HP Spectre x360 13-ap test – ultrabook tablet with Intel Optane H10

A few months ago, Intel was innoving with its Optane technology. The goal was to combine flash memory with a hard drive to boost responsiveness to compete with SSDs while maintaining comfortable storage space. An attractive solution for small budgets (see our test dedicated to the Intel Optane for more details). For the past few weeks, Intel has been offering a new variant, the Optane H10. The principle remains the same but this time the cache is associated with an SSD. Is it as convincing to use? Nothing is less certain as we will see through the test of the HP Spectre 13, one of the first ultrabook equipped with this technology.

HP Spectre x360 13-ap features tested

Slab 13.3″ Full HD IPS multi-touch touch micro-edge 360-degree Gorilla Sure View (1920×1080, brilliant)
Processor Intel Core i5-8265U Whiskey Lake (1.6 GHz, 4 hearts, TDP 15W)
Installed RAM (max) 16GB (welded) DDR4 2400 MHz
Storage space SSD M.2 PCIe NVMe 512GB – Intel Optane H10 (32GB)
Graphic map Intel UHD 620 built into the processor
Optical drive
Audio system 4 Speakers Bang and Olufsen Audio Boost 2.0
Webcam Yes, Full HD TrueVision with Windows Hello-enabled microphone; HP Privacy
Network Wi-Fi b/g/n/ac (2×2)
Bluetooth Yes, Bluetooth 5.0
Card reader micro-SD, SDHC, SDXC
Video release
Fingerprint reader Yes
Entry /Exit Combo Helmet/Micro
Usb 2 USB 3.1 Type-C Gen2 (Thunderbolt 3) – 1 USB 3.1 (Gen2)
Operating system Windows 10 64 bits
Battery Li-Ion 4 cells 61 Whr
Autonomy announced 10 p.m.
Dimensions (mm) 308 x 218 x 14.7
Weight 1.33 Kg
Warranty 1 year old
Other Backlit chiclet keyboard, multi-touch touchpad; Accelerometer, Gyroscope, Electronic Compass
Software HP Apps

Chassis / Design of HP Spectre x360 13-ap

Hard to stand out when one of the first criteria in choosing a laptop (ultrabook) remains for many users sobriety. With its Spectre x360 13-ap, HP relies on a nice slate/grey color (Dark Ash Silver) combined with a gold touch with pink highlights for the all-aluminum frame slices. The finish is impeccable, the stiffness perfect in every way. A no-fault. Another striking detail is that the power button is hidden on the bevelled left stop (count for a few seconds when you first use it to find it). An original integration that can also be found in contrast to the Thunderbolt 3 port for food. Very convenient to be less bothered by the cable every day.

The underside of the chassis reveals vents. The screws to access the components are hidden under the anti-slide pads, making any dismantling more complicated. Interest is limited, however, as only the SSD is upgradable.

Connective / HP Spectre Ports x360 13-ap

For an ultrabook, the Spectre x360 13 offers a rather “generous” connection with two Thunderbolt 3 ports (which offers a wide range of possibilities, especially in terms of video outputs provided you buy the right cable). And unlike many competitors, HP has retained a USB-A port so dear to some users. A headset/microphone jack as well as a micro-SD card reader are also in the game.

HP Spectre audio system x360 13-ap

Like the other models of the brand, the mention Bang and Olufsen sits above the keyboard. Apart from the maximum volume that does not lack power, music lovers may however remain hungry. The two speakers below the chassis (at the wrist rests) therefore benefit from the reverberation effect when the computer is on a flat surface. The Bang and Olufsen Experience utility offers a welcome small gain but still, the sound remains typical of a laptop, quite disappointing. However, the Spectre cannot compete with a Bluetooth speaker or a mid-range helmet.

KEYBOARD / Touchpad of HP Spectre x360 13-ap

HP has not given in to the temptation of an extra-thin Apple keyboard with keys benefiting from a 1.45 mm run. As a result, the typing is smooth, effective thanks to good-sized keys (15.7×15.4 mm, spaced 3.6 mm apart) while providing a hushed noise.

The keyboard benefits from white backlighting. The intensity is adjustable on only two positions. More settings would be welcome even if both positions are well storied for use during the day or in dimly lighted environments. Another complaint is that the backlight goes out after about 30 seconds. Good point, it reactivates when pressing a key or moving on the touchpad.

A fingerprint reader is present below the keyboard on the right. Convenient to unlock your session without typing your password. For even more simplicity, the webcam is also compatible with Windows Hello and can therefore be used as a means of identification.

Spectre x360 13-ap marketed in France have an AZERTY keyboard

HP Spectre screen x360 13-ap

While the screen (brand AU Optronics reference AUO572D) cannot compete with the borderless design offered by the competition, it nevertheless stands out by offering an excellent brightness of 383 CD/m2 (compared to 280-300 CD/m2 in general on the majority of laptops). Ditto for the contrast rate which stands at 1705:1.
On the colorimetry side, the sRGB space is fully covered (105%, 73% for the RGB) for an average DeltaE of 0.33 after characterization (1.08 maximum).

The name x360 suggests it, the Spectre is a convertible that can turn into a tablet. The use of touch on Windows 10 still doesn’t offer an experience as successful as an iPad or an Android tablet, but it does open up new perspectives while enjoying an almost infinite choice of software. The only limitations will be more to look for on the side of the lack of optimization of interfaces for a totally tactile use, sometimes making the use of a keyboard and a touchpad unavoidable. But that’s the advantage of a 2 in 1 like the Spectre, it only takes two seconds to find a “classic” computer. Once its limits are in mind, however, it is pleasant to be able to interact directly on the screen while taking advantage of the precision of the stylus (optional) to draw or retouch his photos.

HP Spectre x360 13-ap performance

Equipped with an Intel Core i7 processor, the Spectre x360 13-ap delivers performance comparable to other ultrabooks with similar configurations. However, it is somewhat penalized by its cooling strategy which favors silence during the first minute of strong CPU solicitation, which is felt on some of our tests.

In practice, the lack of a graphics card dedicated to the predestine more to office use even if occasionally, performing more demanding tasks such as a small video montage is not to be excluded. We’ll just have to be a little more patient.

HP Spectre x360 13 2019 test

High-end configuration obliges, 16GB of RAM are present, in dual channel. A good point since the RAM is welded to the motherboard and therefore can not evolve. The SSD is unsurprisingly an NVMe model with solid throughputs.

Intel Optane H10, what impact on performance?

We mentioned it in the introduction, the peculiarity of this Spectre lies in its module Intel Optane H10. The latter materializes with an Intel 760 SSD to which a 32GB module is integrated. The form factor is therefore that of an SSD m2, which facilitates its implementation within ultrabooks with compact chassis.

The goal remains the same as the original Optane to cache files frequently used to speed up their access and thus offer better responsiveness. If associated with a hard drive (anemic), the system is most convincing, with an SSD, NVMe which is more (although here only 2 PCIe lines are used by each of the modules which explains lower speeds in benches like ChrystalDiskMark)The situation is very different. Indeed, un SSD already offers excellent responsiveness for both Windows start-up/stop phases and software while taking advantage of excellent speeds for copying and/or reading files.

In addition, the Optane H10 is more tailored for small files, present in databases and other development servers. So it is quite far from the typical use of a laptop, even more than an ultrabook. Nevertheless, we tried to highlight possible gains, first during our usual performance tests and then by timing the launch of Windows, stopping not forgetting the opening of our favorite programs.

In the end, we have seen 2 or 3 seconds here or there, especially when opening Windows or Lightroom but the gains seem far too insignificant to make it a criterion when choosing your future computer if you do not fit into the uses mentioned above. There are many other discriminating factors to consider when searching for the holy grail.

Noise / Noise / HP Spectre Temperatures x360 13-ap

By definition, simply perceiving the noise of a fan is already a nuisance. Nevertheless, reconciling performance and silence is still a feat in 2019. However, HP is doing pretty well with its Spectre x360 13-ap to the point of being called silent in most situations.

In practice, noise pollution will vary depending on the chosen power profile. In recommended mode, at full power, we raised about 40 dBA but with a very muffled breath which makes it more “bearable”.

HP Spectre x360 13 2019 test

In performance mode, the maximum noise rises to 46 dBA. The ventilation curve, however, favours silence as much as possible, since the fans are activated after a minute of intense stress. In light use (IDLE), the fans are inactive, so the Spectre is silent.

On the surface, no worries, even after several minutes of charging, only the underside is lukewarm to the touch. Internally, the processor averages 77oC (ambient temperature of 24oC).

HP Spectre x360 13-ap Battery

In recent years, advances in the consumption of new platforms have allowed most models to increase their autonomy. On an ultrabook, it is logically a discriminating element on which the Spectre stands out from the competition since it enjoys an average autonomy of more than 15 hours! (Active WiFi, 140 CD/m2 brightness). Solicited to the maximum, he also gets away with the honors by offering 2 hours and 25 minutes of autonomy. And if you turn on the plane mode and with the lowest brightness, you can easily hold more than 30 hours away from a power outlet!

Once again, HP’s care for the power supply (89x53x21 mm). Rounded angles but also its braided power cable (about 2m70 long). A detail that makes perfect sense on a high-end laptop.

Our review of the HP Spectre x360 13-ap

HP Spectre x360 13 2019 test

After a few days spent in the company of the Spectre x360 13-ap, no doubt, the HP ultrabook is a success for those looking for a model that can be converted to a tablet, but not only. Its weight is certainly a little higher than some competitors but its autonomy (more than 15 hours) will quickly forget these few extra grams on the scale. Let’s also salute the finish and the small details that reinforce its premium positioning. And rare thing, we do not see what to blame him objectively.

As for the Intel Optane H10 module present, as we have mentioned, in our opinion, there is no justification for giving importance to it. If the coveted model is equipped with it, it will be transparent but will sometimes allow to grapple 2 or 3 seconds when loading mainly. Otherwise, a “simple” SSD will do just as well if not better with loading/recording “big files”.

HP Spectre x360 13-ap gets 4.75/5 rating

Compare HP Spectre x360 13-ap configurations available online

Impeccable finish
Bright screen
Convertible into tablet
Thunderbolt 3 – USB Type A
What to see again
Its brilliant screen will not be unanimous, for the rest, we seek …

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