Huawei MateBook X (2021): Laptop For The Executive Floor | Tech Reviews
Elegant design, no fans, good performance – the Huawei MateBook X is the dream of very special customers. The test shows what has to be dispensed with.
A light and fanless device with good performance is still very rare. In the world of Windows laptops, there are only two or three devices that fill this particular niche (more in the conclusion). The Huawei MateBook X is one of those devices. With exactly one hardware configuration in Germany, it is convincing in most respects. However, it also struggles a bit in obvious scenarios.
|Display||33 cm (13″) LTPS-IPS display with 400 nits maximum brightness|
|Resolution||3000 x 2000px, pixel density of approx. 278 PPI|
|Processor||10th Gen Intel® Core™ i5-10210U Processor
4x 1,6 GHz 4, Turbo 4,2 GHz
|Graphics||Intel® UHD Graphics|
|RAM||16 GB LPDDR3 2.133 MHz|
|Hard Disk||512GB SSD|
2,4 GHz and 5 GHz
2 x 2 MIMO (WPA / WPA2 / WPA3)
|Ports||Headphone/microphone combo jack|
|Battery||Li-Ion Akku mit 42 Wh|
|Input Devices||backlit keyboard
10-point multi-touch screen
|Sound||4x Speaker (2x 2,1W + 2x 2W), Dual-Array-Mikrofon|
|Security||Fingerprint-Reader in Powerbutton|
|OS||Windows 10 Home|
|Dimensions||28.44 cm x 20.67 cm x 1.36 cm|
|Price||from €1149.99 euros* (1208.89 USD) *at the time of research|
Design, workmanship – simple, stylish and robust
The outer material of the Huawei MateBook X is an aluminum alloy, resulting in a weight of only around 1kg. The notebook is not only very comfortable to hold, it can also be taken anywhere. With about. 28x21x1.4cm, it fits into any full backpack. So it doesn’t matter if you’re at client meetings all day, sprinting from one meeting room to the next, or wandering from your desk to the couch to the kitchen and back – the Huawei MateBook X is one of those devices that people always like to take with them. On top of that, the display lid can be opened with just one hand thanks to the small notch. This is not a matter of course with such a light device.
There are big plus points for the positioning of the connections. On each side of the MateBook X is a USB Type-C port. Especially when charging the battery, it is very liberating if you can choose the side where the Type-C power plug or accessories are plugged in. Other manufacturers are welcome to learn a lesson from this – especially those who have their headquarters in Cupertino.
I also have to highlight the very good keyboard and trackpad. Most Windows trackpads only click at the bottom. The Huawei MateBook X can be clicked anywhere. A great feature that, to my knowledge, no other manufacturer offers apart from Apple and Huawei. It’s also one of those features that you really miss once you’ve had it.
As with other Huawei MateBook 13 or the D series, the MateBook X also has a fingerprint reader hidden in the power button. Not only does it enable Windows Hello, it also saves your fingerprint long enough when you turn it on so that you can boot straight through to the desktop. A feature for which Huawei has received a lot of praise from us in the past and which other manufacturers are welcome to adopt. The webcam, on the other hand, is also hidden in an F key. The angle is not really beneficial for video conferencing.
Otherwise, the appearance of the Huawei MateBook X is rather simple. Personally, I liked the logo on the display lid of older Huawei notebooks more than the Huawei logo that has been used in recent years. If you like it a bit more upbeat, you can buy the MateBook X in “Forest Green” instead of “Silver Frost”, which is probably a real eye-catcher.
Connectors – One Type-C on each side
As already mentioned, the Huawei MateBook X uses a Type-C port on each side. To be precise, it is a USB 3.2 Gen 2 and USB 3.2 Gen 1 port. There is also a 3.5mm jack on the left side.
If the exclusive use of USB Type-C can be perceived as a limitation at first glance, it actually offers more freedom. In the office, everything from the display to the external keyboard is quickly connected with a docking station. When the next appointment is coming up, it’s just a cable and the Huawei MateBook X is free. Once you’ve completely immersed yourself in the USB Type-C cosmos, you’ll never look back at USB-A.
Display – very good 3:2 touchscreen
The 3:2 display format is perfect for productive work. Due to the “higher” display, more elements are displayed in many programs and less scrolling is required on websites. The 13″ display of the Huawei MateBook X is designed for working and not for watching movies. Otherwise, very wide black bars would appear above and below the content to display 16:9 or 21:9 content on a 3:2 display. That would be a real waste given the very slim display frame.
Together with a resolution of 3000×2000 pixels, content is displayed sharply (278ppi) and thanks to the very good touchscreen, interaction with many media is very intuitive.
In general, the display of the Huawei MateBook X is very successful and colors look natural. With 99% coverage of the sRGB color space and 74% in the extended AdobeRGB color space, it is only suitable for graphic designers to a limited extent. But an external monitor would help.
Software – Windows and some more
Huawei preinstalls Windows 10 Home on the MateBook X. The “Professional” version would offer better options for integrating the laptop into the company’s own infrastructure. At least one option when buying would be desirable. On the other hand, moving from Windows 10 Home to Pro isn’t a task that will make an IT department sweat—they’ll get a little annoyed at best.
In addition to Windows 10, the typical Microsoft applications are preinstalled on the Huawei MateBook X. Programs such as Word, Xing, Skype and Xbox are included from the first start. Luckily, Huawei didn’t use apps like Candy Crush or McAfee.
The PC Manager is used as additional software. Here users get an overview of the status of the Huawei MateBook X – including the status of the drivers and whether updates are available.
Huawei Share concludes. This allows for quick pairing with your Huawei smartphone. The sensor for this is located in the trackpad instead of next to it and marked with a sticker as in older models. So far everything fits here. Pairing is quick and then documents, pictures and other files can be quickly exchanged between the smartphone and the Huawei MateBook X.
Performance – good, but don’t overdo it
The i5-10210U in the Huawei MateBook X performs well in everyday tasks such as office, web browsing and even image editing. Tasks are processed quickly and the SSD offers very high read and write rates, which means that storing large files does not take long.
It becomes problematic with tasks that then load the processor for longer. This is where the major strength of the Huawei MateBook X turns into its weakness. The absence of a fan ensures that the waste heat from the Intel CPU cannot be dissipated quickly enough. As a result, the chip has to throttle its performance to avoid damage. In the worst case, this is 20-25% of the power that is then no longer available.
As a result, video rendering or code compilation, for example, takes longer than in notebooks with active cooling. For example, the render of a 30-second 4K video took exactly ten minutes. With the similarly equipped but actively cooled Huawei MateBook 13, the same render only takes 8 minutes (with half the RAM).
Battery life – exactly one working day without overtime
The battery life depends on various factors. Which programs are used and how high the display brightness is set are just two. With a mixture of Office, various Adobe products and a lot of Chrome, the 42Wh battery of the Huawei MateBook X was empty after about seven hours of continuous use and had to be recharged via the 65W power supply.
Anyone who uses Edge browsers and has never heard of Adobe Lightroom could also manage 7.5 hours. It’s a shame we couldn’t do a little more here, but the engineers had to make a decision: either the Huawei MateBook X will be as light, thin and sexy as it is now, or it will last an extra hour without a power outlet.
Emissions – enjoy the peace and quiet
Since there is no fan in the Huawei MateBook X, there is no fan noise either. So it doesn’t matter whether you’re surfing the web or rendering videos in Premiere – the notebook won’t make any noise. This may not be important to everyone, but it’s a feature that I personally really appreciate.
The price for this is the heat development of the Huawei MateBook X under heavy load. Here, however, the case does a very good job and distributes the heat evenly, which ensures that not a single point gets hot, but everything gets lukewarm at most. The Huawei MateBook X hardly gets more than lukewarm in everyday office use.
Upgrade – not desired
In order to access the inside of the Huawei MateBook X, a total of seven screws have to be loosened. Three obvious T4 Torx screws and four very small Phillips screws found under the glued feet. Ideally, you have a precision screwdriver set at hand – for example from Goobay . Removing the feet from the notebook itself requires sensitivity and the feet then have to be precisely aligned again in order to snap into the right place.
After the clicked bottom is removed, the inside of the Huawei MateBook X is revealed, which at first glance seems to consist of 50% battery and 40% copper-colored heat spreader. It’s very clear that Huawei doesn’t want buyers to do it themselves, as there are little stickers and seals everywhere that would show the technician in a warranty case that someone had already tinkered here.
Huawei apparently only wants you to change the battery itself. After four more very small Phillips screws have been loosened, it becomes clear that the Huawei MateBook X’s battery is additionally glued. Ideally, the version with 16gb ram and 512GB SSD is sufficient, or a Huawei Service Center nearby.
Sound – very good, but it vibrates
The sound of the small Huawei MateBook X is very good. Highs are clean and mids actually have space in the sound. Due to the design, laptops lack some bass resonance space, but in general the sound is full, loud and clean. It is possible to fill a small conference room with sound during a presentation without any problems. It only becomes problematic at high volumes.
Since the speakers are positioned almost directly under the palm rests – i.e. to the right and left of the trackpad, anything with a volume of more than 50% makes the housing of the Huawei MateBook X vibrate slightly. The good news is that even at maximum volume, the vibrations hardly affect the sound. Everyone has to decide for themselves to what extent such vibrations are perceived as disturbing.
Conclusion on the Huawei MateBook X 2020
The Huawei MateBook X is a real designer piece. It is thin, light, looks very good and feels excellent in the hand. The touch display allows intuitive use. The big highlight is still the fanless design. As a result, there is no noise, which is very important for certain users.
The price for this is the reduced performance when the CPU is heavily loaded. If your working day consists of Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook, you will have no problems with the Huawei MateBook X. Even Adobe programs like Lightroom and Photoshop run smoothly. However, video editors, programmers, architects and anyone who puts a lot of stress on the processor all the time need a different device. On the executive floor, however, everyone with the exception of the CTO can access here.
If you value a fanless device, you don’t have much to choose from. In the Windows world, in addition to the Huawei MateBook X, the Microsoft Surface Pro 7 or the Surface Go 2 or the Samsung Galaxy Book S come to mind. The M1 MacBook Air should also be mentioned from another cosmos . With otherwise hundreds of different laptops, four laptops cannot really be called a choice. Where there is little direct competition, a price comparison is also difficult.
If you really want a modern, stylish and, above all, fanless notebook, you have to put up with a corresponding price tag. Passively cooling a modern processor is difficult and requires a great deal of engineering skill. At €1150* for a 512GB SSD and 16GB of RAM, I think the Huawei MateBook X is priced very fairly and I definitely recommend it.