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Upgrading an inexpensive laptop using the example of the Chinese model Ninkear N16 Pro

10.01.2024 10:23

In the modern world, everyone believes that the more memory and the faster the drive in a computer, the better its performance. This thesis is true in a general sense, but its quantitative expression usually remains uncertain. It would be interesting to see how this theory plays out in practice with different applications.

To obtain real data on performance improvements, you can use the iXBT methodology. However, there are several nuances. The first is time: our standard application test takes several hours and needs to be run after every computer update to get the full picture. Secondly, you need to choose a suitable “base” for tests, where the modernization will be most effective. This is important for the upgrade results to be convincing. You should also take into account the cost of components so that they correspond to the price of the device itself.

Despite this, we managed to find a device that is worth upgrading at an acceptable cost and with the possibility of improvement. However, not all laptop models allow the replacement of memory modules, which is typical, especially for compact laptops.

For example, the Ninkear N16 Pro model, which has a 16-inch screen with a 2.5K resolution and a variety of ports (four USB, HDMI, RJ-45), offers a good Intel Core i7-1260P processor and an integrated graphics card. This model comes in two configurations: 16 GB RAM and 1 TB SSD, and 32 GB RAM and 2 TB SSD.

Prices vary depending on seller and promotions. However, upon closer inspection, it turns out that certain characteristics, such as slow DDR4-2666 memory and the SATA interface of a terabyte SSD, may not be performing enough. Despite this, the upgrade may be attractive, especially if you take additional memory and NVMe SSD, because the option with 32 GB RAM / 2 TB SSD has unknown characteristics and a significantly higher price (from 65-67 thousand rubles).

However, before making a choice, it is worth considering the lack of reviews on the long-term use of Ninkear equipment and the lack of service. And although the cost of additional memory and SSD remains reasonable, it is important to remember that the budget-conscious buyer choosing Ninkear products will not necessarily strive for the most expensive components.

Therefore, despite some disadvantages, the upgrade can still be attractive, especially for users who are willing to make small improvements to the device.

Configuration and equipment

Ninkear N16 Pro
CPUIntel Core i7-1260P (4+8 cores/16 threads, up to 3.4/4.7 GHz, 20—64 W)
RAMSO-DIMM 16 GB DDR4-2666 (Micron chips) in slot, second slot free *
32 GB option available
Video subsystemintegrated, Intel Iris Xe Graphics 96EU **
Screen16 inches, 2560×1600 (16:10), IPS (BOE NE160QDM-NY1), 165 Hz
Sound subsystemRealtek, 2 speakers
Storage deviceSSD 1 TB in M.2 slot for SATA/PCIe: MemoiresTek G600, M.2 2280, SATA *
option with 2 TB drive available;
there is a slot for a second M.2 PCIe drive
Card readerNo
Network interfacesWired networkyes, Realtek RTL8111H
Wireless Wi-Fi networkWi-Fi 6 (Intel AX200NGW IEEE 802.11ax, 2.4/5.0 GHz, MIMO 2x2, 160 MHz channel width)
BluetoothBluetooth 5.2
Interfaces and portsUSB1 × USB 3.2 Gen1 Type-C
2 × USB 3.2 Gen1 Type-A
1 × USB 2.0 Type-A
RJ-45There is
Video outputsHDMI 2.0b (up to 4K@60 Hz)
Audio connectorscombined for headset (minijack)
Input DevicesKeyboardbacklit, with digital keypad
Touchpadclickpad
IP telephonyWebcam720p@30 fps
Microphoneyes (2 pcs.)
Fingerprint's scannerThere is
Battery63.5 Wh, lithium polymer
Dimensions361×242×26.5 mm (thickness 22 mm excluding legs)
Weight without power supply1.89 kg
Power adapter65 W (19 V / 3.42 A), weight 0.34 kg (with cables)
operating systemWindows 11 Pro (21H2)

the table shows information about our copy; others may get something different.

** in the case of single-channel memory is displayed as Intel UHD Graphics .

The product is packaged in a cardboard box with a convenient carrying handle. During delivery, there may be a second outer box, which is designed to protect the product from damage.

The laptop comes with a power adapter equipped with a replaceable input cable 0.9 m long and an output cable soldered to a length of 1.45 m (with a 4.0 x 1.7 mm connector). The kit also includes a bag with a set of fasteners: several small screws with wide heads used to secure the second SSD, as well as spare screws for the bottom cover.

Sometimes sellers promise things like a bag, a mouse with a pad, or a USB hub as a gift. However, it is worth remembering that it is better not to count on such “gifts” seriously, and if you receive them, most likely it will be something quite cheap, not worth special attention.

The amount of available space on the SSD is divided into two parts: slightly less than 120 GB are allocated for the system partition, the rest of the space remains free.

This device comes with the Windows 11 Pro (21H2) operating system, which is automatically activated immediately after connecting to the Internet. However, our copy does not have the ability to select the Russian interface language at the installation stage — although the list of languages is very long, Russian is not in it. This may disappoint those users who prefer to work in their native language. However, you can easily install the Russian keyboard layout in the next step.

Note: Although it is possible to download and install the Russian language pack, this was not relevant for us. Sometimes you can find versions of Windows in which the Russian interface language is immediately available.

There is no additional software or proprietary utilities.

Appearance and ergonomics

The device is offered in one color — dark gray, the texture of the surfaces is matte with a slight roughness, handprints on them are almost invisible.

The bottom panel of the case and the top of the screen cover are made of aluminum alloy, while the keyboard panel is made of plastic.

The design is simple and standard, without any frills (except for the branding applied, but this is done simply with paint, which may raise doubts about the originality of the product).

The dimensions are not indicated anywhere, so we took measurements: 361 × 242 mm; regarding the thickness in the descriptions there is a value of 12 mm, but this is most likely some kind of trick, since the thickness can be less than 10 mm, especially at the front edge of the case, but in fact in reality the front part has a thickness of 19.5 mm, and the back — 22 mm, including support legs — 26.5 mm. It's quite acceptable: not an ultra-thin laptop, but noticeably thinner than gaming models.

The case is quite rigid, although the panels may bend a little when pressed hard. Testing time did not reveal any squeaks or clicks. However, the cover with the screen is not so strong relative to twisting; it is quite thin.

The plastic frame around the screen is 7.1 mm wide on the sides and at the top, where the webcam with indicator is located. To these dimensions another fraction of a millimeter is added due to the edge of the outer aluminum cover. The bottom of the frame is 8.5mm wide until the edge curves to hide the hinges.

On the lower part of the body, in addition to the almost full width of the legs (the front one is slightly shorter), there is a ventilation grille closer to the rear edge. It provides air flow to cool components, so it is not recommended to place the laptop on soft surfaces.

At the rear end of the case there are larger slots through which the ventilation system exhausts heated air. It turns out that the bottom part of the screen is heated, but when running “heavy” tests it turned out that it is not too noticeable.

The slots are closed by the bend of the lid and are not visible in the photo

The slots are closed by the bend of the lid and are not visible in the photo

The lid with the screen opens to an angle of up to 140 degrees (the lower edge does not touch the table) and is precisely fixed in any position, starting from about 30 degrees, as well as when closed.

The hinge resistance is average — the lid can be opened with one hand without the need to hold the bottom, although the front edge may lift up a bit. For convenience, a small cutout is made in the middle of the front edge of the case to make it easier to hook your finger. In other places this is also possible, but a little more difficult.

On the left side there is an HDMI connector, two USB 3.2 Gen1 Type-A ports and one USB 3.2 Gen1 Type-C, which can only be used for data exchange — there is no video output and no Power Delivery support.

On the right there is a power socket, an RJ-45 connector (with a hinged lid), a USB 2.0 Type-A port, and a combined minijack for an audio headset.

Thus, the set of external ports for modern laptops is quite extensive (perhaps only a little missing is a microSD card slot, which could easily fit without increasing the price significantly). But despite this, the ports are not the most advanced by standards: there is no Thunderbolt, and video output via Type-C is not supported.

The keyboard is designed in a membrane style with buttons arranged in an island style, including a three-row numeric keypad. The buttons on the pointer block are of a standard size.

The size of most buttons is normal: 16.4 × 16.4 mm, smaller functional buttons: 16.4 × 10 mm; the left Shift is 37 mm long, the right Shift is 24 mm long. The distance between the edges of buttons in one row and between rows is 2.6 mm. Typing is quite comfortable, the typing sounds are quiet, but some keys like Esc or Tab are a little louder. The full key travel is about 1.3-1.4 mm.

The side indents are small — about 14.5 mm. There is a kind of grille with small round holes visible, but this is a purely decorative element, and not part of the cooling system, since the holes do not penetrate the body.

To the right of the F4 and F5 function keys are three tiny LED indicators: power, disk activity, and Wi-Fi status.

It is possible to turn on the keyboard backlight, presented in white and with two brightness levels. At the maximum level, the backlight is quite bright, both characters and the edges of the keys are illuminated, including Cyrillic characters. Selecting the minimum brightness level causes the backlight to flicker when you press the keys, but this is not much of a nuisance: users quickly get used to it, and if necessary, the irritation can be avoided by switching to the maximum level, where the flickering disappears when the keys are pressed.

The keyboard backlight automatically turns off after 10 seconds of inactivity and turns on when you press any button. It's a little annoying, but there is no control over this feature. The Power button is located in the upper right corner of the keyboard, which can lead to accidental operation. The webcam is simple, supports resolutions up to 720p at 30 fps and does not have a physical shutter; it can only be disabled via a key combination. Such cameras are often installed even in expensive laptops.

The touchpad is quite large: its dimensions are 126x87 mm, the surface is slightly depressed, and it is slightly offset to the left relative to the center of the body. There are no separate dedicated keys, but the left and right edges of the touchpad can be used as mouse buttons. There is a combination of buttons to quickly disable the touchpad.

The fingerprint sensor is located in the upper left corner of the touchpad.

Screen

The BOE NE160QDM-NY1 matrix was produced in week 32 of 2021. This means that it was manufactured almost two years before this laptop was assembled. Based on the serial number starting with «162023», we can assume that the laptop was assembled in the 16th week of 2023. This corresponds to the time when we received this device.

Of course, it can be argued that the gap between the production dates of the matrix and the laptop itself is unusual, but in our experience such cases are observed quite often. We have experience with a significant number of laptops and can confirm that such differences in the production dates of the matrix and the device itself are common practice. For example, in an expensive modern laptop we recently used from a well-known manufacturer, the matrix was produced in the 20th week of 2021, and in a more affordable, but also modern model from another well-known brand, the matrix was produced in the 11th week of the same year.

The outer surface of the screen is matte and black, has a semi-matte texture (mirrority is present). There are no special anti-glare coatings or filters, and there is no air gap. When powered by mains or battery, and with brightness adjusted manually, the maximum value was 403 cd/m² (measured at the center of the screen against a white background). This is a fairly high maximum brightness, which allows you to comfortably work/play on a laptop even outdoors on a bright sunny day, if you are in the shade.

To evaluate screen readability outdoors, we rely on the following criteria obtained from testing screens in real conditions:

Maximum brightness, cd/m²ConditionsReadability Score
Matte, semi-matte and glossy screens without anti-glare coating
150Direct sunlight (more than 20,000 lux)unreadable
Light shadow (approx. 10,000 lux)we can barely read
Light shade and sparse clouds (no more than 7500 lux)work is uncomfortable
300Direct sunlight (more than 20,000 lux)we can barely read
Light shadow (approx. 10,000 lux)work is uncomfortable
Light shade and sparse clouds (no more than 7500 lux)work comfortably
450Direct sunlight (more than 20,000 lux)work is uncomfortable
Light shadow (approx. 10,000 lux)work comfortably
Light shade and sparse clouds (no more than 7500 lux)work comfortably

These criteria are subject to change and may be adjusted as more data becomes available. It is important to note that increasing screen readability is possible if there are transreflective properties of the matrix, when part of the light is reflected from the substrate, which allows you to see the image even when the backlight is turned off. Glossy matrices can sometimes be rotated to reflect a uniformly dark image (such as a clear sky), which can improve readability in sunlight. In contrast, matte matrices require protection from light to improve readability.

It is convenient to work in brightly lit rooms (about 500 lux) even with a maximum screen brightness of 50 cd/m² or lower. In such conditions, maximum brightness is not a key parameter.

Analysis of the gamma curve, built on 32 points with equal intervals of shades of gray, did not reveal significant deviations in either light or dark areas. The power function approximation coefficient was 2.23, which is close to the standard value of 2.2. The actual gamma curve shows a slight deviation from the standard power law.

Color gamut is close to sRGB:

Therefore, visually, the colors of images oriented to output in the sRGB space on this screen have a natural saturation. Below is the spectrum for the white field (white line), superimposed on the spectra of the red, green and blue fields (lines of the corresponding colors):

In all likelihood, the screen uses blue-emitting LEDs with a green/red phosphor (usually a blue LED and a yellow phosphor), which provides good separation of color components. It is possible that quantum dots are also used in the red phosphor. However, special filters mix the components, which limits the range to sRGB.

The grayscale balance is good, as the color temperature is close to the standard 6500K and the blackbody deviation (ΔE) is below 10, which is considered acceptable for a consumer device. Changes in color temperature and ΔE are small between different shades, which has a beneficial effect on the visual assessment of color balance. (The darkest regions of the gray scale can be ignored since color balance does not play a big role there, and the error in measuring color characteristics at low brightness can be significant.)

The screen of this laptop has a high maximum brightness (403 cd/m²), which allows you to comfortably use the device on a bright day outside, while in the shade. Among the advantages of the screen, it is worth noting a high refresh rate (165 Hz), natural color display (sRGB) and good color balance. The disadvantages include the low stability of black color when the viewing angle changes relative to the screen plane. In general, the screen is of high quality.

Design features, sound

To remove the bottom cover, you need to remove eleven clearly visible screws; there are no warranty stickers.

The motherboard with coolers takes up slightly less than half the area.

Two SO-DIMM slots are clearly visible on it, one of which has a standard 16 GB DDR4-2666 memory module installed, and the second is free.

There are also two M.2 slots, the one closest to the edge of the board is intended for PCIe and SATA drives (this is where the terabyte SATA SSD is installed), the far one is free — we use it to install a second drive during an upgrade.

On the left edge of the board there is another M.2 slot, which is used for a wireless communication module.

On the left in the picture you can see the second board, quite small. It contains connectors, including an Ethernet port, and a Realtek RTL8111H wired network controller chip.

About a third of the internal space is occupied by a lithium-ion battery consisting of three cells. The speakers are located between the battery and the front edge of the case.

The cooling system includes two radiators with fans, each of which is connected by a heat pipe to the processor thermal block. The cooling process is carried out by sucking air through the slots on the bottom of the laptop and blowing it towards the back, towards the bottom of the screen.

It is impossible to assess by eye the durability of the hinges of the lid with the screen, but at least each of them is secured with four screws (it is better to tighten them — they are not tightened all the way, but this must be done without excessive force), the fifth is one of the screws of the bottom cover.

The two speaker grilles are located near the leading edge and point downward, suggesting sound is reflected from the surface on which the laptop is placed.

When listening to music, watching movies and playing games, the sound is of the usual quality typical of most laptops (or, more precisely, the usual lack of outstanding quality), and the volume by laptop standards is insufficient, although for individual use it may be acceptable: watching movies or videos on the Internet is possible, if the environment is quiet enough and there are no serious hearing problems.

Working under load with the original hardware configuration

The Intel Core i7 1260P processor (codenamed Alder Lake, launch date — 2022) has 12 cores: 4 Performance cores (P-cores) capable of operating in two threads at frequencies up to 2.1 GHz (4.7 GHz in Turbo Boost mode ), and 8 cores are single-threaded energy-efficient Efficient cores (E-cores) up to 1.5/3.4 GHz. This provides up to 16 threads.

The TDP of the processor is stated as 28 W base and 64 W in turbo mode, but laptop manufacturers can change the consumption level, starting from 20 W.

The integrated video core can operate at frequencies up to 1.4 GHz (Boost) and consume up to 15 W.

The processor, being in its original configuration with default BIOS settings, under load on the CPU (powerMax program) shows that the P-cores during Turbo Boost (for 20-22 seconds) operate at a frequency of about 2.7 GHz, then the sharp decrease to 400 MHz. Similar behavior of P-cores was previously noticed in other laptops, but such a sharp decrease in frequency was not so radical.

E-cores behave differently: in turbo mode their frequency reaches 2.3 GHz, and outside the mode it increases to 2.7 GHz, which exceeds the declared values. In this case, the temperature does not exceed 68°C (no throttling), and after establishing a stable regime it fluctuates between 55 and 57 degrees. Power consumption is a maximum of 46 W and after Turbo Boost ends, it drops to 28 W, close to the processor's stated specifications.

This means that the E-cores mostly work, while the P-cores work with minimal load even in Turbo Boost mode. Although heating remains at a minimum level, performance suffers greatly.

We usually test laptops with factory BIOS settings. However, in this case, we are conducting research on upgrade options and trying to improve the situation.

For this model, BIOS American Megatrends Inc is used (AMI GLX258 v.0.0.10 dated 05/28/2023, access via F2). There are many settings available in this BIOS, which is rare even in more expensive and well-known laptop models.

It turned out that when Intel Speed Shift technology is disabled (more information about it can be found on the Internet), P-cores begin to work not only in Turbo Boost mode, but also beyond it. However, their frequency is still significantly lower than the declared values: respectively, 2.7 and 1.5 GHz instead of 4.7 and 2.1 GHz. E-cores in turbo mode and after it operate at 2.3 and 2.1 GHz, consumption remains at 46 and 28 W, and the temperature, although slightly higher after setting, still remains very low: 57-59 °C .

We were able to increase frequencies, especially for Performance Cores, which were clearly lacking in performance.

This was achieved through a setting in the BIOS section called «Config TDP Configuration», where we increased the Power Limit 1 value from zero (the default value) to 42000 — which is equivalent to 42 Watts (this value is higher than the nominal TDP, but we have encountered similar manipulations with the BIOS when testing other laptops). We also set Power Limit 2 to 64,000 (64 Watts, the CPU's maximum — although this is probably too high for a power supply). The value for Power Limit Time Window was set to 32.

As a result of the steady state, the frequencies for both types of cores became noticeably higher, but this did not affect the Turbo Boost frequency. We did not find any other settings that change the frequencies for Turbo mode. However, we wanted to increase performance, so we made these changes.

Now Turbo Boost lasts about 70 seconds, the frequency of the P-cores is 2.7 GHz, the E-cores are 2.3 GHz, and the consumption is 46 W, the same as set for Power Limit 1. In steady state, the frequencies are 2. 53-2.57 GHz and 2.2 GHz respectively, with a consumption of about 42 W (which corresponds to the value we set for Power Limit 1). The temperature even in Turbo Boost mode does not exceed 78°C, there is no throttling. The fans operate at maximum speed, but the noise remains moderate; they stop working a minute after the load is removed.

To make comparison easier, we present a table (hereinafter, the maximum/steady values ​​are given through fractions) for the configuration “out of the box” and after the above changes in the BIOS, which were used in the future.

Load scenarioCPU frequencies, GHzCPU temperature, °CCPU consumption, W
Inaction 42-44about 1
Initial configuration
Maximum CPU LoadP: 2.7/0.4
E: 2.3/2.7
68/55-5746/28
Initial configuration with BIOS settings
Maximum CPU LoadP: 2.7/2.55
E: 2.3/2.2
78/74-7546/42

The BIOS also provides settings for fans, but we did not try them: with the default values ​​there is no overheating and the noise is not too loud.

And in general: there are a great many settings in the BIOS of the Ninkear N16 Pro laptop, those who like to push the maximum possible will be able to have fun for a long time, and the main thing here is to stop in time. We settled on the above.

Performance

Upgrade stages

We begin a step-by-step upgrade, running a set of application tests at each stage.

Although the processor supports both DDR4 and DDR5 memory, you need to remember: the slots for these types of SO-DIMM are different, and only DDR4 can be installed in this laptop.

First, we will provide a brief description of the stages and a table with the results, and then we will give detailed comments.

  1. (column 2 of the table): initial state of the laptop
  2. (column 3): original hardware configuration with the above BIOS settings
  3. (column 4): to the second stage we add an NVMe SSD with the transfer of the OS and software to it
  4. (column 5): standard SATA drive, a 16 GB DDR4-3200 module has been added to the existing SO-DIMM 16 GB DDR4-2666 (this is the most budget option for upgrading a laptop)
  5. (column 6), maximum upgrade: BIOS, OS and software settings on NVMe SSD, as well as installing two 16 GB DDR4-3200 modules instead of one DDR4-2666

We decided not to explore options with a standard SATA SSD and one 16 GB DDR4-3200 module instead of the existing one, as well as with a SATA SSD and 2x16 GB DDR4-3200 — they are unlikely to be indicative, and the upgrade method involves replacing one SO-DIMM with another, slightly faster, also seems unlikely.

Application tests

TestNinkear N16 Pro
(Intel Core i7-1360P)
«From the box»With BIOS settingsBIOS + NVMe SSDBIOS + 16 GB DDR4-3200BIOS + 2×DDR4-3200 + NVMe SSD
Video conversion, points69117116117118
MediaCoder x64 0.8.57, c140.9104.7105.2103.4103.2
HandBrake 1.2.2, c221.0138.3137.8135.6135.0
VidCoder 4.36, c789.4348.1350.3353.3351.1
Rendering, points89135136135137
POV-Ray 3.7, with103.170.671.571.271.5
Cinebench R20131.189.085.989.185.0
Blender 2.79, with181.8119.0118.6120.4118.9
Adobe Photoshop CC 2019 (3D rendering), c176.2111.3110.7110.2110.2
Video content creation, points739595120123
Magix Vegas Pro 16.0, c643.0505.7506.2287.7268.7
Adobe After Effects CC 2019 v 16.0.1, with590.3348.3349.3338.7338.3
Photodex ProShow Producer 9.0.3782, c225.1215.7216.6192.2192.0
Digital photo processing, points719090120125
Adobe Photoshop CC 2019, s773.0701.6700.4641.8637.8
Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Classic CC 2019 v16.0.1, c180.2178.6179.597.387.8
Phase One Capture One Pro 12.0, c616.8333.2336.3283.4279.9
Text recognition, points100150149152152
Abbyy FineReader 14 Enterprise, c493.6328.3329.6323.5323.7
Archiving, points738382114128
WinRAR 5.71 (64-bit), c658.5582.9584.1433.1370.2
7-Zip 19, c531.6462.1465.2327.4304.2
Scientific calculations, points43116117120120
LAMMPS 64-bit, c502.4135.1134.7122.1121.1
NAMD 2.11, with795.8132.9133.3131.5132.5
Mathworks Matlab R2018b, c93.659.059.159.458.9
Dassault SolidWorks Premium Edition 2018 SP05 with Flow Simulation 2018, c181.0120.0119.7118.6118.8
Integral result excluding storage, points72110110125129
WinRAR 5.71 (Store), c86.486.527.679.727.8
Data copying speed, s47.447.410.243.210.4
Integral result of the accumulator, points909034498339
Integral performance result, points77104155116172

Stage one, “out of the box”

Comparing the out-of-the-box configuration, what should be noted is not the performance, but rather the “slowdown” in the Ninkear N16 Pro tests. In almost every one of them, it was inferior even to our reference desktop, which is rare in our experience over several years, with the exception of very inexpensive laptops. In Adobe Photoshop it was slightly ahead, while the results for Abbyy FineReader were the same. In other applications, the performance difference ranged from a few percent to several times. Testing continued from morning until late evening, and the only positive aspect was the stable operation of the laptop without any glitches (to be honest, there were doubts).

Stage two, with BIOS settings

With the same hardware characteristics, but with changes made to the BIOS settings, the situation changes dramatically for the better (with the exception of data storage tests): the results have improved significantly. Most applications showed a noticeable increase in performance, which allowed our laptop to confidently outperform the reference desktop. At the same time, stability remained at a high level, and the time to complete tests was significantly reduced, although they still took many hours.

However, it remains a mystery why similar changes were not made at the production stage. Apparently no analysis was carried out, and the laptop's modest performance, not matching its processor potential, aroused any interest or surprise on the part of the developers.

Stage three, BIOS + NVMe SSD

After installing an NVMe SSD (250 GB, we left the existing one — it can be used for data storage) and transferring the OS to it, even loading became noticeably faster.

Indeed, the Samsung 970 Evo Plus MZ-V7S250BW drive we selected uses the PCIe 3.0 x4 interface, so you shouldn’t expect record performance from it, but the likelihood of overheating problems is reduced. The Samsung 980 Pro drive from the same manufacturer, based on the PCIe 4.0 x4 interface, has higher data transfer speeds, but also runs hotter. In addition, with equal capacity its cost is twice as high.

Let's evaluate the temperature regime of this SSD (in-depth analysis is not part of our tasks, so we focus on the readings of utilities).

If only the OS is loaded, its temperature does not exceed 33-38°C according to AIDA and 37°C according to the Samsung Magician utility.

We run the stress test of the processor and AIDA disks, the temperature of the drive quickly rises and within a minute and a half reaches seventy degrees. Then the growth slows down, after 6 minutes from the start of the test the temperature stabilizes at 77-78 degrees — a bit too much, but then it does not increase.

Detailed reviews of this SSD, which are available on the Internet, mention the possibility of heating up to 80°C. However, Samsung's Dynamic Thermal Guard technology is designed to prevent serious problems unless there may be performance degradation due to high temperatures.

Samsung's proprietary utility, in turn, displays a temperature of no higher than 57°C, which is apparently based on data from another sensor.

The standard SATA drive MemoiresTek G600 has a sensor that is simply blocked: both AIDA and HWinfo (see screenshots above) always display 40°C. Its performance in CrystalDiskMark tests is expectedly low:

Standard drive MemoiresTek G600 (SATA)

Standard drive MemoiresTek G600 (SATA)

But the added Samsung 970 Evo Plus drive with a PCIe 3.0 ×4 connection interface showed good results:

Added Samsung 970 Evo Plus (PCIe 3.0 ×4) drive

Added Samsung 970 Evo Plus (PCIe 3.0 ×4) drive

To confirm, compare with two other SSDs: YMSS1CB06B11MC (PCIe 3.0 ×4, Huawei MateBook D 14 2023 laptop) and Kioxia SSSTC CL4-8D512 (PCIe 4.0 ×4, Thunderobot 911 M G3 Pro):

YMSS1CB06B11MC PCIe 3.0 ×4
Kioxia SSSTC CL4-8D512 PCIe 4.0 ×4

To make it more clear, we present the results in the form of diagrams:

Most of our test suite, designed to evaluate the impact of the disk subsystem, turned out to be uninformative, with the exception of the last two tests aimed specifically at this. In these two tests, there is a noticeable improvement in performance after adding the SSD. However, to evaluate the stability of the laptop with the new SSD, we ran a full suite of tests. As a result, despite the absence of failures, the results turned out to be almost identical to those in the second stage (fourth column). Small differences in performance, within the limits of random deviations, do not exclude the impact of a much faster drive on real-world applications.

Stage four, BIOS + 16 GB DDR4-3200

If there is a free memory slot in a laptop, many users prefer to install another SO-DIMM in order to increase the amount of RAM and switch to dual-channel mode. This is a relatively more cost-effective option for improving performance. It is advisable to use a module identical to an existing one, but this is not always possible due to difficulties in purchasing it or technical limitations. Sometimes standard memory can be soldered, but the manufacturer has provided a slot for an additional module.

We didn’t bother finding a module similar to the one installed, and at this stage we simply added one of the two DDR4-3200 purchased for the fifth stage.

What we got: first, a dual-channel memory mode.

With standard DDR4-2666 memory module
Added SO-DIMM DDR4-3200

Further: the integrated video adapter began to be displayed as Intel Iris Xe Graphics.

Standard DDR4-2666 memory module
Added SO-DIMM DDR4-3200

The main improvement is noticeable in certain applications, especially those that are sensitive to RAM speed, such as image processing and data archiving. In other tests, the performance gain is either insignificant (for example, when creating video content) or is at the level of random deviations compared to the previous results in the third and fourth columns.

Stage five, BIOS + 2×DDR4-3200 + NVMe SSD

If we talk about overall performance excluding the drive, there is some minor improvement compared to the previous stage. However, the truly noticeable performance gains are again observed in groups of tests related to photo processing and data archiving. In other cases, the difference (if any) is so small that it is likely due to random factors.

Working under load, final version

As before, the table below shows the maximum and steady-state values ​​of the laptop parameters when using the powerMax program. Also shown are measurements of the laptop's current consumption, carried out using an external device (with screen brightness of about 60% and a fully charged battery).

Load scenarioCPU frequencies, GHzCPU temperature, °CCPU consumption, WGPU frequency, GHzGPU temperature, °CGPU consumption, WLaptop current consumption, A
Inaction 43-45about 1.0 0.4-0.6
Maximum CPU LoadP: 2.7/2.55
E: 2.3/2.2
80-8246/42 2.5-2.7
Maximum load on the video card up to 6219-201.15-1.2554-575.5-6.5
peaks to 7.2
1.8-2.0
Maximum load on processor and video cardP: 2.25/1.85
E: 1.85/1.65
72-7340/35-360.9561-626-72.4-2.6

When the load is only on the processor (CPU), Turbo Boost mode is observed to be activated for approximately 80 seconds. In this mode, the operating frequency of the P-cores reaches 2.7 GHz, and the E-cores — 2.3 GHz. The CPU consumption is around 46W and the temperature peaks at 82°C without any throttling. After this, the frequencies decrease slightly: for P-cores to 2.55 GHz, for E-cores to 2.2 GHz, while consumption decreases to 42 W. The fans gradually increase speed to maximum values, then reduce them slightly, while the temperature remains almost at the same level.

At maximum load on the processor and video card, there is a dramatic change in the operation of the device: the processor reaches a peak within one to two seconds, after which all characteristics stabilize. The operating frequency of the P-cores is about 1.85 GHz, and that of the E-cores is 1.65 GHz, while the consumption is 35-36 W, and the temperature smoothly increases to 72-73 degrees without throttling. The fans operate at medium speed, periodically increasing their speed to maximum for a short time.

At the same time, the video core constantly operates at a frequency of 0.95 GHz. In steady state, its maximum consumption is 6-7 W, and the temperature is kept at around 62°C.

When loaded only on the GPU, this core operates at a frequency of about 1.2 GHz, the processor temperature does not exceed 62 °C, and the total consumption is within 20 W. The fans operate at low speeds and are almost inaudible.

Thus, the cooling system copes with its duties perfectly even in the maximum configuration of the laptop.

Temperatures displayed for NVMe SSDs in all modes are within 40 °C.

Comparison with analogues

For comparison, we took the final version of the Ninkear N16 Pro, equipped with NVMe SSD 3.0 x4 and 2×DDR4-3200, as well as other laptops of the same class with integrated graphics. Among them is the Tecno Megabook S1, with a similar Intel Core i7-1260P processor, 16 GB LPDDR5 memory and SSD Foresee FSb0C001T-C6C7200 PCIe 4.0 ×4. Another participant is Honor MagicBook X 16 2023 (BRN-F56), with Intel Core i5-12450H processor (4+4 cores/12 threads, up to 3.3/4.4 GHz, 35-95 W), Intel UHD graphics, 16 GB LPDDR4X-4266 and SSD Kioxia KBG50ZNV512G PCIe 4.0 x4. In addition, the list includes Huawei MateBook X Pro 2023 (MRGFG-X) with the new Intel Core i7-1360P processor (4+8 cores/16 threads, up to 3.7/5.0 GHz, 20-64 W), Intel graphics Iris Xe, 16 GB LPDDR5-5200 and SSD 321JN1024GB-TX01 PCIe 4.0 x4.

 Reference result
(Core i5-9600K)
Ninkear N16 Pro
(Intel Core i7-1260P,
NVMe SSD, 2×DDR4-3200)
Tecno Megabook S1
(Intel Core i7-1260P)
Honor MagicBook X 16 2023
BRN-F56
(Intel Core i5-12450H)
Huawei MateBook X Pro 2023 MRGFG-X
(Intel Core i7-1360P)
Video conversion, points100118105119126
MediaCoder x64 0.8.57, c132.0103.1124105.694.3
HandBrake 1.2.2, c157.4135.0149133.8127.3
VidCoder 4.36, c385.9351.1376334.9333.0
Rendering, points100137124135149
POV-Ray 3.7, with98.971.58073.761.6
Cinebench R20122.285.09390.280.2
Blender 2.79, with152.4118.9138123.2115.2
Adobe Photoshop CC 2019 (3D rendering), c150.3110.2114101.299.1
Video content creation, points100123134136141
Magix Vegas Pro 16.0, c363.5268.7209239.7230.0
Adobe After Effects CC 2019 v 16.0.1, with468.7338.3355337.0313.0
Photodex ProShow Producer 9.0.3782, c191.1192.0182159.1161.0
Digital photo processing, points100125130150153
Adobe Photoshop CC 2019, s864.5637.8645628.9579.7
Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Classic CC 2019 v16.0.1, c138.587.810468.766.4
Phase One Capture One Pro 12.0, c254.2279.9204208.5219.9
Text recognition, points100152132137149
Abbyy FineReader 14 Enterprise, c492.0323.7374359.7331.0
Archiving, points100128133135147
WinRAR 5.71 (64-bit), c472.3370.2385332.6323.9
7-Zip 19, c389.3304.2268304.5264.4
Scientific calculations, points100120113127122
LAMMPS 64-bit, c151.5121.1137126.6120.0
NAMD 2.11, with167.4132.5141132.2132.3
Mathworks Matlab R2018b, c71.158.96555.957.3
Dassault SolidWorks Premium Edition 2018 SP05 with Flow Simulation 2018, c130.0118.811497.0116.0
Integral result excluding storage, points100129124134141
WinRAR 5.71 (Store), c78.027.82932.116.8
Data copying speed, s42.610.4613.26.6
Integral result of the accumulator, points100339446280546
Integral performance result, points100172182167211

Well, in comparison with our competitors, our laptop after the upgrade looks quite decent, despite not the most modern memory, and even the PCIe 3.0 x4 drive we installed in the last two tests turned out to be not the slowest compared to the PCIe 4.0 x4 of the others.

Thus, the Ninkear N16 Pro is now quite suitable for the role of an inexpensive work tool.

Battery operation

The indicated battery capacity is 5500 mAh or 63.5 Wh, utilities show similar values.

In the descriptions of the laptop there is also mention of 4800 mAh.

On the brand’s website, battery life is declared from 4-6 to 8 hours without specifying the mode — the spread is considerable, but when taking measurements, a lot depends on the methodology.

Load scenarioOperating time,
discharge from 100% to 1%
Standard configuration without BIOS settings
Work with text6 hours 52 minutes
Watch video3 hours 49 minutes
Standard configuration + BIOS settings
Work with text6 hours 57 minutes
Watch video4 hours 07 minutes
Standard configuration + BIOS settings + additional NVMe SSD
Work with text6 hours 22 minutes
Watch video3 hours 52 minutes
Standard configuration + BIOS settings + additional NVMe SSD + two 16 GB DDR4-3200 modules
Work with text6 hours 12 minutes
Watch video3 hours 50 minutes

Working with text demonstrated the best results in the standard hardware configuration, where there are no additional consumers. BIOS settings not only do not worsen battery life, but even increase it slightly. However, an increase of 1% for working with text is most likely random, while an increase of 8% for viewing video cannot be attributed to random factors alone.

As additional components are installed, battery life will naturally decrease. Even with the “full stuffing”, the autonomy remains at the level of gaming laptops, which are usually not famous for their long battery life due to the presence of a discrete graphics card and other powerful components.

In general, the autonomy of this laptop is clearly not enough for a working day using office applications. When watching videos, the situation is noticeably worse: you can watch only a few films of short duration. The difference in autonomy for different configurations is less pronounced, but still noticeable. It should be taken into account that the tests were carried out at moderate screen brightness and low battery level.

We made comparisons with similar laptops in terms of battery capacity, as well as higher and lower ones. We even included the mid-range gaming laptop Thunderobot in the comparison to have a point of reference for this model in its original configuration (but with BIOS settings) and after adding memory and a second drive.

Based on the results, the Ninkear N16 Pro does not seem designed for use away from power outlets, as evidenced by its performance, which is noticeably inferior even to gaming laptops with smaller batteries.

However, it is difficult to unambiguously determine the reasons for such low results. For example, a similar configuration of the Tecno Megabook S1 laptop, which has a battery capacity only 10% higher, showed significantly higher battery life in our tests: at least one and a half times longer when working with text and more than twice as long when watching videos.

Now let's test the charge using the adapter included in the kit. The table shows the readings of the corresponding Windows equipment after auto shutdown at a level of 1%, the OS was loaded on the laptop:

Default Settings (Normal Charging)
Charge level10%20%thirty%40%50%60%70%80%90%95%100%
Time, h:mm0:210:561:312:062:433:183:514:285:055:296:09

According to the data provided, the charging process is unusually slow, especially given the unusually high battery capacity: it took a whopping 4.5 hours to reach 80%, and more than 6 hours to fully charge! Typically, for laptops with batteries of similar capacity, a charging time of 2-2.5 hours is considered normal. In this case, during this period the energy is replenished by only 40-50%.

Having paid attention to the BIOS settings, we discovered options related to battery charging: the “Normal Charging” mode is active by default, but there is also a “Fast Charging” option. Let's change the settings, then discharge the batteries again to the 1% level and start measuring the charging time.

Fast Charging Installation
Charge level10%20%thirty%40%50%60%70%80%90%95%100%
Time, h:mm0:220:581:352:112:483:243:584:355:135:376:18

The resulting difference in charging time with the previous case, despite expectations, turned out to be insignificant — a few percent. This suggests that changing the BIOS setting did not bring the expected result. Perhaps this indicates the ineffectiveness of this option or a strange interpretation of fast charging on the part of the developers.

You should not exclude cases when you need to charge your laptop as quickly as possible, even if they are not regular. The battery management system (BMS) built into the device allows charging at any remaining energy, not limited to levels below 90%, as is often the case with other models.

However, given the poor battery life and slow charging process, the conclusion about the battery in the Ninkear N16 Pro laptop is extremely disappointing. For those who expect to use the device primarily on battery, this can be a significant disadvantage as charging will take a long time and will need to be done frequently.

Despite the limitation of the Type-C port in using to power a laptop, operation from a source that supports 20-volt Power Delivery mode with a current of at least 3.25 A (65 or 100 watts) is technically possible. This is worth considering, given the availability of adapters with Type-C input and various outputs compatible with connectors used in laptops.

Inside such an adapter there is a special chip that regulates the output parameters of the connected PD source to [email protected] (65 W) or 20V@5A (100 W) modes. In our particular case, we used a 100-watt adapter with a 4.0 x 1.7 mm barrel output connector, similar to that used in the stock Ninkear N16 Pro power supply. Using this adapter, we were able to connect the laptop to a PD source with parameters of 20V@5A.

Such adapters are easily available and have a wide variety of choices, both in range and price. However, it is important to avoid the cheapest options and pay attention to quality. It is also worth considering the need to use a high-quality cable with Type-C connectors capable of transmitting the appropriate current (or power).

The source we used displays the current consumed, so we made a timing chart when charging the battery of a switched-off laptop in Normal Charging mode after being discharged to 1%:

Time, h:mmFrom start to 3:403:50-5:055:10-5:155:205:305:406:006:35
Current, A0.62-0.64slight rise to 0.66-0.680.57-0.60, decline begins0.49-0.50.39-0.40.32-0.330.22less than 0.05

The indicator turned off after 6 hours 04 minutes, but after half an hour the current dropped to tens of milliamps. This means that the full charge time ended up being about the same as before, and while the charge completion indicator isn't perfectly accurate, it still showed an acceptable reading.

In this case, almost all the current is directed to charging, which explains the duration of the process. Similar measurements on laptops with batteries of similar capacity showed initial currents of about 3 amperes or more (about five times more!), which lasted for about an hour, after which a decline began.

Regarding the indicator (the left LED in the three): when the laptop is turned on, it glows white, blinks white and orange when the battery charge is low, and during charging, white and orange light up at the same time — creating a mixed color. If charging occurs when the laptop is turned off, the indicator lights up orange and turns off after charging is completed.

Noise level and heating

We measured the laptop's noise level using powerMax to load the processor. The microphone of the sound level meter was positioned to simulate the typical position of the user's head: the screen was tilted back 45 degrees, the microphone was aligned with the center of the screen at a distance of 50 cm from its plane, facing the screen.

The maximum recorded noise level was 39.5 dBA. The sound was smooth with high-frequency components, but not irritating. Under these conditions, AC power consumption reached 61 W (with maximum screen brightness, fully charged battery, two memory modules and two SSDs installed).

However, in real operating conditions the noise level is noticeably lower and is not constant. In addition, energy consumption is also significantly less.

Let's compare this with other similar laptops, taking into account their maximum values.

The Ninkear N16 Pro laptop is not very quiet, but it doesn't make excessive noise either.

Its surfaces heat up slightly; The warmest areas are on the strip of the top panel behind the keyboard, where the temperature after prolonged use in intensive applications or games can reach 23-25 degrees compared to room temperature.

At the same time, using the keyboard remains comfortable: the keys in the two back rows become slightly warm, while the places under the wrists remain cool. The bottom cover also heats up slightly, so using the laptop on your lap is quite acceptable.

The standard power supply heats up much more, reaching 31-33 degrees, so when working for a long time at high performance, it is recommended to ensure that it is not covered with anything.

Game testing

Let's look at gaming performance.

It is clear that the Ninkear N16 Pro is not designed for gaming loads, but it is interesting to see the changes that have occurred as a result of the upgrade. Therefore, we will conduct a series of tests, starting with World of Tanks. The table shows average frame rates (minimum values in parentheses) averaged over two measurements.

We decided not to test the configuration out of the box, as we expect disastrous results. The first stage is taking into account the BIOS settings and bootable Samsung NVMe SSD, with one memory module installed (standard).

PermissionLow qualityMedium qualityMaximum quality
2560×1600impossible to play
1920×1080160 (83)43 (29)20 (14)

With a resolution of 2560x1600, typical for this device, it is impossible to play even at low quality settings: the image jerks a lot, stripes appear, so I had to switch to a lower resolution of 1920x1080. We chose this resolution keeping in mind the need for comparison with other laptops, which typically have a 16:9 aspect ratio. At maximum quality settings, it turned out to be impossible to play here due to image twitching, although the stripes disappeared. The average level of quality allows you to play at least somehow, but it is far from the comfortable values of 60 fps on average and 30 fps at the minimum. Using the minimum settings allows you to slightly exceed these thresholds.

With a full upgrade (NVMe SSD and two DDR4-3200 modules), the results in World of Tanks are as follows:

PermissionLow qualityMedium qualityMaximum quality
2560×1600133 (56)34 (22)16 (11)
1920×108065 (43)30 (21)

Of course, it's still far from ideal «playability», but the improvements are noticeable. You won't be able to play at the nominal resolution with maximum quality — the frame rate (fps) is very low, the image twitches. However, using average quality and with effort, you can achieve playability, although it is still far from comfortable values of 60(30) fps.

By lowering the resolution we've gone up another step, with maximum quality becoming more playable and medium quality becoming more acceptable. However, we did not enable ray tracing.

In the same configuration, we tested three more games (racing simulator, shooter and strategy) and for comparison we took results from Tecno Megabook S1, Honor MagicBook X 16 2023 (BRN-F56) and Infinix Inbook X2 Plus (Intel Core i7-1195G7, 16 GB LPDDR4x-4266, integrated Intel Iris Xe graphics). Here are the results using average quality and a resolution of 1920x1080 (except for Gears 5, where the 16:10 aspect ratio Ninkear laptop screen could only be set to 1920x1200, slightly higher):

Game, average quality, 1920×1080World of TanksF1 2018Gears 5Total War Saga: Troy
Ninkear N16 Pro (NVMe SSD, 2×DDR4-3200)65 (43)46 (40)31 (26)32 (27)
Tecno Megabook S174 (48)60 (48)46 (26)46 (37)
Honor MagicBook X 16 2023 (BRN-F56)48 (29)35 (30)19 (16)28 (23)
Infinix Inbook X2 Plus69 (36)52 (42)32 (28)39 (31)

The results for all turned out to be close, the Tecno model is slightly ahead, and Honor is lagging behind. By and large, none of the participants in the comparison is suitable for the role of a gaming laptop, although with a strong desire, but without very critical compromises in terms of quality, three out of four, including the hero of our review, will allow you to play some games.

Conclusion

The laptop itself in its original configuration

The Ninkear N16 Pro laptop is characterized by low battery life, especially when watching videos, where the operating time is almost half as long as when using office applications. These figures lag behind not only similar models, but also many gaming laptops.

Another disadvantage is its low portability. Compared to other 16-inch models without a discrete graphics card, it looks average, but is lighter and thinner than gaming machines.

The camera and sound are also underwhelming — a common problem found even in more expensive models.

The installed SATA drive and one DDR4-2666 memory module can be forgiven due to the affordable price of the device, and this situation can be corrected at low cost. The terabyte SSD itself also remains useful for data storage.

However, despite some shortcomings, the laptop has its advantages. Its display with a resolution of 2560x1600 allows you to work comfortably thanks to good brightness, color balance and close to sRGB coverage. The 16:10 aspect ratio may appeal to users who frequently work with various applications.

The laptop's performance, especially after an upgrade, remains on par with comparable competitors, and the price remains relatively affordable.

It should also be noted that there is a good selection of ports, including three USB-A and one each of USB-C, HDMI and RJ-45, which is not so common in this class of devices. Upgrade options, including two SO-DIMM slots for DDR4 memory and two M.2 for SSD, are also nice and unusual for inexpensive models.

The overall impression of the Ninkear N16 Pro laptop is positive, especially considering its price. It offers good value for money and has a number of advantages, especially for its price segment.

Upgrade results

Of course, our tests and study of laptop performance did not reveal anything revolutionary, since most are known or predictable. Our goal was to quantify different upgrade options, with tests limited to comparing different devices and not covering all needs and real-life use cases that may be important to everyone.

But if your laptop has a slow drive, then it’s better to start upgrading with it. The operating system will load noticeably faster, and applications will launch faster when working with large files, although our tests do not always reflect these improvements. However, it is worth emphasizing that this applies specifically to replacing a very slow SATA drive with NVMe. Replacing your existing SSD with a faster one will likely not provide a significant improvement in performance, especially in everyday use.

Adding a second memory module when you only have one brings a noticeable performance boost, even if the new module is different from the existing one. However, this increase will not be equally noticeable in all applications. It will also improve multitasking and performance when running a large number of applications simultaneously.

Installing two identical modules will also improve performance, but the difference won't be significant, especially if you have a limited budget for the upgrade. Adding a second module without replacing the first (or if there is a free slot) may be a more cost-effective option.

Laptops of this type are not suitable for modern games, either before or after the upgrade. Even with major compromises in resolution and image quality, gaming will be difficult.

Food for thought (additional comparison)

While the material was awaiting publication, a review of the Digma Pro Magnus M laptop appeared, which is very similar to the Ninkear N16 Pro in terms of external characteristics. The Digma Pro Magnus M has a 16.1-inch screen with a resolution of 2560x1440 and a refresh rate of 165 Hz. Its array of ports is even more advanced, including two USB 3.2 Gen1 Type-A, one each USB 3.2 Gen2 Type-A and USB 3.2 Gen2 Type-C (with DisplayPort and Power Delivery support), as well as Gigabit Ethernet, an SD memory card slot and a 1080p webcam.

The internal hardware is significantly different: AMD Ryzen 9 5900HX processor (8 cores/16 threads, 3.3/4.6 GHz, TDP 35-54 W) and integrated AMD Radeon Graphics. RAM 16 GB LPDDR4-3200, SSD 512 GB Netac S930E PCIe 3.0 ×4. Weight and dimensions are approximately comparable.

The performance in application tests is slightly higher than that of the Ninkear N16 Pro after the upgrade: the integral result excluding the drive is 145 points versus 129. However, the Samsung SSD added to the Ninkear performed noticeably better compared to the Netac in the Digma. The Digma Pro Magnus M laptop, like the Ninkear, does not reach the point of overheating in the powerMax tests, but is noisier.

The Power button is located outside the keyboard and has a built-in fingerprint scanner. Digma's battery life is much better: almost 9 hours of text work and more than 6 hours of video viewing, while the 70 Wh battery charges twice as fast. 90W power supply with barrel connector.

The Digma keyboard has a full-fledged number pad, but only “half-sized” up and down arrows. The standard memory module is faster than the Ninkear, but is installed in a single slot. There are two M.2 slots for storage devices, but the free slot is designed only for SATA SSD.

The screen brightness of the Digma Pro Magnus M is lower — 335 cd/m² instead of 400, and the aspect ratio is 16:9 instead of 16:10 for the Ninkear N16 Pro.