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Best Ultrabooks 2021: the top thin and light laptops reviewed

best ultrabooks
We have quite a selection of the best ultrabooks for you to dig into. (Image credit: Future)
PRICE
VERDICT
REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID
VERDICT
REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID

Look no further than the best Ultrabooks if you want to know what a quality computer looks like. They may be among the more expensive portables out there, but they are worth the price of entry. In fact, most of these aren’t just great Ultrabooks but are among the best laptops out there. That’s probably because they are top-of-the-line inside and out, from all the included features and sophisticated design to high-end components like dedicated graphics.

What sets these high-end thin and light laptops of 2021 apart is not only their great performance or long battery life, but that they’re so small. If you want something that’s incredibly easy to take on the road, fits in a backpack and can do most of your day-to-day computer work, usually on a single charge, then you can’t go wrong with one of these. Is it a surprise that they’re status symbols?

The best Ultrabooks are some of the most expensive portables out there. You’ll probably be hard-pressed to find one under $1,000. But, they push the boundaries of what Windows laptops can do and are capable rivals to the MacBook Pros. If this is what you’re looking for in a laptop this back to school season, then read on to see our top picks of 2021.

  • On the budget? A Chromebook might be a better fit.

The Dell XPS 15 might tempt any Mac fan out there to make the switch.

(Image credit: Dell)

1. Dell XPS 15 (2021)

Dell delivers the ultimate Ultrabook

Specifications
CPU: Up to 11th Generation Intel Core i9-11900H
Graphics: Up to NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3050 Ti 4GB GDDR6
RAM: Up to 64GB DDR4-3200MHz
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
Storage: Up to 4TB M.2 PCIe NVMe
Reasons to buy
+Speedy performance+Gorgeous display
Reasons to avoid
-Could have better discrete graphics

The Dell XPS 15 (2021) is the kind of Ultrabook that might tempt any Mac fan out there to make the switch. With up to an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 Ti, it can handle all of your creative and productivity work with ease, though it can be a little underpowered for heavy gaming. It’s also a stunner of a machine, setting the standard of what a well-designed Windows laptop can look like. Pair that with a gorgeous display, great battery life, and a price that sits solidly in the mid-range and you have an almost perfect portable.

The HP Elite Dragonfly G2 is as close to being the perfect business laptop as any manufacturer can get.

(Image credit: HP)

2. HP Elite Dragonfly G2

Can HP make lightning strike twice?

Specifications
CPU: 11th-generation Intel Core i3 – i7
Graphics: Intel Iris Xe Graphics
RAM: 8GB - 32GB
Screen: 13.3-inch diagonal BrightView LED FHD, 400 nits – 13.3-inch diagonal BrightView LED 4K UHD HDR-400 550 nits
Storage: up to 2TB SSD
Reasons to buy
+Great design+Comfortable keyboard+Excellent screen
Reasons to avoid
-Expensive-USB-C ports on only one side

The second-generation HP Elite Dragonfly has kept its status as one of the best Ultrabooks. HP’s impressive business laptop is back with its smart design, great battery life, and 2-in-1 prowess. Of course, it’s more powerful now than it’s ever been, touting 11th-gen Intel Core chips, Intel Iris Xe graphics, and now a 4K display, upgrading from its previous Full HD models. There’s a lot to love here, and it might just be as close to being the perfect business laptop as any manufacturer can get. If you can afford it. However, as it is meant for professionals, it’s definitely worth the investment. 

Read the full review: HP Elite Dragonfly G2 

The HP Spectre x360 (2021) features the impeccable 2-in-1 design and pristine gem-cut chassis

(Image credit: HP)

3. 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, 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)

The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 9 packs a lot of power in its stylish package.

(Image credit: Lenovo)

4. Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 9

Lenovo improves upon a classic

Specifications
CPU : 11th gen Intel Core i5 - i7
Graphics: Intel Iris Xe
RAM: 8GB - 32GB
Screen: 14-inch, 16:10 (1920 x 1200p) - (3840 x 2400), touchscreen
Storage: 256GB - 1TB SSD
Reasons to buy
+Incredible performance+Fantastic battery life
Reasons to avoid
-Integrated graphics struggle with creative workloads

Not only is the Lenovo X1 Carbon Gen 9 among the best Lenovo laptops but it’s one of the best ultrabooks out there as well. Keeping with what made its predecessors so good, the X1 Carbon packs in a lot of power and features in a thin, light, and stylish package. Its battery life can’t be beat so professionals needing a portable to take on the road will appreciate all that extra juice. And, while it isn’t ideal for creative projects, it handles productivity tasks like a pro, thanks to that 11th gen Intel Core CPU and Intel Iris Xe graphics, not to mention at least 8GB of RAM (upgradable to 32GB). On top of that, it’s Evo-certified so you know it’s a quality machine, not to mention brimming with security features.

Read the full review: Lenovo X1 Carbon Gen 9

Dell XPS 17 (2021)

(Image credit: Dell)

5. Dell XPS 17 (2021)

A larger than life Ultrabook

Specifications
CPU: Up to 11th Generation Intel Core i9-11980HK
Graphics: Up to NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060 6GB GDDR6
RAM: Up to 64GB DDR4-3200MHz
Screen: 17.0" FHD+ (1920 x 1200) InfinityEdge Non-Touch Anti-Glare 500-Nit – 17.0" UHD+ (3840 x 2400) InfinityEdge Touch Anti-Reflective 500-Nit
Storage: Up to 4TB M.2 PCIe NVMe
Reasons to buy
+Great performance+Gorgeous design
Reasons to avoid
-Lack of ports

The Dell XPS 17 (2021) may be pricey but it has the kind of power that smaller Ultrabooks just can’t deliver. With specs of up to an Intel Core i9 CPU, 64GB of RAM, and an Nvidia RTX GeForce 3060, you can even dabble in 4K video editing , especially if you splurge for that gorgeous UHD display. On top of that, all this performance fits in a 0.77 inch thick machine making this 17 inch laptop surprisingly portable. While the XPS 17 does come at a premium and could come with a few more ports, it is a great machine for a creative professional.

Read the full review: Dell XPS 17 (2021)

The Asus ZenBook 13 is a multi-tasking champ

(Image credit: Asus)

6. Asus ZenBook 13

A gorgeous AMD-powered ultraportable

Specifications
CPU: AMD Ryzen 7 5800U
Graphics: AMD Radeon
RAM: 16GB
Screen: 13.3-inch OLED FHD (1080p), 400 nits
Storage: 1TB PCIe SSD
Reasons to buy
+Gorgeous OLED display+Decent CPU performance
Reasons to avoid
-Radeon graphics underwhelming

Asus takes the Ultrabook concept to the next level with the Asus ZenBook 13. If the gorgeous OLED display doesn’t win you over with its bright and vibrant colors, then maybe the battery life will, which runs circles around most of the competition. And, it has enough power to tackle most of your computing needs, though its graphics performance leaves something to be desired, especially compared to Intel’s Iris Xe. It also, unfortunately, is missing a headphone jack or Thunderbolt 4 support.  However, if those aren’t dealbreakers, this device is a multi-tasking champ that will last through hours and hours of use.

Read the full review: Asus ZenBook 13

The LG Gram 16 (2021) is amazingly thin and light

(Image credit: LG)

7. LG Gram 17 (2021)

A productivity powerhouse

Specifications
CPU: 11th-generation Intel Core i7
Graphics: Intel Iris Xe Graphics
RAM: 16GB LPDDR4X
Screen: 17-inch WQXGA (2560 x 1600) IPS LCD
Storage: up to 2TB NVMe SSD
Reasons to buy
+Excellent battery life+Large, high-quality display+Very light
Reasons to avoid
-Expensive-Subject to screen glare

Laptops for work are rejoining the 17-inch fray and leading them is the much-lauded LG Gram 17, whose amazingly thin and light form factor has won awards and makes it among the best Ultrabooks on the market. It’s back in 2021 and better than ever, with more powerful internals like the 11th-generation Intel chips and the Iris Xe graphics as well as two Thunderbolt 4 USB-C ports. The long battery life and stunner of a screen are back, though as is its steep price tag. It’s worth it though if you want the power and portability of Ultrabooks yet also need a bigger screen.

Read the full review: LG Gram 17 (2021) 

The Surface Laptop 4 looks great and is a pleasure to use.

(Image credit: Microsoft)

8. Surface Laptop 4

The best Surface Laptop

Specifications
CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 4680U - 11th Gen Intel Core i7
Graphics: Intel Iris Plus Graphics
RAM: 8GB – 32GB
Screen: 13.5” 2256 x 1504 PixelSense Touch Display
Storage: 256GB – 1TB
Reasons to buy
+Comfortable keyboard+Beautiful screen
Reasons to avoid
-Microfiber material can attract dirt

The Microsoft Surface Laptop 4 is the pinnacle of everything Microsoft is trying to do. This beautiful machine looks great and is a pleasure to use, from its incredibly comfortable keyboard to its bright, beautiful PixelSense Display. Like many of the best Ultrabooks, it comes up a bit short in the port department. And, the inclusion of the microfiber material known as Alcantara may add a bit of comfort and style to the proceedings, but it also attracts dirt and debris. However, it is an incredible machine to use for remote work, especially with its solid battery life (which is a bit less than advertised but still a robust 13 hours on a full charge). 

Read the full review: Surface Laptop 4 

The Samsung Galaxy Book Pro has an amazing battery life

(Image credit: Samsung)

9. Samsung Galaxy Book Pro

Samsung makes a MacBook rival

Specifications
CPU: 11th Gen Intel Core i5 - i7
Graphics: Intel Iris Xe Graphics
RAM: 8GB – 16GB
Screen: 13.3” FHD Touch Display
Storage: 256GB – 512GB
Reasons to buy
+Amazing battery life+Great performance
Reasons to avoid
-Design is a bit boring

The Samsung Galaxy Book Pro may not be pushing the design envelope but it offers a lot to be considered as a MacBook alternative. One of its most outstanding aspects is an amazing battery life that few other Ultrabooks can come close to meeting. Couple that with great everyday performance and light design, and you have a fully-featured Ultrabook that’s made for the road. And, Samsung fans will be excited to know that the Galaxy Book Pro integrates very well with Samsung smartphones.

Read the full review: Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 

The Lenovo ThinkBook 14S Yoga comes with some great features

(Image credit: Lenovo)

10. Lenovo ThinkBook 14S Yoga

An excellent 2-in-1

Specifications
CPU: 11th Gen Intel Core i5 – i7
Graphics: Intel Iris Xe Graphics
RAM: up to 24 GB DDR4 3200MHz
Screen: 14.0” FHD (1920 x 1080) IPS, glossy, touchscreen, 300 nits
Storage: up to 1TB PCIe SSD
Reasons to buy
+Great performance+Garaged stylus 
Reasons to avoid
-Battery life is just OK

Lenovo’s latest release, the ThinkBook 14S Yoga, is a solid and affordable convertible that comes with some great features and a terrific performance – not to mention that coveted 2-in-1 design and a garaged pen, which doesn’t come standard on every hybrid. There’s a lot to love here, starting with its great price-to-performance ratio, even though admittedly, it isn’t perfect. That battery life, for example, is no match to the competition. Still, this is among the best hybrid laptops out there.

Read the full review: Lenovo Thinkpad 14S Yoga