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HP Spectre 13 review

By Michael Passingham

Updated:

Summary

Our Score:

7

HP Spectre 13 – Performance and Storage

This laptop may be expensive, but the HP Spectre 13 is kitted out with some high-specification components. Processing performance comes from either an Intel Core i5-6300U or, like my review model, a dual-core, 2.5GHz Intel Core i7-6500U.

This chip can boost to a maximum speed of 3.1GHz when thermal conditions allow. Paired with 8GB of RAM it’s a speedy laptop, far faster than the 12-inch MacBook with its Intel Core M chip and around the same as the Dell XPS 13 and MacBook Air.

Related: Intel Core M explained

As a result, the Spectre 13 handles less intensive tasks such as web browsing and photo editing with ease, and while video editing is possible, this laptop isn't designed for such tasks and therefore isn’t a viable replacement for a more powerful laptop or desktop.

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The Spectre 13 performed well in our standard suite of benchmarks, scoring 6,776 in the Geekbench multi-core test, which is just a little better than the equivalent Dell XPS 13.

Graphics performance is as you’d expect from a super-slim laptop powered by integrated Intel HD Graphics 520. It will play basic 3D games and smartphone game ports, but push it any harder and it will struggle. I was able to play a bout of Minecraft at 60fps without issue, though.HP Spectre 13 9

Storage comes in the form of a 256GB PCI Express SSD, which delivered outstanding performance in the AS SSD benchmark – a peak file read score of 1,255MB/sec. The Spectre 13 boots in seconds and there’s no hanging about when searching for files and programs.

There is a downside to such snappy performance, however. Even under moderate load, such as running Google Chrome, the laptop’s fans spin up to an audible whirr. It’s louder than a MacBook Air and significantly more so than a Dell XPS 13 – and it rather takes away from a design that you’d otherwise expect to be quiet and serene.

HP Spectre 13 – Battery Life

For a laptop that's otherwise so portable, it’s a shame to discover that battery life is merely average. In our custom Powermark run consisting of a looping set of video and web browsing tasks, representative of a normal day of use, it lasted just 5hrs 13mins. It consumed 21% battery per hour when streaming Netflix at 150cd/m2 screen brightness, which will get you a little under five hours of streaming at a fairly low brightness level.

Related: Best monitors for professionals, gamers and more

I also experienced issues with battery drain when the laptop wasn't in use. I put the laptop to sleep on a Friday night at nearly 100% charge and by the time I was ready to do some work on a train on Sunday night, less than 48 hours later, the laptop had lost 67% of its charge, leaving me with only 33% to play with on my two-hour journey. In testing, I found the laptop lost between 1 and 2% per hour in sleep mode, losing 14% in 15 hours overnight in one of my tests. HP Spectre 13 11

This result is nowhere near the overnight drain of the Microsoft Surface Pro 4, however, but it might be worth keeping the Spectre 13 charging overnight for an early morning trip.

Should I buy the HP Spectre 13?

Both the MacBook Air and Dell XPS 13 provide a better all-round experience than the HP Spectre 13, with Apple’s device providing superior battery life and the Dell XPS 13 offering a more attractive build and a better touchpad. As a result, the HP Spectre 13 finds itself on its own – a super-premium product that’s compromised by battery life and excessive noise.

At its current price the HP Spectre 13 doesn't offer brilliant value, but right now you'd be hard-pushed to find a laptop on the market sporting such a slender build with this amount of processing power. Still, the compromises in battery life and noise will be too great for many buyers.

Verdict

The HP Spectre 13 is thin, light and impressively powerful – but it's a compromised experience.

Overall Score

7

mc

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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