Linux Mint in Chelyabinsk Echips Malachite

Linux Mint in Chelyabinsk Echips Malachite

The publication will be about testing the branded laptop of the Chelyabinsk company Echips, namely the Malachite model (the country of manufacture of the device is China). At first, it seemed that the technical characteristics of the device do not stand out because it has an Intel Processor N100. But getting to know this budget laptop more closely, especially after installing Linux Mint, showed that it is an average performance (at the level of the 11th generation Core i3) office solution for simple tasks, working on the Internet and for resource-intensive games, which has its non-critical disadvantages and advantages.

The Echips brand belongs to the company of the same name, a supplier of spare parts for laptops, which has been operating since 2009. You can read more about the Echips company from Chelyabinsk, which produces Chinese laptops under its own brand, in this publication on the VC portal.

The manufacturer explained to Khabr that this laptop from China was designed specifically for the Chelyabinsk company and its specifications.

Setting up Echips Malachite and BIOS external elements

Echips Malachite is a light plastic mobile device with a 15.6″ matte IPS screen (resolution 1920×1080, DPI 141). The laptop is based on an Intel Processor N100 (4 cores/4 threads, frequency up to 3.4 Hz, TDP 6 W) .

The standard configuration of the laptop includes 8 GB of RAM (1 slot, single-channel mode only, up to 16 GB, replacement is possible) and a 256 GB SSD (M.2 2280 NGFF SATA from HJDK, it is possible to replace the drive with NVME).

Windows 11 Pro is installed as OS on the device.

The laptop supports Wi-Fi 802.11ac and Bluetooth 5.0 wireless data transmission systems. The device has two speakers and the following interfaces: USB 3.0 Type A (3 pcs.), USB Type-C (1 pcs.), HDMI, RJ-45 LAN, audio 3.5 mm, microSD.

The laptop also has a webcam (2 MP) with a shutter and an air cooling system, which, as it turned out, is correctly adjusted automatically when running in Linux.

The manufacturer promises up to 5 hours of operation from the standard battery (5000 mAh, 7.6, 38 Wh), but there are nuances.

Dimensions of the laptop (LxWxH): 358x228x23 mm, weight 1.58 kg in hands (not felt). The power supply unit is separate (12.3 A) with a round plug. But the length of the detachable power cable turned out to be too short – only 150 cm. There is no provision for charging the laptop via the USB-C port.

By experience, it turned out that entering the BIOS after pressing the Delete button.

Installing Linux Mint

There were problems trying to download Linux Mint 21.2 in Live mode. The screen resolution was only 800×600, the system did not see the touchpad, the keyboard and WiFi worked.

The answer of Echips specialists regarding Linux: “We did not test because the demand for Linux is too small. The touchpad will not work until the drivers are installed. This is how it works now on most devices on the new architecture.”

After that, it was decided to try to deliver Linux Mint Cinnamon EDGE Edition 21.2 (a version of Mint with support for new chipsets and a newer Linux kernel). This distribution turned out to be more suitable for a laptop, because even in Live mode, all the components of the laptop worked as they should at once. It took 30 minutes to install the OS and then another 15 minutes for all the updates via sudo apt update/upgrade.

Hardware Info Echips Malachite:

Testing Echips Malachite

System monitor and top utility.

CPU-X utility.

MBW (Memory Bandwidth Benchmark) utility.

KDiskMark benchmark.

Testing the autonomous operation mode. Two browsers were launched on the laptop, a full-screen video file (mkv format in the VLC player) was played, and the maximum screen brightness was set in energy saving mode.

As a result, in 2 hours, the battery charge level of the laptop decreased by 70% with an average system load of 20-30% of the maximum level of CPU performance.

Conclusions on the laptop after installing Linux

Certain positive aspects:

  • the screen is bright enough and convenient for many hours of work;

  • light weight, fast loading of the OS;

  • large touchpad with two buttons;

  • comfortable keyboard after some getting used to it;

  • the battery charge is enough for more than two hours of work in Linux at maximum screen brightness;

  • there is an RJ-45 port, a curtain on the camera and two speakers.

Inconvenient or negative moments:

  • one memory slot; single-channel mode;

  • smooth plastic case;

  • initially tight USB and power ports;

  • the keyboard is unusual, the numeric keypad, arrows and the Enter key are next to each other;

  • no version without Windows 11 to make the device cheaper;

  • short charging cable.

Regarding drivers and technical support (in Moscow and Chelyabinsk), it turned out that all of this is available, but in a certain form and only for Windows. The unzipped driver archive for Echips Malachite is 2.2 GB.

In the instructions-card for the laptop, there is no explanation about the BIOS, installation of other OS and there is no diagram for removing the back cover, there is no description of the internal parts of the device that can be changed.

The planned improvements are to change the RAM bar to 16 GB and try to replace the regular M.2 NGFF SATA 256Gb HJDK SSD with a more productive 512 GB. To do this, you need to unscrew 12 screws and carefully remove the back cover of the laptop. There are no separate compartments for accessing the removable elements of the laptop in the device case.

Currently, this laptop already has an interesting history: it has visited Chelyabinsk, Perm, Yekaterinburg and Moscow.

Answers from the manufacturer:

  • a version without Windows is not planned;

  • the power cable is standard. At the moment, we are not considering other options;

  • instructions for disassembling the back panel will appear on the website in the “Support” section in the near future.

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