Getting started with Huawei Matebook 16 (R7): an excellent PC, as powerful as it is comfortable

This isn’t Huawei’s first attempt at a 16-inch computer. The manufacturer had already signed the Matebook D16 last year. However, the computer that interests us here is not its successor. First, positioned in the upper range, the “D” is the brand’s most expensive machine. Then above all because the screen format is not the same. Where the D16 displays a very classic 16/9 ratio, the Matebook 16 takes the 3:2 format, which has become a signature of Huawei. The manufacturer loaned us the R7 version of this new computer. After several weeks of use, and while waiting for our lab test, we invite you to share our first impressions of this atypical model.

Before getting to the heart of the matter, let’s review the key features of this Matebook 16 R7. As mentioned earlier, the main attraction of the device is its 16-inch IPS panel, with a maximum resolution of 2520 x 1680 pixels. AMD Ryzen 7 5800H processor, integrated AMD Radeon RX Vega 8 graphics chip, 16GB of RAM, extremely powerful R7 version configuration. The device has 512 GB SSD storage, Bluetooth 5.0, but no Wi-Fi 6. Just the usual a / b / g / n / ac, at 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz.

For the rest, connectivity is pretty complete, with two USB-C ports, two more USB 3.2 Gen1 ports, an HDMI input, and a 3.5mm mini-jack used for both headphones and a microphone.

© L’Eclaireur Fnac

Finally, the device houses a fairly large 84W battery, backed by a relatively large 135W USB-C charger.

Note that there is also an R5 version of the Matebook 16. The technical data sheet for the two models is almost identical, the only difference being the presence of a Ryzen 5 5600H processor in the R5.

Design and ergonomics

The Matebook 16 does not revolutionize the design of Huawei computers. But this is not a criticism, as the manufacturer has proven itself in this area, especially for the Matebook and Matebook X Pro ranges. The model that interests us displays very clean lines, which are also reminiscent of those of Apple MacBooks. There is worse in comparison. The screen occupies 90% of the area (manufacturer data), with very thin bezels to frame it.

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Huawei offers only one color, which is charcoal gray. The metal body makes a great impression of quality and Huawei claims to have added a “ceramic sandblasting process” to the manufacturing process. If we have no idea what the manufacturer means by this, it is clear that the Matebook 16 displays a discreet and elegant design, as well as finishes that are absolutely flawless.

Here, the Matebook 16 is slightly smaller than the Matebook X Pro 2019. The difference in size is logically clear. © L’Eclaireur Fnac

The manufacturer managed to fit the weight of his PC which measures 3.5 mm x 25.5 mm x 17.8 mm, for just 1.99 kg. Easily slips into a backpack designed for a 15″ computer. We also liked the fingerprint reader on the Power Key, which allows you to turn on your computer and authenticate at the same time.

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As for typing, the chicklet keyboard and trackpad are a lot of fun to practice on a daily basis, thanks to the perfect-stroke keys for the first surface and the nice deck for the second.

© L’Eclaireur Fnac

On the disadvantages side, Huawei continues to place the webcam under a key on the keyboard. If an idea has always been attractive on paper, it may be more questionable in practice. The camera angle is particularly ugly. The slightest wrinkle under the chin takes on terrible proportions, able to undermine the strongest ego.

Screen

If Huawei did not invent the 3: 2 format, it greatly contributed to its democratization thanks to the Matebook and Matebook X Pro ranges. However, the manufacturer has never before offered such a large screen in this format. The manufacturer’s previous model with a 16-inch screen, the D16, features a very classic 16/9 format. Here, a 16-inch IPS panel in 3:2, with a definition of 2520 x 1680 pixels and a refresh rate of 60 Hz.

On the left, the Matebook 16 with its screen in 3:2 format. On the right, last year’s D16 model and its 16:9 screen. © L’Eclaireur Fnac

If we wait for the data from our laboratory before giving a final opinion on the display of this monitor, it still seems to the naked eye that factory calibration should not cause any unpleasant surprises. The color scale really rings in, while the contrasts look great. The only scenario that could pose a problem is using the computer outdoors in sunny weather, due to the glossy panel’s reflections. But this unfortunately applies to the vast majority of computers.

© L’Eclaireur Fnac

Offers

As for the monitor, we’ll give you a final opinion on performance once this computer has gone through our lab. However, we have used it as our main machine for over two weeks. So we can already tell you that the hardware platform chosen by Huawei has given us the complete satisfaction of a fairly advanced office use. In our case, here’s the program that runs throughout the day: dozens of Chrome browser tabs, Outlook mail loaded with five accounts, Signal and Photoshop. The AMD Ryzen 7 5800H processor and 16GB of RAM showed no signs of weakness. The same observation in the use of multimedia. The device behaved to perfection by adding 4K video playback on an external monitor, in addition to the above operations. Best of all, everything remained fluid and responsive even when we launched the games and left everything else running. However, we expected nothing less from this configuration.

© L’Eclaireur Fnac

However, we couldn’t resist the temptation to push this PC to its limits. So we’ve installed all kinds of popular games on the device, from demanding 3D games like Gears of War 5 and Forza Horizon 5 to less demanding 2D games, like Cuphead, Hollow Knight or Dead Cell. Unsurprisingly, these results were perfect. We even took a vice as much as playing Cuphead on an external 4K monitor, at 60 frames per second. Again, it’s impossible to blame all, in terms of graphics and frame rate. The observation is identical in non-greedy 3D games like Disco Elyseum, Devil May Cry 4 or Hades, which work perfectly. So the AMD Radeo RX Vega 8 graphics chip does its job well.

However, you won’t be surprised to learn that things only get worse for the most demanding titles. You won’t be able to launch Gears of War 5 with every detail maxed out. However, we were surprised to find that it’s still playable in Full HD, with an average level of detail. It is far from ideal for hardcore gamers. But the Matebook 16 is not for them, for others it is good to discover that this device, which is absolutely ideal for office and multimedia automation, is also capable of running a large number of games in an acceptable way. It is also possible to easily switch from classic mode to performance mode, just by pressing the Fn + P keys at the same time.

Finally, a word on the new cooling system to finish. Previous Matebooks we tested occasionally experienced overheating issues when the processors were a little busy, especially during video game sessions. This use was not supposed to be the main use for this type of machine, the resulting overheating was not prohibitive. However, with the Matebook 16’s honest inclinations for gaming or graphic creation, excessive overheating would have been less acceptable. When announcing the product, Huawei specifically highlighted the new cooling system. The latter is based on a revised and corrected design, with a hinged air intake and dual thermal channels. The system also includes two 75mm fans. Besides advertising effects, the manufacturer kept its promises. Even after an hour of playing Gears of War 5, the underside of the Matebook 16 remained at a perfectly reasonable temperature. All while keeping the volume level again very tolerable.

in use

Once the Matebook 16 is turned on, the user is immediately greeted by Windows 11, the latest version of Microsoft’s operating system. Good first point. As in previous computers, Huawei adds some of its own software and functions (Huawei PC Manager, Link Now, Huawei Share), which are mainly used for interaction between different devices of the manufacturer. There is also a control panel that can be called up from the taskbar. If it turns out to be quite functional, it remains redundant with the basic functions of Windows 11.

All are displayed on a screen in 3:2 format, which is clearly not the most recommended for watching videos since the latter is often in 16/9 format, especially for movies. Fortunately, since the screen is quite large, it can still be viewed very comfortably, despite the presence of the black bands. For other activities such as office automation or browsing the web, the 3:2 screen is more comfortable than the classic 16/9 screen.

In terms of autonomy, while waiting for the results of the tests in our lab, we can say that the large 84W battery is very promising because we worked regularly throughout the day without having to recharge the device.

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