After the huge success achieved with the 2018 version of his MateBook D (reviewed in both Intel and AMD Ryzen versions), Huawei it is called to repeat itself in this 2020 to maintain the market share conquered. To succeed in this goal, he decided to renew his best-selling model with a new platform, a new design and a series of tools and technologies that, previously, we only found on top of the range models. All this while maintaining a price that, if the product proves to be up to the previous MateBook D, would fully confirm the title of Best Buy.
So I would say that, given these premises, I can start to tell you how my experience with this new Huawei notebook went. They have been ten days full of work, in which I used MateBook D14 to replace my dear Mi Gaming Laptop in all the main operations; but no spoilers and let's go straight to the point.
OUTSIDE CHANGES THE RIGHT
Let's start by taking a look at the exterior of this new MateBook D14. At a first glance we immediately notice how the lines have significantly approached those of MateBook 13 (passed here about a year ago) and MateBook X Pro; the display has decidedly thinner bezels on the two short sides and on the upper one and allows to reach an aspect ratio of 84%; a significant step forward compared to the 2018 model. To achieve this, Huawei has moved the webcam from the upper frame of the display and inserted it under one of the keycaps in the row of function keys (to be precise between F6 and F7).
It is a solution that is actually a novelty only for the D series of notebooks of the Chinese giant. Higher-end products such as MateBook X Pro (tried now some time ago) have in fact been using this technology for some time. I personally appreciate this integration for the fact that it can significantly reduce the thickness of the upper frame of the display but at the same time I cannot fail to underline how this positioning leads to a very unpleasant shot when we activate the webcam. It was like this for previous models and it is also now with this MateBook D14.
For the rest I would say that the Huawei's quality standards are always very high, even in non-high-end products, and this notebook is clear proof of this. The shell is made entirely of metallic material and, thanks also to its compact size, it offers a marked sensation of solidity from the moment we pull it out of the box. Its similarity to the X Pro version, combined with the features just highlighted, really makes it look like a premium product. It may seem irrelevant, but in reality in this market segment it is often easy to find the so-called "plastics" again. Finally, the hinges are beautifully rigid and keep the screen in position in all situations; on the other hand, the lid cannot be opened with one hand.
High quality standards that we also find in the keyboard, backlit, a sensation very similar to that of MateBook X Pro. The race is not very deep but it is supported by a dry click and the combination of key size and spacing is almost perfect. It takes just a few minutes to tune into this keyboard that seems to move the keycaps exactly under our fingertips. It is one of the keyboards that immediately allowed me to write with fewer errors, and it is a specification far from irrelevant.
At the center of the palm rest we have, as usual, the touchpad. This is not a huge unit, you could have gnawed a few more mm above and below, but let's say that you can still work without too many problems. The surface is matte, the fingers slide well and the accuracy is more than enough. Also for this reason you can safely take advantage of all system gestures.
In the upper right corner of the keyboard piano we find the power button that integrates the reader for fingerprint recognition digital. A precise and very fast reader, which allows us to unlock our notebook safely using the Windows Hello functionality of the Microsoft operating system.
On both sides we have then grouped all the ports that provide two USB in standard format, one 2.0 and one 3.0, one HDMI, one USB Type C 3.1, through which charging is also carried out, and the 3.5 mm jack. Since USB C is also used to charge the notebook I would certainly have appreciated the presence of an additional door of this type, perhaps even with Thunderbolt support.
I close this chapter by talking to you about size. MateBook D14 is 15.9mm thick at the highest point and weighs just under 1.4 kg. These data, combined with the extremely small display frames on three sides lead to a footprint that is quite contained. The impact in the backpack or bag can be compared to that of a 13-inch product from a few years ago. Even the supplied charger, accompanied by a USB-C cable for connection to the PC, is slightly larger than that of a smartphone.
DISPLAY: CALIBRATION IS REVIEWABLE
Huawei has equipped this MateBook D14 with a 14-inch display diagonal type IPS with a resolution of 1920×1080 pixels. A classic 16: 9 panel as seen on many products in this market segment. The surface is not touch but the matte coating is well made, there is no feeling of losing definition and the reflections are really reduced to a minimum. This feature allows for good overall visibility even in very bright environments.
As usual, we measured the display of this MateBook D14 with our XRite probe and Calman software to better delineate the level of this panel. As you can see from the graphs below the results are not exciting. Starting from coverage of the sRGB standard, which does not exceed 65%, passing through the precision of the colors, which register an average delta E higher than 5.
Definitely better the maximum brightness and the contrast ratio, which were even higher than what Huawei officially declared. The company declares 250 peak nit and a contrast of 800: 1 but, in reality, with the backlight set to the highest value, it reaches touch the 270 cd / m2 and you get a contrast ratio of over 1300: 1.
Also thanks to the matte finish, the viewing angle is very good and, despite the data collected, we are faced with a panel that does not disappoint in everyday use. It is certainly not a suitable solution for those who work with images and videos and need a display that offers high performance in terms of precision but all the other categories of users will probably not notice these "defects".
EVERYTHING GOES HOW IT MUST GO
So let's talk a little bit about hardware and performance. Inside the new MateBook D14 we have an AMD platform Ryzen 5 3500U with Radeon Vega 8 graphics accompanied by 8 GB of RAM and a Samsung 500GB PCIe SSD. The latter is a feature that should not be underestimated for two reasons: the first is that it is a fairly fast drive (about 1800 MB / s in reading and 1600 MB / s in writing) and the second is that finding a product that in this price range it offers a basic 500 GB SSD is not easy at all.
Here too, as on last year's models, Huawei partitioned the disk into two 80GB and 380GB sections. I honestly don't understand this partitioning, especially considering the proportions. If like me you prefer to have all the space available on a single partition, follow the steps below to quickly solve the problem.
- right-click on the windows menu icon
- select Disk Management
- in the window that opens select the largest partition
- right click and select "Delete Volume"
- accept everything and at the end you will have unallocated space of the exact size of the volume just deleted
- right click on C: and select extend volume
- carry on the process without changing anything and at the end you will have a single partition C including all the available space on the disk excluding the recovery units
Having said that how does this hardware behave? I would say absolutely fine in most cases. MateBook D14 is an excellent product for working on the move. The components that we find inside allow to carry out all the most common activities without any problem. Zero uncertainties, zero slowdowns and an always very responsive system. It is fine for university students looking for a portable notebook with which to study, take notes, manage email, write texts and compile spreadsheets but also for all workers who have the same needs in terms of computing power.
TECHNICAL DATASHEET HUAWEI MATEBOOK D14 (2020):
- Display: 14 inch FullHD IPS (1920×1080 pixels)
- CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 3500 U, quad-core 2.00 GHz
- GPU: AMD Radeon Vega 8
- RAM: 8 GB DDR4
- Storage: Samsung 500 GB PCIe NVMe SSD
- Connectivity: Dual band WiFi 802.11ac, Bluetooth 5.0
- Ports: 1 HDMI, 1 USB 2.0 Type-A, 1 USB 3.0 Type-A, 1 USB 3.1 Type-C, 1 3.5mm jack
- Battery: 56 Wh
- Dimensions: 32.2 x 21.4 x 1.59 cm
- Weight: 1.38 Kg
The Ryzen 5 3500U is implemented here in a fairly conservative way. As you can see in the graphs above concerning the stress test performed by loading the maximum CPU and GPU simultaneously, the temperatures practically never go above 70 degrees and the 4 CPU cores stabilize after a few seconds at a frequency of just under 2 GHz. Thanks to this setup, there are no episodes of thermal throttling and the system is stable in all situations.
It is obviously not a notebook designed to play or to create multimedia content in 4K and beyond. If these are your needs you obviously have to aim higher and consequently raise your budget. The Radeon Vega 8 graphics allow you to run some titles with graphics that are not too demanding but, to obtain a sufficient gaming experience, you need to lower the resolution up to 720p and set the details to a fairly low level. In short, unless you are in abstinence from video games it is better to avoid.
By opening the rear body of the new MateBook D we can then see how practically every component is soldered on the motherboard. The only element "in the sunlight" and simply upgradeable is the SSD disk, which can be replaced with a larger one or, in the remote case where the performance is not enough, with a faster one.
Two words also regarding the audio sector. The speakers are two and are placed on the back of the body in the lower part of the back cover. It is a strategic position that allows you to create a sort of resonance box with the support surface and "amplify" the sound produced by the speakers a little. The volume of the reproduced audio is good and the quality more than enough. There are not many basses but the positive note is that the sound is not distorted in an attempt to amplify them unnecessarily.
I close this chapter with a couple of software considerations. I am not talking about the operating system but about features that Huawei has also wanted to install on this MateBook D14. As I said earlier, in fact, the Chinese company has also aimed to bring the functions and characteristics typical of the top of the range to its lower-end products. So here are the extremely small frames of the display, the camera hidden in the keyboard and the Huawei Share One Hop. A tool that we already know, we discovered it last year with the launch of MateBook X Pro and we find it here.
What's it about? Well, we could consider it as a kind of AirDrop for Huawei devices. On the palm rest we find an NFC tag, approaching it a Huawei smartphone creates a direct WiFi connection between the devices and it is possible to exchange images, videos and documents between the two products in a very simple and quick way. We can also select parts of text on the smartphone, copy them, and paste them with a simple touch into an open document on the notebook. A function that is not indispensable but certainly interesting.
Within this MateBook D14 we find a 56 Wh battery, not an absolute record in terms of capacity even for products of this size, but still sufficient to guarantee good autonomy in all situations. Also thanks to the platform certainly not expensive in terms of energy consumption, in fact, I have always managed to work for several hours with the display at maximum brightness and connected to the WiFi network.
|I work daily Internet over Wi-Fi ||-12.3%||8.1 hours|
|Netflix HD on the Metro app||-11%||9 hours|
|Rendering Premiere Pro / Games||-60%||1.7 hours|
|Draining in standby (Connected Standby On)||-0.1%||41 days|
50% screen brightness, 50% audio. Energy mode "Battery Enhanced".
As you can see from the data shown in the table above, with the display at 50% and the energy saving mode set to "improved battery", I managed to overcome the 8 hours of continuous working use. Using the notebook only to watch streaming videos on Netflix you can then cover the 9 and a half hours of use without too much trouble. Under full load the figure drops drastically to just under two hours.
As previously mentioned, the charger in the package is really small in size, slightly larger than that of a smartphone unit. The power supplied is 65W and with the computer in stand-by it takes about an hour and a half to complete a charge. There is fast charging, thanks to which we can charge the notebook up to about 50% in just 30 minutes.
We close by talking about prices and alternatives. Huawei MateBook D14 is available online on Amazon at a list price of 699 euros. A figure in my opinion correct for what this notebook offers. The build quality is excellent, the modern but sober design, the dimensions are quite small and the computing power is sufficient to meet the needs of the great majority of users.
In addition to this, as I said above, it is really very difficult to find in this price range a product that offers all the features of this MateBook D in a single solution. We can find notebooks with 500 GB SSD but larger in size and with an older design, or products built equally well but with significantly lower specifications or higher prices.
In short, finding an alternative to the height, but above all at the same price is really complicated. The solutions that come closest are probably the Lenovo Ideapad S540 which is available around 650 euros but with 256 GB SSD and theASUS Vivobook S14 who more or less for the same amount renounces the fingerprint reader but offers a GeForce MX250 graphics card. We must not forget that both these solutions at the launch had higher prices and that the previous generation of MateBook D has been the protagonist of strong discounts on several occasions. In short, when it will drop below 600, and it will certainly happen, it will be impossible not to consider it.
Then pay attention to promotions and bundles offered by Huawei. Until tonight at midnight, for example, they buy the new MateBook D14 you can receive the Watch GT 2 as a gift and, adding a single euro you will also have the subscription for one year at Office 365 (this offer will be valid until February 29). Only for tomorrow, however, by purchasing the MateBook at the experience store in Milan on the occasion of our event, you will have the FreeBuds 3 and the Watch GT 2 as a gift.
PROS AND CONS