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HP Spectre X360 15T review: It's sexy and thin, but comes with a performance cost

Gordon Mah Ung | March 11, 2016
Not everyone needs a burly quad-core CPU and discrete graphics. At least, that's what HP hopes.

With its new Spectre X360 15T, HP is offering a different approach to the high-end, high-performance 15-inch laptop. This is a laptop, the company says, that’s aimed at folks who want a sizable screen and reasonably great performance wrapped in a great package.

The Spectre X360 15T certainly has the "great package" part down. It's essentially a bigger version of the beautiful 13-inch Spectre X360Both feature a similar CNC-milled aluminum chassis, as well as a 10-point touch IPS panel that can be folded back into A-frame mode or tablet mode. Most impressive is that, despite the Spectre X360 15T having a far larger screen than the 13-inch version, the two models are the same thickness.

Our review sample measures 16.55mm (a little more than half an inch) near the hinge—that’s awfully thin for a 15.6-inch laptop. Compare that to Dell’s new XPS 15, which is maybe 20mm. Or Samsung’s new 15-inch Book 9 Pro and the mid-2015 Apple MacBook Pro 15, which are both about 18mm.

The Spectre X360 is also pretty light for its size at just over 4 pounds and 2 ounces. By comparison, the mid-2015 MacBook Pro 15 and the 15.6-inch Samsung Book 9 Pro with 4K touchscreen each push about 4 pounds and 7 ounces.

Not surprisingly, using the Spectre X360 15T feels like using a bigger version of the Spectre X360 13. Interestingly, despite the X360 15T’s larger body, its keys are roughly 0.1mm smaller. Both laptops give you a top-notch backlit keyboard that doesn’t feel cramped. In fact, the relative roominess is noticeable compared to typing on, say, the Dell XPS 13 for an extended period.

The trackpad has the same wide format we’ve seen before from HP. Its piano-style hinge gets progressively harder to push at the top, but overall, I have no complaints about the design. 

Dell’s new XPS 15 (top) is the thickest of the three 15-inch laptops here, with the HP Spectre X360 15T (middle) winning in thinness overall. Samsung’s new Book 9 Pro (bottom) has the largest footprint but comes in second in the thin category.

Ports, audio, and screen

The Spectre X360 15T’s thin body doesn't stand in the way of a generous port selection. You get three USB 3.0 Type A ports, a full-sized HDMI port, and a mini DisplayPort, as well as an SD card reader and combo analog audio jack. HP also includes a forward-looking USB-C port, but there’s no Thunderbolt 3.0 support for it—just USB 3.1.

In the audio department, HP has placed four speakers tuned by Bang & Olufsen inside the Spectre X360 15T’s chassis, but they just aren’t very loud compared to the X360 15T’s contemporaries. They aren’t bad, mind you—but I expected better performance from the B&O brand.


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