Nearly one year ago I reviewed the Huawei MateBook X a thin, well-built Ultrabook that had a 3:2 display and outstanding audio. Competing in the same class as the Surface Laptop I couldn't wait to see what the company did next.
Today, I have my answer in the form of the MateBook X Pro, a high-end, premium laptop that blurs the line between Ultrabook and performance laptop.
MateBook X Pro – What you need to know
If I had to position the MateBook X Pro it would be against the Surface Laptop, but with many improvements.
First, it's running a newer 8th generation Intel processor, which brings quad-core for multi-tasking, better thermals, and improved battery life. Toss in some outstanding audio in the form of four, Dolby-tuned Atmos speakers and a giant Precision touchpad and the MateBook X Pro is a blast to use.
|Category||Huawei MateBook X Pro|
|Display||13.9-inch 3K LTPS touchscreen|
3000 x 2000 resolution, 260ppi
450 nit brightness, 100% sRGB color gamut
|Processor||8th Gen Intel Core i5 8250U or Core i7 8550U|
|Graphics||NVIDIA MX150 + 2GB GDRR5 RAM|
|RAM||8GB or 16GB DDR3 2133MHZ|
|Storage||256GB or 512GB NVMe PCIe SSD|
|Ports||2x USB-C (1x Thunderbolt 3), 1x USB-A, audio jack|
|Connectivity||Wi-Fi 802.11ac 2x2 MIMO, Bluetooth 4.1|
|Audio||Quad-speaker array, quad-mic array|
|Battery||57.4Wh, up to 12-hour battery life|
|Dimensions||11.97 x 8.54 x 0.57 inches|
(304 x 217 x 14.6 mm)
|Weight||2.9 lbs (1.3 kg)|
Unlike the Surface series, Huawei is not afraid of using a lighting fast SSD in the form of the latest from Lite-On resulting in 3,000 MB/s for read and 2,000 MB/s for write speeds.
Even the 14-inch 3:2 display with its 3,000 x 2,000 resolution manages 99 percent sRGB color accuracy (and a solid 77 percent AdobeRGB). And yeah, it's a touchscreen too with not a ton of gloss (there is no pen support, however).
For the display, there is a 91 percent screen to body ratio, with ultrathin bezels on all four sides. It's a stunning achievement and makes you wish all laptops looked like the MateBook X Pro.
I also had no issue with the colossal Precision touchpad, which had a good click and touch-accuracy.
The keyboard is excellent to type on with good travel and responsiveness. It reminds me a bit of HP's EliteBook series and is excellent for those who type a lot. The backlight works well too mostly due to the black keys with a white light gives excellent contrast.
There's also a fingerprint reader hidden in the power button, which is convenient. Huawei has it so that turning on the device it remembers your fingerprint, negating the need for a second press at the Windows login screen – it jumps into Windows.
Finally, for ports, Huawei did a great job of balancing the modern (two USB Type-C; one is Thunderbolt 3) with a nod to the past (one USB Type-A), which in this thin of a form factor is commendable.
MateBook X Pro battery and performance
Powered by the 10W NVIDIA GeForce MX150 for a GPU the MateBook X Pro gets an impressive 41,593 for a GeekBench CUDA score. That's a significant bump over last year's 940MX, which only clocked in at 24,412, or the Intel UHD 620 at 23,080. While you won't be using the MateBook X Pro for gaming, it can handle platformers and casual games with aplomb and even get your foot in the door for first-person shooters at a lower resolution.
Battery life is also much better than expected. The 57WHr battery can easily get eight hours on a single charge depending on screen brightness (which auto adjusts). That screen brightness is perfect for everyday usage, but I did find at night it was overly aggressive making the display too dim for my liking. Luckily, turning off the auto-screen brightness in Windows settings is a snap letting me use the handy keyboard shortcuts to bring it to my taste.
Surprisingly, Huawei is also not doing a lot of throttling with the Core-i7 processor either, which even after 20 minutes of sustained usage under Intel XTU did not drop below 2.0GHz. That means the thermals are doing quite well and while you can hear the fan under heavy load – a whooshing effect – it was never annoying or distracting for regular usage.
MateBook X Pro: An excellent performer with few drawbacks
The MateBook X Pro is easily one of my favorite laptops right now mostly due to that 3:2 display with super thin bezels. Sure, the tradeoff is the clever webcam that pops up from the keyboard, but even then, it's a better webcam than most laptops!
The fundamentals – battery life, typing, display, and audio – are all well above average. Those speakers tell me that companies like Dell, HP, Acer, Lenovo, etc. are not trying hard enough. For those who watch movies or listen to music, the MateBook X Pro is one of the best on the market, period.
Where the MateBook X Pro falters is its dated metal unibody design. It's no mystery that Huawei copied the Apple MacBook Pro. Whether it's the keyboard, or the side-inhalation vents for cooling, or even space gray color scheme, the MateBook X Pro very much a replica of Apple's finest – just improved. There's now a Type-A port, better display, upgraded audio, and it runs Windows 10.
Is this mimicking a bad thing? If you are an Apple user looking to jump to Windows 10, well the MateBook X Pro is your device. You'll feel very comfortable making the switch with this laptop.
Nonetheless, when you see what HP and Dell are doing with their unique design languages for laptops, it makes Huawei look amateurish, even if it's executed well. Huawei has proven they have the engineering skills to make excellent, premium hardware. They need to now show it with an original design, for once.
There is also the controversy around Huawei and security. Bloomberg recently did an excellent article about the company and where this fear comes from. I won't tell you not to buy this laptop because of this controversy, but it is something to be aware of. As an average consumer, it wouldn't stop me from using this laptop, but others may have concerns.
Putting that aside though and Huawei managed to make an excellent laptop running Windows 10. It's fun to use, lasts all day, and hits all the right notes. Sure, it may look like a MacBook Pro, but that doesn't mean the experience is any worse for it. Far from it. I now regularly use this as my favorite Ultrabook, mostly because I'm biased towards that display aspect.
Pricing is said to be over $2,000 for the Core i7 model (there's also a cheaper one with Core i5). I think that's a fair price for the quality of the hardware, which is even better than Surface in some areas. There is a prejudice that because Huawei is Chinese, it must be cheap, but that's not the case at all. While you'll pay a pretty penny for the MateBook X Pro, I think its worth it for the experience. The laptop just works with no bugs, and I had no significant complaints.
Exact pricing and availability are not yet known for the U.S. We'll update this review accordingly when it is made available.
- Amazing display that is color accurate.
- Best-in-class quad-core Dolby Atmos audio.
- Very good battery life and performance.
- USB Type-A port and Type-C is a good balance for ports.
- Price may be off putting for some.
- Looks like a MacBook Pro.
- Odd webcam placement.