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HP Spectre x360 13t (late 2017) review: An 8th-gen CPU leads a raft of upgrades

HP’s Spectre x360 proves that HP doesn’t like to sit still. While some companies show up to the dance in the same outfit over and over again (looking at you, MacBook Air 13 and Dell XPS 13), HP has revamped its premium 2-in-1 over and over again—no fewer than three times in the last two years, in fact.

In this latest and third version of the Spectre x360 13t, HP didn’t just jam in an 8th-gen quad-core Core i7 and call it an upgrade. It’s also given the entire laptop a significant refresh—one that addresses almost every quibble we’ve had with prior versions. This should give the MacBook Air 13 and the Dell XPS 13 yet another reason to worry.

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HP wasn’t content to sit still with its excellent Spectre x360 13t.

A short history

The Spectre x360’s evolution to this point has been complex. The first iteration of the Spectre x360 was beautifully built from CNC aluminum, but it ran on heavy side. Next to the diminutive XPS 13, it looked giant.

HP’s second generation went on a diet. In fact, the Spectre x360 13t was so good, it convinced some of us there was no point in Microsoft’s Surface Pro line anymore. We found that with the Surface and its clones, we used it in tablet mode maybe five percent of the time. For that little-used tablet mode, we give up a lot in lapability. The Spectre x360 13t demanded no such sacrifice.

hp spectre x360 hinge Gordon Mah Ung

It may look similar, but the third-gen (late 2017) Spectre x360 13T (top) features more squared-off lines compared to the previous generation.

The HP Spectre x360 may already be our favorite convertible, but HP has still managed to make it better both inside and out. The original Spectre x360 13t’s face recognition was good, but we always found Microsoft’s Surface Book implementation to be slightly faster. On this new third generation, the Windows Hello support seems to have caught up with the Surface Book’s.

For paranoid types who like to cover up the camera, HP now includes a strip fingerprint reader on the side. Don’t worry, this isn’t the old swiper-style reader—it works much better—and it lets you easily unlock the laptop.

Prices, features, and specs

HP offers many options for the Spectre x360, including screens from 1080p to 4K, and even a privacy screen option. RAM varies from 8GB to 16GB, and the SSD options ranges from 256GB to 1TB. Our particular model features a Core i7-8550U, 8GB of RAM, a 1080P touch/pen panel and a 2565GB SSD for $1,099. That’s an extremely competitive price for the included hardware. Keep reading for a detailed rundown of the configuration and its highlights. 

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The Spectre x360 13t now includes a fingerprint reader on the side. Clever.

CPU: Intel 8th-gen quad-core Core i7-8550U. This is Intel’s latest chip technology, which delivers a dramatic boost in performance on multi-threaded work loads. HP also sells a version of the Spectre x360 with the 8th-gen Core i5 CPU, and it doesn’t give up much in performance. To save a bit on cost, consider that one. 

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