The Huawei MateBook X Pro 2020 is one of the best looking 13.9” subnotebooks with a very ‘Apple-Esque’ Space Grey machined alloy chassis. It is the third generation to use this chassis – when you are on a good thing stick to it.
The Huawei MateBook X Pro 2020 model appears largely unaffected by the US Presidential Edict facing its Android phones. It has Windows 10 and Microsoft’s special form of spyware that is ostensibly there to make your Windows experience easier. Yes, Huawei has a PC Manager that can automatically update the device and it too collects PII if you let it.
It has a 13.9” Surface-like 3000×2000, 3:2 ratio screen, Intel 10th generation Core i7-10510U processor and runs Windows 10 quite nicely.
We reviewed the 2019 version and rated it 4.9/5 – close to perfection. This is déjà vu. It has much of the same that made it great, but as we delved, we found some subtle differences. And what a difference one year makes to teh competition.
Australian Review: Huawei Huawei MateBook X Pro 2020 laptop
Huawei (Est. 1987) pronounced Wah-wei is a Chinese multi-national making Telco network, 4/5G comms, data centres, and its consumer business with smartphones, PCs and wearables. The US has declared the company’s 5G network product a national security threat preventing US companies like Google from doing new business with it.
Screen – EXCEED
It has the same specifications as the 2019 model – 13.9”, 3000×2000, 260ppi, LTPS IPS, 8-bit, 60Hz.
Model JDI (Japan Display Inc) LPM139M422A
STBR: 91% – very small bezels
Glossy Gorilla Glass reduces direct sunlight readability
10-point touch – precise
16.7 million colours – an SDR screen
Brightness: claim 450 nits but varies from 492-535 (13%). It is LPTS which means no separate backlight
Contrast: Claim 1500:1 but measures 1653:1 at 180 nits
Colour temp: 6761-6839 – daylight equivalent
99% sRGB (our tests varied between 95-99 depending on brightness and settings)
68% Adobe RGB
Delta E colour accuracy 1.4 (anything below 4 is great)
G-T-G 50ms – a little slow for gamers
Great viewing angles out to about 130° before the colour shift
It is a screen that pops – great colours. It is a shame that it does not have higher ADOBE RGB for creatives as the 3:2 ratio is all about productivity.
3:2 will display an A4 sheet (portrait) or two A4 sheets (landscape scaled). When viewing 16:9 video content, there are larger black top and bottom bars.
It does not support an Active pen (digitiser), but you can use passive capacitive pens and Windows Ink.
When running the tests, we discovered that it is indeed the same panel as the 2019 model – the review unit’s panel was made in 2017, so I guess they got a good bulk-buy deal.
Quite fast at sequential read/write speeds of 3415.99/2827.15 and very good at random read/write of larger files. It is a standard M2.2280, but it is not easy to get to, and 2TB SSDs are too expensive at present.
But it has weird partitioning. Apart from what Windows needs, it has a C: Drive of 80GB and a D: Drive of 858.25GB. I recall that Windows did suggest a separate boot and rescue partition, but it seems such a waste.
There is no micro-SD slot, but with Flash drives and external disks, this is not an issue.
I have the 2019 MateBook X Pro, and it seems faster! Not by much but as far as I can tell the 2020 model throttles quite severely on battery. It has a maximum TDP of 15W, which means you are buying a 6-cylinder (25W) and using 3.6-cylinders. And the MX 250 processor is an average of 11% less slower.
Having said that it has plenty of power for almost anything and tests are there to reveal useless stats that nerds can fuss over.
Ports – PASS
The 2019 model has a 20Gbps (PCIe 2-lane) implementation of Thunderbolt 3 – the processor choice left it short of PCIe lanes to get any faster. That is my one beef.
But the 2020 model, well it must have Thunderbolt, but there is no symbol nor mention in the specs. WTF?
Well apparently due to US restrictions Huawei could not licence Thunderbolt 3. So, the ports are ‘officially’ USB-C 3.1 Gen 2 with ‘benefits’ if you can get the Thunderbolt 3 drivers (and these appear to autoload anyway).
Anyway, for a non-Thunderbolt device, it certainly achieves Thunderbolt 3 speeds on the front-most USB-C port.
USB-A 3.1 Gen 1 5V/2A – handy
USB-C 3.1 Gen 2 (5V/2A)
USB-C 3.1 Gen 2 (err Thunderbolt 3 5V/3A but don’t tell Donald that)
3.5mm combo audio
Comms – PASS
Intel Wireless Wi-Fi 5 AC-9560, 2×2 MIMO. But for this money we expect Wi-Fi 6 AX.
It gets 866Mbps at two metres from our reference NETGEAR AX12 router.
BT 5.0 – SBC codec only. Standard Windows fare.
NFC – Yes but for use with Huawei smartphones only for Huawei Share
An NFC-like pad allows you to mirror your Huawei smartphone screen, drag and drop files, edit and more.
Sound Speakers – FAIL
It has quad speakers. Two mid-woofers (not subs) L/R under the sides of the keyboard (towards the front) and two L/R up-firing tweeters beside the keyboard. It is a standard Intel Realtek setup, max 24-bit/48000Hz.
The extra speakers give a reasonably wide sound stage as well as some height, but they lack the ‘oomph’ of the 2019 model. More on that later*.
Maximum volume from the left speakers was 78.1dB, but the right was only 62dB. We adjusted the L/R balance and averaged 70dB. This is odd. We later found that the Windows audio overrides the Realtek Audio Panel settings – once fixed the volumes equalised aroubnd 70dB – not as loud we we would have expected.
Natively it is a Mid sound signature (bass ‘severely’ recessed, mid boosted, treble recessed). Its fine for Skype but did not do justice to music or movies.
Deep Bass: 20-40Hz – nil Middle Bass: 40-100Hz – nil High Bass: 100 to 200Hz – vaguest hints Low-mid: 200-400Hz – starting to build from 300Hz Mid: 400-1000Hz – flat High-mid: 1-2kHz – flat Low-treble: 2-4kHz – flat Treble:4-6kHz – dip to avoid harshness High Treble: 6-10kHz – a presence but never recovers Dog whistle: 10-20kHz – gone at 15kHz
* In all respects it is the same setup as the 2019 model with one major omission – no Dolby Audio app or adjustment. Without that, the sound is nowhere as good. I understand there is a hack to install a third-party app DynamiQ that may get more bass. Another casualty of the US Presidential edict.
Lack of Atmos also impacts corded, or BT headphones as you have no pre-sets for movie, voice, music, sports etc.
Webcam – PASSable
It is a .9MP unit capable of 1280x720p stills or 720p video. The pop-up camera sits between F6 and F7 and over-emphasises double chins – I don’t need that. It also acts as a privacy switch. Still, it is a good compromise – I would rather have the narrow bezels any time.
There are four far-field mics under the front lip of the keyboard deck that can pick up a voice to four metres away although the Realtek chip only supports stereo mix recording. I suspect their real use is in noise-cancelling for video conferences.
The webcam colours and dynamic range are off. You need to play with HDR and brightness.
Keyboard – EXCEED
Full-sized chiclet. Nice clicky feel, 1.2mm travel and 60g activation – pretty good for a hunt and peck typist.
3 level backlit through keys (very little light flow from under)
120x78mm trackpad is good, but a slightly light touch can mean errors