Huawei Launching Two New Clamshell Laptops: The MateBook X and the MateBook D

See the original posting on Anandtech

On the back of the launch of the MateBook last year, Huawei is launching a new generation using the latest hardware and diversifying the brand.  As an upgrade from a single model last year, Huawei is expanding the MateBook like into three products. The MateBook X is a 13-inch ultraportable clamshell with a focus on style, thin bezels, and packing enough hardware underneath to go deep into the market. The MateBook E is the second generation 2-in-1, following on from the MateBook launched in 2016, with improvements all round, such as an adjustable hinge, a spill-proof keyboard, and bundled accessories. The third element is the MateBook D, a 15.6-inch clamshell aimed squarely at the student and business markets, featuring dual storage options and a discrete NVIDIA GPU but also going with the narrow bezel design similar to the MateBook X.

Primarily seen as a smartphone company for most of us, last year we saw the launch of the MateBook: a 12-inch 2-in-1 device with Huawei’s design ID in a thin and light form factor, but crucially a mark into the PC space. At the time, it was exciting to see a new entrant, especially one with the potential clout of Huawei: if you sell 106m+ smartphones a year, then putting some resources into a mobile PC should be something really interesting to watch. The 2016 MateBook was a good start – the visual aspect of the unit fit in neatly with the market, although there were a few hiccups for a first-generation product, such as the limited stand options, the tendency for the magnetic cover to put the device to sleep when in tablet mode, and the fact that the peak configurations were over $2000. Feedback was sought, about how Huawei should improve the products and how it should tackle this market better, and here are the results. This news covers the two laptops: the MateBook X and the MateBook D.

MateBook X: The Premium Clamshell

A common feature for technology journalists in this space, especially when discussing products with Chinese companies, is how the discussion usually comes to Apple’s success in the laptop market. They are in awe of the design, the utility, and the avid fanboyism that follows their products. As a result, some of the Chinese companies aim to compete in the same space – having a small slice of a large pie is still a large amount, even if it is a carrot cake. So when a user spots the MateBook X, thoughts instantly turn to if it is a Macbook Air/Macbook clone. Not quite, but it arguably looks like a premium competitor for users who want the Macbook form factor but in a Windows/PC environment.

The start of it is the aluminium clamshell, tapering to an almost point, with both the screen and the keyboard designed to try and take as much space as possible. One of the things Huawei wanted to emulate here is the thin bezel strategy, similar to the Dell XPS range, and coming in at 88% screen-to-body ratio is rather nice. There’s still a camera at the top, negating one of the issues with the XPS where the camera is pointing at your chin. The display is a 2160×1440 IPS panel (manufacturer not specified), with a 3:2 aspect ratio, wide viewing angles, and rated up to 1000:1 and 350 nits. Huawei also adds in 100% sRGB for good measure.

Huawei Matebook X
Size 13-inch
Display 2160 x 1440 IPS
178-degree viewing angles
100% sRGB
1000:1 Contrast Ratio
350 nits
CPUs Intel Core i5-7200U
Intel Core i7-7500U
(likely in cTDP Down mode)
GPU Intel HD Graphics 620
DRAM 4 GB LPDDR3 8 GB LPDDR3
Storage 256 GB PCIe 512 GB PCIe
Dimensions 286 x 211 x 12.5 mm
1.05 kg (2.31 lbs)
Connectivity 802.11ac with 2×2 MIMO (Intel AC 8165?)
with BT4.1
Battery 41.4 Wh (5449 mAh at 7.6 V)
Additional Features Two USB 3.0 Type-C Ports
3.5mm audio jack
Dolby Atmos Sound System
MateDock 2 Included
1MP Front Camera
Colors Space Gray
Prestige Gold
Rose Gold
Pricing Core i5 + 8 GB LPDDR3 + 256GB SSD: 1399 Euro
Core i5 + 8 GB LPDDR3 + 512GB SSD: 1599 Euro
Core i7 + 8 GB LPDDR3 + 512GB SSD: 1699 Euro

The heart of the MateBook X is Intel’s latest Kaby-Lake based 7th Generation CPUs, and Huawei likes to point out that while their competitors fit in the Kaby Lake-Y based processors (running at 4.5W), here Huawei is using the U based processors: the i7-7500U and i5-7200U. Technically these CPUs come out of the factory as 15W parts, but OEMs can configure the base clock in cTDP down mode for 7.5W/9.5W, which is what we suspect Huawei is doing here (awaiting confirmation). Using a U processors means getting HD 620 graphics, rather than HD 615, which should make the unit better for light graphical work. Nonetheless, users might be able to feel a base performance uplift compared to the 4.5W parts.

Storage comes via an integrated PCIe SSD, and depending on the configuration will either be 256GB or 512GB. We were unable to prize the details on who the supplier is for these drives, but we might get some hands-on time later to go through the system specifications on a demo unit. Memory is, unfortunately, a downside on the X: Huawei has decided to use LPDDR3 rather than DDR4, which means that the top spec unit hits 8GB (4GB also offered, we assume 2x2GB for dual channel) rather than 16GB which would make this device high up on a prosumer list. The debate about LPDDR3 and DDR4 at this level of device gets interesting – if one is in better supply than the other, power consumption (arguably DDR4 is much better, even though LPDDR3 has ‘low power’ in the name), power profiling, etc. It’s a discussion that I need to have with Huawei’s design teams, really – at 16GB it becomes an easy replacement for my Zenbook.

Going around the device, Huawei has supplied two USB Type-C ports, one of which can be used as a charging port&n