Best Ultrabooks 2018: top thin and light laptops reviewed

Best Ultrabooks

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

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. 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

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

4. 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

Ultra thin and light styling
Long-lasting and quick charging battery
Lacks SD card reader
Especially thick bottom bezel

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 

5. 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

Best Ultrabooks

6. 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

7. 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

8. 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

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

  • This product is only available in the US and UK as of this writing. Australian readers: check out a fine alternative in the Microsoft Surface Laptop.

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

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.

Best Ultrabooks

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

Tasteful glitz and glam
Tactile keyboard
Below average battery life
Spongy trackpad

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