Realme started out as a smartphone manufacturer, but it seems that smartphone manufacturers are starting to branch out to markets beyond mobile devices and wearables. As if trying to flex its technology muscles, the young brand has now launched its first-ever laptop, the Realme Book, a.k.a. the Realme Book Slim. Taking aim at the MacBook family, the laptop tries to balance power, portability, and price, just like many other laptops in the market today. Naturally, we just had to take it for a spin to see if the Realme Book Slim does have enough of those points to stand out from a very crowded Windows laptop market.
Design and Display
As its first laptop, the Realme Book Slim needed to make a good impression, and to the company’s credit, it manages to pull that off beautifully. The notebook’s design is simple, clean, and unobtrusive. Even the mirror logo design on the cover barely mars the smooth aluminum alloy that was refined through sandblasting and anodizing.
The profile of the Realme Book Slim is just as minimalist, though some might find the number of available ports to be a bit constraining (more on that later). Realme loves to emphasize the slim 14.9mm thickness of the notebook, which might not exactly be the thinnest in the market. That said, that bullet point has to be taken into context, with the screen, specs, and price point playing equal roles in building the Realme Book Slim’s identity.
That screen comes as a 14-inch 2K LCD IPS display with a resolution of 2160×1440. That gives it a 3:2 aspect ratio that is closer to the Microsoft Surface Laptop than any MacBook. There isn’t much dead space around the panel, except at the bottom, giving it a 90% screen-to-body ratio that Realme is quite proud of.
More than just a pretty face, that screen is also functionally beautiful. Colors are vibrantly displayed on a sharp and crisp panel that gives enough brightness for indoor use. Unfortunately, the 400 nit max brightness doesn’t do much for it outdoors, especially under bright ambient light.
Hardware and Performance
As a 2021 laptop, the Realme Book Slim tries to offer the best that it can but, ultimately, compromises for the sake of price. 11th-gen Intel Core processors power the beast, but only a Core i3-1115G4 and a Core i5-1135G7 are available, leaving out the extreme power that only a Core i7 could offer. Realme offers 8GB and 16GB LPDDR4X memory configurations as well as 256GB and 512GB storage capacities, both of the PCIe SSD kind.
Budget-constrained consumers might be tempted to settle for the Core i3 model, but they will be losing out on more than just clock cycles. Only the Core i5 configuration, for example, supports the latest Bluetooth 5.2 spec and the new Wi-Fi 6 technology. Both options have the same number of ports, but only the Core i5 actually supports Thunderbolt 4. The other ports include a USB-C port, a USB-A port, and a 3.5mm headphone jack.
Another critical difference is that only the Core i5 model comes with Intel’s Iris Xe graphics technology. Although it doesn’t offer the same level of power as newer integrated graphics on gaming laptops today, it is still an admirable first try from Intel that will be enough to power many multimedia applications as well as some PC gaming.
Benchmarks and Cooling
Although it definitely doesn’t hold a candle to a Core i7 laptop, our Core i5 review unit still managed to pull decent results both in Geekbench’s regular test suite as well as its Compute benchmark. The Realme Book Slim does surpass the latest MacBook Pros only because the latter use an older generation of Intel processors. Comparing it with M1 MacBooks, however, are apples to oranges, pun intended.
While Realme’s first laptop performs admirably, its boasted cooling system leaves much to be desired. Mind, the laptop doesn’t get too hot for comfort, but that’s mostly thanks to what Realme has dubbed as its Dual-fan Storm Cooling System. “Storm” is probably the correct moniker for it since the fans run really loud, contrary to the company’s claims.
Audio and Input
Audio is, thankfully, also loud and also rich, thanks to two Harman-tuned speakers boasting DTS surround sound technology. It isn’t mind-blowing like, say, MacBook Pros, but noticeably better than some of Lenovo’s best. Given how many use laptops for video chats these days, Realme also employed the assistance of Elevoc’s Vocplus audio technologies for noise cancellation.
Of course, laptops are meant to be typed on more than spoken to, and the Realme Book Slim, fortunately, offers a pleasurable experience in that regard. The chiclet-style keys offer very good travel at 1.3mm without adding to the noise that the fans already produce. The keys are backlit, too, and you can even choose the level of brightness, depending on the situation. The trackpad is large and responsive, making it comfortable to use instead of getting in your way, as most trackpads do.
The Realme Book Slim has a 54Wh battery, and while battery life estimates are usually generous, we found Realme’s advertised numbers are far too kind. The company puts an 8.5-hour figure under “simulated office” work, but we clocked in less than six hours with mixed use of browsing, word processing, and an hour of YouTube. Of course, your mileage may vary, but it isn’t exactly impressive.
Realme tries to make up for it the same way smartphone manufacturers make up for small batteries. The laptop supports 65W USB-PD fast charging, juicing it up to 50% in around 30 minutes. Of course, you’ll need to use the 65W adapter the laptop ships with, and you’ll have to plug it into the Thunderbolt port for the best speed. Realme says that the adapter is compatible with its 30W Dart charging system for phones, so you can at least use the same for both devices. The reverse, however, is unlikely to be the same.
Software and Special Features
Realme is proud that its first laptop comes with Windows 10 pre-installed and a promised free upgrade to Windows 11, but what commercial laptop these days doesn’t. It might still bear mentioning because of how the laptop can integrate seamlessly with a Realme phone. Instead of the built-in Your Phone feature, Realme introduces a new PC Connect system that, at least for now, is compatible only with the Realme GT series. It’s meant to mirror the phone screen, offer two-way file transfer, and even open files on the phone using Windows programs.
The Realme Book Slim also comes with a 2-in-1 Fingerprint scanner and Power Button for quick and secure authentication. It integrates with Windows Hello, of course, and works quite well, detecting our enrolled fingerprint without missing a beat.
Realme launched its first laptop at a time when laptop sales have surged thanks to the rise in demand for portable work and school computers last year. Then again, the PC market has always been filled with laptops bearing nearly the same specs, varying in design, proprietary technologies, and prices to stand out from the rest. More than any other laptop, the Realme Book Slim is really the sum of its parts.
It’s hardly the only 14-inch laptop with a 2K display, nor is it the thinnest, the lightest, or the cheapest in the market. With a price tag of roughly $800 for the Core i5 model, however, it could very well be one of the thinnest 14-inch laptop with a 2K display under $1,000. Sadly, the short battery life and noisy fans sour the deals a bit, but there will always be some people that will be able to live with these flaws for something that can offer them more for less.