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HP Spectre x360 15T (2019) review

Powerful performance in a head-turning design

HP Spectre x360 15T (2019)
The HP Spectre x360 15T (2019) is a formidable laptop.
Benchmarks:

Here’s how the HP Spectre x360 15T (2019) fared in our suite of benchmark tests:
3DMark: Sky Diver: 19196; Fire Strike: 6402; Time Spy: 2480
Cinebench CPU: 1036 points; Graphics: 104.52 fps
GeekBench: 4955 (single-core); 21358 (multi-core)
PCMark 8 (Home Test): 3314 points
PCMark 8 Battery Life: 4 hour and 14 minutes
Battery Life (techradar movie test): 6 hours and 56 minutes
Total War: Warhammer II (1080p, Ultra): 18.5 fps; (1080p; Low): 46.6 fps (4K, Ultra) 4.6 fps (4K, Low) 11.2 fps
Shadow of the Tomb Raider (1080p, Ultra): 24 fps; (1080p, Low): 47.6 fps, (4K, Ultra) 8.3 fps (4K, Low) 16 fps

The HP Spectre x360 is a pleasure to use. Though not technically a gaming laptop, with the Nvidia GTX 1050 Ti and 16GB RAM, it can run most AAA games at respectable – though not Ultra – settings. In fact, we are able to run Dirt Rally 2.0 in 1080p at the highest settings with only a slight amount of lag. Far Cry 5 and the recently-released Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice perform similarly well. 

The computer does struggle keeping up when running games at high settings and 4K, however. Dirt Rally, for example, feels like driving in slow motion. The camera lags, and there’s a delay in responsiveness when trying to steer. Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice also lags when moving the camera around at such high resolution and detail.

It’s the Shadow of the Tomb Raider really highlights the laptop’s limitations. Running at low settings on 1080p, the game is able to run at an acceptable, but not ideal, 48 frames per second (fps). Going above medium settings on 1080p drops the frame rates significantly with plenty of screen tear.

To be fair, this isn’t built as a gaming laptop, so these results aren’t surprising.

As a productivity machine, the HP packs more than enough punch to handle different tasks – from the most basic to the more complex, from word processing to photo editing – without issue. Likewise, Adobe Lightroom is a cinch to use. The added functionality of the included stylus opens new work flow avenues, especially for digital artists and note takers.

HP Spectre x360 15T (2019)

The two back corners are angled, the right one hiding a power button and the left holding a USB-C port.

Battery life

Because of the HP Spectre’s versatile design, its battery performance is hardly unexpected. This laptop will outlast just about any gaming laptop available, which tend to run out of power somewhere between two to three hours.

However, because of its thin design, most people might compare it to the Ultrabooks, which have become all the rage in recent years. Those tend to have a considerably longer battery life than the HP Spectre. The 15-inch Macbook Pro, for example, makes it to almost 10 hours on our movie test, while the Spectre comes in just under 7 hours.

HP Spectre x360 15T (2019)

The keyboard on the HP Spectre is a delight to use, with more bounce and travel than one would expect.

Software and features

There are a number of apps that are pre-loaded onto the Spectre to make life easier. While light on gaming related functions, which is again unsurprising, it does give you access to thermal profile presets in the HP Command Center. These presets let you adjust the performance when doing photo editing or using a few browser windows with several tabs open at a time.

The HP Audio Control allows some extra fine tuning of the microphone and speakers, most notably through the 10-band equalizer (EQ) as well as the “Bang and Olufsen Experience,” a three-band EQ with accompanying music, movie and voice presets. This application also offers an option for multi-streaming, an intriguing option for the multi-taskers among us.

A key feature of the Spectre is its focus on offering you more control over security. On the right side, located below the keyboard, is a fingerprint reader that can be used to log onto the HP as well as for fingerprint-enabled apps. The IR webcam allows facial recognition for extra security, and the laptop also has a physical camera kill-switch on the right-side panel.

The HP Pen is also a happy inclusion in this well-rounded laptop. Though not free, HP does offer a configuration that bundles it with the computer. It’s accurate and comfortable to use, feels substantial enough and matches the look of the laptop nicely with its aluminum casing.

This pen is perfect for those that use Windows Ink Workspace, and those who want an easier way to navigate in tablet mode. The Pen Control app offers customization of the two buttons for different functions, like right-click, erase, opening new tabs and much more so that you can utilize it the way you’re most comfortable with.

HP Spectre x360 15T (2019)

The HP Spectre x360 15T (2019) is elegantly-designed.

Final verdict

The HP Spectre x360 15T is an excellent laptop for anyone willing to pay the price. And, while the $1,849 price tag is hardly cheap, it’s still a fantastic value for a computer that can do so many things – not to mention, it’s more affordable than the popular laptop it’s intended to compete with.

This laptop rocks impressive internal components suitable for just about anyone, except perhaps the most hardcore gamer or the most demanding video editor, who want just a little more power for graphics hungry applications. The Shadow of the Tomb Raider’s benchmark results is proof of that.

It’s also brimming with features, from the 2-in-1 modes and the stylus that come in some of the available models to extra security measures like the webcam kill-switch.

The Spectre x360 15T does have some design flaws, such as its weirdly placed trackpad and vents, but those are minor nitpicks in an otherwise fantastic and versatile machine.

Images Credit: TechRadar