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MacBook Pro killer, and it has the looks, premium materials, and high-end specifications to make short work of Apple’s out-of-date and too-expensive offerings.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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Comments (54)

54 responses to “Huawei MateBook X Pro First Impressions”

  1. Avatar

    gatisnolv

    Some publications including Ars have stated that the touchpad is Precision, could you elaborate on this a bit?

  2. Avatar

    dstrauss

    Nice try - but the 256gb model is "out of stock" and the 512gb model "ships in one to two months"...oh snap...

  3. Avatar

    Chris Payne

    Looks gorgeous, but I personally have a hard time coping with spending $1200+ on a Windows PC that isn't suitable for high end gaming. More and more people are using their PCs less and going with cheaper, more agile, and more mobile options. This, while sexy, would get used <5% of the computing time for me. I really wonder how much longer this expensive laptop trend can last.

  4. Avatar

    StevenLayton

    Paul, I hate these articles. I always end up with a huge case of Tech Envy ;)


    Though, my 3rd gen i7 Acer Aspire S7 is still going strong. Guess I'm part of the PC decline!

  5. Avatar

    hrlngrv

    No dedicated [PgUp] and [PgDn] keys and half-height up and down cursor keys. For some keyboard-centric, that's a fatal flaw.

  6. Avatar

    glenn8878

    Time for PC hardware or software partners to give us a new File Explorer that conforms to Fluent or Metro design. This is what Microsoft refuses to do that makes Windows 10 inconsistent. There’s a few other Control Panel screens that’s still has Windows 7 design. Just terrible.

    • Avatar

      hrlngrv

      In reply to glenn8878:

      I figure the Control Panel items which launch separate dialogs for subsystems few people in OECD countries still use, e.g., Infrared and Phone and Modem, will never be updated. Also, 3rd party hardware makers may stick with .CPL modules for several more years (at least until Windows 8.1 reaches EOS), not to mention already existing hardware.

      OTOH, there can't be a good reason Date and Time hasn't been migrated into Settings.

      • Avatar

        Chris

        In reply to hrlngrv:

        Date and Time has been partially migrated into Settings. The only two parts that haven't been migrated, yet, are the additional clocks for other timezones, and the ability to select the time server your PC updates its time from.


        Going back to the laptop, that is just gorgeous. I wish I could afford one... and that they were available here in Australia (I know they should be coming soon...)

  7. Avatar

    dot19408

    Can I just say how FREAKING happy I am that we are getting 4:3 screens back?


    Surface book was Awesome until it was taken from me and replaced with a PoS HP with 16:9.

    I will not be splurging on a Surface Studio, but if I could get a giant 4:3 monitor for my desktop, I would be very happy.


    Now to convince my boss that I need to be evaluating a Huawei for our next lease replacement...

  8. Avatar

    MacLiam

    Much is positive about this. If I happened to be looking for a new laptop, there's a good chance this would be the one. But I picked up a Surface LT several weeks ago as a niche filler, and it covers my needs at least adequately, and in some respects excellently. Yes, marketers of similar devices need to cut their prices or upgrade their machines to make them worth the extra money they charge if they want to stay competitive.


    As they say in marketing, "If you don't obsolete yourself, someone else will do it for you -- and usually in a way that is disadvantageous in the extreme."

  9. Avatar

    Eric Rasmussen

    One nice thing about the webcam in a key is that the camera cannot spy on you without you knowing about it. I always put a piece of tape over my webcam on other laptops, but with the Huawei I don't need to do that. This alone makes the laptop sleeker for my way of working.

  10. Avatar

    rameshthanikodi

    i've been telling people that Huawei is a force to be reckoned with but the conversation never fails to descent into spyware and communism.

  11. Avatar

    bassoprofundo

    I totally have this sitting in my cart at the Microsoft Store right now and am scheming what from amongst my tech horde I can sell to fund it. I just noticed, though, that their "incentives" ($300 GC plus discount on an AD warranty) are in-store only. Hard to pass up a $300 gimme, but it's not available at my local store... grr

  12. Avatar

    wright_is

    I think the camera is a good move, similar to the Lenovos that now come with a flap for the camera. Having it closed down and out of the way is great. It stops me putting tape over the camera lens (like about 90% of the people I know).

    I've had cameras on my notebooks since 2007 and I haven't used any of them...

  13. Avatar

    DaddyBrownJr

    Paul, you specify Windows 10 Pro as the OS that comes with this, but the specs listed in the Microsoft Store site say Windows 10 Home 64-Bit. Can you verify that you got the Pro version? And that it is available at the listed price?

  14. Avatar

    jimchamplin

    Nice machine! The camera seems needlessly gimmicky, though.

  15. Avatar

    Daekar

    Wow. That DOES tick all the right boxes. Consider me impressed. Everyone else is going to have to step up their game if this is the competition. Look at that Goldielocks configuration with the i5 - that's all the PC almost everyone on earth needs right there, no need to ever spend a penny more.

  16. Avatar

    jaredthegeek

    The webcam placement is terrible. If I needed a webcam that much then I would just carry one with this or the XPS line. You could always just do the conference from your phone if a screen share is not needed I suppose or use software to turn your phone into a webcam.

  17. Avatar

    ReformedCtrlZ

    The only checkmark I see missing is biometric authentication. I don't mind the webcam under the key since I don't use it much, but for $1500 I'd want to see either facial or fingerprint unlock.... SO CLOSE!!

  18. Avatar

    skane2600

    I'm not sure how much impact this would have on Apple. If one is fully immersed in the Apple ecosystem or is a big Apple fan, it's unlikely that one would buy a Windows machine just because the hardware offers more value. The exception to this might be stealth Windows users who buy a Mac for the cool factor but actually spend most of their time running Windows virtually (kind of like slipping a soda sleeve over your beer can).

    • Avatar

      jdmp10

      In reply to skane2600:


      This is true for the most part but there have been "lifers" of one brand/eco system or another that have switched to the opposite side, be it on the desktop or mobile.


      Like iPhone on mobile, there are many really good third party independent apps/utilities on Mac that you just won't find an equivalent to on Windows and those developers are strictly developing for Mac. Depending on your needs, you might be held down to Mac or Windows for just that one app you can't do without.

    • Avatar

      F4IL

      In reply to skane2600:

      Yeah, I think that the one sided argument of "the hw offering more value" has long been invalidated. It rarely makes sense to the average user, not to mention the hordes of iOS devs, FinalCut and iPhone users. For better or worse, ecosystems, integration and interoperability make platforms these days.

    • Avatar

      nbplopes

      In reply to skane2600:


      The impact is none for the moment. If you want a PC this might be an option.


      Whoever is thinking replacing its Mac will wait a month for the refresh. Or even wait a bit longer if they can.


      I have a MacBook Pro 15 from 2015 and see no reason to upgrade if not for lust.

  19. Avatar

    gabbrunner

    If a gun were put to your head, would you choose this or the Surface Laptop?

  20. Avatar

    will

    Microsoft needs to step up their Surface game.

  21. Avatar

    FaustXD9

    I am in the market for this type of device and since I have to use my own money due to a job change I am very interested in your short list. I keep bouncing between the HP Spectre and Dell but I am interested in discreet graphics (for some light on the road gaming), 14+" screen size, good battery, Thunderbolt, and somewhere below $2K.

  22. Avatar

    StudBen

    Microsoft Store was showing this as $1,149.00 for the low end and $1350 for the high end https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/store/d/huawei-matebook-x-pro-laptop/8n4k86d4j006/4X0P?activetab=pivot%3atechspecstab

  23. Avatar

    StudBen

    Not seeing it anywhere in the listed specs and doing a Google search yielded mixed results Paul do you know if this has TPM?

  24. Avatar

    jwpear

    Why would they not put a precision trackpad in this otherwise beautiful machine? Does it drive the cost up significantly?


    Maybe they got it right, but just about every non-precision trackpad I've used has been annoying with anything outside of occasional use.


  25. Avatar

    TEAMSWITCHER

    Apple's WWDC is only two weeks away. New MacBooks (with 8th generation Intel core processors) will be announced then.

    • Avatar

      nbplopes

      In reply to TEAMSWITCHER:


      Yes. The Macbook line up has not been updated yet (present release is from June 2017) and probably will in less than a month. Whoever buys Macbook regularly know very well the release cycle so they don't really get spooked by CPU's and GPU "updates" of competing PC machines. They know when to buy a new Apple device within the release cycle in order to optimise their investment. So phrases like this one bares little to these people because its a fallacy to a conscious buyer: "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.) "


      I like the edge to edge display of this machine. I also like the way they have hidden the camera, a retractable cam, as I don't use the web cam that much, voice only most often fine.


      With this machine I'm more concerned thermal issues if any and in particular customer support.


      PS: In terms for performance, putting Macbook Pro's and Surface, Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book 13 in the same line its a missed understanding. Macbook Pro's have the fastests Dual Core CPU's out-there for laptops. The same goes for RAM and SSD speeds. Surpassing both SP4 and Surface Pro's at great lengths. That is one of the reasons for price difference. Intel CPU's matrix its a maze, an authentic maze.

      • Avatar

        Stooks

        In reply to nbplopes:

        Apple typically, not always but typically has the higher end parts in their laptops. They were first to get GIGE ports back when the PC world had 100meg ethernet ports. First to get Wireless N when the PC world had Wireless G. Their Mac minis have CPU's that support all the virtual protocols because Apple uses the high end versions in these lower end machines. Their USB-C ports are 100watt full thunderbolt 3 speeds. They were first to the M2 PCIE SSD's, and now the iMac Pro RAIDS 1's two of them for crazy speed.

    • Avatar

      curtisspendlove

      In reply to TEAMSWITCHER:

      I only expect new laptops if they have the keyboard corrected, and I’m not 100% sure they have nailed a better keyboard yet.

    • Avatar

      shameermulji

      In reply to TEAMSWITCHER:

      There's no guarantee that Apple will release any hardware at WWDC hence that's an assumption.

  26. Avatar

    michaelpatricehuber

    I ordered the i5 from the Microsoft Store on Monday and it was delivered yesterday (Tuesday).


    So far, I am very impressed: Beautiful screen (3:2!), excellent keyboard, great performance, all the ports I need. Integrating the fingerprint reader in the power button is an excellent idea - not sure why nobody thought of that before. It reads your fingerprint at the same time you turns it on (part of the BIOS, before booting the OS) and logs you in automatically, so you don't have to press the button twice!


    The Microsoft Store webpage says that it supports an Active Pen - have not checked that out yet.


    Contrary to the article, I believe it has a Precision Trackpad (I see the additional options in Settings and no Synaptic or other software is installed). It has worked very well so far.


    @DaddyBrownjr - at least the Signature Edition version from the Microsoft Store comes with Home 64-bit.


    Pricing is excellent - for a broad range of people (including parents of students), the price is $1,079 at the Microsoft Store for the i5/8/256 instead of $1,199 . Not sure if anybody can get the $300 gift card at the moment because no Microsoft Store seems to have it in stock (including the flagship store in NYC).

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