HONOR MagicBook 14 Review
While the Honor MagicBook 14 is not available in the US, it is currently on sale in parts of Europe for about 600 euro (the equivalent of 650$ with tax). In exchange you get a no-nonsense Windows 10 laptop with no major drawbacks besides the silly webcam stuck in the keyboard. It is well suited for students, office workers, or anyone in need of a laptop for productivity and entertainment that is easy to carry around and doesn’t break the bank.
Honor MagicBook 14 specs:
- Display: 14-inch, 1920x1080 pixels, 16:9 ratio, matte finish
- Processor and Graphics: AMD Ryzen 5 3500U Processor + Radeon Vega 8 Graphics
- Memory: 8GB DDR4
- Storage: 256GB PCI-E NVMe SSD (512GB option available)
- Size and weight: 322.5 x 214.8 x 15.9 mm, 1.38kg
- Battery and charging: 56Wh battery, 65W USB-C charger
- OS: Windows 10 Home Edition
As someone used to working on a 15-inch laptop daily, I was impressed by how light and slim the Honor MagicBook 14 was. Switching to it for a couple of weeks was refreshing. It’s not the lightest laptop in the size category, but it is easy to carry and move around. It is comparable to a 13-inch MacBook Pro in size and weight, being only a tad wider while also holding a larger screen.
The power button on the Honor MagicBook 14 doubles as a fingerprint scanner. It is fast and reliable which is good news as face recognition is not available, probably because the webcam is of the pop-up variety.
I can’t complain about the touchpad under the keyboard. It is wide and spacious, with good accuracy, and allows gestures like swiping down with three fingers to see your desktop.
The keyboard I can describe as good enough. As someone who does a lot of typing, I wish it had a bit more travel and a more clicky feel, but for most people, it should do just fine. There are three levels of backlight brightness: dim, very dim, and super dim.
In terms of ports and connectivity, you get a full-sized HDMI port, a 3.5mm combo jack for your earphones and headsets, one USB 2.0 and one USB 3.0 port, as well as a USB-C port. The latter is used for both charging and connecting USB peripherals. No SD card slot is available. Wireless options include Bluetooth and Wi-Fi with, in my opinion, pretty strong connection.
As the name implies, the Honor MagicBook has a 14-inch display. It’s a 1080p non-touchscreen LCD panel with matte finish surrounded by a super thin bezel.
On one hand, there’s nothing too amazing about it, but on the other, the screen looks really good for a 600-euro laptop. It has good viewing angles and colors are sufficiently accurate, without the blueish tint dominating some cheap laptop screens.
We measured a maximum brightness of 279 nits which is satisfactory. However, I tried using the laptop on my sunny balcony and it was practically impossible to see anything on the screen.
One more thing I noticed: there’s some unevenness in the backlight near the edges of the screen. It’s not too big of a deal, though.
One of the strengths of the Honor MagicBook 14 is that it’s equipped with powerful hardware for a laptop of this price. Inside it we find an AMD Ryzen 5 3500U processor with Radeon Vega 8 Graphics, 8GB of DDR4 RAM, and a 256GB NVMe SSD. A 512GB storage option is also available, but there are no higher RAM options for this model.
This is by no means a gaming laptop, but it’s more than capable of running not very demanding games like Heroes of the Storm, Team Fortress 2 or CS:GO. It does get quite hot, however. Adobe Lightroom runs well and exports about 20 16MP RAW images per minute. Video editing is also possible, though things are sure to get laggy if you’re working with 4K content. 4K 60fps YouTube video runs fine.
Sound quality and webcam
The Honor MagicBook 14 comes with two speakers on the bottom producing pretty good sound. The microphones are positioned on the front edge of the laptop and are capable of picking up clear audio.
I have mixed feelings about the webcam, though. It is built into the keyboard, embedded between the F6 and F7 keys, and it pops up when pressed. This results in a slimmer top bezel and means there’s no need to stick tape over it if you’re worried about your privacy. However, the viewing angle is not a pretty sight.
Battery Life and Charging
The Honor MagicBook 14 comes with a 56Wh battery promising “up to 10 hours of stand-alone productivity”, but of course, how long the laptop lasts depends heavily on what you’re using it for.
I’d say that 8 hours of autonomous use -- with light tasks like web browsing or document editing -- is a more realistic estimate. If you’re watching YouTube videos at 40% brightness, the battery will last less than 8 hours. Using heavier apps like Lightroom or Photoshop may bring down the figure to 5 hours.
The supplied 65W charger is compact and light. It connects to the laptop over a detachable USB-C cable that is 6 feet (180cm) in length. While a full charge takes around an hour and a half, charging from zero to 50% takes roughly about half an hour. Since the charger uses a USB-C connector, it can charge a phone as well. Curiously, a standard Galaxy S20 USB-C charger can also charge the MagicBook 14, though at a slower rate.