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The HP Spectre 13 (available at Amazon) may be one of the thinnest laptops we've ever seen, but it's certainly not light on power. With its quad-core 8th-gen Intel processor, this dainty darling is actually a beast in the performance department. Did I mention it's drop-dead gorgeous, too? While we love the unique aesthetic and powerful internals, there were a few minor drawbacks.
The ports are on the back edge of the laptop, which is a little awkward to work with. It's a little annoying, but it's not a deal breaker (at least not for me). Battery life isn't great either, so you'll need to keep the charger handy. Our verdict? If you're looking for a beautiful machine with snappy performance, you can't get much better than this.
About the HP Spectre 13 (2017)
This ultraportable is actually a redesign of the HP Spectre 13 (2016). Now armed with an Intel Core i7-8550U CPU, the new Spectre delivers strong performance, meaning it's perfect for those hardcore multitaskers. Not only are you getting zippy performance, you're getting touch support and a cool design as well. We're working with the souped-up model ($1,399.99), which has two Thunderbolt 3 ports and a unique ceramic white finish. Here it is at a glance:
CPU: Intel Core i7-8550U
GPU: Intel UHD Graphics 620
Memory: 8GB of RAM
Storage: 256GB SSD
Display: 13.3-inch FHD (1920 x 1080) backlit multi-touch display
Ports: 2 Thunderbolt 3, 1 USB-C 3.1, 1 headphone/microphone jack
Weight: 2.45 lbs
Whether it's kick-ass internals or an eye-catching design, you can really customize your machine on the HP website. The base configuration ($1,249.99), which is currently out-of-stock, starts off with an Intel Core i7-7500U processor and 8GB of RAM. Sure, it's plenty fast, but if you want to take it to the next level, you can get up to 1TB of SSD storage or 16GB of RAM. The next model ($1,299.99) is more middle-of-the-road and comes in dark ash or, for an additional $10, ceramic white. You can also customize the processor, storage, and memory.
What We Like
The ceramic white finish is drop-dead gorgeous
With its white exterior and gold trim, the Spectre is one of the most luxurious-looking ultrabooks I've ever seen. The first time we took it out of the box, one of our coworkers gasped at the sight of it. Yeah, it's that pretty. If you want something that'll turn heads and literally take people's breath away, the Spectre is guaranteed to do just that.
The keyboard is super clicky and comfortable to type on
There's nothing more annoying than a sticky, unresponsive keyboard. Luckily, the Spectre's keyboard is super nice. While there's not a lot of room for travel (due to the ultra-thin profile), the keys are pleasantly springy. After a few days, I was clicking my way to 95 words-per-minute, which a great deal higher than my average.
Thanks to the quad-core 8th-gen processor, you're getting awesome performance
This machine is more than just a pretty face. With a Geekbench score of 12,868 (multi-core), this ultraportable packs some serious power. At one point, I had twenty-five tabs open in Google Chrome and the Spectre handled it like a champ. It's fast enough for heavy use, for sure, so CPU-intensive tasks shouldn't be a problem.
What We Didn't Like
The ports are on the back of the machine
At just 10.4mm-thick, the Spectre is remarkably thin. However, that leaves little room for ports. Positioning the ports on the backe edge of the machine makes sense in theory, given its slim body, but it's awkward in practice. I didn't like having to reach around to plug in my headphones. This is more of a personal nitpick, though. In fact, I'm not sure I'd even call it a deal-breaker.
The connectivity options aren't bad, per se, but they're what you'd expect from an ultraportable laptop. You can't really squeeze in a bunch of connectivity options on an ultra-thin laptop. The Thunderbolt ports are great for hooking up to a display or hard drive, but the third port (USB-C) can only be used for charging. Fortunately, HP includes an adapter that supports USB 3.0 and external monitors at no extra cost.
Battery life is so-so
In our intensive battery test, which cycles through a bunch of power-hungry tasks, the Spectre died in two hours. In our WiFi browsing test, which is more indicative of everyday use, it fizzled out in four. That's a better result, for sure, but you'll still want to keep your eyes open for an outlet, as this ultraportable isn't really designed for long term off-the-charger use.
If you're looking for an ultraportable laptop with fantastic battery life, we'd recommend opting for the MacBook Pro 13-inch (Touch Bar). It lasted eight hours during our WiFi browsing test, which continuously surfs the web. That's a full work day right there.
Should You Buy It?
If you want a machine with fierce looks and zippy performance, absolutely
If you want a laptop that'll turn heads, the Spectre will do just that. Not only is it gorgeous, it delivers great performance as well. Thanks to the quad-core 8th-gen Intel processor, this ultraportable is designed for heavy use, so don't let the pretty face fool you. Though we love the minimalist design and comfy keyboard, we still had a few nitpicks.
The ports are on the back edge of the laptop, which is awkward to deal with. Personally, I don't like reaching around to plug in my headphones, but I wouldn't say it's a deal-breaker. The other thing is the battery life (cue sad trombone). You'll want to keep your eyes open for an outlet, as you'll only get four hours on a single charge.
Drawbacks aside, the Spectre is an impressive machine from the inside out. With its fierce looks and strong performance, this laptop definitely won't disappoint.