The word laptop has been used rather loosely for the last decade. There are several types of portable PCs available today, but an Ultrabook puts other styles to shame. It’s the preferred machine of professionals and students around the globe, and we’re here to help you find the best Ultrabook to suit your needs.
How to Choose the Best Ultrabook
What type of user are you?
When you sit down at your PC or laptop, is it for business or leisure? That alone can dictate which direction you should go when looking for the best Ultrabook. Gamers and students are two more types of users that require different kinds of machines, but thankfully there is an Ultrabook style for everyone.
Before you think about areas like memory or ports, consider how you plan to use your new PC. In the Ultrabook class, the price point isn’t nearly as important considering it’s difficult to find an Ultrabook under 500 dollars unless it’s used. You can find some solid contenders for under a grand, but most are north of that number.
For some, a speedy processor or solid-state drive may be the first area they turn towards when making a buying decision. That would be a mistake as you need to start with the operating system. While there are several exotic options available, we’re only going to focus on the top two with Windows and the Mac OS.
Windows – There are currently billions of machines running some form of Windows; it’s safe to say it’s the most popular option around. There was a time when it was considered unstable compared to PCs running the Mac OS, but that gap has narrowed considerably.
One perk of the platform is compatibility as almost every program will run on Windows. There are a few exceptions, but those are mainly exclusives built for Macs. Another would be power as a decked out Windows-based machine will run circles around a Mac.
Mac OS – With Macs, reliability is the most significant selling point along with the overall design and “Mac” mystique. They are very unlikely to crash compared to their Windows-based brethren although Windows 10 is rock solid for the most part. The overall user experience is arguably better and generally a hot topic of debate between fanbases.
On the flipside, you may encounter a few compatibility issues if you’re switching from a PC to the Macbook. Some of your favorites may not work although it’s not hard to find a substitute in the App Store unless it’s a PC classic geared towards one machine.
Memory and Processing Power
Every machine in the Ultrabook class will have at least 8GB of RAM, and that is the bare minimum we recommend. If you plan to play any high-end games or work with programs that can tax a system’s resources, you’ll want to double that number. RAM is not an expensive component in the overall price of a laptop although it’s tough to find portable machines with more than 16GB under the hood.
Processors are a bit trickier, but Intel’s are what you’ll find in most Ultrabooks and all the best 2-in-1 laptops. The generation and core are what you’ll want to hone in on – the higher the number, the better. The company’s Core-i5 chips are the most common while the i7 series is found in top-tier Ultrabooks and PCs.
The display is just as important as the components running the show considering you’re going to stare at it for hours on end. It’s a lot easier to wrap your head around as well with only three options in this class.
FHD – Full HD displays have slowly pushed HD panels out, so you won’t find any 720p displays this time around. Despite competition from the QHD and UHD club, they remain the best option for consumers that want a solid display that won’t break the bank. 1,920 x 1,080 is nothing to scoff at, and likely the same resolution as your current smartphone or big screen TV.
QHD – QHD stands for Quad High-Definition and is double the pixels of FHD. You will notice a major uptick in clarity if you’re making the jump from 720p, but may not from notice the change between FHD and QHD. It depends on the type of panel used and the tech pushing those pixels around.
UHD – UHD, otherwise known as 4K, takes things to an all new level. It’s overkill for casual users unless you’re looking to the future, but ideal for gamers and AV enthusiasts alike. The resolution is four times what you’ll find on an FHD display while options like HDR really kick things up a notch.
This is the one area you can upgrade on a laptop, so while you do need to consider the size, you should focus on the decision between HDD and SDD. Hard disk drives are becoming rarer in the Ultrabook class, but are the best way to go if you need a lot of space. They are cheaper, but not as quick as a solid-state drive.
While SSDs are more expensive, there is no substitute for speed. Transfer times are considerably quicker when your rig has a solid-state drive, but they do bump up the price. They usually top out at around 500GB in Ultrabooks as well, so you may need to expand sooner than later. In a nutshell, there is no magic number when it comes to storage space. Simply keep your needs in mind as you can always expand through an external drive or USB sticks.
The cool thing about Ultrabooks is they provide users with top-tier performance in a smaller package. Unfortunately, there are also a few drawbacks as you won’t find optical drives or many Ethernet ports on machines in this class. The battery life can take a big hit as well. That’s not always the case, but something to consider when you’re looking at a laptop with a UHD display. The size and type of panel can draw more juice, even when the innards are optimized.
Every laptop manufacturer will give you a “rough” idea of how long their Ultrabook will go, but it’s a number you need to take with a hefty dose of salt. If you like to crank your brightness up, you can decrease that number, and the same goes for games and applications that need a lot of power. The charging times are usually very close, however, and some models are equipped with fast charging tech.
Connectivity and Other Flagship Features
Now that we’ve covered all the key areas, it’s time to take a look at the extras which can separate the best from the rest. How your computer connects to the net and other peripherals is a critical area, and every Ultrabook will have a couple of ports at the ready. USB-C ports are trending and the best option along with USB 3.0 ports if you need speed.
While it’s not hard to find a laptop with those, the number of ports is important along with their charging capabilities. Dual-band Wi-Fi is another standard option, but fingerprint scanners are still sparse. The quality of the built-in speakers should be at the top of your list if you’re a media lover while gamers will want a good keyboard and the best-integrated graphics available.
The last feature worth note would be something tied to Windows-based PCs in the form of Windows Hello. It’s a super speedy login feature which works with the aforementioned fingerprint scanner or a webcam. Unfortunately, it only works with webcams capable of near-infrared imaging; something that is missing from several cheaper webcams.
1. Microsoft Surface Laptop 2
The Surface series from Microsoft is well-known for its beautiful design and the elegant curves of the Surface Laptop 2 are right on point. Furthermore, the laptop is light (2.76 pounds) and compact (13.5-inch) so it fits nicely in your bag or backpack.
With a battery that will last for up to 14.5 hours, Surface 2 features a gorgeous PixelSense touchscreen so you can use it for work or fun. Of course, you can also use the comfortable keyboard and large touchpad, according to your needs.
On the inside, the laptop is powered by a powerful configuration: Intel Core 8th Gen i5 processor, 8GB RAM, and 256 GB for storage. It also comes with Windows 10 Home, which includes cool features such as Windows Hello and your favorite assistant (Cortana).
Finally, the laptop can be used with a wide array of accessories (you have to purchase them separately) such as the Surface Dock (for more ports) or the Surface Pen.
- Great for work and fun
- Compact and portable design
- Impressive touchscreen
- Fast in processing data
- Lots of cool accessories
- Coated with Alcantara
- Battery drains a bit fast
- Not designed for heavy-duty software
2. Acer Aspire 5 A515-54G-73WC
Having an excellent 8th gen processor along with NVIDIA GeForce Graphics, this laptop can handle various types of assignments, from the simplest to the most complex ones. With a widescreen of the finest quality, the visuals look crisper and sharper than ever, ensuring top-quality experience.
Acer BlueLightShield makes it possible for you to rest your eyes during longer sessions. If you are truly into deep bass sounds, this one can give that to you, as it hosts Acer TrueHarmony. In addition to this, Microsoft Cortana gives the opportunity to establish a voice control, making the usage even simpler.
Lithium-Ion Battery guarantees more than nine hours of battery life. Knowing that the product is relatively lightweight, having it by your side while you are running all over the town won’t represent any problem.
- Full HD IPS Display
- 8th generation Intel Core processor
- NVIDIA GeForce MX250 Graphics
- Narrow bezel design
- Acer color intelligence
- Voice control
- Acer True Harmony
- Long battery life
- Not so useful for modern gaming requirements
3. HP Envy 13 (13-aq0044nr)
Offering a maximal level of safety and security, the product is packed not only with a fingerprint sensor but with a webcam kill switch as well. Thanks to Corning Gorilla Glass NBT, the device can withstand everyday scrapes and bumps and remain undamaged.
In addition to this, the laptop has Bios recovery and protection. This means that the health of your laptop is auto-checked guaranteeing security against unauthorized access while ensuring local storage and performing self-recoveries from boot-up problems.
Featuring backlit keyboard as well as speaker grill of geometric pattern, this model is designed to look modern and attractive, besides delivering superb performance. With lengthy battery life and non-bulky design, this gadget is easy to carry around and complete tasks wherever you happen to be.
- NVIDIA GeForce MX250Graphics
- 8th generation Intel Core CPU
- 512 GB SSD
- Equipped with webcam and fingerprint reader
- Backlit keyboard
- Efficient file management and boot up
- Long battery life
- Sturdy material
- Occasional problems with a fingerprint sensor
- Memory not upgradeable
4. Asus ZenBook 13
Having a four-sided NanoEdge screen, this model ensures more impressive visuals, minimizing the distraction for eyes. Thanks to the dual-function keypad and excellent memory storage, you can perform the most challenging tasks quite efficiently and quickly.
Wanting to make this model even more convenient, manufacturers equipped it with EgroLift hinge. This means the keyboard will automatically tilt the keyboard and adjust it for the most comfortable position for typing.
Meeting the most demanding standards for durability, the product can operate and endure even during the most extreme weather conditions. This means you can have your peace of mind even when you carry it around while out and about. The battery has a reliable lifespan, as well.
Adding more value to the security, the gadget hosts a built-in IR camera. This enables facial recognition sign in along with Windows Hello, minimizing the chances for compromised privacy.
- Intel Core Quad CPU
- ErgoLift hinge
- Windows 10 professional
- Fast storage and memory
- Built-in cam
- Backlit keyboard
- Improved audio quality
- Dual-function touchpad
- All-metal body
- The product heats up quickly
5. Razer Blade Stealth 4k Graphics Model
If you want a laptop that will handle both work projects and advanced gaming, the Razer Blade Stealth may be a great choice.
First of all, the design is incredibly badass! The black matte case that only features the Razer logo on the lid is absolutely stunning! Moreover, the surface around the keyboard is textured, the keyboard is backlit and features single-zone RGB lighting with 16.8 million color options, and the precision glass touchpad is large. In terms of design, the Razer Blade Stealth is a laptop everyone would love to have!
But let’s talk a bit about what’s under the beautiful exterior. The laptop is equipped with NVIDIA GeForce MX150 (25W) 4GB VRAM Graphics, quad-core 8th Gen Intel Core i7 -8565U Processor, and 16GB dual-channel memory.
Finally, the 13.3-inch touchscreen supports 4K resolution and is framed by a thin bezel. The display features 100% Adobe RGB color space, which makes it perfect for content creation, entertainment, and productivity.
Also, it has all the necessary ports for most activities: Thunderbolt 3, USB-C, USB-A, and WiFi. It also comes with a Windows Hello IR camera and dual-array mics for high-quality video chat sessions.
- Gorgeous design
- 13-inch touchscreen display
- Chroma keyboard
- Precision touchpad
- Long battery life (up to 8h)
- Lightweight and portable
- Great performance
- The keyboard is a bit odd
- Gaming drains the battery faster
6. LG Gram 17″
As one of the lightest 17-inch laptops on the market, the LG Gram packs and impressive power: an 8th Gen i7 Intel Core processor, 16GB RAM, and 512 GB SSD. Moreover, the WQXGA (2560×1600) IPS display supports 16:10 format and features vivid colors and sharp images.
This combination and the fact that the laptop features a 72Wh battery that will hold almost the entire day (up to 19.5h), make the LG Gram one of the best devices for work. You can use it for video and image editing, document processing, coding, and more.
Moreover, even though the laptop looks thin and weighs less than 3 pounds, it is durable and ready to face the world. The producer promises military-grade durability and the premium nano carbon magnesium full metal body doesn’t disappoint!
Finally, LG Gram is equipped with a fingerprint reader, backlit keyboard, four-finger multitouch gestures on the touchpad, and DTS Headphone:X for an immersive audio experience. To make sure you will be able to tackle any task, the device is equipped with all the necessary ports: 1xUSB Type-C, 3xUSB 3.1, 1xHDMI, 1xThunderbolt 3.
- 17-inch display
- Lightweight & durable body
- Perfect for work & entertainment
- Fingerprint recognition
- Powerful processor
- Impressive battery power
- Windows 10 Home
- Touchpad doesn’t handle clicking that well
- The body is not as sturdy as advertised
7. Dell XPS 13 9380
Hosting InfinityEdge display and 4K UHD res, this device will make sure you get the best of the best experience an ultrabook can offer. An anti-reflective screen and wide viewing angle will bring the tiniest detail right before your very eyes at its best shape.
The revolutionary and improved construction of webcam accommodated at the top of the display along with the precisely assembled lens ensures maximum quality sharp video. Thanks to HDR dynamic range, the device delivers lifelike visuals.
High-class audio components and Killer Wireless guarantee studio-quality sound for even the most refined listeners. With Dell Mobile Connect, you can pair this gadget with multiple iOS or Android-powered products. Moreover, the device is made of safe materials and 90% of it can be recycled.
- 8th generation Intel Core CPU
- Intel UHD Graphics
- Windows 10 Home
- Innovative webcam
- InfinityEdge display
- Advanced noise reduction
- Waves MaxxAudio
- Excellent contrast and color spectrum
- Reliable battery life
- Troubles with sleep mode and restarting
8. Microsoft Surface Book 2
Most of the machines in the Ultrabook arena clock in at 13.5-inches. While that’s great for portable people, some folks need a larger display. The Microsoft Surface Book 2 is among the top 15-inch Ultrabooks and has one flagship feature you won’t find on many other laptops in this range.
The Surface Book 2 is a convertible laptop with one major caveat. The screen has 360-action, but also completely detaches to give you a true tablet mode. That’s something we typically don’t see on 15-inch machines, especially when they have a Core-i7, 15GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD under the hood. That panel doesn’t disappoint either as the PixelSense display will blister your eyeballs – seriously.
Microsoft spared no expense with the Surface Book 2, so it’s not what we would consider budget-friendly. It’s well worth it however if you’re a power user, creator or even a gamer looking for an interesting alternative. You can scoop this one up in several different configurations and in a smaller 13.5” form factor as well.
- Detachable touchscreen display
- 3,260 x 2,160 resolution
- Outstanding battery life
- A bit heavier than other Ultrabooks
9. Lenovo Yoga 920 ThinkPad X1 Carbon
Thanks to the Carbon 7th generation CPU, along with this anti-glare LED-backlit display this ultrabook offers top-notch FHD experience to meet the requirements of the most demanding clients. The device hosts 16GB LPDDR3 and 2133MHz RAM, which proves that it can handle a variety of assignments.
Having 802.11 Wireless-AC 2×2 and Bluetooth 5.0, along with 2 USB-C slots, the laptop offers a solid range of connectivity. The battery is quite reliable, so this device can be with you even when you need to fulfill the tasks on the move. Being relatively lightweight, it doesn’t require much strength to carry it around.
As for some dynamic features, this one offers quite a special atmosphere thanks to the backlit keyboard and Dolby premium audio equipment. This model comes with an integrated webcam, and fingerprint reader, offering more options for enhanced user experience.
- Intel Core CPU
- FHD Display
- Backlit keyboard
- Intel integrated 620 graphics
- Dolby Premium audio processing
- Microsoft Windows 10
- Integrated webcam
- Fingerprint reader
- Issues with configuration
10. MacBook Air
The MacBook needs no introduction considering they are among the most popular Ultrabooks on the planet. The MacBook Air MQD32LL/A is one of the more recent models and one to consider regardless of your preference in operating systems.
The MacBook Air lineup gets an incremental upgrade each year, and their newest model is one of their best yet. Podcaster and professionals will love the speed of this slim system which has a 1.6GHz dual-core i5 processor and 8GB of LPDDR3 RAM. The display is sharp at 13.3-inches although limited with a resolution of only 1,440 x 900. Features like gesture control and the FaceTime camera make up for that, and it’s in line with the rest of the pack in regards to its size.
MacBook Airs are an acquired taste for some as the Pro models offer up more power, but are far from affordable. The Air lineup is cheaper and is one of the best laptops for college or consumers that want something reliable, but don’t necessarily need a beastly machine. This version of the MacBook Air comes with several accessories and with your choice of a 128GB or 256GB SSD.
- Amazing battery life
- Great keyboard
- Cheapest Mac available
- May not be powerfu
11. HP Spectre x360 13T Gemcut
Equipped with a brand-new 8th generation processor, this model has passed several benchmark tests with the highest grades. 512 GB SSD write speed and CPU performance bring the best-in-class quality and unpreceded user experience.
Thanks to the Full HD IPS touchscreen panel, all the content is delivered in its most vibrant and vivid shape and colors. Hosting Bang & Olufsen speakers, consumers will have the unique opportunity to enjoy the most delicate sounds and rich audio experience.
The device is packed with multiple connectivity options, and you can utilize a stylus pen with it. Great battery life along with the convenient and practical size of this portable laptop, makes this one a perfect and reliable companion for various duties, even while on the move.
- 8th Gen Quad-Core processor
- Intel Turbo Boost Technology
- Fast data access
- Superb HD panel
- Unparalleled audio performance
- Four-way processing
- Fingerprint reader
- Excellent speed and networking
- Multiple connectivity options
- Occasional issues with the screen (hibernating or freezing)
- l enough for some
12. Huawei MateBook X Pro
Huawei is not a brand associated with laptops until recently, and their MateBook X Pro certainly caught our attention. It’s widely regarded as one of the best Ultrabooks on the market and an ideal choice if you want a top-tier machine.
This Ultrabook has a 13.9-inch touchscreen display with a resolution of 3,000 x 2,000. It sports a 1500:1 contrast ratio and Dolby ATMOS as well. The MateBook X Pro also lives up to the Ultrabook name considering it weighs less than 3 pounds and is only 0.57-inches thick. That’s impressive once you factor in 8GB of RAM and a 1TB solid-state drive.
You can expect all the usual bells & whistles from the MateBook X Pro in the connectivity department including a USB-C port and dual-band Wi-Fi. The base configuration comes with an 8th generation i5-8250U under the hood, but you can opt for the i7 which comes with 16GB of RAM and GeForce MX150 discreet graphics.
- 91% screen-to-body ratio
- 3K display
- Great battery life
- Pop-up camera
- Short warranty
- Overkill for casual users