This HP 2-in-1 combines beauty and power in a sleek form that’s ideal for both work and pleasure
It’s tough to improve on a winning formula, but HP has done just that with the HP Spectre x360 (2021). Now that it has Intel’s Evo certification, it increases the bar for what to anticipate from these laptops.
To meet Intel’s requirements, HP had to increase not only the laptop’s performance but also its design and battery life. Our PCMark 10 battery life test, lasted nearly 13 hours.
This makes the HP Spectre x360 (2021) one of the best laptops on the market right now, improving on the HP Spectre x360 model from last year.
Whether you’re concerned about battery life and want something that can keep up with Chromebooks and MacBooks throughout long workdays, need something portable to carry with you on the road, or want something powerful, the HP will be able to satisfy almost any user, with the exception of extreme gamers.
Having said that, the HP Spectre x360 makes certain mistakes. It’s a little cumbersome in tablet mode because it’s a little too big to use comfortably.
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If that’s a must-have feature for you, and you want a laptop that’s as simple to use no matter what form factor it’s in, a Surface Pro 7 or iPad, which are thin and light tablets that can be used with keyboards, would be a better option.
The fans also become pretty noisy when you’re using the laptop — and, on rare occasions, even when you’re not. Even when the HP Spectre x360 (2021) was closed, we heard the fans kick a few times. It’s the one part of the HP Spectre x360 (2021)’s design that doesn’t feel entirely premium.
Apart from those flaws, this is a highly capable laptop that’s ideal for everyday use, including work. It is, however, expensive, with starting costs of $1,349/£1,199/AU$3,339 (starting configurations vary by market). However, if you have the financial means, you will not be dissatisfied.
You can also check out our reviews of the HP Pavilion x360 and HP Envy x360.
HP Spectre x360 review: Pricing and availability
As previously said, the laptop’s amazing power and beautiful appearance come at a premium cost. It’s comparable to laptops like the Core i7 Dell XPS 13 ($1,259) and the MacBook Pro 13 ($1,299), with a starting price of $1,369 You can get one from the official HP store, the Intel website, or try your luck at big retailers if you’re looking for a good offer or a sale pricing.
I tried the $1,669.99 model, which came with an Intel Core i7-1165G7 2.8GHz quad-core CPU (that can be upgraded to 4.7GHz), 512GB solid-state drive, 16GB RAM, Intel Xe Graphics, and a 14-inch FHD touchscreen display.
It includes a rechargeable MPP2.0 Tilt Pen, which is ideal for digital artists or anybody who loves to take handwritten notes during class or meetings, as well as a fake leather protective case to keep it safe in your backpack, tote bag, or carry-on luggage.
If you deal with photography, video, or graphics, I recommend going with the 1TB SSD and 2K OLED screen options to ensure you have lots of storage and good color ranges.
HP Spectre x360 review: Design
With premium, pricing comes a premium design, and the HP Spectre x360 does not disappoint in (2021). To be honest, we never doubted it; the previous model was one of the most attractive laptops we’ve ever seen.
As a result, it’s no surprise that the new model is yet another stunning HP laptop. The HP Spectre x360 (2021) appears almost comparable to the previous generation, which isn’t a terrible thing given how impressed we were with its appearance.
The HP Spectre x360 (2021) has a brushed-metal style that comes in a variety of color options. The 360-degree hinge, which allows the screen to entirely tilt back, transforming the HP Spectre x360 (2021) into a tablet-like device, feels robust and trustworthy.
The word ‘Spectre’ is carved on the right-hand side, which adds to the overall premium impression of the HP Spectre x360 (2021).
On the right, you’ll find an audio-in jack and a full-size USB port (the inclusion of a full-size USB port is a nice touch for such a thin and light laptop), as well as two USB-C ports, a microSD port, and a physical webcam kill switch.
On the left, you’ll find two USB-C ports, a microSD port, and a physical webcam kill switch.
When you’re not using the webcam, you may switch it off; this is a nice option for folks who are concerned about their privacy. It’s a huge selling feature, because it demonstrates, along with the full-size USB port and MicroSD slot, that a thin and light laptop can include several connections without sacrificing design.
It surely puts the MacBook Air (M1, 2020) and MacBook Pro 13-inch (M1, 2020)’s two USB-C ports to shame.
When you first turn on the HP Spectre x360 (2021), you’re greeted by a brilliant, vibrant screen surrounded by razor-thin bezels. This provides the laptop with a more modern appearance while also reducing its total size.
It’s just another example of a Windows 10 laptop looking more fashionable than an Apple MacBook, which will satisfy both HP and Intel, and is still more cause for Apple to reconsider its MacBook designs.
The keyboard is spacious and comfortable to operate, with good travel between the keys. They’re also illuminated, so you can use them in the dark with ease.
The touchpad is comfortable to use and responsive. It’s a little wider than a 13-inch laptop would be, giving you a little extra room to wiggle your fingers. To the right of the touchpad is a fingerprint scanner for logging into Windows 10.
In the same way that HP has managed to pack a huge keyboard and trackpad into a compact body, Lenovo has managed to cram a large keyboard and trackpad into a small body.
It’s a fantastic design achievement that ensures the HP Spectre x360 (2021) not only looks beautiful but also feels comfortable to use.
HP Spectre x360 review: Display
For your new Spectre x360 14, you may select between a 1920 x 1280 FHD or a 3000 x 2000 OLED touchscreen. The full HD screen will suffice for most applications at work or at home.
Depending on your customization options, HP claims it can produce up to 1000 nits of brightness, which means you’ll be able to watch videos or participate in virtual meetings and video conversations in practically any lighting condition. It also provides a huge range of viewing angles.
The screen is bright enough for most settings, and we measured an average brightness of 365 nits over the entire display throughout our tests. That’s on par with Apple’s latest MacBook Air (365 nits), although it falls short of rivals like the Dell XPS 13. (469 nits).
The colors are vibrant as well; the HP Spectre x360 14 with a 1920 x 1080 FHD display covered 105.3 percent of the sRGB color spectrum in our tests, beating out the XPS 13 (97.9%) but falling short of the MacBook Air (114 percent ).
In both tablet and laptop mode, I tried our review unit with YouTube and Hulu, and the colors remained vibrant and true-to-life even at extreme side angles.
If you’re a digital artist or work in video production, the OLED touchscreen will provide you with more consistent brightness as well as improved color and detail.
When using touch controls with your hands or the Tilt Pen, both options are constructed with Gorilla Glass for durability. You won’t have to worry about hurting your screen as you swipe, write, or tap away at your apps and files because the glass feels smooth and robust, with very little flex.
HP Spectre x360 review: Performance
The components and performance of the HP Spectre x360 (2021) are the most significant improvements over the previous edition, with the laptop serving as a showcase for Intel’s latest mobile processors.
The Intel Core i7-1165G7 processor was used in the review unit we received. This is a quad-core processor with a boost speed of 4.70GHz, which is a significant improvement over the Intel Core i7-1065G7 (prior generation CPU) found in last year’s model.
The new HP Spectre x360 (2021) outperforms the previous model, as evidenced by our Cinebench and Geekbench scores, with a single-core score of 1,317 versus 1,259.
It’s not a great leap, but it’s progress nonetheless. Intel’s Core i7-1065G7 was already a great mobile processor, so it’s great to see them improve on it.
Overall, the HP Spectre x360 (2021) is a wonderful little performer, with Windows 10 feeling snappy and responsive thanks to the latest CPU and a generous 16GB of RAM.
Multitasking with many apps open at the same time, as well as a slew of Edge tabs, had no effect on the HP Spectre x360 (2021)’s speed.
The HP Spectre x360 (2021) delivers the kind of performance you’d expect from a luxury laptop at this price point for day-to-day use. You will not be disappointed in the least.
While the HP Spectre x360 (2021) isn’t a gaming laptop, it could be able to run some PC games that other thin and light laptops couldn’t. While Cyberpunk 2077 at full graphical settings isn’t on the list, Intel claims it can run GTA 5 at over 60 frames per second.
And esports games like Rocket League, League of Legends, and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive – which are less graphically demanding but require fast performance – may also be playable.
So, naturally, we tried out a few games on the HP Spectre x360 (2021). As previously stated, this is not a gaming laptop, but we wanted to check if it was possible to play games at the end of the day to unwind after a long day at work.
Sort of is the answer. On low settings, Total War: Three Kingdoms barely managed 30 frames per second. Anything more difficult would have been unplayable.
We also played Ori and the Will of the Wisps, a graphically striking 2D platformer that, while beautiful, isn’t as taxing as many other recent games. Unfortunately, in order to ensure seamless gameplay, we had to lower the graphical settings and scale down the resolution.
As a result, while recent games like Ori and the Will of the Wisps were playable, they came at a significant cost in terms of graphical fidelity. So, HP Spectre x360, don’t quit your day job (2021).
One thing to keep in mind is that the fans on the HP Spectre x360 (2021) will turn on even when performing relatively low-powered operations like downloading an app.
It’s understandable in some ways, given that this is a super-thin laptop with components that must be kept cool. It was, however, inconvenient, and stood in stark contrast to the MacBook Air (M1, 2020), which runs quietly thanks to its fanless design.
HP Spectre x360 review: Ports
For wireless peripheral and device connections, the model I tested has two USB-C ports for both connectivity and charging, as well as a USB Type-A connector, headphone/microphone jack, microSD card reader, Wi-Fi 6, and Bluetooth 5.0.
However, the Bluetooth 5.0 connection only allows for the connecting of two devices at the same time, which is bad news for anyone who has many wireless peripherals such as headsets and mice, or who needs to connect multiple mobile devices to their laptop.
With Wi-Fi 6 compatibility, you may use next-generation wireless internet speeds to transmit files to and from cloud storage services like Dropbox or Google Drive, effectively eliminating the need for external physical storage. It’s also ideal for anyone who requires a fast, reliable connection for video chats and virtual meetings on a regular basis.
HP Spectre x360 review: Keyboard and Tilt Pen
The chiclet-style keyboard has an ultra-low profile that feels excellent to type on, however it may seem “mushy” at first if you’re used to mechanical or optical switch keyboards.
It includes two levels of illumination to make typing easier in nearly any situation, and you can turn it off completely in bright environments or when it would be distracting, such as during a meeting.
Both the display and the trackpad support easy gesture controls; on the display, you can pinch to zoom, swipe, and tap, and on the trackpad, you can squeeze to zoom and scroll quickly.
Taking notes with the Tilt Pen feels almost identical to writing with a traditional pen and paper, and the program that converts handwriting into digitized text does an excellent job of picking out words and letters, even if you have terrible handwriting like myself.
If you’re left-handed, sticky keys can be used to lock the Windows Start button and taskbar, preventing you from closing out of a document or art program in the middle of a project.
While this is a little irritating, it doesn’t take away from the Tilt Pen’s simplicity of use when making notes on a report or PowerPoint, writing yourself a to-do list, or sketching out some rough ideas for customers.
The pen features two input buttons that can be adjusted to suit any program you’re working in for unique shortcuts, or they can be used as right and left clicks on a mouse. This is useful for fast switching brushes in Photoshop or effects in Lightroom.
HP Spectre x360 review: Battery life
The battery life in our web surfing testing was just over 12 hours, which is more realistic for a regular workday. Our web surfing tests put the battery life just north of 12 hours, which is more realistic for a typical workday.
This laptop has an updated 4-cell lithium-ion battery that HP rates at 21.5 hours when playing video; our web surfing tests put the battery life just north of 12 hours, which is more realistic for a typical workday.
This exceeds the Dell XPS 13 (11:7 in our tests) and comes close to matching the Lenovo Yoga 9i’s performance (11:15 as tested). More importantly, it means you can go a full day or even days without plugging in.
Should you buy it?
For anyone seeking to improve their mobile workstation, the HP Spectre x360 14 is a great long-term investment. On the HP official store site, you may configure the laptop’s configuration for the best balance of power, performance, and design.
Of course, if you’re not a Windows user, the Apple MacBook Air with M1 offers greater battery life, colors, and photo/video editing speed for around the same price.
On the other hand, MacBook fans who want to switch to a Windows-based computer will appreciate the HP Spectre x360 14’s familiar keyboard and USB-C ports, as well as the stunning FHD and 2K OLED displays.
The 180-degree hinges make switching from a regular laptop to a tablet for watching films or drawing a snap; the 2-in-1 convertible form factor is great for anyone who wants to optimize their workflow and eliminate unnecessary devices like tablets.
While the price is high, the high-quality components are definitely worth it if you want to stay up with current and next-generation graphics and processing needs, as well as internet and wireless connectivity.