Xiaomi Mi NoteBook Ultra review: Purely for demanding professionals
Xiaomi may not be a prominent name in the world of laptops but it’s fair to say they make some of the nicest Windows laptops. Last year’s Mi NoteBook 14 Horizon Edition painted us fairly impressed and this year, the Mi NoteBook Ultra is a step upwards. With a spec sheet to leave power users drooling and a price to please their wallet, the Mi NoteBook Ultra almost sets the benchmark for other Windows laptops to follow.
This impression comes courtesy of a Mi NoteBook Ultra configured with 11th Gen Core i7, 16GB RAM and 512GB storage; the absolute top-end model. Dive in for a detailed review.
Xiaomi Mi NoteBook Ultra Design
If last year’s Mi NoteBook 14 did not remind you of the Apple MacBook Pro, this year’s model is leaving no stone unturned to do just that. It’s almost an inch-by-inch replica of the 16-inch Intel MacBook Pro, except for a few details. It has a sturdy metal body painted in silver but this time, Xiaomi has etched its new logo on the lid.
The keyboard deck hosts a well-spaced keyboard, a fairly large trackpad, and a power key that has a fingerprint scanner embedded in it. Xiaomi has taken the feedback and implemented a backlit keyboard and inserted a macro key too!
The webcam is back on the top-bezel. The hinge is much better than before and is highly firm – no wobbles at any angle. The entirety of the 1.7 kilos weight is well distributed too; so much so that you can lift the lid with one finger and not lift the rest of the laptop. I haven’t seen a laptop as nicely built as this in a while.
Xiaomi Mi NoteBook Ultra Display
The Mi NoteBook Ultra easily has the second best display in this segment; the Asus ZenBook K15 OLED takes the top prize. It’s a 15.6-inch display with very slim bezels and the 16:10 aspect ratio is a bliss for work. The pixel resolution of 3200 x 2000 makes Windows and everything it hosts look sharp, while the 100% sRGB colour profile is a treat for the eyes.
As a creative person dealing with image editing on a daily basis, I appreciate the display quality. The anti-glare coating is a blessing in WFH and easy to wipe the dust off. The 90Hz refresh rate barely makes any difference in Windows; I wish it supported a refresh rate of 144Hz or higher. Nonetheless, this is a very nice laptop display to look at.
Xiaomi Mi NoteBook Ultra Performance
The Mi NoteBook Ultra variant I have has the high-spec 11th Gen Core i7 H35 processor paired with 16GB DDR4 3200MHz RAM and 512GB SSD storage. There’s no NVIDIA/Radeon graphics this time; Xiaomi relies on the Intel Iris Xe integrated graphics on all of its laptops this year. I tested the laptop with both the latest stable build of Windows 10 and the Release Preview version of Windows 11.
For a general productivity laptop, a Core i7 processor is overkill. I subjected the laptop to the demanding work routine of a journalist, where it had to deal with 8-9 Chrome Tabs, MS Word, and some music streaming in the background. No part of this routine made the laptop stumble. Editing images on Photoshop was not an issue, even with high-res 8K images. Boot-up times have been quick. There’s more than enough power for generic task.
It is, however, the demanding tasks where the lack of a dedicated GPU shows. I do not edit videos to test rendering performance but I did subject it to some gaming. The Intel Iris Xe is fine in handling older titles like GTA 5, Watch Dogs 2, F1 2020, and Dirt Rally 2.0; all in a combination of medium-high graphics with a range of frame rates between 30-40 fps and fast load times. Latest titles like F1 2021 and Far Cry 6 refused to load. It definitely heats up while gaming but never does it become uncomfortable to touch. I wish Xiaomi had figured a way to offer even the lower-spec NVIDIA GTX 1660 Super, or the older 1660 Ti cards; the Intel Iris Xe is not cut for professional levels of loads.
Nontheless, the Mi NoteBook Ultra redeems itself as a effortless work laptop, especially with its keyboard. This is a nice keyboard with ample key travel and decent feedback. The backlighting certainly helps and silver deck helps keep it looking clean despite the dust build-up. The macro key is a nice touch for having your favourite app/file a button-press away. The trackpad is fine but there’s scope for improvement with regards to button travel.
Then again, Xiaomi offers the laptop with a free licensed copy of MS Office 2019. You also get Xiaomi’s suite of apps to help you share files from smartphones and even use its Cloud service to keep online backups. It’s the MS Office 2019 that adds a major plus point.
Audio performance out of the two 2W speakers is adequate for casual YouTube sessions and virtual meetings; there’s a scope for improvement here. A 3.5mm headphone jack is present too.
In fact, I was impressed with the port selection here. I did not have use for the ThunderBolt 4 USB-C port other than charging and data transfer but the USB-A 3.2 was a blessing for my external storage while the USB-A 2.0 made itself useful in hosting the mouse. There’s an HDMI port too, if you were wondering.
Xiaomi Mi NoteBook Ultra Battery
Xiaomi claims up to 12 hours of battery life on a single charge but my workflow could only extract 7 hours of maximum stamina before it conked out. Not bad, considering there’s a beefy Core i7 running inside. Note that my work involves consistent connection to Wi-Fi and having the display set to 50 percent brightness, for at least 12 hours a day. Your mileage may vary based on your usage.
The Mi NoteBook Ultra costs ₹76,999 at the moment and for this price, not many laptops have left me as impressed as this one. The performance is flawless and the sharp 3.2K 16:10 display makes work easier. The keyboard is satisfactory and the decent choice of ports helps with enhancing productivity, especially or a creative professional like yours truly. The sturdy chassis and strong hinge only add to the positives.
It’s not all perfect though. The battery life still has room for improvement and so does the graphics performance. We understand that computer peripherals have gone too expensive but it is Xiaomi who makes this; there could have been at least an option to offer a dedicated NVIDIA GPU for the high-end version. Plus, concerns regarding after sales service are still a thing with Xiaomi laptops.
Despite its quirks, the Xiaomi Mi NoteBook Ultra comes as a wholesome package that ticks almost all the boxes right for power users seeking a robust 15-inch WFH laptop. If you have ₹80,000 to spend on a Windows laptop, we recommend checking it out.
- Great display
- Effortless performance
- Solid build quality
- No dedicated GPU
- Battery life
Display15.6-inch 3.2K 90Hz
Processor11th Gen Intel Core i7-11370H
RAM16GB DDR4 3200MHz
Storage512GB PCIe SSD