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HONOR MagicBook 14 (2021) Review: Great-Looking Machine With Plenty Of Power Under The Hood

AH HONOR MagicBook 14 2021 review featured
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The HONOR MagicBook 14 (2021) is a sleek-looking productivity machine worth your attention.

HONOR MagicBook 14 (2021)
$999
Rating
star star star star star_empty
Pros
  • Great design
  • Slim & light
  • Good display with thin bezels
  • Excellent, clicky keyboard
  • Great performance
  • Good battery life & fast charging
  • Responsive & accurate fingerprint scanner
  • Lots of ports
  • Fair price
Cons
  • No microSD card reader
  • Some of the keys are smaller than they should be
  • Annoying touchpad quirk

HONOR supplied us with a review unit of the HONOR MagicBook 14 (2021), but didn’t have a say in our opinion, nor did they see this review before you. We’ve been using the device for a couple of weeks before forming an opinion.

HONOR is mostly known for manufacturing smartphones, but the company makes all sorts of tech gadgets. From smartphones, and fitness trackers, all the way to internet routers and laptops. We’re here to check out one of HONOR’s laptops, actually. We’ll review the HONOR MagicBook 14, the company’s latest and greatest offering. This is an Intel-based laptop, and the variant we received for review is the top-of-the-line model.

This specific model comes with the 11th-gen Intel Core i7 processor, while we’ll talk more about its specifications later on. As a reminder, the HONOR MagicBook 14 from last year includes AMD’s processor. The two devices look pretty much the same, though, so keep that in mind. The HONOR MagicBook 14 is not the most affordable laptop out there, far from it, but considering its specs, it may be a best-buy option. That’s something we’ll try to find out in this review, so read on if you’re interested.

The HONOR MagicBook 14 is a premium product, and its design reflects that

When it comes to the design, the HONOR MagicBook 14 is superb. That’s the first word that came to mind as a description for its build / design. The tablet not only looks great, but it’s really well built. Nothing seems out of place, there’s no creaking or anything of the sort, and there’s some heft to it, even though it’s not heavy at all. It weighs just enough to feel like a solid product. The MagicBook 14 is made out of metal (aluminum), by the way, and the color we received seems to combine purple and gray colors. The result is… well, great, as you can see in the provided images. It doesn’t look bland, and yet it’s not too flashy either. HONOR calls this color “Space Gray”, even though it definitely looks like a combo between gray and purple colors. The “Mystic Silver” option is also available, by the way.

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The bezels are extremely thin

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The bezels around the display are extremely thin, as you can see. So thin, in fact, that you may think the camera is not there. Well, it’s not. The camera is actually built into the keyboard. It’s built into a key that sits between the F6 and F7 keys, and it has a camera icon on it. You simply press it and the camera will pop up. The camera angle while you’re in a video call is a bit weird, but you do get used to it quickly. I don’t mind this all that much considering that it enabled HONOR to trim down those bezels quite a bit. As already mentioned, last year’s model basically looks the same, so this is nothing new.

The HONOR MagicBook 14 is both thin & light

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The HONOR MagicBook 14 is really thin at 15.9mm. As already mentioned, this laptop is far from heavy, it weighs only 1.38kg. That’s a lot lighter than what your regular laptops weigh, as they’re usually over 2kg. Just to be clear, I’m talking about laptops here, not ultrabooks or anything of the sort. It also helps that this device comes with a 14-inch display, not a 15.6-inch one, which seems to be a default display size for most regular laptops. The HONOR MagicBook 14 is more of an ultrabook than a regular laptop, both when it comes to its design and functionality. There’s basically nothing to complain about when it comes to its design.

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The display is more than good enough, though not amazing

The HONOR MagicBook 14 features a 14-inch fullHD (1920 x 1080) display. The bezels around the display are 4.8mm thick, and we’re looking at a 16:9 aspect ratio here. The screen-to-body ratio is 84-percent, while it has a 1000:1 contrast ratio. It measures 214.8 in height, 322.5mm in width, and 15.9mm in depth (thickness). This display also comes with TÜV Rheinland Flicker Free Certification, and TÜV Rheinland Low Blue Light Certification.

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Now that we got the technicalities out of the way, is the display any good? Well, yes, it is. This is definitely not the best display I’ve ever seen, as there are definitely better iterations out there, but for the vast majority of people, this display will be more than enough. It is much, much better than what you’d find on most Chromebooks and regular laptops, as it’s a truly great fullHD panel. This is not a high refresh rate display, or anything of the sort, but if you don’t need such functionality, you’ll be perfectly happy with this panel.

The viewing angles are really good, and colors are punchy

It gets bright enough for usage outdoors, which is immensely important to me. I’ve seen brighter displays, of course, but with this one, you won’t have any issues in that regard. The viewing angles are excellent, while the colors are punchy. You do get a clear difference between darker and lighter tones, though it is not the most color-accurate display in the market. I really can’t complain much about this panel, as it’s a really good choice for the device as a whole. It is not a gaming display, but it will serve great for productivity purposes. It is also plenty sharp at fullHD resolution.

The HONOR MagicBook 14 is a true productivity machine

The performance is excellent, to say the least. That’s what you’d expect out of this configuration, though. It comes with Intel’s 11th-gen Core i7 processor, and 16GB of DDR4 RAM. In addition to that, HONOR included 512GB of PCIe NVME SSD storage here. That goes for this model, though. If you opt to get a cheaper variant, that’s perfectly fine. The company is also offering an 8GB RAM model with 256GB of storage. Both RAM and storage iterations are the same across models. Those specifications, combined with dual heat pipes and a large cooling fan result in really great performance. Do note that this is not a gaming laptop, though. More on that soon.

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The 11th-gen Intel Core i7 chip fuels this laptop, and that’s a great thing

The HONOR MagicBook 14 does have rather powerful specs, that is a 10nm quad-core chip, which comes with a 12MB cache. It runs eight threads and we’re looking at a maximum clock speed of 4.7GHz. Some of you are probably wondering about its GPU. Well, this GPU is nothing to scoff at, but it’s not exactly a gaming GPU. The Iris Xe graphics card is included, and it has support for 8K resolutions via DisplayPort. This international model does not have the Nvidia GeForce MX450 GPU with 2GB of DDR5 RAM. That graphics card is included in the Chinese variant, though.

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Just to be clear, I did runs a couple of benchmarks, though I really don’t like basing anything on them. For the sake of the review, let’s just say that the device managed to hit around 1,600 (single-thread) on Geekbench, and around 2,800 (multi-thread). It reached around 16,000 in the compute category. When it comes to 3DMark, we’re looking at 1,460 (Timespy), 3,802 (Firestrike), and 13,778 (Nightraid) results.

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It’s not made for gaming, but it’s great for almost everything else

The fact to the matter is, this device performs really well in everyday tasks, and it didn’t get hot at any point, only a bit warm. Considering the power of its GPU, you can easily do video processing on it, and most other tasks as well. I’m not really a programmer or a designer, so I couldn’t properly test-related programs, but during my two-week testing of this laptop, it performed admirably in all situations.

I was able to get Call of Duty: Warzone installed on it, and it ran fine, but don’t expect to use high graphical settings or anything of the sort. I had to adjust my settings in order to get decent FPS out of it (around 50-60). Running a ton of games didn’t really make sense, due to the graphics card. As mentioned earlier, this is not a gaming laptop. You can run games perfectly fine, though those graphically intensive ones will have to be adapted via settings, and you won’t get the proper experience. So, if games are your thing, this is not a device for you. One more thing, the PC Manager app is still here, and it allows you to booty performance on the go, so you can quickly tweak some things.

The keyboard is very clicky, and backlit as well

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The keyboard on the HONOR MagicBook 14 is excellent, to say the least. It’s a chicklet keyboard, but the keys do give a lot of feedback. They’re extremely clicky, and you’ll basically never mistype something due to their sensitivity. This is one of the best keyboards on a laptop I’ve used.

There are a couple of keyboard-related annoynace, at least for me

Now, I do have a couple of annoyances with it, but that’s a very subjective thing. I’m used to a wider enter key, and left shift key. That’s the setup I have on my Brydge keyboard that I use on my desktop computer, and it took me a couple of days to get used to this. Once I did get used to it, it felt like second nature. Another thing is the fact that the up and down arrow keys are half the height, while the left and right ones are normal in size. That really messed with my muscle memory, and I was constantly pressing the wrong keys.

As already mentioned, this is probably not something that will bother you, as those keys are not small by any means, and the arrow key situation… well, it’s not a problem to get used to. Another thing you’ll need to get used to, though, is the size of the touchpad. If you’ve used a laptop with a large touchpad before, you’ll be right at home. If not, it’ll take some time to get used to this, as I did accidentally press it while typing. What’s interesting, is that the laptop didn’t pick up on those taps, as it realized I’m typing on the keyboard. So, it wasn’t really an issue, but it’s worth noting.

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The keyboard is backlit

One more thing worth noting when it comes to the keyboard is… it’s backlit. Many of you will appreciate that. There are two levels of backlight that you can choose from, via the button on the keyboard itself. I, personally, disabled it completely, at all times, as I’ve been typing professionally for a long time, and I’m actually trained in typing (since high school), so I don’t really look at the keyboard often. Even if it’s muscle memory for you as well, you may need some backlight in order to get used to the buttons above the number row, though. Such an option is always nice to have, that’s for sure.

It has a fast and and accurate fingerprint scanner

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By now, you’ve probably noticed that this laptop has a fingerprint scanner. I’ve shown it in several images thus far. It’s located next to the ‘Del’ key, just right of the keyboard itself. That is a physical button with a built-in fingerprint scanner. When you click it, you’ll power on the HONOR MagicBook 14, and it will, at the same time, scan your finger. It works really well. It’s fast and accurate, and it provides that additional level of security.

The touchpad is really good, but one thing annoyed me quite a bit

There were a couple of things that annoyed me during my usage period. These may be small things to some of you, and it may sound like I’m nitpicking, but hear me out. The first, and the most annoying thing is… the touchpad. Don’t get me wrong, it tracks your finger perfectly fine, and it’s large enough, but it often misjudged my intentions.

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I lowered its sensitivity to the lowest possible setting, and yet it still managed to register regular swipe away motion as tap and swipe. That resulted in some moved tabs that I didn’t want to happen, text marking that I didn’t intend, and so on. I don’t know why it’s happening, as this touchpad is actually really good, but there you go. You may have a different experience with it, but that’s what I’ve noticed. I haven’t had such issues with any other laptop I’ve used.

You’ll get plenty of active use a single charge, plus fast charging as well

The battery life was actually quite good. The HONOR MagicBook 14 comes with a 56WHr battery, which you can recharge with some help from a 65W charger that comes included. When it comes to charging, HONOR claims you can reach 44-percent in 30 minutes, and 68-percent in 60 minutes. That’s about right, based on our testing. A full charge takes around 2 hours, though, so keep that in mind.

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How much will the battery last, though? Well, there’s a lot of factors to it, and also four performance modes that you can choose from. Depending on your setting, tasks you’re performing, and the brightness of the display, you’ll get different results. For me, personally, it was able to last about 7 hours of regular usage, sometimes 8. That didn’t really involve any processor-heavy tasks, though, so keep that in mind. I kept it at the default settings (3 out of 4), and the brightness of the display wasn’t particularly high either.

It has bottom-firing speakers, but don’t let that fool you

The HONOR MagicBook 14 is well-equipped in the audio department as well. The device comes with stereo speakers, with virtual 5.1 surround sound. On top of that, you’ll notice that two microphones are included as well. A 3.5mm headphone jack is also a part of the package, as it should be on every single laptop. So, is the sound any good? Well, yes, it is, despite the fact this device’s speakers are bottom-firing. The audio gets quite loud, and it didn’t sound muddy at all. It actually sounded quite crisp, even better than what a lot of top-firing speakers are able to produce.

Nahimic audio software allows you to fine tune the sound output

This is not the best audio I’ve heard on a laptop, but it’s far from the worst, that’s for sure. HONOR does include Nahimic audio software here, which allows you to mess with the audio settings, and really adapt those speakers for what you’re doing. On a default setting, it did a really good job, as I didn’t really mess around with it during the review period. Now, in regards to the microphones… well, they do the job. The sound is quite okay, nothing glorious, but not something that will bother anyone you’re talking to.

The webcam quality is okay, it’s better than what you’ll need out of a webcam, to be quite honest. The thing is, that angle… it’s not the best. I’ve already mentioned this in the design section, but it’s worth mentioning again. I, personally, don’t really have a gripe with this, as I use that camera only for meetings a couple of times per week. It doesn’t really bother me all that much, especially considering how thin those bezels have become because of the camera placement. If you do plan on using this camera a lot, and the camera angle bothers you, well… that’s perfectly fine as well. Different people prefer different things.

Windows 10 Home comes pre-installed, with some additional goodies

There’s not much to talk about when it comes to software, really. The HONOR MagicBook 14 comes with Windows 10 Home pre-installed, and if you’ve used Windows 10 thus far, you’ll be right at home here. Windows 10 is an operating system that we can talk about for days, but the point is, it’s almost the same across devices. There are some additional goodies installed on the HONOR MagicBook 14, though, such as the Nahimic audio software we’ve mentioned earlier. You’ll find some gold nuggets like that throughout the system, and they all do improve the experience, rather than act in a negative way.

USB 3.2 (Type-A), USB Type-C, Wi-Fi 6 & more

When it comes to connectivity, the HONOR MagicBook 14 is spot on. It comes with all the ports that you’d expect, plus some extras. This device is equipped with a 3.5mm headphone jack, and a regular HDMI port. There is one USB 2.0 (Type-A) port, and one USB 3.2 (Type-A) port as well, one on each side. On top of all that, HONOR also included a USB Type-C port, which you’ll use for charging and connectivity purposes.

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The company also implemented Bluetooth 5.1 on the device, which, granted, is not the latest version of Bluetooth, but it’s close enough. The device also comes with a Wi-Fi 6 2X2 MIMO Dual Antenna, which is very nice of HONOR to include. Wi-Fi connectivity is extremely important for laptops, needless to say, and having Wi-Fi 6 readily available is a plus.

The HONOR MagicBook 14 (2021) is well-worth your money

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So, is the HONOR MagicBook 14 worth it? Well, I’d say yes, definitely. Its pricing starts at around $999 (equivalent to other currencies), though its availability is quite limited at the moment, based on HONOR’s official website. We’re sure that this laptop will find its way to a lot more markets soon, though. You’re getting a really sleek-looking device here, which is quite capable in pretty much every way. Avoid it only if you’re planning to play graphically intensive games, as that’s not what it’s made for. For every other task, it’s more than up for it. This thing can boost your productivity, and looks excellent while doing so. If you’re in the market for a really capable laptop, the HONOR MagicBook 14 is definitely worth considering.