The previous Spectre x360 laptops have always dragged behind the competition in terms of portability, especially compared to the Lenovo Yoga series but with its newest model, HP is making some big changes. The final package includes an incredibly thin, light and robust convertible with an excellent screen, impressive input devices and huge battery. So where are the trade-offs? Well, as usual, a thin and light device struggles with cooling and sometimes fails to utilize the full performance of the hardware.
Even though the laptop comes with a standard Intel Core i5-7200U ultra-low voltage CPU and no discrete graphics chip, the 13.7 mm thin chassis interferes with the overall cooling. In any case, the CPUs performance is just enough to keep you satisfied in your everyday tasks and multimedia activities. The screen is also good enough for the latter bringing a familiar bright IPS panel also found in the HP Spectre 13 and Acer’s Swift 7. So is it good enough to tackle the fierce competition in this segment? Find out in the review below.
You can find the available configurations and their prices here: http://amzn.to/2spLWBY
The laptop comes in a luxurious black box containing not only the usual user manuals and AC adapters but a USB-C to RJ-45 adapter if you find yourself needing a more stable Internet connection and Wi-Fi just doesn’t cut it.
Design and construction
Thin and light chassis have always had some weak spots in the build and the Spectre x360 13 is no exception. However, the complaints we have are negligible and shouldn’t worry most of the users. Still, a case that weighs just 1.27 kg and it’s just 13.7 mm thin, we are mighty impressed by the rigidity. Apparently, the trade-offs here aren’t as big as we thought they would be.
The only weak spot in the design are the hinges and the lid. But to be fair, “weak” is a bit harsh to say in this situation. The aluminum sheet used for the lid is slightly flexible – when you press the center of the lid, there’s a noticeable deformation that causes small ripples to appear on the LCD screen. Surprisingly, the whole lid is resistant to torsion probably due to the stable Gorilla Glass coating on top of the screen that adds to the overall rigidity. In any case, this shouldn’t worry you as much. The other thing that would like to address is the hinge design. They are tight enough not to let you open the laptop with one hand but don’t keep the lid in place when working with the touchscreen. There’s a noticeable wobble even if you gently touch the screen. Speaking of which, we really liked the thin side bezels of the display cutting off some space and fitting the machine into a smaller footprint. Nevertheless, the upper bezel and the chin are thick and most people will appreciate that since the webcam doesn’t take an awkward position like in the Dell XPS 13, for example. And as for the bottom, it’s also made of anodized aluminum with big grill for better airflow.
The sides are incredibly thin and stylish. Measuring at just 13.7 mm and perfectly machined, the offer a decent amount of connectivity options. The left side has only the 3.5 mm audio jack and a full-sized USB 3.0 port along with the main exhaust vent, while the right side accommodates two USB-C 3.1 Gen 2 connectors supporting Thunderbolt 3. Keep in mind, though, that one of them is used for charging but given the excellent battery life this laptop offers, you will find yourself using it for connecting peripherals more often than plugging it in for charging. And since this is a convertible with 360-degree rotatable hinges, the volume rocker is placed on the left side while the power on button is placed on the left near the heat dispersion grill. But despite the fact that the notebook has two Thunderbolt ports, we would have appreciated an HDMI/DisplayPort and an SD card reader to one of the sides. This way you won’t have to carry a USB-C hub with you all the time.
By opening the laptop, the machine continues to impress us with excellent build quality – the aluminum sheet used for the base is robust enough to withstand flexing and pressing quite well. The center of the keyboard and the wrist rest area are stable enough and don’t give in even under great amounts of pressure. Speaking of the input devices, the keyboard has big keys offering good tactile feedback, long travel and satisfying clicky audible feedback. The touchpad isn’t perfect but it’s good enough for use on the go. It stretches along the spacebar key in typical HP style with good gliding surface, light mouse clicks but we sometimes felt a lack of precision. Nothing too bad but it does make an impression given the price point of the product.
If we set aside the wobbly screen and slightly flexible lid, the notebook’s casing is just ideal. It’s robust, light, feels great with those machined edges and anodized surface, and offers excellent input devices. There’s really not much to complain about here.
Disassembly, maintenance and upgrade options
The laptop’s back panel comes off easily after removing all the screws and gently prying up the plate. We have to note, though that the plate is held by two additional screws placed under the silicone feet as shown in the photo below.
Storage upgrades – M.2 SSD
As all 13-inch hybrids, the Spectre x360 offers only an M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD and no 2.5-inch drive since there’s no room for one. The SSD installed on our unit is a Toshiba THNSN5256GPUK with 256GB capacity.
|M.2 slot||256GB Toshiba THNSN5256GPUK M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD (2280)||Upgrade options|
The memory is soldered to the motherboard and cannot be replaced/upgraded. Our unit came with 8GB of DDR3L-1866.
The Wi-Fi module is located right next to one of the cooling fans and it’s Intel 8265NGW.
The chassis houses a huge battery, considering the dimensions of the laptop, of course, and it’s rated at 57.9Wh.
Interestingly, the ultrabook incorporates not one but two cooling fans. One of them is slightly bigger than the other and takes care of most of the heat near the left vent opening.
Apparently, the Spectre x360, the Spectre 13 and the Acer Swift 7 have more in common than we thought – they feature the same displays. All three rely on the CHI MEI CMN1367 glossy IPS panel with Full HD (1920×1080) resolution in 13.3-inch diagonal. This means that the pixel density is 166 ppi while the pixel pitch is 0.153 x 0.153 mm. The screen can be considered as “Retina” when viewed from a distance equal or greater than 50 cm.
The display offers excellent viewing angles.
We were able to measure a maximum brightness of 347 cd/m2 in the center and 318 cd/m2 as average across the surface with 17% maximum deviation. The color temperature is 6800K at maximum brightness so colors will appear slightly colder than usual but it’s still close to the optimal 6500K.
The maximum dE2000 color deviation is 4.1 which is slightly above the 4.0 mark. This is usually unwanted especially when color-sensitive work is involved. The contrast ratio is 1070:1.
You can see all the results from our testing at 75% brightness (141 cd/m2).
To make sure we are on the same page, we would like to give you a little introduction of the sRGB color gamut and the Adobe RGB. To start, there’s the CIE 1976 Uniform Chromaticity Diagram that represents the visible specter of colors by the human eye, giving you a better perception of the color gamut coverage and the color accuracy.
Inside the black triangle, you will see the standard color gamut (sRGB) that is being used by millions of people in HDTV and on the web. As for the Adobe RGB, this is used in professional cameras, monitors etc for printing. Basically, colors inside the black triangle are used by everyone and this is the essential part of the color quality and color accuracy of a mainstream notebook.
Still, we’ve included other color spaces like the famous DCI-P3 standard used by movie studios, as well as the digital UHD Rec.2020 standard. Rec.2020, however, is still a thing of the future and it’s difficult for today’s displays to cover that well. We’ve also included the so-called Michael Pointer gamut, or Pointer’s gamut, which represents the colors that naturally occur around us every day.
According to our hardware, the display covers 93% of the sRGB gamut, which is enough for a pleasant working, browsing and multimedia experience.
Below you will see practically the same image but with the color circles representing the reference colors and the white circles being the result. You can see main and additional colors with 25%, 50%, 75% and 100% saturation inside the sRGB gamut pre and post calibration.
The “Design and Gaming” profile is created at 140 cd/m2 brightness, D65 (6500K) white point and optimal gamma in sRGB mode.
We tested the accuracy of the display with 24 commonly used colors like light and dark human skin, blue sky, green grass, orange etc. You can check out the results at factory condition and also, with the “Design and Gaming” profile.
The next figure shows how well the display is able to reproduce really dark parts of an image, which is essential when watching movies or playing games in low ambient light.
The left side of the image represents the display with stock settings, while the right one is with the “Gaming and Web Design” profile activated. On the horizontal axis, you will find the grayscale and on the vertical axis – the luminance of the display. On the two graphs below you can easily check for yourself how your display handles the darkest nuances but keep in mind that this also depends on the settings of your current display, the calibration, the viewing angle and the surrounding light conditions.
We test the reaction time of the pixels with the usual “black-to-white” and “white-to-black” method from 10% to 90% and reverse.
We recorded Fall Time + Rise Time = 23 ms.
PWM (Screen flickering)
Pulse-width modulation (PWM) is an easy way to control monitor brightness. When you lower the brightness, the light intensity of the backlight is not lowered, but instead turned off and on by the electronics with a frequency indistinguishable to the human eye. In these light impulses the light/no-light time ratio varies, while brightness remains unchanged, which is harmful to your eyes. You can read more about that in our dedicated article on PWM.
As expected, the display uses PWM only under 85 cd/m2 brightness and even then, the display flickers at really high frequency – 25 kHz, which significantly reduces the negative impact.
Blue light emissions
Installing of our Health-Guard profile not only eliminates PWM but also reduces the harmful Blue Light emissions while keeping the colors of the screen perceptually accurate. If you’re not familiar with the Blue light, the TL;DR version is – emissions that negatively affect your eyes, skin, and your whole body. You can find more information about that in our dedicated article on Blue Light.
You can see the levels of emitted blue light on the spectral power distribution (SPD) graph.
The notebook’s display is excellent not only for office work and browsing but for multimedia as well. The display uses a well-known IPS panel with high maximum brightness, wide sRGB coverage and good contrast. The only issue you might have is the glossy finish because it might obstruct normal usage under direct sunlight.
Another great thing to consider is that the display lacks PWM above 85 cd/m2 making it safe to use for extended periods of time (as long as you keep the slider above 53%. But even then, the frequency is pretty high, which reduces the negative impact.
Buy our display profiles
Since our profiles are tailored for each individual display model, this article and its respective profile package is meant for HP Spectre x360 configurations with 13.3″ CHI MEI CMN1367 (FHD, 1920 × 1080) IPS screen and the laptop can be found at Amazon: http://amzn.to/2tm8V5t
*Should you have problems with downloading the purchased file, try using a different browser to open the link you’ll receive via e-mail. If the download target is a .php file instead of an archive, change the file extension to .zip or contact us at [email protected]
Read more about the profiles HERE.
In addition to receiving efficient and health-friendly profiles, by buying LaptopMedia's products you also support the development of our labs, where we test devices in order to produce the most objective reviews possible.
Office Work should be used mostly by users who spend most of the time looking at pieces of text, tables or just surfing. This profile aims to deliver better distinctness and clarity by keeping a flat gamma curve (2.20), native color temperature and perceptually accurate colors.
Design and Gaming
This profile is aimed at designers who work with colors professionally, and for games and movies as well. Design and Gaming takes display panels to their limits, making them as accurate as possible in the sRGB IEC61966-2-1 standard for Web and HDTV, at white point D65.
THealth-Guard eliminates the harmful Pulse-Width Modulation (PWM) and reduces the negative Blue Light which affects our eyes and body. Since it’s custom tailored for every panel, it manages to keep the colors perceptually accurate. Health-Guard simulates paper so the pressure on the eyes is greatly reduced.
The sound quality is good and there’s enough clarity in the low, mid and high frequencies.
The current specs sheet refers to this particular model – configurations may differ depending on your region.
|CPU||Intel Core i5-7200U (2-core, 2.50 – 3.10 GHz, 6MB cache)|
|RAM||8GB (1x 8192MB) – DDR3L, 1866MHz|
|GPU||Intel HD Graphics 620|
|HDD/SSD||256GB M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD|
|Display||13.3-inch – 1920×1080 (Full HD) IPS touchscreen, glossy|
|Connectivity||Wi-Fi 802.11ac 2×2, Bluetooth 4.2|
|Thickness||13.7 mm (0.54″)|
|Weight||1.27 kg (2.81 lbs)|
HP Spectre 13 x360 configurations
We have a new record holder in our battery endurance table – the HP Spectre x360 13. This incredibly thin and light body packs an impressive 57.8Wh battery that’s rarely found even in 14-inch and 15-inch laptops. This in combination with energy-efficient Full HD IPS panel and ULV (ultra-low voltage) CPU, the convertible scored an incredible 16+ hours of battery runtime on our web browsing test and similarly on our video playback one. To call the battery life on this thing amazing would be an understatement.
Of course, we’ve tested the device with the usual settings – Wi-Fi turned on, screen brightness set to 120 cd/m2 and Windows battery saving feature turned on.
In order to simulate real-life conditions, we used our own script for automatic web browsing through over 70 websites.
Record-breaking result – 1000 minutes (16 hours and 40 minutes).
For every test like this, we use the same video in HD.
Considerably lower but still amazing score – 665 minutes (11 hours and 5 minutes).
We recently started using F1 2015’s built-in benchmark on loop in order to simulate real-life gaming.
Of course, the device isn’t made for gaming but it’s good to know that it can last quite a while under load – 301 minutes (5 hours and 1 minute).
CPU – Intel Core i5-7200U
Intel’s Core i7-6200U is part of the 7th Generation Kaby Lake CPUs and it’s the direct successor of the Core i5-5200U (Broadwell) and Core i5-6200U (Skylake). It’s also based on the same architecture as the aforementioned chips with little differences that should bring a small performance increase and a bump in power consumption. However, the new CPU is clocked at 2.5 GHz and its Turbo Boost frequency is 3.1 GHz opposed to the 2.3 – 2.8 GHz clocks on the previous Core i5-6200U.
Anyway, we still have the 2/4 core/thread count, 3MB last level cache, and a TDP of 15W, which includes the iGPU and the dual-channel DDR4 memory controller. Speaking of the former, the chip integrates the newer generation Intel HD Graphics 620 graphics chip clocked at 300 – 1000 MHz.
You can browse through our top CPUs ranking: http://laptopmedia.com/top-laptop-cpu-ranking/
Here you will find other useful information and every notebook we’ve tested with this processor: http://laptopmedia.com/processor/intel-core-i5-7200u/
Results are from the Cinebench 11 test (higher the score, the better)
|HP Spectre x360 13 Intel Core i5-7200U (2-cores, 2.5 - 3.1 GHz)||3.39|
|HP Spectre 13 (2016) Intel Core i7-6500U (2-cores, 2.5 - 3.1 GHz)||3.22||-5.01%|
|ASUS ZenBook Flip UX360CA Intel Core m5-6Y54 (2-cores, 1.1 - 2.7 GHz)||2.34||-30.97%|
|Lenovo Yoga 900s Intel Core m5-6Y54 (2-cores, 1.1 - 2.7 GHz)||1.87||-44.84%|
|Lenovo ThinkPad T470 Intel Core i5-7200U (2-cores, 2.5 - 3.1 GHz)||3.65||+7.67%|
|Lenovo YOGA 910 (13″) Intel Core i5-7200U (2-cores, 2.5 - 3.1 GHz)||3.65||+7.67%|
Results are from the NovaBench CPU test (higher the score, the better)
|HP Spectre x360 13 Intel Core i5-7200U (2-cores, 2.5 - 3.1 GHz)||488|
|HP Spectre 13 (2016) Intel Core i7-6500U (2-cores, 2.5 - 3.1 GHz)||482||-1.23%|
|ASUS ZenBook Flip UX360CA Intel Core m5-6Y54 (2-cores, 1.1 - 2.7 GHz)||397||-18.65%|
|Lenovo Yoga 900s Intel Core m5-6Y54 (2-cores, 1.1 - 2.7 GHz)||-|
|Lenovo ThinkPad T470 Intel Core i5-7200U (2-cores, 2.5 - 3.1 GHz)||476||-2.46%|
|Lenovo YOGA 910 (13″) Intel Core i5-7200U (2-cores, 2.5 - 3.1 GHz)||484||-0.82%|
Results are from the Photoshop test (lower the score, the better)
|HP Spectre x360 13 Intel Core i5-7200U (2-cores, 2.5 - 3.1 GHz)||18.02|
|HP Spectre 13 (2016) Intel Core i7-6500U (2-cores, 2.5 - 3.1 GHz)||18.78||+4.22%|
|ASUS ZenBook Flip UX360CA Intel Core m5-6Y54 (2-cores, 1.1 - 2.7 GHz)||25.78||+43.06%|
|Lenovo Yoga 900s Intel Core m5-6Y54 (2-cores, 1.1 - 2.7 GHz)||25.94||+43.95%|
|Lenovo ThinkPad T470 Intel Core i5-7200U (2-cores, 2.5 - 3.1 GHz)||17.45||-3.16%|
|Lenovo YOGA 910 (13″) Intel Core i5-7200U (2-cores, 2.5 - 3.1 GHz)||17.75||-1.5%|
Fritz is a chess benchmark that tests the computing capabilities of the CPU with various chess moves. The Intel Core i5-7200U scored 6.405 million moves per second. In comparison, one of the most powerful chess computers, Deep(er) Blue, was able to squeeze out 200 million moves per second. In 1997 Deep(er) Blue even beat the famous Garry Kasparov with 3.5 to 2.5.
GPU – Intel HD Graphics 620
Intel’s HD Graphics 620 integrated iGPU can be found in various ULV (ultra-low voltage) processors from the Kaby Lake generation. The GT2 version of the graphics chip uses 24 EUs (Execution Units) that can be clocked up to 1050 MHz and it has a base frequency of 300 MHz but the former can vary depending on the CPU. Since the iGPU doesn’t have a dedicated memory of its own – or eDRAM for that matter – it uses the available RAM on the system which is 2x 64-bit DDR3 or DDR4.
The TDP depends on the CPU model but it’s usually equipped with a SoC rated at 15W including the memory controller.
You can browse through our top GPUs ranking: http://laptopmedia.com/top-laptop-graphics-ranking/
Here you will find other useful information and every notebook with this GPU that we’ve tested: http://laptopmedia.com/video-card/intel-hd-graphics-620/
Results are from the 3DMark Cloud Gate (G) test (higher the score, the better)
|HP Spectre x360 13 Intel HD Graphics 620||8272|
|HP Spectre 13 (2016) Intel HD Graphics 520||5009||-39.45%|
|ASUS ZenBook Flip UX360CA Intel HD Graphics 515||4333||-47.62%|
|Lenovo Yoga 900s Intel HD Graphics 515||4132||-50.05%|
|Lenovo ThinkPad T470 Intel HD Graphics 620||6612||-20.07%|
|Lenovo YOGA 910 (13″) Intel HD Graphics 620||7675||-7.22%|
Results are from the 3DMark Fire Strike (G) test (higher the score, the better)
|HP Spectre x360 13 Intel HD Graphics 620||1023|
|HP Spectre 13 (2016) Intel HD Graphics 520||732||-28.45%|
|ASUS ZenBook Flip UX360CA Intel HD Graphics 515||437||-57.28%|
|Lenovo Yoga 900s Intel HD Graphics 515||544||-46.82%|
|Lenovo ThinkPad T470 Intel HD Graphics 620||783||-23.46%|
|Lenovo YOGA 910 (13″) Intel HD Graphics 620||855||-16.42%|
Results are from the 3DMark (Sky Diver) test (higher the score, the better)
|HP Spectre x360 13 Intel HD Graphics 620||3731|
|HP Spectre 13 (2016) Intel HD Graphics 520||2451||-34.31%|
|ASUS ZenBook Flip UX360CA Intel HD Graphics 515||2106||-43.55%|
|Lenovo Yoga 900s Intel HD Graphics 515||1844||-50.58%|
|Lenovo ThinkPad T470 Intel HD Graphics 620||3099||-16.94%|
|Lenovo YOGA 910 (13″) Intel HD Graphics 620||3474||-6.89%|
Results are from the Unigine Heaven 3.0 test (higher the score, the better)
|HP Spectre x360 13 Intel HD Graphics 620||390|
|HP Spectre 13 (2016) Intel HD Graphics 520||137||-64.87%|
|ASUS ZenBook Flip UX360CA Intel HD Graphics 515||102||-73.85%|
|Lenovo Yoga 900s Intel HD Graphics 515||195||-50%|
|Lenovo ThinkPad T470 Intel HD Graphics 620||223||-42.82%|
|Lenovo YOGA 910 (13″) Intel HD Graphics 620||275||-29.49%|
The usual stress test that we perform isn’t the best way to see how the hardware handles real-life use but it’s still the best way to determine the overall stability and effectiveness of the cooling system.
We started off with one hour of CPU stress testing only to find out that the presented cooling solution struggles to maintain the maximum boost frequency for longer than a few seconds. Right of the bat, the Core i5-7200U ran at its base 2.5 GHz reaching slightly higher than expected temperatures.
Turning on the GPU stress test resulted in CPU throttling but that’s only normal – this way the CPU gives enough headroom for the iGPU to perform.
Luckily, temperatures on the surface were pretty normal even after extended heavy workload.
Almost everything about HP’s Spectre x360 13 is awesome but fails to impress when it comes to performance. We noticed that the CPU can’t reach its maximum frequency or at least sustain it for more than a few seconds. This might be due to some poor cooling design implementation, BIOS limitations or just an isolated problem with our unit. Either way, the Spectre x360 13 we’ve tested is an end production sample so units like this might fall into the user’s hands.
Anyway, if you are able to overlook this, the hybrid offers excellent build quality, premium feel, compact dimensions and lightweight chassis. On top of that, you get excellent input devices that are comfortable to use on the go but beware of the extra wobbly touchscreen. Speaking of mobility, the battery life on this 13-inch 2-in-1 is downright amazing. By the time of writing this review, the laptop is a record holder in our battery rankings mainly thanks to its huge battery capacity. Our results confirm that the notebook will get you through the whole day with a single charge even if you do some demanding tasks.
And although the device offers only one standard USB-A 3.0 connector, the right side comes with two USB-C 3.1 connectors with Thunderbolt support, which in turn gives plenty of room for I/O expansion with USB-C hub. Still, most users will miss the standard connectivity options found on modern 13-inch laptops.
Finally, a few words on the screen. It’s bright, has wide sRGB coverage, it offers high contrast and it’s safe to use for long periods of time for the most part – PWM is detected only under 85 cd/m2, which is a rarely used brightness level anyway. The only issue we could think of at this point is the glossy finish, which will probably get in the way when using the device under direct sunlight.
To be fair, the HP Spectre x360 13 is in a category of its own – it’s one of the few 13-inch convertibles at this price range offering an ULV (15W TDP, Ultra-low voltage processor) and the flexibility of a 2-in-1, except the Lenovo Yoga 910, of course. Most of its competitors use the significantly less powerful mobile Kaby Lake-Y (4.5W TDP) processors like the Lenovo Yoga 900S or the ASUS ZenBook UX360. Other alternatives like the HP Spectre 13, Acer Swift 7 and Lenovo ThinkPad 13 Gen2 also pop up but they lack the 360-degree rotatable hinge. In the end – as we said earlier – if you are willing to overlook the poor CPU Turbo Boost frequency utilization, the Spectre x360 13 is a great device to consider but overall, the Lenovo Yoga 910 has a bit more to offer at this price range.
You can find the available configurations and their prices here: http://amzn.to/2spLWBY
- Sturdy, minimalistic premium design
- Light and compact
- Good input devices
- Excellent IPS panel
- No PWM above 85 cd/m2 brightness
- Ridiculously long battery life
- Offers two USB-C Thunderbolt connectors
- Wobbly touchscreen
- Limited selection of I/O
- The system can’t utilize the full performance of the CPU for long periods of time