The MateBook D is Huawei’s line of affordable laptops, and in this article, we’ve gathered out impressions on a slightly older model, yet one that’s still popular in some regions, the MateBook D 15 MRC-W10.
This offers a compact and light all-metal construction, a pretty good keyboard, a matte IPS screen and competent hardware that can easily handle daily chores.
Huawei had to cut some corners in order to meet the lower price point, and as a result, there’s only a 42 Wh battery inside the MateBook D, there’s no USB-C port or card-reader, the screen is only averagely bright or color-accurate, and the keyboard lacks backlighting. Aside from the lack of key illumination, none are actually deal-breakers in this sub $600 niche though, where the MateBook is very competitive, despite its quirks.
And that’s because it does most things right or at least well enough. It looks nice, it’s built better than most of the other options in its class and checks the traits people actually care about: IPS screen, typing experience, ports, performance, and even battery life. We’ll get in-depth on all these aspects down below, so make sure to go through the review if you’re interested in one of these 15-inch Huawei MateBook Ds.
Specs as reviewed
|Huawei MateBook D 15|
|Screen||15.6 inch, 1920 x 1080 px, IPS, non-touch, matte, AUO B156W02|
|Processor||Intel KabyLake-R Core i5-8250U CPU|
|Video||Intel UHD 620|
|Memory||8 GB DDR4 2400 MHz single channel (2x DIMMs)|
|Storage||256 GB M.2 SATA SSD (80 mm – Sandisk SD8SN8U256G1127) + 2.5″ storage bay|
|Connectivity||Wireless AC (Intel AC 8265), Bluetooth 4.1|
|Ports||2x USB-A 3.1 gen1, 1x USB-A 2.0, HDMI, mic/headphone|
|Battery||42 Wh, 65W charger|
|Size||358 mm or 14.09” (w) x 239 mm or 9.41” (d) x 17 mm or 0.67” (h)|
|Weight||3.75 lbs (1.7 kg)+ .41 lbs (.185 kg) charger and cables, EU version|
|Extras||non-backlit keyboard, HD webcam, stereo speakers|
Our review unit is the entry-level version available over here in Europe, while in other regions the Matebook D 15 is also available with up to a Core i7 processor and an Nvidia MX150 GPU (the 10De 1D10 25 W version).
Design and first look
Aluminum is used for this laptop’s entire outer shell and interior, so everything you’ll actually touch is made from smooth soft aluminum. It doesn’t feel as strong as on some of the more premium laptops out there, as there’s still some flex in the lid cover, but the MateBook D is still nicer crafted and sturdier than most other 15-inch notebooks in its price range. I would be careful when carrying this on my backpack, as the screen is a bit weak and pressing on the lid puts pressure on the panel itself, so it’s best to put this inside some sort of protective sleeve, that will also prevent the metal from scratching.
Huawei didn’t skimp on the build quality, as the bottom and sides attach flushly and leave no gaps. I did notice that the plastic used for the bottom bezel tends to peel off on our sample, leaving a gap between the bezel and the screen, and I fear dust could get inside there over time. Not sure if this is something that plagues all MateBook D models, but make sure to check the bezels on your unit, if you end up picking one.
This MateBook is also a nice looking computer, with a silver and black color theme. Some of you might not like the rounded case, which I agree that somewhat cheapen the aesthetics, and that aggressive Huawei branding on the lid is perhaps a little too much, but otherwise, the design is simple and clean.
This is also a practical device. There are no sharp edges or corners anywhere around, the IO is lined on the left edge, the webcam is placed at the top of the screen and the rubber feet on the bottom keep this well anchored on a desk. You will, however, need both hands to open up the screen, as the hinges are rather stiff, and you can only lean it back to about 130 degrees, which can be limiting when using the device on the lap.
Back to that IO, you get three USB-A slots, full-size HDMI and a headphone jack on this notebook, but no USB-C or card-reader, which some of you might want. The lack of USB-C also means that this charges via a standard barrel-plug, unlike the other higher-tier Huawei computers.
All in all, this MateBook D looks and feels above its price range, and that is one of its main attractions. A smoother hinge and better IO would have been appreciated, though, as well as the more subtle branding elements of the Matebook 13 or X Pro.
Keyboard and trackpad
This MateBook D is a pretty good typer as well. The keys are made of hard plastic and are a little wobbly, but the layout is great, with large and properly spaced key-caps. There’s no NumPad section, but you do get an extra row of function keys at the right, which takes some time to get used to, but will be useful once you do.
The deck’s sturdiness, 1.5 mm of travel and overall bouncy click add up to that alright typing experience I mentioned earlier. However, the actuation is a little weird, as the keys need to be pressed firmly to register clicks, which can lead to inaccuracies when typing quickly. Most people should find this OK, though, especially if not used to the shorter-stroke of current ultraportables.
This keyboard is also quiet enough that it won’t draw attention at the library, but it lacks illumination, so using it in the dark might will be a challenge. Huawei did include a Caps-Lock indicator, which most other keyboards in this segment lack.
The clickpad is a bit on the small side for a 15-inch laptop, but it works fine with everyday use. It’s a smooth plastic surface with Elan hardware and Precision drivers, and my only real gripe with it is the fact that it rattles loudly when tapped in the lower half, which is, in all fairness, another common flaw of budget notebooks.
There’s a 15.6-inch screen on the VivoBok S530, with a matte finishing and fairly narrow bezels, especially on the sides, as well as enough room for a webcam and mics at the top.
Huawei went with an average quality panel, pretty much on par with what the others offer in this class. The AU Optronics panel offers good viewing angles and contrast, but is not very bright and only covers 51% of the AdobeRGB gamut. Detail below, taken with a Spyder4 sensor:
- Panel HardwareID: AU Optronics B156HW02 (B156HAN02.1);
- Coverage: 67% sRGB, 48% NTSC, 51% AdobeRGB;
- Measured gamma: 2.8;
- Max brightness in the middle of the screen: 232 cd/m2 on power;
- Contrast at max brightness: 720:1;
- White point: 6900 K;
- Black on max brightness: 0.32 cd/m2;
- Response time: ~28 ms BTW;
- PWM: No.
Our sample came poorly calibrated out of the box, so you should definitely use this calibrated profile to address some of the gamma and gray-level imbalances.
I’ll also add that the panel doesn’t use PWM for brightness adjustment and we only got negligible light bleeding on our unit, so all in all this is a fair-quality screen for everyday use, just don’t use it for color-accurate work and don’t take the laptop outdoors.
Hardware and performance
Our test unit is a lower-tier configuration of the Huawei MateBook D 15, with a Core i5-8250U processor, 8 GB of RAM and a 256 GB SATA SSD.
That’s actually good enough for browsing, movies, text-editing, and other daily chores. You can further upgrade it by adding more RAM (the single stick included only works in single-channel) or perhaps a faster PCIe SSD. Both the RAM and storage slots are accessible on the inside, but getting to them requires you to remove the back panel, which is held in place by a bunch of screws (including two hidden beneath the rear rubber feet) and takes a fair bit of effort to release from its strong clips. Huawei also went with a thermal pad on top of the SSD and aluminum shields on top of the RAM slots, so you’ll need to remove those as well in order to get to the components.
As a side note, it looks like there’s no way to add an HDD unless you buy a configuration with one preinstalled, as it seems that the required connector is not included with the SSD-only models, at least on our sample.
On top of that, be aware that there’s actually a warranty sticker on the screw behind the right-rubber feet, which suggest that getting inside might void warranty in some regions.
Before we proceed to talk about the performance, the logs below show you what to expect in terms of speeds, temperatures and battery drain in everyday activities.
I’ll also add a few words on the software that comes preinstalled with this laptop, and that’s because there’s very little of it, unlike on many other budget models. The PC Manager app, however, is one of the bundled apps, and while it doesn’t offer a lot of functionality, it majorly simplifies the process of updating drivers and even the BIOS.
We test the CPU’s performance in demanding loads by simulating a 100% load, running Cinebench R15 in a loop. The KabyLake-R Core i5-8250U is a quad-core processor with a base clock speed of 1.6 GHz and the ability to Turbo up to 3.4 GHz. Normally, this CPU runs at high frequency for a while, but then it clocks down in order to maintain the CPU’s thermal integrity.
As a result, out of the box, the CPU settles for around 2.3 – 2.4 GHz after several Cinebench runs, scores of around 520 points, a TDP of 15 W and temperatures of around 60 degrees Celsius, which is pretty standard behavior for this processor.
Next, XTU failed to install on our sample, so we proceeded to undervolt the CPU with Throttlestop. Our unit was stable at -100 mV, and in this case, the CPU settles for around 2.6 – 2.7 GHz after several Cinebench runs, scores of around 580+ points, a TDP of 15 W and temperatures of around 60-62 degrees Celsius.
These are solid results in terms of both performance and thermals, and you can compare them with this reference article that covers the i5-8250U CPU.
Next, we’ve included a set of benchmarks, for those of you interested in numbers. We ran them on the High-Performance profile and -100 mV CPU undervolt:
- 3DMark 13 – Fire Strike: 970 (Graphics – 1046, Physics – 8212);
- PCMark 10: 3578;
- PassMark: Rating: 3186, CPU mark: 8311, 3D Graphics Mark: 1065;
- GeekBench 3.4.2 32-bit: Single-Core: 3191, Multi-core: 13036;
- GeekBench 4.1.1 64-bit: Single-Core: 4005, Multi-core: 12757;
- CineBench R15 (best run): OpenGL 49.13 fps, CPU 613 cb, CPU Single Core 158 cb;
- Cinebench R20 (best run): 1095;
- x264 HD Benchmark 4.0 32-bit: Pass 1 –154.68 fps, Pass 2 –38.89 fps.
As far as gaming goes, our configuration relies on the integrated Intel HD 620 and can only do little, by today’s standards. Older titles can be played at lower graphics settings, but not much else. For what is worth, though, the GPU works flawlessly in games, averaging its maximum Clock Speed of around 1.1 GHz, but the CPU clocks down to about 1.4 GHz (on the default profile, a little higher on the undervolted profile) in order to allow that kind of GPU performance within the 15 W TDP limit. Details below.
Bottom point, based on our experience with this sample, the MateBook D 15 performs well and can handle both everyday tasks and more demanding CPU loads, like image/video editing or programming software, but the CPU is crippled in combined CPU/GPU loads.
Of course, there’s only so much you can expect from a KabyLake-R Core i5 CPU, that’s why I’d still primarily recommend this as a compact everyday laptop, and rather look at something more powerful for more demanding chores. Huawei also offers an i7 implementation with Nvidia MX150 25W graphics, but make sure to read some of the existing reviews, because as far as I’ve seen, the MX150 does not perform to the best of its ability on this chassis.
Noise, Heat, Connectivity, speakers, and others
There’s a simple cooling solution on the MateBook D, with a single fan and heatpipe, but adequate for this basic Core i5 variant.
It’s worth adding that the higher-end variants with the i7 processor and MX150 graphics get an extra heat-pipe, but even so, the thermal module struggles with that configuration.
Back to our model, the fan sits idle with everyday use, and only kicks in with multitasking and other demanding loads when the laptop is plugged in, but even in these cases the noise never ramps above 38-39 dB at head-level. We also didn’t notice any sort of coil whine or electronic noise on our sample.
As far as temperatures go, the components and outer shell remain cool with any sort of load.
*Daily Use – running Netflix in EDGE for 30 minutes, fans idle
*Load – playing NFS: Most Wanted for approximately 30 minutes on low settings, fans ~38-39 dB
For connectivity, there’s an older generation Intel AC 8265 wireless module inside this laptop, with Bluetooth 4.1. It’s a decent performer and we didn’t run into any issues or disconnects, but it’s just not as fast as the more modern implementations.
As far as the speakers go, there’s a set of them firing through small cuts on the underbelly, and they’re alright for this class. We measured maximum volumes of about 76-77 dB at head level, without any distortions, and the sound comes out good enough, with good mids and highs, but rather lacking on the low end. Peaking inside you’ll see that the actual speakers are average in size, which explains the alright sound quality.
A 720p camera and a set of mics are placed at the top of the screen, and they’re barely OK for occasional Skype calls, but nothing to brag about.
There’s only a 42 Wh battery inside the Huawei MateBook D 15, which is small for a 15-inch laptop, but thanks to the lower-power hardware and efficient implementation, this can still last a fair bit on a charge.
Here what we got in our tests, with the screen set at 50% brightness, which is around 120 nits:
- 4.5 W (~9+ h of use) – text editing in Google Drive, Better Battery Mode, screen at 50%, Wi-Fi ON;
- 4.7 W (~9 h of use) – 1080p fullscreen video on Youtube in Edge, Better Battery Mode, screen at 50%, Wi-Fi ON;
- 5.3 W (~8 h min of use) – Netflix fullscreen in Edge, Better Battery Mode, screen at 50%, Wi-Fi ON;
- 9 W (~4 h 30 min of use) – browsing in Edge, Better Performance Mode, screen at 50%, Wi-Fi ON.
Huawei bundles the laptop with a compact 65W charger, more than adequately sized for this configuration. It’s small and light and integrates the wall-plug into the brick, but some of you might not like its rather unusual white color, which I’d reckon will dirt-up easily. I do appreciate that Huawei didn’t skimp on the quality, opting for a thick cable that should age well.
Price and availability
The MateBook D 15 is a 2018-model and only available in a handful of regions at the time of this article.
You can still find the Core i5 model tested here for around $600/600 EUR in some stores, while the higher end models go for around $1000, with the Core i7 processor, 16 GB of RAM, dual-storage and the Nvidia MX150.
Follow this link for updated prices and configurations at the time you’re reading the article.
The MateBook D 15 has been available for a year now, but I still think it’s a competitive product even in 2019. The value is in the lower-end configurations around $600/600 EUR, if you can find them, pretty much the one we’ve tested here, which is a solid all-day laptop for browsing, movies, text-editing, and other such activities.
Huawei did most things right here, as the laptop scores high in the build and design department, performs well, runs cool and quiet and includes a good-enough screen, keyboard, and ports. The lack of backlighting could be a deal breaker for some of you, as well as the lack of better IO and even the fairly small battery inside, although, in all honesty, this still lasts for about 4-5 hours of daily use and significantly longer video playback, so I’d reckon most normal users would find that satisfactory.
Of course, there are nicer laptops out there, but few for the same kind of money. The list of competitors includes devices like the Acer Aspire 5 and Swift 3, the Asus VivoBook S15 line, the Lenovo IdeaPad 330s or the Dell Inspiron 15 5000, each with their pros and cons. I’d look into them, and choose the one that best fits your needs and budget.
That wraps up our review of the Huawei MateBook D 15-inch. The comments section down below awaits your suggestions and feedback, though, so get in touch if you have anything to add or any questions.
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