HP Spectre 13.3 review: This ultrabook boasts a sleek look and great performance

IDG.TV | Jun 24, 2016

The Spectre 13.3 accomplishes HP’s goal of making the thinnest laptop possible without (major) compromises.

Razer-thin laptops usually mean compromise, but not the HP Spectre 13.3. Despite its incredibly thin profile, this ultrabook offers solid performance in all the ways that count.


The HP Spectre 13.3 is not only slimmer than the well-known 12-inch Macbook, but it also packs in much more. Among its standout features are an Intel Core i7 processor, multiple Thunderbolt 3 ports, and a full 1.3 millimeters of keyboard travel. The Macbook’s low-power Intel Core m processor, single USB-C port, and low-travel keyboard are sacrifices in comparison.

That Core i7 processor is particularly impressive—on laptops this thin, it’s common for CPUs to slow down as they get hotter during intense tasks. But the Spectre still landed among its Core i5 and Core i7 peers during our Handbrake encoding test, which puts heavy stress on a CPU for an extended period.

Even more impressive is how long the Spectre 13.3 held its own against Core m laptops and even the Atom-based Surface during our video rundown test. It lasted 439 minutes on a 38 watt-hour battery. Other Core i laptops with longer runtimes had larger batteries and thicker bodies.

The Spectre does have drawbacks, but they’re fairly minor. Its 13.3-inch, 1920x1080 IPS display has a more limited tilt of 120 degrees. Its touchpad is also smaller than those on the Macbook 12 and XPS 13. By far the biggest issue is its speakers, which are barely loud enough at maximum volume.

But though the Spectre 13.3 isn’t perfect, you have to give HP credit for accomplishing its goal of making the thinnest laptop possible without compromises. You get robust performance in a very thin package.