In 2011, the Ultrabook specification was introduced as a way for Intel’s Windows-aligned device partners to compete with the MacBook Air under with their own brands. Since it was first shown off as a notebook measuring in at under 0.8 inches thick, the Ultrabook has effectively pushed Apple to go thinner and lighter, eventually inspiring the 2015 MacBook reboot.
Many Ultrabooks pack Intel Core “i” processors while still pulling off extensive battery life and lightning-fast SSD storage. Typically, you won’t buy an Ultrabook for 4K video editing or gaming on the high-end, but instead lightweight everyday activities such as typing up Word docs and basic web browsing.
At the same time, some Ultrabooks, like the Gigabyte Aero 14 or Razer Blade Stealth, manage to challenge the status quo by offering robust graphics solutions without compromising too much on battery life. Luckily, there are others, like the Dell XPS 13, that are well-rounded in performance and style, even if they can’t run the latest games at the highest settings.
Of course, being the be-all and end-all laptops that they are, Ultrabooks come at a premium – don't confuse small with cheap. Ultrabook prices generally range from $999 (around £584, AU$1,064) to upwards of $2,000 (around £1,169, AU$2,131). In other words, they ain’t cheap, even if they are commonplace.
As such, the competition is heating up with every PC maker hoping to claim the title of best Ultrabook. However, if your lavish taste demands the cream of the crop without going broke, we’ll give it to you straight, as we’ve spared no expense to assemble what are truly the 10 best Ultrabooks of 2017.
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 620 | RAM: 4GB – 16GB | Screen: 13.3-inch FHD (1,920 x 1,080) – QHD+ (3,200 x 1,800) | Storage: 128GB – 512GB SSD
The new, 7th-generation Intel Core i-powered Dell XPS 13 is nothing short of a miracle, in terms of both design and pricing. Once again, Dell has done the universe a favor by squeezing a 13.3-inch display into a measly 11-inch figure, and weighing in at only 2.9 pounds (1.29kg), the XPS 13 is blessed with extravagance.
The Dell XPS 13 not only bears a lengthy battery life exceeding 7 hours in accordance with our in-house movie test, but it does so with a virtually bezel-less InfinityEdge display. What’s more, not only is the starting cost of the laptop relatively low, but the Dell XPS 13 is sold in a variety of different flavors, all the way up to an i7-7700U model. And to top it all off? It comes in Rose Gold.
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. Razer Blade Stealth
More than just an Ultrabook for gaming
CPU: Intel Core i5 – i7 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 620 | RAM: 8GB – 16GB | Screen: 12.5-inch QHD (2,560 x 1,440) – 4K (3,840 x 2,160) | Storage: 128GB – 1TB PCIe SSD
When we think of Razer, instantly our heads turn to gaming. While a case can be made for the Razer Blade Stealth as a gaming notebook, the lack of a discrete GPU suggests otherwise. When paired with a Razer Core external graphics card enclosure, however, the Blade Stealth goes from powerful to unparalleled. On the upside, even without it, this laptop is capable of much more than meets the eye.
With help from Intel’s latest Kaby Lake CPU architecture, the 2016 Razer Blade Stealth is not only more powerful than its predecessor, but it’s also more resilient. The battery, for instance, lasts an overwhelming 5 hours and 44 minutes, according to the results of our own in-house movie test. It’s a good thing, too, because the power brick required to charge the Razer Blade Stealth is less than practical. Nevertheless, this is one for the books.
Read the full review: Razer Blade Stealth
4. HP Spectre x360
An ultra-light Ultrabook now with Kaby Lake performance
CPU: Intel Core i5 – i7 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 620 | RAM: 4GB – 16GB | Screen: 13.3-inch, FHD (1,920 x 1,080) – UHD (3,840 x 2,160) | Storage: 128GB – 512GB SSD
Among the first to sport 7th-generation Kaby Lake processors, the HP Spectre x360 is more than a CPU upgrade. Sure, the 2-in-1 zips by faster than it did last year, but it’s also thinner and lighter than it was before – not to mention more stylish. From the revamped HP logo on the outer shell to the higher quality keyboard, the Spectre x360 is a force to be reckoned with.
With the better battery life and improved performance, of course, some unwanted change for some. Two USB Type-C ports are present while only one traditional, USB Type-A port is onboard. Sure, this equates to better transfer rates, but it also necessitates the need for an onslaught of new cables and peripherals. Otherwise, the Spectre x360 is a thrifty little Ultrabook no matter what your use case.
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. Acer Aspire S 13
One of the most affordable ways to get into Ultrabooks
CPU: 6th Gen Intel Core i5 – i7 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 520 | RAM: 4 – 8GB | Screen: 13.3-inch FHD (1,920 x 1,080) touchscreen | Storage: 256GB – 512GB SSD
The Acer Aspire S 13 may not win prizes for being the thinnest nor the lightest Ultrabook around, nor does it offer more than 10 hours of battery life. But it's an impressive machine none the less with speedy and reliable performance. It's nearly as affordable as the Asus ZenBook UX305 and the touchscreen comes standard, something you won't find on most budget Ultrabooks.
Read the full review: Acer Aspire S 13
7. 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
8. Acer Swift 7
Thin, light and handsome, if not short-lived
CPU: Intel Core i5-7Y54 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 615 | RAM: 8GB | Screen: 13.3-inch FHD 1,920 x 1,080 | Storage: 256GB SATA SSD
It’s no surprise that the world’s thinnest laptop doesn’t come without its own share of port shortages; however, it’s also unfair to judge the Acer Swift 7 by its pair of USB-C twins alone. Sporting an Core i5 processor from Intel’s 7th-gen Y-series lineup (previously Core M), the Swift 7 is by no means a powerhouse, but it doesn’t need to be, really.
The Acer Swift 7 is a testament to just how luxurious a laptop can look and feel without facilitating a lofty price tag. It also serves as a reminder that everything looks better in gold. Though admittedly short on battery life, clocking in at only 5 hours and 41 minutes in our in-house movie test, the Acer Swift 7 soars areas such as portability and style.
Read the full review: Acer Swift 7
9. 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
10. 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
Gabe Carey has also contributed to this article