Honor MagicBook 14 (2020) review: An excellent design hampered only by a last-gen AMD processor

This mid-range laptop has the right price, but perhaps the wrong processor for mid-2020.

Honor Magicbook
(Image: © Daniel Rubino / Windows Central)

A few years ago, Huawei surprised many of us in the PC world by releasing some exceptionally well done gen 1 Ultrabooks. While the company is mired in US-China trade relation issues, its Honor subsidiary has continued to push into general consumer technologies, including mid-range laptops.

I've been using the Honor MagicBook 14 (2020) for a few months now, and there is a lot to like here. But relying on last-gen AMD Ryzen does hobble its potential even more so than its non-US release.

Honor MagicBook 14 specs and features

Honor Magicbook

Source: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central)

The MagicBook 14 (and its bigger 15.6-inch version) are solidly mid-range laptops that follow Apple's MacBook design ethos without the Apple tax.

While there are Intel variants, the one used for this review features an AMD Ryzen 5 3500U CPU. Putting a third-gen Ryzen Mobile into a premium laptop like the Surface Laptop 3 15-inch was not a great idea, but for the asking price for the MagicBook 14 it's OK. There were originally only the AMD Ryzen 3000 Mobile options for the 2020 MagicBook 14, but Honor added Ryzen 4000 Mobile chips later for extra performance.

While there is nothing particularly special about the MagicBook specs they are very good for an entry-level and mid-range laptop:

Swipe to scroll horizontally
CategorySpec
OSWindows 10 Home
ProcessorAMD Ryzen 5 3500U Mobile Processor
GPUAMD Radeon Vega 8
Display14-inch non-touch
84% screen-to-body ratio
1920x1080
TÜV Rheinland Certified
StoragePCIe NVME SSD 256GB
Memory8GB DDR4 dual channel
Ports3.5mm audio jack
1x USB-C 3.1
1x HDMI
1x USB 3.0
1x USB 2.0
WirelessBluetooth 5.0
Realtek 8822CE Wi-Fi 802.11ac
Battery56Whr
SecurityFingerprint power button
Size221 (H) x 323 (W) x 15.8 (D) mm
Weight1,450g (3.1lbs)

The metal chassis is solidly built with little flex. Honor deserves credit for making an aesthetically appealing laptop with gorgeous blue accents on the edges. While the overall design is muted and tame, it lends itself to looking classy and professional.

Honor Magicbook Camera

Source: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central)

The 14-inch IPS full HD 1920x1080 display is matte and evenly lit with TÜV Rheinland certification, which ensures low blue-light reflectivity making it better for eye health. There is an 84 percent screen-to-body ratio thanks to three of the bezels being quite thin (and a lower, larger chin). The design here is reminiscent of laptops circa 2018, but considering the price point here, it's not bad.

Honor went with a clean, sharp, and well-lit screen, and it's satisfying so long as you don't need color accuracy for photo editing. Color accuracy is below average with just 64 percent sRGB and 48 percent AdobeRGB (DCI-P3 was also 48 percent). Brightness is below average, peaking at only 277 nits of brightness. While the display looks great indoors, it will struggle in brighter conditions, although the matte anti-glare layer helps.

Port selection is basic but satisfactory with a 3.5mm audio jack, one USB 3.1 Type-C (also used for included 65-watt charging), one full HDMI, and two Type-A ports (one 3.0, the other 2.0).

There is a Windows Hello-enabled fingerprint reader on the keyboard deck that doubles as a power button. It works very well, with fast and accurate reads.

Honor MagicBook 14 What you'll love

Honor Magicbook

Source: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central)

The MagicBook 14 is a handsome, relatively thin laptop with particularly good fundamentals. The design is excellent and feels higher quality than its sub-$600 asking price. Although the one used for this review has a European keyboard layout, typing is excellent with decent key travel. It feels perfect to use, and the backlighting and contrast are decent.

The trackpad is a nice size, smooth, and it uses Microsoft Precision drivers. It's very accurate, and it has a satisfying click.

The ports are also good. Many companies are moving away from full HDMI, but it's still nice to have, especially on a consumer-media laptop. The Type-C port does what you expect one to do with data, video, and power, and two Type-As handle legacy items just fine.

Geekbench 5

Geekbench 5.0 (CPU) (Higher is better)

Swipe to scroll horizontally
DeviceCPUSingle coreMulti core
Honor MagicBook 14Ryzen 5 3500U7482,999
Surface Laptop 3 15Ryzen 5 3580U7692,720
CHUWI AeroBook Proi5-6287U9252,049
HP ENVY x360Ryzen 5 4500U1,1004,564
Acer Swift 3Ryzen 7 4700U1,1314,860
Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5 14Ryzen 5 4500U1,0874,570
Lenovo ThinkPad L13 Yogai5-10210U1,0693,754
Lenovo Yoga C640i3-10110U1,0152,111
Lenovo Yoga C740 14i5-10210U1,0943,767
Samsung Galaxy Book Flexi7-1065G71,3174,780
Dell XPS 13 (9300)i7-1065G71,2844,848
Surface Laptop 3 15i7-1065G71,3364,893
HP Elite Dragonflyi7-8665U1,1252,942
Surface Laptop 3 13.5i5-1035G71,1774,413
HP Spectre x360 13i7-1065G71,0063,402
Surface Pro XSQ17252,819
Galaxy Book SSD 8cx6852,681

PCMark

PCMark 10

Swipe to scroll horizontally
DeviceScore
Honor MagicBook 143,711
HP ENVY x3604,755
Acer Swift 34,861
Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5 144,759
Surface Laptop 3 15 (AMD)4,006
Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 143,202
Surface Book 3 154,393
Lenovo ThinkPad L13 Yoga4,899
Lenovo Yoga C6404,008
Lenovo Yoga C7404,941
Samsung Galaxy Book Flex3,924
Dell XPS 13 (9300)4,524
Surface Laptop 3 15 (Intel)4,604
Dell XPS 13 2-in-14,554
HP Spectre x360 134,261
HP Elite Dragonfly3,716
LG gram 174,157
Surface Pro 7 (i5)3,992

SSD

CrystalDiskMark (Higher is better)

Swipe to scroll horizontally
DeviceReadWrite
Honor MagicBook 143,517 MB/s1,674 MB/s
HP ENVY x3601,530 MB/s864 MB/s
Acer Swift 32,161.99 MB/s1,214.84 MB/s
Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5 142,199.10 MB/s1,017.07 MB/s
Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 143,405 MB/s1,512 MB/s
Lenovo ThinkPad L13 Yoga3,188.82 MB/s1,685.61 MB/s
Lenovo Yoga C6401,906.78 MB/s970.69 MB/s
Samsung Galaxy Book Flex3,376 MB/s2,983 MB/s
Dell XPS 13 (9300)3,000 MB/s1,217 MB/s
HP Spectre x360 (Optane)2,092 MB/s515 MB/s
Dell XPS 13 2-in-12,400 MB/s1,228 MB/s
HP Elite Dragonfly (Optane)2,124 MB/s548 MB/s
Lenovo Yoga C7403,408 MB/s2,982 MB/s
LG gram 17 (2020)3,477 MB/s2,900 MB/s
Surface Laptop 3 152,028 MB/s806 MB/s
Surface Laptop 3 13.52,338 MB/s1,583 MB/s
Acer Swift 5 (SF514-54T)1,641 MB/s1,025 MB/s
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme (Gen 2)3,416 MB/s3,016 MB/s

.

Storage performance is incredibly good. The high-end 256GB Samsung PM961 SSD gets a jaw-dropping 3,500MB/s sequential read, while writes are respectable at 1,675MB/s. It's unusual to see such a premium SSD in a budget laptop.