IT Pro Verdict
Good screen for multitasking
Poor color accuracy
Since entering the laptop market in 2018, Honor has made a modest name for itself as a purveyor of cheap and powerful notebooks. In 2022, the MagicBook 16 proved the brand is doing well for itself, following budget brilliance in the form of MagicBook Pro or MagicBook 14. The MagicBook X16 is the latest in this line of low-price business devices and has big shoes to fill.
Much like its less-powerful sibling the MagicBook 16, the Honor MagicBook X16 is an attractive if not especially sleek laptop. Visually, it's very similar to a Macbook, with simple curved edges and a brushed-metal look. Up close and personal, the device feels professional and well put together. It's constructed from aluminum alloy, with a thin bezel around the display
At 1.75kg, the MagicBook is on the heavy side. It's noticeably heavier than a Macbook Pro, something of an oddity given its comparatively poor performance when it comes to intensive tasks.
Honor MagicBook X16 2023 2023 review: Keyboard and trackpad
The MagicBook 16's keyboard is a mixed bag, which may delight or enrage depending on what you intend to use the laptop for. The keys have something of a smooth feel to them, which provides a nice typing experience with good travel but does feel somewhat cheap.
Users that need to type in lots of numbers or use keybinds will be happy, as the MagicBook X16 comes with a full-size numpad. Sadly, this does mean that the keyboard is somewhat cramped in the center, with special symbols such as '@' reduced to a minuscule size by the neighboring keys.
Once you've become accustomed to the layout, the backlit keyboard is a suitably satisfying typing experience – while it's not the best in class, it's far from a dealbreaker. While using the MagicBook X16, the trackpad presented no significant issues. Most users will find no problems using it, though creatives may be frustrated with its smaller size and sometimes inaccurate response to touch.
Honor MagicBook X16 2023 2023 review: Display
The 16:10 aspect ratio makes this an appealing device for those seeking screen real estate, particularly those looking to multitask or work on visuals that will dominate the frame. However, the color accuracy really lets the MagicBook down when it comes to creative users. Our tests revealed 95.9% sRGB accuracy, but a poor score of 67.8% and 69.9% when it came to Adobe RGB and DCI P3, respectively.
It's also underwhelming that the resolution is only 1920x1200 – it would have been excellent to take advantage of this full-frame aspect ratio with a 4k resolution, which would be an industry first and put it ahead of all competition. That aside, this is a bright screen with a nice matte finish, helpful if one is looking to use the device outside or in a changing environment such as on a train.
Honor MagicBook X16 2023 2023 review: Hardware and performance
For the majority of our performance tests, the Honor MagicBook X16 impressed. It's a capable machine, which one might expect given its size, and could suit a wide range of medium-intensity jobs.
In Geekbench 6, the laptop scored a single-core score of 2,183 and a multi-core score of 9,096. That's just short of the much-celebrated M1 MacBook Air's 2,328 and 8,286, quite a feat, especially considering the MagicBook X16 is around £200 cheaper than even a refurbished Macbook.
The laptop also handled creative programs such as Davinci Resolve 18 reasonably well, with multiple 4k streams not proving an issue. Rendering 10-15 seconds of 4k footage did take over 3mins, which is quite a long time, but the device chugged through admirably.
A 16GB RAM configuration for the MagicBook X16 would have been nice, particularly for use cases such as Adobe Creative apps or 3D modeling. That said, 8GB should be enough for a range of users and the lack of extra memory isn't particularly surprising at this price point.
In our battery tests, the laptop lasted approximately 8hrs 46mins. It's a mediocre result – enough to carry you through a day of work, though far below the 11.5 hours that Honor suggests the device should be able to handle FHD playback.
Honor also claims to have gifted the MagicBook X16 with particularly good heat dissipation mechanisms, such as dual heat pipes and ultra-thin fan blades. In even the most grueling of our tests, the laptop never became uncomfortably hot nor particularly audible.
Honor MagicBook X16 2023 2023 review: Ports and features
The MagicBook X16 comes chock full of ports, making it a good device for users seeking versatility. These include two USB-A and one USB-C, as well as an HDMI and headphone port.
Given the creative 16:10 screen ratio, it would have been nice to see an SD card reader included in the port roster, but the plethora of USB-A and C ports means users can easily add an external reader for this purpose.
The built-in webcam provides a more than usable 720p image provided one has good lighting, and the microphone does its job well. Unfortunately, the onboard speakers are rather tinny – a Pixel 6 phone speaker outclassed it in video playback tests. Those with access to external speakers or headsets, which can handily connect to the laptop using its 3.5mm 2-in-1 jack, would be well-advised to take advantage of them.
Happily, the MagicBook X16 comes with a fingerprint sensor under the power button. This is becoming a must-have for business laptops, as it provides an extra layer of protection for workers handling extremely sensitive information.
Fingerprint sensors negate any fumbling around with weak passwords, and unlike facial recognition can be used unimpaired in a dark environment such as an airplane cabin.
Six steps to a stronger security posture through automation
Protect your organization with a security program that integrates tools and teams.
Another feature of the MagicBook X16 is Honor Magic-link, which allows users to transfer files directly from their phone to the laptop using near-field communication (NFC). Unfortunately, the feature is only compatible with Honor or Huawei devices, so we were unable to try it out or assess its ease of use. This will also come as a blow to many Western business users who do not have phones from either manufacturer, as NFC file transfer is otherwise an excellent idea.
A final point to note is that the MagicBook X16's twin SSD slots make the drive expandable, and in fact Honor encourages users to take advantage of this. It's a welcome move that could prove particularly useful for power users.
Honor MagicBook X16 2023 2023 review: Price
For all its shortcomings, the MagicBook X16's low price of £649.99 is nothing to turn one's nose at. It's less than one can expect to pay for a flagship smartphone these days, so an ideal price for a freelance professional, and could save a business up to half the cost of acquiring laptops for its workforce.
Of course, there's no denying that budgeting is felt in other areas. Those looking for a really premium experience may need to look further afield to achieve a real all-rounder.
In several key areas though the MagicBook X16 defies its low price; we were particularly impressed with its GeekBench scores compared to more expensive competition, and the foresight to include expandable SSD storage is a masterstroke.
Overall, the Honor MagicBook X16 is a capable business laptop that makes up for its lack of dazzling performance by coming equipped with all most people really need to do their work. It's hard to argue with this performance at that price, with all those ports, for under £700.
Honor MagicBook X16 2023 2023 review specifications
|Processor||Intel® Core™ i5-12450H Processor GHz (12MB Cache, up to 4.4 GHz, 8 cores, 12 Threads)|
|GPU||Intel® UHD Graphics|
|Display||16.0-inch, 1080p (1920 x 1200) 16:10 aspect ratio, 60Hz refresh rate, 300nits|
|Storage||512GB NVMe™ PCIe® 4.0 SSD|
|Ports||2x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A, 1x USB-C, 1x HDMI 1.4b, 1x 3.5mm Combo Audio Jack|
|Webcam||720P HD camera|
|Connectivity||Wi-Fi 6E(802.11ax) (Dual band) 2*2 + Bluetooth® 5.3 Wireless Card|
|Operting system||Windows 11 Home|
|Deimension||35.62 x 25.01 x 1.79cm (14.02" x 9.84" x 0.70")|
|Weight||1.75 kg (3.85 lbs)|
Rory Bathgate is Features and Multimedia Editor at ITPro, overseeing all in-depth content and case studies. He can also be found co-hosting the ITPro Podcast with Jane McCallion, swapping a keyboard for a microphone to discuss the latest learnings with thought leaders from across the tech sector.
In his free time, Rory enjoys photography, video editing, and good science fiction. After graduating from the University of Kent with a BA in English and American Literature, Rory undertook an MA in Eighteenth-Century Studies at King’s College London. He joined ITPro in 2022 as a graduate, following four years in student journalism. You can contact Rory at email@example.com or on LinkedIn.