The best Ultrabooks are like the ultimate status symbol in school. While everyone else has big and bulky Chromebooks or HP Pavilions, you’ll whip out a much thinner, lighter and faster, machine packed with the best SSDs and processors you can only find in the best laptops today.
These thin and light modern computers are just as much about portability as horsepower. You shouldn’t need to worry about your Ultrabook freezing in the middle of an important project, or running out of battery on you in the middle of class.
With this list, we’ve picked out the best Ultrabooks you should buy in the Back to School 2018 season, narrowing it down to just ten. From brands that have dominated the PC market for years, like HP and Dell, to those that have recently entered the market, like Huawei, we’ve reviewed all of these laptops below for their designs, performance, value and battery life, so that you can decide for yourself what makes the best Ultrabook for you.
Watch the video below for the top 7 things to consider when buying a laptop:
1. Huawei MateBook X Pro
The new ‘best Ultrabook’ of 2018
CPU: 8th-generation Intel Core i5 – i7 | Graphics: Nvidia GeForce MX150 (2GB), Intel UHD Graphics 620 | RAM: 8GB – 16GB | Screen: 13.3-inch 3K (3,000 x 2,000; touch) | Storage: 256GB – 512GB SSD
Every once in a while, an Ultrabook comes along that completely wipes the floor with everything that came before. The Huawei MateBook X Pro is one such Ultrabook. This gorgeous piece of technology packs high-end components into an eloquently designed package that puts even the MacBook to shame. And, with a 3K touchscreen, the Huawei MateBook X Pro has a display that is as gorgeous as its chassis.
Read the full review: Huawei MateBook X Pro
- This product is only available in the US and UK at the time of this writing. Australian readers: check out a fine alternative in the Dell XPS 13
2. Dell XPS 13
Ol’ reliable takes another crack at triumph
CPU: 8th-generation Intel Core i5 – i7 | Graphics: 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
Coming in at just 2.67 pounds (1.21kg) and measuring just 0.3 inches thick at its most narrow point, the Dell XPS 13 is the essence of the best Ultrabooks. You won’t find that it’s the most affordable option, but at least before the Huawei Matebook X Pro, the Dell XPS 13 is a perfect example of what the best Ultrabooks should be. It wields the latest 8th-generation Intel Core i5 and i7 CPUs, obviously, but it also rocks three USB Type-C ports and the option of an Alpine White finish that we’re absolutely in love with.
Read the full review: Dell XPS 13
3. Lenovo Yoga 920
Perfecting the craft of hybrid laptops
CPU: 8th-generation Intel Core i5 – i7 | Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 620 | Screen: 13.9-inch FHD (1,920 x 1,080) – UHD (3,840 x 2,160) | Storage: 256GB – 1TB SSD
Few Ultrabooks are as brilliantly designed as the Lenovo Yoga 920, a 2-in-1 laptop that’s as illustrious to look at as it is to use. In contrast to its nearest competitors, such as Microsoft’s Surface Book 2, it’s also a far less expensive endeavor. For the modest price you pay, you’re getting a gorgeous, all-metal finish that can be flipped inside out for extended functionality. It also houses the latest 8th-generation Intel processors, just in case speed was a concern.
Read the full review: Lenovo Yoga 920
4. HP Spectre 13
Bringing quad-core with style
CPU: Intel Core i5 – i7 | Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 620 | RAM: 8GB | Screen: 13.3-inch FHD (1,920 x 1,080) | Storage: 256GB – 1TB NVMe M.2 SSD
When you lay your eyes on the HP Spectre 13 for the first time, you might be blinded by its sheer beauty. HP has taken the already-beautiful Spectre, and spruced it up with gold trim and packed it with internal specs that blow the competition out of the water. One of the first Ultrabooks packing a quad-core CPU, the 2017 Spectre 13 more than doubles the CPU performance of most of its competitors. It comes at the cost of battery life, but clocking in at just under 6 hours – the battery is still passable.
Read the full review: HP Spectre 13
5. 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
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 by turning into a 13.3-inch, QHD+ beauty. There’s no longer the option for 4K, but the performance this Ultrabook delivers is worth the compromise.
Read the full review: Razer Blade Stealth
6. HP Spectre x360
The versatile and venerated people pleaser
CPU: Intel Core i5 – i7 | Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 620 | RAM: 8GB – 16GB | Screen: 13.3-inch, FHD (1,920 x 1,080) – UHD (3,840 x 2,160) touch panel | Storage: 256GB – 1TB SSD
Rarely does a company think of everything when designing a laptop, but for what it’s worth, the HP Spectre x360 comes surprisingly close. It’s a 2-in-1 convertible laptop, which by default makes it not for everyone. Still, for those right-brained users out there, it comes bundled with a Windows Ink-compatible stylus, unlike the vast majority of hybrids. That would mean very little if the HP Spectre x360 didn’t have great sound and visuals, though it evidently does.
Read the full review: HP Spectre x360
7. 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
8. 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
9. 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 2-in-1 – the Surface Laptop is a full-on traditional laptop (with a touchscreen) designed by the Microsoft hardware design lab. From the Italian imported Alcantara fabric material decorating the keyboard to its beautiful 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. And, keep your eye out – we’re expecting the Surface Laptop 2 sometime in 2018.
Read the full review: Microsoft Surface Laptop
10. Acer Swift 7
Thin, light and handsome, if a bit 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
As the world’s thinnest laptop, it’s not surprising that the Acer Swift 7 isn’t exactly packed with ports. However, it’s unfair to judge this Ultrabook by its pair of USB-C ports alone. Rocking a 7th-generation Core i5 Y-Series processor isn’t exactly a powerhouse, but it doesn’t need to be – especially when it nails aesthetics as well as it does. Despite its short-lived battery life, the Acer Swift 7 is still one of the best Ultrabooks around – especially if you tend to travel a lot.
Read the full review: Acer Swift 7
- This product is only available in the US at the time of this writing. UK and Australian readers: check out a fine alternative in the Asus ZenBook 3
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Bill Thomas and Gabe Carey have also contributed to this article
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