HP Elite x2 review: Beats the Surface Pro 4 in some ways (but not in others)

Price when reviewed

HP Elite x2 1012 review: Display

All of which makes it doubly disappointing that HP hasn’t managed to squeeze in a decent-quality screen. And it’s not the size or resolution of the screen that I have a problem with. For while it’s true that the HP’s 12in, 1,920 x 1,280 display is smaller than the Surface Pro 4’s and considerably less sharp, for the most part, you’re not going to notice these differences unless you look really, really close.

Quality-wise, though, it’s a different story. Brightness is decent enough, reaching 351cd/m2, as is contrast at 908:1, but both colour accuracy and sRGB colour gamut coverage are seriously disappointing. Compared side by side with the Surface Pro 4, it’s plain to see that the Microsoft device is superior. Colours pop off the screen with more vibrancy and liveliness and contrast is clearly better. On the HP, images take on a blue-ish green tinge, something that can be ascribed to the over-cool white point and that poor sRGB coverage, which is only 76.6%.


HP Elite x2 1012 review: Performance and battery life

That’s not the only problem. You may have noticed from the table above that the HP Elite x2 1012 isn’t available with the same broad range of processors as Microsoft’s hybrid. While the Surface Pro 4 starts with the lowly Intel Core m3 and reaches up to the heights of the Intel Core i7 mobile CPU, the Elite x2 only goes as high as the Core m7-6Y75.

I have the latter here, and it’s accompanied by 8GB of RAM and a 256GB NVMe Samsung SSD. For most tasks, this lineup is perfectly decent. It feels nippy and responsive, no doubt aided by that super-quick SSD, which returned sequential read and write speeds of 1,572MB/sec and 1,263MB/sec respectively in CrystalDiskMark.

Push the performance with more demanding tasks, however, and it’s clear which tablet comes out on top. In our 4K benchmarks, which comprise a series of torture tests, from high-resolution image transcoding to 4K video encoding, and a multitasking component that involves running both tasks concurrently, the HP Elite x2 recorded an overall score of 34. Meanwhile, the Core i5-6200U Surface Pro 4 achieved 44 in the same tests, and that’s not even the top-of-the-range model.


You don’t even get the compensation of improved stamina. In our video-rundown battery test, where we set the screen to a brightness of 170cd/m2, put the machine into flight mode, then play a video until the battery gauge hits zero, the Elite x2 lasted 5hrs 43mins. That’s two hours short of the more powerful Core i5 Surface Pro 4, which lasted 7hrs 40mins in the same test.

On the plus side, those Core m processors are all vPro models, which will please IT managers everywhere, as will TPM support and the fingerprint reader at the rear of the tablet. But these features don’t make up for such disappointing battery life.

HP Elite x2 1012 review: Prices and verdict

You can see where HP is coming from with the Elite x2. By offering a repairable, more robust and manageable hybrid, it’s making both IT managers and end users happy. And, yes, the HP Elite x2 is a very usable 2-in-1 hybrid. If I was given one of these as my work machine I’d be perfectly happy – as long as the guy next to me wasn’t given a Dell XPS 13, that is.

It’s even competitively priced. The model I have here is the top-spec Elite x2 with a 1.2GHz Core m7-6Y75, 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD and it costs £1,229 inc VAT, a price that includes the keyboard and stylus. The Core i5 Surface Pro 4 is cheaper, but not significantly. And you can knock the price right down to £719, again including the keyboard and stylus.

It isn’t, however, what I was hoping for: a better device than the Surface Pro 4. In some ways it’s brilliant. The keyboard and build quality outdo its rival, and it’s a touch more practical too. But its subpar display, and the fact that the top-end models in the range aren’t as quick as the Core i5 and i7 Surface Pro 4, mean your workers will probably still hold a candle for the Microsoft tablet long after they’ve taken ownership of their shiny new Elite x2.

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HP Elite x2 1012 specifications

ProcessorDual-core 1.2GHz Intel Core m7-6Y75
Max memory32GB
Dimensions (WDH)301 x 8.2 x 214mm (301 x 14 x 219mm with keyboard)
SoundConnexant ISST
Pointing deviceTouchpad, touchscreen, stylus
Screen size12in
Screen resolution1,920 x 1,280
Graphics adaptorIntel HD Graphics
Graphics outputsHDMI and DisplayPort (via USB Type-C)
Total storage256GB
Optical drive typeNone
USB ports1 x USB 3.0, 1 x USB Type-C
BluetoothYes (4.2)
Memory card readerMicroSD
Other portsMicro SIM
Operating systemWindows 10 Pro
Parts and labour warranty3-year limited parts and labour warranty
Price inc VAT£1,229 inc VAT

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