Performance and Benchmarks
- 15.6-inch touch-enabled display (1920×1080 resolution, IPS panel, glossy surface)
- Windows 8 64-bit
- Intel Core i7-3517U dual-core processor (1.9GHz, up to 3.1GHz Turbo Boost, 4MB cache, 17W TDP)
- Integrated Intel HD graphics
- 8GB DDR3-1600 RAM (1x 4GB onboard, 1x 4GB removable; max. supported)
- 500GB 5400RPM hard drive + 32GB mSATA SSD
- Intel Centrino Advanced-N 6235 wireless LAN
- Integrated Bluetooth 3.0
- Integrated HD webcam
- No internal optical drive
- 2-year limited warranty
- 4-cell li-ion battery
- Dimensions: 14.87 x 10.01 x 0.87 inches
- Weight: 4.96 lbs.
- Price: $1,174.99
The Spectre XT 15 is an oversized Ultrabook; it has the same caliber of specifications as 13.3- and 14-inch Ultrabooks. The Spectre XT 15 is somewhat unusual since it has a traditional hard drive, which is slaved to a small 32GB mSATA SSD (Solid State Drive) in an effort to provide the best of both worlds: the economical capacity of a hard drive with the performance benefits of an SSD. The real world performance is a mix of the two extremes; wait times are generally minimal and even match a real SSD’s responsiveness in some respects (such as the lightning fast cold start), but the wait time for more storage drive-intense tasks such as installing and launching programs is a reminder you’re working with a hard drive; the little 32GB SSD cache can only do so much.
At this price I honestly expect a real SSD, not a hard drive; HP offers the customizable Spectre XT 15t as of writing with an upgrade to a 128GB SSD for $170 and a 256GB variant for $370, which isn’t a bargain by any means (it’s worth noting both options ditch the 32GB SSD as well). As it stands the Spectre XT 15t is a reasonable value but not an outstanding or even a good one by any means.
The Spectre XT 15t’s specs have a lot to like aside from the storage drive choice; the Intel Core i7 processor is plenty fast even for programs like Adobe Photoshop; 8GB of RAM is excellent for running multiple programs at once. We visited the 15.6-inch 1080p display earlier; it’s fantastic, assuming you can look past the glossiness. Just about the only activity the Spectre XT 15t isn’t good at is 3D gaming, since like other Ultrabooks it has weak integrated Intel HD graphics with shared memory.
wPrime processor comparison results (lower scores mean better performance):
PCMark 7 is a newer benchmark that measures overall system performance (higher scores mean better performance):
3DMark 11 measures overall graphics card performance in games using DirectX 11 (higher scores mean better performance):
Heat and Noise
There’s a single fan exhausting warm air out the back center of the chassis. This notebook is near silent for most tasks as the fan is off or running at a low speed. The fan develops a whine at full speed but it doesn’t carry far. Still, the noise is noticeable and worth mentioning. The cooling system works well despite the noise and keeps the chassis cool, even after extended periods of running intensive tasks.
The Spectre XT 15t’s inbuilt 4-cell battery provided two hours, 47 minutes of life. This translates to about five hours of real world usage which is in line with HP’s claims. It’s less battery time than we see from 13.3- and 14-inch Ultrabooks, but the Spectre XT 15t has a much larger display (the display is the largest consumer of power in a typical notebook). Overall it’s a respectable if not remarkable time for a 15.6-inch notebook.
Powermark battery life test results (higher scores mean better battery life):