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HP Envy x2 (Snapdragon 835) review: A huge gas tank, but not enough horsepower

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Big tank, small horsepower

Long battery life is wonderful, but it counts for naught if actually using the computer is a pain. It would be unfair to say that using the Envy x2 is painful, but its performance is certainly below average.

I used the laptop as an everyday device in my testing. There was nothing too complicated, no photo or video editing, just browsing, video watching and writing. Even still, the Envy x2 is noticeably slower than both my personal MacBook Pro and my work's Dell Latitude, both of which run Intel Core i5 CPUs.

There have been some egregious cases, like a specific app crashing over and over again for no reason, but I'm happy to write some of these off as bad luck. But I've in general experienced conspicuous lag when loading Facebook pages, surfing YouTube and even writing in Google Docs. It's not terrible lag, but it sure is lag.

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This would be more forgivable if the Envy x2 was less expensive. It's not a rip-off, as between the premium design and build quality, Digital Pen and the quality keyboard case, it's easy to see where your $999 is going. But that doesn't make it much easier to deal with the fact that almost every similarly priced laptop is much faster.

Part of this problem is evidently the Snapdragon processor-Windows operating system combo, as we experienced similar problems with Asus' NovaGo, which uses the same processor. Windows 10 is evidently more demanding than iOS and Android (duh). It seems, so far, smartphone hardware cannot run laptop software with the efficacy that most users would expect.

ARMs Race

The processor inside the Envy x2 and its ARM brethren, the Asus NovaGo ($499 at Amazon) and the Lenovo Miix 630, is Qualcomm's Snapdragon 835. That's the same CPU inside Samsung's Galaxy S8 and Note 8 phones of 2017.

Also inside is Qualcomm's Snapdragon X16 LTE modem, which means you'll get 4G cellular connectivity wherever you go. This worked as advertised in my testing, with internet speeds comparable to what you'd get from a phone. That said, this will be dependent on your particular carrier. If your carrier struggles to connect in certain areas via your phone, expect the same here.

The main event here is the battery life, and sure enough it is impressive. It lasted just under 12 hours in our video testing, making it a truly elite machine in the category. That said, it's not head-and-shoulders above the competition. Dell's exceptional new XPS 13 line lasted a few minutes longer, for instance, while the 13-inch MacBook Pro lasted around 11.5 hours.

The Envy x2's battery life is terrific, but not enough to justify the price when you consider the processing power you're sacrificing.

This disappointment is compounded with the fact that Windows 10, while an excellent operating system, isn't as useful in tablet mode as iOS and Android. That means it's not as good a tablet as an iPad Pro, nor as good a two-in-one convertible as HP's own Spectre x360.

A smartphone processor inside a Windows laptop is an interesting preposition. Just not at this price.

Geekbench 4 Multi-Core

Acer Aspire E15-57G6
10,891
Microsoft Surface Pro with LTE Advanced (T-Mobile)
7,843
Apple MacBook (12-inch, 2017)
6,896
Acer Switch 3
4,472
HP Envy x2
3,186
Asus NovaGo TP270QL (T-Mobile)
2,762

Note:

Longer bars indicate better performance

Streaming video playback battery drain test

Asus NovaGo TP270QL
792
Acer Aspire E15-57G6
718
HP Envy x2
661
Apple MacBook (12-inch, 2017)
626
Microsoft Surface Pro with LTE Advanced
527
Acer Switch 3
458

Note:

Longer bars indicate better performance (in minutes)

System configurations

HP Envy x2 Microsoft Windows 10 S/Pro; 2.6GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 Mobile processor; 8GB 1,866MHz LPDDR4x onboard; Adreno 540 Graphics; 256GB SSD
Asus NovaGo TP270QL Microsoft Windows 10 Pro (64-bit); 2.6GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 Mobile processor; 8GB 1,866MHz LPDDR4x onboard; Adreno 540 Graphics; 128GB SSD
Microsoft Surface Pro with LTE Advanced Microsoft Windows 10 Pro (64-bit); 2.6GHz Intel Core i5-7300U; 8GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,866MHz; 128MB (dedicated) Intel HD Graphics 620; 256GB SSD
Acer Aspire E15-57G6 Microsoft Windwos 10 Home (64-bit); 1.6GHz Intel Core i5-8250U; 8GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,600MHz, 2048MB Nvidia GeForce MX150; 256GB SSD
Acer Switch 3 Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 1.1GHz Intel Pentium N4200; 4GB DDR3 SDRAM; 128MB (dedicated) Intel HD Graphics 505; 64GB SSD
Apple MacBook (12-inch, 2017) Apple macOS 10.12.5 Sierra; 1.2GHz Intel Core m3-7Y32; 8GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,866MHz; 1,536MB Intel HD Graphics 615; 256GB SSD

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