HP Spectre x360 (2021) review
The hp spectre x360 (2021) receives an major update.
The HP Spectre x360 (2021) presents a brilliant update on an already excellent laptop, bringing the latest Intel hardware to a stunningly designed 2-in-1 device. It can get a bit loud, and it's expensive – but it looks beautiful, and offers brilliant battery life as well.
Excellent battery life
Great performance for day-to-day work
Large, comfortable keyboard
Fans can get noisy
Not great as a tablet device
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HP Spectre x360 (2021): two-minute review
It’s hard to improve on a winning formula but the HP Spectre x360 (2021) has done just that. It raises the bar of what to expect out of these laptops now that it comes with Intel’s Evo certification.
To meet Intel ’s standards, HP had to not only improve upon the laptop’s performance but its design and battery life as well. In fact, it lasted almost 13 hours in our PCMark 10 battery life test.
This makes the 2021 refresh of the Spectre x360 one of the best laptops out there right now, building on everything we loved in our HP Spectre x360 (2020) review . Whether you’re concerned about battery life and want something that can hang with Chromebooks and MacBooks during long workdays, need something portable enough to easily take on the go, or want something powerful, the HP will be able to satisfy just about any user outside of hardcore gamers.
Price and availability Design Performance Battery Life Features Should I buy? Also consider
With that said, the HP Spectre x360 takes some missteps. It’s a bit clumsy when in tablet mode since it’s a bit too big to comfortably use in that mode. If that’s a crucial feature for you and you want a laptop that’s as easy to use no matter what form factor it’s in, you might want to consider a Surface Pro 7 or iPad instead, which are thin and light tablets that can be used with keyboards.
Our other issue is that the fans become quite loud when you’re using the laptop – and, on occasion, even when you’re not. A few times we heard the fans kick even when the Spectre x360 was closed. It’s the one area of the design that doesn't feel completely premium.
Aside from those issues, this is a supremely accomplished laptop that’s great for day-to-day use, including work. However, with starting prices of $1,349/£1,199/AU$3,339 (various markets have different starting configurations), it's pricey. If you have the budget for it, though, you won’t be disappointed.
HP Spectre x360: price and availability
- How much is it? Starting at $1,149 / £1,199 / AU$3,399
- When can you get it? The HP Spectre x360 (2021) is available now
- Where can you get it? The HP Spectre x360 (2021) is available in the US, UK, and Australia
The HP Spectre x360 (2021) is available in a variety of configurations and prices. Prices start at $1,149.99 in the US, for a model with an Intel Core i5 -1135G7 processor, 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD.
In the UK, the base model costs £1,199.99 and comes with an Intel Core i5 -1135G7 processor, 8GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD.
Then there’s a version with an Intel Core i7 -1165G7 processor, 16GB of R AM and a 512GB SSD, which is the version on review here. It costs $1,349.99/£1,399.99.
There's also a model with the same CPU and RAM, but with a 1TB SSD and a 4K OLED screen for £1,699.99.
In addition, the Spectre x360 comes with various screen sizes: 13 inches (the version we’re testing), 15 inches, and 13.5 inches (which has a taller 16:10 aspect ratio).
Here is the HP Spectre x360 (2021) configuration sent to TechRadar for review:
CPU : Intel Core i7-1165G7 (quad-core, up to 4.7GHz Boost) Graphics : Intel Iris Xe RAM : 16GB LPDDR4 (3200MHz) Screen : 13.3-inch FHD (1080p) touch Storage : 512GB PCIe NVMe M.2 SSD Ports : 1x USB-A 3.1, 2 x Thunderbolt 4, microSD card reader, combi audio jack Connectivity : Intel Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5 Camera : HP TrueVision HD 1080p IR Webcam Weight : 2.8 pounds (1.3kg) Size (W x D x H) : 12.08 x 7.66 x 0.67 ins (306 x 194.5 x 16.9 mm)
In Australia, you can get the 13-inch model with an Intel Core i7-1165G7, 16GB of RAM and a 1TB SSD for AU$3,399. It's also available with the Core i7, 16GB of RAM, a 4K OLED screen and a 2TB SSD for AU$4,599.
Like models in the UK and US, there are numerous configurations available, including models with 14-inch and 15-inch screen sizes.
So, as you can see, there's plenty of choice available for those in the market for a new HP Spectre x360 – but we'd hesitate to say there's a model for every budget. Even the cost of the base models exceed those of many other laptops. This is a seriously premium laptop – which means it needs to work hard to justify its high price.
HP Spectre x360: design
- Stunning design
- Good amount of ports
- A better laptop than tablet
With a premium price you expect a premium design, and HP certainly delivers with the HP Spectre x360 (2021). To be honest, we never had any doubt that it would; the previous model was one of the nicest-looking laptops we've had the pleasure of reviewing.
So, it comes as little surprise that the new model is yet another gorgeous laptop from HP. Design-wise, the Spectre x360 is basically identical to the previous model – which is no bad thing, considering how impressed we were with its looks.
The Spectre x360 arrives with a brushed-metal design that's available in several color combinations. The 360-degree hinge, which allows the screen to flip back completely, turning the Spectre x360 into a tablet-like device, feels solid and reliable. The right-hand side is engraved with the word ‘Spectre’ – a nice touch that further cements the Spectre x360’s overall premium feel.
In terms of connections, you get an audio-in jack and full-size USB port on the right (the inclusion of a full-size USB port is a nice touch for such a thin and light laptop), plus two USB-C ports, a microSD port and a physical webcam kill switch on the left.
The latter allows you to turn off the webcam when it isn't in use; it's a great feature for people concerned about their privacy. It’s definitely a big selling point, and that – along with the full-size USB port and microSD slot – show that it is possible for a thin and light laptop to incorporate multiple connections without compromising design. It certainly puts the two USB-C ports of the MacBook Air (M1, 2020) and MacBook Pro 13-inch (M1, 2020) to shame.
Open up the HP Spectre x360 and you’re presented with a bright and vibrant screen, surrounded by extremely thin bezels. This gives the device a modern look, while keeping the overall size of the laptop down.
It’s another case of a Windows 10 laptop looking more stylish than an Apple MacBook – something both HP and Intel will be pleased to learn, and is yet another reason for Apple to consider updating its MacBook designs.
The keyboard is large and enjoyable to use, with the keys offering decent travel. They’re also backlit, so you can comfortably use them in the dark.
The touchpad is nice and responsive. It's wider than you’d expect on a 13-inch laptop, providing a bit more room to move your fingers. There’s also a fingerprint scanner to the right of the touchpad for logging into Windows 10 .
Similar to HP's provision of ports, the company has found a way of cramming a large keyboard and trackpad into a small body. It’s a seriously impressive design feat, and means the HP Spectre x360 doesn’t only look good, it feels good to use as well.
Flipping the screen entirely back, using the Spectre x360 as a tablet-like device, the large touchscreen works well. However, while this is a thin and light laptop, compared to tablets such as the iPad, the Spectre x360 actually feels heavy and bulky.
Having the option to use the laptop in this way is certainly welcome, but it isn't an ideal replacement for a standard tablet. The Spectre x360 is far more successful as a laptop.
HP Spectre x360: performance
- Upgraded 11th-gen Intel processors
- Not really good for gaming
The biggest upgrade on the HP Spectre x360 (2021) over the previous model are its components and performance, with the laptop being a showcase for Intel’s latest mobile processors.
The review unit we were sent in for review features an Intel Core i7-1165G7 processor. This is a quad-core unit that can achieve boost speeds of up to 4.70GHz, which marks a decent leap over the Intel Core i7-1065G7 (the previous generation CPU) included in last year’s model.
As you can see in our Cinebench and Geekbench results, the new Spectre x360 delivers a lift in performance compared to last year’s model, with a single-core score of 1,317 compared to the previous model’s 1,259. It isn't a huge leap, but it’s an increase nonetheless. The Intel Core i7-1065G7 was a pretty great mobile processor anyway, so it’s good that Intel has built on its solid foundation.
Here’s how the HP Spectre x360 (2021) performed in our suite of benchmark tests :
Cinebench R20 : 1,430 points GeekBench 5 : 1,317 (single-core); 4,541 (multi-core) PCMark 10 (Home Test) : 4,721 points PCMark 10 Battery Life : 12 hours 52 minutes Battery Life (TechRadar movie test) : 11 hours 22 minutes
Overall, as a result of the new CPU, along with a hefty 16GB of RAM, the HP Spectre x360 is a great little performer, with Windows 10 feeling fast and responsive. Multi-tasking, with numerous apps open at once, alongside plenty of Edge tabs too, didn’t really serve to slow down the Spectre x360’s performance, either.
For day-to-day use, then, the Spectre x360 delivers the sort of performance you'd expect of a premium laptop at this price point. You certainly won’t be disappointed.
However, one of the biggest upgrades to come alongside the new Tiger Lake CPUs such as the Intel Core i7-1165G7 is the inclusion of Intel Iris Xe graphics. This is an integrated GPU that promises to offer vastly improved performance compared to previous integrated graphics, and could even rival some discrete GPUs.
While the Spectre x360 certainly isn't one of the best gaming laptops out there, it could feasibly run some of the best PC games that don't have especially steep hardware requirements and will definitely do better than a lot of other thin and light laptops out there.
While Cyberpunk 2077 at full graphical settings isn't on that list, Intel has claimed it could play GTA 5 at over 60fps, while esports games such as Rocket League, League of Legends and CS:GO – which are less graphically demanding, but require fast performance – could be playable on the right settings.
So, of course, we attempted to play a few games on the HP Spectre x360. As we've mentioned, this definitely isn't a gaming laptop, but we wanted to see if it would be possible to play games at the end of the day, when you want to unwind after a hard day at work.
The answer is: sort of . Total War: Three Kingdoms managed only 30fps on low settings. Anything more demanding was unplayable. We also fired up Ori and the Will of the Wisps – a visually stunning 2D platform game, which despite looking great, is less taxing than a lot of other modern games.
Unfortunately, we had to drop graphical settings to low, and scale down the resolution, to achieve smooth gameplay. As such, while it was possible to play modern games such as Ori and the Will of the Wisps, it was only with big sacrifices to graphical fidelity. So, don’t give up the day job, Spectre x360.
One thing to note, is that even while performing relatively low-powered tasks, such as downloading an app, the fans of the Spectre x360 will kick in. In a way, it’s understandable, since this is a super-thin laptop that needs to keep its components cool.
However, it proved annoying, and was in sharp contrast to the silent operation we saw in our Apple MacBook Air (M1) review , which has a fanless design.
HP Spectre x360: battery life
- Solid, half-day battery life
- Fast Charging capable
- Intel Evo Certified
One of the biggest quality of life improvements Intel is pushing with its Intel Evo platform is long battery life, and the HP Spectre x360 (2021) doesn’t disappoint here. It lasted an excellent 11 hours and 22 minutes in our own battery life test, which loops a 1080p video file at 50% brightness until the battery dies.
The previous HP Spectre x360 also performed well in this test, scoring 10 hours and 55 minutes. Nevertheless, the extra half an hour is welcome, and it means the more powerful components haven’t come at the cost of battery life.
We also ran the intensive PCMark 10 battery life test on the laptop, which replicates day-to-day use such as web browsing and video calling. Here, the Spectre x360 managed almost 13 hours – again, a very impressive achievement and a big leap over the previous model’s four-hour result (on PCMark 8).
As such, the Spectre x360's battery is nice and balanced; it's able to last equally well in both light- and medium-use cases. You’ll easily get through a full work day on this laptop, which makes it an excellent tool for business users who are looking for a device that offers superb performance, fantastic looks, and won’t need to be plugged in until they return home.
HP Spectre x360: software and features
The HP Spectre x360 (2021) is premium enough that it isn't overwhelmed by bloatware, and – being a 2-in-1 touchscreen – also comes with an HP Tilt Pen. There is also a physical webcam killswitch, which is something that should be standard on every laptop in 2021, but many still haven't gotten with the program.
Even better, the HP killswitch is a physical shutter over the camera rather than a software webcam deactivation, since in the latter case, malicious actors can reactivated your webcam remotely with a little bit of malware. Software killswitches are really only good enough to let you easily shut off your camera when you need to step away from the meeting, but that's about it.
HP has been a real leader on the physical shutter front (along with Lenovo ), and as such, we will never miss an opportunity to commend either company for caring about its customers' privacy and consistently implementing privacy shutters. More manufacturers need to follow their example.
Should you buy an HP Spectre x360 (2021)?
If you're still seriously considering the HP Spectre x360 (2021), we can safely say you're almost certainly not going to be disappointed, but even though it's one of the best 2-in-1 laptops you're going to find anywhere, it's not going to be the right fit for everybody.
Buy it if...
You want a stylish laptop The HP Spectre x360 really does look and feel premium, sporting one of the best designs we’ve seen in a laptop.
You want a powerful laptop for day-to-day use The new 11th-generation mobile CPU from Intel means Windows 10 runs extremely well, and the laptop is even capable of a bit of light gaming.
You’re after all-day battery life The battery life of the HP Spectre x360 is excellent; it will easily last you a full work or school day. Even on long transatlantic flights (remember those?), this laptop should last the journey.
Don't buy it if...
You just want a tablet The Spectre x360 can double as a tablet-like device, but it’s bigger, bulkier and more expensive. If you just want a tablet, there are better options out there.
You want a silent laptop The fans of the Spectre x360 kick in a little bit too readily, which means this is a laptop that can get noisy in use. The new MacBook Air, with its fanless design, shows how it’s done.
You’re on a budget This laptop with a premium design and premium features also comes with a premium price tag.
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga Gen 6 Lenovo ThinkPad Yogas are consistently among the best 2-in-1 laptops, and the X1 Yoga Gen 6 is one of the best of the best. In terms of price and performance, it can go toe-to-toe with the HP Spectre x360. It does have more of an enterprise focus though, so there are some extra business-y features that bump the price up a bit more than the Spectre x360's.
Read the full Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga Gen 6 review
Asus ZenBook Flip 15 The Asus ZenBook Flip 15 is a premium 2-in-1 that offers some great features like a 4K display, a ScreenPad trackpad for extra functionality, and more. It's priced competitively against the Spectre x360, so it's definitely one to check out before clicking on the order button.
Read the full Asus ZenBook Flip 15 review
This review was originally published on February 1, 2021.
Matt is TechRadar's Managing Editor for Core Tech, looking after computing and mobile technology. Having written for a number of publications such as PC Plus, PC Format, T3 and Linux Format, there's no aspect of technology that Matt isn't passionate about, especially computing and PC gaming. Ever since he got an Amiga A500+ for Christmas in 1991, he's loved using (and playing on) computers, and will talk endlessly about how The Secret of Monkey Island is the best game ever made.
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HP Spectre x360 13.5 Review: Do-It-All Device
The classiest 2-in-1 around..
Tom's Hardware Verdict
The HP Spectre x360 13.5 is an attractive 2-in-1 convertible with a lovely OLED design, a sharp webcam and a strong port selection for its size. HP has to cut down the amount of preinstalled software, which makes the premium laptop feel far less luxurious.
Thunderbolt 4 and USB Type-A ports
Distinguished, mature design that also lets you upgrade storage
Colorful, 3:2 OLED display
Solid performance, webcam and audio
Too much bloatware for a premium device
GlamCam software can have overpowering effect
Why you can trust Tom's Hardware Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test .
When you use the same tool for work and your personal life, as more and more of us do these days (though that may not be the best idea!), you need it to do everything well. Few achieve that. But the HP Spectre x360 13.5 ($1,249.99 to start; $1,749.99 as tested) is the rare jack-of-all-trades that cuts few corners as a do-it-all device.
It isn't the most powerful laptop out there — in fact, HP is using a 15W Intel U-series processor here, which seems to help with battery life. But those who use spreadsheets and text documents, browse the web and do nothing more strenuous than some photo editing should be fine. The slim design boasts its fair share of ports (not including the dongle that comes in the box), a crisp OLED display, a high-resolution webcam and decent battery life (considering that display, anyway). Frankly, there's very little for me to say negatively about it. In the premium space, this Spectre x360 is one of the best ultrabooks that I've tested in the past few months.
Design of the HP Spectre x360 13.5
HP has made one handsome laptop. The Spectre x360 13.5 is simple and clean, with a few flourishes to make it feel like a fashion item, not just hardware.The Spectre's recycled aluminum chassis feels premium in the hands. We tested it in "nightfall black" with brass accents, though you can also get it in silver or a dark blue. HP's logo reflects off the lid in the light gold color, which also highlights the edges of the device. It's especially noticeable on the back edges of the laptop, which are cut flat to fit ports.
When you open the laptop, you'll see that the 13.5-inch, 3:2 display has thin bezels on the side, though HP left more room on the top and bottom, presumably to fit the 5 megapixel camera. Considering how much screen real estate you get with the taller aspect ratio, I can take a bit of bezel. The right side of the screen is magnetized so you can attach an included stylus for storage.
The backlit keyboard has a large, striking font on it, with the exception of an empty space for the fingerprint reader. That fingerprint reader worked quickly and accurately when I couldn't use facial recognition because I was wearing a mask. The spacious touchpad also has the same brass trimming as the rest of the notebook. With a pair of 360-degree hinges, the Spectre can be folded all the way back into a tablet. You can also put it in tent mode or balance it on the keyboard with the stand up to use as a display. The 3:2 aspect ratio helps here. I find it far more natural to use that shape screen as a tablet compared to a typical 16:9 display.
Despite how thin the Spectre is, HP has crammed a few ports into it. On the right side, there are a pair of Thunderbolt 4 ports — one on the side and one on the cut off corner. The left side has a USB Type-A port, which HP fit in with a drop-jaw hinge, as well as a 3.5 mm headphone jack on the corner. I admire HP for cramming USB Type-A in there, as many thin laptops have gone exclusively to USB Type-C. That being said, it can be finicky to get peripherals in there. HP also includes a surprisingly premium USB-C hub, with two more USB-A ports and an HDMI port as well as a USB-C for pass-through charging. It has a short, braided cable (The power supply also has a braided cable, which feels premium. It should be at this price point!)
The Spectre weighs 3.01 pounds and measures 11.74 x 8.68 x 0.67 inches. It felt perfectly reasonable in my backpack (in HP's included sleeve, a nice touch). The Lenovo Yoga 9i Gen 7 , a rival convertible, is 3.09 pounds and 12.5 x 9.06 x 0.6 inches. The Dell Inspiron 14 2-in-1 (7420) , a mid-range convertible with the same processor as the Spectre, is 12.36 x 8.95 x 0.7 inches and 3.46 pounds. Apple's MacBook Air , a clamshell laptop with a fanless design, is 2.7 pounds and 11.97 x 8.45 x 0.44 inches.
HP Spectre x360 13.5 Specifications
Productivity performance on the hp spectre x360 13.5.
We tested the HP Spectre x360 with an Intel Core i7-1255U, 16GB of RAM and a 1TB PCIe NVMe SSD. HP's choice of a U-series processor here suggests that the company is focused on keeping the Spectre cool and quiet. This is the same CPU we saw in the Dell Inspiron 14 2-in-1, while the Lenovo Yoga 9i Gen 7, which is also a slim 2-in-1, went with a higher-wattage Intel Core i7-1260P. We're also tossing in Apple's MacBook Air with M2 into the test pool, which is also quiet, because that system doesn't have a fan at all.
On Geekbench 5, an overall performance test with an emphasis on the CPU, the Spectre notched a single-core score of 1,668 and a multi-core score of 7,243. The Lenovo Yoga 9 Gen 7 with a Core i7-1260P traded blows with the Spectre, scoring slightly higher on single-core (1,722) and slightly lower on multi-core (7,150). The Dell Inspiron 14 2-in-1, with the same processor as the Spectre, was very similar on single-core (1,693) but behind on multi-core performance (6,527). Apple's M2 showed off, winning on both single-core (1,932) and multi-core (8,919) performance.
HP's convertible copied 25GB of files at a rate of 1,363.29 MBps. The Yoga was faster here (1,506.89 MBps). The MacBook Air was a bit slower (958.85 MBps), while the Inspiron, at 404.86 MBps, dragged in comparison. We use Handbrake to have laptops transcode a 4K video to 1080p . It took the Spectre 10 minutes and 33 seconds to complete the task, coming out ahead of the Yoga and its higher-wattage CPU (12:18), but in a rare victory, the cheaper Inspiron was faster (9:59) than its Windows counterparts. The MacBook Air, with its M2 chip, won out at 7:52. To stress test the Spectre, we ran the demanding Cinebench R23 benchmark 20 times on a loop. The laptop started by putting up a score of 6,619.97, before dropping to the low 6,000s, where it would spend most of the test. There were a few drops to the mid-to-low 5,000's, which likely coincided with when I heard the fans ramp up. The Core i7-1255U's two performance cores ran at an average of 2.36 GHz, while the eight efficiency cores averaged 1.84 GHz. The CPU package measured an average of 67.08 degrees Celsius.
Display on the HP Spectre x360 13.5
The Spectre x360 has a 13.5-inch display with a 3:2 aspect ratio to show as much of your work as possible. It's great if, like me, you write a lot and want to see more of your work. It also means less scrolling as you read. We tested HP's 3000 x 2000 OLED display which is bright and vivid, though the company also has 1080p touch screens.
The screen isn't quite 4K, but I used it to watch one of our test films, the 4K short Tears of Steel . A very early scene features two characters, one dressed in dark clothes, the other in neon blues and pinks. Those colors stood out against the deep blacks, as well as out-of-focus greens from leaves in the background. HP's panel covers 124% of the sRGB color gamut, and 87.7% of the DCI-P3 gamut besting the non-OLED competitors, though falling short of the exceptionally vivid Yoga 9i (198% and 140.1%, respectively). But the Spectre, at 355 nits of brightness, beat the Yoga's 352 nits. The MacBook Air, however, was the most luminous at 489 nits. When we put a white square on a black background, which occasionally boosts brightness in select areas on OLED screens, the Spectre's selection climbed to 362 nits.
Keyboard, Touchpad and Stylus on the HP Spectre x360 13.5
The Spectre has clicky, responsive keys, but I wish the travel were a bit deeper. Still, on the Monkeytype typing test, I reached 114 words per minute with 98% accuracy. That's about as good as I tend to do.
The power button is on the keyboard, to the left of the delete key. A simple tap won't turn the machine off, thankfully. Perhaps the only other big issue is that HP has opted for half-height up and down arrow keys. I much prefer an inverted-T shape, which I've seen HP use on other laptops, like its Victus gaming lineup.
HP's 4.9 x 3.1-inch touchpad, surrounded by brass accents, is big and smooth. There's plenty of room to comfortably perform Window's four-finger gestures, like swipes between virtual desktops. It's comfortable, and accurate. The stylus has a new home on the right side of the display. (On this laptop's predecessor, the Spectre x360 14 that we reviewed in 2021, it attached magnetically to the left side of the keyboard). This reminds me a bit of Microsoft's Surface Pro 8 .
The pen, the HP Rechargeable MPP 2.0 Tilt Pen , is decent. It's round with a flat edge (that's the one that attaches to the screen) with two barrel buttons. The top slides up to reveal a USB-C port for charging, which is far more convenient than replacing batteries. As someone who takes notes more than drawing, I'd prefer something a bit thinner. But you need very little pressure to get a response (HP claims nine grams on its website), and in sketching apps, tilting the pen allows for shading.
Audio on the HP Spectre x360 13.5
The speakers on the Spectre x360 continue HP's long partnership with Bang & Olufsen. It's been fruitful, and I feel the Spectre continues on trend.
Arlo Parks' "Softly" was crisp and clear on the Spectre. It got loud enough to fill my apartment (others get louder, but this is plenty for when I'm sitting in front of it and using it), and the vocals, keys and synths were all clear. The drums could use a bit more kick, though the low-end is often an issue on laptops.
There are some equalizer changes you can make in the included Bang & Olufsen audio control app, and some patience with the bass section did boost the percussion a little bit.
I preferred the sound of the bottom firing-speaker hitting my desk as opposed to being in tablet mode, when the speakers fire against the lid, but the difference isn't terribly stark.
Upgradeability of the HP Spectre x360 13.5
Consider me pleasantly surprised. I've reviewed a number of HP laptops that were effectively unrepairable without professional help because screws were placed beneath adhesive strips. When I checked the Spectre x360 13.5's service manual , I was surprised to find those strips (which are still there on the Spectre x360 14) don't need to come off to open the laptop.
Four Torx screws secure the bottom cover to the computer. (The service guide says that they're Phillips head screws. They are not). The screws closer to the hinges are longer than those near the front of the laptop, so be sure to keep them separate and remember what goes where.
With those removed, you can use a pry tool to gently separate the base from the rest of the laptop.
When you're in, you'll see that the m.2 2280 SSD can be removed and replaced, as can the network card and the battery. The SSD is underneath a copper heatsink held down by a pair of Phillips head screws, while the networking card is under an adhesive, papery heat shield. HP has gone with soldered memory on this laptop.
There is a small bit of empty space to the right of the battery. It makes me wonder whether this could have been designed with either a larger battery, or perhaps a motherboard with room for another storage drive. But hey, at least you can get into this Spectre at all.
The Spectre x360 ran for 10 hours and 12 minutes on our battery test, in which we have laptops browse the web, stream video over Wi-Fi and run OpenGL tests, all with the screen set to 150 nits of brightness.
This was more than two hours longer than the Lenovo Yoga 9i, which I suspect may be partially because of the Spectre's lower-wattage processor. This is also a pretty strong number for an OLED laptop, as those screens really suck up juice. Dell's budget Inspiron 14 2-in-1 lasted only 7:52. The MacBook Air did the best on our test at 14:06.
Heat on the HP Spectre x360 13.5
In any position, the Spectre shouldn't be too hot to handle. We took our skin temperature measurements while running our Cinebench stress test to see how hot the Spectre x360 gets under an intensive workload.
At the center of the keyboard, between the G and H keys, the laptop measured 37.4 degrees Celsius (99.5 degrees Fahrenheit). I could feel the heat on my hands, but I wouldn't say the laptop was unusable. The touchpad was chillier at 31.8 degrees Celsius (89.24 degrees Fahrenheit).
On the bottom of the laptop, the hottest point measured 42 degrees Celsius (107.6 degrees Fahrenheit), towards the back, though most of the laptop was cooler.
Webcam on the HP Spectre x360 13.5
HP seems serious about the webcam on the Spectre x360. It's a 5MP lens with dedicated software for making adjustments. HP calls this "GlamCam," and it's nestled in the HP Command Center app.
The camera works quite well. At my office desk, which is well-lit from nearby windows and fluorescent lights, I could make out a ton of detail in the camera, from individual hairs on my head to bags under my eyes from not sleeping great the night before.
GlamCam has an auto-frame feature that's designed to keep you in the camera frame while you move around, similar to Apple's Center Stage on the iPad. I don't tend to move from my desk much during calls, but in testing it out, I did find that while it typically worked, the motion could be a bit jarring. It was also less likely to follow me around while I was wearing a facemask and using the laptop in public — I suspect it's looking for an entire face.
There's also lighting correction, which made extremely subtle changes at my well-lit office desk. At home, I have some bright windows behind my desk. While HP's software couldn't stop that light from appearing harsh, it did adjust the tone a bit so that the contrast wasn't so intense.
The one that made the most difference was the appearance filter, which "retouches" your face. I found that on steps two and three (step one appeared to be my regular face), it noticeably removed small wrinkles and bags under my eyes. In fact, the third step seemed a bit fake. The step was also extreme, and smoothed out other details, like hairs. I even looked like I had fewer eyelashes.
I'm of two minds about this. If it makes someone feel more comfortable, great, but I also am not sure that it should be up to laptop companies to perpetuate these standards of appearance. That being said, no one is making you use any of these features, and they're off by default.
There's a built-in camera shutter, which you can activate by pressing a dedicated button on the keyboard. The infrared sensors let you log in with Windows Hello facial recognition, which worked flawlessly for me except for the times I forgot to disengage the privacy shutter.
Software and Warranty on the HP Spectre x360 13.5
There are over 13 pieces of software with the name "HP" in it preinstalled on the laptop, and that's on top of promotional trials for Dropbox, ExpressVPN, McAfee LiveSafe, McAfee WebAdvisor and others. Some of these even have bookmarks in the Edge browser, which is something you typically see on much cheaper notebooks, not premium ones.
Some of it, like the HP Command Center can be useful. It lets you pick from different power plans and has some camera customizations under the HP GlamCam tab. I think other apps, like an app to adjust pen settings to and to pick between different display modes should be built in here.
Other apps include HP Quickdrop to move files between your laptop and phone, Concepts for drawing and sketching, Duet to put your PC screen on another device and Palette, which helps sort and match photos. Some of these, like Concepts, have in-app purchases for more tools (in that app, it's a wider variety of brushes). It's effectively an entire creative suite between your phone and the Spectre, but it's a lot to be preinstalled.
HP sells the Spectre x360 with a one-year warranty. Extended services can be purchased if you buy the laptop from HP's website.
HP Spectre x360 13.5 Configurations
We tested the HP Spectre x360 13.5 in black with an Intel Core i7-1225U, 16GB of RAM, a 1TB SSD and a 3000 x 2000 OLED touchscreen. That runs for $1,749.99 at Best Buy and is also available as a custom configuration from HP's website.
The laptop starts at $1,249.99 (though is on sale for $1,199.99 as of this writing) in silver with an Intel Core i5-1235U, 8GB of RAM, 512GB of storage and a 1920 x 1080 touchscreen.
Other options include a "nocturne blue" chassis (changing colors from the default silver on HP's website costs an extra $10), up to 32GB of RAM, a 1080p screen with privacy features and up to 2TB of storage. It costs $2,029.99 maxxed out.
The HP Spectre x360 13.5 is a classy, capable 2-in-1 with a decent number of ports, a colorful OLED screen and a sharp, high-resolution webcam. While HP opted for Intel's 15W U-series processors rather than the more powerful 28W P-series option in some competitors, most users won't want for performance
Among premium Windows ultraportables, the Spectre's biggest competition is the Lenovo Yoga 9i Gen 7, a 14-inch convertible 2-in-1, which uses the 28W parts and in some use cases outpaces the Spectre in performance. The Yoga also has a brighter, more vivid OLED display. But the Spectre comes with a stylus, which the Yoga doesn't, has longer battery life and is surprisingly easy to upgrade storage with down the line. The Spectre, at the moment, seems a bit easier to buy. Several configurations, including the Yoga 9i we reviewed, have been out of stock at Lenovo and other retailers as of late.
Apple's MacBook Air reigns on battery life and in some performance use cases, and if your priority is thinness, it may make sense for you. But the Spectre x360, with its convertible design and touch screen, has a number of features that laptop lacks. If the Spectre x360's $1,299.99 starting price is too much for your wallet, the Dell Inspiron 14 2-in-1 is cheaper, and we liked it.
But pound-for-pound, the HP Spectre x360 13.5 is among the best ultrabooks we've tested of late. If you want to balance performance, battery life and ports with a sharp webcam and a gorgeous display, the Spectre has it all unequivocally.
Andrew E. Freedman is a senior editor at Tom's Hardware focusing on laptops, desktops and gaming. He also keeps up with the latest news. A lover of all things gaming and tech, his previous work has shown up in Tom's Guide, Laptop Mag, Kotaku, PCMag and Complex, among others. Follow him on Twitter: @FreedmanAE
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- digitalgriffin I LOVED my wifes Ryzen 2400U HP x360 with it's flip back design and aluminum housing. It was an exceptional laptop in terms of quality with a great touchscreen display, good hinge and metal casing. I paid ~$650 for it. But I would not pay $800 for one, let alone $1200+. The specs are too low for what it cost. And I wouldn't dare touch one with a OLED. Way too many burn in issues that will make this laptop a "throw away" in 4 years. Reply
- bigdragon I appreciate the mention of the stylus and some of its capabilities. <3 Looks like the latest PC stylus designs are imitating what Apple has done with the iPad Pencil. This is good. Not enough to get me to upgrade away from an iPad Air 3 and Yoga 720 though. Combining the 2 devices would be nice, but no product meets that goal. Reply
- Brian D Smith "Too much bloatware " Often cited as a REASON to AVOID. But seriously, it's easy enough to remove this stuff...so that sounds like a non-argument from the get-go. Why 'AVOID'??? Reply
Brian D Smith said: "Too much bloatware " Often cited as a REASON to AVOID. But seriously, it's easy enough to remove this stuff...so that sounds like a non-argument from the get-go. Why 'AVOID'???
- Brian D Smith Well, sure, no one likes this...but when you have taken care of it...it's never going to be an issue, so calling it a "REASON TO AVOID" the product itself seems sill. 'mushy keyboard' or such is something you can't fix. THAT would be a real 'reason'... Reply
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HP Spectre x360 13.5-inch (2022) review
Hp’s latest spectre upgrade is sleek and stylish, albeit pricey.
Tom's Guide Verdict
HP’s latest 13.5-inch edition of the convertible Spectre x360 is an impressive, well-rounded 2-in-1 that provides power and versatility—albeit at a somewhat steep price.
Stunning touch display
Plenty of power
Versatile form factor
Modest battery life
Runs hot at hinge
A bit pricey
Why you can trust Tom's Guide Our writers and editors spend hours analyzing and reviewing products, services, and apps to help find what's best for you. Find out more about how we test, analyze, and rate.
Price: $1,749 Display: 13.5-inch 3K2K (3,000 x 2,000) OLED Touch CPU: Intel Core i7-1255U GPU: Intel Iris Xe Graphics RAM: 16GB Storage: 1TB SSD Ports: 1 USB-A, 2 USB-C/Thunderbolt 4, 1 microSD slot, 1 Headphone port Size: 11.73 x 8.68 x 0.67 inches Weight: 3.01 pounds
If you’re on the hunt for a laptop that’s as versatile as it is capable, the HP Spectre x360 ought to be on your radar. This convertible 2-in-1 notebook transitions from standard laptop form into a tablet with ease, along with tent-like and full-flat forms, with a full-sized stylus included for sketching, annotating and more.
HP’s latest 13.5-inch version of the Spectre x360 comes with a 12th Gen Intel Core i7 chip that’s capable of handling all sorts of creative and productive apps, plus the 13.5-inch screen is a stunner and the refreshed design is appealing. The slim, transformable approach has a couple drawbacks, including a steep asking price, but this is an alluring option all the same that ranks among the best laptops you can buy.
HP Spectre x360 2-in-1 13.5-inch (2022) review: Price and configurations
- The top-end model we tested sells for $1,749
We reviewed the highest-tier configuration of the HP Spectre x360 2-in-1 laptop with a 13.5-inch OLED touch display at 3,000 x 2,000 resolution, plus an Intel Core i7-1255U processor, 16GB RAM, and a 1TB SSD. It sells for $1,749 exclusively from Best Buy .
HP also offers cheaper configurations with a lower-resolution 1080p display, as well as options that include half the RAM and/or SSD storage. Those models are available from HP.com. Our review unit came in Nightfall Black with brass accent details, but HP also sells the 13.5-inch Spectre x360 in Nocturne Blue and Natural Silver colorways.
HP Spectre x360 2-in-1 13.5-inch (2022) review: Design
- The latest Spectre sheds the angular accents for rounded features
- Putting ports on the back corners is a neat touch here
A glance at our review of the previous HP Spectre x360 2-in-1 14-inch model reveals a pretty significant design shift for 2022. The convertible form factor is the same and the HP Spectre x360 remains slim and versatile, but the visual flourishes on the aluminum chassis are newly refreshed.
HP’s latest refresh embraces rounded elements rather than the angular appeal of the last version, with smooth surfaces that meet at the edges at a slim, brass-hued meeting point. It’s a more understated approach this time around—a little less flashy, no doubt, but this Spectre still looks and feels like a premium, pricey notebook. And that’s exactly what it is.
As with the previous version, the upper right corner houses one of the two USB-C/Thunderbolt 4 ports—and now the headphone port is located on the upper left corner, as well. Coming from basically every other laptop, it’s an interesting adjustment to get used to, but also a distinctive design tweak. It arguably benefits the tablet form factor the most, adding to its versatility as you choose how to hold the device.
Along with the two USB-C ports, you also get one USB-A port on the left side of the laptop. It has a tiny spring-loaded door that partially covers the port when not in use, ensuring that the slim exterior remains smooth and flush otherwise. There’s also a microSD card slot on the right side of the laptop next to one of the USB-C ports. The Spectre x360 also offers the latest and greatest Wi-Fi 6E standard onboard for supported routers.
HP’s convertible folds up pretty slim with dimensions of 11.73 x 8.68 x 0.67 inches, and while there are lighter laptops out there—like the Acer Swift 5 at 2.65 pounds and M2 MacBook Air at 2.7 pounds—this 3.01-pound notebook is pretty easy to haul around. It only feels heavy in tablet form, really, as that’s noticeably heftier than an iPad or comparable device.
HP Spectre x360 2-in-1 13.5-inch (2022) review: Display
- This model has a gorgeous 3,000 x 2,000 OLED touch display
- At a 3:2 aspect ratio, this 13.5-inch panel provides a lot of screen space
As a laptop targeted at creatives and on-the-go professionals, the HP Spectre x360 demands a top-of-the-line display. Thankfully, HP did not disappoint. The configuration I tested features a bold 13.5-inch OLED touch display at a blisteringly sharp 3,000 x 2,000 resolution.
It’s been a while since I tested a laptop with an OLED panel and I was immediately struck by the deepness of the black levels and the vivid contrast. There are some truly fine LCD panels on today’s premier laptops, but the advantages of an OLED screen still stand out by comparison.
It scored well in our testing too, hitting 123.8% of the sRGB color gamut and 87.7% of the DCI-P3 space. Both specs top the Dell XPS 13 Plus and Apple’s M2 MacBook Pro alike.
Meanwhile, you can’t go wrong with a 3K x 2K resolution, providing ample crispness for text and graphics plus loads of potential screen real estate if you run at the native resolution without zooming. The 3:2 aspect ratio here gives you a taller space than a standard widescreen (16:9) approach, which is handy for productivity needs, and the 90% screen-to-body ratio means there’s little bezel surrounding the view.
HP advertises a respectable 400 nits of brightness, whereas we measured an average of 362 nits. Most of the time, the HP Spectre x360 met my visibility needs, but there were occasions where I wanted a little more brightness. I’m used to cranking up a 2021 M1 MacBook Pro at full brightness, which tops HP’s panel on that mark.
This bold and crisp 13.5-inch panel is a touchscreen too, of course, which is essential for the tablet form and may be useful to media creators and consumers alike. It responded admirably to both my fingers and the bundled HP MPP 2.0 Tilt Pen, which I’ll touch on further later in the review.
HP Spectre x360 2-in-1 13.5-inch (2022) review: Performance
- The latest 13.5-inch Spectre x360 has a speedy Intel Core i7-1255U chip
- It performs well, but the Core i7-1260P chip in some rival laptops is faster
HP packed quite a bit of power within the skinny frame of the HP Spectre x360. It uses a 12th-gen Intel Core i7-1255U chip, which is designed for ultrathin laptops. As such, it puts out a bit less speed than the Core i7-1260P that some recent premium notebooks are using, but it also sucks up less battery life as a result.
Practically, in everyday use, I didn’t notice any real difference in usability between the Spectre x360 and the Acer Swift 5, for example, which uses the higher-end i7-1260P processor. Both are super speedy and responsive, with 16GB RAM here ensuring that the device never feels bogged down even amid loads of active browser tabs.
Still, when it comes to benchmark testing, there is a difference in performance. We registered a score of 7,243 on Geekbench 5.4, which is a fair bit less than the Swift 5’s 9,859, as well as the M2 MacBook Pro’s score of 8,911. It’s still a great score, however—and again, the device didn’t feel slower than the Acer Swift 5 in terms of daily use and navigation.
Where you’ll see more of a difference is with processor-intensive tasks. For example, our Handbrake video test—in which a 4K clip is transcoded down to 1080p—took 10:33 on the HP Spectre x360. That’s nearly three full minutes longer than the Acer Swift 5 (7:35), while the M2 MacBook Air completed the task in 7:52. Still, it crushes laptops with last year’s 11th-gen i7 chips, including the Dell XPS 13 OLED (18:12).
You can expect pretty speedy performance from this 1TB SSD, as well. We were able to duplicate 25GB in files in 19.7 seconds for an effective transfer rate of over 1.36GB per second. That’s short of the Acer Swift 5 (1.67GB/sec), again, but beats rivals like the Microsoft Surface Laptop 4 (562MBps) and Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 360 (869MBps). It’s extremely quick.
As you might expect from a super-thin laptop, the HP Spectre x360 13.5-inch isn’t built for serious gaming. But it performed better than expected, despite relying on integrated Intel Iris Xe graphics rather than a dedicated GPU. You won’t be able to run super-demanding games like Cyberpunk 2077 or Forza Horizon 5, but it can handle popular free-to-play games like Fortnite and Rocket League.
You’ll need to knock down the resolution on Rocket League and Fortnite to get them to run at a stable frame rate, but they both played smoothly with more effects enabled than on the Acer Swift 5. That trend continued with our benchmark test on Civilization VI: Gathering Storm, which delivered better frame rates than on the Swift 5—over 29fps at 1080p resolution, or nearly 23fps at the native 2000p resolution.
HP Spectre x360 2-in-1 13.5-inch (2022) review: Audio
- Sound quality is pretty good overall, but not the best around
HP has outfitted the Spectre x360 2-in-1 laptop with Bang & Olufsen quad speakers, which do an admirable job of presenting clear and crisp audio playback on such a slim notebook. They get solidly loud and music output sounds pretty balanced overall, although bass is lacking.
All that said, when put side-by-side with an M1 MacBook Pro, Apple’s laptop beat it across the board, with louder playback, more dynamic output, and better bass. Plus, like a lot of notebooks with downward-firing speakers, HP’s Spectre can sound muffled when it’s in your lap. MacBooks avoid that issue entirely with speaker grates on either side of the keyboard.
HP Spectre x360 2-in-1 13.5-inch (2022) review: Keyboard and touchpad
- The keys feel responsive and provide a comfortable level of travel
- The touchpad is huge, plus you get a stylus for the touchscreen
HP’s boxy chiclet keys depress smoothly and spring right back into place, avoiding feeling mushy or unresponsive. The keys are slightly narrower than on a MacBook Pro, for example, albeit with a little more space between them, but they press more deeply here.
In any case, I made a smooth transition over to the keyboard, topping 100 words per minute on the 10fastfingers.com test, much as I did with the latest Acer Swift 5 model. My only annoyance with the keyboard is that HP placed little rubberized pads around it to facilitate the 2-in-1 design, and occasionally it’d catch me off guard when grazing a finger or palm against one.
Thankfully, HP has adorned the Spectre x360 with a huge touchpad at 4.9 x 3.1 inches, similar to recent MacBooks, providing plenty of space for multi-touch gestures and comfortable scrolling. It’s a responsive, reliable touchpad that is slightly depressed compared to the surrounding surface and smoother, as well, making it easy to find with your fingers.
Meanwhile, the fingerprint sensor works admirably for security purposes, with quick recognition to unlock the laptop. The placement—to the left of the arrow keys, right in the keyboard layout—may take some getting used to, but the function is just fine.
As mentioned, the HP Spectre x360 comes with its own rechargeable touch pen, which works precisely and comes with swappable tip options to suit your drawing and annotating needs. A pair of buttons on the stylus can be customized for certain needs, while a hidden USB-C port—revealed via a sliding cover—makes it easy to top up when the battery runs low. It magnetically connects to the right side of the screen when not in use, too.
HP Spectre x360 2-in-1 13.5-inch (2022) review: Webcam
- It’s a decent 5MP video camera that works fine for video conferencing
With a 5-megapixel camera onboard, the HP Spectre x360 does an OK job with video conferencing, capturing 1080p video footage with solid detail. It can grab still images at up to 2560x1920 too, depending on selected aspect ratio. It’s not the sharpest shooter I’ve seen on a recent laptop, as the Acer Swift 5 packs in even more detail, but it gets the job done.
HP bundles in a few additional video options here, including an Auto Frame feature that will follow your face around the frame, as well as tweaks that can lighten your image and apply filters to your face. Personally, I didn’t keep any of them on after trying them out: Auto Frame perpetually zooms into your face, shedding video quality in the process, while the backlight adjustment feature can wash out the video. Your mileage may vary.
HP Spectre x360 2-in-1 13.5-inch (2022) review: Battery life
- Battery life is only modest compared to premium rivals
- At max brightness, it only lasted about four hours in average daily use
For all its power and polish, the HP Spectre x360’s battery life comes up short. If you’re willing to cut down the brightness on that beautiful screen, you can potentially stretch it out across a full workday.
We registered just over 10 hours of battery life when knocking the brightness to 150 nits (less than half of peak) and continuously browsing the web. Still, that’s less than other 2-in-1 models like the Lenovo Yoga 9i (11:15) and the 2021 Spectre x360 14-inch model (about 12 hours). Apple’s M2 MacBook Air blows them all out of the water at 18:20, mind you.
But if you want to run the Spectre x360 at full settings, be ready to sacrifice significant uptime. At max brightness, I notched only about four hours of uptime while performing basic tasks like browsing the web, writing, and watching YouTube videos.
HP Spectre x360 2-in-1 13.5-inch (2022) review: Heat
- It runs hot around the hinge with power-intensive apps and games
As a slim 2-in-1 convertible laptop, the HP Spectre x360 doesn’t have a ton of room to fit heavy-duty fans. Most of the time, though, it does just fine at dissipating heat—but not always. Noticeably, the Spectre x360 runs hottest around the hinge, where we registered a peak temperature of 100.5 degrees during lab testing.
That’s solidly above our 95-degree comfort threshold, but it’s worth noting that no other part of the laptop got as warm during times of peak performance.
HP Spectre x360 2-in-1 13.5-inch (2022) review: Verdict
- It’s an impressive 2-in-1 option with a few drawbacks in the mix
- You’ll get more power and battery life for less cash in a non-convertible laptop
If you think you’ll reliably use the tablet form factor and stylus, then the HP Spectre x360 is a sharp 2-in-1 option for those with a premium budget. There are other strong options near this price point, including the upgraded Lenovo Yoga 9i with 12th-gen Intel Core i7 chips, however—we really liked last year’s model with the previous Core i7 processor aboard.
All that said, you’re clearly paying HP a premium for the convertible form factor here—so if that’s negligible to your needs, you can find more power and longer battery life at a lower price, particularly with the excellent Acer Swift 5. Even so, if you need a notebook that flips, HP’s option is plenty enticing.
Andrew Hayward is a freelance writer for Tom’s Guide who contributes laptop and other hardware reviews. He’s also the Culture Editor at crypto publication Decrypt covering the world of Web3. Andrew’s writing on games and tech has been published in more than 100 publications since 2006, including Rolling Stone, Vice, Polygon, Playboy, Stuff, and GamesRadar.
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