Huawei MateBook 14s review: an ultrabook with ultra-tidy performance

Construction

Nothing looks more like a MateBook than another MateBook and you have to have a sharp eye to know which model on a case. The MateBook 14s chassis differs very little from its predecessors and retains its trademark aluminum shell.

The aluminum chassis is still as qualitative.  © The Digital

The aluminum chassis is still as qualitative. © The Digital

Opening the laptop reveals a well-integrated screen with very thin borders. The start button with fingerprint sensor still sits prominently above the keyboard. The latter does not suffer from any significant shortcomings. The strike is appreciable and well marked. However, it is the disappearance of the webcam between the F6 and F7 keys that leaves us doubtful. Rather than shifting all the keys from F7 to Del. to the left, the manufacturer preferred to insert a key calling for voice dictation between F6 and F7.

Come on Huawei, we remove this voice dictation key and integrate the fingerprint reader.  © The Digital

Come on Huawei, we remove this voice dictation key and integrate the fingerprint reader. © The Digital

Note also a particularly weak backlight. Despite the possibility of increasing its intensity, it is only really useful in the dark. The touchpad lacks the haptic feedback like on the MateBook X. Clicks are spongy and relatively loud. The gestures of Windows 10 are however perfectly taken into account. The aficionados Huawei could take advantage of the NFC chip under the touchpad to pair their tablets or smartphones to share their screen or transfer files quickly. Too bad the function is limited to devices from the manufacturer.

The glossy panel is particularly prone to reflections.  © The Digital

The glossy panel is particularly prone to reflections. © The Digital

The connection is rather well stocked with a USB 3.2 Type-C port also acting as a charging port, a Thunderbolt port (reserved for the Core i7 version), an HDMI 1.4 port and a jack socket. All these little people take place on the left edge, while a USB-A 3.2 port completes the connectivity on the right.

Wireless connectivity is provided by the Intel AX201 chip which allows it to benefit from wifi 6 (2400 Mb / s) and Bluetooth 5.2. The webcam taking place at the top of the screen and having a particularly poor 720p definition, will be satisfied with its compatibility with Windows Hello to unlock its session.

In low light.
In full light.

The cooling of the MateBook 14s is provided by two fans blowing towards the hinge of the screen. Two heat pipes are responsible for transferring the heat released by the Intel Core i7-11370H to the radiators.

Cooling is efficient.  © The Digital

Cooling is efficient. © The Digital

After 15 minutes of video encoding, the MateBook 14s does not exceed the 40°C reading near the hinge of its screen. Nothing to report on the keyboard or touchpad side, just a slight hot spot in the center which corresponds to the placement of the processor on the motherboard. We were a little scared with this Core i7-11370H with a TDP of 35 W, whereas manufacturers usually opt for processors with a maximum TDP of 28 W; Huawei has sufficiently sized its cooling system to keep this laptop cool.

The noise pollution noted during encoding is 39.2 dB, a reasonable level. In use, if you are in front of the PC, the noise is quite audible and may disturb your neighbors. However, with less processor-intensive use, the MateBook 14s is forgotten.

Dismantling does not pose any particular problem if you are equipped with Torx bits. After removing the 10 screws, all you have to do is gently unclip the shell to access the components.

Only SSD and battery could be replaced.  © The Digital

Only SSD and battery could be replaced. © The Digital

Once inside, we see that Huawei has used all the available space. Fans of scalability will therefore go their way since only the SSD and the battery are removable, the RAM and even the wifi card being soldered.

Editor's Rating: 4 out of 5

Performances

As we mentioned a little above, Huawei chose an Intel Core i7-11370H processor to power the MateBook 14s. This model is between two ranges at Intel: the Core i7-1165G7 (4C/8T) with a TDP of 28 W and the Core i5-11400H (6C/12T) with a TDP of 35 W. However, like the Core i7- 1165G7, the processor of the MateBook 14s is equipped with the Iris Xe graphics part of 96 units, much faster than the Intel UHD of the Core i5-11400H.

Processor performance index (the bigger the better).  © The Digital

Processor performance index (the bigger the better). © The Digital

Thus, the Huawei MateBook 14s corresponds to an index of 76, matching the Core i7-1195G7 which equips the Acer Vero. On the other hand, it is set back compared to the AMD Ryzen 7 5800H of the Asus VivoBook Pro 14X Oled which displays an index of 86. The Iris Xe part even allows you to benefit from hardware acceleration in Premiere and Photoshop, benefiting drastically processing times.

By activating the 45 W mode of the processor with the key combination Fn-P, and if the state of the battery allows it (plugged in and above 20%), the multi score under CineBench R23 goes from 6252 to 6566, while the encoding time goes from 735 to 708 s. Thus, the transition from a thermal envelope of 35 to 45 W makes it possible to gain 5 to 8% in performance, but at the cost of noise pollution.

We couldn’t resist testing the MateBook 14s with a game. Diablo 3 with all options enabled at 1080p, we got 50 fps on average.

Editor's Rating: 4 out of 5

Screen

Huawei chose a 14.2-inch IPS panel offering 2520 x 1680 px at 90 Hz, and added a multi-touch touch overlay. Its integration is particularly successful since the occupancy ratio reached 83.3%. The Fn-R key combination toggles the refresh rate on the fly between 60 and 90 Hz.

The integration of the FullView panel is successful.  © The Digital

The integration of the FullView panel is successful. © The Digital

Under our probe, the panel selected by Huawei turns out to be particularly brilliant in every sense of the word. With its glossy finish due to the tactile overlay, we measured a reflectance (rate of reflected light) of 51%, which is particularly high. It will be necessary to take care to orient your screen correctly, because despite a maximum brightness raised to 426 cd / m², this will not be enough to counter annoying reflections.

In terms of colorimetry, the panel does much better with an excellent delta E of 1.1 (above 3, colorimetric variations are visible), a temperature of 6600 K very close to the video standard of 6500 K and, finally, a very good contrast ratio for an IPS panel, i.e. 1854:1, far from the average value of 1000:1 on this type of display. Afterglow is a bit high at 25 ms, but outside competitive video games – far from the ambitions of the MateBook 14s – it will have little impact.

From left to right, the gamma curve, the color temperature and the delta E. © Les Numériques

From left to right, the gamma curve, the color temperature and the delta E. © Les Numériques

Editor's Rating: 4 out of 5

audio

Huawei tried to have the audio part of its MateBook evaluated by adding two speakers, thus bringing their number to four. However, the latter do not have sufficient openings to express themselves with just two small slots on each side of the chassis.

The two speakers one above the other.  © The Digital

The two speakers one above the other. © The Digital

When listening, the rendering is particularly banal and cannot be distinguished from any laptop. As on many models, we undergo a megaphone effect with a nasal rendering. The volume is correct and sufficient for videoconferences, but to enjoy your music and movies, we advise you to switch to headphones.

The headphone output does indeed slightly raise the rating of the Huawei MateBook 14s with a sufficient level to handle the most common headphones. Distortion and crosstalk are limited, while dynamics are average.

© The Digital

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