HP’s new Spectre x360 13t has a message for competing for thin-and-light laptops that seem to be all about taking away your good stuff. Features like travel keyboards, USB Type-A connections, and even the ability to upgrade your SSD have all been dropped from some of Dell and Apple’s newest and thinnest laptops.
The HP Spectre x360 13t just yells Yes in the face of all that No. Are you looking for a regular M.2 SSD? The Spectre x360 13t confirms that you have it. Do you have NBA-level travel in your keys? Sure, go ahead. Type-A USB port?! Naturally, the Spectre x360 13t has it as well.
And that’s just for starters.
While laptop manufacturers have been pleased to reduce bezels, this has meant sacrificing one of Windows 10’s trendiest features: Windows Hello and facial recognition login. Despite this, HP has managed to squeeze what appears to be the tiniest IR-enabled camera we’ve seen onto the Spectre x360 13t. You can also utilize the embedded fingerprint reader if you don’t like the facial recognition feature.
There’s also quick help for Windows Hello. We’ve found that Microsoft’s implementations have been the fastest and most accurate. The new Spectre x360 13t laptop will go from closed to open in 1.5 to 3 seconds, which is a lot faster than we thought. In order for things to run the fastest, the laptop doesn’t have to be in its most deep sleep mode. There are times when it goes so quickly that you wonder if you even have a password for the laptop. You
When you look at HP’s new laptop, you’ll be amazed by how they were able to add all of these extra features while making it smaller. There’s less space on this laptop than there was before. The new Spectre x360 13t is about an inch smaller than the old one. It turns out that the new Spectre x360 13t is a little smaller than Apple’s beloved MacBook Air 11, which people loved because of its small size. The Spectre x360 13t fits into your bag so well that you won’t even know it’s there.
This is about the only thing we’d like for it to have. It would be even better if it had two AC charging ports. But one is enough.
Thickness comes at a price. It wasn’t to upset you that Dell and Apple chose a low-travel MagLev 2 keyboard and a soldered SSD—it was to make the laptops slimmer. At its thickest point, the Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 is around 2mm slimmer than the Spectre x360 13t. The 5th-generation Spectre x360 13t is really 1mm thicker than the preceding model.
Many people may wonder if the loss of thickness, or “Z-height,” is worth giving up an M.2 SSD, a travel keyboard, and a USB Type-A connector. We doubt it. At least, that’s what customers have been yelling for years in response to the sacrifice of features on the altar of thinness.
HP Spectre x360 13t Specs
HP also doesn’t skimp on hardware specifications. The new Intel Ice Lake 10nm CPU is the apparent centerpiece, but there’s also a 1-watt IPS display with pen and touch capability, as well as the Intel Optane H10 drive, which blends Intel’s cutting-edge Optane with a regular NAND SSD. The outcome is actually rather impressive for the vast majority of tasks, although it does have restrictions, which you can read about in our Optane H10 drive review.
- CPU: Intel 10th gen quad-core Core i7-1065G7
- GPU: Intel Iris Plus Graphics
- RAM: 8GB LPDDR4X/3733
- Display: 13.3-inch, 1920×1080 (FHD) AU Optronics touchscreen (A 4K AMOLED is also available)
- Storage: 512GB Intel H10 Optane NVMe M.2 SSD
- Ports: Two Thunderbolt 3, 1 USB Type-A (5Gbps), analog combo headset jack, microSD slot.
- Wireless: Intel WiFi 6, Bluetooth 5
- Dimensions: 12.08 x 7.66 x 0.67 inches
- Weight: 2.8 pounds (not counting AC)
- Price: $1,549.99
Trackpad and Keyboard
As we previously stated, HP appears to have dug in its heels and refused to take shortcuts, such as requiring you to utilize near-zero-travel keyboards. The keyboard features a comfortable 1.5mm of travel, which is nearly twice as much like the Dell XPS 13 2-in-1. We’ll sing its praises only so other laptop manufacturers can hear us.
The trackpad appears to be produced by Elan and supports Microsoft’s Precision Trackpad. One nagging issue is HP’s decision to place the trackpad on the U key. Placing your fingers on the home keys places more of your right palm over the trackpad, which could cause the cursor to bounce, no matter how good the palm rejection is. The trackpad on most competing laptops is centered on the Y key.
A dedicated button to disable the microphone is one feature we’d like to highlight in the new Spectre. Earlier this year, the laptop incorporated a hardware kill switch for the webcam. Because you can visibly ensure the mic has been muted in the OS, this new mute button takes privacy one step further. Allowing a hardware kill switch for the microphone would be the next natural step.
We made a short image quality comparison between the 5th-gen Spectre, the 4th-gen Spectre, and Dell’s XPS 13 2-in-1, which everyone will still wrap with tape. To be honest, all of the results were unimpressive, but if we had to choose between the 5th-gen Spectre x360 13t and the Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 7390, it would be a tight call.
The inclusion of a leather carrying case, which also firmly secures the attached active stylus, is one of the other features worth mentioning. HP has been doing this with its laptops for a long time, and it is commendable. Although the leather cover will not wow your designer-handbag buddies, it will protect your phone from scratches as it slides around in your bag. Did we mention that HP provides its pen, whereas Dell costs $100 for it?
How does the Pen work?
Our sister site Macworld’s Leif Johnson, who still prefers writing with a pen and paper to typing, gave us a quick review of the pen. Despite not being a big fan of Windows inking, we asked him to try out the 4th-generation Spectre x360 13t, the new 5th-generation Spectre x360 13t, and Dell’s XPS 13 2-in-1 7390 with an optional Dell pen. We then asked him to compare them to Apple’s iPad Pro and the 2nd-generation Apple Pencil.
Wacom’s Active ES or Electro Static is thought to be the underlying tech in Dell’s tablet, while Microsoft’s N-Trig is thought to be in both HP’s tablets.
It was much better at doing small dots than Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 7390, Johnson said. However, Johnson gave Dell a small advantage in latency, which put it at the top of his book. This made it even better. The Apple Gen 2 Pencil and the most recent iPad Pro are both 10. Johnson said Dell’s Wacom-based pen would probably get an 8 on a scale of 1 to 10, while the Spectre x360 13t’s would get a 7 on the same scale. Again, that’s from someone who loves handwriting. This is how it would work for someone who signs a PDF and makes a few notes. Eventually, we’ll talk more in-depth about Johnson’s pens when we do.
Spectre x360 13t CPU Performance
The Cinebench R15 benchmark from Maxon will serve as the starting point for our performance study. To measure CPU performance when producing 3D content, this test employs an earlier 3D rendering engine from Maxon’s commercial Cinema4D application. Cinebench isn’t an acceptable benchmark for thin-and-light laptops, according to Intel, because very few customers would do that kind of work on one. Simultaneously, the performance of small computers has improved so significantly in the previous two years that Cinebench-style work isn’t out of the question.
We first tested the Spectre x360 13t with its default settings, then repeated the test with the laptop set to “performance” in the HP utility. Read more; HP Elite Dragonfly G3: Release Date, Price, and Everything Else
Dell’s clamshell XPS 13 7390, with its 6-core Core i7-10710U CPU, is the clear winner. Despite the fact that it is constructed on an older 14nm technology, 6 cores will usually outperform 4 cores. The Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 is more in line with the Spectre x360 13t, as it has the same Ice Lake Core i7-1065G7 CPU. Dell has long swung for the fences in terms of performance, and we see that in both the default settings and the performance setting on the XPS 13 2-in-1, leaving HP in the dust.
We’ll give Intel credit for the fact that the great majority of apps are single-threaded, meaning they can only use one CPU core at a time. That’s why Cinebench R15 is likewise run in a single thread. In fact, for most people who largely stick to standard productivity chores, it may be the more relevant score.
The finding indicates that the performance difference between most laptops is unlikely to be evident to the average user. The low-power Acer Swift 7 and its 7th-generation Core i7-7Y75 processor may be noticeable, but they are likely tolerable.
This very balanced CPU performance can also be seen in PCMark 8. The benchmark simulates common tasks like typing, video chatting, and browsing with custom-built programs. On this test, all of the laptops displayed here exceed the 2,000-point criterion for excellent performance. Still, if we have to choose a winner, the Dell 2-in-1 and HP 2-in-1 10th-gen CPUs are at the top of the list. The 6-core Core i7 Dell XPS 13 ranks much lower, but that’s because of its 4K-resolution screen and how PCMark 8 handles high-dpi screens with integrated graphics.
While the previous two tests indicate that most laptops are fine, our CPU stress test needs laptops to perform at their best. We used the Android Tablet Preset to convert a 30-minute 1080p video using the free HandBrake encoder. Because the encoder is multithreaded, the more CPU cores you have, the better. On most ultra-portable computers, the test takes more than an hour to complete, putting their cooling capacities to the test.
For the HP, we started with the laptop set to its default settings. The outcome appears to be dreadful, as the Spectre x360 13t’s 10th-gen CPU fared worse than the first Kaby Lake-R CPUs. But that’s on purpose: In default settings, the Spectre x360 13t prioritizes acoustics and skin temperature, as HP feels that most users would prefer to suffer a performance hit than listen to the fans complain. You won’t notice the loss until you’re doing long video encodes.
To investigate what we were missing, we re-ran the test on the Spectre x360 13t in Performance Mode. It’ll run the chip at 18 watts by default, but Performance Mode bumps it up to 28 watts. The Spectre x360 13t easily outperformed the Dell XPS 13 2-in-1, losing only to the clamshell XPS 13 7390, which boasted a six-core Core i7-10710U processor.
To find out how well the Spectre x360 13t does with graphics, we use 3DMark’s Sky Diver test to see how well it does. Even though Dell beats HP by a step, HP’s graphics performance for this size laptop is actually pretty good thanks to the Core i7-better 1065G7’s Iris Plus graphics.
HP Spectre x360 13t battery life
The battery life test is possibly the most significant in a laptop. HP isn’t messing around with this one, throwing in a 61-watt-hour battery. For instance, the Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 has a 50-watt-hour battery. HP also uses Intel’s low-power display technology, which can lower the laptop screen’s power usage below 1 watt in many situations.
We loop a 4K-resolution film with the laptop in airplane mode, headphones connected, and the screen set to a relatively bright 250 to 260 nits for our battery rundown test. The Spectre x360 13t managed to last over 16 hours. Only the preceding 4th-generation Spectre x360 13t, which also has a 1-watt display, can beat it. Read also; HP Elite Dragonfly Max Review.
Keep in mind that battery life varies based on usage. It’s one of the simplest tasks now that video performance has been greatly enhanced. If you plan on browsing all day, expect to lose a third of your battery life, but full-day runtime shouldn’t be an issue.
In the past, PC makers have taken away feature after feature in order to make laptops smaller. This has been going on for years. Hope that line ends here because HP just proved that you can make a small, powerful laptop that lasts a long time without taking away everything people love. The HP Spectre x360 13t, a laptop with a good keyboard, an IR camera, a bigger battery, USB Type-A, and an upgradeable SSD, is the one we’ll choose 9 out of 10 times if we have to choose between the two.