HP Spectre x360 15 (2017) Vs. MacBook Pro 15 (2017): Two ‘Best’ Big-Screen Laptops (Review) – Forbes

HP Spectre x360 starts at only $1,180, offering good bang-for-the-buck.

Credit: Hewlett-Packard

HP Spectre x360 starts at only $1,180, offering good bang-for-the-buck.

The updated 15.4-inch MacBook Pro (2017) and the 15.6-inch HP Spectre x360 (2017) both offer compelling arguments for the big-screen laptop. Which is best for you? Read on.

I use both laptops* interchangeably** and can easily recommend both — but for very different reasons.

HP Spectre x360 15 (2017) vs. MacBook Pro 15 (2017): great HP consumer design vs. pricey-but-powerful-and-sleek Apple ethos. 

In case you haven’t noticed, Hewlett Packard has gotten very good at building high-quality yet relatively inexpensive laptops. The short story on the Spectre x360: it’s more consumer-oriented than the MBP and wins big time in the bang-for-buck department. The short take on the MacBook Pro: it’s a quintessential Apple high-end product: gorgeous but powerful enough to satisfy demanding users.

Spec Check:

Spectre x36o: For roughly half the price of the MacBook Pro, HP gives you an Intel Core i7-7500 (“Kaby Lake”) processor, Nvidia GeForce 940MX GPU and Intel HD Graphics 620, 8GB of RAM, 256GB solid-state drive (SSD), and a high-resolution 15.6-inch 3,840-by-2,160 display (slightly larger than the MacBook Pro’s 15.4-incher). HP also includes a writing stylus. And you can opt for a configuration with, for example, 16GB RAM and a 512GB SSD, which is still priced a lot less than the MacBook Pro.

MacBook Pro 15: with the base configuration you get an Intel quad-core Core i7 2.8GHz 7th Gen Kaby Lake CPU, an AMD Radeon Pro 555 with 2GB, Intel HD Graphics 630, 256GB solid-state drive, and a 15.4-inch 2880-by-1800 Retina display. And it’s expensive (very).

Build:

The Spectre x360 is built from one block of aluminum and feels like it could double as body armor. But tough doesn’t mean it’s too heavy for a big-screen laptop: it weighs in at 4.4 pounds. And it’s nice to look at, to boot.

The MacBook Pro 15 is also a very-high-quality aluminum build. Apple has made it sleeker and lighter than the Spectre x360 with the MBP weighing in at 4 pounds. It is stunning to look at. And it’s pretty amazing considering the fire power that Apple squeezes into the 0.61 inch-thick MBP.

2017 MacBook Pro 15 (R) and 2017 13-inch MacBook Pro.

Credit: Apple

2017 MacBook Pro 15 (R) and 2017 13-inch MacBook Pro.

Display:

Spectre x360: it comes standard with a very high-resolution 15.6-inch 3,840-by-2,160 touch display with a 360-degree hinge.

MacBook Pro 15: the 15.4-inch 2880-by-1800 Retina display is probably one of the best 15-inch class displays on the market. High-end professionals should note that Apple offers better “color coverage” (widest range of color gradations, e.g., wide color P3 gamut, 90 percent of Adobe RGB) than the Spectre x360, as spelled out in a review from Notebook Check.

Performance:

Spectre x360: Inside is Intel’s 7th Generation Core i7-7500U dual-core processor. For professionals, the lack of a quad-core processor (which comes with the MBP or Dell XPS 15) may (or may not) be a deal breaker. That said, I’ve found it incredibly fast for my workaday tasks, including copious amounts of photo editing while maxing out Google Chrome with 20-plus tabs and running various Microsoft Office applications. Also standard is an Nvidia GeForce 940MX graphics chip (GPU). The 940MX is a low-end Nvidia GPU but it beats Intel’s 620 graphics by a long shot and is good enough to play some games and can help with things like Photoshop or Adobe Premier Pro. That said, the 940MX certainly won’t cut it for playing games at 4K resolution.

MacBook Pro 15: so…lots of critics will say that the 15-inch MacBook Pro with Intel 7th Gen Kaby Lake, Intel 630 graphics, and AMD Radeon Pro 555 (with the option for a Radeon Pro 560 with 4GB of GDDR5 memory) should have been announced last September. True. It’s frustrating for consumers (like me) who bought the Skylake version (and now have to update to Kaby Lake to stay current). It’s not all bad news, though. Lisa Gade over at MobileTechReview is seeing only about a 10 percent performance improvement over the Skylake MPB 15 and she adds: “It’s not fast enough that I would say ‘oh my god, poor person you bought the 2016 model.'” And the base AMD 555 series “Polaris” GPU gives you about a 10 percent-ish boost over the previous AMD Polaris GPU in the MacBook Pro 15 Late 2016 model. 

Looking at a rough comparison between the Spectre x360 and MacBook Pro 15, single core Geekbench 4 CPU benchmarks are pretty much the same (4,000-ish), while the MacBook Pro beats the Spectre in multi-core scores and is almost twice as fast (8,000-ish for the Spectre and 15,000-ish for the MBP).

Finally, a caveat: real-world tests can often serve up eye-opening results, as this test with Adobe Premier by Fstoppers shows. The video is worth watching if you’re a professional trying to decide between the MacBook Pro and Windows laptops like the Dell XPS 15 (hint: the XPS 15 performs remarkably well).

Battery life:

Spectre x360: will last a whole day of on and off computing (which is how most people work). Expect eight to ten hours of constant use. Maybe a little more or less, depending how you use the computer and how much you turn up the brightness on the display.

MacBook Pro 15: Not much daylight between the Spectre and MBP on battery life in my experience. Apple claims up to 10 hours, which is usually accurate if not understated.

Keyboard:

Spectre x360: Both the keyboard and large trackpad are excellent. I’ve been typing on the Spectre x360 for the last few weeks and it lives up to HP’s usual excellent keyboard standards (HP, for me, has always been the laptop keyboard gold standard).

MacBook Pro 15: the Butterfly keyboard (think: minimal travel/feedback) has always been fine for me. In fact, I like the Butterfly keyboard on both MBP 15 and 12-inch MacBook. I’m guessing that I’m in the minority on this one, however.

 Speakers:

Spectre x360: good output that includes bass and treble tuning by Bang & Olufsen.

MacBook Pro 15: No contest here. As good as HP’s Bang & Olufsen sound is, the MBP 15 speakers are nothing short of incredible. I will go so far to say that you’ll never need external speakers. The MBP’s speakers are that good.

Ports:

Spectre x360: HP includes both a traditional USB 3.0 port as well as two USB Type C connectors, one with Thunderbolt 3 technology. Also: an HDMI port and an SD card reader.

MacBook Pro 15: Four Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) ports.

Price:

Spectre x360 (2017): The 15.6-inch Spectre x360 starts at $1,179.99. For a configuration with 16GB RAM and 512GB SSD, it’s $1,399.99.

MacBook Pro 15 (2017): price starts at $2,399.

Verdict:

If we’re talking strictly consumer bang-for-the-buck, the Spectre x360 buries the 15-inch MacBook Pro. If we’re talking professional, the argument is not as clear cut and I’m guessing many professionals will favor the MBP 15.

*I used the late 2016 Intel Skylake-based 15-inch MacBook Pro for a long time and have just recently begun testing the mid-2017 version.

**I typically make one laptop my main machine for a few weeks, then switch to another.

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