If a freshly purchased notebook should last for several years and cause little frustration when using it, it should meet a minimum of technical key data: We recommend a quad-core processor of the last two CPU generations from AMD or Intel, 8 GB of RAM, a 256- GByte SSD and an IPS screen with stable viewing angles.
In view of the high, pandemic-driven demand and the global shortage of chips, a larger selection of devices that meet these points is currently only starting from around 600 euros, if Windows 10 is also to be preinstalled. The upcoming Aldi notebook Medion Akoya E14304 (MD63780) clearly breaks the structure: It combines all the aforementioned aspects for just 430 euros.
The four-core Ryzen 3 4300U works in Aldi’s new 14-inch notebook from Medion. Although it is the smallest Ryzen model of the 4000 generation, its computing power does not have to hide from Intel’s Core i5 or i7 CPUs – because the larger AMD models Ryzen 5 and Ryzen 7 with six or eight cores are much faster are.
Windows 10 Home is pre-installed in S mode, which only runs signed applications from the Microsoft Store. This lock can also be released free of charge (and irrevocably) via the Microsoft Store – then you have a normal Windows 10 in front of you.
(Image: c’t / heise online)
Comfort including docking
The 14-inch screen displays 1920 × 1080 pixels (Full HD) and, as mentioned at the beginning, is an IPS panel with stable viewing angles. With a matte surface and a tested maximum brightness of around 230 cd / m², you can see the screen content well even on sunny days.
In a dark environment, you can again enjoy the keyboard illumination, which is atypical for its class. The keyboard also pleases with a good typing feel and a successful layout including a two-line Enter key, a cursor block and an additional key column for page up / down / home / end. Many a premium notebook with a price above the 1000 euro mark could learn a lot from this! The key grid is curiously wider than usual (19.5 instead of 19 millimeters); Nevertheless, you can start typing fluently without getting used to.
Also not a matter of course: The USB-C port on the left does not only understand USB 3.0 data, but also outputs DisplayPort 1.2 signals and takes energy from USB-C power supplies. With a USB-C monitor or a generic MiniDock, you get a docking convenience at your desk that was reserved for expensive business notebooks a few years ago. DisplayPort 1.2 is sufficient for Ultra HD displays (3840 × 2160 pixels) with 60 Hertz. However, the included power supply has a classic round plug.
Also otherwise only found in more expensive notebooks: There is a mechanical slide on the right of the case that disconnects the webcam, which is located above the screen, from the system – this prevents the risk of being spied on unintentionally.
Cutbacks in the B grade
Of course, there are also a few points that make more expensive notebooks better. The Akoya E13403 does not have a fancy unibody case – there is still nothing wrong with the workmanship of the aluminum parts. What is more annoying is that the fan is whisper-quiet when the computer load is low, but spins up audibly and generally sounds rather high-frequency when the computer load is short. With a weight of a good 1.4 kilograms and a running time of just under 12 hours, the Aldi notebook does not have outstanding, but sufficient mobility. It is not possible to quickly refuel an empty battery.
The angular USB-A socket on the right, like the microSD card reader on the left, is only connected via USB 2.0, which slows down fast USB sticks and memory cards. Biometric login using Windows Hello is not provided at all. The WLAN module from Intel transmits with only one data stream and instead of modern Wi-Fi 6 (IEEE 802.11ax) speaks only Wi-Fi 5 (IEEE 802.11ac) – but this can be done in the 5 GHz band and for DSL Internet is the speed enough.
This fact cannot be changed afterwards, because the WLAN module is soldered to the motherboard. The same applies to the – therefore not expandable – 8 GB DDR4-2666 RAM, which at least works in the faster dual and not single-channel mode.
The SSD, on the other hand, is exchangeable in an M.2 slot, and this is easily accessible via a service flap on the underside. Medion installs a SATA SSD, which does not come close to the high transfer rates of modern PCI-Express models, but always works faster and more responsive than the hard drives that were common in this device class a few years ago. According to the BIOS setup, the slot also accepts PCIe models with NVMe protocol; we haven’t tested that.
Before attempting handicrafts, you should consider that this may invalidate the manufacturer’s guarantee. According to Medion, this is not the case if the SSD is exchanged professionally, but this formulation offers a lot of legal leeway in both directions. If the worst comes to the worst, the responsible service employee will ultimately define whether the guarantee is still valid or is no longer valid. The latter would be fatal, because Aldi sells the Medion notebook with a full three-year manufacturer’s guarantee – only one year is common in this price range.
Basically, a manufacturer’s guarantee only applies to the condition ex works, which applies to the hardware as well as the operating system. We haven’t tried Linux, but don’t think the chances are too bad: The Akoya E14304 doesn’t use any brand-new components, and there are no critical system features such as modern standby.
In the Akoya E14304 (MD63780), Medion combines sensible and decent components for home office or homeschooling and garnishes the package with a competitive price of 430 euros including a three-year guarantee. Other notebooks with similar processor, memory and screen equipment cost around 600 euros, without you getting anything better in terms of fan behavior, WLAN speed or interface equipment. On the contrary: USB-C docking and an illuminated keyboard are not a matter of course there either, and the standard warranty in this market segment is only one year.
In this respect, it is not to be expected that the Medion Akyoa E14304 (MD63780) will be a slow seller. The notebook will arrive in the branches of Aldi Nord and Aldi Süd on Thursday (April 29th, 2021); Aldi Nord also wants to sell it online.
|Medion Akoya E14304: data and test results|
|scope of delivery||Windows 10 Home (S) 64 bit, power supply|
|Interfaces (V = front, H = back, L = left, R = right, U = below)|
|VGA / DVI / HDMI / DisplayPort / camera (Hello)||– / – / L / – / ✓ (-)|
|USB 2.0 / USB 3.0 / USB 3.1 / LAN||1 × R / 1 × L (1 × type C) / – / –|
|Card reader / power / docking connector||L (MicroSD) / L / –|
|USB-C: Thunderbolt / USB 3.0 / USB 3.1 / DisplayPort / charging||– / ✓ / ✓ / ✓ / ✓|
|Display||Panda LM140LF4L01: 14 inches / 35.6 cm, 1920 × 1080, 16: 9, 157 dpi, 11 … 232 cd / m², matt|
|processor||AMD Ryzen 3 4300U (4 cores), 2.7 GHz (Turbo up to 3.7 GHz), 4 × 512 KByte L2, 4 MByte L3 cache|
|Main memory / chipset||8 GB DDR4-2666 / AMD Renoir SoC|
|Graphics chip (memory) / with hybrid graphics||int .: AMD Radeon Vega 5 (from main memory) / –|
|Sound||HDA: Realtek ALC256|
|LAN / WLAN||– / PCIe: Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 3165 (Wi-Fi 5, 1 streams)|
|Cellular / Bluetooth (stack)||– / USB: Intel (Microsoft)|
|Touchpad (gestures) / TPM / fingerprint reader||I2C: HID (max. 4 fingers) / TPM 2.0 / –|
|Mass storage / optical drive||SSD: Phison S11 (256 GB) / –|
|Power supply, dimensions, weight|
|Battery (charging stop <100% adjustable)||45 Wh lithium-ion (-)|
|power adapter||65 W, 382 g, 9 cm × 5 cm × 2.8 cm, clover leaf plug|
|Weight / height / thickness with feet||1.44 kg / 32.3 cm × 21.9 cm / 2 … 2.1 cm|
|Keyboard height / key grid||1.3 cm / 19.5 mm × 18.5 mm|
|Suspend / switched off||0.1 W / 0.1 W|
|without load: display off / 100 cd / m² / max||3.7 W / 5.9 W / 7.6 W.|
|CPU load / video / 3D games (max.brightness)||37 W / 12.2 W / 27 W.|
|max. power consumption / power supply unit power factor||60 W / 0.58|
|Runtime, noise, benchmarks|
|Runtime idle (100 cd / m²) / video (200 cd / m²) / 3D (max)||11.7 h / 6.4 h / 2.1 h|
|Charge level / runtime after 1 hour of charging||54% / 6.3 h|
|Noise with / without computing load||<0.1 sone / 1.1 sone|
|Read / write mass storage||488/458 MB / s|
|Read / write IOPS (4K)||72704/65280|
|SD card read rate||32 MB / s|
|WLAN 5 GHz / 2.4 GHz (20m) / MU-MIMO capable||24.3 / 12.6 MB / s / –|
|Quality audio output / dynamic range||⊕ / 97.5 dBA|
|Cinebench R23 rendering (1 / n CPU)||1108/3681|
|3DMark: Wild Life / Night Raid / Fire Strike / Time Spy / Port Royal||4475/8750/2070/791 / –|
|Price and guarantee|
|Street price test configuration||€ 430|
|⊕⊕ very good ⊕ good ○ satisfactory ⊖ bad ⊖⊖ very bad ✓ present – not present n / a no answer|