The redesigned 13-inch HP Specter x360 is the company’s latest design triumph. With its faceted edges, beveled corners and unique colors, the new Specter x360 is really a feast for the eyes. And while this elegant 13.3-inch laptop is perhaps the nicest we’ve ever tested, the Specter x360’s 12-hour battery life, powerful performance, and powerful speakers are a perfect choice. Add a lively screen and a dead man’s button for physical webcams and the Specter x360 becomes our strong recommendation for anyone looking for an ultrabook, a 2-in-1 or just an excellent all-around laptop. Here is our HP Spectre x360 Review.
HP Spectre x360 Review – Design
Just like an artist who refines his profession, HP has gradually improved the design of his laptops with every new product. Now, with the Specter x360, the company has created a masterpiece. The streamlined aluminum chassis of the Specter x360 has a beautiful contour, with faceted edges and sharply beveled corners that look like cut by a master jeweler. These aggressive angles give the Specter x360 the kind of advanced elegance that you would expect from exorbitantly priced accessories sold by a luxury fashion designer.
Centered on the stylish lid of the laptop is a modern HP logo in gold-colored chrome; opening it shows a gold-trimmed touchpad next to Specter branding. Above the keyboard is a speaker grill inserted in an attractive triangular pattern. The Bang & Olufsen surf is directly underneath and a discreet fingerprint sensor is located in the lower right corner of the deck. The attention to detail is excellent and even extends to the accessories of the Specter x360: the synthetic leather case has a built-in stylus slot and the laptop’s charging cord is wrapped in nylon.
HP has abandoned the boring silver finish that we criticized last year and replaced it with two unique color schemes: Dark Ash Silver (purple/brown with gold accents) and Poseidon Blue (dark teal with pale accents). Like a 2-in-1, the Specter x360 can turn to tablet or tent mode and although the laptop looks like a jewel, the flexible hinges and the rigid lid feel solid.
The Specter x360 does not have many ports, but they are functional and future-proof. A Thunderbolt 3 charging port on the right offers super-fast transfer speeds and the ability to connect to multiple 4K monitors or an external GPU. On the right side of the laptop, there is also a headphone/microphone connection and microSD card slot. On the left side of the laptop is a lone USB 3.1 Type A port, a welcome addition, since most modern ultrabooks leave it for a slimmer design.
A second Thunderbolt 3 charging port neatly hides on the right-hand corner of the Specter x360. Smart positioning makes it easy to connect a power cord without having to move the device, and the rear-facing corner of the port prevents wires from getting out of the way. On the other hand, the illuminated on/off button on the opposite corner is somewhat problematic. The button presses in my palm when I hold the Specter x360 in tablet mode, and although quite a bit of pressure is needed to activate the Specter x360, you can induce unintended sleep if you are not careful.
HP Spectre x360 Review – Keyboard and TouchPad
HP did it again and adopted a super comfortable keyboard on a super cute chassis. With 1.4 millimeters of travel, the Specter x360 chiclet-style keyboard presses deeper than most of its ultrabook competitors. Yes, that is slightly less than our 1.5 mm preference, but the keys still feel spicy and offer excellent tactile feedback, perhaps due to their ideal 70 grams of actuation force. Better yet, the keys are large, spaciously spaced and offer two illuminated levels of brightness with background lighting, the highest being fairly light.
Back to the design of this beauty, even the large, simple HP font used on the keys looks sophisticated. The 4.7-inch touchpad of the Specter x360 responded quickly to my swipe movements and I appreciated how much real estate my fingers had to do, such as three-finger swipe to change windows or pinch to zoom.
HP Spectre x360 Review – Display
The Specter x360’s 13.3-inch, the 1080p touch screen could be lighter, but I still enjoyed watching movies and TV shows on the sharp and colorful screen. From aqua skin to fiery scarlet hair, the different colors in a trailer for the upcoming X-Men movie Dark Phoenix appeared on the display of the Specter x360. The swirl of fire that enveloped Dark Phoenix at the end of the trailer was a sea of powerful oranges and deep purple. The screen was so clear that I saw a boot floating among thousands of shards of wood as Jean Gray hovered in the air and looked at her opponent, Quicksilver, with threatening orange eyes.
The powerful colors of the panel reflect the ability of the Specter x360 to cover 150 percent of the sRGB color range. That makes the screen more colorful than those on the Gram 14 2-in-1 (128 percent), Yoga C930 (100 percent) and MateBook 13 (122 percent). The display on the average premium laptop (118 percent) is also not that lively.
In contrast to the lively screen of the Specter x360, the peak brightness is a bit of a disappointment. Although the panel is far from weak, it doesn’t get as bright at 287 nits as the category average (329 nits) or competing laptops such as the MateBook 13 (318 nits). On the other hand, the Yoga C930 (273 nits) and Gram 14 2-in-1 (253 nits) also fall short in this area.
HP Spectre x360 Review – Graphics
Because it is based on an integrated Intel UHD 620 GPU, the graphics performance of the Specter x360 is average for an ultrabook. You shouldn’t run into problems with demanding programs, such as Adobe Photoshop, or even play modern games at low settings, but a discrete GPU is required for more graphic-intensive tasks. The HP Specter scored a 90,977 on the 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited graphical benchmark test. That surpasses the category average (88,194) and two other Intel UHD 620 equipped laptops – the Yoga C930 (85,758) and Gram 14 2-in-1 (87,220) – but the discrete GeForce MX150 GPU in the MateBook 13 (141,995) crushed the competition.
HP Spectre x360 Review – Audio
“Wow.” That’s all I could do when the high-powered speakers of the Specter x360 sounded loud enough to fill a large meeting room. I certainly didn’t expect much on such a small machine. More importantly, the quality of the speakers is very good. When I listened to The Postal Service’s ‘Such Great Heights’, Ben Gibbard’s voice was clear and clear even when the volume was used up. There was a nice weightiness to the synth bass that generates the unique electric sound of the song. That bass guitar added energy to Swae Lee, Slim Jxmmi and the song “Guatemala” by Rae Sremmurd.
HP Spectre x360 Review – Performance
Equipped with an Intel Core i7-8565U CPU and 8GB RAM, the Specter x360 offered my demanding habits to surf the Internet without getting into a sweat. I loaded 20 Google Chrome tabs at the same time before streaming an Overwatch League match that passed the San Francisco shock throughout Washington Justice. There was no delay when I watched the epic Hot One’s YouTube video from Gordon Ramsey while that beatdown was playing in the background, along with two more Full HD Twitch streams and a 1080p gameplay video from The Division 2.
The Specter x360 performed well in our synthetic benchmarks, but competing ultrabooks have passed most tests. For example, the Specter x360 scored a 14,935 on the Geekbench 4.3 overall performance benchmark, which exceeds the category average (13,293) and the Yoga C930s (Core i7-8550U, 14,739), but does not meet the MateBook 13 (Core i7 -8565U, 17.214) and Gram 14 2-in-1 (Core 17-8565U, 15.943).
The 256GB PCIe NVMe M.2 SSD in the Specter x360 did well on our File Transfer test, where 4.97GB of mixed media data was duplicated in 13 seconds for a speed of 391.5 megabytes per second. This corresponds to the speed of the Gram 14 2-in-1 (512 GB M.2 SATA SSD, 391 MBps) and exceeds the efforts of the Yoga C930 (256 GB PCIe NVMe SSD, 339.3 MBps). None of those ultrabooks were able to keep up with the amazingly fast MateBook 13 (512GB NVMe SSD, 636 MBps), which exceeded the premium laptop average (548.4 MBps).
HP Spectre x360 Review – Heat
The HP Specter x360 remained fairly cool after we played a 15-minute full-HD video. While our heat gun registered a toasty 100 degree Fahrenheit on the lower hinge, the rest of the laptop, including the center of the keyboard (87 degrees), the touchpad (80 degrees) and the bottom (95 degrees) remained on or below us degrees of comfort threshold.
HP Spectre x360 Review – Battery Life
The HP Specter x360 is a champion marathon runner when it comes to battery life; in fact, it could easily take up to the second day of use depending on your workload. With an excellent running time of 12 hours and 7 minutes on the battery test (which includes continuous web surfing via Wi-Fi at 150 nits brightness), the Specter x360 lasted longer than the Yoga C930 (8:09), MateBook 13 (6: 15) and the category average a few hours. The Gram 14 2-in-1 (11:28) delivered a good fight but was also short of the Specter x360.
HP Spectre x360 Review – Conclusion
The HP Specter x360 excels in almost every area. The 2-in-1 has enticed me with its attractive laptop chassis and enchanted with excellent battery life, a world-class keyboard, and powerful speakers. The Specter x360 also offers strong performance and the 13.3-inch, a 1080p touch screen is sharp and colorful. Together with its new design, this year’s model introduces exciting new features such as a physical webcam kill switch and a discreet fingerprint sensor.
If it is not obvious, I am a big fan of the Specter x360. That said, the laptop is not perfect. First, competing ultrabooks are thinner and lighter, and the thick display frames of the Specter x360 almost endanger elegant design. Also, the screen, while lively, is not as bright as its competitors, and the Specter x360 is full of bloatware.
In general, however, HP beat it out of the park with the Specter x360. It is a convincing 2-in-1 and undoubtedly one of the best laptops on the market. That’s it with our HP Spectre x360 Review.
HP Spectre x360 Overall Rating – 9.1
The HP Spectre x360 is a stunning 2-in-1 with a vivid display, strong performance, and all-day battery life.
- Luxurious design
- Outstanding battery life
- Thin and lightweight
- Vivid 1080p display
- Class-leading keyboard
- Powerful speakers
- The display could be brighter
- Bezels are a bit thick