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Honor is a Chinese tech company, established in 2013 known for producing modest priced smartphones, tablets and wearable tech aimed at a cooler, young audience. Formerly part of Huawei until last year when they were acquired by Shenzhen Zhixin.

The Honor MagicBook laptops have built up a respectable reputation as good midweight devices, great for people who want high-end performance but are on a budget.

The 2021 edition of the MagicBook 14 looks to push the envelope having switched from AMD to Intel processors, however cosmetically it looks the same as before.

The first thing you notice is its striking, minimal yet compact design, measuring a height of 214.8mm, a width of 322.5mm and a depth of 15.9mm and due to its lightweight at only 1.38kg the MagicBook is very portable and easy to travel with.

This years models feature i7 or i5 processors
(Image: Honor)

Its looks are very reminiscent of Apple's current MacBook and it’s a clean, minimal, attractive design but if you look closer you can see it has its own unique, understated design.

It’s available in two colours – Space Grey and Mystic Silver – with both colour options looking attractive if a little generic.

The MagicBook is lightweight but tough due to its aluminum body which looks great and gives it a more durable feel.

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The simple metal body has blue-tinted, beveled edges on the top of the lid, as well as a minimal but beautiful debossed Honor logo with the same metallic, blue tint that looks premium but understated in a way other manufacturers should take note of.

There is a notable vent on the bottom laptop, which diverts it away from the common sealed unit design which some people may dislike, however, I didn’t mind and am fine with the grill if it improves the heat management.

The MagicBooks stylish design will certainly turn some heads
(Image: Honor)

The MagicBook features a wide 14-inch screen with tiny 4.8mm bezels at the top and both sides of the screen, with one wider 20mm bezel at the bottom.

Honor really provides loads of screen real estate offering a massive 84% screen-to-body ratio.

The MagicBook could easily win at any limbo competitions as it supports a 180° rotation offering a nice slim profile which is handy for collaborating and sharing work with colleagues.

The lightweight aluminium case makes the MagicBook tough but looks great

The hinge felt easy to move without ever feeling loose allowing you to adjust the screen perfectly for your comfort.

The screen is a 1920 x 1080 14inch IPS panel display with a 16:9 aspect ratio making it look very natural when watching films or playing most modern games.

Brightness wasn’t an issue at all with the display reached well over 300 Nits making it above average and clear.

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The matte screen was easy to view from most angles but is slightly harder to see outside when compared to the glossier screen of a MacBook.

The screen is less contrasty, and the colours aren’t as punchy as other high-end machines. I also found some of its colour reproduction slightly inaccurate, but this can be easily corrected in the display manager.

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For connectivity, the MagicBook features some interesting choices. It has a standard 3.5mm audio jack, as well as three USB ports, a USB 3.0, a USB-C port for charging and an HDMI port.

There's no card reader, micro-SD slot, or Thunderbolt port present, which is a shame as faster ports would be handy but not a deal-breaker.

The MagicBook looks great without drawing too much attention, and is fine for the office
(Image: Honor)

Surprisingly the keyboard on the MagicBook was wonderfully comfortable to type on for extended periods of time and felt great.

The layout isn’t too cramped, as is often the case with portable machines. The keys weren’t too clicky or too soft, and had a decent amount of travel,. The keyboard also comes with two levels of backlighting for working in low light.

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The trackpad was also a decent size, features handy multi-touch gestures for ease making it good to use in a pinch but obviously not ideal for gaming or extended periods of use.

The MagicBook was okay for video editing however, more complicated projects like working with footage higher than 1920 by 1080 would tax the machine.

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Processor
Rocking the 11 th generation “Tiger Lake” Intel i5 clocked at 2.40Ghz with 4 cores or the i7 which is a powerful mid-range processor.

Graphics

The MagicBook also features Intel’s latest Iris Xe integrated graphics which are twice as fast as the previous integrated Intel graphics meaning this system does actually have some teeth and the ability to deliver a gaming experience on the go which is incredible for the size and price of this laptop.

While still not as powerful as dedicated graphics, the integrated graphics were great for less demanding and mid-tier games.
(Image: Honor)

While it won’t be running the latest AAA games at full settings the integrated Iris Xe performed well on Fortnite, Minecraft, Frostpunk, GTA V ran at 30 FPS and also managed to run Control on low settings.

RAM

With 8Gb or 16Gb DDR 4 Dual Channel of RAM, this means the MagicBook can handle multiple applications at once with relative ease

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Storage
For internal storage the MagicBook I looked at utilised 512Gb, Western digital NVMe Solid-state drive with read speeds up to around 3,400MB/s and write speed around 2700MB/s making it great for gaming, editing or just for a snappy and responsive system.

When run through benchmark tool PC Mark the Honor MagicBook 14 received a 3,926 which is an above-average score but confirms that this device is not a dedicated gaming system as it lacks the graphical power of higher-end games but is well suited to most tasks.

The 14-inch screen is easy on the eyes with its TÜV Rheinland Low Blue Light Certification
(Image: Honor)

Battery

For battery life, the 56Wh capacity battery, claims 10.5 hours of charge I was about around 8 hours on browsing and HD video playback but less if playing more intensive activities like gaming and video editing.

Thought has even been put into the charger is it is a compact 65Watt USB-C compact unit that is easy to carry and store meaning you don’t need to lug around a heavy brick of a plug or powerpack.

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Offering fast charging, you can get around 44% of your battery charge in only 30 mins charging time which is great in a pinch if you’ve forgotten to fully charge up before leaving the home.

One clever feature is the seamless integration of the fingerprint sensor built into the power button to allow discreet but secure use and can quickly unlock the system which has been fast and reliable.

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The MagicBook 14 is also easy on the eyes in another way too, it comes with TÜV Rheinland Low Blue Light Certification. This means it is designed to be gentler on the eyes and give off less harmful blue light and reduce flickering to reduce eye fatigue.

Meaning you can work at the computer for longer and avoid headaches and eye strain that some displays are known to cause.

The fingerprint sensor is seamlessly integrated into the power button
(Image: Honor)

The MagicBook comes with Windows 10 Home installed, using the Windows PC health check tool it is confirmed to be compatible with the free Windows 11 upgrade due to be released later this year.

Instead of featuring the standard built-in webcam on the top of the screen, the MagicBook features a discreet pop up which you can then pop back down once used guaranteeing your privacy and peace of mind.

Magic-Link allows you to instantly transfer images, videos, and other documents between the PC and mobile.
(Image: Honor)

The only issue with this is due to its low angle and facing up at you it offers a very unflattering view of the subject unless you get very close.

Packed with the latest wireless connections the MagicBook includes Bluetooth 5.1 peripherals and supports the newer 2X2 MIMO Dual Antenna or Wi-Fi 6 faster connection which can offer you speeds of up to 9.6Gbps.

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The laptop also has a unique feature called Magic-link 2.0, which allows you to share files from your mobile device with a simple tap as well as the ability to use your phone on the laptops screen, sadly this is only available to Honor phones so it’s of limited appeal if you don't own an Honor device.

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Special attention has been paid to the cooling of this laptop with the MagicBook using dual heat pipes that disperse heat, as well as a dedicated cooling fan with a more efficient fan blade design that increases airflow, and vents on the back to keep the system cooler and prevent the performance being throttled.

When trying to think about who the MagicBook is for it is a top-performing all-rounder that handled basic gaming, working on the go and photo editing with relative ease making it a great option for more advanced users and especially students.

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Verdict

While it’s not quite a Mac killer it comes much closer than I would have expected. It is an incredible machine that punches above its weight.

While it’s certainly no gaming system – it’s agile and is a well-balanced device that consistently had the stamina for all-day use, which would be great for those studying or looking for a decent all-rounder for a modest price.

With a few minor niggles here and there and its lack of some ports despite this, the Honor MagicBook is one of the best laptops I’ve used in recent years.

Offering stunning performance for working, gaming, editing while it can’t quite manage heavy lifting it really handles almost everything you throw at it.

…And did I mention how pretty it is?

The Honor MagicBook 14 is out now with the i5, 512 version we reviewed retailing for £799.99