HP Spectre x360 13 (2019) Full Review

HP Spectre x36
Thinking about buying the new HP Spectre x360 13? Read this review before buying.

The 2019 HP Spectre x36013 has been significantly redesigned with sharp “gem-cut” angles. It features the latest that Intel has to offer with a Whiskey Lake CPU and a 1-watt display to drastically improve battery life. 

Its pen support and convertible design give the product notable versatility that’s beneficial to a broad range of professionals and casual users.

These are just a handful of the features that make the HP Spectre x360 13 the device that it is. To find out more, consult the review below. 

Specifications

HP has a reputation for using top-shelf components in their Spectre line of products. This reputation was reinforced with the HP Spectre x360 13, which provides context for is $1,449 price tag.

This price point was not arrived at unreasonably. The device offers: 

  • CPU: Intel 8th generation Whiskey Lake Core i7-8565U
  • Networking: Wi-Fi 5/802.11ac
  • Screen: A 13.3-inch 1920 x 1080p low-voltage IPS touch-screen with pen support
  • SSD: WD 256GB PC SN720 NVMe SSD 
  • RAM: 8GB LPDDR3 RAM

Among these specifications, the most eye-catching is the display. The HP Spectre x360 is one of the very few laptops which support the 1-watt panel LPDT (Low Power Display Technology) from Intel. With this screen, HP is able to offer major battery life improvements over similar models. 

Dimensions 

The new HP Spectre x360 13 is 12.1 inches wide and 8.6 inches deep. It’s 0.57 thick, which is comparable to similar devices on the market. 

The product weighs 2 pounds and 14 ounces, slightly heavier than the Dell XPS 13 Model 9380. 

Performance

The first approach one should look at to test any laptop’s capabilities is the Cinebench R15 by Maxon. This test is capable of measuring multi-core performance levels while the machine is rendering a specific 3D model. Considering HP Spectre x360’s convertible design and size, its default performance levels were measured to be fair using this test. 

HP Spectre x36

When the laptop is tested in performance mode, the Cinebench R15 test results do not show any significant improvements over default mode. This means the faster Whiskey Lake CPU may seem as though it’s operating at the performance level of the older Kaby Lake R-based convertible model. 

Of course, a 3D rendering test is not equivalent to the work that most people do on their laptops. In order to simulate the lighter loads that laptops are typically under, the Cinebench R15 test should be run on a single core. Even the latest applications available today hardly ever use more than a single core. 

Comparing the HP Spectre x360 with other convertible models, the Whiskey Lake Core i7 performed better on a single core than other similar models. That being said, the performance appeared to drop when using performance mode. 

Another test of a computer’s performance is the PCMark 8 Work 2.0 Conventional test. This test essentially simulates the performance of the laptop on mainstream and office applications. The Spectre x360 performed well on this test, perhaps faster than any laptop of its kind. A small performance boost may be noticed when using performance mode. 

Another commonly used test is the HandBrake encoder test, which is free, unlike the two previously mentioned tests. This test is best used to convert a large file, around 30 GB, using presets similar to an Android tablet. Keep in mind that an encoder requires a lot of CPU power. 

The higher the number of cores a processor offers, the higher the performance level will be on tests like this one. This test does take some time to complete, but it provides the reviewer or user the opportunity to see if a laptop lacks the ability to handle consistent pressure and resorts to throttling its performance. 

The HP Spectre x360 13 performs really well on this test. Its performance mode gives a boost in performance levels, which was not seen in some of the other tests. 

No matter how you want to use the new product, it should give you decent performance thanks to its Whiskey Lake Core i7 processor. 

However, an upgrade may not be worthwhile if you already have the older model of the same device. That being said, if you have the 7th-generation Kaby Lake HP Spectre x360 13 with a dual-core CPU, then you may be more likely to notice the performance gains offered with the new model. 

The HP Spectre x360 13 provides a major upgrade over previous models if you want good performance levels on multi-threaded tasks and encoding. 

HP Spectre x36

When taking this performance information into account, remember that benchmarks only give you an estimate of how the laptop will operate under real-world conditions. Your results may vary as you use the device in your daily activities. 

Ports

The 2019 HP Spectre x360 13 sports two Thunderbolt 3 ports, both on its right side. It also features a microSD port and a headphone jack. A slide switch is also present on the right side and is used to enable or disable the webcam. 

On the left side of the device is a USB Type A port and the power button. 

A lot of thinner laptop models have their power buttons in areas where a user might accidentally press the button while simply moving the laptop. 

The HP Spectre x360 13 fixes that by placing the power button in a corner. 

The Spectre x360 uses a USB-C charger with a modern curved surface that allows the user to wrap the cloth-braided cable around its body.

Battery

When discussing laptops, a lot of weight is placed on CPU performance, but what sets a laptop apart from a desktop is its portability. Therefore, battery life is of the utmost importance when comparing laptops. Furthermore, if the majority of your time on your laptop is spent browsing the internet or working on a word processor or spreadsheet, CPU performance is somewhat irrelevant. 

To put a laptop battery to the test, the most energy-intensive activities should be done all at once. This way you know the minimum battery life of your laptop and can plan your workday accordingly.

To test the battery, play a 4K video and set the laptop to airplane mode. Set the screen illumination to its brightest setting and connect headphones through the headphone jack. 

In this scenario, the 2019 HP Spectre x360 13’s battery lasts for 16 hours on a single charge, a value that greatly surpasses the 12 hours achieved with the previous model. Additionally, this laptop can reach up to 22 hours with nearly identical settings, only reducing the brightness of the screen. 

Other Stuff: Trackpad, Keyboard, Etc.

The design of the keyboard and trackpad mechanisms has not been changed since the previous model, leaving their sizes the same and allowing for the same adequate key travel. 

The new model’s keyboard features full-size page up, page down, end and home buttons not found on previous models. The trackpad is made by Synaptics and features a wide aspect ratio. 

HP Spectre x36

The trackpad is right-aligned, with its center aligning with the U key. This leaves a fairly large portion of the trackpad under the user’s palm while typing, but a palm rejection feature is included and works well. 

This section would not be complete without mentioning the fingerprint reader and the biometric IR camera. HP has moved both from the side of the laptop to the machine’s keyboard deck. HP still supports Windows Hello with its IR camera. 

User Reviews

Users have noted that the 2019 HP Spectre x360 13 excels in almost every area when compared to older models. They’ve mentioned the attractive chassis of the laptop and its 2-in-1 design. 

The laptop’s notable battery life has not been ignored by reviewers and its powerful speakers have also been a topic of discussion. The keyboard has been described as world-class and its performance has been praised for a 13 inch laptop. 

However, not all reviewers were impressed by the HP Spectre x360 13. 

One reviewer mentioned that the device failed as an elite laptop. The reviewer noted that the required performance for recording audio was not there and that it failed to record through the USB port. Similar issues were found when editing video. 

Further discussion surrounded the Spectre x360’s tendency to freeze and hang up during processor-intensive tasks. 

Pros and Cons

Pros Cons
Battery life is excellent More optimization is needed for
the performance mode
This model offers USB Type AThe current trackpad is a bit too
wide and perhaps a bit too
right-aligned 

The Bottom Line

The 2019 HP Spectre x360 is clearly better than the previous model. It comes to market with a major design overhaul with “gem-cut” sharp angles that give it a modern look. Its 1-watt display panel and Whiskey Lake CPU provide excellent battery life for the professional on the go. Hopefully this review helped you in your decision about purchasing the new product. If nothing else, we hope that this review sheds some light on what features are available in modern laptops and what you should look for when making your next purchase.

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