It’s obvious that, when HP designed the Spectre x360 series, it wanted an ace that would essentially contend with Apple’s hugely popular MacBook Pro. We must say that, with their HP Spectre x360 15T (2019) model, it has pretty much done that – and then some.
The HP Spectre x360 15T is a revelation, a powerful laptop with a gorgeous display and a smart, sophisticated design. It’s beauty and the beast rolled into one, an attribute that made us fall in love with the older MacBook Pro models in the first place, and we cannot get enough of it.
Take it from an Apple aficionado: its lethal combination of powerhouse performance and dazzling design is more than enough to tempt us away from our MacBook Pro after only a couple of hours of testing. It’s why it tops our best 2-in-1 laptops list for 2019, and is our favorite of the HP laptops so far. And, that’s without mentioning its affordability and extra features that Apple only wishes it has in its laptops.
In fact, it probably wouldn’t hurt for Apple to start taking better notes at this point.
Here is the HP Spectre x360 15T configuration sent to TechRadar for review:
CPU: 2.2GHz Intel Core i7-8750H (hexa-core, 9MB cache, up to 4.1GHz)
Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti (Max-Q, 4GB GDDR5); Intel UHD Graphics 630
RAM: 16GB DDR4 SDRAM
Screen: 15.6-inch 4K IPS, anti-glare micro-edge, WLED-backlit multitouch(3840 x 2160, 60Hz refresh rate)
Storage: 1TB NVMe SSD
Ports: 2 x USB-C, USB 3.1, HDMI, 3.5mm audio jack, microSD Reader
Connectivity: IEEE 802.11b/g/n/ac (2x2) Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5
Camera: HD webcam (1,280 x 720)
Weight: 4.81 pounds (2.18kg)
Size: 14.22 x 9.84 x 0.76 inches (36.11 x 24.99 x 1.93cm; W x D x H)
Price and availability
The HP Spectre x360 15T’s performance is impressive enough to make its price tag practically insignificant. But, if you’re a buyer on a budget, consider this: our souped up 15-inch configuration with 1TB SSD storage, 16GB of memory (RAM), an 8th Generation Intel Core i7 processor (CPU), 4K display and NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050Ti will only set you back $1,849 (£1,899, AU$4,199).
A 15-inch Macbook Pro with the same processor and amount of RAM, but with a Radeon Pro 560X graphics card, Retina display with True Tone and only 256GB SSD costs a whopping $2,399 (about £1,840, AU$3,410). That’s a $550 price difference.
Our souped-up review model is on offer in both the UK (£1,899) and Australia ($3,899). However, the entry level models differ depending on the country.
In the UK, there are only two available models with the cheaper option – with 8GB RAM and a 512GB SSD – coming in at £1,599.
In Australia, the cheapest option, at AU$3,699, is a similarly configured model with an older quad-core processor, the Intel Core i7-8705G and a Radeon RX Vega GL graphics processor (GPU).
To get in on the ground level with the Spectre x360 15T in the US, it’ll set you back $450 less than our review configuration at $1,399. This model gives you the same CPU and GPU, only less storage (256GB SSD) and memory (8GB).
Whoever says first impressions don’t last, clearly hasn’t met the HP Spectre x360 15T. This laptop’s design is as superior and sophisticated as its performance, with a smooth, matte “Poseidon Blue” fringed with gold trimming running around its edges. While a bit heftier than other premium laptops, such as the Macbook Pro, it still feels like a very sleek machine sitting at 0.76 inches thick, so much so that you hardly notice its weight.
The enclosure is made of a high-quality aluminum that feels durable and looks elegant, although it does collect fingerprints and show dust quite easily so expect to be constantly wiping this chassis unless you’re fine with a grimy-looking laptop.
The inclusion of Gorilla Glass for the screen and Bang & Olufsen speakers attest to HP’s attention to detail. But those are just to start.
In addition, the two back corners are angled – the right one concealing a power button and the left hosting a USB-C port – with vents positioned near the back on each side. For a laptop with such a thin form factor, it comes with a decent amount of ports, which is a welcome feature. The two USB-C ports help make this computer future proof while the HDMI, USB 3.1, microSD reader, and audio jack cover any other connections one would need, especially the creative professionals looking to move away from Apple’s Thunderbolt campaign.
One annoyance with the design is the placement of the air vents on either side of the computer. If you plan on using an external mouse, fair warning: your mouse hand will get hot.
On the upside, the keyboard on the HP Spectre is easy to use, with more bounce and travel than one would expect on a computer this thin – better than Apple’s butterfly keyboard, in our humble opinion. We do not find it fatiguing and are able to use it for long stretches, whether we’re responding to emails, writing articles or entering cheats on Sims 4. The keyboard also includes a dedicated number pad – good for lefties – and shortcuts lining the top for media functions, keyboard backlighting and airplane mode.
While the trackpad is flush with the enclosure, offering a smooth and responsive performance, its left-of-center placement is a little perplexing. For folks who are used to properly centered trackpads, this might get in the way of your workflow, as you would end up repeatedly, accidentally right-click when you’re meaning to left-click.
It doesn’t help that it’s fairly wide for a trackpad, meaning that any time you’re left clicking, your hands will crowd on one side of the keyboard. We would suggest using an external mouse with this laptop, even when not gaming.
Display, camera and sound
The gorgeous 4K, IPS display is one of the Spectre’s best features. The image quality is pristine with videos and games popping from the screen, and the 60Hz refresh rate ensures smooth and accurate tracking. Color representation is beautiful as well, though it errs a bit on the cooler side with some blue-ish and magenta hues.
This screen is also coated in Gorilla Glass, so it has a high-quality, sturdy look and feel, with a touchscreen that is both accurate and responsive.
The laptop also comes with the HP TrueVision FHD IR webcam and a dual array digital microphone, perfect tools for video conferencing. Additionally, the IR camera can use facial recognition via Windows Hello to unlock the computer, making login easier yet more secure than ever.
The sound, while lacking a little in the low end, is generally well-balanced, courtesy of the Bang & Olufsen speakers. There’s plenty of volume on hand as well. What is a little more impressive is its sound stage, which seems to be a little wider than most laptops. When playing the game Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice, for example, the voices that the protagonist Senua hears in her head seem to come out of thin air, not just the left or right of the computer.
Images Credit: TechRadar