A tale of two similar machines: HP’s Spectre x360 13-inch vs. Dell’s XPS 13 2-in-1

HP Spectre x360 15 review
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

HP’s Spectre x360 13 was one of the best Windows 10 2-in-1 devices introduced in 2016. It offered a solid combination of performance, build quality, and battery life, serving as HP’s premier 13-inch Ultrabook.

Dell, on the other hand, was late to the premium Windows 10 2-in-1 market, arriving at the beginning of 2017 with its XPS 13 2-in-1 machine. Taking everything that was already good about the outstanding XPS 13 notebook, Dell’s hybrid quickly took its place as one of the best convertible 2-in-1s around.

Now, HP has updated the Spectre x360 13, adding in a missing 4K UHD display option along with an excellent active pen. This brings HP’s 2-in-1 more in line with the XPS 13 2-in-1 in terms of specifications and functionality, and so we thought it made sense to compare these two machines to see which one comes out on top.

Specification comparison

Dell XPS 13 2-in-1

hp spectre360 vs dell xps 13 2 in 1 thumbnail

HP Spectre x360 13

hp spectre360 vs dell xps 13 2 in 1 spectre 360 thumbnail

Dimensions  11.98 x 7.8 x .54-.32 inches 12.07 x 8.58 x .55 inches
Weight 2.7 pounds 2.98 pounds
Processor 7th Generation Intel Core i5 or i7 Y-Series dual-core 7th Generation Intel Core i5 or i7 dual-core
RAM 4GB, 8GB, or 16GB LPDDR3 8 or 16GB DDR4
Display 13.3-inch IPS touchscreen, Full HD or QHD+ 13.3-inch IPS touchscreen, Full HD or 4K
Resolution Full HD (1,920 x 1,080) or QHD+ (3,200 x 1,800) Full HD (1,920 x 1,080) or 4K (3,840 x 2,160)
Storage 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB PCIe SSD 256GB, 512GB, 1TB PCIe SSD
Networking 802.11ac 2×2, Bluetooth 4.2 802.11ac 2×2, Bluetooth 4.2
Ports 1 x USB 3.1 Type-C, 1 x USB Type-C with Thunderbolt 3, 3.5mm Headset, microSD reader 1 x USB 3.1 Type-A, 2 x USB Type-C with Thunderbolt 3, 3.5mm Headset
Webcam 1080p webcam 1080p webcam with IR camera and Windows Hello support
Operating System Windows 10 Windows 10
Battery 46 watt-hours 57.8 watt-hours
Price $1,000+ $1,090+
Availability Available now Available now (some configurations)
Review 4 out of 5 stars 4 out of 5 stars 

Neither offers excellent connectivity

The Spectre x360 13 is equipped with a fair number of ports, but it’s nothing to write home about. There are two USB 3.1 Type-C ports, both with charging and Thunderbolt 3 support. In addition, the machine supports legacy devices with a USB 3.1 Type-A port and a 3.5mm headset jack.

The XPS 13 2-in-1 gives up the past almost completely, offering just two USB 3.1 Type-C connections, one of which supports Thunderbolt 3 with four lanes of PCIe Gen 3 available. The only nods to legacy support include a microSD card slot and a 3.5mm headset jack.

With an additional Thunderbolt 3 port and legacy device support with an old-school USB port, HP wins this round. You don’t get a microSD card slot, but we think that’s worth giving up in exchange for overall enhanced connectivity.

Winner: HP Spectre x360 13

Neither design breaks new ground

The refreshed Spectre x360 13 uses almost exactly the same design as its predecessor, which means it’s reasonably thin and light while still offering up real seventh-generation Intel Core processors and decent battery capacity. It’s made from machined aluminum, utilizes a solid 360-degree hinge that is smooth in operation and holds the display firmly in place, and it’s simply a nice looking machine.

HP did make one change to the design, however, that should appeal to anyone who considers the Spectre x360 13’s silver color scheme to be a little pedestrian. Specifically, the company brought back its “ash silver with chrome accents” aesthetic to the 13-inch model, after a brief hiatus. The dark gray adds some understated elegance to HP’s machine, and while it might not be for everyone, it’s a nice addition — while adding a scant $10 to the price.

The Dell XPS 13 2-in-1, on the other hand, pays homage to one of the best 13-inch traditional notebooks on the market. In short, it looks and feels just like the XPS 13, with the same aluminum lid and base with carbon fiber lining the keyboard deck and providing structural support. If you look at the two machines side by side, only the highly functional 360-degree hinge and a chassis that’s just a bit thinner gives away the 2-in-1 version.

It’s a good, conservative design that doesn’t break any new ground and doesn’t really need to. Dell has taken a very strong “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it” approach to the XPS 13 2-in-1, and we can’t really complain.

Comparing the HP and the Dell, however, leaves us in the mood to gives some additional points for breaking the mold and giving users the option of a less conservative design. We think HP deserves some kudos for offering a little excitement with the refreshing Spectre x360 13, and so it wins this round.

Winner: HP Spectre x360 13

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