HP Spectre x360 15 (2017): This 15-inch convertible packs in premium features

Not everyone needs a quad-core processor and a dedicated graphics chip in a 15-inch laptop, much less a thin-and-light one. At least, that’s the wager HP made last year with its Spectre x360 15. The company packaged a dual-core CPU with integrated graphics and full-HD screen in an aluminum body, kept the weight at four pounds, and charged just $1,150.

The resulting 2-in-1 laptop offered the right mix of portability, performance, and value. If you only needed to check email, watch YouTube videos, color-correct the odd photo here and there, and edit documents—and you prefer not to lug around a tank—you had an affordable option. It looked great, too.

For 2017, HP has upped its ante and gone all-in on the value front: A Core i7 processor, 4K UHD touchscreen, discrete graphics, and larger 79 watt-hour battery are now standard features in the Spectre x360 15. And while the price has gone up, it’s not by as much as you might think. 

Shiny new parts

The Spectre x360 15 now starts at $1,280 for a 3840×2160 touchscreen, Core i7-7500U processor, 8GB DDR4 RAM, 256GB M.2 PCIe-NVMe SSD, Nvidia GeForce 940MX graphics, and 79.2 watt-hour battery. For comparison’s sake, the 2016 Spectre x360 15’s base model featured a 1920×1080 touchscreen, Core i5-6200U processor, 8GB of DDR3 RAM, 256 M.2 SSD, and 63 watt-hour battery for $1,150. Our review model is the $1,500 mid-tier version, which comes with a 512GB M.2 PCIe-NVMe SSD and 16GB DDR4 RAM.

The most dazzling piece of new hardware is the 15.6-inch IPS 4K UHD touchscreen. Colors look rich and bright, and details are beautifully crisp. The latter is most apparent when sifting through digital photos—it’s a welcome touch of luxury when editing a snapshot.

HP Spectre x360 15 2017 Picture closeup Alaina Yee

Paired with the display is a larger battery, which compensates nicely for the more power-hungry screen. (Skip down to the performance section for full details.) In fact, battery life isn’t negatively affected at all by the higher-resolution panel—it’s actually slightly better this year.

The Core i7 processor and the discrete graphics are more modest upgrades, but they do afford some small performance boosts. As you’ll see when we go over performance, it’s not enough to shock anyone, but it’s certainly nice to have at the ready.

The actual cost

Not all of HP’s makeover is as delightful as the hardware upgrades. The facelift on the chassis is a mixed bag: While its footprint has shrunk, this laptop has also fattened up.