This is Teclast’s fifth X98 Atom tablet, comes with a new unibody housing. The lower end Atom X5 Z8300 and 4GB of RAM. Is it just another 4:3 Retina Atom tablet or something worth taking looking at? Let’s find out. (Note: My X98 Plus was running the 1.02 bios here for the review)
What’s in the Box:
- Teclast X98 Plus
- White USB to microUSB cable
- MicroUSB to USB OTG adapter
- 2.5A 5 volt USB charger (Two-prong US-style plug)
- Various instructions, warranty card and QC check card in Chinese.
Teclast decided to change things and have gone with a squared edge on the new unibody rear housing of the X98 Plus. The Teclast X98 Air III first introduced this new design. Which makes the tablet feel more rigid, more solid and there is zero flex in the design with no movement between the front plastic and glass touch screen.
This new design is growing on me as it does feel good in hand, but what I don’t like is it makes the tablet look somewhat thicker than its 8.1mm’s. The rounded off look of the X98 Pro, Air II and Air 3G give the tablet a slimmer look even if they are the same thickness. Weight remains the same, at approximately 530 grams or 1.16 pounds. A good weight, making it very portable and easy to hold with one hand and for long period’s of time.
The X98 Plus compared to the X98 Pro.
Screen and touch response:
The 2048 x 1536 pixel IGZO “Retina” screen by LG offers great contrast, colors and viewing angles. Even with all the super high-resolution displays around nowadays the 264 PPI screen still looks great even compared to a Surface Pro 4 screen with 267 PPI.
The screen is non-laminated and the digitizer glass is is a standard soda lime variant. Not scratch resistant at all, so a screen protector is recommended unless you plan to use a cover and you’re extra careful.
The maximum brightness of the panel is 260 cd/m2. Which is okay, but it’s definitely not as bright as the X98 Pro’s. My guess is Teclast have limited the maximum output in order to lower power consumption.
Manually setting the brightness to the lowest setting via power setting in Windows 10 the screen brightness is a dull 6 cd/m2 which makes it perfect for nighttime use. At this brightness level the tablet should also be able to run a good hour or more longer if you’re looking to get the most battery life from your X98 Plus.
The touch response of the Goodix touch controller is great, accuracy is good and I had no issues with touch delay.
The X98 Plus uses a 64GB eMMC. My unit has a Toshiba 064G70 which offer some fairly decent write speeds. 4k random reads and write are particularly good for a 4.5.1 spec eMMC. 44.7GB is available to the user on first boot. The MicroSD card slot now supports high-speed cards, so you can take advantage of the fastest MicroSD’s, no more 23mb/s data caps.
Ports & Connectivity:
The Teclast X98 Plus has the same arrangement as the other X98 series, a microUSB 2.0 port, 3.5mm headphone jack and micro HDMI. The only thing that has changed here is the 3.5mm jack now support microphones. So if you’re using a headset with mic support this will work now. Previously they didn’t and only 2 pole plugs were supported.
Wireless is the same old Realtek B/C/N BT 4.0 combo card. 150 Mbps, it’s about time we had wireless ac chipsets now Teclast… I would gladly pay extra for wireless AC. Wireless performance is good and I had not experienced any issues with limited connections or poor speeds. Speed are good.
Windows & Performance:
The Plus comes with Windows 10 Home and on the first bios version Windows performance was a little slow, in and out of Edge and loading up chrome. Minimizing and maximizing windows the animations had a bit of lag and delay to it. The bios update 1.02 seems to have address most of this issue and things within Windows are now much smoother.
Overall performance is what I expected with the low-end Atom X5 Z8300 which performs close to an Atom Z3735F Bay Trail. With its 4GB of Ram running in single channel, ram bandwidth is definitely the bottleneck of the chipset and next to my dual channel X98 Pro also running 4GB things were much faster.
But what is disappointing is the GPU performance, while the Gen8 Intel HD Graphics has 12 EU pipelines (8 more than the last gen Atom Bay Trail) the lower clock rate of 500Mhz somewhat limits things. I also get the feeling Teclast have capped turbo max power limits and turbo times to be short bursts than usual to reduce battery consumption and temperatures.
Another possibility is Teclast have intentionally limited the graphics performance as to not get too close to their current 9.7″ champ, the X98 Pro.
Multitasking & Desktop mode:
What surprised me is the performance of the X5 Z8300 in real life, forget about the below benchmarks. This very review I wrote on the X98 Plus while running the tablet as a desktop via my ASUS 2560 x 1440p monitor using a micro HDMI cable and my Logitech mouse and keyboard. I had no problem doing this (Okay there was some lag with all the images and video) But it’s amazing to think a tiny 14nm quad-core Atom can run this desktop resolution, multiple tabs in Chrome, Hwinfo, fraps, paint etc and have the CPU only running around 10-25%. Don’t believe me? Just look at this screen cap below:
As expected the low end Atom X5 Z8300 with a maximum clock speed of 1.84Ghz scores about the same as the Bay Trail Z3735F with a turbo of 1.83Ghz in Geekbench 3.
3DMark scores show the Gen8 12 EU Intel HD Graphics scoring a little less than expected compared to the Onda V820w CH with the same X5 Z8300 chipset.
The X98 Plus did beat the X98 Air 3G in the more demanding 3DMark11 benchmark.
I ran through several gaming tests. Store games like Dungeon Hunter 5 and I, Gladiator were fluid and very playable. Asphalt 8 Airborne which ran at the native 2048 x 1536 resolution wasn’t really playable until I set the desktop resolution to a more bearable 1024 x 768 for the GPU. Steam games like Counter Strike Global Offensive and Team Fortress 2 were barely playable on low settings.
Have a look at the below videos to get a better idea of just how games run on the X98 Plus.
Comparison Vs X98 Pro and X98 Air 3G:
So how does the X98 Plus compare to the other popular X98 models like the Air 3G and Pro? I compared them in these two videos:
Teclast has focused on giving the user good battery life in the X98 Plus. Maybe more so after the first Cherry Trail X98 Pro X5 Z8500 disappointed everyone with it’s 4-5 hours of battery life. Like all the other X98 tablets, the Plus has an 8000mAH capacity. Battery Bar Pro couldn’t detect the battery capacity correctly for some reason.
With WiFi on, web browsing, movies and light office use test with 42% brightness I was able to achieve just over 8 hours of use. Note, this figure will vary depending on use. But if I was to lower the brightness even further to 25%, I think I could maybe even squeeze out another half an hour or more.
Now if this was straight gaming non-stop with a high brightness setting, the battery would only last around 4-5 hours.
Another example: 25% brightness, Wifi on a 48-minute episode of Mr Robot played in the Movies & TV (Windows 10 app) saw only 7% battery drain. With flight mode on I think it might be possible to get close to even 10 hours of 720p video playback.
Heat and throttling:
As we have seen with some of the new Atom Cherry Trail SoC’s temperatures have been a bit of a problem. The X98 Pro reaches 86 degrees in Windows and throttles. Is the X98 Plus affected by the same issues? Thankfully not, during my gaming tests and benchmarks, stressing the GPU and CPUs the Plus didn’t get hotter than 68-70 degrees which is perfectly fine for a passively cooled Atom. No thermal throttling whatsoever.
The X98 Plus takes approximately 3-4 hours to fully charge powered off.
With the same two rear facing stereo speakers as the X98 Air 3G, I expected the same sound quality out of them. But the volume is lacking a little compared to the Air 3G. At 100% volume the speakers are only reaching about 70% of the volume output of my X98 Air 3G (C5J6) This could be down to drivers since the speaker hardware is the same. On a positive note, the 3.5mm jack supports microphones (X98 Air 3G and Air II don’t). So if you have a headset with a mic and want to use skype or other voice chat apps it does come in handy.
Volume output via the 3.5mm port is loud and isn’t lacking, unlike the speakers.
The built-in microphone quality is good enough for Skype use. Here’s a short sample recorded so distance from the tablet:
A 2MP camera in the front is decent enough for Skype or other video chat, but struggles a little low light. The rear facing 5MP auto focus camera takes an okay photo for a tablet. But is more suited to macro or close ups shots rather than landscapes, as some images can look a bit blurred. I would still stick to using my mobile phone camera here. Some samples below:
Overall I feel the X98 Plus is a decent tablet for those that need to run light 64bit programs and want to take advantage of that 4GB of Ram. It’s certainly not a tablet that’s going to break any benchmark records looking at the results.
But for someone that wants great battery life, a 4:3 sharp retina screen, performance decent enough for internet, office docs, light games and general media consumption the X98 Plus will do the job well.
On the other hand, people that want top of the line Atom tablet gaming performance should look towards the X98 Pro with it’s much more powerful Atom X5 Z8500 and dual boot for those popular Android games not on Windows. Sure the X98 Plus can play most store games fluidly. However, more demanding titles like Asphalt 8 Airbourne and Modern Combat 5 proved too much for the GPU to handle.