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 Pro||13-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar||15-inch MacBook Pro|
|CPU||8th Gen, quad-core Intel Core i5, i7||8th Gen, quad-core Intel Core i5, i7||8th Gen, hexa-core Intel Core i7, i9|
|GPU||Nvidia GeForce MX150 (2GB), Intel UHD 620 (Integrated)||Intel Iris Plus Graphics 655||Radeon Pro 555X (4GB GDDR5 memory), Radeon Pro 560X (4GB GDDR5 memory)|
|Display||13.9 inches (3000 x 2000)||13.3 inches (2560 x 1600)||15.4 inches (2880 x 1800)|
|SSD Storage||256GB, 512GB||256GB, 512GB, 1TB, 2TB||256GB, 512GB, 1TB, 2TB, 4TB|
|Memory (RAM)||8GB, 16GB||8GB, 16GB||16GB, 32GB|
|Ports||1 USB Type-C, 1 Thunderbolt 3, 1 USB 3.0, fingerprint reader, headphone jack||Four Thunderbolt 3 ports, headphone jack, Touch ID fingerprint reader, Touch Bar||Four Thunderbolt 3 ports, headphone jack, Touch ID fingerprint reader, Touch Bar|
|Size||12 x 8.5 x 0.6 inches||12 x 8.4 x 0.6 inches||13.8 x 9.5 x 0.6 inches|
|Weight||2.9 pounds||3 pounds||4 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).
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 (opens in new tab), 2 (opens in new tab)), 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).
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).
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.
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 Pro||MateBook X Pro|
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!