Mi Notebook 14 Horizon Edition Review

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Xiaomi has finally brought its premium range of laptops in India. In a market where most laptops with entry-level hardware are sold for unreasonably higher prices, Xiaomi is looking forward to balancing the math with its Mi Notebook 14 Horizon Edition.

In recent years, Xiaomi has not only been in the best-seller charts of the Indian smartphone market but also smart TVs and fitness wearables. The Indian laptop market has stayed untouched for so many years now that it feels like forever. With the Mi Notebook 14 lineup, Xiaomi is trying to shake up things real hard in the mid-range segment of laptops in India.

Similar to what Xiaomi does with most of its budget-oriented products, the Mi Notebook 14 Horizon packs the latest hardware, which is also followed by a simple and familiar design. The company does a great job of minimizing the cost-cutting aspects of their devices that don’t significantly affect the end-user.

There are two variants of the Mi Notebook 14 Horizon Edition. The top-of-the-line variant packs Intel’s latest 10th-gen Core i7 (Comet Lake) processor, while the regular variant has Core i5 inside. The i7 variant is priced at ₹59,999, and the i5 variant costs ₹5000 less than the high-end model.

Whether Xiaomi’s first high-end laptop in India fares well in this premium laptop segment or not, you can learn more about it in this review of the Mi Notebook 14 Horizon Edition.

Mi Notebook 14 Horizon Edition: Unboxing

The Mi Notebook 14 Horizon Edition ships with a 65W charging brick, as well as a Mi Webcam HD (more on that later). Other than that, there’s nothing in the box but a user manual and a few documentations.

Mi Notebook 14 Horizon Edition: Design

  • Thickness:15mm
  • Weight:35kg
  • Construction: Metal

In terms of design, the Mi Notebook 14 boasts a premium look, with its metallic body, minimal branding, and a bezel-less display. Every side of the laptop is wrapped with a magnesium-aluminum alloy, which also dictates to its lightweight nature at 1.35 kilograms. The body has a sandblasted finish, giving it a nice and smooth texture. Despite its metallic finish, the thin lid doesn’t feel as sturdy, and it does flex a lot even when a little bit of force is applied. The keyboard deck is an exception, with no flex at all. Speaking of the lid, you can lift it up using a finger, which is something we are used to seeing only on very high-end laptops with superior design and build quality. The narrow groove on the front side of the laptop lets you open the lid easily.

We do appreciate the minimal branding on the Mi Notebook 14 Horizon Edition, with the only logo found on the bottom bezel of the screen. It’s something we would like to see more from traditional laptop manufacturers.

Overall, the body feels quite sturdy and rigid, and the rounded corners are a nice touch to the design. The laptop’s ports are laid out on the sides, next to the air vents.

Mi Notebook 14 Horizon Edition: Trackpad & Keyboard

The trackpad found on the Mi Notebook 14 is noticeably bad. Although it is a pretty big trackpad with a smooth texture, the click mechanism feels flimsy at its best, and the clicks are unsatisfying. The trackpad clicks don’t feel the same across the surface, which is a bit of a worrying factor in terms of the trackpad’s durability.

Even with its deficiencies, the trackpad feels responsive, and the native Windows gestures work as intended. The tracking and palm rejection is also quite accurate, although it doesn’t use Windows Precision drivers.

The full-sized keyboard with a scissor mechanism uses a semi-standard layout. The keys are moderately spaced, and the size of the keys is also adequate. The only problem is the up and down arrow key, as Xiaomi has opted to make them half-sized to make up for space.

Typing experience on the Mi Notebook 14 Horizon Edition is above average. The keys offer satisfying tactile feedback and sufficient key travel at 1.3mm. As previously mentioned, the keyboard deck doesn’t flex, which is excellent.

One essential feature missing from the Mi Notebook 14 Horizon Edition is the keyboard backlighting. Without any backlight, it is difficult to use the keyboard in the dark. Most other thin and light laptops in this price range at least provide a backlit keyboard.

Mi Notebook 14 Horizon Edition: Display Quality

  • 14’’ Full-HD (1920 x 1080) 16:9 panel
  • 178° wide-viewing angle
  • 91% screen-to-body ratio
  • Anti-glare finish

The Mi Notebook 14 Horizon Edition boasts a 14-inch FHD panel. While it is the current standards for a thin and light laptop, the top and side bezels around the display are only 3.3mm thick. The bottom bezel is a bit thicker than the top and side bezels, but 91% screen-to-body ratio is still impressive nonetheless.

One major issue of having such slim bezels is the absence of an integrated webcam. To resolve this issue, Xiaomi has opted to include an external webcam in the box, which is powered by USB. The Mi Webcam HD offers 720p video quality, and it is straightforward to set up with the Mi Notebook 14 Horizon Edition laptop. Still, carrying an external webcam with your laptop kind of defeats the purpose of a portable device.

The display panel itself produces high contrast and sharpness levels. Color accuracy is a hit and miss, which might be a dealbreaker for professional content creators. Pictures look oversaturated and dark, which you can tweak by adjusting the gamma levels from Windows settings.

Since it is an IPS panel, the screen has excellent viewing angles, with zero noticeable color shifts. The anti-glare finish applied on the screen eliminates unnecessary reflections, but 250nits of max brightness isn’t the best for outdoor usage.

Mi Notebook 14 Horizon Edition: Audio Quality

Mi Notebook 14 HE has two 2W bottom-firing speakers on each side of the laptops, which outputs stereo audio. While they produce decent audio for casual YouTube sessions, the quality gets quickly distorted at a higher volume. Since the speakers are bottom-firing, it delivers the best sound on a flat surface.

Xiaomi has included a 3.5mm digital audio port so that you can use headphones or external speakers with the laptop. You can also use the USB Type-C port on the laptop, which does support audio output. If using a wireless solution, then Bluetooth is all you need for audio.

Mi Notebook 14 Horizon Edition: Performance & Thermals

  • Processor: Core i5 10210U / Core i7 10510U (4 cores, 8 threads)
  • RAM: 8GB DDR4 2666MHz
  • Storage: 512GB SATA 3/512GB M.2 NVMe SSD
  • Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce MX350 2GB GDDR5

The Mi Notebook 14 Horizon Edition laptop is shipped with the latest 10th-gen Intel Core i7 10510U Comet Lake chip, which has a TDP of 15W. It has a base frequency of 1.8GHz You can also opt for the cheaper Core i5 10210U variant, albeit with lower performance expectations.

The 8GB DDR4 is soldered on the motherboard, so user upgrade to 16GB isn’t possible. Storage options are also flexible, with either 512GB SATA 3 SSD or an NVMe solution. Fortunately, storage is user-upgradable, unlike RAM. Finally, the laptop also comes with an MX350 GPU from NVIDIA, with 2GB GDDR5 memory, which is currently one of the most power-efficient mobile graphics cards.

We took the Core i7 variant of the Mi Notebook 14 Horizon Edition for a spin. In daily tasks, it performs exactly like any other laptop with a mobile i7 chipset, with multiple instances of web browsers and several additional apps running in the background. However, the 8GB of RAM is the bare-minimum standard nowadays, and it can barely handle memory-intensive apps like Google Chrome and Spotify. Xiaomi should have included at least 16GB of RAM with the Horizon Edition.

When using CPU and GPU intensive apps like Adobe Photoshop, the performance limitations become more imminent. The fans ramp up quickly to maintain the thermals, with CPU hitting its turbo clock speeds.

Because of its thin design, the Mi Notebook 14 HE suffers from thermal throttling. The heat can at least escape from the air vents on the sides of the laptop, but the small fan next to the heatsink limits the CPU’s peak performance.

Storage performance is pretty good, thanks to the use of Gen 3 NVMe SSD. File transfer speeds get pretty high, and Windows boot times are blazingly fast. Apps also load up significantly faster than what you would expect from a mechanical drive.

The NVIDIA MX350 GPU found in the laptop isn’t something to write home about, as it’s a low-powered, entry-level mobile GPU with 2GB of GDDR5 VRAM. While you can get decent framerates in eSports titles like CSGO, Valorant, and PUBG at low graphics quality, don’t expect to run the latest AAA titles on the Mi Notebook 14 Horizon Edition laptop. You can toggle on performance mode by pressing Fn + K on the keyboard to increase the fan speed and give the processor some performance headroom. Still, the cheaper i5 variant will not deliver the same performance as the i7 variant.

Mi Notebook 14 Horizon Edition: Battery Life

The Mi Notebook 14 Horizon Edition packs a 46Wh battery cell, which Xiaomi claims to provide ten hours of regular usage. During our testing, the laptop with a full charge managed to deliver only four to five hours of usage, with the screen at 60% brightness level.

You can squeeze a bit more usage of the laptop by setting it to the power-saving profile. While it does noticeably impact the performance, you won’t really feel a difference during lighter tasks.

The Mi Notebook 14 HE does support fast charging. With the 65W charging brick, you can fully charge the laptop in less than two hours. The barrel-style connector is the only way to charge the laptop, even though it has a USB-C port.

Mi Notebook 14 Horizon Edition: Connectivity & Features

Thin and light laptops usually sacrifice on the I/O side. However, the Mi Notebook 14 Horizon Edition does offer a handful of connectivity options. Here’s what you get:

  • 1x Type-C USB 3.1 Gen 1 (for data transfer only)
  • 2x Type-A USB 3.1 Gen 1
  • 1x USB 2.0
  • 1x combo audio jack
  • 1x HDMI 1.4b
  • 1x DC charging port

It’s worth noting that the lower-end variant of the Mi Notebook 14 Horizon Edition only has a single USB 3.1 port, which is rather unfortunate. Also, the SD card reader is absent from both of the variants. In terms of wireless connectivity, you get 2×2 802.11ac Wi-Fi, as well as Bluetooth 5.0 with the laptop. No fancy Wi-Fi 6, folks.

The Mi Notebook 14 comes with Windows 10 Home, with zero bloatware preinstalled. Xiaomi has packed two third-party features in Windows 10, and one of them is Mi Blaze Unlock. With this feature, you can unlock the Mi Notebook 14 with a Mi Band instead of typing the password.

The other feature is Mi Smart Share, which lets you transfer files between the laptop and a Xiaomi smartphone, similar to how AirDrop works with Apple devices. It is currently a platform-exclusive feature. Hopefully, Xiaomi will consider unlocking Smart Share for other devices in the future.

Mi Notebook 14 Horizon Edition: Should You Buy It?

Xiaomi has once again delivered excellent hardware with its Mi Notebook 14 Horizon Edition laptop, blowing away the competitors in the premium segment. Laptops from traditional manufacturers with the same hardware is marginally expensive in the Indian market right now, making the Mi Notebook 14 HE an appealing choice for power users.

However, the laptop isn’t perfect by any means, and it has its fair share of compromises. The omission of keyboard backlighting, sub-par trackpad, absence of webcam, mediocre speaker quality, and the average color reproduction of the display gives Xiaomi the room for improvement in the next iterations of its premium laptops. We would also like to see improved thermal performance and user-upgradeable RAM in the future.

Despite the cons, the Mi Notebook 14 Horizon Edition still has a lot to offer in the design and performance department. If the compromises aren’t much of a dealbreaker for you, then the i7 variant of the Mi Notebook 14 HE is a good buy at ₹59,999.

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Awesome

Xiaomi has once again delivered excellent hardware with its Mi Notebook 14 Horizon Edition laptop, blowing away the competitors in the premium segment. Laptops from traditional manufacturers with the same hardware is marginally expensive in the Indian market right now, making the Mi Notebook 14 HE an appealing choice for power users.

  • Design
  • Display
  • Performance
  • Battery

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