This laptop was provided by the vendor and sold for as little as $450 from Gearbest at the time of writing. The price excludes local taxes or courier fees but should include postage to most territories by DHL and the exact in local currency will be dynamically at checkout.
The F15 Eagle is one of the US Air Force’s most iconic warplanes, one that managed to strike the right balance between performance and design. With its own F15, Teclast, one of the better known small Chinese laptop vendors, probably aimed for something not entirely dissimilar when it was launched early 2019; a recent adjustment in pricing put it back in the limelight and on our radar. Time to take it for a spin to see what’s inside.
The 15.6-inch form factor has for long been relegated to the entry-level, “boring” status for two main reasons. For too long it was seen as the “safe” form factor as it allowed vendors to pack an optical drive (remember DVDs?) and a physical numeric keypad which is seen as a must have for many small businesses.
At the heart of the F15 is a quad-core processor, the Intel Celeron N4100 which is one of the more powerful Celeron models and is surprisingly nippy even by modern standards. It is about 60% as powerful as an 8th generation Core i3 processor, so not that bad. The graphics subsystem is handled by Intel’s very own UHD Graphics 600.
By its sides are 8GB LPDDR4 memory which should help with battery life, as well as a 256GB SATA SSD built by Teclast, one which can be easily swapped if needed. The rest of the specification includes 802.11ac Wi-Fi, a 1-megapixel camera, a 43WHr battery and a pair of downward-firing speakers. There’s also a compact 12V3A (36W) power supply unit.
Performance and in use
We can’t underline how big of a design flaw the decision to put the ports at the back is. Any user who has to regularly use the ports at the rear will soon be frustrated by the need to pivot the laptop to have visual access to the said connectors. The power connector is located on the side which mitigated our annoyance.
Windows Experience Index: 3.5
The screen is one of the laptop’s highlights; its bezels are thinnest on the sides (down to 7mm) and it sports a screen-to-body ratio of 82% which explains why, in the world of 15.6-inchers, it is one of the smaller models. With a full lamination, a full HD resolution and IPS technology, it is reasonably bright with a good contrast ratio and delivers punchy colours.
The keyboard is a backlit model and offers a dedicated physical numeric keypad, a boon for bean counters and ASCII code lovers. A big laptop also usually means an enlarged touchpad and truth be said, the one on the F15 is exquisite to use albeit without a fingerprint reader. In both cases, the input peripherals performed well, being more than adequate for their assigned tasks; responsive without being too noisy or spongy.
As for performance, it was pretty much what we’d expect; slow on single thread tasks and making up for it on multi-threaded ones thanks to its four cores. Battery life was excellent at nearly 400 minutes, one of the best we’ve recorded for that form factor; the storage subsystem performed equally well, hitting the limits of the SATA interface.
The most potent rival to the F15 is the KUU K1, one laptop that we intend to review shortly. At $450 at Gearbest, it is far more expensive but has a few things going for it; a more powerful CPU, the Core i5-5257U, powers it and there’s even a fingerprint scanner integrated in the touchpad.
Don’t discount the Lhmzniy A8 from the same online retailer. It sports a slightly slower Celeron J3455 CPU but comes with a 512GB SSD, twice that of the F15 for a retail price of only $295. It doesn't have a numeric keypad but gets an Ethernet connector and, to be honest, at that price, will have a lot of its shortcomings forgiven.
The nearest equivalent laptop from the US is the which retails for $430 direct from Dell. It comes with a 10th generation Core i3 processor, which is about twice faster than the N4100 powering the F15. On the other hand, with a 1TB hard disk drive and only 4GB system memory, it sure will struggle when it comes to multi-tasking scenarios.
For $370, you get a lot of laptop for your money and the F15 particularly shines when it comes to its battery life which at 6:25 is one of the best we’ve seen on a laptop of this size. We are disappointed by the location of the ports and the lack of a Type-C connector/fingerprint reader.
Overall, it is a pretty good laptop if you’re looking for one that has a big battery life and a dedicated numeric keypad. We urge you to look around though as prices have been moving up and down over the past few weeks as demand and supply fluctuate.
Businesses though may be wary of the fact that after sales might be patchy given that it ships directly from China. The F15 is available from Amazon for those looking for an added piece of mind though at a higher price.