Phone, Smartphone, Notebook and Gadget Reviews and buyers guide

Home > Laptop Reviews > HP Spectre x360 15t


HP Spectre x360 15t

Editor's rating (1-5): rating starrating starrating starrating star

What's Hot: Stunning design and very slim. Nice specs for the money, rare 15" convertible with pen capabilities.

What's Not: Keyboard markings are low contrast and hard to see in middling light. Less powerful than some premium 15" laptops.


Reviewed April 5, 2016 by , Editor in Chief (twitter: @lisagade)

HP Spectre x260 15t

When we reviewed the HP Spectre x 360 convertible 13.3" Ultrabook a year ago, we called it "Bob", short for Best of the Best. That's a hard act to follow, but we suspect HP will be happy if the 15" version is half as successful as their very popular 13" model. The HP Spectre x360 15t is indeed a super-sized version with the same lovely design, and it has most of the same specs and even the same slim 16.9mm thickness. The aluminum alloy with polished stainless accents and curves in the right places make the bigger model every bit as attractive and desirable looking. That's an accomplishment, because designs don't always scale nicely to larger sizes.

So what's the catch? These days folks expect dual core ULV Ultrabook CPUs in their 13.3" laptops, but the 15" crowd is more diverse, with some wanting or even expecting a more powerful laptop with a quad core CPU and even dedicated graphics. The HP Spectre x360 15" is not a quad core powerhouse. It has the same processing power as the 13" model. If you're reading this because you want a powerful, larger laptop for heavy 3D gaming, professional CAD work or frequent 4K video editing, this is not your machine. If your needs are average--MS Office, streaming video, developing small to mid-sized PC programs or mobile programs and photo editing, then the big Spectre (as well as the small one) will do the job admirably. In return for the Ultrabook internals, you get a relatively light and thin laptop. It weighs just 4.1 lbs., which is lighter than even premium (thin and light) powerhouse portables like the Dell XPS 15, Asus ZenBook UX501 and MSI's Ghost and Phantom lines. The charger is tiny and light while the chargers for those more powerful machines are large and heavy.


Specs at a Glance

There are two pre-built configurations available via HP's website and at retailers like Best Buy: a $1,149 model with a dual core Intel 6th generation Skylake i5 CPU, 8 gigs of RAM, a 256 gig SSD and a 1920 x 1080 full HD Display. The $1,349 model we're using for this review is very nicely configured for the price. It has a 4K display, dual core Intel i7 CPU, 16 gigs of RAM and a 256 gig SSD. Both models have glossy touch screens and they support the HP Active Stylus, a Synaptics digital pen that's sold separately for $60. It is not the same as the Wacom AES pen for the HP Spectre x2. You can tell them apart by looking at the pen's body: the Wacom pen for the x2 has a clip on the side.

HP Spectre x360 15t 15 inch

Both Spectre x360 15 inch models have Intel HD 520 integrated graphics, Intel 7265 dual band WiFi 802.11ac (curiously a last generation Intel Broadwell wireless card rather than the current generation 8260), Bluetooth 4.1, a backlit keyboard and an extremely compact 45 watt charger. HP's website lists a Core i7 with the somewhat more powerful Intel Iris graphics though we weren't able to select that option when going through the build to order process in the US.



The HP Spectre x360 15t has three USB 3.0 ports, both HDMI and a mini DisplayPort, 3.5mm combo audio, an SD card slot and a USB-C 3.0 port. It's not USB-C 3.1 alas, so it can't drive a USB-C display adapter, graphics amplifier or handle USB-C 3.1 multifunction dongles that have Ethernet, USB 3.0 and display ports. I'm afraid HP included the USB-C port to seem forward looking and trendy, but in order to keep costs down it's a hobbled 3.0 port.

HP Spectre x360 15t 15 inch


Design and Ergonomics

This is truly a bigger version of the 13.3" Spectre x360 that's been on the market for a year. It has the exact same industrial design, and that's fine by us because it's striking looking, tasteful and fingerprint-resistant. The casing is all aluminum alloy and it's a unibody design with a removable bottom aluminum cover (affixed with Torx T5 screws). The Spectre looks like and is a quality piece of hardware with great attention to design and detail. There are no sharp edges and the design flows from the angular, slim front to the dual rounded rear sections where the lid meets the body. There's no flex in lid or base. The polished flat cut sides contrast nicely with the rest of the machine's matte finish (a look started by Samsung with the Series 9). The firm geared hinges are covered in a stainless finish too.

The laptop has 360 degree hinges so you can rotate it beyond flat to presentation, tent and tablet modes. At 4.1 lbs., you likely won't use it as a tablet without a sturdy resting place, but presentation mode is handy for movie watching, as is tent mode. The machine is available only in natural silver; a light silver color with a matching keyboard that presents challenges. Like the 13.3" model, it's easy to see key maskings in bright light and in darkness with the white backlight on, but in middling light the backlight can make the letters disappear. HP addressed this with the somewhat more expensive ash silver model in the 13.3": it's a dark, dusky matte gray-black with copper highlights. But that color isn't available in the 15" as of this writing.

HP switched from Beats to Bang & Olufsen audio a few years back, and that hasn't improved audio volume from the stereo speakers. Sound quality is fine, but not very loud or full, despite the top deck placement surrounding the keyboard. Headphone audio is thankfully quite good, but the speakers are by no means loud.

The laptop runs quiet and cool unless playing a 3D game like Bioshock Infinite (possible at 1366 x 768 resolution on low to medium settings) or exporting 4K video. Given the very slim design and metal chassis, we're impressed with the cooling.

HP Spectre x360 15t 15 inch



The HP Spectre x360 15t is available with a 15.6" full HD 1920 x 1080 display or a 4K 3820 x 2160 display (both IPS). As with the 13.3" Spectre x360, the lower resolution display will consume less power and is brighter. We have the 4K display that has a good 98% of sRGB and 75% of Adobe RGB, matching the competition in this price range. Gamma veers from standard 2.2, to 2.6, but with calibration the display is accurate enough for pro photo and video editing for web-based sRGB content, and the hardware white point of 6800K is closer to ideal than many laptop displays. The 4K display's brightness is a weak point at 164 nits, which is well below the near 300 nit category average. It's fine for indoor use, but a bright room makes the display fade and glare from the very glossy display becomes distracting. It's a very pleasing looking display for photo and video viewing, with natural colors, wide viewing angles and good contrast... only the brightness lets us down in brightly lit environments like sunlit rooms or very well-lit offices.


HP Spectre x360 15t Video Review


Performance and Horsepower

The 15 watt Intel dual core ULV Ultrabook CPUs help boost battery life, reduce heat and noise and require smaller chargers. Still it hurts in the 15" category, where for a few hundred dollars more you can get twice-faster quad core CPUs and NVIDIA 960M dedicated graphics for serious gaming and faster high resolution video editing from competing models. If you don't need a phenomenal powerhouse laptop, then the HP Spectre x360 could be your machine, but keep in mind it won't deliver more performance than the 13" model or that of competing 13" Ultrabooks. The Dell XPS 15, HP's own quad core Envy laptops, the HP Omen and others trounce the HP Spectre x360 15" in CPU and GPU performance. But for those who want a quiet and cool machine with decent battery life, this laptop makes perfect sense.

HP Spectre x360 15 inch internals

Even more important, 15" convertibles are very rare and they don't come with quad core CPUs or dedicated graphics, so this HP is filling a different niche. Particularly if you're looking for something with a pen, there are few (in fact none right now) competitors in this size.

The laptop's RAM is soldered on board, and it's available with 8 or 16 gigs of DDR3L RAM (not upgradable). It has an M.2 SSD slot fitted with a SATA-3 interface SSD rather than the more expensive and faster PCIe interface (most folks won't notice the difference). The WiFi card is socketed should you wish to upgrade to a more modern card later. The battery is nominally sealed inside, but if you unscrew the bottom cover (affixed with Torx T5 screws), you can access it for repair and replacement.



HP Spectre x360 15 inch benchmarks

HP Active Stylus and Synaptics Digitizer

The Synaptics digitizer sits in third place on our list behind Wacom EMR/AES and N-Trig. It has palm rejection so you can rest your hand on the screen when writing or drawing (mostly), pressure sensitivity and virtually no parallax (pen offset). It's quite good for taking notes but it's not so great for drawing and painting. The pen input lags just enough to be off-putting and it occasionally misses strokes. The pressure curve isn't as good as Wacom and N-Trig's either, which doesn't matter when taking notes but makes quality drawing harder. I still slightly prefer Dell's active Synaptics pen to HP's own Active Stylus, but Dell sells so many pens it's likely hard to find the right one these days. The pen uses a single AAAA battery that lasts many weeks to months, depending on how much you use it (Synaptics lags on battery life too).

HP Spectre x360 15t 15 inch



Battery Life

Here's where the ULV lower power CPU has an advantage--it consumes just 15 watts of power compared to 45 watts for a quad core. That said, as with the 13" Spectre x360, the higher resolution display option takes its toll despite the low brightness, and our 4K display model averaged 6 hours of use on a charge when doing productivity tasks, social networking and streaming video. I'd expect the 1080p model to get noticeably better battery life based on our 13" Spectre x360, but that's an educated guess rather than a promise.

The small, square black charger is comically small and light for a laptop of this size. That's great from a portability standpoint, but we're not thrilled with the short cord length compared to standard design laptop chargers (those with a rectangular brick and two sections of cord).

HP Spectre x360 15t 15 inch



If you're in the market for a 15" convertible with pen, the HP Spectre x360 is one of your few choices. Even if you couldn't care less about the pen, but want a convertible, or simply a very good looking laptop that's very slim and light with a big screen, then the 15" HP Spectre x360 15t is an excellent choice. The design scales up to 15" nicely and this is a stunning looking and very well made laptop. It's powerful enough to be a main computer unless you frequently work with complex CAD models, compile programs that are a few hundred thousand lines long or want to play demanding games like Fallout 4 or Far Cry Primal. Given the stiff competition in the 15" laptop class, many with more powerful processors and graphics, it's hard to call the 15" Spectre "Bob", but it's a first rate choice if a cool, quiet and (relatively) affordable premium machine is what you're after.


Price: $1,149 to $1,349


Related Reviews:

HP Spectre x360 13" Review

Dell XPS 15 Review

15" Retina MacBook Pro Review

13" Retina MacBook Pro Review

Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga 15 Review

Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga 14 Review


blog comments powered by Disqus


Display: 15.6" glossy IPS display with touch and Synaptics digitizer and pen support. Intel HD 520 integrated graphics. HDMI and mini DisplayPort.

Battery: 3 cell, 65 WHr Lithium Ion rechargeable, sealed inside.

Performance: Intel Skylake 6th generation Core i5 and i7 processors (dual core, 15 watt). 8 or 16 gigs RAM soldered on (not upgradable) and 256 gig M.2 SSD.

Size: 14.8 x 9.75 x 0.63 inches. Weight: 4.1 pounds.

Camera: 720P webcam.

Audio: Built-in stereo speakers with Bang & Olufsen audio, mic and 3.5mm standard stereo headphone jack.

Networking: Integrated Intel 7265AC dual band WiFi 802.11b/g/n/ac and Bluetooth 4.0.

Software: Windows 10 Home.

Expansion and Ports: 3 USB 3.0 ports, 1 USB-C 3.0 port, mini DisplayPort, HDMI, 3.5mm audio and SD card slot.



All Phone Reviews
Smartphone Reviews
Android Phone Reviews
Windows Phone Reviews
HTC Phone Reviews
LG Phone Reviews
Motorola Phone Reviews
Nokia Phone Reviews
Samsung Phone Reviews
Sony Phone Reviews
AT&T Phone Reviews
Sprint Phone Reviews
T-Mobile Phone Reviews
Verizon Phone Reviews
Unlocked GSM Phone Reviews


All Tablet Reviews
Android Tablet Reviews
Tablet Comparisons
Android Tablet Comparisons



Laptop Reviews
Ultrabook Reviews
Laptop Comparisons
Best Ultrabooks



Bluetooth Headsets
iPhone and iPad Accessories
eBook Readers
Camera Reviews

iPhone Game Reviews
iPad Game Reviews

iPhone Case Reviews
iPad Case Reviews


RSS News Feed

About Us

Contact Us


Site Map