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MateBook 16 hands on: Huawei’s biggest laptop packs a powerful punch

Loads of power and a great screen for not much money, the Huawei MateBook 16 is a force to be reckoned with

The Huawei MateBook D16 is the latest in a steady stream of laptops from the Chinese tech giant and almost all have been successful releases. Thanks to a laser focus on value and build quality, Huawei has gone from a company famed mostly for its smartphones and network infrastructure to one of the best mid-range and budget laptop brands you can buy.

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Matebook 16 review: What you need to know

The MateBook 16 sits in a slightly odd position. It’s more powerful – and more expensive – than the majority of the MateBook D range and less pricey than the premium ultraportable MateBook X range.

It comes with a 16in, 16:1, 2.5K (2,520 x 1,680) IPS display (non-touchscreen) and is powered by AMD’s latest 5000-series Ryzen processor. It also includes Huawei’s latest tablet collaboration features, which allow users to deploy their Huawei tablets as a secondary display.

Otherwise, the laptop very much follows in the footsteps of other recent Huawei machines. It’s built like a rock, with a sturdy aluminium chassis, has a spacious, comfortable keyboard with a soft, well-damped key action and a large, responsive touchpad beneath it.

It is a little on the heavy side at 1.99kg – a lot when you bear in mind that the 17in LG Gram 17 weighs a mere 1.35kg – but it makes up for that with the sort of build quality that wouldn’t look out of place on an Apple machine. I like the fact that the speakers are positioned on either side of the keyboard and so can’t be obscured when the MateBook is positioned on your lap.

Alas, Huawei stubbornly refuses to do anything about its woeful pop-up webcam. It remains hidden behind one of the function keys at the top of the keyboard and offers an unflattering up-the-nostrils view, but that’s the only real negative thing to say about the design of the MateBook 16.

MateBook 16 review: Price and availability

At the moment, Huawei hasn’t announced UK pricing for the MateBook 16, but I expect it to be released over here fairly soon and, if the euro pricing is anything to go by, expect a laptop that packs one hell of a punch for not much cash.

The top model is equipped with an AMD Ryzen 7 5800H, 16GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD (divided inexplicably into two partitions) for €1,199, while the Ryzen 5-equipped machine is €1,099 for the same amount of RAM and storage.

MateBook 16 review: Performance and display

I was sent the Ryzen 7 machine prior to the launch and had the chance to run some of our benchmarks on it. The results were impressive, outstripping the M1 MacBook Air for performance and nearly matching the impressive Acer Nitro 5 (AN515-45), a gaming laptop that comes with the same CPU but a more powerful GPU.

The Acer’s Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 is streets ahead of the MateBook’s integrated RX Vega 8 graphics for playing games, but the Huawei MateBook 16’s build quality, sleek design and – most importantly – superior display quality make it a much more pleasant machine to work on every day.

Indeed, the “Full View” display, which has a resolution of 2,520 x 1,680, delivers sharp, vibrant visuals that far outstrip those of a mere budget gaming machine like the Nitro. Peak brightness reaches 367cd/m², contrast ratio hits an impressive 1,719:1 and it has colour reproduction that runs to 92.5% of sRGB with a high degree of colour accuracy. I measured the average Delta E at a mere 1.18  that’s very good indeed and ensures that, whether you’re editing photos and video or watching the latest blockbuster on Disney+, the MateBook 16’s display will look the business.

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MateBook 16 review: Early verdict

I haven’t yet run our full set of benchmark tests on the MateBook 16, but the early signs are that this is a laptop to be reckoned with. It’s a well-made machine with a fabulous display, enough power for workstation tasks, if not gaming, and a price that puts it within reach of most people.

It’s a touch heavy and Huawei’s in-keyboard pop-up webcam remains bafflingly in place, yet if you’re looking for a laptop with a big display and a bit more power than average, the Huawei MateBook 16 well and truly delivers.

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