HP Spectre x360 Review Editor's Choice

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Editors' rating:
The Pros

Gorgeous, slim design; Speedy Intel 7th-Gen CPU, PCIe SSD; Powerful quad-speaker setup; Wide touchpad, fantastic clicky keyboard; Vibrant, accurate display; Has both USB-A and USB-C ports

The Cons

No SD/microSD card slot; Hinge could be a tiny bit stiffer

Verdict

HP's Spectre x360 is a superb 2-in-1 with a stunning design, great battery life and top-notch performance.

When I tell people they should buy a 2-in-1, systems like the HP Spectre x360 are the reason why. It's got all of the utility of a standard laptop, with the flexibility and intimate usability of a tablet. You also get rakish good looks, up to an Intel Core i7 CPU, and even a 4K display with stylus support if you want it. And with a starting price of just $1,050 ($1,300 as reviewed), the Spectre offers an exceedingly premium and adaptable system for a surprisingly agreeable price.

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Design

From top to bottom, the new Spectre x360 is the most striking 2-in-1 HP has ever made. And by shaving excess metal off from almost every side of the machine, HP also made the x360 one of the most portable 2-in-1s available. This spring, the Spectre x360 gets even better looking, thanks to a new copper and black paint job (which HP inexplicably calls Ash Silver).

What I love most about the Spectre x360 is how precise it feels. If the hard edges on its all-aluminum body were any sharper, they'd cut you, and the polished sides provide a great highlight accent to the Spectre x360's large swaths of smooth brushed metal. Simply put, the Spectre x360 is one of the most attractive laptops on the market, 2-in-1 or otherwise.

However, if I had to nitpick, I'd say I wish the Spectre x360's hinge were a bit stiffer. When the machine is sitting on a table in laptop mode or propped up in tent mode, it's fine. But if you pick the 2-in-1 up and walk around, those little bounces sometimes cause the screen to slowly shift out of its original position.

Measuring 12.03 x 8.58 x 0.54-inches and weighing 2.8 pounds, the Spectre x360 is actually thinner than even the nonconvertible Dell XPS 13 (11.98 x 7.88 x 0.33-0.6 inches and 2.7 pounds), which is our current favorite overall laptop. Lenovo's Yoga 900S has a smaller, 12.5-inch screen, but at 12.75 x 8.86 x 0.59-inches and 2.8 pounds, it's still slightly bigger than the Spectre x360. 

MORE: Best HP Laptops

Ports

I can't wait for when we can finally ditch the boxy, USB ports of old for the slim, multipurpose USB Type-C ports of the future. But until that happens, we're going to need both varieties in order to avoid carrying annoying dongles around. Thankfully, the Spectre obliges, with one USB 3.1 Type- A port and two USB-C ports that support Thunderbolt 3 and power delivery. That means if you have the right dock or monitor, you can use a single cord to carry video and data and recharge the system, instead relying on the bird's nest of wires you'd need on older systems. 

The one feature I kind of wish HP hadn't removed from previous versions is some sort of SD or microSD card slot. For me, the Spectre x360 would be an almost perfect mobile photo-editing and presentation platform. However, in order to transfer photos from my camera to the laptop, I'd need to carry an external card reader or USB cable.

Display

Featuring a new, glossy, 13.3-inch, full-HD display with superthin side bezels, the Spectre's screen is a great complement to the 2-in-1's gorgeous design. It's bright and colorful, and when I watched the latest trailer for Rogue One, the Spectre x360 dazzled as crimson and verdant blaster bolts flew across the display.

On our tests, the Spectre x360's screen put out 317 nits of brightness, which is more than both the Samsung Notebook 9 spin (283 nits) and Lenovo Yoga 900 (284 nits), and about the same as the more-recent Yoga 900S (320 nits).

The Spectre's color range was also quite good, as the panel covered 101.7 percent of the sRGB spectrum. That beat out numbers from both the Yoga 900 and 900S, although the showing didn't quite match the spin 9's richer 135 percent.

Finally, with a Delta-E of 0.74, the Spectre x360 demonstrated superb color accuracy (lower numbers are better). Both the spin 9 and Yoga 900's accuracy scores were worse, at 3.43 and 2.8. However, the Yoga 900S was actually a touch more precise, with a rating of 0.64.

If you opt for a Spectre x360 with 4K display, on top of the higher resolution, you get even better color range that covers 131.5 percent of the sRGB spectrum, while brightness and accuracy remain nearly the same at 305 nits and 1.53, respectively. And when you put this all together, when I watched the trailer for Justice League, watching the glinting Batarang fly in slowmo towards The Flash in 4K is downright mesmerizing.

Performance

In addition to a revamped design, the Spectre x360 also features a new Intel 7th-Gen Kaby Lake CPU. You can choose either a Core i5 processor or a Core i7 chip like the one in our 2.7-GHz Core i7-7500U, 16GB of RAM and 512GB PCIe SSD-equipped review unit.

With this kind of setup, the Spectre x360 absolutely flies. Multitasking was a breeze, even with 20 or more browser tabs open. The convertible notched a Geekbench 3 score of 7,933, which means that overall performance increased by 16 percent over last year's model. That also means the Spectre x360 tops almost all of its competitors, including the Samsung Notebook 9 spin (6,948), the Lenovo Yoga 900 (6,264) and the Yoga 900S (5,343). To be fair, though, those models used Intel's last-gen chip.

The Spectre's PCIe SSD is also blazing fast. When asked to copy a DVD's worth of mixed-media files, the SSD posted a transfer speed of 318 megabytes per second. That's faster than pretty much all of the device's competitors, including the spin 9 (173 MBps) and Yoga 900 (181 MBps). It's also on a par with more expensive hybrids such as Microsoft's Surface Book (318 MBps).

For people who crunch a lot of numbers, the Spectre x360's time on our spreadsheet test is pretty impressive. When we used OpenOffice to sort 20,000 names and addresses, the Spectre x360 (3:33) finished 30 seconds faster than its closest rival, the Samsung spin 9 (4:05). 

MORE: Best Ultrabooks (Thin-and-Light Windows Laptops)

Even the Spectre x360's graphics performance has seen a sizeable increase. Its score of 920 on 3DMark's Firestrike benchmark is 14 percent higher than the showing by last year's model. This gives the Spectre enough horsepower to reach a quite playable 40 frames per second at 1920 x 1080 and Medium settings in Dirt 3 Complete Edition. Still, with an Intel HD Graphics 620 integrated graphics card instead of discrete GPU, the Spectre isn't really meant for full-time gaming.

Audio

With a clever quad-speaker setup by Bang & Olufsen, the Spectre x360 is built to deliver an optimal listening experience in any mode. Two speakers are hidden beneath the grille between the keyboard and the hinge, while the other two are located on either side of the system's bottom. This gives you fuller, more immersive audio, with pretty potent volume that easily fills up a room. And, unlike with a lot of other laptops, I didn't hear any hissing or distortion at max volume.

When I listened to Breakbot's "My Toy," the Spectre x360 nailed Yasmin's bubbly vocals, and while I could have used a little more punch to bring out the French DJ's funky bass, the quad speakers definitely did their job.

Keyboard and touchpad

HP says it has put a lot of effort into finely tuning not just the amount of force needed to press a key, but also the level of pressure you get through the entire stroke. That effort paid off, because  even with the keyboard's 60-gram actuation weight and a 1.3mm keystroke that would feel short and abrupt on another system, typing on the Spectre feels near perfect. This kind of attention to detail leaves you with a fantastic, clicky key-press that mimics the same feel that people love in mechanical keyboards. Adding an extra row for the Delete, Home, Page Up, Page Down and End on the right is a nice touch too. 

The Spectre's 4.7 x 2.3-inch touchpad is also a thing a beauty. Its superwide shape gives you a ton of room to mouse around, and even though there aren't discrete left or right mouse buttons, the system never confused different types of clicks. 

Optional Stylus Support

If you opt for the top-of-the-line Spectre x360 with the 4K display, your system also comes with stylus support and HP's new active pen included. With the pen, you get a full Windows Ink experience just like you would on a Microsoft Surface. HP's stylus delivers multiple buttons and 1,024 levels of pressure sensitivity.

When I fired up OneNote, drawing and sketching felt as natural and pen-like as it does on a Microsoft Surface Pro 4. However, unlike the Surface Pen, HP's stylus lacks a third programmable button and a built-in in magnetic resting place for storage. You'll just have to make sure you keep the pen in a pocket or your bag.

Battery Life

By cramming in a larger, 57.8-watt-hour battery, HP has greatly increased the Spectre x360's endurance. The battery life has gone from 8 hours and 36 minutes on our web-surfing battery test all the way to 10 hours and 6 minutes. That's more than a 15 percent increase and is good enough to put the Spectre above other premium 2-in-1s, including both the Lenovo Yoga 900 (7:57) and 900S (8:46), the Samsung spin 9 (5:38), and Asus' ZenBook Flip (9:58). 

MORE: Laptops with the Longest Battery Life

In fact, the Spectre x360's time is even longer than that of the most recent MacBook, which lasted 9:36, and that notebook doesn't have a touch screen. One of the few systems that did perform better was the 2016 Dell XPS 13, which while not a 2-in-1, lasted an impressive 13:49.

However, if you're thinking about upgrading to the model with the 4K display, watch out. That's because we found that the x360's high-resolution screen can put a serious damper on battery life. The 4K model we checked out (with an Intel Core i7 CPU) lasted just 5 hours and 54 minutes on our battery test.

Webcam

While the Spectre x360's side bezels have shrunk down to almost nothing, HP smartly left a bit of room above the display for two cameras: a 1920 x 1080 camera for videos and a slick IR cam for unlocking the system via Windows hello. There's also a pair of mics for stereo voice recording.

This positioning prevents that awkward under-chin/neck view that you get on systems like the XPS 13 that have their webcams below the screen, and the dual mics and full-HD camera work together flawlessly to provide a premium video-chatting experience. Audio was crystal-clear, and while I could do with a little less grain, pictures and videos looked pretty sharp, too.

Heat

One of the small drawbacks of the Spectre's superthin chassis is its heat management. After streaming HD video for 15 minutes, the air vent on the left side of the system reached 105 degrees Fahrenheit. While that's higher than our standard 95-degree comfort threshold, the keyboard and touchpad stayed relatively cool to the touch, at 84.5 and 90.5 degrees, respectively. The bottom was a little hotter, at around 98 degrees, but not worryingly so.

Configurations and Availability

Sales of the Spectre x360 will be split across Best Buy and HP itself. The baseline $1,050 model, which includes a Core i5 CPU, 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD, will be available directly from HP. A couple more-premium models, such the $1,160 Core i7, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD version and our $1,300 review unit (i7 CPU, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD), will be available exclusively from Best Buy.

If you want to customize your specs even further with parts like a 1TB SSD, you'll need to visit HP.com.

Bottom Line

With its top-tier performance, exquisite design, 10-hour battery life and convertible versatility, the Spectre x360 isn't just the best 2-in-1 currently available; it might the best laptop HP has ever made. Yes, the hinge could be stiffer, and I wish HP hadn't ditched the SD card slot, but overall, the x360 is the convertible laptop to beat.

CPU 2.7-GHz Intel Core i7-7500U CPU
Operating System Windows 10 Home
RAM 16GB
RAM Upgradable to
Hard Drive Size 512GB
Hard Drive Speed n/a
Hard Drive Type PCIe SSD
Secondary Hard Drive Size
Secondary Hard Drive Speed
Secondary Hard Drive Type
Display Size 13.3
Native Resolution 1900x1080
Optical Drive None
Optical Drive Speed n/a
Graphics Card Intel HD Graphics 620
Video Memory Shared
Wi-Fi 802.11ac
Wi-Fi Model 2x2 802.11ac WLAN and Bluetooth
Bluetooth Bluetooth 4.1
Mobile Broadband
Touchpad Size 4.7 x 2.3
Ports (excluding USB) USB 3.1 with Type-C
Ports (excluding USB) Thunderbolt 3
USB Ports 3
Warranty/Support 1-year limited warranty/90 days technical supper for software and setup
Size 12.03 x 8.58 x 0.54-inches
Weight 2.85 pounds
Company Website www.hp.com
Add a comment
42 comments
  • puddy tat Says:

    Do not even consider buying one of these, check the forums for faulty motherboards and HP's lack of response to a massive problem

  • Ashay Says:

    Why is this model not RECALLED..
    with over 1000s of cases, this laptop goes burns, depending on your luck from 3 months to anywhere upto 2 years.
    Mine was burned in 6 months time. After spending USD1K plus it feels ridiculously stupid that HP has NO support, whatsoever the case is. Its a pitty i got this model and will stay as far as i can from HP products in future.
    I got many positive reviews for ASUS on their slim ones..

  • Pauly Says:

    Love this laptop unfortunately real time battery consumption is 4-5 hours when screen on 30% only using Internet on WiFi. Other than that it's rad.

  • Wint Wah Says:

    Can I add extra graphic card for hp spectre x 360 13 in model for using of 3D max software.

  • Phillip Ohren Says:

    Picked one up today after returning a UX360UA Asus Zenbook 360 (Its purple.. not grey). Couldn't be happier.

    The sound is fantastic. Fan noise is minimal and only under massive load.

  • Jose07 Says:

    Hi! Is the travel distance 1.3mm really? There is another review that points it's 1.5mm (https://www.thurrott.com/hardware/109375/hp-spectre-x360-15-2017-review).
    Is for the 15'' version but it seems it's the same keyboard.
    Thanks!

  • ds1111 Says:

    Can you guys please please add comments (or measurements) on fan noise in your tests? Very important for people that require a silent notebook. I returned notebooks in the past because I could not deal with the level of fan noise when running a video or otherwise. Thanks!

  • Pacman07 Says:

    Would be a great computer if it worked. I purchased my computer in May 2015 and it fried in May 2017. I paid $1200 for a top of the line laptop and it lasted only two years. I was sitting at my desk, my screen went black, I heard a frying noise, and smelt burning. Computer doesn't turn on now. Brought it to a repair shop and they said the mother board had burnt and sent me pictures of black and melted circuitry. Called HP and they hadn't issued any recalls on the product. I'm lucky the computer didn't catch fire and burn my house down. Then they wanted to charge me over $500 to get it fixed. Mine was 2 years old, 8GB ram, 256GB solid state drive, 2.2GHz 5th gen I5. Not sure if the motherboard design has changed, but since HP isn't recognizing they have design issues and haven't issued any recalls I doubt they've change the motherboard design. I will never purchase another HP product again.

  • Alex C. Says:

    I really do love my Spectre, but I always have one problem. Contrary to the article, my Spectre's battery life is absolutely horrible. It takes not even five minutes to lower by a percent. It's more like one minute. It doesn't last me through the school day, and it's a nuisance to carry the charger around constantly.

  • mb2k17 Says:

    Hi, wondering if I can request a particular test. Can someone test wifi speed with Miracast screen share on this 2in1 while running Creators Update? I get slow wifi after updating to WCU but it worked fine before.

  • David Says:

    Great computer.Wife loved it, However with little use it only lasted 16 months before it needed a new motherboard at $810,00. Beware!

  • simon orme Says:

    I have the usb laptop. Major issue for me is that it isn't USB C compliant. It is basically proprietary masquerading as open standard. To top it off the chord is way too long, and so the power system weighs about the same as the laptop itself. Why does HP prevent charging with a USB c charger within the spec?

  • Jacek Zakrzewski Says:

    There seems to be a mistake in the quoted tochpad size (either in this review or in the yoga 910 review) as both are claimed to be 4.7 x 2.3-inch - but visually they have different proportions!

  • Blake Says:

    It always amuses me when I see someone refer to the "the flexibility and intimate usability" of a laptop with this type of hinge. Sure, if you like your tablets to be twice the weight they need to be, and if you want to run the risk of screwing up your keyboard on whatever surface you're going to lay your tablet down on. This type of device is just lazy. If you want a good hybrid or 2-in-1 device, you're much better off going with Microsoft's own Surface or Surface Book, or Lenovo's Switch. Those machine have actual flexibility and usability with the detachable keyboards and kickstand that let you make the most of both your available space and the weight you carry around.

  • Balwant Singh Says:

    Nice hp laptop nice ram good hard drive I want to purchase a subscription

  • Derek Says:

    I purchased the HP Spectre x360 in Dec 2016. ABSOLUTELY DO NOT BUY THIS IF YOU WANT TO USE A STYLUS. There is not a compatible stylus and HP does not have any plan to develop one. If you ever want a stylus-- e.g. using OneNote, marking up a PDF, etc., then buy another machine. This is fine as a lightweight laptop, but they are not telling you that you cannot use a stylus with it.

  • Michael D DeGrande Says:

    I have had my Spectre x360 for less than a year and a half. I had the battery drain issue happening, but just dealt with it because the laptop was great otherwise. Then last week, I smelled burning electronics, and now my computer is completely dead. I called support, and they are trying to charge me $600 to fix a year and a half old computer, that cost ~$1200. They stood firm on not fixing the computer for free, even though there are many reports of this happening. I f'ing hate HP, I guarantee either they intentionally designed these to fail, and I hope I save at least one person from making the same mistake I did. Now I am mid semester, with no computer, and no means of buying another one, because I spent so much money on this POS. Spread the word, HP IS TERRIBLE.

  • henry Says:

    Laptop mother board is not powering again i needed to know how to replace it..

  • Roy Ho Says:

    Consider very very VERY carefully before you buy HP products.

    Bought a HP Spectre x360 (2016 version) on 17th of December 2016. Noticed the laptop's battery was consuming power despite being turned off approximately five days later. I logged into HP chat support to diagnose the problem (upgrade bios/chipset drivers etc) between 26-27th December, and I sent the laptop in for repair on the 28th as the repairs were not working. Laptop was in the shop for repair for TWO weeks, citing back order issues, parts availability issues. Took the laptop back an hour ago, and the entire bloody keyboard is broken. Had to log in with the onscreen keyboard; could only type with an external keyboard. Best part is their support operates on 9-5 business hours, so I'm effectively left out in the cold with nobody to help me.

    Be very very very wary. Products look nice, but the after sales support is simply abysmal. If you are unlucky enough to pick up a faulty product, expect that they will fuck up repairs and drag the process as long as possible.

  • Bruce Says:

    The Spectre x360 would be a great machine if it worked. I've had three of them, and all had the battery-drain-when-off problem. Quality control is also a problem. Of the three, one had a camera that would not focus and a sound card that would cut out intermittently. Another had a loose touchpad that rattles. The touchpad on all 3 was flakey, misinterpreting gestures and losing contact with my finger placement meaning drags and text selections would fail to do what I wanted. You want to love this laptop, but you just can't. Stay away.

  • Jerry Says:

    Google HP Spectre x360 battery drain. I have one and I'm returning before return period is up. Too bad this issue hasn't been resolved. It's a great laptop otherwise

  • Bryan Says:

    Great review. I just bought this machine and love it. I'm returning a Yoga 900 due to a defective WIFI but I've had them side by side for a week to compare and I don't want another Yoga 900 or 910 for that matter. X360 is superior in every way to the Yoga 900 with exception of screen display (side by side you can tell but otherwise you won't miss it). The X360 is fast ... very fast, feels great and has great sound for its size. I do a lot of work with VMware and have several virtual machines running at once normally, this powerful little laptop works so well at running virtual machines it is saving me a lot of time that was lost before waiting.

  • Stephen Thomson Says:

    Does anyone actually know when the latest X360 is being released? I can only find the older version which I don't want. Thanks

  • AlexV Says:

    Awesome. I couldn't wait for something like this, got the Samsung Ativ Spin a year ago. It's great, nice & black, but some weaknesses

  • James Says:

    The silver keyboard is very very difficult to use under some lighting conditions. The weak backlight can actually make it worse

  • Iliafrat Says:

    Had so so so many problems with this laptop!!!
    kept going to HP service.
    HP you lost me as a client.

  • jon byte Says:

    Agree with this review but two major caveats: Dropping pen stylus support is actually a big deal for the type of user the 2015 model attracted. 2nd, the did not fix the poor keyboard backlighting contrast. While I would love a smaller and lighter laptop, I am going to upgrade my spectre to last year's 16gb model so that I have sd card slot, hdmi out, and pen stylus support. Very sad they removed these.

  • Rose May Says:

    I've just talked to HP they have told me that they don't have a pen that works with the new Spectre x360 but it does have a digitilizer screen but they don't know what pens it actually works with. Not very helpful but I have heard that it works with some Dell active pens.

  • Jon Doh Says:

    @ mgvfx and Jason,

    The pen in the HP store only works with the old version of the x360, but not this one.

    @Daniel, that problem related to the old version too.

  • Hans Thoma Says:

    The brightness level for the Samsung 9 Spin is incorrect. You say only 283 nits, but Samsung says 350 plus the Outdoor Mode which supposedly reaches 700 nits. And mobiletechreview.com said they measured 377 nits. If you actually tested this machine correctly, you would have realized that it's one of the brightest machines around.

  • Kahvinheitin Says:

    Why there is no such laptop with touchscreen+stylys+DECENT GPU!?!?

    +$99 would be better, than having to buy two laptops.

  • Sophitia Says:

    @Alexis you probably have the older model, that new one has its hdmi port removed

  • J_d_m Says:

    Great - but where is the similar upgrade for the 15 inch Spectre x360?

  • Alexis Says:

    @Cginest I just purchased this laptop and there is an hdmi port. I'm not sure why that is not listed here.

  • Cginest Says:

    Does it do 4k at 60hz to an external display? If so, will it require some kind of thunderbolt to HDMI adapter to work with HDMI only displays?

  • mgvfx Says:

    @Jason - What model pen are you trying to use? HP customer service told me that only this one will work:
    Active Stylus Product #J4R51AA#ABL. http://store.hp.com/us/en/pdp/hp-active-pen

  • Jason Says:

    HP Claim you can use the HP Active Pen with this. I have both this laptop and the active pen and I cannot get it to work.

    I have watched video reviews of it in use but I am not sure how this is possible as despite numerous calls to HP support and a replacement Pen, this still does not work.

    It was between this and the surface book and I wish I had gone down the Microsoft route as lack of Pen compatibility is a deal breaker for me.

  • NateS Says:

    Do third party USB-C chargers work with this, or is HP still blocking them?

  • Daniel Says:

    Make sure you Google 'hp spectre x360 won't turn on' and read all the comments on HP forums before buying this machine. There's currently a motherboard parts shortage with these devices. Think about that.

  • mgvfx Says:

    Great looking machine! Any chance you tried to use the HP Active Pen with this new model? Support for active digitzer is a make or break feature for me and finding any information from HP on the matter is next to impossible. I'm close to pulling the trigger on the Thinkpad X1 Yoga instead even though it's more expensive because of their Wacom tech Pen Pro stylus that's included.

  • Andrea Says:

    Not a fair comparison with the 900s:
    wrong weight posted on the 900s ...and why don't you compare for the QHD displays likely much more popular??

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