Huawei MateBook 14 2020 Review – An AMD Ryzen 5 4600H laptop offering superb all-round performance

Summary

The Huawei MateBook 14 2020 is a superb all-round laptop with a huge amount of performance for general use, productivity and even a little light gaming.

The overall form factor makes this work perfectly as a work from home laptop or something more portable for commuters and travellers.  

Overall
85%
85%
  • Overall - 85%
    85%

Pros

  • Slim and lightweight while being more comfortable to use than a 13″ laptop
  • AMD Ryzen 5 4600H offers superior performance than competing laptops with U based APUs
  • Huawei’s additional software features are genuinely useful unlike most bloatware on laptops

Cons

  • Better GPU performance from Intel/MX250 alternatives like Matebook 13

  • Base model only has 256GB of storage 

The Huawei MateBook 14 2020 has been out for a few months now featuring (at the time) the new AMD Ryzen 4000 series mobile chipset. While the newer Ryzen 5000 series has been announced, few, if any lightweight laptops feature these yet.

It is unique in its specification, offering the Ryzen 5 4600H or Ryzen 7 4800H AMD APUs which offers more performance than other 14-inch counterparts making it a compelling choice for a lightweight work from home or portable solution.

Specification

HUAWEI MateBook 14 - 14 Inch Laptop with 2K FullView...
  • Our AMD Ryzen 5 4600H processor means even the...
  • Huawei Share tag allows you to transform devices...
  • Ultra-light, weighing under 1.5kg
  • 2K FullView Display screen (90% screen-to-body...
  • Display: 14 inches, 3:2 2160 x 1440, 185 PPI, 300 nits (Typical)
  • Processor: AMD Ryzen 5 4600H or AMD Ryzen 7 4800H
  • RAM: 8GB / 16GB DDR4
  • Storage: 256GB / 512GB PCIe NVMe SSD
  • Battery: 56 Wh (rated capacity)
  • Ports:
    • USB 3.2 Gen 1 x 2
    • USB-C x 1
    • 3.5 mm headset and microphone 2-in-1 jack x 1
    • HDMI x 1
  • Wi-Fi : Wi-Fi 5 2Ghz/5Ghz
  • Camera: 720P HD Recessed Camera
  • Audio: Speaker (2 W) x 2, Microphone x 4
  • Dimensions: 307.5 mm x 223.8 mm x 15.9 mm
  • Weight: 1.49 kg

Design & Build Quality vs Matebook 13

As the name suggests, this is a 14″ laptop which has become an increasingly popular form factor offering significantly more portability than those chunky 15.6″ options while not being as cramped as a 13″ ultraportable.

I have previously reviewed the superb Huawei MateBook 13, and while this looks physically much larger, the overall dimensions and weight are not that much different with:

  • Matebook 14
    • Dimensions – 307.5 mm x 223.8 mm x 15.9 mm
    • Weight – 1.49 kg
  • Matebook 13
    • Dimensions – 286mm wide x 211mm deep x 14.9mm high
    • Weight – 1.3kg

The overall aesthetics and build quality are very similar using a brushed aluminium chassis.

The slightly larger chassis allows Huawei to fit in a useful selection of ports, saving you having to use a UBS-C hub. There are two USB 3.2 Gen 1 x 2 type A then a USB-C port which is also used for power.

While this doesn’t not have a discrete GPU, Huawei has chosen to use on of the more powerful AMD chipsets with a TDP of 45W; this, therefore, means the laptop requires fans, which you can see through the vents on the bottom. As much as I like fanless laptops for silent computing, if you want the best performance possible, you are going to have to put up with a little fan noise.

Overall build quality is superb with a conservative aesthetic that will work well for professional environments as well as home use.

Display & Keyboard

The Matebook 14 uses 14-inch touch display running at 2160 x 1440 with an aspect ratio of 3:2, which has become a signature feature of Huawei laptops offering you increased verticle resolutions vs  16:9.

The display has very small bezels which is achieved by hiding the webcam in a pop-up button on the keyboard. This does mean the webcam is in a suboptimal position when in use, prior to 2020 I doubt many people would have cared, but in a world of Zoom meetings, the webcam has become an essential part of the laptop. Personally, I still like it hidden away on the keyboard, but I avoid video calls as much as possible.

The keyboard uses the same chicklet keys and touchpad as the 13-inch counterpart, but the increased width makes it feel a little less cramped. The keys don’t run upright to the edge the chassis.

The trackpad is then centred covering around a third of the laptop going from space bar across to the right Alt. Other brands locate it to the left covering only the space bar, which I find a little annoying.

Performance

The AMD Ryzen 5 4600H is an APU, and it lacks a discrete GPU, so it has less GPU grunt that the Matebook 13 I previously reviewed but thanks to the 6-core 12-thread CPU it offers superior CPU processing power.

Most 14-inch laptops implementing AMD APUs offer the U variants such as the Ryzen 5 4600U. The Huawei uses the AMD Ryzen 5 4600H which is clocked much higher thanks to the higher 45W vs 15W TDP and implements SMT giving the laptop 12 threads for superior multi-core performance.

This is an important factor when looking at competing options the exact spec of these APUs is:

  • AMD Ryzen 5 4600H
    • 6/12 cores with 3.0GHz base clock and 4.0GHz boost
    • 45W TDP
  • AMD Ryzen 5 4600U
    • 6/12 cores with 2.1GHz base clock and 4.0GHz boost
    • 15W TDP

In benchmarks the Huawei Matebook 14 achieves:

  • 3DMark Time Spy: 896 (CPU: 4712 GPU: 784)
  • 3DMark Wild Life: 5952
  • PCMark: 5130 (Essentials: 8732 Productivity: 7516 Digitial: 5584)
  • Crystal Disk: 3347 / 2667 MB/s read/write
  • Far Cry New Daw 20fps avg, 16fps minimum, 24fps max

The Far Cry benchmark was done in low settings at the lowest resolution for 4:3. So you wont be playing any AAA games on this, but it should be more than capable of playing less demanding or older games.

While the Time Spy score is low, the CPU score it achieves is 76% higher than the Intel on the Matebook 13.

Neither the Matebook 14 nor the previously reviewed Matebook 13 laptops are particularly great at gaming in general, so it could be argued the improved CPU performance of the Matebook 14 provides the users with greater benefits than the discrete GPU on the Matebook 13.

General day to day performance for anything including Chrome, office work, and various productivity apps like photo editing is all flawless.

Connectivity

A little disappointingly this lacks Wi-Fi 6, it is not a huge issue, but the Intel AX200 is negligibly more expensive the Wi-Fi 5 model so I can’t understand why it wouldn’t have been included. I haven’t opened up the laptop’s back, but I suspect it should be en easy replacement.

Battery

The laptop uses power delivery over USB-C for charging, so you no longer have to be tied down to a proprietary charger. It is one of the best things to happen to laptops in generations. I have covered many PD USB-C plugs, some going up to 100W, so I always have easy access to a plug which can more often than not charge multiple devices at the same time.

Fan Noise

I hate fan noise and have spent a lot of time and money trying to make my desktop silent. For laptops it is unavoidable unless you want something low powered. With the Matebook, it does have downward facing fans, but they are not overly eager to kick in and the overall sound profile isn’t too irritating.

Running benchmarks and playing games, the laptop is audible, for general office work I have found it silent, or almost silent.

Software and other points

Normally there isn’t much to say with the software on a Windows laptop, more often than not it is criticising the bloatware companies install. Huawei has quite a lot of value-added features that will benefit users of Huawei phones the most.

The NFC sticker on the older laptops is now located under the trackpad, this now leaves just one ugly AMD sticker on the chassis. Tapping your Huawei phone on it enables Huawei share, giving you multi-screen collaboration and an easy way to back up your gallery as well as various other functions. It is a feature that works very well, for people that work on their laptops all day it is great to be able to have full control over your phone rather than constantly picking it up replying to things.

I am a massive fan of the fingerprint power button, once set up you power the laptop and it auto logs in for you. I have also found it more accurate than competing brands implementations of fingerprint sensors

Price and Alternative Options

There are three models are available direct from Huawei

  • AMD Ryzen 5 / 8GB / 256GB SSD : £689.99
  • AMD Ryzen 5 / 16GB / 512GB SSD : £849.99
  • AMD Ryzen 7 / 16GB / 512GB SSD : £949.99

I was a big fan of the MateBook 13 2020 which you can buy for around £730 from Amazon which offers superior GPU performance thanks to the MX250 but lower CPU performance. I prefer its petite dimensions, but the Ryzen 5 4600H of this laptop is probably better for my general usage.

In the past, I have compared a lot of Huawei / Honor devices to highlight that they are identical hardware. However, in this case, there isn’t an exact comparable. The Honor MagicBook 14 was announced back in September, upgrading the older Ryzen 5 3500U to the 4500U which is lower specced than this laptop and has a lower resolution none touch display.

The Ryzen 5 4500U based laptops offer significantly less performance, with the Ryzen 5 4600H scoring around 25% higher in many CPU benchmarks.

There is not really any other like for like laptops that feature the AMD Ryzen 5 4600H. Of course, if you don’t care about size or weight, there are plenty of options, the MSI Bravo 15 uses the same APU, has a discrete GPU and costs less but significantly larger.

Overall

Huawei know how to make good hardware, phones or laptops they rarely set a foot wrong. So, as usual, the Huawei MateBook 14 is superb.

Pricing is about right, it offers enough of an upgrade vs the MagicBook 14 to justify the higher price.

The overall dimensions, weight and performance generally make it a perfect all-rounder laptop; you are not overpaying for a cramped ultraportable and not being weighed down by a chunky 15.6” inch laptop.

Last update on 2021-07-31 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

2 thoughts on “Huawei MateBook 14 2020 Review – An AMD Ryzen 5 4600H laptop offering superb all-round performance”

  1. I’ve owned this laptop for a couple of months and your review is spot on. I did the AX200 upgrade but not for performance reasons, I found that the Realtek card would lock up the laptop when running a virtual machine in VirtualBox with bridged network mode. With the AX200 it works perfectly.
    I’m dual booting Windows 10 with Ubuntu 20.10 and under Linux everything except the fingerprint reader works perfectly. At some point a driver might be developed but I’m not too fussed about that.
    Next upgrade will need to be a larger NVMe SSD.

    Reply
    • Excellent, I am glad you found the review accurate. Thanks for the comment.

      The Matebook 13 has the same issue with WiFi, I keep meaning to upgrade it myself. It just seems stupid not to include the new Intel modules went he cost is almost the same.

      Reply

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