Notebookcheck

Cube Thinker Laptop (Core m3-7Y30, 8 GB, 256 GB) Review

Florian Schaar (translated by Mark Riege), 07/16/2017

Surface Laptop on a tight budget. Laptops from the Far East are becoming better and better, at least in regard to their looks and features. One representative of the Chinese premium class is the Cube Thinker, which comes with an elegant-looking aluminum case and a Surface-Book screen. However, can the performance keep up with the shop-window presentation?

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For the original German review, see here.

With products that look more and more elegant, Chinese manufacturers are trying to wrest market share from the western manufacturers. Their main advantage is the price. But the Chinese are also trying to catch up in other areas. A particular example for this is the Thinker by Cube. While the exterior is supposed to be reminiscent of the MacBook design, the manufacturer is also not miserly on the inside. A passively cooled Intel Core m3 7Y30 processor with the Intel HD Graphics 615 graphics unit, 8 GB RAM, and a 256-GB SSD can usually not be purchased for below 800 Euros (~$933) in Germany. A display with 3000x2000 pixels, which we already know from the Surface Book, is added. The Thinker is offered in some Chinese online shops for just little more than 500 Euros (~$583, $589 in the US). We find out during this test which other drawbacks there are besides the considerable weight of almost 1.7 kg (~3.7 lb), or whether this is a recommendable deal.

Cube Thinker m3
Processor
Graphics adapter
Memory
8192 MB 
Display
13.5 inch 3:2, 3000x2000 pixel 267 PPI, 5 touchpoints, native pen support, Panasonic MEI96A2, IPS, glossy: yes
Mainboard
Intel Kaby Lake-Y Premium PCH
Storage
,  GB 
, 256 GB SATA SSD (no-name brand), 210 GB free
Soundcard
Intel Kaby Lake-U/Y PCH - High Definition Audio
Connections
3 USB 3.0 / 3.1 Gen1, 1 DisplayPort, Audio Connections: earphones, 1 Fingerprint Reader
Networking
Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 3165 (a/b/g/n/ac), Bluetooth 4.0
Size
height x width x depth (in mm): 14 x 313 x 237 ( = 0.55 x 12.32 x 9.33 in)
Battery
50 Wh Lithium-Polymer, SR Real battery, Battery runtime (according to manufacturer): 10 h
Operating System
Microsoft Windows 10 Home 64 Bit
Camera
Webcam: 2.0 MP
Primary Camera: 2 MPix
Additional features
Speakers: dual channel, Keyboard: chiclet, Keyboard Light: no, power supply, European adapter, fanless
Weight
1.671 kg ( = 58.94 oz / 3.68 pounds), Power Supply: 218 g ( = 7.69 oz / 0.48 pounds)
Price
525 Euro

 

Case

The design of the Thinker makes it quite a looker, even if it is not so new. Apple's MacBooks have been looking like that or similar for a few years. The case is made completely from aluminum, is cleanly built and it has elegant edges. The display does not have an ugly aluminum frame like the MacBook Air but rather looks like the Pros. Apple's minimalistic design was used to a large extent. From the sides, you can see the typical wedge shape that is known from Apple. Due to the screen ratio, looking from the top the form trends more towards a square rather than the standard rectangle that is common-place for most laptops in the 16:9 format nowadays. The power button is integrated into the keyboard, and besides the touchpad and the keyboard, there are only three small LEDs that are not labeled, however. The fingerprint sensor is integrated into the amply sized touchpad. The lid, which turned out quite thick for current standards, does not look quite as elegant. It has the label "Thinker" at the top left. The manufacturer is only mentioned in small print in Chinese letters at the bottom. The bottom is held by 14 Torx screws and can be removed easily, if you have the appropriate screwdriver on hand. 

Even under pressure, the case seems stable and resistant to torsion. However, the screen came out of the lid on one side, since it is only glued in. It also became loose on the side that becomes very hot. Possibly, the glue came off because of it. The problem can be fixed, but it throws a bad light on the quality and stands in direct contrast to the otherwise high-quality appearance. Similarly, the two spacers between the lid and the base: there are two thin rubber pieces in the top corners that are supposed to prevent the screen from touching the keyboard directly. They can be squeezed easily which is exactly what should have been prevented. 

The notebook has an unusual size of 13.5-inches and a 3:2 format. These are measurements that can otherwise only be found in the Surface Book and the Chuwi Hi13, which is no surprise, since they have the same display. However, the Thinker is not a lightweight. It brings a portly 1670 grams (~3.7 lb) onto the scale. With that, it is the heaviest device in our comparison, but it is not the thickest.

Together with the moderate power supply, the package reaches a total weight of 1900 grams (~4.2 lb), which is quite a lot for an ultra-portable device.

Size Comparison

Features

As is customary for this kind of device, the connections are spartan. On the left side, there are two USB-3.0 connections, with one being Type-C and also usable as a DisplayPort. Between them is the opening for the power plug. On the right side, there is another USB-3.0 port and an earphones port that has the same size as the hole for the power plug on the other side. Thus there is the danger of accidentally switching them. Unfortunately, there is no SD-card reader. There is also no Thunderbolt port, which could not be expected for this price, however. The features are not overwhelming but should be sufficient for a mobile device.  

Connections right and left
Connections right and left

Communications

The WLAN and Bluetooth-4.0 module is Intel's Dual Band Wireless AC 3165. During the time of our testing, we had no interruptions of our connection to an 802.11 ac WLAN at all. The practically relevant WLAN test at one-meter distance to our Linksys EA8500 reference router resulted in an average transfer rate of 302 Mbit/s. This is good but not outstanding. The MacBook 12 achieved twice as much here. 

Networking
iperf3 Client (receive) TCP 1 m 4M x10
Apple MacBook 12 2017
Broadcom 802.11ac
660 MBit/s ∼100% +119%
Microsoft Surface Laptop
Marvell AVASTAR Wireless-AC Network Controller
534 MBit/s ∼81% +77%
Cube Thinker m3
Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 3165
302 MBit/s ∼46%
Dell XPS 13 9365-4537 2-in-1
Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 8265
208 MBit/s ∼32% -31%
iperf3 Client (transmit) TCP 1 m 4M x10
Apple MacBook 12 2017
Broadcom 802.11ac
689 MBit/s ∼100% +104%
Microsoft Surface Laptop
Marvell AVASTAR Wireless-AC Network Controller
556 MBit/s ∼81% +65%
Cube Thinker m3
Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 3165
337 MBit/s ∼49%
Dell XPS 13 9365-4537 2-in-1
Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 8265
142 MBit/s ∼21% -58%

Accessories

The modestly designed box of the Cube Thinker only contains the absolute necessities: the notebook and its white power supply. There is also an adapter, to be able to use the American plug in Europe. Anyone who wants a little Asian flair in their apartment can put the Chinese quick-start instructions on the wall. 

There is no sign of any additional adapters, such as a Type-C to DisplayPort adapter.

There are no optional accessories available either. 

Maintenance

At the bottom are 14 Torx T5 screws which protect the inside of the Thinker. If they are removed, you can take off the back plate and take a look at the whole inside. However, most of the components are soldered in. Only the SSD can be exchanged, if necessary. There are no fans that need to be cleaned. The WLAN module is also soldered in. Even though the battery is glued in, you should be able to loosen and exchange it.

Warranty

There are no indications about the warranty in the package or on the website. In order to get any kind of warranty, the device would need to be purchased from a German dealer. But at the moment, the Cube device is only offered by foreign dealers. Furthermore, the Thinker has no CE marking.

When purchasing from China, please keep our notes on custom duties, CE marking, and the German warranty laws in mind.

Input Devices

Keyboard

The chiclet keyboard offers sufficiently large keys (16 mm, ~0.6 in) which are slightly rough. The whole keyboard extends over a width of 28 cm (11 in). The height of the keys appears to vary. In particular, the stroke in the center appears smaller than towards the edges. Yet the typing feels comfortable and the keys react as expected and don't get stuck. The space key also reacts reliably, regardless of where it is hit. 

The keyboard layout is English and takes some getting used to in some places. For example, the Delete key is below the Backspace key, which can easily become confusing. The power button of the device is where we would expect the Delete key instead. Fortunately, it only switches the device on or off when pressing it longer. The lack of a brightness adjustment via the keyboard should also lead to complaints. In order to adjust the display brightness, you have to open the corresponding Windows setting. The selection of particular functions via the Fn key does not appear well thought-out.

The device does not have a keyboard illumination.

Touchpad

At 10.5 x 7 cm (~4.1 x 2.8 in), the touchpad has the same size as the one in the Surface Laptop. It acted inconspicuously during our tests and recognizes gestures of up to five fingers. The cursor did not jump all over the place, nor did it quiver during operation. This is a remarkable improvement, since Cube only built small touchpads that were anything but compelling in attachable keyboards into their devices up to now (for example, in the Cube i7 Book).

The built-in mouse keys give an appropriate feedback with an audible, unobtrusive clicking sound. The whole touchpad feels very stable and robust. It does not yield at all and remains in position, even when pressing strongly in the center.  

Scrolling with two fingers works without any problems, but zooming often only works on the second try. 

We need to point out the positioning of the well-reacting fingerprint sensor in the touchpad as a particularity. While it does not interfere, the touchpad does not work in that spot. To the left and above the sensor, the touchpad cannot be enticed to work either. This decreases the large size of the touchpad. The point of this is not clear. 

Touchscreen and Pen Input

There is also a touchscreen, in case the touchpad gives you any problems. It presents itself without faults and also supports pen input via a Surface Pen or compatible device. Cube itself is not offering their own pen for the notebook. Using pen input turns out to be difficult, since the display cannot be flipped over or fixated for the pen input in any way. 

The touchpad with integrated fingerprint sensor
The touchpad with integrated fingerprint sensor
The keyboard only has the keys that are absolutely necessary
The keyboard only has the keys that are absolutely necessary

Display

Subpixel
Subpixel

With its unconventional 13.5-inch 3:2 panel, the display is made less for multimedia content such as movies, but more for productive work. Until now, the built-in Panasonic VVX14T092N00 panel can only be found in the Surface Book and the Chuwi Hi13. As can be expected from a reflective display, the color presentation is very strong and writing is displayed razor-sharp. The brightness approximately corresponds to that of the Surface Pro 4 and is thus only minimally below the Surface Book. At 1720:1, the contrast is very high. For comparison: most ultrabooks manage 300 cd/m2 at best, and only very few, such as the MacBook Pro 13 or the Samsung Notebook 9, achieve above 500 cd/m2. The Cube Thinker achieves about 460 cd/m2 with an uneven brightness distribution. The difference between the top left and bottom right is around 100 cd/m2.

In everyday life, we could not detect any backlight-bleeding, but we could detect some slight clouding at the edges in dark environments. The refresh rate is not very high, and there is PWM-flickering in low brightness.

526
cd/m²
490
cd/m²
470
cd/m²
465
cd/m²
448
cd/m²
443
cd/m²
442
cd/m²
441
cd/m²
426
cd/m²
Distribution of brightness
X-Rite i1Pro 2
Maximum: 526 cd/m² Average: 461.2 cd/m² Minimum: 18 cd/m²
Brightness Distribution: 81 %
Center on Battery: 448 cd/m²
Contrast: 1723:1 (Black: 0.26 cd/m²)
ΔE Color 3.3 | - Ø
ΔE Greyscale 2.53 | - Ø
70% sRGB (Argyll) 44% AdobeRGB 1998 (Argyll)
Gamma: 2.46
Cube Thinker m3
Panasonic MEI96A2, , 3000x2000, 13.5
Microsoft Surface Book Core i5
3000x2000, 13.5
Asus TransformerBook T302CA-FL010T
AU Optronics AUO106D B125HANO1.0, , 1920x1080, 12.5
Asus Zenbook UX360CA-FC060T
AUO B133HAN02.7, , 1920x1080, 13.3
Response Times
20%
54%
31%
Response Time Grey 50% / Grey 80% *
65 (31, 34)
48.4 (19.6, 28.8)
26%
28 (9, 19)
57%
29 (15, 14)
55%
Response Time Black / White *
38 (21, 17)
32.8 (7.6, 25.2)
14%
19 (5, 14)
50%
22 (5, 17)
42%
PWM Frequency
200 (75)
192 (30)
-4%
Screen
17%
-24%
-33%
Brightness
461
410
-11%
364
-21%
298
-35%
Brightness Distribution
81
93
15%
88
9%
90
11%
Black Level *
0.26
0.254
2%
0.32
-23%
0.21
19%
Contrast
1723
1696
-2%
1184
-31%
1438
-17%
Colorchecker DeltaE2000 *
3.3
2.06
38%
4.78
-45%
6.33
-92%
Greyscale DeltaE2000 *
2.53
2.22
12%
4.27
-69%
8.13
-221%
Gamma
2.46 98%
2.13 113%
2.34 103%
2.52 95%
CCT
6563 99%
6520 100%
7376 88%
6811 95%
Color Space (Percent of AdobeRGB 1998)
44
64
45%
42
-5%
60
36%
Color Space (Percent of sRGB)
70
96
37%
65
-7%
93
33%
Total Average (Program / Settings)
19% / 18%
15% / -9%
-1% / -16%

* ... smaller is better

In the comparison, it stands out that the identical panel in the Surface Book fares 19% better than in the Cube Thinker according to our calculations. The color-space coverage (Adobe RGB 44% and sRGB 70%) is significantly worse. Only the TransformerBook does worse here. However, the remaining values are okay. Especially the DeltaE deviations in the ColorChecker (3.3) and the Grayscale (2.53) are very low and are only beaten by the Surface Book. This can also be seen. In the CalMAN pictures for analysis, the gray looks gray. The black value and contrast are also excellent. We wonder what Cube did, that the color-space coverage is so much lower than Microsoft's.

Despite its small flaws, the display is one of the things that attract attention to the laptop. However, due to the low color-space coverage, it is not suitable for professional graphics work.

Color presentation
Color presentation
Grayscale
Grayscale
Saturation
Saturation
Adobe RGB
Adobe RGB
sRGB
sRGB
 

The readability outdoors is sufficient in the shade. Brighter surroundings, such as direct sunlight or a sky that is only slightly overcast, create reflections on the display that are too strong, so that they cannot be overcome despite the high brightness. A matte display would have been more helpful here. The display of the viewing angles is excellent. There were no noticeable color shifts, and we only saw a slight decrease of contrast from extreme angles. 

Direct sunlight
Direct sunlight
Direct sunlight
Direct sunlight
Shade
Shade

Display Response Times

Display response times show how fast the screen is able to change from one color to the next. Slow response times can lead to afterimages and can cause moving objects to appear blurry (ghosting). Gamers of fast-paced 3D titles should pay special attention to fast response times.
       Response Time Black to White
38 ms ... rise ↗ and fall ↘ combined↗ 21 ms rise
↘ 17 ms fall
The screen shows slow response rates in our tests and will be unsatisfactory for gamers.
In comparison, all tested devices range from 0.8 (minimum) to 240 (maximum) ms. » 93 % of all devices are better.
This means that the measured response time is worse than the average of all tested devices (26.8 ms).
       Response Time 50% Grey to 80% Grey
65 ms ... rise ↗ and fall ↘ combined↗ 31 ms rise
↘ 34 ms fall
The screen shows slow response rates in our tests and will be unsatisfactory for gamers.
In comparison, all tested devices range from 0.9 (minimum) to 636 (maximum) ms. » 96 % of all devices are better.
This means that the measured response time is worse than the average of all tested devices (43.3 ms).

Screen Flickering / PWM (Pulse-Width Modulation)

To dim the screen, some notebooks will simply cycle the backlight on and off in rapid succession - a method called Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) . This cycling frequency should ideally be undetectable to the human eye. If said frequency is too low, users with sensitive eyes may experience strain or headaches or even notice the flickering altogether.
Screen flickering / PWM detected 200 Hz
75 cd/m² brightness

The display backlight flickers at 200 Hz (Likely utilizing PWM) Flickering detected at a brightness setting of 75 cd/m² and below. There should be no flickering or PWM above this brightness setting.

The frequency of 200 Hz is relatively low, so sensitive users will likely notice flickering and experience eyestrain at the stated brightness setting and below.

As the flickering occurs only on very low brightness settings, it should not be an issue in typical office settings. Nonetheless, use in low light conditions may be straining to the eyes.

In comparison: 58 % of all tested devices do not use PWM to dim the display. If PWM was detected, an average of 5087 (minimum: 43 - maximum: 142900) Hz was measured.

Performance

Until now, Cube only offers their devices in one feature variant. As processor, the Intel Core m3 7Y30 is used, and the graphics card is the integrated Intel HD Graphics 615. For the current Kaby-Lake processors, this is the entry model for fanless CPUs beyond the Atom series. We did not expect wonders, which also cannot be expected from passively cooled laptops. The performance is approximately comparable to that of a Core-i3 processor and completely sufficient for office work.

Processor

Since we don't have any comparison devices with the new Core-m3 CPU, the Thinker should run against devices with processors of the Skylake generation. So far, the Kaby-Lake processors did about 10% better compared to the Skylake processors. This is also confirmed in our test. In the Cinebench run, the Cube notebook can beat its competitors without fans by almost 20% in the single-core test. In the multicore test, the distance is not quite as high. As expected, the Surface Book with the i5 CPU is clearly in front.

However, we must consider that the speed cannot be kept up for long. Already after the first run, the performance drops by about 20%, and it continues to drop, even if it is just marginally. This behavior is nothing unusual for processors of the Core-M series. Due to their passive cooling, they quickly struggle with overheating and then throttle their speed. It is more of an exception for fanless notebooks to maintain their speeds over a longer time.  

There are, however, already some thrifty tinkerers for whom the Cube's cooling was insufficient. The temperature can supposedly be lowered considerably with a modification, which should lead to better results. 

0102030405060708090100110120130140150160170180190200210220230Tooltip
Cinebench R15 CPU Multi 64 Bit
Cinebench R15
CPU Single 64Bit
Microsoft Surface Book Core i5
Intel Core i5-6300U
122 Points ∼100% +18%
Cube Thinker m3
Intel Core m3-7Y30
103 Points ∼84%
Asus Zenbook UX360CA-FC060T
Intel Core m3-6Y30
85 Points ∼70% -17%
Asus TransformerBook T302CA-FL010T
Intel Core m3-6Y30
78 Points ∼64% -24%
CPU Multi 64Bit
Microsoft Surface Book Core i5
Intel Core i5-6300U
305 Points ∼100% +35%
Cube Thinker m3
Intel Core m3-7Y30
226 Points ∼74%
Asus TransformerBook T302CA-FL010T
Intel Core m3-6Y30
209 Points ∼69% -8%
Asus Zenbook UX360CA-FC060T
Intel Core m3-6Y30
208 Points ∼68% -8%

System Performance

In the more broadly designed PCMark, the performance of the Cube Thinker looks much better than expected. In the Home and in the Work Score, it even leaves the supposedly better-equipped Surface Book slightly behind. The competitors with the chip predecessor can also be beaten or are at least at the same level. However, in all cases the distance is marginal. This is probably due to the rest of the equipment, which is also important here. Even though the Thinker also has a built-in SSD, it is connected only via SATA and not via NVMe as in the competition. Here the Chinese might shed some feathers. But this is not a problem. The performance fully conforms to the expectations.

PCMark 8
Work Score Accelerated v2
Asus TransformerBook T302CA-FL010T
HD Graphics 515, 6Y30, Samsung CM871 MZNLF128HCHP
3699 Points ∼100% +1%
Cube Thinker m3
HD Graphics 615, 7Y30
3656 Points ∼99%
Microsoft Surface Book Core i5
Maxwell GPU (940M, GDDR5), 6300U, Samsung MZFLV256 NVMe
3644 Points ∼99% 0%
Asus Zenbook UX360CA-FC060T
HD Graphics 515, 6Y30, Lite-On CV1-8B128
3496 Points ∼95% -4%
Home Score Accelerated v2
Cube Thinker m3
HD Graphics 615, 7Y30
2881 Points ∼100%
Microsoft Surface Book Core i5
Maxwell GPU (940M, GDDR5), 6300U, Samsung MZFLV256 NVMe
2814 Points ∼98% -2%
Asus TransformerBook T302CA-FL010T
HD Graphics 515, 6Y30, Samsung CM871 MZNLF128HCHP
2767 Points ∼96% -4%
Asus Zenbook UX360CA-FC060T
HD Graphics 515, 6Y30, Lite-On CV1-8B128
2727 Points ∼95% -5%
Octane V2 - Total Score
Cube Thinker m3
HD Graphics 615, 7Y30
26021 Points ∼100%
Asus TransformerBook T302CA-FL010T
HD Graphics 515, 6Y30, Samsung CM871 MZNLF128HCHP
21128 Points ∼81% -19%
Asus Zenbook UX360CA-FC060T
HD Graphics 515, 6Y30, Lite-On CV1-8B128
19348 Points ∼74% -26%
Mozilla Kraken 1.1 - Total Score
Asus Zenbook UX360CA-FC060T
HD Graphics 515, 6Y30, Lite-On CV1-8B128
1704 ms * ∼100% -21%
Asus TransformerBook T302CA-FL010T
HD Graphics 515, 6Y30, Samsung CM871 MZNLF128HCHP
1623.7 ms * ∼95% -15%
Cube Thinker m3
HD Graphics 615, 7Y30
1414.1 ms * ∼83%
JetStream 1.1 - 1.1 Total Score
Cube Thinker m3
HD Graphics 615, 7Y30
174.42 Points ∼100%
Asus TransformerBook T302CA-FL010T
HD Graphics 515, 6Y30, Samsung CM871 MZNLF128HCHP
143.85 Points ∼82% -18%
Asus Zenbook UX360CA-FC060T
HD Graphics 515, 6Y30, Lite-On CV1-8B128
111.11 Points ∼64% -36%

* ... smaller is better

PCMark 8 Home Score Accelerated v2
2881 points
PCMark 8 Creative Score Accelerated v2
3801 points
PCMark 8 Work Score Accelerated v2
3656 points
Help

Storage Solution

Complaining about SSD speeds is like unnecessary whining for users who do not regularly move gigabytes of data back and forth. For normal office users, even SSDs that are only connected via SATA as in the Thinker offer sufficiently high speeds. Only during video-processing is the advantage of the faster NVMe SSDs clearly noticeable. For SATA standards, the built-in no-name SSD can be judged as good, even if it does not achieve the speed crown in this evaluation. The competitors by Asus, which apparently also use SATA, as well as the Surface Book with NVMe have the disadvantage in particular in the write rates. When reading, it is only bested by the Surface Book. 

Cube Thinker m3
Microsoft Surface Book Core i5
Samsung MZFLV256 NVMe
Asus TransformerBook T302CA-FL010T
Samsung CM871 MZNLF128HCHP
Asus Zenbook UX360CA-FC060T
Lite-On CV1-8B128
AS SSD
86%
-44%
-5%
Access Time Write *
0.179
0.037
79%
0.183
-2%
0.073
59%
Access Time Read *
0.128
0.049
62%
0.166
-30%
0.109
15%
4K-64 Write
290.24
281.41
-3%
21.55
-93%
105.75
-64%
4K-64 Read
324.57
1409.22
334%
82.88
-74%
295.1
-9%
4K Write
55.01
84.96
54%
27.49
-50%
57.01
4%
4K Read
26.4
34.31
30%
15.9
-40%
28.29
7%
Seq Write
362.84
275.22
-24%
130.26
-64%
175.65
-52%
Seq Read
483.68
1223
153%
480.88
-1%
486.25
1%

* ... smaller is better

Sequential Read: 483.68 MB/s
Sequential Write: 362.84 MB/s
4K Read: 26.4 MB/s
4K Write: 55.01 MB/s
4K-64 Read: 324.57 MB/s
4K-64 Write: 290.24 MB/s
Access Time Read: 0.128 ms
Access Time Write: 0.179 ms
Score Read: 399 Points
Score Write: 382 Points
Score Total: 988 Points

Graphics Card

The Cube Thinker can also assert itself against the TransformerBook and the Asus ZenBook in the 3DMark test. Of course, the Surface Book plays in a different league with its dedicated GPU, but it can still be beaten in some tests.

The integrated Intel HD Graphics 615 GPU is not designed for gaming and neither is a passively cooled computer. From that point of view, the results are quite remarkable.

In older game titles such as BioShock Infinite, you can even achieve playable frame rates in minimal settings. Of course, you should lower any very high resolutions in any case. 

3DMark
1920x1080 Fire Strike Graphics
Microsoft Surface Book Core i5
NVIDIA Maxwell GPU Surface Book (940M, GDDR5), Intel Core i5-6300U
2031 Points ∼100% +168%
Microsoft Surface Laptop
Intel HD Graphics 620, Intel Core i5-7200U
789 Points ∼39% +4%
Cube Thinker m3
Intel HD Graphics 615, Intel Core m3-7Y30
757 Points ∼37%
1280x720 Cloud Gate Standard Graphics
Microsoft Surface Book Core i5
NVIDIA Maxwell GPU Surface Book (940M, GDDR5), Intel Core i5-6300U
11340 Points ∼100% +92%
Microsoft Surface Laptop
Intel HD Graphics 620, Intel Core i5-7200U
6539 Points ∼58% +11%
Cube Thinker m3
Intel HD Graphics 615, Intel Core m3-7Y30
5911 Points ∼52%
Asus Zenbook UX360CA-FC060T
Intel HD Graphics 515, Intel Core m3-6Y30
5510 Points ∼49% -7%
Asus TransformerBook T302CA-FL010T
Intel HD Graphics 515, Intel Core m3-6Y30
5076 Points ∼45% -14%
1280x720 offscreen Ice Storm Unlimited Physics
Microsoft Surface Laptop
Intel HD Graphics 620, Intel Core i5-7200U
43637 Points ∼100% +31%
Microsoft Surface Book Core i5
NVIDIA Maxwell GPU Surface Book (940M, GDDR5), Intel Core i5-6300U
38293 Points ∼88% +15%
Cube Thinker m3
Intel HD Graphics 615, Intel Core m3-7Y30
33229 Points ∼76%
1280x720 offscreen Ice Storm Unlimited Graphics Score
Microsoft Surface Book Core i5
NVIDIA Maxwell GPU Surface Book (940M, GDDR5), Intel Core i5-6300U
123411 Points ∼100% +69%
Microsoft Surface Laptop
Intel HD Graphics 620, Intel Core i5-7200U
76530 Points ∼62% +4%
Cube Thinker m3
Intel HD Graphics 615, Intel Core m3-7Y30
73237 Points ∼59%
1280x720 offscreen Ice Storm Unlimited Score
Microsoft Surface Book Core i5
NVIDIA Maxwell GPU Surface Book (940M, GDDR5), Intel Core i5-6300U
82606 Points ∼100% +43%
Microsoft Surface Laptop
Intel HD Graphics 620, Intel Core i5-7200U
65549 Points ∼79% +13%
Cube Thinker m3
Intel HD Graphics 615, Intel Core m3-7Y30
57778 Points ∼70%
1920x1080 Ice Storm Extreme Physics
Microsoft Surface Laptop
Intel HD Graphics 620, Intel Core i5-7200U
35640 Points ∼100% +20%
Cube Thinker m3
Intel HD Graphics 615, Intel Core m3-7Y30
29788 Points ∼84%
Microsoft Surface Book Core i5
NVIDIA Maxwell GPU Surface Book (940M, GDDR5), Intel Core i5-6300U
21421 Points ∼60% -28%
1920x1080 Ice Storm Extreme Graphics
Microsoft Surface Laptop
Intel HD Graphics 620, Intel Core i5-7200U
33260 Points ∼100% +14%
Cube Thinker m3
Intel HD Graphics 615, Intel Core m3-7Y30
29224 Points ∼88%
Microsoft Surface Book Core i5
NVIDIA Maxwell GPU Surface Book (940M, GDDR5), Intel Core i5-6300U
15597 Points ∼47% -47%
1920x1080 Ice Storm Extreme Score
Microsoft Surface Laptop
Intel HD Graphics 620, Intel Core i5-7200U
33761 Points ∼100% +15%
Cube Thinker m3
Intel HD Graphics 615, Intel Core m3-7Y30
29347 Points ∼87%
Microsoft Surface Book Core i5
NVIDIA Maxwell GPU Surface Book (940M, GDDR5), Intel Core i5-6300U
16599 Points ∼49% -43%
3DMark Cloud Gate Standard Score
4571 points
3DMark Fire Strike Score
682 points
3DMark Fire Strike Extreme Score
317 points
3DMark Time Spy Score
180 points
Help
BioShock Infinite - 1280x720 Very Low Preset
Microsoft Surface Book Core i5
Maxwell GPU (940M, GDDR5), 6300U, Samsung MZFLV256 NVMe
94.2 fps ∼100% +200%
Asus TransformerBook T302CA-FL010T
HD Graphics 515, 6Y30, Samsung CM871 MZNLF128HCHP
38.9 fps ∼41% +24%
Asus Zenbook UX360CA-FC060T
HD Graphics 515, 6Y30, Lite-On CV1-8B128
36.4 fps ∼39% +16%
Cube Thinker m3
HD Graphics 615, 7Y30
31.45 fps ∼33%
low med. high ultra
BioShock Infinite (2013) 31.4517.6414.154.57fps

Emissions

Noise Emissions

The advantage of a passively cooled notebook is that the cooling does not make any noise. In combination with the SSD storage, the device should be completely silent. It is that, but only as long as it is not connected to the power grid. As soon as the power supply is connected, with an open lid you can hear a low noise that sounds as if there was a magnetic hard drive. If the device is in sleep mode, the sound cannot be heard. The cause for the noise is unknown. 

The problem does not occur when the device is charged via the USB-C port. However, for that you need a separate charger which costs another 30-40 Euros (~$34-45). In addition, the USB-C port will then be occupied, so that you cannot connect a monitor.

Noise Level

Idle
30.6 / 30.6 / 31.6 dB(A)
Load
30.6 / 30.6 dB(A)
 
 
 
30 dB
silent
40 dB(A)
audible
50 dB(A)
loud
 
min: dark, med: mid, max: light   Audix TM1, Arta (15 cm distance)   environment noise: 30.6 dB(A)
dB(A) 0102030405060708090Deep BassMiddle BassHigh BassLower RangeMidsHigher MidsLower HighsMid HighsUpper HighsSuper Highs2029.329.435.63529.3252928.733.328.2293129.129.43225.429.14030.526.632.329.830.55033.632.634.428.533.66332.132.432.428.932.18031.32930.129.131.310028.92729.428.928.912527.724.725.928.427.716026.824.626.22726.82002626.12623.82625023.32224.122.723.33152323.62421.92340021.9212220.921.95002121.421.920.52163020.720.121.519.520.780019.819.820.418.419.8100018.818.720.118.218.8125018.817.819.717.818.8160018.51819.11818.5200018.117.618.717.818.1250017.717.418.617.817.7315017.317.518.817.917.3400017.117.218.517.917.1500016.917.718.21816.963001717.618.31817800016.917.418.317.916.91000016.917.518.617.816.91250016.917.818.517.716.91600017.319.41917.817.3SPL30.830.731.730.730.8N1.51.51.71.51.5median 18.8Cube Thinker m3median 18.7median 19.7median 18median 18.8Delta2.92.42.42.12.9hearing rangehide median Fan Noise

Temperature

While idling, the temperatures on the top and bottom are quite low and evenly distributed. This changes quickly when there is load. The left side is about 10 °C (~18 °F) warmer than the right. The reason for this is that the processor is built-in on the far right and does not transfer its heat directly to the outer case. Some testers have already built some modifications and offered them on the Internet. With a copper plate and heat-conducting pad, a connection is created between the processor and the outer case, causing the temperatures to be evenly distributed over the whole case. This allows the heat energy to distribute over the whole width, which lowers the maximum temperatures inside by up to 25 °C (~45 °F). However, such interventions are only recommended for those who know what they are doing. So most users will have to contend with the right side remaining comfortably cool, while the left edge of the keyboard can become uncomfortably warm. The palm rest is not affected much by this. 

Idle, front
Idle, front
Idle, bottom
Idle, bottom
Load: front - the heat is concentrated on the left side, which is clearly noticeable
Load: front - the heat is concentrated on the left side, which is clearly noticeable
Load: back
Load: back
Max. Load
 40.7 °C32.2 °C28.3 °C 
 40.8 °C32.8 °C28.2 °C 
 36 °C30.1 °C28.1 °C 
Maximum: 40.8 °C
Average: 33 °C
29.6 °C33.9 °C40.5 °C
29.3 °C32.8 °C41 °C
28.6 °C31.8 °C35.2 °C
Maximum: 41 °C
Average: 33.6 °C
Power Supply (max.)  37.3 °C | Room Temperature 23.1 °C | FIRT 550-Pocket

Speakers

The case lacks the traditional slots or holes for speakers. The quality is rather low average and the output could have been a bit louder. However, if sitting right in front, the maximum level is sufficient, and there are no distortions or other noises, even at higher volumes. Since the sound range of the internal speakers is quite limited, we recommend headphones for media consumption. The headphones get a clean sound and there is no noticeable noise.

dB(A) 0102030405060708090Deep BassMiddle BassHigh BassLower RangeMidsHigher MidsLower HighsMid HighsUpper HighsSuper Highs2044.93544.92539.328.239.33134.925.434.94037.129.837.1503928.5396338.728.938.7803529.13510037.928.937.912537.928.437.916038273820038.323.838.325040.122.740.131544.121.944.140047.220.947.250051.720.551.763057.319.557.380060.318.460.3100064.318.264.3125057.917.857.9160055.21855.2200062.717.862.7250058.317.858.3315062.917.962.9400063.717.963.7500062.31862.3630056.11856.1800048.817.948.81000043.717.843.71250045.617.745.61600051.517.851.5SPL72.330.772.3N27.81.527.8median 51.7Cube Thinker m3median 18median 51.7Delta8.32.18.335.335.132.931.831.83236.535.132.428.93328.936.328.848.32761.52752.924.860.92462.822.763.32269.521.267.82174.82075.919.472.718.97117.770.117.86917.671.817.668.117.671.417.673.717.670.417.571.617.671.617.669.617.459.717.583.630.662.51.5median 69.6Apple MacBook 12 (Early 2016) 1.1 GHzmedian 17.84.62.4hearing rangehide median Pink Noise
Cube Thinker m3 audio analysis

(-) | not very loud speakers (64 dB)
Bass 100 - 315 Hz
(±) | reduced bass - on average 12.3% lower than median
(+) | bass is linear (4.5% delta to prev. frequency)
Mids 400 - 2000 Hz
(±) | higher mids - on average 6.5% higher than median
(±) | linearity of mids is average (13.7% delta to prev. frequency)
Highs 2 - 16 kHz
(±) | higher highs - on average 8% higher than median
(±) | linearity of highs is average (12.7% delta to prev. frequency)
Overall 100 - 16.000 Hz
(±) | linearity of overall sound is average (24.3% difference to median)
Compared to same class
» 79% of all tested devices in this class were better, 5% similar, 16% worse
» The best had a delta of 9%, average was 19%, worst was 41%
Compared to all devices tested
» 63% of all tested devices were better, 8% similar, 29% worse
» The best had a delta of 3%, average was 22%, worst was 53%

Apple MacBook 12 (Early 2016) 1.1 GHz audio analysis

(+) | speakers can play relatively loud (83.6 dB)
Bass 100 - 315 Hz
(±) | reduced bass - on average 11.3% lower than median
(±) | linearity of bass is average (14.2% delta to prev. frequency)
Mids 400 - 2000 Hz
(+) | balanced mids - only 2.4% away from median
(+) | mids are linear (5.5% delta to prev. frequency)
Highs 2 - 16 kHz
(+) | balanced highs - only 2% away from median
(+) | highs are linear (4.5% delta to prev. frequency)
Overall 100 - 16.000 Hz
(+) | overall sound is linear (9.3% difference to median)
Compared to same class
» 2% of all tested devices in this class were better, 2% similar, 97% worse
» The best had a delta of 9%, average was 19%, worst was 41%
Compared to all devices tested
» 2% of all tested devices were better, 1% similar, 98% worse
» The best had a delta of 3%, average was 22%, worst was 53%

Frequency comparison (checkboxes selectable!)

Power Management

Power Consumption

With its equipment, in idle the Thinker draws between 4.5 and 11.5 W from the power supply, depending on the display brightness and the selected power-saving plan. This is the worst value of all of the competing devices. Also under load, the Cube notebook consumes more than the Asus devices, although the difference is not quite as high. One reason for this might be the larger and brighter display which naturally needs more power. However, in particular during idle with minimal brightness, this should not make much of a difference.

When plugging in the power supply, you should avoid plugging it into the audio port that has the same size.

Power Consumption
Off / Standbydarklight 0.33 / 0.31 Watt
Idledarkmidlight 4.5 / 10.3 / 11.5 Watt
Load midlight 23.3 / 21.1 Watt
 color bar
Key: min: dark, med: mid, max: light        Metrahit Energy
Cube Thinker m3
7Y30, HD Graphics 615, , IPS, 3000x2000, 13.5
Asus TransformerBook T302CA-FL010T
6Y30, HD Graphics 515, Samsung CM871 MZNLF128HCHP, IPS, 1920x1080, 12.5
Asus Zenbook UX360CA-FC060T
6Y30, HD Graphics 515, Lite-On CV1-8B128, IPS with 72% NTSC, 1920x1080, 13.3
Apple MacBook 12 (Early 2016) 1.1 GHz
6Y30, HD Graphics 515, Apple SSD AP0256, IPS, 2304x1440, 12
Power Consumption
23%
23%
32%
Idle Minimum *
4.5
3.7
18%
3.4
24%
2.7
40%
Idle Average *
10.3
7.4
28%
7
32%
2.7
74%
Idle Maximum *
11.5
8.2
29%
7.6
34%
7.2
37%
Load Average *
23.3
17
27%
19
18%
22
6%
Load Maximum *
21.1
18.6
12%
20.1
5%
20.5
3%

* ... smaller is better

Battery Life

Unfortunately, what we had feared looking at the power consumption was confirmed in the battery test. The Chinese notebook is not a long-distance runner. While the competitors are clearly ahead in the read test, at least the Thinker can keep up with the Surface Book in the load test. Yet, there is no comparison with the runtimes of the passively cooled competition by Asus. Especially the TransformerBook with a considerably smaller battery manages to last almost three times as long in the WLAN test and under load. However, charging is quite fast. The Cube Laptop is fully recharged in under three hours.

Battery Runtime
Idle (without WLAN, min brightness)
10h 10min
WiFi Surfing v1.3
4h 13min
Load (maximum brightness)
2h 12min
Cube Thinker m3
7Y30, HD Graphics 615, 50 Wh
Microsoft Surface Book Core i5
6300U, Maxwell GPU (940M, GDDR5), 78 Wh
Asus TransformerBook T302CA-FL010T
6Y30, HD Graphics 515, 38 Wh
Asus Zenbook UX360CA-FC060T
6Y30, HD Graphics 515, 54 Wh
Battery Runtime
50%
156%
67%
Reader / Idle
610
1070
75%
1072
76%
1027
68%
WiFi v1.3
253
402
59%
805
218%
386
53%
Load
132
153
16%
362
174%
239
81%
H.264
604
696

Verdict

Pros

+ bright high-resolution display
+ elegant design
+ robust aluminum case
+ fanless construction
+ easy maintenance
+ large touchpad
+ fingerprint sensor
+ good storage equipment
+ sufficient connections
+ very affordable
+ USB-C

Cons

- no warranty
- screen insufficiently glued
- keyboard does not give a trustworthy impression
- bad battery life
- hums during mains operation
- relatively high weight
In the test: the Cube Thinker
In the test: the Cube Thinker

The Cube Thinker is a typical Chinese notebook: there is a lot of dazzle and shine, but in unfavorable lighting conditions, some deep shadows form. The design, which succeeds in impressing all around, is contrasted by a screen that is falling out (can be repaired) and a keyboard which has keys of differing heights. Due to the meager battery life, the good performance cannot be enjoyed for long. The subliminal charging noise might become annoying to those of a sensitive nature. 

On the positive side, there is an excellent display for this price, a robust base, a good performance, and not to forget: an unbeatable price. These compromises and also the lack of warranty should be weighed into the purchase. 

Cube Thinker m3 - 06/29/2017 v6
Florian Schaar

Chassis
79 /  98 → 81%
Keyboard
73%
Pointing Device
83%
Connectivity
48 / 80 → 60%
Weight
67 / 78 → 74%
Battery
76%
Display
91%
Games Performance
53 / 68 → 78%
Application Performance
70 / 87 → 80%
Temperature
91 / 91 → 100%
Noise
94%
Audio
76 / 91 → 83%
Camera
42 / 85 → 49%
Average
73%
80%
Subnotebook - Weighted Average

Pricecompare

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Cube Thinker Laptop (Core m3-7Y30, 8 GB, 256 GB) Review
Florian Schaar, 2017-07-16 (Update: 2017-07-22)