HP Spectre x360 13.5 vs. Apple MacBook Air M1

Apple’s MacBook Air M1 stays within the firm’s lineup due to stable efficiency, glorious battery life, a top quality construct, and a horny value for a premium laptop computer. But it faces some stiff competitors, just like the HP Specter x360 13.5, that is dearer but additionally gives stable combos of efficiency, battery life, and high quality.

Both machines are on our checklist of the very best laptops, for good purpose. And the query is, must you spend extra on the Specter x360 13.5 or save your cash with the MacBook Air M1?

Specs

HP Envy x360 13.5 Apple MacBookAir 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 kilos 2.8 kilos
Processor Intel Core i5-1235U
Intel Core i7-1255U
Apple M1
graphics Intel Iris Xe Apple M1
RAM 8GB
16 GB
32GB
8GB
16 GB
show 13.5-inch 3:2 WXUGA+ (1920 x 1280) IPS contact
13.5-inch 3:2 WXUGA+ (1920 x 1280) IPS contact privateness display
13.5-inch 3:2 3K2K (3000 x 2000) OLED contact
13.3-inch 16:10 (2,560 x 1600) 400nits

Storage 512GB SSD
1TB SSD
2TB SSD
256GB SSD
512GB SSD
1TB SSD
2TB SSD
Touch Yes No
Ports 2x USB-C 4.0 with Thunderbolt 4
1x USB-A 3.2 Gen 2
1 x 3.5mm audio jack
1 x microSD card reader
2x USB-C 4.0 with Thunderbolt 4
1 x 3.5mm audio jack
Wireless Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.2 WiFi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0
webcam 5MP with infrared digital camera for facial recognition 720p FaceTime HD
Operating system Windows 11 macOS
Battery 66 watt-hour 49.9 watt-hours
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 Specter 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 Specter 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.

Design

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 Specter 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 Specter is also solidly built and sports a more elaborate “gem-cut” aesthetic in Natural Silver, Nightfall Black, and Nocturne Blue color schemes.

While the Specter 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 Specter also has faster wireless connectivity with Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.2 compared to Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0.

Finally, the Specter 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 the equally reliable Touch ID power button.

Performance

The lid of the HP Specter x360 13.5.

The Specter 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 Specter has fans to keep things cool.

When running in its performance mode, the Specter 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 Specter 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 Specter x360 13.5
(Core i7-1255U)
Apple MacBookAir M1
(M1)
Geekbench 5
(single / multi)
Bal: 1.566 / 7.314
Performance: 1.593 / 7.921
Ball: 1.727 / 7.585
Performance: N/A
Handbrake
(seconds)
Ball: 169
Performance: 120
Ball: 156
Performance: N/A
Cinebench R23
(single / multi)
Bal: 1.623 / 5.823
Performance: 1.691 / 7.832
Bal: 1,479 / 6,680
Performance: N/A

Display and audio

An HP Specter 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 Specter 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 Specter x360 13.5
(OLED)
Apple MacBookAir M1
(IPS)
Brightness
(nits)
380 389
AdobeRGB gamut 97% 100%
sRGB gamut 100% 79%
Accuracy
(DeltaE, lower is better)
0.61 1.29
Contrast ratio 28.230:1 1.130:1

The Specter 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 Specter puts out more of it.

portability

Apple MacBook Air M1 side view.

The MacBook Air M1 is slightly thinner than the Specter 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 Specter 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 Specter running a lower-res IPS panel, but the MacBook would still likely last longer.

HP Specter x360 13.5
(Core i7-1255U)
Apple MacBookAir M1
(M1)
web browsing 9 hours, 58 minutes 14 hours, 34 minutes
Video 13 hours, 59 minutes 18 hours, 28 minutes

The Specter x360 13.5 provides more flexibility, at a price

The Specter x360 13.5 is the most 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 Specter x360 13.5 deserves its higher price.

Editors’ Recommendations




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