HP’s 2018 Edition of the Spectre 15 x360 is shaping up to be impressive. HP wants it to be the most powerful convertible PC in its “convertible PC” category, and with the combination of Intel 8th gen Core and AMD’s RX Vega M graphics unit (GPU), this may just do the trick.
The general target for this computer is the creative power-user, or “creative enthusiasts”/”professional creative” as the PC industry would call them. Both groups tend to use graphic software and demand a high quality display options. The professional one may seek certifications and durability/serviceability because the computers belonged to a company and cared for by IT staff.
I previously reviewed the 2017 version of this computer (Intel gen7), and the user experience was stellar. From the looks of it, I expect the same for this 2018 edition – but better. We’ll see if we get to the full review, but in the meantime, you can get a good idea of what to expect by reading the Spectre 15 x360 (2017) review.
The industrial design is built around the same theme of CNC-machined aluminum. The display bezels on either side measure ~6.3mm which is quite thin (3.8% thinner than the 2017 edition), although maybe not the thinnest. The bottom bezel houses the webcam and other sensors for Windows Hello’s facial recognition. HP has made them a tiny bit thinner as well.
Another way to log in is the fingerprint reader on the right side of the computer. HP says that it doesn’t merely look for a typical 2D fingerprint pattern, but can measure the ridges and valleys of the fingerprint. This makes it much more difficult to spoof the system by lifting your print and presenting it printed on a flat surface. I might work with ultrasounds, but we are not sure.
While the side location might seem odd, HP points out that it makes it accessible at all times. Because the HP X360 laptops can swivel at 360 degrees, there are times when a fingerprint reader near the keyboard would not be accessible, it’s true.
The keyboard has dramatically changed since last year: HP has added a full-size numeric pad, which might make a lot of users very happy about the change. The trackpad has moved to the left to stay centered with the main keyboard. This is a nice detail because it’s always a bit odd when these two things are not aligned.
To accommodate the change, the speakers have been moved just above the F-keys, and the trackpad seems smaller, but we’ll have to measure it later. The space management has been very thoughtful because HP was able to add a substantial change without compromising the typing speed, or sound quality.
The speakers near the keyboard are not the only ones. In all, there are four speakers, including two at the bottom of the laptop. Not only the sound should be good in any multi-mode position, but HP also says that the audio is now 60% louder – not that it was weak before!
Graphics Performance where it counts
Because creative users tend to want more graphics power, this laptop comes with an AMD Radeon RX Vega M, which performs better than last-generation’s laptop with the GeForce MX 150 GPU. As we said earlier, the Spectre 16 x360 (2018) is powered by an Intel 8th generation processor that has double the number of cores when compared to the 7th generation.
As a result, HP claims a 2.5X boost in 3DS Max Rendering, 40% faster Adobe Premiere edit and transcode in 4K and 1.4X higher FPS in certain games.
To show all that graphics power, HP has a display option that matches: you can opt for a 4K (3840×2160, 292 PPI) IPS LCD touch display, compatible with a digitizer pen (included in the box). The display is protected by a Gorilla Glass 4 surface which is highly resistant to scratches.
Note that the included digitizer pen is marketed as being for notes and basic drawing. For more accurate drawing, HP recommends the HP Tilt Pen ($89.99) which has a USB-C connector for charging. A 15s charge provides 198mn of usage, says HP.
Battery, configurations, and price
This laptop comes with an 84 Wh battery, a slight increase from the 79.2 Wh of last year’s model. Interestingly, the 2018 version is ~1.5mm thicker than last year’s model, but given the increase in performance, consumers will probably be very forgiving.
The Core i7 (gen8) CPU seems to be the only option. At the moment, HP has not communicated what the exact i7 SKU we’re talking about.
SSD storage is 256GB or 512GB, and RAM goes from 8GB to 16GB. The most affordable version starts at $1369.99 has an NVIDIA MX 150 GPU and 8GB of RAM. The most expensive costs $1699.99 and comes with 16GB of RAM, a Radeon RX Vega M GPU, 512GB of SSD. All models have the UHD (4K) touch display and the basic pen.
Needless to say that from a performance and creative quality standpoint, this laptop is positioned very aggressively. We might do a complete review in the future.