Mi NoteBook 14 Horizon Edition Review: Mainstream Shaking
If there’s one good thing about Xiaomi, it’s that it’s hard to shake things up, no matter which category it enters. They’ve made it across smartphones across different budgets and performance ranges and now, they’re finally entering the laptop space. The Mi NoteBook 14 falls at the junction of the mainstream and thing-and-light laptop sections, offering the key features of both parts on one laptop. After using the laptop as my primary machine for a few days, here is our Xiaomi Mi NoteBook 14 Horizon Edition review.
Xiaomi Mi NoteBook 14 Horizon Edition Performance
The latest packaged Mi NoteBook 14 Horizon version is actually available from Intel in the form of their Comet Lake Core i7-10710U 8GB DDDR4 memory (soldered, non-upgradeable), a fast 512GB NVMe drive and Nvidia GeForce MX 350. The hardware is very accurate. Note that it is a top-end variant and it is priced at Rs 59,999.
The benchmarking of the machine reveals impressive performance. We start with PCMark 10 and its Office-centric benchmark tool, then measure disk speed and, of course, the performance of the new Nvidia GeForce MX350. Some of our benchmark charts are shown below.
What’s interesting is the difference in performance between the Mi NoteBook 14 Horizon Edition and the Lenovo ThinkBook 14. The next review unit we’ve benchmarked runs on an Intel Core i7-10510U, a 4-core, 8-thread chip. The Intel Core i7-10710U is a 6-core, 12-thread component. While the 10510U has a higher base clock speed of 1.8GHz than the 1.7GHz of the 10710U, the latter comes with more cache. Looking at the PCMark 8 work benchmark numbers, the Mi NoteBook 14 Horizon version is significantly ahead of the Lenovo counterpart. However, with PCMark 10 running a similar task, another up-to-date metric, the Mi NoteBook 14 Horizon Edition, lags behind Lenovo. Interestingly, despite having a dedicated GPU, most of 3DMark’s benchmarks were not available for use “due to hardware limitations”. We were able to get scores for FireStrike and SkyDiver, the Mi NoteBook 14 scored almost twice as much as the Horizon Edition Thinkbook 14. However, on the WinRAR benchmark, the ThinkBook 14 has come a long way. Mi NoteBook 14 processes 7753KB / s data as against 7284KB / s.
Benchmark performance is supported by the daily performance of the Mi NoteBook 14 Horizon Edition. I’ve been using my laptop for a week as my daily driver and noticed that despite having about 20 tabs open in Firefox, many word files and a few of our scoring sheets open in Excel, the machine doesn’t sweat. Signs of conflict can be seen when I leave Adobe Lightroom to run an edit on 50-odd RAW files. Despite the isolated graphics, the machine stutters in every movement of the compatibility slider. Switching over to Photoshop, once again editing RAW files was less than fluid in ACR. As well as loading images in Photoshop, the curve-adjusting mask has seen occasional stuttering, like working with painting and adjustment layers. The Mi NoteBook 14 Horizon version is great for everyday use, but definitely falls short as an option for manufacturers.
Xiaomi Mi NoteBook 14 Horizon Edition Thermals
The Mi NoteBook 14 Horizon Edition has been cooled using a simple design. A single fan cools the single copper pipe that surpasses the Intel Core i7-10710U and Nvidia GerForce MX 350 chips. In normal use, the laptop’s keyboard area does not heat up to more than 34 degrees, while the frame just above the function keys can heat up significantly to about 44 degrees. The heat is mostly exhausted on the left side but even there, we did not see the temperature becoming uncomfortable. The large cuts on the bottom panel allow the Mi NoteBook 14 Horizon Edition to keep the base relatively cool by drawing in enough air, with the temperature remaining at its warmest point at 42-degrees.
During normal use, however, things are a bit different. If you use this laptop for general office and work like me, the laptop can be fairly cool on both the top and bottom. It’s only a 1.5-inch back of the base that registers high temperatures due to having a CPU, but if you use this laptop in your lap, you can place it in such a way that you don’t feel the heat. .
Xiaomi Mi NoteBook 14 Horizon Edition display
The Mi NoteBook 14 Horizon Edition has a 14-inch full HD IPS display. What makes the Mi NoteBook 14 a “Horizon Edition” machine is the thin bezel. This is definitely a handsome panel with great viewing angles and good color reproduction. The panel is also very bright, hitting the 430-Lux mark on our Lux meter. In real life, we’ve been able to use the Mi NoteBook 14 Horizon Edition without even putting pressure on our eyes. The matte coating on the display certainly works well in suppressing the reflection, but don’t expect it to be effective against bright, light point sources such as the sun, even a high-watt bulb. The display hinge is also very well crafted. The display panel has no game and stays exactly where you left it.
Xiaomi Mi NoteBook 14 Horizon Edition Battery
The Mi NoteBook 14 Horizon Edition packs a 48-watt battery and fascinates us. At the PCMark 10 battery benchmark, the machine lasted 7 hours and 10 minutes, which in itself is a very impressive number. I followed the benchmark tests using the machine without plugging in for a few days and each time I used about 6 hours. My use involves 30-45 minutes watching Netflix, lots of writing and research, a normal part of the job. As I mentioned earlier, Firefox had 20+ tabs open and jumped into various MS Office tools. Battery life is definitely a high scoring aspect of the Mi NoteBook 14 Horizon version.
Xiaomi Mi NoteBook 14 Horizon Edition Keyboard, trackpad and port
With the Mi NoteBook 14 Horizon Edition not everything is peach and gravy and it starts to show up with the keyboard and trackpad. The keyboard offers 1.3mm travel and uses a scissor switch for a supposedly good typing experience. In experience, we get a keyboard that is fairly smooth, offering some key inconsistent actuation points. The keys are not strong at all and typing in it does not inspire much confidence. I’ve seen myself double-check the characters in my document to make sure keystrokes are registered. You can still live with all of this, but what we can’t accept is the lack of backlighting on the keyboard. No matter how you look at it, omitting backlighting can certainly be a huge angle and a contract breaker for many.
Probably the worst culprit is the trackpad, which is a single piece of plastic without separate buttons. Left and right clicks have a lot more play, and when the click actually registers, the trackpad seems to be turning more than that. While everything in the Mi NoteBook 14 Horizon Edition seems tough, the trackpad seems to be the first thing that will fail.
After all, we have ports. On the right are two USB 3.0 ports with a Type-C port that provides USB 3.1 Gen1 speed. There’s also a charging port and a full-size HDMI port. Although port selection is fairly standard for machines of this grade, placement is a bit problematic. Plug any device into these ports and you will see that if you use an external mouse it will crash a lot more with those wires. Fortunately, there is also an additional USB 3.0 port on the left side, right next to the Unified Headphone / Microphone port.
Xiaomi Mi NoteBook 14 Horizon Edition Bottomline
The Mi NoteBook 14 Horizon Edition is an amazingly good laptop. Its performance is adequate, but perhaps the best feature is the tough build quality all around. What doesn’t work is the lack of backlighting on the keyboard and less than a satisfying typing experience, combined with a trackpad that plays too much. Corner cut redemption has impressive battery life and when you consider the good quality of the display and the weight of this machine is only 1.35 kg, we have an effective alternative to a thin and light machine in this price bracket. The Mi NoteBook 14 Horizon Edition is ideally suited for those looking for a laptop to meet their daily needs of entertainment, typing, research on the web and maybe even very light photo editing. This is not for those looking for a budget-friendly editing or gaming machine. For them, it’s best to go with a real budget gaming laptop like Asus TUF Gaming A15 (Review) or Acer Predator Triton 300 (Review).