Laptops

HP Spectre Teardown: Eye-catching, but overpriced ultrabook

The HP Envy 14 Spectre has solid hardware and a stylish design, but it's significantly more expensive than other ultrabooks.

With not one, but two Gorilla Glass panels, the HP Spectre has more style than most ultrabooks on the market. But is this machine's beauty only skin deep? In this week's episode of Cracking Open, I show you what's inside the HP Envy 14 Spectre, and discuss what I learned from my teardown.

Our HP Envy 14 Spectre test machine had a 1.8GHz Intel Core i7-2677M processor, integrated Intel HD Graphics 3000, 4GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM, 128GB SSD, and a 14.0" Radiance HD+ LED-backlit display (1600 x900). It measures 12.88" (W) x8.7" (D) x 0.79" (H) and weighs 3.97 pounds. As of this writing, an entry-level Spectre (with a Core i5 CPU, 4GB of RAM, and 128GB SSD) retails for $1,399 (US). Upgrading to a Core i7 machine with a 256GB SSD raises the price to $1,899. This is a full-featured ultrabook with a full-featured price. As CNET's Dan Ackerman wrote in his review, "the HP Envy 14 Spectre is a bold experiment that largely succeeds, if you're willing to pay a premium for it."

Full teardown gallery: Cracking Open the HP Envy 14 Spectre

Cracking Open observations

  • Well-built and easy to disassemble: Despite its outer glass panel, which I discuss in more detail below, the Spectre felt sturdy and was well-built. HP used standard Torx and Phillips screws on the Spectre. And, most internal components can be removed and replaced separately. The user-accessible battery is also a nice touch, as are the easy-to-reach SSD and the second SSD slot.
  • RAM is NOT soldered to the motherboard: Not only can you swap out the storage unit, but unlike all the other ultrabooks I've cracked open, the you can also upgrade the unit's RAM--as it's not soldered to the motherboard. Unfortunately, there's no way to get to the RAM chip without removing the motherboard.
  • Large and heavy for an ultrabook: The Spectre is a bit thicker and heavier than other ultrabooks. It's a full pound heavier than Apple's 13-inch MacBook Air and Acer's Aspire S3. And, it's only slightly thinner than the MacBook Pro.
  • Gorilla Glass lid concerns: While HP tauts the Spectre's outer Gorilla Glass panel as tough and scratch resistant, which it probably is, it still concerns me to have such a large piece of unprotected glass on my laptop. I haven't conducted any puncture or shatter tests on our machine, so my fears of opening my laptop bag and finding it full of broken glass may be completely unfounded. I sure hope so.

Internal hardware

Our HP Envy 14 Spectre test machine has the following hardware:

  • 1.8GHz Intel Core i7-2677M processor (E89391 01 IE7 / V148A962 / 2V146174A1703 SR0D2)
  • Intel BD82HM65 Platform Controller Hub (BD82HM65 SLJ4P E137B538)
  • 4GB Samsung 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM
  • Qualcomm Atheros AR5B225 WLAN BT card
  • 128GB Samsung SSD (HP P/N: 653509-001)
  • HP (SL04XL)14.8V, 58Wh Li-Ion battery
  • 14.0 Radiance HD+ Infinity LED-backlit display (1600 x 900)
  • NXP PN533 NFC controller (533 70 CT7812 02 02 TSD1422)
  • Synaptics T1320A Touchpad controller (T1320A 1133 AWOW127)
  • Quanta Keyboard P/N: AESPSU00010
  • Intel Centrino Advanced-N 6230 802.11a/g/n Wi-Fi plus Bluetooth card
  • Realtek RTS5209 Card Reader Controller
  • IDT 92HD91B Single Chip PC Audio System (92HD91B2X5 NLG YA11391 U28394M)
  • SWAP net 10/100/1000Base-T Single Port Transformer Module
  • AMIC A25LQ32A 32Mb Serial Flash Memory (A25LQ32AM-F 1142WD CC7E02)
  • Volterra VT1317SF (VT1317SF AP1104 1838528)
  • Volterra VT1316MAF5 (VT1316MAF5 AG1133 1843016)
  • Cracking Open HP Envy 14 Spectre: Texas Instruments TPS51461 3.3V to 5V Input, 6A, D-CAP+ Mode Synchronous Step-Down Converter with 2-Bit VID
  • Fairchild FDMC7672S N-Channel Power Trench SyncFET (F BBDAA FDMC 7672S)
  • ENE Technology KB3930 keyboard controller (KB3930QF A2 HH-N6GA9 AC-114321)
  • Parade Technologies 6414A GV1312 (likely a DisplayPort IC)
  • Realtek RTL8111 Gigabit Ethernet controller (RTL8111E B7H07G2 GB31L)
  • NEC D720202 USB controller (D720202 701 1146KV012G CHINA)

About

Bill Detwiler is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and Tech Pro Research and the host of Cracking Open, CNET and TechRepublic's popular online show. Prior to joining TechRepublic in 2000, Bill was an IT manager, database administrator, and desktop supp...

6 comments
back_ache
back_ache

Is it Bluetooth low-energy / 4 for example?

Natter Jang
Natter Jang

I think HP envy 14 spectre Positive Point + Keyboard & Touchpad Good to touch + Long battery life + High-quality speaker with beats-audio + Good reflective display Negative Point - Only have 1 USB 2.0 Port - Heavier weight than other ultrabook You can see more detail at HP envy 14 specter reviews >> www.ultrabookprice.net

wizard57m-cnet
wizard57m-cnet

Is it overpriced? Depends on whom you ask...if you're asking ME...yes. I'm a tightwad though...other people not so much...I'm happy with my 3 year old Acer Aspire One netbook for "mobile" stuff and my 4 yr old Dell Inspiron desktop for "heavy" usage.

Bill Detwiler
Bill Detwiler

In this week's Cracking Open episode, I dissect the HP Envy 14 Spectre. With its outer Gorilla Glass panel on the lid it's definitely an eye-catching ultrabook. It's also has solid hardware. But, it's on the high end of the ultrabook market. Pricing starts at $1,399 and goes up to $1,899. Our test machine (Core i7 (mobile) CPU, 4GB RAM, and 128GB SSD) cost $1,599. Is this too much for a machine with a mobile processor and no optical drive? Take this week's Cracking Open poll and let me know. http://www.techrepublic.com/blog/cracking-open/hp-spectre-teardown-eye-catching-but-overpriced-ultrabook/469

danbi
danbi

This notebook is both heavier and ticker than the Air, but this can be expected given the design decisions that are made. But this HP notebook does not compete directly with the Air.

Synomenon
Synomenon

How many mini-PCIe slots does the Spectre have? In your list of "Internal Hardware", you listed both a: Qualcomm Atheros AR5B225 WLAN BT card and an: Intel Centrino Advanced-N 6230 802.11a/g/n Wi-Fi plus Bluetooth card Does the Spectre really have two wifi cards built in? Does it have at least two usable mini-PCIe slots?