XPS 13 2-In-1 vs HP Spectre X360: Which should you buy?

This Tutorial addresses:
  • XPS 13
  • Hewlett Packard
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The Dell XPS 13 2-In-1 was one of the best premium laptops of 2016. The company must have thought it has the ultrabook market sewn up. That is until the redesigned HP Spectre X360 came along. Now things get interesting. So, XPS 13 2-In-1 vs HP Spectre X360, which should you buy?

We covered the XPS 13 2-In-1 quite extensively here on Tom’s Hardware and liked what we saw. Now the redesigned HP Spectre X360 is here, how do they stack up? Rather than go through the minutiae of the specifications, I’m looking at these two through the eyes of a user. What really matters and what makes a different in real world use between these two?

Both the XPS 13 2-In-1 and HP Spectre X360 use 7th generation Intel Kaby Lake i5 or i7 processors. Both offer up to 16GB of RAM but Dell uses LPDDR3 while the HP uses DDR4. They both use a 12.3 inch IPS touchscreen in HD or 4k flavors. Both offer up to 1TB SSD storage and HD cameras.

Where the two differ is mainly in the ports offered. The XPS 13 2-In-1 has 1 x USB 3.1 Type-C, 1 x USB Type-C with Thunderbolt 3, 3.5mm headphone jack and a microSD reader. The HP Spectre X360 has 1 x USB 3.1 Type-A, 2 x USB Type-C with Thunderbolt 3 and a 3.5mm headphone jack.

The processors in the XPS 13 2-In-1 are Y-series low power processors that sacrifice a little performance for battery life. The RAM is also LP, Low Power RAM to add a few extra battery minutes. The HP Spectre X360 uses standard Intel CPUs and standard DDR4 RAM.

In terms of performance and premium parts, this is an easy win for the HP Spectre X360. Even though you won’t notice, any compromise in core parts is still a compromise.

Both the XPS 13 2-In-1 and HP Spectre X360 have 13.3 inch IPS touchscreen displays. The Dell has two screen options, a full HD and a QHD+ version that runs at 3,200 x 1,800. Both offer great color reproduction, decent responsiveness but the brightness can leave a little to be desired.

The refreshed HP Spectre X360 introduced a 4K UHD option to complement the already accomplished HD screen. The display is very responsive, offers good color reproduction, great contrast and impressive details.

While the UHD’s 3,840 x 2,160 isn’t much more detailed than the Dell it is enough to make a difference. If you watch HD movies you won’t likely notice it but if you use the HP for work or for anything that uses images, you will definitely notice a difference. Another win for the HP.

Neither the Dell XPS 13 2-In-1 or HP Spectre X360 break new ground in terms of design. Both are built using premium materials. Dell uses a mixture of aluminum and carbon fiber while the HP uses mainly aluminum. Both are roughly the same size, shape and weight.

Where they differ is on the keyboard. Dell uses a soft touch plastic keyboard with backlighting. The HP continues the aluminum theme here but without backlighting. Both feel similar but the HP keyboard provides more feedback. The Dell on the other hand uses backlighting which is very useful in low light conditions.

I would call this a draw. Some people will prefer the Dell while others will prefer the HP. In terms of everyday use, both are nice designs that are premium enough for the price point.

Everyday use
As this XPS 13 2-In-1 vs HP Spectre X360 head to head is all about the user, it makes sense to live with each laptop for a day and see which I think works best.

The Dell weighs 2.7 pounds and is 12 inches wide, 7.8 inches deep and just over half an inch thick. The HP weighs 2.89 pounds, is 12 inches wide, 8.6 inches deep and just over half an inch thick. There is very little to choose from between them except a slight extra heft from HP.

Battery life is close, very close. Both lasted around 8 hours with light use, browsing, watching YouTube and using a text editor. This reflects the benchmarks other reviews have cited.
Even though there is a difference in processor and RAM speed, in daily life there is very little to choose between them. Speed is roughly the same and there is no noticeable difference between the two. This has to be a tie in terms of everyday use.

So, Dell XPS 13 2-In-1 vs HP Spectre X360. Which should you buy? The answer in my opinion is whichever one you like the look of the most. Both are very close in terms of build quality, specs and performance and while the HP edges in some things, the Dell holds its own in others. Both laptops look great, perform well and last a full day.

It is rare that two competitors are this close but they really are. If really pushed, I would choose the HP because of the brighter screen but there really isn’t that much in it.
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