HP Envy x360 13 review: AMD Ryzen 4000 increases the value
“The HP Envy x360 13 is a midrange laptop that doesn’t compromise despite its low price.”
Slim and attractive
Superior typing experience
Balanced port selection
Battery life delays
Pen not included
Better performance at a lower price? Laptops aren’t usually sold like this, but that’s exactly what the new HP Envy x360 suggests.
The HP Envy line has played the second violin after the company’s premium Specter laptops. It was the option in the middle area and has always led to corner cuts. No more.
The new Envy x360 13 with Ryzen 4000 CPUs is a typical example of this and promises better performance than the corresponding Specter at a lower price. I looked at an $ 860 configuration with a Ryzen 5 4500U CPU, 8 GB RAM, a 256 GB solid-state drive (SSD), and a low-power, Full HD display (1,920 x 1,080).
Although not perfect, I knew that as soon as I held the Envy x360 in my hands, my expectations for a laptop at this price had to change.
The Envy x360 13 is an all-metal laptop made of punched aluminum in the elegant color Midnight Black, which is also available with the Specter x360 13. The difference is that the Specter is made of aluminum, but you won’t see the difference. Hold them side by side. The build of the Envy x360 exudes quality and thanks to some reductions in the Envy bezel, both feel very small for 13-inch laptops.
Compared to competitors in its price range, the Envy x360 stands out. The materials are far better than a laptop like the Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5 14 made of plastic (and much larger). Although this laptop is about $ 200 cheaper, it uses the same Ryzen 5 processor and has the same 2-in-1 functionality.
The Envy x360 is also fairly thin and light. At 0.65 inches, it’s thinner than the Specter x360 at 0.67 inches and at 2.92 inches, slightly heavier than 2.88 pounds. The Envy x360 is smaller than the Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5, which is 0.82 inches thick and 3.3 pounds. And compared to the previous version of the Envy, HP has done a remarkable job by squeezing more computers into a thinner case – the Envy definitely intervenes in the Specter x360’s space when you look at the overall design.
As a 2-in-1 device, the Envy x360 feels robust in all four modes – clamshell, tent, media and tablet. The hinge works smoothly, but holds the screen in place with little wobble when you move it. It’s not quite as tight as the Specter x360, but it’s better than the IdeaPad Flex 5. Again, the delta between the Premium Specter x360 and the Envy x360 is smaller than expected in the middle.
The HP Envy x360 13 isn’t nearly as extravagant as the gem-cut Specter, but it’s still an attractive laptop. Let’s call it elegant rather than luxurious – its lines are clean and streamlined, giving it a coherent design that looks great from every angle. Compared to the boring Lenovo Flex 5 14 Ryzen, the Envy is the more sophisticated laptop.
Connectivity is about what to expect from a thin and light machine. There are two USB-A 3.1 ports to support older devices that are easy to get, as well as a microSD card reader and a USB-C 3.2 port (which charges the laptop despite the proprietary connector).
AMD’s Ryzen 4000 chips were very impressive. Every laptop we tested with the CPU, including some budget models, performed much better than the 10th generation Intel alternatives. Whether you’re talking about Ice Lake or Comet Lake, there’s a Ryzen 4000 chip that does it – you need to jump on 45-watt Intel parts to get better performance.
The HP Envy x360 13 also performed well, though not as quickly as some other Ryzen machines. In Geekbench 5, for example, 1,101 points were scored in the single-core test and 4,485 points in the multi-core test. This is comparable to the Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5 with the same Ryzen CPU from 1,096 and 4,543. In comparison, the Acer Spin 3 with a 10th generation Intel Core i5-1035G1 scored 1,215 and 3,615 points, which is slightly faster in single-core mode and much slower in multi-core mode. The Specter x360 13 with a Core i7-1065G7 scores 1,164 and 3,981 points and makes the Envy the faster sibling.
The Envy x360 13 isn’t the fastest Ryzen 4000 system, but it still beats most Intel systems.
When switching to our handbrake test, which encodes a 420 MB video as H.265, the Envy x360 13 took just under three minutes. It’s quick, even though the IdeaPad Flex 5 was 16 seconds faster. I tried HP Performance Mode in the Command Center utility and found that the Envy comes within five seconds of the IdeaPad. Compare these results to laptops like the Microsoft Surface Book 3 13 with a Core i7-1065G7 that took about four and a half minutes. Note that the Acer Swift 3 with the Ryzen 7 4700U was only about 10 seconds faster, which means that the Ryzen 5 4500U is a good sweet spot for this kind of performance. When comparing the Envy x360 with the Specter x360, the Envy was even a full minute faster, even when the Specter was running in performance mode.
The Envy x360 13 may not be the fastest Ryzen 4000 system we’ve tested, but it still beats most Intel systems. You will find it great for demanding productivity work and even for some creative apps if necessary. Just don’t plan on gaming – you get performance that is little better than Intel’s new Iris Plus graphics and far less than a discrete GPU.
HP equipped my test device with its energy-saving 400-nit Full HD IPS display (1,920 x 1,080). This is an upgrade of $ 50 over the standard-performance 300-nit Full HD display. You can spend $ 60 more on the latest HP screen technology, which hides the screen on the side. I like the display that HP chose for the Envy x360 13. It is bright at 399 nits and has a large contrast at 1110: 1 (we like to see a contrast at 1000: 1 or more). The color gamut is only average at 71% sRGB and 96% sRGB – for premium laptops – and the accuracy is not the best at 2.26 (1.0 or less is considered excellent).
This is much better than the Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5 with an accuracy of 47% AdobeRGB, 63% sRGB and 3.0. This display was also weak at 242 nits and suffered from poor contrast at 770: 1. The display alone is one reason why you want to spend the additional $ 200 on the Envy x360 13 over its Ryzen 4000 competitor.
The Envy’s display isn’t quite as good as some other laptops. For example, the Full HD display of the Dell XPS 13 clamshell had better colors at 77% AdobeRGB and 97% sRGB, more accurate colors at 1.53 and a higher contrast ratio of 1440: 1. At 377 nits, however, it was not quite as bright. You can get the same display as the Envy of the Specter x360 13, and the premium device also offers a 4K OLED display with absolutely spectacular colors and contrasts. This is a checkbox that the Envy x360 cannot tick.
I enjoyed this display in everyday use. It was bright enough and the contrast made black text stand out against a white background. Colors may not be good enough for professional photo and image editors, but they don’t prevent me from viewing pictures or viewing Netflix.
After all, the speakers shooting down were surprisingly loud without distortion. That was a nice surprise. The bass was missing, but the mids and highs were clear, and I could rely on the speakers when I listened casually. I pulled out my headphones for action films and music – but that applies to almost all laptops with the exception of Apple’s MacBooks.
Keyboard and touchpad
The keyboards of the HP Specter x360 laptops are my second favorite behind Apple’s fantastic new Magic keyboard on the latest MacBooks. They have plenty of travel and nice big keycaps well spaced, and the mechanism has a click that avoids any hint of bottoming. I can type on these keyboards as quickly as I can on any other keyboard, including Apple’s. Why do I mention the more expensive Specter keyboard? Because as far as I can tell, the Envy x360 is exactly the same keyboard. HP has again removed a key differentiator between these two computers.
The Envy x360’s touchpad is also similar to that of the Specter, although its surface is not quite as smooth. However, it does support Microsoft’s Precision Touchpad protocol, so multi-touch gestures work perfectly. Interestingly, I prefer the click of the Envy touchpad to that of the Specter – it’s softer and more confidence that a button was actually pressed.
The Envy x360, of course, has a touch display that’s 2-in-1, and it works almost always. It also supports the latest pen protocol from Microsoft, which promises a longer battery life (up to 30 days) and a more natural tilt function for the 4,096 pressure sensitivity levels. And yes, you guessed it, that’s something the Specter doesn’t have – even though the pen isn’t included in the Envy.
Finally, next to the arrow keys, there is a fingerprint scanner in the keyboard that works perfectly. However, Windows Hello about facial recognition is not included, as is the case with more expensive laptops. The Envy x360 has a privacy screen for the webcam. Unlike the Specter, however, it is a physical cover that is activated by pressing a special key on the keyboard. It is neat to see how the cover appears when you press the button.
There is also a special button to mute the microphone, another data protection function that has been taken over by the Specter line.
The jury is not yet sure how efficient the Ryzen 4000 is, but it looks like the Intel chips haven’t hit yet. The Envy x360 13 has a battery life of 51 watt-hours and a low-power display that has given some other laptops a spectacular battery life. Still, the results of envy weren’t at the top of our list.
The Envy lasted just over nine hours in the web browser test, which is the best indicator of how long the battery is performing typical productivity tasks. That’s a good score, but well below the 12 hours of the Dell XPS 13. The Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5, which lasted almost eight hours, was outperformed.
The Envy lasted almost four hours in our demanding Basemark web benchmark test. This is also a strong score, but was solidly beaten by the 4.7 hours of the XPS 13. The IdeaPad Flex 5 lasted only eight minutes less. In our video test, where a local video clip is repeated, the Envy lasted 13 hours compared to the 14.5 hours of the XPS 13 and the 11 hours of the IdeaPad Flex 5. This is the only test in which the low-power Display demonstrated its worth.
Overall, the Envy x360 13 is likely to give you full-day productivity as long as you don’t put too much strain on the Ryzen CPU. I suspect the 10th generation Intel CPUs are a bit more efficient than the Ryzen 4000 series, but I can’t prove that – we still don’t have enough data.
The HP Envy x360 13 puzzles HP. It’s faster than the more expensive Specter x360 13 and almost as well built. If you’re not looking for a 4K display, I can’t give a good reason to spend more on a Specter. That’s a relatively high praise for the Envy and makes it a great 2-in-1 device at a medium price.
The Envy really doesn’t have many weaknesses, although battery life wasn’t the greatest strength and it’s a shame that the pen isn’t included. It’s simply a well-designed 2-in-1 device that meets the needs of most people who want to spend around $ 1,000 on a machine. You can even configure up to $ 550 if you really want to save costs.
Are there alternatives?
The Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5 is a close competitor and costs around $ 200 less. It has the same Ryzen CPU and slightly faster performance. However, the battery life is not that long and the screen quality is lower.
The Lenovo Yoga C640 is another great option from just $ 600. The Intel Core i3 is a pretty big step back in terms of performance, but in return you get a significantly better battery life.
The HP Specter x360 13 offers improved aesthetics and the ability to configure a 4K display. As configured (though with a slower Intel CPU and 512 GB of memory), it’s about $ 300 more expensive, and adding the 4K display adds another $ 200 to the price.
How long it will take?
The Envy x360 13 is built well enough to last as long as you need it, and its performance will keep up for years to come. By integrating Thunderbolt 3, you can connect modern peripheral devices. However, the 1 year warranty is typical and disappointing.
Should you buy it
Yes. The Envy Envy x360 13 is a slim, well-built, and fast 2-in-1 device that feels far more valuable than the price suggests.