Huawei MateBook X Pro First Impressions

Posted on May 21, 2018 by Paul Thurrott in Hardware, Windows 10 with 54 Comments

Huawei MateBook X Pro First Impressions

Huawei’s stunning MateBook X Pro is now available for purchase in the United States. I’ve got one in for review, and it’s already clear that Apple, HP, Lenovo, and Microsoft all have some rethinking to do.

Maybe Apple most of all: The MateBook X Pro is overtly designed as a MacBook Pro killer, and it has the looks, premium materials, and high-end specifications to make short work of Apple’s out-of-date and too-expensive offerings.

For Thurrott.com readers, the MateBook X Pro reads like a check-list of everything I consider necessary in a modern Ultrabook: Quad-core 8th-generation Intel Core processors, Thunderbolt 3/USB-C and USB 3.0 connectivity, and a gorgeous 14-inch 3:2 high-DPI display.

Even the cost is on point: Huawei is offering a version with a Core i5 processor, 8 GB of RAM, and 256 GB of fast SSD storage for just $1200, while a version with a Core i7 processor, discrete NVIDIA GeForce MX150 graphics, 16 GB of RAM, and 512 GB of storage is a reasonable $1500.

By comparison, the 13-inch MacBook Pro starts at $1300, but that nets you a less powerful dual-core Intel chip. (MacBook does somewhat compensate with Intel Iris Plus graphics.) Microsoft’s Surface Laptop is $100 less than the entry-level MateBook X Pro, but it also features an older, dual-core CPU. And a version configured like the high-end MateBook X Pro will set you back a whopping $2200; again, with a dual-core CPU and no discrete graphics.

I’m reviewing the powerhouse: My MateBook X Pro is configured with a quad-core 8th-generation Intel Core i7-8550U processor running at 1.8 GHz, NVIDIA GeForce MX150 graphics with 2 GB of RAM, 16 GB of RAM, and 512 GB of storage. And as noted, it is stunning. Those innards are housed in a dark gray—which Huawei calls Space Gray, yes, seriously—aluminum enclosure that likely adds a bit of weight but also comes off as durable, premium, and nice to the touch.

The display is a revelation, and it’s as if Huawei custom-tailored it to my personal specifications: It’s a 14-inch (ish, OK, it’s really 13.9-inch) 3000 x 2000 FullView multitouch display housed in a 13-inch display lid with the smallest bezels I’ve yet seen.

On the downside, and this is the only negative I noted over a weekend of light usage, is that the near-bezel-less display comes with a price: Huawei hides the webcam under a special key that sits between the F6 and F7 keys in the top row of the keyboard. This means you’ll get the same terrible jowly “up the nose” views, similar to the terrible Dell XPS laptops. I would have evened out the top and bottom bezels to accommodate the camera in the right position, above the display.

But that’s the end of the complaining.

The keyboard offers a full-sized and backlit chiclet keyboard with short-throw keys, striking a pleasant balance between Apple’s ridiculous butterfly keyboard and more traditional Ultrabook keyboards, and without the noise of the former.

The glass touchpad isn’t a Precision Touchpad unit, which is too bad, but I didn’t detect any superfluous third-party mouse software, which is good.

Expansion is dead-on correct for a modern Ultrabook: It features two USB-C ports on the left, one of which has Thunderbolt 3 capabilities, a full-sized USB-A port on the right, and a headphone jack. (Both USB-C ports support data transfer, charging, and docking.)

Huawei also bundles a very useful dongle in the box that includes full-sized HDMI-out, VGA-out, USB-C, and USB-A. Nicely done. The 65W USB-C-based power adapter supports fast-charging technology too, and Huawei says you can get 6 hours of use with a 30-minute charge. Battery life is rated at 14-15 hours, depending on usage.

Connectivity looks excellent: The MateBook X Pro supports 802.11AC, 2.4/5 GHz 2X2 MIMO and dual-band Wi-Fi and has some software features I’ve not examined yet for using your phone’s connectivity more seamlessly than may be the case with Windows. I’ll look at that soon.

The device also ships with four internal top-mounted speakers and supports Dolby ATMOS immersive sound experience technologies. I’ve only done brief tests so far with Google Play Music and Microsoft Movies & TV, but the sound is notably crisp and loud with no distortion. It also includes quad microphones for seamless Cortana usage. I’ve not tested that yet.

And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that the MateBook X Pro’s power button doubles as a Windows Hello-compatible fingerprint reader. It’s excellent, and the placement, to the top right of the keyboard, is perfect.

From a software perspective, Huawei once again conforms to the Thurrott Theory of Perfect PCs by offering only a single utility called PC Manager for handling drivers, phone integration, and a few other things. Beyond that, it’s just straight-up Windows 10 Pro. Which, yes, incurs a crapware ding, but that’s on Microsoft, not Huawei.

Folks, this one is impressive. And my short list may have just gotten a tad bigger. Stay tuned.

Oh, and if you don’t want to wait, Huawei tells me that customers who purchase the MateBook X Pro between May 21 and June 10 will receive a $300 gift card from that retailer for a future purchase. You can purchase it now from Amazon.com (affiliate link).

 

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