HP Spectre x360 (2017) Review: A Beautiful And Impressively Quiet Convertible

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HP Spectre x360 (2017): Elegance Refined

We could have predicted that HP would refresh its laptop lineup after Intel introduced its 8th Generation Core processor family in mobile form (Kaby Lake Refresh, or Kaby Lake-R, not to be confused with Coffee Lake on the desktop). By extension, our crystal ball, if we had one, would have also told us the new lineup would be faster than the previous generation, especially in multi-threaded applications where upgrading from a dual-core 7th Generation CPU to a quad-core 8th Generation chip would pay the biggest dividends. But what we could not have foreseen is that subtle changes beyond swapping out the engine that drives its systems would add up to an appreciably superior experience. Spoiler—it did.

HP's Spectre x360 is a delightfully thin and gorgeous convertible that first rolled off the lot in 2015. There have been two major revisions since then—the 2016 model, which debuted with a slimmed down form factor and improved battery life, and the new 2017 model that we are reviewing here. Somehow or another, HP managed to trim even more excess metal and weight from an already thin and light frame, a feat made even more impressive by how quiet it runs. We will get into all the nitty-gritty details a little later in this evaluation, but before we get too far ahead of ourselves, let's talk about the configuration that HP sent our way.

HP Spectre x360 Angled

As configured, the Spectre x360 we have in-house boasts a recently released Intel Core i7-8550U processor sporting four processing cores and eight threads to chomp through multi-threaded workloads. It has a relatively meager 1.8GHz base frequency, but a much faster 4GHz Turbo clock, which all four cores will ramp up to when needed. It also has 8MB of L3 cache, a 15W TDP, and Intel UHD Graphics 620 for graphics chores.

Flanking the CPU is 8GB of LPDDR3 1,600MHz RAM and a 256GB M.2 form factor NVMe solid state drive that shuttles data through the PCI Express bus. All of this combines to power the 13.3-inch display's native 1920x1080 resolution. Save for the CPU, the spec sheet is a little tame, though HP offers a few upgrade options to give this puppy more bite. Among them are more RAM, beefier storage drives, and a bump to a 4K resolution display if you need or want more on-screen real-estate. Many of the upgrade options are reasonably priced too—for example, it costs $150 to swap out the 1080p panel for a 4K display, and it is only $35 to double the RAM to 16GB, which to us is a no-brainer.

HP Spectre x360 Lid Angled

There rest of the setup is fairly standard for a modern 2-in-1. Here is a look at the full set of specifications, as the Spectre x360 was sent to us:

HP Spectre x360 (2017)
Specifications & Features
Processor Options 8th Gen Intel Core i7-8550U Quad Core (8MB Cache, 1.8GHz to 4.0GHz)
Display
13.3-inch FHD (1920x1080) IPS Touchscreen
Graphics Intel UHD Graphics 620
Memory
8GB LPDDR3 SDRAM 1600MHz
Storage
256GB M.2 NVMe PCIe Solid State Drive
Audio HP Quad Speakers, Bang & Olufsen, HP Audio Boost
Ethernet Gigabit Ethernet via USB Type-C to RJ45 Adapter (Optional)
Wireless Connectivity
Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC (2x2) 8265, Bluetooth Version 4.2
Interface (Left)
1x USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-A, 3.5mm Headset/Microphone Combo, microSD Card Reader
Interface (Right)
2x Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C)
Interface (Back) N/A
Webcam
HP TrueVision FHD IR Camera w/ Dual Array Microphone
Operating System
Windows 10 Home 64-Bit
Battery 3-Cell, 60Whr
Dimensions 0.53 (H) x 12.04 (W) x 8.56 (D) inches
Weight
2.78 pounds
Manufacturer Warranty
1-Year Limited
Pricing $1,149.99 (As Configured) - Find It At Amazon

HP Spectre x360 Lid

On their own, specs are fairly bland, as they say little to nothing about the engineering involved or the design aesthetics that goes into crafting a premium system like this one. And make no mistake, the Spectre x360 is an elegant 2-in-1, sculpted from a single chunk of aluminum and "designed to attract attention." And the closer you look, the more you can appreciate the subtle bits, such as the fine brush strokes on the reflective sides and beveled backside, giving the Spectre x360 some uptown charm.

The new model for 2017 (just in time for 2018, we might add) is a hair thinner than last year's variant, measuring 13.6mm high. That's down from 13.9mm in 2016 and 15.9mm in 2015. It is also a touch lighter, now weighing 2.78 pounds, versus 2.85 pounds for last year's build and 3.2 pounds in 2015. We should point out that HP did not have to skimp on connectivity to maintain an increasingly thinner waistline—in fact, the 2017 model gains a microSD card slot and the ability to charge external devices over one of the USB Type-C ports.

Let's flip the lid and take a closer look...

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