparable performance, they can’t compete with an Intel Core i3 or AMD Ryzen 3. The newest Celeron generation is the Jasper Lake series, which is used in the Alldocube GTBook, priced at 310 Euro.
The Teclast F7 Plus 3 is equipped with the Intel Celeron J4120, while the Chuwi Gemibook Pro uses the Intel Celeron J4125. The performance is sufficient for basic tasks and running the Windows 10 operating system, even though some patience may be required despite the 8GB of RAM. Applications take a little longer to start. These laptops do not have a dedicated graphics card; instead, they rely on the integrated Intel UHD Graphics 600 GPU. In the PCmark 10 benchmark, both laptops achieved scores of 1800 points.
For comparison, the older but twice as expensive Huawei Matebook D15 with AMD Ryzen 5 3500U scored just above 3000 points in the same test. The speedy Honor Magicbook 14 with Intel Core i5-1135G7 of the 11th generation reaches about 4640 points but comes with a price tag of 730 Euro. This comparison is not entirely fair, but it gives a rough idea of the performance you can expect from a laptop priced around 300 Euro. Gaming is not recommended, except through cloud gaming, assuming you have a good internet connection. However, these laptops perform well enough for simple office applications, web browsing, and streaming movies and series.
Most notebook manufacturers tend to compromise on display quality for budget models, along with the processors. Many well-known brands settle for simple LCD screens with TN panels and a maximum resolution of 1366 x 768 pixels for entry-level devices. While this is acceptable for smaller 11.6-inch displays, it becomes noticeably pixelated on larger screens. However, more and more models under 300 Euro now come with IPS panels and Full HD displays. This is already a standard feature in most no-name notebooks imported from China.
TN panels are cheap to produce and offer fast response times. However, they have weaknesses in terms of contrast, colors, and especially viewing angles. IPS panels, on the other hand, provide significantly better image quality and viewing angle stability. However, they are more expensive to manufacture, consume more power, and have slightly slower response times compared to TN panels.
While cheaper laptops from well-known brands still often rely on TN panels, most of the no-name notebooks from China already come with IPS panels. The Teclast F7 Plus 3 uses a matte Full HD display with a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels and an IPS panel. The image quality is perfectly fine, although the contrast and color saturation may not compete with more expensive models. The same goes for viewing angle stability. The maximum brightness is moderate at 280 cd/m². This limits readability in bright outdoor conditions, but the matte display helps to mitigate this.
The Chuwi Gemibook Pro features an IPS panel with a 2K resolution of 2160 x 1440 pixels. The highly glossy glare-type display gives this budget PC a premium look. However, the glossiness causes annoying reflections from light sources such as lamps or the sun. The maximum brightness is high at 350 cd/m² for such an affordable notebook. This is on par with the Lenovo Yoga Slim 7 priced at 700 Euro. However, outdoor usability is compromised due to the strong reflection on the screen surface. The overall image quality is quite good, except for a slight green tint.
The limitations of budget laptops become more apparent when looking at their features. Well-known brands in Germany usually offer laptops under 300 Euro with only 4GB of RAM, which is quite minimal for running Windows 10. The situation is a bit better with no-name imports. Our test devices both have 8GB of RAM. In branded laptops, this much RAM is usually not available until the price exceeds 370 Euro. Even the Jumper Ezbook 3 Pro, priced just above 200 Euro, comes with 6GB of RAM. The Teclast model uses the Windows 10 Pro 64-bit operating system, while the Chuwi laptop uses Windows 10 Home. Although an update to Windows 11 was not available at the time of testing, both devices meet the requirements for it. This is a significant advantage over affordable brand models, which often have to settle for Windows 10 S at this price point.
Windows 10 S is a restricted version of Windows that limits installations to apps from the Windows Store, aiming for better performance and power efficiency. However, the S mode can be “switched out” once, allowing the installation of any Windows software. Both notebooks come with a 256GB SATA SSD, which is reasonable for the price. Brand laptops in this price range usually come with only 64GB or 128GB, often equipped with slow flash storage. However, the SSDs in these models cannot keep up with modern NVMe SSDs in terms of speed. The Chuwi’s SSD only achieves a bandwidth of just over 70 MB/s, resulting in a score of about 600 points in the benchmark PCmark. The Teclast’s SSD is slightly faster, reaching a bandwidth of up to 86 MB/s, leading to a score of almost 700 points in the benchmark.
More expensive laptops like the Honor Magicbook 14 achieve a bandwidth of over 300 MB/s, resulting in over 2000 points in the benchmark. Perhaps the biggest weakness of no-name laptops from China is the keyboard. Both the Teclast and Chuwi models use layouts designed for the US market. While Windows 10 offers a German keyboard layout, users need to be familiar with the location of each key. Moreover, the keyboards feel a bit mushy, with the Teclast keyboard being particularly loud and clattering. On the bright side, the Chuwi Gemibook Pro has backlit keys. The port selection is somewhat limited. The Teclast F7 Plus 3 only offers two USB Type-A ports but no Type-C port. However, these already support the faster USB 3.0 standard. It also has a 3.5mm headphone jack, a microSD card reader, and a mini-HDMI port.
The Chuwi Gemibook Pro has one USB-A and one USB-C port, as well as a headphone jack and a microSD card slot. It does not have an HDMI port. These port options are comparable to branded laptops under 300 Euro. Features such as a fingerprint reader are not available at this price point. For wireless connectivity, both devices support WLAN standards IEEE 802.11ac/a/b/g/n (Wifi-5), but not Wifi-6, despite Chuwi’s claim. Brand laptops in this price range rarely offer more, sometimes even support only Wifi-4. Chuwi offers Bluetooth 5.1 for peripheral devices, while Teclast uses Bluetooth 4.2. Both devices have a webcam with a resolution of 1 megapixel. This is the standard for laptops under 400 Euro. However, it falls short of Full HD quality, resulting in a slightly blurry image overall. Teclast’s webcam seems to be slightly better than Chuwi’s. Affordable brand laptops often have webcams with only 0.3 megapixels.
When it comes to battery life, the wheat is separated from the chaff. Despite the Celeron being an energy-efficient processor due to its modest performance, budget laptops struggle to last a full workday on battery power alone. In the Battery Test of PCmark 10, the Chuwi Gemibook Pro lasted just over 5 hours before the battery level dropped below 20 percent. This is only half as long as a modern laptop with an Intel Core i5. The Lenovo Yoga Slim 7 lasted almost 12 hours in the same test. The Teclast F7 Plus 3 lasted just under 6 hours. Both models use a 38Wh battery. The power adapters have a DC port and provide 24 watts. An adapter for European power sockets is included and can be exchanged for other plug formats if desired, which is convenient. CE certification is present.
Affordable Brand Laptops in Germany
But are the no-name devices from Chinese online shops really that cheap? A look at our price comparison tool shows that well-known brands in Germany also offer devices for under 300 Euro. The lowest price at the moment is for the small laptop Medion Akoya at 190 Euro. It is an 11.6-inch notebook with an Intel Celeron N3450 processor, HD Graphics 500, and Windows 10 Pro 64-bit. The storage and RAM are very limited at 64GB/4GB.
The Asus BR1100CKA-GJ0097RA and Acer TravelMate Spin also run Windows 10 S. The latter is a convertible PC and the only 11.6-inch laptop under 300 Euro that features Full HD; the resolution for other compact devices is generally 1366 x 768 pixels. The Lenovo Ideapad 1 priced at 250 Euro offers 128GB but also runs Windows 10 S. The same goes for Lenovo Ideapad Flex 3 and HP Stream 11. The cheapest laptop with a screen size larger than 13 inches is the Odys Mybook 14 Pro SE with a Celeron N4120 processor, an IPS display with Full HD resolution, 4GB of RAM, and 64GB of flash storage. It costs 270 Euro and comes with Windows 10 Home.
The same applies to the Thomson Neo 14 priced at 280 Euro, but it only has a resolution of 1366 x 768 pixels. The Dell Inspiron 15, Acer Aspire 3 A315-34-C9JL, Geo Geobook 140, Geoflex 140, and Lenovo IdeaPad 1 all run Windows 10 S. None of these devices have more than 4GB of RAM. For a laptop with Windows 10 Home that can match the hardware of the two Chinese no-name models, you’ll need to spend at least 370 Euro, such as for the HP 250 G8 with a 15.6-inch display. Dedicated graphics cards are not available for affordable models.
If you’re looking for a budget laptop for 300 Euro, you can find one from online shops in Germany. However, Chinese no-name providers offer slightly better hardware and Windows 10 Home or Professional at the same price point. With these imports, you can expect a Full HD display, 8GB of RAM, and at least 128GB of SSD storage. It’s even possible to upgrade to Windows 11.
However, you’ll have to deal with a US keyboard layout and sometimes suboptimal build quality. Whether these providers offer support in case of warranty issues is another question. If you rely on a Windows 10 device but only need it for browsing, streaming, or office applications, you can get a suitable device from China for 300 Euro or for just under 400 Euro in Germany. These devices come with Celeron processors and UHD Graphics.