The times, they are a-changin’, as Bob Dylan would say, and for laptops that means they’re getting thinner and lighter, but also faster than ever before. That rings true for nothing else more than it does the best Ultrabooks around. No thicker than 0.8 inches (2cm), these notebooks are as much about performance as they are portability. So not only will you not have to worry about your battery dying on the road, but you also won’t run into any ‘Not Responding’ errors.
Of course, the Ultrabook specification was created by Intel to give the MacBook Air some much-needed competition back when it had none in 2011. Now, the MacBook Air has so many rivals that it’s a wonder Apple hasn’t updated its massively popular machine in three years. Perhaps it’s for that reason that the best Ultrabooks have gained so much traction recently. All running Windows 10 and coming from a wide range of manufacturers, these featherweight clamshells bear distinct innovation we haven’t seen from Cupertino in quite some time.
In the search for the best Ultrabook ever conceived, we’ve narrowed our picks down to a modest 10. From makers you’ve heard of, like HP and Dell, to those you may not be as familiar with, such as Huawei, we have reviewed all of these laptops below for their designs, performance, battery life and value, so that you can determine for yourself what makes for the best Ultrabook. In the end, your choice and your preferences overrule ours anyway.
1. Dell XPS 13
Dell’s flagship returns as the best in the biz
CPU: 8th-generation Intel Core i5 – i7 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 620 – Intel UHD Graphics 620 | RAM: 4GB – 16GB | Screen: 13.3-inch FHD (1,920 x 1,080; non-touch) – QHD+ (3,200 x 1,800; touchscreen) | Storage: 128GB – 1TB SSD
Through three generations, the Dell XPS 13 has been our pick for the best laptop. Although it may be time for a design shake-up, mostly in the way of better webcam placement, the rest of the product epitomizes the title Best in Class. It’s thin and light at only 2.7 pounds (1.2kg), and when it comes to tailored specs, the options don’t get much better. If you like the idea of spending the least amount of money possible on a quality laptop, the Dell XPS 13 is for you.
Read the full review: Dell XPS 13
2. Razer Blade Stealth
Don’t be fooled: this is more than a gamer’s laptop
CPU: Intel Core i7 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 620 – Intel UHD Graphics 620 | RAM: 16GB | Screen: 12.5-inch UHD (3,840 x 2,160) – 13.3-inch QHD+ (3,200 x 1,800) | Storage: 256GB – 1TB PCIe SSD
There’s a common misconception that Razer only makes gaming laptops. Although the company attempted to subvert this impression when it first introduced the Blade Stealth in 2016, those unconvinced may finally have their minds changed this year. The latest rendition of the Razer Blade Stealth turns a 12.5-inch display into a 13.3-inch, QHD+ beauty. There’s no longer the option for 4K, but the performance this Ultrabook delivers is well worth the compromise.
Read the full review: Razer Blade Stealth
3. 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: 256GB – 1TB 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, even if the port selection is limited.
Read the full review: HP Spectre x360
4. Asus ZenBook 3
The mightier MacBook
CPU: Intel Core i5 – i7 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 620 | RAM: 16GB | Screen: 12.5-inch FHD (1,920 x 1,080) | Storage: 512GB SSD
Anyone familiar with Apple’s thinnest and lightest laptop would be wise to compare the Asus ZenBook 3 to the 12-inch MacBook. The similarities are obvious, but one look at the specs and the differences stand out too. Adorned with the choice of a U-series Intel Core i5 or i7 processor, the ZenBook 3 is awfully powerful considering it’s less than half an inch thick and weighs two pounds. The port selection is sparse, but ultimately it’s well worth the sacrifice.
Read the full review: Asus ZenBook 3
5. Asus ZenBook UX310
A truly excellent ultrabook at a very agreeable price point
CPU: Intel Core i3 – Core 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: 500GB – 1TB HDD; 500GB – 1TB SSD
It’s no secret that Apple has all but neglected the MacBook Air recently, but in some cases a Windows Ultrabook can be just as good, if not better. Take the Asus ZenBook UX310, for example, the long awaited follow-up to the award-winning ZenBook UX305. Donning a 7th generation Intel Kaby Lake processor, a 178-degree rotating QHD+ screen, a USB-C port an and an all-aluminum shell, this truly a candidate for the MacBook Air’s throne.
Read the full review: Asus ZenBook UX310
6. Microsoft Surface Laptop
The Surface Book's best prodigy
CPU: Intel Core i5 – i7 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 620 – Iris Plus Graphics 640 | RAM: 4GB – 16GB | Screen: 13.5-inch, 2,256 x 1,504 PixelSense display | Storage: 128GB – 512GB SSD
No, it’s not another Surface Book – this is a full-on traditional laptop (albeit with a touchscreen) designed by Microsoft. From the Italian imported Alcantara fabric material decorating the keyboard to its gorgeous 13.5-inch, 3:2 PixelSense display, there’s no questioning the Surface Laptop’s appeal at face value, but dig even deeper and you’ll find a notebook that’s arguably more competent than Apple’s more expensive 12-inch MacBook.
Read the full review: Microsoft Surface Laptop
7. 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 have to be, either, when it looks this damn good. Despite being short-lived in the battery life department, the Acer Swift 7 thrives.
Read the full review: Acer Swift 7
- This product is only available in the US and UK as of this writing. Australian readers: check out a fine alternative in the .
8. Lenovo Yoga 910
Elegance meets horsepower with this hardy 2-in-1
CPU: Intel Core i7 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 620 | RAM: 8GB – 16GB | Screen: 13.9-inch FHD (1,920 x 1,080) – UHD (3,840 x 2,160) | Storage: 256GB – 1TB SSD
As a follow-up to the Yoga 900, we couldn’t have asked for better than the Yoga 910. Shaking up the style of its predecessor completely in favor of an all-aluminum unibody shell, this is a 2-in-1 laptop that’s as fashionable as it is utilitarian. Though it’s heavier and colder to the touch, the fact that Lenovo decided to keep the Yoga 900’s same frame size and fit a larger 14-inch screen inside it is a design marvel.
Read the full review: Lenovo Yoga 910
9. Huawei MateBook X
One of the MacBook Pro’s greatest rivals
CPU: Intel Core i5 – i7 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 620 | RAM: 4GB – 8GB | Screen: 13-inch, 2,160 x 1,440 | Storage: 256GB – 512GB
Embellished with the looks and price of a 12-inch MacBook, you’ll be surprised when you find out the MateBook X is more of a Pro when it comes to performance. Donning full-fledged “U” series Intel Core i processors, this Ultrabook is more than the Chinese knock-off you might have assumed it to be. It’s made by Huawei after all, the third biggest smartphone maker in the world, and with the MateBook X, it’s hoping to replicate that success with its laptops as well.
Read the full review: Huawei MateBook X
- This product is only available in the US as of this writing. UK and Australian readers: check out a fine alternative in the .
10. 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 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. We only hope you don’t mind a laptop that cranks up the heat a notch as it’s battery life hastily boils away.
Read the full review: HP Spectre
Watch the video below for the top 7 things to consider when buying a laptop.
Gabe Carey has also contributed to this article