HP Spectre XT TouchSmart 15-4010nr review: A slim 15-inch Win 8 laptop with Thunderbolt

Sarah Tew/CNEt

With a high-end Core i7 CPU, this is a step above the vast majority of Windows 8 laptops we've tested, even high-end ones, which generally have the more mainstream Core i5 CPUs. That said, in our benchmark tests, the Spectre XT was faster in some of our tests (as was the Core i7-bearing Asus Zenbook UX51Vz), but not radically so. For everyday use, such as Web surfing, social media, and office tasks, you're unlikely to notice the difference, but for heavy-duty photo and video editing or serious multitasking, the faster Core i7 CPU may give you some extra zip.

The faster processor also makes up for the Spectre XT not having a discrete GPU, which is not totally unthinkable for a 15-inch laptop in this price range. With the Core i7 and Intel's HD 4000 graphics, you can play some less-challenging games such as Portal or even Modern Warfare 2 at lower settings with acceptable performance, but if you're looking for a slim, portable, high-res gaming machine, this isn't it.

One area where the Spectre XT really underwhelmed me was battery life. The system ran for 3 hours and 47 minutes in our video playback battery drain test, which is short of even a half-day at the office. With no GPU and a low-voltage processor, it really should run longer, and Core i5 systems with 14- and 15-inch screens can run for more than 5 hours easily.

Conclusion
The long-awaited (we first saw it summer 2012) HP Spectre XT TouchSmart is a great all-around 15-inch ultrabook. It has the requisite touch screen, as well as HP's usual combo of decent keyboard and touch pad, and the Beats audio sound system, plus a hard-to-find Thunderbolt port. Still, for $1,299, it's not unreasonable to look for better battery life or even some graphics muscle. Less expensive slim 15-inch touch-screen laptops are available, but you'll trade down to lower screen resolutions and slightly thicker bodies.

Multimedia multitasking test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Adobe Photoshop CS5 image-processing test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Apple iTunes encoding test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Video playback battery drain test (in minutes)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)

Load test (Average watts)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
HP Spectre TouchSmart 15-4010nr
40.2 

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System configurations:

HP Spectre TouchSmart 15-4010nr
Windows 8 (64-bit) w/SP1; 1.9GHz Intel Core i7-3517U; 8GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,600MHz; 32MB (Shared) Intel HD 400, 500GB HD + 32GB SSD

Dell Inspiron 15z
Windows 8 (64-bit) w/ SP1; 1.7GHz Intel Core i5-3317U; 6GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,600MHz; 32MB (Shared) Intel HD 4000; 500GB HD + 32GB SSD

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon
Windows 8 (64-bit) w/ SP1; 1.8GHz Intel Core i5-3427U; 4GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,600MHz; 32MB (Dedicated) Intel HD 4000; 180GB Intel SSD

Asus Zenbook UX51Vz
Windows 8 (64-bit); 2.1GHz Intel Core i7-3612QM; 8GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,600MHz; 2GB Nvidia GeForce GT 640M / 64MB (Dedicated) Intel HD 4000; 512GB Adata XM11 SSD (256GB x 2)

Acer Aspire V5-571P-6499
Windows 8 (64-bit) w/ SP1; 1.7GHz Intel Core i5-3317U; 4GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,600MHz; 128MB (Dedicated) Intel HD 4000; 500GB Hitachi 5,400rpm + 20GB SSD Hybrid

HP EliteBook Folio 9470m
Windows 8 Pro (64-bit); 1.8GHz Intel Core i5-3427U; 4GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,600MHz; 32MB (Dedicated) Intel HD 4000; 180GB Intel SSD

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Where to Buy See all prices

HP Spectre XT TouchSmart 15-4010nr Ultrabook

Part Number: CNET-HP-Spectre-XT-TouchSmart-Ultrabook
MSRP: $1,349.99 Low Price: $1,049.99 See all prices

Quick Specifications See All

  • Resolution 1920 x 1080 ( Full HD )
  • Operating System Windows 8
  • Installed Size 8 GB
  • Color natural silver
  • Weight 5 lbs
  • Graphics Processor Intel HD Graphics 4000
  • CPU Intel Core i7 (3rd Gen) 3517U / 1.9 GHz
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