Notebookcheck

Review HP Spectre 13-3010eg Ultrabook

Sven Kloevekorn (translated by A Kammel), 02/05/2014

Quite the spectre! HP calls its premium ultrabooks "Spectre" - and equips its most recent flagship device with a high-resolution QHD IPS display. But is the difference between QHD and Full HD truly that noticeable? And what about its build quality, its design, its performance and its connectivity? In short: Is the premium ultrabook worth its premium price?

Not a spectre in the traditional sense of the word.
Not a spectre in the traditional sense of the word.

For the original German review, see here.

The HP Spectre 13-3010eg is a compact 13.3-inch subnotebook with a touchscreen and a Haswell CPU that complies with Intel's ultrabook specifications. HP's first ultrabook was released in early 2012, being called the HP Envy 14 Spectre. Currently, a number of ultrabooks are available from HP, all of them 13.3-inch devices, including our test device, some variants with Windows 8.1 Pro and different x2 models with a detachable display such as the HP Spectre 13-h205eg x2 which we have already reviewed. HP is not stating what its preferred customers are but we guess mobile business users might fancy the Spectre, especially those who are fond of prestigious work devices.

The Spectre has to compete against (among others) two 13.3-inch ultrabooks made by Acer and Asus, the Acer Aspire S7-392, which is famed for its design as well as its QHD display (same resolution as our test device, also same Intel Core i7-4500U as well as 8 GB of RAM) and the Asus Zenbook UX302LA-C4003H with "just" 1920x1080 pixels and a slightly slower Intel Core i5-4200U. While HP includes a 256 GB SSD, the Acer laptop comes with a RAID-0 cluster of two 128 GB SSDs and the Asus device offers an ordinary HD (500 GB) plus 24 GB of flash storage. The Zenbook is the heaviest of these laptops followed by the HP and Acer. Coincidentally, their price points are inversely proportional to the weight of the devices: 1500 Euros, 1300 Euros and 1200 Euros (~$2029, $1758 and $1623) for the Acer, HP and Asus models, respectively.

Our in-depth review will show how well the HP Spectre truly fares in the real-life world, especially its display.

Case

It is easy to see that the HP Spectre is not only a beautiful device with a sturdy chassis and great build quality, but it also comes with its own recognizable design language. Naturally, both its looks and the choice of colors is a matter of taste, but the shapes and nuances of the device are highly consistent with one another and carry over even down to the tiniest details. The resulting premium appearance also develops thanks to the dominant aluminum surfaces with the popular brushed metal finish. Unfortunately, both the rear part of the lid and the bottom panel of the base unit with their "truffle brown" finish are extremely prone to fingerprints.

The case is highly torsion-resistant, as is (to a surprising degree!) the robust display lid, which can be opened, barely, with one hand. One has to apply a lot of pressure onto the rear part of the lid in order to cause image distortions on the panel in front. Shaking the half-opened ultrabook in the air lets the hinges give in a bit, but at least the lid does not wobble. The edges of the base unit are a bit too sharp in the eyes of our reviewer. This is quite a nuisance when carrying around the laptop without a case or sleeve, but it barely bothered us around the palm rest when typing. All in all, we were fond of the chassis - it certainly is worthy of such a high-priced device.

Connectivity

Due to the compact form factor (and not so much due to the available budget, we guess), the number and variety of ports have to remain limited. No old-fashioned VGA port can be found anywhere on the device, but a modern DisplayPort (Mini variant only) as well as one HDMI port (full-size variant) and two USB 3.0 ports are included. Luckily, in terms of ergonomics, all ports are close to the rear part of the device.

Cable-bound Ethernet is only possible via a USB-to-Ethernet adapter blocking one of the two USB ports, thus probably making it necessary to use an external USB hub. No docking station or port replicator is available.

Kensington lock, USB 3.0, Line In/Out, SD card reader, HDD status LED
Kensington lock, USB 3.0, Line In/Out, SD card reader, HDD status LED
USB 3.0, Mini DisplayPort, HDMI, power connector
USB 3.0, Mini DisplayPort, HDMI, power connector

Communication

The HP Spectre 13-3010eg only comes with wireless communication modules, but these all work exceptionally well thanks to the Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 7260 Wi-Fi module which includes not only the new IEEE 802.11ac Gigabit Wi-Fi standard but also Bluetooth 4.0 + HS. The Spectre is not only capable of communicating via the 2.4 GHz band, but also via the 5 GHz band, which might come in handy in densely populated areas or in buildings with offices belonging to several different companies.

Reception quality and signal strength are great, too. With two walls and 10 meters (~33 feet) in between the device and the Wi-Fi router, no decrease in download speeds could be noted. Even walking down the stairs, the laptop took longer to disconnect than most other devices that we have reviewed before it.

Accessories

What, really? Next to a few pieces of paper (warranty information etc.), only a microfiber cloth is found within the box. No printed manual, no installation or recovery DVDs (or flash drives), not even a DisplayPort adapter (mini to full size) is included. That is disappointing, especially given the premium price of this laptop.

Maintenance

Normal users (who like to keep their warranty intact) will not be able to access the innards of the HP Spectre. No maintenance hatches have been included and a Torx screwdriver is required to remove the entire bottom panel.

Warranty

HP offers two years of limited warranty plus pickup and return services. As usual, Care Packs can be purchased to improve upon this, both in terms of quality and concerning the time period.

Input Devices

Keyboard

The chiclet-style keyboard offers the same standard layout as most laptops - nice. It is easy to get accustomed to the few keys with double functionality. The missing "pause" button should not be an issue for most users. The amount of key travel is very short (leading to shallow, hard keystrokes and thus fatigue after prolonged typing sessions), as is often the case with such slim ultrabooks, but at least the pressure point is easy to determine. The mute and Wi-Fi keys come with their own status LEDs. The Fn keys are there for volume, brightness, etc (the standard layout) while the traditional function keys are activated by a simultaneous press on the Fn key - where a locking mechanism would not have hurt.

Nice: The F5 key is brightly illuminated when the keyboard backlighting is deactivated; reverting to the same brightness as all other keys once the backlighting gets turned on. The homogeneity of the backlighting is great, but unfortunately, the weak bluish light only improves upon the contrast of the keyboard labels when the lighting situation is very bad. We had few opportunities to thoroughly test the backlighting system during our review.

Touchpad

The ClickPad - called HP Control Zone - is quite unusual, being equipped with two roughened edge areas and a larger, smoother and somewhat brighter central area instead of coming with separate mouse keys. The basic idea here is that the touchpad does not register anything extremely close to its edge, making the inward swipe gestures which are typical for Windows 8 much easier to perform (and much harder to trigger involuntarily). A short video made by HP illustrated this patented idea.

The touchpad is every bit as precise and great in terms of sliding properties as one might have expected from such a premium device. Gestures (for up to four fingers) are recognized with high reliability. As can be seen by looking at the picture below, there is not much to configure. The mouse keys come with short travel, a crisp pressure point and great haptic as well as acoustic feedback.

Touchscreen

The touchscreen is capable of recognizing up to 10 fingers at the same time - and quickly, precisely and extremely reliably so, differentiating itself from that of some of its competitors. The base unit is heavy enough to prevent the device from flipping over when using the touchscreen - it is rather the display hinge that gives in at some point. The glossy display is less prone to fingerprints than we would have expected, with the added bonus of the fingerprints being easy to rub off. It is possible that it uses a coating such as those e.g. on Apple's iPad (although these do vanish over time).

Display

Unfortunately, these scaling issues were no rare event.
Unfortunately, these scaling issues were no rare event.

QHD may be one of the biggest upcoming marketing buzzwords, and our HP Spectre 13 is one of the first devices using it. QHD (not qHD, 960x540 pixels, a resolution some smartphones still use) means Quad HD, four times the pixels of a Standard HD ready screen with a 720p resolution. The resolution of 2560x1440 (aspect ratio of 16:9) leads to a very high pixel density of 221 ppi due to the 13.3-inch screen diagonal. Ultra HD, on the other hand, is four times the pixels of a Full HD screen (3840x2160 pixels, mainly employed in expensive TVs thus far).

Just to crunch the numbers: A similarly sized Full HD display offers 166 ppi. A human with 20/20 vision can discern up to 188 ppi from a distance of approximately 45 cm (~), less than what the HP Spectre offers. Based on this (superficial) argument, one could say that there is little extra benefit exceeding Full HD at this screen size. However, in reality, even downsampling to Full HD resolution (which does not seem to diminish image quality in a noticeable way) should lead to better image quality than that offered by traditional Full HD displays. This is because the higher resolution screen can reduce aliasing by a greater degree with its denser pixel count compared to a native Full HD panel. Then again, barely any video material exceeds Full HD at this point in time.

The IPS technology used here leads (once again) to great viewing angles and a high contrast ratio. Like almost all touch displays, the one embedded within the HP Spectre is of the glossy variety, with reflections being even worse than for many other such displays that we have tested before. Then again, in terms of sharpness, Philips' panel is almost unbeaten.

Unfortunately, the unusually high resolution leads to a number of problems, especially with legacy software. Some programs did not render correctly and some of our benchmarks only ran when we manually reduced the resolution to 1920x1080 pixels. Luckily, the (preinstalled, free) update to Windows 8.1 improved the scaling functionality of Windows, and noticeably so, leading to fewer issues with too small screen elements and fonts on such a high-resolution display. Indie developers may also implement these new scaling features, as documented by Microsoft here.

347
cd/m²
340
cd/m²
362
cd/m²
289
cd/m²
311
cd/m²
316
cd/m²
318
cd/m²
342
cd/m²
358
cd/m²
Distribution of brightness
Information
X-Rite i1Pro 2
Maximum: 362 cd/m²
Average: 331.4 cd/m²
Brightness Distribution: 80 %
Center on Battery: 311 cd/m²
Black: 0.31 cd/m²
Contrast: 1003:1
HP Spectre 13-3010eg
Intel Core i7-4500U, Intel HD Graphics 4400, Sandisk X110 SD6SN1M-256G-1006
Asus Zenbook UX302LA-C4003H
Intel Core i5-4200U, Intel HD Graphics 4400, Hitachi Travelstar Z5K500 HTS545050A7E680 + 24 GB SanDisk SSD U100 Cache
Acer Aspire S7-392
Intel Core i7-4500U, Intel HD Graphics 4400, 2x Kingston SMSR150S3256G (RAID 0)
Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus
Intel Core i5-4200U, Intel HD Graphics 4400, Samsung MZNTD128HAGM
Asus Zenbook UX301
Intel Core i7-4558U, Intel Iris Graphics 5100, 2x Sandisk X110 SD6SP1M-128G RAID 0
Screen
-3%
27%
4%
40%
Brightness Center311322
4%
316
2%
301
-3%
419
35%
Black Level *0.310.52
-68%
0.19
39%
0.39
-26%
0.196
37%
Contrast1003619
-38%
1663
66%
772
-23%
2138
113%
Colorchecker DeltaE2000 *6.193.55
43%
4.33
30%
4
35%
4.89
21%
Greyscale DeltaE2000 *7.64.35
43%
6.05
20%
4.4
42%
5.68
25%
Gamma *2.412.552.412.432.47
Color Space (Percent of AdobeRGB 1998)56.2757
1%
59
5%
54.8
-3%
60
7%

* ... smaller is better

An average peak brightness of 331 cd/m² is a fine result, meaning that the HP Spectre can be used in most situations even though it comes with a glossy display. Both competitors are approximately on par with the Spectre. Not quite as nice: The brightness homogeneity levels are still okay, but nothing to write home about.

Low black levels of 0.31 cd/m² are measured, leading to deep blacks (with some minor-but-noticeable backlight bleeding near the upper and lower edges). The built-in IPS panel offers a great contrast ratio of approximately 1000:1, less than the stellar 1663:1 of the Acer Aspire S7-392 but more than the still-decent 619:1 of the Asus Zenbook UX302LA-C4003H.

Despite its IPS panel, the Spectre is not the perfect device for professional graphic artists and photographers, which require more than the 56% of the AdobeRGB color space (typical for IPS panels, including our two competitors) the Spectre offers. Unfortunately, the color deviations of the display of the Spectre are a lot worse than what we measured with its competitors, reaching average DeltaE values of 6 (Color Checker) to 8 (Grayscale) - just average for an IPS display.

CalMAN pre-calibration Color Checker
CalMAN pre-calibration Color Checker
CalMAN pre-calibration grayscale
CalMAN pre-calibration grayscale
CalMAN pre-calibration color saturation
CalMAN pre-calibration color saturation
HP Spectre 13-3010eg vs. AdobeRGB
HP Spectre 13-3010eg vs. AdobeRGB
HP Spectre 13-3010eg vs. sRGB
HP Spectre 13-3010eg vs. sRGB

Even on a cloudy day, the reflections are truly annoying when trying to use the HP Spectre "in the wild", its high peak brightness notwithstanding. Care has to be taken to find a spot where neither the sky nor other light sources might produce reflections on the screen.

Truth be told, we have seen IPS displays with higher viewing angle stability. Although barely any color distortions do occur even under extremely narrow angles, a lot of brightness loss occurs, and more quickly so than on competing panels. While this may not be a crucial issue during actual usage scenarios, it is worth mentioning that it might be prudent not to change one's position when working e.g. in Lightroom in order to achieve consistent results.

Image quality only begins to truly suffer once horizontal and vertical deviations are combined.
Image quality only begins to truly suffer once horizontal and vertical deviations are combined.

Performance

The Core i7-4500U (2x 1.8 to 3.0 GHz, Hyperthreading, TDP of 15 Watts, Intel HD 4400) stems from Intel's most recent Haswell generation, which offers only marginal per-MHz improvements when compared to its predecessor generation (Ivy Bridge), but is much more power-efficient. As one might have gathered by looking at the "i7" moniker, the CPU is fast enough even for demanding tasks including video cutting. 8 GB of RAM should also be more than enough for the time being. The only potential bottleneck may be found in the lack of a dedicated graphics card since the onboard GPU (the Intel HD 4400) quickly reaches its limits, e.g. in demanding 3D games. As both the CPU benchmarks and the stress tests show, high GPU demand can greatly decrease the clock speed of the CPU since both have to make do with the rather lowly 15 Watts (TDP).

System information HP Spectre 13-3010eg

Processor

The Intel Core i7-4500U CPU with which the Spectre ships comes with a base clock speed of 1.8 GHz, a Turbo boost of up to 3.0 GHz if only one core is active and 2.7 GHz if both cores are turned on. The 22nm i7 CPU has a TDP of just 15 Watts, making it an ideal choice for mobility-oriented laptops sized 11.6 inches and above while offering (more than) sufficient performance levels even for demanding tasks such as Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 5 - which is included in the package. The onboard Intel HD 4400 GPU takes care of all graphics computations.

So much about theory. In reality, during our stress tests, it quickly becomes evident that HP has not quite managed to allow the CPU to live up to its true potential. While it is common that the CPU rarely reaches its 3.0 GHz Turbo Boost speed, it is a bit disappointing that even 2.7 GHz can only be held for prolonged periods of time by one of the two cores. The Cinebench R11.5 multi CPU benchmark yielded clock speeds of 2.3 to 2.6 GHz for both cores of the i7-4500U. Running the CPU stress test Prime95 with four parallel threads, only 2.3 to 2.4 GHz seems to be realistic. Then again, most (but not all) comparable laptops are neither much slower nor much faster. We truly brought the system to its knees when the GPU stress test FurMark was run in addition to Prime95, resulting in a CPU clock speed of 1.1 to 1.2 GHz and temperatures of 80 degrees Celsius (CPU; 176 degrees Fahrenheit) and 60 degrees (GPU; 140 Fahrenheit), respectively.

Accordingly, the Acer Aspire S7-392 - sporting the same CPU - yields approximately the same performance as our test device. Only the Asus Zenbook with its weaker Intel Core i5-4200U (2x 1.6 to 2.6 GHz, Hyperthreading, Intel HD Graphics 4400, TDP of 15 Watts) falls behind by 12% during the Cinebench R11.5 multi CPU benchmark. Luckily, no differences between the results while running on battery and those while being plugged in could be measured.

Strangely, the CPU clock speed didn't exceed 1.7 GHz during our first measurements.
Strangely, the CPU clock speed didn't exceed 1.7 GHz during our first measurements.
Right to left: No load, Cinebench single, Cinebench multi ...
Right to left: No load, Cinebench single, Cinebench multi ...
...Prime95, Prime95 + FurMark
...Prime95, Prime95 + FurMark
HP Spectre 13-3010eg
Intel Core i7-4500U, Intel HD Graphics 4400, Sandisk X110 SD6SN1M-256G-1006
Acer Aspire S7-392
Intel Core i7-4500U, Intel HD Graphics 4400, 2x Kingston SMSR150S3256G (RAID 0)
Asus Zenbook UX302LA-C4003H
Intel Core i5-4200U, Intel HD Graphics 4400, Hitachi Travelstar Z5K500 HTS545050A7E680 + 24 GB SanDisk SSD U100 Cache
Cinebench R10
-1%
Rendering Multiple CPUs 64Bit1140011025
-3%
Rendering Single CPUs 64Bit58455897
1%
Cinebench R11.5
-6%
-12%
CPU Multi 64Bit2.822.74
-3%
2.47
-12%
CPU Single 64Bit1.311.19
-9%
Cinebench R15
-3%
CPU Multi 64Bit260251
-3%
CPU Single 64Bit120117
-2%
Total Average (Program / Settings)
-3% / -3%
-12% / -12%
Cinebench R10 Shading 32Bit
7333
Cinebench R10 Rendering Multiple CPUs 32Bit
8642
Cinebench R10 Rendering Single 32Bit
4410
Cinebench R10 Shading 64Bit
7488 Points
Cinebench R10 Rendering Multiple CPUs 64Bit
11400 Points
Cinebench R10 Rendering Single CPUs 64Bit
5845 Points
Cinebench R11.5 CPU Multi 64Bit
2.82 Points
Cinebench R11.5 OpenGL 64Bit
21.95 fps
Cinebench R11.5 CPU Single 64Bit
1.31 Points
Cinebench R15 CPU Single 64Bit
120 Points
Cinebench R15 CPU Multi 64Bit
260 Points
Cinebench R15 Ref. Match 64Bit
63.3 %
Help

System Performance

PCMark 7 and PCMark 8 are our tools of choice when it comes to measuring system performance levels. Unsurprisingly, the HP Spectre and the Acer Aspire S7-392 fare almost equally well, only during the productivity benchmark of PCMark 7 does the Acer take a hit (-23%). According to the System Storage measurements of both suites, the S7 can barely profit from its two-SSD-RAID-0 system. Then again, the synthetic AS SSD benchmark yields quite different results (more about that later). The Asus Zenbook takes the last spot in all regards due to its weaker CPU and the slower hard drive, although the difference may not actually be that noticeable in real life (except for system and program loading times, despite the SSD cache of the Zenbook).

From a gut standpoint, the write speed of the test device could barely be better. Boot times, opening even large programs - everything feels blazingly fast. When using Lightroom 5, for example, switching between different modules or reloading image information is a breeze.

HP Spectre 13-3010eg
Intel Core i7-4500U, Intel HD Graphics 4400, Sandisk X110 SD6SN1M-256G-1006
Acer Aspire S7-392
Intel Core i7-4500U, Intel HD Graphics 4400, 2x Kingston SMSR150S3256G (RAID 0)
Asus Zenbook UX302LA-C4003H
Intel Core i5-4200U, Intel HD Graphics 4400, Hitachi Travelstar Z5K500 HTS545050A7E680 + 24 GB SanDisk SSD U100 Cache
PCMark 7
-7%
-45%
Score51024970
-3%
3320
-35%
Productivity34102623
-23%
1183
-65%
Entertainment36763490
-5%
3031
-18%
System Storage52115432
4%
2026
-61%
PCMark 8
-4%
-29%
Home Score Accelerated29602744
-7%
2702
-9%
Creative Score Accelerated31812962
-7%
2350
-26%
Storage Score48714951
2%
2336
-52%
Total Average (Program / Settings)
-6% / -6%
-37% / -38%
PC Mark
PCMark Vantage9407 points
PCMark 75102 points
PCMark 8 Home2960 points
PCMark 8 Creative3181 points
PCMark 8 Work3783 points
Help

Mass Storage

As mentioned above, the Acer S7 profits a lot from its RAID-0 system made up of two SSDs during the synthetic AS SSD benchmark, but the System Storage results of PCMark 07 and PCMark 08 imply that not much of that might be felt in real life. The Zenbook, of course, fares far worse, even though its conventional HDD is augmented by an SSD cache. Given that it is indeed an SSD, the hard drive of the Spectre comes in somewhat below average when looking at the Read Score.

AS SSD
AS SSD
CrystalDiskMark 3.0
CrystalDiskMark 3.0
HD Tune
HD Tune
HP Spectre 13-3010eg
Intel Core i7-4500U, Intel HD Graphics 4400, Sandisk X110 SD6SN1M-256G-1006
Acer Aspire S7-392
Intel Core i7-4500U, Intel HD Graphics 4400, 2x Kingston SMSR150S3256G (RAID 0)
Asus Zenbook UX302LA-C4003H
Intel Core i5-4200U, Intel HD Graphics 4400, Hitachi Travelstar Z5K500 HTS545050A7E680 + 24 GB SanDisk SSD U100 Cache
AS SSD
32%
-2340%
Seq Read451.45827.06
83%
105.09
-77%
4K Read24.9428.68
15%
0.45
-98%
4K-64 Read291.27309.79
6%
0.66
-100%
Access Time Read *0.1630.099
39%
18.628
-11328%
Score Read361421
17%
12
-97%

* ... smaller is better

Sandisk X110 SD6SN1M-256G-1006
Sequential Read: 464 MB/s
Sequential Write: 380.1 MB/s
512K Read: 276.4 MB/s
512K Write: 345.8 MB/s
4K Read: 29.02 MB/s
4K Write: 61.63 MB/s
4K QD32 Read: 291.9 MB/s
4K QD32 Write: 182.5 MB/s

Graphics Card

The integrated Intel HD 4400 GPU supports DirectX 11.1, clocks in at 200 to 1100 MHz and shares the same memory with the two CPU cores. Unsurprisingly, our test device beat the Asus Zenbook with its somewhat weaker CPU and identical GPU (although with just up to 1000 MHz instead of 1100 MHz) by a slight margin in 3DMark (2013). Interestingly, though, the Acer S7 sometimes even fares worse than the Asus Zenbook, probably due to earlier or harsher throttling occurring there. After all, the Acer S7 has a reputation as being a quiet laptop, and you cannot have high performance without the accompanying noise and heat emissions. Also unsurprisingly, all three GPU scores come to lie close together during 3DMark 11, with the Asus losing 11% during the CPU-intensive Physics benchmarks.

3DMark (2013)
1280x720 Ice Storm Standard Score (sort by value)
HP Spectre 13-3010eg
42648 Points ∼26%
Acer Aspire S7-392
28849 Points ∼18% -32%
Asus Zenbook UX302LA-C4003H
40049 Points ∼25% -6%
1280x720 Ice Storm Standard Graphics (sort by value)
HP Spectre 13-3010eg
47267 Points ∼6%
Acer Aspire S7-392
29024 Points ∼4% -39%
Asus Zenbook UX302LA-C4003H
46381 Points ∼6% -2%
1280x720 Ice Storm Standard Physics (sort by value)
HP Spectre 13-3010eg
31779 Points ∼20%
Acer Aspire S7-392
28257 Points ∼18% -11%
Asus Zenbook UX302LA-C4003H
27102 Points ∼17% -15%
1280x720 Cloud Gate Standard Score (sort by value)
HP Spectre 13-3010eg
4728 Points ∼17%
Acer Aspire S7-392
4119 Points ∼15% -13%
Asus Zenbook UX302LA-C4003H
4409 Points ∼16% -7%
1280x720 Cloud Gate Standard Graphics (sort by value)
HP Spectre 13-3010eg
6002 Points ∼5%
Acer Aspire S7-392
4895 Points ∼4% -18%
Asus Zenbook UX302LA-C4003H
5848 Points ∼5% -3%
1280x720 Cloud Gate Standard Physics (sort by value)
HP Spectre 13-3010eg
2713 Points ∼7%
Acer Aspire S7-392
2650 Points ∼7% -2%
Asus Zenbook UX302LA-C4003H
2369 Points ∼6% -13%

Legend

 
HP Spectre 13-3010eg Intel Core i7-4500U, Intel HD Graphics 4400, Sandisk X110 SD6SN1M-256G-1006
 
Acer Aspire S7-392 Intel Core i7-4500U, Intel HD Graphics 4400, 2x Kingston SMSR150S3256G (RAID 0)
 
Asus Zenbook UX302LA-C4003H Intel Core i5-4200U, Intel HD Graphics 4400, Hitachi Travelstar Z5K500 HTS545050A7E680 + 24 GB SanDisk SSD U100 Cache
3D Mark
3DMark 06
 1280x1024
6293 points
3DMark Vantage3975 points
3DMark 11984 points
3DMark Ice Storm42648 points
3DMark Cloud Gate4728 points
3DMark Fire Strike700 points
Help

Gaming Performance

Few shading units, shared memory (albeit dual channel), 64-bit memory bus - all of this leads to subpar gaming performance. Shogun 2 only ran at minimum settings (definitely a driver issue) while almost all other games will voluntarily be run at such, as well as in a lowly XGA resolution. Dota 2 is the only exception, looking great even with medium settings and being playable (~40 fps, enough given the genre). Then again, such results are typical for an HD 4400 GPU, with our test device being neither especially fast nor slower than its competitors (see the chart below the game list). The throttling we measured during our stress test does not impact the Spectre's gaming performance.

low med.high ultra
Total War: Shogun 2 (2011) 93.59fps
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (2011) 35.8318.5411.17fps
Anno 2070 (2011) 48.1222.3313.155.87fps
Dishonored (2012) 40.531.3327.0615.41fps
Tomb Raider (2013) 52.82615.5fps
BioShock Infinite (2013) 36.8418.73fps
Dota 2 (2013) 50.9139.7221.46fps
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - 1280x720 Low Preset (sort by value)
HP Spectre 13-3010eg
35.83 fps ∼20%
Toshiba Satellite U50t-A-100
23.4 fps ∼13% -35%
Acer Aspire S7-392
33.2 fps ∼19% -7%
Sony Vaio Duo 13 SVD1321M2E
36 fps ∼20% 0%
Anno 2070 - 1366x768 Medium Preset AA:on (sort by value)
HP Spectre 13-3010eg
22.33 fps ∼9%
Toshiba Satellite U50t-A-100
21.4 fps ∼9% -4%
Acer Aspire S7-392
28.9 fps ∼12% +29%
Sony Vaio Duo 13 SVD1321M2E
32 fps ∼13% +43%
Tomb Raider - 1366x768 Normal Preset AA:FX AF:4x (sort by value)
HP Spectre 13-3010eg
26 fps ∼6%
Toshiba Satellite U50t-A-100
17.9 fps ∼4% -31%
Dell Inspiron 14-7437
25 fps ∼5% -4%
Acer Aspire S7-392
24.4 fps ∼5% -6%
Sony Vaio Duo 13 SVD1321M2E
27.5 fps ∼6% +6%
BioShock Infinite - 1280x720 Very Low Preset (sort by value)
HP Spectre 13-3010eg
36.84 fps ∼13%
Dell Inspiron 14-7437
36.7 fps ∼13% 0%
Sony Vaio Duo 13 SVD1321M2E
39 fps ∼13% +6%

Emissions

System Noise

The fan is quite ... well, unpredictable, getting fairly audible when we least expected it. There seemed to be only a few steps in between, with the loudest mode getting quite annoying (while at least refraining from including even more annoying hissing noises). It should be taken into account that the slim form factor requires a number of compromises, which should not be quite as noticeable as during our benchmarks. The cooling system probably relies on a rapidly rotating fan with a small diameter, as there is simply not enough space for passive cooling elements (which can also be seen by the fact that the fan keeps spinning long after the laptop has been turned idle again).

Our measurements have shown that all three laptops reach approximately 30 dB(A) while idle, but the Spectre is the loudest by 9 to 17% when put under medium or full load.

Noise Level

Idle 29.6 / 29.6 / 29.6 dB(A)
Load 37.8 / 40.8 dB(A)
 
    30 dB
silent
40 dB
audible
50 dB
loud
 
min: , med: , max:    Voltcraft sl-320 (15 cm distance)

Temperature

While idle or under medium, non-constant load, the case never gets exceedingly warm, but this changes once the device is put under full load, reaching up to 44 degrees Celsius (111.2 degrees Fahrenheit) right below the display, both on top and beneath the laptop. While this might be too much for some users, the temperature of the palm rest never exceeds a comfortable 31 degrees (87.8 Fahrenheit). The laptop should not be employed for demanding tasks while being used on the lap since all exhaust vents are located beneath the base unit. As mentioned in the "Processor" section, the CPU down-clocks to 1.1 to 1.2 GHz under maximum load of both the CPU and the GPU. No serious throttling-caused limitations can be noted during real-life usage.

 23.5 °C24.5 °C24.8 °C 
 23.2 °C23.8 °C23.8 °C 
 23.6 °C23.1 °C24.7 °C 
Maximum: 24.8 °C
Average: 23.9 °C
24.3 °C25.7 °C24.9 °C
24.3 °C24.8 °C24.6 °C
23.8 °C24.5 °C24.7 °C
Maximum: 25.7 °C
Average: 24.6 °C
Power Supply (max.)  25.7 °C | Room Temperature 24.2 °C | Voltcraft IR-360

Speakers

Playback
Playback
Recording
Recording

All Spectre ultrabooks have shipped with Beats Audio sound systems, with Beats Electronics claiming to be the "leader of a revolution directed against mediocre sound". While our test device is not perfect, the results are indeed rather impressive, yielding surprisingly clear, natural, three-dimensional and dynamic sound, although the speakers are so tiny with barely any available resonance space. Even "true bass" can be had, although it is to be understood that not all extremely deep frequencies can be mapped 1:1.

We are not sure, however, whether the special ingredient is truly a set of high-quality speakers or whether the software makes all the difference. Deactivating Beats Audio almost instantly ruins the experience, with extremely washed-out sound. It may possibly be a combination of both factors. As can be seen on the right hand side, the Beats Audio settings menu offers a lot of customizability.

Unfortunately, the speakers are not powerful enough to fill large rooms up to 30 square meters (~323 sq ft) and prevent distortions and fluctuations in terms of volume at the same time, at least depending on the source material. Moreover, while the speakers may get louder on a hard reflecting surface (due to being aimed down), they also sound a bit tinnier then. We managed to get the best results when we put the laptop upside-down, on its lid, with the hinges being opened by up to 80 degrees so that the speakers are aimed at an angle (somewhat to the front and up).

Overall, the Beats Audio system offers great sound quality (both for videos and music), far ahead of most other laptops in the same price category. When connected to an external sound system, the Beats Audio software should be deactivated, however, since the Intel Lynx Point LP audio controller is more than up to the task.

Energy Management

Power Consumption

Unpleasant and uneconomical: Even when turned off or put to sleep (standby), the HP Spectre 13-3010eg still draws 0.3 to 0.6 Watts of power, more than most laptops. When compared to other 13-inch devices, our test device turns out to be an average power consumer while idle or put under load.

Power Consumption

Off / Standby 0.3 / 0.6 Watt
Idle 3.7 / 6.8 / 8.8 Watt
Load 30.3 / 30.7 Watt
 
Key: min: , med: , max:         Voltcraft VC 940

Battery Life

Like its two ultrabook competitors, the HP Spectre offers long battery life, winning the fight by its 6:40 hours (Wi-Fi test, Acer: -8%, Asus: -16%). Under full load, 2:12 hours are possible, still more than the two other devices (Acer: -12%, Asus: -21%). Different battery packs are not available, but this should not come as a surprise since the user would not be at liberty to install them.

Battery Runtime
WiFi Surfing
6h 41min
Load (maximum brightness)
2h 12min

Verdict

While our Spectre may not be the cheapest ultrabook out there, it is well worth its asking price of around 1300 Euros (~$1758). Not content with being a compact, very slim ultrabook with decent battery life and more than enough performance reserves even for demanding (or future) applications, the HP ultrabook also comes with a sturdy chassis, great build quality and a stylish design with great attention to detail. The input devices (especially the innovative touchpad) are a great addition, as is Photoshop Lightroom 5, which would actually cost around 100 Euros (~$135) if purchased separately. Still, possibly the best thing about the Spectre is its QHD IPS touchscreen which yields high maximum brightness, a great contrast ratio and sharp images.

It is not all roses, though. The uneven noise emissions of the fan, the somewhat sharp edges of the chassis and the less-than-ideal placement of the fan at the bottom of the device might be major disadvantages for some. The selection of ports is okay, given the compactness of the device.

Those who might be fond of an even better display (and all-quiet operation) might want to have a look at the Acer Aspire S7-392. The Asus Zenbook UX302LA-C4003 is another good ultrabook (85% during our review) which can be had for 300 Euros (~$406) less than the HP Spectre while including many more accessories.

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In Review: The HP Spectre 13-3010eg, provided by:
In Review: The HP Spectre 13-3010eg, provided by:

Specifications

HP Spectre 13-3010eg
Graphics adapter
Intel HD Graphics 4400, Core: 200-1100 MHz, Memory: 800 MHz, shared Memory, 10.18.10.3304
Memory
8192 MB 
, DDR3, 1.600 MHz, dual channel
Display
13.3 inch 16:9, 2560x1440 pixel, capacitive, 10 points, LG Philips LGD0000, IPS, Quad HD, glossy: yes
Mainboard
Intel Lynx Point-LP
Harddisk
Sandisk X110 SD6SN1M-256G-1006, 256 GB 
SSD
Soundcard
Intel Lynx Point-LP - High Definition Audio Controller
Connections
2 USB 3.0, 1 HDMI, 1 DisplayPort, 1 Kensington Lock, Audio Connections: combinede Line In/Out (3.5mm audio jack), Card Reader: SD/SDHC/SDXC,
Networking
Intel Wireless-AC 7260 (a b g n ac), 4.0 + HS Bluetooth
Size
height x width x depth (in mm): 15 x 324 x 220 ( = 0.59 x 12.76 x 8.66 in)
Weight
1.48 kg ( = 52.21 oz) Power Supply: 199 g ( = 7.02 oz)
Battery
50 Wh Lithium-Ion
Price
1300 Euro
Operating System
Microsoft Windows 8.1 64 Bit
Additional features
Webcam: 2 MP, Speakers: stereo, beneath the base unit (at the sides), Keyboard: Chiclet, Keyboard Light: yes, McAfee LiveSave, Photoshop Lightroom 5, Beats Audio Software, HP Tools, Box (50 GB of free Cloud storage), Monopoly, 24 Months Warranty

 

[+] compare
Truffle brown is what HP calls the color ...
Truffle brown is what HP calls the color ...
...of the lid and the bottom part of the base unit.
...of the lid and the bottom part of the base unit.
The rest of the chassis ...
The rest of the chassis ...
...comes in a neutral, silverish color.
...comes in a neutral, silverish color.
With the exceptions of the keyboard deck, the hinges, the side elements ...
With the exceptions of the keyboard deck, the hinges, the side elements ...
...and of course the display frame ...
...and of course the display frame ...
...everything is covered by with aluminum ...
...everything is covered by with aluminum ...
...sporting a nice brushed metal finish.
...sporting a nice brushed metal finish.
The entire laptop
The entire laptop
highly reflective screen
highly reflective screen
Keyboard layout: Almost everything is ...
Keyboard layout: Almost everything is ...
...where one expects it to be.
...where one expects it to be.
The keys lack travel ...
The keys lack travel ...
...but at least only a few of the keys sport two functions.
...but at least only a few of the keys sport two functions.
Overall, we were rather fond of the chiclet-style keyboard ...
Overall, we were rather fond of the chiclet-style keyboard ...
...despite of the somewhat hard keystrokes which are necessary.
...despite of the somewhat hard keystrokes which are necessary.
Some keys come with useful status LEDs ...
Some keys come with useful status LEDs ...
...including the power button.
...including the power button.
Unfortunately (as it sports a touchscreen), the maximum angle is a mere 135 degrees.
Unfortunately (as it sports a touchscreen), the maximum angle is a mere 135 degrees.
Innovative, beautiful, functional and reliable:
Innovative, beautiful, functional and reliable:
The touchpad comes with two haptically different edge zones.
The touchpad comes with two haptically different edge zones.
The standard Synaptics configuration windows, as known from many laptops.
The standard Synaptics configuration windows, as known from many laptops.
Well, at least the sticker is not blue.
Well, at least the sticker is not blue.
USB 3.0 (SuperSpeed), Mini DisplayPort, Standard HDMI, power connector
USB 3.0 (SuperSpeed), Mini DisplayPort, Standard HDMI, power connector
Beats Audio has been on board since the days of the first Spectre ultrabook.
Beats Audio has been on board since the days of the first Spectre ultrabook.
A rare event: Even the bottom part looks nice.
A rare event: Even the bottom part looks nice.
Unfortunately, the main exhaust vents sit beneath the device.
Unfortunately, the main exhaust vents sit beneath the device.
At least they have tried not to use too many semi-beautiful stickers.
At least they have tried not to use too many semi-beautiful stickers.
Speakers
Speakers
Even the feet look as they have been designed with attention to detail.
Even the feet look as they have been designed with attention to detail.
The Spectre is indeed a good-looking premium device.
The Spectre is indeed a good-looking premium device.

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» Lenovo M30-70 Notebook Review
Core i3 4010U, 1.53 kg

Links

Price Check

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Pro

+fast enough for everything - except for games
+sturdy premium chassis without any uneven clearances
+great design with much passion for detail
+good keyboard
+three-zone touchpad, works very well with Windows 8
+fine display with a QHD resolution
+precise, reliable touchscreen
+most scaling issues resolved with Windows 8.1
+Lightroom 5 (full version!) pre-installed
 

Cons

-somewhat heavy
-some sharp edges
-twitchy fan (not always that quiet)
-very prone to fingerprints
-gets very warm under full load (sometimes too warm to use on one's lap)
-CPU might be a bit faster
-highly reflective screen
-barely any accessories, no software DVDs

Shortcut

What we like

Both the high-resolution display and the premium chassis.

What we'd like to see

Accessories such as adapters - why does a microfiber cloth have to be the highlight?

What surprises us

Great display? Check. Bundled with a free copy of the full version of the superb Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 5? Check. So why doesn't HP include a Lightroom DVD or a license sheet? At least, the program can be downloaded from Adobe's website, with the license key being accessible within the program itself.

 

The competition

Acer Aspire S7-392

Asus Zenbook UX302LA-C4003H

Lenovo ThinkPad X240

Toshiba Portégé Z30-A-12U

Ratings

HP Spectre 13-3010eg
04/17/2014 v4
Sven Kloevekorn

Chassis
84 / 98 → 86%
Keyboard
77%
Pointing Device
81%
Connectivity
60 / 95 → 63%
Weight
69 / 78 → 79%
Battery
86%
Display
81%
Games Performance
61 / 85 → 72%
Application Performance
84%
Temperature
84 / 91 → 92%
Noise
86%
Audio
80 / 91 → 88%
Camera
42 / 85 → 49%
Average
75%
81%
Subnotebook *
Weighted Average
> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Review HP Spectre 13-3010eg Ultrabook
Author: Sven Kloevekorn, 2014-02- 5 (Update: 2014-02- 6)