Uncover the truth about the Chewie Lark Box X mini PC in our critical review... Read more
Test of CHUWI 2023 Mini PC, Intel 12th Gen N100
- Powered by Ryzen 7 3700U processor
- Practical and compact design
- RAM and SSD are easily upgradable
- Three display ports handling 4K resolution
- Pretty snappy for general computing
- Decent game streaming performance
- Quiet fan at idle or low load
- Unstable Ethernet performance
- Poor customer support
- Underperforms on high-end games
- Fan noise noticeable during high load
- Potential performance issues on Linux
- Only supports WiFi AC, not WiFi 6
- Low power consumption but high idle power
“In my personal opinion, while the Chewie Lark Box X packs a punch with its decent performance, compact design, and reasonable price point, the persistent issues with the ethernet ports severely undercut its value. Its lackluster customer support further dissuades me from recommending it – especially to anyone planning to use it as a PF Sense router or for any ethernet-reliant applications. Despite the strengths it showcases in general use and potential for RAM and SSD upgrades, those key weaknesses are hard to ignore. As it stands, based on my experience, it’s just really hard for me to give this product my full endorsement.”
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|Specific Uses For Product||Gaming|
|Personal computer design type||Mini PC|
|Operating System||Linux, Ubantu, Windows 11|
|Memory Storage Capacity||512 GB|
|Screen Size||100 Inches|
|Ram Memory Installed Size||12 GB|
|Model Name||LarkBox X|
|Included Components||MINI PC, Charger, Manual, Warranty card|
In today’s tech-saturated world, there’s an overabundance of Mini PCs on the market. Yet, even among this hefty competition, the Chewie Lark Box X piqued my interest.
Look at Another Mini PC – The Chewie Lark Box X
The Chewie Lark Box X is among the most recent entrants to the Mini PC realm offering some intriguing features. This pocket-sized powerhouse boasts a Ryzen 7 3700U processor, earning it some solid consideration.
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
No matter how enticing the spec sheet might be, a product’s real worth can only be ascertained after a thorough hands-on review. The Lark Box X, while compact and seemingly efficient, brings its unique blend of pros and cons to the table. Here, we aim to delve into these aspects and give you a detailed, unbiased overview from a practical standpoint.
Delving into the nitty-gritty details, our goal is to offer a precise assessment based on personal experience to help you gauge whether this Mini PC meets your specific needs and expectations.
The Chewie Lark Box X review you’re about to read is filled with authentic insights, critical remarks, and detailed observations. In this comprehensive review, every feature, flaw and fine point is put under the microscope, pulling no punches in our quest for the truth.
Let’s get into the depths of what this device is all about, and whether or not it justifies its price tag.
Performance and Price Point Analysis
- Chewie Lark Box X suffers from poor customer support
- Decent processor performance, customization possibilities
- Significant Ethernet performance issues
At a first glance, the marketing of the Chewie Lark Box X at around $400 might seem justified, given its high-level specifications, and embodying a Ryzen 7 3700U processor. But let’s hold our horses and take a closer, critical look at its performance and value for money.
Customer Experience With Chewie Support
First, a word of caution to prospective buyers. Purchasing tech gadgets, in this case, a mini PC – is not merely about shelling out money and taking home the device. The after-sale journey is equally, if not more, significant. This is where I realized the weak point of the Lark Box X – customer support. Experiencing some prevalent theme of difficulties with the device, I decided to reach out to the team at Chewie. Unfortunately, the experience was far from satisfactory. Responses were slow, and the assistance received was, frankly, underwhelming. This draws attention to the very critical aspect of customer service. Being a product with a fairly high price point, the lack of an effective customer support system is a rather significant shortcoming. Hence, for those considering purchasing this Mini PC, be prepared for potential slow and insufficient support.
Having said that, let’s put the customer support aside for a moment and objectively analyze the performance based on several key criteria:
- Processor Performance: With a Ryzen 7 3700U processor, it’s understandable to have high expectations, at least stepping into the mid-range. While perhaps dated compared to some latest options on the market, the processor still holds its own, and the performance is decent enough for general computing tasks.
- Upgrade Possibilities: The Lark box X comes with an 8 GB RAM that can be upgraded up to 32 GB, and a 256 GB SSD NVME that can be replaced with a larger one. These customization options can be a positive aspect for some users requiring more power and storage.
- Ports and Connectivity: This Mini PC provides a variety of ports including two USB 3 ports, a USB type-C port, and other usual suspects. However, don’t get too excited about the dual 2.5 Gigabit Ethernet ports. The jittery, inconsistent and subpar performance of these, raise a red flag.
On the whole, while the Chewie Lark Box X does exhibit some strong points, it is not without some glaring weaknesses. The primary one, of course, being the poor after-sales support, combined with significant Ethernet performance issues. Therefore, buyers should take into account the full price-to-performance consideration before making a purchase decision.
Under the Hood – Core Hardware Specifications
- Ryzen 7 3700U processor powers Chewie Lark Box X
- RAM and SSD are upgradable
- Features include multiple USB ports and 4K USBC
In the world of mini PCs, the hardware under the hood is often where the real differentiation lies. Today, we’re delving into the core hardware specifications of the Chewie Lark Box X to see if this little box can pack a punch.
Ryzen 7 3700U Processor: Powerhouse or Outdated?
At its heart, this mini PC is powered by a Ryzen 7 3700U processor. Even though the presence of this set initially raises an eyebrow, primarily because this chip is a bit outdated, its actual performance was surprisingly effective. Given the influx of similar mini PCs in the market, it seems this veteran chip is still able to hold its own in the processor game.
RAM and SSD: Upgrade Possibilities
RAM: This pint-sized machine comes with 8 gigabytes of RAM, configured in dual channel mode. The option for users who want more power to upgrade up to a maximum of 32 gigabytes is a praiseworthy inclusion in a mini PC at this price point.
SSD: It houses a 256 gigabyte NVME Solid State Drive for storage. Add to the mix, the storage is upgradable! That’s a definite plus for users with hefty memory requirements.
Moreover, access to these hardware components is pretty straightforward. A simple unscrewing of the bottom panel and you have yourself an easily upgradable mini PC.
Connectivity: A Deep Dive into Various Ports
When it comes to connectivity, Lark Box X has taken the ‘front and center’ approach. Here are some of the ports it provides:
- Two USB 3 ports
- A USB type-C port (It was impressive to see a fully functional type-C port that supports power supply and data transferring)
- Standard headphone jack
- Two USB 3 ports, HDMI output, and DisplayPort output can be found at the back
However, the icing on the cake here is really the USBC – besides being multifunctional, it is also capable of 4K at 30FPS. This leads us to a critical point of discussion, the ethernet ports.
To be continued in our section on glitches…
Ethernet Ports Glitch: A Significant Weak Point
- Device’s ethernet ports underperform significantly
- Troubleshooting fails to improve inconsistent performance
- Subpar network performance, support question device’s value
As we dive deeper into the functionalities, an immediately noticeable issue stands out: the ethernet ports. Now, in this device, these are supposed to operate at a high-speed capacity of 2.5 gigabits each. However, the real problem comes when you put them to the test.
The Mystery of Underperforming Ethernet Ports
Despite the impressive declaration of 2.5 gigabits speed, the ethernet ports showed surprisingly lower performance, far less than expected. In one instance, I started out with a promised three-gigabit per second internet connection, only to find the downstream running meagerly at roughly 180 megabits per second. The surprising part? The upstream was faring slightly better, framed around one and a half gigabits, but still far from the 2.5-gigabit speed they promised.
To add to this frustrating mystery, I noticed a performance degradation that kicks in anywhere from 15 to 20 minutes of use. It presents such an erratic behavior that you would think ethernet has its mood swings.
Exhaustive Network Testing and Unsuccessful Troubleshooting
What I’ve learned from my experience is that multiple troubleshooting steps like reinstalling drivers, playing around with different cable options, or even reconfiguring switches and routers did not seem to rectify this inconsistent ethernet performance. The performance was equally disappointing whether we switched across the two provided ethernet ports or ran a local iperf test to rule out the internet as the performance issue source. Furthermore, this seemed to happen regardless of whether the system was pulling high or low network loads. Discrepancies in the ethernet performance remained consistent.
To further add to this ethernet glitch, these ethernet ports turned out to be a significant fail on the Linux side as well, where the system downright failed to detect them.
In conclusion, a disappointing network performance coupled with subpar support provides customers with a less than ideal experience. While the Chewie Lark Box X has many merits, its inability to deliver on a key network feature, especially at a $400 price point, raises some significant concerns about its value proposition.
Design and Aesthetics
- Lark Box X features compact, portable, plastic design
- Fan noise increases during high processing tasks
- Inconsistent Ethernet performance despite advertised speed
Plastic Body, Compact Shape, and Louder Fan
One of the first things you’ll notice about the Lark Box X is its compact, portable design. The box is small enough to fit in the palm of your hand, and it incorporates a minimalistic style that could easily blend into any home or office decor. However, the choice of material is a bit of a disappointment. The entire casing is made from plastic which might not appeal to everyone, especially if you prefer a sturdier metal build. Considering its price point , I would have appreciated a more premium design.
Another aspect of the design worth mentioning is the noise level from the fan. It’s quiet when the device is in an idle state or during less intensive tasks. However, during high processing tasks, the fan tends to become more noisy which could be a distraction for some users. The fan’s position close to the top contributes to the audible noise.
Insider Look at the Unique Layout
The Lark Box X has an interesting mix of ports to cater to various use cases. The computer easily accommodates USB ports, a headphone jack, and even a functional USB Type-C port that can power the computer. However, one might be thrown off by the limitation of the video output from the USB-C, which is limited to 4K at 30 frames per second. On the other hand, the HDMI and DisplayPort output can manage 60 frames per second at 4K. This discrepancy might be a setback if you’re planning to run multiple displays at full capacity.
The placement of the fan exhaust, power and Ethernet ports are at the back. Kudos for the discreet placement, but the Ethernet port presents an issue. Despite the advertised 2.5 Gigabits per second speed, its performance has been inconsistent, falling far below that mark. This is definitely something to bear in mind, especially if your work relies heavily on a stable, high-speed internet connection.
- Mini PC demonstrates impressive energy efficiency.
- Struggles with resource-intensive tasks like gaming.
- Fan noise noticeable under heavy workload.
Diving deeper into evaluating the performance of this mini PC, I found myself immersed in both an unexpected blend of pleasantly surprising functionalities and disappointingly significant drawbacks.
The Good: Power Consumption, Web Browsing and General Purpose Use
Starting on a positive note, the power consumption of this device is impressively low. With just about 7 watts at idle and peaking at approximately 32 watts when maxed out, it’s fair to say the PC demonstrates energy efficiency.
Moreover, it was smooth sailing when it came to general web browsing and usage. Even with a 4k 60 display running, the snappy and responsive nature of the machine didn’t falter, dishing out a rather pleasant user experience. The more resource-hungry tasks such as word processing and spreadsheet manipulation were also handled gracefully, with no noticeable lag or slowdowns.
The Disappointing: Gaming and Benchmark Test
However, in contrast, the GPU leaves much to be desired when it comes to gaming. Although it was capable of running games like “Red Dead Redemption 2” and “The Witcher 3” under the bare minimum settings, the machine seemingly struggled with maintaining a stable and playable frame rate. It’s clear that gaming, especially resource-intensive titles, is not the PC’s forte.
As a point of comparison, it performed relatively decently on the 3DMark stress test but fell short of the mark by scoring a threshold below the pass mark of 97%, indicating throttling under heavy workloads. Not exactly a good sign for serious gamers or power users.
The Ugly: Stress Test and Fan Noise
And then we have what I would refer to as the ‘ugly’ aspects of this machine – the noticeable fan noise and the stress test results. Now, while the fan noise is relatively low during standard operations such as web browsing, it does begin to ramp up when the processor is under load. Mind you, this isn’t the loudest fan I’ve heard, but it’s definitely noticeable and worth considering if you prefer a silent workspace.
Lastly, the stress test results revealed more about the machine’s performance limits. It managed to score a failing grade of 92.8%, a clear indication that this device slows down after prolonged heavy usage to prevent overheating issues. This essentially suggests that while it can handle occasional heavy loads, anything more consistent would result in decreased performance.
So, there it is. A mixed bag of good, bad, and ugly. While its web browsing and basic usage performance is impressive, this device clearly struggles with more power-intensive tasks like gaming, and the issue of fan noise could be a potential deal-breaker for those who value a quiet working environment.
Experimenting with Linux
- Linux smoothly detected display, WiFi, audio
- Persistent Ethernet issues, possibly hardware related
As part of the evaluation of the Chewie Lark Box X, I also ventured to dip my toes into running Linux on it. Here’s how it turned out.
The Good: Display, WiFi, and Audio Performance
To kick off the Linux testing, I initiated the process with a sense of optimism. Thankfully, it lived up to it, at least partially. The Linux test began with quite a pleasing note, as the system smoothly detected the display, WiFi, and audio components. Running at 4K 60 for the display, the system handled the high resolution quite well without noticeable lags. This would certainly appeal to users intending to run everyday computing tasks smoothly.
The Bad: Ethernet Issues Persisting on Linux Too
However, the victory was short-lived. The rosy picture began to fade as soon as I approached the Ethernet performance on Linux. Despite the Linux installation, the Ethernet problems persisted, leading me to believe that the issue lies within the device hardware itself and is not merely a glitch resulting from a specific operating system.
The system failed to detect or operate the Ethernet ports, even with Linux running on it. And efforts to manually install drivers or initiate any possible fixes turned out to be futile investments of time and energy.
In conclusion, Linux test showed quite a mixed bag of results. While the display, WiFi, and audio handled Linux quite well, the Ethernet performance was persistently problematic, hinting at notably deeper issues with the hardware compatibility or design.
Wrapping up, the Chewie Lark Box X mini PC offers some notable strengths and a few key weaknesses that potential buyers should be aware of. Firstly, let’s talk about the good aspects.
Among the key strengths of this mini PC is the power of the Ryzen 7 3700U Processor. Despite being somewhat dated, the processor delivered impressive performance in the standard operations, and even during some light gaming.
For tasks like web browsing, running lightweight apps, and even some mid-range games, the Chewie Lark Box X was quite satisfactory. Furthermore, the upgradeable RAM and SSD are definite bonuses, and the PC’s usability is quite well-rounded with a reasonable array of connectivity ports.
Now to the more concerning aspects. The most glaring issue is the inconsistent performance of the Ethernet ports. Despite multiple attempts at problem-solving, I was unable to achieve the Ethernet performance as advertised, and their erratic functioning remained puzzling. It’s important to note that if Ethernet connection is a must for your use case, this device at present seems to fall short.
The device’s temperature control is also a bit concerning. High load operation led to notable slowdowns, suggesting potential heat management issues. Also, the higher fan noise during these operations might be acceptable for some but irritating for others.
Lastly, the customer support experience could do with some improvement. This includes direct interactions and presence of support channels, which were lacking or inadequate from my personal experience.
In conclusion, while the Chewie Lark Box X does offer some impressive performance for its processor class and price range, the highlighted pitfalls should be carefully considered. Particularly, the erratic Ethernet performance seemed to deflate the overall potential of the device. For those requiring a stable and robust wired network connection, this PC might not be the first choice, at least until the issues are addressed by the manufacturer.Hope this review helps you in making an informed choice. Happy shopping!
Should you buy the CHUWI 2023 Mini PC, Intel 12th Gen N100?
Buy it if…
You Desire Performance and Affordability
The Chewie Lark Box X boasts impressive performance powered by the Ryzen 7 3700U Processor. With its upgrades and options for increased RAM and storage, it offers a good deal for its $400 price point.
You Need Versatility and Accessibility
The PC has a variety of ports for connectivity and its storage and RAM are upgradable. So, if you appreciate the freedom to expand and modify your mini PC as per your needs, this device checks those boxes.
Compact Design Appeals to You
The mini PC has a neat compact design, resembling the Xbox series. If you’re on the lookout for a mini PC that won’t take up much desk space, the Lark Box X hits that sweet spot.
Don’t buy it if…
Reliable Ethernet Connectivity is Crucial for Your Use
The underperformance of the Ethernet ports is a definite drawback. If your work relies heavily on stable, high-speed internet connectivity, this inconsistent performance wouldn’t cut it.
You Need Excellent Customer Support Services
The customer support from Chewie leaves much to be desired. If a reliable support system is critical for you, take note that help in troubleshooting problems might not come easy with this product.
You Prefer Silent Operation
The fan noise can be an issue during heavy or prolonged usage. So, if you need or prefer silence while you work or play, this PC’s noise level might be a deal-breaker for you.
- What is the price of the Chewie Lark Box X?
The Chewie Lark Box X is priced at approximately $400.
- What processor does the Chewie Lark Box X use?
The Chewie Lark Box X uses the Ryzen 7 3700U processor.
- What about customer support from Chewie?
The review suggests that the support from Chewie may not be very reliable. There have been challenges with getting assistance for troubleshooting issues.
- Can the RAM and storage of the Chewie Lark Box X be upgraded?
Yes, both the RAM and storage on this device can be upgraded. The device comes with 8GB of RAM (upgradeable to 32GB) and a 256GB NVME SSD.
- What are the connectivity options on the Chewie Lark Box X?
The Chewie Lark Box X features two USB 3 ports, a USB type-C port, an HDMI output, a DisplayPort output, and two Ethernet ports.
- What’s the issue with the Ethernet ports on the Chewie Lark Box X?
The review identifies a significant issue with the Ethernet ports. They are advertised as 2.5 gigabits each, however, tests indicate that they often perform at a lower rate than a Gigabit Ethernet port would.
- How does the Chewie Lark Box X perform in terms of gaming?
The review suggests that it is not the best choice for gaming. Although some games can be played at low settings, it failed to run high-end games.
- Is the Chewie Lark Box X compatible with Linux?
The review suggests that this device does work with Linux, but the Ethernet port issues persist even on Linux.