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Xiaomi Mi Notebook Ultra review: Bang for the buck

Xiaomi Mi Notebook Ultra review: Bang for the buck

Xiaomi gave importance to the smallest of things while designing this machine. For instance, there are big vents at the bottom for heat to be dispersed properly.

Xiaomi Mi Notebook Ultra review Xiaomi Mi Notebook Ultra review

Price: Rs 64,999
Specs: 15.6-inch display (3200x2000p resolution, 242 PPI 16:10 Aspect Ratio), 11th Gen Intel Core i5 processor, Intel Iris Xe Graphics, 16GB RAM, , 512GB SSD, Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.1, 1 Type -C, 1 HDMI, 2 USB, 1 Thunderbolt, 3.5mm port, 65W adapter, 1.7Kg
In the box: Notebook, adaptor and cord
 
Xiaomi launched laptops in the Indian market only about a year ago. This year’s launch, the Mi Notebook Ultra, is a fully furnished 15.6-inch machine where the company added some of the features it had underestimated earlier.
 
The first look at the Mi Ultra Notebook reminded me of my first experience with the Apple MacBook Pro. The premium metal chassis had an aura, a charm of its own. And it continues to be one today too. Xiaomi successfully managed to add the same elite look and feel to its Mi Notebook Ultra – a unibody metal machine crafted using aero grade series 6 aluminium. And even with a big 15.6-inch screen, it weighs 1.7 kg only. Given how many 14-inch notebooks with plastic chassis weigh around 1.5 kg these days, this one does not feel heavy at all. Neither does the metal body register finger impressions. The build quality is so good that hiding the Xiaomi branding from the lid can easily confuse it to be one from the premium brand.
 
Xiaomi gave importance to the smallest of things while designing this machine. For instance, there are big vents at the bottom for heat to be dispersed properly. The machine has small plastic legs that raise it further for better airflow.
 
Unlike Apple, Xiaomi didn't cut down on connectivity ports. There is a USB C port (that doubles up as the charging port) along with a full-size HDMI port, USB Port and Thunderbolt port on the left and an additional USB port with a 3.5-mm port on the right. Unlike last year’s Mi Notebook models, the Mi Notebook Ultra comes in with an embedded 720p webcam that is decent for video calls but nothing extraordinary. Speaker grills are at the rear, and the sound output is just about average. A fingerprint scanner for security has been embedded in the power button.
 
Opening the lid, the first thing I noticed was the vibrant 15.6-inch screen with sleek bezels on the sides. The 3.2k display with 3200x2000 pixels is stunning to look at and has got great viewing angles too. Everything appeared great on the screen -- presentations, video content, browsing the web and even documentation. This sharp, large screen estate was a delight to work on. Be it working indoors or outdoors, reflections on the screen isn’t an issue with this machine as it has a matte coating on the display.
 
This classy built and stunning display is accompanied by a full-sized keyboard with a well-spaced key. Moving from a 13inch MacBook Pro, I took some time to get used to it but found the keyboard comfortable to type on. The three-level keyboard brightness comes in handy when working in the dark. Mimicking the MacBook Pro experience, Xiaomi has thrown in a large trackpad.  But it doesn’t feel as good as on the premium machines. It also supports gestures such as two-finger scrolling, and I was happy with the performance as I am used to tapping instead of clicking the trackpad.
 
Over the month-long testing, I had put the machine to heavy usage. This included browsing the web with about 40 tabs open on the powder hungry Chrome browser, which it handled without any lag. In addition, I used it for documentation. Just like most Windows’ machines, it comes with a Microsoft Office student version. Playing OTT content and YouTube videos, working on presentations was child's play. But one thing where the machine struggled with was graphic intensive processes. Unlike last year’s model where there was an option of an NVIDIA GPU, this one has the Intel Iris XE graphics. If you are into PC gaming, this might not be meant for you as many of the games even failed to load due to the lack of a dedicated gaming card. The machine handled basic video editing with ease but struggled with the heavy load. With an 11th Gen Intel Core i5 processor paired with 16GB RAM, the machine scored 4067 on PC Mark 10, better than 32 per cent of all results on the benchmark.
 
The machine is designed to last a day's work – around 12 hours. During testing, the battery lasted anywhere between 8 hours to 10 hours on a single charge, depending upon the day’s work. Days when I spent filing my long format print articles, the machine lasted for about 10 hours but when I had back-to-back Zoom and Teams meetings and had to edit some videos too, I had to plug in the charger after around 8 hours of usage. The charger bundled seems to be the third party and not Xiaomi branded but I am not complaining as the cables are thick with good built quality. The 65W charger took about 3 hours to charge the battery to 100 per cent.
 
The Mi Notebook Ultra is a solid machine worth considering if you aren’t too much into gaming or video editing. Mi Notebook Ultra has a sturdy built quality, impressive performance, and the price tag works in favour of this laptop. For Rs 64,990, it is a good buy. But my only concern is the after-sales service support, which is usually pathetic even for the established brands. Xiaomi has a good after-sales network for its smartphones and TVs. I hope they manage to extend it for these work machines too.

Also read: Apple iPhone 13 mini review: A 'mini' powerhouse with great display, excellent camera

Published on: Oct 25, 2021, 12:17 PM IST
Posted by: anwesha madhukalya, Oct 25, 2021, 12:09 PM IST