8 Best Ultrabooks 2015: top thin and light laptops reviewed

TechRadar's top-ranking Ultrabook reviews

Best Ultrabooks

Updated: The business-oriented HP EliteBook Folio 1020 G1 is also an excellent Ultrabook you'll want to keep your eye on.

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: Intel Core i5-5200 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 5500 | RAM: 8GB | Screen: 3,200 x 1,800 | Storage: 230GB SSD | Optical drive: No | 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: Intel Core M 5Y10 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 5300 | RAM: 8GB | Screen: 13.3-inch 1920x1080 | Storage: 256GB SSD | Optical drive: No | Ports: 3 x USB 3.0 | Connectivity: 802.11n + Bluetooth 4.0 | Camera: 720p | Weight: 2.6 pounds

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 isnt' 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: value | Graphics: value | RAM: value | Screen: value | Storage: value | Optical drive: value | Ports: value | Connectivity: value | Camera: value | Weight: value

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. 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: value | Camera: value | Weight: value | Dimensions: value

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

5. 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 | Optical drive: No | Ports: 2 x USB 3.0 | Connectivity: 802.11ac | Camera: 720p | Weight: 2.62 pounds

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

6. Samsung Ativ Book 9 Plus

With stunning performance and screen, it doesn't get much better than this

CPU: Intel Core i5 1.6 GHz | Graphics: Intel integrated | RAM: 4GB | Screen: 13.3-inch 3200 x 1800 | Storage: 128GB SSD | Optical drive: No | Ports: 3 x USB 3.0 | Connectivity: 802.11ac | Camera: 720p

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

7. 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 | Optical drive: No | Ports: 2x USB 3.0 | Connectivity: 802.11ac | Camera: 720p | Weight: 3.15 pounds

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

Best Ultrabooks

8. Acer Aspire S7

Acer's luxurious laptop is an ultraportable star

CPU: value | Graphics: value | RAM: value | Screen: value | Storage: value | Optical drive: value | Ports: value | Connectivity: value | Camera: value | Weight: value

Stunning build quality
Excellent sharp screen
No 802.11ac wifi
Battery life is just 'ok'

For 2014, Acer has updated it's luxury laptop with a super sharp QHD display. This 2560 x 1440 panel is prepared for the day when hyper-HD content is finally viable to watch over wireless internet. In the now, text looks gorgeous, as do images – thus adding to the near-future feel of this device.

The build quality on display here, from the Aspire S7's aluminum and Gorilla Glass frame is palpable. That goes for the snappy keyboard, with its fancy electroluminescent lighting, too.

The Acer Aspire S7 (starting at $1,349, £1,199, AU$2,599) truly feels like a machine built for the now, 2014, and one that you won't mind using well into 2016, possibly longer. So, love the Aspire S7 for its cutting edge build, fine typing experience and premium specs.

Read the full review: Acer Aspire S7