I will outline what Huawei has and has not fixed in the 2019 MateBook X Pro compared to the 2018 model. You can find the more obvious talking points on The Verge and other normie sites, but here are the small engineering changes that I noticed during my teardown and testing.
- Huawei has perforated the regions of the heatsink above the CPU VRM. Whereas 2018’s VRM would overheat and cause the laptop to abruptly shut down when the CPU is pushed to around 15W, 2019’s VRM can supply over 30W continuously just fine. The CPU starts thermal throttling way before the VRM has any problem keeping up. I did manage to find the VRM’s limit though: with a fan blowing at the laptop’s bottom, the VRM bumps into a hardware current limit when the CPU reaches about 48W. That’s the maximum power the VRM is designed for.
These are the tweaks I use every time I set up a Windows laptop, to make it faster, more power-efficient (better battery life), and less annoying. Some of these are pretty standard and well known; but the tweaks get more nuanced or hardcore as you go down the article.
Fresh Windows Installation
Benefits: Skip OEM bloatware altogether and start with a clean slate. YOU decide what OEM packages you want to install back. For example, on my MateBook, reinstalling Windows and never installing back Huawei PC Manager allowed Windows Update to naturally take care of driver and BIOS updates (like it should and does on most other computers), instead of the error-prone Huawei cringeware. If your laptop has this kind of bullshit too, get rid of it; you'll feel refreshed.
- Back up your files. If your laptop comes with a display calibration profile (like Razer Blade), then find the ICC file in Windows\system32\spool\drivers\color and back it up.
- Use the Windows Media Creation Tool to make an installation USB drive.
- If you want features like Group Policy Editor (helpful but not absolutely necessary for some tweaks below), you'll want to install the Pro version instead. In this case, download this ei.cfg file (right click, save link as) and put it in the \Sources folder of the created install disk. You'll need a Pro license (or some less lawful equivalent) to activate Windows 10 Pro.
- In the installer, make sure you choose the "Custom" option instead of "Upgrade", and delete all the partitions.
Reduce Startup Programs
Benefits: Make Windows start up faster by not allowing unnecessary programs to automatically launch.
- Open Task Manager (you can press Ctrl+Shift+Esc).
- Go to the Startup tab and disable any programs you don't need to automatically self-launch every time you turn on the computer.
- You can also do the same thing for many programs like Spotify and Skype from within the application's own settings page.
Disable Intel's Cringe-worthy Graphics Features
Benefits: Does the brightness or color of your display change by itself from time to time? Intel's "image enhancement" is probably messing with you. All these "enhancements" do is make the image worse and inconsistent.
- Open Intel Graphics Settings, by right-clicking on the desktop or by searching in the Start Menu.
- Go to the Video section.
- In "Color Enhancement", disable Total Color Correction.
- In "Image Enhancement", disable Skin Tone Enhancement, Contrast Enhancement, and Film Mode Detection. All of these mess up the color content.
- Go back to the Power section.
- Disable Display Power Saving Technology. This one fucks with your display brightness.
- Anything you change in the Power section gets reset with every Windows version update, so set them again when that happens.
Disable Panel Self-Refresh
You can prevent Windows from automatically installing or updating a specific device or driver using the “Prevent installation of devices that match any of these device IDs” Group Policy, but what if you’re using Windows 10 Home and don’t have Group Policy Editor? You can do the same thing using Registry Editor.
- For convenience, we can edit this template REG file to our needs and install it, instead of manually creating each registry in Registry Editor.
- Once you’ve downloaded the REG file, right click on it and Edit. We’re going to replace the Device ID in the template with the correct Device ID of your device.
This is the AutoHotkey script I use to type common special characters, including Spanish accented letters, superscripts, math and science symbols. I’ve also included shortcuts to simulate the media control keys.
You can copy and paste the script, or download a precompiled version that doesn’t require AutoHotkey to run.
You can put it in %appdata%\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\Startup to have it automatically run at Windows startup.
(‘!’ means Alt, ‘+’ means Shift, ‘^’ means Control so !a means pressing ‘Alt’ and ‘A’ together.)
Contrary to what Xfinity Mobile officially declares, you actually can bring your own Android phone (BYOD) to Xfinity Mobile. You just need an iPhone that you or a friend have laying around unused.
- Bring the spare iPhone to the Xfinity Store and tell them that’s the phone you’ll be using.
- If you’re making the switch online, enter the iPhone’s IMEI on the webpage.
- After the initial activation, take the SIM card out of the iPhone and insert it into your Android.
Xfinity does not have anything in place to actively block your ‘unapproved’ Android from accessing their network. Your or your friend’s iPhone will remain on their records as associated with your phone number, but you are able to use your Xfinity SIM card in any compatible phone.
I have been using my Galaxy S8+ (which I originally got from Sprint) this way without any problems. However, this may not work for your particular phone. OnePlus on Xfinity can’t send or receive SMS. But if Xfinity sells a model similar to your phone, it will probably work.
Did this work for you? Leave a comment.
Feb 24 MWC Update: turns out this is the all-new MateBook 14.
A 2019 successor to the Huawei MateBook X Pro is coming, and it’s looking good — at least in these documents from the U.S. Federal Communications Commission.
At first glance, the updated MateBook X Pro looks very similar to the MateBook 13’s bottom, with a wide air intake for a dual-fan cooling system. However, you can see that this is a more premium laptop: it has a machined aluminum unibody just like the current X Pro, while the MateBook 13’s body is composed of multiple, cheaper, mostly two-dimensional stamped aluminum sheets.
Measuring the body drawing to-scale, the new MateBook appears to be roughly 4mm wider and 7mm taller. So, we may be getting the webcam on the top bezel, or a slightly bigger (14″?) screen, or thicker bezels in exchange for more internal space, or none of the above — Huawei’s drawing may just be distorted.
If your CPU frequency is being reduced under load, even at low temperatures, you’re probably experiencing power throttling. On many laptops, you can get rid of it by disabling the Intel Dynamic Platform and Thermal Framework and then setting a higher power limit in the Intel Extreme Tuning Utility.
Your laptop may have an option to disable DPTF in the BIOS menu. If not:
- Install NoDPTF.reg to prevent Windows from automatically reinstalling DPTF.
- In Device Manager, find all the devices whose names start with “Intel(R) Dynamic Platform and Thermal Framework”. They may be in the “System devices” list. Right click on each and “Uninstall device”. Check “Delete the driver software for this device” whenever available.
- Now you can use ThrottleStop or Intel XTU to raise the power limits.
If any DPTF devices are still present, please tell me their hardware IDs in the comments. (To check hardware ID: right click on the device, Properties, Details, select “Hardware Ids” in the drop-down menu.)
- Huawei MateBook X Pro
A lot of laptops have further Power Limits controlled by the EC, which is much harder if not impossible to change.
- Lenovo Yoga 720-15IKB
- Razer Blade Stealth (2019)
In Registry Editor, delete HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\DeviceInstall\Restrictions.
How common are the issues plaguing the MateBook X Pro? And how many users have taken solving them into their own hands? This past month, I surveyed 309 visitors of Reddit.com/r/MatebookXPro and BradsHacks.com about their experience with the critically acclaimed Huawei laptop.
The majority of the surveyed users reported having a loose or rattling touchpad. Based on my understanding of how the touchpad is installed into the frame, I suspect that all units actually have this issue to some degree and some users just don’t perceive it as an abnormality. After all, loose trackpads are quite common in laptops.
Similarly, the issues with temperature and various types of noise are inherently subjective. For example, the same laptop can be considered too hot or loud by one user yet be completely acceptable for another. Some people are more sensitive to the buzz of coil whine and work in quieter environments, so they could notice the coil whine much more than others.
Everything is “good” according to NotebookCheck. They’ve come across devices with glaring problems, but even those get a high final score.
How are consumers supposed to distinguish between better and worse when three-quarters of all scores are between 80 and 90?
Here’s how NotebookCheck categorizes the scores: