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HP Spectre x360 16 review: It’s a lot of computer, but it’s awesome

If you’re looking for a big-screen convertible, the HP Spectre x360 16 is hands down your best option. And I’m not just saying that because big-screen convertibles are incredibly rare. Indeed, Dell made an XPS 15 2-in-1 once…once. With this year’s Spectre x360, HP made the screen even bigger with a 16-inch 16:10 panel instead of a 15.6-inch display.

Most importantly, that big display is OLED, at least on higher-end models. And while the screen is visually appealing, so is the chassis. While HP has abandoned the gem-cut edges of previous models, the Spectre x360 still has the prettiest design in its class. That’s all topped off with a great keyboard.

Ultimately, it comes down to if you want a machine like this. If you’re looking at 16-inch convertibles, you’re in the right place. If you’re looking for great battery life, something lightweight, and so on, I do highly recommend the Spectre x360 14.

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HP Spectre x360 16: Pricing and availability

The HP Spectre x360 16 was announced late last year, but it wasn’t available until more recently. As of now, all configurations are available for purchase. At the time of announcement, the starting price was $1,639, but on HP.com right now, it starts at $1,429.99.

That model comes with an Intel Core i7-11390H, 16GB RAM, a 512GB SSD, and a 3,072×1,920 touchscreen. The model that HP sent over for review is a bit more specced out though. It has the same Core i7 and 16GB RAM, but the SSD is bumped up to 1TB. This unit also has a 3,840×2,400 OLED display, and it has added dedicated graphics in the form of an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3050. It comes in at $2,119.99.

Totally specced out, you can get it with 32GB RAM and a 2TB SSD. The total price is $2,859.99.

HP Spectre x360 16: Specs

CPUIntel Core i7-11390H
GPUNVIDIA GeForce RTX 3050 Laptop GPU (4 GB)
Body14.09 x 9.66 x 0.78 in, 4.45 lb
Display16″ diagonal, UHD+ (3840 x 2400), OLED, multitouch-enabled, UWVA, anti-reflection, Low Blue Light, 400 nits
Memory16 GB DDR4-3200 MHz RAM
Storage1 TB PCIe NVMe TLC M.2 SSD
Battery6-cell, 83 Wh Li-ion polymer
KeyboardFull-size, backlit, nightfall black keyboard
WebcamHP True Vision 5MP IR camera with camera shutter, temporal noise reduction and integrated dual array digital microphones
ConnectivityIntel Wi-Fi 6E AX210 (2×2) and Bluetooth 5.2 combo (Supporting Gigabit data rate)
AudioAudio by Bang & Olufsen; Quad speakers; HP Audio Boost
Ports2 Thunderbolt 4 with USB4 Type-C 40Gbps signaling rate (USB Power Delivery, DisplayPort 1.4, HP Sleep and Charge)1 SuperSpeed USB Type-A 10Gbps signaling rate (HP Sleep and Charge)1 HDMI 2.0b1 AC smart pin1 headphone/microphone combo1 microSD media card reader
ColorNightfall Black
OSWindows 10 Home

Design: The HP Spectre x360 16 is a lot more subtle than its predecessors

I’ve been saying for years that the HP Spectre x360 is the sexiest laptop on the market for years now, and while it’s probably still true, the new Spectre x360 16 is significantly less sexy than its predecessors. I think that was intentional, to be honest.

Previous generations had gem-cut edges and two-tone designs, mixing Nightfall Black with copper accents around the edges, hinges, and touchpad. They were the only Windows PCs that I really felt stood out from the crowd, and they felt great to pull out of a bag in front of people. They were works of art.

The sharp corners have been replaced by curves, and those strong accents are a lot more subtle. On the Nightfall Black model that HP sent me, there’s a thin, silver line that wraps around the border where the curved top and bottom meet. It’s still a pretty machine, but it’s not nearly as flashy.

It also comes in blue, but both colors come with silver accents this time. There’s no silver color, which is a decision that I’m a fan of. There was a year or two when there was no Spectre x360 13 didn’t have a silver color, and I was so upset when it was brought back. I say, death to silver laptops. We have enough of them.

Moving on, there are plenty of ports, as you’d expect from a 16-inch laptop. On the left side, there’s a USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A port and an HDMI 2.0b port. On the flattened rear corner, there’s a 3.5mm audio jack.

HP Spectre x360 16 review: It’s a lot of computer, but it’s awesome

On the right side, there are two Thunderbolt 4 ports, one of which is on the rear corner. The purpose of the flattened corner is that the cable is facing away from you, but you can still fold the display back into tablet mode. As you’d expect, you can use any one of these ports for connecting dual 4K monitors, an external GPU if that RTX 3050 isn’t enough when you’re at home, and so on.

There’s also a power port on the right side, since this machine comes with a 135W charger and that’s more than Power Delivery could handle. The USB Type-C ports do charge, albeit slowly while the machine is in use.

Again, the HP Spectre x360 16 is a beautiful machine, but not as much so as its predecessors. I do think that it was toned down on purpose, for what it’s worth. For my personal opinion, I wish it wasn’t, and this design was used for the Envy brand instead.

Display: It comes with that sweet OLED, and it’s bigger

The HP Spectre x360 16 comes with a, you guessed it, 16-inch display, which is a bit larger than the 15.6-inch screen on the unit it’s replacing. There’s actually even more of a size difference than it sounds like, because the aspect ratio is 16:10 instead of 16:9, and the 16-inch size is measured diagonally. It’s taller, and when a rectangle is measured diagonally, the surface area gets larger the closer you get to a square.

There are three options for the display, two of which are 3,072×1,920. The one I’m reviewing, however, is 3,840×2,400, and it’s OLED. That means that you get true blacks and vibrant colors. The OLED screen is truly a delight to use.

Also, if you’re worried about the colors being too vibrant, there’s a built-in app called HP Display Control. This lets you optimize the colors for photo and video editing, web, printing, or you can just leave it on the default, which is optimized for vibrant colors. You can also have it apply a color profile based on which app you’re using.

In my testing, the screen supported 100% sRGB, 89% NTSC, 91% Adobe RGB, and 99% P3. These results are about as good as it gets. It’s an excellent screen for creators.

Brightness maxed out at 390.5 nits, which is fine since this really isn’t the type of machine you’ll be using in direct sunlight a lot. The contrast ratio is about as high as it goes, because that’s the nature of OLED.

The Spectre x360 16 has narrow bezels on all sides, but HP left a little bit extra space on top because it’s actually using a good webcam. It’s a 5MP webcam that records 1080p video; there’s an IR camera for facial recognition as well. And yes, 1080p video only requires 2.1MP, but this gives the camera room to move around. It has AI features like the ability to focus on you, so if you move, the camera can follow you. It’s pretty great.

When I think of the premium laptop market, the big two products that cross my mind are the HP Spectre x360 and Dell XPS. It’s worth noting that Dell is not doing this. Dell’s entire XPS lineup still uses HD cameras. Even with Intel’s new Evo spec recommending FHD cameras, the new Dell XPS 13 Plus packs a 0.9MP sensor. Of course, HP hasn’t refreshed its Spectre x360 14 yet either.

Keyboard: As you’d expect, it’s a spacious deck for a premium keyboard

HP makes excellent keyboards for its premium laptops, and the Spectre x360 16 is no different. It’s comfortable, it’s accurate, and like the rest of the laptop, it’s pretty.

As you can see from the image, HP went with its recent design of having all buttons on the keyboard. That includes a power button, a camera guard button, and even a fingerprint sensor.

The camera guard is about what you’d expect. You press the button and you’ll see something blocking the sensor. It also disconnects the camera internally. That means that if you have that pressed, you’ll log into a call and it will say that there’s no camera detected. Actually, when HP first introduced the camera guard, it didn’t have a physical blocker at all, only disconnecting it internally, but I guess for a feature based on distrust, that physical barrier was needed.

Note that when the camera is disconnected, you won’t even see it in Device Manager.

The entire Spectre x360 lineup does use Microsoft Precision touchpads, which is a good thing. For every other brand, it goes without saying, but HP was one of the last holdouts on that. It made the switch a few years ago, but it’s still worth mentioning.

Normally for a touchpad like this, I’d say I wish it was a little bit bigger, but I don’t think that’s even possible despite the fact that there seems to be extra real estate. Indeed, whenever I see extra space on the top or bottom of a touchpad, I wonder why the touchpad isn’t larger. But since the front is curved in the way that it is, I suppose it’s as big as it could be.

Performance: The HP Spectre x360 16 comes with Tiger Lake H35 processors and RTX graphics

The HP Spectre x360 16 comes with an Intel Core i7-11390H, which is standard across all models. What’s not standard is graphics, which is Iris Xe in the base model and NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3050 in higher end units. HP sent me the latter, and it comes with 16GB RAM.

This is a machine that’s aimed at creators. As someone who just bought a new camera, I did a lot of editing in Adobe Lightroom Classic and Photoshop, and the Spectre handled my batch exports in Lightroom like a champ. Like I said, this machine is a delight to use. Aside from editing photos, it’s a convertible, so you can use it to draw on the nice big display.

Personally, I’m a big fan of the Core i7-11390H, a quad-core 35W CPU. Traditionally, the H-series has been 45W, and in recent years, it’s had more cores. But with 11th-gen, Intel introduced a new 35W tier, with a lineup that’s similar to the U-series but jacked up to 35W. Tiger Lake H35 isn’t as powerful as H45, but I really think that’s fine. It’s not a gaming PC or a mobile workstation. It’s a creator laptop, and not using too much power means better battery life.

Speaking of battery life, I was able to get nearly five hours on this machine. That’s really good when you consider the powerful internals and the high-resolution OLED display. However, it was closer to three and a half hours if I don’t let Windows switch to battery saver in the final 20%. This is all with real-world usage, meaning working in a Chromium browser (Vivaldi), Photoshop, Lightroom, OneNote, Slack, etc.

Remember, while the OLED option is definitely the most beautiful one, the 3K option will save you some battery life. So will things like switching the power slider in Windows to lower options.

For performance benchmarks, I used PCMark 10, 3DMark, VRMark, Geekbench, and Cinebench.

HP Spectre x360 16Core i7-11390H, RTX 3050Surface Laptop StudioCore i7-11370H, RTX A2000Dell XPS 15 9510Core i7-11800H, RTX 3050 Ti
PCMark 105,2545,5735,988
3DMark: Time Spy3,6045,0754,801
Geekbench1,604 / 5,2081,546 / 5,8261,538 / 7,514
Cinebench1,570 / 5,0981,504 / 6,2831,491 / 9,399

Note that the Dell XPS 15 is the only one of the three that uses a 45W H-series processor. That’s why it gets better multi-core scores on CPU tests.

Who should buy the HP Spectre x360 16?

The HP Spectre x360 16, like all Spectre laptops, is a phenomenal device that’s totally worth buying. Of course, it’s not for everyone.

Who should but the HP Spectre x360 16?

Who should not buy the HP Spectre x360 16?

The bottom line is that this is a phenomenal laptop for creators and artists. That’s also why I say it’s not for everyone. The HP Spectre x360 16 is a lot of computer. If you’re looking for something that weighs three pounds and is comfortable to carry around, this isn’t it. This thing is big, weighing over four pounds. It’s awesome, but you have to want that particular kind of awesome.

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