Mi Notebook 14 (8GB+512GB SSD) Review: Deserves All The Attention

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Xiaomi turned more than a few heads in the first half of 2020 with its entry into PC-segment in India. To keep it simple, the Chinese technology giant started with limited models under two notebook categories- Mi Notebook 14 and the Mi Notebook 14 Horizon Edition. The top-of-the-line Mi Notebook 14 Horizon Edition impressed us with its overall performance. Yes, it did fail to check few boxes but the 60K notebook with its premium and compact design, excellent display, and good smooth day-to-day performance made it pretty clear that Xiaomi is ready to take on PC giants in India.

 

Rating:
3.5/5

Mi Notebook 14 (8GB+512GB SSD) Review: Deserves All The Attention

After testing the Mi Notebook 14 Horizon Edition, we are now taking a detailed look on the slightly affordable Mi Notebook 14 series which has even more chances to appeal masses. The Mi Notebook 14 series hits the sweet spot with its pricing and features making the notebooks in the series good options for students and office goers.

The Mi Notebook 14 Silver runs on the Intel Core i5-10210U chipset and has 8GB RAM with 256GB/ 512GB SSD options. For graphics, the notebook comes equipped with either Intel UHD or NVIDIA's entry-level MX250 GPU. You can buy the Mi Notebook 14 in three configurations- 8GB RAM + 256GB SSD with i5 10th Gen. CPU and integrated Intel UHD graphics at Rs. 43,999, 8GB RAM + 512GB SSD with i5 10th Gen. CPU and integrated Intel UHD graphics at Rs. 46,999 and 8GB RAM + 512GB SSD with i5 10th Gen. CPU and Nvidia MX250 at Rs. 49,999.

We tested the top-end variant as our daily notebook for work and play. Here's how the Mi Notebook 14 Silver performed in our review.

Design- Most Premium Looking Sub-50K Notebook With A Sturdy Construction

Design- Most Premium Looking Sub-50K Notebook With A Sturdy Construction

You will have a tough time finding a notebook that looks as good as the Mi Notebook 14 Silver in the sub-50K price segment. The minimal design language with attention to details is something not easily available in this particular price-point. You will mostly find big and bulky laptops with plastic builds that lack design flair and mostly focus on functionality rather than looks. Xiaomi on other hand has focused on notebook's appearance, functionality and build quality.

Similar to the premium Mi Notebook 14 Horizon Edition, the Mi Notebook 14 Silver also has a magnesium and aluminum alloy construction. The sturdy metal body has been given an anodized sandblasted coating that adds to the premium looks. The metal body feels sturdy and long-lasting.

Mi Notebook 14 Silver And Other 14-inch Notebooks Design Difference
 

Mi Notebook 14 Silver And Other 14-inch Notebooks Design Difference

While the Mi Notebook 14 Silver is not as light and compact as the Mi Notebook 14 Horizon Edition, it surely has noticeable design differences when compared to sub-50k 14-inch notebooks from Dell, HP and Lenovo. The Mi Notebook 14 Silver weighs 1.5kg and has a thickness of 1.79 cm. Comparing it with the Dell Vostro 14-inch notebook gives some good insights.

The Dell's notebook is 300 g heavier and 0.31 cm thicker than the Mi Notebook 14 Silver. It has a plastic build and has much thicker bezels surrounding the screen than on the Mi Notebook. Importantly, unlike these plastic made sub-50K notebooks from PC giants, the Mi Notebook 14 is not marred by any flexing issues. The hinge feels sturdier and the overall build quality is far better than all sub-50K notebooks I have tested in the last year.

Mi Notebook 14 Silver Lacks Built-In Webcam

Mi Notebook 14 Silver Lacks Built-In Webcam

Similar to the Mi Notebook 14 Horizon Edition, the Mi Notebook 14 Silver also comes sans a built-in webcam. It can be very annoying if your daily work routine includes multiple virtual meetings, especially in today's situation where working from home has become a new normal. Thankfully, Xiaomi bundles the webcam in the packaging which is essentially a plug-and-play webcam that attaches above the screen to help you conduct video calls. Now I know PC manufacturing is a very technical job and requires sophisticated engineering methods but seeing the top bezel, I can say that it is wide enough to easily accommodate a 2MP camera sensor.

Additionally, the Mi Notebook 14 comes sans a biometric scanner. Xiaomi could have offered a fingerprint sensor on the notebook to make things secure and easier in daily routine.

Mi Notebook 14 Silver Connectivity Ports

Mi Notebook 14 Silver Connectivity Ports

For connectivity, the Mi Notebook 14 Silver comes equipped with 2 x Type-A USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports, 1 x USB 2.0 port, 1 x HDMI port, 1 x Combo Audio Jack and the charging port. Similar to the Mi Notebook 14 Horizon Edition, the Mi Notebook 14 Silver also skips on the card reader which is disappointing. If your work routine involves the SDD cards, you will have to purchase an accessory to use it with the Mi Notebook 14 Silver.

Vibrant 14-inch Full HD Anti-Glare Display

Vibrant 14-inch Full HD Anti-Glare Display

The Mi Notebook 14 Silver boasts a vibrant 14-inch Full HD (1920x1080) IPS LCD display. The panel gets very bright and produces crisp visuals. You will like the screen a lot if you mostly use your laptop to stream movies and series. The display has an anti-glare coating which means you will face less trouble in working and consuming multimedia content in a room filled with light. The full HD screen has the standard 178° viewing angles but the matte finish coating improves the visibility even from extreme angles.

The 14-inch panel is surrounded by thin bezels on the left and right side but the top and bottom bezels are very much noticeable, especially the broad chin at the bottom. Despite a thick chin, the Mi Notebook 14 offers a respectable 81.2 % screen-to-body ratio which helps the notebook keep a comparatively smaller footprint than the competition. Overall, the 16:9 aspect ratio panel on the Mi Notebook 14 is easily one of the best screens I have seen on a laptop priced under Rs. 50,000.

Performance- Sails Smoothly For All Day-To-Day Tasks

Performance- Sails Smoothly For All Day-To-Day Tasks

The Mi Notebook 14 Silver runs on the Intel's 10th gen i5-10210U CPU and has 8GB DDR4 RAM RAM + 256GB/512GB SSD. The SSD used here is SATA 3 type and not the fast PCI Gen 3x4 NVME that's offered on the Mi Notebook 14 Horizon Edition but it gets the job done. The quad-core CPU's base clock speed is 1.6 GHz and has a boost clock speed of up to 4.2GHz. For graphics, the top-end variant relies on the entry-level NVIDIA MX250 GPU and you can choose to buy the Mi Notebook 14 with Intel UHD Graphics 620 at lower price-point. A good thing, all these variants will still offer you the 10th gen i5-10210U CPU and 8GB DDR4 RAM.

We tested the top-end variant that ships with 512GB SSD and NVIDIA MX250 GPU. The laptop handled our daily work routine with no performance issues. There were no signs of lags or slowdown with more than 15 tabs open in Edge, simultaneous Zoom calls, photo-editing in Pixlr, and editing multiple documents on MS Word. The Mi Notebook 14 can also seamlessly run source code editors like the JRE 13 and Netbeans. Importantly, the Mi Notebook 14 is an excellent notebook for binge-watching. The brilliant display and good audio performance, thanks to 2x2W Stereo Speakers with DTS Audio processing app support make the movie watching fun and enjoyable. You can also use your good old standard audio accessories as the Mi Notebook 14 has a 3.5mm headphone jack.

Can You Edit Videos On Mi Notebook 14 Silver?

Can You Edit Videos On Mi Notebook 14 Silver?

I also tried my hand on video editing on the Mi Notebook 14 as the variant sent to us has the entry-level NVIDIA MX250 GPU, one step down from the NVIDIA MX350 that powers the Mi Notebook 14 Horizon Edition. To my surprise, the Mi Notebook performed quite well for its price. A project rendered in Open CL GPU Acceleration mode in Premiere Pro with multiple short lengths 1080p 60fps videos (21474 kbps bit rate for video & 256 kbps for audio) took no more than 30 minutes to complete a 6:15 minute output.

There were some performance hiccups like sloppy timeline scrubbing, longer than usual time in stabilizing nested footages and applying some heavy video transition effects. Editing 4K videos on this machine is not something we would recommend. Heavy tasks like these take a toll on the Mi Notebook 14 and the performance dip is clearly visible via heat signatures and the sound produced by the fan unit.

We weren't surprised as the performance drop with such stress testing is expected on a notebook with the respective hardware. Despite some of these issues, you can use the Mi Notebook 14 as a video-editing machine for casual jobs but nothing more than that. Overall, we are quite impressed with the day-to-day performance of the Mi Notebook 14. If your usage involves research, writing thousands of words on MS Word, creating PPTs for college/office presentations, video playback and casual photo/video editing, the Mi Notebook 14 will prove to be a good Windows 10 machine.

Benchmark Tests And Gaming Performance

Benchmark Tests And Gaming Performance

We also ran some benchmark tests to gauge the CPU/GPU performance and we are surprised to see the results. The Mi Notebook 14 (top-end variant) performed better in benchmark tests than the Mi Notebook Horizon Edition which uses the slightly better NVIDIA MX350 GPU and the i7 chip. The Mi Notebook 14 scored 12,625 in 3D Mark's Night Raid test and 1,250 in Time Spy. The Mi Notebook 14 Horizon Edition had scored 12,549 and 1,156 in the same tests. The notebook scored an overall 3,039 in the PC Mark 10 test with 6,107 in Essentials, 4,937 in Productivity and 2,528 in the Digital Content Creation. The Mi Notebook 14 Horizon Edition scored better in the same test.

The Mi Notebook 14 is only good for casual gaming and you shouldn't consider buying it if you are an avid gamer. That's pretty understood by the configuration that offers an entry-level NVIDIA MX250 GPU. While it's any day better than the integrated Intel GPU, the 2GB graphic memory doesn't give you much headroom to dive in for some series gameplay. I played some sessions of Counter-Strike Global Offensive at max settings with Texture Detail, Shadow Quality and Effect quality set to high. The gameplay was free of frame drops but the internals got heat up in a jiffy and the loud fan noise clearly showed that gaming isn't a good idea on this machine. You must play games at low settings for an optimal gaming experience on the Mi Notebook 14.

Trackpad And Typing Experience

Trackpad And Typing Experience

Similar to the Mi Notebook 14 Horizon Edition, the Mi Notebook 14 Silver also comes fitted with a good keypad and an average trackpad. The chiclet keypad with Scissor Mechanism has soft keys with a decent 1.3mm key travel. Typing on the Mi Notebook 14 isn't tiresome as the layout is good and soft keys with good travel make it quite comfortable for long-typing sessions provided that you are working with room lights switched on during the night as the backlighting isn't available.

As for the trackpad, the gestures work fine but the click response feels sluggish. The multi-touch trackpad can give you a tough time working on the notebook, especially if you are editing videos and doing other tasks that involve a lot of trackpad use. I have been using the Mi Notebook with a Xiaomi mouse and it's a saviour.

Battery Performance

Battery Performance

The Mi Notebook 14 lasts longer than most of the sub-50k notebooks I have tested in the last year. The 46Wh battery cell can easily last for 6 to 7 hours on moderate to heavy usage. With some adjustments in battery and performance settings, you can make the Mi Notebook 14 last for a good 8 hours on one full charge. Xiaomi ships the Mi Notebook with a 65 Watt charger which can refuel the battery cell from flat to 100% in about 65 minutes.

Verdict

Verdict

The Mi Notebook 14 (8GB+512GB+NVIDIA MX250) is a wonderful deal in the sub-50k price segment despite some of its shortcomings. You should definitely consider it if you are willing to spend somewhere in between Rs. 45,000 to Rs. 50,000 on a notebook for daily use. It offers an excellent 14-inch anti-glare 1080p screen for binge-watching, a premium metal design which is sturdy and visually better than the competition, latest gen. Intel i5 chip with 512GB SSD.

You cannot upgrade the RAM which is a letdown if you plan to upgrade the memory in some time; however, the 8GB RAM seemed to be offering a smooth day-to-day performance on this Windows 10 machine. Besides, you get a solid battery life and a bundled webcam in the box because you will need it for video calling as there's no built-in camera on this notebook.

If you are still skeptic about buying a Xiaomi notebook, you can consider the Asus Vivo series notebooks and the Lenovo Ideapad S145 laptop if you don't mind a bigger 15.6-inch display. It's an excellent big-screen laptop for an all-round performance. And if you are willing to spend somewhere around Rs. 60,000, do check out our review of the Mi Notebook Horizon Edition for its sleek and compact form-factor, vibrant display and good overall performance.

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