Huawei MateBook 14 2021 review

Huawei MateBook 14 2021 review

We recently reviewed the flagship model of Huawei’s new MateBook series, the MateBook X Pro 2021 and the cheaper MateBook D 14. The Huawei MateBook 14 is the mid-range model which eschews some of the more cutting-edge elements of its big brother for some sensible budget-friendly alternatives. Could it be the ultraportable model to buy?

Key specs of the Huawei MateBook 14

14-inch, glossy, 60Hz, 2160 x 1440, non-touchscreen, IPS display; 2.4-4.2GHz Intel Core i5-1135G7 CPU; 8GB RAM; 512GB HDD; Intel Iris Xe GPU; 56Wh battery; 1.5G. SKU: KLVD-WDH9, Full specs here.

Design and Handling

The Huawei MateBook 14 is hard to distinguish from the slightly leaner X Pro even when they’re next to each other. Both (effectively) have 14-inch, 3:2-format chassis (the X Pro is stated as being 13.9-inch) while the difference in thickness is 16mm (MateBook 14) versus 15mm (X Pro). The difference in weight is 1.49KG versus 1.33KG. So, while a great deal of effort has gone into trimming up the X Pro, the MateBook 14 is practically the same size.

Follow High Performance Laptops on TikTok

It also has a similar, diamond-milled, metal chassis which is also very rigid despite being so lightweight. It strikes a good balance between corporate looks and MacBook style.

Huawei MateBook 14 2021 front
It’s more corporate than glamorous. But people like MacBooks so…

The Huawei MateBook 14’s white, back-lit, touch-type keyboard is very comfortable and accurate for extended typing while the large trackpad is smooth and accurate. The relatively thin bezel extends around the sides and top but this means the HD webcam has been relocated. It is recessed in the keyboard which is great for security but gives an unflattering, jowly image.

Huawei MateBook 14 2021 keyboard
The keyboard is very comfortable and accurate to type upon. The webcam is above the ‘7’ key.

The 3:2, 2160 x 1440 display is a glossy, 60Hz, IPS affair. It’s not quite as bright (300 nits) as the MateBook X Pro’s 450-nit LTPS display but, while the lack of power-saving LTPS might sound limiting, in reality the MateBook 14’s IPS display is more responsive and suffers less from ghosting in fast-moving areas. The 2160 x 1440 resolution can’t match the X’s 3000 x 2000 but it’s still very sharp and great for office productivity. It’s also not a touchscreen.

Colours aren’t the most vibrant but contrast is good with detail remaining in dark and bright areas. Colour transitions are smooth and monochromatic equivalents only show a little banding and blockiness. It supports 100% of the basic sRGB colour gamut which might not be enough for hardened designers, but this isn’t really built for them. It has TÜV Rheinland Low Blue Light Certification and Flicker Free credentials so should be comfortable for extended office work.

Other features include Huawei Share which allows you to partner a Huawei phone with the laptop just by tapping them together. There’s a full list of what that can entail, here.

The power button doubles as a Windows Hello-compatible fingerprint reader.

While it doesn’t have the extraordinary quad-array speakers of the X Pro, the twin speakers on the Huawei MateBook 14 are still incredible. Somehow they get loud, punchy, offer decent bass and great fidelity all the way to the top-end. Extraordinary.

Performance

The Huawei MateBook 14’s quad-core, Hyper-Threaded 2.4-4.2GHz Intel Core i5-1135G7 processor is flanked by just 8GB of RAM and a 512GB hard drive. These combined to score a modest 4608 in PCMark 10 which demonstrates it’s fine for office work but will struggle with power-hungry workloads.

The GPU is Intel’s integrated Iris Xe chip. While it has some potency, scores of 1148 (6.4fps average) in 3DMark’s Time Spy and 1367 (6.3fps) in Fire Strike Extreme underline that it can’t play current, A-list games. It couldn’t run the Port Royal ray-tracing test. It scored 2142 in the weaker Wild Life Extreme test (an average of 7.5fps) but it did manage 12,007 in Night Raid (64fps) showing that it is capable of playing some casual and competitive games.

We were also pleased to note that the IPS screen was a bit more responsive that the low-powered, LTPS model on the MateBook X Pro which was prone to smearing when displaying fast-moving content. So this is slightly better for fast-moving casual games. It’s still only a 60Hz panel though.

Connectivity

On the left
On the left is a USB-C 3.2 Gen 2 port, HDMI 2.0 and a 3.5mm audio jack. Note that the USB-C port is required by the charger.
On the right
On the right are two USB-A 3.2 Gen 1 ports.

Inside there’s Wi-Fi 6 and BlueTooth 5.1.

Portability of the Huawei MateBook 14

At 1.5KG and with a 16mm thickness, the MateBook 4 2021 is very light and portable. The very solid build quality suggests it should easily weather life on the road too. We were impressed that the 56Wh battery lasted 13hrs 36mins when running PCMark 10’s Modern Office test. It’s also worth remembering that the relatively small, 60W, phone-like power charger only adds 200g to the weight, can be carried in your pocket and used to charge your phone. It also can provide 4hrs charge in just 30 minutes, too. Very impressive.

Huawei MateBook 14 2021 underside
We’d like to see more laptop chargers like this.

Should you buy the Huawei MateBook 14?

While the MateBook X is a better laptop on paper, the Huawei MateBook 14 still offers reasons to choose it instead: it’s only marginally larger, the screen is more responsive, the battery lasts longer and it (currently) costs just $1249 – over a grand cheaper! Just note that it could revert to the $1799 RRP any time soon, but even that represents good value as the MateBook X Pro was already one of the cheapest, premium ultraportables on the market. The launch promotion, which includes getting a free pair of $329 Huawei wireless earbuds, is still active at the time of writing and this helps bump up the value proposition even more. Ultimately, it’s a great choice for those who want a very usable, office-friendly, wallet-friendly, ultraportable laptop and who don’t require all the bells and whistles.

Huawei MateBook 14 results
  • 2D Performance
  • 3D Performance
  • Ergonomics
  • Stability
  • Portability
  • Value
3.4

Summary

An attractive, relatively inexpensive, office-friendly ultraportable that’s a joy to use.

Leave a Reply