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Honor MagicBook Pro review

The Honor MagicBook Pro is a great MacBook Pro alternative for those on a tight budget.

Honor MagicBook Pro
(Image: © Future)

Our Verdict

The Honor MagicBook Pro is far from the most powerful device on the market, but it's affordability makes it an attractive option for new creative professionals on a tight budget. Overall, it's a well-balanced product for anyone looking for a cheap MacBook alternative.

For

  • Very affordable
  • Slim, lightweight design
  • Large 16-inch display

Against

  • Terrible availability
  • No Thunderbolt 3
  • No SD card reader

There's a lot to like about the Honor MagicBook Pro, from its sleek design to its very attractive price point. Honor may not be a name that rings many bells, but this rising star was formerly owned by Huawei and is now determined to step out from its parent's shadow and make a name for itself.

There are two versions available on the market that target different markets, so it's important to distinguish the two before you go out and buy one. An earlier released AMD Ryzen powered model offers better all-around performance thanks to its additional two processing cores but lacks a discreet graphics card. 

The model we're reviewing today is the newer quad-core Intel-powered version which, while lagging behind its AMD counterpart in general productivity, has the benefit of a discrete Nvidia Geforce MX350 GPU, allowing it to better cope with tasks like video editing.

While it's not the most powerful laptop on the market by any stretch, the performance you get for your investment is fantastic, cementing the Honor MagicBook Pro as one of the most affordable laptops for creatives on the market right now.

Honor MagicBook Pro

(Image credit: Future)

Honor MagicBook Pro: Price

The MagicBook Pro retails for £749 in the UK which works out at around $1,000, though there are some major issues with availability. At the time of writing, only the AMD version of the laptop is available on the UK Honor website, and the ongoing ban on Huawei goods in the US seems to have had a knock-on effect to Honor, despite having separated from its parent company.

We were unable to locate the Intel HonorBook Pro on any only US store as it isn't officially available in the States, so if you had your heart set on getting one in you might need to ship it across from another region – which could quickly make its affordable selling point redundant.

If you're based in the UK then you can find the model that matches our review specifications on Banggood for a discounted £615, but you'll need to make some adjustments as it comes with Chinese as its default language and an American layout keyboard.

Honor MagicBook Pro

(Image credit: Future)

Honor MagicBook Pro: Power and performance

This model of the Honor MagicBook Pro is rocking a 10th-gen processor, which is perfectly serviceable but given the 11th-gen chips launched back in September, it’s strange to not see them on a ‘Pro’ branded laptop. We're willing to bet this is a cost-saving measure, and it won't make a huge difference to performance in the long run anyway – it's unlikely you'd see enough of a performance boost to persuade you away from buying this laptop in favor of a device with a newer CPU.

You're also getting 16GB of DDR4 RAM, which is more than enough to run most creative applications, and 512GB of speedy SSD storage, which should be plenty enough to keep local files saved and download the programs you need. 

In fact, the SSD is remarkably fast, achieving a 2,821MB/sec read speed in our tests which outpaces even the more expensive Dell XPS (2020), another favorite of creatives that costs over twice the price of Honor's offering. At every turn, we found that the performance and hardware match that of a device that should cost considerably more.

Battery life is more than acceptable, achieving 8 hours and 4 minutes in our simulated benchmark, and 7 hours 47 minutes when playing a looped video. This should prove ample to get you through almost a full day of work or study without anxiously hunting for a place to charge the device.

Honor MagicBook Pro: specs

Here is the Honor MagicBook Pro configuration sent to Creative Bloq for review:
CPU: Intel i5-10210U
Graphics: Nvidia MX350
RAM: 16GB DDR4
Screen: 16.1-inch, FHD (1,920 x 1,080)
Storage: 512GB SSD
Ports: 1 x USB 3.1, 3 x USB 3.2, 1 x USB-C, audio jack, 1 x HDMI
Connectivity: Realtek 8822CE, 802.11ac Wi-Fi 5, Bluetooth 5.0
Weight: 1.7kg
Size: 369 x 234 x 16.9mm  (H x W x D)

While the AMD version will outperform in day-to-day tasks, it only has an integrated GPU and so the discreet Nvidia MX350 graphics card in this Intel-powered model makes it the clear winner for creative applications. We ran a few benchmarks to make sure that the Honor MagicBook Pro didn't just look good on paper and found that it managed sufficiently with Adobe applications such as Photoshop and Illustrator.

In fact, you can even play some games on the Honor MateBook Pro proving you're sensible about it. You won't get anything like Red Dead Redemption 2 running at a playable framerate, but for stuff like Rocket League or Dota 2 we squeezed 61FPS out of it without the graphics being dropped to their lowest performance settings.

You'll find that running demanding apps like Blender or tasks like rendering 4K footage will be cumbersome, but it's important to remember what you're paying for. The Honor MagicBook Pro can handle tasks better than expected for a laptop under £1,000, but you're not going to match the performance of something with a raytracing capable GPU or a beefier processor inside.

If you have the cash to spend on something like a Gigabyte Aero 15 (starting from $1,599 or £1,699) then you'll have a more enjoyable time in regards to rendering or 3D sculpting, but for general graphic design work, the MagicBook Pro is really impressive for the price.

Honor MagicBook Pro

(Image credit: Future)

Honor MagicBook Pro: Display

The 16.1-inch has a resolution of 1920 x 1080p, but this comes with a few pros and cons. Drilling home the affordable selling point, you'd be hard-pressed to find an equivalent-sized display on a laptop for a similar price, so for anyone looking for a large screen, this is a great perk. The larger working space also allows for better productivity and while some brands are now moving over to a taller 16:10 format, this 16:9 ratio is still a common sight.

The screen itself also has a matte coating that helps to reduce glare in bright environments which is a nice touch, and a respectable 300 nits of brightness means that the matte coating doesn't make the colors on the screen look too washed out.

A brighter screen would be an advantage, something closer to 500-1000 nits being optimal for video editing, but there are certainly more expensive products on the market with dimmer screens, so we won't do too much nit-picking here.

A few negatives are that because of its larger screen dimensions, things can look slightly pixelated if you get close which could be an issue for anyone in graphic design, though it's far from illegible for reading text or illustrating. You're also stuck with a maximum refresh rate of 60Hz but this will only potentially affect video editing and any games you would choose to run on it.

Honor MagicBook Pro

(Image credit: Future)

Honor MagicBook Pro: Features

Design-wise, the Honor MagicBook Pro keeps things safe with a slim chassis thats available in a single color, dubbed 'Mystic Silver'. While being a larger laptop, it weighs in at just 1.7kg and fits into most standard backpacks and laptop bags, making it very portable despite it larger-than-average screen size, and the charging brick is slimmer than expected which contributes to the surprising portability of the laptop despite its size. 

The Silver, minimalistic appearance is similar to the designs seen across many high end laptops so Honor is winning some style points here, but it hasn't sacrificed ports in order to reduce the thickness of the laptop further.

You're getting three full-sized USB-A ports(that standard style of USB), one being USB 3.1 and two USB 3.2, giving you the option to plug in a graphics drawing tablet or external SSD for additional storage. Many slim laptops these days only provide USB-C ports which restricts the user to using a dongle for wired peripherals, so if you don't like carrying around a bunch of accessories for your device, this is a clear win.

You also get a USB-C port (that doubles as the charging port), a standard audio jack, and a HDMI port for you to connect to an external monitor for additional products, but there are a few things we would have like to see included to sweeten the deal for creatives. 

Sadly, there isn't an SD card built into the Honor MagicBook Pro, so photographers and videographers will need to buy an additional adapter. It also lacks a Thunderbolt 3 port, which is perplexing given its an Intel-owned feature, but unless you plan on docking the laptop for long periods of time this won't be too big of a deal.

Honor MagicBook Pro

(Image credit: Future)

Typing on the Honor MagicBook Pro feels pretty unremarkable, neither good nor terrible. The keys are satisfyingly responsive so you're unlikely to apply any real force but the sensation of typing itself isn't anything exciting. The touchpad is large and has a nice grain to it, enabling good traction if you don't want to use a mouse.

The power button located at the top right hand of the keyboard also doubles as a fingerprint scanner for additional security and we found it to be highly responsive. The only time it didn't detect a fingerprint was when another user was testing the feature for reliability, and when the surface hasn't completely dry after being in a humid environment.

The webcam for the device is where things start to fall flat slightly. Rather than being located on the display, the Honor MagicBook Pro has concealed its webcam within the keyboard itself, taking up the space of a function key between F6 and F7 and giving an unflattering 'up-chin' angle. the 720P footage is grainy if you're not in a well lit environment, but in a pinch it'll suffice. If you do need to do any broadcasting, we would suggest investing in a dedicated webcam though, rather than spending more cashing on a more expensive laptop.

Honor MagicBook Pro

(Image credit: Future)

Should you buy the Honor MagicBook Pro?

The Honor MagicBook Pro won't be the choice of creatives like VFX artists and 4K video editors, but chances are you won't find anything with similar specifications and features for the price...that is, if you can find it at all. 

Its questionable availability is a huge caveat to an otherwise fantastic laptop, and while it won't quite match the performance of devices equipped with an AMD Ryzen 9 CPU or Nvidia RTX 3080 graphics card, this is a fantastic value buy for creatives who don't use demanding applications.

For students about to start a creative-based course, the Honor MagicBook Pro is the best alternative to products like the MacBook Pro that you can get on a tight budget, and despite its low asking price, you'll be pleasantly surprised by the tasks that the laptop can handle being thrown it's way. If you find one available, we heartily recommend picking it up.

Where to buy the Honor MagicBook Pro

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The Verdict
8

out of 10

Honor MagicBook Pro

The Honor MagicBook Pro is far from the most powerful device on the market, but it's affordability makes it an attractive option for new creative professionals on a tight budget. Overall, it's a well-balanced product for anyone looking for a cheap MacBook alternative.

Jess Weatherbed

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.