The Good The HP Specter is extremely thin, but still fits into the Core i5 and Core i7 processors. The keyboard is great for such a slim body, and the bold design stands out in a sea of slim ultraportables.
The Bad The lack of a touch screen is a big omission for a Windows premium laptop, and the limited ports may make you carry extra keys and accessories.
The Bottom Line If you can handle USB-C ports without touching the display, HP Specter offers great design and excellent performance in the world’s thinnest full-body laptop.
Touch or not to touch. This is a question many Windows laptops ask, from bulky budget chests to the thinnest premium systems. HP has two new, slim, high-end laptops, and they answer this question differently in each model.
While the 12-inch EliteBook Folio G1 is available with a 1080 or 4K touchscreen (there is also an entry-level version), the 13-inch high-volume Specter has only one display option – 1,920×1,080 without touching the screen.
The company says it’s needed to achieve the most notable feature of the Specter – it’s the world’s thinnest laptop with full power, just 10.4mm thick. This is despite offering the current-generation Intel Core i5 and Core i7 processors, not the lower-power Core M processors in the also impressiveHP EliteBook Folio G1(and 12-inch Apple MacBook).
Thanks to the Core i7-6500U processor, 8GB of RAM and a decent 256GB SSD, Specter costs $ 1,249 in the US. The Core i5 version lowers the price to $ 1,169. Configurations in the UK start at £ 1,149 and in Australia at $ 2,299. Whichever model you choose, be prepared to fully embrace the world of USB-C, the new multi-purpose data, power, and accessories connector. The specter has three USB-C ports along the back. All three can carry data or power, and the two central ones also act as Thunderbolt ports for high-speed data transfer.
|Price as reviewed||$1,249|
|Display size/resolution||13.3-inch 1,920 x 1,080 screen|
|PC CPU||2.5GHz Intel Core i7-6500U|
|PC memory||8GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,866MHz|
|Graphics||128MB Intel HD Graphics 520|
|Networking||802.11ac wireless, Bluetooth 4.0|
|Operating system||Windows 10 Home (64-bit)|
How thin is 10.4 mm Ghost? The Apple 12-inch MacBook mentioned above and the latestStealth Razer Bladehave a thickness of about 13mm in their thickest parts, while the 13-inch Dell XPS 13 has about 15mm. Starting with MacBook conical, slender in front, thicker in back. Bottom at 13mm and below, the differences apply more to boasting than anything else.
At 2.4 pounds (without power cable), it is also a very lightweight, but not the lightest, 13-inch laptop we tested (the difference may be Lenovo LaVie). At the very bloodline of a laptop’s design, you usually have to choose between thickness and weight, especially when trying to support full-fledged Core i-processors. In this case, HP shaved millimeters off the chassis due to its weight and features (such as touch and other ports than the thin USB-C).
The bold color scheme also helps the Specter stand out by striking the usual silver and gray colors for a dark, smoky gray with gold accents. The whole hinge is bright gold with jewels that simply draws more attention to its unusual design (and which quite simply collects fingerprints). To avoid excess weight, the hinge is moved from the very back edge, and a tiny piece is inserted instead.
This hinge mechanism is aluminum, like the laptop cover, and the bottom panel is carbon fiber. HP says the mix of materials helps ensure the Specter has the right balance between weight and stiffness, especially in the lid. After all, you do not want your very fine technician to feel inventive and flexible at the slightest touch.
Part of the creation of Ghosts was so subtle was by leveling the battery into four separate cells that fit most of the bottom trace, rather than finding space for one large battery. The radiator has also been moved from the CPU, and instead Specter uses small fans to draw air through the bottom hole and pull it through the rear. This is a version of Intel’s cooling scheme called hyperbaric cooling.
A surprisingly beautiful keyboard
Compared to other very thin, lightweight laptops such as the 12-inch MacBook, the HP Specter keyboard really stands out as great. The keys are a bit smaller than a full-sized 13-inch laptop, such as the HP Specter x360, but it’s still a standard keyboard on the island that doesn’t have a learning curve for something like the very flat keys on a MacBook.
The glass touchpad is very good for a Windows laptop, but small enough to make you miss the ease of use that comes with the touch screen in Windows 10. Apple may be able to move away from non-touch laptops but with light, intuitive multi-touch gestures to navigate and managing multiple programs and Windows is what OS X (now MacOS) still has in Windows 10.
The only display option is a full HD 1,920×1,080 screen. This is an IPS display, which means it looks good from even the far side angles, and the image was very bright and clear, if a little glossy.
Other thin laptops add higher resolution and a touchscreen sensor, and more options are always happy. HP says to keep the lid as thin as possible, including the top layer of Gorilla Glass above the display. Full HD resolution is ideal for most users of 13-inch laptops, and seeing 4K displays of this size is fun, but not always practical, especially considering the 4K battery.
Slim and speedy
If you’ve been following the ultra-thin notebook market for the past few years, specter specs may come as a surprise – it’s a slim premium notebook that doesn’t rely on Intel’s low-power Core M Line processors, as is the case with products like the 12-inch MacBook and Samsung Galaxy TabPro S. Instead, Specter uses the mainstream Intel Core i5 and Core i7 processors of the current generation, and more importantly, HP says that efficient cooling allows the processors to run at their full speed rather than being unlocked, which sometimes hits This is when you try to place too much processor in too small a space.
In our test system, the Core i7 Specter performs on par with other recent slim Core i7 laptops that make some changes to Intel’s Core i7-6500U low-voltage processor. Under the hood there is more than enough power for multitasking, HD video playback and productivity applications, even all at the same time.
But many of the slimmest laptops use the Core M processors instead, and the last two examples, the latest 12-inch MacBook and HP’s EliteBook Folio, both worked slower in our tests. With this in mind, the second-generation Core M found in these systems is also ideal for everyday use, even as a working computer.
With all of these battery packs, it’s no surprise that Specter has a decent (but not long) battery life, running at 7:10 in our streaming video test. Apple again resets the curve, running about three hours longer, but Specter still beats systems like EliteBook Folio and Razer Blade Stealth.
There are a lot of close bidders, but the HP Specter wins the prize for the world’s thinnest laptop at just 10.4mm thick. To understand this, there are some compromises. You’re better off aboard USB-C because that’s all you get, and then there’s a single full-screen / pristine display.
But if you want to pick a slim one, then HP Specter is one of my best options. He is a strong performer, as well as a turner, and people passing by are regularly asked to get acquainted with his unique design. Even better, the combination of a Core i7 processor and a decent 256GB SSD is close to $ 1,249 in the US, which is even less than the slower 12-inch MacBook.
|HP Spectre||Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 2.5HGz Intel Core i7-6500U; 8GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,866MHz; 128MB (dedicated) Intel HD Graphics 520; 256GB SSD|
|HP EliteBook Folio G1||Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 1.2GHz Intel m7-6Y75; 8GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,866MHz; 128MB (dedicated) Intel HD Graphics 515; 256GB SSD|
|Apple MacBook (12-inch, 2016)||Apple El Capitan OSX 10.11.4; 1.2GHz Intel Core m5-6Y54; 8GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,866MHz; 1,536MB Intel HD Graphics 515; 512GB SSD|
|Razer Blade Stealth||Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 2.5HGz Intel Core i7-6500U; 8GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,600MHz; 1024MB (dedicated) Intel HD Graphics 520; 256GB SSD|
|Dell XPS 13 (Gold Edition)||Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 2.2HGz Intel Core i7-6560U; 8GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,600MHz; 128MB (dedicated) Intel Iris Graphics 540; 256GB SSD|