So the time has come to try and get my head around the Honor MagicBook Pro laptop review. I have already done a long piece on the hardware which can be found in my unboxing post. That is well worth a read as it will give you an appreciation for the size and design of the laptop. It is a good looking bit of kit. Now I’ve had some time with it, I have found that there are some things that I like about and things that I don’t like. I suppose that’s a good starting point.
Things I liked:-
- Speakers are on the keyboard and have a good depth to them. I could quite happily listen to music and watch movies with the laptop.
- The trackpad is large which gives a good area to move around the screen, it is also nicely matched to the screen resolution.
- Can charge via my GAN charger that i use for my phone which is a huge win as I don’t have to carry multiple chargers around.
- Charging from a high capacity charger is speedy.
- The slim design makes it easy to fit in a bag
- Plenty of power for gaming and video work
Things I didn’t like:-
- The keyboard seems a bit off which caused me problems when it came to getting comfortable. This could be related to the German Layout but I’m not so sure.
- Half size up/down arrow keys really annoys me!
- Keyboard backlight was weak and there is a lot of bleed from the keys.
- Cannot open with one hand.
- Not a fan of the camera angle for video calls and it is quite a low res as well.
- Lack of a microSD reader was annoying as it is a memory card format I do use from time to time.
So let’s dissect these things a little further ..
On the good list, I mention that the speakers are plenty loud enough and give a good depth of sound. This makes this a great device for consuming media and I spent a good few evenings watching content from Netflix or Apple TV on the device. It would allow me to get through quite a few hour-long episodes before crying out for power – great. It also didn’t get too warm whilst using these streaming sites which was nice especially if it is on your lap.
The screen has a matte finish, which also helped because I didn’t have a lot of reflections back at me whilst watching content. I would say that the colours were not massively accurate out of the box, which is a bit of a shame and one to watch out for if you are planning on using this for anything that is colour critical. It wasn’t a big issue for me but it is worth knowing.
Next up was the trackpad which is a generous size and is mapped really well to the screen. I have another laptop which is a 15.6″ and the mousepad is tiny in comparison. This made a big difference to me when I was trying to multitask and work with multiple windows. If I had to find a fault it is that I would have liked to it to be a glass trackpad – these just feel nicer to the touch and smoother when dragging your finger over. It is, however, accurate and consistent so no major complaints to be found there.
I have been lucky enough to get hold of a high powered GAN charger. I carry it around in my bag most places I go. The fact that I can use it charge the Honor MagicBook Pro is really useful as it is one less charger to worry about. Don’t get me wrong, the bundled charger is great as well, (in terms of size) but the Anker GAN Charger that I have is even better when it comes to portability. If you need a fast charge though, the inbuilt plug will get you back up to full in no time at all as it can kick out a significant amount of juice. See below for an example of relative charging speeds between the two.
Though the laptop sports very large 16.1″ screen it is not that much larger than a standard 15.6″ laptop and is a smidge slimmer, making for a relatively compact carry in a rucksack. This is great for me when I am wanting a minimalistic setup on my travels. I also found the wider screen useful when working with multiple windows as I could get a little bit more on the screen over a traditional widescreen. The resolution was just right too – I don’t honestly need anything over 1080p when I am working on any laptop. As for the weight, it is pretty good for a laptop that has the battery life this has. It was als lighter than my comparable work laptop, again making it great for carrying around. The only downside is when I was using it I confined space – it was a bit tricky due to the overall size – but this is true for any laptop of this size. I prefer 13.3″ as my go-to size of laptop if I am honest. For desk-based work, it is no problem but when you are using it on the go it can be a bit bulky.
Lastly on the plus side of things is the actual power that the laptop has and can deliver. Now I am not one for using benchmarks as these are great for you stats lovers but I don’t think that they give a good reflection of what the laptop is like to actually use in the real world.
So for day to day tasks like working on a blog post whilst having multiple windows and tabs open I couldn’t fault the system – it sped along with no issue at all. I also found that I was able to render videos significantly faster than I was able to do on my Mac Mini which had been my solution for quite some time. I also took the opportunity to try a bit of light gaming on it using my current go-to game World of Warships which was smooth and flawless in playback. I have taken some screen grabs whilst I was playing the game, these are shown below.
Whilst it does drain the battery quickly (as I did start to push the system a bit harder purely because I was testing it) I was still able to get a good few hours before it warned me I was running low. One thing I was very pleased with is that, during my gaming session, I didn’t once hear the fans spin up. This is something that cannot be said of my work laptop which will spin the fans up a lot more frequently and they are loud when they come on. The fans on the MagicBook Pro are whisper quiet in comparison. Even the ones on my Acer Chrome Spin 13 are louder and more noticeable.
To give you an example of the processing power and to get the graphics working as well I have performed the below test. I used the same video files and the same encoding setup on PowerDirector on each machine one machine is the Honor MagicBook Pro and the other is a Dell Precsion (my work laptop) The respective specs are…
Honor MagicBook Pro AMD Ryzen™ 5 4600H Processor, 16GB DDR4 RAM, 512GB SSD ROM, Integrated Radeon Graphics
Dell Precison 3550 Intel Core Processor i7-10510U , 16GB DDR4 RAM, 512GB SSD ROM, Nvidia Quadro P520 w/ 2GB GDDR5
Here is the video which incidentally was edited on the MagicBook Pro!
What is interesting about this is the relative times of the completion of the render on each system. The MagicBook took less than half the time to complete the task than the Dell. This surprised me a lot as the Dell has a dedicated graphics solution and the MagicBook Pro doesn’t. As for the fan noise, whilst both fans did indeed come on during the test the MagicBook was the louder of the two which suggests that whilst it was the faster of the two machines it was working harder to do the task. I’ll be honest it was not the result I expected and I was surprised how much slower the Dell was.
So I think it is safe to say that this thing can perform pretty damn well.
Now onto the things I didn’t like as much
First up is the keyboard. Now I am not sure what the issue here is but I just couldn’t get on with typing on this keyboard. I am not a touch typist by any means but I found that, when I was trying to type on the MagicBook, my hands where not in the correct place and this led to many frustrating attempts to write content. I am aware that this laptop has got a German QWERTZ keyboard layout but I don’t think that is causing the issue. It could be a subconscious thing though as when I look at the keyboard it just looks wrong and this makes me think about what I am doing more hence the issue. I can’t get any “muscle memory”. The annoying thing is the keys do actually feel nice and the travel is good so it could be that my brain is just playing tricks on me.
Whilst we are talking about the keyboard there are few other issues here. The back light is pretty and it is not even and there is a lot light bleed from the keys which is a real shame as it again detracts from the nice feel of the keys. To show you this is a comparison with my Acer Chromebook Spin 13
It is clear that the Acer is better with less bleed around the edges of the keys. It was also on half brightness where the MagicBook Pro was on its highest setting!
The last keyboard related issue that I have is regarding the up and down arrow keys which I hate the fact that they have used half-size keys but put them in the same row as the full size left and right keys. If you look at the image below then you can see what I am on about. Doing the keys like this makes it really awkward to actually use them without having a look at where they are before you press them. It is just really annoying and something I hate.
Next up on the list is the fact that you can open the lid to the laptop with one hand. This a common problem with some laptops and it is not the worst thing. It actually shows that there is some strength in the hinge for the screen and it means that you don’t have a screen that wobbles around too much. It is more of a minor annoyance than anything and because I switch between multiple laptops I notice it. I am sure if this were my main machine I wouldn’t even notice it after some time.
The last two things are really not that important but I thought it was best to mention them really. The camera position isn’t great if am honest as it gives very little room to get a good angle when you are on a video call, something that we are now finding ourselves doing a lot more of at the moment. I can forgive it as the thought behind it is sound. I do like the fact that the camera is hidden when you don’t need it though. What I cannot really forgive is the low resolution that has been chosen as it is really quite poor and makes the image look very grainy and that is not great when you are on a call.
The lack of any sort of SD card slot is a drag as it means if I want to transfer anything via an SD card I need to dig out a dongle. This is just a bit of pain, but as Ii a need to carry one for using an Ethernet port as well then I can let it slip. I would have expected there to be an Ethernet connector included on the laptop especially as this the Pro lineup and wired Ethernet is much better for working with large data files on a network. I understand that it was omitted in an effort to keep the laptop thin but at least there could be a dongle included in the box. To be fair to Honor they are not alone on this front as Apple and Microsoft are just as bad on this form as they don’t have Ethernet ports on any of their systems.
So that wraps up my good point and bad points.
The good points do outweigh the bad points and, if I am honest I have enjoyed using the MagicBook Pro. It has been great for doing the basic video work that I do and it is really quite speedy. When it does get a bit hot and bothered the fans are not too intrusive and they don’t run for any longer than needed. The battery is great and can get me through a day of working under a light load. When things get a bit more demanding I can run it on the mains power with ease, plus I can recharge it very quickly.
Due to its lightweight design, I don’t really notice it in my bag when I am out and about. I could see this being my daily driver, I would just need to get used to the keyboard which would come after a short time using.
There is room for improvement in a few areas the backlighting for one. That being said there is one big omission here for me which I have not mentioned. The reason I have not mentioned it is simple. If this feature was added then the price would change significantly. I would have really liked to have seen this with the option of having a touch screen. I have become so used to using a touchscreen on my laptop that I have found myself on various occasions reaching out to touch the display and then when nothing happens I am shocked. Don’t get me wrong, adding touchscreen brings additional issues all of their own, but it would have been nice to have had the option.
Would I buy an Honor Magicbook Pro for myself? That is really the ultimate question I suppose. For me, the answer is no.
The reason for this is quite simple. I just prefer smaller laptops. As I mentioned above for me the sweet spot is 13.3″ and a touchscreen.
Should you buy it for yourself then? Well, if you are looking for a thin but powerful laptop that you are going to be using mainly at a desk or something similar then this is a great laptop. It coped well with all the tasks I gave and it also stood in for my work laptop on a few occasions. It is a good option for casual gamers as well as the integrated Radeon graphics do a stellar job when it comes to running more basic games.
Is it a laptop for professionals? Yes to an extent, but I think there are better options out there – although they do cost more – so if you are not going to be too demanding on it then yes this will foot the bill.
Where I think this will fit into the market really well is for someone who is working from home and needs to run a lot of tasks at the same time but can’t afford the expense of an external display and doesn’t have a need for higher-end graphics. Then after work has finished you have a good laptop for the rest of the family to be able to use for gaming or streaming the latest films via Netflix or Amazon TV. I believe in the industry this market is referred to as the “Prosumer” and that fits in very nicely with the MagicBook Pro lineup.
You can buy the Honor MagicBook Pro from the Honor Store and if you buy one soon then you can get a backpack, mouse, Band 5 or earphones included. You will also get £50 off the RRP. If you dont fancy the Pro version or want something a little smaller then check out the MagicBook 14 or MagicBook 15 as they also now come with the AMD line of processors.