HP Spectre x360: Performance

March 1, 2015 by Jerry Jackson Reads (213,611)
Editor's Rating

Ratings Breakdown (1-10)

    • Software & Support
    • 10
    • Upgrade Capabilities
    • 5
    • Usability
    • 8
    • Design
    • 10
    • Performance
    • 8
    • Features
    • 8
    • Price/Value Rating
    • 8
    • Total Score:
    • 8.14
    • Rating 1 to 10, top score 10

Performance

Before we provide a list of hardware inside this laptop, we really need to explain why this notebook performs differently than most Windows laptops we’ve seen (and certainly different than previous HP laptops).

An essential factor in what makes the HP Spectre x360 different from previous Windows-based MacBook competitors is that HP and Microsoft worked closer than ever before during the development process of this notebook. While this is an “HP” product, you would be forgiven for thinking this laptop was co-developed by HP and Microsoft to deliver the best possible user experience with Windows 8.1.

HP and Microsoft engineers worked side by side at every stage from chassis design and hardware selection to driver optimization and final OS and software image installation. The result: This Windows laptop doesn’t just run smoothly, it has essentially been “performance tuned” like a Formula One race car to make every operation happen as quickly as possible down to the last fraction of a second.

Full Windows start up (including the time for BIOS POST and the time needed for the Windows desktop to fully load) took an average of 8 seconds or less after we pressed the power button on our review unit. Wake from sleep mode took between 1 and 4 seconds depending on whether the x360 was in sleep mode with the screen lid closed or already open. When we pressed the “Shut down” button on the Windows desktop the x360 shut down Windows and completely powered off in just 4 seconds.

Spectre x360 tent modeThe reality is that most of this speed comes from expertly optimized drivers for everything from the CPU and Wi-Fi card to the screen orientation sensors and the USB ports. That said, the hardware isn’t lacking for much either. Our review unit of the Spectre x360 is the “Best Buy exclusive” configuration priced at $999.99 that comes with the Intel Core i5-5200U dual-core processor running at a base speed of 2.2 GHz along with 8 GB of LPDDR3 RAM and a 256 GB M.2 SATA 6.0Gb/s SSD.

HP also offers a less expensive configuration of the Spectre x360 starting at $899.99 with the same Broadwell processor, smaller 128 GB SSD and just 4 GB of RAM. On the other hand, you can step up to a Core i7 Broadwell processor for $1,149.99 or add the Core i7, Quad HD display and a 512 GB SSD for $1,399.99.

Of course, we’re not surprised those prices line up perfectly against the various configurations of the 13-inch MacBook Air. In fact, a MacBook Air with slower Core i7 processor, 8 GB of RAM and a 512 GB SSD is priced at a less reasonable $1,749.

The integrated Intel graphics are the only weak spot in the x360’s performance. While the Intel HD Graphics 5500 is enough for general computing, streaming HD video, and connecting to multiple monitors or projectors, this integrated GPU isn’t enough for visually intense traditional PC games (i.e., Battlefield 4 or Dragon Age: Inquisition). If your idea of gaming is Minecraft and Candy Crush Saga or World of Warcraft on low detail settings then the Intel graphics will be more than enough.

Spectre x360 stand modeOur review unit of the HP Spectre x360 includes the following technical specs:

  • Genuine Windows 8.1 (64-bit)
  • 13.3-inch Full HD (1920 x 1080) touchscreen IPS display
  • Intel Core i5-5200U dual-core processor (2.2 GHz base frequency, 3 MB Cache, 2.7 GHz max Turbo frequency, 15 W TDP configurable down to 7.5 W TDP)
  • 8 GB LPDDR3 RAM
  • 256 GB M.2 SSD (Samsung PM851 – MZNTE256HMHP – NAND Flash)
  • Integrated Intel HD Graphics 5500 with Intel Wireless Display (WiDi)
  • Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 7265 Wi-Fi plus Bluetooth 4.0
  • Stereo speakers
  • HD webcam with integrated stereo microphones
  • Internal 56 Wh Li-ion polymer battery
  • 45 W travel AC adapter
  • Dimensions: 12.7 x 8.6 x 0.6 inches
  • Weight: 3.3 lbs
  • MSRP: $999.99

Benchmarks

wPrime processor comparison in seconds (lower scores mean better performance):
wprimechart

PCMark8 Home (Accelerated) measures overall system performance in Windows 8 for general activities from web browsing and video streaming to typing documents and playing games (higher scores mean better performance):
pcm8homechart

PCMark8 Work (Accelerated) measures overall system performance in Windows 8 for work-related productivity tasks (higher scores mean better performance):
pcm8workchart

3DMark 11 is a benchmark that measures overall graphics card performance for gaming (higher scores mean better performance):
3dmark11chart

3DMark Fire Strike is a newer DirectX 11 benchmark that measures overall graphics card performance for gaming (higher scores mean better performance):
FireStrikechart

CrystalDiskMark storage drive performance test:
hpCDmark

Heat and Noise

The HP Spectre x360 remains cool to the touch even after hours of continuous use. The heat generated by the Intel Core i5 processor and graphics is vented out of the exhaust on the left side of the notebook and you won’t notice the heat as long as you keep your body away from that vent.

The cooling fan doesn’t seem to run at all unless the CPU and GPU are pushed to maximum speed by an application or game. The fan never turned on while I was editing a library of high-resolution images with Photoshop in Adobe Creative Cloud and I barely noticed the fan turning on a few times while watching 1080p video. The fan noise only became “obvious” when we ran the benchmarking software which stresses the CPU and GPU to their limit.

A closer look inside the Spectre x360.

A closer look inside the Spectre x360.

Battery Life

As previously mentioned, the x360 does an amazing job with battery life thanks in large part to the amount of “tuning” done by HP and Microsoft engineers and developers. Microsoft and HP both claim they not only made changes to the hardware but revised many drivers multiple times simply to save a fraction of a watt or a few watt-seconds of battery life during various tasks. That might seem excessive, but all that power efficiency means the x360 consumes no more than absolutely necessary from the battery at any given second.

Of course, it’s not all a matter of power efficiency. The internal battery itself is a massive 56 Wh power source (compared to a 54 Wh battery inside the 13-inch MacBook Air or the 44 Wh battery inside the Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro). It’s no wonder that the HP Spectre x360 takes the top spot for battery life among notebooks in its class based on our extremely aggressive Powermark tests.

Powermark battery life benchmark in minutes (higher score means longer battery life):
powermarkchart

While the Powermark battery benchmark will not run on Mac OS X, we’ll point out that we average between 8 and 12 hours of “real-world” battery life on the 13-inch MacBook Air depending on use. We have only been able to run two “real-world” battery life tests with the HP Spectre x360 in the short time we’ve had it, but it managed a similar real-life run of between 8 and 13 hours depending on use. We will update these results if additional testing shows the first two tests weren’t accurate.

As of this writing, the HP Spectre x360 is available from HP starting at $899.99.


LEAVE A COMMENT

9 Comments

|
All content posted on TechnologyGuide is granted to TechnologyGuide with electronic publishing rights in perpetuity, as all content posted on this site becomes a part of the community.

  1. bluevaping

    “HP and Microsoft engineers worked side by side at every stage from chassis design and hardware selection to driver optimization and final OS and software image installation. The result: This Windows laptop doesn’t just run smoothly, it has essentially been “performance tuned.” Well that should be the standard going forward for most Windows devices. Or at least the Bios/ driver optimization from MS calibration. Consolidated lines/hardware and put out better optimized products should make business sense. The trackpad thing is odd after all this effort. I hope HP, MS, and a Trackpad maker all have lunch together soon.

  2. GarryMasters

    good review- sounds like HP may finally be back on track- the ‘split’ version is horrible- I have 2 users and both have issues and a lack of ports- also since the kbd is considered a ‘dock’ it does not play real nice with a usb3 dock which is necessary because they have so few ports. I have 2 happy users of the the Dell 13″ 7347 and 2 happy with Yoga 2., 1 happy with Acer Switch 11. I agree all will use laptop mode more than other modes, but the flexibility to go to tablet or presentation mode is great occasionally (like cramped airplane seat and lack of use of those modes is mostly due to both inertia (users are used to laptops) and still-no-optimum touch control in windows (how do you do ctrl-c or copy when in tablet mode?) and lack of windows tablet apps. Lastly – until windows is better able to use QHD, etc- stick with 1080p resolution (ALL laptops should offer that!) and lets get (1) new usb3.1 ‘C’ on every laptop soon! (but more than just 1 port- Apple has got to be KIDDING that the the new Macbook will have 1 of those and NOTHING else).

  3. GarryMasters

    good review- sounds like HP may finally be back on track- the ‘split’ version is horrible.

  4. KieserSozay

    Great article. I was all set to buy the best and most current configuration of the Dell Inspiron 13 7000 series (I believe it is model i7348-5001SLV, which is similar and impressive as well). But after reading this, I think there are some nuances that make this a better pick even though it would cost about $200 more. Please reply if you have any experience with the similar Dell model I mentioned and if you have any opinions on it.

  5. gluble

    Um, you know that you can do a right-click on a Mac trackpad by tapping with two fingers, right?

    You can also, I am sure, enable that on this laptop as well.

    Just like 2-finger scrolling is way, way better for most users that that shitty little scroll strip Windows laptops insisted on using for way too long, 2-finger tapping is way better than trying to tap on a “right-clicky” area of the trackpad.

    This is all stuff Macs have had for almost 10 years. It astounds me how long it’s taken Windows laptops to catch up, and still one has to check reviews and test because they’re still so inconsistent. Windows didn’t even get native support for this basic functionality till Windows 8.

    This is basic knowledge that a professional laptop reviewer should really know instead of complaining about right-click areas and making weird statements about Windows needing to be rebuilt to use a single click.

  6. jonjojr

    The Spectre is a 10. It took me 3 months to find the perfect replacement for my other laptop, and as soon as I saw the ad on TV went online and saw the specs, then few days later took a trip to see it, and the rep had it next to an Apple, and I fell in love at first sight. HP you did great, and if you continue I will continue to buy these laptops in the future. This is a hit and it shows, my wife wants to trade me her Surface Pro 3 for this and it is NOT gonna happen.

  7. javjaffrey

    I second ‘Gluble’. I’ve used many buttonless trackpads including this HP Spectre on windows machines and have always used two finger taps to right click. Works every time. I would’ve thought this was common knowledge by now?

    Anyhow, I’ve had the Spectre for just over a month and it’s as close to perfection as you can get…for now. Used to have a main laptop and a dell venue 11 pro as my road companion but this machine has replaced both.

    The battery life is phenomenal…I also have an Xperia Z3 compact and when this laptop consistently outlasts my phone in charge…the euphoric feeling of finally having an all day windows device cannot be described…now I just need a windows 10 phone to complete the ecosystem lineup.

  8. JustVisiting

    The clickpad actually works very well once you understand it.

    A one finger click gives a left-button click and a two finger click gives a right-button click. The important thing to understand is that the distinction between a one and two finger click doesn’t depend on both fingers applying force; it depends on there being contact by both fingers. Thus if you push with your left index finger while resting your right index finger on the pad, then that counts as a two fingered click. Adapt to this and the clickpad works well.

    Incidentally, the touch pad is not actually buttonless; it is just that a) the buttons aren’t identified by lines on the touchpad, and b) the buttons are in the bottom corners; they don’t extend all the way across. They are about an inch wide and half an inch high. Click on either of these and it doesn’t matter how many fingers are resting on the touchpad.

  9. simon722

    Beware, build quality issues with the Spectre x360 are normal apparently.

    I purchased the 4109na version of this laptop because it has excellent specifications. Unfortunately, it started to emit a strange electrical sputtering sound from the keyboard over the CPU area. The sound was very faint, but noticeable in a quiet room. It’s not the fan because it’s constant from the start even when the machine is cold. I sent it back to HP twice to fix the issue and they sent it back to me stating it is normal and within specification – in other words, it makes a faint, but constant noise as normal. I wasn’t happy because I know that solid state devices (excluding the fan) do not make any noise at all. HP refused to refund the product because I had owned it for 6 weeks longer than the prescribed one month return period. They refused to change any of the components either to see if that might have made a difference and told me there was nothing they could do.

    I asked HP to confirm if it was normal for HP products to make strange electrical noises as part of their specification, but they refused to comment on this. The (outsourced) repairer however, did confirm that it makes a faint noise and compared it to another machine of the same specification confirming that the noise was the same indicating that this is normal.

    To put into context, imagine if your iPad or MacBook Pro made faint, but constant electrical sputtering noises from the CPU area. You would automatically think that your machine was defective. The Apple build quality is very high and this would never be acceptable. HP are essentially saying this noise is acceptable.

    Nice specifications, nice-looking machine, but beware of the build quality. HP have never really had a great reputation for build quality and I suppose this proves it. I naively thought they might have improved over the years, but I was wrong. Do your research first. I’m now stuck with this machine and HP have dug their heals in by refusing to acknowledge they might have build quality issues. They continue to quote ‘it is within specification’.