2019 was a very tough year for Huawei but that hasn’t stopped them from releasing flagship after flagship, and a bunch of other new models. They also haven’t given up their ambition of penetrating the PC sector too and has released a plethora of new devices, especially in South East Asia where it is hugely dominant in the phone segment. Today, we’ll take a look at one of their latest PC releases – the Huawei Matebook D 14.
The Matebook D 14 promises to offer a premium experience at an aggressive price tag, much like their phones. Can they deliver? Find out in this review.
Let’s kick things off in a rather unusual way – price reveal. This laptop that we’re reviewing today is priced at only PHP42,990. We wanted to share this prior to everything else because we wanted all viewers to understand that what you’re getting with this laptop. This is much more than what PHP42,990 can get you these days. I don’t mean about raw specifications though but the over-all package. For PHP42,990, you get the following:
-14-inch FullView (1920 x 1080) IPS display, 250 nits
-AMD Ryzen 7 3700U CPU (Zen+)
-Radeon RX Vega 10 Graphics
-Huawei Shark Fin Design 2.0 cooling system
-8GB DDR4 RAM + 256GB, 512GB NVME SSD
-Wi-Fi 802.11AC + Bluetooth 5.0
-1x USB-A 3.0 + 1 x USB-A 2.0
-USB-C + Full sized HDMI slot
-3.5mm headset and microphone 2-in-1 jack
-2-in-1 power button and fingerprint scanner
-1MP (720p HD) webcam (found on keyboard deck)
-LArge 56Wh battery / Huawei Share
-322.5 x 214.8 mm x 15.9mm thin / 1.38 kg
So you see, by raw specs alone – you would probably start typing away saying “you can get so much better value in 2020” from other brands. However, there’s more to the Matebook D 14 than meets the eye and it actually surprised us in a lot of fronts. let’s start off with the design.
Box and Package
The box came in fairly simple and didn’t have much inside the box save for the unit itself, the USB C charging adapter and documentation so let’s jump straight on to the device.
The version of the Huawei MateBook D 14 that is available in the Philippines is the all aluminum version. This laptop is a slim and minimilastic design with just the huawei logo up on the top lid, a few stickers in the bottom of the chassis, a HUAWEI Share and CPU logo on the deck and not much else. Impressively, it’s a very clean looking laptop.
It’s only 15.9mm thin and just 1.38KG light putting it squarely even with some of the mid-high premium laptops there and this is where the first advantage comes in. We usually don’t find 15.9mm thin laptops that also weight below 1.5KG below PHP60,000, let alone below PHP50,000. This makes the Huawei Matebook D 14 an attractive laptop for those who really want a thin and light device. At PHP42,990 – you will really forgive it for having last year’s processor.
In terms of the actual design and the keyboard deck, the Matebook D 14 is VERY reminiscent of the Macbook. Even the colorway is very macbook ish. Unlike the macbook, however, the keyboard isn’t something to be impressed at as the travel distance is quite short. It doesn’t introduce any fatigue, though, even in long sessions of typing. We’re actually writing this review on the Matebook D 14 and although the travel distance is lacking – we appreciate the well spaced keys. I really just can’t wrap myself around always thinking how it really looks like a Macbook. Actually, It must be that association that makes me feel like this laptop is more premium than it really is.
On that note, the only other giveaway that this isn’t a Macbook is the use of plastic bezels around the screen. The bezels are quite narrow, though, which is on par with 2020 notebook models
Unlike it’s great design, however, we weren’t great fans of the screen as it was quite dull with the colors being a little washed out. The brightness tops out at 250nits and the color accuracy is not the best we’ve seen. Our educated guess would be that it uses a 45% gamut TN panel, which is common on most mainstream laptops these days. Then again, it’s priced at just PHP42,990 and there are more expensive laptops guilty of having worse screens so this is pretty acceptable.
Ports and Connectivity
Input devices wise, the Matebook D 14 has 2 usb ports, one on each side, 1 USB C (which also acts as the power in) and a full sized HDMI port. Unfortunately, we’re missing any type of card reader here so that may be a deal breaker for some. It’s still pretty generous given how most laptops that are sub 16mm usually forego USB Type A or HDMI ports in 2020. Connectivity wise, we get a 2×2 AC WIFI and Bluetooth 5.0.
Lastly, is the webcam. If you thought it didn’t exist – we’d forgive you for that. But the Huawei Matebook D 14 actually has one and it’s hidden in the keyboard deck. hit the camera button on the keyboard and voila – pops out a nose cam. It’s not the best of places but hey, it’s still a webcam. It’s still the usually 720p webcam so you’re probably better off with an external one if web calls are your jam these days but it’ll get the job done fairly enough.
Internals and Upgradeability options
The Huawei MateBook D14 comes in with 8GB of DDR4 ram and 512GB storage which is plenty adequate in 2020. If you’ll need more, though, you can easily upgrade the SSD down the line. The same cannot be said for the ram, unfortunately. You’re stuck with 8GB forever so if you feel you’ll need more down the line, then this laptop isn’t for you. Thankfully, 8GB is more than enough for most users these days. We’ll also mention here the lack of an HDD slot which may be a bummer for those looking for a secondary storage to dump files or multimedia.
We ran the Matebook D 14 across various real world tests and a few synthetic tests just to see what we can get out of it and it’s actually pretty solid. The SSD is the SN730 from WD and it achievies great read and write speeds over 2000mb/s.
As for the CPU and GPU, it’s decent but it’s probably what is holding this laptop back from being the great performer that it is. Had Huawei slapped a 4000 series Ryzen, this would have been a no brainer laptop in 2020.
The Huawei Matebook D 14 houses a 56Whr battery life to match it’s long list of features. In our testing or casual work connected to wifi and 50% brightness, it lasted over 8 hours. 8 hours quite a good work horse for those on the go. What’s even better, though, is the ability to charge up to 50% in just 30 minutes. That’s atleast 4 hours of juice in just 30 minutes of charge and that’s impressive.
However, with heavier multiple tasks like photoshop and a few downloads and calls – it only lasted around 4 hours. This was similar to the result that PC Mark 8’s battery life test for Work gave us – 4 hour 19mins.
The Huawei Matebook D 14 is let down by the use of last year’s Ryzen processors. However, that is easily forgotten when you experience the rest of the laptop and remember the value it offers. We also don’t actually mean to say that the Matebook D 14 is underspecced because the Ryzen 7 3700U is pretty respectable and a decent performer on it’s own.
At PHP42,990 – it isn’t going to win any awards in terms of performance but it’s surprisingly an excellent performer and we’ve never seen a laptop with such great quality paired with such an aggressive price tag. There are definitely going to be cheaper options out there in the market but you’re not going to get a fully aluminum body that’s only 15.9mm thin, 1.38KG light nor one with a battery over 50Whr. If you actually forget the generation of the CPU it uses and take a quick look at the market, you’ll find similar offerings hovering over the PHP50,000 mark.
So, do we recommend the Huawei Matebook D 14? The short answer would be YES.
It offers a lot for it’s price tag and is a breath of fresh air versus the laptops in it’s segment. So much that, if you are looking for raw power – you’ll have to settle for an alternative of lesser build. Your only other option is really to shell out another PHP10,000 just to get the latest CPU with a very similar package package as the D 14.
To learn more, visit here.