9 Best Ultrabooks 2015: top thin and light laptops reviewed

TechRadar's top-ranking Ultrabook reviews

Best Ultrabooks

Updated: The new and improved Acer Aspire S7 has helped this Gorilla Glass-laden Ultrabook gain one spot in our best of list.

The term Ultrabook was coined by Intel, and it specifies laptops with particular specifications, separating them from other ultraportable laptops.

They all have Intel Core i3, Core i5 or Core i7 processors, fast SSD storage to some degree, and now USB 3.0 connectivity, for speedy file transfers.

Ultrabooks are made with design in mind, so they tend to start from around $999 (around £584, AU$1,064) in the lower end, going to nearly $2,000 (around £1,169, AU$2,131) at the very high end.

Ultimately, you're likely to spend between $899 and $1,500 for a newer model, though you can get some older models for good prices. Below are the six best Ultrabooks at the moment, based on our latest reviews.

Best Ultrabooks

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

Gorgeous display
Super lightweight
No ethernet port
Off-centre webcam

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

Best Ultrabooks

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

Very thin and light
Incredible performance
Wonky video driver
Tinny speakers

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

Best Ultrabooks

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

Bright, vibrant screen
Excellent performance
Feels heavy
Mediocre battery life

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

best ultrabook

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

Core i7 processor
Excellent WQHD screen
Mediocre battery life
Astronomical price tag

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

best ultrabook

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

Sleek design and tough construction
Fingerprint scanner, enterprise security
Underpowered Intel Core M performance
No full-sized SD card reader

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

best ultrabook

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

Slim and light
Attractive hinge
Quite pricey
Poor battery life

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

Best Ultrabooks

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

Incredible touchscreen
Excellent battery
It's expensive
Full of bloatware

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

Best Ultrabooks

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

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 will also look good on your desk.

Read the full review: Acer Aspire S7

Best Ultrabooks

9. 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

Clever adaptive keyboard
Fantastic design
Generally dim screen
Average battery life

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