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HP Spectre 13 review



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HP Spectre 13 review
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Our Score:



  • Incredibly thin and light
  • High-quality screen
  • Great performance


  • Noisy fans
  • Below-average battery life and battery drain
  • So-so keyboard and trackpad

Key Features

  • Intel Core i5 or i7-U processors
  • 8GB of RAM
  • 13-inch Full HD screen
  • 1.1kg
  • 256GB or 512GB PCI-E SSD
  • 10.4mm thick
  • Manufacturer: HP
  • Review Price: £1,299.00

What is the HP Spectre 13?

HP has repositioned itself as a premium lifestyle brand. While you might say this first came about several years ago when the company partnered with Beats (now owned by Apple) and launched a range of silver Envy laptops, the HP has doubled down with the Spectre 13.

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The Spectre 13 is an ultra-thin, ultra-light laptop looking to rival Apple’s 12-inch MacBook and 13in MacBook Air. It succeeds on some fronts, but there are some big compromises.

HP Spectre 13 video review

HP Spectre 13 – Design and Build

Weighing only 1.1kg, with a maximum thickness of just over 10mm, HP has succeeded in its aim of producing the thinnest Intel Core i-powered laptop around. I took the Spectre 13 on two flights and a train journey and it was the perfect companion.

It comes with a leather sleeve, too, meaning I didn’t have to worry about the dark grey aluminium lid picking up any scratches in my backpack.

The actual design and colour choice of the Spectre 13 will divide opinion. I don’t dislike the grey aluminium finish with copper-coloured highlights, but in my opinion HP hasn't done itself any favours by not offering a less showy option of the laptop. Obviously, HP wants its laptop to stand out on store shelves, which it achieves, but I don’t think this translates well to the real world. Nevertheless, you can’t deny that HP has done a great job of creating something unique.

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The Spectre 13 feels reasonably well built: the keyboard tray feels solid and the corners of the laptop look capable of taking a few knocks without damaging the components inside.

The "piston" hinge is another unique design choice that sets the Spectre apart, but ultimately, it's one of its flaws. Its use limits the movement of the lid, so it doesn’t tilt back quite far enough when you're working with the Spectre 13 on your lap in a cramped space. However, the screen’s viewing angles are wide enough to minimise the effects here. HP Spectre 13 7

The keyboard is backlit, which is useful for typing in the dark, but otherwise there isn't much here that warrants praise. It’s comfortable to type on, but the key-press action isn’t the most tactile I’ve felt and travel, too, could be better.

The Spectre 13's touchpad is a real disappointment. It isn't a Microsoft-certified Precision Touchpad, so effectively doesn’t benefit from excellent, responsive drivers and seamless gestures.

It does the basics reasonably well, but having used Precision Touchpads HP's feels half a decade behind. The worst part is the physical click, which, when activated, causes the cursor to jump slightly. HP Spectre 13 5

There are three USB Type-C ports at the rear of the device, one for charging and the other two for high-speed data transfer via the USB 3.1 Gen 2 ports. Note that the charging port can also be used as a data transfer port.

One USB Type-C to USB Type-A port is supplied in the box, so you’ll be able to connect your legacy peripherals. However, if you want to connect to a network via Ethernet, you’ll have to buy an Ethernet to USB Type-C connector for between £15-£30.

You do get excellent dual-band, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, which I found to be reliable throughout my testing.

HP Spectre 13 – Screen and audio

The Full HD IPS screen on the Spectre 13 is superb, but you’d expect nothing less for the money. Contrast and brightness are excellent – the Spectre 13 reaches a maximum brightness of 301cd/m2 – but the screen’s Gorilla Glass (non-touch) coating does mean reflections are a slight problem.

BUY NOW: HP Spectre 13 from Currys for £1299

The screen covers 95% of the sRGB colour gamut, and as a result most vibrant colours are served well. Contrast is rated at 1,531:1, meaning bright colours stand out while darker areas look inky. Backlight bleed, where visible, is minor. Overall, this is an excellent display.

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In contrast, the Spectre 13's built-in speakers are disappointing, failing to offer much depth or range. They’re fine for TV and the occasional movie, but you’ll get a better experience from the rear-mounted 3.5mm jack with either headphones or desktop speakers.


July 13, 2016, 1:21 pm

Product Name: HP Spectre 13-v013TU
Operating System: Microsoft Windows 10 (32-bit)
As summary of the below event - I would strongly encourage any customer to note any overheating concerns with regards to the Spectre

I had just received order of my new Spectre 13 with intel core i7 processor in HK. Upon turning on the laptop with the battery charged while running the HP / windows start-up programs, within a couple minutes, I started noticing the fan is running unusually loud. Subsequently, I notice the laptop between F2 and F7 keys begining to heat up both top and bottom while the metal casing also beginning to heat up and to the point that I left a visible burned redness on my leg which i used an ice pack to cool down.

I used a baby thermometer which showed a reading of 60 degree celcius. I then downloaded several software to measure the CPU and laptop temperature as per advice from my IT colleagues and the readings averaged between 59-81 degrees celcius while not running any applications in the background whatsoever. I took a picture of the reading as well as voice recording of the fan which I shared with HP which they have ignored as this are not HP softwares.

I have been in contact with HP aftersales support team for the last few days and aside from the fact that the team is based in Shanghai and the people could not comprehend or speak English to any standard - I was then transferred to a team manager. HP had collected my laptop and conducted testing on my laptop for over 24hrs as they explain to me and regretfully found no issues as per my description. They refused to exchange my laptop for a new one and would not refund as this is now my property. They reassure me that there is no issues with the laptop. However when I requested a guarantee that the same overheating will not reoccur - the HP staff becomes unsure and kept using words such as "at this moment" or "right now" that there's no issue however if the problem occurs "they'll guarantee to assist again" and "run further tests to isolate the issue" and if it is a "hardware" problem then they would look to replace the malfunctioning part.

My simplest comment to HP - thank you so much for treating your customers as such. We continue to see product recalls as per your own websites despite countless complaints and feedbacks prior to your generous decision. I have purchased an expensive and so called high-end product yet it is malfunctioning with clear bodily threat to my baby and myself. I have provided evidence to your team while your response is a simple - trust me. There is no formal format for which I can communicate with actual HP staff that actually cares about customer welfare. I thank you and I will look to take it forward to get a satisfying response.

Shahar Silbershatz

November 16, 2016, 10:05 am

Would discourage anyone from buying an HP spectre computer - this is a flawed product (defective wifi card) and they seem incapable of fixing it - had my computer taken away 3 times already for repair without fixing it, all within one year of buying it, and HP refuses to replace the computer with a new one or buy it back from me. Poor product, poor customer service and poor repair processes - thumbs down!

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