Since being introduced as competition for the MacBook Air, Ultrabooks have come a long way. They manage slim and lightweight designs without compromising on performance. Full-size Intel Core processors, lightning-fast SSD storage and superb battery life are only a few factor's responsible for the Ultrabook's success.
More than anything else, though, Ultrabooks represent the bleeding edge of what laptops can be; case in point the sexy yet competent Acer Swift 7, the revolutionary Lenovo Yoga Book and Microsoft's own contributions, the Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book. While not all necessitate as Ultrabooks by definition, the influence they've drawn is evident.
Of course, this also means Ultrabooks come at a premium. Don't confuse small with cheap. Ultrabook prices typically start at $999 (around £584, AU$1,064), extending upwards of $2,000 (around £1,169, AU$2,131).
It's an arms race in the Ultrabook world, and there's no room for losers. As such, it's hard not to find a great machine. But, if your rich taste demands the cream of the crop without going broke, you've come to the right place.
1. Dell XPS 13
The best laptop on the planet, Dell's latest Ultrabook is a masterpiece
CPU: Intel Core i5 – i7 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 520 – Intel Iris Graphics 540 | RAM: 4GB – 8GB | Screen: 13.3-inch FHD (1,920 x 1,080) – QHD+ (3,200 x 1,800) | Storage: 128GB – 256GB SSD
The new Dell XPS 13 manages to pull off nothing short of revolutionary laptop design. Touting a 13.3-inch display, it bears the footprint of a mere 11-incher, effectively making it one of the most compact and lightweight offerings on the market.
Don't confuse portability for weakness, however, as the Dell XPS 13 packs enough horsepower for both work and play, accompanied by a lengthy battery life that's dressed to impress. All in all, the Dell XPS 13 balances the best of both worlds – great performance and yet stellar power management – for no doubt an extensive lifespan at that.
Read the full review: Dell XPS 13
2. Asus ZenBook UX305
A truly excellent ultrabook at a very agreeable price point
CPU: Intel Core Intel Core M3-6Y30 – M7-6Y75 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 515 | RAM: 8GB | Screen: 13.3-inch, FHD (1,920 x 1,080) – QHD+ (3200 x 1800) IPS display | Storage: 256GB – 512GB SSD
The ZenBook UX305 is an exquisitely-built, fully metal machine that's thin, light and very attractive. This lightweight system can easily take on any task whether it's browsing the web, watching video or editing images. What's more, its seven hour battery life is exceptional, and a sub-$700 price tag only sweetens the deal.
While it isn't exactly a shining symbol of innovation in the Ultrabook space, not to mention the processor which pales in comparison to more capable devices on the market, the UX305 is one of the most affordable Windows 10 laptops available today, and it won't disappoint you. Plus, if you're willing to shell out an extra hundred bucks, the updated UX305LA packs in a full-fledged Intel Core i5 CPU.
Read the full review: Asus ZenBook UX305
3. Surface Book
The heavy duty performance Ultrabook
CPU: Intel Core i5 – i7 | Graphics: Intel HD graphics 520 – Nvidia GeForce graphics | RAM: 8GB – 16GB | Screen: 13.5-inch, 3,000 x 2,000 PixelSense Display | Storage: 128GB – 256GB PCIe3.0 SSD
The Surface Book is both the world's most powerful and thinnest Windows 10 PC as well as an excellent laptop. This is all thanks to its ability to swap between being a really terrific notebook and tablet.
Plus with all the power of an Intel Skylake processor and a discrete Nvidia GPU, this machine outpaces almost every other Ultrabook. The only thing users might find annoying is how it's heavier and bigger than most 13-inch laptops thanks to its 3:2 aspect ratio and 13.5-inch screen.
Read the full review: Surface Book
4. Lenovo Yoga 900
Performance meets design, Lenovo's latest flagship is a jewel
CPU: 2.5GHz Intel Core i7-6500U | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 520 | RAM: 8GB – 16GB | Screen: 13.3-inch QHD+ 3,200 x 1,800 IPS display | Storage: 256GB – 1TB SSD
If you're all about style and want power to back it up, things don't get much better than Lenovo's latest flagship hybrid Ultrabook. It's much more punch than its Intel Core M-toting predecessor thanks to trading in Core i5 and i7 CPUs, and it has bigger batteries to boot.
Though it's no longer one of the lightest Windows laptops to date, the Yoga 900 still retains an incredibly sharp and thin design. Although it comes at a steep price, such panache will be worth it for style nuts.
Read the full review: Lenovo Yoga 900
5. Samsung Notebook 9
One stellar entry-level Ultrabook
CPU: 2.3GHz Intel Core i5-6200U | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 520 | RAM: 8GB DDR3 1866 | Screen: 13.3-inch, FHD (1,920 x 1,080) LED anti-reflective display | Storage: 256GB m.2 SSD
The Samsung Notebook 9 retains the paper-thin (not literally) design of the Series 9 notebook we all came to know and love back in 2012.
This time, however, we're greeted with a considerably competent Core i5 Skylake processor in addition to an attractive screen, design, and - unlike past Samsung ultrabooks - an approachable price.
Read the full review: Samsung Notebook 9
6. HP Spectre
Thin, powerful and delightfully chic
CPU: Intel Core i5 – i7 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 520 | RAM: 8GB | Screen: 13.3-inch FHD (1,920 x 1,080) IPS UWVA WLED | Storage: 256GB – 512GB SSD
One glance at the HP Spectre, and you'd think it belongs in a mansion. As if looks weren't enough, this gilded machine is actually more powerful than the latest MacBook and for a lower price at that.
You won't find laptops thinner than this and with an optional Intel Core i7 configuration to the trio of USB-C ports, it's supremely capable and not to mention future-proof. Even when it only boasts a 1080p screen, it renders deeper blacks and brighter colors than most.
If there were ever a such thing as a MacBook killer, it would be called the HP Spectre – front and center, folks.
Read the full review: HP Spectre
7. Dell Latitude 13 7000
A higher class of business laptop we deserve
CPU: Intel Core m3 – m7 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 515 | RAM: 4GB – 8GB | Screen: 13.3-inch FHD (1,920 x 1,080) – QHD (3,200 x 1,800) InfinityEdge display | Storage: 128GB - 256GB PCIe SSD
Following in the footsteps of the king of Ultrabooks, Dell has revamped its Latitude series of business notebooks with the Infinity display redesign. With a compact chassis, the best keyboards ever and great build quality, the Dell Latitude 13 7000 is one of the best Windows laptops to take on the road.
However, thanks to only Intel's Core M chip inside, it isn't the fastest business brain on the block. Still, if you're looking for a reliable machine, you'll be pleased with the Latitude 13 7000's seven hour battery life.
Read the full review: Dell Latitude 13 7000
8. Acer Aspire S7
Acer's luxurious laptop is an ultraportable star
CPU: 5th Gen Intel Core i7 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 5500 | RAM: 4GB – 8GB | Screen: 13.3-inch, FHD (1,920 x 1,080) – WQHD (2560 x 1440) touchscreen | Storage: 256GB SSD
If you have a passion for white electronics, the Aspire S7's looks alone may seal the deal, but the laptop is more than just a pretty face. Acer packs in Intel's Broadwell Core i7 processor, a battery that lasts close to a full work day, plenty of storage and RAM all into a sleek body.
The Aspire S7 is an attractive and powerful laptop, but not one without compromises. If you're willing to invest a little time to removing bloatware and can live with a keyboard with the shallow key travel, then the Aspire S7 rewards you with a very capable computing experience that also looks stunning on your desk.
Read the full review: Acer Aspire S7
9. Toshiba Kirabook
A high-res Ultrabook that's easy on the eyes
CPU: 5th Gen Intel Core i7 | Graphics: Intel® HD Graphics 5500 | RAM: 8GB | Screen: 13.3 inch 2560 x 1440 WQHD touchscreen | Storage: 256GB SSD
The Toshiba Kirabook (otherwise known as the Kira in the UK) sits at the higher end of the Ultrabook spectrum. It offers a high-res screen and a fully metal body that feels so premium, it even gives the MacBook a run for its money.
While there were a few missteps with the annoying keyboard and dim screen, you'll be pleased with this long lasting machine that's easy on the eyes.
Read the full review: Toshiba Kirabook
10. Toshiba Satellite Radius 12
The best 4K screen available on an Ultrabook today
CPU: 6th Gen Intel Core i5 – i7 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 520 | RAM: 8GB | Screen: 13.3-inch, FHD (1,920 x 1,080) – 4K Ultra HD (3,840 x 2,160) TruBrite LED backlit touchscreen | Storage: 256GB SSD
High resolution screens have become synonymous with Ultrabooks but few have a true 4K screen and that's where the Toshiba Satellite Radius 12 comes into impress. Packing a vibrant and very color accurate screen, this 12.5-inch hybrid notebook is one of the new Technicolor-certified devices on the market.
Of course, that makes it an excellent choice for photographers and those in media production. That said, it has a few flaws including a shrunken keyboard and competitively shorter battery life.
Read the full review: Toshiba Satellite Radius 12
Gabe Carey has also contributed to this article
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