Cube i9

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Cube i9 Unboxing, Hands On & First Impressions

Cube i9 Unboxing, Hands On & First Impressions

The wait is finally over after an Aliexpress seller blunder that resulted in a 30+ day transit wait for my Cube i9. It’s the new Cube flagship, replacing the popular Cube i7 Stylus with a new Intel Core M3-6Y30 SoC and larger kickstand design. Here’s the unboxing video and hands-on.

This tablet will be in the spotlight for a while and get some extra attention from me as it interests me more than just another Atom X5 Z8300 tablet! My first impressions are so far very positive.

  • Build quality is decent. It’s no Surface Pro 4 in terms of finish, but good for the price.
  • Feels solid in hand, no flex, or creaks in the joints.
  • A little heavier than expected at 991 grams.
  • The screen is non-laminated, but the air gap is minimal )1mm to 1.5mm) and not a distraction like some cheap Atom tablets.
  • 1920 x 1200 isn’t the sharpest at 12.2 inches, but it still looks fine to me personally and 16:10 is my second favorite ratio.
  • All of my USB Type-C hubs work. My clone Apple style multi-port adaptor allows charge, an extra USB 3 port and HDMI display out. The port is a full USB 3.1 spec one as advertised. Great for a one port docking solution.
  • The type-c ports looks to support 4k, my 2560 x 1440 monitor can be run at it’s native res at 60hz. I lack a 4k monitor to test full 4k support.
  • Speakers seem to be okay, not wonderful but passable. Better than I expected and I was expecting the worst to be honest.
  • The tablet feels fluid and very response as it should for a Core M3.
  • 106GB free on the SSD, which is a FORSEE Brand. Same as the i7/i7 stylus.
  • The kickstand design is good to see. The hinge design is no way near as good as Surface Pro 4 as expected, but not bad considering…

So far very positive, key findings for me at least are the USB 3.1 Type-C port will charge the i9 too and works as it should. But I’ll have to hunt for a 12v / 2.5A or more USB power adapter as my stand in 12 volt quick charger only outputs 1.6A and is struggling (It’s also powering the HDMI and USB 3 port)

I think the Teclast X3 Pro might be hard put to beat this, while it will have an extra 4GB of RAM, I’ve seen the keyboard, the build that it will have in the X2 Pro. For me, I’ll take the 16:10 screen, kickstand and one port stop docking of the type-c port over that 4GB extra.  I’ll have more videos and info on this model soon, as well as a quick Type-C hub test.

Benchmarks, gaming & thermals will be tested in depth.

 

Video tech reviewer and tech blogger. I have a huge interest in the latest tech, tablets, laptops, mobiles, drones, and even e-scooters. Active in the tech community since 2008 days of the Omnia i900 Windows phone. Samsungi8910omnia.com, Samsunggalaxysforums.com founder from way back.

71 Comments

  1. Hey Chris, I really like your reviews. They are awesome and is definitely showing the bona fide devices instead of some really suspect ones on YouTube!

    In fact after watching it and of course your excellent sharing of the news of the US$399 sale of Cube i9 on AliExpress, I took advantage of it and was really excited to receive the tablet today. Unfortunately, it seems that I got a lemon (I always seemto have rather bad luck in this sort of things) which had phantom taps on the start button. I uploaded a video on YouTube https://youtu.be/ldgwMbysjUY and just messaged So Cube about it. Probably they have to take it back and send me another one. I have to be a little more patient to sort this though I guess.

    But please keep the Cube i9 reviews coming!

  2. hey chris,
    what u a bout you jumper tablet. when will it arrive to you?

  3. I’ve just seen your battlefield 4 gameplay on the cube i9

    There’s a youtuber (Muslim gamer…. I think) that’s also recorded some old games running on the cube i9, I thought it’d do better, hopefully teclast step up with their x3 pro!

    • Haha that guy fakes 90% of the gameplay videos he shows. He just uses another tablet or screen captures from his pc. He does not have a Cube i9! Him and all the rest of the guys posting fake written reviews online, fake game videos of chinese tablets is the reason I created this site. I’m working on my gameplay video now which will be up in around 3-4 hours.

      • And you do a really great job.
        As for video about BF4 – not playable at this fps rate imho unless some graphics tweaks will be made if there are any.

        • No, Not unless there is a hack to lower the resolution to 800 x 600 or something.

  4. It seems that the Surface Pro 4 Core M is running up to 9W due to the superior cooling design.
    And i guess that the Cube i9 is pretty much limited to 5W, which explains the much lower results.

    • Cube i7 Stylus cooling was also rather undersized, modifications like better thermal paste and bigger thermal pads should increase the overall performance.

    • Cube i9 seems to use 6W: https://i.imgsafe.org/a01b81a.jpg

      • If you look closely it’s the GT power the graphics. Which would example why the systems GPU performs less than the Surface Pro 4. The bios is completely unlocked. If someone points me in the right direction I can try and increase the power limits and improve the performance.

        • I guess it depends on the current workload (if more CPU or GPU power is needed).
          http://www.notebookcheck.com/fileadmin/_processed_/csm_STRESS_CPU_774752ba29.png

          Intel XTU could work or alternatively ThrottleStop with disabled power lock:
          (On the Bios -> Advanced -> CPU Configuration -> Package Power Limit MSR Lock -> Disabled)

          • Thanks, I’ll check it out. I’ve just opened it up and there is definitely room for improvements in the thermals like the i7 Stylus. I think with a few new thermal pads and maybe some copper we should have some headroom to increase the power limits. I’ll see if I can get a video of the bios uploaded so people can see the full array of settings available.

          • CPU Configuration -> Package Power Limit MSR Lock -> Disabled. This is disabled which is good. But other options like Power Limit 3 Settings, Power Limit 4 settings and 1-Core Ratio Limit Override etc I have no idea where to start. I think we can tweak more out of this unit 100% sure of this. I’ll start a forum thread on Cube i9 thermal improvements and power limits. See if I can get mine to perform as good as the Surface Pro 4 M3.

        • Good job, can you do some photos of the mainboard without the heatspreader attached?
          Was the disassembling procedure comparable with the Cube i7 Stylus?

          • Very similar, my video of it will be online in 10 minutes or so.

        • As far as i can tell Intel XTU can override most settings.
          Turbo Boost Power Max is the sustained TDP value, Surface Pro is probably set to 9W.
          I would suggest to try 6.5W at first and then slightly increase.

          What also might improve throttling:
          Disabling DPTF on Advanced -> Platform Misc Configuration -> DPTF Configuration
          Set TCC Activation Offset to 25 on Advanced -> CPU Configuration -> Cpu Thermal Configuration
          Core M max temperature is 105°C, subtracting 25°C should result in 80°C.

          • Well I would do this, but my Cube i9 is now dead. I was doing to have a look at a bios update from the Cube forums to see if it fixed my MicroSD card slot not reading my 64GB cards. Looks in the bios at the flasher menu and assumed I would be greeted with a secondary menu. But no, it just started flashing nothing and failed of course. Now I have a 500 euro brick… yay!

            Not sure if I can use a USB programmer on this as the bios is very different on these models. Damn so pissed off right now. So no more i9 info or videos. Can’t really write up the review either…

          • That is bad luck Chris.
            You’re not considering sending it back to China for repair? Of course that means approximately 3 months wait, of course, but better than having a 500€ brick as you said.

        • Could you give me the link to the Bios update?
          Bios reflash should be possible, it’s most likely the same 3.3V Winbond chip used in most Core M devices.

          CUBEv09_20160129:
          http://tinyurl.com/cubei9bios

        • Thanks for the teardown, very informative video.

          As for the Bios chip, it seems located beside the RAM chips but it doesn’t look like a Winbond.
          Otherwise it is under the cover beside the WIFI module.
          https://i.imgsafe.org/7dc3980.jpg

  5. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ce05cC1F_tQ&t=2m40s
    cloud gate.1.1 score of 3724 (4934 graphics & 2034physics) seems off !..

    My X2 with last years coreM comes in at 4192 (Graphics5515 & physics 2280) in cloudgate 1.1

    • Hmm maybe I didn’t let it cool down enough between benchmarks. But normally I leave it at least 5 minutes to cool, before the next test.

  6. In general Cube has better build quality than Teclast/Onda/Chuwi.

  7. has anyone tested the USB type C port as HDMI out? Does it work for video and (5.1) audio as well in the same time? thanks

  8. Good review Chris. Do you know if any x86 Android does work well on this Kind of Tablet? EgEg PhoenixOS, RemixOS …

    • I would like to know this also as I prefer Android and just ordered this tablet.

  9. Good video Chris!

    Have you placed an order for the X3 yet? The i9 looks the best if it comes with a stylus seeing as it has a better aspect ratio screen and has the kickstand, but the 8 gigs of ram on the x3 should make i superior when it comes to photo and video editing.

    Would you think cube will try and match Teclast by adding 4 gigs to this if they have a stylus version in the works?

    • I’ve ordered one from Gearbest, just waiting for the day it will finally ship. I’m sure Cube will release a stylus version with 8GB to combat the X3 Pro.

      • Hi Chris! Thank you for your great work, I’m reading your site for months now! I’m waiting for the same thing, a Cube i9 “stylus” and 8 gb ram, that would be a real notebook replacement..

  10. Chris, will this charge via a 5V USB charger with a USB-C cable? Obviously it would be slow.. and might even only work when off (?). I am interested in being able to recharge it from a power bank. Thanks.

    • Yes, it lights up and charges it only when off. And very slowly. If it’s on it will slowly loose charge charging via the USB Type-c port.

    • On second thoughts no, it will not even charge it. Needs to be 12v it seems. Left it 10 minutes off and it’s still at the same battery level. So doesn’t work.

  11. Chris, thanks for nice first look video. Any chance for more in depth review in next 2 days? I am still not convinced to buy it and Aliexpress deal expires within next 2-3 days. No offence if no, just let me know.

    • Benchmarks, thermals and more info like type-c hubs is being uploading to YT now. I’m going to download a few games and test them out soon in the next day or two.

  12. If you are using a QuickCharge charger, I would question whether it outputs the needed power at all, since these chargers usually work only with Qualcomm, i.e. with hardware-supporting devices.

    I have inquired into the availability of a more regular charger + a 12V usb cable, but I don’t think it exists, the power specifications won’t allow it seems.

    I have only found a 12V converter cable but I have been advised by savvier people it will not work
    http://www.ebay.com/itm/171844629756

    And as I said “quick-charge” power adapters have preconditions for hardware support and they exclude our devices.

    Had hunted this down expecting for the Cube i7 Stylus to be shipped.

    You could advise someone like the guy in this channel who has put out some really really interesting videos on the Cube i7 Stylus
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jbQgllgk7ok
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LL2m2MzQZj0
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8EG_qTg64IQ

    • Well it’s all I have on hand that does 12v. I need to find a proper 12v 2.5A or 3A even type-c charger for this unit and then with my type-c multiport hub it’s a perfect one plug docking solution. Which is exactly what I have been after in a tablet.

  13. Do you think you could disassemble your device? The case assembly looks very similar to the Cube i7 Stylus design.

  14. Great video Chris, just in time! You’ve dispelled my doubts about getting or not this device.
    I also wonder if that much screen reflection can be dimmed by a matte screen protector (if there are exist any).

  15. Very very nice machine. On my hit list, after I get bored with my Chuwi Hi12.

    • Hi Chris, I would like your thoughts on how the screen compares to the Hi12. Having watched your video, I think the Hi12 may still have the edge Also, the i9 is considerably more expensive and I’m not convinced that the extra cash is justified for what’s on offer here. Thanks – good to see you on screen.

      • The Hi12 still has the superior screen. However in terms of performance, it’s very quick compared to an Atom X5 Z8300 tablet. But it depends on your needs. For people that want to use demanding applications like Autocad or photoshop or even the best gaming performance in a Windows tablet the Core M’s are the way to go. I show my face now and then in the videos. Just not all the time 😉

        • You look great so your face on screen at the intro is a positive move, plus it stamps your personality on the video and makes reviews more engaging. Unlike my videos, where my face prompts endless complaints. Ha. As for the i9 and the current issues re micro SD card and noise, I think I’ll be sticking with my gorgeous Hi12. Plus, I think I’d prefer to opt for a used Surface Pro 4, which will be a similar price, maybe. Especially as you keep showing off yours! LOL

  16. Only 500g lighter than my i5 13.3″ Convertible
    meh…

  17. Hi Chris! Have you tested the USBb type C port as HDMI out? Does it work for video as and audio as well in the sane time? Thx

    • Anyone has an idea about the subject above? Thanks

  18. In my opinion it hard for me to accepted that this i9 is a replacement or successor model of “i7 stylus” unless Cube add Wacom stylus on it.

    But I have to admitted that i9 is truely a successor of i7 model.

    • I’m sure Cube has a i9 Stylus version in the works. Remember we first got the i7 and then later the smaller i7 Stylus came out about 3 months after.

      • Yeah,I agree with you Chris and hope Cube will add Wacom stylus while keep 12.2″ like the original i9.

        —————————–
        Below this is my opinion about stylus.
        (truth be told, stylus issue is the main decision for me to buy it or not and if Cube doesn’t use Wacom then I have to say goodbye.)

        First if they still use same Wacom EMR stylus like i7 stylus model the screen may reduce to 10″ again.(I once heard Wacom never sold bigger EMR plate than 10″ to any brand before…to keep market share for their Cintiq,I guess.)

        And if they choose Wacom AES this time the screen will be 12.2″ as same as original one but stylus has to use AAAA battery instead.(in my country it hard to find AAAA battery so it might be best if its be rechargable stylus like Huawei matebook.)

        Seem like whatever choice Cube choose about stylus it has a problem in itself for me, how unfortunately i am. T-T
        EMR :
        – smaller screen
        – no need for battery in stylus
        – more gap between glass screen for magnetic plate
        – edge precising issue

        AES :
        – can keep 12.2″ screen size
        – need battery for stylus
        – no need gap for magnetic plate
        – stylus may bigger

        • same here, AAAA batteries, is very uncommon here in Denmark, and if i finally found them the will cost a ranch..
          Same with aliexpress, some got them there ‘ but still quite pricey..

          But Ebay actually got some very attractive prices on plain AAAA batteries an purchase a pack of 4, and they work great in the X2 pro stylus..

          posted the link on the x2 thread, but it shouldnt be pretty straight forward to find them on Ebay.

          I got an pack of 4 AAAA (not rechargeable, but plain) and cost an little over 2US with free shipping to Denmark, and they sofare seems to works fine.

          the “edge precising issue” is that very common on stylus-supported tablets from the cheaper clone brands..wondered about why the stylus has so much hazzle in be precise when its in the edge-area, where it often numerous mm from where your pointing, at least in X2 pro.

          • Same here in Thailand, plain AAAA battery is also very pricey and insanely hard to find(around 3$ for couple not four), so I prefer EMR more than AES because of that.

            But to think that if Cube want to keep 12.2″ screen size while use Wacom stylus, AES seem to be the last and only choice for them.

            If i9 stylus model come with AES, I hope that will be rechargeable Wacom stylus…Or perhaps Cube can persuade Wacom to sell bigger magnetic plate.

            I prefer the latter indeed. :3

          • EMR vs AES..

            thx for the walkthrue in above of the pro & cons in these two technoligies.

            am pretty blank when it comes to stylus-tech, got the X2 pro and in regards to your specs i will asume that is funded in AES / Ntrig ref the battery, or is x2 pro an another stylus standard..

            the x2 pro stylus works alright, ewen thow i could miss the more rubber-ish tip like on ipad pro & surface4, the hard tip on teclast stylus got its pro & cons but is pretty screwed when it comes near the edges where its pretty fare from what your pointing on, but then again 15US is certainly not a lot.

  19. good review Chris, I just bought this tablet you could give me please link USB adapter to hdmi c type you use? you bought on aliexpress or perhaps gearbest banggood? I read a lot that many adapters do not work properly so I would like to buy the same as you use

  20. Good to see Chinese tablets getting better and better, some manufacturers are kicking and screaming taking their time but none the less it’s progress. Now I just have to wait for one with a better screen, 8Gb of RAM, better speakers and a improved kickstand and I’m jumping all over it.

    Thanks for the quick impressions Chris been waiting for awhile too bad about the delay but at least it’s finally here.

    • I’m crossing my fingers for this tablet with the old Surface Pro 3 screen, stylus, wireless ac and 8GB. That would be almost perfect and I’m sure someone will do it in the next year. Cube, Chuwi or Teclast.

      • Chris when your reviewing these tablets, its useally against the price you paid.

        but i recall, its often released pretty high and a few weeks later the price is a lot more aggresive and attractive put..

        partically the X2 pro, i guess there is some difference if you paid close to 500US or 350US, like it dropped to pretty fast, and the review-changes if its an 500US tablet or 350US value your judging.

        and same with Cube I9 if its 600US like the early bird prices or 399US like these days.(but good to see that you finally got it, but a little shame that the seller, let it role on the slow boat from china, and partically with an review in mind, but hopefully this site is soon on an level so the makers will come to you.)

  21. How does the M3-6Y30 compare to M5Y10c? Looking forward to the indepth review 🙂

    • GPU should be a good 30% faster I think. And around 20% overall quicker. But it all depends on the thermals if the SoC has room to turbo for long or not.

  22. Thanks for the unboxing video, you do a good job.
    Personally i think that the competition between the Surface Pro 4 is a bit harsh.
    Price difference is about 400€ vs. 950€ in europe, also the possibility of maintenance (to replace the SSD for example) is a nice option.

    • Yes it is harsh, but the Surface Pro 4 sets the standard, so it’s what Cube should & would be aiming for. And I need something to compare it against that is close to the same size and build (With a kickstand) For the price it’s great and I’ve mentioned that 🙂

      It’s good I think to hear how the i9 speakers sound for example against the SP4. OR how the build is even if its not fair due to the price group, again for the above reason. Later it will be compared to the X3 Pro when I get one.

      • I guess it also indicates that the Cube can withstand considering the price, which is a good indicator.

      • where is Cube on the quality and finish in regards to Teclast (fx X2 pro)

        got the impression that Cube often is somewhat lower, but if that still is the case?

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