Realme Book (Slim) Review

Sagar, 24 October 2021

It may feel like a decade, but it's been only about 3.5 years since Realme launched its first product - the Realme 1 - and the company has quickly expanded its product portfolio since then with the launch of fitness bands, smartwatches, wireless earphones, Bluetooth speakers, smart TVs, vacuum cleaners, washing machine, a tablet, and a laptop, dubbed Realme Book (Slim), that we have with us today for review.

Realme Book (Slim) Review

The Realme Book (Slim) is known as Realme Book outside India, and is not just Realme's first laptop but also the first from the BBK Electronics group. The Realme Book (Slim) is aimed at the young audience - especially the working class and students - who want a productivity-focused laptop that doesn't look boring. And to cater to that demographic, Realme offers the Book (Slim) in a cool blue color option with a slim, lightweight design and attractive features. But is that enough to be a worthy buy and convince people into buying a first-gen product? We tried to find that out and here's where we arrived.

Realme Book (Slim) specifications

Specs Intel Core i3 model Intel Core i5 model
CPU 11th Gen Core  i3-1115G4 dual-core quad-thread 11th Gen Core i5-1135G7 quad-core octa-thread
GPU Intel UHD Intel Iris Xe
Display 14", 2,160x1,440 pixel IPS LCD, 3:2 aspect ratio, 100% sRGB, 1,500:1 contrast ratio, 170° viewing angle, 400 nits peak brightness
OS Windows 10 Home Edition, upgradeable to Windows 11
RAM 8GB dual-channel LPDDR4x (3,733 MHz) 8GB (16GB in China only) dual-channel LPDDR4x (4,266 MHz)
Storage SanDisk 256GB PCIe SSD Samsung 512GB PCIe SSD
Connectivity Bluetooth 5.1, 802.11 a/b/g/n/Wi-Fi 5 (2.4GHz and 5GHz, 2x2 MIMO) Bluetooth 5.2, 802.11 a/b/g/n/Wi-Fi 5/WI-FI 6 (2.4GHz and 5GHz, 2x2 MIMO)
Ports 2x USB-C 3.2 Gen 2, 1x USB-A 3.1 Gen 1 1x Thunderbolt 4/USB 4 (Data: Max.40 Gbps), 1x USB-C 3.2 Gen 2, 1x USB-A 3.1 Gen 1
Web Camera HD (up to 720p photos and videos)
Audio 2x microphones with Vocplus AI Noise Cancellation Algorithm, 2x HARMAN speakers with Stereo Surround Sound By DTS
Battery 54Wh (6,952 mAh) with 65W PD fast charging
Colors Real Blue, Real Grey
Misc 3-level backlit keyboard, Multi-touch trackpad, Power Button with Fingerprint Scanner embedded, Intel Evo certification, PC Connect, Licensed version of Microsoft Office 2019 Home and Student Edition
Dimensions 307.21 x 228.96 x 14.9 mm (15.5mm at the thickest point)
Weight 1.38 kg

Packaging

The retail box includes the usual paperwork with the laptop and its charging accessories. The package itself is small and minimal, and its design is reminiscent of the Apple MacBook lineup's boxes.

Realme Book (Slim) Review

Design and Build

The Realme Book (Slim) is 307.21mm long, 228.96mm wide, and 15.5mm thick (14.9mm at the thinnest point). The laptop weighs 1.38 kg, making it pretty compact and easy to carry around.

The Realme Book (Slim) is sleek, and the Real Blue version we received looks really cool. The other color option is Real Grey, which is likely to appeal to people who want something more formal-looking, better suited for work environments and business meetings and presentations. Except for the bezels around the display, made of plastic, the entire laptop is painted with the same color - blue or grey - depending on which version you pick.

Realme Book (Slim) in Real Blue Realme Book (Slim) in Real Grey
Realme Book (Slim) in Real Blue • Realme Book (Slim) in Real Grey

The lid of the Realme Book (Slim) is clean, devoid of any pattern, with the Realme branding on the left side. I personally prefer brand logos at the center, but some might like this eccentric placement better.

And if you want to hide the logo or have a different design on the lid, you can purchase skins from Capes India, who partnered with Realme to create a funky Realme-themed skin, but there are other options available as well. Another reason you might want to apply a skin on the lid is that it's prone to scratches and picks up fingerprints.

Realme Book (Slim) Review

Moving on to the opposite side - the bottom of the laptop - we have the product logos, a couple of HARMAN speakers with DTS Stereo Surround Sound support, and air vents for cooling. Behind those is what Realme calls a Dual-fan Storm Cooling System, which employs 8mm diameter dual heat pipes and a wing-shaped design to maximize the notebook's cooling capacity.

The bottom of the Realme Book (Slim) also has rubber cushions to provide grip to the laptop, and I was surprised to see that the bigger one, placed above the vents, has the "Dare To Leap" text on it. Of all the places, Realme decided to put its slogan where it will hardly get noticed, unlike its smartphones, where the company has experimented with different sizes and positioning and received flak for the same. I find the slogan's location on the laptop rather unobtrusive so I doubt it will irritate too many people.

Realme Book (Slim) Review

On the left side of the Realme Book (Slim) are two USB-C ports - one Thunderbolt 4/USB 4 and one USB-C 3.2 Gen 2 - used for charging and data transfer. The former has the lightning bolt symbol on its left side for identification, and between the two ports is the charging indicator. But, do note that we are talking about the Core i5 model here. The i3 variant skips the Thunderbolt 4 port and comes with two USB-C 3.2 Gen ports instead.

The right side of the Realme Book (Slim) is home to a USB-A 3.1 Gen 1 port and a 3.5mm headphone and microphone jack. The lack of port options, including HDMI and Ethernet ports, could be an issue for some.

I, on the other hand, am more bothered by the lack of at least one more USB-A port because I usually use a mouse with the laptop, meaning the USB-A port is always occupied with its connector. If I have to transfer data through a USB-A cable, I have to remove it and rely on the trackpad for navigation, which isn't ideal.

USB ports and 3.5mm headphone/microphone jack on Realme Book (Slim) USB ports and 3.5mm headphone/microphone jack on Realme Book (Slim)
USB ports and 3.5mm headphone/microphone jack on Realme Book (Slim)

Moving on to the hinge, the Realme Book (Slim) is easy to open with one hand, but not all the way because doing so pulls up the base, and you eventually need to hold the palm rest to open the lid entirely. Still overall I'm satisfied with the hinge stability, which prevents the screen from wobbling.

Once the lid is opened, you get to see the 14" IPS panel with a 90% screen-to-body ratio, surrounded by slim bezels, with a web camera above the top bezel and the Realme logo under the bottom one.

We also have a backlit keyboard and trackpad here, but more on these in their dedicated section.

Realme Book (Slim) Review

In the upper-right corner is the power button with the fingerprint reader embedded. It's fast, accurate, and signs you in directly to the system after booting up if you press the power button with the registered finger.

Realme Book (Slim) Review

Like the notebook's lid, the area surrounding the keyboard has a matte-ish finish, and Realme tells us that the laptop is designed in such a way that the heat is directed towards the region above the keyboard so that the palm rest area remains cool, providing a comfortable typing experience. And I must say Realme did a nice job at that because while the portion above the keyboard does get hot to touch when charging or doing resource-intensive tasks, the region where you keep your palms remains cooler. It does get warm at times but nowhere near as hot as the other side of the keyboard.

Realme Book (Slim) Review

The Realme Book (Slim) has an aluminum alloy design and is made using CNC cutting, sandblasting, and anodizing. It is minimal, sturdy, and built well. But, the bottom panel often gets pressed when holding the laptop and isn't really confidence-inspiring. However, the overall design and build of the Realme Book (Slim) is pretty good, despite being reminiscent of Apple's MacBook.

Display, Speakers, and Web Camera

The Realme Book (Slim) packs a 14" IPS LCD with a 2,160x1,440-pixel resolution, which is one of its headline features. The screen has a 60Hz refresh rate, 100% sRGB coverage, a 1500:1 contrast ratio, and a 170° viewing angle, which I found to be good enough.

The display has a 3:2 aspect ratio and 90% screen-to-body ratio, achieved together with slim bezels on the top (8.45mm) and sides (5.3mm). This combination offers an immersive visual experience and ample screen real estate in a small form factor than the traditional panels having 16:9 aspect ratio, letting you view more information on the screen, which should also help increase the productivity when working with documents or surfing a webpage since you don't have to scroll as often as you would on a traditional display.

However, the 3:2 aspect ratio results in videos sandwiched with black bars, but you should get used to them after some time. And if you don't, the overall quality of the panel should make up for it.

Realme Book (Slim) Review

Realme advertises 330 nits typical brightness and 400 nits peak brightness for the laptop's screen. In our tests, the display reached 200 nits at 50% brightness but 390 nits at 100%. That's still plenty bright, mind you. The panel is glossy, which makes it appear more vibrant, but of course more reflective than the matte, non-reflective type.

The Realme Book (Slim) features a pair of HARMAN speakers with DTS Stereo Surround Sound support, which were loud enough and produced clean audio. The laptop also has a couple of microphones with Elevoc's Vocplus AI Noise Cancellation Algorithm, Vocplus Pre-processing Technology, and Vocplus Scream Suppression Technology to remove background noise and enhance speech, allowing people on the other end to hear your voice loud and clear.

The in-built web camera on the Realme Book (Slim) can record up to 720p 30FPS videos in a 16:9 aspect ratio and capture photos in 1,280x720-pixel resolution in the same aspect ratio.

Realme Book (Slim) Review

The HD camera on the Realme Book (Slim) is good enough for the occasional video calls, but you might want to invest in a dedicated web camera for professional use.

Keyboard and Trackpad

The Realme Book (Slim) doesn't come with a full-fledged keyboard you usually see on bigger laptops, meaning you don't get a numpad or the Home, End, Page Up, and Page Down keys. The direction keys are small, too, and the function keys double up as shortcut buttons. While the latter itself isn't an issue, the problem is there's no way for the user to toggle the behavior of the function keys, meaning pressing the F5 key will reduce the screen brightness instead of refreshing the system or a webpage, for example.

Therefore, you always have to press the "Fn" key placed between the Ctrl and Windows keys to use Windows shortcuts, such as Fn+Alt+F4 to close a window instead of just Alt+F4, and Fn+F5 to refresh the system instead of only F5. This might not be that big of an issue for those who've used similar keyboards before, but I find it very inconvenient since the increased hand gymnastics slow down the workflow to some extent.

Most brands allow you to change the function keys' behavior from the laptop's BIOS or other programs, but not Realme. However, Realme has acknowledged the issue and told me that it is working on an update to fix it.

Realme Book (Slim) Review

I also find the lack of Page Up and Home keys to be a hindrance to my workflow since those buttons allow me to quickly reach the top of the webpage, document, or the beginning of a sentence, and without them, I have to rely on the mouse/trackpad and move the scroll wheel/fingers multiple times to reach the top.

All this hampers the experience and is the reason why it took me a few days to get used to the keyboard, but of course part of that is I've used 15.6" laptops with full-sized keyboards for years now, and if you are used to keyboards on 14" and smaller laptops you shouldn't have many issues with it.

After all the keys have a nice travel and provide good feedback. The typing experience on the keyboard was enjoyable, and the backlit keys with 3-level brightness adjustment allow you to type with ease in dim lighting conditions or even in a pitch dark room.

The PTP multi-touch trackpad is also large enough, smooth, and nicely responsive, allowing easy navigation. We don't get the split keys here, but pressing the left and right areas in the bottom portion of the trackpad let you perform the left and right clicks, respectively. Alternatively, you can tap with two fingers to mimic a right-click in addition to using other gestures since the Realme Book (Slim) comes with Windows Precision Touchpad support.

Realme Book (Slim) Review

Hardware and Performance

The Realme Book (Slim) comes in two memory configurations in India - 8GB RAM + 256GB storage and 8GB RAM + 512GB storage. The former is powered by Intel's 11th Gen Core i3-1115G4 dual-core processor paired with Intel's UHD graphics, while the latter has an 11th Gen Core i5-1135G7 quad-core processor at the helm joined by Intel's Iris Xe Graphics. Neither of these has a dedicated GPU onboard.

Realme doesn't sell the Core i3 variant in China, but you do get an i5 version with 16GB RAM instead. Realme planned to launch the 16GB RAM model in India too, but eventually decided against it and there's no indication that the company will reconsider.

Realme Book (Slim) Review

Realme uses different RAM and storage modules on its i3 and i5 models. The i3 variant's RAM has a frequency of 3,733 MHz, whereas the i5 uses 4,266MHz RAM. Both are dual-channel LPDDR4X type, though.

The i3 version also gets a SanDisk-made SSD, while the one on the i5 comes from Samsung. And in case you are wondering, yes, Samsung's SSD on the i5 laptop is faster. It's advertised to reach sequential read and write speeds of up to 3,100 Mbps and 1,800 Mbps, respectively. SanDisk's SSD, on the other hand, is claimed to provide up to 2,400 Mbps and 950 Mbps sequential read and write speeds, respectively.

The differences between the i3 and i5 variants don't end there. The latter comes with Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.2 connectivity, and a Thunderbolt 4 port, which replaces a USB-C 3.2 Gen 2 port on the i3.

The unit I received for review is the Core i5 8GB/512GB Indian model, and before we proceed with the laptop's everyday performance, let's see how it fared in the synthetic benchmarks.

CrystalDiskMark:

Samsung's 512GB SSD on the Core i5 version Samsung's 512GB SSD on the Core i5 version
Samsung's 512GB SSD on the Core i5 version

GFXBench:

GFXBench (DirectX 12) GFXBench (Vulkan)
GFXBench (DirectX 12) • GFXBench (Vulkan)

Geekbench 5 and Cinebench:

Realme Book (Slim) Review

With the synthetic tests out of the way, let's talk about the notebook's real-world performance. I used the Realme Book (Slim) primarily for office work, which mainly included working inside Google Chrome with an average of at least 10-15 tabs open in multiple windows at all times, basic photo editing, and watching YouTube videos.

The Realme Book (Slim) performed well in that scenario without any hiccups and didn't get unusually hot.

As far as advanced photo/video editing and gaming are concerned, it's best to keep your expectations in check since the Realme Book (Slim) doesn't come with a dedicated GPU. You should be fine with basic editing and casual gaming, but don't expect anything spectacular.

Software

The Realme Book (Slim) ships with Windows 10 Home Edition out of the box and is eligible for a free Windows 11 upgrade. The laptop also comes pre-installed with a licensed version of Microsoft Office 2019 Home and Student Edition and the standard set of programs that come loaded with the Windows OS on other laptops. You also get a few third-party apps from DTS, Elevoc, and Realtek.

Additionally, the Realme Book (Slim) comes with PC Connect, introduced with the Realme GT Master Edition during its India launch in August.

PC Connect on Realme Book (Slim) PC Connect on Realme Book (Slim)

With PC Connect, you can drag-and-drop files between your smartphone and computer and open files stored on your phone with the programs installed on your laptop. Besides, you can preview the smartphone's messages and notifications on the Realme Book (Slim) and copy-paste content from one device to another with the clipboard sharing feature.

However, do note that the PC Connect feature is currently available on select Realme smartphones, including the GT Master Edition and GT Neo2.

The overall software experience on the Realme Book (Slim) is what you'd get from a freshly installed copy of Windows 10 on a decently specced machine. It's pretty clean and clutter-free.

Realme Book (Slim) running Windows 10 Home Edition Realme Book (Slim) running Windows 10 Home Edition
Realme Book (Slim) running Windows 10 Home Edition

Battery

The Realme Book (Slim) packs a 54Wh (6,952 mAh) battery, advertised to play 11 hours of 1080p video locally at 150-nit screen brightness with 50% volume and no Wi-Fi connection on a single charge. The company also advertises 8.5 hours of autonomy in a simulated office environment, with the test carried out using Mobile Mark 2018's Simulated Office Usage Test.

In my testing with 150-nit brightness, 50% volume, and no Wi-Fi connection, the Realme Book (Slim) performed better than advertised as it played a 1080p video locally for over 11 hours.

However, in my daily routine, the Realme Book (Slim) lasted me 5 hours and 40 minutes on average on a single charge. I used the laptop for office work, which included working inside Google Chrome with an average of at least 10-15 tabs open in multiple windows at all times, document editing, and some basic photo editing. I had the keyboard's backlight at the highest brightness level, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connections always on, screen brightness at 10%, maximum display resolution (1,440p), and the power mode set to Best performance.

Your mileage with the battery backup will likely vary depending on the usage and other settings such as display brightness. And, once the battery is drained out, you can plug in the bundled 65W PD fast charger, which is advertised to juice up the cell from flat to 50% in just 30 minutes when the notebook is turned off. In my testing, the Realme Book (Slim) went from flat to 50% in 30 minutes and 100% in 2 hours and 15 minutes.

Realme Book (Slim) Review

With the laptop turned on, the battery went from 3% to 45% in 30 minutes, 50% in 33 minutes, 82% in an hour, and 100% in 1 hour and 40 minutes. Your mileage may vary here as well depending on the tasks you are doing. In my case, I was using the Realme Book (Slim) for the office work I detailed above. However, I couldn't test the time required for a full charge with the laptop in use since the notebook shuts down once the battery level dips below 3%.

It's worth mentioning that the 65W adapter is also compatible with Realme's 30W Dart Charge tech, meaning you can charge compatible devices at up to 30W speed, which eliminates the need to carry multiple chargers for your Realme (and Oppo and OnePlus) devices.

It would have been cool and equally convenient if the adapter supported 65W speeds on Realme smartphones as well, but that's not possible. Realme tells us that's because it's a USB-PD charger, working on a high-voltage/low-current system (e.g., 20V/3.25A), whereas Super Dart Charge is a lower-voltage/higher-current system (10V/6.5A), so the Realme laptop's adapter can only support up to 30W on smartphones. Which is probably fast enough, considering you don't need to carry a separate charger.

That said, since the Realme Book (Slim) is charged through USB-C, you can also use a compatible power bank to juice up the notebook. In my case, I used Realme's 30W Dart Charge 10,000 mAh power bank and it worked splendidly.

Realme Book (Slim) with the bundled 65W PD fast charger Realme Book (Slim) with the bundled 65W PD fast charger

Verdict

The Realme Book (Slim) is a first-gen product, so I didn't really expect it to sweep me off my feet. But, Realme managed to deliver a good product considering it is its first time in this category.

The Book (Slim) has a lot going for it, such as the premium design, a nice 1440p screen with a 3:2 aspect ratio, and an excellent quality trackpad and keyboard. Although the latter could take some time getting used to if you have used full-sized keyboards previously.

The laptop's performance shouldn't be an issue as long as you aren't going to play heavy games or do advanced-level photo/video editing.

Moreover, the fingerprint scanner on the Realme Book (Slim) is fast and accurate, and the 65W charging allows you to quickly top up the battery when you are on the move. But the battery endurance could've been better.

I would have also liked to see the Book (Slim) with more I/O ports onboard, and Realme could've launched the 16GB RAM variant outside China since the RAM isn't user-upgradeable and doesn't make the purchase future-proof.

Realme Book (Slim) Review

The same can be said for storage, especially on the Core i3 model, which only has a 256GB storage option. But on the upside, the storage on both the i3 and i5 versions is user-expandable, so you can slide in a higher capacity SSD if you want more storage on the notebook.

Most issues I faced with the Book (Slim) are software-related, so as long as you don't mind the limited port and RAM/storage options, the Realme Book (Slim) makes for a good buy. Especially for professionals and students whose work revolves around browsing web pages and editing files in office suites.

In India, the Realme Book (Slim) Core i3 model (8GB/256GB) was launched with a price tag of INR46,999 ($625/€540) and the i5 version (8GB/512GB) at INR59,999 ($800/€690). But the former is currently available at INR44,999 ($600/€515) on Realme's official website and the latter at INR56,999 ($760/€655). In China, the Core i5 8GB/512GB variant is available for CNY4,299 ($675/€580), while the 16GB/512GB model with the same processor is down to CNY4,399 ($690/€595) from CNY4,699 ($735/€635).

Personally speaking, the Realme Book (Slim) would have been an instant buy for me if it wasn't for its limited USB ports and RAM/storage options which turned out to be a deal-breaker. Hopefully, Realme will soon launch the Book (Slim) with higher RAM/storage outside China and offer more I/O ports with new versions of its laptops.

That said, it is exciting to see Realme's entry into the laptop segment, and if the young brand does what it did with smartphones, you can expect to see a lot of competition in the laptop market, meaning more options to choose from across different price brackets, ultimately benefiting the customers.

Pros

  • Lightweight and compact
  • Minimal, premium, metallic design
  • Sturdy build
  • Nice 2K display
  • Quality trackpad and backlit keyboard
  • Decent performance
  • Fast, accurate fingerprint scanner
  • Fast charging

Cons

  • Inadequate ports
  • Only 8GB RAM option outside China, and RAM isn't user-upgradeable
  • Only 256GB storage option on the Core i3 model
  • Function key behavior can't be toggled
  • Core i5 version gets better features
  • Battery life could've been better

Related

Reader comments

  • omzig

hey RishiGuru, where did you see i5 model for 600 USD ??! it was i3 model for that price, i5 was never around 600 price point. unless you got some discount tokens and special offers for banks and cards, but that's not really applicable for...

  • omzig

ok, so trackpad is back online by pressing Alt+F4.

  • omzig

i got unresponsive trackpad! i was using it at home with a mouse for some time, but today i need to travel, so i didn't bring mouse with me and trackpad is not responding. it does not respond even if i enter BIOS. WTF?! that's it, r...

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