HP Envy x360 15 (AMD) review: Creative performance for $1,000?

hp envy x360 15 ryzen review 2021 3

Envy x360 15 Ryzen

“The HP Envy x360 15 with its AMD Ryzen 7 5700U is a high-powered 2-in-1 held back by a disappointing display.”

  • Excellent productivity performance
  • Solid build quality
  • Conservative good looks
  • Excellent keyboard and touchpad
  • Affordable
  • Poor performance in Adobe applications
  • Battery life hampered by small battery capacity
  • Display doesn’t offer wide enough colors

MSRP $1,000.00

Fast performance for content creation can get very expensive. That’s especially true on laptops.

HP’s Envy x360 15, powered by AMD Ryzen, is an antidote to that problem. The overall design has been tweaked, and HP now positions the 15-inch 2-in-1 — like other Envy machines, including the Envy 14 and the Envy 15 — as a machine made especially for creators.

I reviewed a $1,000 configuration equipped with the AMD Ryzen 7 5700U CPU, 16GB of RAM, a 512GB PCIe solid-state drive (SSD), and a 15.6-inch Full HD (1920 x 1080) display in the increasingly obsolete 16:9 aspect ratio. That’s an attractive price for a powerful laptop — on paper. Does the Envy x360 15 actually live up to its promise of being a creator’s dream machine?

Design

Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

Like other recent Envy machines, the Envy x360 15 was designed with a minimalist aesthetic. Most likely, that’s to differentiate from HP’s Spectre line, which uses a gem-cut chassis and colored chrome edges to make a strong fashion statement. The Envy x360 15 is much simpler, with a uniform Nightfall Black color that, to my eyes, looks brown in certain lighting, rounded edges, and no other accents to any of the chamfered edges. The only splash of color is the gold HP logo on the lid. Like the Envy 14, Envy 15, and Lenovo’s Yoga line, it’s an attractive laptop that won’t announce itself in a crowd.

Also, like the rest of the Envy line, the Envy x360 15 is made of stamped aluminum, another distinguishing feature from the CNC machined aluminum used in the Spectres. Even so, the Envy x360 15 feels robust, with no bending in the lid and just a little keyboard flex. It’s not as solid as the Spectre x360 15 or, say, the Dell XPS 15, but it still feels like a premium laptop. The lid is rather stiff, requiring two hands to open, but it holds the display in place in clamshell, tent, media, and tablet modes.

In terms of its size, the Envy x360 15 benefits from an 88.7% screen-to-body ratio, meaning its bezels are reasonably small around all edges. The chin’s a little large, but that’s to be expected with a 360-degree convertible. It’s not quite as chiseled as the Spectre x360 15 with its 90% screen-to-body ratio, but it’s close enough.

It’s only slightly wider and taller than its more premium sibling, and it’s 0.72 inches thick and weighs 4.11 pounds — quite a bit thinner and lighter than the Spectre’s 0.76 inches and 4.81 pounds. Some of that weight difference is due to the battery capacity, where the Envy x360 15 has just 51 watt-hours compared to the Spectre’s 84 watt-hours. By comparison, the Dell XPS 15 is also 0.71 inches thick and weighs 4.5 pounds with its 97 watt-hour battery. The Envy x360 15 is a reasonably sized 15-inch 2-in-1, but it will still be cumbersome in tablet mode.

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hp envy x360 15 ryzen review 2021 usbMark Coppock/Digital Trends
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hp envy x360 15 ryzen review 2021 portsMark Coppock/Digital Trends

There’s plenty of connectivity, with a USB-A 3.1 port, full-size HDMI 2.0 port, USB-C 3.1 port, and audio jack along the left-hand side, and another USB-A 3.1 port and a full-size SD card reader along the right-hand side. Unfortunately, there’s no Thunderbolt 4 support given the AMD chipset, limiting flexibility and performance. Wireless connectivity is Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.1 via an Intel AX 200 radio.

Performance

Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

AMD’s latest Ryzen CPUs have been top performers in CPU-intensive tasks, and I was looking forward to putting the Ryzen 7 5700U through its paces. I expected solid CPU performance and GPU performance in line with Intel’s Iris Xe, and that’s pretty much what I got. Note that HP’s Command Center utility that offers different performance settings didn’t have much impact on the Envy x360 15 (as compared to the Spectre x360 14, which was much faster in “Performance” mode), and so I’m not mentioning those settings in this review.

Starting with Geekbench 5, the Envy x360 15 scored second-highest in the multi-core test among our comparison group in the table below. Only the MacBook Pro 13 with Apple’s M1 ARM CPU was faster, and none of the Intel-based laptops were even close. As usual, things were a bit different in the single-core test, where Intel’s chips performed better than all but the Ryzen 7 5800U and the Apple M1.

In the PCMark 10 Complete benchmark, the Envy x360 15 came in second again, this time behind the Asus ZenBook 13 OLED running a Ryzen 7 5800U. That’s thanks to a high score in the Content Creation portion of the test, where only Intel 45-watt H-series CPUs have scored better. The Ryzen 7 5700U beat out the entire field of U-series Tiger Lake laptops.

In our more real-world Handbrake test that converts a 420MB video to H.265, the Envy x360 15 was the fastest machine, even beating out the ZenBook 13 OLED with its faster Ryzen 7 chip. It was twice as fast as the HP Spectre x360 14 and almost 80 seconds faster than the Dell XPS 13. And in Cinebench 23, the Envy x360 15 was the fastest laptop we’ve tested, period — including H-series laptops. Simply put, if you’re running a content creation application that relies on the CPU, the Envy x360 15 is a great machine to have at your disposal.

The same can’t be said for the PugetBench benchmark that uses Premiere Pro to run through a series of demanding video editing tasks. Here, the Envy x360 15 managed a score of just 185. The Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 360 with a Core i7-1165G7 and Intel Iris Xe graphics scored 241, while the HP Envy 14 with a Core i5-1135G7 and Nvidia GeForce 1650 Ti Max-Q GPU scored a much higher 432.

Clearly, Intel and Adobe have worked together to optimize Premiere Pro for Intel chips, and the test absolutely benefits from a faster GPU. The latter is likely true for any application that can use the GPU to accelerate processes.

Geekbench (single/multi) Handbrake (seconds) Cinbench R23 (single/multi) PCMark 10 3DMark Time Spy
HP Envy x360 15
(Ryzen 7 5700U)
1198/6790 116 1258/8131 5419 1471
Asus ZenBook 13 OLED
(Ryzen 7 5800U
1423/6758 124 1171 /7824 6034 1342
Lenovo Yoga 9i
(Core i7-10750H)
1285/5551 144 1141/6400 5173 3487
HP Spectre x360 14
(Core i7-1165G7)
1214/ 4117 236 1389 /3941 4728 1457
HP Envy 15 (Core i7-10750H) 1274/5542 139 N/A N/A 5123
MacBook Pro 13 (M1) 1707/7337 N/A 1487 /7547 N/A N/A
Dell XPS 13 (Core i7-1185G7) 1549/5431 204 1399/ 4585 N/A 1380

The Ryzen CPUs are also limited in gaming thanks to integrated Radeon Graphics that are about as quick in the 3DMark Time Spy benchmark as Intel Iris Xe. I also ran Fortnite, where the Envy x360 15 managed 25 frames per second (fps) at 1080p and high graphics, and 16 fps with epic graphics selected. That’s within a few fps of Tiger Lake laptops with Intel Iris Xe graphics, meaning the Envy x360 15 isn’t really meant for gaming.

Display

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