Xiaomi NoteBook Pro 120G review

The Xiaomi NoteBook Pro 120G is the company’s premium productivity laptop. It features an all-aluminum body, a high-resolution 120Hz display, the latest 12th Gen Intel i5 processor, and Thunderbolt connectivity. The 120G model that we are testing today also includes dedicated Nvidia graphics.


Xiaomi NoteBook Pro 120G review

Launched earlier this month in India, the NoteBook Pro 120G is Xiaomi’s most premium notebook in the market yet. With the company fast gaining traction as a reputable computer manufacturer, this is a good time to start bringing out more premium products and the 120G is exactly that. It positions itself right in the middle of the thin and light productivity laptops and the thicker, heavier gaming laptops that populate this segment while trying to offer a bit of both. Let’s see how it performs.


Design


The Xiaomi NoteBook Pro 120G has an attractive, minimal design that is strongly influenced by the fourth-generation MacBook Pro models. It uses aluminum construction for the lid, keyboard deck, and back panel and comes in a single dark gray color.


Xiaomi NoteBook Pro 120G review

The Xiaomi NoteBook Pro 120G is an incredibly well-built and finely machined piece of hardware. Everything from the firmly damped movement of the hinge to the texture of the anodized aluminum feels extremely premium. The keyboard deck is sturdy and shows no flex. The entire machine feels like a solid slab of metal.


The lid requires some effort to lift but moves easily afterward and stays in place wherever you leave it. The display opens wide enough although not quite 180 degrees like some other laptops. The exhaust vents for the cooling system are placed next to the hinge.


Xiaomi NoteBook Pro 120G review

Inside, the matte display has a matte black plastic bezel surrounding it. The bezel is relatively thin and the matte texture does not show any smudges or fingerprints. You will, however, routinely cover the webcam with your thumb while opening the lid since it’s right at the edge and has no cover. If you plan on using it, you should make it a point to clean it beforehand.


The back of the notebook has an aluminum cover with a grille in the center for the cooling intake, and two grilles below for the down-firing speakers. The lid is held in place by eight screws but requires a plastic spudger to open without scratching the metal.


On the opposite side, you may have noticed that Xiaomi now puts its logo on the lid, as the company’s early notebooks shipped without any logos. The Xiaomi wordmark is subtle and uses the company’s new font.


Xiaomi NoteBook Pro 120G review

As for other logos, there is a single Intel sticker on the keyboard deck in the bottom right corner. The rest of the stickers, including one for Nvidia and Microsoft Office, are placed on the bottom where they are usually out of sight.


The laptop weighs 1.4kg, which is par for the course for this size class. It’s not really lightweight but is perfectly manageable and light enough to carry around all day.


Display


The Xiaomi NoteBook Pro 120G has a 14-inch, 2560×1600 resolution matte IPS LCD with up to 120Hz refresh rate. Xiaomi claims 100% coverage of the sRGB color space and dE

Xiaomi NoteBook Pro 120G review

The display has impressive color performance out of the box, with accurate gamma tracking and an average measured dE2000 of 1.01, with only one color exceeding the humanly perceptible inaccuracy threshold of dE

Peak brightness was measured at an anemic 255 nits with an average contrast ratio of just over 1100:1. There is no local dimming and the display has standard edge lighting. Viewing angles are good and the matte finish disperses a lot of reflections at the cost of some contrast and color performance. Outdoor visibility under strong lighting is mediocre.




Display report
Display report
Display report


Display report



The overall color performance out of the box is very good, making the display ideal for everyday content consumption and some light color-sensitive work. For more serious color work, you will need to do hardware calibration. However, the lack of proper wide color coverage and 10-bit, and relatively meager peak brightness and contrast ratio means you are better off considering an external monitor for color-sensitive work.


Xiaomi NoteBook Pro 120G review

The laptop does not support PQ HDR, so HDR cannot be enabled in Windows and supported apps and games. However, Windows does include an additional streaming HDR option, which can enable support for HDR content in compatible apps. Netflix, for example, will serve HDR content when this option is enabled. However, the panel is ill-equipped to display HDR content so it often ends up looking worse than SDR.


Xiaomi NoteBook Pro 120G review

The display has subpar motion performance. The 120Hz peak refresh rate provides significantly improved motion smoothness and applications that support it feel much more responsive. However, the display has poor response times, which is fairly typical of IPS non-gaming laptop displays due to a lack of pixel overdrive. This results in long motion trails behind fast-moving objects as the pixels are too slow to transition within the 8.33ms refresh window.


The Xiaomi NoteBook Pro 120G is only available in one size. The 14-inch panel has good pixel density thanks to the relatively high resolution. However, it feels cramped at the default 200% scaling and anything lower is too small and hard on the eyes. Windows application scaling is also all over the place, but that’s a discussion for another day.


Keyboard and trackpad


The Xiaomi NoteBook Pro 120G has a standard chiclet-style membrane keyboard. The keys use a scissor mechanism and have about 1.3mm of travel.


The keyboard has white LED backlighting that can be set to low, high, or auto brightness. By default, the backlighting is set to turn off after 15 seconds of not using the keyboard. This can be very annoying and the option to keep it permanently enabled is in the BIOS, which has to be accessed by pressing and holding F2 during boot.


Xiaomi NoteBook Pro 120G review

The keyboard has a row of Fn keys at the top, which also has alternative shortcuts assigned to them. The Fn commands can be accessed by pressing the Fn key first. Alternatively, you can press Fn + Esc and switch to using the Fn commands by default and accessing the shortcuts by pressing the Fn keys first.


The keyboard also has a dedicated macro key in the top right corner. You can set any application or file to open when you press this key. Only one thing can be assigned to the key at a time. The macro key has a heavier actuation force required, likely to prevent accidental presses.


The keyboard on the Xiaomi NoteBook Pro 120G is excellent. The keys are well spaced and have very satisfying damping for the spring mechanism that makes it a joy to type on. Even the sound of the keys is well-damped and it’s neither too loud nor too mushy.


The backlighting for the keys is adequately bright at its maximum setting and the bleed around the edges isn’t too bad. The key legends are always visible whether in the light or lit by the backlighting. The key material is smooth to the touch and doesn’t get easily greasy.


In the top right corner of the keyboard deck is the power button with a capacitive fingerprint sensor built-in. This sensor is rather slow and takes a second and a half to read your prints.


Xiaomi NoteBook Pro 120G review

Below the keyboard is the large plastic trackpad. The trackpad is hinged at the top and the bottom moves physically to register clicks. This means about the bottom 60% of the trackpad can be pressed to register a click while the top 40% cannot move much as it’s close to the hinge.


The trackpad is mostly good. The surface has excellent texture that makes smooth and precise movements possible. The clicks have a sturdy feel to them. The only issue I faced is of double-clicking with the capacitive touch surface. When tapping the surface, the trackpad can sometimes register two clicks, which can cause all sorts of problems like invariantly dragging a window when you just wanted to move the pointer or opening files that you just wanted to drag.


The issue seems to be from the sensitivity of the touch surface, which at the moment seems a bit high. The trackpad also does not function properly if your palm is resting on the edge, which can happen quite often due to its large size. Two-finger gestures turn into three-finger gestures if you don’t realize your palm is resting on the edge of the trackpad, which can be annoying or dangerous if, like me, you have set up the three-finger scroll to adjust the volume. A trackpad this big simply cannot afford to not have any palm rejection. Hopefully, this gets addressed in a driver update.


Speakers, microphone, webcam


The Xiaomi NoteBook Pro 120G has two down-firing speakers on either side. The speakers without any enhancements offer typical laptop-quality audio, which is to say they are awful. However, the pre-installed DTS Audio Processing app is capable of performing incredible wizardry on it, which results in an actually decent audio experience. I simply do not recommend using the speakers without this app.


The app also remains active if you plug in wired headphones. The audio processing, which is meant for the speakers, is overbearing for headphones, so I recommend turning it off. Unfortunately, there is no way to set the app to automatically disable itself when using headphones. A workaround is using wireless headphones, which are not supported by the app.


Xiaomi NoteBook Pro 120G review

The microphone quality is somewhat poor. Voice recordings sound muffled and compressed, even when saved in a lossless codec.


The 720p webcam has poor image quality and also doesn’t support Windows Hello. On top of that, it does not have any privacy cover so you have to resort to your own measures to cover it up. I would recommend permanently covering it and getting an aftermarket webcam with a good mic as a replacement if you make a lot of video calls.


Connectivity


The Xiaomi NoteBook Pro 120G features a single Type-A USB 3.1 Gen 1 port, one Type-C USB 3.2 Gen 2 port, and a Thunderbolt 4 port. There’s also an HDMI 2.0b connector and a 3.5mm headphone/microphone jack.


Xiaomi NoteBook Pro 120G review

The connectivity options are rather limited. The single Type-A port usually gets occupied very quickly and at least one of the USB-C ports is required for charging, leaving you often with just a single spare USB-C port for the rest of your devices. There’s also no SD reader or wired Ethernet support, so you are looking at living quite the dongle life if you have a lot of wired devices that you need to plug in.


Xiaomi NoteBook Pro 120G review

The good thing about the port design is that there is a USB-C port on either side, which means you can charge the laptop from whichever side is most convenient to you. The right USB-C port does have a charging light next to it but it lights up even if you use the left side port.


Xiaomi NoteBook Pro 120G review

On the wireless side of things, the Xiaomi NoteBook Pro 120G supports dual-band Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.2. Both worked fine during testing with no connectivity issues.


Software


The Xiaomi NoteBook Pro 120G ships with Windows 11 Home. In terms of pre-installed software, Xiaomi notebooks have always had a very conservative approach, with no bloatware from the company. Most of the bloatware is actually just from Microsoft, which is getting increasingly shameless about what it can pre-install on a paid OS.


Xiaomi NoteBook Pro 120G review

The pre-installed apps from Xiaomi are Mi Support, MIUI+ (previously MiDrop), and Macro. The Mi Support app shows the basic specs of the machine, has a link to the company’s support page, and lets you change some display settings. The MIUI+ app lets you transfer files from another device running the app. The Macro app lets you configure the preset function for the keyboard macro key.


Xiaomi NoteBook Pro 120G review

Aside from that, there’s really nothing else included. I would have appreciated a utility to adjust the fan speeds or the performance profiles but Xiaomi has bundled this into a single mode. You can press Fn+K to switch between the default Balance mode or a Silent mode with slower max fan speed and lower performance.


Still, the lightweight software experience is definitely a breath of fresh air as the computer is pretty much in the optimal state straight out of the box and you don’t have to waste time uninstalling a bunch of bloatware that almost every other company crams into their computers.


Performance


The Xiaomi NoteBook Pro 120 comes in two variants. Both feature the Intel Core i5-12450H, which has 8 physical cores (4x P-cores, 4x E-cores) and 12 threads. It can boost up to 4.4GHz on the P-cores and has a 12MB cache. It has a base TDP of 45W but can boost up to 95W during the turbo window, although Xiaomi has configured its PL2 and PL1 at 85W and 40W, respectively.


Xiaomi NoteBook Pro 120G review

Both models also include 16GB of 5200MHz LPDDR5 integrated memory and 512GB of PCIe 4.0×4 NVMe M.2 flash storage. The memory is fixed but you can replace the pre-installed Phison M.2 with a drive of your choice if you need more space or speed.


Xiaomi NoteBook Pro 120G review

The only difference between the NoteBook Pro 120 and 120G is the presence of dedicated Nvidia GeForce MX550 graphics with 2GB of GDDR6 video memory on the 120G. The MX550 runs alongside the integrated Intel Iris Xe graphics embedded in the CPU.


Starting with some productivity testing, the Xiaomi NoteBook Pro 120G acquits itself well, with good performance in everyday tasks like web browsing, office applications, and light image and video editing. Unfortunately, the limited memory and storage options prevent using the laptop as a full-time workstation as sooner rather than later you are going to run out of one or both the memories.


Xiaomi NoteBook Pro 120G review

Gaming performance is similarly hamstrung by cost-cutting measures. The MX550 is a distinct step down from Nvidia’s RTX series options but can still hold its own in older games or modern competitive titles. Unfortunately, more often than not, you will run out of VRAM before hitting the limits of the GPU, which can be quite disappointing.


Many of the modern AAA titles just assume you will have at least 4GB of memory for your graphics. Some will gracefully adapt for the 2GB, some will show scary warning signs when you boot up the game, some will have severe performance issues even if you turn down texture settings all the way, and others will either not load at all or simply crash.


Xiaomi NoteBook Pro 120G review

Among the games tested here, it was mostly the competitive titles that ran without any issues. Older games like GTA V also ran quite well and you could even turn up a few settings to improve the visual experience. Be careful about increasing the resolution, however, as it has a much bigger hit on video memory than anything else.


Other games had much more severe issues. Red Dead Redemption 2 wouldn’t even allow setting resolutions over 768p (and for some reason also won’t go fullscreen). Death Stranding would work after showing warnings that the hardware isn’t powerful enough and then simply crumble while actually playing. Resident Evil Village had such performance issues in the village square area that the game speed actually slowed down with the frame rate, making it look like it was running in slow motion. God of War seems to run okay but then will have large stutters and slowdowns every time it has to load a new area into memory.


Admittedly, it’s not always the memory that’s the bottleneck. The MX550 cannot do 1080p 60fps in most modern titles even at the lowest settings, and at times even 30fps is difficult to maintain. You can drop down further to 900p or 720p but the image quality gets noticeably worse. There’s also no support for DLSS and unless the game support FSR 2.0 there’s not much hope of improving image quality at lower resolutions.


Things are a lot better when playing competitive multi-player titles. Unfortunately, you will have to contend with screen tearing as there is no G-Sync support, even though the panel itself does have a variable refresh rate range of 48-120Hz. The low display response times also make visuals appear a blurry mess.


While the dedicated GPU isn’t of much use for gaming, it can still be used in productivity applications that are built to leverage Nvidia’s CUDA platform. Applications like Blender can cut render times in half when using CUDA for rendering. However, anything that requires a lot of video memory, like photo or video editing applications, will run into the same 2GB memory bottleneck as games. Alternatively, the integrated Iris Xe GPU is quite capable of basic image and video decoding tasks.


Xiaomi NoteBook Pro 120G review

The default Phison E19T SSD is rather mediocre. Despite supporting PCIe Gen 4×4, the speeds are more in line with PCIe Gen 3 SSDs. They are still faster than 3.5-inch SATA SSDs but way slower than what you’d expect from a Gen 4 drive.


The cooling solution is adequate for everyday usage but not really optimal for heavy or long-term CPU-demanding workloads. In an all-core workload, the temperatures can quickly hit 100°C during the PL2 window, with a power draw of around 65W. The clock speeds are around 4.1GHz and 3.3GHz on the P-cores and E-cores, respectively. After tau expiry, the CPU settles at 40W PL1 with clock speeds around 3.1GHz and 2.7GHz, respectively. The temperatures remain in the high 80s.


In gaming workloads, the P-cores can hit the advertised 4.4GHz boost clocks briefly and CPU temperatures stay under 80°C for the most part if the game is GPU bound (which is usually the case). The GPU itself rarely goes over 70°C as it only draws about 30W under peak load. All testing was done in a 22°C environment.


Xiaomi NoteBook Pro 120G review

The fans on the Xiaomi NoteBook Pro 120G aren’t particularly quiet. They often remain audible while working in a warm room and rarely ever go completely silent. At higher speeds, the wind sound is a bit loud but still mostly inoffensive. The problem is with the fan motors and the high-pitched whistling noise they make, which can be quite prominent at higher speeds and gets a bit annoying.


The Silent mode limits the fan speed where they are still audible but never get loud. While trying to run a heavy all-core CPU workload in this mode, the package power does not go beyond 45W and the clock speeds are limited to 3.4GHz on the P-cores and 2.8GHz on the E-cores. Shortly after starting the test, the system figures out it cannot maintain this power limit at the low fan speeds and so the CPU package power plummets to just 15W, and the core clocks to 1.2GHz across all eight cores. This is also what the system will drop to if it starts thermal throttling in the Balanced mode.


Running the laptop on battery power incurs a heavy performance penalty. The power limit is set to just 15W and the clock speeds max out at 1.2GHz across all cores. This cuts down performance in Cinebench by almost 62% and the machine feels noticeably sluggish at times. Unfortunately, there is no way to change the performance characteristics as the Silent and Balanced profiles are exactly the same when running on battery.


Battery


The Xiaomi NoteBook Pro 120G has a 56Wh battery. Xiaomi claims 9 hours of battery life for regular productivity usage.


I’m not sure how the company managed to get to that result but I only managed to get around 4-5 hours of usage out of a full charge, that too with the display set to a conservative 100 nits brightness. I also set it to 120Hz and I have a suspicion Xiaomi’s claim is based on the 60Hz setting, which is the default.


Xiaomi NoteBook Pro 120G review

If you don’t think you need the full 120Hz refresh rate at all times then you can quickly switch between 60Hz, 90Hz, and 120Hz using the Fn+S shortcut. 60Hz should help you get a few more hours out of the battery if you are going to be away from the charger for some time.


The Xiaomi NoteBook Pro 120G ships with a 100W USB-C charger. Xiaomi claims the laptop can charge 0-50% in 35 minutes. You can also use just any USB-PD charger with the notebook, including some power banks.


Conclusion


The Xiaomi NoteBook Pro 120G is priced at INR 74,999 (~$950) while the non-G model is priced at INR 69,999 (~$879). For reference, the older M1 MacBook Air starts at INR 99,900 (~$1255) while the new M2 MacBook Air starts at INR 119,900 (~$1505).


Xiaomi NoteBook Pro 120G review

The 120G is a well-designed and well-built laptop with superb fit and finish. The display has good color accuracy out of the box. The keyboard and trackpad are good, as is the performance for school, office, and basic productivity tasks. You can also get away with some gaming, provided you are into lightweight competitive multiplayers or older AAA titles.


The laptop is held back by its scanty memory options, both for the system and graphics. This limits its use as an editing PC and prevents running memory-intensive apps and games. The display brightness is also very conservative and response times are poor for a good high refresh rate experience. The battery life is also below average.


Despite these issues, the Xiaomi NoteBook Pro 120G is a good all round option for those looking for an attractive, well-built laptop for everyday use at an affordable price. Personally, I would go for the cheaper 120 model, as the dedicated graphics on the 120G does not bring a lot to the table. If you have a need for dedicated graphics, either for gaming or heavy productivity applications, there are better options available.

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