Here are the best HP laptops to buy this holiday: Spectre, Envy, Omen, and more

Here are the best HP laptops to buy this holiday: Spectre, Envy, Omen, and more

Few brands in the laptop world are as renowned and popular as HP. From budget-friendly laptops to high-end premium experiences, the company offers some of the best laptops you can buy. If you’re looking to upgrade your current personal or work computer, or you want to gift someone as we’re about to enter the holiday season, going with HP is definitely a smart move. But there are plenty of options to choose from in the company’s lineup. To help you choose, we’ve rounded up the best HP laptops you can buy today.

We’ve selected a few categories you can choose from when buying a new laptop, but we also have a best overall pick that should make just about anyone happy. One additional note is that many of these laptops are now shipping with Windows 11, and those that aren’t will support the upgrade, so you don’t have to worry about that.

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Best overall: HP Spectre x360 14

HP Spectre X360 14

It’s almost impossible to not recommend HP’s Spectre x360 14. This is one of the company’s best laptops ever, taking the iconic design of the Spectre lineup and adding a modern touch with a taller display.

First off, the HP Spectre x360 14 is powered by the latest Intel processors up to an Intel Core i7-1165G7, so you’re getting the latest and greatest here. This is a 4 core, 8 thread CPU that’s going to get you great performance in all kinds of day-to-day tasks, plus it has integrated Iris Xe graphics. That gives you some ability to eventually run lightweight games or other software that can be boosted by the GPU. You can also configure the Spectre x360 with up to 16GB of RAM and either 2TB of SSD storage, or 1TB of storage accelerated by 32GB of Intel Optane memory. Unless you’re an avid gamer or you work with heavy 3D and video rendering tasks, you won’t be in need of more performance.

The display is also fantastic on the Spectre x360 14, and it’s especially so because HP has finally adopted a 3:2 aspect ratio for a Spectre laptop. The rest of the lineup is still using 16:9 panels, but if you want that tall aspect ratio, which is great for productivity, the Spectre x360 offers it. The 13.5 inch display comes with a Full HD+ (1920 x 1280) resolution on the base model, and you can add a privacy screen if you’re usually working with sensitive information in public. But the best upgrade option is the stunning 3K2K (3000 x 2000) OLED display that will simply look fantastic. OLED displays offer incredibly vibrant colors and high contrast ratios, and that resolution is more than sharp enough for a display of this size.

A potential downside here is that the webcam is only 720p, and is a very small sensor, so it won’t capture a lot of light. Still, it includes an IR camera for Windows Hello, and there’s a privacy shutter if you’re worried about being spied on. If you don’t like facial recognition for whatever reason, there’s also a fingerprint sensor built in.

Design-wise, the Spectre x360 looks pretty much like other Spectre convertibles. It has this beautiful dual-tone look in both Nightfall Black (combining black with bronze accents) and Poseidon Blue (combining dark blue with gold accents). You can also get the more classic Natural Silver model if you prefer that. It also has the typical cut-off corners next to the hinge of the laptop, and these corners house the power button and one of the Thunderbolt 4 ports. This can make it so you don’t accidentally hit the power button while reaching for the ports on the sides, or if you’re using a Thunderbolt dock, you don’t need to have cables coming off the side where you might be using a mouse.

Speaking of ports, in addition to the Thunderbolt 4 port in the corner, you get another one on the side, a USB Type-A port, a headphone jack, and a microSD card reader. It’s not a particularly light laptop at 2.95lbs, but it’s got an all-aluminum chassis that feels premium, and it’s fairly thin at roughly 17mm.

All in all, this is a fantastic premium convertible that gives you a tall high-quality screen, a striking premium design, and great performance all around. It’s definitely one of the company’s best laptops.

    HP Spectre x360 14
    The HP Spectre x360 14 is a fantastic 14 inch convertible with a 3:2 display that gives you more surface area to work. It has the latest specs and a premium design.

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Best gaming laptop: OMEN 17

OMEN 17 on a light green background

If you’re looking to get the latest and greatest in portable gaming, the HP OMEN 17 is all you need. It delivers fantastic performance in a sleek package that looks great anywhere.

First things first, let’s talk performance. You can get the latest OMEN 17 with up to an Intel Core i9-11900H processor. That’s an 8 core, 16 thread CPU capable of boosting as high as 4.9GHz, so you’ll get all the performance you could ever need for gaming. On top of that, you can configure it with up to an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 laptop GPU, so it’s safe to say all your games will run flawlessly and likely at very high frame rates. Plus, you get up to 32GB of RAM and 1TB of storage. If you’re playing the latest AAA games, you may need some extra storage, but 1TB isn’t too shabby either.

All that power drives a large 17.3 inch display that comes in a few configurations. The base model includes a fairly standard Full HD display, but you can upgrade to a panel with a 144Hz refresh rate. Or go for the Quad HD panel with a refresh rate of 165Hz. That’s not as high as some of the bleeding edge laptops from other brands, but at least you can rest assured your hardware can almost definitely make full use of that display in most games. The brightness on this display is about 300 nits, so it’s not the best for outdoor use, but that’s not a likely scenario either way considering how powerful the hardware is.

Design-wise, the latest OMEN 17 is great. Previous OMEN models had chunky designs, but the latest iteration looks sleek and refined. The lid only has a gradient OMEN logo, and otherwise could easily go unnoticed in a business environment. Of course, it’s still a large machine, measuring nearly 27mm in thickness and starting at 6.15lbs of weight, but it looks great. You get an RGB backlit keyboard and full-size arrow keys that are isolated from the rest of the keyboard to avoid missed keypresses. The backlight can be had in a four-zone configuration or the pricier per-key option too.

You also get a healthy supply of ports. There are three USB Type-A ports (which many peripherals still use), a Thunderbolt 4/USB-C port, HDMI 2.1, MiniDisplayPort, Ethernet, microSD card reader, and a headphone jack. Plus of course, a proprietary power connector since the charger used here is significantly more powerful than what USB Type-C can deliver. That gives you about everything you need for your gaming setup, plus Thunderbolt 4 gives you the option to expand even further if you want to use a desktop-level GPU or more monitors.

Overall, the OMEN 17 is a beastly gaming laptop with a sleek, albeit heavy design. But if you want the most power in a form factor that you can take with you more easily, you can’t go wrong with this one.

    OMEN 17
    The OMEN 17 is a premium gaming laptop with a clean and sleek design, but packing powerful specs including NVIDIA RTX graphics.

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Best business laptop: HP EliteBook 840 Aero G8

Angled view of HP EliteBook 840 Aero

Business users have more specific needs than general consumers, and the HP EliteBook 840 Aero G8 is probably one of the very best options you can buy today. Like many business laptops, it’s highly customizable, but it’s also powerful and lightweight.

Starting with performance, the EliteBook 840 Aero gives you a few processors to choose from, all part of Intel’s 11th-generation lineup. You can go as high as an Intel Core i7-1185G7 with vPro, which gets a quad-core, 8 thread processor that can boost up to 4.8GHz. It also includes Intel Iris Xe graphics, so lighter GPU workloads are feasible for this laptop. Then we move on to the RAM, which is one of the more configurable aspects of the EliteBook 840 Aero. You can get it with up to 64GB of RAM (from a minimum of 8GB). You can also add up to 2TB of SSD storage, so you won’t easily run out of space for images. These configurations are independent from each other, so as an example you can max out the RAM and save on storage, and vice versa.

You don’t get a lot of options for customizing the display, at least not in terms of resolution. You’re always going to get a 14 inch panel with a 16:9 aspect ratio and Full HD resolution, which is sharp enough for most use cases. You do get some options to add touch, a low-power ambient light sensor, a brighter panel, or a privacy screen, which is important if you’re working with sensitive information in public. Your choice of display may also affect your ability to add cellular connectivity, so you’ll want to look closely at the available options.

Design-wise, the HP EliteBook 840 Aero looks fairly standard, but it’s packing a few features business users will appreciate. You’ll find a pointing stick in the middle of the keyboard for users who may not enjoy touchpads, the IR webcam has a privacy shutter, and there are a few optional add-ons including a fingerprint reader, NFC support, and a smart card reader. It’s also got a solid selection of ports, including two Thunderbolt 4, two USB Type-A ports, a headphone jack, HDMI, and a proprietary AC power connector. The laptop is made from aluminum, and the starting weight of 2.5lbs is pretty light for a laptop packing all these features.

Of course, like many business laptops, the EliteBook 840 Aero also gives you the option to add cellular connectivity. If you work on the go often, being able to connect to the internet without Wi-Fi is more secure and generally more reliable since cellular networks are available almost anywhere. There are options for both 4G — using an Intel XMM 7360 LTE modem with Cat9 speeds, promising up to 450Mbps downloads and 50Mbps uploads — or 5G, using a Qualcomm Snapdragon X55 modem. The latter option will be more expensive of course, but is more future-proof if you intend to keep using the laptop for the next few years.

The biggest hurdle with the EliteBook 840 Aero is its price tag, which is quite steep even at the base level. Still, the features and configuration options available may be worth it for business users.

    HP EliteBook 840 Aero G8
    The HP EliteBook 840 Aero is a highly-configurable business laptop with high-end specs and a lightweight premium design.

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Best 15-inch laptop: HP Spectre x360 15

HP Spectre x360 15t

We’ve already talked about the Spectre lineup on this list, but if you want a slightly larger display, the 15 inch Spectre x360 is also a phenomenal choice. It retains many of the great aspects we’ve discussed above, but with a larger and wider form factor.

In terms of performance, the Spectre x360 15 is very similar to its smaller sibling. It’s powered by the latest Intel Core i7-1165G7 processor, a quad-core, 8 thread CPU capable of boosting up to 4.7.GHz and packing Intel Iris Xe graphics. You can pair that with either 8GB or 16GB of RAM, and for storage, you can get up to a 2TB SSD, so you’ll have more than enough space for your files. 16GB of RAM is also more than enough to enable some fairly intensive multi-tasking, so you won’t be missing out on performance.

The display is also absolutely fantastic. The only configuration currently available on HP’s website also happens to be the best one you could ask for. It’s a 15.6 inch panel with an ultra-sharp 4K (3840 x 2160) resolution, which is already fantastic. But not only is it incredibly sharp, it’s also an AMOLED panel, capable of producing more vibrant colors, deeper blacks, and very high contrast ratios. OLED panels also typically have faster response times than LCDs, though that may not be especially relevant for most day-to-day uses. Regardless, it’s an absolutely stunning display, and the only issue here is the same tiny 720p webcam at the top, meaning you won’t look your best in video calls. At least you still get an IR camera for more secure authentication with Windows Hello.

The design carries the same essence as the smaller 14 inch Spectre, featuring the same striking dual-tone looks in Nightfall Back and Poseidon Blue. Also here and accounted for are the cut-off corners next to the hinge, featuring a Thunderbolt 4 port on one side and the power button on the other. The other ports include another Thunderbolt 4 port, USB Type-A, HDMI, and a headphone jack. HDMI is something you get here that wasn’t on the Spectre x360 14, so that’s a bonus if you have an external monitor you want to use without additional adapters.

Of course, the laptop is also wider and heavier than the 14 inch model, but that’s a simple consequence of having a bigger screen. Plus, the wider chassis makes room for a full number pad, a feature that’s not all too frequent in modern laptops. Otherwise, this is the same great design as the Spectre x360 14. It uses the same premium aluminum build, and because it’s also a convertible, it’s definitely not one of the lightest laptops around, but it feels great.

It’s hard to go wrong with a laptop that looks and feels this good, has a stunning 4K AMOLED display, and offers all the performance you could need in a premium laptop. This is one of HP’s best laptops, no doubt.

    HP Spectre x360 15
    The HP Spectre x360 is a gorgeous 15 inch convertible with a dual-tone design and a fantastic 4K display.

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Best 17-inch laptop: HP ENVY 17

HP Envy 17 2021

Need something a little bigger? Look no further than the fantastic HP ENVY 17, a laptop with a large 17 inch display and enough power for all your day-to-day tasks, wrapped in a premium aluminum build.

Performance-wise, the HP ENVY 17 is very much on par with HP’s other flagship products. You get 11th-generation Intel Core processor up to a Core i7-1165G7, giving you 4 cores and 8 threads running at up to 4.7 GHz. This is the same processor found in the Spectre lineup, so it still includes Iris Xe graphics for tasks that require a bit more GPU power. You won’t be playing the latest AAA games, but if you want to enjoy an older title or simpler games, this lets you do that. Plus you can get up to 32GB of RAM — that’s more than even most of the Spectre laptops offer. You can also add up to 1TB of storage, with the option to accelerate it using Intel Optane memory.

The display is, as we’ve mentioned, a 17.3 inch panel, and the base configuration comes in Full HD (1920 x 1080) resolution. You can upgrade by adding touch support or upgrade to a 4K display with a resolution of 3840 x 2160. With the larger screen, those extra pixels are going to be that much more useful in making everything look sharp. The high pixel density and the large size should also make for a fantastic multitasking experience, even though the display sticks with the more traditional 16:9 aspect ratio. And even though it’s not a convertible, the ENVY 17 uses glass to protect its display, even in the base configuration, so it feels that much more premium.

Above the display, the included webcam is still 720p, which is common for HP laptops, and it also doesn’t include an IR camera for Windows Hello. However, it does have a privacy shutter if you’re worried about being spied on. You do get a fingerprint reader if you want to sign in without having to type in a password or PIN.

Being this is a laptop with a large screen and a solid aluminum build, it does add up to a fairly heavy machine, weighing around 5.6lbs. It’s not the most portable of laptops, but you get a premium build and solid performance in exchange for that, so it may be worth the trade-off. You also get a solid selection of ports, including one Thunderbolt 4 connection, three USB Type-A ports, HDMI, a headphone jack, and a proprietary charging connector. That gives you plenty of connection options. Plus, the large size of the laptop makes way for a full number pad, which is always nice to have.

A potential downside of the ENVY 17 is that it only comes in silver, so it’s not the best option if you want something that looks unique. But if looks aren’t a priority, this is certainly one of HP’s best laptops.

    HP ENVY 17
    The HP ENVY 17 is a premium 17 inch laptop with an all-aluminum build and high-end specs, including the latest silicon from Intel.

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Best budget laptop: HP Pavilion Aero

Front view of HP Pavilion Aero 13

If you’re looking for something affordable that still offers fantastic value, the HP Pavilion Aero isn’t just one of best HP laptops, it’s one of the best laptops. It delivers on all the essentials and even has a couple of extra features that make it a no-brainer for almost anyone on a budget.

Let’s start with performance. The HP Pavilion Aero is the only laptop on this list to be powered by an AMD processor, but that’s far from a bad thing. It’s packing AMD’s latest Ryzen processors, including your choice of a Ryzen 5 5600U or a Ryzen 7 5800U. That means you can get up to 8 cores and 16 threads on an affordable thin and light laptop. It’s worth mentioning that these are using AMD’s latest manufacturing process, so they’re significantly better than the Ryzen 5 5500U or Ryzen 7 5700U you might find elsewhere.

That’s already fantastic, but you can also get up to 16GB of RAM and 1TB of SSD storage. Of course, upgrading to the maximum configurations makes this less of a budget laptop, but even the base configuration includes 8GB of RAM and 256GB of SSD storage, and that’s a great starting point.

Another highlight of the Pavilion Aero is the display, and that’s because it starts with a Full HD+ (1920 x 1200) panel in the base configuration. That’s not a big deal for a premium laptop, but for an affordable laptop like this, it’s huge news. It’s incredibly rare to see budget laptops with anything other than a 16:9 display, and even Full HD resolution isn’t always a guarantee. And if you want even more quality, you can upgrade to a Quad HD+ (2560 x 1600) panel for just $30, which is fantastic. Unfortunately, there’s no option for touch support, and the 720p webcam above the display doesn’t include an IR webcam either, but that’s more acceptable when you’re in this price range.

What you do get here is an incredibly lightweight design, which is another rarity for a budget laptop like this, especially when it already gets so much right. It’s made from a magnesium alloy, and that allows it to start at less than 2.2lbs, or less than 1kg. It includes a solid selection of ports too, including USB Type-C, two USB Type-A, HDMI, and a headphone jack. There’s no Thunderbolt support because this is an AMD-based laptop, but that’s to be expected, especially considering the price of this device. There’s also a fingerprint reader built-in, so you get some form of biometric authentication at least.

Another great thing about this laptop is it comes in a few color options, which isn’t all that common these days. A few laptops will give you two color options at most, but with the Pavilion Aero, you get four — Natural Silver, Ceramic White, Pale Rose Gold, and Warm Gold. All of those apart from Natural Silver will cost you an extra $10, but if you want to choose one that’s a little more personal to you, the HP Pavilion Aero is one of the best laptops for that.

    HP Pavilion Aero
    The HP Pavilion Aero is a fantastic affordable laptop feaaturing high-performance AMD Ryzen processors and a lightweight magnesium build.

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Best ARM laptop: HP Elite Folio

HP Elite Folio with adjusted display

As good as traditional laptops are, ARM-based laptops have some notable benefits. Whether it’s the ability to wake instantly from sleep, always-on connectivity, or better battery efficiency, there are good reasons to want an ARM laptop. And the HP Elite Folio is one of, if not the very best laptop of this kind you can buy today.

Instead of Intel or AMD, the HP Elite Folio is powered by a Qualcomm chipset, specifically the Snapdragon 8cx Gen 2 5G. This is an octa-core chipset, capable of reaching speeds up to 3GHz. Performance-wise, this is somewhat close to an Intel Core i5, which isn’t too bad at all. It also has built-in Adreno 690 graphics. Plus, you get the benefits we’ve already mentioned like better efficiency. You can combine that with up to 16GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD, making for a great experience overall in regards to performance.  One issue you might have is app compatibility with the ARM architecture, but with the Windows 11 update, the vast majority of Windows apps should now work natively or through emulation, so it’s a much smaller problem than it used to be.

For the display, the HP Elite Folio uses a 13.5 inch panel, but it comes in the 3:2 aspect ratio, which, as we’ve already mentioned, is great. This tall aspect ratio makes a lot of room for extra text and UI elements, which makes productivity that much easier on this laptop. It only comes in Full HD+ (1920 x 1280) resolution, but considering the size of the display, you really shouldn’t need a lot more. Since this is a convertible, that display includes touch support and it’s protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 5. You can also add a privacy screen to prevent people around you from snooping. As a bonus, the laptop also includes an IR camera for Windows Hello. However, the webcam itself is 720p.

What’s truly unique about the HP Elite Folio is its design. First off, it uses an ingenious convertible form factor where it looks like a conventional laptop at first, but you can pull the screen closer to you to watch content. Or you can fold the display down over the keyboard and use it as a tablet. Not only that but the entire chassis is wrapped in faux leather, giving it a distinct look and feel. Because of this material, it looks classy and is easier to grip since it’s less slippery than metal or plastic.

The downside of this design is it only has two USB Type-C ports and a headphone jack. Thunderbolt support is an obvious omission considering this isn’t an Intel-powered laptop, but you’re pretty much forced to buy a USB-C dock or adapter to connect an external display or a peripheral that still uses USB Type-A.

We’ve mentioned that always-on connectivity is a big benefit of ARM chipsets, so of course it makes perfect sense that cellular network support is also available. You can add a Qualcomm Snapdragon X20 model if you just want LTE, and that will get you Cat16 speeds (up to 1.2Gbps downloads/150Mbps uploads), or you can spring for the Snapdragon X55 to get 5G support. The latter option is more future-proof, but naturally more expensive too.

All in all, this is a fantastic ARM laptop from HP and potentially the best laptop ARM laptop in general.

    HP Elite Folio
    The HP Elite Folio is a rare example of an ARM laptop that's premium and has an unique form factor. It's powered by the latest Snapdragon processor and up to 16GB of RAM.

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Best Chromebook: HP Chromebook x360

HP Chromebook x360 14c

If you’re not a fan of Windows, HP also makes Chromebooks, and the Chromebook x360 14 is one of the best you can find. It combines solid performance and a premium design, making for a great overall experience.

The processor inside the HP Chromebook x360 14 is an Intel Core i3-1125G4, and while it’s true that this is a lower-end processor, at least it’s Intel’s latest. Compared to the sea of Intel Celeron-powered Chromebooks, this is still going to give you a very solid experience, with 4 cores, 8 threads, and up to 3.7GHz clock speeds. You also get 8GB of RAM, making multitasking a breeze, and up to 256GB of SSD storage should be more than enough for most use cases in Chrome OS. This is a heavily web-based operating system, so you likely won’t be filling up a lot of space that quickly.

For the display, HP is using a 14 inch panel with the more traditional 16:9 aspect ratio. It’s a Full HD display, which is sharp enough for most use cases, and it’s protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 5, adding to the overall premium feel. A downside here is the 250 nits of brightness, which makes this less than ideal in outdoor environments, but it’s bright enough to use comfortably in a classroom or office. There aren’t any upgrade options here, but you’re getting a solid experience already.

Above the display, there’s a 720p webcam for video calls, which is acceptable, albeit not overly impressive. There’s no IR camera for facial recognition, but that can be said for all Chromebooks right now. Instead, you have a fingerprint reader you can use if you want to log in more easily.

Design-wise, the HP Chromebook x360 14 is a fairly standard convertible. It’s a silver laptop with a rotating hinge, and it’s fairly thin at 16.51mm. It’s not the lightest laptop around, weighing roughly 3.35lbs, but that’s to be expected when you have a premium aluminum build. Compared to other Chromebooks in HP’s lineup, this one easily has the most modern design, with minimal bezels all around the display. As for ports, you get two USB Type-C ports, one USB Type-A port, a headphone jack, and a microSD card reader. That gives you connectivity options for peripherals, but you’ll need an adapter or the right kind of monitor to use an external display over USB Type-C.

If you’re looking for a premium Chromebook, your list of options isn’t incredibly long, and this one from HP is going to give you a solid experience at an affordable price.

    HP Chromebook x360 14
    The HP Chromebook x360 14 is the company's most premium Chromebook, offering the latest Intel Core processors and a Full HD touchscreen.

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These are the best laptops you can get from HP right now. Whether it’s a gift for a loved one or for yourself, these are all fantastic options for different types of users. For most people, the HP Spectre x360 14 is likely the best because it’s a fantastic blend of portability, premium design, high-end performance, and fantastic display that’s great for productivity. But of course, there’s something for everyone, and if your budget is a little tighter, it’s always worth looking at the Pavilion Aero, which offers absolutely stellar value for its price.

We included a couple of cellular-connected laptops on this list, but if you’re looking for more, check out our list of the best 5G laptops you can buy today. There are plenty of great options there too.

About author

João Carrasqueira
João Carrasqueira

Writer at XDA Computing. I've been covering the world of technology since 2018, but I've loved the field for a lot longer. And I have a weird affinity for Nintendo videogames, which I'm always happy to talk about.