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Mi Notebook 14 Horizon Edition Review: Worth The Hype?
Xiaomi is very well-known for turning things upside down in new markets. The brand has a very good track record of achieving success in almost everything it ventures into, be it smartphones, smart TVs, budget fitness trackers, power banks, smart lights and a multitude of IoT products that most of its users in India are unaware of. Needless to say, Xiaomi is the only Chinese brand that has successfully managed to create an ecosystem of exciting and value for money products in a competitive market like India in five years.
- Premium Aesthetics
- Robust Construction
- Lightweight And Extremely Portable
- Superb Display
- Good Performance
- Decent Battery Life
- Heating Issues
- RAM Is Not Upgradable
- No Built-in Webcam
- Keyboard Is Not Spill-Resistant
- Keypad Is Non-Backlit
- Inconsistent Trackpad
- No SD Card Reader
The latest and undoubtedly the company's biggest bet for the Indian market are the 'Mi Notebooks'. The Mi Notebooks are designed to replicate the same success that the brand has managed to achieve in other categories. However, the PC market does not operate like any other product categories (except smart TVs) that Xiaomi has managed to crown. Reason being the long replace cycle of products. You do not change your notebook in a year or so unless you are a big-time technology enthusiast or money is simply peanuts for you.
That said, we spent a month using the Mi Notebook Horizon Edition as our daily driver for work and play to find out if Xiaomi has something good in store for PC users in India. I used the flagship - Mi Notebook 14 Horizon Edition notebook for review which offers 512GB SSD and is powered by the 10th Gen Intel i7 processor- Comet Lake Core i7-10510U. It is priced at Rs. 59,999 in the Indian market.
When nothing seems to surprise in the year 2020, the Mi Notebook might just do it. Read the following review to find out how good or bad the flagship Mi Notebook is as a daily driver.
Mi Notebook 14 Horizon Edition Design- Premium Aesthetics And Portable Form-Factor
Xiaomi has kicked off the new product category in India with thin and light notebooks. Needless to say, the flagship Mi Notebook 14 Horizon Edition is the most premium looking notebook in the bunch. Unlike the plastic-build notebooks from top PC makers that are hard to distinguish, the Mi Notebook 14 Horizon Edition makes an impression.
The magnesium and aluminum alloy construction with good attention to details creates a clean and elegant design. While some say that the minimal design looks dull or very generic, I found it visually pleasing. The Mi Notebook 14 Horizon Edition has been launched in just one color variant- Mercury Grey. A dark grey or probably a matte black variant will certainly look impressive.
As you must have noticed by now, the Apple MacBooks are clearly behind the design inspiration but the Mi Notebook 14 Horizon Edition still manages to feel distinctive. The slim notebook is extremely portable, thanks to the light chassis and correct weight distribution. The compact notebook measures 17.15mm in thickness and weighs 1.35 kgs and can be easily carried around in a small backpack. I am simultaneously using a Dell 14-inch notebook and the difference in weight and size is surprising. That said, the Mi Notebook 14 Horizon Edition comes across as a great notebook for anyone looking for a portable on-the-go Windows machine.
Durable Construction But Not Scratch Resistant
The Mi Notebook 14 feels quite durable with an all-metal construction. The notebook has a centrally aligned hinge which ensures high durability for the lid. It feels sturdy and can be raised with one finger motion.
I have been using the notebook for long-typing sessions and haven't noticed any flexing issues with the keypad and with the overall construction. The Mi Notebook 14's design seems long-lasting and assuring.
However, the notebook can easily gather scratches even though the alloy has been given anodized sandblasted coating. The smooth textured coating isn't the most effective protective layer to protect the notebook from scratches. Overall, If portability and premium design is your priority, the Mi Notebook 14 qualifies is our top recommendation in the sub-60K price segment.
Mi Notebook 14 Horizon Edition Display- Non-Glossy Vibrant Full HD Panel
The Mi Notebook 14 Horizon Edition boasts a 14-inch anti-glare Full HD IPS display. The 16:9 aspect ratio panel has a conventional 60Hz refresh rate. It is an excellent panel for indoor use and can also be used outdoors but not under direct sunlight.
The peak brightness intensity seemed slightly on a lower side while using the notebook in a bright environment but the anti-glare coating comes handy in cutting reflections to a great extent. I have always preferred non-glossy panels and the Mi Notebook 14 gets it just right.
Watching movies and series on streaming apps is fun. The viewing experience is immersive, thanks to narrow bezels surrounding the screen. The colors look vibrant and the matte finish panel ensures expansive (178-degrees) viewing angles.
The Mi Notebook 14 Horizon Edition's screen can stream HDR videos in supported applications. You must also set the screen for ‘Optimize for Image Quality' in battery settings for a good overall viewing experience.
Mi Notebook 14 Horizon Edition Specifications
We are reviewing the top-end variant of the 14-inch notebook. Priced at Rs. 59,999, it comes equipped with promising hardware but is not without its shortcomings. The notebook is powered by the 10th Gen Intel Core i7-10510U CPU (Comet Lake) which has a clock speed of 1.8GHz with a boost speed of up to 4.9GHz. The flagship variant maxes at 8GB of soldered, non-upgradeable RAM. Xiaomi hasn't introduced the 16GB variant which is a letdown because you cannot upgrade the RAM on these premium notebooks.
The flagship variant has a fast PCI Gen 3x4 NVME 512GB SSD which is replaceable. Importantly, the Mi Notebook 14 Horizon Edition and is one of the first Windows-powered notebooks in India which relies on NVIDIA MX350 GPU. The Mi Notebook 14 Horizon comes pre-installed with Windows 10 Home edition and you get 30-day free trial for Microsoft Office 365 subscription.
Mi Notebook 14 Horizon Performance
The aforementioned hardware makes the Mi Notebook 14 Horizon Edition a fairly powerful machine for everyday tasks. I did not face any performance issues with regular jobs. The notebook boots up in less than 10 seconds and feels extremely responsive, thanks to the 512GB ast NVMe SSD.I was able to attend zoom calls, stream YouTube videos at 1080p resolution with several active tabs in Chrome, take screenshots and edit them in online Pixlr, and simultaneously work on multiple MS Word documents with no major performance slowdown.
The 8GB RAM only felt restricted when I simultaneously edited videos on the notebook. It's disappointing to see that even the top-most variant of the Mi Notebook 14 Horizon Edition does not get a 16GB RAM variant. The 8GB soldered RAM is going to disappoint power users.
Mi Notebook 14 Horion Edition Is Not A Gaming Machine
You shouldn't consider this notebook if you are an avid gamer even though the Mi Notebook 14 Horizon Edition has a dedicated NVIDIA MX350 GPU. The entry-level GPU only runs games at medium quality graphics. You can tweak games settings for an enjoyable gaming experience but don't expect much from this slim notebook. The notebook scored 12,549 points in 3D Mark Night Raid and 1,156 in Time Spy. The PC Mark 10 gave us 6,788 in essential, 5,564 in productivity and 2,439 in digital content creation. The Mi Notebook 14 Horizon touched an overall score of 835 points in Cinebench R20 and 371 points in CPU (single core).
Heating And Thermal Throttling Issues
The Mi Notebook 14 lacks an effective thermal mechanism, which is expected from the particular form-factor on which the Mi Notebook 14 Horizon Edition is built upon. The notebook's right side and bottom get hot when you play games or render videos in heavy editing software. The hot air gets blown out with a fairly audible fan spinning and the notebook also starts to stutter.
The Mi Notebook 14 Horizon Edition is a good everyday work-oriented machine but it's just not meant for intensive PC-related tasks and gaming. I guess it' pretty understandable as the series does not target gamers at all. Xiaomi did inform us in the product briefing before launch that the dedicated gaming notebooks are something the company plans to launch in future.
Mi Notebook 14 Horizon Editing As A Video Editing Machine
I tried editing videos on the Mi Notebook 14 Horizon Edition. Contrary to the brands' claims of editing and rendering 4K videos with ease, I found it to be struggling even with 1080P 60fps videos with not so lengthy timeline and just two to three layers on the Adobe Premiere Pro timeline. The notebook freezes for the noticeable duration if you shift from editing panel to graphics or effects panel. Some transitions took a toll on the performance.
Moreover, the timeline scrubbing is laggy even with 1080p 60fps videos. We faced these issued with Mp4 footage shot on the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra in 1080 60fps with 21474 kbps bit rate for video and 256 kbps for audio. The project was rendered in Open CL GPU Acceleration mode. A 5-minute clip took around 20 minutes to render. Overall, if you mostly edit videos on Filmora, the Mi Notebook 14 Horizon Edition will not let you down; however, with heavy editing suites, the notebook only delivers workable performance. This is just not the right machine for serious content creators.
Mi Notebook 14 Horizon Edition Connectivity Ports And Audio
The Mi Notebook 14 Horizon Edition has a Type C port, which is exclusive to the top model. Surprisingly, it doesn't offer support for charging. There are 2x high-speed Gen 1 USB 3.1 ports, one USB 2.0 port, a 3.5mm audio jack and an HDMI 1.4b video output port. There's no SD card reader on the Mi Notebook 14 Horizon Edition and no micros card slot which is a big letdown. The notebook comes packed with 2W stereo speakers which are only good for occasional audio/video or gaming purpose.
Mi Notebook 14 Horizon Edition Keyboard And Trackpad
A productivity-oriented notebook without a backlit keyboard in 2020 is a big letdown. If you have been accustomed to working on keyboards with backlighting, the Mi Notebook 14 Horizon Edition is just not meant for you. It has a chiclet keypad with 1.3mm travel distance. The keys use the conventional scissor mechanism and feel mushy. You will find it hard to get used to the Mi Notebook 14's keypad if you prefer firm typing experience.
I liked the keypad and found it extremely comfortable for long typing sessions. The keypad is laid out very well and the keys' travel distance is just about right for my kind of usage. Sadly, the keypad is not spill-resistant which means you have to be extremely careful with your surroundings while working on the notebook. Besides, the quality of plastic used in constructing the keypad doesn't seem to be in sync with the overall build quality of the notebook.
Coming on to the trackpad, the Mi Notebook 14 Horizon Edition features a multi-touch trackpad (11cm x 5.7mm) with no separate left-right buttons. It is fairly responsive for scrolling up/down and left/right on documents and web pages. All gestures seem to work fine but the click response very uninspiring. The single layer of plastic just feels floppy and not an ideal trackpad for multitaskers.
Mi Notebook 14 Horizon Edition Battery Life
The notebook is powered by a 46Wh battery and can easily last 5 to 6 hours on moderate usage. The battery level drops significantly if you are video editing or streaming video content on a stretch. I noted a 60% drop in 2 hours while editing videos in the Premiere Pro. The notebook was set to run on ‘Better Performance' mode in battery settings. The similar usage with power-optimized mode will save you 12-15% battery power. The 65 Watt charger is a good addition. It can refuel the battery cell from 0% to 100% in about 60 minutes. The fast-charging speed saves a lot of time if you are always on the move.
Should You Buy The Mi Notebook 14 Horizon Edition?
The Mi Notebook 14 Horizon Edition is not a perfect notebook. It is also not a productivity powerhouse as the brand advertises it. It is a portability-oriented compact notebook with a vibrant full HD display, decent battery life and a stylish form-factor. It can easily get you through day-to-day jobs without breaking a sweat but if you are a serious content creator, you should consider performance-oriented machines from PC giants like Dell, Asus, Lenovo and Apple.
The Mi Notebook 14 Horizon Edition mostly serves well for consumers looking for a lightweight and stylish notebook for multimedia consumption, MS Office jobs, researching, casual gaming and video editing.
The premium and compact design is the highlight of the Mi Notebook 14 Horizon Edition. It's a great Windows machine for students, avid travelers and even office goers who want a fairly capable Windows notebook for daily use. The soldered RAM, no 16GB RAM variant and lack of backlit keyboard and a built-in webcam are some serious letdowns that stop us from recommending it to content creators.