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Realme Book Slim (Core i3) Review: Good Alternative To Existing Legacy Notebooks
The PC market has witnessed a huge jump in the last one year due to the pandemic-triggered new work norms. As per IDC's latest Worldwide Quarterly Personal Computing Device tracker, India's PC market recorded 3.1 million shipments (Desktop, Notebooks & Workstations) in Q1 2021, which accounts for a 73.1% surge year-over-year. And since 'Notebooks' contributed most to the growing numbers (116% YoY growth- Q1 2021), Chinese smartphones brands have started actively populating the market with aggressively priced laptops.
- Premium Looks
- Very Portable
- Best-In-Class Display (2K Resolution)
- Good Keyboard With Backlighting
- Large Trackpad
- Decent Battery Life
- Lacks Some Important Ports
- RAM Isn’t Upgradable
After Xiaomi, BBK Electronics has now stepped into the crowded market with its first set of notebooks under its most ambitious brand- Realme. Launched in two configurations (i3 + 8GB/256GB & i5 + 8GB/512GB), the Realme Book Slim focuses on portability, performance, and multimedia experience. The notebook comes in sleek chassis flaunting vibrant 2K panels, the latest Intel chipsets, and fast SSDs.
Since buying a notebook isn't like buying a Realme/Xiaomi budget or a mid-range smartphone, the doubts and questions related to brand value, performance and after-sales service are pretty normal. We have been testing the i3 variant for a while now and here we answer all those questions in the following review.
RealmeBook Slim Design
Let me be very honest, you won't find a better-looking portable notebook than the RealmeBook Slim in under Rs. 50,000. Unlike most sub-50K laptops that come in thick profiles with plastic/polycarbonate shells lacking a design flair, the RealmeBook Slim aces the aesthetics and style factor. It is 14.9 mm thick and weighs 1.38 kgs making it extremely portable. You can easily carry it around in a bag pack or a sleek case while commuting on public transport.
The screen has a 3:2 aspect ratio and there are no thick bezels spoiling the look. The edge-to-edge display, metal base with gentle curves, and minimal branding gives a premium feel to the overall design. Interestingly, the hinge rotates to an almost 180 degree enabling some flexible workability.
Anyone who saw this notebook during my testing period was surprised by the fact that this gorgeous-looking sleek notebook costs less than Rs. 50,000. This isn't surprising since the legacy PC brands have never experimented much with looks and styling in this price category. The bigger surprise for some was the fact that this notebook comes from the house of Realme, a brand that's mostly known for its budget and mid-range smartphones.
Solid Aluminum Construction
Moving on, the Realme seems to have made no compromise in terms of durability too. There are no loose or flimsy plastic parts that might create issues in the longer run. The aluminum construction feels solid and this notebook is designed to last. The soft matte finish with a minimal look and feel is very upmarket.
Needless to say, the design is inspired from the Apple MacBooks, which works in the favor of this Windows notebook. We are testing the blue color variant and it is really a head-turner. You can also buy the Realme Book Slim in grey color option if blue is a bit more vibrant for your taste.
The slim profile has some of its drawbacks. The i3 variant we are testing has two USB Type-C ports on the left side and one USB 3.2. Gen 1 Type-A port, and a 3.5mm headphone-microphone jack on the right side. And that's about it. There's no card reader on this notebook and no HDMI or Ethernet port, which are some deal-breakers. You have no option but to buy some additional cables to connect some day-to-day accessories.
In comparison, the HP 14s with Core i3 11th Gen. (8GB/256GB SSD) offers a much wider range of ports and connectivity at a noticeable price difference. It is also worth mentioning that Realme has reserved the Thunderbolt 4 port for the i5 variant. Moreover, the i3 variant gets Bluetooth 5.1 and the Wi-Fi 5 wireless connectivity, whereas the i5 variant supports the latest Bluetooth 5.2 and Wi-Fi 6 standards.
Realme Notebook Slim Display
The display is another department where Realme has done a great job. The Book Slim flaunts a 14-inch IPS display with a hard-to-find 3:2 aspect ratio and a 2K panel (2160×1440p resolution) and 100% sRGB Color Gamut at this price bracket. These specs translate to better screen real-estate for work and sharper visuals for an immersive multimedia experience.
The colors really pop on this IPS panel making it an excellent screen for watching videos, creating PPTs, and browsing rich graphic web pages. That said, videos look immersive and text/graphics appear crisp. You will enjoy watching videos, browsing the web, and performing day-to-day tasks on the edge-to-edge screen offering a 90% screen-to-body ratio
Adequate Brightness Level
The glossy nature of the IPS display is a bit of a bummer but thanks to adequate brightness levels (400 nits) and good viewing angles, you won't face many issues using the notebook outdoors. There's one issue I want to highlight with the display. Realme's brightness settings are pretty harsh and completely turn the panel dark at its lowest point. You might think that the notebook is switched off or in sleep mode but it's actually running at the lowest brightness point. I think Realme can address it with a software update.
Overall, the Realme Book Slim brings one of the best displays on a notebook in the sub-50K price bracket.
Since the Book Slim is a 14-inches, you won't get a full-sized keypad with a dedicated number pad and some useful keys that can be found on a big-screen laptop. However, the keypad offered is of high quality and makes typing effortless and enjoyable. It's a nicely laid-out keypad with keys having a soft texture that almost gives a matte feel.
You will also find a power button at the top right that doubles up as a fingerprint scanner. Realme has also thrown in three-level backlit lighting, which is something hard to find in this price category. The decent travel (1.3mm) and good clicky feedback make things easy if you type a thousand words in your daily routine.
Moving on, there's a large multi-touch trackpad underneath the keypad with Windows Precision drivers support. It offers a much bigger operating space than what you get with most similarly priced laptops. It is responsive and ensures decent feedback.
Realme Notebook Slim Performance
The Realme Book Slim is available in two configurations. The high-end variant has an 11th Gen Intel Core i5-1135G7 processor with 8GB LPDDR4x RAM (Non-upgradable), 512GB PCIe Samsung SSD, and Intel Iris Xe Graphics. We got the base variant that uses an 11th Gen Intel Core i3-1115G4 processor with 8GB LPDDR4x RAM and 256GB PCIe SanDisk SSD.
The CPU is clocked at 3.0 GHz and has a Turbo Boost speed of up to 4.1 GHz. For graphics, the i3 variant gets the Intel UHD chip. The hardware on the i3 variant suffices for most day-to-day tasks provided that you aren't a gamer or a creative professional. This notebook isn't meant for heavy-duty tasks.
It mostly serves well for basic PC requirements of college students, writers, and professionals with usage around MS Office, research work, and multimedia tasks. Booting time is relatively low and the app loads up instantly.
Multitasking with basic computing jobs isn't a problem either. You can attend zoom calls, create PPTs simultaneously and open multiple tabs in Chrome without any performance issues. Video playback is smooth and you will be greeted with clean and loud audio delivery produced by a dual Harman stereo speaker setup.
- The benchmark scores are in line with the real-life performance. Below are the results of some tests we ran on the notebook.
- The Realme Book Slim scored 3154 in Cinebench's single-core test and 1331 in the multi-core test.
- The notebook logged 1341 and 2975 in the processor benchmarking test- Geekbench 5.
- In the CrystalDiskmark test, the notebook returned a max sequential read-write speed of 3123MB/s and 1223MB/s respectively explaining the smooth storage performance of the 256 GB SanDisk SSD.
Windows 10 With Some Good Utilities
As far as the software is concerned, the Realme Notebooks run on Windows 10 and will be upgraded to Windows 11, slated for an official launch on October 5, 2021. The notebook comes preinstalled with one good utility- PC Connect. The software is essentially a cross-connect Windows and Android utility enabling you to operate your phone and access your mobile apps directly on your laptop.
How Long The Battery Lasts?
The sleek notebook has pretty decent battery life. I clocked up to 8-hours of running time in my usage scenarios, which generally involves MS Office, web browsing, audio/video playback, photo-editing, and zoom calls. If your usage patterns are somewhat similar, you would be pretty satisfied with the 54Whr battery cell's lasting capacity.
More importantly, the notebook ships with a compact yet powerful- 65W USB-PD charger, which takes about 75-80 minutes to refuel the battery cell. And if you have any latest fast-charger, for instance, the Oppo's or OnePlus's heavy-duty 65W fast-chargers, you can use them to recharge the Realme Book Slim. Pretty Handy! Right.
After Sales Service
Here comes the big question- the 'After Sales Service Support'. Realme informed us that the brand has collaborated with three service partners for the after-sales services for the new notebook category. Customers can also visit the brands' 240+ authorized service centers offering walk-in services for device-related queries. Realme will also offer onsite services within a range of 50 km from service center locations (in Metro Cities).
The number of cities covered under the service network for Notebooks is 240 Cities across 28 States for walk-in services and 35 Cities across 20 States for Onsite services (within the 50 km range).
Realme will also provide on-call support for notebook related queries. The team has set up a dedicated IVR (toll-free numbers) with trained certified agents to manage the 'Laptops Category'. The TAT (Turn around time) for Notebooks hardware/software issues is three days for Metro cities and seven days for Non-Metro cities.
Let's talk numbers. You can various laptops from the legacy PC brands offering the same configuration (Chipset + RAM & Storage) at lower prices. For instance, the HP 14s DY2501TU with the Core i3 11th Gen CPU + 8GB RAM/256GB SSD is a good deal at Rs. 41,000. The Lenovo IdeaPad 3 even throws in a 512GB SSD and bigger display at Rs. 44,000.
What these laptops lack is a better display, a sleek design, and the portability factor. You will hardly find a sleek and premium-looking notebook like the Realme Book Slim flaunting such a fine display at this price. That extra money you pay mostly goes for these two good-to-have features.
If you want a 14-inch sleek notebook with a best-in-class display and a good day-to-day performance, the Realme Book Slim will prove to be a good choice.