Old design vs. new design
Apple maintained the classic MacBook Pro appearance with its newest iteration, opting for the same aluminum chassis and elegant, understated design that adorned its predecessor. The new MacBook Pro looks a lot like the old MacBook Pro, only it’s thinner and comes with smaller bezels. It’s a good look that fits well in any professional environment, but at this point, it’s getting a little stale.
Apple supersized the touchpad, however, making 50-percent larger and outfitting it with the company’s Force Touch technology. But, the company squished the keyboard, leaving users either loving the second-gen keyboard or lamenting the loss of the old-school MacBook Pro keyboard. Nonetheless, the most significant addition is the Touch Bar, which functions as an OLED touchscreen display. The component resides above the keyboard — displacing the physical function keys — and responds to the application at hand with task-specific buttons.
HP, on the other hand, took the silver chassis on last year’s Spectre x360 15 and gave it a paint job. This year’s model touts a darker exterior with copper accents. As with all such aesthetic decisions, some might love it and some might hate it, but we think it’s an equally elegant look that’s classy without blending into the sea of Windows 10 machines.
HP’s decision to increase thickness a bit means the Spectre x360 15 has a full-travel keyboard that makes for an extremely comfortable typing experience. The touchpad is also fairly large, with the same widescreen aspect ratio as the display. Most important, though, is that the Spectre x360 15 is also a 2-in-1 with a touchscreen and an active pen. It offers the always-convenient presentation and tent modes, along with occasional tablet use that leverages the excellent pen with Windows 10 Ink support. And a 10-point multitouch display beats out a narrow OLED strip any day.
Both machines are well-built and exude quality. We think the HP’s design is fresher and more striking, though, and its 2-in-1 design and excellent keyboard give it the nod over Apple’s somewhat outdated MacBook Pro and its too-shallow keyboard. The MacBook Pro is a bit smaller and lighter, but that’s not enough to make up for what it compromises in the name of being so thin.
Winner: HP Spectre x360 15
May the quickest laptop win
The quad-core version of Intel’s seventh-generation Core i7 processors wasn’t available in time for the release of the 2016 MacBook Pro. Instead, the machine utilizes the sixth-generation Core i7-6920HQ. A standard 16GB of LPDDR3-2133 RAM is the only option, though the machine can be configured with a 2TB SSD. You can also outfit it with a AMD Radeon Pro 460 and 4GB of GDDR5 memory, switchable with the Intel HD Graphics 530.
The HP Spectre x360 15 is a decidedly mid-range system, with a seventh-generation Intel Core i7-7500U dual-core processor. You can configure it with up to 16GB of DDR4-2133 RAM and 1TB SSD, though the only graphics option is an Nvidia GeForce GTX 940MX, which goes along with the Intel HD Graphics 620.
In short, the MacBook Pro is a more powerful machine with higher-end CPU and GPU options — and this is in spite of its last-gen processor. The Spectre x360 15 is no slouch, however, and performs well for its class while offering the same amount of RAM as Apple’s machine and a large SSD. It’s not as large as the highest-end MacBook Pro configuration, but it’s certainly not terrible.
The MacBook Pro is definitely the faster performer and will crunch through massive images and videos significantly more quickly than the Spectre x360 15. If you’re looking for professional power, then Apple’s machine is the better option.
Winner: 15-inch Macbook Pro