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Honor MagicBook 16 (2022) review

The Honor MagicBook 16 is a budget-friendly beast for creative students.

The Honor MagicBook 16 on a small table
(Image: © Future)

Our Verdict

The Honor MagicBook 16 is big, beautiful and budget-friendly, rocking a 144Hz display and speedy components. It can't hold a light to something like a MacBook Pro, but at this price, it's a great alternative for students getting started in a creative environment. Bear in mind that it's not currently available in the US.

For

  • Great 16.1-inch 144Hz display
  • Speedy AMD components
  • Classy, modern design

Against

  • No SD card slot
  • Battery life is disappointing
  • Regional availability is spotty

The Honor MagicBook 16 likely won’t be on the radar for many folks in the western market given the brand is more commonly associated with mobile phones than computers, but if you’re looking for a large, budget-friendly laptop then you should stop and take a moment to absorb this review.

Honor used to be a part of the Huawei brand until they split back in 2020 (likely to get around strict anti-Chinese imports affecting Huawei in countries like the USA), and as such Honor laptops still have a few similarities with the devices from its old parent company. If you know anything about Huawei laptops though, this isn’t a bad thing as most of the cons surrounding buying one comes from their regional availability and app support, which are two things Honor has (mostly) managed to avoid thanks to the split.

As a result, Honor laptops can offer some fantastic features on a budget, making them a great choice for students and anyone else keeping an eye on their cash (see our best student laptops guide for more budget friendly options). The MagicBook 16 is no exception to this, being packed full of some of the latest (and powerful) components while keeping costs in the mid-range. Although bear in mind that it's currently not available in the US or Australia.

Is it the most powerful system on the market, worth of including in our most powerful laptops guide? No, not by any stretch, but its large size, decent port selection and affordability mean it's a great buy for anyone looking to get started with various creative applications across talents like video editing, graphic design and digital illustration.

Its main downfall as a suitable laptop for creatives is the lack of a discrete graphics card, with it instead using the integrated Radeon graphics from its AMD Ryzen 5 processor, but this will only be an issue if you’re trying to run applications that really need all that additional power. Generally speaking though, devices created specifically for the creative market will be better optimised for more demanding work but you won’t get much selection at the same price point as the Honor MagicBook 16.

Laptops that do contain a full mobile GPU can get expensive pretty quickly, and the MagicBook 16 proves itself to be capable of running apps like Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Premiere Pro and DaVinci Resolve with few issues so it’s still a great choice for creatives who won’t need to use graphically demanding programs for things like 3D modelling.

If you have more of a budget to play with then it's worth checking out our list of the best laptop for graphic design, and the best computer for video editing, which have more powerful devices that are better suited to running demanding applications. For those who have fallen in love with the Honor MagicBook 16’s charm though, read on to find out more. 

Honor MagicBook 16 (2022) review: price 

You can buy the Honor MagicBook 16 for £850 direct from the Honor website with some interesting discounted add-ons (such as an Honor Band 6 watch or Honor Earbuds 2 Lite) and freebies (an Honor backpack for you to store the device), though there’s a limited selection of available regions to ship to. As such, you can’t buy the laptop direct from the Honor website if you’re based in the US or Australia. 

Spec Sheet

Here is the Honor MagicBook 16 (2022) configuration we reviewed: 
CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 5600H
Graphics: Integrated AMD Radeon
RAM: 16GB DDR4
Screen: 16.1-inch FHD, 144Hz
Storage: 512GB NVMe PCIe SSD
Ports: 2 x  USB 3.2 type C, 2 x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A, 1 x HDMI, 1 x 3.5mm audio jack
Connectivity: Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.2
Camera: 720p
Weight: 4.04 pounds / 1.84Kg
Size: 0.71 x 9.29 x 14.48 inches / 18.2 x 236 x 368mm

In fact, we couldn’t find it available anywhere for the US market so if you had your heart set on this particular laptop you’d need to find a way to ship it over from the UK or China, which will quickly make it unnecessarily expensive. We wouldn’t suggest this, so instead try another budget-friendly creative laptop such as the Asus Vivobook range.

The price is fixed as there’s only one configuration available, that being with an AMD Ryzen 5 5600H processor, 16GB of RAM and 512GB of storage which is great if you don’t want to mess around with optimisations, but not ideal for anyone who wanted to configure things like RAM or storage to better suit their needs.

For comparison, the base model of the MacBook Pro 16-inch with the M1 Max chip will set you back $3,499 / £3,299, which is considered to be one of the best laptops for tasks like audio mixing and video editing, and the beloved, budget-friendly (for a Macbook at least) MacBook Air comes in at $999 / £999.

Honor MagicBook 16 (2022) review: power and performance

The Honor MagicBook 16 from a top-down view

(Image credit: Future)

Powering the Honor MagicBook 16 is an AMD Ryzen 5 5600H processor with integrated AMD Radeon Graphics, 16GB of RAM and 512GB of storage. The lack of a dedicated graphics card means it’s not ideal for anything that’s graphically demanding, such as 3D modelling or PC gaming, but there are plenty of creative applications that lean more on its capable CPU. It’s also well suited for general day-to-day tasks like browsing the web, making video calls and typing out documents. 

We were able to edit images on Photoshop easily enough, and while video editing was much slower than on something like a MacBook Pro 16-inch, it got the job done and didn’t get too warm in the process. 

Digital illustration was a breeze too, with Clip Studio Paint running with no noticeable lag. Still, we wouldn’t recommend this if you need something that has some heavy lifting to do in applications like Maya or Blender - it’ll run them, you just won’t enjoy how they run.

Windows 11 is the new operating system running on the MagicBook 16 in 2022, so you won’t need to update from Windows 10 yourself during setup. It’s plenty fast and looks modern to boot which certainly helps give the laptop a more premium feel, though there’s not a huge jump in benefits for everyday users.

A close up of the Honor MagicBook 16 keyboard keys

(Image credit: Future)

The 56Wh battery is fairly capable, lasting around 7 hours and 27 minutes in a looped video test and just under that at 7 hours and 3 minutes in a productivity benchmark that simulates a typical office workday.

There are plenty of laptops on the market that will last much longer, but it’s hard to find one at the same price that offers similar features. It’s admirable, but not being able to last a full 8-hour workday is going to be an issue for Students and creatives who don’t like to anxiously keep an eye out for power outlets.

You’re getting a webcam, though like many other laptops on the market, this is only capable of 720p. It’s perfectly fine for work meetings or Zoom calls with your family and friends, but you won’t want to record any videos for broadcasting on it. The sensor is also on the weak side, so there’s a fair bit of background noise (the ‘static-like’ fuzz that appears) because it can’t cope with dim light conditions, so try and face a window or light source to improve this.

Honor MagicBook 16 (2022) review: display

A front shot of the Honor MagicBook 16

(Image credit: Future)

The Honor MagicBook 16 is ideal for anyone who needs a sizable screen on a budget, with a screen-to-body ratio of 87.3%. The resolution is Full HD (1920 x1080p), with 137 PPI and a peak brightness of 300nits. For comparison, the MacBook Air (2020) can achieve 400 nits and costs slightly more at $999 / £999.

The brightness is a little disappointing honestly as you’ll struggle to work in a brightly lit environment like being outside on a sunny day, but it works fine if you only plan on using it indoors and it does at least have a matte coating, which should help with reducing glare if you’re sat by a bright window.

The keyboard of the Honor MagicBook 16 showng backlit illumination

(Image credit: Future)

The aspect ratio is 16:9, which is still the standard, but we’re seeing more and more laptops released these days with a larger 16:10 ratio for enhanced productivity, so this may become a tad dated over the next few years. Colour accuracy isn’t perfect, with the MagicBook 16 capable of producing 95.9% of the sRGB colour gamut and has a contrast ratio of 891:1, but this is ample for those who just started a creative hobby or course.

While the rest of the display feels a little underwhelming, you’re getting a 144Hz refresh rate which isn’t just nice to have given it feels much smoother than a 60Hz display, but it also has some benefits for gamers and video editors too. This can drain the battery, but you can manually drop this down to 72Hz in the Windows 11 advanced display settings menu if you’re conscious of the device's power consumption or simply want to extend its battery life away from a power outlet.

That 144Hz refresh rate is great, but feels like it needs a little extra power if you want to make the most out of it. The integrated AMD Radeon graphics do a decent job, but a ‘Pro’ model of the Honor MagicBook 16 is planned to release with an Nvidia RTX 3050 GPU which could provide a boost, though this doesn’t currently have a price or release date.

Honor MagicBook 16 (2022) review: features

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A side shot of the Honor MagicBook 16 showing the ports

(Image credit: Future)
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A side view of the Honor MagicBook 16

(Image credit: Future)

The Honor MagicBook 16 isn’t a small laptop, measuring in at 18.2 x 236 x 368mm and weighing 1.84kg. Sure, it’s on the larger size but that’s just another benefit for creatives and students who want that extra real estate.

It only comes in one colour, Space Grey, which is nice enough and makes the laptop feel a little more expensive than it actually is thanks to being made from matte aluminium. This is also something we see from Huawei products so despite being separated from its parent company you can enjoy a similar vibe if you really don’t want to buy from Huawei. Despite its size, it also fits into a standard satchel bag or rucksack just fine, and we managed to carry it around for a day without feeling it was unusually heavy.

The keyboard isn’t anything to write home about. The keys are well-spaced if a little snug but this was easy to adjust to, and the keyboard is fully illuminated for when you need to type in a dimly lit environment.

The webcam on the Honor MagicBook 16

(Image credit: Future)

Down each side of the keyboard, you’ll find upwards facing speakers, with the power button built into the right-hand side one. This doubles as a fingerprint scanner and its location away from the main keyboard mean you’re unlikely to accidentally press it. 

The trackpad is located underneath the keyboard and is very responsive and easy to use. You’ll have an easier time using a wireless mouse or even a graphics drawing tablet if you’re wanting to give digital illustration or photo editing a try, but for day-to-day web browsing and general use, the touchpad does an ample job.

Where many laptops these days have started to ditch ports, you actually get a decent selection on the Honor MagicBook 16, such as a full-sized HDMI, two USB 3.2s, two USB-Cs and a 3.5mm headphone and microphone jack. Sadly you’re still missing ports like Ethernet and an SD card slot which would have been good for quickly uploading photographs from a digital camera, but it’s not a terrible selection.

There’s no Thunderbolt connection, but that’s a technology restricted to Intel devices so it’s unsurprising that the AMD-powred MagicBook 16 lacks this feature. Still, the available ports mean that you can use it alongside a display drawing tablet (as these typically require an HDMI connection alongside either a USB-A or USB-C), which makes it a decent budget choice for graphic designers as well as photographers and digital illustrators.

Honor MagicBook 16 (2022) review: should you buy it?

The Honor MagicBook 16 (2022) isn’t going to win any 'best of' awards, but it is a great all-rounder that caters well to creatives on a tight budget. That 144Hz display means it’s a joy to use, with a smooth framerate in daily use simply browsing the web, as well as in very low-demand games. It also offers a wide selection of ports for all the peripherals you might need for your craft, though the lack of an SD port is a disappointment. 

Battery life is decent, but could afford to be better given AMD-powered laptops are usually known for offering exceptional battery life, which follows the same theme of the Honor MagicBook 16 being a resounding ‘okay’. Everything from the webcam, to performance, is middling, neither good nor bad and as such it’s unlikely to knock your socks off, but it is ideal if you’re a student or someone who doesn’t need a high-performing laptop. Although patchy availability means that not everyone will be able to get their hands on it.

Read more: The best laptops for CAD

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The Verdict
7

out of 10

Honor Magicbook 16 (2022)

The Honor MagicBook 16 is big, beautiful and budget-friendly, rocking a 144Hz display and speedy components. It can't hold a light to something like a MacBook Pro, but at this price, it's a great alternative for students getting started in a creative environment. Bear in mind that it's not currently available in the US.

More info

BrandHonor
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Jess is TechRadar's computing writer, covering hardware, PC gaming and peripherals, though she can be found freelancing for creative tech like 3D printers and graphics drawing tablets. She also likes to dabble in digital art and can often be found playing games of both the PC and Tabletop variety, occasionally streaming on Twitch to the disappointment of everyone.