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Apple MacBook Pro 15 vs. HP Spectre x360 15: Powerhouse Comparison

If you’re looking for a powerful laptop that provides some additional horsepower for more demanding tasks, then chances are you’ll be considering a 15-inch laptop. There was a time when your choices were limited to a traditional clamshell, but that’s changing.

Today, there are more powerful 2-in-1 options that offer higher-end CPUs. In this battle for your buck, we compare the latest HP Spectre x360 15 model with Apple’s discontinued MacBook Pro 15 to see if you can get the performance and functionality you need.

Design

The two big dividers between these two laptops are their overall design and operating system. The Spectre x360 15 is a 2-in-1 convertible PC, meaning it has a hinge that allows it to function in four modes: Clamshell, Stand, Tent, and Tablet. The MacBook Air is a traditional clamshell laptop without a touch-capable screen.

Second, HP’s laptop ships with Windows 10 whereas the MacBook Pro uses MacOS. Both have essentially the same functions painted with different interfaces. For instance, File Explorer for Windows is more or less Finer in MacOS. However, one huge difference here is in the bundled software: MacOS includes a premium productivity suite whereas Microsoft’s Office products are locked behind a paywall.

Neither of these 15-inch laptops aims to be particularly small, compared to a host of competitors using tiny bezels to fit their displays into diminutive chassis. That’s even truer with the Spectre x360, given that its top and bottom bezels are even larger to accommodate its 360-degree convertible nature.

As such, the MacBook Pro is lightly smaller except for its depth. It measures 0.61 inches thin versus the 0.79-inch thickness with the HP model. It’s lighter too at 4.02 pounds compared to the Spectre’s 4.23 pounds. Honestly, it’s all just numbers: You won’t notice a difference between the two.

What you give up in flexibility — the Spectre x360’s display swivel from laptop to Netflix-binging media mode to a very large and cumbersome tablet — you gain in a more comfortable laptop to carry around.

HP Spectre x360 15 2019 review
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

Both notebooks enjoy solid build quality with all-aluminum constructions, however. The MacBook Pro’s chassis maintains the same elegant and understated aesthetic that’s graced the line for a few generations.

Meanwhile, the Spectre x360 has doubled down on a chiseled metal design that’s at once futuristic and attractive. This generation’s “gem-cut” model looks like a jeweler had its way with the machine, giving it light-catching angles along every side.

Regarding input, the Spectre x360 maintains HP’s standard keyboard that offers greater travel and a snappy feel. We like it more than we do Apple’s 3rd-generation butterfly keyboard with its extremely short travel. It’s less comfortable for extended typing sessions.

The MacBook Pro benefits from the most massive touchpad around that’s backed by Apple’s Force Touch technology. It outdoes the Spectre x360’s smaller touchpad which, unlike older models, supports Microsoft’s Precision drivers.

Finally, the Spectre x360 offers more connectivity. You’ll find one MicroSD card slot, two USB-C ports with Thunderbolt 4, one USB-A port (10Gbps), and a 3.5mm audio combo jack. The MacBook Pro 15 is limited to four USB-C ports with the older Thunderbolt 3, forcing users to purchase dongles for legacy peripherals, drives, and headphones.

Performance

HP Spectre x360 15 2019 review
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

Here’s where the dividing line really shines. Because Apple discontinued the MacBook Pro 15, it’s locked to older 9th-generation Intel processors. You can find “renewed” and “refurbished” configurations on Apple, Amazon, and so on based on the Core i7-9750H, the Core i9-9880H, or the Core i9-9980HK.

Meanwhile, the latest Spectre x360 15 sports the 11th-generation Core i7-1165G7 four-core CPU. Compared to the three chips offered in the MacBook Pro, this chip provides better single-core performance based on Geekbench tests. It falls behind in the multi-core tests when paired up against the eight-core i9-9880H and i9-9980HK chips.

Here are some numbers (higher is better):

Single-core Multi-core
Core i7-1165G7 (4 cores) 1501 5272
Core i7-9750H (6 cores) 1053 5120
Core i9-9880H (8 cores) 1103 6299
Core i9-9980HK (8 cores) 1200 7292

The division grows even wider in regards to graphics. The latest Spectre x360 model doesn’t include configuration options with a discrete GPU. Instead, customers must choose the older 10th-generation configurations to get the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 Ti with Max-Q GPU. Meanwhile, MacBook Pro configurations include four GPU options: AMD’s Radeon Pro 555X (4GB), Radeon Pro 560X (4GB), Radeon Pro Vega 16 (4GB), or Radeon Pro Vega 20 (4GB).

The MacBook Pro typically has much faster PCIe solid-state drives (SSDs) than its competitors, too. Capacities range from 256GB to 4TB, depending on the underlying CPU. The Spectre x360 can be configured between 256GB and 2TB.

On the memory front, the MacBook Pro offers 16GB or 32GB whereas the two memory options on the Spectre are lower at 8GB and 16GB.

Finally, we can’t fault the MacBook Pro 15’s excellent display, which is very high-res at a 2880 x 1800 resolution. It offers an extensive color gamut with near-perfect accuracy, incredible brightness, and great contrast. It beat out the 4K UHD (3840 x 2160) display on the 2019 Spectre x360 that’s very good for productivity work but isn’t fit for creative professionals.

The MacBook Pro 15 is our performance winner, as you get more CPU cores and better GPU options.

Portability

HP Spectre x360 13 (late 2018)
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

Neither of these is a thin or light laptop, and you’ll feel them taking up space in your backpack. But the MacBook Pro 15 is considerably lighter and smaller than the Spectre x360 15.

What really matters here is battery longevity, however. The latest Spectre x360 packs a 72.9 WHr battery powering a more energy-efficient chip than what’s installed in the MacBook Pro. On the flip side, it backs a slightly larger 15.6-inch display with a higher 3840 x 2160 resolution. Meanwhile, the MacBook’s 83.6 WHr battery must put up with six and eight-core CPUs along with AMD’s Radeon discrete GPUs. Even more, Apple’s 15.4-inch screen has a 2880 x 1800 resolution.

That all said, don’t expect a super-long life on a single charge. The high-resolution displays can drain a battery all by themselves. While we have yet to test either model, we expect the Spectre x360 to have a slightly longer battery life due to the lack of a GPU and a more power-efficient 11th-generation CPU.

The MacBook Pro 15 proves that traditional laptops remain more powerful

As we’ve shown here, the MacBook Pro 15 is a great laptop. The problem is, Apple discontinued this model. Instead, you can find it “refurbished” or “rendered,” or simply choose the newer 16-inch model.

If you’re not willing to scale up, Apple’s shunned 15-inch model is a great option if you can find the right pre-existing configuration. A “renewed” MacBook Pro 15 with the Core i7 chip, 16GB of RAM, a 256GB SSD, and AMD’s Radeon Pro 555X costs $1,599 on Amazon.

By comparison, the Spectre x360 15 is almost a bargain starting at $1,199 for the Core i7-1165G7, 16GB of RAM, 256GB of storage, and a 2-in-1 design. The Spectre x360 15 is the fastest and best-looking 2-in-1 you can buy today, but it just can’t keep up with the mercilessly powerful MacBook Pro 15.

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