Cube Thinker i35

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Cube Thinker i35 Hands-On First Impressions & Unboxing

Cube Thinker i35 Hands-On First Impressions & Unboxing

Edit: 28th April. Today Amazon dropped off my Surface Pen, it works! And exactly like the Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book the stylus, just how I remember it. It’s fast, feels better with the rubber tips and the Bluetooth button on the top works of course.

Updated: Info on battery and thermals added you have been asking for. The Cube Thinker when I saw it announced was pretty much what I have been looking for after I got the Mi Notebook 12. A similar spec but with a touch screen. And now Cube has it, a premium screen (Surface Book 13.5″ IPS) Core M3-7Y30, thin metal build, 2 x USB 3 ports, type-c for charging, data and display out. All the boxes checked, well almost.

But one big doubt in my mind, is that beautiful display fully laminated? Well, yes it is! Finally for once fully laminated screen. Below is my unboxing video covering the build, ports, screen, audio and device manager. The Thinker is currently on sale for $616 over at Gearbest, little pricey as the Mi Notebook is now $479 on sale. But you do get, double the SSD, RAM, faster CPU and a much better screen with touch plus stylus support.

So the build is very nice, I honestly did not expect this to be as good as it is. It’s very well finished, solid and well put together. Even the packaging as a step and more premium. That screen is great, sure it’s the same 3:2 ratio panel as used in the Chuwi Hi13, but because it’s fully laminated looks stunning, very bright, great colours and touch seems very accurate and quick. No issues there.

So since my unit is a fully sealed box from the factory, of course, it’s Windows 10 Chinese on my unit. I paid just 2 pounds on eBay.co.uk and got myself a Windows 10 Pro key, upgraded (took about 40 minutes) and installed English. Looks good so far, later I’ll do a drivers dump and might even do a full clean Windows 10 Pro install. (Yes drivers will be uploaded soon)

I know there are a lot of questions so here’s what I know so far in my afternoon with the Cube Thinker i35:

  • Supports the Microsoft Surface Pen (Stylus) N-Trig, so the panel stylus digitzer tec is even the same as the Surface Book.
  • Fully laminated display with scratch resistant glass. – I think it is dragon tail or some other Chinese brand.
  • 8GB of DDR3 1866Mhz RAM + Core M3-7Y30 with Intel HD 615 GPU.
  • 240GB SSD (Unknown brand)
  • Windows 10 Chinese single language edition.
  • It’s 1.6 kilos, feels a little heavy, but I’m fine with it as the build is really solid and well done
  • It’s thin and the screen goes back almost 180 degrees.
  • The screen hinge is very tight, doesn’t feel all loose. Tapping on the screen does make it move a little but this happens on any touch notebook.
  • All the ports power external HDD’s (1TB tested)
  • Type-C port can be used to charge the Thinker, data, display all working and at the same time, so perfect for a one port docking setup with Type-C hub.
  • The bottom plate is screwed in place firmly, 4 rubber feet.
  • The fingerprint reader works well once you set up a pin and Windows Hello.
  • The touchpad feels okay, not as good as my Mi Notebooks. But I feel it’s not too bad
  • The keyboard is decent, approx 1.3mm of travel. Not quite as good as the Mi Notebook 12’s keyboard. Still decent, however.
  • The keyboard flex is minimal, not an issue.
  • The web camera is 2MP 720p 30fps. Quality seems good.
  • 3.5mm jack supports mics and so far the audio is loud and clean (No static)
  • Running the Windows 10 Chinese to Windows 10 Pro upgrade, the laptop did get quite warm to the touch.
  • Speakers have a tiny hint of bass. Loudness is okay. They aren’t great, but much better than the Hi13 or Mix Plus
  • The speakers are located above the keyboard.
  • Dual mic’s on either side of the screen, great to see the mic away from the keyboard (Less keyboard typing noise then)

First impression:

So far I must say that I’m really impressed, it looks great so far. The build is excellent, the screen is really nice, top end display and fully laminated. I’m now setting it up checking everything, my main concerns are two things: Heat as Cube has a record of not using copper heatsink requiring heatsink mods. It has hit 78 degrees already updating Windows 10 without even gaming. I’ll see soon just how hot it will get and if I do need to create another thermal mod to help. I hope not!

And the battery life of course with this screen in it.  Battery bar & HWinfo report a 50wh battery, I’m not sure that’s correct, the estimated battery life is about 7 hours, it’s looking okay for a Core M3. But I need to run a full days test after I cycle it a few times.

There is an active stylus it supports, I’m still hunting it down. I doubt it will make it in time for the review, but I will later cover it when and if I can get hold of it. It’s apparently a 1024 pressure level active stylus with a AAAA battery, very similar to the Chuwi Hi13 stylus.

Thermals:

As expected a thin and fanless device gets quite warm to the touch when in use and doing heavy tasks. Thermals are 82 degrees C max when stressing the CPU to the max (Cinebench R15 looping). Doesn’t go over this figure. However, like the Mix Plus, gaming on it tops out after 2 hours of testing 92 degrees C, but no thermal throttling. The rear left and top get warm.

So in order to improve this, I think a thermal mod or thermal pad might be required here. I have a feeling Cube have used no thermal pad in there too trying to keep what’s call the skin temps lower.

Edit: Thermal mod done, lowers max temps 25 degrees C.

Battery life:

So far (Still need more days testing with more battery cycles)

  • Edge web use around 6 to 7 hours.
  • Aeroplane mode videos only 7-8 hours.
  • Mix heavy multi-tasking (Chrome, 4k YouTube etc), about 5-6 hours.
  • Gaming, benchmarks, any very intensive GPU/CPU tasks about 3 hours.

Cons so far:

  • No MicroSD slot (a minor con, but would have been nice)
  • Keyboard isn’t backlit
  • Windows 10 Chinese (My unit)
  • Sata3 SSD, most notebooks in 2017 use PCIe now. (

Cube Thinker i35 images:

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.

48 Comments

  1. Hi Chris, have you checked the battery, how long does it last?
    Thanks

  2. arent the lenovo miix 520 cheaper? and uses core i3/i5

  3. talk to me on 11.11, when it will cost 450$

  4. Chris G,
    I know you have a video planned for opening the case for the thermal mod. In the video would you please heating (or not) the case to soften adhesive, how much heat (if any), the dimensions of thermal pad or copper sheet you used. Where you used adhesive thermal paste and where you used non-adhesive thermal paste. Thanks!

  5. is the bios/uefi as moddable or better said adjustable as the mix plus?

    • sorry, just saw at the end of the video fully unlocked… seems i have missed it the first time =/

  6. Have you tried the Surface Pen on the Hi13?

  7. Wow this does look good. Do you think Cube will bring out a similar speced 2in1 device with transformer style keyboard (and hopefully micro SD card slot)?

  8. Very strange to have a stylus on a Laptop , not sure how this will work even if the 180 degree hinge lays the screen flat. I agree i think the selection of the 180 hinge was a big mistake an extra few bucks spent on a 360 hinge would have put this laptop into a all new class (surface book compeditor for 650USD). Any ideas how you use this or if it is even viable to use in this setup?

  9. “Supports the Microsoft Surface Pen (Stylus) N-Trig, so the panel stylus digitzer tec is even the same as the Surface Book.”

    Oh wow! That’s really unexpected. Second best after Wacom EMR as far as I’m concerned.

    That puts it straight to the top of the heap.

    But it also makes the 180 rather than 360 degree hinge an even more mysterious choice on Cube’s part…

    • It does, if only it was 360 degree. But the stylus works exactly like the Surface Pro 4’s I remember.

  10. Looks great Chris!

    Will you do a teardown of it?

    Also. Would you be a complete boss and see how it handles raw photography edits in photoshop? If it can handle a typical 20mp raw photo with some warp effects and duplicated layers this would be a great laptop to have in my backpack.

    Also, does it have an extra m.2 or just the one?

    • I’ve opened it up and done a thermal mod (video soon) I’ll see about photoshop if I can add it in. No extra slot, the Sata3 slot is 2280 in size. Good speeds for sata3.

  11. and where did you get a working win10 pro key for 2 pounds?!?

  12. hi, nice hands on,
    one question, does it get warm in the upper left corner of the screen part or of the keyboard part? a thermal mod might be tricky this time?

    • Left keyboard is where it gets warm, too busy today to open it up and take a peak.

  13. Seems good for the price, problem importing from China into Europe is that they slap you with custom duties and tax and then you are looking at a whole different price point. Bought the Chuwi Lapbook from Gearbest and opted for the then available Europe priority shipping option which allegedly doesn’t incur these costs (highly sceptical if that would fly with Austrian customs) and of course two days later Gearbest claims the shipping option is not available at the current time without any further explanation and they’ll send it out with DHL…so yeah.

    • That sucks. DHL is like a demon in the shipping business. They’ll burn your wallet like a joke.

    • Yes got hit with a fair amount on this one 🙁 DHL is killing me with the taxes I’m paying and I still have more tech to come but over 480 euros and accounting this month!

      • Out of curiosity, do you not have a choice but to use DHL Chris?

        Thankfully when I order through ordinary mail, I don’t get hit with taxes because I’m ‘friendly’ with the customs officer here lol.

        • Most of the time I have to. I don’t want to trust $699 laptop I bought to EMS or free post. THe seller only offered DHL. If I can I take slow post of course.

      • Ouch, I can imagine how much you have to pay extra for all the devices you test.
        Keep up the good work even if the wallet cries. 🙂

  14. I’m actually not looking for a notebook, but I think this Cube is very promising for un upcoming tablet+dock with a very close hardware and performance
    As far as thermal is concerned: I think it’s a serious issue, but it something tha Chris already showed us that can be easily solved with a little of DoItYourself

    • I’ve just lowered it from 92 degrees max to 67 degrees while gaming. And it’s not hard to fix.

  15. How did you go about updating to windows pro and applying the key? I’m thinking of upgrading my i7 book, but I don’t want to reinstall.

    • Little guesswork, but found the Windows key screen, added the Win 10 pro key and let it do it’s thing.

  16. I still can’t understand the 180 degree hinge – I would have liked it if it had been like the Hi13, which I’ve ordered instead of this. The Cube is undoubtedley the better spec and probably build but I couldn’t wait for a decent price reduction.

  17. Great little laptop Thanks so much for your work Chris getting the first review!!. Ive been looking for a travel laptop for a while,
    – Xiaomi Mi Notebook 12: i sat on my hands for a while on this one at 600USD ( i just didnt think the 4gb RAM would last more than a year or 2)
    – Xiaomi Mi 13: I thought the 800USD was a little too steep for this considering i can get a base model Razer Stealth for 899 and it has a Thunderbolt 3 port.
    Im waiting on your full review, i just need to know if it has an extra PCIE slot? and if it has any issue with thermals ? Can you tell me how bad the sound is compared to the MI 12? cause at 475 i think its a steal right now.

    • You can’t beat Thinker’s screen with Mi 12.

      I think Chris’s video showed the Thinker getting pretty hot while installing Windows, I think, and he wasn’t even gaming. Nothing a thermal mod can’t fix though.

      Sound has a bit of bass as I saw in his video and it’s loud but nothing to show off.

      Thinker has twice the ram, newer M3, better screen. You won’t find anything priced with the same specs.

    • Thermals so far the CPU has hit 82 degrees running passmark 9 and geekbench a few times. It does get warm to the touch, but I just haven’t had time to game on it yet or open it up. I can see it getting hot gaming. Really busy with lots on the go. But I plan to check that out soon.

      • Thanks for the info Chris, lm ok with the thermal CPU throttling its not really a gaming machine for me, its just for web browsing, movies , youtube, maybe photoshop stuff. I would prefer it doesn’t get hot on the case and burn my lap as my gaming laptop gets hot and fan spins just with basic tasks, and it goes nuclear meltdown in gaming mode. Its an older style gs60 with the super hot maxwells gpu but its good if i wanna game. Wat im after is a travel laptop i can use in the hotel lobby, crushed in economy seat with a person infront reclining, or in the coffee shop. It needs to be durable metal case decent build, RAM 6 to 8 gigs, with a good screen, im not even fussed at the SATA vs M.2, it just needs type C charging so i can get a couple of chargers and no more giant psu, full size USB 3.0 and it would be awesome if it had a free M.2 or SATA bay free.

        cheers
        mat

  18. I think this website needs to start separating tablets and laptops into their respective categories. It would make it easier for readers to focus on their particular interests.

    • I wanted to separate them, but there is no easy way to do it on the site. Not without fully redoing things. Since they are related items, I don’t think it’s that much of an issue.

      • Maybe you don’t have to separate them.

        Keep everything as it is, but maybe make a menu button for the laptops.

        Might as well keep the laptops under the tablets menu if that would take too much time to separate.

    • Done my best now to separate Notebooks and tablets. Was a bit of work figuring it out but the ground work is at least done now.

  19. Thanks for covering this! I got excited seeing this.

    Do you see this being your daily laptop?

    I wonder if the type C works with HDMI out.

    I’m deciding between this and the Xiaomi but the Xiaomi seems a bit behind now with only 4gb of ram!

    • Type-C HDMI out works, I do see it replacing my trusted Mi Notebook air 12 due to top the screen and double the RAM. Plus it’s a little more powerful. And handles VP9 & HEVC video via hardware. My Core M3-6Y30 doesn’t its software.

  20. Curious about battery life and if the screen is suitable for outdoor use.
    Will this drive a 4k 60Hz external monitor and does it allocate some RAM for the iGPU?
    Thanks for the first, quick review!

    • Hi, it should do 60hz, seems all my adaptors only do 4k30hz. There is like 86 MB preallocated to the iGPU but it can be increased.

  21. Looks very nice.

    Not sure how useful a stylus is with only 180° though

  22. Seems quite pricey. For less than this price can’t you easily find a comparable big name brand with a Core i3-7100U with 8GB DDR4 RAM?

    • Yes, you could, but with this screen in it, this slim and this full metal build? Not sure you can. By the way Linux Manjaro 17 didn’t want to run on it, some Grub error. Kaby lake support? Worked fine on the Apollo Lake or I’m doing something wrong.

      • hi chris

        that grub error seems to point to something being corrupted on the flash drive. could you try it with a different stick? If it can run linux I think it will even surpass the chuwi 14.1 in terms of being a good all round deal, minus the price of course.

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