South Africa

Mecer Laptop Xpression W940TU: Review

I recently purchased a new Mecer Xpression W940TU laptop from Computer Mania as my (not so) beloved MacBook Pro started giving me troubles. Seeing that a full repair would cost something around R5000 I decided to give a new laptop a try as I was in need of a fallback device anyway.

The Mecer laptop was the cheapest laptop I could buy right-on-the-spot at one of the Computer Mania franchises – for only R3600.
Mecer itself seems to be a brand of Mustek Limited which does not seem to be affiliated with the Mustek I know from Germany.

Unfortunately there is not a lot of tech review going on in South Africa so it was difficult to find any information or opinion about this specific or similar model. It was a risky buy, but so far I am happy.

The laptop comes with the following specs:

  • Intel Celeron N2840
  • 2GB DDR3L RAM
  • 500GB HDD
  • 14″ – 1366×786 – 16:9 (they call it here “HD”)
  • Windows 8 pre-installed (mine even came with a pre-configured user… yay)
  • UEFI
  • No CD/DVD player
I have never heard of this kind of CPU before but I am pretty impressed – it’s definitely lagging way behind my older i5 – but since I am only using it for work and not doing anything multimedia richy it’s perfectly fine. The power consumption is very low, thus also not really generating heat under high load – which is great! You will find the exact details here.
The quality of the chasis is pretty good – feels very cheap but also very durable. Same goes for the keyboard which I actually enjoy using. The touchpad is unfortunately disappointing – especially the buttons.
Of course from the beginning on it was clear that the specs are not enough for my usage – so I had to open it up and upgrade it.
This gave me also the possibility to have a look in side, and damn it looks cheap. Anyways:
  • replaced the 2GB RAM module with 2x4GB DDR3L (low voltage, got 1600 but they will anyway went down to 1333 automatically)
  • Samsung EVO 840 250GB SSD
  • removed Windows 8 in favour of Debian 8 (+ Mate)
Works like a charm, pretty fast, and the only bottleneck now is really the CPU.

Pros:

  • Absolutely NO fucking vendor locking – want to upgrade the hard drive or replace the RAM? Just do it!
  • Pretty simple technology – many things you can replace by yourself – so no exotic stuff soldered/glued on (well except the battery, see cons)
  • You can get (at least here in South Africa) a replacement for pretty much every part (won’t be always the original though) – and thats because they did not build anything “special behind closed doors” but just jammed in popular components together

Cons:

  • Being used to a Macbook, jesus the power connector on the laptop itself is fucked up – I need to jam it in with force and taking it out feels like I am ripping some inner parts out
  • the battery is unfortunately not easy changeable – similar to other laptops with this form – but still much better as it looks like they are some generic ones I can get from RS – so no special build or glued on
  • the battery have a very very low quality – it is reporting the wrong status under Debian and once it hits 50% it shuts off automatically
  • keyboard is not backlit
Conclusion: A cheap, but not the cheapest, laptop.Having nothing special built in and no vendor locking means upgrades and repairs will be easy and cheap to do.

Update: please don’t buy this laptop – unreliable 😀 😉