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Apple MacBook Air vs. Honor MagicBook 14: Twice the price, half of the performance?

MagicBook 14 vs. MacBook Air
MagicBook 14 vs. MacBook Air
Do you really have to pay a four-digit sum to get a decent notebook? We compare Apple's new 2020 MacBook Air with the Honor MagicBook 14, which retails for 600 Euros. Is the entry-level MacBook really worth twice the price for your daily workloads?

The price does not influence the rating in our notebook reviews. However, you can get very affordable devices that offer everything you need for your daily workloads. Honor's MagicBook 14 is a perfect example for that, and it pretty much exceeds all expectations for a price of 599 Euros. On the other side, we have the new MacBook Air from Apple, which is clearly designed for casual users with its ultra-low voltage CPU. It costs at least 1199 Euros in Germany, and therefore twice as much as the MagicBook 14. But can it really justify this price gap? We will compare both devices head to head and try to find out. The pricing of the MacBook Air can vary depending on your location, so we will also include the slightly more expensive quad-core SKU in addition to the Core i3 unit for our performance comparisons.

Note: We would usually not compare these two devices in our reviews due to the price difference. In this direct comparison, there is a bigger focus on the usability as a daily device, and the subjective opinion of the author (which has reviewed both models) will have an influence as well. For all the objective information and test results, please see our comprehensive reviews.  

Case: Unibody vs. Metal construction

The section Case is quickly decided: The Honor MagicBook 14 does use a metal construction, which leaves a very good impression, especially for the price, but Apple's unibody chassis has advantages both in terms of build quality and stability. Based on our personal experiences, we can also say that MacBook cases still leave an excellent impression after a couple of years, while normal chassis constructions often start to creak after a while. In addition to gray and silver, the Apple laptop is also available in gold. The size of the two devices is actually not that different, and the weight advantage of the Air (~100 grams) is not really noticeable, either. All in all a win for the MacBook.

Honor MagicBook 14 vs. Apple MacBook Air
Honor MagicBook 14 vs. Apple MacBook Air

Size Comparison

322.5 mm / 12.7 inch 214.8 mm / 8.46 inch 16 mm / 0.63 inch 1.4 kg3.04 lbs304.1 mm / 12 inch 212.4 mm / 8.36 inch 16.1 mm / 0.634 inch 1.3 kg2.8 lbs

Ports & Connectivity: Thunderbolt 3 vs. USB Type-A

The situation is a bit more tricky when we look at the ports. Based on the specs alone, the two Thunderbolt 3 ports of the MacBook Air are obviously superior, but they are not always very convenient in practice. The Air is also designed for casual users, so we doubt that many users will attach multiple devices via Thunderbolt at home. And the MagicBook 14 has a full-size HDMI output if you want to attach an external monitor. The two regular USB Type-A ports are also often still more convenient right now if you want to attach external devices or USB thumb drives.

The connectivity section is pretty even between the two laptops with Wi-Fi 5, Bluetooth 5.0, fingerprint scanner, and an illuminated keyboard. The webcam is pretty bad on both models. We think the winner in this section is the Honor MagicBook 14.

MagicBook 14: USB-C, USB-A, HDMI
MagicBook 14: USB-C, USB-A, HDMI
MacBook Air: 2x USB-C w/ Thunderbolt 3
MacBook Air: 2x USB-C w/ Thunderbolt 3
MagicBook 14: 3.5 mm stereo, USB-A
MagicBook 14: 3.5 mm stereo, USB-A
MacBook Air: 3.5 mm stereo
MacBook Air: 3.5 mm stereo

Interim score:

MacBook Air (1) – MagicBook 14 (1)

Warranty – Honor clearly ahead

Despite the higher price, the MacBook Air only comes with a one-year warranty. You can upgrade to a three-year warranty, but this will cost another 249 Euros. The Honor comes with a two-year warranty by default, so this section goes to the MagicBook 14.

Interim score:

MacBook Air (1) – MagicBook 14 (2)

Input Devices – MacBook benefits from new Magic Keyboard

The Honor MagicBook 14 offers solid input devices, but the key travel is rather shallow. Thanks to the new Magic keyboard (conventional scissor mechanism), the MacBook Air now once again gets a longer key travel, which results in a more satisfying typing experience. In combination with the excellent trackpad, which is still the benchmark, the MacBook wins this category.

Input devices MagicBook 14
Input devices MagicBook 14
Input Devices MacBook Air
Input Devices MacBook Air

Interim score:

MacBook Air (2) – MagicBook 14 (2)

Display – Retina vs. Full-HD

The MacBook definitely wins the display comparison: higher resolution, brighter, and subjectively just the better picture quality. The matte 1080p screen of the Honor is not bad by any means, but the subjective impression just cannot keep up. The colors are not as rich, but this is also a result of the matte surface. The color accuracy of the Air is also superior, so you can also edit pictures thanks to the full sRGB color gamut. Outdoors, the situation is not that clear. The Apple has a glossy screen, but it is not as reflective as many glossy panels and the high brightness can slightly compensate that as well. The matte screen of the Honor should have an advantage here, but we would prefer a more powerful background illumination in bright environments. Overall, a clear win for the Apple.

Honor Magicbook 14
BOE CQ TV140FHM-NH1, IPS, 1920x1080, 14.00
Apple MacBook Air 2020 i3
APPA042, IPS, 2560x1600, 13.30
Response Times
643%
Response Time Grey 50% / Grey 80% *
44.8 (24.4, 20.4)
38.4 (20.4, 18)
14%
Response Time Black / White *
34 (19.2, 14.8)
28.4 (16, 12.4)
16%
PWM Frequency
5952 (99)
119000 (75)
1899%
Screen
35%
Brightness middle
311
416
34%
Brightness
296
403
36%
Brightness Distribution
92
95
3%
Black Level *
0.18
0.34
-89%
Contrast
1728
1224
-29%
Colorchecker DeltaE2000 *
5.3
0.9
83%
Colorchecker DeltaE2000 max. *
18.5
1.4
92%
Colorchecker DeltaE2000 calibrated *
4.2
0.6
86%
Greyscale DeltaE2000 *
3.5
1
71%
Gamma
2.1 105%
2.2 100%
CCT
7078 92%
6629 98%
Color Space (Percent of AdobeRGB 1998)
42.5
63.9
50%
Color Space (Percent of sRGB)
65.8
97.6
48%
Total Average (Program / Settings)
339% / 165%

* ... smaller is better

Interim score:

MacBook Air (3) – MagicBook 14 (2)

Performance – AMD beats Intel

We summarize the categories CPU, GPU and gaming in this section. The MagicBook 14 with the AMD Ryzen processor and the integrated Vega GPU is much faster. The MacBook Air only features an ultra-low voltage processor, which is sufficient for basic workloads, but is also slowed down by the unconventional cooling solution. This is not only the case for the Core i3 MacBook Air, but also the unit with the faster quad-core CPU. Both systems have 8 GB RAM, but the less expensive MagicBook 14 even features a faster NVMe-SSD. 

We will not talk about the difference between Windows and macOS at this point. Both systems are very responsive, but the Honor just offers more headroom and can handle more demanding tasks, so it is also better equipped for the next couple of years. Easy win for Honor.

Cinebench R15
CPU Single 64Bit
Honor Magicbook 14
Vega 8, R5 3500U, Samsung SSD PM981a MZVLB256HBHQ
145 Points ∼100%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 i3
Iris Plus Graphics G4 (Ice Lake 48 EU), i3-1000NG4, Apple SSD AP0256
141 Points ∼97% -3%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 i5
Iris Plus Graphics G7 (Ice Lake 64 EU), i5-1030NG7, Apple SSD AP0512
140 Points ∼97% -3%
CPU Multi 64Bit
Honor Magicbook 14
Vega 8, R5 3500U, Samsung SSD PM981a MZVLB256HBHQ
668 (646.48min - 668.95max) Points ∼100%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 i5
Iris Plus Graphics G7 (Ice Lake 64 EU), i5-1030NG7, Apple SSD AP0512
448 (363min - 448max) Points ∼67% -33%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 i3
Iris Plus Graphics G4 (Ice Lake 48 EU), i3-1000NG4, Apple SSD AP0256
333 (293min - 333max) Points ∼50% -50%
Geekbench 5.1 - 5.3
64 Bit Multi-Core Score
Honor Magicbook 14
Vega 8, R5 3500U, Samsung SSD PM981a MZVLB256HBHQ
3154 Points ∼100%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 i5
Iris Plus Graphics G7 (Ice Lake 64 EU), i5-1030NG7, Apple SSD AP0512
2881 Points ∼91% -9%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 i5
Iris Plus Graphics G7 (Ice Lake 64 EU), i5-1030NG7, Apple SSD AP0512
2539 Points ∼81% -19%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 i3
Iris Plus Graphics G4 (Ice Lake 48 EU), i3-1000NG4, Apple SSD AP0256
2028 Points ∼64% -36%
64 Bit Single-Core Score
Apple MacBook Air 2020 i5
Iris Plus Graphics G7 (Ice Lake 64 EU), i5-1030NG7, Apple SSD AP0512
1167 Points ∼100% +29%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 i5
Iris Plus Graphics G7 (Ice Lake 64 EU), i5-1030NG7, Apple SSD AP0512
1010 Points ∼87% +12%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 i3
Iris Plus Graphics G4 (Ice Lake 48 EU), i3-1000NG4, Apple SSD AP0256
1096 Points ∼94% +21%
Honor Magicbook 14
Vega 8, R5 3500U, Samsung SSD PM981a MZVLB256HBHQ
904 Points ∼77%
3DMark - 1920x1080 Fire Strike Graphics
Honor Magicbook 14
Vega 8, R5 3500U, Samsung SSD PM981a MZVLB256HBHQ
2655 Points ∼100%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 i5
Iris Plus Graphics G7 (Ice Lake 64 EU), i5-1030NG7, Apple SSD AP0512
1846 Points ∼70% -30%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 i3
Iris Plus Graphics G4 (Ice Lake 48 EU), i3-1000NG4, Apple SSD AP0256
922 Points ∼35% -65%
Dota 2 Reborn
1920x1080 high (2/3)
Honor Magicbook 14
Vega 8, R5 3500U, Samsung SSD PM981a MZVLB256HBHQ
39.8 (36min) fps ∼100%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 i5
Iris Plus Graphics G7 (Ice Lake 64 EU), i5-1030NG7, Apple SSD AP0512
20.5 (16.6min) fps ∼52% -48%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 i3
Iris Plus Graphics G4 (Ice Lake 48 EU), i3-1000NG4, Apple SSD AP0256
14.7 (10.1min) fps ∼37% -63%
1366x768 med (1/3)
Honor Magicbook 14
Vega 8, R5 3500U, Samsung SSD PM981a MZVLB256HBHQ
65.4 (50.4min) fps ∼100%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 i5
Iris Plus Graphics G7 (Ice Lake 64 EU), i5-1030NG7, Apple SSD AP0512
30.7 (24min) fps ∼47% -53%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 i3
Iris Plus Graphics G4 (Ice Lake 48 EU), i3-1000NG4, Apple SSD AP0256
23.4 (15.4min) fps ∼36% -64%
1280x720 min (0/3) fastest
Honor Magicbook 14
Vega 8, R5 3500U, Samsung SSD PM981a MZVLB256HBHQ
72 (61.7min) fps ∼100%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 i5
Iris Plus Graphics G7 (Ice Lake 64 EU), i5-1030NG7, Apple SSD AP0512
59.4 (52.2min) fps ∼83% -17%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 i3
Iris Plus Graphics G4 (Ice Lake 48 EU), i3-1000NG4, Apple SSD AP0256
48.2 (32.7min) fps ∼67% -33%
X-Plane 11.11
1920x1080 high (fps_test=3)
Honor Magicbook 14
Vega 8, R5 3500U, Samsung SSD PM981a MZVLB256HBHQ
18.1 fps ∼100%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 i5
Iris Plus Graphics G7 (Ice Lake 64 EU), i5-1030NG7, Apple SSD AP0512
10.8 fps ∼60% -40%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 i3
Iris Plus Graphics G4 (Ice Lake 48 EU), i3-1000NG4, Apple SSD AP0256
9.16 fps ∼51% -49%
1920x1080 med (fps_test=2)
Honor Magicbook 14
Vega 8, R5 3500U, Samsung SSD PM981a MZVLB256HBHQ
20.6 fps ∼100%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 i5
Iris Plus Graphics G7 (Ice Lake 64 EU), i5-1030NG7, Apple SSD AP0512
11.6 fps ∼56% -44%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 i3
Iris Plus Graphics G4 (Ice Lake 48 EU), i3-1000NG4, Apple SSD AP0256
9.32 fps ∼45% -55%
1280x720 low (fps_test=1)
Honor Magicbook 14
Vega 8, R5 3500U, Samsung SSD PM981a MZVLB256HBHQ
28.1 fps ∼100%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 i5
Iris Plus Graphics G7 (Ice Lake 64 EU), i5-1030NG7, Apple SSD AP0512
24 fps ∼85% -15%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 i3
Iris Plus Graphics G4 (Ice Lake 48 EU), i3-1000NG4, Apple SSD AP0256
17.8 fps ∼63% -37%

Interim score:

MacBook Air (3) – MagicBook 14 (3)

Emissions – MagicBook is quieter

Both laptops are usually silent during simple workloads, and we did not notice any coil whine on our test samples, either. If you start to stress the components a bit more, you will notice one major problem of the MacBook Air: the unconventional chassis fan. It is not directly connected to the heat sink of the processor and the fan is just too loud for the performance you get from the MacBook Air. The Core i3 SKU leaves a slightly better impression, but the fan of the i5 SKU ramps up more quickly and reaches a higher maximum level. The MagicBook 14 stays much quieter, even under load or when you play games, for example. Both devices are uncritical in regard to the surface temperatures. Win for the Honor.

Honor Magicbook 14
Vega 8, R5 3500U, Samsung SSD PM981a MZVLB256HBHQ
Apple MacBook Air 2020 i3
Iris Plus Graphics G4 (Ice Lake 48 EU), i3-1000NG4, Apple SSD AP0256
Apple MacBook Air 2020 i5
Iris Plus Graphics G7 (Ice Lake 64 EU), i5-1030NG7, Apple SSD AP0512
Noise
-1%
-14%
off / environment *
29.6
29
2%
30
-1%
Idle Minimum *
29.6
29
2%
30
-1%
Idle Average *
29.6
29
2%
30
-1%
Idle Maximum *
29.6
29
2%
30
-1%
Load Average *
30.8
31.6
-3%
45.5
-48%
Load Maximum *
35.3
39.4
-12%
45.8
-30%

* ... smaller is better

Interim score:

MacBook Air (3) – MagicBook 14 (4)

Speakers – MacBook Air with surprisingly good sound

The MacBook Air is the clear winner in this section. The speakers are loud, sound very rich for the chassis size and even create a small stereo effect. Our measurement results also show better values for the Air over the whole frequency range. The speakers of the MagicBook 14 are not bad by any means, but they are just average notebook speakers.

dB(A) 0102030405060708090Deep BassMiddle BassHigh BassLower RangeMidsHigher MidsLower HighsMid HighsUpper HighsSuper Highs2032.232.22534.435.83140.533.54031.539.65032.942.66325.227.48023.526.310026.530.612523.830.416025.440.520024.349.225023.750.631522.953.240021.357.850020.259.163019.363.980019.166.1100018.364125017.266.3160016.761.7200016.659.925001659.3315015.756.2400015.460.3500015.455.9630015.755.8800015.752.21000015.545.11250015.443.11600015.243SPL29.673.2N1.330.6median 17.2median 55.9Delta3.47.34244.129.731.131.133.832.332.629.33029.233.325.837.924.548.824.759.724.863.622.261.22261.821.864.820.670.319.56918.862.818.46418.466.118.169.718.267.517.767.117.866.417.964.117.76517.865.217.965.518.16218.158.118.156.218.257.430.578.11.445.9median 18.2median 64.11.93.1hearing rangehide median Pink NoiseHonor Magicbook 14Apple MacBook Air 2020 i5
Frequency diagram (checkboxes can be checked and unchecked to compare devices)
Honor Magicbook 14 audio analysis

(±) | speaker loudness is average but good (73.2 dB)
Bass 100 - 315 Hz
(±) | reduced bass - on average 13.5% lower than median
(±) | linearity of bass is average (11.8% delta to prev. frequency)
Mids 400 - 2000 Hz
(±) | higher mids - on average 6.4% higher than median
(±) | linearity of mids is average (7.6% delta to prev. frequency)
Highs 2 - 16 kHz
(+) | balanced highs - only 3.2% away from median
(±) | linearity of highs is average (8.5% delta to prev. frequency)
Overall 100 - 16.000 Hz
(±) | linearity of overall sound is average (20.3% difference to median)
Compared to same class
» 63% of all tested devices in this class were better, 7% similar, 30% worse
» The best had a delta of 7%, average was 19%, worst was 50%
Compared to all devices tested
» 46% of all tested devices were better, 9% similar, 46% worse
» The best had a delta of 3%, average was 21%, worst was 65%

Apple MacBook Air 2020 i5 audio analysis

(±) | speaker loudness is average but good (78.1 dB)
Bass 100 - 315 Hz
(+) | good bass - only 4.3% away from median
(±) | linearity of bass is average (11.5% delta to prev. frequency)
Mids 400 - 2000 Hz
(+) | balanced mids - only 3.4% away from median
(+) | mids are linear (6.2% delta to prev. frequency)
Highs 2 - 16 kHz
(+) | balanced highs - only 2% away from median
(+) | highs are linear (3.7% delta to prev. frequency)
Overall 100 - 16.000 Hz
(+) | overall sound is linear (7.7% difference to median)
Compared to same class
» 0% of all tested devices in this class were better, 0% similar, 99% worse
» The best had a delta of 7%, average was 19%, worst was 50%
Compared to all devices tested
» 1% of all tested devices were better, 0% similar, 99% worse
» The best had a delta of 3%, average was 21%, worst was 65%

Interim score:

MacBook Air (4) – MagicBook 14 (4)

Battery Runtime – MagicBook 14 is just beaten

Our test units are very close in the practical runtime tests. We determine about 11 hours in our video test. The i3 Air runs for almost 11 hours in our Wi-Fi test, while the MagicBook 14 falls slightly behind at 9.5 hours. At maximum brightness, we see an advantage for the MagicBook 14, but it is not as bright as the Air. Overall, a close win for the MacBook Air.

Battery Runtime
H.264
Honor Magicbook 14
661 min ∼103%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 i3
666 min ∼104%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 i5
640 min ∼100%
Average of class Subnotebook (182 - 1312, n=142)
521 min ∼81% -21%
WiFi v1.3
Honor Magicbook 14
570 min ∼92%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 i3
661 min ∼107%
Apple MacBook Air 2020 i5
617.7 min ∼100%
Average of class Subnotebook (206 - 991, n=286)
505 min ∼82% -11%

Legend

 
Honor Magicbook 14 AMD Ryzen 5 3500U, AMD Radeon RX Vega 8 (Ryzen 2000/3000), Samsung SSD PM981a MZVLB256HBHQ
 
Apple MacBook Air 2020 i3 Intel Core i3-1000NG4, Intel Iris Plus Graphics G4 (Ice Lake 48 EU), Apple SSD AP0256
 
Apple MacBook Air 2020 i5 Intel Core i5-1030NG7, Intel Iris Plus Graphics G7 (Ice Lake 64 EU), Apple SSD AP0512

Interim score:

MacBook Air (5) – MagicBook 14 (4)

Price & Used Value – Used Apple devices are worth more

Then there is the price, and there can only be one winner with the MagicBook 14 for 599 Euros. The price-performance ratio is extremely good and it is currently not easy to find a laptop with more performance for the price. The depreciation of the laptop is another interesting aspect, and Apple devices are usually very stable and you can still get decent money after a couple of years. Still, the winner in this section is definitely the Honor.

Final score:

MacBook Air (5) – MagicBook 14 (5)

Verdict – It depends on your priorities

The result of our direct comparison is a tie. However, we only award one point per section, so you might want to award more points depending on your own priorities. This can quickly change the result.

Both devices certainly have a place in the market. The MacBook Air convinces with its great unibody chassis, the superior display, and the good speakers. We are pretty sure many users will also prefer the new keyboard design, but you definitely have to pay extra for the Apple logo.

The Honor MagicBook 14 on the other hand shows that you can also get a very decent laptop for a much lower price. Sure, there are some drawbacks compared to the MacBook Air, with the display being the most noticeable, but there are also advantages like the higher performance and the quieter fan noise under load.

So is the MacBook Air really worth twice the price? If you want the best chassis and display quality, you are definitely better off the with the MacBook Air, but it is still hard to justify the price difference. If you are just looking for a good daily laptop though, there is nothing wrong with the Honor MagicBook 14 and you will also save a lot of money.

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > News > News Archive > Newsarchive 2020 05 > Apple MacBook Air vs. Honor MagicBook 14: Twice the price, half of the performance?
Andreas Osthoff, 2020-05-25 (Update: 2020-06- 1)
Andreas Osthoff
Editor of the original article: Andreas Osthoff - Managing Editor Business Notebooks
I grew up with computers and modern consumer electronics. I am interested in the technology since I had my first computer, a Commodore C64, and started building my own PCs after that. My focus here at Notebookcheck is the business segment including mobile workstations, but I also like to test new mobile devices. It is always a great experience to review and compare new products. My free time is filled with a lot of sports, in the summer mainly on my bike.