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Hardware Overview and System Performance
Thanks to HP's simple laptop configuring tool, it's easy to understand what sort of hardware combinations are possible in the Spectre x360.
The base model is kitted out with an Intel Core i5-7200U processor, 8 GB of LPDDR3 RAM, and a 256 GB PCIe NVMe solid state drive. This model will currently set you back $1,049.99. Upgrades to the CPU, RAM and SSD are available as follows:
- Intel Core i7-7500U CPU (+$110)
- 16 GB of RAM (+$40, restricted to models with the i7-7500U)
- 512 GB SSD (+$100)
- 1 TB SSD (+$420)
With this range of options, the mid-spec model is affordably priced: you can get a Core i7-7500U, 16 GB of RAM, and a 512 GB SSD for just $1,299.99. My review unit was kitted out with every upgrade possible, including the 1 TB SSD upgrade, bringing the total price to $1,619.99. While the 1 TB SSD upgrade is expensive, the total system price for a laptop with this hardware is similar and often slightly cheaper than its competitors.
The HP Spectre x360 isn't the first laptop I've tested that includes an Intel 'Kaby Lake' Core i7-7500U processor inside. This 14nm CPU contains two physical cores and four threads with a base clock of 2.70 GHz and a boost clock of 3.50 GHz, plus a HD Graphics 620 GPU clocked up to 1.05 GHz, all within a 15W power envelope. This CPU is very similar to the Skylake Core i7-6500U, except with clock speeds slightly increased.
All three storage options see the Spectre x360 kitted out with a PCIe NVMe M.2 SSD, which provides excellent performance as we'll discuss later. I'm glad HP doesn't offer a 128GB option, because 128GB is a bit slim for laptops these days, even if the cost of the entry-level model would be lower. Similarly, I'm happy that 8GB of RAM is standard (Dell, 4GB simply doesn't cut it for the XPS 13) with an option to upgrade to 16GB.
Let's take a look at how the Spectre x360 performs and stacks up against other Kaby Lake laptops we've tested.
The Spectre x360 performs in the range of other laptops I've tested that are powered by the Intel Core i7-7500U; it's slower in a few tests, and faster in some others. Once again, this means there's little reason to upgrade from a Skylake-powered system, as gains over the i7-6500U are only a few percent, in line with the higher CPU clock speed.
Those upgrading from a mid-spec Broadwell system, say a two-year-old laptop powered by the Core i5-5200U, will see a performance improvement of around 25 percent. This is a significant but not earth shattering gain, though it could help creatives who want to use their laptop for video editing: the Spectre x360 can render H.264 video at a decent 8 frames per second faster than a Broadwell Core i5 system.