Huawei MateBook X Pro 2021, analysis and opinion

This is the analysis of the Huawei MateBook X Pro 2021, the new version of Huawei’s premium ultraportable that comes with some hardware improvements but with a style and dimensions similar to the previous version.

The MateBook X Pro 2021 now reaches its third generation in the premium ultraportable market, refining the points of the previous versions and maintaining its strengths. We thoroughly analyze this new model and give you our opinion.

In this edition of 2021, the MateBook X Pro arrives reinforced with hardware based on 11th generation Intel Core i7 processors that offer an excellent level of power, and all this without sacrificing the quality and solidity of top-quality materials in its manufacturing.

Analysis of the Huawei MateBook X Pro 2021 by sections:

  • Design and connectivity: Four generations of continuity is too much
  • Display and multimedia: Flawless display and enhanced surround sound
  • Performance and software: Power and temperature find their balance without neglecting graphics performance
  • Keyboard and touchpad: The jewel in the crown is your keyboard and the Huawei Free Touch
  • Autonomy: The autonomy is not up to what is expected of a Premium laptop
  • Conclusion: MateBook X Pro 2021 is still one of the best ultraportables but, Huawei, it’s time to think about a replacement

The materials and dimensions are excellent, but four years of continuity is too much

If we put a 2020 MateBook X Pro – which we analyze here – next to the 2021 model, very few would be able to distinguish which of them is the most current version and which is the original model. Simply, at the design level, do not expect big changes because the MateBook X Pro 2021 remains in the same line as previous generations.

This is not necessarily negative. Huawei did an excellent design job in its day and the truth is that the commitment to a minimalist design in which top-quality materials such as aluminum alloys are used to manufacture the chassis makes the MateBook X Pro 2021 maintain an aesthetic that does not out of tune.

However, four years without changing the design in a market as contested as that of Premium laptops does not offer many incentives to the user to renew their laptop.

Huawei has put the differential note in its finishes, were to the usual Space Gray color, a beautiful Emerald Green finish is added, which is what we have tested. As it is a somewhat darker color, the traces become more visible and it will be necessary to clean it more frequently.

Leaving aside this purely aesthetic aspect, the MateBook X Pro 2021 maintains dimensions of 304 x 217 x 14.6 mm and only 1.33 kg that position it as an excellent alternative for those looking for a powerful, elegant laptop and, above everything, compact and light to carry it with you throughout the day.

By lifting the lid we find an interior with the same aluminum finish as the exterior with a perfectly centered generous touchpad and some grooves at the ends of the keyboard.

In the upper right corner, we find the power button that performs the double function of turning on the laptop and identifying the user through the integrated fingerprint reader.

The operation of this reader is very good, but it gives us the feeling of not being as sensitive as the one mounted on the Huawei Matebook 14 – here is its analysis.

We also did not find significant changes in connectivity, although some important features are updated. For example, the USB type A 3.2 port and the 3.5 mm audio minijack for headphones and microphone remain, as well as the two USB type C connectors that allow charging.

It is curious that, although Huawei indicates that these ports meet the requirements of the Thunderbolt standard, they do not have the official certification. Everything points to a bureaucratic limitation as a result of Huawei’s problems with North American companies and not to a technical deficiency.

In wireless connectivity, the MateBook X Pro 2021 brings out its chest by integrating dual-band WiFi 6 to maintain more stable connections improving speed and Bluetooth 5.1.

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Flawless display and improved surround sound

The Pro last name of this laptop already points to a team designed for productivity. This suspicion is confirmed by lifting the lid and discovering the starring role of its screen, which, like its design, has remained intact since the first version of this laptop.

We are talking about a 13.9-inch Fullview screen with LTPS technology that practically extends from end to end occupying 91% of the front and leaving narrow frames on the sides and the top. In the lower part, it maintains the distance with the hinge with a somewhat more pronounced frame.

The screen is tactile and with a 3: 2 format that leaves a resolution of 3,000 x 2,000 pixels. This somewhat higher than usual format allows you to display more content vertically or align two documents next to each other to improve office work.

Against it, when watching videos or movies, two black bars are shown at the top and bottom when watching videos since most of the available content is in 16: 9 and even more panoramic formats.

The truth is that it is a real pleasure to work on a screen with quality like that offered by the MateBook X Pro 2021. The 260 dpi density makes the texts appear perfectly defined, while the 450 nits of brightness allow working outdoors with no compromises on sunny days.

The downside is the glossy finish necessary for touch functionality, making all the surrounding lights reflect on the screen like a mirror.

The color calibration is very successful and covers 100% of the sRGB space. This makes it reliable support for working with photos and in design tasks due to its good color representation.

It should be noted the significant improvement in the audio of the MateBook X Pro 2021. Its four speakers are located on the sides of the keyboard and not at the bottom of the laptop as usual.

From this position, a pair of tweeters supported by two woofers shoot the sound directly towards the user, generating an atmosphere of sound that covers the entire front of the laptop, making the sound more enveloping and better separating the frequencies.

Its volume is not the most powerful, but it is more than enough to listen to music while you work or to enjoy a good movie without problems thanks to the Dolby Atmos sound support.

The sensations are so satisfactory when we talk about the webcam that Huawei mounts on this ultraportable. The idea of ​​integrating the webcam into the keyboard is perfect in terms of privacy, but not so much in practicality.

The point of view offered by the webcam from this location could not be more disadvantageous. The interlocutors will have a privileged seat to enjoy a close-up of gigantic fingers moving across the keyboard, your double chin, and even the lower part of your nose if it had enough definition to achieve it.

The quality of the webcams is another melon that has been opened during this period of teleworking and remote study and no brand has been successful. Huawei is no exception. Mounting a 1 Megapixel webcam with 720p resolution is totally insufficient in 2021.

Power and temperature find their balance without neglecting graphics performance

One of the reasons for being the MateBook X Pro from 2021 that we are analyzing is the update of its processor to the Tiger Lake-U processors of the 11th generation of Intel Core.

We are talking about an Intel Core i7 1165G7 processor with 4 cores and 8 processing threads running at a maximum frequency of 4.7 GHz, supported by 16 GB of LPDDR4x RAM at 4266 MHz.

In terms of power, this is an obvious advantage for two reasons. The first is the performance increase of changing the processor compared to the 2020 model, something that becomes evident when comparing the performance tests between the MateBook X Pro from 2021 and the one from 2020.

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The second reason is that the processor change also means having the integrated Intel Iris Xe GPU. This is where you can really see the difference even with models that mounted Nvidia’s GeForce MX discrete graphics.

But let’s go in parts: how does the MateBook X Pro 2021 perform? If we compare it with the previous version, the general improvement is evident.

However, the consumption of this chip has been limited to a base of 18 W of the 28 W that it allows. Something that is beneficial for the battery, but reduces the power offering a lower performance than other computers that mount the same processor.

This maneuver seeks to alleviate the temperature problems that we highlighted in the 2020 version – which we analyze here – and to a large extent, it succeeds. The processor stays below 70ºC when its thermal ceiling is set at 100ºC, removing the specter of thermal throttling that we did appreciate in the previous generation.

In addition to limiting the consumption of the processor, Huawei has also implemented a new cooling system with Shark Fin fans and the incorporation of more air intakes in the chassis, in order to promote the flow of fresh air inside the laptop.

While we were using the MateBook X Pro 2021 as a work team in office automation and navigation tasks, the fan has barely been activated and when it has, it has been so quiet that there is hardly a murmur. Only when higher performance has been demanded has the presence of the fan become more noticeable, although in any case with a very low sound level even for a quiet room.

This improvement in cooling has not prevented the aluminum chassis from acting as a heatsink and transferring heat to the outside, increasing the temperature in the lower part of the laptop and in the upper area of ​​the keyboard, something that is not very comfortable when you are working. with the equipment on the knees or in summer.

The integrated Iris Xe graphics look great on this notebook and allow you to tackle graphics tasks unthinkable for previous graphics chips.

In our case, we have been able to edit 4K videos with DaVinci Resolve, develop and edit photos with Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop or play games like Battlefield 1 or Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag in Full HD, with a medium graphic level and an average of between 30 and 40 fps that allow you to play them without major problems.

Of course, it is not by far the best laptop to play or carry out these exhaustive tasks continuously, but it does not prevent it from doing it sporadically and on time when the situation requires it.

The unit that Huawei has sent us has 1 TB of M.2 NMVe SSD storage that offers read and write speeds within what is expected in a unit with these characteristics.

What we did like is that Huawei has changed its approach to the distribution of space by giving a little more air to the system partition, which simplifies Windows management.

And since we are talking about the operating system, mention that we are facing a version of Windows 10 Home clean of bloatware in which we only find some Huawei programs such as PC Manager that act as a control center for the maintenance of the equipment.

The integration of Huawei Share is maintained, which allows a Huawei smartphone or tablet to be connected via NFC with the laptop by simply bringing it closer to the touchpad, being able to even control the mobile screen from the laptop by showing it in a window and allowing you to easily drag files between both devices. A luxury reserved only for Huawei or Honor mobile users.

The jewel in the crown is its keyboard and the Huawei Free Touch

We have commented that the MateBook X Pro 2021 is a laptop designed to work and that implies intensive use of the keyboard and the touchpad.

In this sense, we have to say that the keyboard of the MateBook X Pro has seemed one of the most comfortable on the market. With well-dimensioned chiclet-type keys, with good separation between them and a short and reactive path that allows you to work for hours without showing signs of fatigue in the hands.

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The keyboard is backlit in white with three possible levels and its keystroke is very silent, which allows you to work in dark environments discreetly, such as during a flight without disturbing other passengers or in a room while other people sleep.

The touchpad of the MateBook X Pro 2021 is not far behind and offers a generous size for the dimensions of the notebook, offering one of the best control experiences on the market and allowing it to compete with the touchpads of Microsoft’s Surface.

This good user experience is given by the Huawei Free Touch technology that allows you to customize the intensity of the click and its haptic response, being able to click anywhere on the touchpad and not only at the bottom, varying the sensitivity of Windows gestures. A great job from Huawei in this section.

The autonomy is not up to what is expected of a Premium laptop

We come to one of the most obvious weaknesses of the Huawei MateBook X Pro 2021: its autonomy.

The Asian brand maintains the same 56 Wh battery that the previous models mounted, but we fear that the change in processor and integrated GPU has not been taken into account, which, despite the limitations in voltage, seems to raise total consumption penalizing the autonomy of use.

Huawei announces 10 hours of use, considerably less time than the 15 that it announced in the 2020 model. This, in the average use of office automation and navigation, with the screen brightness at 50% and with good Wi-Fi coverage, translates into between 7 and 8 hours of use. As soon as a little more is demanded of it in photographic, video, or game editing work, the autonomy falls below 6 hours.

It is completely insufficient autonomy for a laptop of the category (and price) of this MateBook X Pro 2021, limiting its options as a mobility device capable of supporting a whole day away from the office or on the road without needing a rescue charge.

A solution that could mitigate this deficiency is the implementation of a fast charge that would allow you to reduce the charging time, but it does not have that option either and except for a slight initial push, it will take a little over an hour to reach 50% of its charge. , and about 130 minutes to complete.

The positive point is put by the 65W charger of the MateBook X Pro 2021, which allows you to charge any other device by using a removable cable with a USB Type-C connector that makes it very convenient to use on a day-to-day basis as a charger for everything.

MateBook X Pro 2021 is still one of the best ultraportables but, Huawei, it’s time to think about a replacement

Huawei is doing an excellent job in the notebook segment and its flagship, although not perfect, is an excellent team for those looking for a laptop with good performance and contained dimensions.

The arrival of the new 11th generation processors has done it wonderfully, allowing it to keep under control temperatures that easily ran wild in previous models.

The workmanship and materials are excellent, and the design has withstood the passing of the years very well thanks to the fact that it started from a very sober and elegant base, but it is time to let in a breath of fresh breeze and Huawei should start to think of a new design for the next generation.

Having good performance, a good keyboard (and touchpad), and a good screen are essential requirements for any professional laptop and, without a doubt, the MateBook X Pro 2021 fully complies with those sections.

The temperature section has been greatly improved and they are no longer as worrying as in previous models, but an autonomy takes over that is not up to what other Premium ultrabooks offer.

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