As mentioned, the HP Envy Spectre 14 review unit I received is a Sandy Bridge model. For some reason HP did not have an Ivy Bridge variant available to send us at the time, so the performance section of this review will be short. I’m only going to test a handful of benchmarks which pit the laptop against the Acer Aspire Timeline Ultra M3 and the Ivy Bridge ultrabook reference platform. The purpose of these tests is simply to confirm that no oddity in the Envy’s design is causing performance issues.
Let’s begin with SiSoft Sandra.
Everything appears to be in order here. Performance is virtually identical to the Acer Aspire M3 and a fair shake behind the new Ivy Bridge processor.
Now let’s have a quick look at graphics performance in 3DMark 06. Remember, because this is Sandy Bridge, it’s not possible to properly run 3DMark 11.
Again the story is what we’d expect. The low-voltage Sandy Bridge IGP doesn’t score well compared to the newer Ivy Bridge model or the Acer Aspire M3, which has a GT 640M discrete GPU. This is the story with every Sandy Bridge ultrabook.
Hard Drive Performance
There is only component in the Spectre that could surprise or disappoint us – the hard drive. The laptop ships with a standard 128 GB hard drive which, in our review unit, was produced by Samsung. How does it stack up? Let’s look at ATTO first.
The results from ATTO are actually quite disappointing. While the Spectre’s SSD can easily outpace the mechanical drive in the Acer Aspire Timeline Ultra M3 it can’t keep up with the Intel Series 520 drive that was in the Ivy Bridge reference ultrabook. The results aren’t even close – the reference ultrabook is in some cases tripling, even quadrupling the results we received from the Spectre 14.
What does HD Tune have to say on the matter?
These results are not so harsh on the Spectre but they still show it at a significant disadvantage when compared to the Ivy Bridge reference ultrabook.
One possible source for this discrepancy is the size of the drives. Intel shipped the reference ultrabook with a 240GB drive, while the base drive in the Spectre has a capacity of just 128GB. Solid state drives with larger capacities usually offer better performance, so it’s possible that a Spectre with a 256GB drive would make up the difference shown here.
To be honest, though, I’d only recommend the upgrade unless you need the capacity. There are not many applications besides games (which the Spectre isn’t really cut out for) that will see substantial improvements from a faster solid state drive. It’s also not likely you’ll be making numerous large file transfers because there isn’t capacity for it – most of your large files, like movies, will have to permanently reside on an external drive.