Last year’s Huawei products namely MateBook X, X Pro, and the Matebook 14 Ultrabook seriously vowed tech enthusiasts and journalists. The fantastic displays, powerful performance, and comfortable keyboard made them more than MacBook clones. To some people, the external appearance is a replica of the MacBook, apart from the Huawei logo. This year Huawei has tried to duplicate the performance of the previous year’s MateBook models in an affordable package titled ‘Huawei MateBook 13.’ Currently the MateBook 13’s closest competitor is Dell XPS 13, but Huawei’s machine is a flagship laptop that has tried to improve on last year’s products.
The MateBook 13 is a smaller version of the MateBook X Pro, which was a ‘best-in-class 2018 laptop.’ The aluminum body is still there and you have the option of buying it in mystic silver and space grey colors. The first color option evokes automatic comparisons with the MacBook. The first you notice after opening the lid is that the webcam is resting above the display and this is a huge plus as compared to X Pro’s webcam hidden under the keyboard. This makes video conferencing much easier as people actually get to see your face instead of just the nose or lower. The 0.9 mp camera with 720p resolution won’t support a dazzling appearance, but it’s functional.
For those obsessed with thinness and weight of a laptop, its 0.59 inches (~1.5 cm), and 2.87 pounds (1.3 kg) respectively. These dimensions beat the MacBook Air in thinness department and marginally loses out in the weight. However, this is still impressive as the laptop contains the combination of a dedicated graphics chip and a fully loaded Intel mobile processor.
The MateBook 13’s keyboard is a definite plus point and 1.2mm key travel gives you adequate space to type. The punchy feedback is helpful for typing and you’ll feel this difference as compared to the MacBook Pro’s flat keys. This doesn’t mean that the keys resound like those of the Surface Laptop 2. Overall it’s a pretty good typing experience and the Microsoft Precision touchpad adds to the experience. The trackpad’s smoothness and width are definite advantages and the only possible improvement could be the height.
The touchscreen is 13 inches diagonal and displays a 1440p picture with a functional touch digitizer. 300 nits of brightness and a 1,000:1 contrast ratio provides an excellent display. The only downside is that the brightness level is a hurdle in outdoor use or beneath bright lights. Overall, the laptop’s refinements over the X Pro are keenly felt.
The laptop’s internal design is surprisingly good improved graphics are an outcome of faster fans and improved thermals. This allows the laptop to utilize 25 watts from the laptop’s power draw and this is 10 watts higher than standard laptops equipped with Nvidia MX150, which is the chip’s lower-spec version. You’ll feel the machine keeping cool under impressive loads as a result of these improvements.
Given the mentioned reasons, the laptop’s graphics are better, along with general computing in its laptop range. Functionally speaking, the laptop embodies aesthetics and peak processing performance in one package. Key competitors like Dell XPS 13 and Surface Laptop 2 are still far behind in these aspects. The performance doesn’t suffer from running multiple tabs and windows while performing intensive tasks like image editing at the same time.
|Laptop||PCMARK 7||PCMARK 8 (CREATIVE ACCELERATED)||3DMARK (SKY DIVER)||ATTO (TOP READS/WRITES)|
|Huawei MateBook 13 (2020, Core i7-8565U, NVIDIA MX150)||5,853||5,492||9,392||2.9 GB/s / 2.38 GB/s|
|Surface Laptop 2 (Core i5-8250U, Intel UHD 620)||5,856||4,367||3,977||1.5 GB/s / 781 MB/s|
|Huawei MateBook X Pro (2019, Core i7-8550U, GeForce MX150)||6,167||4,147||8,289||2.96 GB/s / 4.60 GB/s|
|Dell XPS 13 (2020, Core i5-10210U, Intel UHD 620)||6,438||4,918||2,446||3.1 GB/s / 527 MB/s|
The MateBook 13 is a clear winner in 3DMark tests as compared to Surface Laptop 2 and Dell XPS13. The PC Mark 8 tests also give it a clear advantage as compared to competitors. In this respect, the graphics ability of MateBook 13 has significantly benefited from its NVIDIA GeForce MX150 card. The processing power owes its thanks to a faster Core i7 CPU. Looking at other competitors, Apple’s laptops feature a Y-Series Intel processor that’s fanless and has two lesser processing cores. Despite these relaxations, the MateBook 13 is still marginally thinner.
The thermal system needs further discussion and an interesting aspect is the capability of dual fans to start functioning when benchmarks are being tested. The secret according to Huawei, lies in the ‘intelligent filtering system,’ deployed by the company’s Shark Fin 2.0 thermal system. This system monitors temperature changes by utilizing seven thermal sensors embedded in the chassis. According to Huawei, the fan noise is automatically reduced by 3 DB, when matched with ordinary fan designs, and the laptop’s performance is actively managed. During active use, the fan’s noise is slightly lower and the laptop’s bottom doesn’t become too hot.
The performance specifications are backed by battery life that exceeds 9 hours of full HD video playback. This marginally beats Dell XPS 13, but the Mac Book Air is a clear winner at 10.5 hours of playback time. The slightly lesser battery life is due to a decrease in battery size as compared to the X Pro, along with increased performance levels. The MateBook 13 is guaranteed to last a full day’s usage and USB-C fast charging grants 2.5 hours of battery life in 15 minutes charging. Professionals and travelers will get the maximum performance from their machine.
|Huawei MateBook 13||9:10|
|Dell XPS 13||9:45|
|Apple MacBook Air||10:30|
|Surface Laptop 2||15:57|
|Huawei MateBook X Pro||11:07|
Software and associated features
The Huawei PC Manager is the only preloaded application installed on the MateBook 13 laptop. This is keeping in trend with Huawei’s software policy for its laptops and the main purpose is to scan the machine for Windows 10 missing any driver updates or checking hardware issues.
The fingerprint reader is a useful biometric addition in MateBook 13. Embedded in the power button, the feature uses Windows Hello to ensure seamless login into the system. The login speed is awesome and you barely wait for a second to access the desktop, after the machine has powered up.
The closest competitors to Huawei MateBook 13 are MacBook Air and Dell XPS 13. The former is mostly the inspiration behind MateBook 13 and why it’s called a ‘MacBook clone.’ However, Huawei has wooed MacBook fans with better keyboard, hardware and Windows 10 allure. All of this at an affordable price and hence Apple fans have a new choice in the laptop segment.
Dell XPS is a different story and currently occupies the position of ‘gold standard,’ in this laptop range. It starts at $849 and upgrading the specs to the MateBook bridges the gap to a certain extent. The webcam position has improved in the XPS 13 and the battery life is a definite advantage. Basically, the 2020 XPS 13 has improved on the performance of previous year’s model with certain improvements. Critics are divided between XPS 13 and MateBook 13, regarding which one is ‘best in class for 2020.’ Overall, MateBook 13 has a definitive edge over XPS 13 on the basis of graphics display and hardware performance.
The Matebook 13 is designed for frequent travelers and those who want multiple benefits from a single machine. It’s a great addition to the 13inch laptop market and its dynamic features and attractive design guarantee the best of both worlds. MacBook expatriates will also be pleased by this machine and the improvement on MacBook is noticeable. The laptop is not suitable for people on a budget or PC gamers. The premium build and price rule out the first group and PC gamers looking for more than standard graphics will be disappointed. Huawei’s experience in the laptop industry has inspired the MateBook series and this is probably the first laptop that will really inspire first-time adopters of Huawei laptops.