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Huawei MateBook 14 (2020) Hands-on, Quick Review: Great Refresh

AMD's new processor is a beast


Early verdict:
Huawei’s going full speed with AMD, refreshing their main laptop model with the red team’s new Ryzen 5 4600H CPU. The new processor gives the MateBook 14 some serious pep, allowing it to tackle more taxing applications and even light gaming without breaking a sweat.

The refreshed model does cost quite a bit more than the original MateBook 14 released earlier this year, priced at Php 54,999.

AMD’s new Ryzen 4000 series of processors managed to impress us when we first saw it in ASUS’ gaming laptop, unfortunately, the pandemic has delayed its deployment to mainstream consumer devices. We’re finally seeing the processor family on more mainstream laptops this year, which includes Huawei’s 2020 refresh of their 14-inch MateBook 14.

The Ryzen 4600H processor gives the notebook quite a boost in productivity tasks and rendering while retaining the insane battery life that we’ve come to expect from AMD’s more efficient chipset.

Design and display

Huawei has a pretty well-established design language for its MateBook line of laptops, and that hasn’t changed with the 2020 model of the MateBook 14. You’re still only getting the notebook in the Slate Grey colorway, and the notebook still features sleek lines as well as a metal chassis.

Dimensions haven’t changed much from the previous iteration, with the notebook weighing in at 1.38 kilos and being just 15.9mm thin.

The laptop still feels incredibly premium, to the touch, and is incredibly well built, with little to no wobble on the lid when you open up the display.

There’s very little branding on the lid of the laptop, as you’ll only see the brand’s name on the outside tastefully done in raised lettering.

There are a bunch of ports scattered around the body – the left side holds a USB Type-C connector which doubles as the laptop’s charging port, as well as the 3.5mm headphone jack and HDMI port. The right side meanwhile holds the two USB A 3.2 ports.

It’s a little unfortunate that Huawei hasn’t added a second USB Type-C port to the chassis of the MateBook 14 (2020), as it means you won’t be able to use the Type-C plug when you’re charging the notebook.

The display is a 14-inch 2160 x 1440 IPS panel with a 3:2 aspect ratio. The bezels are much, much skinnier now, down to just 4.9mm.

Huawei is one of the few brands aside from Microsoft that uses a 3:2 aspect ratio display for its laptops, which gives the notebook an almost square-like dimension to it. This makes the laptop better for productivity tasks as it gives you more vertical real-estate to work with when you’re typing or working on spreadsheets. It does make watching movies a little odd though as you’ll be seeing black bars on the bottom and top for most of the stuff you consume (as most media is usually formatted for the more common 16:9 aspect ratio).

Keyboard and features

Because of the tiny bezels on the screen, Huawei had to relocate the webcam of the MateBook 14 (2020) to the chassis. Pressing on the webcam icon lifts it up, and it folds down neatly when you don’t need it. The downside here is that the resulting angle is a little unflattering, but you can probably live with it.

The keys on the keyboard are a little bigger compared to the previous iteration and are still backlit island-style keys.

Huawei has pretty much nailed the typing experience on their laptops down to an art, and that hasn’t changed with the MateBook 14 (2020). Typing on the keyboard feels very good, with plenty of travel.

Another thing I like with Huawei’s MateBook series of laptops is the fact that the power button has an integrated fingerprint scanner which simplifies log-ins via Windows Hello. It’s one of the best features of the brand’s laptops and I’m happy that’s still in their latest offering.

Like other MateBooks before it, the MateBook 14 (2020) has Huawei Share, an easy to use sharing system that allows you to easily transfer the contents of your phone over to it, as well as mirror your phone on the desktop. Unfortunately, this feature only works for phones running EMUI, so only Huawei and Honor phones can take advantage of it.

Hardware and Battery

The star of the show is AMD’s new Ryzen 5 4600H processor, sporting 6 Zen 2 CPU cores and 12 threads, a base frequency of 3.0 GHz with boost up to 4.0 GHz, along with 8MB of L3 cache and a standard 45W TDP.

The new processor is built on a 7nm process and is accompanied by 512GB of NVMe SSD storage as well as 16GB of DDR4 memory.

AMD’s new batch of processors continues to impress thanks to their performance, especially considering the fact that Ryzen 5 4600H is technically the mainstream offering of the current generation chips.

It’s hard to imagine that, considering that it puts up quite a fight against similarly-equipped Intel Core i7 chipsets in more expensive devices, like the 6-core, 12-thread Core i7-10750H that’s in some of the gaming notebooks we’ve reviewed previously.

Let’s take a look at its benchmark relative to the processor I mentioned:

Despite being a supposedly middle-of-the-road processor, the Ryzen 5 4600H beats Intel’s more performance-focused 10th Generation Core i7-10750H in multi-core performance in GeekBench as well as CineBench R20. Even in PCMark, where a discrete GPU skews scores heavily, the ASUS ROG G15 that we used in this comparison that packs discrete graphics fails to pull away from the MateBook 14 (2020) convincingly.

It just shows just how much power AMD’s new processors have under the hood compared to Intel’s chips, at least when it comes down to multi-core performance.

The gap becomes even bigger when you compare the Ryzen 5 4600H to the Core i7-1065G7, a processor that lives inside the Lenovo Yoga C940. This 4-core, 8 thread processor is built on a 10nm lithography and comes equipped with Intel’s Iris Plus Graphics, which functions much like the Vega Graphics in the Ryzen 5 4600H.

While the Core i7-1065G7 wins handily in single-core performance, it gets destroyed in almost every metric that we measure in synthetic benchmarks, including multi-core performance, Cinebench R20 score, PCMark 10 score as well as GeekBench’s Compute metric, which takes into account the graphics performance as well.

We’ll dive into the Ryzen 5 4600H’s graphical capabilities via the Vega Graphics in our full review.

The laptop has a 56Wh battery pack inside of it, which doesn’t look impressive at first glance. But we’ve seen just how well AMD’s new chips perform when it comes to longevity, so we expect this laptop to last a while on our battery loop test. As always, the MateBook 14 (2020) uses a 65W USB Type-C charger to charge itself, which can pull double duty as a phone fast charger as well.

Wrap-up and early conclusions

The Huawei MateBook 14 (2020) looks like another solid offering from Huawei and definitely looks like a solid upgrade from the Ryzen-powered model sold earlier this year.

The new Ryzen 5 4600H from AMD packs plenty of power under the hood, and is powerful enough for general purpose use, though we’ll have to see the limits of its capabilities in terms of gaming and other metrics on our review.

The new MateBook 14 (2020) is priced at Php 54,999. Huawei’s sweetening the deal by including a Freebuds 3i in the package as well as a Classic Backpack when you buy one from October 10 to 24. You can also get it up to 24 months 0% interest from all major banks as well.

John Nieves

John is a veteran technology and gadget journalist with more than 10 years of experience both in print and online. When not writing about technology, he frequently gets lost in the boonies playing soldier.

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