Evaluating performance on a device like the MateBook is equally more complex and more simplified, depending on who you ask. The performance of the Core m5-6Y54 is clearly and definitively going to be lower than any Core i5 processor when both are using the same Skylake architecture. I’ve already mentioned that the MateBook should be your primary option if you are looking to do significant work in the photo or video editing fields, but it can definitely hold up to a typical web-based workload.
For a quick sanity check, I ran the Huawei MateBook through a couple of benchmarks to attempt to validate my performance experiences to some degree.
The MateBook is not lighting performance tests on fire, but compared to other Intel mobile processors, it can hold its own. The Core m5-6Y54 is just 22% slower than the Core i5-5200U processor in my Dell XPS 13 and actually outperforms the Broadwell-based Core M processor in the Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro from 2014 by 25%. Our comparison to the Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book highlights the gap between Skylake in the Core i-series and Core m-series; a gap of 68% is definitely noteworthy.
The memory bandwidth between the two platforms remains unchanged at just 16-17 GB/s, a 31% drop from the Surface Pro 4.
Another quick performance metric is our classic Handbrake transcoding test that looks at CPU performance directly. Again, we find that the new Core m5-6Y54 is able to hold its own against Broadwell-based SoCs like the Core i5-5200U, nearly matching the throughput of both the Dell XPS 13 and Intel NUC of that generation. Compared to the Lenovo Yoga 3 that used the first generation of Intel Core M parts, our MateBook is 48% faster. Both the Surface devices using Skylake Core i5 processors are faster by 30%.
Can it game?
It might seem like a crazy question, but rather than simply run a 3DMark score and show it you, I decided to download a few games onto the MateBook do see what I could get away with on the Portfolio Keyboard and an external mouse.
First up I tried Rocket League, a classic game for me when on the road. I was able to fire up the game but first impressions were not good. The game defaulted to quality settings that were too high and getting into the settings in that state was trying on my patience. I was able to knock it down to a 720p-ish resolution and the minimum quality settings (Performance) in the game eventually and the results were playable frame rates and smooth presentation. I must admit, the image quality was…bad. I did not even know Rocket League could look like that, but it did work and I was able to get in a few matches without feeling like I was being held back.
Next on the docket was The Witness, a great puzzle game that I still give myself crap for not finishing. The quality settings on this title are somewhat limited and even with the resolution set to “Dynamic”; I was not able to find an option that would let me play it smoothly on the MateBook. When walking around some more barren areas the frame rate was acceptable, but moving into areas crowded with trees or water or structures would cause frame rates under 20 and a gaming experience that disappointed.
Finally, I had to try Overwatch, the team-based shooter from Blizzard. It worked! Again, just as with Rocket League I had to turn everything down and use a ~720p resolution, but the game was playable on the Core m5-6Y54. Albeit with some drastically compromised lighting, textures and effects.
So can the Huawei MateBook game? Kind of. I would not buy it for that purpose, obviously, but if you have some very basic games that you need access to on the go, it makes sense to at least try it.