Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 vs. HP Spectre x360 13: Which is a better buy?

Surface Laptop 3 13.5
Surface Laptop 3 13.5 (Image credit: Windows Central)

Both of these laptops are some of the latest and greatest, and you can't really make a bad choice by getting either. Both have stunning designs, powerful hardware, good performance, and battery life and have comparable features like digital pen support. There are a couple of critical areas that should be considered where the Spectre x360 actually makes more sense to buy.

Whichever of these two laptops suits you better, it's worth keeping tabs on prices with Black Friday on the horizon because as we get into the holiday shopping season, there will be opportunities to get discounts on hardware. The Surface Laptop wasn't updated in Microsoft's most recent hardware refresh, so any discounts on the regular asking prices detailed in this post are worth taking advantage of. Likewise, as the Spectre x360 is the best Windows laptop you can buy right now, any good discount makes it a must buy.

Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 (13-inch) vs. HP Spectre x360 13 tech specs

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Header Cell - Column 0 Surface Laptop 3HP Spectre x360 13
Processor10th Gen Intel Core i5-1035G7
10th Gen Intel Core i7-1065G7
8th Gen Intel Core i5-8265U
8th Gen Intel Core i7-8565U
10th Gen Intel Core i5-1035G4
10th Gen Intel Core i7-1065G7
RAM8GB or 16GB LPDDR4x8GB
16GB
Storage128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB PCIe SSD256GB, 512GB, 1TB, 2TB PCIe SSD
Display13.5-inch Pixelsense, 3:2 aspect ratio, 2256x150413.3-inch 1920 x 1080 (touch)
1920 x 1080 w/ Sure View Privacy Screen (touch)
4K UHD (3840 x 2160, touch)
Aspect ratio3:216:9
GraphicsIntel Iris PlusIntel UHD Graphics 620
Intel Iris Plus Graphics
Ports1x USB-C, 1x USB-A, 1x Surface Connect, 3.5 mm headphone jack2x Thunderbolt 3
2x USB Type-C 3.1 Gen 2
1x USB 3.1 Type-A Gen 2
MicroSD
3.5mm audio
BatteryUp to 11.5 hours60Wh
Dimensions12.1 x 8.8 x 0.57 inches(308 x 223 x 14.5mm)12.16 in x 8.58 in x 0.57 inches (309 x 218 x 15 mm)
WeightUp to 2.79 lbsFrom 2.9 lbs (1.32 kg)

HP Spectre x360 is more affordable

The Spectre x360 right now starts at just $730, compared to the $899 entry price for the Surface Laptop 3. Albeit, there are some sacrifices, such as the base models using 8th Gen Intel processors compared to the all 10th Gen Surface Laptop 3. The base models are technically the previous revision, so while much is similar, the bezels are larger, and the trackpad drivers are, well, not fantastic.

Otherwise, you're still getting a superb laptop. Base models always have lower storage and RAM, but the cheapest Spectre x360 still maintains 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD. On the cheapest Surface Laptop 3, you get half as much storage, and when it comes to these entry models, more storage will probably be more useful to you than a slightly better processor.

But even as the price starts to climb with the latest revision, the Spectre x360 continues to represent a more affordable, overall better value proposition. At the highest spec, it's undercutting the Surface Laptop 3 by $300 for a comparable model, and here you're getting a 10th Gen Intel Core i7 with Iris Plus graphics, 16GB of RAM, 32GB of Intel Optane memory for added performance boosts, and a 512GB SSD.

If the price is essential to you, and why wouldn't it be, the Spectre x360 represents the smartest choice and best overall value.

Surface Laptop 3 is just a laptop (but a good one)

If all you want is a laptop without much consideration for touch and inking, then the Surface Laptop 3 is the smartest choice. It does have inking and a touch display, but since it's a traditional clamshell rather than a convertible, it's not a strong recommendation if you really want to get the best from those features.

What it is is one of the finest laptops money can buy, and one of the killer features is the taller 3:2 aspect ratio display that the Surface products have become known for. This adds more screen real estate, but being in the vertical makes it more comfortable for writing and reading in particular.

That's not to say the Spectre x360 isn't impressive, because it is, but it's a more traditional 16:10 aspect ratio. Where it stands out is for touch and inking fans since it's a proper convertible, that is, the display folds right around. This makes it more flexible to use than the Surface Laptop 3 since you can use it like a tablet, which is better when you're using a pen as it's a more natural, comfortable position.

HP Spectre x360 is the more affordable choice for inking fans

If you really want to get the best touch or inking experience or you just want to save as much money as possible, then the HP Spectre x360 is the one to go for. There are a few compromises on the lowest price versions, but on the whole, you'll save more money on any spec level, and since it's a convertible, it's much better to use with the pen.

Surface Laptop 3 still a killer laptop

The Surface Laptop 3 is one of the best laptops you can buy, but that doesn't make it right for everyone. If you want the best laptop, then here it is, and you should absolutely get one. But it will come at a premium, and if you're chasing the flexibility you get with a convertible, you don't quite get it here.

Richard Devine is an Editor at Windows Central. A former Project Manager and long-term tech addict, he joined Mobile Nations in 2011 and has been found on Android Central and iMore as well as Windows Central. Currently you'll find him covering all manner of PC hardware and gaming, and you can follow him on Twitter and Instagram.