Huawei MateBook X (2020) Review | Trusted Reviews

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Verdict

The Huawei MateBook X is a brilliant ultra-portable laptop for those who find 1.3kg computers just that bit too heavy.  

Pros

  • Superb build   
  • Extremely light and portable
  • High-quality keyboard
  • Excellent speakers 

Cons

  • Drastically lower performance and battery than MacBook Air 
  • Relatively weak trackpad feedback
  • Webcam located below display

Key Specifications

  • Review Price: £1099.99
  • 13.9-inch (3000 x 2000) LCD
  • Intel Core i5-10210U 
  • Intel UHD graphics 
  • 16GB DDR3 RAM 
  • 512GB SSD 
  • Dimensions: 284 x 207 x 13.6 mm
  • Weight: 1kg

The Huawei MateBook X is an extreme lifestyle laptop. Sounds like a contradiction, doesn’t it? 

This means Huawei has put all its attention into making the MateBook X as light and portable as possible without any obvious signs of compromise in its build. Get this: the Huawei MateBook X weighs around 300g less than the MacBook Air, and still feels incredible.  

This is undoubtedly one of the best 1kg laptops ever in terms of fit and finish. You pay for it, as the MateBook X costs roughly the same as a MacBook Air specced up with the same 16GB RAM and 512GB SSD. And those Apple upgrades dont come cheap.  

Paying Apple money for a Huawei gadget may seem a big ask in a year the companys reputation has taken such an almighty hit. And there is little reason to spend this much if you wont appreciate how thin and light the Huawei MateBook X is.  

Design – Remarkably thin and well built

The MateBook Xs design is its primary reason to exist in the wider MateBook range. It doesnt offer the excellent value of the MateBook 13 or the power of the MateBook X Pro. Youd buy one of these laptops because you want something flashy, thin and light.  

The MateBook X weighs 1.005kg according to my scales, is only 13.6mm thick and has a tiny footprint. Its 3:2 aspect screen reduces its width compared to other 13-inch laptops.  

Three elements make the MateBook X stand out even among high-end slim and light models. First, it has one of the best implementations of a magnesium-aluminium alloy Ive seen to date.  

Huawei MateBook X

Magnesium is lighter than aluminium, but a magnesium-rich alloy can feel a little like plastic. The MateBook X absolutely looks and feels like metal, and the satin-matt finished used in each panel is excellent. 

The Huawei MateBook X also has a very carefully designed display hinge that can be opened with one finger, without making the base lift off a table. And yet theres still virtually zero screen wobble when you use the laptop on your knees.  

The Huawei MateBook X is also dense, MacBook-style dense. A lot of very light laptops have a hollow feel, but theres none of that here. 

Huawei MateBook X

The Huawei MateBook Xs rigidity is also superb given its extremely low weight. Pick it up by one corner and theres only fractional bowing of the frame. The screen is as stiff as they come. The keyboard doesnt flex under the finger pressure of typing. Several aspects of the MateBook Xs design are quite exceptional.  

Of course, the actual reason to buy a MateBook X is how breezy it is to use. Whether youll take it from room to room or country to country, theres a specific appeal to a laptop this light that still feels solid and surprisingly tough.  

The Huawei MateBook X has minimal connections. There are two USB-C ports. And, unfortunately, neither is a Thunderbolt connector. They do support DisplayPort, though, so connecting a monitor is no problem.  

You get no memory card slot, no full-size USB.  But theres good news. You get a MateDock 2 in the box. This features most of the bits the MateBook X misses including full-size USB, a USB-C, HDMI and VGA.  

Related: Best Laptop 2020

Keyboard – Top-notch typing and haptic trackpad

The Huawei MateBook X has a fairly shallow keyboard, but a very good one. Its keys arent light and clicky, but they have the darker character of a much deeper keyboard. I find it comfortable to type long-form articles on, and fast do to so.  

Its better than I expected after first using the MateBook X. Ive never been a fan of slimline laptop keyboards, as someone who often uses a mechanical keyboard, but this is probably one of the best typing surfaces in a laptop of this size.  

Theres a two-level backlight too. Its nothing too special, with a distinct blue hue and only moderate top brightness, but it does the job.  

Huawei MateBook X

Huawei goes the extra mile with the trackpad, with mixed results.  This is not a traditional pad. It uses a haptic motor to deliver the click, although the pad itself does move slightly under the pressure of a finger press too.  

Such a design means every millimetre of the MateBook Xs pad can be used as the clicker. Theres no dead zone. For a feel closest to a traditional pad I recommend setting the feedback to max and the sensitivity to medium” or low 

Huawei MateBook X

I have no complaints about the MateBook X pads size or materials. Its a very large pad for a laptop this small, and the surface is excellent textured glass. The laptop also has a fingerprint scanner, in the ring of bright silver above the keyboard. It offers above average reliability for Windows 10 unlocking. 

The webcam is less hot. Not only does it uses an uninspiring 720p sensor with similarly unimpressive image quality, but it also lives under one of the F-keys. It may be a clever way to keep screen borders trim, but the angle is very unflattering when you jump into a Zoom call.  

Screen – Superb display and outstanding speakers

The MateBook X features a 13-inch LCD of 3000 x 2000 pixel resolution. At this size that means you get a very sharp screen image. This is a touchscreen, but the hinge does not let you move the screen back particularly far for hybrid-style use. 

This is a 3:2 aspect screen, reducing the width of the laptop while keeping a good screen area. Such a display shape is beneficial for many kinds of productivity apps, but is not so hot for video, which usually comes in 16:9 or wider. Play a movie and youll see black bars at the bottom and bottom of the image.   

Colour and contrast are both good. I recorded a contrast of 1660:1 with a SpyderX Elite colorimeter, which is about as much as you can ask for from an LCD panel. And it means movies and games look rich and punchy.   

The Huawei MateBook X does not have a wide colour gamut screen, but again the results are easily enough to satisfy. It covers 98.5% of sRGB, but isn’t quite good enough to accurately present colours for professional-grade work with photos and videos. 

Maximum brightness is 390 nits, just 10 off the figure Huawei claims on its product sheet. This is bright enough for comfortable use outdoors, particularly as the glossy glass screen also has a reflection-reducing layer.   

The Huawei MateBook X does support HDR video, but not HDR apps or games. And while the 60Hz refresh rate is standard, pixel response times are sound. I havent noticed any motion smearing or blur when playing games.   

A 3:2 display may not be the perfect fit for video, but I think the MateBook X actually makes an excellent portable TV in a pinch, and its all down to the speakers.

This laptop has the kind of speaker power that belies its size, which you only usually see in MacBooks. Huawei packs a lot into the MateBook X. It sounds a bit like a small Bluetooth speaker, which is high praise for a slim laptop.  

Related: MacBook Pro 2021

Performance – Decent speeds without a fan

The Huawei MateBook X is not intended to be a true performance laptop, but the hardware inside is solid.  

You get an Intel Core i5-10210U, a quad-core chip with eight threads, 16GB DDR3 RAM and a 512GB SSD. Plenty of room, plenty of RAM and a CPU plenty of less weight-obsessed laptops use. The mid-range version of the Dell XPS 13 has the same processor.  

Light work in industry standard applications like Adobe Photoshop is no problem at all. However, Huawei did make one bold decision with the MateBook X. It doesn’t have a fan, meaning all heat dispersal has to happen primarily through heatsinks, which is a slower process.  

But how does this affect real-world performance? Laptops use something called thermal throttling to avoid overheating. This means the clock speed of the processor is reduced, to lower the heat created, when it gets warm.  

I ran the Geekench 5 benchmark to see how long the Huawei MateBook X can hold onto its peak turbo” performance. Its first result was 3185, fairly similar to what youd see from a Dell XPS 13 with the same processor. 

However, after that the MateBook Xs throttling kicks in, the score drops to 2915 and then further. 2478 was the lowest score recorded, 77% of the max. Passive cooling means you only get a few minutes’ worth of the Intel Core i5-10210Us turbo mode.  

What does this mean in practice? If you want to edit video, youre much better off with a MacBook Air, which has bafflingly good performance for high-intensity tasks like this thanks to Apples new M1 processor.  

MateBook X
(Intel i5-10210U)
Dell XPS 13
(i7-1065G7)
MacBook Air
(Apple M1)
GeekBench 5
Multi-Core
318545487308
3DMark TimeSpy448946– 

It is no real issue for standard office-style jobs, though. Even when throttled the MateBook X runs Windows 10 smoothly. The SSD is fast too, with write speeds of 2983MB/s and writes of 3387MB/s.  

Theres no separate graphics chipset here, you just get the Intel UHD graphics section of the Intel Core i5. Its basic, and only really suitable for low-demand games, or older ones.  

Under strain, the Huawei MateBook X makes no noise, because theres no fan. Despite this, Im impressed by how little the laptop heats up. Sure, the bottom gets warm but there were no red hot moments during testing. And, just as impressive, there are no major heat hotspots. Huaweis engineers really seem to know what they are doing.  

Battery Life – Can’t compete with MacBook Air

The Huawei MateBook X has a 42Wh battery. Its not a huge unit. The Dell XPS 13s is 10Wh larger. But for a 1kg laptop? Its not too bad.  

It lasts almost exactly seven and a half hours when streaming 1080p video at 150nits brightness. You dont get all-day use, but were not miles off. That video streaming figure is about what you can expect if you write documents and check your email, but anything more taxing will reduce the battery life further.  

Once again, I cant help but avoid referencing the Apple MacBook Air here. It will last almost twice as long off a charge, thanks to Apples revolutionary M1 processor.  

Sub-8-hour battery life is a hit to the MateBook Xs travel-ready cred. But what Huawei squeezes out of this form, with an Intel Core i5-series CPU, still seems fairly good.  

The Huawei MateBook Xs power adapter is also quite small. Its more like an oversize phone charger than a laptop brick, and uses a completely removable USB-C cable, making it easier to pack away. 

Related: Surface Laptop 4

Should you buy the Huawei MateBook X? 

The Huawei MateBook X is not a laptop for value fiends. Performance per pound/dollar is not amazing, particularly now the MacBook Air with M1 CPU exists.  

However, its build quality and portability are virtually perfect. The Huawei MateBook X weighs a kilogram, and yet is as stiff, dense and metallic-feeling as any ultraportable out there. Its roughly 300g lighter than either the Dell XPS 13 or MacBook Air, with no compromise in build.  

This laptop also has enough power for the majority of most peoples needs, as long as you dont want to play too many games. The trackpad isnt quite as much of a hit as the rest of the hardware, but youll get used to it fairly quickly if the rest of the highlights here appeal.  

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