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Huawei Matebook X review: The Windows laptop that thinks like a MacBook

The Huawei Matebook X is a supremely sleek 13-inch laptop that bears a striking resemblance to the MacBook Pro.

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Xiomara Blanco
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Xiomara Blanco

Associate Editor / Reviews - Tablets and monitors

Xiomara Blanco is an associate editor for CNET Reviews. She's a Bay Area native with a knack for tech that makes life easier and more enjoyable. So, don't expect her to review printers anytime soon.

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4 min read

First generation devices usually lack finesse and style, or at least still have a lot of rough edges, but not the Huawei Matebook X.

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Huawei Matebook X

The Good

The Huawei Matebook X has a stylish aluminum design that impresses everyone who sees it. It has a Dolby Atmos audio system and its power button doubles as a fingerprint reader.

The Bad

The US price is still not confirmed, configuration options are limited and it lacks a touchscreen.

The Bottom Line

The thin, light and fast Matebook X is a tempting MacBook alternative for Windows 10 fans.

As the first clamshell laptop manufactured by Huawei, the Matebook X looks like a Macbook Pro running Windows 10. The 13-inch fanless notebook has Intel's latest-generation processor, a crazy-sharp 2K screen and a fancy power button that doubles as a fingerprint reader. It has the chic design and high-end trimmings that any premium laptop needs. All it's missing, for now, is an official price.

That's right, Hauwei gave us a Matebook X to test, but the company is not yet announcing how much this new slim laptop is going to cost in the US. Several configurations of it will be available in Europe for between €1,399 and €1,699, but it may be closer to the expected summer ship date before we have prices and configuration options for other markets. The review unit we tested had an Intel i7 CPU, 8GB of RAM and 512GB of SSD.

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Macbook design, Windows heart.

Josh Miller/CNET

How much it costs in comparison to the MacBook Pro, as well as the bevy of Windows alternatives such as the new Microsoft Surface Laptop, will determine if Huawei's first clamshell laptop will convince laptop shoppers to try this new-to-them brand.

We'll update this review with further benchmark results and a final rating when these worldwide price and availability questions are answered.

Svelte city

Luxury doesn't boast. Luxury just is. The Huawei Matebook X is a perfect example. The laptop's matte, metallic aluminum construction oozes style, and it feels as premium as it looks. Similar to the Huawei Mate 9 phone, the Matebook X's elegantly inconspicuous power button doubles as a Windows Hello-compatible fingerprint reader.

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The power button doubles as a fingerprint reader.

Josh Miller/CNET

Available in gold, grey and pink, the Matebook X's dimensions are thinner and it weighs less than the 13-inch MacBook Pro. Its 12.5 mm thick and weighs 2.31 pounds, while the comparable MacBook Pro is 15 mm thick and weighs about 3.02 pounds. (The 12-inch MacBook, which uses lower-power Intel Core M processors, is 13 mm thick and weighs 2.03 pounds.)

There is a striking resemblance between the two high-end laptops. That's a big compliment. If the TouchBar-less version of the MacBook Pro is the "Retina MacBook Air" you've always wanted, the Matebook X is the Windows 10 version you never knew you needed.

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Fashionably thin.

Josh Miller/CNET

Sounds great

The Matebook X is the first laptop to feature Dolby's Atmos sound system. (This is different from devices that simply have Dolby Atmos software technology that only optimizes sound via headphones). Using integrated software and hardware solutions for superior sound quality, it emulates the way sound travels in real life for an immersive viewing experience.

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The speakers are located above the keyboard.

Josh Miller/CNET

Dolby collaborated with Huawei to help design the speakers, as well as the preloaded software that optimizes the sound for movies, music or gaming. The speakers sound satisfyingly full and loud. Dialogue is clear, background and soundscape noises are fittingly accentuated and sound travels up and down the speakers for a movie theater-like experience. At maximum volume they don't sound tinny, though highs can get a little screechy when maxed out. I was usually able to find a happy medium.

Laptops don't have a high bar for sound quality. It's nice to see (and hear) Huawei putting in some effort.

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The almost bezel-less screen contributes to its sleek design.

Josh Miller/CNET

Peak performer

The Huawei laptop's 2K resolution screen is beautifully sharp and vibrant, with super-narrow 4.4 mm bezels that maximize screen space. Its 3:2 screen ratio (like the Microsoft Surface Pro) is more conducive for office or school work than HD movies, but it works excellently for both.

Screen specs

  • 13-inch non-touch IPS screen
  • 2,160x1,440-pixel resolution

It has a full-size chiclet keyboard that's surprisingly roomy for such a small laptop. It feels fluid to type on and it's conveniently backlit for typing in dark environments.

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The left USB-C port charges and transfers data.

Josh Miller/CNET

Though it only has two USB-C ports, one on the left that charges and another on the right, Huawei includes the MateDock 2.0 USB-C dongle in the box. That gives you an additional USB Type-A port, DVI, HDMI and a second USB-C port for pass-through charging. No word on if Huawei plans to sell it separately.

Performance should satisfy the average user, as it was usually zippy and smooth. It powered up quickly, the fingerprint reader response was consistently accurate and fast, and it handled multitasking well. While intermittently streaming music and HD video, I was able to have about about a dozen Chrome browser tabs open before performance started to slow down.

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A stylish, high-end laptop that's supremely portable.

Josh Miller/CNET

Internal specs

  • Intel Core i5 and i7 processors
  • 256GB or 512GB SSD
  • 4GB or 8GB RAM

All of the issues I had with the laptop seemed to be app related; Microsoft Edge browser wouldn't properly load Spotify's web player, but Google Chrome would. The menu screen of the Netflix app also acted wonky occasionally, randomly glitching while browsing, but the service worked fine on Edge and Chrome.

Huawei estimates battery life at 10 hours. After one battery test run it lasted about 8.5 hours. Anecdotally, after using the Matebook X for about a week, I found its battery life to usually last me an entire work day. It charges really fast over USB-C, too, so running low on power was never a burden. In comparison, the lower-end 13-inch Pro without the Touch Bar ran for 11:36 in same test.

Huawei Matebook X is a Windows laptop for people who love MacBooks

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Conclusion

Everyone who I showed the Huawei Matebook X to agrees it's a gorgeous laptop. Huawei has finally flexed its design prowess in the laptop category and other manufacturers should be worried. The Matebook X is a legitimate contender.

Of course, a lot depends on the price, which Huawei hasn't announced yet. Considering the comparable MacBook Pro starts at $1,499, £1,449 and AU$2,199, Huawei could match the price and still have a unique product on its hands. But that would make it a really expensive laptop. There are plenty of notebooks out there to choose from, ranging from cheap Chromebooks to affordable Windows 10 models, such as the new $999-and-up Surface Laptop from Microsoft. Why would a consumer choose Huawei, a relatively unknown brand, over Apple, or something more affordable? A competitive price could be the answer.

Benchmarks

Huawei MateBook X
Price as reviewed N/A
Display size/resolution 13-inch, 2,160x1,440 display
PC CPU 2.7GHz Intel Core i7-7500U
PC memory 8GB DDR3
Graphics 128MB Intel HD Graphics 620
Storage 512GB SSD
Networking 802.11a/b/g/n/ac Bluetooth 4.1
Operating system Windows 10 Pro (64-bit)

Multitasking Multimedia Test 3.0 (in seconds)

Dell XPS 13 (2016, non-touch) 441Apple MacBook Pro (13-inch, 2016 non Touch Bar) 460Razer Blade Stealth (2016) 515Huawei MateBook X 516LG gram (13-inch, 2017) 570
Note: Shorter bars indicate better performance

Geekbench 3 Multi-Core

Huawei MateBook X 7758Apple MacBook Pro (13-inch, 2016 non Touch Bar) 7178Dell XPS 13 (2016, non-touch) 7118Razer Blade Stealth (2016) 6874LG gram (13-inch, 2017) 6647
Note: Longer bars indicate better performance
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