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HP Spectre 13 UK Review (2018): Still super slim and stylish

Written by  May 08, 2018

The original HP’s Spectre 13 had the perfect balance of slick looks and a light weight design without compromising on performance, it provided the benchmark other ultraportables had to follow.

HP’s top-of-the-range laptop still is a top quality laptop although it is two years old now. But every model has its day, it has now been updated with flashier internals and a 4K screen but can it still hold its own?

This updated Spectre 13 is still HP’s flagship ultraportable model. Despite the thin chassis, it is equipped with Intel’s latest Coffee Lake Core i7 processor and comes with a choice of two RAM and SSD storage configurations, see below for details. 

Design

Ii’s no surprise that the latest Spectre 13 looks every bit as gorgeous as the first, with “Pale Gold” detailing on the hinge and surrounding the edges. Every aspect of the design is top draw: the ceramic white, carbon fibre and aluminium chassis is reassuringly sturdy and, at a mere 10.4mm with the lid closed and weighing only 1.1Kg.

At the rear, next to the fan ports, is a solitary USB 3.1 Type-C port and a pair of Thunderbolt 3-powered USB 3.1 Type-C ports. That’s all you get when it comes to connectivity and you’ll be using one of these to charge the device. As for USB connectivity, HP includes a USB Type-C to USB Type-A adapter in the box, as well as a USB-C to HDMI dongle for monitor connectivity.

hp spectre 13 3

Keyboard and touchpad

Typing is a pleasure on the Spectre 13’s keyboard: each Scrabble-tile key has enough distance to its neighbour to keep typos to a minimum. The amount of tactile, mechanical feedback is as good as you’ll get from any other ultraportable laptop keyboard.

The wide glass-topped touchpad is equally impressive, it does the job very well. 

HP Spectre 13d

Display and speakers

A notable addition is the touch-enabled 4K display, which the original configurations lacked.

The Gorilla Glass-covered 13.3" 3,840 x 2,160 resolution IPS display is wonderful, too. The display is easily usable in all but direct bright sunlight.

The screen’s contrast ratio of 1,497:1 is superb, which makes images look punchy and solid on-screen.

The Bang & Olufsen speaker array at the top of the keyboard produces clear and crisp audio with plenty of volume. With a device this thin, you often get noticeable vibration from the chassis when the speakers are ramped up to full but not with this HP Spectre, with the Spectre 13 handling Bohemian Rhapsody beautifully.

hp-spectre-13-laptop

Performance and battery life

HP’s Spectre 13 packs a punch under the skin. Our review model has Intel’s quad-core Core i7-8550U processor powers both configurations – clocked at 1.8GHz with a maximum boosted clock speed of 4GHz – and along with 8GB of RAM, which can be upgraded to 16GB.

The Samsung-made 512GB NVMe PCIe M.2 SSD in our review unit is quick, but slightly less impressive than Apple’s most recent MacBook Pro’s read speeds which are much faster.

With Intel UHD Graphics 620 on board, the Spectre 13 is a reasonably capable gaming machine as well. I got a slick 55fps out of Fortnite running at 720p with High settings and ramping the resolution up to 1080p still produced a playable 30fps average. The base of the Spectre 13 did get a bit warm, but never dangerously so.

But, when it comes to the battery life. It lasted a mere 4hrs 55mins in our video playback test, which is far from impressive. Getting a full day’s use out of it on a single charge was all but impossible however gently it was used.

Also see: Razer Blade Pro UK Review: Perfect for work or leisure

Image of HP Spectre 13-af002na 13.3-Inch 4K Touchscreen Laptop - (Ceramic white) (Intel Core i7-8550U, 8 GB RAM, 512 GB SSD, Intel UHD Graphics 620, Windows 10 Home

HP Spectre 13-af002na 13.3-Inch 4K Touchscreen Laptop - (Ceramic white) (Intel Core i7-8550U, 8 GB RAM, 512 GB SSD, Intel UHD Graphics 620, Windows 10 Home

£1,399.97 Buy nowamazon uk

Verdict

It beats the MacBook Pro with its super slim dimensions, an elegant design is of the highest calibre, and it still remains one of the very best of the ultraportables. It’s not cheap at nearly £1,400 but this is a laptop that has superb looks, and has the performance capabilities to back it up.

The 'achilles heel' is the Spectre 13’s short battery life, if compared to the MacBook Pro it falls well short.

Also see: Acer Aspire 5 (2018) UK Review: An affordable mid-range laptop

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