I love my desktop computers. When it comes to personal computing, nothing beats a 20 lbs cube of performance parts, multiple monitors, and raw processing power. However, I often have to work on the go. When I’m covering events or out for a holiday, I need a reliable and easily portable computer. For the last few years, a MacBook Pro has been my go-to travel companion. I have somewhat of a bias against Windows-based laptops because of how dreadful they used to be to use. For a long time, I couldn’t shake the image of hulking, plastic monstrosities that gobbled up battery life and had terrible usability. I was skeptical when taking on the Huawei MateBook X Pro Signature Edition for review, but in my time with it, I’ve fallen in love.
Huawei MateBook X Pro Review – Fit and Finish
System as Reviewed:
- CPU: Intel Core™ i5-8250U processor
- GPU: NVIDIA GeForce MX150 with 2 GB GDDR5 / Intel UHD Graphics 620
- RAM: 8 GB LPDDR3 2133 MHz
- SDD: 256 GB NVMe PCIe SSD
- OS: Windows 10 Home (64-bit)
- Ports: Headphone jack, 1 x USB Type A, 2 x USB-C (1 x Thunderbolt 3)
- Network: Intel Dual-Band Wireless-AC 8275, Bluetooth 4.2
- Weight: 2.9 lbs/1.3kg
- MSRP: $1,199.99
At first glance, the MateBook X Pro is similar to the MacBook Pro in form and profile. The shell is constructed from aluminum with a somewhat subdued, matte look. However, the MateBook X Pro is a bit thinner, with the bottom half being just tall enough to fit in a USB-A port. The whole laptop has a solid, sturdy feel. There’s no hinge creak when you open the computer, and every aspect had a tight, polished fit.
The quality finish also extends to two places that laptops have had issues with in the past. The keyboard, like the laptop itself, looks like a MacBook Pro’s at first glance. However, Huawei’s keyboard has a little bit more travel and better feedback than Apple’s much-maligned butterfly mechanisms. The touchpad—an area where many Windows laptops are lacking—was surprisingly easy to use as well. It can be a bit touchy on the default setting, but fortunately, you can fiddle with the options in Windows until you get it just right.
The keyboard also contains a likely point of contention for some buyers. The MateBook X Pro’s keyboard isn’t located in the traditional place you’d find it on a laptop, which is above the screen. Instead, in the middle of the top row of the keyboard, there is a button that when pressed reveals a small 1-megapixel webcam. When in use, the webcam gives a somewhat angled view of the face that some may not like.
Additionally, you do have to line the MateBook up with a bit more care than if the webcam was above the screen. However, I didn’t find it to be an issue once I actually thought about it. Instead of staring at your screen, if you want to be on camera in normal profile, you can just tilt your head down a bit. I think I’ve used a webcam on a laptop a handful of times in my life, though, so maybe someone who uses theirs regularly might find this more of a bother.
Huawei MateBook X Pro Review – Display and Sound
The display makes any issues with the positioning of the camera worth it, though. The 13.9-inch 3,000×2,000 touchscreen is gorgeous with its incredibly small 4mm bezel. At 271 ppi lines, text, and details all come through sharp. For serious design work, artists will likely want to stick with a MacBook or use a second display as the built-in display only covers the sRGB spectrum. However, it is bright and has excellent sRGB color accuracy, so for non-color sensitive design work or editing it’s more than enough.
The MateBook X Pro includes a dedicated Nvidia MX150 GPU with 2 GB of GDDR5 RAM running at 936MHz. This has a little bit more oomph than the Intel integrated graphics. You’re not going to be playing The Witcher 3 or anything on the MateBook X Pro, but it can run things like World of Warcraft and even Overwatch at a reasonable pace. The dedicated GPU also helps if you need to do some quick video editing on the fly. Encoding video was a bit faster with the MX150, and it’s nice to have that little extra power in such a small package.
Four speakers back up the screen with Dolby Atmos-compatible sound. For laptop speakers, these things bump, and you’d be hard-pressed to find better sounding or higher volume speakers on any other model right now. Four microphones are also located on the MateBook to give a more precise, deeper sound than your typical one microphone laptop audio pickup.
Huawei MateBook X Pro Review – Connectivity and Battery
The Matebook X Pro features two USB-C ports on the left side, one for power, alongside a 3.5mm jack, and a USB-A port on the right. While not as spartan as the current MacBook lineup, that’s a bit barebones as far as connectivity goes. Fortunately, Huawei includes a USB-C dongle that has VGA, HDMI, an additional USB-A, and a USB-C port.
Unfortunately, Huawei didn’t take a cue from Apple when it came to designing the power adapter. It’s one of those awkward plugs that takes up two spots on almost any power strip. Fortunately, because it’s a USB-C connection, you can find a 3rd party adapter that’s a bit more streamlined, but I would have liked to have seen a detachable power cord that would allow the MateBook X Pro’s adapter to have more flexibility.
The battery life matches up with your typical MacBook as well. I found I could get 8-10 hours between charges depending on activity. Obviously, more strenuous and intensive tasks like encoding video or gaming lowers that significantly, but for listening to music, browsing, or using Microsoft Office, you’ll find the battery life adequate.
Huawei MateBook X Pro Review – Ultrabook Means Ultra
The Huawei MateBook X Pro isn’t a MacBook Pro killer. If someone is already invested heavily in Apple’s ecosystem, they’ll probably heavily lean towards sticking with the MacBook product line. However, if you want an excellent alternative to a MacBook that’s similar in price and features, you can’t go wrong with the MateBook X Pro.
This laptop is an excellent product, with great attention paid to fit and finish, and it’s definitely opened my eyes to what a Windows ultrabook has to offer.