Which laptop should I get (tell me why!)?
HP Spectre x360 (2019) 15"
 37%  [ 3 ]
HP Spectre x360 (2019) 13"
 25%  [ 2 ]
MSI Prestige 14"
 25%  [ 2 ]
Something else (tell me in the topic)
 12%  [ 1 ]
Total Votes : 8

In December 2015, I got my latest laptop, an HP Spectre x360 HP 13t 2-in-1 convertible laptop. I've always loved tablet computers, but this was the first one I've had that didn't have a pen and digitizer (and thus wasn't useful for notes). The touchscreen and tablet mode were nice for things like watching movies/TV shows, but not utterly useless otherwise. For geek specs, it's a thin and light 13" laptop with a 2560x1440 display, two-core Intel i7-6500U with integrated HD Graphics 520, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD (that I upgraded to 512GB), and 3-core 56Whr battery. Because I'm pretty hard on my machines, it's basically the Laptop of Theseus right now: a leaky water bottle meant I had to replace the screen and battery, a spilled soda meant I had to replace the keyboard, and there was the aforementioned SSD replacement. It's finally appearing to be on its last legs: the SSD is sporadically not found, and percussive maintenance is needed to repair it.

I use my laptop a lot. A lot a lot. I use my laptop as my computer at work, I use it to do work at home (I also have a very powerful 5-monitor desktop that I use for some of my TV/movies/especially gaming), I use it for work and personal stuff while I travel for work (which I do a lot). My company makes software relevant to 3D modeling and game development, so I find my current computer only very occasionally insufficient; for the most part it does what I need. The weight is excellent, and it looks pretty sleek. Therefore, I started with thinking about the HP Spectre line again for my next laptop. After some investigation, I specced out two Spectres, and also found an MSI to compare with:
  • HP Spectre x360 15", $1730 (HP store): 6-core Intel i7-9750H (9th gen), discrete NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 (4GB), 16GB DDR4 (un-expandable), 15.6" 3840x2160 AMOLED display, 1TB Intel SSD with 32GB of Optane cache memory, 6-cell 85Whr battery, keyboard with numpad. It has an active, pressure-sensitive wireless pen powered by a non-rechargeable AAAA battery. The screen is gorgeous, and the case design is absolutely beautiful as well. It's quite a hefty beast: 4.62lb, heavy for toting and especially heavy for holding like a tablet and writing on. The powerful graphics card appeals to me.
  • HP Spectre x360 13", $1630 (HP store; out of stock (!!)): 4-core Intel i7-1065G7 (10th gen), integrated Intel® Iris® Plus Graphics, 16GB LPDDR-4 (un-expandable), 13.3" 3840x2160 AMOLED display, 1TB Intel SSD with 32GB of Optane cache memory, 4-cell 60Whr battery, keyboard. Same wireless pen, same beautiful screen and case design. It's a much lighter laptop, and it would be the absolutely perfect choice if it had a discrete GPU. However, it might be worth considering that it's light (2.8lb) and pleasant to hold, has specs that are about 2x as powerful as my current laptop in every way, and will be easier to carry around everywhere, as I do.
  • MSI Prestige 14 A10SC-021 (14") (Amazon): 6-core i7-10710U (10th gen), discrete NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 (4GB), 16GB LPDDR-3, 14" 3480x2160 IPS LCD, 1TB SSD, 3-cell 50Whr battery. Weighs 3.64lb. Nice compromise, but for the price, I think the Spectres are strictly better.

So what do you think? What should Kerm get as his computing machine?
I have a Clevo N750WU and I'm very happy with it. Clevo is a Taiwanese barebone laptop manufacturer, but instead of selling directly to customers, they let other companies assemble the other parts of the laptop and resell the laptop. If you want to buy a Clevo, you have to look for Clevo resellers. You probably haven't heard of Clevo because they are mostly in the background and don't advertize for themselves. If you know Alienware, they were a Clevo reseller before Dell bought them.
These laptops have a lot of expandability, most notably a socketed desktop CPU and removable battery, but you can take everything apart if you want. Also, spare parts are available if you contact your reseller.

This might not be exactly what you were looking for, but take a look at what they offer. I think you could be interested in their mobility section (other models than the one there are on the left, scroll down for the mobility section). Apart from the previous link, this one could be a candidate. (You'll usually also find more details about the model you're interested in on the reseller's website.) More info on the brand can be found here. The reseller I used was ConfigureLaptop.eu or NovaCustom, but that's European so it won't help you as much. Just searching for a list of resellers usually works though.

I'll give you the specs of my N750WU:
  • Intel i7 8550U (was the best available and compatible at the time of buying)
  • Intel UHD 620 Graphics (Linux doesn't have good Nvidia drivers, so I didn't get a better graphics card, but there are even models with RTX)
  • 16 GB Corsair RAM (with one free slot for future expandability)
  • 512 GB Samsung 970 Pro (went a little overkill on this one, but I plan to reuse it in my next computer)
  • 2x44WH battery (I can swap in the other one if the first one is empty)
  • 15.6" 1080p60 display (viewing angle is not ideal, but that's not a concern for my use case, and there was an option for a high-quality 4K display but I let that one be)

And my I/O:
  • On the outside:
    • 40W power
    • VGA
    • gigabit ethernet
    • HDMI
    • USB 3.0
    • USB-C 3.2
    • Blu-ray burner (this one cost me €89/$98.45 USD, but is actually quite cheap for archiving stuff)
    • 2xUSB 2.0
    • stereo audio jack in
    • stereo audio jack out
    • SD card reader

  • On the inside:
    • 2 total DDR4 RAM slots (of which one used)
    • 3 SATA ports (I think at least) (of which one used by the bluray burner)
    • 3 PCIe/M.2 slots (one for the SSD, one for WiFi/Bluetooth, and one for LTE (which I don't have))

  • Behind the battery: one SIM slot

Some more remarks about my laptop:
  • The cooling is good enough. It's quiet at 40-50C when idle, I can stay under 80C under most loads, and almost never above 90C. Pressing FN+1 puts the fan on max, cooling an additional 5C or so.
  • There is room on the inside for two 2.5" HDDs (and another one if you get a drive bay instead of a bluray burner). If you get a smaller model, there probably won't be.
  • t has a webcam which is nothing special, but it suffices for video calling and has an LED indicator when active, and you can turn it off using an FN+F10 keypress.
  • The keyboard is very decent, a lot better than what I feel on most laptops. It's backlighted with 5 brightness levels (excluding off). The only minus here is that there is no caps lock indicator.
  • The speakers are okay. Not great, not horrible. I had to clean some contacts though because they had moments where they would be really quiet and nothing would help.
  • I could buy a 5m charging cable, which is very practical sometimes, and otherwise, it's just wound up and is not in the way.
  • My laptop cost me €1201.17, which is currently $1328.73 USD, but keep in mind that this was a few years ago.

I'm sorry that I spent more time talking about my own laptop (which is outdated now and you probably wouldn't want it anyway). I suggest looking up more information yourself as I don't have any idea what you would want to know.
With the assistance of a filtering tool and assuming you specifically want something in the 13-15 inch range with a dGPU, the Spectres look pretty good. You might also consider a Dell XPS 15 (for instance the 7590, $1750 with basically the same specs as the bigger Spectre you've noted).

Looks like if you do want a dGPU you can't really go smaller than 15", though the Surface Book 2 has a dGPU option in the smaller size (i7-8650U and GTX 1050) that a little more expensive (>$2000). Not listed in that tool for some reason I also find the Surface Laptop which has a newer version: the Surface Laptop 3 gives you up to an i7-1056G7 in the 13" version for $2400, or Ryzen 7 3780U (hey, AMD options!) in the 15" variant. Still pretty expensive and no dGPU though.

I generally feel that if you expect to carry if around (and it sounds like you do), a smaller machine is worthwhile. You're likely to get enough of a boost to performance out of a newer CPU+GPU combo that a dGPU isn't terribly important (and would hurt your battery life), so a smaller machine without dGPU sounds like a good choice to me- but if you're expecting to run 3D applications at the native panel resolution that could be problematic.

The HP prices seem comparable to similar machines made by other OEMs; for instance an XPS 13 with i7-10710U sits around the same price range as the 13" Spectre. Lenovo also have some interesting looking AMD options in this range (Thinkpad X395 for instance) or slightly more expensive Intel options that offer higher-resolution displays (Thinkpad X1 carbon).
Regarding lack of a dedicated GPU: If you value lightness and portability, consider an external GPU enclosure. They're a bit pricey (~$300, GPU not included), but you can carry around a light, efficient laptop when on the go, and when you sit down at your desk and plug in, you can get heavy 3D work (or gaming) done. And without your laptop being hot enough to fry eggs or loud enough to wake up the neighbors.
The HP Spectre x360 15" is what I would go with, but I'm a bit of a slut for specs Laughing
The price you listed seems very different from the price I'm being given... Might want to look into that.

A year and a half later: I ended up getting the HP Spectre x360 13" in Poseidon Blue with the AMOLED 4K screen, 1TB SSD, Core i7-1065G7, 16GB RAM. The machine is perfectly powerful enough for pretty much everything I do with it, but there are some build quality issues and quirks:
  • HP can't seem to get rubber feet right. On my old Spectre, there were four round rubber feet, each about 2cm in diameter, one at each corner. They came off pretty quickly (unlike calculator feet, the rubber actually broke into layers, instead of the adhesive coming off!), and although HP sent me a second set, those rapidly came off too. On this laptop, there are two "bars" of rubber, one across the bottom front of the laptop, one across the bottom back. Both started rapidly losing their adhesive within a couple of months of getting the machine; cyanoacrylating them to the laptop helped for a while, but they've now mostly broken into pieces and been lost - which harms airflow underneath.
  • The battery life is insanely short - I'm lucky to get 2 hours. Happily, I rarely need to use my laptop far from power, but it's a real problem. The internet variously blames either the battery size or that delightfully power-hungry 4K AMOLED screen.
  • The Realtek audio drivers love to forget that I have headphones: sometimes it just stops registering that I've plugged in headphones, even if I restart the Windows Audio service, etc. I recently tried downgrading the drivers to the only other version available, and thus far it seems like this hasn't recurred

So: beautiful-looking laptop, sufficiently powerful for everything I can throw at it, but build quality issues that'll make me think twice about getting another Spectre. I also have barely used the tablet features, so it might be time to reconsider whether I really need to continue getting tablets.
KermMartian wrote:

So: beautiful-looking laptop, sufficiently powerful for everything I can throw at it, but build quality issues that'll make me think twice about getting another Spectre.

Join the ThinkPad c̵u̵l̵t̵club. Built like a tank and there is a beauty in the industrial utilitarian design.
jxu wrote:
Join the ThinkPad c̵u̵l̵t̵club. Built like a tank and there is a beauty in the industrial utilitarian design.
I've actually had a Thinkpad in the past (and a convertible tablet, to boot): ThinkPrhh, a ThinkPad x201t tablet PC. I was indeed reasonably pleased with it over its lifetime, and I think I eventually retired it simply because it was time to upgrade, rather than as with so many of my other laptops my hard use of hardware had made it fail.

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