Huawei Matebook X review: The cost of a Windows PC with a MacBook design

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Video shot/edited by Jennifer Hahn.

Huawei has been slowly pushing its manner into the PC market. Its first try got here within the $699 Matebook, a two-in-one system that could not stand as much as related units due to its lackluster efficiency, dangerous battery life, and tendency to overheat.

While in the identical system household, the brand new Matebook X could be very completely different from the authentic Matebook. It’s a real Windows ultrabook whose design inspiration borrows closely from Apple. With its super-thin body, brushed steel end, and general minimalistic development, the Matebook is difficult Apple’s MacBook not solely in design, however in efficiency as nicely. The Matebook helps as much as a Core i7 processor, as much as 8GB of RAM, and as much as 512GB SSD. But Huawei has to show that each one the energy it has packed into the tiny laptop computer could make the Matebook X a greater choice than different competing Windows notebooks.

Look and really feel

You do not want a blindfold over your eyes to confuse the Matebook X for Apple’s MacBook. The 13-inch pocket book borrows from Apple’s minimalist design language, together with its all-metal design, satin end, chiclet keyboard, spacious trackpad, and general thin-and-light profile. Huawei’s Matebook X is available in silver, “prestige” gold (barely hotter and extra bronzy than most golds), and rose gold, which is a particular shade for the Chinese market. Ars was despatched a rose gold mannequin to evaluation, and its wealthy rosiness is a pleasing change from the sunshine, typically washed-out rose gold finishes we have seen on different shopper electronics.

SPECS AT A GLANCE: Matebook X
SCREEN 13″ 2160×1440 IPS, 200 ppi, non-touch
OS Windows 10 Pro
CPU Intel Core i5-7200U
RAM 4GB LPDD3
GPU Intel HD Graphics 620
STORAGE 256GB SSD
NETWORKING IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n/ac, 2.four/5GHz 2×2 MIMO, Bluetooth four.1
PORTS 2 USB Type-C ports
SIZE 12.5 x 286 x 211 mm (.49 x 11.2 x eight.three inches)
WEIGHT 2.31 kilos
BATTERY 41.4Whr
STARTING PRICE  €1,399 (about $1,569)
OTHER PERKS 1MP webcam, energy button with built-in fingerprint sensor (Windows Hello-ready), Dolby Atmos sound system, included MateDock 2

At 12.mm, the Matebook is a hair thicker than the 11.04mm MacBook, and it weighs 2.31 kilos, or barely extra than the two.06-pound MacBook. Aside from the Huawei emblem rather than the place Apple’s emblem can be on the lid, the useless giveaway that the Matebook is certainly a non-Apple system is the second USB Type-C port on its proper facet. While the MacBook has a single USB Type-C port on its left edge, Huawei put one on both facet of the Matebook: the left port helps knowledge switch and charging, whereas the correct port helps knowledge switch and connects to the included MateDock 2.

I admire the inclusion of the dock within the field, as a result of, whereas two USB Type-C ports are higher than one (and but neither are Thunderbolt), you continue to solely have two choices to work with. The MateDock 2 has one other USB Type-C port, a USB Type-A port, an HDMI port, and a VGA port, providing you with further methods to attach shows and peripherals and switch knowledge.

The solely factor I want the Matebook X had was the power to cost utilizing both USB Type-C port. It’s hit and miss now with units that allow you to do that—on some you should use any Type-C port to cost, on others you’ll be able to’t. But utilizing a tool is all the time simpler when you’ll be able to stick the charging cable into any of the Type-C ports out there and the system will cost up.

The noticeable variations between the Matebook and the MacBook proceed if you open the Matebook X’s lid. There you’ll find a 13-inch 2160×1440 show surrounded by four.4mm bezels. The MacBook has a 12-inch show, so it begins off smaller, however the slim bezels across the MateBook X’s display screen make the MacBook look even smaller compared. The Matebook’s show has a three:2 side ratio, providing you with extra vertical area and making the display screen look virtually too massive for the pocket book’s body.

Both the Matebook X and the MacBook are fanless notebooks, however Huawei managed to place U-series Core i5 and i7 CPUs in its system (the 2017 MacBook has a Y-series Core M). Considering the U-series processor sometimes wants extra energy and a fan to help it, the mixture is spectacular, and the sans-fan design ought to maintain the pocket book silent with out compromising energy. Huawei additionally touts the pocket book’s “microencapsulated phase change material” development, which is a flowery manner of claiming its materials ought to maintain it from overheating. In the time I’ve spent with the MateBook X, it has been extremely silent, and, whereas the bottom-middle of the chassis undoubtedly will get heat, it has by no means been too scorching on my lap.

The Matebook X’s slim design can be spectacular contemplating Huawei labored with Dolby to design a speaker system for the pocket book. Each speaker has two motors and directs sound up at you with an upward-ring configuration. The firms declare the set-up is louder, clearer, and has higher bass efficiency because of the audio system’ place, slim design, and improved air movement.

The distinction was instantly noticeable in comparison with the audio system on my MacBook Air: music on the Matebook X was louder by default—loud sufficient to fill a room, however not loud sufficient for me to listen to a music clearly and robustly from two rooms away—and every little thing had extra punch to it. The highs and mids had been clearer, the bass was extra distinguished, and vocals weren’t drowned out in any respect.

The pre-installed Dolby Atmos Sound system program enables you to change between sound profiles relying on the content material you are taking part in. There are prefab profiles for music, motion pictures, video games, and voice, in addition to a “personalize” profile that allows you to modify the equalizer your self. A “dynamic” profile “identifies the content and performs automatic adjustments to deliver the best sound.”

I typically hopped backwards and forwards between the dynamic and music profiles as a result of I could not determine which I preferred higher. The foremost distinction between them was that the dynamic profile actually boosted the amount and readability of a monitor’s background devices, whereas the music profile put vocals and instrumentals on the identical degree. Overall the sound high quality of the Matebook X with the Dolby audio system is nice for such a slim laptop computer and an excellent perk for many who typically have desk jam periods utilizing their notebooks.

Keyboard, trackpad, and fingerprint sensor

The full-sized, auto-backlit, chiclet keyboard takes up a lot of the area on the chassis, and it seems and feels very like the MacBook’s keyboard (although the keys listed below are color-matched to the laptop computer as an alternative of being white-on-black, because the MacBook keyboards all are). The keys are bigger than these on my MacBook Air, and their 1.2mm of journey is shallower than I am used to. That did not get in the way in which of my typing, although, and it was comfy to sort on for lengthy intervals of time. However, for those who’re not accustomed to the Matebook’s keyboard structure, the shallow journey might take some time to get used to. The keys are additionally agency sufficient so that you can know if you’ve pressed them absolutely, so there should not be a lot enter confusion on the person’s half.

Above the keyboard is the speaker grill, and on the top-right nook of the chassis is the facility button and built-in fingerprint sensor. I like that the button is surrounded by a diamond-cut edge, because it matches the accents on the opposite edges of the system and makes it stand out greater than different energy buttons. Huawei made the facility button a Windows Hello-ready fingerprint sensor so you’ll be able to activate the Matebook X and log in on the similar time. This works fairly nicely: it solely took about 5 seconds for the pocket book to activate and signal me into my account, all from one press of the facility button. The fingerprint sensor is the one Windows Hello biometric choice you might have, because the Matebook X solely has a webcam and no IR digital camera for facial recognition.

As I discussed beforehand, I like that the trackpad really clicks along with studying my fingers’ comfortable faucets, however typically the trackpad produces a delay in primary cursor motion. It’s a Precision Touchpad, so it does help the complete vary of Windows gestures, however each different time I swiped or used my finger to maneuver the cursor throughout the display screen, there was a split-second delay between my finger’s motion and the cursor shifting.

Software

Windows 10 Pro is fairly clear on the Matebook X. The two foremost packages Huawei put in are Dolby’s sound-changing software program, to accompany the audio system, and the Matebook Manager. Manager enables you to management the effectivity of the Matebook X by managing backups of your knowledge, updating drivers, and different related options. There’s additionally a sharing device that allows you to share knowledge out of your Matebook X with different units round you, however it solely works with different Huawei units. This clearly may have extra use in Asian markets the place Huawei really sells its smartphones; Huawei would not promote many handsets within the US market, so this characteristic doesn’t suggest a lot for anybody shopping for a Matebook X within the States.

HP has the same characteristic for its units, however it makes use of an app you’ll be able to obtain onto Android and iOS units to share data between your HP laptop and your smartphone or pill. Huawei missed a possibility to make its sharing characteristic accessible in the same manner, which might have made it extra helpful to a bigger group of potential prospects.

Performance

Since the MacBook sports activities a Core m processor, the MateBook X is extra in keeping with Windows units just like the LG Gram in terms of efficiency. Our Matebook X has a Core i5-7200U CPU, Intel HD 620 graphics, 4GB of RAM, and a 256GB SSD, so its efficiency matched that of the Galaxy Book and the Asus Zenbook UX330UA. It carried out nicely on most of our assessments, however its storage scores, significantly the 4KB random numbers, had been low in comparison with these of comparable units.

Although our mannequin technically comes with 256GB of storage, you do not even have that a lot to work with. Windows takes up a chunk of that (because it does in any Windows PC), however we discovered three restoration partitions on the disk that take up about 20GB extra storage, providing you with even much less to work with out of the field. While you’ll be able to delete these partitions, having them there within the first place is archaic.

We additionally take subject with the bottom mannequin’s 4GB of RAM—it is simply not sufficient to maintain an on a regular basis laptop computer, significantly one that you could be use for each work and play. The 3D Mark Time Spy graphics benchmark we run on all PCs would not run on our Matebook X, and that is seemingly because of the lack of reminiscence. At round $1,569, the bottom mannequin can be fairly costly, and you need to get extra RAM for that value. The different Matebook X mannequin comes with 8GB of RAM, however it’s dearer than our evaluation unit.

Battery life

Inside the Matebook X is a 41.4Whr battery that Huawei claims can final no less than 10 hours on a single cost. We discovered that to be principally true in our testing, with the Matebook X lasting a mean of 585 minutes, or about 9.75 hours, on our default check. The battery additionally lasted a mean of 256 minutes, or about 4 hours, on our graphics check. While our scores are in keeping with Huawei’s estimates, they’re not so good as related ultrabooks, together with the MacBook, which lasts practically two hours longer, and the HP Spectre 13, which lasts a half hour longer than Huawei’s system.

Showing off to these with MacBook envy

If you purchase the Huawei Matebook X, you do it since you desire a MacBook-style PC that runs Windows. It’s a superbly advantageous system, and it surpasses Apple’s laptop computer with sensible options just like the built-in fingerprint sensor, the additional USB Type-C port, and the included MateDock 2. Even if it is a MacBook clone in most aesthetic respects, Huawei extra successfully makes use of that thin-and-light development by together with Core i5 and Core i7 processors, a stunning show with slim facet bezels, and a strong Dolby speaker system.

But this system would not run OS X, and certainly one of the most important causes you’d purchase the MacBook is for Apple’s software program. The Matebook X is a strong Windows system—however it’s too costly for what it is value in comparison with different Windows notebooks. Huawei hasn’t formally finalized the pricing, however the X was priced at about €1,399 (or $1,569) on the time of its reveal. Plenty of Windows units, each with and with out high-fashion designs, will carry out equally (if not higher) than the MateBook X for a lower cost.

Asus’ $700 Zenbook UX330UA is an efficient instance: whereas it would not look as fancy because the Matebook X, it performs simply as nicely and comes with 8GB of RAM, one USB Type-C port, two USB three.zero ports, a micro HDMI, and an SD card reader. If it’s worthwhile to have a slick-looking laptop computer, you will get both the HP Spectre x360 or the Spectre 13 for barely lower than the Matebook X, and each fashions embrace Core i7 processors, no less than 8GB of RAM, and Thunderbolt ports in that barely extra inexpensive value. Unless your objective is to make MacBook followers envious, you’ll be able to skip the Matebook X and go for a extra highly effective Windows system at the same (or decrease) value.

The Good

  • Lightweight, engaging design
  • Comfortable keyboard
  • Integrated Windows Hello fingerprint sensor on energy button
  • Two USB Type-C ports, and MateDock 2 is included within the field

The Bad

  • No Windows Hello IR digital camera
  • Disappointing battery life
  • 4GB of RAM is not sufficient for an already costly ultrabook
  • Can solely share knowledge between Matebook X and different Huawei units

The Ugly

  • Charging is simply supported by one USB Type-C port

Listing picture by Valentina Palladino


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