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Honor MagicBook Pro review: Redefines what’s possible in a sub-£1,000 laptop

Jonathan Bray
10 Dec 2021
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
850
inc VAT

Honor’s 'pro' 16in laptop is an almost unbelievably good bargain

Pros 
Excellent performance
Mega value
Relatively slim and light for a 16in laptop
Cons 
Awkward webcam placement
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Honor’s laptops have proved to be an important outlet for the Chinese technology brand in 2020 and, with the release of the new Honor MagicBook Pro, it’s pushing on into the premium laptop space.

Launched at a virtual press conference at IFA 2020 alongside a series of new wearables and an updated MagicBook 14 and 15, the new laptop utilises AMD’s latest Ryzen 4000-series mobile chips. Combined with decent build quality, a large 16.1in display and an extremely reasonable price, it's shaping up to be the best laptop we've seen at under £1,000.

I’ve had the chance to go hands-on with an early sample before the launch and, so far, I’ve been very impressed.

READ NEXT: The best laptops for students

Honor MagicBook Pro review: Specifications, price and release date

  • 16.1in, 1,920 x 1,080 IPS display
  • AMD Ryzen 5 4600H CPU
  • AMD Radeon RX Vega 6 graphics
  • 16GB RAM
  • 512GB SSD
  • 369 x 234 x 16.9mm, 1.7kg
  • Price: £850
  • Availability: September 7, 2020

Buy now from Honor


Honor MagicBook Pro review: Key features and design

Honor has close ties with smartphone giant, Huawei, so it should come as little surprise to discover the MagicBook Pro bears some similarities to the MateBook line of laptops. The 16.1in non-touchscreen means the machine is larger than any of Huawei’s offerings to date but its dark grey, “frosted matte” finish, popup keyboard webcam and circular fingerprint power button give the game away.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing, though. Huawei’s laptops have been consistently excellent since it entered the segment a couple of years ago and Honor’s MagicBook Pro is no different. It has a stiff, unyielding aluminium chassis that feels very well made, it looks smart, and although the keyboard and touchpad aren’t the very best I’ve used – the spacebar feels a touch rattly and I’d prefer a larger touch surface – there’s nothing about it that’s objectionably bad.

Even the speakers, flanking the keyboard to the left and right, are decent, delivering surprisingly rich, full-bodied audio that puts many rivals to shame.

In fact, aside from the awkwardly placed pop-up webcam, the Honor MagicBook Pro looks to me to be the ideal 2020 laptop. It has a big screen, which should make working from home a more comfortable experience than a smaller-screened device, although I’d prefer a sharper display than the 1080p one included here. There are plenty of ports for attaching peripherals, too: one USB-C, HDMI and USB-A port on the left edge and two USB-A ports plus a 3.5mm port on the right edge.

And there’s just enough portability here – it’s a hair under 17mm thick and weighs a mere 1.7kg – to make carrying the laptop around in a bag not too much of a chore. The Honor MagicBook Pro isn't, perhaps, as impressively svelte as the LG Gram 17 (2020) – the LG weighs less at 1.35kg and also has a larger, higher-resolution display – however, the Honor MagicBook Pro hits back with much more powerful internals.

READ NEXT: The best laptops for students

Buy now from Honor


Honor MagicBook Pro review: Performance

At the heart of the MagicBook Pro lies one of AMD’s latest Ryzen chips, and not one of its low-power mobile parts, either. Here, you’re getting one of the firm’s high-performance CPUs: a six-core 3GHz AMD Ryzen 5 4600H CPU, to be specific, backed up by 16GB of RAM and 512GB of PCIe SSD storage.

As our benchmarks reveal, this makes the MagicBook Pro not just a fraction faster than its rival; it’s quicker by an absolute mile and far faster than anything else we’ve tested in at this price. Just for giggles, I’ve also compared it in the graph below with the 16in MacBook Pro (2019) I tested at £3,789, the Dell XPS 15 (2020) at £2,499, and the Razer Blade Pro 17in (2020) at £3,200.

As you can see, the Honor MagicBook Pro holds up remarkably well. Clearly, it isn’t as fast in games and graphics intense tasks as its vastly more expensive counterparts, all of which feature discrete graphics of one sort or another, but it outperforms the LG Gram and the slightly more expensive Microsoft Surface Book 3 13.5in handsomely once again.

This is no one-hit-wonder, either. Its 512GB SSD is also quick enough to go toe-to-toe with the very fastest laptops we’ve tested over the past year or so:

Battery life is respectable, too, lasting 9hrs 15mins in our video rundown test with the screen set to a brightness of 170cd/m2 and flight mode engaged. For a laptop with a 16in display, a relatively small 56Wh battery and all that power, this is a very impressive result. It bests all but the LG Gram 17 of its big-screened rivals for stamina, including the 16in Apple MacBook Pro: 

 

And although the 1080p display isn't the sharpest, it is highly colour accurate and reasonably bright. I measured it at a maximum 345cd/m2, which is absolutely fine for indoor use, even in bright rooms. It covers 97.8% of the sRGB colour gamut (from a volume of 99.9%) and its average Delta E within sRGB is a brilliant 0.46.

Honor MagicBook Pro review: Verdict

Looking at those performance results, you could be forgiven for wondering what all the other manufacturers are doing. The Honor MagicBook Pro performs so well and at such a reasonable price that it embarrasses laptops costing hundreds of pounds more.

I'd be lying if I said it doesn't have any shortcomings. I’d like to have seen a higher resolution display with a taller aspect ratio, for instance, the keyboard and touchpad aren’t quite up to the standards of the best laptops on the market (although they're far from awful), and the webcam positioning isn't ideal.

However, at £850, the Honor MagicBook Pro is simply bonkers good. It’s incredibly fast, surprisingly slim and light for a 16.1in machine, it looks smart and feels well made. If you need a powerful machine for use at home as well as on the road but don’t have big bucks to spend, this is the laptop you should be saving up for.

Buy now from Honor


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