Battery, Display, and Storage

Battery

One of the key differentiators with AMD’s newer Renoir mobile processor line is the better battery life. The battery life of devices using AMD’s Picasso mobile processors, as used here in the Honor Magicbook, has depended a lot on the implementation as well as the components of the system being used. The OEM has to be able to set up the system to get to idle quickly, and remain there. Nonetheless, the idle power consumption also needs to be low, not only for the CPU, but for the system, which means using efficient LCD panels where possible, and efficient controllers.

Honor claims that the Magicbook 14, with its 56 Wh battery, should be good for 9-10 hours of web/movie/office work, although this value is when the display is at 150 nits using MobileMark2014. For our test, as with our other laptops, we put the display at a more user-friendly 200 nits and run our web-app based light workload.

Battery Life 2016 - Web

The Honor Magicbook 14 lasts 7 hours and 4 minutes in our test, or 424 minutes. This puts it ahead of the first gen Ryzen 2000 APUs, but behind the newer Ryzen 4000 APUs. The battery life of the Ryzen 7 in the Microsoft Surface Laptop with the same generation processor is quite near, however as we can see they are all a bit below what the intel systems can provide.

Battery Life 2016 - Web - Normalized

If we normalize for the battery capacity, then we are a bit further behind the AMD-based Surface Laptop than intended, and even behind the Acer Swift 3 with the Ryzen 7 2000 series.

Display

Inside the Honor Magicbook is a 1920x1080 non-touch LCD display, with ~5mm bezels. The webcam for the laptop is not in the display frame, but in a pop-up key between the F6 and F7 keys. Personally I’m not a fan of this webcam, because it means all you get is nose shots when using it on calls. However based on customer feedback, Honor (and Huawei, who use the same idea) says that their customers prefer having one there rather than not having one at all, like on the ASUS Zephyrus G14.

For the display, we measured a peak brightness of 240 nits, which is actually really low. Honor does not list an official brightness for the screen, but we suspect around ~250 nits, and this is perhaps one of the areas that helps bring the cost of the system down to $560. For color accuracy, with the system as shipped, it was not good at all:


Ideal / Detected

After we applied a color calibration tool, the end result was almost ideal:

Storage

One of the highlights on this system is that Honor only have SSD options – not only that, they are Samsung NVMe PCIe 3.0 x4 SSDs. Someone at Honor is smart, and this helps the system in a lot of user responsiveness type scenarios. I had no issues.

The drive is the Samsung MZVLB256HAHQ, which translates as the PM981 with the Phoenix controller and Samsung TLC NAND. The drive is rated at 2.8 GB/s read and 1.1 GB/s write, but we achieved 3.6 GB/s read and 1.6 GB/s write, a substantial gain. This drive over at Amazon is $64, representing more than 10% of the cost of this system.

Turbo, Power and Latency CPU Performance
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  • philehidiot - Monday, May 18, 2020 - link

    For now, I won't buy a laptop which is all type C. I'm not relying on dingles to be able to read USB sticks people give me and I'm also not a fan of using a laptop atop my lap with a dongle dingle dangling from a wire, asking for a passing person to catch it / exerting excessive stress on the port as the angle of the dangle changes repeatedly. The idea of a standard is that anyone can use it. Having to remember your dongle, or being screwed having lost it, completely negates the advantages of a standard that everyone uses. USB C doesn't need to force itself on everyone by removing USB A ports. It needs to become part of a slow transition determined by necessity / superiority / price. I am not buying a load of new USB sticks for no good reason except someone changed the standard and wants prettier laptops. Reply
  • Spunjji - Monday, May 18, 2020 - link

    Personally, I prefer a mix. One or two USB-C / Thunderbolt 3 for multi-role use with the right cables, and a bunch of USB-A for 95% of the things one needs USB for in the first place. Reply
  • ads295 - Friday, May 15, 2020 - link

    Just curious, what devices do you use that have you hankering for Type-C ports? Reply
  • nicolaim - Friday, May 15, 2020 - link

    A laptop is something most people keep for 3, 5, maybe 7 years, so it should have the ports you'll need down the road rather than obsolete ones that are being phased out.
    USB-C also optionally includes Thunderbolt, DisplayPort, HDMI, charging, 20 Gbit/s data rate, same connector as USB4, etc., none of which are possible with USB-A.
    Reply
  • raywin - Friday, May 15, 2020 - link

    couldn't agree more, i'm stuck on a 2013 laptop and I want an upgrade but don't want to lose my ports, only option right now is the VAIO, this is so close to perfection I may just get it anyway. Reply
  • Lord of the Bored - Saturday, May 16, 2020 - link

    Key word: optional
    I don't want schrodinger's port. I want to look at my port and KNOW what it does, not search for the appropriate 1/8" icon.
    Reply
  • yankeeDDL - Saturday, May 16, 2020 - link

    Wow. How do you use your laptop? Without the "massive" bezel at the bottom the screen would be even lower than it already is and you'd have to look down even more.
    And "a bunch of USB A ports"? Thank god for that. I have a Portege with 3 ports and have to travel with a hub. I have two mobile phones, a Logitech dongle nearly permanently plugged in. Wireless headset also need charging, USB memory key and a YubiKey for security. Man, there's never enough USB A ports in a laptop.
    Reply
  • sonny73n - Saturday, May 16, 2020 - link

    The “massive” bezel underneath is perfect. Sometime I lay down on the sofa and watch YouTube while the laptop still on the desk. Nobody should let you design anything, ever. Reply
  • Lord of the Bored - Tuesday, May 19, 2020 - link

    Nobody should let you do PR for a communist nation with a history of human rights abuses, and yet here we are. Not everyone does the job they are most suited for. Reply
  • cfenton - Friday, May 15, 2020 - link

    Do you have any numbers for the display's color accuracy? It looks terrible in the example, but it's hard to compare to others without numbers. Is it worse than the Swift 3, for example? It's nice to know that it can be calibrated, but I can't imagine many people looking for a budget laptop have color calibration hardware. Reply

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