Hardware Laptops Reviews

Huawei MateBook X Pro review: was this super-thin laptop worth the wait?

Huawei MateBook X Pro review
Huawei MateBook X Pro From £1,100
  • Speed & battery
  • Features & design
  • Portability

Summary

A brilliant balance between power and portability with a stunning 13.9in screen

Overall
4.7

Pros

  • Gorgeous 3,000 x 2,000 resolution screen
  • Excellent battery life
  • Gaming power thanks to Nvidia processor

Cons

  • Volatile price
  • Terrible webcam
  • Fan noise when pushed

I’ve been waiting a long time for a genuine rival to the Dell XPS 13. As you’ll see in this Huawei MateBook X Pro review, it’s landed with a thwump. I like the MateBook X Pro. I like it a lot.

Brief Tech Questions: Huawei MateBook X Pro

Hang on, didn’t the MateBook X Pro launch months ago?Kind of. It went on sale in Europe, but it’s only just been released in the UK (with a UK plug and keyboard, which are always handy).
Why’s it so special?This is basically a 14in laptop in what, two years ago, would have been considered a 12in laptop’s clothes. Crazy.
Is it fast?Yes. Not “let’s go render us a CGI movie” fast, but quick enough that it will do any task a desktop PC can do.
Can it play games?Why yes, it can. It has a GeForce MX150 graphics chip inside, which gives it enough oomph to play most games – more on that later.
Does that kill its battery life?Not at all: I got nine hours of life when looping a video. You’ll get much less than that if taxing the graphics chip with games, though.
Okay, how much?Because I like the cut of your jib, let’s call it £1,100 (you can buy a 512GB version for £1,300). As I discuss later, though, those prices are unpredictable.

Huawei MateBook X Pro: what’s it look like?

huawei matebook x pro review
huawei matebook x pro review
huawei matebook x pro review

As you can tell from the pics, it’s a sleek wee thing. It comes in a finish that Apple would call Space Grey, which is a bit boring, but due to that sleekness and the crazily skinny bezels it’s still stylish. You’ll be proud to be seen carrying one.

Huawei MateBook X Pro review: what makes it special?

The screen is excellent. Genuinely brilliant. It’s a touchscreen, which is occasionally handy, but the main things I love are its 3,000 x 2,000 resolution and its sheer quality. The latter was obvious as soon as I started using it, but that was backed up when I performed technical tests on the screen too (test results are at the foot of this review for the interested).

Huawei MateBook X Pro review

And don’t forget that it’s almost 14 inches in size. To be precise, it’s 0.6in longer on the diagonal than the 13.3in Dell XPS 13, and while you can choose the Dell with a perfectly nice 1,920 x 1,080 screen or go overkill with a 3,840 x 2,160 resolution, Huawei gets the balance better here by choosing 3,000 x 2,000. 

That’s especially true because the MateBook X Pro’s battery life is still excellent; as a rule of thumb, the higher the resolution of your screen the more power it consumes. You’ll get a full day’s work out of this machine, so long as you don’t push the screen to its maximum brightness (a searing 581 candela in my tests).

huawei matebook x pro review

I also love the fact it includes two Thunderbolt 3/USB-C ports on the left, plus an old-style USB-A port on the right. It even throws in a four-in-one USB-C port replicator, which adds another USB-A port, a USB-C passthrough, old-style VGA/D-SUB port (for ageing monitors and projectors) and an HDMI port.

Huawei MateBook X Pro review: speed etc

You can buy two versions of the MateBook X Pro: one with a Core i5-8250U processor, 8GB of RAM and 256GB SSD for £1,100, the other with a Core i7-8550U, 8GB of RAM and 512GB SSD for £1,300. (Prices correct as of 11am on 23 November 2018, but they bounce around quite a lot.)

Huawei MateBook X Pro review

I tested the more expensive offering, which I’d expect to be around 10-15% faster than the slower version in most tests. 

Whichever you buy, though, you’ll be impressed by its turn of pace. It helps that it has a super-fast SSD (again, benchmark scores below), but testing using the popular benchmark Geekbench 4 made it clear that it’s a speedy system. A score of 4,856 in the single-core test is particularly good, but 14,197 is damn fine for a laptop as well.

If you prefer PC Mark, then note it scored 3,572 overall. A very credible result.

Turning to gaming speed, I put it through its paces in Metro: Last Light, where it managed an excellent 66.4fps after I dropped the resolution to 1080p. 

Huawei MateBook X Pro: what’s not to like?

There’s very little that might irritate you… unless you want to make conference calls. With zero space on the bezel for a webcam, Huawei took the bold/crazy decision to integrate it into the keyboard. Press the button between F6 and F7 on the top row and up pops a tiny camera.

How good is it? Woeful. Really, really bad. I’d only use this if my boat was slowly sinking and I needed to make a farewell Skype call to my family. Invest in a webcam if such things are important to you.

This also means there’s no Windows Hello sign-in via facial recognition, but Huawei integrates a fingerprint reader into the power button to the top-right of the keyboard. That’s a sensible compromise.

It’s also quite noisy when the fans whirr up – and they will if you start pushing it. Dell’s machine appears to have better thermal management, which also means it can be pushed harder for longer; this makes it a better choice for longer tasks such as video encoding.

Huawei MateBook X Pro review

My only other criticism – and it’s a mild one – is that the touchpad is too big. That makes it very difficult to avoid when typing. In general this isn’t an issue because its “palm rejection” (where it works out you didn’t mean to press on it) works well, but if you accidentally press down hard enough to activate a click then it can be annoying. 

But honestly, don’t let that put you off buying this laptop. You’ll get used to it. And because it’s a precision touchpad, you can use all the Windows gestures.

Huawei MateBook X Pro review: should you buy it?

Unequivocally, yes. That is, if one of the two specifications will work for you. Huawei is currently following the “you can have it in black or black” Model T Ford school of thought.

Huawei MateBook X Pro review

Fortunately, the more expensive version has no major weaknesses. If you could flip the screen back 360 degrees (it only goes to around 130 degrees) then it would be making me seriously regret my decision to buy the Surface Book 2.

The single caveat I’d add is that its price is volatile. Yesterday, the more expensive configuration was £1,400. Today, it’s jumped between £1,300 and £1,594. This could be due to the vagaries of Amazon’s Black Friday, but it’s worth playing the waiting game to make sure you don’t get ripped off.

The good news? The cheaper version was £1,200 yesterday but today it’s £1,100. And at that price, it’s an absolute bargain.

Huawei MateBook X Pro review: specifications

Core i5 versionCore i7 version
ProcessorCore i5-8250UCore i7-8550U
Memory
8GB LPDDR3
8GB LPDDR3
Storage256GB SSD512GB SSD
GraphicsNvidia GeForce MX150Nvidia GeForce MX150
Screen13.9in 3,000 x 2,000 touchscreen13.9in 3,000 x 2,000 touchscreen
Ports2 x Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C), 1 x USB-A, 3.5mm headphone jack2 x Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C), 1 x USB-A, 3.5mm headphone jack
Dimensions304 x 217 x 14mm (WDH)304 x 217 x 14mm (WDH)
Weight1.3kg1.3kg

Huawei MateBook X Pro review: test results

Speed results

Geekbench 4 single-core4,856
Geekbench 4 multicore14,197
AS SSD sequential read2,542MB/sec
AS SSD sequential write436MB/sec
GFXBench T-Rex on-screen59.9fps
PC Mark overall3572
PC Mark Essentials7,124
PC Mark Productivity6,127
PC Mark Digital Creation2,829
Metro: Last Light @1080p66.4fps

Screen test results

Maximum brightness581 candela
sRGB gamut coverage96.9%
Adobe RGB gamut coverage67.8%
DCI-P3 gamut coverage70.1%
Delta E (measure of colour accuracy)0.35 (excellent)
Contrast1,657:1

READ NEXT: Huawei Mate 20 Pro review: more camera than phone?

About the author

Tim Danton

Tim Danton is editor-in-chief of PC Pro magazine and has written about technology since 1999. He enjoys playing with gadgets, playing with words and playing tennis. Email tim@bigtechquestion.com

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