Honor MagicBook 14 (2021) Review: new hardware in the same body

On April 13, Honor unveiled the new MagicBook 14 and MagicBook 15 laptops from the 2021 lineup. They are distinguished from their predecessors by the use of 11th generation Intel processors on the Tiger Lake core, due to which the manufacturer sought to increase the level of autonomy. In addition, the laptops have a faster SSD and Wi-Fi 6 wireless network adapter, and their displays now have Eye Comfort mode and TÜV Rheinland certification (50% reduction in blue light exposure and flicker suppression). These and other features of the new MagicBook will be discussed in our today’s material, and we will test the 14-inch model MagicBook 14 (NDR-WFE9HN) in the older configuration – with an Intel Core i7-1165G7 processor.

Honor MagicBook 14

Contents:

Packaging

The packaging of the laptop has not changed: the same cardboard box with a plastic handle and a minimum of information.

Inside, the laptop is fixed between two foamed polyethylene shells and additionally wrapped in a synthetic envelope. A pencil case with compartments for the power adapter and cable is inserted next to the laptop, as well as a brief instruction and a warranty memo.

The Honor MagicBook 14 (NDR-WFE9HN) is made in China and comes with a one-year warranty. The recommended cost of a model with a 14-inch screen starts at $1050.


Honor MagicBook 14 configuration

Honor MagicBook 14 (NDR-WFE9HN)

  • CPU Intel Core i7-1165G7 (10nm SuperFin, 4 cores / 8 threads, 1.2-4.7 GHz, 12 MB L3 cache, TDP 12-28 W) also available configuration with Intel Core i5-1135G7
  • Intel Tiger Lake-UP3 Chipset
  • RAM 16 (2×8) GB DDR4-3200 (soldered on the board), dual-channel mode, 22-22-22-52 CR2 timings memory capacity can be 8GB
  • Video integrated Intel Iris Xe Graphics
  • 14-inch display, IPS, Full HD (1920×1080), 60 Hz, 100% sRGB
  • Sound subsystem Realtek codec, 2 stereo speakers
  • SSD 512 GB (WD SN730, M.2 2280, NVMe, PCIe 3.0 x4)
  • Network interfaces
    – Wired network – no
    – Wireless network Wi-Fi Intel Wi-Fi 6 AX201D2W (802.11ax, MIMO 2 × 2, 2.4 and 5 GHz, 160 MHz)
    – Bluetooth 5.1
  • Interfaces and ports
    – USB USB 3.2 (Type-A), USB 2.0 (Type-A), USB 2.0 (Type-C), 20 V/3.25 A charging support
    – HDMI 2.0 video outputs
    – Audio – 1 combo headset (minijack)
  • Input Devices
    – Membrane keyboard without digital block, backlight
    – Two-button touchpad, 121×65 mm

Appearance and ergonomics

By design, the updated Honor MagicBook 14 (NDR-WFE9HN) is an exact copy of last year’s model. In fact, a new hardware configuration is simply assembled in the same case and dimensions. The color also remained the same – “space gray”.

Recall that the laptop case is aluminum and that its dimensions are 323×215×16mm with a weight of 1370g.

The front of the laptop has a recess for more convenient finger grip on the lid, and the opposite end is completely devoid of ventilation holes and ports.




Along with the design, the set of ports has not undergone any changes. And this is a clear minus of the novelty, since this set is literally outdated. Not only is there no Thunderbolt 4 interface here, but also the only USB Type-C port, which will most often be occupied by the charging cable, turned out to be version 2.0!




The remaining two USB Type-A ports are versions 2.0 and 3.0, and besides them, HDMI and a minijack for headphones and a microphone are installed.

That is, in the maximum configuration, Honor MagicBook 14 (2021) will officially cost 100 thousand rubles and at the same time will please its owner with such a set of ports. We ran a simple test of the speed of copying through each of the laptop’s USB ports from a flash drive with a read speed of 250 MB/s.

As they say, comments are superfluous.

The laptop screen can be reclined 180 degrees, but it will not be possible to do this with one hand, since the hinges are rather rigid.

Honor MagicBook 14

It is difficult to find fault with the assembly of the case and the quality of the materials used in the case of Honor MagicBook 14 (2021), everything is done very neatly, the material of the panels is tactilely pleasant.


Input Devices

Given that the concept of the new Honor MagicBook 14 has not changed, is it necessary to say that the laptop’s input devices have not changed either? The keyboard here is a membrane type without a block of numeric keys, as well as without a column with convenient PgUp and PgDn, for which there would obviously be enough space.

Honor MagicBook 14 keyboard

Reduced up and down arrows spoil the generally comfortable set of keys measuring 16.5×16.5 mm, the travel of which is 1.2mm here.

Honor MagicBook 14 keyboard

The backlighting of the keyboard is two-level, white and with automatic shutdown after 15 seconds of inactivity.

Honor MagicBook 14 keyboard

In the center of the working panel of the laptop is a two-button touchpad with dimensions of 119×71mm.

Honor MagicBook 14 touchpad

It is comfortable to work with, the button presses are felt well, the surface is moderately smooth.

The webcam of Honor MagicBook 14 is located in the central “button” in the row of function keys and opens after lightly pressing it.

The camera specifications remain the same: 1MP sensor and 720p HD resolution.

At the top right of the operating panel is the power button for a laptop with a built-in fingerprint scanner.

Honor MagicBook 14

In the same subsection, we highlight the convenient function of integrating smartphones with a laptop: Magic-link 2.0.

With its help, up to three applications from a smartphone can be displayed on the laptop screen, as well as file exchange and single access to the clipboard.


Display

Honor MagicBook 14 Display

The Honor MagicBook 14 laptop uses a 14-inch IPS-matrix with a resolution of 1920×1080.

The outer surface of the matrix is ​​black, hard and semi-matte (specularity is well expressed). There is no special anti-reflective coating or filter, and there is no air gap. With AC or battery power and manual brightness control (there is no automatic adjustment by the light sensor), its maximum value was 328 cd / m² (in the center of the screen on a white background). If you avoid direct sunlight, then this value allows you to somehow use the laptop outdoors, even on a sunny summer day.

Note that some improvement in readability can be in the event that the matrix has some transreflective properties (part of the light is reflected from the substrate, and the picture can be seen in the light even with the backlight turned off). Also, glossy matrices, even in direct sunlight, can sometimes be rotated so that something fairly dark and uniform is reflected in them (on a clear day, this is, for example, the sky), which will improve readability, while matte matrices need to be blocked from Sveta. In rooms with bright artificial light (about 500 lux), you can work more or less comfortably even with a maximum screen brightness of 50 cd / m² and below, that is, in these conditions, the maximum brightness is not an important value.

Let’s go back to the screen of the laptop under test. If the brightness setting is 0%, the brightness is reduced to 5 cd / m². In complete darkness, the brightness of its screen can be lowered to a comfortable level.

At any brightness level, there is no significant backlight modulation, so there is no screen flickering either. As proof, we present the graphs of the dependence of the brightness (vertical axis) on time (horizontal axis) at various values ​​of the brightness setting:

This laptop uses an IPS type matrix. Micrographs show the subpixel structure typical for IPS (black dots are dust on the camera sensor):

Focusing on the surface of the screen revealed chaotically located micro-defects of the surface, which are responsible for the matte properties themselves:

The grain of these defects is several times smaller than the size of the subpixels (the scale of these two photographs is approximately the same), therefore, focusing on microdefects and “jumping” of focus across subpixels when changing the angle of view are weak, because of this, there is no “crystal” effect.

If we step back from the edges, the uniformity of the white field is good, and the black field and, as a consequence, the contrast is worse. Contrast by modern standards for this type of matrix is typical. The photo below gives an idea of the distribution of the brightness of the black field over the screen area:

It can be seen that the black field is mainly lightened closer to the edge. However, the unevenness of black backlighting is visible only in very dark scenes and in almost complete darkness, it should not be considered a significant drawback. Note that the rigidity of the lid, although it is made of aluminum, is not high, the lid is slightly deformed at the slightest applied force, and the deformation greatly changes the nature of the black field illumination.

The screen has good viewing angles without significant color shift, even with large gaze deviations from the perpendicular to the screen, and without tint inversion. However, when deviated diagonally, the black field is strongly lightened and takes on a reddish tint.

The response time for the transition black-white-black is 18 ms (10 ms on + 8 ms off), the transition between gray tones in total (from hue to hue and back) takes an average of 26 ms. The matrix is ​​not fast, there is no overclocking.

We determined the total output delay from switching the video buffer pages to the start of displaying the image on the screen (recall that it depends on the peculiarities of the Windows OS and the video card, and not only on the display). At 60 Hz refresh rate (and no other value is available), the latency is 11 ms. This is a small delay, it is absolutely not felt when working on a PC, and even in very dynamic games in games it will not lead to a decrease in performance.

Two refresh rates are available in the display settings – 60 and 48 Hz. The second can come in handy when watching movies.

At least at native screen resolutions, the output comes in 8 bits per color.

Next, we measured the brightness of 256 shades of gray (from 0, 0, 0 to 255, 255, 255). The graph below shows the increase (not an absolute value!) In brightness between adjacent semitones:

Brightness gain and grayscale

The growth of the increase in brightness is fairly uniform, and almost every next shade is brighter than the previous one. However, in the darkest area, visually, the first shade of gray does not differ in brightness from black, and the subsequent ones differ poorly, since the increase in brightness in the shadows is slow:

Brightness and grayscale

The approximation of the resulting gamma curve gave an indicator of 2.03, which is lower than the standard value of 2.2, that is, the picture is slightly lightened. In this case, the real gamma curve deviates slightly from the approximating power function:

Brightness and grayscale

The color gamut is very close to sRGB:

Therefore, visually, the colors on this screen have natural saturation. Below is the spectrum for the white field (white line) superimposed on the spectra of the red, green and blue fields (lines of the corresponding colors):

Apparently, this screen uses LEDs with a blue emitter and a green and red phosphor (usually a blue emitter and a yellow phosphor), which in principle allows good separation of components. Yes, and in the red phosphor, apparently, the so-called quantum dots are used. However, specially selected light filters perform cross-blending of components, which narrows the coverage to sRGB.

The balance of shades on the gray scale is good (graphs Uncorrected in the figures below), since the color temperature is quite close to the standard 6500 K, and the deviation from the spectrum of a black body (ΔE) is below 10, which is considered an acceptable indicator for a consumer device. At the same time, the color temperature and ΔE vary little from shade to shade – this has a positive effect on the visual assessment of the color balance. (The darkest areas of the gray scale can be ignored, since the color balance there is not very important, and the error in measuring color characteristics at low brightness is large.)


Enabling the Eye protection option reduces the intensity of the blue component, exactly how much can be adjusted with the slider (in Windows 10, the corresponding setting is already there). Why such a correction can be useful is discussed in another article. In any case, when working at a laptop at night, it is better to lower the screen brightness to a low, but still comfortable level. There is no point in yellowing the picture.

Let’s summarize. The screen of this notebook has a maximum brightness high enough (328 cd / m²) that the device can be used outdoors on a bright day, out of direct sunlight. In complete darkness, the brightness can be lowered to a comfortable level (up to 5 cd / m²). The advantages of the screen include low output latency (11 ms), good color balance and sRGB color gamut. The disadvantages are the low stability of black to deviation of the gaze from the perpendicular to the plane of the screen. In general, the quality of the screen is high.


Internal structure and accessories

Honor MagicBook 14

If we compare the new Honor MagicBook 14 with last year’s version, then there is only one significant difference in the “internals”: two heat pipes in the cooling system instead of one. The layout of the elements inside the body remains the same.

Motherboard marking – NBD-WXX9-PCB with Intel Tiger Lake-UP3 chipset and BIOS version 3.02 dated February 22, 2021.

At the time of preparing the material and conducting tests, newer BIOS versions were not released.

The key replacement is the central processor. While last year’s version used a 6-core AMD Ryzen 5 4500U with integrated Radeon Vega graphics, the updated 2021 model features a 4-core/8-thread Intel Core i7-1165G7 processor.

The turbo frequency of this processor model can reach 4.7 GHz, and the maximum TDP value is 28 W. The younger version of the Honor MagicBook 14 is equipped with an Intel Core i5-1135G7 processor, the turbo frequency of which is limited to 4.2 GHz at the same TDP level.

In our model of Honor MagicBook 14 laptop, 16 GB of DDR4 RAM is soldered on the board, operating in dual-channel mode at an effective frequency of 3.2 GHz (timings 22-22-22-52 2T).

The version with an Intel Core i5-1135G7 processor is equipped with 8 GB of memory, this amount cannot be increased. The memory bandwidth and latency are at a quite standard level for DDR4-3200.

Note that the 2020 version of the Honor MagicBook 14 was equipped with only 8 GB of RAM (also not expandable), clocked at 2666 MHz.

The next change in the hardware configuration of the laptop is directly related to the central processor: we are talking about the Intel Iris Xe Graphics.

But the volume and type of SSD-drive remained the same: 512 GB, but Western Digital SN730 (SDBPNTY-512G-1027) is used.

Honor MagicBook 14

There are no other storage options in the Honor MagicBook 14 (2021). There is no room for an additional SSD in the laptop. There is no heat spreader on the drive, the SSD resource declared in the specifications must be at least 400 TBW.

It would seem that the model of the drive is practically the same, but in the new laptop its speed characteristics turned out to be noticeably higher than in last year’s version of Honor MagicBook 14. Moreover, both when working from the mains, and when the laptop is powered by a battery.

Overall, SSD performance is at a very high level for laptops.

We also checked the drive’s operating temperature in the stress test. Its temperature stabilized after about 10-12 minutes of loading and was limited to 58° C.

These are quite normal figures for a modern SSD without a heatsink, especially since its temperature did not rise above 45 ° C in everyday work.

The wireless module has also been updated. Now, instead of Wi-Fi 5 Realtek RTL8822CE, a more modern and faster Intel Wi-Fi 6 AX201D2W is used with support for 802.11ax (Wi-Fi 6), MIMO 2 × 2 and with the ability to work in the 2.4 and 5 GHz bands at channel width up to 160 MHz, as well as with support for Bluetooth version 5.1.

Honor MagicBook 14 Bluetooth module

But the audio system in the new Honor MagicBook 14 (2021) has not changed. It is still controlled by the Realtek ALC256 codec, and the sound comes from two stereo speakers built into the front of the laptop base.

Honor MagicBook 14

The volume measurement of the built-in loudspeakers was carried out while playing a sound file with pink noise. The maximum volume was 73.3 dBA. Among the notebooks tested at the time of this writing (64.8 dBA minimum, 83 dBA maximum), this notebook is slightly quieter than average in terms of volume.


Cooling system and operation under load

Cooling system

As we mentioned above, now the laptop cooling system uses not one, but two heat pipes. A 6mm tube has been added to the 8mm tube, and the heatsink and fan are unchanged.

Cold air enters the fan from below through the ventilation grill at the base and is thrown back.

Cooling system

The fan speed is automatically adjusted depending on the temperature of the processor and the operating mode of the laptop, which can be selected in the application from two options: performance or balanced.

We tested the Honor MagicBook 14 in Performance mode in the powerMax stress test (with AVX instructions) using the supplied adapter and also with battery power. The monitoring was carried out using the HWinfo utility, the room temperature during the test was 26° C.

When the laptop was powered from the mains at the very beginning of the stress test, the processor frequency briefly reached 4.5 GHz, but at the same time its temperature rose to a critical 95° C and the throttling mode was triggered. The increased speed of the cooling fan, coupled with the reduction of the processor frequency to 3.2 GHz, stabilized the temperature by 83° C. At the same time, even at the maximum fan speed, the laptop cannot be called truly noisy. As for the Honor MagicBook 14’s stress test on battery power, the CPU was set to 2.4GHz at 62° C and no noise at all, as in normal office work.


Noise level and heating

We measure the noise level in a special soundproofed and semi-muffled chamber. In this case, the sound level meter microphone is positioned relative to the laptop so as to simulate the typical position of the user’s head: the screen is tilted back 45 degrees (or to the maximum, if the screen is not tilted 45 degrees), the microphone axis coincides with the normal emanating from the center of the screen, the front end of the microphone is at a distance of 50 cm from the plane of the screen, the microphone is aimed at the screen The load is created using the powerMax program, the screen brightness is set to maximum, the room temperature is maintained at 24 degrees, but the laptop is not specially blown, so the air temperature in the immediate vicinity may be higher.

If the laptop is not loaded at all, then its cooling system still works in active mode, but it is so quiet that at a specified distance from the laptop the noise level no longer exceeds the background value. Under heavy load, the noise from the cooling system is low. The nature of the noise is smooth and does not cause irritation.

From 40 dBA and more noise, from our point of view, very high, long-term work with a laptop is difficult, from 35 to 40 dBA noise level is high, but tolerable, from 30 to 35 dBA noise is clearly audible, from 25 to 30 dBA noise from the system cooling will not stand out much against the background of typical sounds surrounding a user in an office with several employees and working computers, somewhere from 20 to 25 dBA the laptop can be called very quiet, below 20 dBA – relatively silent. The scale, of course, is very arbitrary and does not take into account the individual characteristics of the user and the nature of the sound.

Below are thermal images taken after long-term operation of the laptop under maximum load on the CPU and GPU (using the complete power supply):

Under the maximum load, working with the keyboard is not very comfortable, since the place under the left wrist heats up significantly. Holding the laptop on your lap is also uncomfortable as your knees come into contact with hot areas. The power supply heats up very much, so it is necessary that during long-term operation with high performance it is not covered with anything.


Performance

We tested the performance of the CPU, RAM and storage of the Honor MagicBook 14 (2021) in real applications in accordance with the methodology and set of applications of our iXBT Application Benchmark 2020. For comparison, the table includes a reference system based on a 6-core Intel Core processor i5-9600K as well as results from the previous version of Honor MagicBook 14 laptop with AMD Ryzen 5 4500U processor. The notebooks have been tested with maximum performance on AC power.

In terms of the integral result, excluding the drive, the Honor MagicBook 14 (2021) turned out to be slightly slower than its predecessor, losing in video conversion, rendering, text recognition and scientific calculations, but the Intel Core i7-1165G7 was still faster in digital content creation, photo processing and archiving. than AMD Ryzen 5 4500U. As a result, the advantage of last year’s model was 2.2 points, but in specific tests there are very significant deviations in both directions (for example, in Adobe After Effects CC 2019 or VidCoder 4.36). In general, if you do not take into account the performance of the SSD, which is much faster in the new product, we can state the approximate equality of Honor MagicBook 14 laptops from 2021 and 2020.

In addition to processor tests, we checked the Intel Iris Xe Graphics integrated into the processor in several 3D benchmarks.

And if again, compare these results with the previous ones, it is easy to see that the graphics integrated into the central processing unit in Honor MagicBook 14 (2021) are more productive than in the same laptop with an AMD Ryzen 5 4500U processor (Radeon Vega). However, we plan to return to the issue of the performance of the integrated graphics core in order to test its capabilities in 3D games in one of the following articles.


Battery life

Honor charger

The power of the compact and lightweight (157g) power adapter marked HW-200325EP0 for Honor MagicBook 14 (2021) is exactly the same as last year’s model, and is 65 watts (20.0 V, 3.25A).

It connects to the laptop with a USB Type-C cable, and a blinking white LED will inform you about the battery charge status.

Honor battery

The capacity of the lithium-polymer battery in the laptop also has not changed and is 56Wh.

According to the manufacturer, the battery should charge more than 44% in just 30 minutes, but this is true only if the laptop is not loaded with resource-intensive applications during charging. In the latter case, it will charge more slowly, and when you run the stress test, it will be completely discharged. A complete laptop charge cycle from 3% to 100% takes 2 hours and 13 minutes (average of three cycles).

The autonomy of the updated Honor MagicBook 14 is at a high level. We measured it in the PCMark’10 test suite with a screen brightness of 100 cd / m² (which in this case is equivalent to 37%). As a result, in the Modern Office test, the laptop was able to work almost 14 and a half hours, and in the emulation test with Word, Excel and PowerPoint – 12 hours and 39 minutes.

In conditional gaming mode, the Honor MagicBook 14 battery lasts for 2.5 hours, and when playing full-screen video with a sound level of 20% and active network connections, the laptop worked for 13 and a half hours. We got roughly the same results last year on a previous version of this laptop with an AMD Ryzen 5 4500U processor.


Conclusions

Honor MagicBook 14

So, let’s recap how the new Honor MagicBook 14 (2021) with the NDR-WFE9HN index differs from last year’s NblL-WDQ9HN model. First of all, the processor from AMD Ryzen 5 4500U was replaced with Intel Core i7-1165G7, which did not bring a qualitative leap in performance (and should not have), but made the laptop faster in 3D games. The second important change was the doubled RAM size: now you can choose a model with 16 GB DDR4-3200 (the predecessor had 8 GB and DDR4-2666). In addition, the changes affected the SSD drive (in the new model of the laptop it works much faster), as well as the wireless communication module, which now supports Wi-Fi 6. Also, the laptop was equipped with a more efficient cooling system on two heat pipes, thanks to which it can run quietly in almost any scenario.

Now about what the developers could have done, but did not. Equipping us with USB ports is bewildering: having only one more or less fast USB 3.0 in a laptop for 100 thousand rubles in 2021 is somehow even ugly, and the only USB Type-C turned out to be version 2.0, and besides, it will be periodically busy charging cable. In our opinion, a modern Honor MagicBook 14 should have a pair of Thunderbolt 4 ports with all the advantages that come with them. In addition, the charging power is insufficient to quickly replenish the battery charge while using the laptop in demanding applications. The keyboard is also flawed: there is space for a column of additional keys with PgUp and PgDn on the panel, but there are no keys.

And yet, overall, the Honor MagicBook 14 (2021) leaves a good impression. It is a neat and compact model with a quality screen, excellent battery life, a moderately powerful processor and fast storage. The cost of the laptop is high and does not fully correspond to its capabilities, however, in the first two weeks of sales, both modifications will cost 15 thousand rubles less, which makes them attractive.