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MateBook X Pro vs. 2018 MacBook Pro: Which Is Right for You?

Apple just updated its Touch Bar-equipped MacBook Pros, adding overdue 8th Gen CPUs (and putting a Core i9 in one model) and increasing the maximum RAM to 32GB. But is that enough to combat the Huawei MateBook X Pro, the copycat ultraportable that's good enough to make Mac users consider a PC?

Yes, the 15-inch Core i9 MacBook Pro barrelled through our testing as if the Apple notebook had a Ferrari engine. But the MateBook X Pro's keyboard is still great, and Apple isn't relenting on its USB Type-C-only philosophy. Here's how the new MacBook Pros stack up to the MateBook X Pro:

MateBook X Pro vs. 13-inch MacBook Pro vs. 15-inch MacBook Pro

MateBook X Pro13-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar15-inch MacBook Pro
Starting Price$1,199$1,799$2,399
CPU8th Gen, quad-core Intel Core i5, i78th Gen, quad-core Intel Core i5, i78th Gen, hexa-core Intel Core i7, i9
GPUNvidia GeForce MX150 (2GB), Intel UHD 620 (Integrated)Intel Iris Plus Graphics 655Radeon Pro 555X (4GB GDDR5 memory), Radeon Pro 560X (4GB GDDR5 memory)
Display13.9 inches (3000 x 2000)13.3 inches (2560 x 1600)15.4 inches (2880 x 1800)
SSD Storage256GB, 512GB256GB, 512GB, 1TB, 2TB256GB, 512GB, 1TB, 2TB, 4TB
Memory (RAM)8GB, 16GB8GB, 16GB16GB, 32GB
Ports1 USB Type-C, 1 Thunderbolt 3, 1 USB 3.0, fingerprint reader, headphone jackFour Thunderbolt 3 ports, headphone jack, Touch ID fingerprint reader, Touch BarFour Thunderbolt 3 ports, headphone jack, Touch ID fingerprint reader, Touch Bar
Battery Life9:238:4410:21
Size12 x 8.5 x 0.6 inches12 x 8.4 x 0.6 inches13.8 x 9.5 x 0.6 inches
Weight2.9 pounds3 pounds4 pounds

Design: Attack of the clone

The MateBook X Pro arrived on the scene as a shameless copycat that flipped some things around. While the MateBook X Pro comes in the same Space Grey and silver coloring as the MacBook Pro, it differentiates itself with a shiny, bevelled edge that's flashier than the flat, elegant edges of Apple's notebooks.

Fitting a 13.9-inch display into a 2.9-pound, 0.6-inch-thick chassis, the MateBook Pro is a triumph of engineering. The 3-pound, 0.6-inch-thick MacBook Pro packs a smaller, 13.3-inch screen, while the 15-inch MacBook Pro is 33 percent heavier, at 4 pounds.

Huawei fits that much screen in such a smaller body by taking the webcam out of the bezel and hiding it inside a fake key between the F6 and F7 keys. This placement is especially problematic during Skype calls, as it's the least flattering-angle ever. Trust me, my co-workers howled in laughter when I tried using it.

So far, these two machines are neck and neck, but this battle is decided in their different offerings for ports. The MacBook Pro gives you only Type-C-style Thunderbolt 3 ports (four of them), while the MateBook X Pro provides two Type-C ports (one is Thunderbolt 3) and one Type-A USB 3.0 port. While Apple would argue that people are ready to fully embrace a Type-C world, many of us still use Type-A gadgets that require dongles, which is no way to live.

Winner: MateBook X Pro

Display: Bigger isn't enough

Whether I was looking at a fire burning in Wakanda or the reds of the Hulkbuster armor in the Avengers: Infinity War trailer, the MacBook Pro and MateBook X Pro were pretty evenly matched in terms of vibrancy.

However, on the MateBook, I saw more details of Doctor Strange's outfit and the damage done to the Hulkbuster armor. This is likely because the MateBook X Pro's 13.9-inch, 3000 x 2000-pixel panel, which is of a slightly higher resolution than those in the 15-inch MacBook Pro (2880 x 1800 pixels) and the 13-inch MacBook Pro (2560 x 1600 pixels).

Our colorimeter got similar sRGB spectrum ratings from these laptops. The MateBook X Pro (124 percent) and 13-inch MacBook Pro (125 percent) are nearly tied, and the 15-inch MacBook Pro (119 percent) is not too far behind. The MateBook is also the brightest of the three, emitting up to 458 nits, beating the 13-inch MacBook Pro (398 nits) and the 15-inch MacBook Pro (354 nits).

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The final notch in the MateBook X Pro's win comes from its touch-screen display, which is a lot more useful than the Touch Bar, the pencil-thin strip of an OLED touch screen at the top of the MacBook Pro's keyboard.

Winner: MateBook X Pro

Audio: Larger is louder

When I listened to Future's "Thought It Was a Drought," the MacBook Pros provided a richer, louder sound, with sturdier bass and fuller vocals. Podcast dialogue sounded clearer on the 13-inch MacBook Pro than on the competing systems with the MateBook X Pro edging out the 15 inch MacBook on spoken word.

Winner: MacBook Pro

Keyboard and Touchpad: Mostly the same

Apple's done a lot to improve the typing experience, with keys featuring third-generation butterfly switches that the company claims enable quieter typing. Also, teardowns suggest that these switches offer greater reliability.

That being said, the MateBook X Pro's keyboard simply offers a comfortable typing experience, and (unlike the MacBook Pro) it isn't tied to multiple class-action lawsuits (1, 2), nor did it have "sticky" key issues that led to a free repair program.

In terms of comfort, I preferred typing on the MateBook X Pro, which features keys with 1.1 millimeters of virtual travel, which means they actually feel like they're moving up and down as you type. The MacBook Pro keyboards move a much shorter distance, with 0.7mm of travel on the 15-inch model and 0.5mm of travel in the 13-inch model.

The MateBook X Pro's keys also require a harder click to actuate, as we measured 69 grams of required force for the MateBook X Pro, a score that's higher (and better) than the ratings from the 15-inch MacBook Pro (63 grams) and 13-inch MacBook Pro (61 grams).

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You'll find huge Force Touch trackpads on the 15-inch MacBook Pro (6.3 x 3.9 inches) and 13-inch MacBook Pro (5.3 x 3.3 inches), much larger than the MateBook X Pro's pad (4.7 x 3.0 inches). But there isn't much to be gained with a huge touchpad, so this isn't that much of a perk.

Winner: MateBook X Pro

Performance: Fast and faster

It's not that the MateBook X Pro's Intel Core i7-8550U and 16GB of RAM are slow; it's just that Apple's blown them out of the park with the 15-inch MacBook Pro (Intel Core i9-8950HK CPU and 32GB of RAM) and the 13-inch MacBook Pro (Intel Core i7-8559U CPU and 16GB of RAM) we tested. None of these machines slowed for a moment when we tested them for multitasking, so let's look at their scores on our benchmark and real-world testing.

On the Geekbench 4 general performance test, the MateBook X Pro earned a solid 12,913, getting clobbered by the 15-inch MacBook Pro's 23,138 and the 17,348 from the 13-inch model.

Apple's good times rolled on with our HandBrake test, which times how long it takes to transcode a 4K movie to 1080p. The MateBook X Pro needed 27 minutes and 18 seconds to finish, much longer than the times from the 15-inch MacBook Pro (10:16) and 13-inch MacBook Pro (14:47).

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The MacBook Pros dominated again on our Excel VLookup test (matching 65,000 names to their corresponding addresses), which the 15-inch MacBook Pro finished in 52 seconds and the 13-inch MacBook Pro finished in 1:16. The MateBook X Pro (1:49) needed more time.

The most lopsided victory came when the MacBook Pros demonstrated write speeds (measured by the Blackmagic Disk speed test) of 2,600 megabytes per second (15-inch) and 2,682 MBps (13-inch), which are the fastest rates we've ever seen. Meanwhile, the 512GB NVMe PCIe SSD in the MateBook X Pro copied 4.97GB of multimedia files in 18 seconds, for a rate of 282.7 MBps, which used to be considered fast.

Gaming still proves to be a sore spot for Macs, though, as the Dirt 3 racing game (set to medium graphics at 1080p) ran at a supersmooth 117 frames per second on the MateBook X Pro, while the 15-inch MacBook Pro (83 fps) and 13-inch MacBook Pro (47 fps) were more sluggish.

Winner: MacBook Pro

Battery Life: It depends

The battery life varies greatly between the 13 and 15-inch MacBook Pro models. The 15-inch MacBook Pro made it 10 hours and 21 minutes on the Laptop Mag Battery Test (web surfing at 150 nits), but the 13-inch MacBook Pro's battery lasted only 8 hours and 44 minutes.

Smack-dab in the middle, you find the MateBook X Pro's time of 9:55. So, that means there's almost a half hour of extra battery life in the 15-inch MacBook Pro vs. the MateBook X Pro, while the MateBook X Pro has a 1-hour 11-minute advantage over the 13-inch MacBook Pro.

Winner: Draw

Value

Remember the Apple Tax? Huawei does. The entry-level MateBook X Pro costs $1,199 and gives you an 8th Gen Intel Core i5-8250U CPU, 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD, while the entry-level 13-inch MacBook Pro costs $600 more ($1,799) and also has an 8th Generation Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM and 256GB of SSD storage.

The other MateBook X Pro configuration costs $1,499 and features an 8th Gen Core i7 CPU, 16GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD. To get a MacBook Pro with those specs, you'll spend $1,000 more, for a total of $2,499.

To be fair, Apple offers many more models and configuration options, along with higher-end models.

Winner: MateBook X Pro

Overall Winner: MateBook X Pro

MacBook ProMateBook X Pro
Design/PortsX
DisplayX
AudioX
Keyboard/TouchpadX
PerformanceX
Battery LifeXX
ValueX
Total35

And there you have it: Apple's 2018 MacBook Pros are faster, but they haven't advanced enough to catch up with the MateBook X Pro. It wouldn't take much, either — just a USB Type-A port and a keyboard we love, rather than one we just tolerate. Oh, and not charging both an arm and a leg.

Which Pro laptop are you thinking of getting? Have you already ordered yours? Let us know in the comments!

Henry is a senior writer at Laptop Mag, covering security, Apple and operating systems. Prior to joining Laptop Mag — where he's the self-described Rare Oreo Expert — he reviewed software and hardware for TechRadar Pro, and interviewed artists for Patek Philippe International Magazine. You can find him at your local pro wrestling events, and wondering why Apple decided to ditch its MagSafe power adapters.