It works with Windows 11 😁
Reviewed in the United Kingdom 🇬🇧 on 24 May 2020
I rather like this Huawei Matebook - despite a couple of minor but annoying issues...
Indeed, I used to have 2 laptops - an HP Pavilion for serious home-office work (15.6" display) and a small Lenovo Yoga 300 (11") for my travels. This Matebook has surprisingly replaced them both.
Alas, the Yoga, albeit upgraded with a PNY 256GB SSD, was showing its age. Also, battery life was deteriorating rapidly. Rather than go to the exorbitant expense of a new battery, I decided to get a replacement - and this notebook came highly recommended. I opted for the 14" 512 GB SSD and AMD R5 processor version as that seemed the most cost effective solution with good battery life.
I was immediately impressed - this Huawei Matebook is compact, well made and very quick. Battery life is brilliant, charging is rapid and the fingerprint sensor very convenient. The display is crisp, the keyboard precise and the sound quality excellent. For the price, this is a surprisingly good laptop. The Amazon option of 5 interest free payments also appealed!
As the Matebook seemed so quick, I ran a Nova Bench benchmark and was surprised to find it is over 30% quicker than my HP Pavilion (Intel i5 processor and Samsung EVO SSD)! As such, the HP laptop was also sent rapidly to the 'auction' site - as this single device now meets all of my needs - both in terms of portability and processing power.
I have shown the Nova Bench results. For comparison with other devices, visit the Nova comparison site as shown (bottom RH corner of the photo) as, alas, Amazon won't let me post an external URL in a review.
I initially thought the disk results were a tad slower than anticipated - when compared with the specifications for the installed SSD. However, I think that Nova does a 'real world' test. Indeed, CrystalBenchMark shows the SSD meets its advertised results for sequential reads and writes (3400/2700 MB/s). It certainly seems to be very quick.
Oddly, the SSD comes with 2 data partitions (C and D drives). I immediately merged the empty D drive into the C partition - as a small C drive is annoying. Should you want to do this, I recommend that it's done as soon as possible and before any data or applications get loaded to the D drive - otherwise a simple operation becomes much more complex. If you're not sure on how to do this, the Huawei website has easy to follow instructions for merging the drives.
I removed Office 365 and replaced it with the more cost effective MS Office 2019 Pro (which cost me just £4.99 including product key on the 'auction' site). There is little bloatware (thank you Huawei) and the Huawei Share function is brilliant (as I have a Huawei P30 mobile).
The camera is rather weirdly located under a key on the keyboard and can be popped up when required. The image quality is fine but the camera's positioning means that on a Skype call, viewers tend to just see your chin and nostrils unless you sit back and look towards the bottom half of the screen - then its fine.
I had previously discovered the installed SSD to be from Western Digital (WDC PC SN730-SDBPNTY-512G). I downloaded their useful "SSD Dashboard" to keep an eye on things. Its strange that this wasn't included by default with the notebook though, perhaps Huawei tend to use whichever SSD is available at the time.
The pre-installed Huawei PC Manager is a useful utility - particularly if you own a Huawei mobile. I added VLC Media Player as its my favourite player. It allows home network access (we have a home NAS), it supports a plethora of media formats and its also available on Android with a similar look and feel. I also installed Paragon Hard Drive Manager 17 - which I primarily use for backups.
I detest touchpads with a passion, so I opted for a Microsoft Bluetooth wireless mouse (which doesn't need a 'dongle' that would occupy a USB port). In 'Settings' I was able to disable the touchpad - but only when a mouse is present. That's an excellent feature! That said, my daughter had a play with the touchpad and was more than happy - but she's an 'expert' and did have a good poke about with the settings to get things how she likes them!
In the UK the notebook doesn't come with a touch screen - which may be a requirement for some. However, for me it's a blessing as on the Yoga I was continually accidentally touching the screen while typing and things would go haywire!
I have seen better displays in terms of brightness and colour - but not in this price range. Indeed, it is better than the display on my HP Pavilion and more than adequate for me. I don't miss the HP's 15.6" display size at all. The Huawei's narrow bezel keeps things looking compact and neat.
I have found the supplied 90cm USB C power cable to be a tad short in some situations. So, I have purchased a red Amazon Basics 3m USB C cable (3A) which does the job admirably. Being double braided, it is also a bit more robust than the white plastic Huawei original.
I have an occasional requirement to read and write DVDs. I had a slim salvaged DVD Re-writer in my cupboard from an old laptop. So, I purchased a USB 3 DVD caddy for just £10 on Amazon (see photo) and popped the old drive into it. That works a treat on the Matebook and saves me having to transfer files between devices.
I have also just purchased a convenient docking station - now that I just use one laptop at home and on my travels. The docking station gives me the connectivity I need at home and I usually leave it behind when travelling. I chose a 'Fitfort' USB 3 docking station as there was a £10 discount voucher. However, there are plenty of similar devices on Amazon for £20+. It really depends on how much connectivity you actually need.
Alas, here IMHO, is this notebook's "Achilles Heel" - the USB C port only supports USB 2.0 transfer rates. I thought it was a fault but discussion with Huawei support (who were easy to contact and pleasant to chat to) confirms this to be a feature! That's disappointing and should be stated in the Amazon listing and the Huawei product specifications. It is also a consideration if you want to add a docking station - if you connect it to the USB C port, any device attached to it will only run at USB 2.0 speeds - and, for example, my backups to an external SSD would take 10 times longer.....
The issue is easy enough to work around - I use a USB 3 type A to C adapter and plug the docking station into the USB 3.0 port instead (see photo). Everything is fine other than I now have 2 cables plugged into the laptop rather than one - as pass through PD charging is not possible via a USB A type port. So, please be aware.
So, in summary, this is a good value for money laptop that offers performance comparable with more expensive offerings. A top-notch gaming laptop, it is not. But it's a great everyday device.
It has a couple of annoying niggles but it more than meets my albeit simple home and away requirements. Given the USB C issue, I was tempted to give 4 stars but, to be fair, I am still very pleased with my purchase and remain suitably impressed....
UPDATE (May 2021).
I decided to update the SSD as I needed greater capacity. I opted for a Samsung 1TB 970 EVO-Plus device (and use the previously installed 512GB WD device in a caddy as a portable SSD).
I cloned the new SSD using Paragon Hard Disk Manager 17 without issue. Everything ran very smoothly and rapidly! However, under heavy load, the excellent Samsung Magician utility reported the SSD to be running reasonably hot (up to ~60degC). That's not disastrous but not ideal. Alas, in this laptop there is no room for a conventional SSD heatsink, so I chose a flat copper heat pad instead (see photo). This just fits and works a treat - I now have no temperature issues whatever the workload. Performance has also improved slightly. Excellent 👌😊
October 5th 2021
I upgraded the laptop to Windows 11. I first ran the Microsoft PC Health Check tool. This confirmed the PC was compatible. Then I took a full backup and subsequently used the Windows Update Assistant which downloaded and installed Windows 11 successfully. It was all surprisingly quick and painless - there were no issues at all and everything runs perfectly - including some rather ancient apps I first used on XP! Excellent 👌
494 people found this helpful