When I reviewed the Honor MagicBook 14 earlier this year, one of my big problems with it was that it was coming after AMD announced the Ryzen 4000 mobile processors, yet the laptop still packed the previous generation. Now, the company has addressed that, not only refreshing the MagicBook 14 and 15 with newer processors, but also launching the MagicBook Pro, packing a 45W Ryzen 5 4600H.

Heading into this review, I was pretty excited about the capabilities of an H-series Ryzen processor, and sure enough, it's pretty good. Honor packed a 45W processor into a package that's barely heavier than its MagicBook 14 - which not only has a 15W processor, but also a smaller chassis - and while it doesn't deliver on everything to perfection, it's still a good device.

Specs

CPU AMD Ryzen 5 4600H, 6 cores, 12 threads; Base clock: 3.0GHz, Boost: 4.0GHz
GPU AMD Radeon graphics
Display 16.1" diagonal FHD (1920 x 1080) IPS LCD, 100% sRGB
Body 369x234x16.9mm (14.53x9.21x0.67in); 1.7kg (3.75lbs)
Memory 16GB dual-channel DDR4
Storage 512GB PCIe NVMe SSD
Audio Stereo speakers, dual microphones
Connectivity Realtek 8822CE, Wi-Fi 802.11ac + Bluetooth 5
Ports

(1) USB Type-C with fast charging
(3) USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A
(1) HDMI 2.0
3.5mm combo audio

Camera 720p HD webcam in keyboard
Security

Trusted Platform Module (TPM) 2.0
Fingerprint reader

Battery 56Wh Lithium Ion battery, up to 11 hours
OS Windows 10 Home
Material Aluminum
Price €899.90/£859.99

Day one

Design

In terms of the design, the MagicBook Pro is one of the most boring laptops I've reviewed so far. I'm completely okay with that, and I've reviewed other boring-looking laptops like the LG gram, but it's still boring. Most of the body is Space Gray, which is subtle and classy enough, and the lid only has the Honor logo carved into it in black. Unlike the less powerful MagicBooks, there's not even a hint of color here, which is a shame.

In terms of ports, you can find two USB Type-A ports, both USB 3.2 Gen 1, and a 3.5mm headphone jack on the right side.

On the left, there is another USB Type-A port, one USB Type-C port that's used for charging, and an HDMI 2.0 port. It doesn't go above and beyond in terms of ports, but you have a decent amount of options here.

Looking inside the laptop, you can see that Honor makes use of the extra space around the keyboard to have top-firing speakers, something I usually like, but I'll dive more into that later. There's no number pad, which some might not like, and for some reason, they sent me one with a keyboard layout in German, so it took me a while to get used to that. That won't be a problem if you buy it from your regional representative, though. The FullView display has pretty minimal edges around it, so it feels more immersive.

The most remarkable thing about this laptop's design, for me, is how light it still is despite having a 45W processor. Compared to something in the same ballpark, like the new Dell XPS 15, it's a quarter pound lighter than the base model of that device. It's lighter than my HP Envy x360, which has a 15W processor (though, to be fair, that's a late 2017 convertible), and it's just slightly heavier than Honor's MagicBook 14. I think that's impressive, even if it's not exactly mind-blowing.

Display and sound

The display on the MagicBook Pro is the biggest I've used yet in a laptop, at 16.1 inches diagonally. It comes in Full HD resolution, which you can't configure, and it covers 100% of the sRGB color space. In my usage, I've found it to be a pretty solid display. Colors look lively and even though some might find Full HD less than ideal, I think it's perfectly fine for a laptop display. I've had no problems with the sharpness of the image.

One thing I like about the display is the semi-matte finish it has. It's not completely matte to the point where it feels rough, it's still a smooth surface, but it reflects a lot less light than a glossy panel would. I wish this meant that there was touch support, since this is a display I would love to be able to use with my hands, but sadly, that's not the case.

Like I mentioned above, the bezels are also quite small here, and it feels great to use. The problem with that is there's still no webcam above the display, and if I already disliked that earlier this year, it's even harder to justify when remote work is so much more prevalent. The camera is hidden in the keyboard, and to Honor's credit, the camera quality itself is alright, but the position and angle are just not favorable. I've gotten more used to it, but I still want better camera placement.

When I first saw the upward-firing speakers on the MagicBook Pro, I was very excited about the possibilities. I found the speakers on the MagicBook 14 to be alright despite firing down, so I had high hopes for this one. Sadly, they're not that loud and lack some "oomph", so I was somewhat disappointed. In a vacuum, they're fine enough and they're perfectly audible, but I got more powerful audio out of my RedMagic 5S. The microphones on this laptop are placed on its underside, and they work pretty well for built-in microphones. Their position might be a problem if you're using the computer on your lap, though, since it might rub against your clothes and cause some annoying noise for others.

Keyboard and trackpad

As I said at the start, the keyboard layout on my review unit is German, and that comes with a few quirks I'm not used to. As such, parts of my experience that were less positive aren't entirely Honor's fault. Some things are a little weird, though, like the lack of Home, End, Page Up, or Page Down keys. As one of our readers pointed out in my MagicBook 14 review, though, you can use the Fn key and directional arrows to replace those functions, but it's something to get used to.

I've said before that I'm in no way a keyboard connoisseur, but one thing I did notice when I switched to the MagicBook Pro is that the keys feel a little more shallow than I'm used to. Now, after a day or two, I was perfectly used to it, so the difference isn't that big to me, but it may be worth keeping in mind if you're more sensitive to that kind of thing. The typing experience was overall still pretty good, barring the quirks of the German keyboard layout.

Once again, Honor deserves all the praise I can give for including a Precision touchpad on this laptop. Since trying Precision for the first time I've absolutely fallen in love with the gestures I can do and how well they work, and it's no different here. Plus, Honor's touchpads are more than big enough, so performing those gestures is very comfortable. It's a fantastic trackpad overall and I have nothing bad to point out here.

Performance and battery life

The best way I can describe performance on the MagicBook Pro would be that it's good enough. I assumed heading into it that a 45W processor would yield much better results than 15W processors, but that wasn't the case, at least, not as much as I expected. My benchmark results were closer to that of the Lenovo ThinkPad T14s, which has a Rzyen 7 4750U, with some scores actually being lower than the Ryzen 5 4650U.

In the H-series space, we can compare it to the HP Envy 15, though it's important to keep in mind that laptop has dedicated Nvidia RTX graphics. The PCMark 8 Home and Work tests are the most comparable here, and the Ryzen 5 4600H does pull ahead of Intel's Core i7-10750H by a significant margin.

MagicBook Pro
Ryzen 5 4600H

Lenovo Flex 5
AMD Ryzen 5 4500U
Acer Aspire 5 (A515-44)
AMD Ryzen 7 4700U
HP Envy 15
Intel Core i7-10750H
(plus GeForce RTX 2060)
Dell XPS 13 2-in-1
Intel Core i7-1065G7
PCMark 8: Home 4,211 4,087 3,702

3,566

3,899

PCMark 8: Creative 4,470 4,247 4,228

5,010

4,253

PCMark 8: Work 3,606 3,687 3,689

3,386

3,797

PCMark 10 4,714 4,679 4,718

5,192

4,402

I assume some of the less impressive results may have to do with the device being as light as it is and the thermal performance of this design. I do think this begs the question of if bumping up to a 45W processor is worth it, though, especially with Honor having the MagicBook 14 with a Ryzen 5 4500U and lower price. If the performance on that device is similar to the Lenovo Flex 5 above, it could offer a better price-to-performance ratio.

Still, in day-to-day usage, there's not much in the way of performance issues, and you get a very solid experience across the board. I tried running Rocket League on the MagicBook Pro, and I was able to get mostly stable 60 frames per second by setting the Render Quality setting to Performance and the Render Detail to Quality in the game, while running the game at 1080p.

I did experience some issues that I believe can be improved with software, though. When connected to an external display via HDMI, watching a YouTube video in full screen causes a glitch where elements like the video title are overly large and there's a big black border all around the video. Using the myTube app for Windows 10, I ran into the same issues I had with the MSI Trident X, where the next video in a playlist fails to start. Depending on the driver version, moving videos between the two monitors can cause the frame to freeze, too. Since some of these issues seemed to come and go depending on updates, it's possible that they can be fixed through software.

As far as battery life goes, I was pretty happy with the MagicBook Pro. The battery is the exact same size, that being 56Wh, as the MagicBook 14, despite having a more power-hungry processor, but it still lasts me through a workday most of the time. With the Windows performance setting set to "Better performance", I get about seven hours of active usage out of it, including multiple Edge tabs open at a time.

Honor ships its laptops with very clean builds of Windows 10, which I really appreciate. The only preinstalled app is PC Manager, which includes some troubleshooting tips, system checkup tools, and a driver updater. One of its most notable features is the ability to link an Honor phone to transfer files or even share your screen easily. Just tap an Honor phone on the Honor Magic-link tag on the laptop, and you see your phone screen on your laptop, send files, and more. There's also a Nahimic app that lets you tune your audio experience. You can improve the sound a bit by fiddling with the settings here, but it's never amazing.

Conclusion

The Honor MagicBook Pro has a lot going for it considering its €899.90 price tag. The performance of a Ryzen 5 4600H, 16GB of RAM, and 512GB of SSD storage are a pretty great deal for the price of this machine. Plus, the fact that you get all that in a fairly light package and with decent battery life is great, and it makes that price even more justified. I did expect a bit more performance from an H-series laptop compared to a U-series one, but clearly, AMD is still besting Intel's competing products in at least some areas, and there's not much to complain about.

With that being said, there are also some downsides. The sound is alright, but I really expected more from top-firing speakers, and I still wish there was touch support on this display. Most importantly, I would like to have a webcam in a more adequate position for video calls, and given the current condition of many users right now, I'm sure I'm not the only one. Plus, the aesthetics are so boring that it's just difficult to be excited about this laptop just from looking at it. It's fine, but nothing that makes me feel good about carrying it around.

Still, you're not going to find many laptops with this kind of performance, display, and light weight, and especially not under €1,000. The Dell XPS 15 with an Intel Core i5-10300H, 8GB of RAM, and 256GB of storage is currently going for $1,199 on Dell's website. That machine is also slightly heavier than the MagicBook Pro. While I wouldn't say it's exciting necessarily, this is definitely a great option to get for €899.90, or even less, since it already seems to be discounted to €799.90 in France. In the UK, you can get it for £849.99, but it's bundled with other products like the Honor MagicWatch 2 (which costs £129.99 separately), making it an even better deal.

 

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