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Huawei MateBook X Pro review: The MateBook X Pro squeezes some big features into its little package

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Huawei's slim little 14-inch clamshell laptop makes a big first impression that stands up over time. It boasts a bright, color-accurate screen and Nvidia MX150 discrete graphics in a slim, mostly well-designed body, making it an appealing Windows-based MacBook Pro alternative. As long as you're not counting on using the built-in webcam.

huawei-matebook-x-pro-5558
8.3

Huawei MateBook X Pro

Pricing Not Available

The Good

The Huawei MateBook X Pro is compact and light, with a stellar sRGB display, a very good sound system and solid performance for its size.

The Bad

Worst webcam placement ever, and the AC adapter has a horrible case of plugspreading disease. Plus, you do sacrifice some connections for the size, and an LTE option would be nice.

The Bottom Line

A great 14-inch lightweight clamshell laptop, the Huawei MateBook X Pro offers a combo of first-rate display and a little oomph that suits it for basic graphics work. But an absurd placement in the keyboard renders the webcam close to useless.

Note that it's not quite a direct match to a MacBook Pro, at least for graphics work: The display is accurate, but it only covers the sRGB color space, as compared with Apple's Retina display with its much larger P3 color gamut. But for basic photo and video editing, that's good enough. 

The system comes in two configurations: a Core i5-8250U with a 256GB SSD and 8GB memory for $1,200 (£1,300, AU$2,230) or our test configuration with a Core i7-8550U, 16GB memory and a 512GB SSD for $1,500 (£1,500, but with 8GB; not yet available in Australia, but probably around AU$2,500). 

If all you're doing is typing and web surfing, you can get away with the cheaper model, though if that's all you're doing then the MateBook X Pro is overkill and you could save more money with something like the slightly heavier Dell XPS 13.

Huawei MateBook X Pro

Price as reviewed $1,499.99, £1,499.99 (with 8GB)
Display size/resolution 13.9-inch 3,000x2,000 touch display
PC CPU 1.8GHz Intel Core i7-8550U
PC memory 16GB DDR3 SDRAM
Graphics 2MB Nvidia GeForce MX150
Storage 512GB SSD
Ports Headphone jack, 1 x USB Type A, 2 x USB-C (1 x Thunderbolt 3)
Networking Intel Dual-Band Wireless-AC 8275, Bluetooth 4.2
Operating system Windows 10 Home (64-bit)
Weight 2.9 lbs/1.3kg

From the ridiculous to the sublime

Let's just get these two design abominations out of the way: the gimmicky pop-up webcam and the awful AC adapter plug that takes up the space of three outlets. While it's great that you can hide the camera for extra privacy, the angle and location make it unusable. Of course, you can work around both problems with a third-party 65W USB-C charger and external webcam.

huawei-matebook-x-pro-5590

Who thought this was a good idea? It's actually worse than Dell's notorious up-nose camera placement.

Josh Miller/CNET
03webcam-location

This is the view of you the webcam shows. If the notebook is farther away you just get the up-nose perspective.

Sarah Tew/CNET

But the rest of the design is almost ideal given the trade-offs it needs to make between size, heat dissipation needs and connections. With only two USB-C ports and one USB-A, you're going to have to go with a dock or dongle.

One of the highlights is the 13.9-inch touchscreen. The resolution of 3,000x2,000 pixels means it has an excellent pixel density of 271 ppi for sharp text, lines and detail resolution. While the LTPS touchscreen only covers 100 percent of sRGB -- 73 percent of Adobe RGB and P3 as tested -- it delivers excellent color accuracy for its class and a peak brightness of 544 nits, though not at the same time and only if you turn off the default adaptive brightness setting. The white point is a little high at about 6,800K, but that's very good for a display that's not designed for color-critical work.

Because of its 3:2 aspect ratio, though, movies and games will usually appear letterboxed, and it's relatively reflective, like many of its competitors.

Slim and steady

It has a sensible keyboard layout with big chiclet keys. The keycaps are a little slippery, but they have just enough travel and feedback for comfortable touch typing, and the keyboard's supposedly spillproof. The Windows Precision touchpad is big and responsive with clickable areas; I find it a bit too sensitive even set to low, but it's pretty typical in that respect. Huawei integrated the fingerprint sensor into the power button, one of the latest trends in laptop design.

The build quality looks and feels premium, for the most part. The top and bottom covers are aluminum, but the keyboard surround area feels a bit plasticky. That keeps it from getting too hot, though, and helps reduce the weight.

Quad speakers sit on either side of the keyboard, and they can get pretty loud for such a small laptop -- I've tested huge gaming laptops with lesser volume. Overall sound quality is quite good, as long as you don't pump up the volume past about 80 percent. The laptop supports Dolby Atmos, and Atmos delivers moderately good surround for its size; you shouldn't expect too much from it, though.

The Nvidia MX150 GPU gives you a nice little performance bump over Intel's integrated graphics for playing the occasional platformer and for low-volume photo editing in addition to the usual web surfing and Netflixathons, but like most ultrathin laptops the MateBook X Pro uses the slower, lower-power version of the chip (1D12) running at 936MHz rather than the faster 1,468MHz version (1D10). The slower chip ostensibly delivers better battery life, but at 9 hours the laptop's life is only about average for its class.

Geekbench 4 (multicore)

Asus ZenBook Flip 14 13,509Huawei MateBook X Pro 13,339Dell XPS 13 (i7) 9370 12,961
Notes: Longer bars indicate better performance

Streaming video playback battery drain test

Asus ZenBook Flip 14 (US461U) 629Dell XPS 13 (i7) 9370 548Huawei MateBook X Pro 545
Notes: Longer bars indicate better performance (in minutes)

3DMark Fire Strike Ultra

Huawei MateBook X Pro 417Asus ZenBook Flip 14 (US461U) 409
Notes: Longer bars indicate better performance

Cinebench R15 OpenGL

Huawei MateBook X Pro 90.69Asus ZenBook Flip 14 (US461U) 89.93Dell XPS 13 (i7) 9370 53.22
Notes: Longer bars indicate better performance (frames per second)

Cinebench R15 CPU (multicore)

Asus ZenBook Flip 14 (US461U) 671Dell XPS 13 (i7) 9370 568Huawei MateBook X Pro 500
Notes: Longer bars indicate better performance

System configurations

Asus ZenBook Flip 14 (US461U) Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 1.8GHz Intel Core i7-8550U; 16GB DDR3 SDRAM 2,133MHz; 2GB Nvidia GeForce MX150 Graphics; 512GB SSD
Dell XPS 13 (late 2017) Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 1.8GHz Intel Core i7-8550U; 8GB DDR4 SDRAM 1,866MHz; 128MB (dedicated) Intel HD Graphics 620; 256GB SSD
Huawei MateBook X Pro Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 1.8GHz Intel Core i7-8550U; 16GB DDR3 SDRAM 2,133MHz; 2GB Nvidia GeForce MX150 Graphics; 512GB SSD
huawei-matebook-x-pro-5558
8.3

Huawei MateBook X Pro

Pricing Not Available

Score Breakdown

Design 9Features 8Performance 8Battery 8