10 best Ultrabooks 2016: top thin and light laptops reviewed

Techradar's top-ranking Ultrabook reviews

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, Ultrabooks represent the bleeding edge of laptops; case in point the size-shrunken Dell XPS 13, the unbelievably light HP Spectre 13 and Microsoft's own addition with the Surface Book. In some cases, such as with Xiaomi's Mi Notebook Air, they even manage to bring considerable discrete graphics.

Of course, this means Ultrabooks 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 losers. As such, it's hard not to find a great machine. But, if you're looking for the very best cream of the crop, you've come to the right place.

Best Ultrabooks

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

Gorgeous bezel-less display
Lightweight, compact frame
Off-center webcam
Small frame limits battery life

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

Best Ultrabooks

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

Incredibly thin and light
Vibrant, glare-free screen
Weak sauce graphics
Tinny speakers

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

best ultrabook

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

Futuristic design
Seamless tablet separation
Battery life falls well below promises
A bit heavy set

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

best ultrabook

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

Gorgeous display
Slim design
Shallow keyboard
Display drivers issues

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

Best Ultrabooks

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

Thin, smart styling
Nearly perfect display
Micro-sized video ports
Short battery life

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

Best Ultrabooks

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

Tasteful glitz and glam
Tactile keyboard
Below average battery life
Spongy trackpad

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

Best Ultrabooks

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

Tactile keyboard
Thin and light
Intel Core M only
Unusual webcam placement

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

Best Ultrabooks

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

Attractive glass design
Full-day battery life
Screen limited to 1080p
Too much bloatware

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

Best Ultrabooks

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

Stylish design
Good battery life
Expensive
Dim, bendy screen

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

Best Ultrabooks

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

Smart design and ergonomics
Incredibly colorful screen
Strange keyboard layout
Dismal battery life

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

Article continues below