In April this year, HP stunned everyone with the announcement of the stunning HP Spectre 13. This piece of hardware is a premium ultrabook that’s designed for Windows users who yearn absolute portability without compromising performance. This laptop is made to make a statement in the world of laptop and would be the perfect companion for those who’s always travelling.

Design and Build

HP Spectre 13 Review | Thinnest & Lightest Laptop Overall
Source: hp

The Spectre 13 is arguably one of the best looking and designed laptops currently in the market. Crafted from aluminium and finished with carbon fibre, the body doesn’t just produce a lovely texture, but also allows it to withstand rigors of daily use. This machine is unbelievably thin and light, weighing only at just 1.1kg which beats even the already ridiculous 13-inch MacBook Air. More so, the first time we lay our eyes on it, we actually had a tough time believing that it was actually a laptop.

With this sleek and thin design, HP has moved all the ports to the back of the laptop in order to achieve this slim identity. At the back, HP has given the Spectre 13 a 3.5mm headphone and microphone combo port, two USB Type-C Thunderbolt 3 ports and an additional USB Type-C 3.1 port for charging. Most external devices are supported by the ports and luckily, HP has gone all the way to bundle the laptop with Thunderbolt adapters for USB, HDMI, VGA and Ethernet as well so you don’t need to fork out more on it.

HP Spectre 13 Review | Thinnest & Lightest Laptop Ports
Source: hp

This beast is the first of HP’s long line of laptop to debut their slick new logo which will be mandatory on all their premium products in the future. The screen is a 13.3 inch glossy display that spots good levels of brightness to combat reflections and the full-HD resolution will make sure that your online reading is uninterrupted and color reproduction is phenomenal. There is a slight drawback on the resolution however, with lower resolution compared to some other premium laptops, but it isn’t a big deal whatsoever. Gorilla Glass 4 is used by HP to give structural strength and does a good job in protecting the display.

One of the most unique design of the Spectre 13 is its’ hidden hinge design. The hinge is designed to eliminate the requirement to hold the base down whenever you open the lid unlike standard average laptops. The hinges are colored in gold and looks like gold cufflinks which makes the Spectre 13 all the more impressive and premium.

HP Spectre 13 Review | Thinnest & Lightest Laptop Hinges
Source: hp

Given the smaller 13 inch size, the laptop actually has very good spacing on the palm resting area. The glass trackpad is also excellent with tracking gestures working very well. While the spacing of the keys are built right with adequate space in between and there aren’t any flexes all thanks to the aluminum base. The keyboard is backlit and it’s pretty much silent on the sound produced when typing. Overall, it offers a nice experience on both the trackpad and typing.

HP has partnered with Bang and Olufsen to integrate the Spectre 13 with audio B&O’s audio system placed on both side of the keyboard. Three rubber strips at the bottom acts as the feet for the laptop which helps in ventilation so you wouldn’t feel too much heat from the intake and exhaust vents placed near the back. The Spectre 13 is also shipped with a leatherette sleeve.

Specifications and Performance

Available in either Core i5 or Core i7, the HP Spectre 13 is built with the standard U-series processor for typical performance, rather than a Core M processor despite its’ slim profile. HP said that, it is all made possible due to the fact that the laptop is installed with a hyperbaric cooling solution which is constantly sucking cool air and disposes hot air. The top of the line model, which is the i7, bares a dual core Corei7-6500U CPU with speeds up 2.5GHz coupled with HyperThreading and TurboBoost 2.0. Do note, the chip is capable of being boost to a maximum speed of 3.1GHz given the appropriate thermal condition.

The i7 variant also gets 8GB of RAM, a 512GB PCIe SSD, dual-band Wi-Fi b/g/n/ac with 2×2 MIMO, the latest Bluetooth 4.2, and an HD webcam as well as Windows 10 Pro 64-bit, bundled with a year subscription to McAfee LiveSafe. Unlike others, the Spectre 13 also comes with HP’s Recovery Manager and bloatware are as close to zero.

As a result, the Spectre 13 is easily handles less intensive tasks such as daily web browsing and photo editing, and however for video editing, it is possible but this laptop is not built to handle such tasks and this would be a letdown to some.

Moving on to a series of benchmark tests, the Spectre 13 performed quite well, scoring 6,776 in the Geekbench multi-core test, a little better than its nearest rival, the Dell XPS 13.

Don’t expect much from the graphics performance as well with the integrated Intel HD Graphics 520. As you may expect, it is only gonna bring you as far to Tomb Raider (2013) at a lower resoultion of 1366×768 with settings at Normal. Apart from the aliasing present, you’re gonna get a decent 32 fps on average.

The Spectre 13 is installed with a 256GB PCI Express SSD, which of course, delivered mind-blowing performance in the AS SSD benchmark with a peaked file read score of 1,255MB/sec. The laptop literally boots in seconds and there aren’t any hangs or lags when searching for files or programs.

This machine is not just all about looks but it manages to deliver good performances as well. With light usage, such as casual web browsing and streaming videos, the laptop runs cool and silently. On the other hand, the Spectre 13 will be transformed into a mini turbine if you do a bit of CPU or GPU intensive tasks as mentioned above. Also, the intake vents could be blocked if you place the device on your lap.

HP Spectre 13 Review | Thinnest & Lightest Laptop Display
Source: trustedreviews

The display is as good as its’ looks – colors are vivid and images are crisp and detailed. Viewing angles are trending to the positive side as well. The speakers however, has a rather weak bass response and this is to be expected considering the depth of the speaker’s chamber. But if you are in a quiet room, the speaker would put out sufficiently loud and clear dialogues.

HP Spectre 13 Review | Thinnest & Lightest Laptop Speakers
Source: expertreviews

Battery Life

It is quite safe to say that the major letdown of this beauty is its’ battery life. The battery life is merely average considering it is designed for portability and expected to have longer battery life. The 4-cell battery only lasted 1 hour and 37 minutes in the BatterEater Pro benchmark and during casual usage consisting of a looping set of video and web browsing tasks, it would give you around 5 hours and 13 minutes.

Conclusion

There’s no denying that the Spectre 13 is a thing of beauty. But it is also designed with a specific audience in mind who wouldn’t have second thoughts spending a fortune on the ultimate in portability, not to mention the amount of engineering put into making this laptop slim yet powerful. At first glance and by looking on the outside, this would be the ultimate laptop in build, performance and display. On the downside, the battery life is a major letdown and it tends to get noisy when you run any graphics intensive job.

Nonetheless, the HP Spectre 13 is worth every single penny if you are willing and one of those who demands the best performance on the go.

Pros
  • Excellent built & quality
  • Feather light weight and slim
  • Very good performance
Cons
  • Noisy fans
  • Below-average battery life
  • Average speakers

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