HP Spec­tre x360 15

The best 15in con­vert­ible you can buy, with plenty of power, stylish de­sign and a great screen and key­board

PC Pro - - News - CHRISTO­PHER MINASIANS

SCORE ✪✪✪✪✪ PRICE £1,249 (£1,499 inc VAT) from store.hp.com

The HP Spec­tre x360 isn’t a sin­gle lap­top: that would be too sim­ple. In­stead, the range cov­ers both 13.3in and 15.6in chassis sizes, with seven dif­fer­ent spec­i­fi­ca­tions to choose from on HP’s web­site. What both chassis share is the same de­sign aes­thetic, so while I fo­cus on the larger Spec­tre X360 here it doesn’t take a huge leap of imag­i­na­tion to ap­ply much of my crit­i­cisms – and com­pli­ments – to its 13.3in sib­ling.

To be pre­cise, HP sent us the Spec­tre x360 15-bl000na for test­ing: a 15.6in lap­top with a 4K dis­play, In­tel Core i7-7500U pro­ces­sor, 512GB SSD, Nvidia GeForce 940MX graph­ics and a price of £1,499 inc VAT. I hunted around for lap­tops with a sim­i­lar spec­i­fi­ca­tion, but noth­ing quite matches up: there’s the £1,300 Len­ovo Yoga 910, but that doesn’t come with dis­crete graph­ics. Or you could buy an equally pow­er­ful Dell XPS 15 for around £1,500, but this is a reg­u­lar lap­top with­out the Spec­tre’s con­vert­ible abil­i­ties. As such, the Spec­tre 15 cur­rently op­er­ates in its own per­sonal niche.

Pow­er­ful core

So what do you get for your money in the Spec­tre x360? Pride of place goes to the 2.7GHz dual-core Kaby Lake In­tel Core i7-7500U pro­ces­sor, which sits just off the top of In­tel’s “U Se­ries” of pro­ces­sors.

With two cores, and In­tel’s Hy­per-Thread­ing of­fer­ing a to­tal of four threads for ap­pli­ca­tions to use, the Spec­tre x360 flies through ev­ery­day tasks. It scored a highly re­spectable 50 over­all in our bench­marks. A mul­ti­task­ing score of 31 re­flects, in part, the 8GB of RAM; if you love the Spec­tre 15’s de­sign but want a lit­tle more ca­pa­bil­ity for run­ning mul­ti­ple tasks, you could choose the 15-bl001na for £1,799 inc VAT – this dou­bles the RAM to 16GB and the SSD size to 1GB.

Keep­ing price in mind, 8GB of RAM cou­pled with the blaz­ing-fast 512GB PCIe SSD here prob­a­bly makes more sense for most peo­ple. Th­ese Sam­sung SSDs are blis­ter­ingly fast, tested on the AS SSD bench­mark with 1,919MB/ sec se­quen­tial read and 1,504MB/sec se­quen­tial write speeds.

If you’re af­ter a more pow­er­ful sys­tem still, you’ll need to sac­ri­fice the 2-in-1 con­vert­ible de­sign and choose a lap­top such as the Gi­ga­byte Aero 15 ( see p58) in­stead. Pow­ered by a quad-core Core i7-7700HQ chip, the Aero 15 rock­eted to 128 in the same bench­marks.

Given the in­clu­sion of the Kaby Lake pro­ces­sor, I was dis­ap­pointed that HP opted for an older gen­er­a­tion Nvidia graph­ics chip. The GeForce 940MX GPU, with 2GB VRAM, pro­vides enough power to play most games at Full HD, but the newer GTX 1060 would have been a bet­ter choice for this lap­top’s 4K dis­play.

For in­stance, I could play Dirt Show­down with medium set­tings at an av­er­age frame rate of 38fps, which is ac­cept­able but a long way from be­ing com­pletely smooth. It also strug­gled run­ning the graph­i­cally

“The Spec­tre x360 sur­vived for 8hrs 13mins in our video-run­down tests – an ex­cel­lent re­sult for a lap­top with a screen this large”

in­tense Metro: Last Light at Full HD, achiev­ing an av­er­age frame rate of 34fps in our bench­marks with medium set­tings and SSAO dis­abled. If you’re af­ter an all-out gam­ing lap­top, the Gi­ga­byte Aero 15 is again a su­pe­rior choice.

For its size, I wasn’t ex­pect­ing mirac­u­lous bat­tery life, but the x360 still sur­vived for 8hrs 13mins in our video-run­down tests – an ex­cel­lent re­sult for a lap­top with a screen this large. For con­text, the lower-power Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 ( see is­sue 273, p72) lasted a shade un­der eight hours, de­spite its smaller screen.

Twist and shout

The HP Spec­tre x360 is de­signed to per­fec­tion. It’s a 2-in-1 con­vert­ible lap­top, so the screen folds over rather than de­taches, and it’s lovely to look at. Cop­per ac­cents glint out from the x360’s “Dark Ash Sil­ver” body, which is built en­tirely from alu­minium.

Such de­sign touches can’t dis­guise the fact this is a big lap­top, with no min­i­mal­ist bor­der on its screen to match the Aero 15, for ex­am­ple. HP pro­vides a low-pro­file bezel on ei­ther side of the dis­play, but even this can’t mask the dis­tract­ing size of the bot­tom bezel. Mea­sur­ing 356 x 251 x 17.9mm and weigh­ing 2kg, it has all the heft of a tra­di­tional 15.6in lap­top. A lit­tle com­pen­sa­tion comes in the form of a faux-leather car­ry­ing case in the box – a nice and un­usual touch.

There are two USB-C ports on the right side of the lap­top, one of which

can be used to trans­fer data and con­nect an ex­ter­nal mon­i­tor, while the other also sup­ports HP’s Sleep and Charge (which, as its name sug­gests, al­lows you to power other de­vices while your lap­top is asleep or hi­ber­nat­ing). Handily, there’s also a full-size HDMI port and vol­ume rocker.

Head to the left of the lap­top and you’ll find a reg­u­lar USB 3.1 port along with a multi-for­mat SD card reader, a head­phone/mic combo jack and the il­lu­mi­nated power but­ton. For wire­less con­nec­tiv­ity, HP chooses Blue­tooth 4.2 and an In­tel 802.11ac 2x2 Wi-Fi an­tenna – which isn’t quite the 3x3 an­tenna you need to take ad­van­tage of the lat­est routers ( see

p74), but it’s fast enough. Au­dio is de­liv­ered by dual up­ward-fir­ing Bang & Olufsen speak­ers sit­u­ated ei­ther side of the key­board; th­ese can be fine-tuned through the Bang & Olufsen Au­dio Con­trol desk­top app. I found sound qual­ity per­fectly ac­cept­able for a lap­top of this size and, when used as a tablet, the speak­ers res­onate ef­fec­tively un­der the screen. If you want deep bass re­sponse or a fan­tas­tic tre­ble ex­ten­sion, you’ll need an ex­ter­nal Blue­tooth speaker.

There’s also a Full HD 88-de­gree wide-an­gle we­b­cam above the screen, equipped with dual mi­cro­phones for mak­ing video calls.

The Spec­tre x360’s screen is a 4K (3,840 x 2,160) IPS unit with mul­ti­touch in­put and sty­lus sup­port, and when used in tablet mode the dis­play re­sponds well to touch in­put.

The panel it­self is good but not out­stand­ing. Colour ren­di­tion is mid­dling, with 85.4% sRGB gamut cov­er­age. It isn’t the most colour ac­cu­rate of screens, with an av­er­age Delta E of 2.76 (lower is bet­ter), but with bright­ness reach­ing a peak of 345cd/m² in our tests you shouldn’t have any trou­ble us­ing it out­doors.

In terms of daily com­fort, the second and third most im­por­tant com­po­nents of a lap­top – af­ter its screen – are surely the key­board and touch­pad. Hap­pily, they’re both a plea­sure to use.

The touch­pad is great be­cause it’s so large, giv­ing you am­ple space to per­form Win­dows 10’s ex­pan­sive mul­ti­touch ges­tures. I found it re­spon­sive and ca­pa­ble of re­spond­ing to pinch and zoom ac­tions flaw­lessly.

The HP’s back­lit key­board is an­other plus point. Each key has a weighty feel, with pos­i­tive feed­back, and this makes the Spec­tre x360 a fan­tas­tic lap­top to type on. If you wish to save bat­tery, you can dim or dis­able the key­board’s back­light.

It’s also good to see HP in­clud­ing a sty­lus, es­pe­cially when ri­vals such as Mi­crosoft make this an op­tional ex­tra. HP’s of­fer­ing works flaw­lessly with Win­dows 10, and the lap­top’s palm re­jec­tion works ef­fec­tively as well, dis­abling ca­pac­i­tive touch in­put as soon as the tip of the sty­lus gets close to the screen.

X marks the spot

The HP Spec­tre x360 is a top-qual­ity ma­chine. As a lap­top you’ll love the power on of­fer, the large, high­res­o­lu­tion dis­play and its flaw­less key­board and touch­pad. It also of­fers all the tablet fea­tures you need – provided you don’t mind its bulk – with a mul­ti­touch dis­play that works bril­liantly and a handy sty­lus.

It isn’t the most pow­er­ful of gam­ing ma­chines, but oth­er­wise there’s noth­ing to dis­like about the HP Spec­tre x360. If you’re look­ing for a do-it-all con­vert­ible, this is £1,500 well spent. SPEC­I­FI­CA­TIONS Dual-core 2.7GHz In­tel Core i7-7500U pro­ces­sor 2GB GeForce 940MX graph­ics 8GB RAM 15.6in IPS dis­play, 3,840 x 2,160 res­o­lu­tion 512GB SSD 720p we­b­cam; 802.11ac Wi-Fi Blue­tooth 4.2 USB-C with Thun­der­bolt 3 USB-C USB 3 ac­tive sty­lus pen 79.2Wh bat­tery Win­dows 10 Pro 356 x 251 x 17.9mm (WDH) 2.01kg 3yr C&R war­ranty

ABOVE HP bun­dles the pen, which works as well as you’d ex­pect with the touch­screen

BE­LOW As its name sug­gests, the x360 piv­ots into a tablet

ABOVE This is a new chassis de­sign, and it’s sim­ply gor­geous

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