Huawei MateBook X Ultrabook Review

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Huawei is a large Chinese electronics manufacturer and many people know them from smartphones – I, for one, have had a Huawei Y5 phone for over a year now. Be it cell phones or tablets they have been concentrating in the past, the company has also entered the laptop market with full force. Their new computer, the Huawei MateBook X is a contender to traditional ultrabooks such as ZenBook, MacBook Air and more.

Small Package, Pristine Display

Huawei seems to advertise their MateBook X as “a 13 notebook smaller than A4 paper”. Indeed, the measurements being 286mm width, 211mm depth and 12.5mm height, this claim stands true – the MateBook X is one of the smallest ultrabooks, beating the popular ZenBook in size. What is more, the weight is just 1.05kg (2.3 pounds), it will be a tough job to find laptop lighter than this.

A big part of the compact size is because of the 13.3-inch screen. There is almost no bezel around the edges, the actual screen takes the whole space. It’s an IPS style display with 2160×1440 resolution, with IPS often meaning accuracy in color reproduction. Indeed, the color gamut is a professional-grade 100% sRGB with a very decent 1000:1 contrast ratio. Aspect ratio is 3:2 which is traditionally good for web browsing because of the way websites are built. The brightness sits at 350 nits which is great for indoors use, although operating the laptop under direct sunlight you may want to get better brightness. Also one thing that might bother some is the lack of touch support.

A High-Performance MateBook

There are two models of MateBook X which dictate the processor and storage configuration. The WT-W09 model comes with Intel Core i5-7200U and 256GB solid-state drive. The WT-W19 includes Intel Core i7-7500U and 512GB solid-state drive. Both laptops have 8GB memory, the DDR3 type.

So, which one should you pick? Both of the processors belong to the 7th generation Kaby Lake architecture and have a dual-core setup; in a word they are beasts for running any type of software. The clock speed is 2.5GHz on the i5 against 2.7GHz on the i7, while turbo boost is 3.1GHz versus 3.5GHz. As you can see from the CPU Benchmark comparison, the difference in benchmark test isn’t that radical. To reiterate, both processors will make the laptop fly.

The storage is brought by a solid-state drive, either 256GB or 512GB in capacity. I think they sport the same technology so the difference is only in the raw storage space. After operating system (Windows 10 Home) installation, you’ll be left with around 230 gigabytes or 485 gigabytes of free space. Both drives should boot up from cold to desktop in 15 seconds at most.

The only thing you will be missing in the performance department is gaming capacity. You are left with the integrated Intel HD 620 which is only good for very low level, casual gaming. You can forget playing Triple A games like Hitman 2016, Doom or The Witcher 3 on this rig, as even the lowest settings and resolution would have sluggish frame rates. However, the HD 620 graphics chip welcomes some simpler games with open arms, such as Counter-Strike: Go or League of Legends, and both on high settings!

Video Review

Not Plenty of Ports in This Laptop

The compact size and slim profile must take its toll on something. And that something is the selection of ports you get. The connectors available are only two USB-C ports and a headphone jack. What is more, the other USB-C seems to be only for charging of the laptop. So, in essence, you will be left with just one USB-C port for all of your devices. However, the specifications sheet lists Huawei MateDock 2 as accessory, a device that expands the USB-C to support HDMI, VGA, Gigabit LAN and USB-A.

The Internet connectivity is handled by a full-blown 802.11ac WiFi adapter with dual-band (2.4 & 5GHz) support and 2×2 antenna. With this, as long as your router or modem supports dual-band, you are bound to get strong signal for long range operations. The WiFi card also supports Bluetooth 4.1 for mobile devices and more.

As a side note, optical drive is nowhere to be found because the laptop is small. Oddly enough, also media card reader is missing – if you want to upload the images from your camera via the memory card, you need to get USB-C adapter for that maneuver.

Other Benefits For Your Enjoyment

The MateBook X contains a 41.4Wh battery (5449 mAh @ 7.6v), and I’ve read that Huawei is talking about 10 hours battery life. Often, these claims from manufacturer are not true, but take a look at this ArsTechnica comparison chart and make up your mind. It is showing the MateBook X lasting for 9.75 hours for web browsing on about 50% screen brightness. That is exactly what the manufacturer claims, although also note most other ultrabooks get better battery life!

The keyboard is backlit on this model, just as expected.

The notebook should be completely silent. None of the processors have a fan, and the solid-state drives come without moving parts.

Gorgeous display - The 2K (2160x1440) display offers a lot of screen estate to work with, and the IPS panel with appropriate color gamut provides color depth and accuracy sufficient for professionals.

Looks neat - Made of aluminum and weighing only 2.3 pounds, the MateBook X looks and feels great. It is not a slightest problem to carry the laptop for extended periods; that is why I can also recommend it for active travelers and backpackers.

Performance department in check - This laptop will boot up fast and run any software you throw at it. The Core i5 or i7 processor from the 7th generation and fast solid-state drive are making sure of that.

Not much of a gamer's laptop - There is no dedicated graphics; thus, hardcore players don't find much use for this MateBook X.

Not many ports - The slim ultrabook has just a few built-in ports which might scare you if you're used to a big, old-school laptop. Luckily, the included MateDock 2 will help with the situation.

It is easy to recommend the new Huawei MateBook X for those after ultra-portable, snappy and sleek laptop. The MateBook X is smaller than most (any?) of its competitors, with display spanning almost the whole upper part and providing sharp image quality for casual and power users alike. There’s plenty of performance for the productivity use, and no matter which model you choose, snappy processor and quick solid-state drive will be operating under your command. The battery life is decent and in line with the official claims (which is rare these days). The limited ports selection puts the machine at a slight disadvantage, although the included ports dock helps to solve the problem. In short, this Huawei is a great alternative for more popular ultrabooks in 2017!

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