May 31, 2024

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Medion E15443 review – fast processor, skimps on the rest

Medion E15443 review – fast processor, skimps on the rest

Medion is marketing the E15443 as the cheapest AI laptop equipped with the latest generation Intel processors. This is easily the cheapest Core Ultra 5 laptop you can buy at the time of writing. Is this data enough to recommend this laptop?

Positives

Overall performance

Full HD screen

RAM 16 GB

Negatives

Loud cooling

The SSD is noticeably slow

There's no charging or video over USB-C

Average build quality

Color reproduction

720p camera

Conclusion

Medion is focusing its communications around the Medion E15443 on artificial intelligence at a low price. Admittedly, this is undoubtedly the cheapest laptop with an Intel Core Ultra 5 processor that you can currently buy. But that doesn't automatically mean this is a good laptop either. Overall performance is excellent, but the noisy fast cooling doesn't seem to be able to ensure the processor always performs optimally. In order to make a laptop with such a fast processor possible at a relatively competitive price, obvious savings have been made on the rest of the components. In our opinion, this is too much for a laptop that still costs 800 euros. The most obvious example of this is an SSD: a slow SATA SSD from an unknown Chinese brand simply does not belong in a modern laptop. But we also don't think the casing and compact USB-C port fit the price point.

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With its dark gray plastic casing, the Medion E15443 can be described as a 15-inch mid-range laptop, and it also has a beautiful design. Unfortunately, the casing doesn't feel very sturdy and is quite easy to squeeze in places, while the casing visibly squeaks.

In terms of connectivity, the laptop doesn't really impress. The laptop has a USB-C port, but without the benefits that this connection usually brings. We don't mind the port running at the slower Gen 1 speed of 5Gb/s; Even more worrying is the fact that the port doesn't support charging or DisplayPort. So you can't use this laptop on USB-C docking station communicate.

To charge, use a charger with a significantly short cord that you can plug into a separate charging socket. Fortunately, the laptop has plenty of other connections in the form of two USB 3.0 ports, a USB 2.0 port, HDMI, a microSD card reader, and a 3.5mm headphone jack.

Interestingly, in addition to the two Intel stickers, a McAfee sticker is also stuck on the box, while only a 30-day trial version of this virus scanning software is installed. Fortunately, no unnecessary software (bloatware) is installed.

Upgradable hardware

the Medion E15443 It is a fairly thick 15-inch laptop and comes with a feature. You can open and upgrade your laptop. Inside, Medion has placed a large sticker on the motherboard and all the components. You can carefully disassemble it, after which you can access two memory slots, a removable M.2 SSD and a removable WiFi module. Hence the laptop can be upgraded with some effort.

Enjoy the work?

The Medion E15443 is a 15-inch laptop that comes with an impressively large 15.6-inch display. The positive aspects of the screen are the Full HD resolution, matte finish and good viewing angles. Unfortunately, it's not a very good screen. The color reproduction is very great and the maximum brightness is not too high.

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A webcam is placed above the screen. This is a 720p version, while 1080p has been the standard for some time. So the camera does not provide very sharp images. However, the camera handles more difficult lighting conditions well, so you are visible in the photo. There is a button on the side of the laptop that you can use to turn off the camera. When turned off, a green light next to this button lights up. The speakers are placed at the bottom. The sound can be loud, but it lacks any form of bass reproduction, making music sound shrill and not enjoyable to listen to.

One advantage of the 15-inch size is that there's room for a keyboard with more buttons, and you'll also find a numeric field on the Medion E15443. The keyboard touch has little movement, but it does have a noticeable click. It's not a very good keyboard, but you can work on it. Since the structure itself offers a lot of flexibility, you don't have to type too hard, otherwise the keyboard will bend as well. The keys have backlighting that you can adjust to two settings.

The “AI” designation that Medion puts on the laptop is also due to the special Copilot button on the keyboard that allows you Microsoft Intelligent Copilot Must be able to communicate. We use this sentence intentionally, because at the time of testing, the button only opens the Windows search screen.

The touchpad, which measures about 13 x 8cm, is nice and spacious and supports three- and four-finger multi-touch gestures. However, the touchpad, like the rest of the chassis, feels a bit cheap as it has a bit of play and therefore vibrates when touched lightly.

performance

the Medion E15443 It has an Intel Core Ultra 5 125H with 16GB of RAM. This chip contains no fewer than 14 cores, divided into four fast, eight efficient, and two low-power cores, each with their own clock speeds. The chip also has an Arc GPU with 7 cores and NPU (Neural Processing Unit) Absorption.

With so many cores, it's clear that the chip is designed for multi-core performance, but that's somewhat disappointing. In Cinebench R23 we achieved a score of 9224 after one test, while that dropped to 8377 after 10 minutes. It should be a little higher. We believe that cooling is not enough for the chip to perform optimally. However, cooling is something this laptop doesn't really seem to excel at, as the fan blows faster even during light tasks.

Single-core performance in Cinebench R23 is as expected at 1,667 points and shows no drop. In PCMark 10, which simulates average office work, the laptop scores 6,078 points. You can perform everyday tasks smoothly, but we wouldn't expect anything less from a brand new laptop.

The battery capacity is 55Wh, which isn't much for a 15-inch laptop. However, it seems like the battery life isn't too bad. In PCMark 10's Modern Office battery test, we achieved 8 hours and 31 minutes of battery life. Not impressive by modern standards, but sufficient in practical terms.

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SSD is slow

We were briefly surprised when testing the SSD. In a serial test, the SSD achieves read and write speeds of only 555.11 and 507.14 MB/s, while in PCmark 10's Fast System Drive benchmark it achieves only 99.10 MB/s. For comparison: the slowest and not well-rated SSD on our site Final comparison test It achieved read and write speeds of 3717 and 3072MB/s, while 274MB/s was achieved in the Quick System Drive Benchmark test. It may be a little slower, but this laptop's results are simply poor numbers, and it's been a long time since we've seen an SSD this slow in a new machine.

There is nothing broken. It turns out that Medion used a SATA M.2 SSD. Very strange, because nowadays you almost have to make an effort to find an SSD like this and in our opinion it is reserved for very cheap or older devices with an M.2 slot that does not support NVMe. You simply should not encounter such an SSD in a new laptop based on the latest generation Intel. It is also a copy of an unknown brand.

Based on the type number (RS512GSSD310), it was very difficult for us to find this SSD, but we suspect that the manufacturer is Chinese manufacturer Rayson, unknown to us. Unfortunately, the SSD sticker was better stuck to the big black sticker inside the laptop than to the SSD itself: Anyway, the black PCB matches the pictures of the SSD we found online.

Light games are possible

Intel has made a good move into the GPU space with Arc, and the drivers have been improved significantly recently. The Core Ultra 5 is capable of gaming, although its 3DMark Time Spy score of 2,903 isn't very high. Full gameplay is not possible, but something is definitely possible.

In Shadow of the Tomb Raider we achieved 40 fps at 1920 x 1080 pixels on the lowest preset. Intel supports another trick, XeSS, similar to Nvidia's more famous DLSS. This causes the game to be rendered at a lower resolution and scaled by the AI ​​algorithm. In practice, this is virtually invisible when you're enjoying the game, but the game should support this.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider does that and with XeSS on Performance we achieve 50 FPS, which definitely makes this game playable. Although, of course, it will not be a gaming GPU that allows you to achieve 60 FPS at higher image settings. Games that support XeSS or its AMD FSR counterpart, which also runs on Intel GPUs, will be preferred.

Artificial intelligence and npu

Medion and Intel are promoting this laptop as one of the first laptops to bring AI to a wider audience. This focus on AI is because the laptop houses Intel's latest generation mobile processor in the form of the Intel Core Ultra 5 125H. In addition to the CPU and GPU, this chip is also equipped with a Neural Processing Unit (NPU), which accelerates calculations that are often used in AI applications. The same types of calculations can also be performed on a GPU, but the NPU must be able to do it more efficiently.

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In practice, you can't do much with this. Medion and Intel pointed us to audio editing software Audicity for testing. Here you can use artificial intelligence, among other things, to create music thanks to the OpenVINO plugin. We used this plugin to create five minutes of dance music. You can assign different tasks related to this to the CPU, GPU, or NPU.

There are two tasks that can be set on npu, one defaults to npu and the other to gpu. At these default settings, it takes 10 minutes and 20 seconds to create 5 minutes of music. If we set both tasks on npu it will take 16 minutes and 38 seconds while with both tasks on GPU it will take 11 minutes and 23 seconds. If we reverse the tasks in terms of GPU and GPU usage, the production process takes 10 minutes and 51 seconds.

Obviously, the NPU does something compared to the GPU; After all, it's faster if you assign a task to the CPU. However, it is easier to overload the NPU than to overload the GPU. Intel mainly recommends the NPU for (small) tasks that it can actually perform on its own, such as removing the background or suppressing ambient noise during a video call.

If used optimally, an NPU will be more power efficient for such tasks than a CPU or GPU. In addition, the GPU remains available for other tasks. Right now, the NPU doesn't add much in practice. After all, many popular AI applications like ChatGPT, Copilot, and Midjourney run in the cloud. Microsoft is said to be planning to run Copilot natively, but that will likely require a more powerful next-gen NPU.

Currently, the practical added value of the “AI laptop” is nil. This is a neutral observation and does not influence our judgment, as this applies to all laptops with a Core Ultra processor.

Conclusion

Medion is focusing its communications around the Medion E15443 on artificial intelligence at a low price. Admittedly, this is undoubtedly the cheapest laptop with an Intel Core Ultra 5 processor that you can currently buy. But that doesn't automatically mean this is a good laptop either. Overall performance is excellent, but the noisy cooling doesn't seem to be able to ensure the processor always performs optimally. In order to make a laptop with such a fast processor possible at a relatively competitive price, obvious savings have been made on the rest of the components. In our opinion, this is too much for a laptop that still costs 800 euros. The most obvious example of this is an SSD: a slow SATA SSD from an unknown Chinese brand simply does not belong in a modern laptop. But we also don't think the casing and compact USB-C port fit the price point.