Laptops are a big deal right now. Everyone needs one. Such are the demands of work from home that if you have a slightly iffy laptop in terms of performance or reliability, you’re basically setting yourself up for trouble. Yet, it has to be appreciated that not everyone may be able to immediately spend a lot of money on a fancy premium laptop. Particularly not in this time of financial instability too. That is where the role of the more affordable laptops becomes even more important. It is all about giving consumers a consistently powerful user experience in the Rs 40,000 – Rs 50,000 price band. Yet if you are to look around, for everything else they may bring to the table, most laptops would offer the Intel Core i3 processor. That is, to put it simply, not really future proof if you intend to keep the machine for a few years at least without potentially seeing a significant performance deterioration at some point. That is where the Xiaomi Mi Notebook 14 has a serious advantage.
The Xiaomi Mi Notebook 14 is part of the larger line-up of Xiaomi laptops that include the Xiaomi Mi Notebook 14 Horizon Edition as well, currently on sale in India. We recently reviewed the Mi Notebook 14 Horizon Edition and came away absolutely impressed with the value it offers. Fine differences between the two though, but it is the Xiaomi Mi Notebook 14 which will appeal to someone on a strict budget. Prices start at Rs 43,999 with the mid-spec variant priced at Rs 46,999 while the top spec variant (in this family line) is priced at Rs 49,999—and the beating heart across all three is a 10th generation Intel Core i5 processor, with the other changes being the SSD storage and graphics. On its part, this will be much faster than the likes of the Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 3i and the HP Laptop 14s, both being very capable machines, mind you, but they run the newest gen Core i3 chip which will have performance limitations. Though the Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 3i does counter that to a certain extent with an SSD while the HP Laptop 14s has the party piece called the integrated SIM card slot.
Design: No One Can Say You Got This Laptop Maybe On A Tight Budget
The very fact that the Xiaomi Mi Notebook 14 has an all metal body is a very positive upgrade over the plastic that still makes up most of its rivals. It is these things that really enhance the usage experience, and makes a consumer feel that it has been money well spent. The anodized sand blasted coating all through is the sort of further attention to detail that is really appreciated. To distinguish this from the grey colour of the Horizon Edition series, this gets a slightly brighter silver colour. But only slightly brighter—rest assured, this isn’t blingy in any way.
If you look closely, you’ll notice some visual differences between the Xiaomi Mi Notebook 14 and the Xiaomi Mi Notebook 14 Horizon Edition. The bezels around the screen in the case of the former, are a tad thicker. But this isn’t at all a problem. What you still get is a 14-inch screen laptop in the form factor that is largely what 13.3-inch screen size laptops have, and that is a win whichever way you look at it.
The only compromise in the Xiaomi Mi Notebook 14 series for this year has to be the fact that there is no integrated webcam sitting above the display. But before you run around in panic about how you’ll do all the Zoom video calls, we want to point out that Xiaomi is bundling a USB webcam with the laptop—it simply attaches above the display and is a simple plug-and-play implementation.
Xiaomi has done it right with the ports and connectivity options as well. There are two USB 3.1 ports, one USB 2.0 port, a 3.5mm audio port and an HDMI port. There is no USB-C port, which is available in the Xiaomi Mi Notebook 14 Horizon Edition. Remember though, the USB-C is for data transfer only and not for charging the laptop in that case as well. There is no card reader too, which means you’ll need to get an accessory for that.
Display: No Complications At All
The 14-inch display panel in the Xiaomi Mi Notebook 14 is the LED panel with the Full HD resolution. It is exactly how you would expect it to be, but what stands out is how bright it can go. This is also a matte display, which means reflections don’t really get in the way. In most office environments, something that you will return to eventually, you will have badly thought out and installed overhead lights reflecting back off a laptop screen and into your eyes—that’ll be much less of a problem with the Xiaomi Mi Notebook 14 laptop.
Apart from that, this screen does well on the sharpness bit as well, which helps with text as well as media. Webpages are easy to read, and videos doesn’t look smudgy. This display is very much acceptable as far as the colors and the richness are concerned—not necessarily the most accurate, but you still get good color separation. The biggest takeaway has to be that there is absolutely no hint of washed out colors or bad viewing angles, two problems that plague a lot of the Xiaomi Mi Notebook 14’s rivals.
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Performance: This Proves, Price Shouldn’t Be A Handicap
All three variants of the Xiaomi Mi Notebook 14 are powered by the Intel Core i5-10210U processor with 8GB of RAM. For the sort of usage scenarios that you are probably looking at, this will provide significantly more headroom for your apps and multitasking than a Core i3 processor. I know I keep harping on about this, but if you intend to keep this machine for 2+ years at least (which I assume you do, before you splurge on an upgrade), the better processor will really pay off in the long run.
Don’t mistake the Xiaomi Mi Notebook 14 for just any affordable Windows 10 laptop, as you may have had the displeasure of experiencing thus far. Performance isn’t a compromise and what you get is a rather good experience of using a Windows 10 laptop. Most of us, with our Word documents and Excel spreadsheets and the web browser usage, the Xiaomi Mi Notebook 14 still keeps chugging along bravely.
This is where another fine difference with the Xiaomi Mi Notebook 14 Horizon Edition comes into play. The more expensive Horizon Edition runs the PCI Express Gen 3 NVMe SSD that clocks as fast as 3,000MB/s for sequential read speeds and up to 1,800MB/s for sequential write speeds. In comparison, the Xiaomi Mi Notebook 14 gets the SATA 3 type SSD, which is no slouch, but comparatively does around 600MB/s of read speeds. It really shouldn’t matter to you, to be honest, because your usual Microsoft Edge (see how I avoided recommending Google Chrome because it is a resource hog), a bunch of Microsoft Word documents, Apple iTunes, Spotify, the Mail app and some Excel spreadsheets open will not cause this to protest. At all.
Though slightly different in layout compared with the Mi Notebook 14 Horizon Edition, the Mi Notebook 14 also gets a generous spread of vents for cooling. These are on the underside of the machine. There is one cooling fan whirring away inside, and Xiaomi says that has a larger diameter than most similar laptops. You will notice that most of the time, the Xiaomi Mi Notebook 14 runs silently and remains cool. But stress this a bit with apps and multitasking, and it becomes quite perceptibly warm at certain points on the underside. That is when the fan also makes its presence felt.
The top spec variant also has the Nvidia GeForce MX250 graphics, which should give this the extra push where the GPU can help share some of the processor’s burden and will allow some amount of gaming albeit at medium refresh rates. Do not expect this to be a gaming machine at all, but the GPU does help speed up a lot of other tasks including video editing—if that is what you intend to do on the Xiaomi Mi Notebook 14 from time to time.
Battery: You Will Not Be Disappointed
Xiaomi claims of 10-hour battery life stem from what is a 46Wh battery in the Mi Laptop 14. In case of the Intel Core i7 processor in the Mi Notebook 14 Horizon Edition, I had managed to touch the 8 hour mark with the frugality in settings that I always attempt to achieve—power mode set to Best Battery Life, display brightness at its lowest (I’m one of those people who believe even 0% brightness is too bright) and no unnecessary apps or Microsoft Edge tabs running. That, for a Core i7 machine, is not a bad return. Things are even more comfortable with the Core i5 on the Mi Notebook 14, and this gets close to 9 hours with the same frugality, and upwards of 8 hours the way most users would use the laptop, in a more carefree manner.
The Last Word: It Will Be A Struggle To Find A Better Laptop At This Price
If you are looking for a laptop between the Rs 40,000 to Rs 50,000 price point, there are choices aplenty. All claiming the world. But look closely at their spec sheet and you’ll realise they may not be as up for the rigours of work from home and the world beyond, as they claim. The Intel Core i5 processor provides the necessary versatility for performance that should hold your Xiaomi Mi Notebook 14 in good stead for quite a few years to come. The SSD storage is much faster than the standard hard drives that a lot of its rivals still rock, and that gives performance a big boost too. The lack of keyboard backlighting does irritate though and you may find it an additional step to plug in a webcam every time you need to get on a Zoom, Google Meet or Microsoft Teams video meeting or video call. But top that off with the fact that this is a very well-built laptop, with a good keyboard and a Full HD display, and it just sort of makes you wonder if this is the recipe you were looking for when it comes to affordable laptops. The Xiaomi Mi Notebook 14 gets very close, there is no doubt about that.