Launched at Mobile World Congress 2018 (read our Matebook X Pro MWC coverage), it became available in the USA on May 21. Designed to provide its owner with top productivity and multimedia capabilities, this laptop is mostly a consumer product that can also serve a slice of the business market. Let’s see if it is as hot as Huawei pitches it when we put it to the test…
Configuration as tested
Our test unit is the Matebook X Pro with the Intel Core i7-8550, 16GB, 512GB SSD (~$1499 street price). The graphics processor is the NVIDIA GeForce MX150, and the operating system is Windows 10 Pro. This is the fastest configuration available. The color of this unit is “Space Gray,” but there is also a “Mystic Silver” version.
The Matebook X Pro comes with two main CPU+GPU configurations. The most powerful is our test unit described above.
If you don’t need that much computing capabilities, the Core i5 8250U, 8GB, 256GB SSD and Intel’s UHD Graphics 620 is the other option (~$1199.99, street price). We will comment on these in the performance section.
With 304 x 217 x 14.6 mm dimensions and a weight of 1330g (2.93 lbs.), the Matebook X Pro is a thin & light laptop. In its category, its size is very compact even within this category, and its weight is quite common, in this category of computers.
The chassis is mainly made of Aluminum. Aluminum is often liked for the robust and metallic feel it provides. The metal can be hard to work with, but its price is less than Magnesium or Carbon composites, that is why it is an excellent choice for classy, high-volume products. Aluminum is relatively easy to scratch, especially when exposed raw, without any protective layer.
We find it to be a beautiful laptop that can easily compete with the Macbook Pro, but more importantly, there are many unbiased ways to show how excellent the design work is. The chassis has a lot of slightly rounded surface that provide a softness when you hold it. The flat surfaces as carved and polished with high-precision and that contributes to the “Premium look” of this computer."A BEAUTIFUL LAPTOP THAT CAN EASILY COMPETE WITH THE MACBOOK PRO"
Details such as the front speaker grills made of tiny holes in the aluminum block, or how accurately the Power button is integrated, show that great care and thoughts have been poured into the design and manufacturing process.
We’ll come back to it later, but the small charger is yet another design detail that makes a noticeable difference in everyday life. Van Gogh was right when he said “great things are done by a series of small things brought together”.
The aluminum unibody design makes the Huawei Matebook X Pro very rigid, and it doesn’t bend or feel flimsy – on the contrary. If I was to drop it, I would mainly worry about the two upper corners of the screen, because the 5 mm bezel is so thin, and so is the display back cover.
The Matebook X Pro has not received a U.S Military MIL-STD-810G rating. You can open the link to see all the details, but this standard is a series of test used to make sure military gears can survive some shocks and vibrations. Most computers don’t have this certification, but some do, including ultrathins.
This laptop chassis is closed, and the user should not try opening it. Only certified technicians should attempt to do so.
Keyboard and trackpad
The trackpad and keyboard are used every time, all the time, so input is an essential thing to consider when selecting a laptop.
This keyboard has keys that are 277.2 mm² (~0.43 sq in), which is considered to be very large, but the spacing between keys is a little smaller than competitors to keep the overall keyboard width within a standard form-factor. The key-travel is 1.2 mm, and that is slightly shorter than others (1.8 mm is often the maximum), but well within the norm for laptops, since 1.3 mm is very common.
The keys are flat and seem to have an anti-grease treatment. Certain laptops have slightly curved keys (towards the bottom), while others stick to a classic flat design. The key size, key layout, and key shapes are crucial factors in making the keyboard more or less comfortable. Most of it is a matter of personal preferences, so it is important to try, if possible at all.
This key are also backlit with a monochrome light (only 1 level of brightness), which is very handy at night, in bed (you should not) or in the plane. The back light is turning itself off on a regular basis to save battery life, which is a good thing, but I’d love it if we could force it to stay on, or if it just stayed on when connected to power.
The Matebook X Pro keyboard is spill-proof, so it can withstand a mug of water or coffee being spilled onto it by accident. This can be a lifesaver, especially for frequent travelers who do not always enjoy a comfortable work area.
The trackpad surface material is Glass, which is usually found in high-end laptop trackpads that emphasize comfort over durability (plastic won’t crack). Glass feels extremely smooth and allows extensive use of the trackpad without the fingertips being negatively affected.
With a surface of ~13.21 Square-inches, the trackpad is enormous. When compared to the competition, this size is 25%-30% larger than many competitors we looked at.
Like any other touch-interface, the size of the trackpad in relation to the gestures matters. On laptops, most people use scroll and pinch & zoom motions. More advanced usage requires up to four fingers, and circular gestures tend to be more comfortable with a larger surface. Check the Windows 10 gestures
- 1x 3.5mm audio
- 1x USB Type C, 3.1 Gen1
- 1x USB Type C, Thunderbolt 3
- 1x USB Type A, 3.0
The port selection on this computer is very decent and is comfortable enough – if you don’t regularly need Ethernet (RJ45) or a non-USB-C video connection (projectors, VGA/DVI/HDMI monitor).
Obviously, you could use an adaptor for any of these, but the first complaint that dongle users have is that sooner or later, they will forget or lose it. With Thunderbolt 3 (TB3) support, you may also consider buying a TB3 dock with a bunch of ports, including power, so you only connect ONE cable to the computer.
Designed to be a very strong multimedia computer, the Huawei Matebook X Pro comes with four speakers. Two are located on either sides of the keyboard behind the classy speaker grills for maximum sound power. Two more are located on the front-sides also behind grills."NOTHING SHORT OF ASTONISHING. MATEBOOK X PRO IS BY FAR THE BEST SOUND EXPERIENCE WE HAD ON A LAPTOP"
Additionally, the laptop uses Dolby Atmos sound rendering technology, which helps make the sound clearer and specializes it in ways that no other sound tech can. Atmos “renders” sound waves a bit like video games render 3D graphics from polygonal objects and textures. It does not merely try to replay sound recorded in various locations, but uses whatever hardware is available to recreate the sound as closely as possible to the original.
As a result, we found the audio performance of this computer to be nothing short of astonishing. Matebook X Pro is by far the best sound experience we had on a laptop.
The Matebook X Pro’s display features a 14-inch (13.9”) almost bezel-less design that catches the eye right away. With 5mm bezels at the top, left and right, Huawei can claim a 91% screen to body ratio, a term that is usually employed for smartphones. From memory, only the Dell XPS 13 competes when it comes to thin bezels.
This laptop comes only with one, very potent, display option. The 3000×2000 resolution is very high in absolute terms and compared to the competition it would be much sharper than any 1080p opponent, but a bit less so than 4K displays."THE 3:2 ASPECT RATIO IS BETTER FOR PRODUCTIVITY WORK"
3000×2000 is interesting in a couple of ways. First, it provides an excellent ~300 PPI sharpness level, which is like the iPhone’s original “Retina” display. Secondly, the 3:2 aspect ratio is better for productivity work than a 16:9 monitor. It’s because we usually tend to need more vertical screen space when working with documents. You can think about how much you use the laptop for videos (16:9 is best) and how much for work (3:2 is est).
The display specifications say “450” NITs, but we actually measured the brightness at 600 NITs which is exceptionally bright for a laptop monitor. Most competitors cap at 300-350 NITs. In general, a brighter display is needed to see the screen content on a sunny day (or bright environment). Higher brightness is responsible for better image quality in widespread situations.
The screen has a glossy finish which tends to make colors “pop” more, and text to look slightly sharper than on matte-finish displays. However glossy is also more reflective, but that should be compensated by the extraordinary screen brightness.
The Webcam has a peculiar design and is hidden as one of the keyboard’s function key – it is effectively a privacy shutter. The only downside of this design is the slightly odd bottom-view that results from having the camera down there, instead of above the screen.
It has a 0.9 Megapixel resolution, with maximum photo resolution of 1280×720 and a maximum video resolution of 720p/60FPS. The 60FPS rate is higher than the typical 30FPS nearly all the laptops we looked at have, so it’s worth mentioning.
The webcam has a fixed-focus and is optimized for video conversation. It is quite common for laptop cameras. Without auto-focus, the image quality is not optimum if the subject is too close. Generally, it is OK when the subject moves further away.
This laptop has four far-field microphones, which means that the computer is optimized to listen to sound from anywhere in the room, instead of just within 1 yard in front of it (Huawei claims 4-meters). This was originally added to support voice-assistant like Microsoft’s Cortana or Amazon’s Alexa.
Far-field microphones are much better for group conferences as it can pick up the voice of everyone, regardless of their location relative to the laptop. Non-far-field microphones often drop off your voice if you go out of the optimum location right in front of the computer.
As it is often the case with mobile PCs, the benchmarks between different competitors of the same price, and with the same CPU is quite similar. If two systems use an identical CPU with as much memory and frequency, they can yield very comparable speed results.
Benchmarks like PCMark 8 Work are a bit more representative of the day to day workload of users who would be interested in purchasing this kind of computers.
There is a 19% gap between the lowest and the highest score in this chart. However, it is difficult to actually perceive the different on a day to day basis, and these laptops “feel” similar from a speed perspective. As you can see the Matebook X Pro doesn’t score excessively high, but in this chart, there are a lot of Business computers that might use a more expensive memory sub-system. The Dell XPS 13 might or the Lenovo Yoga 920 should be more natural competitors.
Disk or SSD speed is crucial for perceived computer performance, especially during boot sequences, and while applications are loading files. We use PCMark 8 Storage, which attempts to giving a pseudo-realistic average performance indication than pure disk stress benchmarks.
As you can see, little difference is perceptible from a benchmark designed to simulate a real-world usage. For those who want to dig deeper, here is a Synthetic benchmark screenshot:
These can be interesting, but we often have a hard time pinpointing situations in which the difference is huge. Theoretically, there are scenarios where Sequential reads or writes can be felt: heavy video editing, 3d-rendering with memory swap…
In general the random 4K reads (4KiB Q32T1 test) is what affects perceived performance the much. Unless you know exactly what you are looking for, that’s the number that would matter.
Perhaps CPU tests like Geekbench 4 can be a proxy for heavy CPU tasks such as video rendering, or manipulation or large data sets.
Many apps can now support multi-threading and so does the OS. While desktop CPUs with 16+ cores might not be fully utilized, laptops with 2 or 4 cores can be leveraged easily by existing software.
The Matebook X Pro with GeForce MX150 GPU delivers extraordinary graphics performance in this class of product. If you look at the graphics performance in relation to the size, the Matebook X Pro blows away nearly all competitors because no other Windows laptop smaller than 60 Cubic Inches has such a GPU. The Lenovo ThinkPad T480s we recently reviewed reaches the graphics speed but is ~44% larger in size than the Matebook X Pro.
Temperature and cooling
We ran a famous CPU stressor named Prime 95. It will push CPU cores to 100% and the CPU heats-up until the thermal control kicks in to maintain the temperature of the CPU to prevent a system failure.
With an ambient temperature of 24C, the hottest point on the open-side surface was at 41C (around the “R” key) while the palm area was around 30C. At the bottom, the hottest location hit 37C. We took some Infrared photos with a FLIR One camera to show you the hottest locations on both sides.
When subjected to heat for extended periods of time (many minutes), human skin can deteriorate starting from 44C / 111.2F. Getting your skin exposed to a 41C surface won’t make you jump, but will feel warm.
For short time exposures (seconds), scientists demonstrated that a burn happens when the skin temperature reaches 62.5C / 144.5F.
The Matebook X Pro has a battery capacity of 57.4 Wh, which is in the higher tiers and very good for this category. Most competitors have 52-47 Wh of battery capacity, but some like the Lenovo Yoga 920 reach 70 Wh, if that’s a priority for you.
In our tests, we found the charging speed of this laptop to be 0.8 Wh/mn (48 Wh/hour), which is very fast, and clearly in the Tier-1 charging speed we have tested. Charging can sometimes offset raw capacity, and it is very vital for anyone who cares about battery life. It’s not always about how much you can store, but also how fast you can replenish energy reserves.
You might see many battery tests out there, but be mindful that battery tests are never representative of real-world usage, because app settings, background tasks, brightness status and network conditions are always different. The most important part of battery life is to look at the battery capacity (in Wh) and the overall system power baseline (CPU thermal design point, or TDP).
I would like to add a note about the Matebook X Pro’s tiny 65W charger. At 60x60x28 mm, it is the most compact 65W charger we have used. When you buy a beautiful thin & light laptop, you surely want a small & compact charger. Huawei nailed it with this USB-C to USB-C charger. If somehow, Huawei could add a cable-management system, it would be perfect!
The Huawei Matebook X Pro was designed to be an amazing consumer “thin & light” laptop, and it has fulfilled this goal at a relatively affordable price. With a street price of ~$1500 you get the most powerful edition and that’s the one we are recommending, if you can afford it.
If your needs are more modest, the Core i5 edition still retains the best parts, at the expense of 256GB of storage and graphics performance."THE HUAWEI MATEBOOK X PRO IS EXTREMELY WELL BALANCED AND PERFECTLY EMBODIES THE IDEA OF CONSUMER LAPTOP MOBILITY"
In the consumer space, the Matebook X Pro is near-perfect, well-built and aggressively priced. The Dell XPS 13 9370, or the Lenovo Yoga 920 would be natural competitors in this space. The XPS 13 is a bit more compact but has a 13.3” screen and a slightly smaller battery. The Yoga 920 has a 4K option, a larger battery, and charges ~12% faster but has slower graphics.
In the end, the Huawei Matebook X Pro is extremely well balanced and perfectly embodies the idea of consumer laptop mobility. Throw on top of this a world-class build quality and design and you get a 10/10 score.