Amazing battery life
No HDMI port
Webcam isn't great
It’s not without competitors, however. The most notable is the new Apple MacBook Air and MacBook Pro. Though the nearly bezel-free 14-inch Spectre will have Apple fans turning green with envy, its 11th-gen Intel processor and Xe integrated GPU—despite being brand-new—are already a bit behind what Apple’s latest can manage.
If you can get over that, however, the 14-inch HP Spectre is a laptop that’s well worth the money. It has wonderful performance, a stunning design, a larger suite of ports and features, and a great starting price around $1,200. It’s not perfect, but if you want a Windows machine that cuts no corners, this is where it’s at.
About the HP Spectre 14t
The HP Spectre 14t is the latest in HP’s top-tier “Spectre” line of premium laptops. It is a 2-in-1 laptop, meaning the hinge lets you rotate it all the way around to hold it like a tablet. Here are the specs as provided by HP:
- Processor: Intel 11th-gen i5-1135G7 4.2GHz quad-core (up to i7-1165G7 available)
- Memory: 8GB DDR4-3200 (16GB available)
- Storage: 256GB Intel SSD + 16GB Optane memory (up to 2TB available)
- Display: 13.5-inch WUXGA+ IPS (1000 nit available)
- Ports: USB-C w/ Thunderbolt 4/USB4 (x2), USB-a, microSD, 3.5mm
- Graphics: Intel Xe Integrated GPU
- Wireless: Wi-Fi 6 AX (2x2), Bluetooth 5
- Battery: 4-cell 66 Wh lithium ion battery
- Charger: 65W USB-C charger
- Weight: 2.95 lbs
- Dimensions: 11.75 x 8.67 x 0.67 in
- Warranty: 1-year limited warranty covering parts and labor
The 14-inch Spectre is the first in this lineup we’ve tested that features the new 11th-gen Intel processors. It’s noticeably faster and more efficient than the previous 10th-gen Intel processors we’ve tested, with a much more powerful integrated Intel Xe GPU and better battery life.
There aren’t a ton of options to choose from with the Spectre 14t x360. The base model has an Intel i5 11th-gen processor, 8GB of RAM, a 256GB SSD, and a 400 nit 1080p screen for $1,199 on sale. The screen can be upgraded to 1000 nits for just $80, but bumping up to an i7 processor will cost you an extra $150. Going to 16GB of RAM will cost an extra $110, and you can opt for that even if you stick with the base i5 processor.
Those are pretty reasonable prices, especially considering those upgrades will cost you at least twice as much with some other laptop manufacturers. The base model is competitive enough, though I’d strongly consider at least going up to the 16GB of RAM.
What We Like
The processor is extremely fast, with great battery life
Apple has stolen plenty of headlines with its new M1 processor and GPU, but Intel’s latest 11th-gen chips are excellent in their own right. They’re the fastest Intel processors we’ve ever tested while also offering awesome battery life in our web browsing test.
In our benchmarks, the HP offered awesome single-core scores of over 1500 in Geekbench, though right around 5100 on the multi-core test. That’s astounding, and in real-world usage it holds up comparably to the new Apple MacBook, AMD’s latest processors, and even some desktop processors. It’s snappy, handles complex tasks with ease, and it turns off and on almost instantly.
In our battery life tests, the Spectre really shined. It managed a whopping 9 hours and 8 minutes of continuous browsing over WiFi before dying. We run our test with the screen set to 200 nits (a little over 50% brightness), so you can eke out even more if you drop that a bit. That’s a stunning result, right on par with the new Dell XPS 13 and the Apple MacBook Air.
The design is b-e-a-utiful
I love the HP Spectre design. Just adore it. It’s been my preferred laptop designs for years, especially when I’m looking for a high-end machine that is extremely portable. The new 14-inch design just takes that a step further, offering a 3:2 display that is significantly taller than the 16:9 displays on most other Windows laptops.
That extra height really does come in handy, especially when browsing the web, looking at spreadsheets, databases, or other content. It’s not large enough that you can comfortably use side-by-side windows like you can on a much larger desktop monitor, but it is a meaningful improvement. It also means the keyboard deck has to expand to match, giving more real estate for the trackpad, addressing a common complaint about the 13-inch Spectre.
I’m also especially fond of the little design cues that set the Spectre apart, like the USB-C port tucked into the back cut-out rear corners, the chamfered edges around the sides, and the little shiny aluminum inlays around the trackpad. They’re little touches, and they don’t make the laptop function any better, but they scream “high end.”
Despite the size, there are plenty of ports
Most slim laptops these days give you, at most, two USB-C ports. The 14-inch Spectre gives you two USB-C ports, and it also adds a microSD card slot and a full-size USB-A port as well. That means you can completely ditch the dongles (outside of HDMI), and easily expand the storage with just a simple, cheap microSD card.
The only downside to this design is the USB-C charging ports are both on the right side. The USB-A port on the other side says that it supports HP Sleep & Charge, but you’re much less likely to have a USB-A charger than USB-C these days.
This is less of an issue than on other laptops because one of the ports is in the rear corner cut-out, so you can easily plug in a USB-C charger there and it won’t crowd any of the other ports.
What We Don’t Like
There are faster laptops for the same money
Though the 11th-gen Intel processor in the Spectre is awesome and fast, it’s already been beaten out by Apple’s new M1 chip in the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro. It’s also beaten out in multi-core tasks by the AMD Ryzen 4700U that’s been out for a few months now, including on cheaper laptops like HP’s own Envy x360 lineup.
That isn’t to say it’s a bad setup—it’s more than fast enough for anything you need to do and should feel that way for a long time. But you’re definitely going to hear the fans spin up, the battery may not last quite as long, and it can’t handle the graphics/GPU-intensive tasks that the Apple MacBook Air can, without the need for a fan at all.
The components are mostly not upgradeable
As with most premium, thin laptops these days, you can upgrade the storage drive and that’s pretty much it. If you want 16GB of RAM, you’re going to have to pay for it upfront. Though there aren’t any forced upgrade paths—if you want more RAM, you don’t have to get more storage or a different processor—there also aren’t many options.
Even customizing it when you purchase it, your choices pretty much just come down to adding more storage, more memory, or a slightly faster i7 processor. The extra memory is a worthy upgrade, but it tops out at 16GB. That should be more than enough for what this laptop is designed for, but some additional options—especially built-in LTE—would be appreciated.
Should You Buy It?
Absolutely—it’s one of the best laptops around
If you’re looking for class-leading design, excellent battery life, and an extremely fast laptop, the HP Spectre 14t is worth every penny. Its design is truly first-rate, even among the premium class of laptops like the Dell XPS 13, Apple MacBook Air and Pro, Lenovo Yoga, and Asus Zenbook.
Though the Spectre doesn’t quite match the performance highs of the latest Apple M1 chip (found in the latest Air, Pro, and Mac Mini), it’s not something you’ll notice in regular usage. The main difference is with the integrated graphics, but outside of on-the-go video editing and some light gaming there isn’t much you’re missing out on.
Conversely, the Spectre offers a downright better design than any of those other laptops thanks to its 3:2 screen, which (unlike the MacBook’s 3:2 screen) is nearly bezel-free. This gives you plenty of screen real estate for web pages, documents, spreadsheets, and more without the added weight and dead space around the screen. The extra screen also means the bottom deck expands slightly, giving you a bigger trackpad. It’s win-win, and a combination you just don’t find on many other laptops—and certainly not paired with this level of performance.
Simply put: the HP Spectre 14t is a stunner. It sets a new bar for premium laptop design, especially given its starting price of around $1,200. There are reasonable alternatives depending on your needs, but for anyone that wants head-turning design without major sacrifices, this is the laptop to beat.
Meet the tester
TJ is the Executive Editor of Reviewed.com. He is a Massachusetts native and has covered electronics, cameras, TVs, smartphones, parenting, and more for Reviewed. He is from the self-styled "Cranberry Capitol of the World," which is, in fact, a real thing.
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