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HP Spectre x2 review – the latest Surface Pro 4 rival

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £699
inc VAT

A well-judged 2-in-1, but there are a fair few compromises in the push for a cheaper Surface Pro 4 rival



The 12in screen has a 1,920×1,280 IPS panel. It’s very bright, topping out at nearly 300cd/m2 and its decent contrast ratio of 963:1 leads to plenty of detail when looking at photos. However, with just 72% sRGB gamut coverage, its bright images aren’t matched with particularly vibrant colours, leaving bright reds, greens and blues rather devoid of life. It’s no worse than a mid-range laptop, but I’d have expected just a little more from a £700 machine.

The built-in speakers are disappointing as well; they’re not very loud and even tweaking the pre-installed Bang & Olufsen EQ software doesn’t make a huge amount of difference. Dialogue in movies is fairly clear and music is certainly audible, but it’s not the rich audio experience you’d want from a device you might use as your dedicated media streaming machine when at home.

Performance and Battery life

The HP Spectre x2 comes equipped with 4GB of RAM and a dual-core Intel Core m3-6Y30 processor running at 0.9GHz. This is the same chip found in the entry-level Surface Pro 4, and its Hyper-Threading support, which gives each physical core an additional logical core for a grand total of four threads, means it’s much more capable than the low-powered Celeron and Atom chips you normally find in other Windows 10 tablets. 

In our crushingly hard 4K benchmarks, the processor stood up very well indeed, managing an overall score of 23. Ignoring the inevitable score of 6 in the multi-tasking portion, the results are better than they appear. A score of 54 in the photo editing test points towards speedy single-core speed, while 32 in the video editing test suggests multi-core activities are handled pretty well. In real world testing, I had no problems whatsoever working on documents, sending emails, watching videos and listening to music, and there wasn’t a stutter to be found even on the most media-heavy websites.

I also ran our basic Dirt Showdown benchmark to test its gaming muscle. No surprises here. At 1,280×720 resolution and High settings, it managed 25.5fps, although I was able to get a playable framerate at Ultra Low settings at the same resolution, so there is potential here for some very light gaming.

Battery life was a little disappointing, with the Spectre x2 clocking in just 6h 7m in our video playback test at 170cd/m2 screen brightness. In real world use, I was able to stretch it to around 7h in a single charge, and with even more careful management, 7h 30m is definitely possible.


The HP Spectre x2 is a good all-round 2-in-1. At £700, it’s not cheap, but when compared to the equivalent Surface Pro 4, it’s still pretty great value, particularly when the Spectre x2 comes with a keyboard in the box. The basic Surface Pro 4, on the other hand, costs £749, but you’ll have to factor in another £110 if you want to buy a Surface Pro 4 Type Cover keyboard, bringing the total overall cost to £859. 

There are flaws that you’ll need to work around. There aren’t enough built-in connectivity options, for example, and its speakers and stylus pen are both rather disappointing. However, as a device for work and for media consumption, it’s more than capable, and is a great budget alternative to the Surface Pro 4.

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Core specs
ProcessorDual-core 0.9GHz Intel Core M3-6Y30
Memory slots (free)Not stated
Max memory4GB
Weight1.2kg (combined), 0.8kg (tablet)
Sound3.5mm headset port
Pointing deviceTouchpad, stylus
Screen size12in
Screen resolution1,920×1,280
Graphics adaptorIntel HD Graphics 515
Graphics outputsNone (possible via USB type-C adapter, not included)
Graphics memoryShared
Total storage120GB SSD
Optical drive typeNone
Ports and expansion
USB ports2x USB3 type-C
Memory card readermicroSD
Other portsNone
Operating systemWindows 10
Operating system restore optionWindows 10 restore
Buying information
Parts and labour warrantyOne year RTB
Price inc VAT£699
Part numberSpectre x2 12-a001na

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