HP Spectre x2 review: A Surface clone for a lot less cash

It has touch. It has pen support. It has the same cover-style keyboard. But there are differences, and we dive deep into them here.

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One advantage you get with the Surface Pro is Windows 10 Pro vs. Windows 10 Home on the Spectre x2. To get Pro on the Spectre x2, it's another $70 and closes the price gap. For most consumers it won't matter but you won't be able to run BitLocker with Win10 Home. At least there's device encryption though. Here's the official OS comparison.

Business sensitive users may also be put off by the apparent lack of Intel's vPro that makes it easier to manage a fleet of machines. I say apparent because HP tells me vPro isn't available on the Spectre x2 instead you need an HP Elite x2. What's a little unclear to me is why Intel's ARK shows the the Core m7 with vPro support. For vPro support, you also need a chipset that supports it but the Core m7 is a package deal with chipset on it so I would imagine that if the CPU supports it, Intel ships a chipset with it. I'm working to clarify this.

The Spectre x2 is such a deal, it really competes with the budget Surface 3 too. Yes, the Surface 3 is smaller and lighter, and that plays well to its basic computing use but the base Spectre x2 with a Core m3 chip, 4GB of RAM, 128GB SSD and keyboard included will set you back $800. To get to the same RAM and storage as the Spectre x2 with a Surface 3 will cost you $729.

I’ve made my peace with Atom, and Atom X7 is definitely an improvement over the previous iteration but you’re getting a lot more computer for Spectre x2's extra 11 ounces of weight.

Conclusion

So is the Spectre x2 a better Surface than the Surface Pro 4? I had high hopes, but it looks like Microsoft's higher-end components are paying off.

For a first attempt, though, this ain’t bad. I really see the Spectre x2 as more of a half step back behind the Surface Pro 4. For people who just want the same form factor for general use, the Spectre x2 is a worthy alternative and certainly gives you more value against the Surface Pro 4, and more performance against the Surface 3.

hp spectre 12 x2 trio

Is the Spectre x2 a better Surface Pro? Not quite, but it’s certainly a better deal.

Correction: We re-measured the Spectre x2 and have updated our measurement for thickness to reflect the unit's overall dimensions.

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At a Glance
  • This 2-in-1 has touch, pen support, and the same cover-style keyboard, but for a lot less cash than a Surface.

    Pros

    • Good bang for the buck
    • More stable keyboard

    Cons

    • CPU performance lags Core i5
    • Battery life just average
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