Skip to main content

HP Envy x360 13 (2020) review

Stylish, speedy and aggressively priced, the Envy x360 13 is the best sub-$1,000 on the market

Editor's Choice
(Image: © Laptop Mag)

Our Verdict

HP's Envy x360 13 redefines the sub-$1,000 category by delivering an uncompromised premium 2-in-1 laptop for less.

For

  • Outstanding performance
  • 1080p display is bright and vivid
  • Stylish and compact aluminum design
  • Long battery life
  • Excellent value

Against

  • No IR camera
  • AMD CPU means no Thunderbolt 3
  • A bit thicker and heavier than rivals
HP Envy x360 13 specs

Price: $799
CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 4500U
GPU: AMD Radeon Graphics
RAM: 8GB
Storage: 256GB
Display: 13.3-inch, 1080p
Battery: 11:52 (old Edge); 10:45 (new Edge)
Size: 12.1 x 7.7 x 0.7 inches
Weight: 2.9 pounds 

There is no shortage of great premium laptops to choose from. The Dell XPS 13 comes to mind, along with the HP Spectre x360, Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon and a few MacBook models. What do these all have in common? They are priced at more than $1,000. Drop your budget to triple digits and suddenly your options thin out. 

With the Envy x360 13, HP has turned this overlooked segment on its head. Instead of considering what features need to be removed to get the price under $1,000, HP thought about what aspects of the flagship Spectre models could be brought to the Envy. As a result, the Envy x360 13 shares much of the same DNA as the Spectre, including a stylish all-aluminum chassis.  

Moreover, the Envy x360 13 flaunts an excellent 13-inch touchscreen and a comfortable keyboard. HP smartly opted for AMD's new 4000-series CPUs, which deliver never-before-seen performance at this price, and you even get a decent selection of ports (sorry, no Thunderbolt 3). Whether you're a student looking for the best college laptop or just want a portable 13-inch laptop, there is no better option than the Envy x360 13.

HP Envy x360 13 price and configuration options 

There are several 15-inch versions of the Envy x360, but we'll focus on the 13-inch models for this review. The starting price of the Envy x360 13 is $649 when configured with an AMD Ryzen 3 4300U CPU, 8GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD.

Our $799 version bumped the CPU up to a Ryzen 5 4500U, 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD. If you can, I'd recommend spending another $150 on the high-end config with a Ryzen 7 4700U CPU and 16GB of RAM. Sadly, HP doesn't sell a Ryzen 5 model with 16GB of RAM so you'll need to splurge on the Ryzen 7 version for the memory upgrade.

If privacy is important, there is a 1080p display with 1,000 nits of brightness and an integrated privacy screen for $150 more than the base 300-nit panel.

HP Envy x360 13 design 

You won't find a more stylish, premium laptop for under $1,000. I've been using the Envy x360 13 for the past week and I still can't believe it falls in our "mainstream" pricing category. What's so surprising about the 2-in-1 laptop is how similar it is to the much pricier sibling, the Spectre x360 13. This is a testament to HP's ability and willingness to trickle down features from its flagship laptops to more affordable models. 

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

It starts with the slim display bezels, which draw your eyes toward the screen and keep the chassis compact. If you care about the numbers, the Envy has an 88% screen-to-body ratio. If you don't, well, it looks sleek. 

That said, what struck me most about the Envy x360 13 is its miniature footprint. This convertible is very small. At 12.1 x 7.7 x 0.7 inches, the Envy x360 13 is more portable than the Envy 13 (12.1 x 8.3 x 0.7 inches), the Lenovo Yoga C740 (12.7 x 8.5 x 0.7 inches) and the Acer Swift 3 (12.7 x 8.6 x 0.6 inches).

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

The Envy x360 13's aluminum chassis gives it a high-end feel akin to the MacBook Air or other expensive all-metal laptops. It also looks fantastic thanks to the Nightfall Black finish, which is a shade more interesting than black and a touch prettier than brown. Tying the design together are some gorgeous accents, like the slick HP logo on the lid, stylish speaker grilles underneath, Envy stamped on the hinge and some aggressive vents on the spine. 

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

While tiny in size, the Envy x360 13 (2.9 pounds) is a tad heavier than its competitors. Laptops like the 14-inch Acer Swift 3 (2.7 pounds) use magnesium alloy to keep the weight down. It's a smart way to reduce weight, but magnesium doesn't usually have the same sturdy, robust feel as aluminum. 

The x360 moniker means this particular Envy has the flexibility to transform into a tablet. The dual hinges feel sturdy and don't require much effort to rotate back when you're using the Envy x360 in tent mode or as a tablet. 

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

The Envy doesn't have an IR camera, my preferred means of logging into Windows 10, but the fingerprint sensor located on the bottom row of the keyboard was quick and reliable during my testing.

HP Envy x360 13 ports 

No Intel CPU means no Thunderbolt 3. Apart from that exclusion, the Envy x360 13 has a decent assortment of ports

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

On the right side are a USB 3.1 Type-A input and a microSD card next to a power connector. 

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

On the opposite side, you'll find a second USB 3.1 Type-A port, a USB Type-C port and a headphone/mic jack. I'm nitpicking here but another USB-C port (ideally on the right side) instead of the charging plug would have been nice. And while the drop-jaw hinge for the Type-A port is neat, it can be frustrating to use and requires you to lift the laptop. 

HP Envy x360 13 display 

This is another area where the Envy x360 13 punches above its weight class. The Envy 13's 13.3-inch, 1080p display is sharp, bright, and the colors are rich and accurate. None of these qualities are class-leading but I'd be happy with the screen even if it were on a much more expensive notebook.

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

The panel was detailed enough that I could see the riveting on the side of a ship when I watched a trailer for the film Greyhound. The fear in Tom Hanks' vivid seafoam green eyes was palpable in one of the scenes in this wartime movie. 

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

A besieged frigate lit the night sky with a fiery orange hue and the red, white, and blue of the American flags draped over caskets stood out against the dreary gray sea below. The Envy x360 13 has a glossy screen that catches reflections in bright conditions, so keep that in mind if you like to work outside.

I wish HP had thrown in a stylus with the Envy x360 because the touchscreen responded quickly to my taps and swipes. Then again, not everyone would use the pen and making it optional keeps the price down.

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

According to our colorimeter, the Envy x360 13 covers 108% of the sRGB color gamut, making it more vivid than the Swift 3 (62%) and the average mainstream laptop (96%). The Yoga C740 (111%) added a pop more color while the Envy 13 (109%) practically matched its convertible relative. 

I recommend upgrading from the FHD screen with 300 nits of brightness to the one with 400 nits. Our Envy x360 13 clocked just under that rating, at 364 nits. That is plenty bright, especially when compared with the Yoga C740 (250 nits), the Swift 3 (251 nits) and the mainstream category average (318 nits). The Envy 13 got even brighter, at 410 nits. 

HP Envy x360 13 keyboard and touchpad 

The Envy x360 13's chiclet-style keyboard has generously-spaced keys that are clicky and responsive. The keys span the entire length of the deck, which makes them a good size for people with small or large fingers. If you'll indulge in my nerdiness for a second, I also really like the typeface and clean font style HP uses. 

Deeper key travel would have been welcome and the keys require more force than I prefer, but these are understandable shortcomings given the physical constraints at play.

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

HP added a few useful shortcuts to the function key row, including a microphone mute button and a webcam kill switch (tapping the key puts a physical cover over the lens). Why they aren't next to one another is beyond me, but at least you have quick access to those controls so you won't embarrass yourself during a conference call. Another small annoyance? The arrow keys are small and cramped.

I typed at 117 words per minute with a 98% accuracy rate, which is a notch slower than my 119-wpm average but an improvement on my usual 5% error rate. 

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

The 4.4 x 2.5-inch touchpad is wide enough that my fingers didn't brush the edges when I executed Windows 10 gestures. It's a minor complaint, but I wish the surface had a smooth glass coating instead of the slightly textured mylar. On a positive note, I'm glad HP switched from Synaptics to Precision drivers because two-finger scrolling and pinch-to-zoom weren't an issue on the Envy x360. 

HP Envy x360 13 audio 

The dual speakers located on the bottom of the Envy x360 13 have the same sonic shortcomings as those on the Spectre x360. Treble-heavy songs and sibilant vocals sound tinny and shrill at maximum volumes. My wife firmly urged me to turn off the music seconds after I started playing Circa Survive's "In Fear and Faith" because the upper frequencies were piercing her ears. I also heard the same buzzing distortion that I complained about in my Spectre review.

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

It's a shame because the speakers sound fine at lower volumes or when playing songs without those soaring treble tones. When I listened to Glass Animals' "Heat Wave," the vocals and treble were detailed without sounding shrill. As expected, the bass was lacking even when I set the preset to "bass" mode in the Bang & Olufsen Audio Control software. 

I personally wouldn't touch the B&O Audio Control app unless you're adept at using an equalizer. None of the presets I tested sounded any better than the default "HP Optimized" setting.

HP Envy x360 13 performance 

The tides have officially turned in AMD's favor. The Ryzen 5 4500U CPU with 8GB of RAM in the Envy x360 13 delivers outstanding performance for the price, crushing its Intel-powered rivals by a significant margin. It even outperformed the $1,799 MacBook Pro on certain tests.

It's not just about benchmarks, either. The Envy x360 13 breezed through my typically demanding workload, which involves 25 Edge browser tabs running in the background with YouTube Music cycling through my favorite songs. Google Docs can be finicky when a system is being taxed, yet I didn't run into any problem as I wrote this review. Power users will still benefit from a beefier H-series CPU, but the amount of performance the Envy x360 13 gets you for $800 is simply remarkable.

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

Let's look at the numbers because they are staggering. On the Geekbench 4.3 overall performance test, the Envy x360 13 reached 19,064. The Envy 13 (15,738, Core i7-8565U CPU) and Yoga C740 (15,590, Core i5-10210U CPU) with Intel CPUs were thoroughly demolished. Only the Swift 3 could outgun the Envy x360 thanks to its Ryzen 7 4700U CPU. Oh, and the category average? A measly 15,260. 

Moving on to the more demanding Geekbench 5 test, the Envy x360 13 put up a score of 4,617. Again, the Yoga C740 (3,878) and the average (3,495) were embarrassed by the HP while the Swift 3 (4,862) eked out a win. If you need more convincing, the Envy x360 13 outscored the $1,799 MacBook Pro (4,399, Core i5-1030NG7 with 16GB of RAM) in this test. 

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

Our real-world benchmark saw the Envy x360 convert a 4K video to 1080p resolution in 13 minutes and 44 seconds using the Handbrake app. Video editors will save a ton of time using the Envy x360 13 instead of the Envy 13 (23:38), the Yoga C740 (20:43), or the average laptop (22:38). The Swift 3, with its Ryzen 7 CPU, completed the task in a speedy 11 minutes flat.

We finally found a corner cut to bring the Envy x360 13's price down; the laptop's somewhat sluggish 256GB NVMe PCIe M.2 SSD doesn't meet the standard set by other premium notebooks. The storage needed 16 seconds to duplicate 4.97GB of multimedia data, which equates to a transfer rate of 318.1 megabytes per second. That's slower than the SSDs in the Envy 13 (363.5 MBps), the Yoga C740 (848.2 MBps), and the category average (358.7 MBps). 

HP Envy x360 13 graphics 

You don't get a discrete chip in this little machine but its integrated Radeon Graphics are pretty capable. The Envy played Dirt 3 at a smooth 78 frames per second with the graphics set to 1080p on Very High. The Envy 13 (31 fps) and Yoga C730 (31 fps) with Intel UHD graphics barely hit our playability threshold of 30 fps while the Swift 3 put an exclamation mark on AMD's dominance (79 fps). That could all change when Intel introduces Tiger Lake chips with Xe graphics, so keep an eye out for those later in the year. 

HP Envy x360 13 battery life 

The Envy x360 13 lasts a full workday without needing to be recharged. 

We ran the battery test using both the old and new versions of Edge. On the old browser, the Envy x360 13 lasted for an outstanding 11 hours and 52 minutes while continuously web browsing at 150 nits of brightness. While it didn't fare as well on the new browser, the 10 hour and 45-minute runtime it put up is still excellent.

Other top laptops in this category did similarly well. For example, the Envy 13 went 11 hours and 11 minutes before shutting down, while the Yoga C740 (10:18) and Swift 3 (11:09) also breached the 10-hour mark. The category average is 9 hours and 25 minutes.

HP Envy x360 13 cameras 

The 720p webcam on the Envy x360 13 is fine for casual video calls. A selfie I took indoors with the bright Texas sunshine streaking in through a nearby window looked grainy when I zoomed in. The lens did a good job of capturing my green eyes and mildly sunburnt face but I had trouble identifying individual strands of hair in my beard or on my head. 

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

At least the camera is located above the display instead of below the screen like on other thin-bezeled laptops. I wouldn't be embarrassed using the Envy x360 13 in a call with friends and family but you'll want to buy an external webcam when you're chattin' with the boss.

HP Envy x360 13 heat 

Don't worry about using the Envy x360 13 on your bare skin — the laptop kept its cool in our heat test. After playing a 15-minute HD video in full screen, the Envy x360 13 peaked at only 86 degrees Fahrenheit, which is well below our 95-degree comfort threshold. The center of the keyboard reached 84 degrees and the touchpad was a pleasant 77 degrees. 

HP Envy x360 13 software and warranty

I'm going to keep saying this until it happens: HP needs to consolidate its apps. I counted nine HP-branded apps on the Envy x360 13, many of which could be packaged into a single program. Instead, you have HP Audio Switch, HP Command Center, HP Documentation, HP JumpStart, HP… the list goes on. 

Of these, HP Support Assist is the app you should be most familiar with. Its dashboard shows you important info about the laptop, including the remaining warranty, battery life percentage and storage remaining. It's also the easiest way to download up-to-date software and drivers.  

HP gets a thumbs up for including the Bang & Olufsen Audio Control app where you can use an equalizer to customize your sound profile. It's two thumbs down for the unneeded bloatware apps, like Booking (it's a good service but the app should be opt-in), ExpressVPN (same idea), McAfee Personal Security, Netflix and Amazon. 

The Envy 13 x360 runs Windows 10 Home and comes with a one-year warranty. See how HP did on our Best and Worst Brands and Tech Support Showdown special reports. 

Bottom line 

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

The Envy x360 13 is the best sub-$1,000 laptop on the market. It's better than the clamshell version we reviewed last year and any of the current Asus ZenBooks, which have historically delivered on value. 

I'm still struggling to figure out how HP kept the price down. There are only a few areas where corners were cut, including a mediocre m.2 SSD and the lack of an IR camera. And since the Envy x360 13 uses AMD chips, it doesn't support Thunderbolt 3. Sure, our $799 config doesn't have top specs but the Envy x360 13 still costs under four figures even when you opt for the Ryzen 7 CPU with 16GB of RAM. 

Everything else about the Envy x360 13, from the bright, vivid display to the luxurious aluminum chassis and blisteringly fast performance, is undeniably top-rate. You even get two USB-A ports in this little package and the keyboard is surprisingly comfortable to type on. It's weird how good the Envy x360 13 is because it basically feels like the Spectre x360 13 but at a significantly lower price. 

With that said, the Envy x360 13 gets my highest recommendation. It's the perfect laptop for those who want a premium notebook at an affordable price and is as good or better than many laptops that cost hundreds more.