Jun 30th, 2021

Over the past few years, Honor has started carving out space for itself within the laptop market with its Magic Book lineup. The latest model to make its debut is the Honor Magic Book 14, featuring the new 11th Gen Intel Core i7 with integrated Iris Xe graphics, giving buyers a pretty decent bump in performance over previous-generation devices.

Specifications & Price

  • Price: 1,000 Euro
  • Processor: Intel® Core i7-1165G7
  • RAM: 16GB DDR4 Dual-Channel
  • Display: 14-inch, 1920 x 1080 pixels (100% sRGB color gamut )
  • Bluetooth: v5.1
  • Charging: 65W, Type-C
  • Storage: 512GB PCIe NVME SSD
  • Battery: 56Wh
  • Wi-Fi 6 2X2 MIMO Dual Antenna
  • Fingerprint Power Button
  • Weight: 1.38kg

Design

Being a compact laptop, the Honor Magic Book 14 doesn’t come with all the ports you might need. The laptop sports two USB-A, a single USB-C port (which doubles as the charging port), a 3.5mm headphone jack, and a full-sized HDMI port. If you’re familiar with the AMD-powered Magic Book, the port layout shouldn’t come as a surprise since the design of this new laptop is a carbon copy of its predecessor. Having an extra USB-C port would have been ideal and a microSD card slot would have been nice as well, but by now I’m sure you own at least one USB-C dongle that’ll allow you to add all the extra ports you need.

The overall design of the laptop is derivative of Apple’s Macbook look with an aluminum shell and a pretty similar space gray finish. That being said, Honor has given it a pretty unique blue chamfered edge along the laptop lid, giving it just a touch of color on what is otherwise a pretty unremarkable appearance.

The metal shell should hold up quite nicely over time when throwing it into a backpack when going to and from school or work. Weighing in a hair over 3 lbs (1.38 Kg), it’s not particularly light, but it’s definitely a lot more manageable than most laptops with discrete graphics built-in.

Keyboard

Honor has delivered a great keyboard on this laptop as well with a near-silent typing experience and keys with a decent amount of travel. My only complaint is that the Honor Magic Book 14 only comes with an EU-style keyboard layout which makes it slightly harder to hit the Enter and left Shift keys since they don’t occupy a double-wide keyspace. If you’re not used to this layout, it will take a few days to get comfortable with it.

The keys offer decent travel and are well-spaced, allowing for comfortable typing. Anyone who loves hearing a loud click with every keypress will be disappointed. Honor has managed to implement near-silent typing – something I’m personally a fan of. Thanks to the aluminum frame, you get sturdy support for the keyboard all the way across without any sagging towards the middle. Honor has also thrown in backlighting for the keys for those who work in less than ideal lighting conditions.

Webcam, Audio & Fingerprint sensor

Honor is also keeping its tradition of tucking away the laptop’s webcam inside a key in the function row on the keyboard. While this does allow for thinner bezels around the display, the placement is a bit awkward being so low. The 1MP sensor did an adequate job for Zoom meetings, but I definitely recommend getting an external webcam if you have a constant flow of video calls and don’t want everyone looking up your nose.

The stereo speakers are hidden away directly below the keyboard. Audio quality isn’t particularly good, but the speakers can get pretty loud without any noticeable distortion. For the best audio experience possible, I recommend you use a pair of headphones and plug them into the 3.5mm headphone jack. Of course, Bluetooth audio is an option as well, delivering enough range so that you can walk into another room in the house without the connection dropping out.

Having the fingerprint sensor built into the power button is by far the best way to implement it on a laptop. Pressing the power button to turn the laptop on and unlock it worked flawlessly every time. Honor and Huawei have been doing this for years now and I’m not sure why other manufacturers still insist on placing their fingerprint sensors next to the trackpad.

Display

As the name implies, the Magic Book 14 is highlighted by a 14-inch matte display. Since Honor is focused on delivering a good balance with competitive hardware and price, the BoE-sourced display is limited to FHD. Having a higher resolution touch panel would definitely have been preferable, but the matte finish still delivers a great user experience since it reduces glare – especially when working in a bright office or outdoors. At max brightness, the display manages 370 nits which is just bright enough to be used comfortably in direct sunlight.

The display’s color accuracy is pretty good as well, with a 100% coverage of the sRGB color gamut, making the laptop a good candidate for anyone editing images or videos. The 16:9 aspect ratio is best suited for media consumption, but the 14-inch size does give you plenty of room to get work done.

Performance

Typically, compact laptops like the Honor Book 14 are best suited for long hours of web surfing of word processing, and not much more. With the integration of the 11th Gen Intel Core i7 and Iris Xe graphics, these days are over.

The Core i7 1165 G7M is built specifically for laptops, making it less powerful than its desktop-specific counterpart, but it can still throw up some decent numbers. Having 16GM of RAM is more than enough for using multiple instances of Chrome with two dozen tabs open and doing some heavy photo editing in Lightroom and Photoshop without a single glitch.

4K video editing in Premiere Pro is also doable on the MagicBook 14. Scrubbing through different clips will result in a few hiccups here and there, but you’ll be able to easily move throughout your timeline and preview your edit as long as you don’t have too many layers or effects applied.

This laptop certainly isn’t built for gaming, but if you don’t mind turning down the settings, you’ll still be able to use it as a casual gaming device. The dual heat pipes and a dedicated cooling fan do an adequate job of keeping the temperature of the Core i7 in check. In Rainbow 6 Siege, the laptop easily managed frame rates between 50-55fps on high settings. Frame rates in Doom are much lower, hovering in the high 20’s. But if you’re willing to set the display resolution to 720p, you can easily double those numbers and enjoy a respectable 62fps.

Benchmark scores

  • Geekbench 5: 1508 (single-core), 4827 (multi-core), 14476 (compute)
  • PCMark 10: 4691
  • 3DMark: 1461 (Time Spy)

The 512GB NVME SSD isn’t the fastest on the market, but read (3311 MBps) and write (2721 MBps) speeds are still quite commendable for a budget-friendly device. While having more storage is always better, 512GB is more than enough for more people, giving you plenty of space for photo and video files and a handful of games as well.

Battery

The 56Wh battery packed inside the Magic Book 14 isn’t excessively large, but it delivers 401 minutes of run time in our streaming video benchmark. In day-to-day use, we averaged more than 7 hours of work time between charges, split between writing blog posts, surfing the web, and editing photos, all with YouTube Music playing constantly in the background.

Heavier workloads like editing video or gaming reduced the runtime by about half, giving me a little less than 4 hours between charges.

The 65W USB Type-C Charger isn’t quite as fast as what we’ve seen on competing devices, but it gets the job done just fine. Charging the battery completely will take a little under two hours if you’re using it while charging, but it can deliver a full charge in about an hour and ten minutes when not in use.

Final thoughts

The Honor Book 14 (2021) is a well-balanced laptop for those who want a device to get work done, surf the web and play the occasional game. It would have been nice is Honor has updated the design a bit to make it distinguishable from its predecessor (or even Apple’s products), but there’s nothing fundamentally wrong with how the laptop is built.

For its 1,000€ price tag, the specs you get are very compelling. You’ll just have a hard time getting your hands on one as the laptop isn’t available in the US and Honor seems to have limited distribution across Europe as well.

 

Honor MagicBook 14 Rating: star_fullstar_fullstar_fullstar_fullstar_empty (4.1 / 5)

The Good

  • Metal design
  • Great performance
  • Good battery life
  • Comfortable keyboard

The Bad

  • Below average speakers
  • Bad webcam placement