Huawei MateBook X Pro 2021 review

Huawei MateBook X Pro 2021 review

Huawei recently launched three new ultraportable ‘MateBook’ laptops. The Huawei MateBook X Pro 2021 is the flagship model which promises all the bells and whistles. So how good is it and should you buy it?

Update: Check out our Huawei MateBook 14 review and out Huawei MateBook D 14 review.

Key specs of the Huawei MateBook X Pro 2021 review

13.9-inch, glossy, 60Hz, 3000 x 2000, touchscreen, LTPS display; 1.2-4.7GHz Intel Core i7-1165G7 CPU; 16GB RAM; 1TB HDD; Intel Iris Xe GPU; 56Wh battery; 1.33KG. SKU: MateBook X Pro 2021, Full specs here.

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Design and Handling

Huawei has gone to great lengths to get the weight of the MateBook X Pro 2021 down as low as possible and for it to be as thin as possible. The 1.33KG weight and the 15mm thickness are testament to the company’s success. It feels very thin and light and yet also incredibly stiff and solid. The ‘Space Grey’ styling, with its sandblasted metallic finish, might be a bit dull for some, but it works for Apple and exudes quality. It also makes a good fist of repelling fingerprints.

Huawei MateBook X Pro 2021 lid
The Huawei MateBook X Pro 2021 has a MacBook quality about its construction and design.

The main feature is the 3:2 format, glossy, touchscreen UHD, 3000 x 2000 display. It uses LTPS (Low Temperature PolySilicon) technology to reduce power consumption although this typically comes at the cost of colour vibrancy. What we can say is that the display is bright, well-lit and sharp, displaying a crisp-and-clear Windows Desktop. It supports TÜV Rheinland’s ‘Low Blue Light’ and Flicker Free technology. The glossy display helps the colours pop a bit more than they otherwise would, but designer-types might find it wanting. Artefacts and banding can appear in some multimedia but it’s not too distracting under general use. However, you may be disappointed if you wanted to do some fast-and-frantic gaming as the 60Hz refresh rate is limiting and pixel response can lead to some smearing in fast moving areas.

It’s also a touchscreen with ten-point-touch, gesture capability. It feels very responsive and has an impressive ability to repel fingerprints.

The white-back-lit keyboard is a low-travel, touch-type affair which is very comfortable and accurate to type upon for extended periods. Our only gripe is the half-height, up-and-down arrow keys. Huawei raves about the MateBook X Pro 2021’s ‘Free Touch’ trackpad which it claims is smoother and more responsive (especially to multitouch gestures). It’s certainly very smooth, comfortable and accurate.

The bezel surrounding the screen is very thin on all sides including the top – a facet that’s helped by the re-located HD webcam. Instead the latter is hidden in the keyboard and pops up when needed. While this is good for both the screen’s aesthetics and privacy, the reality is that it delivers a very unflattering, jowly portrait.

Meanwhile the fingerprint reader is connected to a TPM 2.0 module for enhanced security and is compatible with Windows Hello sign-in.

The quad-speaker array is, frankly, extraordinary. There’s no Earthly way that well-rounded, not-quiet audio should come out of a chassis this thin. There’s good fidelity from top-to bottom, vocals can be punchy and there’s even some decent bass. Music, movies and other multimedia sound very good.

Another feature worth mentioning is Huawei Share. This enables you to naturally use your Huawei phone as an extension to the notebook – easily transferring content between the two or using your laptop’s screen to operate your phone. It’s activated with a simple tap. We were big fans of Huawei’s phones but acknowledge that the current Google-less Android offerings can feel a bit limited.

Ultimately, the Huawei MateBook X Pro 2021 looks great for office work and casual multimedia and is very comfortable to use (and carry around) for long periods.

Performance

In addition to the slim-and-light specs, the Huawei MateBook X Pro 2021 aims to offer decent performance without adversely affecting power consumption and portability. To that end there’s a quad-core, 1.2-4.7GHz Intel Core i7-1165G7 processor, 16GB of LPDDR4 3733MHz RAM and a 1TB NVMe drive. These combined to score 5117 in PCMark 10 which is respectable for any notebook, let alone an ultraportable. However, not surprisingly it’s not great for powerful, rendering workloads as scores of 662 in Cinebench R15 and 3873 in Cinebench R23 demonstrate.

The integrated Intel Iris Xe graphics aren’t great for gaming. A score of 1589 in 3DMark Time Spy equates to 9fps. In Fire Strike Extreme it scored 2122 (10fps) and it wouldn’t touch the tricky Port Royal ray-tracing test. It scored 3414 in the lesser Wild Life Extreme test (20.4fps) and 14,735 in Night Raid (93 fps). So, it will play casual and competitive games but, as mentioned above, anything with rapid motion looks bad on the slow screen.

Connectivity

Huawei MateBook X Pro 2021 left
On the left are two USB-C 3.2 Gen 2 ports (one of which is used by the charger) that can feed (and be charged by) two external displays. There’s also a 3.5mm audio jack.
On the right.
On the right is a USB 3.2 Gen 1 port.

Inside there’s Wi-Fi 6 and BlueTooth 5.1. We’d like to see more, if we’re honest but this minimalism is where top, business laptops (and their associated components) are heading.

Portability

As mentioned above, the chassis feels very solid despite the lightness and should happily survive life on the road or being moved from desk to desk. It ran PCMark 10’s Modern Office battery test for an impressive 12hrs 28mins which is well over a day out of the office.

Underside
The USB-C charger fits in your pocket, allows rapid charging and can also charge your phone. Impressive.

Huawei also utilises its impressive phone technology in the MateBook X Pro 2021. It eschews the usual power brick for a large, phone-like charger (which can also charge your phone) which can provide four hours charge in just 30 minutes. This pocket-friendly charger only adds 200g to the overall weight.

Should you buy the Huawei MateBook X Pro?

At $2299 the Huawei MateBook X Pro 2021 is reasonable value for a business, oriented, ultraportable flagship. It’s a great choice for office work on the move and absorbing multimedia. If you’ve got a Huawei phone to partner it with, it can be even more attractive. Alternatives include Asus’ ExpertBook and Venom’s BlackBook Zero 14 Phantom. Both offer some interesting features but both cost a lot more.

Huawei MateBook X Pro 2021 results
  • 2D Performance
  • 3D Performance
  • Ergonomics
  • Stability
  • Portability
  • Value
3.4

Summary

A great ultraportable for work. The speakers are very good for multimedia too. But it won’t suit everyone.

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