We'll be looking at two spacious 15.6-inch multimedia notebooks in this comparison: the HP Spectre XT 15t and the ASUS ZenBook UX51VZ. These notebooks have some differences in hardware specifications but both have in common a 1920x1080 display resolution, Windows 8, slim designs, aluminum chassis and backlit keyboards.
See the full NotebookReview.com reviews of these notebooks here:
HP Spectre XT 15t Review
ASUS ZenBook UX51VZ Review
Build and Design
The Spectre XT 15t manages to rival the ZenBook UX51VZ in quality despite coming in a few hundred less (comparably equipped; our actual review units differ $775 in price). These notebooks are constructed from high-quality aluminum which looks and feels upper class. The UX51VZ uses a bit more of the metal as the base of the notebook is also aluminum (the Spectre XT 15t has a rubberized bottom, which works well too). Chassis strength is also identical between the notebooks; there's little flex.
It's also a tie in terms of design, with both notebooks incorporating the same basic design elements. The UX51VZ isn't designed as elegantly as expected at the near-$2k price point.
The good thing is that the displays on both notebooks provide fantastic picture quality. IPS displays provide unlimited viewing angles and better color reproduction and contrast than traditional TN-type displays. The UX51VZ's advantage over the Spectre XT 15t is the anti-glare screen surface; there are no annoying reflections from nearby light sources.
Unfortunately that advantage pales next to the fact that the Spectre XT 15t has touch capability; this is a big deal with Windows 8, which depends a bit too much on the presence of the technology to be usable. The Spectre XT 15t claims a clear victory here.
While I like the near-perfect key action of the Spectre XT 15t's keyboard, I can't overlook the fact the UX51VZ includes a separate numeric keypad AND good feedback, making it the winner of this section.
Performance is where the UX51VZ blows the Spectre XT 15t out of the water; the Spectre XT 15t is a glorified Ultrabook and includes a low-voltage Core i7 dual-core processor, 8GB of RAM and an integrated graphics card. Our review unit also came with a slow hard drive, though it's customizable with a 256GB SSD to match the configuration of the UX51VZ. That's the only place it can match the UX51VZ though. The UX51VZ's quad-core i7 processor packs nearly twice the processing power; its dedicated Nvidia GT 650M 2GB graphics card makes playing the latest games possible; and it includes dual 128GB SSDs slaved together for lightning fast boot times. Overall this section isn't even a contest.
The UX51VZ's battery life is quite a bit better than the Spectre XT 15t's; in our Powermark battery run down test, the UX51VZ went for 3:42 where the Spectre XT 15t went for 2:47; that's a 30% difference. The UX51VZ uses a number of power saving technologies including Nvidia Optimus to keep consumption down; it's remarkable given how much better the UX51VZ is performance-wise.
owermark battery life test results (higher scores mean better battery life):
Heat and Noise
These notebooks exhaust air out the back of the chassis; neither do it silently. The UX51VZ is the noisier of the two, but only marginally so. The UX51VZ gets warmer under full load, not quite hot but bordering on it; packing such powerful components into an ultra-thin chassis has some disadvantages.
This comparison goes without hesitation to the ASUS ZenBook UX51VZ; it excels in generally every area. Equipped identically, it's only about $250 more than the HP Spectre XT 15t and offers much better performance, a numeric keypad, gets 30% better battery life and is lighter weight. The Spectre XT 15t's only real advantage over the UX51VZ besides price is the touch-enabled display, which isn't enough to make up for the rest of its disadvantages next to the UX51VZ. The UX51VZ has an advantage of its own in the display arena, incorporating an anti-glare surface which means no reflections. We could see recommending the Spectre XT 15t over the UX51VZ in specific situations; those aside, the UX51VZ is the winner.
Remember that both notebooks were recommended individually in our full reviews.
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