HP Spectre x360 15" (early 2018) - 8th gen H-series class quad + AMD Vega Graphics!

Discussion in 'Hewlett Packard' started by stormi, Jan 8, 2018.

  1. stormi

    stormi Scribbler - Standard Member

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    Review by @MobileTechReview :)


    Some benchmark results:
    Cinebench R15 CPU: 798
    Geekbench 4 Single: 4761
    Geekbench 4 Multi: 15816
    3DMark Fire Strike: 6262
    3DMark Cloud Gate: 21082
    3DMark Sky Diver: 18675

    The review also anwers my 1st question (@14:30).
    HP offers some limited remapping options, however it doesn't look like middle mouse button or custom key mappings are possible :(


    And WiFi is soldered on board unlike I assumed socketed based on the service manual (@20:40).
     
  2. Alex Cealicu

    Alex Cealicu Pen Pal - Newbie

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    Thank you Lisa! @MobileTechReview

    As I said no throttling issues so far and frankly I don't mind having the fans on full load if that is the price to pay for using the unit at full power.

    P.S. when I heard about the stunt Dell pulled with XPS in terms of thermal management I remember thinking that it might turn out well for your legs/lap but not so much for the CPU/GPU.
     
  3. stormi

    stormi Scribbler - Standard Member

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    I have the Spectre x360 with Vega since about a week now.
    Generally it's a really nice and powerful machine. I want to share a few experiences with it.

    Like already mentioned by others the fans are not the quietest but even under heavy load they're not as loud as I expected. However the area above the keyboard gets extremly hot and takes ages to cool down when back in idle. And even with the fan at it's lowest rpm / in idle when only one fan is running it is still quiet noticeable.
    In comparison on the Z Canvas the fans can run whisper quiet even when all 3 fans are spinning. And after running at full load for a while the fans are back running silent within a few seconds (at least after CPU repasting and UV).
    By default on the Spectre x360 one fan is always spinning but there's a setting in the bios to disable the fan completely when the temp is low enough.
    I was able to UV the CPU by 125 mV and the iGPU by 170 mV. This dropped the CPU temps under load by about 10 °C. I don't get any kind of throttling at all :) When gaming the CPU temp mostly stays below 80 °C while the Z Canvas reaches 90+ °C even with repasting and throttling because of reaching the power limit.
    I want to repaste the Spectre x360 with liquid metal in the future so that should help to bring the temps down even further. I also hope I'm able to UV the Vega GPU in the future.
    But gaming on the Spectre is great, older or less demanding games run at 4k and highest settings (Surviving Mars, Cities Skylines, Command & Conquer 3 series, TrackMania, ...) and more demanding games still great at high settings in 1440p or 1080p (Distance, Frostpunk).

    There's one big drawback on the Spectre x360 which I haven't seen mentioned before: HP limits the power in tablet mode, e.g. when the display is folded back above 180°. There's no option to disable this behavior :( I need to do further tests to see how much it limits CPU and GPU but the Cinebench CPU score gets reduced from the high 7xx to the low 6xx, which is about the same I'm getting on my Z Canvas. Raising the power limit in XTU also doesn't work.
    Spectre tablet mode throttle.png
    (First peak in Intel XTU running Cinebench in tablet mode, second peak in notebook mode)

    Here are the results of the Samsung SSD:
    HP Spectre x360.png

    Right now in germany HP only sells the Spectre x360 with Vega GPU with a 512 GB SSD, so I want to replace it the the 1 TB in my Z Canvas. Also in germany the Spectre x360 with Vega doesn't include the pen so thats one of the reasons they are selling it for the same price as the Core-U/Nvidia variant which has the sylus included.
    I thought I would be able to use the Vaio Z Canvas pen but it didn't work great and had a lot of line skipping for some reason. So I also purchased a Wacom Bamboo Ink. I hoped the side-buttons would be "clickier" and more distinguishable... And that loosey top button is a joke o_O Also the pressure-curve is much better on the Canvas pen, the Bamboo Ink jumps up in pressure-levels much to early. But because I'm not using the pen for drawing I think I can live with that... I was also able to remap the buttons using this AHK script.

    Enough about the pen, I also got a new HP Elite 90W Thunderbolt Dock 3 for a great price. The good news is the power adapter shares the same plug with the HP Spectre and the dock works good. It takes a few seconds until I get an image on my external 4k screen though. Classic port replicators definitely work faster but I welcome a universal standard and plug.
    The bad news is it doesn't provide any power to the Spectre when turned on. However in standby or when off the Spectre charges with up to 60W. :confused: So there does seem to be some software/firmware limitation that does say 'no power for you when you are running'. Also I don't know if it's just an issue with this dock, I might purchase some type-c charger to verify this behavior and contact HP about it.
    Update: The charging issue was solved by a recent BIOS update (F.21) :)
    Btw. the Spectre can draw 110W out of the power adapter just for charging when turned off! The 60W charging of the HP Elite Dock might just be a limitation of the Thunderbolt 3 cable or the dock (most cables only allow up to 60W). HP also sells 150W and 200W variants of the Elite Dock which differ only in the wattage of the power adapter and use a half-proprietary connection cable consisting of a type-c Thunderbolt 3 and power plug combination to supply more power to their Elite and ZBook line than the PD specification allows. Unfortunately HP decided to make these incompatible with the Spectre line by placing the power plug/DC-in at a different location... :mad:
    HP Elite TB Dock connection.jpg
    Here's some info about Thunderbolt on the Spectre if anyonee is interested:
    Thunderbolt.png

    OK two more issues that I hope are just software related. From time to time when opening menus or minimizing windows the image freezes for a second. And the audio over headphones has more than prefered soughing to it, totally lacks bass and takes 1 or 2 seconds to activate after silence. Anyone else with these issues?


    Thats it for now ;)
     
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2018
  4. jRocket

    jRocket Pen Pal - Newbie

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    I had this screen freezing issue too, except it happened to me much more frequently. I was able to fix it my turning off self-panel refresh in the intel graphics settings(both on and off battery). I thought only the older Spectre's had this issue, but I guess not.
     
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  5. Alex Cealicu

    Alex Cealicu Pen Pal - Newbie

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    @stormi @jRocket :Oh my god... I hated that freeze thing. Thank you for the tip!

    (so yes, I got that too... just right-clicking to bring up the context menu had a 1-2 sec freeze!)

    Again, Thank you!
     
  6. stormi

    stormi Scribbler - Standard Member

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    @jRocket Thanks, I will try that.
    I also was able to fix the audio issue by opening the Bang & Olufsen Audio Control and clicking on default settings.
    It's probably best to remove that bloat anyway...

    I'll do a clean install of Windows 10 Pro later (instead of Win10 Home, no option for Pro in germany).
     
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2018
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  7. stormi

    stormi Scribbler - Standard Member

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    The bad audio was back after a reboot. So after each start I have to open the Bang & Olufsen Audio Control again... and the audio-delay and soughing is still present.
    Also I don't have the panel refresh option in the Intel graphics settings, probably because I'm using newer graphics drivers from Intel.
     
  8. biliam1982

    biliam1982 Pen Pal - Newbie

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    Stormi, since my iPad Air2 screen cracked (they want $250-300 to repair it) and with my laptop on the fringe (charging port broken and cooling fans broken), I'm thinking about getting this as a replacement for both. Though I still would need to get an External Optical Drive and maybe a USB Hub since this doesn't have many. But I digress.

    It seems like with Laptops and Tablets, you're stuck with the CPU and GPU you order it with. Or at the very least, extremely difficult to upgrade. So I'd go for the new Intel 8705G and Vega option.

    What I'm curious about and can't find much info on is the SSD and RAM options. I'm wondering if it might be better if I order it with the lowest options and upgrade to a better one. Would it be cheaper or worth it? Or should I just order more RAM and larger SSD through HP?

    Like I can't find what Motherboard it uses and which RAM it would support. I see it comes with 2,400MHz RAM. But can it support higher speeds like 2,666 or 2,800 or more?

    What about the stock SSD? I see you posted some speeds but not sure how it compares to say getting a better one like the Samsung EVO/PRO 970 series? Or maybe an older model that's cheaper but just not as fast but almost as fast?

    What are your thoughts? Or anyone else who may have some input on this.

    Thanks!
     
  9. stormi

    stormi Scribbler - Standard Member

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    Hello biliam1982,

    since RAM prices are quiet high at the moment and HPs upgrade prices are moderate I suggest getting it with the ammount of RAM you need. Except you already have some RAM laying around and you are comfortable with opening notebooks. The supported type of memory is DDR4-2400 SO-DIMM. I think getting higher clocked memory to run on an notebook isn't common if it's not a device meant for gaming but I'm not an expert on that.
    Similar with the SSD. I will only upgrade mine because HP doesn't offer variants with more storage in my country. You could save some bucks by purchasing a slower SATA-based M.2 SSD but the Spectre comes with one of the fastest Samsung PCIe drives (I think it's based on the Samsung 960 Pro) and you wouldn't feel any difference to a 970 Pro.
     
  10. stormi

    stormi Scribbler - Standard Member

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    Update: Swapped the SSD and did a clean install of Win10. The Home edition got installed automatically but the upgrade to Pro was easy afterwards.
    The Bang & Olufsen Audio Control got installed automatically through Windows update, seems to be part of the Realtek audio software. In fact everything was installed through Windows update except the Thunderbolt 3 driver.

    Important info for anyone who also wants to change the SSD: disconnect the internal battery cable first! After after I replaced the SSD on my HP Spectre it seemed to be completely dead until I disconnect the internal battery. (I've done stuff like this dozen times in my life without an issue but it's safer to disconnect any power source precautionary anyway :rolleyes: Imagine the shock I had :eek:)

    I tried to find any 100 W USB-PD charger to test the USB-C charging capability of the Spectre only to realize that none exist! (except the Wacom MobileStudio Pro 16 seems to use one but it's hard to get and costs half an arm and a leg...)
    In the end I bought this 87 W Apple MacBook Pro charger clone because it also was the only one providing more than 60 W. After the 90 W HP Elite Thunderbolt 3 Dock failed to to provide any power to the Spectre when it's running this one does indeed always provide >80 W to it.
    Now I'm waiting for any Thunderbolt 3 dock to be released that supports the full 100 W power delivery. At least several eGPU docks seem to support 100 W PD.

    @MobileTechReview I've seen your Razer Core X Review, if you still have the HP Spectre and Core X, can you please test if it charges the HP Spectre?
     
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