Chuwi SurBook hands-on: A high-performing Surface clone

  • Editors' rating
    8.0 Excellent


  • Great stylus responsiveness
  • Backlit keyboard
  • Two-finger touchpad operation


  • Matte keyboard keys can get shiny with oily fingers

Chuwi has been producing some great tablets recently and is leading the way in terms of performance.

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Chuwi announced its SurBook on Indiegogo, quickly raising almost $995,000 from backers.

The SurBook is another Intel chip-based tablet from the manufacturer. At its heart is an Apollo Lake N3450 64-bit 1.1GHz up to 2.2GHz quad-core, 4-thread CPU. The Hi13 has this chip, and other Chinese tablets -- such as the Teclast X3 Plus -- also have the N3450.

It uses a 9th-generation HD 500 graphics chip with up to 700MHz frequency. It also has Directx 12 3D rendering and 4K video decoding to optimise this unit for gamers.

The SurBook has 6GB of RAM and either 64GB or 128GB of ROM. It has a smaller screen than the 13.5-inch Hi13. It has a 13.3-inch 2K Samsung IGZO screen with 2736x1824 resolution.

It is a nice-looking Surface clone running Windows 10. It has an adjustable kickstand that enables you to change the angles of viewing up to 125 degrees.

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The all-metal unibody is only 9.4mm thick, and with external dimensions of 297.8 x 203.3mm, and the form factor has a 3.2 ratio (the golden aspect ratio).

The SurBook has a 37Wh, 7.4V 10,000mAh battery, which should give you up to five hours of normal usage.

There is also an optional stylus -- the HiPen -- that I love using. This pen seems to have a smaller pen tip, and it feels more precise than previous stylus types I have tried. It also recognises my writing style (I write on tablets at a slight angle).

Chuwi says that the stylus will recognise an angle up to 30 degrees. It has 1,024 pressure levels and even works if you hover slightly above the tablet. It is responsive, too.

Hands on with the Chuwi SurBook A high performing Surface clone ZDNet

(Image: Chuwi)

The touch panel has been covered with coated silver insulating paint to enable the panel to support multi touch. You can use pinch and drag from the touch panel itself.

There is a 2MP front facing camera and a 5MP rear facing camera. Nothing special for photo enthusiasts, but perfectly adequate for taking snaps and using video.

I like the keyboard, which can be purchased separately. I particularly like the solid click of the keys as I type -- and the long range of travel means I type less repeated characters. The smooth black matte keys do quickly get greasy if you have oily fingers.

The keyboard also has a backlight that you can turn on and off. Press FN+Del to turn on and off the keyboard back light -- useful in low light situations.

Chuwi has streamlined the number of ports on the device. The SurBook has a conventional power jack, two USB-A ports, one 2.0, one 3.0, and one USB-C port.

The charger that is supplied with the SurBook does not support fast charging, although the SurBook can be charged using PD fast charge. You need to buy a PD charger to use this function.

The SurBook compares rather well against the Microsoft Surface Pro and the iPad Pro. It has a 4-core, 4-thread CPU compared to the Microsoft's 2-core, 4-thread Surface and Apple's 2-core, 2-thread iPad Pro.

It has 6GB of RAM compared to the others' 4GB, and with up to 128GB, it has significantly more storage than the 32GB iPad Pro.

All in all, I loved testing this tablet, which, like the Hi13, performs as well as my laptop. And at just over half of the cost of its competitors, what's not to like.

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