The GPD Pocket 3 is a tiny, but versatile laptop with an 8 inch touchscreen display, a QWERTY keyboard that’s just (barely) large enough for touch-typing, and a hinge that allows you to fold the screen down over the keyboard and hold the computer like a tablet. A modular port system also lets you adjust the functionality of the computer.
Expected to ship in January following the conclusion of an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign, the GPD Pocket 3 is also a surprisingly powerful little computer, with up to an Intel Core i7-1195G7 processor, 16GB of RAM and up to a 1TB PCIe NVMe SSD. I’ve been testing a pre-release demo unit for the past few weeks, and I’ll have a full review soon. But in this article I wanted to take a look at benchmark performance.
GPD offers two models of the Pocket 3. For $649 and up during crowdfunding, you can reserve a version with an Intel Pentium Silver N6000 processor, 8GB of RAM, and a 512GB SSD. Or for $997 and up you can reserve the higher-spec version with an Intel Core i7 Tiger Lake processor, twice the memory and storage, and a Thunderbolt 4 port.
That’s the version GPD sent me to test.
As you might expect from a little computer with Intel’s most powerful 11th-gen U-series processor, it scores well in single-core performance in tests like GeekBench and Cinebench, but lags behind the latest AMD Ryzen 5000U processors when it comes to multi-threaded performance in those same tests.
You’d think that thermal constraints would lead to throttling when putting such a powerful processor into such a small space… and you’d probably be right in at least some situations. For example, an MSI Prestige 14 thin and light laptop I tested earlier this year has a slightly less powerful Intel Core i7-1185G7 processor, but the MSI laptop notched a higher score in PCMark than the 8 inch GPD Pocket 3.
But that said, the Pocket 3 still came out well ahead of other Intel-powered devices including handhelds like the One Mix 4 and ONEXPLAYER mini laptops, and laptops like the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Nano in that general-purpose performance test.
When it comes to graphics performance, the GPD Pocket 3 certainly isn’t the most powerful system around, but its Iris Xe integrated graphics should be enough to handle light gaming duties on the go.
One thing that likely helps the GPD Pocket 3 out is that it has a pretty speedy SSD with read/write speeds up to nearly 3500MB/s and 2800MB/s, respectively according to CrystalDiskMark.
But when looking at all the benchmarks above, there’s something you may not know about the Pocket 3: it’s not left-handed. At least not all the time, but it’s been fighting with its left hand in all the comparison charts above.
That’s because I ran those tests with the GPD Pocket 3 running at its “nominal” setting with power limits in the 15-20W range. But if you enter the computer’s UEFI/BIOS settings by hitting the Del key during startup, there’s an option to change the TDP Boot Mode to “Up” or “Down” configurations depending on whether you want to prioritize performance or power consumption.
Here are some benchmark results showing how performance varies between the Down (12-15W), Nominal (15-20W), and Up (20W-25W) settings.
As you can see, boosting the TDP level results in significant performance gains across the board, whether you’re looking at CPU or graphics performance. And reducing it leads to a significant decrease in scores.
It’s nice to have the option to tweak the performance level… although I cannot say for certain if the version of the Pocket 3 that ships to customers will be quite as configurable. GPD does have a habit of sending pre-release hardware to reviewers that have more features unlocked in the UEFI Settings utility than customers will find in the retail versions.
If the retail version of the Pocket 3 does in fact have an unlocked BIOS that allows you to adjust the TDP, just keep in mind that you’ll likely get the longest battery life on the “Down” setting, and the shortest on the “Up” setting.
For some tasks, it makes little difference which version you use. For example, I’ve been able to consistently stream YouTube videos for around 5 hours before the 38.5Wh battery died no matter which power setting the system was set at. But modern computers are pretty well optimized to stream video without using much power.
More resource-intensive tasks like gaming or video editing will likely run down the battery much more quickly in Up mode.
I’ll have more performance notes when the full review is ready. In the meantime, here’s my unboxing and first impressions video, in case you missed it:
And here’s a video showing how the modular ports work, allowing you to replace a USB port with Serial port module or a KVM module that allows you to connect the GPD Pocket 3 to a server or another PC with an HDMI cable and USB-C cable to use the little laptop as a portable external display and input device:
One other thing to keep in mind whenever looking at GPD hardware is that the company makes some of the most interesting devices in the mini-laptop space, but GPD is a small Chinese company that ships its products to customers worldwide while offering limited customer support.
The company has also made some mistakes in the past, like shipping hardware with the wrong components. So I’d only really recommend buying GPD gear if you’re the adventurous and tech savvy type willing to troubleshoot any problems that may arrive… and possibly willing to eat the cost if anything goes wrong and you’re unable to get your device repaired or get a refund.
Me.gustaria adquirir este equipo, para el trabajo
That hinge is going to break soon. Looks pretty fragile, especially in the third picture from the bottom.
I think you nailed it in your closing here. This form factor is perfect for me, and for so many others. The keyboards while diminutive are still easy enough to type on, and the specs make the machine capable of doing a great many things.
You come to rely on it as it enables such convenient computing. The problem? If it breaks, or you need a part. You will most likely be left wanting. And that is the reason I haven’t immediately purchased one.
I have a Onemix 3pt and the keyboard is bad. Couldn’t get it repaired. Had to buy a keyboard from a 3rd party, and who knows if it is new stock. On top of that replacing the keyboard will most likely break the backlight layer.
It Onemix or GPD would just offer a repair service it would make my concerns less. But they don’t, and I just am wary.
Also look at how small the spindle the display is mounted on. That is not confidence inspiring like the 3pt hinges.
But the Thunderbolt port in this form factor!
Yeah, I keep writing about these little things from companies.loke GPDand One Netbook because nobody outside of China is really making anything quite like them. And when they work, they’re pretty amazing.
But when they break, or if you want to return the product, it can be a real pain, which makes the relatively high prices hard to swallow, even if it’s justifiable based on the specs.
For what it’s worth, the unique form factor is enough value for me. I own a OneMix2 and a OneMix3ProPlatinum and literally use both every day, either to supplement my primary systems (ZenBook Duo Pro and Dell XPS 13 2-in-1) or as a grab-and-go “better than no computer” system.
For that reason, I was a little disappointed that the OneMix4 form factor brought it outside the realm of ultra-portable.
I do find it helpful to have access to all the different screen angles, but to be honest, I rarely use them in actual tablet mode. And when I do, having the keys on the bottom has always felt weird to me, especially since an accidental power button press will shutdown the system. I am excited to try out this swivel implementation.
Lastly, I believe that this is the first device of the ultraportable (7-8″) form factor that has useable webcam and is not crippled performance-wise. I forget the brand you reviewed with the “nose/knuckle-cam” built into the hinge, but I believe it was a low powered system.
In a pandemic/zoom world, the webcam is one of the final major gaps.
Here is my experience.
I had spilled some water on my OneMix2 and made the keyboard stop working. I got this replacement keyboard from Amazon (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07PWP1JCD), and was able to replace the keyboard itself pretty easily. No soldering, just very careful disconnecting/reconnecting. However, to your point re: backlight, I may have stressed the connector to the track-nub, and I could only get it to work if I put extreme pressure on the wire. But it no longer works in standard assembled form. Thank goodness it still has touchscreen, pen and external mouse as viable inputs.
Out of the box, my wife could not stand the whine of the OneMix3ProPlatinum’s fan, so I followed this DIY MacBook Fan replacement video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xhQzSQ-cQ00
Unlike the OneMix2 repair, this one DID involve soldering, and not just any soldering, but very fine microsoldering. This was a lot scarier to undertake. Unlike the OneMix2, which had seen nearly 2 years of use and had an issue prior to the repair, the OneMix3 was brand new and if I failed it would have been terrible. But through luck and a lot of patience, I managed to get it to work.
It’s far from perfect. If I hold the case in certain pressure spots, you can hear the fan make contact with its own casing. But 95% of the situations, it’s now better than the built-in fan.
This ordeal has made me reconsider the value of a low(er) powered system, not even for the battery life, but for the cooling and noise. No matter how long these systems last, I inevitably need to lug along a sizeable battery pack (currently this one: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0791WDZTW). But there’s no real solution for a fan that’s too loud.
I would seriously consider the N6000 had they offered a version that has 16GB instead of capping it at 8GB.
Billy, I’d love to talk to you about your experiences, because I truly value this form factor, and I’ve been devastated that my 3pt is broken. I mean 1 Netbook is not even making the model anymore. (Which I imagine is why I couldn’t send it back for repair)
The form factor is perfect but more cares needs to be invested in longevity. Keyboards failing after only 2 years is just unacceptable.
Is also earn about sending 1 netbook something back for repair. I had (have?) the OneMix Yoga 4, which I got on pre-order. After about 3 months the screen developed ghost touches to the point of becoming unusable. After getting in touch with them via Aliexpress I sent it back for repair. After delays at the Chinese customs due to their wrong instructions about how I should declare the value (making me spend lots of extra time to sort their problem out), they received device. Then they didn’t want to honour the warranty because the back had been opened (there was no other way of accessing the hard drive with my data) and wanted to charge me 100$ for the replacement of the malfunctioning screen of my 3 months old device. After some back and forth (involving an external forum where they have a representative), maybe they fixed it now, at least I’m told I’ll get it back – but I still haven’t got even a tracking number (and I wouldn’t be surprised if I have to pay extra taxes again when I eventually get it). I sent it in in mid-July, so over 4 months ago!
Really disappointed, not only by the quality control in the first place, but even more so by the “service”. I loved the form factor and feel of the device, but after this experience I don’t see myself purchasing another device from them any time soon. (If only Lenovo were to build a 10 inch ThinkPad!!!)
Happy to help. Just lemme know. I noticed that they are not making the OM3 anymore. I did briefly consider buying a 2nd to replace my wonky OM2, and that’s when I noticed that the only available inventory seems to be whatever unsold unit left in the supply chain, and all the prices are sky-high (or even more so).
What you and Grg bring up is the real problem with these devices. For them to TRULY be a solution they need to be repairable and supported.
If this was true, I would be a 1 Netbook customer for life. I mean the Onemix 3 is the finest UMPC like device I’ve ever used. (I’ve used many UMPCs. OQO, Fujitsu Lifebooks, etc.)
It really seems like the best form factor for miniaturized computing. I could type nearly full speed on the Onemix 3.
I have a Framework Laptop now and I think it has made me raise my bar. If there was no other choice, and I just had to be ok with spending $1400 every two years for the privilege of computing on such a small device, I would. But this is just not the case.
As I see it, companies like 1 Netbook and GPD need to accept that they HAVE to create a way to service their products reliably. If they do not, I just don’t see any long time viability for them.
One other thing I’ll add here is that I believe my keyboard failed due to temps while the device is in use. The system could become VERY hot. I intentionally disabled turbo boosting, and lowered the TDP on it, to help manage it. But if you updated Windows, for example, it would spike the temps around 80-100C. I believe that this melted keyboard contacts, and now the keyboard is shorting several keys all the time. The rest of the system works 100%.
To me this feels like something that could have been avoided by using a better grade contact in the keyboard assembly, but we’ll never know.
Maybe this is why GPD moved away from the Onemix 3 form factor.
Regarding the GPD Pocket 3:
I’m wary of the temps under a CPU that is technically more powerfuly than the 85G I have in my Framework laptop. How well will the keyboard there hold up? How do I know the same issue wont happen there?
But what really worried me is how tiny the spindle the display is held onto the chassis with. That looks so unnecessarily small. It does not seem robust at all. I would probably tape mine to not allow it spin, just to help mitigate the stress that hinge is going to see.
can you do a comparison against the OneMix 3 Pro Platinum (or whichever variant of the 3 you have lying around)?
I think that is the closest in terms of form factor and specs to the GPD Pocket 3.
It looks fantastic! But unless it has a benchmark of 100% refund/replacement for the 3 battery failures I’ve already had with GPD devices, I’m out on what would otherwise be precisely the type of device I’d usually go for. 🙁
I’m surprised to see it outperform the Nano; in my everyday use, the Nano is a beast, outperforming even my Carbon – but I also think the comparison is unfair since you’re using the i5 Nano instead of the i7 spec? A better comparison might be to the X1 Fold, which is only available in i5 (and I have found, nowhere near the performance of my 16GB i7 1TB Nano), plus closer in size. Regardless, thanks for the fabulous insight, as always! 🙂
But the X1 Fold has a very different (lower power) CPU, so the comparison wouldn’t be entirely fair either, right? The form factor might be closer though, that’s right. (Apart from that, Brad probably doesn’t have the Fold available for testing anyway, I suppose.)
Yeah my thought was the form factor. My Nano isn’t that much smaller than my Carbon. The Fold when folded is much more the the GPDs. There was a Fold on the sidebar here for a long time (unless that was targeted just to me – in which case it worked!) so maybe Brad has one. I’m kind of curious to do my own benchmarking now – I have the Nano (i7), Fold, Pocket, MicroPC etc. … 🙂
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