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The best Ultrabooks in Australia for 2021: top thin and light laptops reviewed

Included in this guide:

Best Ultrabook
(Image credit: TechRadar)
PRICE
VERDICT
REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID
VERDICT
REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID

Now that everyone's fairly settled in for the 'work at home' long-haul, it's never been more important to have access to a powerful Ultrabook that can handle any task you throw at it. 

We can largely thank Apple and its MacBook Air for the Ultrabook trend we're seeing. Where large, clunky laptops aren't sleek enough, and thin, portable tablets aren't powerful enough, the Ultrabook shines.

Now, to complete the great cycle, Apple's MacBook Pro is topping our list again, and the MacBook Air gets an honourable mention a little further down, thanks to the latest generation of M1 chipsets, designed by the tech giant specifically for these Ultrabooks.

A unibody chassis packed with some of the best SSDs, processors and battery life available to devices this size, the Ultrabook is a thin and portable marvel that'll let you get on with your business, browsing or buffering without the lengthy wait times.

With TechRadar's extensive reviewing and lab testing, we've got a strong idea of what's going to cut it in today's Ultrabook landscape, and on this page we've ranked the best of the best so that you can find yourself a bargain on the cream of the crop.

Whether you're chasing the well-known brands like Apple, Dell, HP, Microsoft and Lenovo, or some surprise entrants like Huawei and Razer, we've got you covered.

Best Ultrabooks in Australia at a glance

  1. Apple MacBook Pro (M1, 2020)
  2. Microsoft Surface Laptop 4
  3. Dell XPS 13 (Late 2020)
  4. Asus ROG Zephyrus G14
  5. Dell XPS 15 (2020)
  6. HP Spectre x360 (2021)
  7. MacBook Air (M1, 2020)
  8. Microsoft Surface Book 3
  9. Razer Blade Stealth 13
  10. Lenovo Yoga C930
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Amazon Boxing Day sales

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MacBook Pro deals sales

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1. Apple MacBook Pro 13 (M1, 2020)

The best ultrabook of 2021

Specifications
CPU: Apple M1
Graphics: Integrated 8-core GPU
RAM: 8GB – 16GB
Screen: 13.3-inch (diagonal) 2,560 x 1,600 LED-backlit display with IPS technology
Storage: 256GB – 2TB SSD
Dimensions: 30.41 x 21.24 x 1.56cm; W x D x H
Reasons to buy
+Silent to use+Amazing battery life
Reasons to avoid
-No new design-Fanless design could impact performance

While the most recent MacBook Air is arguably the laptop in Apple's latest lineup to benefit most from the brand new M1 chip, the MacBook Pro's upgrade makes it the most compelling ultrabook the tech giant has ever offered. Well and truly a household name at this stage, the MacBook Pro hasn't seen the top of our list in a long time due to a relatively low value prospect, but ditching Intel and designing its own chip has changed that dramatically. With the best performance-to-battery life ratio we've seen on an Apple laptop to date, the Pro is classy, stylish, powerful, and comfortably portable. Where the Dell XPS 13 previously reigned, the MacBook performs better for its price, has a gorgeous display, and can now run iOS apps natively.

If you've been a Windows fan to date, this could be the machine that makes you jump ship, but the Dell XPS 13 below is still a great option if you're defiant.

Read the full review: Apple MacBook Pro (M1, 2020) review

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Best laptop 2021: Surface Laptop 4

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Best laptop 2021: Surface Laptop 4

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Best laptop 2021: Surface Laptop 4

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Best laptop 2021: Surface Laptop 4

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2. Microsoft Surface Laptop 4

The best Windows laptop

Specifications
CPU: 11th-generation Intel Core i5 – i7 /AMD Ryzen 5 - 7
Graphics: Intel Iris Xe / AMD Radeon
RAM: 8GB – 32GB
Screen: 13.5-inch PixelSense (2,256 x 1,504) touch
Storage: 256GB – 1TB SSD
Reasons to buy
+Comfortable keyboard+Beautiful screen
Reasons to avoid
-Not enough ports-Alcantara fabric might get gross over time

While Apple's M1 lineup of MacBooks certainly made an impression, this year's Surface Laptop 4 from Microsoft has come in hot, landing straight in at number 2 of our best Ultrabooks 2021 list. As has always been the case with Surface products, build quality and design is absolutely top-notch here, and its gorgeous PixelSense touchscreen really sets it apart from the competition (a touchscreen is something we've yet to see on an Apple laptop, as Microsoft likes to remind us).

It also comes with a brilliant keyboard that's a joy to type on, and some pretty great specs as well, which ensures that Windows 10, and all your favourite apps, run extremely well. Battery life is also very impressive – lasting over 13 hours in our tests – and the price is impressively competitive as well. If you're looking for the best Windows-based ultrabook of 2021, this is it.

Read the full review: Microsoft Surface Laptop 4

Dell XPS 13 9310

(Image credit: Dell)

3. Dell XPS 13 (Late 2020)

Return of the king

Specifications
CPU: 11th generation Intel Core i5 – i7
Graphics: Intel Iris Xe
RAM: 8GB – 32GB
Screen: 13.4-inch FHD (1,920 x 1,080) – 4K (3840 x 2160)
Storage: 512GB – 1TB SSD
Reasons to buy
+Gorgeous design+Big CPU and GPU boost+Excellent battery life
Reasons to avoid
-Expensive

This is the second XPS 13 that Dell has released this year (also known as the 9310, being more recent than the 9300 launched earlier in 2020), and thankfully it does a lot more to offer excellent value for Aussies than its predecessor. This 'New XPS 13' packs in the 11th-gen Intel Core processors as well as as the superbly impressive Iris Xe integrated GPU – an upgrade that almost doubles its graphical prowess. This means that, not only is the XPS 13 9310 a great option for business and everyday use with its gorgeous, sleek design and powerful innards, but it's now viable for casual gamers. It's also sporting the upgraded 'Infinity Edge' display which dramatically reduces bezels and the overall size of the unit. There's no doubt this is the best Windows laptop on the market, and if Apple hadn't pulled a rabbit out of its hat with the M1 chip in its MacBook Pro above, then it'd still be sitting pretty at position #1.

Read the full review: Dell XPS 13 (Late 2020) review

Asus Zephyrus G14

The Asus Zephyrus G14 is an absolute beast of a laptop. (Image credit: Asus)

4. Asus ROG Zephyrus G14

The ultimate blend of work and play

Specifications
CPU: AMD Ryzen 7 4800HS – 9 4900HS
Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060
RAM: Up to 32GB
Screen: 14-inch Non-glare Full HD (1920 x 1080) IPS-level panel, 120Hz – 14-inch Non-glare WQHD (2560 x 1440) IPS-level panel, 60Hz
Storage: 512GB / 1TB M.2 NVMe PCIe 3.0
Reasons to buy
+Best battery life in a gaming laptop+Excellent performance+Thin and light
Reasons to avoid
-No webcam-Fans can get loud

We know, this is technically a gaming laptop, but for those that want to balance work and play, there's little else out there that's better value than the Zephyrus G14 right now. It's worth noting that it's missing a webcam and a Thunderbolt 3 port, so if that's a concern this isn't for you, but its solid battery life, compact form, and powerful specs do a fine job at balancing everything that you'll need from a laptop. This is an absolute beast for performance, with its AMD Ryzen 4000 processors and Nvidia RTX 2060 graphics card, best-in-class battery life that will last you all day long, a fast display with a 120Hz refresh rate and a lightweight, ultrathin design. The best part is that you’re getting all that without burning a hole in your pocket. Don’t get us wrong; it isn’t cheap. However, for a laptop this impressive, we’re surprised Asus isn’t asking for more.

Read the full review: Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 

Dell XPS 15

(Image credit: Dell)

5. Dell XPS 15 (2020)

Expensive, but certainly worth it

Specifications
CPU: 10th Gen Intel Core i5 – i7
Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics – NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 Ti
RAM: 8GB – 64GB
Screen: 15.6" FHD+ (1920 x 1200) InfinityEdge Non-Touch Anti-Glare 500-Nit – 15.6" UHD+ (3840 x 2400) InfinityEdge Touch Anti-Reflective 500-Nit Display
Storage: 256GB – 2TB M.2 PCIe NVMe
Reasons to buy
+Amazing speakers+Beautiful display+Comfy keyboard
Reasons to avoid
-GTX 1650 Ti is a little weak-Expensive in Australia

Dell's XPS series is the closest the Windows world has come to that MacBook elegance, and this year's XPS 15 might just tempt a few more conversions. While it’s quite comfortably one of the best Ultrabooks this year, its price in Australia isn't quite as appealing as in other regions. With that said, you'll be getting plenty of punch if you do invest thanks to its meaty internals, not to mention its gorgeous bright display with 500 nits of brightness, extremely comfortable keyboard, impressive speakers, and terrific trackpad. We’re not saying that this laptop is perfect (the price in particular is a sore point), but our coveted 5 out of 5 rating should speak for itself.

Read the full review: Dell XPS 15

HP Spectre x360 (2021)

(Image credit: HP)

6. HP Spectre x360 (2021)

This year's model is a brilliant 13-inch laptop

Specifications
CPU: 11th-generation Intel Core i5 – i7
Graphics: Intel Iris Xe Graphics
RAM: 8GB – 16GB
Screen: 13.3" FHD (1920 x 1080) IPS BrightView micro-edge WLED-backlit multitouch – 13.3" diagonal 4K (3840 x 2160) UWVA BrightView micro-edge AMOLED multitouch
Storage: 256GB – 2TB SSD
Reasons to buy
+Gorgeous design+Excellent battery life
Reasons to avoid
-Fans can get noisy-Pricey

The HP Spectre x360 has been one of the best laptops for years now, and the 2021 model is no different. Now coming with 11th-generation Intel Core processors, which offer a decent performance boost, and feature better integrated Intel Iris Xe graphics, the HP Spectre x360 (2021) is better than ever. It still features the impeccable 2-in-1 design and pristine gem-cut chassis that these laptops are known for, meaning that the HP Spectre x360 (2021) is one of the best looking Ultrabooks ever made, and when it comes to build quality. While it's certainly pricey (even more so in Australia), you're getting some excellent extras, such as formidable security features and Bang & Olufsen speakers. If you care about aesthetics as much as you do performance and overall quality, this is the best Ultrabook for you.

Read the full review: HP Spectre x360 (2021)

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Apple MacBook Air

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Apple MacBook Air

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7. Apple MacBook Air (M1, 2020)

The best laptop of 2021

Specifications
CPU: Apple M1
Graphics: Integrated 7-core /8-core GPU
RAM: 8GB – 16GB
Screen: 13.3-inch (diagonal) 2,560 x 1,600 LED-backlit display with IPS technology
Storage: 256GB – 2TB SSD
Dimensions: 11.97 x 8.36 x 0.63 inches (30.41 x 21.24 x 1.61cm; W x D x H)
Reasons to buy
+Silent to use+Amazing battery life
Reasons to avoid
-No new design-Fanless design could impact performance

The new Apple MacBook Air (M1, 2020) comfortably tops our list of the best laptops right now, but sits a little lower down if you're looking at as an Ultrabook. While it's arguably the best laptop Apple has ever made thanks to its outstanding value, it won't offer as much grunt as some others on this list. Thanks to the revolutionary ARM-based Apple M1 chip that powers the new MacBook Air (Apple has ditched Intel for these new laptops), this is a stunning achievement: a thin and light laptop that offers great performance, even with 4K video editing, while also offering incredible battery life. Easily managing over 11 hours on a single charge, this is a laptop you can easily carry around with you at work or school, and its price is decently competitive compared to Windows 10 rivals (for once). Running both new and old Mac apps, the new MacBook Air can now also run iOS apps for iPhone and iPads, giving it access to hundreds of brilliant mobile applications and games as well.

Read the full review: Apple MacBook Air (M1, 2020) review

Microsoft Surface Book 3

(Image credit: Microsoft)

8. Microsoft Surface Book 3

An extremely premium piece of kit

Specifications
CPU: 10th Gen Intel Core i5-1035G7 – i7-1065G7
Graphics: Intel Iris Plus Graphics – NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660 Ti with Max-Q Design
RAM: 8GB – 32GB 3733Mhz LPDDR4x
Screen: 13.5-inch 3000 x 2000 (267 PPI) – 15-inch 3240 x 2160 (260 PPI) PixelSense Display
Storage: 256GB, 512GB, 1TB, or 2TB PCIe SSD
Reasons to buy
+Beautiful design+Comfortable keyboard+Gorgeous screen
Reasons to avoid
-Weak U-series processor-Tiny trackpad-Lackluster speakers

In many ways, the Surface Book 3 is an example of just how far the best laptops have come in just a few short years. It has an extremely premium piece of kit – with one of the best displays we’ve used in a laptop, a keyboard that will put the MacBook Pro’s new Magic Keyboards to shame, and a hybrid design with a removable screen. At less than an inch thick, and only 12.3 x 9.14 inches for its 13-inch model and 13.5 x 9.87 inches for its 15-inch version, this is also among the best Ultrabooks 2020 has to offer. It doesn't necessarily have the strongest processor when compared to many rivals on this list, so you'll need to weigh up this delightful form factor against your more intensive computing needs.

Read the full review: Microsoft Surface Book 3

9. Razer Blade Stealth 13

Don’t be fooled: this is more than a gamer’s laptop

Specifications
CPU: Intel Core i7-1065G7
Graphics: Intel Iris Plus
RAM: 16GB
Screen: 13.3-inch
Storage: 256GB
Reasons to buy
+Larger, brighter display+Subtler aesthetics+Solid build
Reasons to avoid
-A touch expensive-Lacks discrete GPU

Razer has to deal with the common misconception that it’s solely a gaming laptop and peripheral company, a reputation it subverted when it introduced the Blade Stealth back in 2016. And, if you’re unconvinced, the latest edition of the Razer Blade Stealth may change your mind. 

Read the full review: Razer Blade Stealth

Lenovo Yoga C930

10. Lenovo Yoga C930

A 2-in-1 laptop experience with little to no compromise

Specifications
CPU: 8th-generation Intel Core i5 – i7
Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 620
RAM: up to 16 GB DDR4
Screen: 13.9-inch FHD (1,920 x 1,080) – UHD (3,840 x 2,160)
Storage: up to 2 TB PCIe SSD
Reasons to buy
+Strong build quality+Robust feature set+Excellent battery life
Reasons to avoid
-Weak graphics performance-Pricey upgrade options

The Lenovo Yoga C930 has many of the makings of the best ultrabook – from a whopping 14.5 hours of battery life and dual Thunderbolt-enabled USB-C ports to internal components that will breeze through those daily productivity tasks. That’s without even mentioning a 2-in-1 that offers form versatility so you can squeeze in some light gaming and movie-watching post-productivity. It has a few cherries on top as well, namely the integrated self-charging stylus and the fab speaker system.

Read the full review: Lenovo Yoga C930


Thinking of insuring your ultrabook?

While your ultrabook's portable nature increases its convenience and flexibility, it also means it's at greater risk of becoming lost, damaged or stolen. In Australia, you can often protect against those scenarios (even outside the home) by adding 'personal effects' insurance to your contents insurance. To find out more, check out our sister site Mozo and compare contents insurance offers.

Harry Domanski
Harry is an Australian Journalist for TechRadar with an ear to the ground for future tech, and the other in front of a vintage amplifier. He likes stories told in charming ways, and content consumed through massive screens. He also likes to get his hands dirty with the ethics of the tech.