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HP Spectre x360 13.5 vs. Apple MacBook Air M1

Apple’s MacBook Air M1 remains in the company’s lineup thanks to solid performance, excellent battery life, a quality build, and an attractive price for a premium laptop. But it faces some stiff competition, like the HP Spectre x360 13.5, that’s more expensive but also offers solid combinations of performance, battery life, and quality.

Both machines are on our list of the best laptops, for good reason. And the question is, should you spend more on the Spectre x360 13.5 or save your money with the MacBook Air M1?

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  HP Spectre x360 13.5 Apple MacBook Air M1
Dimensions 11.73 inches by 8.68 inches by 0.67 inches 11.97 inches x 8.36 inches x 0.63 inches
Weight 3.01 pounds 2.8 pounds
Processor Intel Core i5-1235U
Intel Core i7-1255U
Apple M1
Graphics Intel Iris Xe Apple M1
Display 13.5-inch 3:2 WXUGA+ (1920 x 1280) IPS touch
13.5-inch 3:2 WXUGA+ (1920 x 1280) IPS touch privacy screen
13.5-inch 3:2 3K2K (3000 x 2000) OLED touch
13.3-inch 16:10 (2,560 x 1600) 400 nits


Storage 512GB SSD
Touch Yes No
Ports 2 x USB-C 4.0 with Thunderbolt 4
1 x USB-A 3.2 Gen 2
1 x 3.5mm audio jack
1 x microSD card reader
2 x USB-C 4.0 with Thunderbolt 4
1 x 3.5mm audio jack
Wireless Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.2 Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0
Webcam 5MP with infrared camera for facial recognition 720p FaceTime HD
Operating system Windows 11 macOS
Battery 66 watt-hour 49.9 watt-hour
Price $1,250+ $999
Rating 4.5 out of 5 stars 4.5 out of 5 stars

Price and configurations

The MacBook Air M1 features an 8-core CPU/7-core GPU M1 processor across all configurations, and it starts at 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD for $1,000. It’s the least expensive MacBook you can buy. At the high end, the MacBook Air M1 costs $2,000 for 16GB of RAM and a 2TB SSD.

The Spectre x360 13.5 has a wide range of configurations available. The entry-level configuration is $1,250 for a Core i5-1235U CPU, 8GB of RAM, a 512GB SSD, and a WUXGA+ IPS touch display. The most you’ll spend is $1,885 for a Core i7-1255U, 32GB of RAM, a 2TB SSD, and a WUXGA+ privacy touch panel. We reviewed the Spectre with a Core i7-1255U, 16GB of RAM, a 1TB SSD, and a 3K2K OLED touch display, which costs $1,675. Overall, you can configure a more powerful system for less money than the high-end MacBook Air M1.


The MacBook Air M1 is a standard clamshell laptop, with the same tapered design as the original. The newer MacBook Air M2 shakes up the machine’s chassis in a big way, but there’s nothing wrong with the older version. It’s incredibly well-built, elegant and minimalist, and it’s thin and light enough for highly portable use. The MacBook’s hinge is smoother than the Spectre’s more complicated version and just as good at holding the display firmly in place.

The Spectre x360 13.5 is a very different machine. It’s a 360-degree convertible 2-in-1, meaning it morphs between clamshell, tent, media, and tablet modes. It’s just as good a clamshell as the MacBook, but it’s a lot more flexible. The touch display supports an active pen, making it a good platform for digital inking that’s aided by the taller 3:2 display. The Spectre is also solidly built and sports a more elaborate “gem-cut” aesthetic in Natural Silver, Nightfall Black, and Nocturne Blue color schemes.

While the Spectre x360 13.5’s keyboard is excellent, with deep, snappy switches providing precise feedback, the MacBook Air M1 uses Apple’s superior Magic Keyboard. It’s shallower but provides an even more precise feel that’s consistent and quiet across the entire keyboard. The MacBook’s Force Touch touchpad is also better than the Spectre’s mechanical version, which is great for a Windows laptop.

Connectivity favors the HP, which has as many Thunderbolt 4 ports as the Apple and adds in a USB-A port for legacy devices and a microSD card reader. The Spectre also has faster wireless connectivity with Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.2 compared to Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0.

Finally, the Spectre x360 13.5 enjoys a 5MP webcam with infrared camera supporting Windows 11 Hello passwordless login via facial recognition, to go with a fingerprint reader along the bottom row of the keyboard. The MacBook Air M1 makes do with a 720p webcam and the equally reliable Touch ID power button.


The lid of the HP Spectre x360 13.5.

The Spectre x360 13.5 uses a 15-watt Intel 12th-gen Core i7-1255U, a 10-core/12-thread CPU that’s aimed directly at thin and light laptops. The MacBook Air M1 uses Apple’s first-generation ARM processor with eight CPU cores and seven GPU cores. It’s a chip that runs cool enough that the MacBook is fanless and completely silent, while the Spectre has fans to keep things cool.

When running in its performance mode, the Spectre x360 13.5 matches the MacBook Air M1 in CPU-intensive tasks, and both laptops can handle demanding productivity tasks. It’s likely that the MacBook will run GPU-intensive creative apps more quickly than the Spectre with its integrated Intel Iris Xe graphics, thanks to optimizations built into the M1 processor.

For most users, though, these are two equally matched laptops and can meet most portable performance needs. Neither will be a particularly good gaming laptop.

HP Spectre x360 13.5
(Core i7-1255U)
Apple MacBook Air M1
Geekbench 5
(single / multi)
Bal: 1,566 / 7,314
Perf: 1,593 / 7,921
Bal: 1,727 / 7,585
Perf: N/A
Bal: 169
Perf: 120
Bal: 156
Perf: N/A
Cinebench R23
(single / multi)
Bal: 1,623 / 5,823
Perf: 1,691 / 7,832
Bal: 1,479 / 6,680
Perf: N/A

Display and audio

An HP Spectre x360 13.5.
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

The MacBook Air M1 uses a 13.3-inch 16:10 Liquid Retina IPS display running at 2,560 x 1600, and it’s a good panel for productivity work. It’s plenty bright and has good contrast, but its colors aren’t quite wide enough for creators.

We reviewed the Spectre x360 13.5 with the optional 13.5-inch 3:2 3K2K (3,000 x 2,000) OLED display, and it’s spectacular. It’s sharper than the MacBook’s, and it’s just as bright. However, its colors are wide and incredibly accurate, and its contrast is deep providing inky blacks. HP also offers a WUXGA+ IPS and IPS privacy panels.

If you want the best performance in photo and video editing (display-wise, that is), along with excellent high dynamic range (HDR) quality, then the Spectre’s OLED panel wins out. Both are great for simple productivity work, though.

HP Spectre x360 13.5
Apple MacBook Air M1
380 389
AdobeRGB gamut 97% 100%
 sRGB gamut 100% 79%
(DeltaE, lower is better)
0.61 1.29
Contrast ratio 28,230:1 1,130:1

The Spectre x360 13.5 has four downward-firing speakers that pump out plenty of volume with clean mids and highs and a little bass. The MacBook Air M1 has two speakers that provide good sound as well, but the Spectre puts out more of it.


Apple MacBook Air M1 side view.

The MacBook Air M1 is slightly thinner than the Spectre x360 13.5 and it weighs a bit less. But both machines are small and light enough that they’re easy to carry around.

The biggest difference in portability, at least when the Spectre x360 13.5 is equipped with its higher-res OLED display, is in battery life. The MacBook Air M1 benefits from the extreme efficiency of Apple’s ARM architecture, and it gets better battery life. The difference wouldn’t be quite so great with the Spectre running a lower-res IPS panel, but the MacBook would still likely last longer.

HP Spectre x360 13.5
(Core i7-1255U)
Apple MacBook Air M1
Web browsing 9 hours, 58 minutes 14 hours, 34 minutes
Video 13 hours, 59 minutes 18 hours, 28 minutes

The Spectre x360 13.5 provides more flexibility, at a price

The Spectre x360 13.5 is the more expensive laptop, and that buys you the flexibility of a 2-in-1 with a standout aesthetic. Performance is similar between the two machines, and the MacBook Air M1 enjoys a better keyboard and touchpad and superior battery life. The HP wins out in display quality and connectivity.

If you’re on a tight budget but want a premium laptop, the MacBook Air M1 is a great choice. But otherwise, the Spectre x360 13.5 deserves its higher price.

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