HP Spectre x360 13.5 vs. Apple MacBook Air M2

HP’s Specter x360 13.5 is the most stylish convertible 2-in-1 available today and is one of the best laptops overall, and the Apple MacBook Air M2 is an excellent and updated version of Apple’s venerable machine. Both are great laptops that should be on the candidate list for the next upgrade.

If you buy a premium 13-inch laptop, you’ll come across these two. It’s a difficult choice, but one of them is overall better than the other.

Specification

HP Envy x360 13.5 Apple MacBook Air M2
size 11.73 inches x 8.68 inches x 0.67 inches 11.97 inches x 8.46 inches x 0.44 inches
weight 3.01 pounds 2.7 pounds
processor Intel Core i5-1235U
Intel Core i7-1255U
Apple M2 8-core CPU, 8-core GPU
Apple Me 8-core CPU, 10-core GPU
graphics Intel Iris Xe Apple M2
lamb 8GB LPDDR4
16GB LPDDR4
32GB LPDDR4
8 GB
16 gigabytes
24 GB
Denote 13.5-inch 3:2 WXUGA+ (1920 x 1280) IPS Touch
13.5-inch 3:2 WXUGA+ (1920 x 1280) IPS touch privacy screen
13.5-inch 3:2 3K2K (3000 x 2000) OLED touch
13.6″ 16:10 2560 x 1664 Liquid Retina IPS
save 512GB PCIe 4.0 Solid State Drive (SSD)
1TB PCIe 4.0 SSD
2TB PCIe 4.0 SSD
256GB PCIe SSD
512GB PCIe SSD
1TB PCIe SSD
2TB PCIe SSD
contact Yes no
Harbor 2 x USB-C 4.0 with Thunderbolt 4
1 x USB-A 3.2 Gen 2
1 x 3.5mm audio jack
1 x microSD card reader
2 x USB-C with Thunderbolt 4
3.5mm audio jack
wireless telephone Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.2 Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0
webcam 5MP with infrared camera for facial recognition 1080p
operating system Windows 11 macOS Monterrey
battery 66 watt hour 52.6 watt hour
price $1,250+ $1,199+
evaluation 4.5 out of 5 stars 4 out of 5 stars

Pricing and configuration

HP’s prices change regularly, and both selling price and list price changes are a common theme. Currently, the Specter x360 13.5 starts at $1,250 for a Core i5-1235U CPU, 8GB RAM, 512GB SSD, and a 13.5-inch 3:2 WUXGA+ IPS touch display. A laptop with a Core i7-1255U, 16GB RAM, 2TB SSD, and a 13.5-inch 3:2 3K2K OLED touch panel costs $1,810. You can also configure the Specter with up to 32GB of RAM, but for some reason it won’t work with an OLED display.

The price of the Apple MacBook Air M2 is fixed, at least when you buy it from Apple. The base model costs $1,199 for an 8-core CPU/8-core GPU Apple M2 processor, 8GB RAM, and a 256GB SSD. Getting the most out of your MacBook is $2,499 for an 8-core CPU/10-core GPU M2, 24 GB of RAM, and a 2 TB SSD.

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Overall, the Specter x360 13.5 is a more affordable laptop except for the entry-level HP that includes double the storage for an additional $50.

design

In two laptops aimed at the same market, the Specter x360 13.5 and the MacBook Air M2 couldn’t be more different. The former is a 360-degree convertible 2-in-1, with an elegant “jewel-cut” aesthetic toned down from its predecessor. Manufactured from CNC machined aluminum in one of three colors: Natural Silver, Nightfall Black, and Nocturne Blue, it is truly premium quality with no warping, warping or warping in any part of the lid or chassis. The latter discards the MacBook Air’s historic tapered shape and adopts the block design of the larger MacBook Pro models, and the unibody chassis is very thin at just 0.44 inches compared to the Specter’s 0.67 inches. The MacBook Air M2 comes in Midnight, Space Gray, Silver, and Starlight, and while the chassis is as hard as the HP, the cover is slightly bendable.

Both are attractive laptops that represent the pinnacle of premium machines. Whether you want the flexibility of a 2-in-1 that converts into clamshell, tent, media and tablet modes with touch and active pen support, or a traditional laptop.

I found the keyboard on the MacBook Air M2 to be better. It’s an Apple Magic Keyboard with a slightly shallower switch, but it feels faster and more accurate. The Specter x360 13.5’s keyboard is also nice and deep, but it lags a bit behind the MacBook. However, both can comfortably type at full speed. The MacBook’s Force Touch touchpad is far superior to the mechanical version of the Specter (a definite example of its type), with support for clicking anywhere on a large surface and a haptic mechanism that almost mimics a physical button. As mentioned, the Specter x360 13.5 has a touch display with active pen support, so it supports tapping and inking appropriately.

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The MacBook Air M2 has a notch that can accommodate a 1080p webcam that is annoying to some people. HP included the 5MP in an equally small bezel, so I wonder why Apple felt the need to take advantage of the notch. Either way, both laptops offer great video conferencing quality. The Specter x360 13.5 includes an infrared camera for Windows 11 Hello passwordless support that can be used with a fingerprint reader, and the MacBook Air M2 uses the Touch ID power button to log in.

Finally, connectivity favors the Specter, which includes a microSD card reader for use with the same number of Thunderbolt 4 ports as USB-A for legacy support. HP also includes faster Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.2 compared to the MacBook’s Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0.

Performance

MacBook Air cover and keyboard.

We reviewed the Specter 360 13.5 with a 15 watt Intel Core i7-1255U with 10 cores (2 performance and 8 efficiency) and 12 threads. This is for MacBook Air M2 with 8 core CPU/8 core GPU M2 ARM processor. Apple’s chip performed well, but in CPU-intensive benchmarks, it wasn’t much faster than Specter’s Core i7-1255U. The Specter kept these benchmarks when set to performance mode, but the fanless MacBook Air M2 is completely quiet, but the fan spins. Both laptops warmed up during intensive use.

Where the MacBook Air M2 has been the most powerful win is in creative applications that take advantage of the GPU. M2 includes optimizations for various processes used by apps like Adobe’s Creative Suite. For example, it scored a strong 497 in the Pugetbench Premiere Pro benchmark running on the live version of Adobe Premiere Pro. This is about 50% faster than laptops running Intel’s integrated Iris Xe graphics, such as the Specter x360 13.5.

For productivity tasks, both laptops are equally fast. But for creative workflows, the MacBook Air M2 is the winner. Neither laptop is a particularly good gaming machine.

HP Specter x360 13.5
(Core i7-1255U)
Apple MacBook Air M2
(Apple M2)
Geekbench 5
(Single/Multi)
Feet: 1,566 / 7,314
Performance: 1,593 / 7,921
Feet: 1,925 / 8,973
Performance: N/A
handbrake
(candle)
Feet: 169
Performance: 120
Feet: 151
Performance: N/A
Cinebench R23
(Single/Multi)
Feet: 1,623 / 5,823
Performance: 1,691 / 7,832
Feet: 1,600 / 7,938
Performance: N/A

display and audio

Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

The Liquid Retina IPS display on the MacBook Air M2 excels with rich clarity, brightness, color and contrast. The most demanding creative pros may prefer slightly wider colors, but it’s great for productivity workers and creators alike. The Specter x360 13.5 we reviewed comes with a sharper OLED panel with a strong color gamut and excellent accuracy that goes well with the ink black of the OLED. It’s a creator’s dream and an excellent laptop for media consumption. People with sensitive data can also choose the privacy screen with HP, which is good for protection.

HP Specter x360 13.5
(OLED)
Apple MacBook Air M2
(IPS)
brightness
(neat)
380 486
AdobeRGB area 97% 90%
sRGB color gamut 100% 100%
accuracy
(DeltaE, lower is better)
0.61 1.08
contrast ratio 28,230:1 1,310:1

Both laptops feature quad speakers that deliver great audio. Apple’s sound is slightly better thanks to some specific optimizations.

portability

Side of MacBook Air showing ports.

The Specter x360 13.5 weighs 3.01 pounds versus 2.7 pounds, making it slightly heavier and slightly thicker than the MacBook Air M2. Both laptops are easy to carry.

Where the MacBook Air M2 really shines is its battery life. The Specter has a bigger battery, but the MacBook lasts almost a day longer. HP can configure a display with lower resolution and lower power consumption, but even at its best, it will fall behind Apple.

HP Specter x360 13.5
(Core i7-1255U)
Apple MacBook Air M2
(Apple M2)
web browsing 9 hours 58 minutes 17 hours 59 minutes
video 13 hours 59 minutes 21 hours 9 minutes

Flexibility is key

The MacBook Air M2 offers better creative performance and battery life, but it’s not as robust as the Specter x360 13.5. HP also offers better display options that give the notebook more flexibility.

If you’re just looking for a clamshell, the MacBook is the obvious choice. But for anyone who wants a laptop that can work as a tablet and clamshell, the Specter wins.

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