Cube i9 Full Review – Exactly what you expect from a Premium Tablet

The Cube i9 is a Surface Pro lookalike tablet that offers you exactly what you expect from a premium tablet. Great Performance, build quality and overall best multimedia experience.

PROS or Strengths of the Cube i9

  • Good performance, the Intel Core M3 Skylake Chip is quick, and is even better on Multitasking
  • 128 GB Foresee SSD Card is fast, similar performance to the Cube i7 Book
  • Premium build and Design, Strong frame, Sturdy kickstand and good overall build definitely worthy of the Flagship moniker
  • Capable of Mainstream gaming, runs LOL, Dota 2 at 1200p (native screen resolution) at lowest detail without any slowdowns or stutters
  • Great 12.2 inch IPS 1200p Display, 16:10 aspect ratio, Good colors, accurate touch sensitivity, Wide Angle view
  • Can be used for Video Editing, 1080p and below
  • Photoshop or similar software’s runs well
  • Good Connectivity options, WiFi performance is good, stable connection
  • Comes with Standard USB 3.0 Port and USB Type C
  • 3.5mm Audio Output is great and is much more enjoyable
  • Almost similar weight (hands on experience) to the Cube i7 Book
  • Supports a Magnetic Keyboard Dock (unfortunately not tested on my review)
  • It will give you around 4.5 hours of use on casual usage (WiFi on, 25% brightness), about 5 hours with WiFi off and using it just for movies.
  • Gaming, it will give you around 2 hours of battery life, depending on the brightness levels.
  • Good Thermals: Idle Temp 41C (celsius)
  • Casual Use (WiFi on, Websurfing on Google Chrome with multiple tabs, Youtube Streaming): Average temps: 45 – 53 C
  • Gaming: can hit 70C (but after that, temps go down quick)

Weaknesses or CONS

  • It is pricy compared to the Cube i7 Book
  • Performance issues (underperforming CPU compared to the Cube i7 Book)
  • No Dual Band WiFi Support
  • Struggles or not recommended for heavy 3D games, Intel HD515 is not that strong in terms of pure gaming
  • “Capable for Games” Not a gaming tablet (that should be emphasized)
  • The loudspeakers are facing the sides and can get easily muffled, not to mention it sounds tiny and you be better off using the 3.5mm Audio Jack
  • No mini HDMI Port

Additional Note: I was not able to test the keyboard, because it was unfortunately included in my package. So I omitted it on my review.

WHERE TO BUY? (June 6)

Cube i9 retails at $505 – Buy here

OTHER LINKS

Cube i9 retails at $429 – Buy here

You may be interested: Tablet Deals (updated)

Not too long ago, I  also reviewed the Cube i7 Book which offered the same specs as featured here but at a much cheaper price. Is the Cube i9, worth the extra buck? Find out more below

Surface Pro 4 Clone but well made and Premium

One striking appeal you would immediately notice with the Cube i9 is it’s obvious Surface Pro reference. The kickstand at the rear, 3:2 Aspect ratio screen and overall ergonomics all spell the Surface Pro look. But what makes the Cube i9 great is the quality and build materials. The whole tablet feels premium and never can you see cracks, gaps or issues with the design. The frame is strong, the rear panel is all Aluminum with rounded or curved edges for better handling. The kickstand also doesn’t feel cheap, it is also Metal, sturdy and well braced on the tablet. So you will not likely worry about it breaking free.

 

Fast SSD Storage

Crystaldisk
128 GB Foresee SSD
Read (MB/s)Write (MB/s)
Seq Q32T1503.7202.4
4K142140.9
Seq441.2197.3
4K11.7466

The tablet also uses the same Foresee SSD storage of the Cube i7 Book but has twice the storage capacity. In terms of Benchmark scores, it is slightly faster. But the difference is only minimal and would not likely be noticeable on real world usage.

Good GPU but weird performance issues on the CPU

The GPU performance according to Cinebench performs as expected. However, the CPU has some puzzling issues. It could be due to heat, bios, power limitations or other issues, but the Performance is actually below that of the Cube i7 Book (Head to Head).

Cinebench (Cube i9) – Clock speed 1.77GHz (Full Load), 72-73C Max Temps

  • OpenGL: 28.41 fps
  • CPU: 189 cb

Cinebench (Cube i7 Book) – Clock Speed 1.99GHz (Full Load), 82-86C Max Temps

  • OpenGL: 28 fps
  • CPU: 209

Compare that to the score of Cube i7 Book (209 cb). It is clear that the Cube i9 is under-clocking. On my test, I used Cinebench and Realtemp to determine actual temps and Clock speed on 100% CPU usage. The Cube i9 is under-clocked at 1.77GHz, far below its optimal 1.99GHz on full load, which the Cube i7 Book has no problem running.

I though at first that it was just a Benchmark problem but on my succeeding test, which includes gaming, there is an obvious drop in performance. Also, you can see that the temps are far lower on the Cube i9, it maxes out around 70C+, which maybe a reason for this, it to downclock to prevent overheating.

It seems there are limiting issues on the tablet, I haven’t done any modding yet, as well as do adjustments on the bios with regards to this issue.

So how is the downclock affect performance?

I have only tested it on one game, Dota 2 and compared the performance with the Cube i7 Book. On my test, I used the same settings and resolution to get an idea of the overall gaming potential.

Cube i9 (Dota 2)

  • 1920 x 1080 pixels (lowest setting)
  • 30-40 fps average

Cube i7 Book (Dota 2)

  • 1920 x 1080 pixels (lowest setting)
  • 50-70 fps average

From just this simple test on Dota 2, you can see the difference in performance. Because the CPU is not clocked at its optimal frequency, the average fps is far lower, especially when you compare that to the Cube i7 Book.

Aida64 also poses more puzzling questions

I also tested the CPU with Aida64, a CPU Stress test, but it just raised more questions than answers. The CPU can manage to run at 1.99GHz (its optimal frequency) at the same temperature range (72-73C). I was wondering again, why can’t it do on real world task, Cinebench is a benchmark test that mimics that, but it seems to be stuck at 1.77GHz.

Video Editing is possible

More so, Video Editing is also possible, I have tested it on CorelVideoStudio Pro, and it is able to encode 1080p videos with relative ease, but it did take a bit of time compared to my Core i7 CPU on my laptop (my laptop has a Core i7 4702MQ Chipset – not a mobile chip). Also Photoshop ran fine with no issues.

Standard USB 3.0 and USB Type C Ports available but no Mini HDMI?

The Standard USB 3.0 is a big plus for me, a big relief to the Cube i7 Book, which needed an adapter for using it, which was annoying. Also it has USB Type C Ports available. However, same with the Cube i7 Book, it lacks Mini HDMI Port.

In addition, you also have MicroSD expansion card slot available. Also, all the ports, are cramped on one location (the upper left side). Which you should pay attention especially if you will be plugging in more than one port at a time.

12.2 inch Screen with 3:2 Aspect Ratio is just perfect

Probably one of the factors that made it a Surface Pro wannabe. The screen and I do prefer it over the Cube i7 Book in terms of Web browsing and Multimedia Experience. The 3:2 Aspect Ratio offers more screen room and in fact everything looks better on it. When you surf, you don’t feel cramped. And if you want an office layout, what screen suits that purpose.

The 1200p resolution is a notch above the usual Standard 1080p but colors remain vibrant, vivid and accurate. The viewing angles are good also and on direct sunlight or using it outdoors, the screen is still very much usable. The touch screen sensitivity is also good, no missed clicks or feedbacks on my use.

Good WiFi Performance but sadly no WiFi AC

I was looking for WiFi AC but sadly, there was none. It only had Realtek RTL8723B Wireless 802.11N. Which only supports Wireless N apparently. Compared that to the Cube i7 Book which offers Dual Band WiFi (Intel Dual Band Wireless AC3165), that is based on the device manager.

More so, the WiFi performance was overall good, despite the lack of Wireless AC. The connection remain stable with no issues of sudden disconnections or problems with connectivity.

Better to use a Headphone instead

The same experience with what I had with the Cube i7 Book. The Loudspeakers are not particularly impressive. The speakers are also facing the sides, so you can easily muffled it with your hand. The Audio coming from the speakers sounds tiny, with barely audible bass.

On the other hand, the 3.5mm Audio Port is more enjoyable. The Audio experience is much better, the volume can go higher without distortion and the quality is good. So, it is better to plug in a pair of headphones.

Typical Tablet Cameras

The tablet sports Dual Cameras, the quality is good for social media sharing and nothing really that would replace your good Smartphone.

Good Battery Life

On a typical use you can probably get close to 4.5 hours. That is with WiFi on, 25% brightness, and you will probably be websurfing using chrome or other similar browsers. That is on my test and that is good numbers so far.  You can maybe get more of it, by placing the tablet on battery saver mode and airplane mode.

Gaming, you will probably get a bit lower than that, around 2 hours of use. Also this depends on the Tablet brightness levels.

Good Thermals and no thermal throttling

The overall thermal dissipation is good, I do know that the Skylake Chip is passively cooled, and the temps are actually similar to the Cube i7 Book.

  • On idle: I did get 35 to 40C
  • Casual use such as Websurfing: the temps ramp up to 45 to 60C (varied)
  • Gaming: Can go as high as 70C
  • On benchmarks (Aida 64) 100% Stress test: can reach up to 76C (but this is only on benchmark setting)

The temps were noticeable on the upper left hand corner of the tablet (when you are facing the rear of the tablet). It does get warm but not too uncomfortable for use. Although there is a downclock and underperforming, I wouldn’t say that there is thermal throttling, because I did not see any sign that it was happening. I mean, Aida64 didn’t show any, it was working normally at 1.99GHz and 72C on Full Load. The performance issues are just plan puzzling.

SpecsCube i9
Processor6th Gen Intel Skylake Core M3-6Y30 Dual Core 1.51-2.2GHz (14nm)
GPU: Gen9LP HD515
MemoryRAM: 4 GB LPDDR3
ROM: 128 GB SSD
Expansion: MicroSD support up to 128 GB
OS64 bit Windows 10 Home Edition
Display12.2" IPS, 16:10 Aspect Ratio
1920 x 1200 pixels
CamerasRear: 5.0 MP
Front: 2.0 MP
ConnectivityBluetooth 4.0
Realtek RTL8723B Wireless 802.11N
USB Type C 3.1
USB 3.0 (Standard)
IO1x TF Card Slot
1x USB Type C 3.1 (reversible)
1x USB 3.0 (Standard Port)
1X DC Charging Port
1x 3.5mm Audio Port
Dimensions302.9 x 194.9 x 9.2 mm
Weight: 970g
Battery2x 5000mAh LiPo built in (3.7)

PROS or Strengths of the Cube i9

  • Good performance, the Intel Core M3 Skylake Chip is quick, and is even better on Multitasking
  • 128 GB Foresee SSD Card is fast, similar performance to the Cube i7 Book
  • Premium build and Design, Strong frame, Sturdy kickstand and good overall build definitely worthy of the Flagship moniker
  • Capable of Mainstream gaming, runs LOL, Dota 2 at 1200p (native screen resolution) at lowest detail without any slowdowns or stutters
  • Great 12.2 inch IPS 1200p Display, 16:10 aspect ratio, Good colors, accurate touch sensitivity, Wide Angle view
  • Can be used for Video Editing, 1080p and below
  • Photoshop or similar software’s runs well
  • Good Connectivity options, WiFi performance is good, stable connection
  • Comes with Standard USB 3.0 Port and USB Type C
  • 3.5mm Audio Output is great and is much more enjoyable
  • Almost similar weight (hands on experience) to the Cube i7 Book
  • Supports a Magnetic Keyboard Dock (unfortunately not tested on my review)
  • It will give you around 4.5 hours of use on casual usage (WiFi on, 25% brightness), about 5 hours with WiFi off and using it just for movies.
  • Gaming, it will give you around 2 hours of battery life, depending on the brightness levels.
  • Good Thermals: Idle Temp 40C (celsius)
  • Casual Use (WiFi on, Websurfing on Google Chrome with multiple tabs, Youtube Streaming): Average temps: 45 – 53 C
  • Gaming: can hit 70C (but after that, temps go down quick)

Weaknesses:

  • It is pricy compared to the Cube i7 Book
  • Performance issues (underperforming CPU compared to the Cube i7 Book)
  • No Dual Band WiFi Support
  • Struggles or not recommended for heavy 3D games, Intel HD515 is not that strong in terms of pure gaming
  • “Capable for Games” Not a gaming tablet (that should be emphasized)
  • The loudspeakers are facing the sides and can get easily muffled, not to mention it sounds tiny and you be better off using the 3.5mm Audio Jack
  • No mini HDMI Port

WHERE TO BUY? (June 6)

Cube i9 retails at $505 – Buy here

OTHER LINKS

Cube i9 retails at $429 – Buy here

You may be interested: Tablet Deals (updated)

Exactly what you want on a Premium Grade Tablet

There are a couple of reasons to choose the Cube i9, but there are also a number not to. The Cube i9 is basically a premium grade tablet that works great as an alternative to a laptop, or mainly an Ultrabook you can carry that offers great performance. The 3:2 Aspect ratio of the screen as well as the Surface Pro Design make it stand out over the rest of the standard tablets. The Build quality is also worthy of the high price tag. But there are issues also needed to be mention, mainly performance issues, that make it loose over the Cube i7 Book in terms of overall performance. If it weren’t for that, then the Cube i9 is the best Tablet no question.

This article has 7 Comments

    1. Hello Razec,

      My thoughts also, but it is also rumored to come out with Stylus Support in the coming months.

      Best Regards,
      Vince

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