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