HP Spectre x360 vs. Microsoft Floor E book 2

One of the hottest high-end laptop comparisons we did in 2017 was comparing the HP Specter x360 to the Microsoft Surface Book 2. Both are really top-notch notebooks with loads of fantastic features and enough power to run decently powerful desktops Competing to make a variety of uses. While the Surface Book 2 won the day, it may not always be the case. In 2018, HP returned with a vengeance with a second generation of its Specter x360 15 and continued to build on that design in late 2019.

The Specter x360 2018 is covered in this comparison. If you want to check out the latest versions of these two laptops, be sure to check out our HP Specter x360 13 Late 2019 and Microsoft Surface Book 3 review.

If you're interested in what the older Specter x360 and Surface Book 2 can do, here's a comparison.

design

If you are spending up to a few thousand dollars on a laptop, expect it to look like this. Although these two notebooks have very different aesthetic designs, they both look top notch.

Bill Roberson / Digital Trends

The Surface Book 2 is a bit more general and has a design that will be familiar to Apple fans, while HP has added a more angular case and a thinner monitor bezel to the originally reserved design of the Specter x360. That arguably gives it a more modern feel, although those who prefer the original Dark Ash Silver and Copper Luxe color schemes can still choose them if they wish.

Both devices are classified as 2-in-1 devices and can therefore be operated in both laptop and tablet mode. However, the way they achieve this effect is slightly different due to the different hinge design.

Both devices are classified as 2-in-1 devices, but the way each one achieves this effect is slightly different due to the hinge design.

The Specter x360 uses the more typical 360-degree hinge found on many convertible laptops, so it can be folded completely flat on the back of the screen for tablet operation.

The Surface Book 2 shares the same dynamic pivot hinge as the original Surface Book. That means you can take the screen off the base entirely, resulting in a much lighter tablet solution – 1.6 pounds versus 4.6 pounds for the 2018 Specter x360.

While your opinion on the aesthetics of these laptops in terms of functionality is very much your own, the Surface Book 2's more powerful hinge design offers more for those looking for a versatile convertible laptop.

performance

A look at the specs would suggest that the Surface Book 2 will be the more powerful of the two devices, but there are certainly some interesting options in the Specter range that could make it intriguingly competitive for your needs.

Bill Roberson / Digital Trends

The Surface Book 2 is an established and understandable piece of hardware with an eighth generation Intel Core i7-8650U CPU, flat 16 GB memory and a GTX 1060 graphics chip with 6 GB VRAM. In our own tests, we found that the Surface Book 2 handled 1080P games in a way that was comparable to older midsize gaming laptops and business applications like a decently powerful workstation.

The Specter x360 has two specific hardware lineups. The first has an eighth generation Core i7-8550 CPU with 8 GB, 12 GB or 16 GB of memory and a GeForce MX150 with 2 GB VRAM (practically a mobile version of the desktop GT 1030). In this setup, as in our comparison with the previous version, the Surface Book 2 is significantly more powerful, especially in the graphics department.

HP also offers a version with a more expensive i7-8705G in combination with Radeon RX Vega M GL graphics. Our test unit arrived in this configuration, and the Vega graphics inside offered some notable improvements over the configuration with an MX150. The graphical performance is similar to a GTX 1050 and is just below the GTX 1060 in the Surface Book 2.

This means that the 2018 Specter x360 is just good enough for 1080p games (4K is out of the question). We were able to achieve around 35 to 45 frames per second in full HD in demanding titles like Deus Ex: Mankind Divided and Battlefield 1 and at the same time push simpler games like Rocket League way up.

In terms of processor, the i7-8705G available in HP's Specter x360 is more powerful than the i7-8650U in the Surface Book 2. However, the cheaper x360 configuration with an i7-8550U still doesn't match the 2-in-1.

display

The displays Microsoft and HP have built into these premium laptops are both well above the 1080p standard seen in recent years, but their visual and resolution offerings are very different. The Surface Book 2 is equipped with a 15-inch PixelSense display with a resolution of 3,240 x 2,160. This is a step back from full 4K resolution, but the dense 260 pixels-per-inch figure means it still offers plenty of high-resolution clarity.

Dan Baker / Digital Trends

The panel is also very bright with bold colors. In our tests, we found them a bit oversaturated and arguably too vivid, with a slightly disappointing color accuracy rating.

That doesn't mean it looks bad – it really doesn't – but personal preference is an important point to consider. If you're buying a laptop that lets you edit photos and accuracy is high on your wish list, the Surface Book 2 lacks a little in that regard.

For us, the Surface Book 2 offers the better option for potential buyers.

In comparison, the HP Specter x360 has a true 4K display (3840 x 2160) with much more typical color accuracy for a laptop at its price. It's not as bright as the Surface Book 2 and the contrast drops significantly (720: 1 compared to 1,410: 1).

Displays are both about personal preferences and raw data. For us, however, the Surface Book 2 offers the better option for the broadest segment of potential buyers.

portability

In addition to the internal hardware options for the 2018 version of the 15-inch HP Specter x360, there are other major changes in terms of physical design and battery life, both of which affect portability. This version is a bit thicker – by about 1.5mm – to cope with the new graphics configuration, and that means a slight increase in weight. The new version is 4.62 pounds for the Nvidia version and 4.72 pounds for the AMD version – an increase of about 5%.

Bill Roberson / Digital Trends

This is probably not noticeable in this weight range, but it does mean that there is a slightly larger difference between the HP laptop and the Surface Book 2 with a static weight of 4.2 pounds. Neither feel heavy, but due to the Microsoft 2-in-1's ability to completely detach itself from its keyboard, the weight difference is far greater in tablet mode. While the Specter x360 retains its full weight regardless of configuration, the Surface Book 2 can weigh up to 1.7 pounds in tablet mode.

Another reason the 2018 Specter x360 is a bit heavier is a slightly larger battery. It now comes with an 84 watt hour battery compared to a 79.2 watt hour version with the previous edition. Estimates assume a duration of 13.5 hours for the Nvidia version and 12 hours for the AMD version, depending on usage. However, those estimates must have accounted for a 1080p display. In our web browser loop, the battery lasted six and a half hours at 4K. Lowering the resolution will significantly increase battery life.

The battery life and weight difference of the Surface Book 2 in tablet mode are hard to beat.

While more juice is always good for those who use their system on the go, surpassing the Surface Book 2's battery life isn't enough, which was the most standout feature of our testing. We found that in some cases it could take up to 20 hours to watch videos, which is an amazing amount of time for such a powerful laptop of its generation.

Prices and availability

None of the above categories really matter if the price of the hardware is out of reach, and there is certainly an argument for that here. Neither of these models are brand new in 2020, but you can find them on used websites priced between $ 500 and $ 1,000.

Dan Baker / Digital Trends

The Specter x360 has a wider range of specification options that may make it easier to find a model that meets your needs in terms of both performance and price. Compare the cost of a used model to what you can get with the newer models as they are significantly faster and more efficient.

Two great laptops, but the Surface Book 2 is better

Both the 2018 version of the HP Specter x360 and the Surface Book 2 are fantastic 2-in-1 laptops. We should all be lucky enough to work and play with them – even if their newer models are better. When it comes to which option is best, the Microsoft Surface Book 2 is the winner, if not by a huge margin.

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