Huawei MateBook X Pro key specs
Screen: 3,000 x 2,000 , 260 ppi
CPU: 8th gen i7 8565U CPU
GPU: MX250 with 2GB of GDDR5
Storage: 1TB SSD (NVMe PCIe)
OS: Windows 10 / EMUI 9.0
Welcome to T3's official Huawei MateBook X Pro review (2019). Over the past month T3 has been testing out the new ultraportable laptop and here we deliver our official thoughts on the system's design and build quality, screen and hardware, as well as gaming and performance.
And, right from the moment we reported on the Huawei MateBook X Pro's unveiling at this year's Mobile World Congress, we knew that we had to get hands on and thoroughly test the system, as it looked to offer the ultimate Apple MacBook-style experience for Windows 10 users.
Fast forward a few months and we can confirm that the system does indeed deliver on that premium ultraportable promise, offering a beautiful system that exudes quality. But it does so in a way that demands a serious price premium over last year's model (the version tested here costs €1,999), which itself remains a superb laptop.
Also, as we will see, the fact that despite getting a GPU upgrade the system really struggles with modern AAA PC games takes some sheen off the package, too.
If you are unsure if you should upgrade to the Huawei MateBook X Pro or the Apple MacBook Pro as your next portable system then be sure to check out T3's Huawei MateBook X Pro vs Apple MacBook Pro versus piece, which compares the two systems over a variety of categories.
Huawei MateBook X Pro review: design and build
The design of the 2019 MateBook X Pro is identical to last year's model and, in my opinion, that is a very sound decision. The fit and finish of the MateBook X Pro last year blew me away and, this year, with nothing changed about the core design, once more I was very impressed.
The MateBook X Pro has a simply fabulous density about it, which along with its cool to the touch aluminium unibody frame, radiates a level of luxe-ness often only the reserve of Apple's MacBooks. And with this frame now encasing a new near bezel-less screen, if anything the system now looks even better than ever.
Total system weight rests at a very portable 1.33kg, while thickness measures in at a lithe 14.6mm.
In the top right hand corner of the system is a circular power button, which also acts a fingerprint scanner, while the same low-profile keyboard with neatly engineered but unflattering pop-up web-cam and centrally-positioned large trackpad make a return, too.
Either side of the keyboard lie a brace of top-firing speakers, which join another pair on the base to make a quad-speaker system.
Flip the system round and the only difference is the removal of the Huawei logo on the case top, with just the maker's name remaining on the chassis. Ports-wise you get a USB-C Thunderbolt 3, a USB-C 3.1, one USB 3.0 and a headphone jack.
Cooling is handled by a hidden brace of vents on the rear of the system, which aren't viewable unless you pick the system up and flip it over at an angle.
The Huawei MateBook X Pro delivers a traditional lightweight laptop design for sure, but the execution of it is near perfect in my mind.
Huawei MateBook X Pro review: screen and hardware
Specs-wise the system is impressive, however, the hardware bump from last year's model is honestly iterative in the strongest sense of the word. You get a new 8th-gen Core i7-8565U CPU, 16GB of RAM, 1TB SSD, and a Nvidia GeForce MX250 (2GB GDDR5) graphics card.
Last year's Huawei MateBook X Pro came with an Intel Core i7-8550U, 16GB of RAM, a 512GB SSD, and a Nvidia GeForce MX150 graphics (2GB GDDR5) - so you can see just how similar this year's model is in terms of silicon.
Don't be under any illusion, this specs bump does lead to improved performance, but as we mentioned at the start of this Huawei MateBook X Pro review, the price premium this new system demands for you to bag it is considerable, and I'm guessing it will put off some potential buyers (and will be a deal breaker for sure for anyone who owns last year's system).
Huawei MateBook X Pro GeekBench 4 benchmarks
CPU Single-Core: 5,258
CPU Multi-Core: 16,917
Things have also largely stayed the same in terms of this year's system's 13.9-inch screen, with the Huawei MateBook X Pro returning once more with an absolutely stunning 3:2 aspect ratio, 3,000 x 2,000 pixel touchscreen that not only delivers a super-impressive 91 per cent screen-to-body ratio, but also lays down a 450-nit maximum brightness along with 100 per cent sRGB colour with a 1,500:1 contrast ratio.
Combined those figures produce a screen that is simply a pleasure to look at and use, with the taller height of the 3:2 screen especially brilliant for multitasking with two full-sized app windows open side-by-side. Images and videos are displayed sharply, brightly and with colour that really pops, and the extra vertical space really lets content breathe.
What I like most about the MateBook X Pro's screen, though, is that it displays content with a cool hovering-just-behind-the-glass effect, which especially when using the screen with touch inputs, adds to the immediacy and naturalness of your interaction in my mind - it feels like you are viewing, picking up, dragging, swiping and placing things that really are just under the fingertip.
The tall but not particularly wide screen does lean toward productivity rather than entertainment in my mind, mainly because of its prioritising of vertical display space rather than horizontal, but after watching movies and playing games on the MateBook X Pro I honestly can't say it is something I really felt hurt the machine massively.
Viewing angles are also good, however in brightly lit environments the MateBook X Pro screen's glossy surface does lead to unwelcome reflections.
Lastly, in terms of hardware, I was also pleased to see that the new MateBook X Pro comes installed with a 57.4 Wh battery, which I found to easily tide me over a full day's work on a single charge and, if I used the system quite lightly, through two days. Officially the system delivers 13 hours of video playback on a single charge, too, so this system should be very much capable of tiding you over on a long-haul flight entertainment-wise.
Huawei MateBook X Pro review: gaming and performance
In terms of general computing performance the Huawei MateBook X Pro delivered the same very strong experience that last year's model did, both in terms of benchmark scores and in terms of my personal everyday-usage.
For example, the 2019 MateBook X Pro beat the well-rated all-rounder Asus ZenBook Pro 14 in both Geekbench 4's CPU tests, with it lodging a single-core score of 5,258 and multi-core score of 16,917 compared to 4,508 and 13,959 respectively.
And, as you would expect from those scores, that translated into incredibly fast and slick OS and app loading, rapid web-browsing, seamless task transitioning between image editing in Adobe Photoshop, watching high-fidelity movie files and then editing podcasts in Audacity, as well as sharp, lag-free interaction with the laptop's gorgeous touchscreen.
I honestly feel that only heavy duty video editing would see this system's hardware threshold breached. Well, that and one other thing...
Huawei MateBook X Pro 3DMark benchmarks
Sky Diver: 8,656
Night Raid: 9,482
And that other thing is revealed if we once more compare the MateBook X Pro to the ZenBook Pro 14, as well as other strong competitor systems like the Dell XPS 15 2-in-1.
While the CPU performance benchmarked superior on the MateBook X Pro to both of those systems, where it simply could not compete was in terms of Geekbench 4's compute test, which measures the strength of a GPU in performing common compute tasks such as image processing, as well as in the gaming-focused 3DMark gamer benchmark suite.
The MateBook X Pro filed a compute score in Geekbench 4 of 44,100, which compares rather unfavourably to the ZenBook Pro 14's 70,027 and XPS 15 2-in-1's 66,688.
The reason for this is that while the Nvidia GeForce MX250 GPU is an upgrade over last year's MX150, and does offer modest pixel-pushing power that is superior to an integrated chip, it simply isn't powerful enough to run modern AAA games without serious setting and framerate compromises.
That lack of gaming juice is reflected especially in the machine's 3DMark scores (see nearby boxout), with its DirectX 12 Time Spy score of only 979 really falling far short of both comparison systems (1,629 for the ZenBook and 2,231 for the XPS 15 2-in-1). And that is because those systems come with what I personally would refer to as a proper PC gaming GPU, with the Dell rocking a Radeon RX Vega M GL graphics card and the Asus loaded with a Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050.
And, while I had no problem playing older PC titles on the Huawei MateBook X Pro, such as Crysis, Dishonored and Deus Ex: Human Revolution, which all ran buttery smooth on the Pro, when I tasked it with running what is arguably today's PC graphical showcase, Metro Exodus, which not only has a stunning game engine but also supports the new graphical hotness of Ray Tracing, the MX250 simply couldn't deliver.
As can be seen from the Metro Exodus' own in-game benchmark tool, the MateBook X Pro returned an average framerate of only 12.79 fps, which is well short of the 30 fps I feel should be the minimum to properly enjoy a title. And that was with every graphical option cranked right down to the minimum, too. In game performance with me playing was slightly better, but I'd be lying if I said that was how I would want to play through that game.
Hitman 2, which demands less in terms of graphical grunt, performed well enough for me to enjoy its sneaky, stabby fun, but again settings needed to be managed downward to get a smooth framerate.
Should you expect more from a laptop that costs €1,999? Maybe, maybe not. Hardcore PC gaming is obviously not the primary focus for the MateBook X Pro but I do think it worth noting that despite the touted GPU upgrade this system definitely does have pixel-pushing limitations.
Finally, in terms of performance, the new Huawei MateBook X Pro's PC Manager software I found to be a solid addition to the system's armoury of features. With it activated and connected via NFC to a compatible Huawei flagship phone (I used a Huawei Mate 20 Pro; the Huawei P30 Pro range is also compatible), then you can access files on the handset as well as beam files near instantaneously between each device with Huawei OneHop. It's not a killer feature, but a useful and welcome one nonetheless.
Huawei MateBook X Pro review: verdict
Objectively, then, the 2019 Huawei MateBook X Pro is premium ultraportable that offers a luxe modern design and build, as well as strong performance across the board (providing you don't ask too much from the MX250 GPU).
If you have the €1,999 asked for and want an Apple MacBook-style portable computing experience but with a Windows 10 OS, then this system is easy to recommend as one to seriously consider. It truly is a lovely tool to look at, hold and to use.
However, if you don't have a large budget and don't demand the absolute latest technology in your system, then you honestly shouldn't look past last year's MateBook X Pro, as it delivers 90 per cent of the experience you get with this year's system but for only two thirds of the cost (you can pick up a 2018 MateBook X Pro system with an Intel Core i7 CPU, MX150 GPU, 512GB SSD and 8GB of RAM for only £1299 right now).
I'd also be dishonest if I didn't say that there are systems from other makers that offer similar levels of performance. Indeed, at around €2000 you are even approaching Microsoft Surface Book 2 territory, which comes with the same 16GB of RAM and Intel Core i7 power as the Huawei MateBook X Pro but also comes with a Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 GPU, which is more than enough to handle modern AAA PC games, and also the ability to detach its screen, too, for a 2-in-1 tablet experience.
Overall, though, the 2019 Huawei MateBook X Pro is a confident refresh of an already excellent product, and one that anyone currently looking for a premium ultraportable upgrade should consider before pulling the trigger on a new system.