Huawei is a relatively new brand when it comes to laptops – and it’s quite a surprise that they’re jumping into the world of notebooks too. We’ve used – and review – a bunch of laptops here, and the new MateBook D 15 is the first Huawei-branded laptop we have for review.
By the title of this review, you already know it’s a good laptop – but what makes it good? Let’s sit down and talk about it.
Its clean design
Immediately, I realized how clean the design is. Well, that’s because Huawei took “inspiration” from the Apple MacBook Pro 15. The MateBook D 15 is also rather thin and light – measuring at 16.9mm and weighing in at 1.62kg.
Even being this thin, the MateBook D 15 manages to pack in quite a lot of ports. On the left side, we have:
- USB 2.0 Type-C, which is used for charging
- USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-A
- Full-sized HDMI
While on the other side, we have:
- Audio jack
- Double USB 2.0 Type-A
A part of the design cleanliness due to Huawei’s lack of labeling on each port, which every other laptop has. We didn’t actually realize the lack of labeling until we looked at what speed each USB port provide. It took us 2 minutes to find out the speed of each USB port – and we’re pretty disappointed as there is only a single USB 3.0 Type-C.
As a personal first world problem, I think Huawei should also have another USB-C charging port on the right side. That will make it suitable for any table setup.
Opening up the lid reiterates what I’ve said before – it’s “inspired” by the Apple MacBook Pro 15. While the MacBook Pro 15 has speakers flanking the keyboard, the MateBook D 15 does not.
The 15.6-inch IPS LCD with 1080p resolution on the MateBook D 15 is pretty typical for a laptop. The color calibration is decent enough to use, but I realized the colors are a bit flat.
The display does have very thin bezels all around because Huawei did what they’ve done in the past – move the webcam into the keyboard, in between F6 and F7 keys.
I personally don’t think this is a good location since it messes up the keyboard layout and gives us a good view up my nostrils whenever I did a video call.
Trackpad & keyboard
Huawei packed in an ultrathin keyboard into the MateBook D 15. Its travel distance is shallow while the actuation force is very abrupt, yet it feels mushy as bottoming the key feels dampened. I do feel like it’s better than Apple’s butterfly key switches, but the MateBook D 15 is mushy.
I like the keyboard layout overall – barring the camera button – and the power button (which doubles as the fingerprint scanner) is placed outside the typing area. However, the function lock toggle is a bit jarring.
Most other laptops require Fn + Esc to toggle the function row, but for the MateBook D 15? Just tap the Fn key to toggle function lock. I need to toggle between function lock on and off because I use print screen and function row a lot.
As for the trackpad, it’s decent enough to be used when I don’t have an external mouse with me – but the palm rejection could’ve been better. I don’t think this is Huawei’s fault since they are using Windows Precision drivers and we’ve seen the same issue across multiple different laptops.
Specs and performance
The Huawei MateBook D 15 has similar specs to the ASUS ZenBook UM431D (review) that we’ve reviewed not long ago. There is one key difference – and that’s the amount of VRAM.
- AMD Ryzen 5 3500U
- Radeon Vega 8 with 1GB VRAM
- 8GB DDR4 RAM (soldered, 7GB RAM usable)
- 256GB PCIe Gen 3 x4 NVMe SSD
- 1TB HDD
Our benchmarks show that the MateBook D 15 is not going to top the benchmark charts.
But that 1GB VRAM is what I worry about. As we mentioned before, this Ryzen 5 3500U requires a balancing act since the GPU will reserve some of the system RAM and use it as VRAM. In the case of the Huawei MateBook D 15, we have a total of 7GB RAM to be used – which is better for multitasking and working with more Chrome tabs.
However, gaming is a different question. On the Huawei MateBook D 15, I can play Overwatch at the lowest graphical settings with an okay experience – but Apex Legends stutters a lot.
Maintenance and upgradability
Like any other laptops we reviewed, we open up the laptop to see what’s upgradable and what’s not. For the Huawei MateBook D 15, only the M.2 2280 SSD and the 2.5-inch storage disk can be swapped out.
The RAM is soldered, which is quite unfortunate since the only configuration available globally is only 8GB of RAM.
And it is here that we can see that the MateBook D 15 comes with a 42Wh battery.
It can last for about 5 hours under intense use – lots of Chrome tabs jumping back and forth, some Photoshop, and YouTube music streaming + video watching. Pretty decent battery life, I’d say.
In case you’re wondering, I also did a battery charging time benchmark on the Huawei MateBook D 15. It takes about 100 minutes to completely charge from 15% to 100% while idle. I also compared the battery charging time with the Innergie 60C that we reviewed here.
Wrapping up the Huawei MateBook D 15 review
I’d say, for the price of RM2,499, I think the Huawei MateBook D 15 is an easy recommendation for those who just want to use a laptop to get some simple tasks done. Just keep in mind that there is no way to upgrade the laptop other than storage.
It’s not a perfect laptop, but it’s a good laptop for its price.