The Huawei MateBook X Pro is our pick for the best laptop money can buy in 2018. This is a gorgeously-designed laptop with a stunning screen (albeit with a rather odd aspect ratio), and it comes packed with cutting edge components that allows it to perform brilliantly, and a battery life that runs rings around many of its rivals. It also has a very competitive price, giving you features, design and performance for quite a bit less money.
Last year’s MateBook X was the first time the company had ever attempted to make a laptop, and came impressively close to the 12in MacBook, with only a few hiccups along the way. Now though, its successor is comfortably ready to take on the might of Apple’s MacBook Pro.
Huawei has directed its good-looking MateBook X Pro at buyers who are searching for attractive alternatives to all the Surfaces and MacBooks of this world. We already tested the MateBook X Pro in its configuration with a Core i5-8250U CPU about half a year ago and were very happy with it. However, the intense display and stable case as well as its near silent operation were tainted by insufficient performance under continuous load, missing maintenance options and a webcam that was below average.
This slim, sleek machine borrows more design inspiration from the latest smartphones than from competing laptops, with a near bezel-free screen, fingerprint-sensing power button and incredibly compact dimensions. Then it goes one better with dedicated graphics, and more raw power than you’ll find in Apple’s elder statesman.
Users of the Huawei MateBook X Pro can only connect to local networks via Wi-Fi, including the faster ac standard. Our test unit reached very good data transfer rates of 630 MBit/s. The data reception speeds are also good at up to 525 MBit/s. This puts the Huawei on par with comparable devices and our test unit does not stand out in our comparison field.
The MateBook X Pro has a fingerprint reader that is integrated into the power button. This unlocks the system a lot faster than a password.
The scope of delivery of the Huawei MateBook X Pro includes a USB Type C power supply plus a suitable USB cable and the Huawei MateDock 2. The latter offers ports for VGA and HDMI as well as two more USB connectors.
The manufacturer also offers a suitable leather case, a Huawei backpack, Bluetooth mice, an anti-glare screen protector and a USB-to-LAN adapter for separate purchase.
You can access the insides of the Huawei MateBook X Pro via the bottom plate. The maintenance options are rather limited, however, as almost all hardware components are covered by a heat sink. The RAM is also firmly soldered on and cannot be removed or expanded. A corner of the SSD is visible on the left side, but this can only be accessed by removing the heat sink.
In real world use, we managed around eight hours between top-ups, which is merely average for the class, but a big improvement over its predecessor. This is just about enough to get through a work day without needing to break out the charger, but try anything more intensive and you’ll be out of juice far sooner.
The webcam is hidden amongst the function keys, and pops up and down with a satisfying spring. The power button isn’t quite so stealthy, as it sits above the keyboard on its lonesome, but it does have a Windows Hello-friendly fingerprint sensor built into it.
That means you can power on the MateBook with the correct digit, and have it automatically skip the lock screen, which is very handy.
Huawei has fitted a huge slab of a touchpad below the keyboard, which is great for nipping around the screen quickly. It’s a little overly sensitive to multi-touch gestures, which can lead to accidentally zooming in or out of web pages, but you can disable the ones you don’t use in Settings.
The MateBook’s touchpad isn’t quite as slick, though, and while the cat’s eye-esque camera is a smart way of getting more screen for your money, it doesn’t create the most flattering angle for video calls. Windows will still be a dealbreaker for some, too.
Some Windows-based rivals might cost less, and have their own unique styling rather than mimicking Apple’s established design, but can’t match the MateBook for GPU performance.
So if some minor quibbles don’t bother you, this is a fantastic ultraportable with enough power for just about all your desktop duties.