HP Spectre XT 13in Ivy Bridge Ultrabook review
Slim, light, fast...
The Spectre XT also surprised me with its performance. The original Spectre cost £1199 and had an 1.8GHz Intel Core i7-2677M Sandy Bridge processor that achieved a score of 3531 in the PCMark 7 benchmark test. Priced at £899, currently the Spectre XT is only available in a single configuration featuring a 1.7GHz Intel Core i5-3317U CPU, 4GB of RAM and 128GB SSD drive.
PCMark 7 Results
Longer bars are better
However, that Core i5 processor is the latest Ivy Bridge edition and it managed to rack up a PCMark 7 score of 5200 – outgunning not just the original Spectre, but pretty much every other Ultrabook I've seen recently. It certainly felt snappy in use too, waking from sleep in a couple of seconds and launching the always-sluggish Photoshop Elements in just five seconds.
With that level of performance, I dared to hope for the impossible and fired up Far Cry 2 to see how the Spectre XT would cope with a spot of 3D gaming. Sadly, the Intel HD 4000 integrated graphics didn’t prove much of an improvement over the Sandy Bridge era HD 3000, bringing me down to earth with a barely playable 25fps.
Battery life doesn’t quite match that of the original Spectre either, down from a full 4hrs to 3hrs 10mins when running the Futuremark's rigorous PowerMark benchmark utility. However, it did manage a full five hours when using Wi-Fi to stream some old episodes of Red Dwarf on LoveFilm, so you should be able to get a full day’s work out of it for lighter tasks such as running MS Office apps.
Lighter touch in more ways than one
There’s some room for improvement on battery life, but the more I used it the more I found myself liking the Spectre XT. It’s slim, light, fast, and – by Ultrabook standards – competitively priced. If I were HP I’d quit now while I was ahead and forget about the touch-screen gubbins they’re already talking about for the next model. ®
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