Thicker or thinner: HP Spectre x360 15 vs. 15-inch MacBook Pro

HP Spectre x360 15 review
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

The introduction of the 2016 MacBook Pro was met with a fair amount of criticism, not to mention excitement over the introduction of the Apple’s OLED Touch Bar. The new MacBook Pros are thinner than ever, and, in turn, give up legacy ports, opt for a second-gen keyboard, and house smaller batteries.

HP went in the opposite direction with its refresh of the Spectre x360 15, however, outfitting the Windows 2-in-1 with a thicker chassis designed to accommodate a larger battery, thus allowing it to power the machine’s 4K UHD display. Adding thickness also lets HP outfit the machine with an excellent full-travel keyboard and a few legacy ports to go along with the device’s USB Type-C connections.

Which approach — thicker or thinner — results in the best machine, though? Read on to find out whether it’s the HP Spectre x360 15 or the 2016 15-inch MacBook Pro that benefits the most from the recent design changes.

Specifications Compared

MacBook Pro 15-inch

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HP Spectre x360 15

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Dimensions  13.75 x 9.48 x .61 (in) 14.00 x 9.88 x .70 (in)
Weight  4.02 pounds 4.42 pounds
Processor  6th Generation Intel Core i7 quad-core 7th Generation Intel Core i7 dual-core
RAM  16GB LPDDR3 8 or 16GB DDR4
Display 15.6-inch IPS display 15.6-inch IPS touchscreen
Resolution 2,880 x 1,800 3,840 x 2,160
Storage 256GB, 512GB, 1TB, 2TB PCIe SSD 256GB, 512GB, 1TB PCIe SSD
Networking 802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.2 802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.2
Ports 4 x Thunderbolt 3, 3.5mm 1 x USB 3.0, 1 x USB Type-C, 1 x USB Type-c with Thunderbolt 3, 1 x HDMI, Headset, SD Card reader
Webcam 720p FaceTime HD 1080p webcam with IR camera and Windows Hello support
Operating System MacOS Sierra Windows 10
Battery 76 watt-hours 79.2 watt-hours
Price $2,399+ $1,280+
Availability Available now Available late-February
Review Hands-on 4 out of 5 stars

One battery got smaller, the other got bigger

The new 15-inch MacBook Pro is significantly thinner than its predecessor, coming in at 0.61 inches compared to 0.71 inches — a 14 percent reduction. The display bezels are also thinner, meaning all dimensions are smaller. It weighs 4.09 pounds, too, which makes it almost a half a pound lighter than the previous model.

The Spectre x360, on the other hand, got a little thicker, but also lost some width thanks to thinner bezels. The thicker chassis results in increased weight, though, bringing the laptop to 4.42 pounds.

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Apple’s thinner design resulted in a 24-percent reduction in battery capacity, taking it from 97 watt-hours to 76 watt-hours. While we haven’t tested battery life on the 15-inch model, the 13-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar — which touts similar battery life — provided only average longevity compared with similar Windows 10 machines.

The HP Spectre x360 15, on the other hand, added a little thickness and increased battery capacity by 23 percent, from 64.5 watt-hours to 79.2 watt-hours. The new machine also utilizes Intel’s seventh-generation CPUs. Both improvements help HP meet its goal of ensuring the new model and its 4K UHD display will last as long as last year’s Full HD version. HP promises up to 12 hours and 45 minutes of battery life, though, our own test results show a little over 10 hours.

HP Spectre x360 15 review
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

That doesn’t mean that the Spectre x360 beats out the MacBook Pro in terms of battery life. Apple’s efficiency and the display’s lower resolution means that the Spectre x360 15 likely loses this round, although not by much. Both offer enough battery life to last a typical work day — depending on the workload — but we can only imagine how much longer the MacBook Pro would last if Apple had kept battery capacity the same.

Winner: 15-inch MacBook Pro

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