Another excellent laptop challenges the MacBook Pro and falls short

The closed MacBook Pro on a table.
Luke Larsen / Digital Trends

The MacBook Pro 16 remains undefeated as the best 16-inch laptop you can buy. From the incredible battery life to the impressive performance, the M3 Max MacBook Pro has become an unstoppable force.

Still, plenty of competitors have come along to potentially challenge it, and when I came across the updated HP Spectre x360 16, I wondered if it might make a worthy rival. As impressive as it is, though, it still doesn’t have what it takes to dethrone the MacBook Pro.

Specs and configurations

  HP Spectre x360 16 Apple MacBook Pro 16
Dimensions 14.05 inches by 9.67 inches by 0.78 inches 14.01 inches x 9.77 inches x 0.66 inches
Weight 4.3 pounds 4.8 pounds
Processor Intel Core Ultra 7 155H Apple M3 Pro (12-core)
Apple M2 Max (14-core, 16-core)
Graphics Intel Arc Graphics
Nvidia GeForce RTX 4050
Apple M3 Pro (18-core)
Apple M3 Max (30-core, 40-core)
RAM 16GB DDR5
32GB DDR5
18GB (M3 Pro)
36GB (M3 Max 14/30)
48GB (M3 Max 16/40)
64GB (M3 Max 16/40)
96GB (M3 Max 14/30)
128GB (M3 Max 16/40)
Display 16-inch 16:10 WQXGA (2560 x 1600) IPS touch, 120Hz
16-inch 16:10 2.8K (2880 x 1800) OLED touch, 120Hz
16.2-inch 16:10 Liquid Retina XDR (3456 x 2234), 120Hz
Storage 512GB PCIe Gen4 SSD
1TB PCIe Gen4 SSD
2TB PCIe Gen4 SSD
512GB SSD
1TB SSD
2TB SSD
4TB SSD
8TB SSD
Touch Yes No
Ports 2 x USB-C with Thunderbolt 4
2 x USB-A 3.2 Gen 2
1 x HDMI
1 x 3.5mm audio jack
3 x USB-C 4 with Thunderbolt 4
1 x HDMI 2.0
1 x 3.5mm audio jack
1 x SD Card reader
Wireless Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.3
Wi-Fi 7 and BlueTooth 5.4
Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.3
Webcam 9MP with infrared camera for Windows 11 Hello 1080p
Operating system Windows 11 MacOS Monterey
Battery 83 watt-hour 100 watt-hour
Price $1,500+ $2,499+
Rating Not reviewed 4.5 out of 5 stars

According to the HP configurator, the Spectre x360 16 starts at $1,600 for an Intel Core Ultra 155H, 16GB of RAM, a 512GB SSD, Intel Arc graphics, and a 16.0-inch WQXGA IPS display. The high-end configuration includes 32GB of RAM, a 2TB SSD, a 16.0-inch OLED panel, and an Nvidia GeForce RTX 4050 graphics for $2,320. As this comparison is written, HP also has a $1,500 configuration on sale that adds a 2TB SSD to the base installation.

The MacBook Pro 16 is a much more expensive laptop, starting at $2,499 for an M3 Pro 12/28, 18GB of RAM, a 512GB SSD, and a 16.2-inch Mini-LED display. It costs a whopping $7,199 for an M3 Max 16/40, 128GB of RAM, and an 8TB SSD.

Design

HP Spectre x360 16 2024 front view showing display and keyboard.
HP

The Spectre x360 16 is a 360-degree convertible 2-in-1, meaning the display swivels from a standard clamshell into tent, media, and (very large) tablet modes. That adds quite a bit of flexibility over the clamshell-only MacBook Pro 16. It also requires a larger bottom chin on the display to accommodate the hinge, with the MacBook sporting a slightly larger display and smaller bezels. They’re almost the same size in width and depth, while the Spectre is lighter and the MacBook Pro 16 is thinner.

Both laptops are built from CNC-machined aluminum. The MacBook Pro 16 feels incredibly solid and well-built, and while we haven’t reviewed the Spectre x360 16, the Spectre x360 14 is also solidly made. Given past Spectre machines, the 16-inch model is likely to meet the same excellent standards.

Aesthetically, the Spectre x360 16 has a smoothed-over appearance compared to its predecessor, with its Nightfall chassis sporting the same notches in the display and the rear chassis housing a Thunderbolt 4 port and a 3.5mm audio jack. It’s a very attractive laptop. The MacBook Pro 16 comes in either Silver or Space Black, with the same streamlined chassis as the rest of the MacBook lineup. It exudes the usual Apple elegance. It’s hard to say one laptop is more attractive than the other.

HP Spectre x360 16 2024 front view showing tent mode.
HP

The MacBook enjoys the excellent Magic Keyboard, which has large keycaps, excellent key spacing, and light, snappy switches that aren’t the deepest, but offer up superior precision. HP’s Spectre keyboards are typically excellent, but the 14-inch model’s wasn’t quite up to the standards of previous models in our testing. The MacBook wins here. The Spectre has a large haptic touchpad that, if it works as well as the 14-inch model’s, will be excellent and better than most Windows laptops. The MacBook Pro 16 has a larger Force Touch touchpad that’s the best around, with the Force Click feature added to its unparalleled responsiveness and natural feel.

Connectivity is similar, with the MacBook having one more Thunderbolt 4 port and a full-size SD card reader. Unfortunately, HP dropped SD card support on the new model. Also, with its MagSafe 3 power connector, the MacBook has an additional available Thunderbolt 4 port. The Spectre does have cutting-edge Wi-Fi 7 and Bluetooth 5.4 wireless connectivity thanks to the Intel Meteor Lake chipset.

The Spectre x360 16 has a 9MP webcam capable of 2160p video, with hardware-assisted lowlight capabilities. It uses Meteor Lake’s Neural Processing Unit (NPU), which brings additional quality improvements. It also supports HP’s user presence-sensing technology that adopts to a user’s presence to put the laptop to sleep and lock it and wake it back up and log in via Windows 11 Hello facial recognition. The MacBook Pro 16 has a 1080p webcam and Apple’s usual quality features, and a TouchID fingerprint reader is embedded in the power button. The HP also has a fingerprint reader in the same location.

Performance

Apple MacBook Pro 16 downward view showing keyboard and speaker.
Mark Coppock / Digital Trends

The Spectre x360 15 offers a 14th-gen Intel Meteor Lake chipset: the 28-watt Core Ultra 7 155H with 16 cores (six Performance, eight Efficient, and two Low-Power Efficient) and 22 threads. It’s mated with either integrated Intel Arc graphics or an entry-level Nvidia GeFore RTX 4050 GPU. The MacBook Pro 16 offers either the Apple M3 Pro with 12 CPU cores and 18 GPU cores or M3 Max with with either 14 or 16 CPU cores and 30 or 40 GPU cores.

We haven’t tested the Spectre x360 16, but the Spectre x360 14 can serve as a proxy. Simply put, the MacBook Pro 16 is in a different performance class entirely. While the highest-end M3 Max 16/40 results are posted here, the M3 Pro model would still be significantly faster than the Spectre. And even when equipped with the RTX 4050 discrete GPU, the Spectre won’t come close to the MacBook’s class-leading score in the PugetBench Premiere Pro benchmark that runs in a live version of Premiere Pro.

Geekbench
(single/multi)
Handbrake
(seconds)
Cinebench R23
(single/multi)
Pugetbench
Premiere Pro
HP Spectre x360 14 2024
(Core Ultra 7 155H / Intel Arc)
Bal: 2,210 / 11,841 Bal: 111 Bal: 1,750 / 9,832 Bal: 258
MacBook Pro 16
(M3 Pro 16/40)
Bal: 3,119 / 20,865 Bal: 55 Bal: 1,926 / 23,932 Bal: 885

Display and audio

A rendering of the HP Spectre x360 16.
HP

You can choose from one of two touch- and pen-enabled displays when buying the Spectre x360 16. There’s a WQXGA IPS panel running at 120Hz for longer battery life and a 2.8K OLED display for brighter and more accurate colors and deeper blacks. We suspect the latter will be an excellent display. Both panels support HP’s active pen for digital inking.

The MacBook Pro 16 offers a single display option, and it’s a good one. Its Liquid Retina XDR Mini-LED display is higher resolution and will be much brighter, while still offering excellent colors and contrast. The MacBook has the best high dynamic range (HDR) performance on a laptop, pumping out up to 1,600 nits with HDR content.

Both laptops have excellent display options and will meet the needs of various users. The MacBook’s display offers outstanding performance for creators.

In terms of audio, the MacBook Pro 16 is also class-leading, with six speakers and force-canceling woofers that pump out significant volume, with clear mids and highs and tons of bass. It’s one of a select group of laptops that can be comfortably used without headphones for a variety of media types. The Spectre x360 16 has four speakers, including two front-firing woofers, and it should have sound that’s at least as good as the Spectre x360 14’s. That would make it very good, but not equal to the MacBook.

Portability

Apple MacBook Pro 16 front view showing display and keyboard.
Mark Coppock / Digital Trends

Both laptops are large and heavy, although reasonably so for 16-inch machines. You’ll feel both in your backpack, while the MacBook will be a thinner machine and the Spectre a lighter one.

But when it comes to battery life, the MacBook Pro 16 reigns supreme. It managed 19 hours in our web-browsing test and 26 hours in our video-looping test, both of which were the best showings we’ve seen on large, powerful laptops. The Spectre x360 16 may or may not provide all-day battery life, but it’s unlikely to match the MacBook’s multiday longevity.

The MacBook Pro 16 is a lot more expensive, but so much better

Yes, the Spectre x360 16 is very likely a well-built laptop with good performance and an excellent OLED display option. And it has a 2-in-1’s flexibility, with support for digital drawings and handwriting.

But the MacBook Pro 16 is one of the best-built laptops you can buy, with excellent performance, a beautiful display, and incredible battery life. If your budget is tight, then the Spectre will likely be a solid choice. But if you can afford it, the MacBook Pro 16 still remains the superior laptop.

Editors’ Recommendations