The best Ultrabooks 2018: top thin and light laptops reviewed

Best Ultrabooks

As Bob Dylan sang: ‘the times, they are a-changin’. When it comes to laptops, it means they’re getting lighter, thinner and more importantly, faster than ever before. Nothing signifies this fact more than the best Ultrabooks. Under an inch thick and featuring the best processors and SSDs, these new-age notebooks are as much about portability as raw performance. With the best Ultrabooks, you don’t need to worry about your computer freezing in the middle of an important project, or running out of juice while traveling.

The best Ultrabooks were essentially created by Intel to give the MacBook Air some much-needed competition when it was on top of the world in 2011. Fast-forward to 2018, and the MacBook Air is all but irrelevant in a world ruled by the best Ultrabooks. All running Windows 10, and coming from a wide range of manufacturers, the best Ultrabooks bear distinct innovation that we haven’t seen from Apple in a minute.

And, now that the Windows 10 April Update is live, and Intel has even released a graphics driver update to coincide with its release, the best Ultrabooks are about to become even more powerful and energy efficient.

With this list, we looked for the best Ultrabooks you can buy in 2018, and narrowed 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.

1. 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

Centered IR webcam
Gorgeous new design
Steeper starting price
White option is pricier

Weighing only 2.67 pounds (1.21kg) and measuring a mere 0.3 inches thick at its thinnest point, the Dell XPS 13 is an Ultrabook at its most essential. You won’t find that it’s the cheapest option by any means, especially as the more affordable Intel Core i3 configuration no longer exists. However, the Dell XPS 13 is a gorgeous testament to what a thin-and-light notebook can do. It wields the latest 8th-generation Intel Core i5 and i7 processors, of course, but it also packs a trio of USB Type-C ports and the option of an Alpine White finish that we can’t get enough of.

Read the full review: Dell XPS 13

2. 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

Lovely design
Decent power
Keyboard still annoys in tablet form
Fans can be loud when they kick in

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

3. 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

Beautiful design 
Powerful hardware 
 Light on ports 

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 

4. 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

Larger, brighter display
Subtler aesthetics on gunmetal version
Shorter and shorter battery life
No 4K display option in sight

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

5. 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

Stylus included
Stunning speakers
Weak hinges
Annoying keyboard layout

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

6. 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

Crystal clear display
Lightweight and very portable
Weird fingerprint sensor placement
A single USB-C port

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

  • 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 Lenovo Yoga 920 
Lenovo Yoga 920
$1329
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Best Ultrabooks

7. 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

Incredibly thin and light
Vibrant, glare-free screen
Weak sauce graphics
Tinny speakers

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

best ultrabook

8. 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

Gorgeous design
Well built
Windows 10 S is limited
No USB-C

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

9. 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

Beautiful design
Excellent feel
Middling battery life
No keyboard backlight

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

10. 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

Fantastic design
Great audio capabilities
High price
Limited connectivity options

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 HP Spectre.
HP Spectre
$1269.99
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The 10 best Ultrabooks today

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Dell XPS 13 (2016)
$1142.04
Razer Blade Stealth (2016)
$1349.99
HP Spectre x360
$1349
Samsung Notebook 9
$997
Acer Aspire S 13
$442.99
Microsoft Surface Laptop
$1048.99
Acer Swift 7
$999.99
HP Spectre
$749.99

Watch the video below for the top 7 things to consider when buying a laptop. 

Gabe Carey also contributed to this article