Tech reviews

HP Envy x360 15 (2021) review: A lot of laptop at a reasonable price


HP Envy X360 15

Sarah Tew/CNET

With PC makers moving more toward using taller 16:10- and 3:2-ratio displays instead of widescreen 16:9 panels, models like the HP Envy x360 15 might soon be a rarity. On the other hand, 15.6-inch two-in-ones are already fairly uncommon. Still, this Envy is strong competition against models like Lenovo Yoga 7i and Dell Inspiron 15 2-in-1 for its mix of component options and design and software features. If you’re looking for a big, widescreen two-in-one, this is a good place to start. 

Like

  • Excellent performance, features for its price
  • Great battery life
  • Helpful software tools

Don’t Like

  • Size, weight are awkward for tablet use

Also, while it might arrive to you with Windows 10, it meets the requirements for a free upgrade to Windows 11. A two-in-one is going to be a great way to take full advantage of the new OS and its support for Android apps and its enhanced tablet interface. Although, its 15.6-inch size and 4.1-pound weight does make it awkward to use as a handheld tablet. Still, it’s fine on a table and you can always use it in tent or stand modes, too. The Envy x360 15 has pen support, too, and it magnetically attaches to the body. However, not all configurations come with a pen (mine didn’t). 

Also read: Windows 11 review: Microsoft’s OS upgrade is subtle, but we like that

HP Envy x360 15 (2021)

Price as reviewed $1,000
Display size/resolution 15.6-incxh 1,920×1,080 display
CPU 1.8GHz AMD Ryzen 7 5700U
Memory 16GB DDR4 3200MHz
Graphics 512MB integrated AMD Radeon
Storage 512GB NVMe PCIe SSD
Ports HDMI 2.0, USB-C (10Gbps), USB Type-A (x2, 10Gbps), SD card reader, combo audio jack
Networking 802.11ax, Bluetooth 5.1
Operating system Windows 10 Home (21H1)
HP Envy X360 15

The big, widescreen display and 4-pound weight makes it an unruly handheld tablet.


Sarah Tew/CNET

The HP Envy x360 15 starts at around $650 but the configuration I tested is available directly from HP for a penny under $1,000. It’s currently out of stock, but you can get it with 8GB of memory from Best Buy or 12GB from Costco. HP also offers options for a full-HD AMOLED display and a model with a discrete 2GB Nvidia GeForce MX450 graphics chip. In the UK, the Envy x360 15 starts at £900 and in Australia it’s AU$2,999

If you are considering this for content creation, you’ll want to pay attention to the display used in the configurations. There are three different panels and the entry-level option has a smaller color range and lower 250-nit brightness than the middle option I tested. The latter covers 100% sRGB color space and has a max brightness of 400 nits, although it tested at 97% sRGB and 45% of Adobe RGB and P3 color spaces and a brightness of 382 nits. There is a higher-end 4K UHD AMOLED panel as well, but you’ll have to switch from AMD to Intel for that. 

HP Envy X360 15

The Envy x360 15 is a good option for entertainment, too.


Sarah Tew/CNET

The AMD Ryzen 7 gets you better performance for your money, though. You miss out on Thunderbolt 4, but the USB-C port does support a display and high-speed data. Plus, with an HDMI port onboard, you can easily connect up to a second external monitor if necessary, or get a USB-C dock for a single-cable desktop setup. You can also take advantage of the two-in-one design and flip the display into stand mode and give yourself a clean-looking triple-monitor workspace. While the Envy x360 15 is no workstation, it’s enough for basic content creation tasks. (HP even has a mouse to help creators multitask.) Similarly, this configuration would only be good for casual gaming or cloud gaming services.

A lot of tools for work and privacy

Like other Envy models, the keyboard is wide and comfortable without feeling too mushy. The key legends are big and easy to read, too. The precision touchpad is smooth and responsive — no issues there at all. On the function key row along with media controls and screen and keyboard-backlight brightness, you’ll find shortcuts for blocking the webcam and muting the mic. 

HP Envy X360 15

The keyboard has a fingerprint reader squeezed into the right side of the bottom row.


Sarah Tew/CNET

If you are one of the many taking a lot more video calls now, the last thing you want are loud fans whirring away in the background or, worse, fans that are constantly cycling on and off while you chat. It sort of comes with the territory for thin laptops like this Envy, but pressing the F12 key launches HP’s Command Center to help you control cooling depending on if you want top performance or need to keep the fan noise to a minimum. 

The same app also lets you direct network bandwidth to specific applications while another app, HP Display Control, gives you calibrated color presets for whatever you’re doing, such as photo or video editing. Then there’s HP’s QuickDrop feature, which lets you instantly send files, photos, videos, URLs and other things from your phone or other devices to the Envy x360 15. 

HP Envy X360 15

This Envy has a rare SD card slot.


Sarah Tew/CNET

Probably the most interesting option is HP’s Enhanced Lighting app. It essentially uses the 400-nit brightness of the display as a ring light to help brighten your face for video chats. You can get a similar result by putting a blank Word doc on your display and cranking the brightness, but obviously the app makes it easier and you can adjust the tone from cool to warm. 

Battery life is long, too

You might think with this being a larger, more powerful laptop, battery life might suffer. It doesn’t. On our streaming video test it hit 11 hours, 5 minutes, which is in line with what HP claims for the model. Of course, it’s going to come down to what you’re doing with it, screen brightness, volume, etc., but getting near 8 hours of mixed use is achievable. It also charges quickly with its included power adapter that uses a barrel connector. You can also charge it via its USB-C port. 

While HP markets the Envy x360 15 as an option for creators, you don’t need to be one to appreciate it. It’s a bigger laptop with some helpful hardware and software features, which makes it nice for working from home. At the same time, it’s still a manageable size and weight for the occasional commute. Add in strong performance and a long battery life and you’re getting a lot of laptop at a reasonable price.

Geekbench 5 (multicore)

Samsung Galaxy Book 360 15

Note:

Longer bars indicate better performance

Cinebench R23 (multicore)

Samsung Galaxy Book 360 15

Note:

Longer bars indicate better performance

PCMark 10 Pro Edition

Samsung Galaxy Book 360 15

Note:

Longer bars indicate better performance

Streaming video playback battery drain test (minutes)

Samsung Galaxy Book 360 15

Note:

Longer bars indicate better performance

System Configurations

HP Envy x360 15 Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 1.8GHz AMD Ryzen 7 5700U; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 3,200MHz; 512MB integrated AMD Radeon; 512GB SSD
Dell Inspiron 16 Plus Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 2.3GHz Intel Core i7-11800H; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 3,200MHz; 4GB Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050; 512GB SSD
Samsung Galaxy Book 360 15 Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 2.8GHz Intel Core i7-1165G7; 16GB DDR4 4,267MHz; 128MB integrated Intel Iris Xe graphics; 1TB SSD
Acer Aspire Vero Microsoft Windows 11 Home (64-bit); 2.9GHz Intel Core i7-1195G7; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 3,200MHz; 128MB integrated Intel Iris Xe graphics; 512GB SSD
Acer Swift X Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 1.9GHz AMD Ryzen 7 5800U; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM; 4GB Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050Ti; 512GB SSD



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