OUR EARLY VERDICT
We’ve got high hopes for the graphical performance AMD’s Ryzen APUs can deliver in this otherwise stylish and thin 2-in-1 laptop.
- Radeon RX Vega graphics could be promising
- Long battery life on Intel models
- Reasonably priced, well-equipped base configurations
- Practically unchanged design
- Privacy screen occludes the user’s own view
The HP Envy x360 15 has gotten the usual yearly laptop refresh with a thinner, lighter chassis and new 8th generation Intel processors, but the most interesting wrinkle is the introduction of AMD Ryzen chips. Equipped with the similar ‘discrete-class’ Radeon RX Vega graphics found in AMD’s desktop APUs and Intel Kaby Lake G chips, this could be the first PC gaming worthy convertible to release later this month.
Pricing and availability
Pricing for the HP Envy x360 15 starts at $749 (about £550, AU$990) for an AMD-powered configuration that includes the Ryzen 5 2500U processor, Radeon Vega 8 Graphics, 15-inch Full HD (1,920 x 1,080) screen, 8GB of DDR4 RAM and an 128GB SSD. There’s also a higher end SKU with an AMD Ryzen 7 2700U CPU and Radeon RX Vega 10 graphics that also doubles the storage capacity, but HP has yet to release pricing for this model.
Of course, there’s also an Intel-powered variant that starts at a higher $869 (about £640, AU$1,150) price. Aside from an Intel Core i5-8250U processor, this configuration also features a larger 256GB SSD drive. Although pricing has yet to be announced, users can also bump up their config to an Intel Core i7-8550U with 12GB of DDR4 RAM and a 256GB SSD.
If the Envy x360 15 looks a lot like the Spectre x360 15 – or even its predecessor – your eyes do not deceive you. HP’s two convertibles look almost identical, however, while the company’s flagship 2-in-1 laptop focuses on delivering maximum performance with Kaby Lake G and Nvidia discrete graphics, this hybrid is keen on thinness and being lightweight.
To this end the Envy x360 15 is only 0.74 inches (1.88cm) thick and weighs 4.49 pounds (2.04kg), compared to the Spectre x360 15 being 0.76 inches (1.93cm) thick as well as 4.61 pounds (2.09kg) for the Nvidia version and 4.72 pounds (2.14kg) for the AMD model. Comparatively, the last generation HP Envy x360 15 was 0.77-inches (1.96cm) thick and weighed 4.55 pounds (2.06kg).
Aside from these slight differences in dimensions, the HP Envy and Spectre convertibles are basically twins down to the same angular lines and fingerprint reader on the right edge of the laptop – though, the Envy x360 15 does sport a more interesting geometric pattern on its speaker grill.
As with the Envy 13, HP has introduced a touch of Damascus steel – not the actual metal mind you, just a painted pattern – to the rear edge of the laptop. The only problem is it’s even harder to see on this machine, as the laptop needs to be closed and it’s only found on the bottom half and in the center of the notebook’s backside.
In a classic Intel vs AMD match up, the former will supposedly deliver longer battery life of up to 12 hours and 45 minutes while the latter is slated for only up to 10 hours and 30 minutes. HP also boasts that all Envy x360 15 systems will feature HP Fast Charge, which supposedly can charge a device to 50% in 45 minutes.
AMD-based systems won’t be at a complete loss as these Ryzen chips will come with Radeon RX Vega graphics similar to Kaby Lake G powered laptops. Vega ‘discrete-class’ graphics have delivered respectable 1080p gaming performance in both the Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and desktop Ryzen APUs, so we hope they’ll deliver the goods here as well.
Aside from the globs of performance and battery life these machines will deliver, there are plenty of other configurable options such as an optional 4K display upgrades. If you’re working on a tight budget, a tiny bit of Intel Optane Memory can help speed up systems equipped with only a hard drive.
HP has also ported its Sure View integrated privacy screen technology from its enterprise laptops and integrated it into the Envy x360 15. It does an excellent job of masking the screen with a practically solid gray overlay if you view the screen from any angle other than being directly in front of it.
However, we noticed a fair bit of Sure View silvering the screen quite a bit even with us just using the laptop as usual. Good news is you can toggle it with a quick keyboard shortcut, so we imagine using it very sparingly and only when we have sensitive information on screen.
If you’ve been on the fence about a thick and heavy 15-inch convertible systems such as the HP Spectre x360 15, the Envy x360 15 might be just the thing you’ve been looking for. Whether you’re looking for the Intel model’s promised long battery life or the potentially gaming with the AMD-powered configuration, this 2-in-1 laptop should something for everyone.
Of course, that’s all conjecture based on HP’s claims and our experiences with integrated Radeon RX Vega graphics in the past. Check back soon, as we’ll be putting this laptop through its paces to see if it can make good on any of its promises.