Updated: We've added the Toshiba Kirabook to our list of the best Ultrabooks.
Ultrabooks have come a long way since they were first introduced to compete with the MacBook Air world. They're thin and light while featuring powerful Intel Core processors, fast SSD storage and superb battery life. But more than anything else they represent the bleeding edge of laptops; case in point the side shrinking Dell XPS 13 and the unbelievably light Lenovo LaVie Z.
Of course, this all means Ultrabook also come at a premium. Don't be surprised with prices that start at $999 (around £584, AU$1,064) just for the low-end and nearly $2,000 (around £1,169, AU$2,131) at the very high end.
It's an arms race in the Ultrabook world and there's no room for laptops in this space, as such it's hard not to find a great machine but below you'll find the very best cream of the crop.
1. Dell XPS 13
Possibly the best laptop on the planet, Dell's latest is a masterpiece
CPU: 2.2GHz Intel Core i5-5200 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 5500 | RAM: 8GB | Screen: 3,200 x 1,800 | Storage: 230GB SSD | Connectivity: 802.11 AC, Bluetooth 4.0 | Camera: 720p | Weight: 2.8 pounds
The new Dell XPS 13 is a 13.3-inch notebook, but it has the small footprint of an 11-inch machine. Fortunately for us, the XPS 13 isn't all beauty and no brains. This laptop features the horsepower to make work and play enjoyable, and it has just enough battery life to never leave you in a lurch. Regardless of whether you choose to upgrade to the touchscreen quad HD+ version, or if you stand pat with the full HD model, the Dell XPS 13 will provide you with a delightful experience for years to come.
Read the full review: Dell XPS 13
2. Asus ZenBook UX305
A truly excellent ultrabook at a very agreeable price point
CPU: 800MHz Intel Core M 5Y10 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 5300 | RAM: 8GB | Screen: 13.3-inch 1920x1080 | Storage: 256GB SSD | Connectivity: 802.11n + Bluetooth 4.0 | Camera: 720p | Weight: 2.6 pounds | Dimensions: 12.8 x 8.9 x 0.5 inches
The ZenBook UX305 is a superbly-built, fully metal machine that's thin, light and very attractive. This lightweight system' also easily handled all my daily tasks whether I was browsing the web, watching video or editing images. What's more, you can get excellent battery life out of the machine considering its 1080p display. Of course, the most striking thing about the UX305 is that it comes at a $699 or £649 (about AU$902) price. This is a great price for any mobile computing machine, but in this case you're getting a premium, full-metal Ultrabook with an excellent full HD display and a 256GB SSD to boot. While it isn't exactly a shining symbol of innovation in the Ultrabook space, it is the most affordable Ultrabook out today and it won't disappoint you.
Read the full review: Asus ZenBook UX305
3. Asus ZenBook Pro UX501
An attractive alternative to a certain fruit-flavoured laptop
CPU: 2.6GHz Intel Core i7-4720HQ | Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960M | RAM: 16GB | Screen: 15.6-inch, 3840 x 2160 IPS Display | Storage: 512GB PCIe x4 SSD | Connectivity: Intel PRO Wireless AC 7260 + BT Wireless LAN Combo | Camera: Built-in 720P Video Camera | Weight: 5.0 pounds | Dimensions: 15.08 x 10.04 x 0.84 inches
If you're looking for a laptop with a little more meat on its bones but don't want to break the bank, the Asus ZenBook Pro UX501 is a stylish contender. It features a bright, vibrant 4K display and packs a capacious, highly responsive storage drive that flies.
There's extra beef under the hood in the form of an Intel Core-i7 chip inside and discrete Nvidia GeForce GTX 960M graphics for gaming and graphics work. That high-resolution display is something of a battery drain, and it's not the lightest laptop around, but if you're not planning on lugging it around too much then the UX501's meaty innards and affordability make it an attractive option for content creators and media buffs alike.
Read the full review: Asus ZenBook Pro UX501
4. Lenovo LaVie Z
The lightest Ultrabook in the world
CPU: 2.40GHz Intel Core i7-5500U | Graphics: Intel HD Graphic 5500 | RAM: 8GB | Screen: 13.3-inch WQHD (2560 x 1440) LED anti-glare | Storage: 256GB SSD | Connectivity: Wi-Fi 802.11 ac and Bluetooth 4.0 | Camera: 720p HD | Weight: 1.87 pounds | Dimensions: 12.56 x 0.67 x 8.35 inches
By creating the 1.87-pound LaVie Z, Lenovo has created the lightest laptop in the world. Aside from its lightweight chassis, the Lavie Z offers performance and display are among the best available today. However, the laptop's somewhat questionable build quality, inferior battery life, and inflated price tag are qualities that will turn many off from what is an otherwise splendid device.
Read the full review: Lenovo LaVie Z
5. HP EliteBook Folio 1020 G1
A thin, attractive business laptop posing as an Ultrabook
CPU: 1.2GHz dual-core Intel Core M-5Y71 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 5300 | RAM: 8GB | Screen: value | Storage: 256GB M.2 SSD | Connectivity: Bluetooth 4.0; dual-band 802.11ac (B/G/N), dual-band Wi-Fi | Camera: 720p webcam | Weight: 2.68-pound | Dimensions: 12.2 x 8.27 x 0.62-inch
Although it has the look and body of an Ultrabook, the HP EliteBook Folio 1020 G1 is very much a business laptop in disguise. Underneath its MacBook Air like exterior, this machine packs plenty of enterprise perks including fingerprint scanner, enterprise security and the durable build quality to meet a Military Specifications certification.
At the same time though, the HP Folio 1020 G1 has a gorgeous design that's atypical of business-class notebooks. Cloaked in a unibody aluminum shell, the fanless Folio is one of the lighter, more attractive business portables in the world. Add in a gorgeous QHD screen, comfortably ergonomic keyboard, and this premium business machine is well worth its slightly premium price tag.
Read the full review: HP EliteBook Folio 1020 G1
6. Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro
A triumph for design, Lenovo's flagship is impressive if a little pricey
CPU: Intel Core M | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 530 | RAM: 8GB | Screen: 13-inch 3200x1800 | Storage: 256GB SSD | Ports: 2 x USB 3.0 | Connectivity: 802.11ac | Camera: 720p | Weight: 2.62 pounds | Dimensions: 13 x 9 x 0.5 inches
If you're all about style and don't need a super powerful machine, it doesn't get much better than Lenovo's latest flagship Ultrabook. While it may not be as punchy as its predecessor (thanks in part to its low-power, fanless Intel Core M chip), it can still manage all of the usual tasks you would throw at it.
And given its new metallic hinge and super thin design, the Yoga 3 Pro makes a better case than ever for its multitudes of usage modes. At any rate, this is one of the thinnest, lightest and sharpest Windows laptops to date. And while you'll certainly pay for it, the price for such panache will be worth it for style nuts.
Read the full review: Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro
7. Samsung Ativ Book 9 Plus
With stunning performance and screen, it doesn't get much better than this
CPU: 1.6 GHz Intel Core i5-4200U | Graphics: Intel integrated | RAM: 4GB | Screen: 13.3-inch 3,200 x 1,800 | Storage: 128GB SSD | Ports: 3 x USB 3.0 | Connectivity: 802.11ac | Camera: 720p | Weight: 3.06 pounds | Dimensions: 12.6 x 9 x 0.5 inches
Samsung was one of the very first PC manufacturers to jump on the Ultrabook bandwagon. It's done a fine job of representing Intel's baby ever since, with some stunning offerings, including the Samsung Series 5 Ultra Touch and, more recently, the top-of-the-line Samsung Series 9 NP900X3D.
Samsung's new Ultrabook: the Samsung Ativ Book 9 Plus (starting at $1,399, £1,412, AU$2,259), might keep the company ahead of the game for a while, at least if its on-paper abilities are anything to go by.
It's a wonderful-looking unit. It's thin and carefully crafted, with shiny, chamfered edges lining its all-aluminium chassis. But its plain black exterior might lend some clues as to its intent: This is premium-priced Ultrabook focused as much on the business user as the coffee shop regular.
Read the full review: Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus
8. Acer Aspire S7
Acer's luxurious laptop is an ultraportable star
CPU: 2.4 GHz Intel Core i7-550U | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 5500 | RAM: 8GB | Screen: 13.3-inch, 1,920 x 1,080 touchscreen | Storage: 256GB SSD | Connectivity: value | Camera: value | Weight: value | 12.72 x 8.78 x 0.51 | Dimensions: 12.72 x 8.78 x 0.51 inches
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 will also look good on your desk.
Read the full review: Acer Aspire S7
9. Toshiba Kirabook
A high-res Ultrabook that's easy on the eyes
CPU: 2.4GHz Intel Core i7-5500U | Graphics: Intel® HD Graphics 5500 | RAM: 8GB | Screen: 13.3 inch 2560 x 1440 WQHD touchscreen | Storage: 256GB SSD | Connectivity: Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 7265 + Bluetooth 4.0 | Camera: HD webcam | Weight: 2.9 pounds | Dimensions: 12.4 x 8 x 0.37 inches
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. Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon
An excellent business laptop that (almost) has it all
CPU: Intel Core i5-4300U | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 4400 | RAM: 4GB | Screen: 14-inch, 2560 x 1440 IPS | Storage: 180GB SSD | Ports: 2x USB 3.0 | Connectivity: 802.11ac | Camera: 720p | Weight: 3.15 pounds | Dimensions: 13.03 x 8.94 x 0.73 inches
The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (starting at $1,186, £1,198, AU$1,699) is a business laptop that straddles the line between form and function more than ever after this update. For those with a penchant for aesthetics, here's a brand new design with some fantastic new features. And to keep the no-nonsense business user happy, this is a plenty powerful piece of hardware.
The connectivity on offer through this Ultrabook's super slim design profile alone is impressive. And the adaptive keys, while divisive, add a ton of function in a limited amount of space and an attractive presentation. Look out, MacBook Pro, you're no longer the only thin and light business option on the block.
Read the full review: Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon