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Huawei MateBook X Pro review: Undone by its sibling

By Kenny Yeo - 28 Aug 2020

Performance & conclusion

Performance analysis

To evaluate the performance of the Huawei MateBook X Pro, we will be comparing its performance against the current crop of ultraportable notebooks like Huawei's own MateBook 13, the ASUS ZenBook 14 UX434, Dell XPS 13 2-in-1, and HP Spectre x360. Here are the configurations of the tested notebooks and how they stack up. It will be interesting to see if the thinner chassis of the MateBook X Pro will affect performance in any negative way.

Specifications comparison
Model Huawei MateBook X Pro Huawei MateBook 13 Acer Swift 5 ASUS ZenBook 14 UX434 Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 HP Spectre x360
Display 13.9-inch, 3K 13-inch, 2K 13-inch, Full-HD 13-inch, Full-HD 13-inch, Full-HD 13-inch, Full-HD
Processor Intel Core i7-10510U Intel Core i5-10210U Intel Core i7-1065G7 Intel Core i7-10510U Intel Core i7-1065G7 Intel Core i7-1065G7
Memory 16GB 16GB 16GB 16GB 16GB 16GB
Storage 1TB SSD 512GB SSD 1TB SSD 1TB SSD 512GB SSD 1TB SSD
Graphics NVIDIA GeForce MX250 NVIDIA GeForce MX250 NVIDIA GeForce MX250 NVIDIA GeForce MX250 Intel Iris Plus Graphics Intel Iris Plus Graphics
Price S$2,698 S$1,598 S$2,398 S$2,098 S$2,898 S$2,899


Computing performance was a bit of a mixed bag. On PCMark 10, the MateBook X Pro didn’t manage to post any solid advantage over the MateBook 13. And on Cinebench R20, the MateBook X Pro recorded a slightly higher single-core score but a slightly lower multi-core score. It only posted a distinct advantage on WebXPRT 3, where it managed a score of 229 which was 10% more than the MateBook 13’s 207.

Graphics performance was quite surprising because even though the MateBook X Pro has the GeForce MX250 GPU as the MateBook 13, it was managed significantly lower scores on 3DMark. The MateBook 13 was about 30% faster. In fact, on 3DMark, the MateBook X Pro’s scores were the lowest even against notebooks with Intel’s integrated Iris Plus graphics.

Things were looking better on Tomb Raider. Here, the MateBook X Pro was clearly faster than the Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 and HP Spectre x360 which are running on Intel’s integrated Iris Plus graphics. It was also about 26% faster than the Acer Swift 5 which also uses a GeForce MX250 GPU. However, the MateBook X Pro was again outdone by the MateBook 13. Despite the slower Core i5 processor, the MateBook 13 was on average about 20% faster than the MateBook X Pro.

Overall, it’s quite clear that the MateBook 13 is the better performer. Its advantage in graphics-intensive workloads and games is clear. My guess is that the slightly thicker chassis of the MateBook 13 enables it to handle the heat from its CPU and GPU better, therefore allowing its CPU and GPU to run faster for longer. The MateBook X Pro, on the other hand, has better burst performance but that advantage goes away quickly as heat builds up within its thinner chassis and the notebook is forced to throttle. This could explain why, on PCMark 10, it had the best scores on the Express workload and its worst score on the Extended workload.

 

 

Battery life

Note: Battery tests were conducted using PCMark 10's battery benchmark with display set to 100% brightness.

Battery life was quite impressive for a thin and light notebook with a high-resolution 3K display. To be fair, the MateBook X Pro’s battery is on the slightly larger side (56Wh) but it still managed 373 minutes or 6 hours and 13 minutes on the Modern Office workload. That’s more than most of its competitors. This is really remarkable considering how sharp the display is and how bright it gets. Also impressive is that it almost lasted two whole hours on the more intensive Gaming workload. Looking at the power consumption figures, we can see that it’s perhaps lower than expected, especially on the Gaming workload. Here, it was only consuming around 30W of power, which is lesser than its rivals and lends credence to my theory that the MateBook X Pro’s performance is heavily throttled.

Unfortunately, despite the long recorded battery life, the MateBook X Pro’s Portability Index score was average. This has to do with its overall dimensions and weight. Its 13.9-inch display means it footprint is a little larger and at 1.3kg, it’s one of the heavier ultraportable notebooks. Nevertheless, I still think it’s a very portable machine.

 

Undone by its sibling

The MateBook X Pro is a good premium ultraportable notebook by all accounts, but its cheaper sibling offers much better value.

The MateBook X Pro has a lot going for it. It’s well-built, the display is superb, connectivity options aren’t bad, it has an interesting webcam implementation, and it has a massive and fluid trackpad. Insofar as premium ultraportable notebooks are concerned, it’s a very solid option that will give contenders from rivals like Dell and HP a run for their money.

That said, it’s hard to recommend the MateBook X Pro when the MateBook 13 exists. Sure, the MateBook 13 doesn’t have a unibody construction, but it’s not as if it’s shoddily made. And while the MateBook 13’s display isn’t quite as sharp, it is still sharper than all of its Full-HD competitors. Furthermore, the MateBook 13 performs a lot better than the MateBook X Pro and it is just as thin and light. But most of all, the MateBook 13 is significantly more affordable. S$1,598 vs. S$2,698 – that’s S$1,100 less! Let's not forget that you could get a convertible premium notebook at that price point from competitors.

Ultimately, I can’t think of any compelling reason to pick the MateBook X Pro over the MateBook 13. I said in my review of the MateBook 13 that I consider it to be one of the standout notebooks of the year and I feel even more confident in saying that after my evaluation of the MateBook X Pro. The MateBook X Pro might be Huawei’s flagship and it does certain things really well, but it’s irrefutable that the MateBook 13 offers greater value and is arguably the better choice for most people.

7.5
  • Design 8.5
  • Features 8.5
  • Performance 7.5
  • Value 6
  • Mobility 8
The Good
Superb 3K display
3:2 aspect ratio
USB-C and USB-A ports
Large, fluid trackpad
Fantastic unibody aluminium build
Good battery life with hi-res display
The Bad
No support for Thunderbolt 3
No support for Wi-Fi 6
Significant performance throttling
Webcam not in the best position
The MateBook 13 exists