The low cost Huashe laptops is sold on Amazon world-wide. The machine is thin and lightweight making it easy to handle. The machine sells for $340 in Canada making it the most affordable lines out there. The Huashe brand does not seem to be found in China or Taiwan so it may be a local branding for marketing and service.
The low cost is possible using some older parts that are still made such as the Apollo Lake Celeron CPU. There are likely dozens of models of logic board that can be installed in the basic machine. The Celeron models are the most cost effective making them popular around the world,
- Huashe 14″ laptop
- Model NB14E
- Intel Celeron J3455
- 6144 MB LPDDR4
- HD 500 graphics
- 256 GB SATA SSD
- 1920×1080 IPS screen
- micro SD card SDXC
- mini HDMI for an external display
- Realtek 8821CU Wireless LAN 802.11ac
- 10,000 mAh battery
- US charger (12V/2A)
- 1.55 kg
The Full HD LCD at 1920×1080 is now becoming more mainstream with low cost laptops. The IPS technology means that color quality is great for viewing pictures and video. With a 14″ display its fits easily into a backpack. Working with 1920×1080 is far more productive as well as there is room for several browser tabs and there is lots of room on the taskbar.
The CPU performance of the Celeron J3455 with its 2 CPU cores and a clock between 1.5-2.4 GHz should depend a lot on the cooling solution. The thin nature of the laptop is not the best for cooling a processor. The Goldmont architecture borrows heavily from the Skylake Core processors, so it offers a more than 30 percent performance boost compared to the previous Braswell platform, and it can be used to implement power-efficient low-end devices including Cloudbooks, 2-in-1 netbooks, small PCs, IP cameras, and in-car entertainment systems. Apollo Lake immediately follows Skylake.
- Goldmont architecture
- B0/B1 revision
- Stepping 9
- 4 cores 4 threads
- 1.5 GHz with 2.3 GHz boost
- 100×23 max clock
- SSE4.2, EM64T, VT-x, AES, SHA
- 224 KB L1 cache
- 2 MB L2 cache
- SATA III 600 MB.s
- USB 3.0
- 10W TDP
- Intel Platform Trust
- Secure Boot
Goldmont is based on the 6th generation Skylake platform that Intel has relied on for several years. The CPU instruction decoder can decode 3 instructions per cycle. The microcode sequencer can send 3 µops per cycle for allocation into the reservation stations. Retirement supports a peak rate of 3 per cycle. Running Windows 10 on the Celeron J3455 is a tad sluggish as the CPU L2 cache is smaller. Fully updated Windows 10 runs fairly well on the Celeron and idle is usually close to the CPU minimum speed.
The Celeron J3455 has full cores which suggest the CPU does not suffer from the worst of Spectre or Meltdown problems seen with older Intel processors. The more recent revision and stepping with updated microcode most likely reduced the impact of Spectre and Meltdown mitigations.
The Celeron J3455 when it launched was $147 in trays. The Celeron has been on the market for about 4 years now and it sells for $31 so the processor is found in many lower cost machines. The lower cost CPU has a new B0/B1 stepping that fixes some of the problems seem with the first wave of SoC devices.
The instruction set for the Celeron is from the Skylake microcode base with support for RDRAND and RDSEED and SSE 4.2. The eMMC 5.0 technology connects to NAND flash storage. The J3455 supports six PCIe 2.0 lanes, two SATA 3.1 channels, six USB 3.0, SC card, and much more. Three of the USB 3.0 ports are multiplexed with the PCIe lanes and one is multiplexed with the one of the SATA ports. The Celeron J3455 even supports Hyper-V in Windows 10. It seems that support with a Celeron suggests everyone can use it now that its standard feature with Windows 8 and above.
The BIOS is very flexible as well. It can support the Windows, Linux and Chromebook etc. This means the machine is configured for several markets depending on the customer needs. Models sold in North America mostly come with Windows 10 while some nations may have Linux to reduce the licensing cost.
The Intel HD 500 graphics are integrated into the SoC. The HD 500 is powerful enough for basic desktop needs such as font rendering and the desktop manager etc. With 124 GFLOPS it can handle desktop features easily.
Intel is supporting WDDM 2.1 with the HD 500. This is adequate for handling any needs of Windows 10 easily. Notice that GPU-Z cannot correctly identify the Apollo Lake HD 500 configuration. TechPowerUp is disrespectful to other experts.
- Apollo Lake
- Intel GT1
- 12 EU
- 96 / 12 / 2
- 124.8 GFLOPS
- 200-650 MHz
- WDDM 2.1
- OpenGL 4.6
- shader model 6 supported
The technical specifications of the GPU are based on Intel’s Gen9 architecture, which is also used for the more expensive Skylake series. The HD 500 integrated graphics is no better than older Intel offerings. The revised video engine now decodes H.265/HEVC completely in hardware and thereby much more efficiently than before. The HDMI allows for a television to be used to show movies etc. The machine is ideal for word processing, email and media streaming (including Micro Office, Netflix, Amazon Video, BBC iPlayer, ITV Player and more).
Furmark at 1920×1080 got a total of 141 points and the framerate was about 3. The graphics are fine for Windows but that is all.
The Huashe NB14E does not have Ethernet so it is dependant on the Realtek 8821CU Wireless LAN 802.11ac. The 8821CU is connected by USB to the system which affords fairly good performance. USB 2.0 is fast enough to handle WiFi performance easily. The 8821CU also provides Bluetooth 4.2 LE and it is wave 2 802.11ac compatible for maximum compatibility.
By default the Realtek 8821CU only uses 2.4GHz and band steering does not help. Changing the settings manually to 5 GHz does correct the performance problems with 2.4 Ghz. The change will allow the WiFi speeds to reach more than 40 megabit speeds.
The Intel SoC support SATA III however the OEM SATA SSD is only operating at SATA II speeds. Checking the BIOS revealed nothing out of the ordinary suggesting there is a problem with the design.
The provided 250GB SSD is adequate for 95% of users. The performance of the OEM SSD is clearly rather poor which will motivate some to eventually retrofit the machine. The ASSD score is the lowest that has been seen so far in the studio.
The bottom of the machine has a compartment to access the SSD if a larger capacity or faster model is required. Samsung has a monster 8TB SATA SSD but it cost 4x more than this laptop.
It’s not a good idea leave a micro SD card in the slot all the time. These should used the same as a USB stick. The SoC is not designed for having that much extra load on it and it can be damaged by leaving it in place.
An available WD Blue 2TB SSD (WDS200T2B0A) replaced the OEM SSD which affords more capacity and performance. With sequential read speeds up to 560 MB/s and sequential write speeds up to 530 MB/s the WD SSD blows away the OEM SSD. The UEFI BIOS can handle an even larger SSD if desired but 2TB is abundant for 99.9% of power users. Due to the cost, very few machines use the Samsung 870 QVO SSD at the 8TB capacity.
This machine was selected for the full HD IPS display to allow Windows some room for displaying applications. The integrated graphics can play video easily and the 256GB SSD has room galore for applications. A USB stick can be used to play media. The HD 500 can support H.265 so that means smaller video files then the older H.264 can achieve. While 1920×1080 graphics are more demanding the WDDM support allows the desktop to render fine.
The machine’s motherboard is a thin strip along the back of the machine and there are USB-A ports on both sides along with a T-flash port and the other side has HDMI. The bulk of the machine is the battery which is typical now for the last 5 years. Repairability is poor as the motherboard uses surface mounted devices and it is soldered completely. The USB 3.0 standard means that faster USB sticks are supported.
CHARGER AND BATTERY
The small lightweight 12/2A charger comes with a US plug to be easy to use. Most likely the USB-C charging would have added too much to the bill of materials. The machine charges up quickly and it can run for 4-5 hours easily. Longer hours are best met with the machine plugged in. The machine behaves more like a desktop than a mobile machine so Windows 10 does not allow hibernate etc.
Standby drains the battery so its important to bring the charger when using it outside. By default Windows sets the power button and lid to standby. Changing the power button to shutdown allows the machine to use less power when not used. The power off state is best for having the machine battery last longer. It is also possible to configure the lid to power down the machine as well. Reboot is fast with an SSD.
The WiFi and Bluetooth are standard in laptops. The old Microsoft 3600 mouse works perfectly. The WiFi is plenty fast for streaming video etc. and there are no problems with the compatibility of various access points. The machine can easily achieve over 100 megabit download speeds which is enough for streaming anything out there.
The Bluetooth allows easy use of a mouse with no dongle needed. Headphones work great and they can allow for private listening in a coffee shop or dormitory.
The Huashe NB14E uses a mass produced chassis and LCD panel assembly. There are 9 M.2 screws to remove the bottom of the machine so its possible to replace the battery. Outside of the SSD there are no field replaceable components outside the main logic board. Machines today have a thin motherboard and the battery dominates the bulk of the internal space.
Assembly is straight forward, the logic board is installed, battery and the wires for the LCD, antennas and webcam are connected. Takes very little time to assemble the machines so the cost is low.
The HD Graphics support DirectX 12, OpenGL 4.6 with latest Windows 10 driver update (OpenGL 4.5 on Linux), OpenGL ES 3.2 and OpenCL 2.0 support. The HD 500 with 12 EU is not very powerful for gaming with the 1920×1080 LCD panel. The LCD supports VESA display modes so many games can be played. Furmark was pretty dismal at 266 points. See the Catalogue of Huashe NB14E Playable Games.
The device manager shows TPM 2.0 which means that the Intel Platform Trust is enabled. I upgraded the machine to Windows 10 Professional so that bitlocker would work but several errors were spawned that took more time to correct. Windows update is slow due to the limited performance of the CPU which really bottlenecks the installation process even with all cores in turbo mode.