Honor MagicBook 14 2022 laptop

The 2022 iteration of the MagicBook 14 packs some superb hardware and is a significant upgrade on the Honor MagicBook 14 2021 on all fronts. Better processor, faster storage subsystem, a bigger battery and a normal webcam. 

Some of previous criticisms still remain: the device is still not available in the US where it doesn’t suffer the fate of Huawei, it doesn’t have a card reader and despite being an Intel-based product, doesn’t feature Thunderbolt technology. We’re also puzzled by the presence of an RTX2050 rather than a newer RTX3050. 

As a business laptop, it has a minimalist design and while it doesn’t have any salient corporate features (no Windows 11 Pro, no vPro), it does have a fingerprint reader and a great battery life which makes it perfect for out-and-about business meetings.  

Honor MagicBook 14 2022 front view (Image credit: Future)

Honor MagicBook 14 2022: Price and availability

At the time of writing, the Honor MagicBook 14 2022 laptop is available to purchase from China (where it first went on sale), Malaysia, India, Singapore and many more but not in the UK. We reached out to find out when that will change; one thing is certain, this laptop (or indeed any Honor laptop) won’t go on sale in the US. There is a loophole that allows you to buy it if you are based in other countries (including the US), that entails going through Aliexpress and getting a Chinese-sourced one with Chinese Windows 11 Home.

Three versions of the laptop are available, one with integrated graphics, one with an integrated Nvidia Geforce MX550 (only available in China) and one with the Geforce RTX 2050 GPU. Our review sample is equipped with the latter with an Intel Core i5, 16GB of RAM and 512GB SSD, these three components being common across MagicBook 14 2022 sold outside China.

Expect to pay 999 Euros (£860, US$989, AU$1,470) for a MagicBook 14 2022 and 1199 Euros (£1,030, US$1,190, AU$1,760) for the RTX2050 version on Honor’s French site, prices that include a 100 Euros Early Bird instant rebate. Is a 20% premium for a dedicated graphics card worth it? We’ve got mixed feelings about it; on one hand, it gives you a significant boost for anything that’s GPU related plus you get 25% extra RAM (remember that the GPU has 4GB dedicated memory). On the other hand, the Xe is fast enough for most tasks outside of gaming. The jury is still out there on that one.

Honor MagicBook 14 2022 touchpad (Image credit: Future)

Honor MagicBook 14 2022: Design

Specifications

CPU: Intel Core i7-11390H

GPU: Xe

RAM: 16

Storage: 512

Screen size: 14.2

Screen Resolution: 2520×1680

Connectivity: Intel AX201

Most of the laptop designs of the past decade originating from China have been heavily influenced by Apple’s clean lines and use of brushed metal (or aircraft-grade aluminum alloy as Honor puts it) as found in the MacBook Pro and MacBook Air series. 

The Honor MagicBook 14 falls neatly in that category. We also noticed that Honor’s new flagship is very similar to the Huawei Matebook 14; they have the same width (307.5mm) and very similar depth, height and weight (224 vs 228mm, 16 vs 17mm and 1.5Kg vs 1.58Kg. The MagicBook 14 is one of the – if not the – lightest laptop with a 12th generation H-series Intel processor and a dedicated GPU.

Honor MagicBook 14 2022 screen (Image credit: Future)

Ditto for the aspect ratio and screen resolution; both sport glossy screens with a 3:2 AR and 2160 x 1440-pixel resolution. We wouldn’t be surprised if both brands combine their respective purchase power to get better deals on components.

Honor went back to basics with this new version of the Intel-based MagicBook 14. There’s only one color scheme; Gone is the “Mystic Silver”, only the “Space Gray” option remains. The power button – that doubles as a fingerprint reader – is now integrated on the keyboard, a design decision which can lead to users accidentally powering off their devices.

The right hand side of the laptop has an HDMI port with a full size USB port while the left hand side has two Type-C connectors (not our preferred configuration) with an audio connector as well. No Thunderbolt ports (a real shame) and no card reader; one good news though is you can use either Type-C port for charging.

Honor MagicBook 14 2022 left side (Image credit: Future)

On that note, Honor told us “HONOR is committed to building and supporting a laptop portfolio that is innovative and helpful for our users with different productivity requirements. As one of the HONOR N-series laptops, the HONOR MagicBook 14 still offers many possibilities for extending connectivity. Users can easily use a USB-C 3.2 Gen 2, USB-A 3.2 Gen 1 and HDMI 2.0 dock to connect their laptop to your monitor and other peripherals.”

There’s no pop-up webcam as with last year’s MagicBook laptop and even with an integrated webcam, Honor states that the screen-to-body ratio is an astounding 88.2%, an incredible feat thanks to its ever-disappearing bezels (currently just under 5mm thick).

The bottom of the device is as anonymous as it gets with no defining traits: 10 screws hold it together, there’s a long rubber bar and two rubber feet that elevate the bottom by a few millimeters, enough to allow for air flow through the air vents, essential for cooling. Overall, the laptop has a MacBook-esque feel to it with a premium look and quality material used throughout. If only it could lose the stickers. There are only two speakers (with a pair of microphones with integrated AI noise cancellation), both powered by Nahimic.

Honor MagicBook 14 2022 right side (Image credit: Future)

Honor MagicBook 14 2022: Hardware

Credit where credits due; engineers at Honor selected what is probably one of the best hardware combinations we’ve seen on a thin-and-light laptop in this price range. At the helm is a 12th generation Intel processor, the Core i5-12500H; don’t be deceived by its Core i5 moniker, this 12-core/16-thread monster obliterates the Core 11th generation Core i7 processor found in the 2021 version of the MagicBook 14.

With such a vast amount of firepower comes one apprehension: power consumption and dissipation. Intel quotes a base/turbo power dissipation of 45W/95W, which is toasty and can be explained not only by the sheer amount of cores and the high turbo clock speed (up to 4.5GHz under load) but also by the presence of an integrated Intel Iris Xe GPU.

The latter is used for mundane, everyday tasks with the Nvidia Geforce RTX 2050 taking over seamlessly for more taxing ones. With 4GB GDDR6 dedicated memory, this entry level GPU is powerful enough for lightweight games and video editing. Could the MagicBook 14 be a great video editing laptop? We think so even if we find the choice of the 2050 over the faster (newer) 3050 perplexing.

Honor MagicBook 14 2022 top view (Image credit: Future)

A 512GB PCIe Gen4 x4 SSD from Samsung (MZVL2512HCJQ-00B00, the OEM equivalent of the 980 Pro), paired with two 8GB LPDDR5-4800 memory modules, an Intel AX201 Wi-Fi 6 chipset (no Wi-Fi 6e sadly), a 75WHr battery and a rather large 135W power supply unit complement the hardware list. 

The non-GPU version of the MagicBook 14 comes with a much smaller 65W laptop charger; a note here to highlight the fact that a USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 port can accommodate power delivery up to 100W (20V, 5A); a 135W PSU is – in our view – overkilled.

An Honor representative told us, “In regards to the 135W charger, it’s a choice based on power consumption and safety guarantee. A 135W charger allows the HONOR MagicBook 14 to have the best charging performance while providing a hassle-free charging experience”.

Honor MagicBook 14 2022 bottom view (Image credit: Future)

Honor MagicBook 14 2022: In use

Honor seems to have improved on the heat dissipation issues; despite sporting a more powerful processor and a dedicated graphics chip, the unit was noisy under load without being overbearing. Engineers came up with a heat dissipation design that uses two parallel fans, each with over 100 S-shaped blades for, in Honor’s own words, “efficient cooling which ensures uninterrupted high performance while minimizing heat”. The company claims that this improved heat dissipation by a third; we couldn’t test the claim but we’d be inclined to agree.

The IPS display used by the MagicBook 14 is rated at 300 nits (brightness) and a contrast ratio of 1000:1. That translates into decent levels of clarity but it lacks the punch to stand the scrutiny outdoors. Colors are muted with a distinct lack of oomph when it comes to sheer vividness.

The reflective glass overlay (the Corning Gorilla Glass Victus) has an oleophobic layer which is nice to have but not useful given that this is not a touchscreen; we’d have opted for a matte display. We’re not terribly concerned about the 170-degrees viewing angle (business users prefer privacy) but want to single out its 3:2 aspect ratio (and its better-than-full HD resolution) as commendable. A step in the right direction with 50% more pixels than on your average laptop.

Honor MagicBook 14 2022 adapter (Image credit: Future)

When it comes to performance, the MagicBook 14 is a screamer, topping the leaderboard even when compared to the monstrosity that was the XMG Ultra 17, a 17-inch behemoth with an Intel Core i9-11900K and an Nvidia GTX3080. While Honor’s laptop didn’t win the GPU contest (the 3080 is comfortably ahead), the Core i5-12500H and the Samsung 980 Pro SSD are amongst the best in their respective categories.

The latter hit a whopping 6.8GBps and 4.85GBps in sustained read/write speeds in CrystalDisk Mark thanks to its newer interface while the processor, despite being a Core i5-class, shone throughout. If you plan to use the MagicBook 14 for more than just a spot of word processing, browsing or email reading, then fear not, this is a powerhouse in a sheep’s skin. You will be able to enjoy some serious video editing, 3D rendering, audio editing with only hardcore, high-resolution PC gaming remaining an elusive, unattainable target.

Lastly the keyboard is a full-size backlit one, with a bit more travel than its predecessors (1.5mm). The concave keys remain and the only thing we’d miss are dedicated Page up/Page down/Home/End buttons. We’ve rapidly embraced touch typing during our review of the device – it was a comfortable, relatively quiet experience – and the only real issue we’ve noted was the presence of the power button next to the delete and backspace buttons; the perfect recipe for accidental switch offs.

Honor MagicBook 14 2022 app use (Image credit: Future)

The touchpad is huge (120 x 72mm) and comes without physical touch buttons, something that purists will abhor. Still, it ticked all the right boxes when it comes to smoothness and responsiveness. The fingerprint reader worked flawlessly and removed the need to remember your pin or password at login.

We can’t fault the two speakers; they deliver a punchy, bassy albeit boxy audio experience that can be tweaked using Steelseries’ Nahimic audio software. We left it on Smart Profile which means that the audio is dynamically adjusted to fit whatever you’re listening to.

Note that Honor has a higher performance mode (OS Turbo) which is triggered using the Fn and P keys; this can only be enabled when plugged in and at least 21% battery left. What it does is defaulting to the dedicated GPU and ramping up clock speed (and the fans as well). Great for editing a large video; that said, we recommend you get an external laptop docking station to add more ports and a card reader.

Honor MagicBook 14 2022 app use (Image credit: Future)

Honor MagicBook 14 2022: Battery life

At just under six hours (357 minutes), the battery life of this laptop is decent without being exceptional. It averaged 0.21WHr/min compared to 0.13 for its predecessor and 0.138 for the 16-inch LG Gram 16 (2022).

The presence of a dedicated graphics card, a smaller battery and a more power hungry CPU help explain the difference. Honor claims that the laptop is able to run on standby for up to 17 hours with the screen on and supports up to 15 hours of local 1080P video playback or 10.5 hours of daily work. Our test is far more taxing than others as we play a 10-hour count up YouTube video at maximum performance without any power saving feature on and brightness set to 100%. If your laptop performs great on this test, it will likely be a stellar product in real life.

The 135W charger – whilst more powerful than needed – will charge your laptop very quickly; we got it fully charged in less than 90 minutes from dead, an excellent score. We loved the fact that it had a long cable (around 3m) as well, great when you’re far from the mains socket. As a reminder, you can always use a smartphone charger or any Type-C cable connected to an outlet to charge your laptop even if it will take longer.

A 99WHr battery may well be heavier but would be a welcomed upgrade even if it adds to the overall weight of the laptop and makes it slightly more expensive.

Honor MagicBook 14 2022 app use (Image credit: Future)

Honor MagicBook 14 2022: Software

The device comes with Windows 11 Home and a bunch of Microsoft pre-installed bloatware. There’s only two Honor applications: Mobile Link and PC Manager.

It is essentially a maintenance tool that allows you to get an at-a-glance status of your PC. Nothing that Windows 11’s integrated tools like Task Manager won’t be able to do. One oddity though; you can’t run it maximized. If you have a compatible Honor smartphone (like the just announced Honor 70), you will also be able to use the Magic-Link which is a seamless way to connect the two devices together.

That link is established by simply touching the smartphone (with NFC enabled) with the sticker et voilà. This brings up an app that allows you to perform a number of things like transferring files between the two, answering a phone call via your laptop, opening up to three mobile apps on the MagicBook 14 etc. Note that this only works on certain Honor smartphones though and not if you own another brand.

Honor MagicBook 14 2022: Final verdict

Should I buy the Honor MagicBook 14 2022 laptop?

Buy it 

if battery life is your priority. With a massive 75WHr, one of the highest capacities amongst laptops in this category (14-inch, 12th-generation CPU with discrete GPU), the MagicBook 14 2022 should be on your shortlist.

Don’t buy 

if you want the absolute best value for money in this category. The Dell Inspiron 14 Plus is available globally, comes with a more powerful CPU and GPU (Core i7-12700H, RTX 3050), has a Thunderbolt 4 port, Wi-Fi 6E, a 12-month McAfee Antivirus, optional Windows 11 Pro out of the box, a card reader and Dell’s huge global support network. It does cost more, though (about 17% extra), and has a smaller battery.

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