HP Spectre x360 15 (2016) review

Thin-and-light styling from a 15-inch laptop

HP Spectre x360 15

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As mentioned before, the Spectre x360 15 looks like an outlandishly wide laptop, but in reality it's actually narrower than other 15-inch laptops. The hybrid's broad 14.8 x 9.75 x 0.63-inch (37.6 x 26.8 x 1.6cm; W x D x H) shape is exaggerated by the rest of the machine's more modest dimensions.

Thanks to being smaller, the HP machine is easier to slip into a bag than the 15.04 x 9.94 x 0.78-inch (38.2 x 25.3 x 2cm) Dell Inspiron 15 7000 2-in-1. Meanwhile, the Toshiba Satellite Radius 15 is slightly more compact with its 14.9 x 9.6 x 0.79-inch (37.8 x 24.4 x 2cm) dimensions.

No matter how you slice it, though, there's no denying this hybrid is lighter than your typical 15-inch laptop at 4.02 pounds (1.82kg). By comparison, Dell and Toshiba are heavier convertibles, weighing 4.7 pounds (2.13kg) and 4.96 pounds (2.25kg), respectively.

HP Spectre x360 15 review

Spec Sheet

Here is the HP Spectre x360 15 configuration sent to techradar for review:

  • CPU: 2.3GHz Intel Core i5-6200U (dual-core, 3MB cache, up to 2.8GHz with Turbo Boost)
  • Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 520
  • RAM: 8GB
  • Screen: 15.6-inch, 1,920 x 1,080 Full HD, WLED-backlit, IPS touchscreen
  • Storage: 256GB Flash SSD
  • Ports: 1 x USB 3.0 Type-C, 3 x USB 3.0, HDMI, mini DisplayPort, headset jack
  • Connectivity: Intel 802.11ac WLAN and Bluetooth
  • Camera: HP TrueVision Full HD webcam with dual digital microphones
  • Weight: 4.02 pounds
  • Size: 14.8 x 9.75 x 0.63 inches (W x D x H)

What you see above is the basic configuration for the HP Spectre x360 15, priced at $1,149 (about £806, AU$1,607). It's by no means an affordable 15-inch laptop, which mostly start around $700 (about £494, AU$967) for a similarly basic Intel Core i5 processor and 500GB hard drive.

That said, most 15-inch laptops don't come built entirely out of metal with a 1080p display, convertible features or even a touchscreen right out of the gate.

HP Spectre x360 15 review

Dell offers some stiff competition in its Dell Inspiron 15 7000 2-in-1 for $1,049 (about £741, AU$1,449). On top of costing less, you're getting a high-end spec version of the Dell hybrid that's even better equipped with a UHD display and Intel Core i7 CPU.

If you're willing to spend a little more, you can also get Toshiba's Satellite Radius 15 for $1,249 (about £882, AU$1,725). Like the convertible Inspiron, the Radius 15 is a better-equipped machine than the Spectre x360 15, with a sharp 4K screen and 12GB of RAM giving it more to multitask with.

Fortunately, the optional 4K screen is only a $60 upgrade for the Spectre x360 15 in the US. Australians, however, wont' have much choice for this upgrade as the laptop isn't available for the region. HP's 15-inch hybrid is only available in the UK with a 4K display, faster Core i7 CPU and double the storage and RAM for £1,299 or $1,549 (about AU$2,166) – roughly what you would pay for a fully decked out Ultrabook.

HP Spectre x360 15 review

I have to hand it to Dell for having the best value-oriented laptop – and a solid one, at that. If you're looking for an extremely color-correct display, the Toshiba Radius 15 excels in this category.

The Spectre x360 15 is a premium device with an all-aluminum shell, and the bigger price tag reflects this. It's also the lightest and thinnest system out of these three laptops, but whether paying more for the extra portability is worth it is up to you.

HP Spectre x360 15 review


Thanks to Intel's latest line of Skylake processors, the Spectre x360 15 flies even with the lowest-end Core i5 processor. The 15-inch hybrid easily tackles everyday tasks from web browsing to image editing as well as some light gaming.

However, without a discrete GPU, like the 15-inch MacBook Pro and Dell XPS 15 proudly tout, this system doesn't pass muster on games more graphically intensive than the odd round of Hearthstone or exploring the storied woods in FireWatch.

HP Spectre x360 15 review


Here's how the HP Spectre x360 15 performed in our suite of benchmark tests:

  • 3DMark: Cloud Gate: 5,661; Sky Diver: 3,452; Fire Strike: 848
  • Cinebench CPU: 288 points; Graphics: 42 fps,
  • GeekBench: 3,022 (single-core); 6,395 (multi-core)
  • PCMark 8 (Home Test): 2,719 points
  • PCMark 8 Battery Life: 5 hours and 23 minutes

While my review sample only came sporting a lower-end Core i5 chip, it still put up some impressive benchmark scores that wiped the floor with the Dell and Toshiba's respective hybrids.

In the PCMark 8 test, which simulates a day's worth of tasks including video chatting and photo editing, the 15-inch Spectre scored 2,719 points. By comparison, the Broadwell-powered Dell and Toshiba topped out with 2,239 and 2,179 points, respectively.

Graphically, the HP hybrid also pulled ahead, delivering 3,452 points in the Sky Diver 3DMark benchmark. Thanks to the major enhancements to integrated graphics in Skylake, the Inspiron 15 lags behind again with only 2,547 points. The Radius 15 also suffers from this generational gap in silicon and in pushing a higher-resolution 4K screen, two factors which end up dragging down its Sky Diver score to 2,452 points.

HP Spectre x360 15 review

Battery for (half-)days

Higher benchmark scores are nice and all, but the laptop's most impressive figures come from its long battery life. Thanks to packing a denser 64.5WHr battery, the Spectre x360 15 lasted for 5 hours and 23 minutes on the PCMark 8 battery test. Dell's 15-inch, 2-in-1 laptop lasted for a considerably less impressive 3 hours and 40 minutes. Meanwhile, the 4K Toshiba Radius 15 drained the fastest, shutting down after a short 2 hours and 45 minutes.

In techradar's standard battery test, we play Guardians of the Galaxy on a continuous loop with screen brightness and volume set at 50%. You can expect this laptop to easily get you through six hours of usage, and seven if you crank down the screen brightness. Still, I wished it came a little closer to HP's original claim of 13 hours of battery life.

On my own, I squeezed 5 hours and 31 minutes out of the Spectre x360 15 while browsing the web, streaming Google Music, writing this review and watching a good chunk of YouTube and Netflix videos.

Bundled software

Once again, HP has done an admirable job of keeping the amount of preloaded software to a bare minimum. There's still a small sprinkling of bundled apps, but almost everything has its uses.

  • HP Support Assistant – An essential always-on system tray application, which keeps an eye out for software updates, such as new BIOS installs and Intel HD Graphics patches.
  • HP Recovery Manager/Media Creation – Back up your laptop and restore it with these preloaded apps.
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.