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Huawei MateBook X Pro (2022) review: A 14-inch ultraportable to rival the best

It's not perfect, with moderate battery life and a 720p webcam the main disappointments, but it's not far off.
Written by Charles McLellan, Senior Editor on
Pros
  • Thin, light and elegant design
  • Good performance
  • High-quality display
  • Impressive audio subsystem
Cons
  • No discrete GPU option
  • 720p webcam
  • No MicroSD card slot
  • Battery life could be better

Unveiled at MWC back in February, Huawei's flagship MateBook X Pro (2022), now based on 12th-generation Intel Core silicon, is available in the UK for £1,799 (~$2,000) -- a premium price that's somewhat tempered by the bundling (at the time of writing) of a free 28-inch MateView monitor worth £600. Despite having a larger 14.2-inch screen than its 13.9-inch 2021 predecessor, the 2022 MateBook X Pro remains a thin, light and elegant ultraportable that can go head to head with the best of the competition.

Design 

The MateBook X Pro (2022) comes in just one colour in the UK -- a smart, distinctly HP Dragonfly-like Ink Blue – although it's also available in White and Space Gray elsewhere. Thanks to the increase in screen size, it's larger than the 2021 model -- 310mm x 221mm x 15.6mm versus 304mm x 217mm tall x 14.6mm -- but it's also lighter at 1.26kg versus 1.33kg. Although there's no mention of military-grade ruggedness in the specifications, the magnesium alloy chassis feels solid and there's little flex in the lid, keyboard or wrist rest.  

The 2022 MateBook X Pro has a less angular, more curvy look than the 2021 model, with a wedge-shaped profile tapering to 5.4mm at its thinnest point. Our Ink Blue review unit had a pleasing matte finish, restrained branding and only one (Intel Evo) sticker. 

Huawei MateBook X Pro (2022)
Images: Charles McLellan / ZDNET

The 14.2-inch screen sits within slim bezels that result in a claimed screen-to-body ratio of 92.5%. Thankfully there's room in the middle of the top bezel for a webcam, rectifying the much-criticised pop-up in-keyboard arrangement seen in previous models. The webcam's 720p resolution is disappointing, but at least it has IR support to accommodate Windows Hello face authentication, plus a range of 'Smart Conference' features (more on these below). Even so, a 1080p webcam really is expected on a premium laptop these days. There's also a fingerprint reader integrated into the power button that sits between keyboard and screen, on the right-hand side. 

The keyboard, which is flanked by speaker grilles, provides a comfortable typing platform, with 1.5mm key travel and a sensible layout. It's quite 'clicky', but shouldn't annoy office colleagues, or family members who are within earshot, too much. There's a two-stage keyboard backlight, toggled via the F3 key. 

Huawei's Free Touch touchpad is a decent size and nicely responsive. It also supports a range of gestures and delivers haptic feedback when you slide your finger along the left side (to adjust screen brightness), top (to rewind/fast-forward video or move the cursor through text) or right side (to adjust volume). Useful gestures include pressing the upper left corner to minimise a window and the upper right side to close a window or browser tab, taking a screenshot by double-tapping with a knuckle, and accessing the Notification Centre with a two-finger swipe from the right.

Huawei MateBook X Pro (2022): ports
Images: Charles McLellan / ZDNET

Features 

The MateBook X Pro (2022) may not have an OLED display like this year's 12.6-inch MateBook E 2-in-1, but its 14.2-inch LTPS touch screen is no slouch. It has a 3:2 aspect ratio with a resolution of 3120 by 2080 pixels (264ppi), maximum brightness of 500 nits and a default refresh rate of 60Hz, which you can bump up to 90Hz in Settings to get smoother scrolling and animation. The contrast ratio is 1500:1 and 1.07 billion colours (10-bit colour) are available if you select the DCI-P3 colour gamut and turn on HDR mode. The panel also supports sRGB, which is more appropriate for content requiring less vibrant colour, and a Native mode that uses less power. 

The MateBook X Pro (2022) is based on Intel's 12th-generation Core i7-1260P, a 12-core (4 Performance, 8 Efficient) chip, with 16GB of RAM and 1TB of SSD storage. The GPU is Intel's Iris Xe Graphics – you're out of luck as far as discrete graphics is concerned. There are no purchase-time options, although the baseplate is removable, giving access to the SSD if 1TB isn't enough. 

Wireless communication is handled by Intel's Wi-Fi 6E AX211 module, which supports the latest tri-band (2.4GHz, 5GHz, 6GHz) Wi-Fi 6E standard along with Bluetooth 5.2. There's also NFC support, with a detection area in the middle of the touchpad, to support Huawei's Super Device system for sharing screens and files with other compatible Huawei devices. 

There's a decent array of ports: two USB-C/Thunderbolt 4 ports on the left side, along with a 3.5mm audio in/out jack, and two USB-C ports on the right. All four ports support data, charging and DisplayPort, and Huawei also bundles a USB-C to USB-A adapter. If you want more connectivity, Huawei will sell you a MateDock 2 USB-C docking station with USB-A, HDMI, VGA and USB-C connections for £49.99. For wired Ethernet connection or an SD card reader, you'll have to seek separate adapters or docking stations.

Performance & battery life 

The MateBook X Pro (2022)'s 12-core Intel Core i7-1260P processor delivered Geekbench 5 CPU benchmarks of 1748 (single core) and 8489 (multi-core) in Best Performance mode. These figures are on a par with those we recorded for Apple's latest 13-inch MacBook Pro, based on the M2 chip with an 8-core CPU: 

Huawei MateBook X Pro (2022): Geekbench 5
Data & chart: ZDNET

CPU performance for the MateBook X Pro (2022) drops off in Best Power Efficiency mode (1721 single core, 7556 multi-core), and in both modes it trails the 1840 (single core) and 9715 (multi core) we recorded for Huawei's MateBook 16s, which is based on the 14-core Intel Core i7-12700H

To gauge the MateBook X Pro (2022)'s performance on a range of workload types, we ran PCMark 10, which delivers an overall score, plus sub-scores for Essentials (app start-up, video conferencing, web browsing), Productivity (spreadsheets, writing) and Digital Content Creation (photo editing, rendering & visualisation, video editing). Here's how it stacks up against the MateBook 16s and recommended 'good' scores

Huawei MateBook X Pro (2022): PCMark 10
Data & chart: ZDNET

All this suggests that the MateBook X Pro (2022) will perform most workloads very capably -- but what about demanding graphical applications, given the lack of a discrete GPU? 

To investigate, we ran two 3DMark benchmarks: Night Raid, a DirectX 12 test for PCs with integrated graphics (such as the MateBook X Pro); and Time Spy, a DirectX12 test for gaming PCs (with discrete GPUs). In Best Performance mode, the MateBook X Pro scored 17912 on Night Raid, and 1795 on Time Spy. To put these numbers in perspective, top single-GPU results in the 3DMark 'Hall of Fame' are around 100,000 for Night Raid and around 25,000 for Time Spy. Translating the Time Spy result into gaming terms, frame rates in Fortnite are likely to be below 30fps at 1440p with highest graphics quality settings and ray tracing disabled.

Huawei MateBook X Pro (2022): battery life

The MateBook X Pro's 60Wh battery took about 13 hours to drain when idling, around an hour to recharge, and then lasted about 4 hours when running a demanding workload (PCMark10) continuously.

Screenshot: Charles McLellan / ZDNET

To evaluate the performance of the 60Wh battery, we performed two rundown tests, both with screen brightness set to 50%: one simply left the system idling in Best Power Efficiency mode with the screen permanently on, while the other did near-continuous runs of PC Mark 10 in Best Performance mode. The results -- around 13 hours when idling and around 4 hours when running PCMark 10 continuously -- give an estimate of the upper and lower bounds for battery life. All-day battery life might be possible, but only with light workloads. Recharging with Huawei's 90W smartphone-style USB-C adapter took around an hour.

Huawei MateBook X Pro: thermals

Thermal camera images of the MateBook X Pro (2022) underside (left), screen and keyboard (middle) and lid (right) after running a demanding workload for several hours.

Images: Charles McLellan / ZDNET

The MateBook X Pro (2022) employs two Huawei Shark Fin fans, three air intakes and an ultra-thin vapour chamber cooling system to keep the CPU and other components from becoming too hot. Even when running demanding workloads, we didn't notice the laptop becoming any more than slightly warm to the touch.

User experience

As a well-designed and performant ultraportable, the MateBook X Pro (2022) is generally a pleasure to use, but there are some extra features that help it to stand out even more. If you're invested in the Huawei ecosystem and own compatible phones, tablets or monitors, you can initiate Super Device from the Huawei Control Panel and access screen and/or file sharing across devices.

Huawei MateBook X Pro (2022): Super Device

Multi-device collaboration via Huawei's Super Device system: The MateBook X Pro (2022) and P50 Pro smartphone can share the phone's screen on the laptop, and drag and drop files between them.

Screenshot: Charles McLellan / ZDNET

Although the webcam is only 720p, it supports some handy AI-assisted settings including virtual backgrounds, a beauty mode to smooth the rough edges from your visage, auto-centering to keep people in the field of view, and a feature that adjusts the image so that you appear to be looking at the camera rather than the screen in a video call.

Huawei MateBook X Pro (2022): Webcam

Camera tweaks such as Virtual Background enhance the video conferencing experience.

Screenshot: Charles McLellan / ZDNET

Like webcams, speakers and microphones are now vitally important as laptops increasingly become the conduit for communication among workers, friends and family members. The MateBook X Pro (2022) shines in this department, with six-speaker audio output and four microphones ranged along the front edge. The Huawei Sound utility lets you select from three speaker settings (Smart Optimization, Ultra-Bass and Sound Turbo) and three microphone settings (Personal Voice Enhancement, Sound TrueVoice and Sound TrueHD). Delivering quality as well as decent volume, this is as impressive an audio subsystem as I've heard on an ultraportable laptop.

Conclusions 

There are some excellent premium 14-inch ultraportable laptops on the market at the moment, including Apple's M1 Pro-based MacBook Pro (from £1,899/$1,999) and Lenovo's 10th-generation ThinkPad X1 Carbon (from £2,230/$1,397). However, Huawei's thin, light and elegant MateBook X Pro (2022) can hold its own with the best of them. It carries a premium price tag (£1,799), but in our opinion is worth the money -- especially with a 28-inch monitor thrown in for free. Unfortunately for buyers across the pond, the MateBook X Pro (2022) is not officially available in the US.

The 2022 MateBook X Pro performs well with mainstream workloads, although the lack of discrete graphics hampers it in the gaming stakes. Its 14.2-inch screen is bright, with good colour gamut coverage and accuracy, even if it's not an OLED panel, while the audio subsystem is as good as they come. The only disappointments are 720p rather than 1080p webcam resolution, the lack of an SD card slot and moderate battery life.


Huawei MateBook X Pro (2022) specifications

Processor Intel Core i7-1260P
GraphicsIntel Iris Xᵉ Graphics
OSWindows 11 Home
Dimensions310mm x 221mm x 15.6mm
Weight1.26kg
Display14.2-inch LTPS LCD, 3120 x 2080 pixels (3:2, 264ppi), 10-point touch
- Refresh rate60Hz / 90Hz
- Brightness500 nits (max)
- Contrast ratio1500:1
- Colour depth1.07 billion
- Colour gamutDCI-P3, sRGB
- Colour accuracyaverage △E < 1
- Viewing angle178°
- Screen to body ratio92.50%
RAM16 GB LPDDR5
Storage1 TB NVMe PCIe SSD
Wi-FiWi-Fi 6E (802.11ax, 2.4 GHz/5 GHz/6 GHz)
Bluetooth5.2
Ports2x USB-C/Thunderbolt 4 (left side) • 2x USB-C (right side) • 3.5mm audio in/out jack
Keyboard & touchpadfull-size backlit keyboard with 1.5mm key travel • multi-touch & Huawei Free Touch touchpad with integrated Huawei Share
Camera720p, with IR for Windows Hello facial recognition
Audio6x speakers • 4x mics
Securityfingerprint reader (integrated in power button)
Battery capacity60Wh
Battery charging90W
ApplicationsSuper Device • Huawei PC Manager • Huawei Mobile App Engine • Display Manager (Colour Mode, Eye Comfort Mode) • Performance Mode (Hotkeys: Fn + P) • Refresh rate switchover (Hotkeys: Fn + R) • Huawei Factory Reset
In the boxHuawei MateBook X Pro • 90W/65W USB-C power adapter • USB-C charger cable • Huawei USB-C OTG cable • quick-start guide • warranty card
Price£1,799

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