HP Spectre 13 review

An Ultrabook dressed (and specced) to impress

hp spectre 13

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The HP Spectre 13 is just full of surprises, which is why we can easily forgive its handful of flaws. We’ve already gawked at its beautiful aesthetics, but what you may not have noticed is just how fast this laptop is.

While it doesn’t exactly have a leg up on the competition, since the Dell XPS 13 does come outfitted with the same specs, as of this writing we have yet to benchmark a model sporting an 8th-generation Intel Kaby Lake Refresh processor. For that reason, the HP Spectre 13 performed better than what we had to compare it to.


Here’s how the HP Spectre 13 performed in our suite of benchmark tests:

3DMark Sky Diver: 4,247; Time Spy: 367; Fire Strike: 1,002
Cinebench CPU: 513 points; Graphics: 47 fps
Geekbench 4 Single-Core: 4,782; Multi-Core: 13,733
PCMark 8 Home: 3,092 points
PCMark 8 Battery Life: 3 hours and 16 minutes
TechRadar Battery Life Test: 5 hours and 59 minutes

In the 3DMark graphics tests, the differences between the HP Spectre 13 and it’s closest rival – the long-talked-about Dell XPS 13 – were negligible. 

In Sky Diver, for instance, a test designed specifically with gaming laptops and mid-range PCs in mind, the HP Spectre 13 scored just 136 points more than the Dell XPS 13. 

To put into perspective how marginal of an upper hand that is, Microsoft’s Surface Book 2 garnered 14,427 points in Sky Diver.

But the HP Spectre 13 isn’t a graphical powerhouse, nor is it claiming to be. Gamers, 3D model designers and aspiring video producers ought to look elsewhere – a desktop maybe? – for high-end media behemoths.

hp spectre 13

As for CPU testing, the HP Spectre 13 unsurprisingly took the crown, especially in multi-core Geekbench, where it amassed 13,733 points compared to the Dell XPS 13’s 7,802. This is the first time we’ve seen a quad-core processor in an Ultrabook, and we’re pretty pleased with the results.

We can’t draw as many direct comparisons with the MacBook Pro, but we will say that the HP Spectre 13 did beat it out in every mutual test we conducted.

hp spectre 13

Battery life

Instead, this laptop’s fate is hinged (no pun intended) on a sweet balance between battery life and sheer processing power.

In these, the Spectre didn’t quite compare to the Dell XPS 13’s otherworldly 7 hours and 13 minutes.

However, having lasted a minute less than 6 hours looping a 1080p movie in VLC Media Player, it comes close to the MacBook Pro’s hearty 6-hour and 37-minute spiral.

hp spectre 13

Final verdict

If you’re shopping around for an Ultrabook that can handle the regular workload with ease and crashes next to null, the HP Spectre 13 will treat you nicely. 

As a pioneer for Intel’s 8th-generation Kaby Lake Refresh processors, the HP Spectre 13 prevails. As a showcase for HP’s own design remedy, the Spectre 13 is just as important. It may not have earned a perfect five-star review – the trackpad could be a bit better – but you shouldn’t write this one off. 

The HP Spectre 13 blends a unique, appealing aesthetic and featherlight dynamics with performance that punches above its weight class, and it’s definitely one for the books. Passerbys and colleagues will ask about it, whether you’re taking notes in class, or freelancing in a coworking space – that’s how beautiful this Ultrabook is, even by 2019 standards.

And, unlike the new Spectre’s closest rivals, a handsome look doesn’t substitute industry-leading guts.

Images Credit: TechRadar

Gabe Carey
Gabe has been writing about video games and technology since he was 16 years old. Currently serving as a Contributing Editor & Producer for TechRadar, where he keeps articles fresh and up to date on the reg, you may recognize his byline from Digital Trends, TechSpot and Kotaku UK. He can't tell if his adoration of Sonic the Hedgehog is genuine or ironic anymore.