Mi Notebook 14 Horizon Edition Review

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Xiaomi’s premium products are often overshadowed by its budget lineup of Redmi devices and other lifestyle products. With its R&D budget, Xiaomi has ventured to different segments of electronic products, such as televisions, fitness wearables, audio devices, power banks, as well as air and water purifiers in the developing Indian market.

Xiaomi has manufactured laptops in the past, but the Mi Notebook 14 lineup is their entry to the premium thin-and-light laptop market in India. With the Mi Notebook 14 Horizon Edition, the company is trying to be more appealing to power users by offering their laptops at a relatively affordable price.

While the Mi Notebook 14 is a budget-focused device, the Horizon Edition is the result of Xiaomi going all out on the design and cutting-edge specifications. The brand is offering two SKUs of the Mi Notebook 14 HE laptop. The highest-spec model is powered by the latest 10th-gen Core i7 mobile processor from Intel, 8GB DDR4 RAM, 512GB M.2 NVME SSD, and an MX350 GPU from NVIDIA. You can pay less by opting for the i5 SKU with 512GB M.2 SATA-based storage.

One of the only differences between the Mi Notebook 14 and Mi Notebook 14 Horizon Edition is the near-borderless display, with only ~3mm of top and side bezels. But, what else does it have to offer in terms of performance, battery life, and overall user experience? Is it even worth the premium price tag? Here’s our review of the Mi Notebook 14 Horizon Edition laptop.

Mi Notebook 14 HE: Solid Design With Few Drawbacks

  • Thickness: 17.15mm
  • Weight: 1.35kg
  • Chassis construction: Magnesium and aluminum alloy
  • Connectivity: 2x USB 3.1 Gen 1 (Type-A), 1x USB 3.1 Gen 1 (Type-C), 1x USB 2.0, 1x HDMI 1.4b, 3.5mm audio jack

The Mi Notebook 14 HE has a classy design, which is undoubtedly inspired by the likenesses of the latest MacBook devices from Apple. However, it isn’t a clone by any means. The aesthetic design is also accompanied by zero brandings on the top-lid of the laptop.

The chassis is built with a durable magnesium-aluminum alloy, and a smooth sandblasted finish all around. It is quite common for laptop manufacturers to use plastic in this price range, but Xiaomi has already set it bars pretty high in the competition. The entire chassis is only 17.15mm thick and weighs around 1.35kgs.

The body does flex when you apply force on it, and the sandblasted finish is poor at hiding micro-scratches. The top-lid also flexes more than expected, but the keyboard deck is solid overall.

The Mi Notebook 14 HE comes with a vast selection of ports, albeit with some questionable omissions. You get a USB 3.1 Type-C port, two Type-A USB 3.1 ports, as well as an HDMI 1.4b port and the barrel charging connector on the right side of the laptop.

On the other side, you get a single USB 2.0 port and a 3.5mm headphone jack. Unfortunately, it misses out on an SD card reader, so you will have to carry a separate adapter for it.

The bezel-less, edge-to-edge display gives Xiaomi the opportunity to use the name “Horizon Edition” for the Mi Notebook 14. The top and side bezels around the display measures only around 3.3mm, which is reminiscent of the premium Dell XPS lineup. The ‘Mi’ branding on the bottom bezel of the screen is only branding on the entire laptop, and we appreciate the minimalism. However, Xiaomi has chosen to sacrifice an integrated webcam for the bezel-less look, which is rather unfortunate considering how much people rely on video communication nowadays. Fortunately, the Mi Notebook 14 HE at least comes with an external USB webcam, capable of capturing 720p HD videos.

Mi Notebook 14 HE: Edge-to-Edge Display

  • Screen size: 14” (35.56cm)
  • Screen resolution: 1920×1080 Full-HD
  • Panel type: IPS
  • Viewing angle: 178°
  • Aspect ratio: 16:9

The Mi Notebook 14 Horizon Edition has a 14-inch, edge-to-edge display. While other thin-and-light laptops with the same chassis only manage to put a 13.3-inch display, the small bezels have given Xiaomi the option to opt for a slightly larger screen in the same footprint.

The display also comes with an anti-glare matte coating, which reduces reflections and improves outdoor readability. The display is surprisingly bright with a peak brightness of 250nits. The IPS panel has a 1000:1 contrast ratio with a wide 178° viewing angle. It is also a Full-HD panel, which produces sharp texts and clear images.

While Xiaomi has covered the basics correctly, the color accuracy could have been a lot better, considering that it is an IPS display. The oversaturation is not suitable for color-sensitive tasks, such as photo and video editing.

Mi Notebook 14 HE: Average Keyboard And Trackpad

A decent keyboard is what most people look out for when choosing a laptop. We had a satisfying typing experience on the Mi Notebook 14 HE, thanks to the use of scissor mechanism and chiclet-style keys. The 1.3mm key travel is much better than most other thin-and-light laptops we have used, and Xiaomi has nailed the spacing between the keys just right.

However, we are not fond of the texture of the keys, and it feels cheap. Also, it isn’t easy to reason with the absence of a backlit keyboard, since many of us get work done at night in a darker environment.

Similar to the keyboard, the trackpad is a hit or miss. It doesn’t take advantage of Windows Precision drivers, but the trackpad feels responsive and accurate tracking. Default trackpad gestures that are assigned by Windows also work as intended.

Our only complaint is the lack of spacing between the trackpad and the keyboard, which sometimes results in misclicks while typing. Also, the bottom of the trackpad feels somewhat flimsy when you click it, which might become a problem after years of heavy usage.

Mi Notebook 14 HE: A Decent Performer

  • Processor: Intel Core i7 10510U / Core i5 10210U
  • Memory: 8GB DDR4 2666MHz
  • Storage: 512GB M.2 NVMe SSD (PCI-E Gen 3) / 512GB SATA 3 SSD
  • Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce MX350 (2GB GDDR5)
  • Wireless connectivity: 2×2 dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.0

The highest-end SKU of Mi Notebook 14 HE that we have tested is powered by Intel’s latest 10th-gen Core i7 10510U Comet Lake processor. It is a quad-core (4 core, 8 threads) chip with a base clock of 1.8GHz and a boost clock of up to 4.9GHz (on a single-core). It’s worth mentioning that the processor is configured to have a 15W TDP.

The i7 processor is also paired with 8GB of non-upgradeable DDR4 memory, as well as an NVIDIA MX350 mobile GPU. The storage option maxes out at 512GB NVMe SSD, but you can swap it out as per your preference.

In terms of day-to-day tasks, the Core i7 variant of Mi Notebook 14 HE performs gracefully, as you would expect from a laptop of this caliber. However, open up 10-15 Chrome tabs and a few additional memory-intensive apps, you will quickly run out of memory. 8GB of RAM was the bare-minimum standard for PCs two years ago, and now it’s more limited for intensive workloads. Also, the soldered-in memory can’t be swapped or upgraded to 16GB, which is unfortunate.

The thin-and-light form factor of the Mi Notebook 14 HE results in lackluster thermal performance. During heavy usage, the fan hits its max RPM, making an audible noise. The ventilation grill on the left side of the laptop makes enough room for the hot air to escape, but it gets uncomfortably warm at the bottom, as well as the right side of the trackpad. Due to the limited thermal design, the Intel chip with its 15W TDP can’t sustain boost clocks much longer and significantly throttles down the frequency in order to maintain a safe temperature.

Even though the Mi Notebook 14 HE comes with a dedicated NVIDIA GeForce MX350 mobile GPU, don’t expect to run the latest AAA games at double-digit framerates. In eSports titles like Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Apex Legends, Rainbow Six Siege, Fortnite, and Valorant, you can expect 60+ FPS at 1080p with the low or medium presets.

Mi Notebook 14 HE: Average Battery Life

  • Battery capacity: 46Wh
  • Charging capabilities: 65W fast charging 

On the product page, Xiaomi claims to deliver up to 10 hours of battery backup with its Mi Notebook 14 Horizon Edition laptop, which is questionable considering it only has a 46Wh battery inside. We took it out for a quick drive on a full charge, and the Mi Notebook 14 HE only lasted just over five hours on regular usage. Note that the display brightness was at 65%, and the power plan was set to the high-performance profile.

With power-saving mode, the Mi Notebook 14 HE gave us around six and a half hours of usage, without experiencing noticeable performance degradation in day-to-day tasks.

For charging, the Mi Notebook 14 HE relies on the barrel connector. The included 65W charging brick fully charges the laptop in less than two hours. While the Mi Notebook does have a USB-C port, it is only used for data transfer. Hence, users will have to carry the charging brick on the go.

Mi Notebook 14 HE: Is It Worth The Premium? 

The Mi Notebook 14 Horizon Edition has a lot to like about. It is powerful enough to handle day-to-day tasks without breaking a sweat, and also capable enough for some lightweight gaming. Adding ultra-fast, solid-state storage in the mix, the Mi Notebook 14 HE is a compact powerhouse.

On the same note, the keyboard and trackpad leave much to be desired, and the absence of backlighting is a borderline dealbreaker for many laptop users. Also, the use of non-user-upgradable RAM is a weak move, considering that the highest-end model only offers 8GB of memory. The dual 2W stereo speakers on the laptop lack the punch, and they produce distorted sound on higher volumes.

Even with its shortcomings, the Mi Notebook 14 Horizon Edition marks the beginning of a new contender in the Indian market of thin-and-light laptops, with its A+ design, borderless display, and raw performance. The highest-end SKU of the laptop will cost you ₹59,999, and it definitely is a solid option for power users.

If you are comfortable with a non-borderless display, relatively slower storage, limited connectivity options, and mid-tier performance, then the base Mi Notebook 14 variant at ₹41,999 is an excellent buy.

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Awesome

The Mi Notebook 14 Horizon Edition has a lot to like about. It is powerful enough to handle day-to-day tasks without breaking a sweat, and also capable enough for some lightweight gaming. Adding ultra-fast, solid-state storage in the mix, the Mi Notebook 14 HE is a compact powerhouse.

  • Design
  • Display
  • Performance
  • Battery

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