There’s not much innovation happening in the ultrabook laptop space as manufacturers race towards the thinnest and lightest. There are several factors limiting the advancement of ultrabooks such as battery limit, power consumption, and of course, the trade-off caused by limiting the device’s thickness. Doors for ultrabook once more opened thanks to Intel’s 10th generation 10-nanometer Ice Lake processors that are very power efficient.
Alongside the new 10th gen Ice Lake mobile processors are Intel’s Project Athena Initiative. Intel works closely with laptop manufacturers to produce a premium ultrabook that passes Intel’s set of standards. One product of the Intel’s Project Athena is the HP Spectre x360 premium ultrabook featuring an Intel 10th-gen Core i7-1065G7 processor. The Spectre line is HP’s ultrabook lineup that competes with notable brands such as Dell’s XPS and ASUS’ Zenbook. The HP Spectre x360 is famously known for its convertible form factor. Albeit, previous iterations of the device lacked in power as a convertible caused by its thin form-factor. One thing that is different with this year’s model it went under Intel’s laptop innovation project.
HP Spectre x360 Specifications
CPU: Intel Core i7-1065G7
Graphics: Intel Iris Plus (integrated)
RAM: 16GB LPDDR4 3200Mhz
Display: 13.3-inch 4K AMOLED Display
Storage: 512GB M.2 NVMe SSD
Ports: 1x USB-A 3.1, 2x USB-C 3.1 with Thunderbolt 3, microSD card reader, 3.5mm combo jack
Connectivity: Intel WiFi 6, Bluetooth 5
Camera: HP TrueVision HD 1080p IR Webcam
Weight: 1.3 kg
Size: 12.04 x 7.66 x 0.67 inches
A Closer Look
Inside the box contains the HP Spectre x360 laptop, a 65w type-C charger, a type-c hub, and a stylus. Props to HP for designing a paracord style wrap for its type-C charger although it would’ve been nice if the three-prong adapter is styled as well.
A simple yet elegant matte-black finish with glossy rose gold accents make the HP Spectre X360 look and feel like a premium ultrabook.
There’s a strip vent on the bottom of the laptop for cooling. The speaker grills are on the side but are angled giving it less muffle compared to flat downward-firing speakers.
A unique and distinguishable characteristic of the HP Spectre X360 is its chamfered edges. The chamfered edges make the notebook appear smaller than the rated size while giving it a premium look thanks to the rose gold accents.
The power button is magnificently integrated on the top-left edge. It removes any accidental press on the power button while working compared to other ultrabooks where the power button is located on the keyboard area. There are two USB 3.1 Type-C ports with the one on the corner supporting Thunderbolt 3 and faster charging. A MicroSD slot is located on the right beside the camera toggle. The other side contains a 3.5mm combo jack and surprisingly, a USB 3.1 Type-A port. Type-A ports are not commonly found in ultrabooks due to the port’s thick nature. However, HP is able to integrate it in the HP Spectre X360 by making the bottom part drop down like a mouth when you plug something in. This type of design is commonly found on ethernet jacks. That said, there’s almost no use for a dongle unless you need Ethernet or display inputs.
The included Type-C hub has two USB Type-A ports, an HDMI port, and a USB-C passthrough for charging.
HP didn’t seem to be bothered by the 13-inch form factor of the device as the keyboard spacing is maximized. Most ultrabooks tend to sacrifice one-third of the length in place of speaker grills or a better boxed-finish for a more “compact” look. The HP Spectre on the other hand used the space for a better keyboard. The keys’ sizes are slightly closer to what you would on a 15.6″ laptop thanks to the wider keyboard area. Moreover, the larger keys also help in avoiding typos and even barely hitting keys at the edge. Even if you hit the edge, the keys themselves don’t feel mushy. Tactile bump is solid and the debounce time is very satisfying. It is easily one of the best keyboards on an ultrabook.
However, the same couldn’t be said with the trackpad. The trackpad’s lack of height makes up by being slightly wider. However, it doesn’t solve the scrolling problem considering that the screen is a 4K panel – DPI-wise. It’s also worth noting that the fingerprint reader is outside the trackpad area, unlike other ultrabooks that take up space, further limiting the usable trackpad area. Apart from its height, there’s nothing to complain about the trackpad as its using windows precision drivers.
If you think the HP Spectre X360’s premium design and construction are all there is to the ultrabook then you’ll be gladly impressed with its tiny yet mighty display. The 13″ screen uses AMOLED technology for the best colors and response time. It has a 3840 x 2160p panel to deliver a crisp and vibrant viewing experience.
The display makes the HP Specter X360 an ideal choice for content creators especially graphics designers as they can take advantage of the high resolution, accurate display.
As the name implies, the HP Spectre X360 is a 2-in-1 convertible. The flexible yet sturdy hinge allows the notebook to transform into a tablet.
The included HP Tilt pen stylus is a love-hate relationship. Yes, it’s a smartpen that definitely beats any normal stylus. But the button signal range and latency breaks the overall experience. It’s better to use your fingers and only use the stylus for drawing or signing.
The almost bezel-less makes for a wonderful viewing experience though slightly sacrifices in tablet mode. It’s hard to hold the Spectre X360 one-handed without accidentally touching the screen causing unnecessary actions. Holding it on the right part on a portrait is no problem thanks to the slightly thicker chin area but you’re out of luck if you’re holding it on the left side as shown in the image above or if you’re holding it in landscape orientation.
Once the laptop is flipped more than 180 degrees the keyboard is immediately disabled. The glossy screen definitely glares depending on the lighting condition but is reduced thanks to the AMOLED display’s 1000 nits brightness.
Our particular review unit sports a 10th gen Intel Core i7-1065G7, 16GB RAM, and an Iris Plus GPU. On paper, the Intel Core i7-1065G7, having a 10nm architecture, is the better CPU compared to the Core i7-10510 GPU which is a 14nm+++ refresh. Cinebench benchmarks show the 1065G7 getting a better CPU score but flops in OpenGL.
Developed by Noriyuki Miyazaki, CrytalDiskMark is a free benchmark tool that is being used by thousands of experts. This tool measures SSD’s sequential read and writes speeds. That means how fast files can be read from and written to the drive, usually measured in MB/s.
The HP Spectre X360 uses an Intel Optane+ H10 series 1TB NVMe SSD. It’s a QLC SSD with 32GB Optane. The SSD is at around 25% capacity during our benchmark run and we were able to get around 1,400MB/s Read and 350MB/s writes. The SSD is definitely one of the cost-cutting measures made by HP. Most premium ultrabooks use a Samsung PM981 SSD or something equivalent. It is definitely one of the notebook’s weakest point.
DOTA 2 Benchmark
Most gamers play at least one of the following free-to-play titles: League of Legends, CS:GO, Dota 2, and/or Fortnite. Dota 2 is a good representation of the F2P titles as it is the most demanding game in the spectrum. The benchmark will give you an idea of the laptop’s relative performance on other lesser demanding titles. Our benchmark sequence is based on a replay of OG vs. Liquid in the TI9 grand finals from the team fight that happened on 28:30 to 29:30.
The 10nanometer Intel Core i7-1065G7 CPU shines in gaming as it outputs 30% more frames than the 10510u. The HP Spectre X360 could definitely run popular free to play titles, provided you lower the resolution to 1080p and play at lower settings.
Thermals and Battery Life
It’s impressive that the Core i7-1065G7 boosts up to 3.9Ghz but the HP Spectre X360’s cooling can’t keep up. CPU temps easily reach the 100-degree TJMax and sit at 39-degrees on idle. However, the HP Spectre X360 is a silent laptop and doesn’t sound like a jet-engine on extreme workloads. If HP allows a more aggressive fan profile, then the 1065G7 could do tasks with ease.
Powering HP’s premium ultrabook is a 60Wh battery. HP manages to get away with this thanks to the power-efficient Intel 10th-gen Icelake CPU. The 4K OLED panel sounds power-hungry, but it also saves some battery whenever it displays black or dark colors as the pixels are able to completely turn off for better contrast. Charging the ultrabook is also impressive as I am able to get a 50% charge in 30-minutes. Moreover, spending my time with the HP Spectre X360 on regular workloads lands the device at around 8-10hours of battery life. This is without any keyboard backlighting and the display’s brightness is only at 50% with the battery slider at better battery.
Performance-wise, the Intel Core i7-1065G7 is under-appreciated due to the thermal limitations of the ultrabook. Not to mention the almost underwhelming QLC SSD. But it’s worth noting that the SSD is not soldered giving the users the option to replace it if the Optane+ H10’s performance is not enough. However, it is still a leap in computing compared to previous Spectre models, especially the AMD Ryzen SKUs. The HP Spectre X360 easily spoils the user with its smallest details and refinements from the previous generation. The adjustment period from switching is very short thanks to its keyboard and windows precision touchpad. If you’re coming from a PC or a bigger laptop, you won’t miss the physical difference because of the stunning 4K OLED display. Although it’s not the lightest and thinnest ultrabook out there, it is definitely the most functional thanks to its almost no-compromise approach, and to Project Athena to an extent.
Priced at Php 109,990 for our specific review unit, the HP Spectre X360 is definitely an expensive ultrabook. But considering that other manufacturers charge a way higher price for a portion of the feature set that the HP Spectre X360 offers, it is definitely a bargain. Its flaws are easy to overlook as it is heavily outweighed by the benefits and how fun it is to use. The HP Spectre X360 is an easy recommendation for business professionals, digital artists, and enthusiasts wanting a near-perfect ultrabook experience. It is also a great MacBook alternative as it goes head to head in terms of keyboard and screen, which is the MacBook’s greatest features. It is a laptop worthy to be called a premium ultrabook as it sets the standard and highlights the must-have qualities of an ultrabook.