Xiaomi Mi Notebook Air 13.3» laptop review: repeat



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As you know, Xiaomi is a versatile company. She produces completely diverse products under her own name: from electronics to sneakers and T-shirts. She did not bypass such an industry as the production of ultrabooks.

While the desktop and laptop market is shrinking more and more, there is some shortage in the market for thin portable devices. The emergence of a new player in the form of Xiaomi is welcome, as it will benefit the competition.

The Chinese company is very successful in the production and sale of smartphones. Its policy is to produce the highest quality products at the lowest possible cost. Therefore, often Xiaomi sells its devices with a minimum or even zero margin. Let’s see if she can repeat the success.

On the test we have today — ultrabook Xiaomi Mi Notebook Air with a diagonal of 13.3 inches, released in the middle of last year, paired with a Xiaomi Mi Mouse Bluetooth mouse (the mouse is not supplied with the laptop). By the way, at the same time, a laptop with the same name was also released, but with a diagonal of 12.5 inches and a slightly weaker processor with less heat dissipation.

Before we start the review, let’s briefly go over the specifications of the ultrabook.

CPU Intel Core i5-6200U
Graphics adapter Nvidia GeForce 940MX (1 GB, GDDR5)
RAM 8 GB, DDR4 2133 MHz, single-channel, non-removable
Persistent memory SSD 256 GB (Samsung PM951 NVMe MZVLV256)
Display 13.3 inches, IPS, resolution 1920×1080, density: 166 dpi, glossy
Interfaces 3 ports USB 3.0/3.1, HDMI, 3.5 mm jack, Wi-Fi/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.1
Camera 1 MP
Sound Realtek High Definition Audio card, 2 speakers
Operating system Windows 10 Home x64
Battery Lithium polymer, 40 Wh
Dimensions 14.8 x 310 x 211
The weight 1.28 kg, charger 218 g

Frame

«Simple». This word characterizes this ultrabook in the best possible way. To achieve this, the manufacturer did not even leave his logo on the cover of the device. the small Mi inscription is visible only in the center below the display. The design, in general, is quite good, but at the same time unoriginal and secondary. You don’t have to be an expert to notice the similarities between this ultrabook and Apple products. However, there is nothing wrong with that.

The entire body of the device, with the exception of the display, is made in silver. Only the display and touchpad are not made of aluminum. In terms of build quality, the Mi Notebook Air inspires confidence — it is solidly built and leaves the feeling of an absolutely solid device without any design flaws. Both the keyboard area and the wrist area are not pressed through. According to tactile sensations, the ultrabook also leaves a good impression.

There is only one hinge connecting the keyboard and screen part of the case, and it occupies almost the entire rear end of the case (just like in the MacBook). The hinge allows the ultrabook to open 130 degrees, which is slightly less than competitors such as Dell and Lenovo. In addition, the ultrabook’s lid is easy to open with one hand. In conditions of vibration, for example, in a train, the cover hangs a little. But in general, it must be admitted, the loop force is chosen quite well and it copes with its task.

Thanks to the small display bezels, Mi Notebook Air turned out to be very compact. They’re only slightly thicker than the Dell XPS 13, even though the latter doesn’t have a camera. The MacBook 12 is even more compact and light, but at the same time inferior in terms of iron filling.

Xiaomi offers a device in a great case. There is nothing in him for which he could be scolded. The only wishes include larger lid opening angles and thinner display frames, but these are just small comments and nothing more.

Interfaces

Xiaomi Notebook Air has not only a simple design, but also a fairly simple set of interfaces. Their number is reduced to an absolute minimum, although there could be more. Like most ultrabooks, the device is not equipped with a conventional LAN connector. But if its absence can be forgiven, referring to the thickness of the device, then the lack of an SD card reader is a little sad.

There is nothing bad to say about the location of the ports. They are located on both sides of the bottom of the case, so connecting the mouse will not be a problem, regardless of whether the user is right-handed or left-handed.

The device is charged via USB Type-C connector. This connector can also be used to connect a monitor.

Connection

Mi Notebook Air has an Intel 8260 AC Wi-Fi card. This is the most popular board that is installed in expensive laptops and ultrabooks. It comes with two antennas. In benchmarks, it shows itself perfectly: about 630 Mbps for reception and 550 Mbps for transmission. During the review, there were no anomalies, the connection was stable. There is nothing to complain about here.

As mentioned above, the device does not have an Ethernet connector.

Keyboard

The keyboard in Mi Notebook Air is 6-row and is located in a small recess. The buttons are silver in color and have a smooth surface, the letters on them are black. Most of the buttons are standard size, although the entire keyboard is much smaller than standard. The buttons on the right are slightly smaller than the others, which, in principle, is not so noticeable. The vertical directional arrows are annoying because they are essentially merged into one.

Typing comfort on this keyboard can be called acceptable. As with most ultrabooks, the key travel is quite short and more distinct than smooth, but overall the keyboard is quiet.

The keyboard is backlit with one level of brightness. It automatically turns off when the device is not in use. When you press any button, it will light up again.

Another point related to the keyboard. At the moment, Mi Notebook Air ultrabooks only come with a standard QWERTY keyboard. This means that in Russian realities you will either have to glue stickers, which is not very aesthetically pleasing and will lead to the uselessness of the backlight, or engrave, which can cost a pretty penny. Although compared to the price of the device, this is not such a lot of money.

touchpad

Once again, Xiaomi focuses on Apple design. Mouse button functions are integrated into the entire touchpad. It is made of glass, fingers glide over it very well.

It works great. Excellent accuracy, reaction time, various multi-touch gestures — all this makes it better than most other Windows touchpads.

Mouse

A small mouse from Xiaomi, which we also took for review, runs on two AA batteries using the Bluetooth protocol. The body of the mouse is made of aluminum. The ergonomics of the mouse can be called excellent, it fits perfectly in the hand. If you suddenly run out of batteries, you can connect it via a USB cable. It has high sensitivity and good positioning accuracy. The scroll wheel spins without clicking.

The mouse is suitable for work, but, as it seems to us, it is poorly suited for games. Still, the shape of the mouse is clearly not gaming.

Display

Mi Notebook Air 13 comes with a 13.3-inch display. This is a LCD made by Samsung, and therefore, most likely, the matrix type is PLS. Although the panel itself is matte, the glass covering it is glossy. The display does not have a touch function.

Claimed display brightness is 300 cd/m2. In fact, he showed a much higher maximum brightness of 347 cd / m2. The average brightness is around 330

cd/m2, which is also a very good result. However, the backlight of the display is uneven, and the center hardly gains the declared brightness. In fact, such a feature of the backlight, even in a picture with a black background, is not very striking to the eye.

A direct comparison with competitors shows that the display of the hero of our review is not so bad: both in the Dell XPS13 with its FullHD display, and in the MacBook Pro 13 with QHD resolution, they cost about the same quality of the matrix.

Subjectively — the display is excellent. Black looks like real black. This is confirmed by the contrast measurement result: 1285:1. The installed panel from Samsung definitely plays in the big leagues. Only the OLED display will be better. The size of the matrix is ​​ideally combined with the resolution.

Good display performance is confirmed by 95% coverage of the sRGB gamut. Thanks to this, amateurs and semi-professionals from graphics can work on an ultrabook.

Due to the glossy finish, outdoor use of the ultrabook is quite limited. Due to the relatively high brightness of the display in the shade and in cloudy conditions, working with Mi Notebook Air 13 does not cause inconvenience if glare and shadows are ignored, but in direct sunlight the screen becomes very blind. A matte display in cases like the one on the Dell XPS13 would have been preferable.

The display’s response time isn’t fast, it’s average among many similar devices, around 27ms from black to white and back, and about 50ms from 50% gray to 80% gray and back. Therefore, the device is unlikely to suit gamers.

The display backlight starts flickering at 50 Hz at a brightness level of 30% or lower. Above this threshold, flickering is not observed. If you use the ultrabook for a long time at a low brightness (and, accordingly, the flicker rate) of the backlight, it can lead to fatigue and headaches.

The viewing angles of the matrix are excellent and can compete in this with the highest quality IPS matrices. Luckily the colors don’t invert at all compared to cheap TN panels. The decrease in brightness with increasing angle is also barely noticeable.

Performance

The Mi Notebook Air 13 comes with a dual-core Intel Core i5 Skylake generation i5-6200U processor. Unfortunately, immediately after the release of the laptop, sales of a new generation of processors from Intel — Kaby Lake were announced. Who knows, wait for Xiaomi a month or two — maybe the Air series would have received fresher “brains” in its depths.

The processor is soldered to the board. Its heat dissipation is 15 watts. Like all i5 processors, it has built-in hyper-threading and Turbo Boost functionality.

The ultrabook performed very well. In addition, thanks to a good heat dissipation system, it worked without problems even in Turbo Boost mode at 2.7 GHz.

The video accelerator is a discrete GeForce 940MX graphics card, while most other subnotebooks have integrated Intel HD 520 graphics. This solution will be a decisive factor for some gamers. And while new games, even at medium settings, will constantly lose FPS, most casual games and games released a year or two ago will be more enjoyable to play than on integrated graphics. For casual gamers, such a video card is more than enough.

Xiaomi puts 8 GB of RAM in its Mi Notebook Air. And it’s good that they abandoned the practice of installing 4 GB modules, because the memory is soldered to the board and there is no possibility of an upgrade. On the other hand, the lack of a 16 GB version of the device was a slight disappointment. Interestingly, the RAM operates in single-channel mode. This is not very critical, since only the operation of the built-in video greatly benefits from the dual-channel mode, and in Mi Notebook Air the video is discrete.

Xiaomi has installed an SSD from Samsung, PM951, in its device. This is an OEM SSD that fits into a PCIe slot. It is a little outdated because there is already a new model on the market — PM961. All models with the PM prefix are slightly slow models. The faster ones have the SM prefix, not to mention the top-end 950 Pro or 960 Pro devices, which are only found in very expensive ultrabooks. But still, in tests, the drive performed well. The Dell XPS13 with its Toshiba drive is roughly on par with our hero.

There is nothing to criticize the Mi Notebook Air for in terms of performance. The combination of 8GB RAM, PCIe SSD and i5 processor keeps the system running smoothly. The operating system loads almost instantly.

Noise and temperature

Cooler? Does Mi Notebook Air have a cooler? At first, you might think that the ultrabook has passive cooling. And this, of course, is not true. The device has two fans barely noticeable by the noise. They become audible only during stress tests. And this should be so in order to avoid overheating of the ultrabook.

During normal use of the device, the device remains cold, literally cold. The body is made of metal and glass, very heat-conducting materials.

During stress testing, the case heats up to 50 degrees and even a little higher. At the same time, the processor temperature remains below the critical level — for all the time it did not rise above 82 degrees. The cooling system in Mi Notebook Air works well.

Sound

The dynamics of the hero of our review is very, very good. The sound has volume, and the speakers do not wheeze at maximum volume. And there is nothing surprising in the fact that Xiaomi has positioned this device as a device with good sound, because the speakers are made by none other than AKG.

Battery and power saving

The device contains a lithium-polymer battery with a capacity of 40 Wh. Compared to other devices in this class, the battery capacity is slightly lower. For example, in DELL XPS13 there is a battery with a capacity one and a half times higher — 60 Wh. In addition, a discrete graphics card consumes more power than the built-in one, which also does not contribute to long-term operation.

But Mi Notebok Air supports fast charging and comes with such a charger. The ultrabook gains 75% of the maximum charge in just 45 minutes of charging.

Verdict

Mi Notebook Air is a successful debut for Xiaomi. The most pleasant fact is that the manufacturer has safely avoided big mistakes. On the plus side, we have a good display, one-piece body, excellent cooling system, nice input devices, powerful hardware. The disadvantages include the lack of an SD slot, a glossy display, the absence of Russian letters on the keyboard, and a fairly warm case under heavy load. The biggest disappointment was the short battery life, perhaps the worst among all classmates.

Perhaps the most powerful argument in favor of Mi Notebook Air is the price. Absolutely all rivals are much more expensive. Will we recommend it? Yes, although it is not officially represented in Russia, which adds to the complexity of the keyboard. If you are not afraid of “russification” of the keyboard, then this ultrabook is definitely worth a closer look.

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