HP Spectre 13-V011DX Laptop Review

HP Spectre 13-V011DX Review - MOGZTech
$1,439.00
as of Sep 19 2018 00:00 GMT (Details)

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When it comes to looks and charm story, the HP Spectre 13-V011DX would definitely carry first or second prize… but brawn does matter here too. Fortunately, the HP Spectre 13-V011DX has the right amount of brains to battle it out with the best of them. Its combination of aesthetic beauty, a strong build, excellent display, touchpad and keyboard stands well in the crowd. However, it does have a few dark sides that it would do better without. HP Spectre 13-V011DX Review.


Pros

  • Excellent colors and contrast levels on its bright IPS display
  • Excellent design- top of the charts for Windows ultraportables
  • Futuristic hinge design, light weight, Ultrathin and extremely portable
  • Accurate touchpad and comfortable backlit keyboard
  • Good port selection – One USB 3.1 Type-C and two USB 3.1 Type-C Gen 2 Thunderbolt 3 ports
  • Included accessories – sleeve and USB Type C to Type A adapter

Cons

  • High price tag
  • Short battery run-time
  • Inadequate heat venting resulting in throttled performance
  • Would do better with at least one USB Type A ports and a card reader
  • Poor placement of ports
  • Fan runs fairly loud under medium to heavy load

Verdict

The HP Spectre 13-V011DX | Amazon is one of the best looking Ultrabooks of all times. Its performance is well at par with its competition, although losing ground at a few places. All in all, it is an excellent machine that deserves a place at the top ten best Ultrabooks for 2016.

Spectre 13-V011DX SPECS


Processor 7th Gen Intel Core i5-7200U | 2.5 GHz, up to 3.1 GHz | 3 Mb cache
RAM 8GB LPDDR3 SDRAM 1866MHz
Internal Storage 256GB PCIe NVMe M.2 SSD
Display 13.3″ IPS UWVA| (1920 x 1080) FHD| 16:9 | 166 PPI display density
Corning Gorilla Glass| WLED backlit | Glossy
Ports
  • 1 USB 3.1 Type-C (HP Sleep and Charge)
  • 2 USB 3.1 Type-C Gen 2
  • Thunderbolt 3 (HP Sleep and Charge)
  • 3.5 mm Headphone/Microphone combo
Connectivity 802.11ac | Bluetooth 4.0
Graphics Intel HD Graphics 620
OS Windows 10 Home 64 | Windows 10 Pro | 64
Keyboard Full-size | Chicklet | Keyboard backlight: Yes
Speakers Bang &Olufsen | Dual Speakers
Camera HP TrueVision HD with Dual Digital Microphone
Battery 38 Wh| 4 Cell Lithium-Ion (Li-Ion) battery | HP estimate: 9hr 45 minutes
Actual: around 5 hours 30 minutes
Power supply 45 W USB Type-C adapter .
Dimensions LWH: 325.12 x 229.36 x 10.41 (mm) or 12.8″ x 9.03″ x 0.41″ (In)
Weight 2.45lbs or 1.11 Kgs | Travel weight | (with Adapter): 1.44 Kgs or 3.18 lbs
Color Black and Copper gold

Buy the HP Spectre 13-V011DX 13.3″ FHD IPS Laptop at Amazon

DESIGN AND FEATURES


The HP Spectre 13-V011DX simply looks gorgeous. It’s got a black Aluminum lid with a copper-gold logo at its center. The hinges and its back side give off a shiny copper-gold luster, while its bottom is made of black carbon fiber. HP decided to move away from the silver aluminum finish that most premium machines have today and clear its path into uniqueness, and it did not fail at that. Though looks are purely subjective, we think that the HP Spectre 13-V011DX has better aesthetic appeal than the Acer Aspire 7 and Dell XPS 13. However, that is just an opinion and may be looked at differently by different beholders… but where do they stand in respect to each other in terms of real performance? We’ll find our as we move along.

The aluminum lid is quite strong and offers but little deflection. The main chassis is made also of aluminum while the bottom half of stiff carbon fiber. The carbon fiber adds rigidity to the already stiff aluminum body, making it feel tough and durable.

One thing that you don’t see everyday are the newly designed hidden hinges on the HP Spectre 13-V011DX. The golden colored hinges are the main landmark of the Spectre, giving it nothing short of an exquisite look. Their downside is that they do not hold the screen as stiffly as would the traditional hinge design. As such the screen does have some degree of play, but nothing too significant to worry about.

Display

Brandishing a 13.3 Inch IPS panel, the display quality is absolutely awesome. What is striking is its high level of brightness – 310 nits. This exceeds the brightness expressed by most of its competition which more often than not come in at 270 nits. In comparison, its brightness exceeds that of the Dell XPS 13 (9350) and HP Elite X2 only being beaten by the Huawei MateBook. The IPS panel offers excellent viewing angles and display quality, managing to cover almost 100% of the SRGB color spectrum. Colors are thus vibrant and quite accurate. However, the glossy Gorilla Glass is quite reflective thus glary – the high brightness ability does help out with that though.

CONNECTIVITY


While achieving such a thin design is a feat of no small magnitude, a proper port selection is another issue that has in the past been a challenge to manufacturers, the result being excellent machines with lean port selection. The makers of the HP Spectre 13-V011DX however did a great job with the ports. While the small thickness leaves little room for ports, the selection in the Spectre wasn’t that bad. The ports available in the Spectre are: One USB 3.1 Type-C Generation 1 capable of speeds of up to 5Gbps and two USB 3.1 Type-C Gen 2 Thunderbolt capable of speeds of up to 40Gbps, each with sleep and charge capability. The last is the 3.5 mm Headphone/Microphone combo.

Although it could have been nice to have all the ports that we’re used to, one can still adapt to using these ports with the use of adapters. The two thunderbolt ports can support two 4K monitors each and can power up anything you throw at them (up to 100 w), so that takes care of all your display needs. You can also get yourself an external Ethernet adapter if you really need one. At least HP gives you one USB Type C to Type A 3.0 adapter though I suspect you may need more than one USB 3.0 port.

The charger is USB based and you can charge through any of the three Type C ports.

Input devices


The Keyboard is quite pleasant to use, unlike what we have experienced in the past with super thin laptops. The chicklet keys offer limited vertical travel (1.3mm) similar to Dell XPS 13 (9350), regardless the keying experience is quite nice. The keys are backlit, with only one level of backlight available. The Glass trackpad is fairly small in comparison to the Acer Swift 7 and HP Spectre X360, but is still great to use. The extra space would have been nice though.

The HP Spectre 13-V011DX comes with a 720p camera with mics on both sides. The picture quality is above average and the sound quality is excellent.

Audio


The HP Spectre 13-V011DX features two Bang &Olufsen tuned speakers and dedicated sound chip whose performance is alright for the most part. Sound quality is average, with mids and highs being well balanced. They however aren’t that loud neither can they reach low base notes very well, but they are decent for a machine of such a size. At maximum volume however, they can sufficiently fill a small room with sound. In comparison to the Acer Swift 7, they are a little better but come short of those in Apple’s MacBook 12.

SYSTEM PERFORMANCE


The Spectre comes with in two main configurations, with the main difference being in the processor. Yes, you can upgrade from one internal memory capacity to another, but you cannot do that with the processor – there’s only two options with that, and they are permanently soldered onto the motherboard. The Processors options are the Intel Core i5-7200U (2.5 – 3.1 GHz) and Core i7-6500U (2.5 -3.5 GHz). The advantage is that they can rise up to the occasion when running heavy demanding tasks to higher clock speeds, but are also throttled down when temperatures begin to get too high to prevent damaging the motherboard. While the throttling isn’t so bad (up to 3 GHz), it is noticeable. Throttling doesn’t happen so much with the Dell XPS 13 (9350) or Razor Blade Stealth, which are thicker and offer better cooling thus being better equipped for productivity.

It comes with only one RAM configuration: an 8GB LPDDR3 SDRAM and a 256 GB PCLe NVMe solid state drive. Read speeds are extremely high averaging around 1400MB/s. Write speeds are however fairly low, around 300MB/S.

Heat management


Since the HP Spectre 13-V011DX is super thin, cooling is an automatic challenge that it face. While the Hyperbaric cooling system does a great job at maintaining the temperatures at acceptable and comfortable levels, under heavy use the processors are forcefully throttled to reduce heat production. Under light to medium load, the machine runs cool and the machine doesn’t even come on. When you take up heavier tasks such as Photoshop or programming, the fan turns on but throttling doesn’t occur. However, when you take up demanding tasks such as Gaming and video editing, the processor is throttled to manage the load. While the machine can manage some games at medium to low graphics settings (Overwatch, Rambo 6)throttling does take place. You can manage 40 – 45 frames per second, but that may drop as you play on and temperature rises.

Most components – including the CPU – are located on the upper end of the chassis, above the function keys. As such, temperature is highest at this location sloping down as you move toward the palm rest. This mean that the palms are shielded from high temperatures at all times, even when the machine is running a little steamy. At the bottom of machine, temperature can reach a steamy 400C but at the top of the chassis remain between 30 and 39 degrees. Temperature at the palm rest remain at a cool 23– 25 degrees.Sighting cooling challenges that the Spectre experiences, it is advisable in our opinion to use it on a hard flat surface rather than on your lap so as not to further stifle ventilation. The Dell XPS (9350) is has a smaller size footprint than the HP Spectre 13 and runs a little warmer under similar strain, but the fan noise is less in comparison to the Spectre.

Achieving a sufficiently cooled machine with negligible noise production is a daunting task, especially coupling fractional thickness of the machine. That is the challenge that the Spectre faces, which it manages well but at a small price. Cooling is achieved by two fans mounted at the back end of the machine. Unlike conventional fan which force the hot air out of the machine’s interior, the fans in the HP Spectre 13-V011DX create a low pressure system inside the chassis housing by in-taking fresh air from the outside thus forcing hot air out. The method is slightly different from the classical but the end result is the same, perhaps with marginally better performance. This is what HP refers to as Hyperbaric cooling technology.

The Spectre is silent under low loads like word processing. However, it does become significantly audible when the load is increased with tasks such as web browsing or video playback. The noise level however falls below 33dB. The fan can be disturbing when gaming or working with heavy graphics software with noise levels ranging between 39 – 43 dB. While the Hyperbaric cooling technology does a good job at cooling the Spectre, the notable noise level is one of the compromises that come with it.

The Standard set by Apple’s MacBook Air is quite high, and the HP Spectre 13-V011DX falls short of that. The 38Wh battery is optimistically advertised to reach an excess of 9 hours but in real life use, it may go for only 5.5 hours with tasks like web browsing, word processing and watching movies. The 45Watts on the other adapter takes an average of 2.5 hours to fully charge the machine to full capacity.

CONCLUSION


HP Spectre 13-V011DX Review

The build quality and sheer deliberation for quality expressed by the HP Spectre 13-V011DX is indeed impressive. It looks fabulous both inside and out. Its display quality, keyboard and trackpad are excellent, port selection is also good and sound quality is alright. However, while its performance is well above the benchmark, it does fall a little short of its competition. Although HP did a great job at the thermodynamic design of the machine, performance is to a certain extent bottlenecked with the throttling of the processor due to inadequate heat sinking. This make the HP Spectre 2016 a great machine for light to moderate users, but less ideal for heavy users who demand the most out of their machines. Further, the lack of a HDMI port, a card reader and a full sized USB type A port may be quite disadvantageous since you’d have to carry around one or more adapters everywhere. But after all is said and done, the HP Spectre 13-V011DX is indeed one of the best Ultrabooks in the market today.

For heavy users, consider also the Dell XPS 13 (9350), Dell XPS 15 and Razor Blade Stealth.

Buy the HP Spectre 13-V011DX 13.3″ FHD IPS Laptop at Amazon

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Victor R

A lover of MacBook Air and Pro line of laptops, Victor has been a tech enthusiast and guest blogger for numerous websites. Now, he explores tech; focusing mainly on PCs, laptops, gadgets and trending tech news