One of my favorite laptops of 2015 was the HP Spectre x360, which
I reviewed in this article. It’s a powerful, portable laptop that can also function as a tablet and it even had a couple other uses that I did not foresee. Back then, I was contemplating replacing my Surface Pro with it but I ultimately chose not to since it was a little on the heavy side and it was still a little thick to consider using as a tablet.
Well, it’s only been a year and it seems HP has already redesigned the laptop. To me, this is pretty surprising since usually manufacturers will try to get two or three CPU generations out of their designs(like Dell with the XPS, for example). But not this time – HP has overhauled their Spectre x360 model to fix some of the setbacks of the previous model, such as the weight and overall dimensions.
Is it enough though to consider using as a tablet though? And did they maintain the level of quality with everything else? I only got about 10 days with it, but it was more than enough to form a good opinion about this machine. Here’s what I found out.
Specs as reviewed
HP Spectre x360 13-w0XX
Screen 13.3 inch, 1920 x 1080 px resolution, 10-finger multi-touch, IPS
Processor Intel Kaby Lake Core i7-7500U CPU, dual-core 2.7 GHz(3.5Ghz boost)
Video Integrated Intel HD Graphics 620
Memory 8 GB DDR3L 1866Mhz
Storage 256GB NVMe PCI-e SSD
Connectivity Wireless AC Intel 8265 , Intel Bluetooth 4.1
Ports 1x USB 3.1 Type-A, 2x USB 3.1 Type-C(Thunderbolt 3), mic/earphone combo
Battery 57.8 Wh
Operating system Windows 10
Size 305.6mm or 12.03” (w) x 217.9mm or 8.58” (d) x 13.7mm or .54” (h)
Weight 1.29 kg or 2.85 lb
Extras Extra wide trackpad, HP Wide Vision FHD webcam, backlit keyboard
I thought last year’s model looked fantastic, and this one is no different. It’s a very nice looking laptop to carry around, and your friends will probably be a little envious once they see it. I’ve been using it at both home and in the office and I definitely got a few compliments about it.
There is a high level of quality that is very apparent when handling this machine. In all my use, I found it to be very comfortable to pick up and handle. It’s well balanced and also sticks true to its specs. I weighed the laptop to be 2.8 lbs and my calipers measured it to be .54” thick.
The entire laptop is made of silver aluminum, with a matte finish. The lid itself is adorned with the new HP logo in a mirror finish. I like it because it doesn’t really stick out a whole lot and also doesn’t look as cheesy as the last logo. Across the top is a small band, which is where the Wifi antenna is. Besides the keyboard keys, this is the only exposed plastic on the machine. Everything feels smooth and blends nicely though, so there’s nothing to complain about as long as the Wifi performs as it should.
Like the old model, lifting the lid was kind of challenging. The cutout for the lid is really small, so it’s kind of difficult to get your fingers in there. And yes I say fingers, because it unfortunately takes two hands to open. This was also the case before but now with the reduced weight, it’s even easier to lift the entire laptop when using just one finger. This is usually a pet peeve of mine, but given the nature of the 360 degree hinge and how thin and light this model is, I’m going to give HP a pass.
While we’re talking about the hinges, they’re pretty much the main highlight of the machine. The lid not only extents out to 180 degrees, but also flips the lid to the backside so you can use the laptop as a tablet. It can also be used in a tent and display modes, similar to the Lenovo Yoga. For a lot of people, it won’t be used all that often, but if you’re looking for a laptop as versatile as a Surface Pro but is still actually a laptop, this design feature makes perfect sense.
Last year I thought the x360 was just a little too thick and heavy to be practical for use as a tablet. I still kind of think that way, even though they shaved off .1” and .5 lbs with this model, but it’s still actually far better than before. Holding it with one hand is much easier, for example, as taking that picture holding it one handed was so much less difficult than before. 2.8 lbs may be pretty hefty for a tablet, but as a laptop it’s about as good as it gets for such a well constructed metallic 13-incher.
Back to the design aspects, HP improved the screen bezels somewhat. The screen, which I’ll cover more later is 13.3” and the side bezels are about as small as they can get. But
unlike the XPS 13, which also has a small top bezel, the Spectre x360 still has some pretty chunky bezels on the top and bottom.
I’m ok with this though because centered at the top is a FHD webcam which also functions as a Windows Hello camera. This means there are some infrared sensors up there as well that can map out your face when unlocking your PC. Others might disagree, but I’d personally rather have a slightly thicker bezel with this webcam over no bezel and a cramped webcam.
On the bottom half, you have a pretty nice keyboard and a very large trackpad. I’ll cover both of those more in detail later, but the overall size of both is pretty good for such a small laptop. Above the keyboard is a grill that has stereo speakers behind it. This is another reason I can accept the large top and bottom bezels, because if they made them smaller, they would have to either cramp the keyboard and trackpad more or relocate those speakers.
Also note that on this palm rest area are some really tiny rubber feet to keep the metal from touching the surface when laying the laptop down in presentation mode. They are sufficient, but if you care about scratches on your device like I do, you’ll want to brush off the surface before laying your laptop down – those feet are only .5mm tall!
On the edges, HP scaled back on the connection options this year. It’s perfectly acceptable considering the design is so much smaller, as there literally isn’t space for a memory card slot anymore. On the right, there are two Thunderbolt 3 USB-C connections, side by side. They both double as charging circuits as well and are properly spaced apart so both can be used at once. Adjacent to them is a volume rocker, which is functional no matter what mode you are in. Believe it or not, the volume controls on that rocker actually intuitively flip directions when you flip the lid past 180 degrees. Unfortunately, it doesn’t flip directions based om how you hold it as a tablet, but I guess you can’t get everything you want.
On the left hand side, there’s a single USB 3.1 type A slot. More kudos for designing it to be somewhat practical instead of shoving USB-C down everyone’s throat too early. Next to that is a headphone/mic combo. There’s also an exhaust vent for the GPU and on the other side is a recessed power button. I’m normally not a fan of side power buttons, but this one is pretty tough to accidentally press and is certainly necessary to use the tablet, tent and presentation modes more efficiently.
That’s about it for connectivity as the front and back edges are bare. What’s missing from last year is the SD card reader, mini display port, HDMI and the Windows button. Other than the Windows button, those might be some pretty significant losses to some of you, but all can be solved by buying an appropriate USB-C dongle to convert the connection. It’s still a step above the Macbook and even the new Macbook Pro.
Overall, I’m very pleased with the new design this year. HP has slimmed down the chassis and it still feels rock solid. The weight is perfect for laptop use and fairly reasonable for tablet use as well. I’m forgiving for the lack of connectivity because if you look at how close the internals are, there isn’t much space for anything without compromising something else. So I really wouldn’t want anything changed for future models, with maybe the exception of a microSD slot or something.
Keyboard and trackpad
Two things that didn’t need to improve over last year’s model were the keyboard and trackpad. HP pretty much left the keyboard the same, which is a good thing. I was able to adapt and type on it pretty quickly and there’s little or nothing I can complain about. The key layout is very logical and very well sized. The only keys that are small are the up and down arrows – typical for 13-inchers.
The actual keystroke is a little shallow, measuring 1.25mm with my calipers. I also measured the weight required to actuate a keystroke and got 62 grams. Sure the keystroke is shallow, but it’s actually really good for such a thin design. It didn’t affect me much anyways, because when I took a typing test, I scored 54wpm right off the bat(my average is roughly 50).
The only thing they changed was a column of keys on the right hand side. This added dedicated home, pgup, pgdn and end keys. By consequence, it allowed the bottom row to spread out a little, making the Alt keys a little wider. I’m splitting hairs here, but I think I would have rather had it the way it was before, mainly because I find myself off center when typing sometimes. My left palm is so close to the edge of the palmrest that it just doesn’t seem right. In fact, the first couple times I typed on this machine, I was actually off to the right by a key for many of my keystrokes. It was a simple adjustment to fix though, so again, splitting hairs.
The keyboard is also backlit and comes with only a single level of brightness – on and off. Like last year, you won’t want the backlighting on during the day because it further reduces the already bad contrast on the keycaps. One good thing is when you turn off the backlighting, every key light turns off, including that F5 key. On the last model, that key was always on and it was super annoying to look at while watching a movie.
For the most part, having only the one level of backlighting is pretty acceptable. I do with there was a level between off and on though. One thing that I can easily notice is some of the keys are significantly brighter than others. It’s not ugly and certainly not a deal breaker but those keys in particular(P, [, W) seem too bright to me.
Probably my only valid complaint about the keyboard is the contrast of the keys. It’s starting to become a pet peeve of mine and I wish manufacturers would start paying more attention to this. Silver keycaps on a silver chassis, with grey lettering and white backlight is NOT a good thing. It’s not so bad in evenly lit rooms, but if you’re outside or next to a window, the sunlight really makes it difficult to see the keys. Backlighting only makes it worse too. The only solution is having keycaps with some contrast, such as black.
The trackpad is also something that stayed the same, which is also a good thing. Actually I take it back, it changed a little. HP shaved off a little on the trackpad width, making it 120mm wide now. The height is the same at 60mm. Yes it’s a little smaller than before but it’s still wider than almost every other trackpad out there. To me, this is an improvement because I’m even less likely to accidentally hit the trackpad now, while typing.
The surface of the trackpad is glass, so it’s very smooth to touch and use. Gestures registered perfectly for me and I had no problems with tracking the mouse pointer. I typically do single and double taps, not clicking, but both worked perfectly fine for me. The right click is actually a little far over, if you’re used to traditional trackpads, so you’ll probably want to convert to double tap on this one.
It’s a Synaptics brand touchpad so the three finger swipe gestures are programmed for app switching only. The two finger scrolling is very smooth on both Chrome and Edge. Pinch to zoom works pretty well but the trackpad is a little short so it’s not always the easiest to do. Overall, I’m very impressed with the trackpad.
This Spectre x360 is equipped with a 1920 x 1080 pixel resolution 13.3-inch IPS touchscreen.
Like last year, it has excellent viewing angles and a maximum screen brightness that lets you use it pretty much anywhere except maybe in direct sunlight. My panel has zero backlight bleed on the edges, making using it at night far less annoying than some competitor IPS screens out there.
I almost immediately thought this was the same screen as last year, but it isn’t. The panel model is CMN1367, but in almost every way it’s the same as last year, as the specs I measured are very similar. Still, there’s one key feature missing this year – the active digitizer.
Honestly, I was shocked when I realized this was removed. I even planned ahead and borrowed a Dell stylus to try out with this machine. It wouldn’t connect though, and that’s when I verified that there was actually no digitizer on board. It’s a shame too, because it’s actually a feature that I think people would use more, especially now that they reduced the overall size and weight of the machine.
Update: While this specific Spectre x360 13-w0XX
variant does not get pen support, there are newer Spectre x360 13-ACxxx models with an N-trig digitizer. Only some pens are supported on this newer generation, the Dell active pen mentioned above is not one of them, but the Microsoft Surface pens should work just fine and HP also offers a compatible option.
The touch panel works well by itself though. It’s actually better than last year because they chose a more oleophiobic surface than before. My fingers would easily glide on the panel, leaving very little fingerprints. The hinge is pretty sturdy too, so the screen doesn’t wobble all that much when using touch.
Unfortunately, HWinfo doesn’t have an exact part number so it’s hard to give the concrete specs. The only thing I have is it’s made by Chi Mei with model CMN1367. The panel is 60Hz, 1080p. The viewing angles are near perfect, with the ability to view text at pretty much any extreme angle with no color distortion.
Out of the box, the colors looked pretty good and I didn’t see much of a need to calibrate the display. I did so anyways though and also measured some of the screen specs. I got measured gamut values of 94% coverage for sRGB, 69% NTSC and 73% aRGB. This is pretty typical for a normal gamut IPS screen. At full brightness, the contrast ratio was measured to be 700:1. Max brightness was measured to be 327 nits, while the minimum went as low as 15 nits.
Panel HardwareID: Chi Mei CMN1367;
Coverage: 94% sRGB, 69% NTSC, 73% AdobeRGB;
Max brightness in the middle of the screen: 311 cd/m2 on power;
Contrast at max brightness: 700:1;
White point: 6700 K;
Black on max brightness: 0.45 cd/m2;
Below is a chart showing the brightness distribution of the screen.
Hardware, performance and upgrade options
The new Spectre x360 is powered by a Core i7-7500U Kaby Lake CPU, and 8GB of RAM. This is a noticeable upgrade to Skylake i7-6500U, with a .4Ghz increase in boost clock speed and faster RAM. Multitasking was about as smooth as it gets and there is very little to complain about when it comes to the combination of power and versatility.
The SSD that comes with the machine is your typical Samsung PM951. It’s not the fastest NVMe drive available, but it’s still pretty good and has pretty much become the most popular SSD for laptop manufacturers to put into their machines. The model I received comes with 256GB and you can view the CrystalDisk benchmarks in the screenshot I took.
Upgrading the SSD is pretty simple, but getting the cover open in order to do it isn’t. At a glance it looks like only 6 T6 Torx screws hold the cover on, but there an additional two phillips screws underneath the rubber feet on the top. They peel off, but you have to be really careful about it. Also, you risk the tape losing adhesion the more you peel them off, so be careful. The only thing there is to upgrade is the SSD though, so opening the laptop more than once is pretty unlikely.
The Wifi performance was also very good on this machine, coming with an Intel AC 8265 chip. At approximately 30 feet from my router, I was maxing out my download speeds of 90.0Mbps. I went out on my pool deck, which is over 50 feet away and separated by two walls and got the same maxed out signal. No complaints with connection stability with this one – I was able to stay connected everywhere I went.
There’s not a whole lot to say about the connectivity options because there really isn’t much on this machine. It’s not as bad as a Macbook, but it’s close to the new Macbook Pro since they removed all video outputs and replaced it with Thunderbolt 3. They also removed a dedicated charging port, since one of the Tunderbolt ports can be used for that as well. Also missing is the memory card reader.
One good thing though is they included a legacy USB Type A port. This is a must have, in my opinion, and it’s baffling how often it is omitted on newer laptops such as the Macbook and even the HP Spectre 13. The only thing I wish they did though was swap it with one of the Thunderbolt 3 USB-C ports so that one would be on each side. Being forced to charge on the right side is not optimal for everyone, so it would have been nice to have a choice.
Below are some of the benchmarks I ran. As I expected, there’s a significant improvement over the i7-6500U machines and a huge improvement over the Broadwell x360 I reviewed last year.
3Dmark 13: Sky Diver – 3974, Fire Strike – 923, Time Spy – 379
PCMark 08: Home Conventional – 2964, Accelerated – 3730
CineBench R15: OpenGL 44.75 fps, CPU 334 pts, CPU Single Core 145 pts.
I also got a chance to try my typical gaming benchmarks for Ultrabooks. A couple of them are maxed out so I think it’s time to pick some more demanding games. Anyways, here’s what I got:
Tomb Raider – normal 50-60
Tomb Raider – low 60
Borderlands 2 – medium 25-35
Borderlands 2 – low 33-41
Portal 2 – high 60
Portal 2 – medium 60
Starcraft 2 – medium 40-50
Starcraft 2 – low 90-110
These results aren’t all that bad for not having a dedicated GPU. As long as you don’t mind playing older titles and turning the graphics settings down, this laptop would be pretty sufficient to play some games on.
Noise, Heat, Connectivity, Speakers and others
The cooling system is a little different than last year’s model. There is a single fan on the left hand side that has an intake on the bottom and exhausts on the left edge. But now they also take advantage of the grill on the top and allow it to exhaust there as well, as there is a second smaller exhaust fan.
This laptop is even thinner than last year though, so it gets hot even quicker than before. Fortunately, the idle fan speed is pretty quiet and takes care of most of the heat for light tasks. From what I can tell, the fans pretty much stay off until the laptop hits 50C. Once that happens the side fan does pretty much everything. The second fan turns on at around 60C, so heavy tasks will utilize both fans together.
I took some readings using my sound detector. Ambient sound in my room was 20dB. During normal tasks, you can definitely distinguish the fan noise, however the noise level never broke 24dB. While playing a game, I ramped the fan all the way up but still only got a reading of 30dB, at the fan itself. These aren’t the loudest fans, that’s for sure, but they’re definitely audible in a totally silent room.
As for heat, the maximum CPU temperature I measured was 90C when pushing it with a game, but I did get spikes as high as 94C when benchmarking it. Once the fan kicks in though, temperatures pretty much equalize and stay pretty consistent. The heat does build up though and spreads throughout the chassis. I took some temperature readings while gaming and during normal use to see where the hot spots were. Here are my results:
*Daily Use – 1080p Youtube clip in EDGE for 30 minutes
*Load – playing Tomb Raider for 30 minutes on medium FHD settings
One pretty nice upgrade HP made with this model was adding a second set of speakers. On the front edge, you have your typical bottom facing speakers that most laptops tend to have. But at the top, above the keyboard, is a speaker grille with a second set. I was a little skeptical of HP’s quad speakers after reviewing the x2 tablet, but these speakers actually sound really good.
Pretty good speakers, with an extra set placed on top of the keyboard
I played my typical tune to gather my sound readings and judge the bass levels. I measured a maximum level of 75 dB at my ear level, while listening to music with the laptop on my lap. The bass levels are detectable at levels as low as 80 Hz. Overall the sound was very clear and there was very little distortion at maximum volume levels. There’s also some pretty good EQ software to tune things the way you like.
Considering the size of the laptop and the lack of space on the inside, I’m pleasantly surprised as to how this sounds. Of course there’s room for improvement, but I think it’s above average for sure. Considering how many ways you can hold and position this device, four speakers is a must have – it’s a good thing they made that improvement.
The FHD camera is something that is pretty decent on this machine. In a well lit room, the camera does a very good job displaying a clear picture, with both pictures and video. Unfortunately, the low light exposure isn’t all that hot, but it’s still pretty decent and is much better than some of the junky webcams available. I took a picture of myself in a room with a 60W lightbulb about 12 feet away to show the extent of the graininess.
The biggest part of the camera to like though is the Windows Hello feature. On both sides of the camera are some infrared sensors, which light up and detect your face when you turn on the laptop. You have to set it up initially to get it to work and you’ll probably have to “improve the settings” a couple times before it can be reliable enough. I’ve improved it a total of three times now and it has detected my face probably 20 times in a row now. The really impressive part is since it’s using infrared, it’s able to do this at night in very dark rooms. I opened it in a pitch black room once and it unlocked perfectly.
Finally, another nice thing HP offers is a premium leather sleeve. It’s a good snug fit and works well – there’s nothing else to say except thanks.
My battery test consists of using the stock “Power Saver” power profile, 40% brightness (60 nits), WiFi off, Bluetooth off, and running a 720p movie in a continuous loop at full screen with the volume muted. I start the clock when it’s unplugged and stop it when the unit performs a self- shutdown. The HP Spectre x360 lasted a whopping 14 hours and 29 minutes before shutting down. If that’s not the longest I have ever measured, it’s pretty darn close.
Unfortunately, like all the other HP machines I’ve reviewed, neither Batterymon or HWinfo give me any readings on the battery discharge rate. So it’s pretty much impossible to give you any estimates on total wattage and battery life during typical scenarios. I can say that throughout my use, I found the battery life to be pretty impressive though.
One specific example I can give is typing this review. I have had Chrome and Word open the whole time, actively using both, and my screen is set at 100% brightness because I’m fighting the sun on the window behind me. After 2 hours, my battery level has dropped by only 25%. Considering the screen brightness is set so high, I find that to be pretty darn good.
The key, I think, is keeping the power profile set on balanced. This allows the CPU to drop down to a lower state, which has a TDP down of only 7.5W. If you’re in high performance mode, your TDP shoots up to 15W and can go as high as 25W, which will destroy your hopes of having decent battery life.
As expected, the power adapter is pretty light and portable, weighing only 10.8oz. But it comes with a pretty cool feature that I’ve never seen before – the ability to either have brick that lies on the floor or one that plugs directly on the wall. Inside the box, they give you both and you can swap them out as needed. I never thought I would want this choice, but it’s actually pretty cool.
Price and availability
At the time of this review, Amazon currently has prices ranging from $1200-1300 for the i7 version, while the Core i5 configuration sells for around $1050, with 8 GB of RAM and a 256 GB SSD. You can
find more about the available configurations and their prices at the time you’re reading this post via this link.
There are quite a few other retailers selling them as well – just be sure the version you are getting isn’t the one from last year. The key is looking for the Core i7-7500U / i5-7200U processor in the specs lists and for the small bezels in the pictures.
Overall, I couldn’t be more pleased with this laptop. It certainly is a fantastic mix of portability, versatility and power. I don’t get to say this often, but they also did a good job improving the minor issues with the Spectre x360 of last year. HP took a great machine and made it even better. Thinking back to all the 13-inchers I’ve seen in the past, there really isn’t one I could currently recommend over this one – especially considering the price.
I think the only thing I can legitimately ding them on is removing the pen support. I have a feeling there will be a number of people upgrading their current model and blindly expecting to have this feature. I hope HP will consider bringing it back in future models. I guess I can also ding them on the keycaps. They really need to be black! Hopefully HP is listening.
The main highlight of the machine for me is the small footprint and overall size. This is an area that puts this machine in
direct competition with the XPS 13. In some ways they are both about equal, but when you consider the extra speakers, the ability to flip the screen around, a FHD Windows Hello webcam and the extra wide trackpad, I think I can give Spectre x360 a significant edge. I’ve had both and if I had $1300 to spend, I’d go with HP no questions asked.
There are however a few convertibles you could also consider, like the
Lenovo Yoga 910, Asus Zenbook Flip S and Samsung Notebook Pro 9.
So that wraps up this review. This was a loaner unit, so I won’t have it available to do anymore testing. But I can certainly answer any questions based on my short time with the machine. Feel free to leave a comment in the section below, if you have any.
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Navigation: Ultrabookreview.com » 13 inch
Derek Sullivan Derek Sullivan - Review Editor
. In addition to being a tech enthusiast, I have a career as a Biomedical Engineer. I enjoy taking things apart, figuring out how they work, and finding ways to make them better. My other hobbies include spending time with my family, "Do it yourself" projects such as home automation, and running.
November 22, 2016 at 2:10 pm
Thank you very much for this Review! It really seems to be the perfect laptop! If just for one thing… will it work with an external GPU? I have Heard different stories of this matter.
One guy (fakebanana) in a Reddit-thread says it definitely works with the Razer Core. Please see this link: https://www.reddit.com/r/eGPU/comments/587xju/my_experience_with_the_razer_core_spectre_x360/
While others say HP does not allow eGPU for their laptops (at least not their previous ones, like the "HP Spectre").
If you have the possibility, could you please check whether the new Spectre x360 will work with an eGPU? I know there are many people out there wondering the same thing as me!
Thank you again for ultrabookreview.com, it's really awesome! :)
November 22, 2016 at 3:02 pm
I actually sold my Razer Core a couple months ago and I'm kind of regretting it now since I can no longer test that feature out. I'd say if someone reported it working though, there's a good chance they are telling the truth. HP, Dell, Acer, etc are all going to say they "don't support" eGPUs because they don't want to have anything to do with troubleshooting them when something goes wrong. I've also heard the HP Spectre didn't work with it but ad far as I know, only one person has tried and posted results and there's no info as to how much effort they put into it. It could have been just a matter of a bios setting or wrong Thunderbolt driver. Also consider that this is Kaby Lake and not Skylake, so the Thunderbolt 3 is built into the CPU and not a chip that was to be added onto the motherboard, like with Skylake. So eGPUs may very well be enabled by default for all future machines, even though the manufacturer doesn't support it.
Edit: Correction, Kaby Lake CPUs might still contain the TB3 controller. Perhaps the integration in only with certain chipsets.
November 22, 2016 at 3:32 pm
I really hope that you are right, that would mean an instant buy for me. And perfect time with black friday incoming and all :-D.
I just wished someone could post a video or something to actually "prove" that it works. There are currently no eGPUs available in Sweden, and I don't want to buy the Spectre x360 now just to find out later that it doesn't work with eGPUs.
But thank you for the Quick answer! :-)
November 22, 2016 at 4:02 pm
Yeah, that's a pretty expensive endeavor to pursue without something more concrete. Actually, Andrei just pointed out an article to me that contradicted my previous comment. Apparently there are some Kaby Lake CPUs that still don't have native Thunderbolt 3 support and it's still a separate controller. I read a couple months ago that it was upposed to be integrated, but that might just be with certain chipsets. There are still only a handful of Kaby Lake CPUs in the wild.
November 22, 2016 at 5:05 pm
Yes I know, Andrei has said that to me too in a previous article's comment section. :-)
I have been waiting for the perfect "ultrabook with eGPU"-setup for more than a year now, but this ultrabook+eGPU-dream still feels like only a Dream and as if it won't become reality for a long time still. It should be possible though since the technical capabilities exist but the distribution to customers seems to be extremely slow for some reason.
For example the Razer Core only exist in a few countries and still only works good with even fewer laptops (Razer's + at some degree with Dell's XPS-series).
ASUS ROG XG Station 2 was announced early 2016 and there is still no release date for it ín any country. There isn't even any ASUS ultrabooks with Thunderbolt 3 (ok, sure the T3 Pro, but still…) which is even more perculiar. I mean the UX310U and the UX306 should really have had TB3 with support for eGPU.
ACER's Graphics Dock I believe exists in US and Germany, and is advertised to only work with two or Three Acer laptops. And I have Heard of no Updates from the now outdated 960m either.
It all just seems really weird. One would Think they should be fighting each other on which one has the best eGPU-solution this close to Black Friday and Christmas but no…
Sorry for my bad English by the way, it's not my native language. I hope you understand what I'm trying to say anyway! :)
And once again, thank you for the Quick reply! :)
March 31, 2018 at 7:49 am
Great article. I've just bought this on eBay. What is a good dock for this Spectre? I have 2 monitors, audio, an USB-A EHD, and a printer, wireless keyboard and mouse.
April 2, 2018 at 9:51 pm
I have a tough time recommending usb-c docks. Most of them are really glitchy. I have HP's TB3 docking station at work and it took me forever to get it to work properly. It's very expensive too. The best one I've seen is from Cable Matters but I believe HP locks users out from using it(I'm not positive on this but I remember reading it wasn't compatible). Sorry, wish I could help more in this area but I can't.
April 3, 2018 at 1:08 am
Thanks, Derek. I might stick to the just connecting one monitor. Keep it simple.
April 3, 2018 at 1:15 am
If you are ok with single monitor, the smaller Cable Matters dock on Amazon has stellar reviews and is only $40. Good luck!
November 24, 2016 at 1:53 pm
Hello, and much thanks for this review !
My question is slightly off-topic : when should we expect to hear from you about the new Yoga 910 from Lenovo ?
This one and the 2016's x360 are my favorites candidates for replacement of my old laptop.
Thanks again :-)
Colin, from France
November 24, 2016 at 2:14 pm
No plans to get one yet but I'll keep it in my radar.
November 24, 2016 at 2:30 pm
Ok, thanks for answering.
November 25, 2016 at 3:24 am
I'm holding off buying a laptop these days just to wait for Bluetooth 5. I always listen music via laptop and Bluetooth speaker and new features are promising in the 5th release. Do you have any update on when the new Bluetooth chips will be released?
Thanks for the review.
November 25, 2016 at 9:50 am
Not really, and to be frank I haven't looked into it.
November 25, 2016 at 3:04 pm
thanks for the great review!
I'm leaning towards buying the spectre, but i was also looking at the samsung ativ spin. Now the spectre is newer and with all the lates technology, but the fan noise, and especially the high pitch, bothers me, a lot. I'm very sensetive to that high pitch. But i didn't notice any compliants about noise with the samsung.
Do you have any insight about this? if there is a big difference between the two? and how bad is the hp at reguler use (writing, browsing and youtubing)?
thank a lot!
November 25, 2016 at 3:19 pm
Unfortunately I can't compare since I've never had the Samsung in my hands. I imagine it had to at just make some noise though.
I can't say I'd describe the Spectre fans as high pitched. I'm not that sensitive to it though, so it's tough to go off of just me. I'd recommend visiting the forums and ask some people there. If there's bad fan noise, there will most definitely be people complaining there.
January 21, 2017 at 12:53 pm
I'm also sensitive to noise. I had both the Samsung Notebook 9 Spin and late 2016 HP Spectre x360 for more than a month and both were very quiet in everyday use. I'm not don't use heavily graphic or CPU intensive applications or games, but both laptops remained silent or whisper-quiet while watching video, browsing with many tabs open, playing 2D games, etc.
November 27, 2016 at 1:40 pm
Thanks for the review. I have a question related to fan noise. I bought the asus ux360uak (i5-7200). I am considering to return it due to the loudness of the machine. It's on for 80 % of the time even when just light browsing and reading some pdfs or word processing and my phone sounds meter measures on average 30-32 dB for this type of work. From the moment my virus scanner starts or some windows update that takes 30 – 50 % usage and temperature rises till 55 °C, it measures on average 44-48 dB.
So I'm considering of returning it and wanted to ask you if the noise from the new spectre x360 is considerably lower, or it may emit the same strength of noise.
November 27, 2016 at 4:27 pm
I wish I could give you a definitive answer, but I can't in this case. I've never personally had the Zenbook Flip so comparing our sound readings is apples and oranges. I use the sound meter in Android sensor box on a Galaxy S7 edge, if you want to try and make things more consistent with our readings. I usually take readings at the ear level and also right at the fan. Sorry I can't help more.
November 27, 2016 at 4:31 pm
On a side note, Andrei reviewed the Zenbook Flip and also also mentioned the fan noise was too aggressive. The way he put it almost sounds like what I witnessed with the x360. Truth is, with laptops that small, it doesn't take a whole lot of usage for the CPU to overheat. Again I can't compare how loud the fans actually are, but it's a pretty good bet they both spin up in similar manners.
November 29, 2016 at 6:31 am
Alright thanks. So i ordered the spectre x360 and received it today. when the fan kicks in the noise is about the same. the big difference is however that the spectre x360's fan doesnt kick in that fast as the zenbook ux360. i'm a student so what i do is browse, read pdfs, work in onenote and watch videos and it didnt kick in while doing all these things at the same time.
January 21, 2017 at 2:44 pm
Hi what specs did you get? I'm also a student and am concerned about the fan noise.
December 2, 2016 at 9:18 am
I bought exactly this laptop on black Friday. Out of the boxit won't charge, won't recognize the ac adapter via USB C port. Spent hours with hp on the phone trouble shooting. It's going back. Apparently it's a known issue on previous gen that hasn't been addressed. It is affecting a lot of people. I repeat it won't charge! The most rudimentary of defects!
December 2, 2016 at 9:28 am
That's terrible! I've read that about another model as well. Sucks to see even this one can be susceptible to it.
December 2, 2016 at 9:40 am
Derek, I was so disappointed. Prior to arrival, I was literally elated for days because I got a great price (directly from hp) and my old machine is a 15 inch asus i7 that is HEAVY. IMHO the unit has beautiful aesthetics, the fit and finish (externally at least) are top notch and the metal body and design give apple a run…. but I digress, their quality control is pretty shoddy. I can't think of the last time I bought any electronic product which had issues charging right out of the box. The service/techs on the phone were nice and pleasant, but this whole experience has me re-thinking HP in general. Currently, in the process of exchange except that this unit is now on back order so I'll have wait three weeks (we had to refund this defective unit and create a new PO). Will keep you posted.
January 21, 2017 at 12:58 pm
Defective unit obviously that should be returned. Mine has been fine for about two months now. No quality issues at all–and believe me I was looking out for them since I had until January 15 to return it.
December 3, 2016 at 4:26 pm
thanx brother for this great review, but i have question about HP pavilion specialy core i5 one ,
Whats its cons and pros and what about overheating, is it still present in the recent generations??!
Thank you again 😊
December 3, 2016 at 4:52 pm
I haven't spent much more than a few minutes with the Pavilion, in Best Buy. The trackpad, keyboard and the overall build quality are a little lower in quality. It's still decent but you're getting what you pay for. Also, the laptop is significantly thicker. I don't know offhand but it's probably between .8-.9" thick. It probably cools a little better than the Spectre though since there's more space. No promises though.
December 3, 2016 at 6:29 pm
I've now spent a few hours with the new x360 13 and I agree with a lot of what's written here but the heat issue that I had with the last gen x360 13 and that I'm now having with my x360 15; is very much present here as well.
This is really a beautiful little machine. I just set one up for a friend and ended up keeping it overnight and with her permission, I installed an old game onto it, ran some videos and other tasks. 3-hours later I walked away saying damn this machine has the exact same heat issue for me in the left palm rest area as the last gen x360 13 had for me.
I don't understand how this type of issue is not a problem for everyone. I guess it comes down to skin sensitivity levels of various people. I love hot water but I'm the guy who can find a spa/hot tub, a bit too hot at first while some other people can jump right in. I'm only interested in 15" machines now so that would be a no-go for me.
Excluding the screen size, the only issues I have with this unit are the heat issues I just mentioned (which also extend to other areas being too hot; but those other areas are only touched if in tablet mode or sitting on your lap, which I never do). Also the current lack of QHD or 4K display is a no go for me. Otherwise, everything else about the machine goes from good to great.
December 8, 2016 at 4:11 am
Does the new samsung evo 960 fit into this laptop ?
December 8, 2016 at 7:39 am
December 14, 2016 at 2:09 am
Any idea if this works with HP's thunderbolt 3 docks?
December 14, 2016 at 10:06 am
Depends on which one. I use the HP workstation TB3 dock(for the Zbook Studio G3) at work and it has the power connection built into the TB3 connection. That won't fit on the spectre for sure. The dock is also extremely buggy so I wouldn't recommend it anyways. If it's only a single TB3 connector though, it's a good bet it's probably compatible. That goes for most docks, not just HPs.
December 16, 2016 at 4:27 pm
this a good laptop
December 21, 2016 at 2:26 am
can you recommend a multi-port adapter for this computer?
The ones i saw were only for mac.
December 21, 2016 at 9:13 am
I can't sorry. I've only dealt with a couple proprietary ones so far myself.
December 21, 2016 at 2:39 pm
Was there a particular sort of multi-port adapter you were looking for? I have a HooToo Shuttle multi-port that has 3 USB 3.0 ports, an SD card reader, HDMI output and USB-C passthru that seems to work reasonably well. The only unfortunate part of the adapter is that it's designed for Macs, so everything is set up on the wrong side of the x360.
December 28, 2016 at 5:51 pm
Thanks for the great review. I just purchased this laptop, and so far, the one thing I can't figure out is whether or not it's possible to disable the touchpad while I'm typing, outside of the device settings. With other HP laptops, I was able to double-tap at the top-left-hand corner of the pad, and it doesn't appear I can do that on this one. Any insight on that?
December 29, 2016 at 8:29 am
It looks like they didn't include any shortcut keys. Might want to double check the Trackpad settings for an option. Otherwise you're stuck with 3rd party solutions such as touchfreeze.
January 2, 2017 at 11:45 pm
I've been using this laptop for about a month and am really enjoying its build quality, portability, and versatility of the 360-degree hinge. One nice "extra" I discovered is that it can charge (albeit very slowly, and only if the computer is in sleep or hibernate or off altogether) using any regular USB power adapter. This came in very handy when I forgot the power adapter at home on a recent trip. I simply plugged the laptop (using a USB-C to USB-A cable) into my iPad power adapter and it charged overnight (full charge from empty took maybe 10 hours); I also "topped up" the charge any chance I got (e.g. the USB power port on the plane). Not ideal but better than nothing!
February 24, 2017 at 12:36 am
Hi, are you talking about charging the ipad from the laptops charging port or charging the laptop via external battery into the usb-c? I'd like to know if the x360 can charge from an external battery pack (like the mac can) so I could leave the charger at home all together? there is a rav power 30W battery pack with usb-c output that might do the job but compatibility on previous gen x360 was not good.
January 12, 2017 at 5:45 am
Using this computer for about a week now, and i love it!
Light, looks amazing, and fast!
but..the speakers are a bit of a disappointment. They distort from a very low volume, and even when its only people speaking. It's sounds a bit like small shattering sound.
Because this is a laptop, i'm not expecting much, and i read that hp support doesn't offer a good sollution. But I still wounder if it's only my model and if I should send it to hp labs?
January 14, 2017 at 1:16 am
Hi, thanks for this great review. Using this machine for the past one month and really loving it. Over the time, I think the login time (with windows hello) has slowed down a bit. In the begining, from the time I turn the power button on, the machine would be up and ready to launch apps within 5 seconds… now it takes may be 10-15 seconds. Also, my machine has a bit more yellow on the screen than necessary I fell. I mean, the white colors are not reproduced as pure white but with a more than necessary dose of yellow. I would like to calibrate the screen.. Can someone help me do this and point to some tools I can use? Other than these minor quirks I love this machine.
January 14, 2017 at 9:47 am
I personally use a Spyder4Pro. It works pretty good and has a few different white points to choose from as a baseline. If you choose that brand, you'll probably want the updated Spyder5 model. The Express version is good enough for the casual user but if you're seriously into calibrating your monitors for professional reasons, you really should use the Pro or Elite versions. If you want the best, I hear x-Rite i1display Pro is the way to go. It's expensive though.
January 22, 2017 at 3:32 pm
The Spectre x360 (late 2016) has a terrible problem with battery drain while the system is shut down. Just do a Google search for "Spectre x360 battery drain while off" or similar to see how widespread this problem is. Typical drain is about 12% over 24 hours while in shutdown mode. HP support forums are filled with people complaining about this and no solution which works. I've had three units now, all with the same problem. One was sent back to HP for repair. Took them two weeks, and it wasn't fixed. After my third one exhibited the same problem, the HP Escalation Team manager emailed me to say that battery drain of this magnitude while off is normal behavior. WTF? In other words, they can't fix the problem.
Quality control also seems to be a problem with these units. In the 3 units I've had, one had a loose trackpad which rattled, one had a defective camera that would not focus, and two had audio problems that result in the sound suddenly getting very soft or cutting out altogether.
These would be great machines if they worked. Sadly, they don't. Stay away. You might think about revising your review to reflect this problem.
January 23, 2017 at 9:59 pm
Thanks for the feedback. I didn't have that problem personally but I also wasn't looking for it either. I usually always have it on the charger when I'm not using it long term. I'll look into it though and update the post.
February 8, 2017 at 10:00 am
I had this as well, but found a 3rd party fix on hp support forums. Now it's holding charge with zero losses!
March 12, 2017 at 12:57 pm
What was the 3rd party app?
March 16, 2017 at 3:17 pm
There is no 3rd party app. Alex is talking about the "sphinx fix" which was released by HP but they were really unclear about that. All x360s come with that pre-installed now. The original packaging will say "sphinx step" if it has already been applied. Solves the problem for a few, fails for most.
January 25, 2017 at 6:52 pm
Have you seen the new HP Elitebook x360? It is a business version of the consumer Spectre x360. It does have the active stylus support that is now missing in the Spectre. Is this HP's answer to those that want the active stylus, or do they plan on supporting the stylus in other 13 inch models (the 15 inch Spectre supports active pen). The Elitebook x360 is supposed to be a more robust and attractive build, extra 'business' features, and a bit more expensive; would like to read your take on this option.
January 26, 2017 at 1:57 pm
I haven't seen it personally but that's pretty typical of HP to make a business version of the spectre. They also did it with the x2 tablet, by giving it a fingerprint reader and an m5 processor. I'm not sure if the quality is better, but the price is certainly higher. I'm sure a lot of that cost goes towards support.
January 26, 2017 at 12:52 pm
Thank you very much for the review.
Further I want to know whether the Hp-Spectre x360- W0XX can be upgraded from 8 GB to 16 GB RAM. I think it has 2 RAM slots.
January 26, 2017 at 1:31 pm
I'm pretty sure the RAM was soldered on the board for this model.
July 16, 2020 at 4:13 am
RAM is soldered to the motherboard. The only internal upgrade possible is the M.2 SSD. You can go up to 1tb (Crucial sells a compatible M500 model).
February 5, 2017 at 3:40 am
What would be your choice between the latest razer bl stealth w the higher res display vs this hp spectre?
Are the battery life comparable or is hp better by a large margin, if you had the opportunity to test both?
Thanks a lot for your insights…
February 6, 2017 at 11:09 am
I'd pick the HP Spectre all the way. Razer even states that the battery life is significantly worse with the 4k screen and the Spectre appeared to have better battery life than even the QHD Razer Blade. The HP has the edge with it's multiple uses with the 360 degree screen and the better keyboard. The size, weight and trackpad are virtually equivalent. The HP also looks much more professional though, which is a bigger deal to me honestly and pretty much warrants any cost difference.
February 24, 2017 at 12:37 am
Can i check if anyone has tried charging the x360 using an external battery pack instead of the charger? via the TB3 port?
April 23, 2017 at 9:57 am
I tried it with an Anker 10000 mAh power bank and I got a pop up that said "For full performance, connect a higher capacity power adapter." and the battery icon did not show the laptop charging at all.
July 16, 2020 at 4:14 am
I get the same message with mine, but it does show that it's charging. And it's sl-o-o-o-ow.
September 2, 2017 at 8:08 pm
You need to take down, or fix the part about n-trig support. This specific laptop model is not pen supported and the information contained in your "update" is incorrect.
September 2, 2017 at 8:19 pm
This model is not supported with stylus. Users have reported that there are no active styluses compatible with this specific model. The "update" portion to this laptop is misleading and should be taken down.
September 3, 2017 at 4:42 am
Hi, thanks for the heads-up, you're right and that was a mistake on my part. I've edited the update.
November 12, 2017 at 9:07 am
Thanks for the great review :-)
I've just bought the new Spectre x360 13 i7-8550u and I'm very happy with that notebook.
But I'm wondering about a suitable docking port with charge function.
HP has 2-3 thunderbolt 3 docks but none of these are suitable or even tested with a Spectre X360 and even less with the newest one 8. generation.
I've read so many article but I'm not sure which one will work.
There is one with 90 W and one with 150 W.
Have you experiences with docks for the Spectre x360 13 especially the newest one with USB-C thunderbolt 3?
Thanks + best regards
November 13, 2017 at 4:52 am
Hi, I don't have any experience with TB3 docks, so can't really help here. You should try to dig out more about them on the forums, reddit and amazon. Sry
July 16, 2020 at 4:16 am
I've used the ThunderDock from Macsales.com. It won't charge the Spectre, but the ports work.
November 20, 2017 at 1:33 pm
Hi, great write-up. I'm doing some Black Friday "research" and Best Buy has the following for $1,000 USD + tax:
Spectre x360 2-in-1 13.3" Touch-Screen Laptop – Intel Core i7 – 16GB Memory – 512GB Solid State Drive – HP finish in natural silver
This HP comes with the 8th generation i7-8550U, an upgrade from what you reviewed (I think; correct me if I'm wrong).
I am also looking at the following from Costco, which is going for $1,000 USD + tax:
ASUS ZenBook UX430UN Laptop – Intel Core i7 – 2GB NVIDIA Graphics -1080p
The ASUS also comes with the 8th generation i7-8550U Processor 1.8GHz. But the ASUS also comes with 2GB NVIDIA GeForce MX150 Graphics, which is certainly not top of the line but way better than an integrated Intel HD 620, per a notebookcheck.net comparison. You also reviewed this ASUS but it had the older i7-7500U and Nividia GT 940MX.
Obviously, the glaring differences are the dedicated graphics card on the ASUS, the touch screen on the HP, and the more modern port options on the HP (Thunderbolt 3). I'm thinking of a school laptop (take lecture notes with touch screen, essays, run some programming software, etc) that may be able to do a little gaming so I am leaning towards the HP Spectre. I've never had a touch-enabled laptop before, and that is certainly swaying my decision, but it may also be a gimmick that I end up not using in the classroom.
I guess my main concern is paying the same amount of money for a laptop that doesn't come with a dedicated GPU. I'm not sure if the touch screen truly justifies that for the HP but I also realize I'll only know its utility if I try to use it. On the other hand, having Thunderbolt 3 is certainly a good "future-proofing" measure if I ever want to shell out for an eGPU if I have the cash later, which takes me back to the HP.
TLDR: Would you get this HP Spectre or this ASUS ZenBook? Or are there other laptops in this price range that you would take over either of these? Thanks!
November 10, 2018 at 5:30 am
Hi S…may i know which one did you buy at the end? Because i'm facing the same problem like you..confused between these 2 options..thanks
May 26, 2018 at 10:04 pm
Product Name: HP Spectre x360 Convertible 13-w0xx
Operating System: Microsoft Windows 10 (64-bit)
Product Name: HP Spectre x360 Convertible 13-w0xx
Operating System: Microsoft Windows 10 (64-bit)
Brand new laptop (purchased 9/26/2017 Dar es Salaam, Tanzania) …same problem. Battery drains from 100% to 90% when the laptop is fully shut down in less than 24 hours. After two days, while fully shut down, battery drains to 80%. What happens in two weeks…I haven't tried yet, but suspect that the battery will be fully depleted. I have no attachments in the 1 USB port or 2 Thunderbolt Ports. I use a Microsoft Blutooth mouse. I have disabled USB charging while in shutdown
HP Spectre x360 Convertible 13-w0XX
Product # X7V19UAR#ABA
Serial No. [edited]
Operating System: Windows 10 Home 64-bit
Microprocessor: Intel(R) Core(TM) i7-7500U CPU @ 2.70GHz
System Bios: F.44
I attempted HP online assistance and was told that the overnight discharge was "normal" and is intended to eliminate static charge buildup. I was also told that startup after shutdown places a large drain on the battery and could decrease battery capacity. At that time I had not seen the continued depletion of the battery over a two day period. The HP support tech re-updated my bios (I had already done it) and the battery software. After those explanations and efforts the condition still exists (battery continues to discharge when shutdown).
After research online, I have seen several solutions posted, most of which are unsuccessful. Some individuals, however, report success.
While still searching for solutions and well within my warranty, I am trying this forum route for something I can do at home before surrendering my laptop…I am otherwise pleased with my purchase.
June 20, 2018 at 4:27 pm
I would seriously suggest anybody that buys this laptop, to buy also extended warranty since my broke in 13 month (after 12 month warranty expired). It has been taken to authorized service center, where they found our that motherboard is defective, they written to me that it is "consequence of normal use" That will cost me, if I decide to fix it, 740€. I have done some research in internet and found out that this is not a lonely case. The most concerning thin is that HP sends me replay that this is "normal"!!
September 1, 2018 at 12:52 am
Hey. Do you think you could post the calibration settings you did somewhere? Even though I know every screen is different, maybe it would help some people get their screen a little closer to accurate. Thanks!