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.

HP Envy 14 Spectre

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)