HP Spectre review

The 'world's thinnest laptop' sets a gold standard

HP Spectre
HP Spectre

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HP is doubling down on its ultra-thin laptop game. After introducing the stunningly thin EliteBook Folio G1, we didn't think the firm could up come up with anything even smaller, but it has with the Spectre – and in style.

Beyond the luxury styling and gold accents, the Spectre has spurred a wave of more powerful ultrathin computers packing the full might of Intel Core I-series processors, like the Asus ZenBook 3 and Acer Switch Alpha 12. We're digging this trend quite a bit.

We liked

The HP Spectre is arguably the most stylish laptop to come out this year and the closest thing to a mass-produced luxury device. The touches of gold are surprisingly tasteful, and we love the seamless inclusion of carbon fiber to save on weight and our laps from burning on contact.

Beyond that, the Spectre is a case study of how you don't have to give up performance for a thinner package. The 13-inch laptop performs just as well as other thicker and heavier Ultrabooks, all while including one of the best looking screens and a wonderfully tactile keyboard.

We disliked

Although the Spectre taps into the full power of its processor, it can't bend the law of physics to eliminate all the heat it produces. This machine gets uncomfortably hot on your lap to practically searing temperatures in certain areas.

Another potential annoyance is the battery life might be shorter than you would like. Four to six hours is below the average use time we'd expect from an Ultrabook. But, given the Spectre's thin dimensions, this can be partially forgiven. It's also worth noting this machine lasted longer than the shorter-lived Samsung Notebook 9 and Toshiba Satellite Radius 12.

HP Spectre review

Final verdict

The Spectre is HP's finest laptop yet, and it's clear it was engineered from the ground up from the piston hinges and specially layered batteries to the tactile keyboard. That said, we wish it could last a bit longer – even if it meant a few more millimeters of thickness.

Otherwise, the HP Spectre is a hit in our book, but it's higher price tag may sway you towards picking up a more affordable option, like the Dell XPS 13, Samsung Notebook 9, Asus ZenBook UX305, or any of the other myriad Ultrabooks out there. One thing here is for absolute certain: Apple better look out because it's no longer the only one that can make a luxury laptop with stunning performance to back it up.

Kevin Lee

Kevin Lee was a former computing reporter at TechRadar. Kevin is now the SEO Updates Editor at IGN based in New York. He handles all of the best of tech buying guides while also dipping his hand in the entertainment and games evergreen content. Kevin has over eight years of experience in the tech and games publications with previous bylines at Polygon, PC World, and more. Outside of work, Kevin is major movie buff of cult and bad films. He also regularly plays flight & space sim and racing games. IRL he's a fan of archery, axe throwing, and board games.