The Motile M142 14-inch laptop may be the best budget laptop you’ve ever heard of from a company that understands low prices. This is because Motile M142 is Walmart’s own brand and the reseller itself often advertises branded computers.
Yes, the M142 cuts some corners. The battery is relatively weak which lasts around 6.5 hours. The screen is slightly dimmed and does not have touchscreen functions. Considering the price, it is a laptop that we do not mind to recommend to friends and family members on a tight budget.
You should keep one thing in mind about the M142: AMD’s mobile chips of the Ryzen 3000 series. It has been a bad experience for years to see an older AMD A-series chip under the specifications listed. That has changed with AMD’s Ryzen mobile chip. The M142 generally outperforms today’s cheapest notebook, the Acer Aspire 5 A515-54-51DJ, and costs around $100 less.
- Price tag is low, and can go lower
- AMD’s mobile Ryzen CPU provides solid performance
- Lightweight and sturdy
- Lack of a touchscreen
- A fairly noisy and constant fan
- Poky SSD slows down performance in places
- Keyboard design invites dusts
Walmart Motile M142 basic specificaton
- Display: 14-inch (1920×1080) non-touch IPS
- Processor: AMD Ryzen 5 3500U
- Graphics: Radeon Vega 8
- Memory: 8GB (single-channel)
- Storage: 256GB BiWIN SSD
- Ports: 1 USB-C, 2 USB 3.0, 1 USB 2.0, HDMI, ethernet
- Camera: 720p front-facing, IR camera (Windows Hello)
- Battery: 46.7Wh (reported)
- Wireless: 802.11ac, Bluetooth 5.0
- Operating system: Windows 10 Home
- Dimensions (inches): 12.6 inches x 8.4 inches x 0.75 inches
- Weight: 2.48 pounds, 2.92 pounds with charger
- Color: Rose Gold, Silver, Black
- Price: $699 MSRP, $399 at Walmart
Design: Solid and Ligthwight
Don’t let the price or the Walmart brand fool you- the Motile M142 (aka M142-RG) looks and feels like a laptop that costs several hundred dollars more then it does. You will pretty impressed with a bold, brand-oriented case with simple metal construction at first. (Note that Walmart adjusts prices frequently. The M142 dropped to $329 on holidays, but it ranges from $349 to $399 as the time when the review was written.)
Just under 3 pounds, the M142 is surprisingly light. The chassis felt completely stable under my fingers, without flexibility and a solid hinge. Ventilation is everywhere, although you should assume that the M142 fan turns frequently and noisily, with a slight nuance that can irritate some though I didn’t get irritated.
While it’s a traditional clamshell pattern, the M142’s screen can be folded a little more than most others, about 30 degrees horizontally. If you are too tall or sitting upright, the deep tilt of the M142 may feel more comfortable.
Ports: Wide range of ports like business laptops
While it’s a consumer laptop from start to finish, the M142 maintains a business laptop preference for port section, a mixed bag of USB-A, USB-C, HDMI and even an Ethernet “Drop Jaw” port.
To save costs, you will see some shortcuts made here and there. Walmart saved pennies on USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 ports instead of the more common USB 3.1. This means that external hard drives in particular transfer data more slowly than normal. Make sure which port you use when connecting an external hard drive because the USB 2.0 port does not transfer data so fast. The ports are marked to differentiate.
Display: Very Dim
The second shortcut is the display. The maximum brightness of the Motile’s 1080p IPS display is only 210 nits, if we consider 250 to 260 nits as a suitable base every day, long-term use. The other unit we received produced only 190 nits, which look pretty dark except in a dim office. The M142’s display starts to fade in bright light, even if the viewing angles are maintained.
You can connect to an external monitor at any time, and the Motile M142 easily supports an external 4K monitor. I was also able to configure this monitor in HDR mode.
Another problem is that the display does not have the features of a touch screen. This may or may not be important for different users. Personally, it feels a little strange not able to swipe around the screen.
We always value the security and convenience of Windows Hello, which is included with the 720p front camera. It was slow to recognize me, and the visual quality of the camera is pretty poor. But the basics are there.
Typing on the Motile M142 keyboard was quite comfortable, although the feeling may not be as good as you want it to be. The large keys offer acceptable travel, although they offer little less resistance than the other keyboards I’ve tried, which means the fingers go down with less effort.
We feared that the keyboard keys were surrounded by wide, deep cracks that could cause crumbs, dust, and other dirt to fall directly into the case. It is true that no keyboard in the moving parts is immune to dirt. Chiclet keys that you find on other keyboards, for example, are like vertical columns that rise from the floor with small openings that allow access to dust and other micro debris.
With the Motile M142, the keyboard is more than just a series of raised platforms. At least they look like channels that can pick up crumbs and other junk quite easily over time, and they did on the days I tried it. You can invest part of the Motile M142 savings in a can of compressed air.
Otherwise, the layout is mostly straightforward, with the normal navigation buttons in the lower right corner. The unusual button “speedometer” in the function bar (F5) switches between normal or “simple” mode and “quiet” mode, where you can easily switch off the existing fan. The keyboard also contains two buttons that you can use to adjust the brightness of the backlight up or down. There are three modes to choose from, including Off and two brightness levels.
The Windows Precision Trackpad of the M142 is pretty good and takes up the entire space between the space bar and the bottom of the laptop. I find it convenient to use and responsive, although you can only click in the middle of the surface. Interestingly, the button to turn off the trackpad is on the trackpad itself: two quick clicks in the upper right corner to turn it on and off. The green LED on the keyboard (as well as a pop-up message on the screen) indicates that the touchpad is deactivated.
Audio: THX made it better
We’re used to criticizing the audio of a laptop, but the array of the Motile M142 is powered by THX, a company that has named itself for its surround sound and other movie sound technologies. THX, not Walmart, gave us this review unit. THX really tuned the sound and screen of the Motile M142.
The absence of THX seemed to help in some way. Oddly enough, our first test device had three audio apps: the THX app itself, the Realtek Audio Console that comes with most Windows computers or that can be downloaded, and the app for the Creative SoundBlaster chip, which is not included in the machine, THX called the latter a technical problem and gave us another machine to test. (The other machine was operating satisfactorily, although the speedometer function appeared to be disabled.)
It is rare to find a laptop that sounds good when playing audio through standard speakers. The Motile M142 is not a standard laptop and has not been specially developed. By default, the speakers sound good enough even if a little weak. The audio experience is really optimized for headphones, and the THX Spatial Audio app for headphones communicates this pretty well.
THX tells us that the software is a virtual audio controller that should provide the same audio enhancement benefits via a 3.5mm connector and Bluetooth or even a USB headset. That seems to be the case.
In our experience, THX sound enhancements are certainly suitable for a more general rich soundscape, including the ability to enable THX surround sound in addition to basic stereo. The app offers a graphical equalizer with different presets for games, movies, and sound, but according to a strange feature, it doesn’t differentiate between different types of music, such as rap and classical. Bass enhancement and dialogue amplifiers are also available.
Sound enhancements should definitely be considered when buying a laptop. Should I just buy a Motile M142 for THX? No, not to my ears. Even the surround sound demos available on the THX site didn’t sound particularly “local,” just a kind of expression surrounding the “sound wall”. Suppose it was reasonably competitive with other improvements we noticed, such as Dolby Audio offered by Microsoft Surface.
We evaluate the performance of laptops and other products as objectively as possible using scripts and other tools. Our ratings become more subjective when we think about how the device works on a daily basis, how convenient it is to use, etc. What we call “value” lies somewhere in between: If a device costs $ 2,000, for example, we expect a price that justifies its performance. But we will be awarded more for poorer performance if you don’t spend that much.
This preamble explains what we consider to be one of the main strengths of the Motile M142: its value. AMD’s older Ryzen mobile chip doesn’t have to control the competition to justify the purchase. It just has to compete and stay above the “good enough” performance threshold. That’s right, and that’s why the Motile M142 does too.
We use UL’s PCMark benchmarks to bring actual usage closer to both older PCMark 8 benchmarks and PCMark 10. PCMark 8 breaks its tests down into separate benchmarks. We use the Work test, which measures word processing, spreadsheets, video calls, and more, as well as the PCMark Creative test, which pushes the laptop more into multimedia tasks like photo editing, easy games, and the like. We use the PCMark 8 Work test results for all low-end laptops, so we used this test here.
Motile M142 finishes last at the bottom of the graph, although we have seen an exceptionally wide value range of 2,671 to 3,282. However, that would not have increased its score much.
Next, we’ll use Maxon’s Cinebench test to create a complex CGI scene as fast as possible. Although the test supports both single-core and multi-core scores, we only record the result when all the CPU cores and theads are powered on and running at full load. The Motile M142 works well here.
While Cinebench takes a few minutes to run, the Handbrake test highlights all the cores over a long period of time, sometimes an hour or more, as the PC converts the Hollywood movie into a format suitable for storing and watching on an Android tablet. Most of the time, the test PC slows down over time to prevent the CPU from overheating. The M142 fan started frequently and remained on for most of this test (although it was not particularly loud or depressing). It was obviously the right decision because Motile achieved an incredibly fast result.
Crystal Disk Mark
The M142 has failed here. A possible explanation for the low values may be the anemic performance of the internal SSD. CrystalDiskMark measures random and consecutive data that is read with different measurement devices. In the first column, successive measurements with multiple data strings are only 81 megabytes per second. While it’s totally unfair to measure the M142 for the much more expensive Surface Laptop 3, it’s worth noting that the Surface Laptop 3 scores 2,282 megabytes per second on the same meter, 28 times faster! This is an inexpensive SSD on an inexpensive laptop.
We use the 3DMark test to evaluate how well a laptop performs in 3D games and other GPU tests. The 3DMark Sky Diver test has proven to be a good benchmark. Here, AMD has traditionally ranked embedded Radeon GPUs better than Intel. Our recent Intel “Ice Lake” tests show that this is not the case, but Intel has also not moved the chip to the budget PC category. Motile’s performance here is stunning and surpasses the nearest competitor’s score by 32 percent!
Battery Rundown Test
Finally, the battery test. We do a video rundown test by setting the laptop screen to 250-260 nit brightness (in case of M142 it’s maxed out), setting the headphones at medium volume, and playing 4K videos repeatedly until the battery runs out.
The milage will vary from person to person, but in each scenario, the Motile M142 had an average of 6 hours and 38 minutes. The 46.7 Wh battery is quite small, but the display clearly does not consume additional power. Therefore, we are not sure why the Motile M142 shuts down so quickly.
Final Verdict: Should You Buy for the Price Only?
The price strongly weighs on our Motile M142 rating. Acer sells many Aspire 5 series laptops, but compared to the M142, the Aspire is only superior in terms of battery life. The Lenovo IdeaPad S340-15IWL is also at the top of our chart, but it’s a little more expensive at the current price of $458.
The Motile M142 is also shooting fire at its foot with its low parts. If you are an adventurous guy, pull out your screwdriver and consider upgrading the SSD. There are screws at the bottom to access the internal parts.
However, Walmart’s Motile brand deserves attention because of its potential if it stays with AMD. We want to see the performance of the M142 when upgrading AMD’s Ryzen 4000 chips, which ultimately promise real competition for Intel.
If you’re a student considering carrying the Motile M142 from one class to another, I’ll skip it and think of something stronger with longer battery life. For the price of $350-399, I definitely recommend those family members with general needs to buy the Motile M142 as their next affordable laptop.