If there’s one thing Xiaomi is good at, it’s shaking things up in whatever segment it enters. They did this with smartphones in different budget and performance ranges and now they are finally entering the laptop space. The Mi NoteBook 14 falls on the cutting edge of mainstream and thing-and-light laptop categories, offering key features from both segments in one laptop. After a few days of using the laptop as my primary machine, here’s our Xiaomi Mi NoteBook 14 Horizon Edition review.
Xiaomi Mi NoteBook 14 Horizon Edition Performance
With the latest from Intel in the form of their Comet Lake Core i7-10710U paired with 8GB of DDDR4 memory (soldered, non-upgradable), a fast 512GB NVMe drive and the Nvidia GeForce MX 350, the Mi NoteBook 14 gets Horizon Edition really does the hardware very well. Keep in mind that this is the top variant and costs Rs 59,999.
Benchmarking the machine reveals impressive performance. We’ll start with PCMark 10 and its office-oriented benchmark tools, followed by drive speed measurement and of course the performance of the new Nvidia GeForce MX350. The charts for some of our benchmarks are shown below.
What was interesting was to see the performance difference between the Mi NoteBook 14 Horizon Edition and the Lenovo ThinkBook 14. The review unit of the latter we benchmarked runs on an Intel Core i7-10510U, a 4-core, 8 thread chip. The Intel Core i7-10710U is a 6-core, 12-wire component. While the 10510U has a higher base clock of 1.8GHz compared to the 1.1GHz of the 10710U, the latter comes with more cache. Looking at the PCMark 8 Work benchmark numbers, the Mi NoteBook 14 Horizon Edition comes out significantly ahead of its Lenovo counterpart. However, the same kind of workload runs through PCMark 10, a more up-to-date statistic puts the Mi NoteBook 14 Horizon Edition slightly behind the Lenovo. Interestingly, despite the dedicated GPU, most of 3DMark’s benchmarks were unavailable for use “due to hardware limitations”. We managed to achieve scores for FireStrike and SkyDiver, with the Mi NoteBook 14 Horizon Edition scoring almost twice as high as the ThinkBook 14. However, on the WinRAR benchmark, the ThinkBook 14 comes a hair-rare, in able to process 7753KB/s of data against the 7284KB/s of the Mi NoteBook 14.
The performance of the benchmark is supported by the daily performance of the Mi NoteBook 14 Horizon Edition. I used the laptop as my daily driver for a week and found that despite always having nearly 20 tabs open in Firefox, several Word files and a few of our score sheets open in Excel, the machine wouldn’t break a sweat. to work. The signs of struggle only became apparent when I launched Adobe Lightroom to perform an edit on 50 or so RAW files. Despite the discrete graphics, the machine stuttered between every movement of the adjustment slide. Switching to photoshop, again editing RAW files one by one was less than smooth in ACR. With the image loaded in Photoshop, adjusting curves occasionally stuttered, just like painting in masks and working with adjustment layers. The Mi NoteBook 14 Horizon Edition is great for everyday use, but it certainly falls short as an option for creators.
Xiaomi Mi NoteBook 14 Horizon Edition Thermal
The Mi NoteBook 14 Horizon Edition is cooled with a rather simple design. A single fan cools the single copper pipe that runs through the Intel Core i7-10710U and the Nvidia GerForce MX 350 chip. In normal use, the keyboard area of the laptop does not get hotter than 34 degrees, while the frame just above the function keys can get noticeably hot around 44 degrees. The heat is mostly exhausted on the left side, but even there we haven’t seen the temperatures get uncomfortable. The large notches in the bottom panel allow the Mi NoteBook 14 Horizon Edition to draw in enough air to keep the base even relatively cool, with a temperature of 42 degrees at its hottest point.
In normal use, however, it is slightly different. If you were to use this laptop for simple office and tasks like I do, the laptop stays reasonably cool on both the top and bottom. Only the 1.5-inch back of the base registers higher temperatures due to the CPU present, but if you were using this laptop on your lap, you could position it so that you don’t feel the heat.
Xiaomi Mi NoteBook 14 Horizon Edition screen
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 its slim bezels. It is definitely a good looking panel with great viewing angles and good color reproduction. The panel is also very bright, reaching the 430 lux mark on our lux meter. In real life, we were able to use the Mi NoteBook 14 Horizon Edition without straining our eyes, even outdoors. The matte coating on the screen certainly works well at suppressing reflections, but don’t expect it to be effective against bright, pointed light sources like the sun, or even a high-wattage bulb. The display hinge is also very well made. The display panel has no play and stays exactly in the position where you leave it.
Xiaomi Mi NoteBook 14 Horizon Edition battery
The Mi NoteBook 14 Horizon Edition has a battery of 48 watt hours and manages to impress us very much. On the PCMark 10 battery benchmark, the machine lasted 7 hours and 10 minutes, a very impressive number in itself. I followed up the benchmark tests by using the machine for a few days without being plugged in, and I got about 6 hours of use each time. My usage included watching Netflix for 30-45 minutes along with a lot of writing and researching, which is a normal part of the job. As I mentioned earlier, there were over 20 tabs open in Firefox, jumping between different MS Office tools. The battery life is definitely a very scoring aspect of the Mi NoteBook 14 Horizon Edition.
Xiaomi Mi NoteBook 14 Horizon Edition keyboard, trackpad and ports
All is not peaches and gravy with the Mi NoteBook 14 Horizon Edition, and it’s starting to show with the keyboard and trackpad. The keyboard offers 1.3mm of travel and uses scissor switches for a supposedly good typing experience. In the experience, we get a keyboard that is fairly mushy, with some keys offering inconsistent control points. The keys are not firm at all and the typing does not give much confidence. I found myself double checking the letters in my document to make sure the keystroke was registered. You could live with it, but what we can’t accept is the lack of backlighting on the keyboard. No matter how you look at it, omitting backlighting is definitely a big angle to cut and could be a deal breaker for many.
Perhaps the worst culprit is the trackpad, which is a single piece of plastic with no separate buttons. The left and right clicks also have way too much slack and by the time the click actually registers it feels like the trackpad is bending more than it should. While everything on the Mi NoteBook 14 Horizon Edition feels solid, the trackpad feels like it would be the first thing to fail.
Finally, we have gates. There are two USB 3.0 ports on the right side, accompanied by a Type-C port with USB 3.1 gen 1 speeds. There is also a charging port and a full size HDMI port. While the port selection is fairly standard for this type of machine, the placement is a bit problematic. Plug any device into these ports and you will find that if you use an external mouse it will bump into those cables A LOT. Fortunately, there’s also a free USB 3.0 port on the left, right next to the unified headphone/microphone port.
Xiaomi Mi NoteBook 14 Horizon Edition Bottomline
The Mi NoteBook 14 Horizon Edition is a surprisingly good laptop. The performance is adequate, but perhaps its best feature is the solid build quality all around. What doesn’t work is the lack of keyboard backlighting and the less-than-satisfactory typing experience, coupled with a trackpad with too much slack. Redeeming the cuts is the impressive battery life and when you take into account the good quality of the screen and the fact that this machine weighs just 1.35 kilograms, we actually have a viable option for a thin and light machine in this price range. The Mi NoteBook 14 Horizon Edition is ideally suited to anyone looking for a laptop to meet their everyday needs for entertainment, typing, web research and maybe, just maybe, even very light photo editing. It is not intended for those looking for a budget-friendly editing or gaming machine. For that, you’re still better off with a real budget gaming laptop like the Asus TUF Gaming A15 (Rating) or the Acer Predator Triton 300 (Rating†