- Review Price: £1200
- 13.9-inch, 3000 x 2000 LTPS, 260ppi, 450 nits, 1500:1 contrast ratio 100% sRGB, 178-degree viewing angles, 10-point multi-touch
- Intel Core i7 8550U
- Nvidia GeForce MX150, 2GB GDDR5
- 16GB LPDDR3
- 512GB NVMe SSD
- Type-C USB, Type-A USB, Thunderbolt 3, 3.5mm
What is the Huawei MateBook X Pro 2018?
The MateBook X Pro 2018 is Chinese behemoth Huawei’s second attempt to break into the super-competitive ultrabook market. The no-compromise device aims to entice buyers away from the more established Apple MacBook Pro and Dell XPS 13, using a combination of top-notch hardware and innovative design features that, on paper at least, make it look like the perfect top-end Ultrabook.
For the most part, the MateBook X Pro 2018 delivers on its opening promise; it’s a clear step forward on the company’s original MateBook X. However, some niggling issues with its screen and battery life mean that it falls short of being the perfect ultrabook.
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Huawei MateBook X Pro 2018 – Design
Huawei has come out all guns blazing with the Huawei MateBook X Pro 2018 design. The device is one of the most attractive Ultrabooks I’ve seen in quite some time. It borrows elements from competing devices – such as the near-bezel-less Dell XPS, and sleek metallic Apple MacBook – and combines them to create a beautiful machine that’s a clear upgrade on Huawei’s original MateBook X.
The unibody metal design sports a wonderfully premium sandblasted finish and diamond-cut edges make the device look nicely high-end. The premium feel is further aided by the laptop’s ludicrously thin 4.4mm bezel, which to the naked eye looks even more slight than the edging around the Dell XPS 13’s InfinityEdge display.
The end result is a device that makes the Apple MacBook Pro with its larger bezel look slightly dated. The only thing to betray this premium feel is the slightly tacky-looking Huawei logo on the rear of the laptop, which looks out of place on the otherwise minimalist metal chassis.
Build quality, too, doesn’t disappoint. Following more than a week using the MateBook X Pro 2018 as my primary work and personal laptop – which regularly involves chucking it in a satchel full of other tech and lugging it around London – the device is yet to pick up a single scratch.
It seems that Huawei has also taken note of our previous criticism of the MateBook X’s lack of ports and has added a full-size USB-A port to the laptop’s side. The fact that Huawei achieved this whilst retaining the MateBook X Pro 2018’s 4.9-14.6mm-thick body is to be applauded.
Personally, I would have welcomed a mini-DisplayPort, or even an HDMI. However, the MateBook X Pro 2018’s left-facing USB-C and Thunderbolt connectors will meet most users’ connectivity needs. The only real shortcoming is that there’s no microSD card slot, which will be an issue for photographers and creatives that regularly have to transfer shots from their camera to their laptop.
Huawei also adds a few useful features for security-conscious buyers. First is the fingerprint scanner that’s built into the MateBook X Pro’s power button. This lets you unlock and wake up the laptop with only a single click. I didn’t find the scanner quite as responsive as those I’ve tested on the company’s smartphones, but it works well enough and is a definite step up on Windows Hello’s native face recognition, which has always been a little hit and miss.
Backing this up is a custom “recessed” 1-megapixel front camera. Specifically, Huawei’s has embedded the front camera in the laptop’s keyboard. It pops up from the keyboard when pressed, in theory making it a safer bet for privacy-conscious buyers. While this sounds like a great idea, in practice I experienced a few issues.
Like the Dell XPS 13, which also positions its webcam below the laptop’s display, it’s all but impossible to frame yourself for a video call via the MateBook X Pro 2018 without giving people an unflattering view of your nasal passages. Also, if you need to type any notes during a video meeting, the resulting noise will prove somewhat distracting for everyone else.
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Huawei MateBook X Pro 2018 – Keyboard, trackpad and audio
Like the original MateBook X, the Pro 2018 has a backlit “spill-resistant” keyboard and touchpad, which Huawei claims is the largest you’ll find on a 14-inch laptop.
The keyboard doesn’t have the same positive and definite action of the Apple MacBook Pro’s Butterfly 2 keys, but it’s nevertheless pleasant to type on. The keys have minimal travel and are nicely spaced out. I’ve had no issue using the MateBook X Pro at work and have managed to type out long-form articles with minimal hassle, or mistakes creeping in.
The touchpad, too, is brilliant. The sizeable pad easily dealt with all the multi-touch commands I threw at it, feeling wonderfully reactive even when compared to Microsoft’s stellar Precision touchpad on the Dell XPS 13.
Around the keyboard’s sides you’ll find another key selling point for the MateBook X: its new quad-speaker system. The four speakers sit at the top and bottom of the MateBook’s keyboard and support 2nd-gen Dolby Atmos surround sound. The speakers split frequencies, so the two on the front cover the upper frequencies while the two at the back cover the lower end.
As a cherry on top, Huawei has loaded them with a double-suspension system that separates the speakers from the motherboard and chassis, which will in theory reduce noise/distortion when the volume is cranked up.
The speakers aren’t a replacement for a proper audio setup, or some of the beefier systems you’ll see on giant gaming notebooks, but they’re pretty impressive considering the MateBook X Pro’s tiny form factor. Max volumes are good enough for shared Netflix viewing and, although lacking a little dynamism, they’re a clear cut above the Dell XPS 13’s speakers, which are a little muted and have a tendency to distort at high volumes.
Huawei MateBook X Pro – Display
Huawei is touting the MateBook X Pro’s display as a key selling point for the laptop – and, technically, there are plenty of good reasons for this. For starters, the bezel is tiny. But, more importantly, the panel ticks all the right boxes when it comes to specs.
The 3000 x 2000 resolution ensures icons and text on the touchscreen are wonderfully sharp and more than high enough for creatives not working in 4K. The quoted 1500:1 contrast ratio is also fairly impressive, and on paper puts the MateBook X Pro’s screen on a par with that of the MacBook Pro, which has one of the best laptop displays on the market.
Digging out my trusty colorimeter, I found the screen performed well but wasn’t quite perfect. The 540.6 cd/m2 maximum brightness is MacBook Pro level good and makes the MateBook X Pro one of the most vibrant screens around. Most top-end laptops struggle to break the 450 cd/m2 mark. Coupled with its 0.1005 cd/m2 black level, it gives the screen a stellar 1623:1 contrast ratio.
The 6306k colour temperature is also nicely close to the 6500k ideal and ensures colours are nicely accurate, being neither too cool nor oversaturated. The only downside is that the MateBook X Pro’s colour gamut coverage is sub-par for a device at this price point.
The 96.1% sRGB coverage is solid and means the screen is more than good enough for everyday tasks. But the panel’s 67.2% Adobe RGB and 69.4% DCI-P3 gamut coverage make the MateBook X Pro a poor choice for artists, photographers and designers, whose work will be printed as physical media. The 13-inch MacBook Pro’s screen offers 98.3% DCI-P3 coverage and 81.9% Adobe RGB coverage, by comparison.
Huawei MateBook X Pro – Performance
The Matebook X Pro is available in two main configurations, which you can see in the table below.
|Model||MateBook X Pro option one (Tested)||MateBook X Pro option two|
|Screen||13.9-inch, 3000 x 2000 LTPS, 260ppi, 450 nits, 1500:1 contrast ratio 100% sRGB, 178-degree viewing angles, 10-point multi-touch||13.9-inch, 3000 x 2000 LTPS, 260ppi, 450 nits, 1500:1 contrast ratio 100% sRGB, 178-degree viewing angles, 10-point multi-touch|
|CPU||Intel Core i7 8550U||Intel Core i5 8250U|
|Graphics||Nvidia GeForce MX150, 2GB GDDR5||Intel UHD Graphics 620|
|Memory||16GB LPDDR3||8GB LPDDR3|
|Storage||512GB NVMe SSD||256GB NVMe SSD|
|Connectivity||1 x USB C,v 1 x Thunderbolt 3, 1 x USB A, 1 x 3.5mm, USB A||1 x USB C,v 1 x Thunderbolt 3, 1 x USB A, 1 x 3.5mm, USB A|
|Software||Windows 10 (Pro on model demoed)||Windows 10 (Pro on model demoed)|
|Price||€1899 (roughly £1667)||€1499 (roughly £1316)|
Performance between the two models will vary significantly due to the appearance of a dGPU in the more expensive i7 version tested.
The dGPU model performed admirably in synthetic benchmarks. The 2864 PCMark Conventional score puts it on a par with the top-specced i7, GTX 1050 Surface Book 2 that I tested last year, which scored 2878 in the same test. The same was true for the generalist Geekbench 4 test, where it achieved 4642 single-core and 12,445 multi-core scores.
The 3051.2 MB/sec read 1176 MB/sec write speeds on the CrystalDisk SSD benchmark were also on a par with those of the Surface Book 2. The only slight disappointment was the MateBook X Pro’s 2579 score in the GPU focused 3DMark: Fire Strike benchmark, which put it well below the GTX 1050 version of the Microsoft Surface Book 2.
Check out the table below to see how the MateBook X Pro compares to the Surface Book 2.
|Device||Geekbench single-core||Geekbench multi-core||PC Mark 8||3DMark: Fire Strike||CrystalDisk read||CrystalDisk write|
|Huawei MateBook X Pro||4642||2445||2864||2579||3051.2 MB/sec||1176 MB/sec|
|Surface Book 2||4488||13724||2878||5124||2946 MB/sec||1252 MB/sec|
The MateBook X Pro’s real-world performance mirrored its benchmark scores. The laptop deals with basic home and office tasks without issue. More demanding creative workloads, such as video editing, 3D modelling and large-scale digital painting also weren’t a problem.
The only area in which the MateBook X Pro fell slightly flat is gaming. Here, it failed to match the GTX 1050 2017 version of the Dell XPS 13 and Microsoft Surface Pro. Modern games such as Rise of the Tomb Raider would run with their graphics settings lowered, but to the same degree as 1050 laptops.
Low-power games such as Overwatch easily ran at 60fps with their graphics settings set to medium, however. So if you simply want a mobile games station for titles such as DOTA and Overwatch, for example, the MateBook X Pro is good enough.
Huawei has also done a decent job to fix the overheating issues experienced on the older MateBook. The MateBook X Pro does still get noticeably warmer than the XPS 13, MacBook Pro and Surface Book 2 when running demanding processes for prolonged periods, but not to a level that I became aware of any serious CPU throttling, or found it uncomfortable to use on my lap. Thanks to its fanless design, it also remains whisper-quiet.
Huawei MateBook X Pro – Battery
Huawei quotes the MateBook X Pro’s 57.4Wh battery as offering 10 hours of “mixed use”, which on paper puts it on a par with the MacBook Pro and XPS 13.
Running Trusted Reviews’ battery benchmark, which involved looping 5 minutes of video playback and 10 minutes of web browsing in Powermark with the screen set to 150 nits brightness, the MateBook fell short of Huawei’s claims. I ran the tests three times, and achieved between 6.5-8 hours of use from the MateBook X Pro.
The laptop matched the synthetic benchmark result with real-world use. Using the MateBook X Pro as my primary workstation, the laptop discharged an average of 11-13% of battery per hour with regular office use. Regular office use entailed constant web browsing, the odd spot of photo editing and watching a few videos.
Gaming and video editing put a bigger drain on the battery. While playing Overwatch the laptop lost between 15-20% of its battery. Video editing and 3D modeling killed the battery in less than 4-5 hours.
Overall, this makes the MateBook’s life a little shorter than competing Ultrabooks with similar specs. Fortunately, the included quick-charger makes it easy to boost the MateBook’s battery. Huawei claims the charger will top the MateBook’s battery from 0-100% within three hours. In general, this was pretty accurate – I managed to get 30-40% off an hour’s charge.
Why buy the Huawei MateBook X Pro?
If you’re after a portable Ultrabook that can deal with everything from light gaming to video editing then the MateBook X Pro is a solid choice. Featuring a beautiful metal design and ticking all the right boxes when it comes to hardware, the device is a pleasure to use and can match, if not beat, key rivals in many areas. This plus a few useful design features, including a recessed camera and built-in fingerprint scanner, also offer a clear upgrade on Huawei’s original MateBook X.
However, a number of niggling factors stop the MateBook X Pro from being best in class. Although cooling has been improved, the laptop still has a tendency to get noticeably warm when running demanding processes. The keyboard, although decent, isn’t as reactive as that of the MacBook Pro. Battery life is also a smidgen behind competing devices, and the screen doesn’t cover enough of the DCI-P3 and Adobe RGB colour gamuts to appeal to serious creatives.
Coming to a decision about whether these small concessions are forgivable is tricky, especially considering Huawei is yet to reveal one key detail: its UK pricing.
Currently, the company has revealed The MateBook X Pro’s price only in Euros, with the basic Intel i5 option costing €1499 (roughly £1316) and the top-specced i7 €1899 (roughly £1667). If the pricing does roughly translate to pounds sterling, which isn’t guaranteed in today’s turbulent market, the MateBook Pro will hit the same price point as the more established MacBook Pro and Dell XPS 13, which offer equivalent features and hardware options.
The MateBook X Pro is an excellent Ultrabook and a clear step forward for Huawei, but it isn’t quite perfect. Hopefully we’ll get UK pricing soon, so we can give a final verdict.