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Motile M142 review: Ryzen finds a home in this surprisingly good budget notebook

The Motile M142 14-inch notebook PC may be the best budget laptop you’ve never heard of, by a company that understands low prices. That’s because the Motile M142 is Walmart’s house brand, and it’s one that the retailer itself often passes over to promote brand-name PCs. 

Yes, the M142 cuts some corners. At about 6.5 hours, its battery life is comparatively poor. The screen is somewhat dim, and lacks touchscreen capabilities. Given the price, however, it’s a laptop we wouldn’t mind recommending to friends and family with tight budgets.

This review is part of our ongoing roundup of the best laptops. Go there for information on competing products and how we tested them.

The M142 has one notable thing going for it: AMD’s mobile Ryzen 3000-series chips. For years, seeing an older AMD A-series chip among the listed specifications meant a lackluster experience. With AMD’s mobile Ryzen, that’s changed. The M142 generally outperforms our current best budget laptop, the Acer Aspire 5 A515-54-51DJ, and for a price that’s about $100 less.

Walmart Motile M142 basic specs

Motile M142 chassis: sturdy, lightweight

Don’t let the price tag or the Walmart brand turn you off: The Motile M142 (also known as the M142-RG) looks and feels like a laptop that costs several hundred dollars more than it does. From the bold, brand-forward box to the simple, metallic construction, you’ll be pretty impressed initially. (Note that Walmart tends to adjust its pricing frequently. While the M142 dropped as low as $329 for the holidays, it varied between $349 and $399 just over the course of this review.)

At well under 3 pounds, the M142 is surprisingly light. The chassis felt completely sturdy under my fingers, with no flex and a solid hinge. There’s venting throughout, though you should expect the M142’s fan to turn on frequently and somewhat loudly, with a faint high-pitched undertone that some might find irritating, though I didn’t.

Motile M142 Mark Hachman / IDG

There’s substantial venting within the Walmart Motile M142, with risers supporting the laptop to lift it slightly above the desk.

Though a traditional clamshell design, the M142’s display folds a bit farther back than most, to about 30 degrees off the horizontal. If you’re exceedingly tall or sit upright, the M142’s deep recline may feel more comfortable.

Motile M142 Mark Hachman / IDG

The Motile M142 reclines farther than most.

Though it’s a consumer notebook through and through, the M142 retains the business notebook’s predilection for ports, with a smorgasbord of USB-A, USB-C, HDMI, and even the fold-out “dropjaw” ethernet port. 

In any low-cost notebook, you will find some shortcuts made here and there to save cost. Two stand out immediately: Walmart saved a few pennies with USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 ports, rather than the more common USB 3.1. This means that external hard drives, especially, will transfer data a bit more slowly than normal. Pay attention to what port you’re using if you’re connecting an external hard drive, as the USB 2.0 port won’t transfer data as quickly. The ports are marked to tell the difference.

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