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Lifewire / Jeremy Laukkonen
Striking angular design
Noisy when the fans are running
Hot when running under a load
The HP Spectre x360 15t Touch represents a high water mark for HP’s 2-in-1 laptops, combining a powerful processor and graphics card with a beautiful display in a slim, aesthetically pleasing package.
Note that product links are for the updated, 2020 version of the HP Spectre x360 15T, while the review references the previous generation.
We purchased the HP Spectre x360 15t Touch Laptop so our expert reviewer could thoroughly test and assess it. Keep reading for our full product review.
The HP Spectre x360 15t is a touchscreen 2-in-1 laptop that looks fantastic, is a joy to work with, and is even capable of playing games at medium to high settings. It’s a little on the heavy side to actually use as a tablet, but that 2-in-1 functionality is there if you need it. It even comes with a stylus pen, making it a viable option for both business and creative types.
We recently put a Spectre x360 15t to the test, both in and out of the office, to see if it really lives up to its lofty specifications. We tested everything from viewing angles to audio quality, networking capabilities, and even gaming performance.
HP refers to the 15.6-inch Spectre x360 15t, and its smaller 13-inch compatriot, as gem-cut. Instead of flat edges and square angles, the edges of this beauty are cut to reveal shining metal surfaces that catch the light and draw the eye. The rear corners of the machine are also beveled, with one corner sporting the power button and the other concealing a USB-C port.
Instead of flat edges and square angles, the edges of this beauty are cut to reveal shining metal surfaces that catch the light and draw the eye.
Everything about the x360’s design aesthetic screams premium, from the gem-cut corners, to the satin finish on the lid, and even the super minimalist take on HP’s logo. This laptop not only stands out from HP’s own lineup, but manages to also stand out in the crowded field of ultrabooks and powerful 2-in-1s over which it seeks to assert dominance.
If you’re looking for a basic laptop that’s capable of disappearing into the crowd, this isn’t it. When you pull the x360 out, people are bound to notice. The design is striking and eye-catching, but still understated enough for business use.
We found the setup time for the Spectre x360 15t to line up with other Windows machines in this price range. If you just go through the basic Windows setup process, you can be at the desktop and ready to work in just a few minutes. HP does like to include bloatware, and this machine is no exception, so expect some extra setup time if you like to remove all the chaff before you get down to work.
The 15.6-inch 4K IPS display is beautiful, but it isn’t perfect. We found the display to be remarkably crisp, and the colors to be rich and bold. We had no trouble making out fine details when watching movie trailers on YouTube or testing out games, and the colors really pop. The viewing angles are also excellent, which is really important in a 2-in-1 that people may need to look at from just about any direction.
While we found the display to be plenty bright for use in most lighting conditions it isn’t as bright as we would like to see for usage outdoors and under direct sunlight. A number of competitors offer significantly brighter options, more on that later.
With an 8th generation Intel Core i7 CPU and a discrete NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050Ti GPU, it should come as no surprise that the Spectre x360 is a performance powerhouse. It performs basic tasks like word processing and image editing without breaking a sweat, and only falters slightly at more resource-intensive tasks due to the limited amount of RAM. If you need to do any video editing or other tasks that chew through memory, look at upgrading from the basic 8GB of RAM present in our test unit.
To get a better idea of what the Spectre x360 is capable of, outside of our own hands-on use, we booted up PCMark and ran the standard benchmark test. The results were solid, with the x360 notching an overall score of 4,291. In the PCMark Essentials tests, the x360 fared even better, with a score of 7,976. It was especially snappy in the app startup time department, but it also scored well in video conferencing and web browsing.
We found the display to be remarkably crisp, and the colors to be rich and bold.
In terms of productivity and digital content creation, we recorded scores of 5,778 and 4,684 respectively. It scored decently high in photo editing, at 5,612, but faltered in video editing with a score of 3,160. We also ran a couple of gaming benchmarks from 3DMark, including Fire Strike and Time Spy. It scored 6,674 overall on the Fire Strike benchmark, recording an average of 30 frames per second (fps) on the graphics score and 47.55fps on the physics score. On the more resource-intensive Time Spy benchmark, it scored 2,420 overall.
What those numbers mean is that even though the Spectre x360 isn’t a gaming rig, it does have some decent gaming chops. We actually put it to the test with a real game just to make sure, and it managed a rock-solid 30fps when we loaded up Capcom’s mega-hit Monster Hunter World in full HD (1080p) resolution and medium settings. We were even able to take down a gigantic Dodogama without any frame drops during battle. 4K gaming isn’t practical.
The Spectre x360 15t brings a lot to the table. The beautiful 4K display is big enough to get real work done, and the keyboard features full-sized keys throughout, including the numeric keypad. The keys feel nice and snappy, with excellent travel and no mushiness. We found the keyboard to be quite comfortable for long typing sessions.
The touchpad is oddly placed, and strangely elongated, but we found it to be nicely responsive while not picking up erroneous inputs from our palms while typing. There are no dedicated buttons, and clicking takes a minimal amount of force.
The touchscreen is just as responsive, and the screen feels smooth as silk when dragging, pinching, zooming, and otherwise manipulating objects and icons with the touch functionality. If you prefer to interact with your laptops via touch, you won’t be disappointed in that department.
The Spectre x360 15t also ships with the HP Active Pen, which is a stylus that runs on a single AAAA battery. That adds an extra dimension of productivity since it allows you to use the x360 to take handwritten notes and even do some light drawing if the need arises. The pen itself only has 2,040 levels of sensitivity, so it’s unlikely to replace your dedicated drawing tablet, but it works quite well for what it is.
As a 2-in-1, you can use the x360 15t like a normal laptop, and it works just as well in that formation as any dedicated clamshell device. You can also fold it into a tent formation for media consumption or use it as a tablet. Like every 2-in-1 of this size, we found it to be too heavy and bulky for practical use as a tablet. It also seems to have magnets built-in to hold it shut in tablet form, but they aren’t strong enough.
We’ve tested a few HP laptops with the Bang and Olufsen moniker, and this is the best we’ve heard so far. An array of four speakers, two firing up and two firing down, are loud enough to fill a moderately sized room with no discernible distortion. High and midrange tones come through with crystal clarity, and there’s an acceptable amount of bass for a laptop of this size.
We’ve tested a few HP laptops that bore the Bang and Olufsen moniker, and this is the best we’ve heard so far.
You can always plug your favorite headphones into the included audio jack if you feel the need, but you may find yourself reaching for them less than you expect.
The x360 15t comes with a blazing fast 802.11ac Wi-Fi card that’s capable of connecting to both 2.4GHz and 5GHz networks. Connected to our 5GHz network, it pulled 282Mbps down and pushed 58.41Mbps up. A much more powerful desktop machine, connected via Wi-Fi, registered 300Mbps down at the same time, so the Wi-Fi in this laptop isn’t going to slow you down even one step.
One of the few issues with this laptop is that it doesn’t have an Ethernet port. It’s just too thin to support one and HP didn’t see fit to include an adapter. If you’re going to need a wired connection, you’ll have to pick up a USB-C to Ethernet adapter on your own.
The included webcam is full HD and works very well for basic tasks like video conferencing. Some colors seem a bit washed out, and the white balance is a little off, but it’s better than most. It’s also fully compatible with Windows 10 Hello, which means you can use the facial recognition feature to sign in to your computer if you don’t feel like entering your password or tapping the fingerprint sensor.
In keeping with the rest of the premium touches found on this device, the webcam comes with a physical kill switch. If you want to make absolutely sure that your webcam is off, there’s a switch on the side of the chassis that physically cuts off power to the camera.
In keeping with the rest of the premium touches found on this device, the webcam comes with a physical kill switch.
HP advertises that the battery is capable of lasting over 17 hours, but our testing just didn’t find that kind of heroic battery life. To come even close to that number, we figure you’d have to turn the battery saver settings to maximum, lower the screen brightness to minimum, shut off the webcam and wireless, and not touch anything for the duration.
The battery is certainly excellent, but our real-world testing saw the Spectre x360 15t running a little over eight hours on medium settings before shutting off. That’s basic use, like web browsing and word processing, so you can expect it to last a shorter amount of time if you’re watching videos or gaming.
The Spectre x360 15t comes with Windows 10 Home 64 and HP’s regular suite of bloatware. All told, you’ll find about a dozen pieces of HP software that you may or may not need. While we lean towards not, their audio controller software does offer some options that go above and beyond the basic controls you normally see.
In addition to HP’s own bloatware, you’ll also find a copy of McAfee Antivirus, Dropbox, games like Candy Crush Saga, and other assorted apps and programs that you can safely delete to make space for things that you actually need. The good news is that the included 512GB SSD, in the base model we tested has plenty of room to spare.
The base configuration of the HP Spectre x360 15t has an MSRP of $1,599, so this isn’t a cheap laptop. You get a whole lot of value at that price point though, so it would be hard to argue that this machine isn’t worth the asking price. If you can find it any cheaper than that, it’s an absolute steal.
HP offers a few hardware upgrades above and beyond the base unit we tested, and they’re well worth the money. In particular, we recommend upgrading the base 8GB of RAM to 16GB, since this unit uses soldered RAM that you can’t upgrade later.
The HP Spectre x360 15t is in a very comfortable place, in terms of performance and price, in comparison to the competition. You can pay more for better performance, a lighter body, a brighter screen, and other upgrades, but you’ll have a hard time finding a more capable 2-in-1 at this price point.
If you look at clamshell competitors, the Dell XPS 15 has the same processor and video card with an MSRP of $1,549. That’s a bit less than the Spectre x360 15t, but you lose that extra functionality of having a 2-in-1 with a touchscreen and a stylus pen.
Another close competitor, the Surface Book 2 equipped with a similar CPU and discrete NVIDIA graphics chip, comes in at a princely $2,899. That makes the Spectre look like a deal in comparison, although the Surface Pen 3 features 4,096 levels of sensitivity compared to 2,040 for the HP Active Pen.
If you’re looking for something that’s lighter and easier to carry around, the Spectre x360 15t loses out in terms of size and weight to a lot of the competition. The LG Gram, in particular, weighs just 2.41 pounds compared to 4.81 pounds for the Spectre.
This 2-in-1 is more like an all-in-one.
The HP Spectre x360 15t isn’t perfect, but it hits all the right notes in terms of style, performance, and price. It isn’t a cheap laptop by any stretch of the imagination, but it is a tremendous deal for what you get. This laptop is open and ready for business, perfectly equipped for entertainment and winding down after a long day. It’s even capable of playing games thanks to the powerful NVIDIA graphics card. If you’re looking for a business laptop that will see a lot of use both in and out of the office, you’ve found it.
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