The classiest ultrabook on the market gets a mild update to make it even better.
With the release of Intel’s new 8th-generation CPUs, there’s never been a better time to be in the market for a thin and light laptop, that also has four cores. HP have realised this and updated their popular Spectre 13 ultrabook with the latest chip from Intel, the i5-8250. This CPU makes what was a great laptop in 2017, into a spectacular laptop in 2018.
From the moment you unbox the Spectre 13, you can feel the premium material and attention to detail. HP’s marketing material claims that the Spectre 13’s “seamless design is carefully chiselled from machined aluminium and carbon fiber”, that the hidden coaxial hinge “draws from inspiration from high-end cabinetry”, the speakers are “tuned” by Bang & Olufsen and the exterior comes in either a minimalist white with rose gold accents or classy black with bronze accents. Even the HP logo on the lid is made to look more modern.
The other thing you notice when taking the Spectre 13 out of its box is how thin and light it is. At only 10.4mm at its thickest point, this is the thinnest laptop with a full power CPU and only a fraction thicker than laptops with the lower power and lower performing “Y” series of Intel CPUs. It’s also extremely light, weighing in at 1.11kg. The Fujitsu Lifebook U937 is about 100 grams lighter, but it’s yet to be upgraded with a quad core CPU and compared to the solidly built Spectre 13, feels cheap and flimsy.
It would be reasonable to expect some sort of compromise for the Spectre 13 to come in such a sleek package, but you’d be wrong. The full-sized, backlit keyboard is great to type on (Apple could learn from HP here), the trackpad is as good as any other non-Apple laptop going around, the screen is a vibrant 1080p or 4K UHD IPS panel with multi-touch, there’s a depth-sensing camera for Windows Hello and HP’s cooling even manages to keep the fan virtually silent when under basic web surfing conditions. Battery life isn’t sacrificed either, with the Spectre 13 achieving a solid 3 hours and 37 minutes in the PC Mark 8 battery test.
The only criticism worth lobbing at the Spectre 13 is the lack of traditional ports like HDMI, USB or a card reader. The only sockets adorning the chassis are three USB-C connectors and a single 3.5mm headphone socket. Two of those USB-C ports are Thunderbolt 3 enabled and the other is simply USB 3.1 - you can plug a power adaptor into either of the ports and it’ll charge the laptop. Great for travelling as with the right USB power supply, you can have one power brick to charge all your gadgets.
The great thing about HP’s approach to the Spectre 13’s ports is that it’s extremely flexible. Just get an adapter for the port you need and there’s plenty of Thunderbolt 3 docks around if you require a docking setup for desktop work. The downside is dongles galore, even for basic things like plugging in external storage or a mouse. USB-C is the way of the future, so it’s about time you got used to it anyway.
HP offers the Spectre 13 in a range of configurations, with i5 and i7 quad-core CPUs, 8GB or 16GB of LPDDR3-2133 RAM, 256GB, 512GB or 1TB PCIe NVMe SSDs and 1080p or 4K UHD displays. The CPU is important to talk about here, as all the available choices are quad core. 15W TDP Quad core CPUs, in a 10.4mm chassis that weighs 1.11kg and has hours and hours of battery life. It’s wonderful that shoulder-friendly portability and desktop-class performance are finally available.
HP set a new benchmark for ultrabooks with the previous Spectre 13 and now that it’s updated with the latest Intel chips, it’s the best laptop on the market for anyone wanting uncompromised performance, extreme portability and something other than a grey rectangle to carry around.