The word laptop has been used rather loosely for the last decade. There are several types of portable PCs available today, but an Ultrabook puts other styles to shame. It’s the preferred machine of professionals and students around the globe, and we’re here to help you find the best Ultrabook to suit your needs.
How to Choose the Best Ultrabook
What type of user are you?
When you sit down at your PC or laptop, is it for business or leisure? That alone can dictate which direction you should go when looking for the best Ultrabook. Gamers and students are two more types of users that require different kinds of machines, but thankfully there is an Ultrabook style for everyone.
Before you think about areas like memory or ports, consider how you plan to use your new PC. In the Ultrabook class, the price point isn’t nearly as important considering it’s difficult to find an Ultrabook under 500 dollars unless it’s used. You can find some solid contenders for under a grand, but most are north of that number.
For some, a speedy processor or solid-state drive may be the first area they turn towards when making a buying decision. That would be a mistake as you need to start with the operating system. While there are several exotic options available, we’re only going to focus on the top two with Windows and the Mac OS.
Windows – There are currently billions of machines running some form of Windows; it’s safe to say it’s the most popular option around. There was a time when it was considered unstable compared to PCs running the Mac OS, but that gap has narrowed considerably.
One perk of the platform is compatibility as almost every program will run on Windows. There are a few exceptions, but those are mainly exclusives built for Macs. Another would be power as a decked out Windows-based machine will run circles around a Mac.
Mac OS – With Macs, reliability is the most significant selling point along with the overall design and “Mac” mystique. They are very unlikely to crash compared to their Windows-based brethren although Windows 10 is rock solid for the most part. The overall user experience is arguably better and generally a hot topic of debate between fanbases.
On the flipside, you may encounter a few compatibility issues if you’re switching from a PC to the Macbook. Some of your favorites may not work although it’s not hard to find a substitute in the App Store unless it’s a PC classic geared towards one machine.
Memory and Processing Power
Every machine in the Ultrabook class will have at least 8GB of RAM, and that is the bare minimum we recommend. If you plan to play any high-end games or work with programs that can tax a system’s resources, you’ll want to double that number. RAM is not an expensive component in the overall price of a laptop although it’s tough to find portable machines with more than 16GB under the hood.
Processors are a bit trickier, but Intel’s are what you’ll find in most Ultrabooks and all the best 2-in-1 laptops. The generation and core are what you’ll want to hone in on – the higher the number, the better. The company’s Core-i5 chips are the most common while the i7 series is found in top-tier Ultrabooks and PCs.
The display is just as important as the components running the show considering you’re going to stare at it for hours on end. It’s a lot easier to wrap your head around as well with only three options in this class.
FHD – Full HD displays have slowly pushed HD panels out, so you won’t find any 720p displays this time around. Despite competition from the QHD and UHD club, they remain the best option for consumers that want a solid display that won’t break the bank. 1,920 x 1,080 is nothing to scoff at, and likely the same resolution as your current smartphone or big screen TV.
QHD – QHD stands for Quad High-Definition and is double the pixels of FHD. You will notice a major uptick in clarity if you’re making the jump from 720p, but may not from notice the change between FHD and QHD. It depends on the type of panel used and the tech pushing those pixels around.
UHD – UHD, otherwise known as 4K, takes things to an all new level. It’s overkill for casual users unless you’re looking to the future, but ideal for gamers and AV enthusiasts alike. The resolution is four times what you’ll find on an FHD display while options like HDR really kick things up a notch.
This is the one area you can upgrade on a laptop, so while you do need to consider the size, you should focus on the decision between HDD and SDD. Hard disk drives are becoming rarer in the Ultrabook class, but are the best way to go if you need a lot of space. They are cheaper, but not as quick as a solid-state drive.
While SSDs are more expensive, there is no substitute for speed. Transfer times are considerably quicker when your rig has a solid-state drive, but they do bump up the price. They usually top out at around 500GB in Ultrabooks as well, so you may need to expand sooner than later. In a nutshell, there is no magic number when it comes to storage space. Simply keep your needs in mind as you can always expand through an external drive or USB sticks.
The cool thing about Ultrabooks is they provide users with top-tier performance in a smaller package. Unfortunately, there are also a few drawbacks as you won’t find optical drives or many Ethernet ports on machines in this class. The battery life can take a big hit as well. That’s not always the case, but something to consider when you’re looking at a laptop with a UHD display. The size and type of panel can draw more juice, even when the innards are optimized.
Every laptop manufacturer will give you a “rough” idea of how long their Ultrabook will go, but it’s a number you need to take with a hefty dose of salt. If you like to crank your brightness up, you can decrease that number, and the same goes for games and applications that need a lot of power. The charging times are usually very close, however, and some models are equipped with fast charging tech.
Connectivity and Other Flagship Features
Now that we’ve covered all the key areas, it’s time to take a look at the extras which can separate the best from the rest. How your computer connects to the net and other peripherals is a critical area, and every Ultrabook will have a couple of ports at the ready. USB-C ports are trending and the best option along with USB 3.0 ports if you need speed.
While it’s not hard to find a laptop with those, the number of ports is important along with their charging capabilities. Dual-band Wi-Fi is another standard option, but fingerprint scanners are still sparse. The quality of the built-in speakers should be at the top of your list if you’re a media lover while gamers will want a good keyboard and the best-integrated graphics available.
The last feature worth note would be something tied to Windows-based PCs in the form of Windows Hello. It’s a super speedy login feature which works with the aforementioned fingerprint scanner or a webcam. Unfortunately, it only works with webcams capable of near-infrared imaging; something that is missing from several cheaper webcams.
12 Best Ultrabooks You Can Buy in 2019
The Ultrabook category has grown considerably since Apple started the trend, so finding the best Ultrabook is easier said than done these days. While you won’t find Chromebooks or any Linux-based laptops on our list, we have included a wide array of options for everyone including power users, casual gamers, and students.
Huawei MateBook X Pro
The Best Windows Ultrabook Overall
Huawei is not a brand associated with laptops until recently, and their MateBook X Pro certainly caught our attention. It’s widely regarded as one of the best Ultrabooks on the market and an ideal choice if you want a top-tier machine.
This Ultrabook has a 13.9-inch touchscreen display with a resolution of 3,000 x 2,000. It sports a 1500:1 contrast ratio and Dolby ATMOS as well. The MateBook X Pro also lives up to the Ultrabook name considering it weighs less than 3 pounds and is only 0.57-inches thick. That’s impressive once you factor in 8GB of RAM and a 1TB solid-state drive.
You can expect all the usual bells & whistles from the MateBook X Pro in the connectivity department including a USB-C port and dual-band Wi-Fi. The base configuration comes with an 8th generation i5-8250U under the hood, but you can opt for the i7 which comes with 16GB of RAM and GeForce MX150 discreet graphics.
- 91% screen-to-body ratio
- 3K display
- Great battery life
- Pop-up camera
- Short warranty
- Overkill for casual users
HP Spectre x360-13t
A Classy Hybrid from HP
Convertible laptops help consumer’s bridge the tablet gap, and there are hundreds of options to choose from at any given time. That said, the HP Spectre x360 stands head and shoulders above the rest due to its sleek design and outstanding horsepower.
Several features make the HP Spectre x360 a standout, but we’re going start with the design. The 13.3-inch FHD screen swivels into tent or tablet modes in seconds and works with the included HP Active Stylus. When it comes to power, no other convertible compares, as it has the i7-8500OU processor and a whopping 16GB of RAM. You should have plenty of storage space with the x360 as well thanks to a 512GB solid-state drive and an array of connectivity options including two Thunderbolt 3 ports.
Other features of note for this Windows-based Ultrabook include a Bang & Olufsen sound system, a dual-array mic, and integrated UHD Graphics 620. We also like the fact the display is covered in tough Gorilla Glass, something crucial when you’re dealing with touchscreen convertibles built for the road.
- Killer design
- Top-tier performance
- Great sound system
- IR webcam
- No fingerprint scanner
- FHD display
The Reliable Choice
The MacBook needs no introduction considering they are among the most popular Ultrabooks on the planet. The MacBook Air MQD32LL/A is one of the more recent models and one to consider regardless of your preference in operating systems.
The MacBook Air lineup gets an incremental upgrade each year, and their newest model is one of their best yet. Podcaster and professionals will love the speed of this slim system which has a 1.8GHz dual-core i5 processor and 8GB of LPDDR3 RAM. The display is sharp at 13.3-inches although limited with a resolution of only 1,440 x 900. Features like gesture control and the FaceTime camera make up for that, and it’s in line with the rest of the pack in regards to its size.
MacBook Airs are an acquired taste for some as the Pro models offer up more power, but are far from affordable. The Air lineup is cheaper and is one of the best laptops for college or consumers that want something reliable, but don’t necessarily need a beastly machine. This version of the MacBook Air comes with several accessories and with your choice of a 128GB or 256GB SSD.
- Amazing battery life
- Great keyboard
- Cheapest Mac available
- May not be powerful enough for some
Lenovo Yoga 920
A QHD Powerhouse
Looking for an Ultrabook that can smoke the competition and looks good doing it? If so, you may have found your answer in the Yoga 920 from Lenovo. It’s a cool convertible with plenty of class and specifications that put other machines to shame.
This is another convertible with plenty of pop courtesy of the popular Core-i7-8550U processor and 16GB of RAM. It has the same 13.3” panel as you’ll find on many touchscreens in this class except this one’s 4K with a resolution of 3,840 x 2,160. The screen doesn’t detach, but the 360-degree panel allows you to slide into tablet mode in a matter of seconds. Needless to say, it won’t break your back at 3.02 pounds and is around 0.5-inches thick. It’s a little large for the Ultrabook class but is far from what anyone would consider heavy.
Apple fans will be pleased to know there are a couple of Thunderbolt ports on this model as well along with a USB 3.0 port. It also has next-gen wireless and a fingerprint reader for additional security. This Ultrabook runs Windows 10 out of the box and sports a nimble 512MB solid-state drive.
- 3,840 x 2,160 touchscreen display
- Fingerprint reader
- Cool convertible design
- Great battery life
- Lots of power
- USB 3.0 port/Pen placement
- Heavier than other Ultrabooks
Microsoft Surface Book 2
The Best 15-inch Ultrabook
Most of the machines in the Ultrabook arena clock in at 13.5-inches. While that’s great for portable people, some folks need a larger display. The Microsoft Surface Book 2 is among the top 15-inch Ultrabooks and has one flagship feature you won’t find on many other laptops in this range.
The Surface Book 2 is a convertible laptop with one major caveat. The screen has 360-action, but also completely detaches to give you a true tablet mode. That’s something we typically don’t see on 15-inch machines, especially when they have a Core-i7, 15GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD under the hood. That panel doesn’t disappoint either as the PixelSense display will blister your eyeballs – seriously.
Microsoft spared no expense with the Surface Book 2, so it’s not what we would consider budget-friendly. It’s well worth it however if you’re a power user, creator or even a gamer looking for an interesting alternative. You can scoop this one up in several different configurations and in a smaller 13.5” form factor as well.
- Detachable touchscreen display
- 3,260 x 2,160 resolution
- Outstanding battery life
- A bit heavier than other Ultrabooks
Dell XPS 13 9360
Another Hit from Dell
Dell cranks out millions of PCs each year including thin Ultrabooks like the Dell XPS 9360. This decked out laptop won’t take up much space in your bag and carries a reasonable price tag and a beautiful display. It’s a considerable upgrade over previous models even if it lags behind today’s top machines in a few areas.
This laptop is in the Kaby Lake range with a Core i5-7200U dual-core chip in the lower configuration. The processor is backed by 8GB of LPDDR3 RAM which is sufficient although not quite as powerful as you’ll find on current Ultrabooks. The solid-state drive is only 128GB, but there are numerous ports including USB-C and USB 3.0 when you need to expand. All the usual features are present including Windows 10, an SD card reader, dual-band Wi-Fi and a webcam/microphone combo.
As you’d expect, the Dell XPS 13 is in the FHD class with a 13.3-inch anti-glare touchscreen display. If you like the design, but need more power the company also carries an i7-7500U variant with 16GB of RAM and a larger 512GB solid-state drive.
- Battery life
- Sleek design
- Vibrant display
- Webcam placement
LG Gram 17″
Power & Performance in a Lightweight Package
As one of the lightest 17-inch laptops on the market, the LG Gram packs and impressive power: an 8th Gen i7 Intel Core processor, 16GB RAM, and 512 GB SSD. Moreover, the WQXGA (2560×1600) IPS display supports 16:10 format and features vivid colors and sharp images.
This combination and the fact that the laptop features a 72Wh battery that will hold almost the entire day (up to 19.5h), make the LG Gram one of the best devices for work. You can use it for video and image editing, document processing, coding, and more.
Moreover, even though the laptop looks thin and weighs less than 3 pounds, it is durable and ready to face the world. The producer promises military-grade durability and the premium nano carbon magnesium full metal body doesn’t disappoint!
Finally, LG Gram is equipped with a fingerprint reader, backlit keyboard, four-finger multitouch gestures on the touchpad, and DTS Headphone:X for an immersive audio experience. To make sure you will be able to tackle any task, the device is equipped with all the necessary ports: 1xUSB Type-C, 3xUSB 3.1, 1xHDMI, 1xThunderbolt 3.
- 17-inch display
- Lightweight & durable body
- Perfect for work & entertainment
- Fingerprint recognition
- Powerful processor
- Impressive battery power
- Windows 10 Home
- Touchpad doesn’t handle clicking that well
- The body is not as sturdy as advertised
Razer Blade Stealth 4k Graphics Model
Perfect for Work and Gaming
If you want a laptop that will handle both work projects and advanced gaming, the Razer Blade Stealth may be a great choice.
First of all, the design is incredibly badass! The black matte case that only features the Razer logo on the lid is absolutely stunning! Moreover, the surface around the keyboard is textured, the keyboard is backlit and features single-zone RGB lighting with 16.8 million color options, and the precision glass touchpad is large. In terms of design, the Razer Blade Stealth is a laptop everyone would love to have!
But let’s talk a bit about what’s under the beautiful exterior. The laptop is equipped with NVIDIA GeForce MX150 (25W) 4GB VRAM Graphics, quad-core 8th Gen Intel Core i7 -8565U Processor, and 16GB dual-channel memory.
Finally, the 13.3-inch touchscreen supports 4K resolution and is framed by a thin bezel. The display features 100% Adobe RGB color space, which makes it perfect for content creation, entertainment, and productivity.
Also, it has all the necessary ports for most activities: Thunderbolt 3, USB-C, USB-A, and WiFi. It also comes with a Windows Hello IR camera and dual-array mics for high-quality video chat sessions.
- Gorgeous design
- 13-inch touchscreen display
- Chroma keyboard
- Precision touchpad
- Long battery life (up to 8h)
- Lightweight and portable
- Great performance
- The keyboard is a bit odd
- Gaming drains the battery faster
ASUS ZenBook 14
A Beautiful & Portable Laptop for Work
With the ZenBook 14, Asus wants to offer users a unique work experience that’s immersive (due to the four-sided NanoEdge design) and highly portable. For this, the laptop is thin (0.6-inch), lightweight (2.6 lbs.) and incredibly compact. It is also durable (military-grade testing) and features a battery that will hold for up to 14 hours.
Since it is designed for all sorts of advanced projects, the ZenBook 14 is fitted with a special hinge (ErgoLift design) that helps with cooling and makes typing more convenient.
In terms of performance, the laptop features a 14-Inch wide-view full HD display, the latest 8th generation Intel Core i7-8565u Quad Core Processor, 512GB Pie NV Me SSD and 16GB LPDDR3 RAM. It also comes with Windows 10 Home, built-in IR camera that works with Windows Hello, and a dual-function touchpad that can be used as a numeric keypad.
To make sure you’ll have access to everything you need, the laptop features a nice combination of ports: 1xHDMI/USB Type C, Wi-Fi 802.11AC, Bluetooth 5.0, and 1xMicro SD card reader.
- Compact and portable
- Gorgeous display
- Dual-function touchpad
- Durable case
- ErgoLift hinge
- Easy-to-use keyboard
- Impressive configuration
- The touchpad is lagging
- There is some coil whine
- No central utility software for drivers
Samsung Notebook 9
Lightweight and Powerful
While some companies specialize in one area, Samsung makes all types of tech. That includes laptops like the Notebook 9, a machine in the “ultra-slim” class. It’s also one of a handful of Ultrabooks that give you an option of going with a 15” display.
Whether you opt for the 13.3 or 15-inch Notebook 9, the design is easy on the eyes. It has an aluminum shell, and the smaller model is among the lightest Ultrabooks around at 1.8 pounds. That’s considerably lighter than other machines in this range and even more impressive when you consider the guts. The Notebook 9 has an Intel Core-i7 processor, 16GB of RAM and a 256GB solid-state drive.
The specifications are top-notch on this one, but the features are outstanding as well with a fingerprint scanner and video HDR. Quick charging may be the best however as it allows you to get a full 2 hours of runtime from a 20-minute charge. It’s not all rosy though as the design could use some improvement along with the speakers and the battery life isn’t the best.
- In the Featherweight class
- HDR video
- Fingerprint scanner
- Fast charging capabilities
- Poor audio
- Battery life
Acer Swift 7
Silent and Skinny
Looking for a laptop that has enough juice to get you through the day without hitting the wall socket? The Acer Swift 7 can do just that with 9 hours of battery life depending on your usage. While there are options with larger power packs, none are as slim as the Swift 7.
Acer managed to pack a lot of tech into this skinny machine which is only 0.39” thick. It’s under 2.5 pounds as well although a little underwhelming under the hood. The 7th generation Core-i7 7Y75 will get the job done, but every configuration of the Swift 7 tops out with 8GB of RAM. You can choose between a 256GB or 512GB SSDs along with the colors if you prefer Luxury Gold over Black and Gold. As for the display, it’s an IPS panel measuring 13.3-inches with a resolution of 1,920 x 1,080.
The key feature for the Swift 7 is its thinness, but things like the fingerprint scanner and MU-MIMO wireless help it stand out in the crowded Ultrabook field. It’s a great choice for consumers that want a powerful solution running Windows 10 although not the lightest laptop despite its svelte nature.
- Only 0.39” thick
- Fingerprint scanner
- Very quiet
- Webcam HDR
- Lacking in the power department
- Only has USB-C ports
Microsoft Surface Laptop 2
A Simple & Elegant Design
The Surface series from Microsoft is well-known for its beautiful design and the elegant curves of the Surface Laptop 2 are right on point. Furthermore, the laptop is light (2.76 pounds) and compact (13.5-inch) so it fits nicely in your bag or backpack.
With a battery that will last for up to 14.5 hours, Surface 2 features a gorgeous PixelSense touchscreen so you can use it for work or fun. Of course, you can also use the comfortable keyboard and large touchpad, according to your needs.
On the inside, the laptop is powered by a powerful configuration: Intel Core 8th Gen i5 processor, 8GB RAM, and 256 GB for storage. It also comes with Windows 10 Home, which includes cool features such as Windows Hello and your favorite assistant (Cortana).
Finally, the laptop can be used with a wide array of accessories (you have to purchase them separately) such as the Surface Dock (for more ports) or the Surface Pen.
- Great for work and fun
- Compact and portable design
- Impressive touchscreen
- Fast in processing data
- Lots of cool accessories
- Coated with Alcantara
- Battery drains a bit fast
- Not designed for heavy-duty software