Huawei MateBook 13 Review: A High Performance Ultrabook With Caveats

Introducing the Huawei MateBook 13

Huawei is perhaps best known as the second largest smartphone manufacturer in the world. The Chinese company recently surpassed Apple's marketshare despite difficulties cracking the U.S. market. The company has enjoyed strong demand for their products internationally, thanks to competitive pricing and premium designs. We have previously reviewed Huawei's MateBook X Pro and Matebook D notebooks and found both to be solid values and worthy of recommendation. 
huawei matebook 13 marketing render

At CES this year, Huawei introduced its newest ultrabook, the Matebook 13. We took it for a spin to see how it compares to Huawei's other offerings, and the competition. The MateBook 13 comes standard with a Intel Core i5-8265U clocked at 1.6GHz (3.9GHz turbo), Intel HD Graphics 620, 8GB LPDDR3 memory, a 256GB NVMe solid state drive, and a "2K" 2048x1440 3:2 ratio 13" touch display for $999.99. There is also a higher end variant for $1299.99 which kicks up the CPU to a Core i7-8565U clocked at 1.8GHz (4.6GHz turbo), straps in an NVIDIA GeForce MX150 discrete GPU with 2GB of dedicated GDDR5, and doubles storage capacity to a 512GB NVMe SSD. The higher end model is what we have in the lab today.

Huawei MateBook 13 (WRT-W29)
Processor Intel Core i7-8565U Quad-Core 1.8GHz (Max 4.6GHz)
OS Windows 10 Home 64-bit
Display 13" IPS Touchpanel 2160x1440 (3:2) 100% sRGB, 200 PPI, 300 nits
Graphics NVIDIA GeForce MX150 (2GB GDDR5)
Storage 512GB Samsung PM981 NVMe M.2 SSD
Memory 8GB LPDDR3-2133MHz
Audio Stereo speakers with Dolby Atmos
Camera 1MP Camera with Video Support
Networking Intel Wireless-AC 9560 (802.11ac)
Ports: Left 1x USB-C (Charging Support), 1x 3.5mm Headset jack (OMTP + CTIA)
Ports: Right 1x USB-C (Display Support)
Keyboard Chiclet style TKL
Battery 41.7 WHr (built-in, 3660 mAh@11.4 V) Lithium Polymer
Extras Huawei MateDock 2 (Sold separately)
Weight 2.86 pounds (1.3 Kg)
Dimensions 11.3 x 8.3 x 0.59 inches (286 x 211 x 14.9 mm)
Warranty 1-year limited
Price Starting at $999.99 ($1299.99 as configured)

Both the Core i5-8265U and the Core i7-8565U are built upon Intel's new Whiskey Lake architecture. Both processors utilize quad cores with hyper threading like their predecessors -- the i5-8250U and i7-8550U respectively -- but employ some optimizations to push turbo clocks around 500MHz higher. We have already examined the Core i7-8565U in Dell's newest XPS 13, so we have high expectations for the performance in this MateBook 13.

huawei matebook 13 overview

Unlike the XPS 13, Huawei has managed to squeeze a discrete GPU into its 13" ultrabook. It is an entry-level NVIDIA GeForce MX150, but this chip generally delivers double the performance of Intel's integrated HD Graphics 620 solution. Surprisingly, this MX150 is running at its full power 25W TDP configuration despite the svelte form factor of this machine.

Huawei is employing its Shark Fin Design 2.0 cooling solution to manage thermals in the MateBook 13. The company states that this dual-fan approach can reach 8,000 rpms to generate 25% more airflow than "conventional" laptop fans while staying up to 3dB quieter in some scenarios. We will get a peek inside at the setup soon, but it remains to be seen if these lofty claims can be achieved.

huawei matebook 13 cooling fans

There is certainly a lot of promise in the spec sheet here, but one aspect that does have us concerned is battery life. The rated battery capacity is only 41.7 Wh. Huawei believes this can keep the notebook going for 7 to 10 hours depending on workload. However, even notebooks with larger batteries in the 50-60 Wh range can struggle to reach beyond the 6 hour mark with heavy workloads. Huawei may be trading raw power for longevity.  

huawei matebook 13 screenshot pc manager

As a Microsoft Signature Edition notebook, the MateBook 13 arrives with no bloatware. The only preloaded application beyond Windows 10's usual apps is Huawei's own PC Manager application. This support utility is focused and to the point.

huawei matebook 13 screenshot pc manager drivers

One tab allows users to run diagnostics on their hardware, another checks for and installs driver updates, and the final tab provides access to the notebook's online user manual. We like utilities that make it easy to keep on top of the never-ending updates and found PC Manager to be user friendly and easy to use.

Before we dive into performance, let's explore the build quality and layout of the MateBook 13...

Related content