Elegant and lively notebook

As a laptop retailer, Huawei is entering its fourth year. Relying on x86 silicone and GPU here and there, one thing Huawei does well is the design quality. The company has transferred the know-how developed over a decade of smartphones to something larger, with a keyboard running Windows. The latest release of the MateBook X Pro 2021 we are testing today has Intel 11th The Gen Core i7 with one of the physically largest screens you can fit into a 14-inch device, and a brushed aluminum case that is very smooth to the touch and an emerald green color that really stands out.

Huawei produces laptops? Really?

Over the years that we have covered Huawei products, through good and bad, through first attempts and halo devices, the main feature that is hard to ignore is the design. After a decade of Huawei smartphones, we were introduced to the first 2-in-1 laptop products in 2017, and although it was well designed and comfortable to handle, the user experience needed to be worked on. But it wasn’t long before we got a Windows device that looked great with experience competing with veterans in the market.

Get into the first generation MateBook 13 and it’s easily one of the best laptops I’ve used so far as a 6-month travel work machine. Unfortunately, due to some improvements that Huawei wanted to introduce (like a recessed webcam, more on that later), the company quickly replaced it with a less inspiring configuration that wasn’t so well received. Huawei has traditionally gone with Intel in its systems, but was one of the first partners with AMD when AMD Mobile Ryzen became available – we saw Ryzen versions of its educational model, albeit only for China.

Huawei’s laptop ambitions are currently in three main categories

  • Education with MateBook D 14, MateBook D 15 and MateBook D 16
  • Portable with MateBook 13, MateBook 14 and MateBook 16
  • Professional with MateBook X (13 inches) and MateBook X Pro (13.9 inches).

The last two categories are aimed directly at traditional MacBook markets.

Today we are testing the Huawei MateBook X Pro 2021 model which has Intel 11th The Tiger Lake Core i7 processor generation also uses integrated graphics, paired with 16GB of LPDDR4X memory and a 512GB NVMe SSD. Usually people could connect a Pro laptop to a discrete GPU – in the 2020 model. Huawei used 10th Gene processor with NVIDIA MX250 discrete GPU, but discarded in favor of Intel’s integrated Xe Graphics.

Huawei MateBook X Pro 2021: Hands on

When you first take a new laptop out of the box, after you separate it from the styrofoam and remove the protective plastic foil, you touch the chassis. For most devices, this is an everyday thing because you are touching plastic or something equally useful. More expensive devices will have an aluminum housing, which saves weight, or if you opt for something lighter, a more expensive lithium-magnesium alloy may be an option. However, even with a metal unibody design, not everyone is the same, and it comes down to how that chassis is treated, engraved or finished and treated as part of the design. With this MateBook it has a touch that is very smooth, but if you lightly run your hand over it, you will get a slight feeling of vibration. In my opinion, that’s great. I asked people if they felt the same way. They have no idea what I’m talking about.

Opening the lid, we see a Chiclet-style keyboard with a massive touchpad and a separate power button in the upper right corner. In its MateBook design, Huawei integrates the same fast Goodix fingerprint sensor into the power button as with its smartphones, which has become one of the easiest to use on the market with fast response and near-perfect recognition.

Not to be overlooked is the fact that this power button is a separate button that is completely on the keyboard. I hate the power buttons on the keyboard that are often to the right of the delete key because they happen to be pressed too often. I also hate the design with the power button on the side, because whenever you try to bring the laptop closer to see better, that button will always be pressed. Huawei has it in the correct position here, and it also comes with a small click to let you know when it’s pressed. You don’t have to press it to make the fingerprint sensor work, which is a bonus.

The large touchpad is Huawei’s latest iteration, and since it has had some dubious trackpads in the past, this one works well and is easy to use with good palm bounce and light left and right presses for appropriate mouse button presses. The gestures sometimes required a few activation attempts, but no more than most other premium touchpads I’ve tested. The touchpad doesn’t feel the same as the chassis I mentioned above, which may be a good thing – it was very easy for me to be precise when moving the mouse with the touchpad.

The keyboard uses a slight bevel on each key to make it easier to adapt to the chiclet style, however the up / down arrows of half size are not always fun to play. As with most laptops, there is another function for the top row of F keys, and the Huawei design allows the user to work with the Fn / Function key permanently on or off, and choosing between them is just a simple push. On other laptops, I’ve noticed that sometimes the BIOS option needs to be changed, so the fact that this is on the keyboard helps. Each button is also illuminated with a white backlight. Perhaps most unusually different from most laptops where the camera is located.

As of 2018, Huawei has decided to remove the built-in webcam from the case cover. We usually find it above the screen, but that either compromises the look of the screen, or you end up with a really bad and tiny camera. Some vendors are completely removing it, but Huawei has moved it to the line of function keys. It is located just below the button between F6 and F7, and when you press it, it springs from its place and points towards you.

This fills in the check mark in the built-in camera spreadsheet. However, the camera isn’t great: the quality is still the standard 720p camera you’d find in the chassis cover on other laptops, except this one points straight at your chin. And up in the nose. I don’t know about you, but having critical meetings while looking at someone’s nose hair isn’t the greatest experience. I usually recommend that if you want to have a video call with a laptop webcam built into the screen, put the laptop on some books so that at least the camera is at eye level and not looking up. The Huawei solution does the opposite and makes it a bad experience for anyone interested. I suggest you take a look at outdoor cameras here.

But the advantage of removing the webcam from the chassis is that Huawei has fitted one of the largest 14-inch screens in its class to the 13.9-inch laptop. Huawei states the screen to body ratio as 91%, and the LTPS screen has a resolution of 3000×2000 in a 3: 2 ratio, which gives it 260 pixels per inch. The official screen specifications show a brightness of 450 nits, with a contrast ratio of 1500: 1 with a 100% sRGB range. The screen also supports 10-point multi-touch – we’ll check these claims in more detail during screen testing later in the review. But as with many devices that look great when the screen is right next to the screen, it’s hard not to wonder how many properties there are to display here.

For connectivity, the left side of the MateBook X Pro 2021 has a 3.5mm audio jack and two USB Type-C ports (support for dual 4K60 screen, 50W charging or data transfer). On the right is one USB 3.2 Type-A port. Inside is a Wi-Fi 6 controller with BT5.1 support, as well as a Huawei Share NFC module. Users with a Huawei-enabled Huawei smartphone can connect it wirelessly to a laptop to share screens, use the phone as a remote control, use a laptop to receive and make calls, or a simple way to share pictures and videos in both directions.

Specifications Huawei Matebook X Pro
AnandTech 2018 2019 2020 2021
Processor CPU i7-8550U i7-8565U i7-10510U i7-1165G7
The core 4C + HT 4C + HT 4C + HT 4C + HT
TDP 15 W 15 W 15 W 15 W
Base Freq 1.8 GHz 1.8 GHz 1.8 GHz 1.7 GHz
Turbo Freq 4.0 GHz 4.6 GHz 4.9 GHz 4.7 GHz
L3 8 MB 8 MB 8 MB 12 MB
uArch Kaby Whiskey Comet Tiger
Graphics NVIDIA MX150
96 EU
Display 13.9 inches, 3000×2000
100% sRGB, LTPS board
450 nights. 1500: 1 contrast
10-point touch
16 GB
Storage 512 GB
PCIe 3.0 x4
512 GB
PCIe 3.0 x4
512 GB
PCIe 3.0 x4
1 TB
PCIe 3.0 x4
Wireless Wi-Fi 5 Wi-Fi 5 Wi-Fi 5 Wi-Fi 6
Camera Spring lock, 1MP
Battery 57.4 Wh 57.4 Wh 56 Wh 56 Wh
Weight 1.33 kg 1.33 kg 1.33 kg 1.33 kg
Price ¬ $ 1800 ~ 1810 USD ~ 1900 USD ~ 1500 USD

Inside our model is the Intel Core i7-1165G7, the initial Core i7, but with the largest Xe graphics option, which is paired with a 16 GB LPDDR4X-4266 and a 1 TB Samsung PM981a NVMe SSD. The 56 Wh battery is designed for 10 hours of local video playback, which we tested later in the review. At 1.33 kg (2.9 lbs), the metal body makes it lightweight for a 13.9-inch laptop. In addition to the emerald green color of our unit, Huawei also offers space gray. Our device comes with Windows 10 Home, however a free upgrade to Windows 11 will be announced in due course.

Other features of the laptop include a dual Shark Fin fan design inside the chassis, so even without a discrete GPU, the cooling is sufficient and designed to be quiet. There’s also a design with four speakers as well as two front microphones.

In the next few pages, we will cover performance, display, battery life, charging, and other aspects of the system.

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Naveen Kumar

Friendly communicator. Music maven. Explorer. Pop culture trailblazer. Social media practitioner.

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