Ultrabook reviews, guides and comparisons

Best ultrabooks and portable laptops under $1000 (or $600) in 2015

By Andrei Girbea - @ andreigirbea , updated on October 13, 2015

If you’ve reached this post, you’re probably after an modern laptop and don’t want to spend a lot of money on it. I’ve put up together a list of the best ultra-portables you can get for under $1000 these days, as well as a selection of great notebooks that sell for $600 or less, and both will surely prove helpful in your search.

Now, these laptops meet all the requirements necessary to get the “ultrabook” brand, which means they are sturdily built and yet portable, pack the latest Intel hardware and are powerful enough for everyday use, but also able to last for 5+ hours on each charge. However, the lower your budget, the more compromises you’ll need to make, and those include, among others, the materials used for the cases, the overall aesthetics and weight, the screen quality, certain features or performance.

But hey, no laptop is perfect, and if you’re after a budget-friendly ultrabook, you’ll have to compromise here and there and just choose the computer that best suits your needs, taste and wallet-size.

With that in mind, let’s have a look at the best budget ultrabooks you can get these days. In order to make your life easier, I’ve split the post into several different chapters:

Best ultrabooks under $600

You can get these brand new ultrabooks for less than $600 right now and some for under $500, as long as you shop for them online and/or hunt down the occasional discounts.

Full-size laptops with 14 and 15 inch screens

You’ll have to sacrifice the weight, the materials used for the casing and the screen quality if you’re aiming to get a modern full-size laptop that cheap, but there are still a fair number of options available out there that are worth buying.

Dell Inspiron 15 3000 and 5000 series

The Dell Inspiron 15 3000 is one of the better full-size modern laptops you can get for a limited budget. It is very durable built, despite having an all plastic case and chassis, it offers good performance and it’s actually very easy to upgrade, in case you buy a base model and decide to add more RAM or replace the storage later on. It also bundles an internal optical drive.

Yes, the laptop is rather bulky and heavy, weighing close to 5.3 pounds, and you’ll have to settle for a rather bad 1366 x 768 px TN display, but at least it’s a touchscreen. Besides those, the 40 Wh battery is small, as it can only offer around 4-5 hours of daily use on a charge.

We reviewed the base model with a Core i3 processor here on the site, in case you want to read more about it, and it turned out to to be a great buy for the money. That base model sells for under $400 right now, while the Core i5 configuration goes for a little under $500. Follow this link for more details, as well as updated prices and potential discounts.

The basic Dell Inspiron 15 3000 is not a looker, but offers plenty for the money

The basic Dell Inspiron 15 3000 is not a looker, but offers plenty for the money

The Inspiron 15 5000 is Dell’s step further in terms of build quality and design, as it’s sleeker, comes with a silver color scheme and a brushed-aluminum hood, but also a backlit keyboard, which the 3000 series lacks. It no longer offers a DVD-drive though.

A Core i5-5200U / 8 GB of RAM / 1 TB HDD configuration sells for around $550 these days, with the same 15-inch HD touchscreen as on the lower-end model. Follow this link for more configurations and up-to-date prices at the time you’re reading this post.

The Inspiron 15 5000 gets the more premium looks and a backlit-keyboard, while it's only marginally more expensive

The Inspiron 15 5000 gets the more premium looks and a backlit-keyboard, while it’s only marginally more expensive

Toshiba Satellite C55-C5  and S55-B5 – the bestseller

The Toshiba Satellite C55 is one of the best selling 15-inch laptops in the world right now, and that’s because it is one of the most affordable devices in its class and there’s nothing utterly wrong with it, nothing that could steer you towards something else.

A latest generation Core i5 configuration with 8 GB of RAM and 1 TB HDD sells for around $470 at the time of this post, which makes it more affordable than the Dell Inspiron 15 3000 above or the Acer Aspire E5 presented below.

The C55 gets an optical drive, a fair-sized 45Wh battery, a decent keyboard and trackpad, and a good selection of ports on its sides. The case is made entirely out of plastic, but it’s a nice feeling textured material that should handle hassle well. The laptop is also lighter than the competition, weighing roughly 4.8 lbs.

On the other hand, you do have to settle for a 15.6-inch 1366 x 768 px non-touch TN display, pretty bad speakers and what looks like not the best quality control, based on user reviews. Even so, this Toshiba is the best selling laptop on Amazon right now, so you should at least give it a try. Amazon are known for their impeccable support in case you’ll draw a short straw, so no need to worry about that.

Toshiba also offers a Satellite S55t model, which we reviewed here on the site. Unlike the Satellite C55, this one gets a 1920 x 1080 px IPS display, font-facing speakers and a slightly thinner and lighter case. And despite all these changes, the base model configuration still sells for under $500 and includes a latest-gen Core i5 processor, 4 GB of RAM and a 500 GB HDD, alongside all the other features mentioned above.

In other words, this thing offers more than any other similar laptop out there, for its price. But it’s not without a fair share of shortcomings, as you can find out from the review.

Toshiba's Satellite C55 is an excellent option for those of you on limited budgets

Toshiba’s Satellite C55 is an excellent option for those of you on limited budgets

Acer Aspire E5 series – the gaming option

Acer’s 15-inch laptops are known for their highly competitive prices and there are two series that meet the interest here, the Aspire E5-571G and the Aspire E5-573G.

They are both built on a hard-plastic chassis, with the same non-backlit keyboard and a similar non-touch HD display with a TN panel (an option for a FHD IPS screen is available on the higher-end configs). But while the former model only settles for Intel integrated graphics, the latter bundles an Nvidia 940M dedicated chip, for those of you in need of extra graphics power.

Of course, the Aspire E5-573G is not the only laptop with Broadwell/Skylake hardware and and Nvidia 940M chip, but it’s the only one that sells for under $600 these days, for a configuration that also includes 8 GB of RAM and a 1 TB HDD. Follow this link for up-to-date info on prices and configurations at the time you’re reading this post, and check out my detailed review of this laptop for more in depth details.

The Aspire E5-571G is even cheaper, BTW, so if you don’t need the dedicated graphics you can get a modern Core i5 configuration for a little over $500, while a Haswell model sells for under $450 right now.

Asus Transformer Book Flip TP500 – the sleek 2-in-1

You’ll hardly find a 15 incher comparable to this one, as the Asus TP500 is a convertible with a Yoga-like form factor that sells for roughly $500 and up. That’s for the most basic configuration, which includes a Core i3 processor, 4 GB of RAM, 500 GB of storage and a 1366 x 768 px TN touchscreen, while higher end models are more expensive, as you can configure this machine with a better FHD display, up to Core i7 processors, 8 GB of RAM and even add dedicated graphics on the TP500LD versions.

Of course, the major selling point here is the 2-in-1 form factor, but this laptop is more than that. It bundles a metallic case, a decent keyboard and trackpad, a 48 Wh battery and a solid selection of ports on the sides. All these together make the Asus TP500 one of the better budget-oriented 15-inch convertibles you could buy out there.

Check out my detailed review for more details and follow this link for more info on the latest configurations and updated prices at the time you’re reading this post.

The Asus TP500 is an affordable 15-inch 2-in-1 laptop

The Asus TP500 is an affordable 15-inch 2-in-1 laptop

Acer Aspire R14 – the 14-inch 2-in-1

Acer’s Aspire R14 is another convertible with modern hardware, but it’s one you should take into consideration if you’re on a limited budget, since the base model with a Core i3 processor, 4 GB of RAM and a 500 GB HDD sells for around $500, while the Core i5 model is about $100 more expensive.

The Aspire R14 has a few other aces downs its sleeve, aside from the price, like the pretty good keyboard, the excellent battery life (thanks to the 53Wh battery inside, huge for its class) and the upgrade-friendliness, as both the RAM and the storage drive can be easily upgraded on this unit.

On the other hand, you’ll have to make due with a rather poor 14-inch HD TN screen, an all plastic case with quite a few glossy elements and a fairly hefty weight of 4.4 pounds, but also the fact that this laptop’s case gets hot quite easily under load.

Anyway, check out our detailed review of the Aspire R14 for the full impressions and follow this link if you’re interested in up-to-date prices and configurations at the time you’re reading this post.

The Aspire R14 is one of the most affordable 14-inch 2-in-1s out there

The Aspire R14 is one of the most affordable 14-inch 2-in-1s out there

Portable and ultraportable options (10 to 13 inchers)

This section is reserved for the more portable options you can get for under $600 these days, but if you’re in the market for a compact laptop, you should also check out our dedicated posts on the available 13-inch options, as well as this post on the 11.6 inch and smaller models.

Lenovo U31

The Lenovo U31 barely makes it into this section, with a starting price of $599, but that’s for a fairly beefy configuration, with a latest-gen Core i5 processor, 8 GB of RAM and 500 GB of storage, plus a 13.3-inch matte 1920 x 1080 px IPS display. It’s not the best screen out there, but it’s better than the TN panels offered by most other devices in this price range. So when you think about it, you’re actually getting a lot for your 600 bucks. Higher end versions are somewhat more expensive, but at least you can get the U31 with a Core i7 processor, SSD storage and Nvidia 920M dedicated graphics.

Check out this link for up-to-date configurations and prices, as well as user reviews.

On the other hand, the laptop bundles a fairly small 35 Wh battery when compared to the more premium 13-inchers, which means you should only expect 4 hours of battery life on a charge. It’s also a bit heavy at 3.3 lbs and entirely made out of plastic, but the build quality isn’t bad at all and you get the option to pick your laptop in either White or Red.

The Lenovo U31 offers great specs and an excellent screen for under $600

The Lenovo U31 offers great specs and an excellent screen for under $600

Dell Inspiron 11 3000

The Inspiron 11 3000 is one of the better affordable 2-in-1s out there. It’s small, as it only bundles an 11.6-inch display, so that means it’s not for everyone. But if you want the touchscreen in a portable and budget-friendly option, 11-inchers are going to be your best bet anyway.

In fact, there are a couple of 11-inchers worth your attention, but we’ll start with this one, since I believe it has a few strong points over the competition.

The most powerful configuration includes a Core i3 processor, 4 GB of RAM and a 500 GB SSD, while the more affordable options come with Intel Celeron or Pentium CPUs. Dell does not offer a model with 8 GB of RAM or SSD storage, but you can upgrade the RAM and the storage drive yourself, which is a strong selling point, alongside the decent 1366 x 766 px IPS touchscreen and a large 43 Wh battery. All these are tucked inside a plastic made 3.1 lbs body, while the Inspiron 11 3000 is of course a 360-degrees convertible, so you’ll be able to use it as a tablet as well.

Last but not least, this computer is affordable. You’ll have to pay between $350 and $550 for one, based on the configuration you’ll end up choosing, and you’ll be getting quite a lot for your buck. Follow this link for up-to-date configurations and potential discounts.

The Dell Inspiron 11 3000 is a great pick for your money

The Dell Inspiron 11 3000 is a great pick for your money

HP Pavilion X360

This is HP’s direct competitor to the Inspiron 11 3000 presented above. It’s also an 11-incher with an HD IPS display, it’s also a convertible with a 360-degrees rotating screen and it’s also entirely made out of plastic.

But unlike the Dell, this one is available in a bunch of different lively colors, packs a newer Core i3 processor (or Intel Pentium and Celeron CPUs) and includes a smaller 32 Wh battery.

It’s also 5-10% more expensive than the Dell, although that could change in time. Follow this link for updated configurations and prices.

Still, even if the Pavilion x360 would match the Inspiron 11 3000 in terms of price, personally I’d rather get the latter, because of its bigger battery and more appealing design (in my opinion).

The HP Pavilion x360 is a good alternative to the Dell Inspiron 11 3000

The HP Pavilion x360 is a good alternative to the Dell Inspiron 11 3000

Asus Transformer Book Chi T300

The Chi T300 is Asus’s premium 2-in-1 detachable at the time of this update. It’s built on an Intel Core M hardware platform, can take up to 8 GB of RAM and SSD storage, includes an excellent high-resolution 12.5-inch touchscreen and only weighs 3.2 pounds, with the dock attached.

The Transformer Book Chi T300 is primarily a Windows tablet, as all the hardware and the battery are tucked behind the display. And it’s a slim and sleek one, with a nice anodized aluminum body. The included keyboard dock allows it to behave like a 2-in-1 when needed.

Despite all that, the Chi T300 wasn’t received very well, mostly because it failed to deliver in terms of battery life (offers roughly 5 hours on a charge), wireless performance and IO. It wasn’t very cheap at launch either, with the base model going for $699.

These days that configuration is much more affordable, selling for under $500, and that should put this device on the map for those of you willing to live with its shortcomings. Cause you’re sure getting a lot for what you’re paying. Follow this link for up-to-date prices and user reviews at the time you’re reading this post.

The Asus T300 Chi is sleek, fast and as of the last weeks, also affordable

The Asus T300 Chi is sleek, fast and as of the last weeks, also affordable

Other options:

Unlike the devices above, these 2-in-1s below are only available with Intel Core M, Celeron, Pentium or Atom hardware, which makes them less powerful, but also more affordable.

  • Acer Aspire Switch 11V – The Aspire Switch 11V is one of the cheapest Core M 2-in-1s out there and it’s actually a pretty good one, for the money, as you can tell from our detailed review. It’s a detachable with a multi-functional dock, a great screen and fairly solid build quality. On the other hand it is rather heavy (3.3 lbs) and the 30 Wh included battery will only offer around 4-5 hours of daily use on a charge. But with an MSRP of $500, it’s an option to consider.
  • Acer Aspire R11reviewlatest deals – Acer’s 11-incher is cheaper than its competitors and it’s overall a pretty good machine, as you can tell from our review. It’s built well, it includes a gigantic 50 Wh battery and it can be equipped with Intel Braswell processors and 8 GB of RAM, but on the other hand you’ll have to make due with the 3.5 lbs body weight and the poor TN touchscreen. Still, if you want the 2-in-1 form factor, the specs and the very long battery life for as little money as possible, this will be your best bet right now.
  • Lenovo Yoga 300 (Flex 3 11)latest deals – the 11-inch Lenovo is cheap as well, although with the base versions going for under $300 it’s not as affordable as the Aspire R11. It is however a lot lighter than the Acer, weighing only 3.0 lbs, but you’ll have to live with a similar 11-6-inch HD TN touchscreen and a much smaller 30 Wh battery though.
  • Asus Transformer Book T200reviewlatest deals – The Asus T200 comes in as the last option here because it’s not as powerful as its competitors, being built on an Intel Atom platform. It is however a detachable, a tablet with a docking station, it includes an 11.6-inch HD IPS display and thanks to the more efficient hardware, it can go for up to 10 hours of daily use on a charge. So with this one you’ll be sacrificing performance for battery life.
The Acer Aspire R11, the Lenovo Yoga 300 and the Asus T200, from left to right

The Acer Aspire R11, the Lenovo Yoga 300 and the Asus T200, from left to right

If you’re interested in something even more affordable or more compact, there are a bunch of 10-inchers you can consider, and I’ve got in depth about them in this other post.

Among them, you should keep a close eye on the Asus Transformer Book T100 series, the Acer Aspire Switch 10 series and of course the Microsoft Surface 3, although this latter one can easily got past the $600 mark. Here’s what our collaborator Doug thinks about it, after using it for a few months.

Best ultrabooks under $1000

There’s a huge offer of ultrabooks selling for between 600 and 1000 bucks these days.

There are two main directions you can follow if you’re shopping withing this budget: either get a mid-range laptop with a solid configuration, or tap into the premium class and get the entry-versions of some of the best laptops out there. We’ll address both of them in the rows below.

14 and 15 inch full-size ultrabooks

When it comes to full-size laptops, $1000 can get you business ultraportables like the Lenovo ThinkPad T450/T550 or even the versatile Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga 15, to name just some of the better 14 and 15-inch portable laptops available these days.

On the other hand, If you’d rather get more beefier specs for your money, I’ve gathered a fair number of solid options for you in the following rows. These are the portable 14 and 15-inchers you should get these days if you want a capable configuration, usually with great displays, modern Core i5 or i7 processors, at least 8 GB of RAM and even dedicated graphics or SSD storage in some cases.

Dell Inspiron 15 7000 – the solid all-rounder

The Inspiron 15 7000 is Dell’s better mid-range 15-incher. It comes with a more compact and lighter aluminum unibody (weighs roughly 4.6 lbs), an aluminum hood cover, a backlit keyboard and a FullHD IPS touchscreen. The 15-inch model also packs either and 34 or a 58 Wh battery, with the latter translating in roughly 6-7 hours of daily use on a charge.

On the other side, unlike other 15-inchers, this one does not include any sort of dedicated graphics, not even as an extra option.

The MSRP for the latest configurations is set at around $800 and up, but a Core i5 model with 6 GB of RAM and a 1 TB HDD can be found for under $700 these days. Follow this link for details.

As a side note, a 14-inch Dell Inspiron is also available, if you’re looking for something slightly more compact and you’re willing to spend a bit more. It weighs 3.5 pounds and sells for $999 and up.

And there’s also a 15-inch Inspiron 7000 2-in-1, a slightly larger update of the popular 13-inch model. It inherits the plastic body of the small 13-incher and binds it to a 360-degrees 15.6-inch rotating screen. It gets a 43 Wh battery, either a FHD or a 4K display and weighs 4.8 pounds. As for the price, the cheapest Core i5 configurations start at $600, but there are also Core i3 models available for less.

Check out this post for all the available Dell Inspiron 15 7000 2-in-1 configurations, user opinions and the latest prices.

The Inspiron 15 7000 offers pretty much everything you'll want from an everyday 15-inch laptop and it doesn't cost a fortune

The Inspiron 15 7000 offers pretty much everything you’ll want from an everyday 15-inch laptop and it doesn’t cost a fortune

Acer Aspire V15 Nitro VN7-571G

Acer offers a few different Aspire V15 Nitro models these days and among them there’s a configuration built on an Intel Core i7-5500U/Core i7-6500U ULV processor, paired with 8 GB of RAM (upgradeable to 16 GB), dual-storage and an Nvidia 950M graphics. It’s called the V15 Nitro VN7-571G and it’s a pretty good multimedia device with some gaming abilities, as you can find from our detailed review published a while ago.

But there’s more than just specs with this one. The V15 Nitro is fairly compact for a 15-incher and weighs roughly 4.9 lbs. It includes a backlit keyboard, a matte 1080p IPS display, an internal optical-drive and a 52 Wh battery. And last but not least, it sells for under $1000, while slightly older versions with a Haswell processor and Nvidia 840M graphics (which is nearly identical to the 950M chip on the newer models) go for as low as $800.

The Acer V15 Nitro Black Edition is perhaps this one’s greatest rival, as it sells for $1100 and includes a quad-core Intel processor and faster Nvidia 960M graphics, which are well worth getting for just $100 extra if you need a powerful machine. On the other hand, if you only want a well-balanced multimedia computer, fast enough for most tasks, but also able to last for 5-6 hours on a charge, the V15 Nitro VN7-571G would be hard to look past.

Follow this link for the full review and this one for up-to-date configurations and prices.

The Aspire V15 Nitro is a well balanced 15-inch multimedia laptop

The Aspire V15 Nitro is a well balanced 15-inch multimedia laptop

Lenovo Yoga 500 (Flex 3) 14 and 15 – the convertibles

Lenovo calls their Flex 3 (soon to be rebranded into Yoga 500) series affordable, thin and light. There are both a 14 and and 15.6-inch model in this line and both offer, among other, latest-generation Core i3/i5 and i7 processors, 1080p IPS panels, backlit keyboard, up to 8 GB of RAM and 1 TB HDD storage, plus 45 Wh batteries. Both models are convertibles with 360-degrees flipable screens and both are mostly made out of plastic, with metallic palm-rests.

The 15-inch version gets a few extras though, like a NumPad keyboard and optional Nvidia 920M or 940M graphics. It’s also larger and heavier, weighing roughly 5.0 lbs, while the 14-inch version weighs 4.3 lbs.

As for the price, a Core i5 configurations with 8 GB of RAM and a 500 GB HDD is going to cost around $650 on both of these, and surprisingly the Flex 3 14 is a bit cheaper than the 15-inch model. Higher specked versions are going to go past $1000 mark in both cases.

Follow this link for more details on configurations and up-to-date prices.

The Flex 3 14 and 15 are Lenovo's most affordable 2-in-1s

The Flex 3 14 and 15 are Lenovo’s most affordable full-size 2-in-1s

Other options:

  • Lenovo Y40 – this is one of the few ultraportables able to handle games well that you can get for under 1G. The Y40 comes with a 14-inch screen (with a TN panel though), but beastly specs: a latest generation Core i7 CPU, 8 GB of RAM, hybrid storage and an AMD Radeon R9 275M graphics configuration sells for just under $800.
  • Acer Aspire R7 – a solid built 15 incher with a convertible touchscreen and digitizer/pen support, modern hardware, Nvidia dedicated graphics and a weird form-factor. This one does seem to be in short supply lately, so it might be a bit difficult to track down.
Acer's offer in this price-range is hard to beat: the sleek Aspire V7-582PG (left) and the convertible Aspire R7-582 (right)

Acer’s offer in this price-range is hard to beat: the sleek Aspire V7-582PG (left) and the convertible Aspire R7-582 (right)

13-inch portable laptops

If you’re after a very good 13-inch ultrabook, $1000 can buy you the latest Core i5 versions of the ultra-compact Dell XPS 13, the convertible HP Spectre X360, the sleek Asus Zenbook UX305LA or even the base version of the Apple Macbook Air, to name just some of the top options.

Check out this post for the full list of the best 13-inch ultrabooks of the moment.

On the other hand, if you’d rather get a beefier configuration for your money, here are some of the options you should consider.

  • Asus Transformer Book Flip TP300 and Q302LA reviewlatest discounts a solid priced 13-inch convertible with the latest generation ULV hardware and an IPS FHD touchscreen, but a bit bulky and heavy for its class (3.7 lbs). Metal is used for most of its case and it is cheaper than its rivals. The TP300 is available in silver, while the Q302LA can be found in black in some stores around the world.
  • Dell Inspiron 13 7000 series – reviewlatest discountsDell’s alternative to Asus mentioned before, packing more or less similar features, with Intel hardware and an IPS FHD screen, but also an excellent keyboard and plenty of ports, in what I believe it’s an overall better looking case. Dell did cut the corner where it came to battery though and only put a 43H one on this unit, and that translates in rather short battery life (around 5 hours).
  • Asus Zenbook UX305LA/UA – reviewlatest discounts this Zenbook is a great choice if you’re after a modern clamshell laptop with a matte display. The UX305LA is the Broadwell model, while the UX305CA is its Skylake update. Both bundle Intel ULV hardware with up to 8 GB of RAM and SSD storage, a FHD IPS display (or an optional QHD+ screen) and a large 56 Wh battery in a 2.8 lbs aluminum shell. There’s no backlit keyboard though, the IO is rather limited and you can’t have these laptops with a touchscreen. Prices start at around $800 for a Core i5 configuration with 8 GB of RAM and 256 GB of SSD storage.
  • Asus Zenbook UX305FA/CA – reviewlatest discounts these are Asus’s slimmer, lighter (2.6 lbs) versions of the UX305s mentioned before, built on Intel Core M hardware. That makes them fanless, but on the other hand they are not as powerful and don’t last for very long on a charge either (roughly 5-6 hours), as they pack smaller 45 Wh batteries. The UX305FA is the Broadwell version, while the UX305CA is the Skylake update. Both start at $699, but you’ll probably find them even cheaper online.
The Asus TP300 2-in-1, the Dell Inspirin 13 7000 2-in-1 and the fanless Asus Zenbook UX305FA, from left to right

The Asus TP300 2-in-1, the Dell Inspiron 13 7000 2-in-1 and the fanless Asus Zenbook UX305FA, from left to right

You could also look for discounts on the premium 13-inch ultrabooks discussed in this post, especially during the Back-to-School and the Winter Sales periods.

12, 11 and 10 inch mini-laptops

This article covers the 11-inch or smaller ultraportables in depth, but if you want a short-list of high end devices you can get for under $1000, well, here you go:

  • Lenovo Yoga 3 11 – a sleek convertible with a 360 degrees tiltable screen. It’s built on an Intel’s Core M platform with 4 or 8 GB of RAM and various amounts of SSD storage. It includes an 11.6-inch IPS 1920 x 1080 px touchscreen and a 34 Wh battery, all tucked inside a slim and light (2.6 lbs) plastic body. The available configurations sell for between $670 and $900 at the time of this post, but they will get cheaper down the line. Follow this link for more details.
  • Apple Macbook Air 11  – the 11-inch version of the Macbook Air is one of the most powerful mini computers on the market, as it is built on Intel processors with Iris graphics, up to 8 GB of RAM and fast PCIe SSD storage. On top of that, the MBA 11 includes a backlit keyboard, a large battery and is both light (2.4 lbs) and sturdy, but owners will have to live with a rather poor TN panel and the lack of an SD card reader. The Macbook Air isn’t very cheap either, as it starts at $899 for the most basic configuration, but there’s a fair chance you’ll will find it discounted online.
  • Microsoft Surface 3 – we mentioned this one earlier, but if you’re planning to get the Surface 3 with the keyboard folio (and you should, otherwise you’ll have no physical keyboard) you’ll have to pay at least $630 for it, so I feel it is better suited for this section. The MS3 is a compact tablet with a great 10.8-inch display and pen support, a solid built magnesium-alloy body and Intel low-power hardware, so it’s mostly designed as a long-lasting companion (expect 7-8 hours between charges), and not as a powerful computer. Our collaborator Doug owns one and has been using it for a few months, so you might want to read his detailed impressions gathered in this post.
The Macbook Airs are some of the best, and surprisingly, the most affordable premium ultra-portables of the moment

The Macbook Airs are some of the best, and surprisingly, the most affordable premium ultra-portables of the moment

Wrap up

At the end of the day, you might still wonder whether a budget ultrabook is worth your money or not. The answer is definitely YES these days, when there are many good devices available for under $1000, and quite a few decent ones selling for under $800, under $600 and even under $500.

You’ll have to make some sacrifices as you go into the lower tiers, that’s true, but you can find something good no matter what your budget is, as long as you have correct expectations.

Most of the units mentioned in this posts will handle everyday activities like browsing, watching movies, listening to music or working on documents very well. Many will also do fine as laptops for school, laptops for your kids or secondary inexpensive travel notebooks. And one or two can even go as business or light-gaming machines. So you’re definitely not without options.

Now, if you need more help in your quest for the ideal ultraportable, you might also want to check these other articles on the site:

Or get in touch in the comments section, I’m around to help out.

Keep in mind that I’m constantly updating this list of budget ultrabooks under $1000, adding new models as they hit the stores and taking out the older versions that have become obsolete. If you happen to spot any mistakes though or any machines that should be in here and are not, I’d appreciate to hear from you in the comments.

Andrei Girbea, aka Mike, Editor-in-Chief and a huge fan of mobile computers. Since 2007, I've only owned smaller than 12.5" laptops and I've been testing tens, if not hundreds of mini laptops. You'll find mostly reviews and guides written by me here on the site.


  1. Sajid

    November 11, 2014 at 5:46 am

    Hello Andrei, this is an amazing article, thank you.
    I need a laptop for business use, I travel a lot so would appreciate a lighter version, most of my work is on office, lots of emails with office attachments etc.
    Currently using a thinkpad edge 15 inch, budget is around $800, what are my options?

  2. Jerry

    November 22, 2014 at 2:48 pm

    Hi Andrei, I am thankful for you hard work to make a list like this.
    I am currently looking for a fairly fast and powerful laptop to do some video editing some photoshop and do on. I would like the nvidia grafics card in it, touchscreen, i7 processor, a 15 inch screen and my budget would be under 1100 dollars.

    Thank you.

    • Andrei Girbea

      November 23, 2014 at 4:40 pm

      Does it have to be an ultraportable? If not, check out the Asus G551 series, Lenovo’s Y50s and there are also a few Acer models as well with GTX 850M graphics or higher within your budget

  3. Abdul

    November 27, 2014 at 5:25 pm

    Need your opinion in purchasing a laptop –
    Option 1: Acer Aspire V7 482PG , Core i5, NVidia GT750M 4Gb DDR3, 8Gb RAM, 1080p IPS touchscreen laptop refurbished for $510
    Option 2: Thinkpad Yoga 14, Core i5, NVidia GT840M 2Gb, 8Gb RAM, 1080p IPS touchscreen laptop for $880

    What would your preference be?

    • Andrei Girbea

      November 27, 2014 at 5:31 pm

      I’d get the Yoga if the budget is not vbery important. Better built, better looking, 2-in-1 form factor, more recent graphics, new. If you’re on a tight budget though, that Acer looks solid for the money.

  4. Vibhu

    December 30, 2014 at 11:40 am

    Hi Andrei,

    1.Can you please suggest me a Laptop within $700. I want best video & audio performance in this range, good gaming experience and bit of office work as well. ( this is going to be my new year Gift for my self :D)

    2. Which one is better HP or Levovo??

    3. Which is better 14, 15 or pavillion??

    Looking forward to your reply. Cheers Mate. Happy New Year.

  5. arnie

    January 17, 2015 at 7:03 pm

    Thank you very much for your post.i’m looking for a 13″, and I’m having some trouble to choose between the Asus ux303la and Toshiba z30-a-1D0. Both cost around 900€.the Asus just have 6gb RAM and 128gb SSD and the Toshiba has 8gb RAM and 256gb SSD.they both use I5. The Asus is better on the sound and the Toshiba is better on image. I’ll use the computer to work and to see some movies occasionally (mkv). Could you give me your opinion? I saw that you don’t mention the Toshiba Z30 in your post.

  6. monika

    January 21, 2015 at 1:12 pm

    Hi Andrei,

    This is a very useful article. Thanks for putting it together. I am planning to buy a ultraportable 13 inch laptop for office purpose. No gaming butq would be extensively working on microsoft office, pdfs, big word docs. Cud u plz suggest somethng under 1000
    Dollars..thanks a lot

  7. Jone

    February 14, 2015 at 1:45 am

    I am planning to get one laptop from USA. It will be mainly for my wife and 7 year old son. It will be mainly used for casual browsing, movies, some word processing and low end games.

    I am considering the below spec:
    1. Budget max $450 (Happy if I get for lesser also )
    2. Touch not required (as touch increases the price)
    3. Min of 4 GB RAM and 256 GB hard disk
    4. Screen-size between 13″ to 15″
    5. Best value for money
    6. Processor – Intel Core i3 onwards
    7. Lighter the better
    8. Would prefer: HP, Dell, Asus, Toshiba, Lenovo. May be Acer also.
    9. Do not prefer the flip and convertibles.

    Please could you suggest few options? I

  8. chris

    February 19, 2015 at 7:02 pm

    Hi Andrei,

    I am having trouble deciding between ultrabooks. I am looking for something around $1000 or $1200, 13 inch, that has long battery life (I travel alot) and the ability to use photoshop and occasional video editing. Also I want all metal construction or the equivalent as I am moving around a lot and it will take some bumps. Right now, I am between a 13in MacBook Air (8gigs ram, i7) or the Aspire s7. Also looked at the xps 13. I am not really sure how much value to put on a touch screen; I think the only benefit would be in apps like photoshop no? Thanks for your help in advance (and cheaper options are always appreciated)

    • Andrei Girbea

      February 19, 2015 at 9:32 pm

      The touchscreen won’t help much with Photoshop, as most of these screens are optimized for finger use, like on an iPad. They’re ok ti switch between apps, select certain things, etc.

      You’re looking at the right devices. The MBA offers unbeatable battery life. The XPS 13 2015 would be second in my list as well. Then I’d have devices like the Aspire S7 and maybe the Asus Zenbook UX301LA.

      If you’re interested in battery life, you could pick a device with Broadwell hardware, could make a difference. The MBA hasn’t been yet updated to this new platform, but all the Windows laptops were.

      • chris landis

        February 20, 2015 at 6:30 pm

        Thanks! Yes I figure it is worth it to go with the latest and greatest as I need my compu to last me for at least 3 years…. Speaking of, what would your opinion be on buying the MBA now vs waiting for the rumored retina version.

        I’m leaning towards the Mac due to the bang to buck ratio, and I figure I should learn Apple OS at some point. Plus the ability to also run windows means its kind of the best of both worlds, right?

        • Andrei Girbea

          February 21, 2015 at 2:10 pm

          Well, you’re not going to get the same battery life or touchpad experience with Windows, but it can run it nonetheless.

          If you’re not in a hurry, you could wait. The Macbook updates are scheduled for March from what the latest rumors are saying. And when those pop out, these current MBA models should get a slight price cut.

  9. keith

    February 25, 2015 at 2:33 am

    I am looking at the dell xps 13. Do you think it is worth the extra $$ to buy a signature model from the Microsoft store?

    • keith

      February 25, 2015 at 2:37 am

      Besides looking at the xps 13, I am also interested in the Acer v15 nitro.
      Which is better for the $$.

      • Andrei Girbea

        February 25, 2015 at 2:50 pm

        The Nitro is a different kind of laptop. You need to set your priorities straight and decide based on those.

    • Andrei Girbea

      February 25, 2015 at 2:49 pm

      Well, I own an XPS 13 Signature Edition and I’m pretty happy with it. You can find my review here on the site.

  10. Marcus

    March 1, 2015 at 11:46 pm

    I have narrowed it down to these two: Dell Inspiron 13 7000 i5 or the Asus TP300LA Signature Edition…any advice or tips on either of these? Thanks

    • Andrei Girbea

      March 2, 2015 at 8:38 am

      I’ve reviewed both these laptops here on the site, check out the posts for more details, in the reviews section.

      The Dell is slightly better built imo and looks a bit better. However, I’ve heard reports that its rubbery coating is wearing off in time, as well as reports of ghost touches on the screen.

      The TP300 has a slightly poorer keyboard, but a larger battery. It’s also a bit bulkier, but should be cheaper.

      • Marcus

        March 2, 2015 at 12:07 pm

        Thanks for the feedback. Guess my search will continue. My budget is about 1,000 and I wanted something portable and with no less than a fhd screen and it doesn’t necessarily have to be a 2 in 1. Screen size I wanted to keep it between 13 and 15 inches and processor no less than an i5. Any reccomendations? Thanks

        • Andrei Girbea

          March 2, 2015 at 12:19 pm

          Those are good options. The Dell XPS 13 with the i5 CPU and 8 GB of RAM will also fit your budget, the FHD version, and it’s a good device.

          • Marcus

            March 2, 2015 at 5:14 pm

            I appreciate the feedback and your time. I went to best buy and they showed me the Asus Q502LA-BBl5t12. I was wondering if you know anything about this one? The person I spoke with just said they sold a lot of this 2 in 1. Thanks

          • Andrei Girbea

            March 2, 2015 at 6:52 pm

            see my review of the Asus tp500, it’s the same model, but the Q502 is black, not silver.

  11. Diego Avila

    March 2, 2015 at 8:35 pm


    Looking for a laptop that will be able to run programs like SPSS and MPlus (basically, statistical analysis – minimum reqs around 1 GHz processor, 1GB Ram). Budget around $750 or less. Not as concerned with touchscreen, but portability for travel is nice. Long battery life would be bonus, but not necessary.

    • Andrei Girbea

      March 3, 2015 at 8:55 am

      Hi Diego. You should squeeze a Core i5 and maybe 8 GB of RAM inside that kind of money in a device like the Dell Inspiron 13 7000, Lenovo Yoga 2 13 or the Asus TP300LA. If you want something even cheaper and smaller, the COre i3 powered version of the Dell Inspiron 11 3000 could be a nice option for under $500.

  12. Stefan Borcea

    March 10, 2015 at 11:19 am

    Hi Andrei, I need to buy a laptop,and I am a little bit confused;it is for family use ,work,pictures,downloads ;the budget is up to 1000$ ;it has to be good for a long term acquisition.

    • Andrei Girbea

      March 12, 2015 at 12:05 pm

      Screen size? DO you want something slim and light, or a regular sized laptop?

  13. Katy

    March 11, 2015 at 10:07 pm


    I am trying to decide between the Dell Inspiron 13 7000 and the Asus flip TP300la. On Amazon, the Dell is about $70 more than the Asus and I don’t see a huge difference between the two. Any ideas?

    • Andrei Girbea

      March 12, 2015 at 12:21 pm

      WEll, the Asus has a bigger battery and perhaps a slightly better trackpad. The Dell looks and feel better imo, but it’s not without its fair share of issues. I’ve tested both these laptops, you can find them in the reviews section.

  14. Michael

    March 15, 2015 at 11:45 pm

    Hi Andrei,

    I am looking for an 13″ ultrabook with 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD and good battery life as a very portable work machine – i.e. processing power is not a priority as long as it can run Office, browsers, and the occasional video etc, although of course many web pages are beasts these days. Touchscreen and tablet features are not important either. But at least the battery (possibly other parts too) will have to be replaceable by the user without warrantee implications. I can’t believe how many machines these days are designed to be thrown away after 2 years. Anyway, the idea is that with an external monitor and a mouse it could also be a desktop PC substitute. I’ve been looking at Dell Inspiron 7000 13″. Any other suggestions? Oh, and it can’t be anything from Apple. I have issues with their attitude. Thanks.

    • Andrei Girbea

      March 16, 2015 at 5:25 pm

      Well, that Dell and the Lenovo Yoga 2 13 and Asus TP300 are swimming in the same waters.

      The Asus Zenbook UX303LA and the Dell XPS 13 2015 are more premium options, but pricier. Battery is replaceable on all these computers, if you’ll be able to find a spare one ofc. You’ll have to take the back plates apart for that though, so it’s not a basic operation, but it doesn’t require advanced technical skills either.

      • Michael

        March 16, 2015 at 8:49 pm

        Both the UX303LA and the XPS 13 2015 are interesting. For some reason the XPS is more appealing (and you kept it!), and it’s only slightly more expensive that the Inspiron 7000 13″ (and very significantly cheaper than the UX303LA). Dell don’t make it clear they are selling the 2015 model, but the one they are selling comes with ‘5th Generation Intel® Core™ i5-5200U Processor (3M Cache, up to 2.70 GHz)’. That’s the new one, isn’t it? Many thanks.

        • Andrei Girbea

          March 16, 2015 at 8:52 pm

          Yes, that’s the new one. You can also tell by the small screen bezel. The previous versions had a larger one.

          • Michael

            March 21, 2015 at 12:02 pm

            I nearly ordered an XPS 13, when I thought I would Dell about battery and SSD swapping. They say this is a fixed config machine and you can’t change anything. Only they can. Battery costs £70-90 but they wouldn’t give me cost of labour/p&p and estimated time wasted for a simple battery swap. I made my thoughts clear to them and reminded them other manufacturers can do swappable batteries on theirs ultrabooks. The new levels of designed obsolescence are shocking.

          • Michael

            March 21, 2015 at 12:29 pm

            I forgot to say I know you can replace the battery (assuming you can find one), SSD and more, by removing a few screws (and there is a myfixguide page for that too), but Dell are clearly not happy with us doing it.

          • Andrei Girbea

            March 23, 2015 at 3:44 pm

            Most manufacturers aren’t from what I know. Some (like Asus) will even void warranty if you replace the SSD. I’m not sure if that’s the case with the XPS 13, these policies seems to vary from region to region.

          • Michael

            June 7, 2015 at 12:18 pm

            Readers may wish to know that the SSD for Dell XPS 13 does not support hardware encryption. Software encryption impacts on performance of course. Without any SSD encryption, the SSD can be removed and read as normal on another computer.

            More importantly, I went ahead and ordered one. They messed up my order at least three times and the machine would be delivered more than a month late. Fortunately, I had given them a deadline and when I cancelled the order eventually, they had to give me full refund on my Amex. That took them another two weeks after repeated reminders from me! With their zero stock policy, Dell have a very serious structural business model problem, particularly when the slightest thing goes wrong — they simply can’t address missed orders until the next shipment from China. Their staff were trying to be helpful, but there was nothing they could do. In short, it’s not just the hardware that counts. Customer support and even delivery are very important, but people may wish to gamble.

  15. Matt

    March 18, 2015 at 2:17 am

    Hey, I’m looking for a good laptop for college in the fall. My budget is sub-$1000. I’d like to be able to do some gaming, besides the general college stuff, so something that could run a game like skyrim would be great. I dont need max settings. Just low-mid with a good fps. Should I look at an ultrabook, or go for something bulkier?

  16. vilma

    April 3, 2015 at 5:03 am

    Hi, great reviews!
    How are the 4th and 5th gen different and does an 8RAM is much faster than a 4RAM.
    I’m looking for a fast/light/slim/durable laptop. I’m a working mom on the run and use my computer everywhere (office, home, even in the car and outdoors). I multitask all the time. Now I have open 40+ internet tabs open including 2 tv channel streaming live, in 2 web browsers, 4 excels and 2 powerpoint files and pictures. no video games. I barely turn it off. My last laptop was 11″ Asus (slim/light) that felt and screen crack but work fine after removing touch screen feature until motherboard burned out. It cost less than $500 USD 1.5 years ago. Although more expensive and bigger I think I will have to settle for Dell I7347-10051 LSV or do you have a better sugestion for me?

    • Andrei Girbea

      April 3, 2015 at 8:18 am

      The I7347 is a good buy overall, but make sure to read my review and others’ , cause it’s not without some shortcomings. Alternatives in the same price-range would be the Asus TP300 / Q302 series or the Lenovo Yoga 2 13 (with Haswell).

      The only major difference between 4th and 5th gen Intel hardware is the graphics, with the Intel HD 5500 being considerably faster than the HD 4400. That’s going to be mostly visible in games though and not in other daily activities. On the other hand, RAM is important, so I’d advice to go for 8 GB if possible.

      • vilma

        April 4, 2015 at 9:38 am

        Thanks! The Dell I7347 i5, 8G price drop to $600 and the Asus and Levano are $150-$300 more. I have got used to low battery life, but I’ll have to keep an eye for the trackpad. I appreciate a lot your prompt response and your excellent reviews and help!!!

        • vilma

          April 9, 2015 at 6:12 pm

          I got it and I find it too big and heavy specially to use it as a tablet. Unfortunately, I’m not able to find a smaller laptop 8RAM core i5 for a similar price. Although I found surface pro 10″ 4RAM for $523 amazon.com/gp/product/B00BE5T2TA/ref=ox_sc_act_title_2?ie=UTF8&psc=1&smid=A1DCUPUVBU7LFA But I’m concern it will not be as fast and practical to use on the lap.
          What concerns me the most about the Dell is that it is hot all the time. I cannot use it as a laptop because it burns my lap, even closed as a tablet: the hot air coming from the sides burns me. I hear the fan/processor all the time that it is on. Is this normal?
          thank in advance for all your savvy advices.

          • Andrei Girbea

            April 9, 2015 at 11:15 pm

            It shouldn’t be that noisy and hot. Perhaps it’s running updates or something?

            On the other hand, yes, this thing is heavy.

            If you’re willing to sacrifice performance to some extent, check out the Asus T300 Chi, it might be what you want. But read the review here on the site first, battery life and temperatures are something to keep an eye on.

            I don’t think that Surface Pro is worth that kind of money, it’s an older model with quite a few quirks. The Surface Pro 3 on the other hand, that’s a great machine, BUT it’s more expensive.

  17. Tom Hartley

    April 12, 2015 at 9:50 pm


    Thanks a lot for the article! It’s really helpful! Could you possibly give me your verdict on these laptops? I’ve tried to narrow it down..it’s hard!

    Dell 15 7000 – for some time I’ve been wanting a well priced UHD laptop, and this I think is the only one. However it seems from a few youtube videos that 15″ laptops possibly aren’t suited to anything above FHD yet? It seemed to make the icons, etc. fairly small? So I may be thinking just a FHD :)

    Lenovo U430

    Lenovo Thinkpad Yoga 2/3 14 or Lenovo Flex 2

    Asus N550JK or Asus V551, or Asus TP500LA

    I’m wanting it for studying but also multimedia tasks, and my budget is around £600-700 (sorry I’m British :S)

    Thanks a lot!

    • Andrei Girbea

      April 14, 2015 at 10:07 am

      I wouldn’t get a screen above FHD on a budget laptop. Besides the scaling issues you’ll get with 3rd party app, the hardware also needs to push more pixels, thus lower-end specs will struggle more than with a lower res screen.

      That being said, among those you chose, I’d personally look at the Lenovo Yoga 3 14 , Yoga 2 13 or one of the Asus laptops. The latter I’ve tested here on the site or on tlbhd.com, you can check out my detailed reviews for info. And are you sure the ThinkPad Yoga 14 is withing your range, as you said?

  18. Sajeed

    May 8, 2015 at 1:54 pm

    My requirements: a ‘thin’ laptop with great display,above average graphics,power for designing software,backlid keboard,14/15 in display,good battery life.
    Please please suggest me for which laptop should i go!

    • Sajeed

      May 8, 2015 at 2:04 pm

      And not too price too

  19. Luke Byrd

    May 21, 2015 at 11:06 pm

    Im looking for a ultra-portable laptop for under 1,000 , i need a lot of battery life, and a good screen and keyboard what should i get?

  20. JOY

    June 1, 2015 at 7:46 am

    Hi Andrei,
    I’m looking for a 14 inch laptop with matt screen (non touch), light weight around 1.7 kg (3.7 pounds) for intensive office work and internet. I need a comfortable and as big keyboard as possible. silence and cooler whith 4 hours battery. was thinking about dell vostro 5480 but couldn’t find any review about it (dell service in Israel is consider to be very good) but open to other brands as well. Does an integrated battery is considered an advantage or disadvantage? and what is the true work hours of 3 cell battery?
    would appreciate your help and recommendations,

    • Andrei Girbea

      June 1, 2015 at 9:59 am

      I haven’t reviewed that Dell and haven’t reviewed a Vostro in a long time, so can’t say much about it. The 3-cell battery has a capacity of 51 Wh so it should be fairly good. The screen though is a 1366 x 768 px TN panel from what I can tell, which sucks. You should also consider Lenovo’s THinkPad 14 inchers, those can be equipped with IPS panels and might be more affordable.

      • JOY

        June 1, 2015 at 11:41 am

        Thank you Andrei for the quick response. do you have in mind more models that can can fit my specifications?

        • Andrei Girbea

          June 1, 2015 at 3:54 pm

          What’s you max budget?

          • JOY

            June 3, 2015 at 8:16 am

            my max budget is 1500$

          • Andrei Girbea

            June 3, 2015 at 3:09 pm

            Hmm, that should allow all sort of options. Check out the Lenovo ThinkPad T450s and maybe the X1 Carbon 3rd gen .

  21. Jared

    June 17, 2015 at 7:41 pm

    Andrei, your website and reviews have been a great resource for my girlfriend and I.

    She is looking for a 2-1 ultrabook for $1000 or less that has atleast a 13inch ips screen, above average battery life, good keyboard, decent storage, atleast i5, and lighter than 5lbs.

    We’ve narrowed it down to the Yoga Pro 2 13, the Thinkpad 13 but the battery life and storage space offered is lackluster.

  22. Jared

    June 18, 2015 at 2:24 am

    Upon further research we’ve added the HP Spectre x360 T13 and Dell Inspiron 7000 13 Special edition to the list of options. What do you think of those, Andrei? Both have great battery life and great screens but I’m worried about ghost touching with the Dell and both supposedly get over 100 degrees on bottom easily.

    • Andrei Girbea

      June 18, 2015 at 10:03 am

      Out of all these I’d get the HP Spectre X360, it’s the better of them all but also the most expensive.

      The Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro offers the best bang for the buck, but it has some issues with screen colors and potential wi-fi disconnects and fan noise. You should look into them.

      The Dell 13 7000 is the most affordable of the bunch and a good machine overall, but it’s also heavier and has some issues with ghost touches.

      Bottom point, no device is perfect, just make sure you know what to expect from each of them. A quick search on Google by “Product name problems” should be revealing. DOn’t expect things to be as bad as they might seem, happy buyers don’t usually post their feedback online. But like I said, it’s best to know what to expect in a worse case scanario.

      • Jared

        June 18, 2015 at 11:13 pm

        Thanks for the swift reply, Andrei.

        Still haven’t made any headway between the spectre and inspiron 7000. Both are neck and neck almost and I think we’ve nixxed the yoga pri 2 since the resolution is so high and it has so few ports as well as lower tech wifi capabilities.

        I feel like we’re running out of options! The price point for the pro 2 sure is attractive on Lenovo’s site right now. (i7 for $899)

        Have any other suggestions? the latitude is too expensive and the other ultrabooks in the spectre class just don’t seem to measure up..

        Battery life, screen quality, & storage are uber important, as well as upgradebility.

        Thanks again.


        • Andrei Girbea

          June 20, 2015 at 8:20 am

          WEll, no, those are your best picks. The Asus TP300 and the Lenovo Yoga 3 14 are alternatives to the Inspiron 7000, but the HP plays in a slightly different class and it’s really tough to outmatch right now.

  23. Jared

    June 19, 2015 at 12:35 am

    I think it bears mentioning that the inspiron I speak of is the 7000 special edition which has a significantly better battery life and no mention of an awful trackpad.

    • Andrei Girbea

      June 20, 2015 at 8:22 am

      I wouldn’t say significantly better. It’s still the same size as on the 2014 model and while the Broadwell CPUs are more efficient, don’t expect to gain more than 30 to 60 minutes on daily tasks. Also, I don’t think they changed the trackpad.

      Still, my biggest concern for the 7000 are potential ghost touches and uneven back-lightning. You might want to look into those

  24. vilma

    June 20, 2015 at 1:20 pm

    Hi! I’m looking for a extremely light, small, strong and portable laptop that will last some years for my 8 year old daughter to take everyday to school. The school suggested a chromebook but I consider is not worth it. The Toshiba radius 11 seems to be the best value with 4/500G and 2 in 1 although the price and weight (2.9#) are a little higher. On the other hand is Asus transformer (2.4#) 2g/32 flash which has the best size/portability and is touch but I’m afraid I will not be able to run my Office 2010. Although it comes with 1yr Office 365 but I don’t want to have to buy a license every year, Also, since is for a girl using it at school I’m concern about it falling and the 2 pieces flying away. Yesterday’s price drop is making me rethink about this option. What do you think? I also considered Asus X205TA-SATM0404G (2.14#) and HP stream 11-d001dx which seem a little more sturdy, but no touch screen.

    • Andrei Girbea

      June 22, 2015 at 8:26 pm

      Hmmm, I would have suggested either the Asus X205 or the Hp Stream 11 as well, as they are simpler and rather inexpensive.

      If you do want a touchscreen though the Asus T Book T100TA is your best pick under $250. Some of the older versions came with Office Home and Student for life, maybe you can find one of those versions, although I don’t know if they are sold anymore.

  25. vilma

    June 22, 2015 at 4:05 pm


    Basically my main concern is: in a year when Office 365 (that comes with the ASUS Transformer Book – Intel Atom Quad-Core Z3735E 1.33GHz Processor, 2GB Memory, 32GB SSD) expires I can uninstall it and install office 2010 and it will run without problems.


    • Andrei Girbea

      June 22, 2015 at 8:34 pm

      Office 2010 will run fine on those Atom processors as long as you keep thing simple and don’t open large excel files or presentations. You’ll just need to make sure the license allows you to install the software on multiple computers. I assume you already have it on another and you then plan to put it on the TBook as well, right?

  26. Kate

    July 1, 2015 at 3:46 am

    Hello Andrei,
    Your site is most informative as i am looking to purchase an ultra book.
    Can you please advise if you have much information on the Australian ‘Leader’ range?
    Thank you in advance.

    • Andrei Girbea

      July 1, 2015 at 8:25 am

      Hi Katie. I’m going to need more from you. Do you have a screen size in mind? And what to you plan to use is for? Also, what’s you max budget?

  27. Suzanne

    July 11, 2015 at 2:24 pm

    Hi Andrei,

    Your site is great. I’m acually wondering if you could give me some advice. I’m looking for a 13 inch ultrabook that costs under €1000,- wich would be a ultrabook of about 800 US Dollar, due to lower prices in the US. I’m still a highscool student, but going to university next year. This means that it has to be portable and it has to offer great all-round performance. So what’s the best I can buy?

    • Andrei Girbea

      July 13, 2015 at 5:35 pm

      If 800 USD is your top budget I’d aim for something with a Core i5 processor, 8 GB of RAM and SSD storage. I’d look at the Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro, Lenovo Yoga 3 14, Asus Transformer Book TP300, Dell XPS 13 7000 series and, if you’re willing to sacrifice performance for portability and a noiseless experience, the Asus Zenbook UX305FA.

      Each has some shortcomings, so make sure you read reviews in advance so you’ll know what to expect.

      • Francesco

        July 24, 2015 at 7:43 am

        Hi Andrei, i’m also in the same situation as Suzanne, speaking about budget and performance requirements.
        I’m reading a lot about the Yoga and Yoga pro lines. I’m also reading quite a lot about the general “disappointment”, so to speak, about the new Pro 3, specifically in comparison to the previous one.
        I see you are also suggesting the Yoga 3 14…which would be quite perfect for me…a little bigger and probably cheaper than the Pro…do you find the same “compromises” as when you were comparing the Pro 3 with the Pro 2 or you would definitely suggest it as a good choice?

        • Andrei Girbea

          July 24, 2015 at 8:40 am

          Hi Francesco,

          The Yoga 3 Pro is built on lower-power hardware than the usual ultrabooks. The platform is called Core M and it’s usually found in more affordable fanless computers. The Y3P is nor affordable, nor fanless. It’s also meant for light use. But it is light and sleek. So if you don’t mind paying premium and only plan to use this for simple daily chores, it could be an option to consider.

          The Yoga 2 Pro is going to be somewhat faster, despite having an older generation processor. It’s heavier, a bit thicker and has a poorer screen (search for Yoga 2 Pro screen problems and you’ll see exactly what yo expect – it’s basically a problem with color accuracy).

          The Yoga 3 14 is even bigger and significantly heavier, but much more affordable. It’s a mainsteam device and not a premium option like the others.

          If you want a capable 2-in-1 with powerful hardware, aim for the HP Spectre x360 right now, if you can get it within your budget.

  28. Jonathan

    August 4, 2015 at 4:17 am

    Hello Andrei!

    By the way, great post, lots of top quality information.

    Right now I’m in high school and I’m willing to buy an ultrabook/laptop because of mine stopped working this summer.

    I’m looking for a 15′, Intel i5 Core (latest generation if possible), with 8GB of RAM and 1TB of storage. No need to be 2 in 1.
    One aspect that really matters for me is the display resolution. I do think that FullHD (1920 x 1080) is fine for its size. As an extra, I’d like a powerful battery that can take at least 8 hours of writing, composing, browsing, watching videos, and use Office without a problem. My budget is around $800 but not more than that.

    Thanks! I’ll be looking forward for your reply. Keep doing top quality content and reviews.

  29. Jonathan

    August 4, 2015 at 4:27 am

    Oh! And I almost forgot, I’d like it to have a DVD Disc Drive so that I can download content that my school gives us via DVD. Thanks!

  30. Bibs

    August 6, 2015 at 7:13 am

    I’m currently entering my senior year and I know that I will be needing a light, portable, good performance laptop with a long battery life (8+). I will mainly be using it for some online college courses, as well as studying, and researching along with some light browsing. Im looking at the Asus Zenbook UX305FA, however, I’m concerned about the lack of dvd drive and the screen quality. My budget is under $720. Could you offer any choices because I’ve done my research and I only ended up with the Asus Zenbook UX305FA, when I realized that I should get help from an expert so I could make the best choice. I need this laptop to last me 4 or more years

    • Andrei Girbea

      August 12, 2015 at 1:08 pm

      The screen should not be a concern and the lack of an optical unit is pretty much a given on such a thin and light computer. You can buy an external USB powered DVD drive for under $50 and use that when needed.

      The UX305FA is great for the money, but keep in mind it’s not very powerful. In fact, it’s mostly made for casual everyday activities and won’t handle complex tasks or serious multitasking.

  31. Keti

    August 20, 2015 at 2:36 pm

    The site is great and the posts are really helpful!
    I am starting college this year so I’ ll need an ultrabook. The budget is up to 300$. I want it to support Office 2010 and way not with a touchscreen. Any ideas?
    Thank you in advance!

  32. John

    August 29, 2015 at 5:00 am

    I’m dying to know what this will tell me!


    *I’m currently working on completely updating this post. Please come back in a day or two for the final version.

  33. Rodrigo Soares

    September 4, 2015 at 10:21 am

    Hi there. First of all, thanks for this nice informations about laptops.
    I would like to ask your advice for the following: i am interested in buying an ultrabook for the following tasks: general daily use, like e-mail and internet, and to check on my favourite game, world of warcraft (for this task, i don’t mind the graphics or resolution, since i can play more seriuosly on my desktop when i want, will just use the ultrabook to see my daily stuff ingame). My budget is € 1.000,00, so what do you recommend? Thanks in advance.

  34. Howard

    September 6, 2015 at 8:47 pm

    What are my choices for ultrabook, with backlit keyboard and internal dvd/cd drive, if any? Thanks

  35. Muude

    September 13, 2015 at 8:46 am

    Hi Andrie
    Am So confused bro and am now on my sophomore year in computer science, university.
    i need a laptop which is convertible and light, and pretty battery life and in less $1000.
    suggest me one brooo
    am commenting this soo late but i have to.

  36. Sara

    September 17, 2015 at 8:10 am

    Hi Andrei,

    I hugely appreciate your website! I have practically spent every hour of the past 3 days researching which computer to buy, and I have found your website to be enormously helpful. And yet, I have come to no conclusion due to my lack of computer knowledge.
    The candidates I have selected are far too many, I seem to find a problem with all of them, and I find myself reading the same things over and over. What confuses me most is the myriad of processors! I can’t judge how fast the various computers are. I hope it’s OK that I am now asking you for concrete recommendations.
    I know in technology-ignorant terms what I’m looking for:
    I want it to be small, light, and FAST. I don’t do gaming or programming, I just want it to respond fast when i browse the web, edit documents and run other programs while listening to music or watching videos, all at the same time, and I want to be able to use it a lot without it overheating or getting slow. I also want it to cost less than 1000 USD.
    Those are my requirements. Other priorities are that a noisy fan would bother me and I’d like the touchpad to be cooperative.
    I don’t care about design and looks, I don’t need a high resolution screen (in fact, I’ve ben trying to find out if there is a less hyped version of the Dell XPS 13?), and the speakers don’t need to be good since I’ll have speakers or headphones plugged in when I need the sound.
    I don’t know about form. I’m reluctant to get a convertible or a hybrid since I’m afraid that this fancy style will either compromise my top priorities or shoot the price up. But if that’s not the case, then I’m open to those. I’ll be perfectly happy with a clamshell though.

    I know I’m asking a lot to have you give me private computer-purchase-aid, and I really hope I am not wasting your time. Would you be willing to take the time to help me out with this?

    All the best,

    • Andrei Girbea

      September 18, 2015 at 10:47 am

      Hi Sara.

      You’re saying you want this to be small, but how small? I’d reckon a 13-incher (laptop with a 13-inch screen) would be OK? If yes, then your best bets would be the Dell XPS 13 and the HP Spectre x360. I have similar requirements from my laptop and I ended up choosing the XPS for the compact form factor. It’s a good laptop, but to be frank I don’t know if I’d buy it again. You might want to read this post: http://www.ultrabookreview.com/8142-8-months-dell-xps-13/ . I’m not saying it’s not a good buy, but there are these tiny aspects that you might bump into.

      As for the HP, this article should help: http://www.ultrabookreview.com/8042-hp-spectre-x360-review/ . The spctre is a convertible, gets a touchscreen and a better keyboard and battery. It’s larger and heavier though.

      Both of these are available for around $1000 with a Core i5-5200U processor, 8 GB of RAM and 128/256 GB SSD. This config should be enough for what you need. Get the 8 GB of RAM and the 256 GB SSD, 4 GB of RAM are not enough for smooth performance and the models with only 128 GB of storage space will quickly run out of space. The Dell seems to be a bit more expensive right now, but hunt for deals and you should get it under 1G.

      If you’re willing to go with something even smaller, then I’d suggest the Macbook Air 11 . You’ll compromise on screen quality, but the performance and battery life are top notch. You mgith struggle to find a config with 8 GB of RAM and 256 GB Storage, but you could look at refurbished units on Apple’s Store, those are usually pretty good deals.

      At the end of the day, keep in mind there is not such thing as the perfect laptop, so you’ll have to compromise here and there with any of the available options.

      • Sara

        September 19, 2015 at 11:51 am

        Thank you for your reply, Andrei, I appreciate it! I might get back to you again if I have a specific question or two :)

      • Sara

        September 21, 2015 at 11:13 am

        hey, i’m here again.
        i have a couple more questions. which processor should i go for? what i have read has led me to avoid the M and Y ones, and to look for U-types of either haswell or broadwell, and also for the i5-ones. am i right to do this, or would i3 still be fast enough?
        also, the dell xps 13 is definitely on my mind, but i would get something cheaper if i can find it as good. i mean, the screen is not my priority, so i don’t want that to be what i pay extra for.
        13 inch is the largest i would go. the dell appeals to me because it is small despite its screen size. so if there are any of the smaller (and perhaps cheaper?) ones that you would recommend for my needs, i’d be happy to know!
        another question: do you know which of these computers it is possible to buy without an operating system on it? that would save me a lot of money and i would like to do that if possible. i just haven’t been able to find any information on where and how and which ones… :)
        thank you once again!

        • Andrei Girbea

          September 21, 2015 at 12:17 pm

          I would get the Core i5 processors. Not sure about how you can buy these without an OS, they might be available that way in some regions. the Dell for instance comes with Ubuntu and that’s free.

          • Sara

            September 29, 2015 at 10:44 am

            Would you say it’s a big disadvantage to get HDD instead of SSD? I’m asking because I have found two similar configurations of the same laptop with this as the only difference and the HDD much much cheaper…

          • Andrei Girbea

            September 29, 2015 at 11:08 am

            Speed is greatly helped by SSDs. Laptops with HDDs are slower and noisier (HDDs have spinning components). Besides these, HDDs require more energy than SSDs as well, thus laptops with SSDs will last a bit longer on a charge.

  37. muude

    September 20, 2015 at 9:18 am

    Andrei Girbea
    this is my second time that i am asking you for suggestion.
    man am so confused what to buy which is worth it, so bro any laptop which is thin, light, pretty good battery life, convertible and touch screen under $1000.
    I am computer science student.
    it will mean so much alot to me if u suggest me, and i will appreciate it bro thank you.

    • Andrei Girbea

      September 20, 2015 at 1:08 pm

      the HP Spectre X360 would fit your needs really well. The Acer Asprie R13, Dell Inspiron 13 7000, Asus TP300 and the Lenovo Yoga 3 14 are other options you could consider.

  38. Bilal

    September 24, 2015 at 4:02 pm

    Hi andrei (are you romanian btw?),
    thanks for the articles, just wanna ask your suggestion on something…i would like an ultraportable laptop no bigger than 13.3″ (could be 2-in-1 or a simple laptop)…im gonna be using it daily for work which includes general browsing, word processing etc and a but of photo editing on photoshop too
    my price range is around £300, what would you suggest?


    • Andrei Girbea

      September 24, 2015 at 8:29 pm

      Hi, your budget is really limited and I don’t think you can get anything that would cope well with Photoshop within that budget. I’d aim for at least a Core i3 processor, Asus, Acer, Dell, Lenovo and HP might have something for you but I’m not very familiar with the UK market.

  39. Bilal

    September 25, 2015 at 1:13 am

    What do you think of something like this for example?

    • Andrei Girbea

      September 25, 2015 at 7:38 am

      Never heard about that brand and it has no reviews. I’d stay away.

  40. adir haziz

    September 30, 2015 at 1:46 am

    hey, i am looking for a new laptop and hope you could help me find the right one for me in attractive price.
    the new laptop will be used mostly for school needs, and i will take him with me to school.
    allso i will use him for watching movies, programing in visual studio, editing in photoshop and maby light games.
    i think what i need in the laptop is:
    – good battery
    – 14-13 inch screen
    – not very heavy
    – run the softwares i need for programing and editing.
    – can connect hdmi
    – around 250 gb storage

    i prefer 2 in 1 laptop but if there is better one for my needs that not 2 in 1 its ok

    my budget is 800-550$

    thank you for your time!

    • Andrei Girbea

      September 30, 2015 at 11:26 am

      You’ve got many articles that will help you narrow down your options here on the site. Please go through them and I can then help you with he final decision.

      • adir haziz

        September 30, 2015 at 11:39 am

        i read them all and still dont know who is the best for me.. that why i asked you.

        i considered the tp300la with the i7,but he cost a little bit to much for me..
        therefor i was thinking maby to go with the zenbook 303, but i dont sure if he can run the softwares i need.

        so can you help me find 2 in 1 laptop that portable for school, have good battery and can run my softwares smoothly around 650$?

  41. Miso

    November 24, 2015 at 9:19 am

    Thank you for the article. It was very informative.
    I am a college student studying computer science and I am looking for a laptop that will be good for programming. I will be using mostly eclispe and IntelliJ for Java and Scala.

    I am considering the Dell i7559

    I also like to play games too so I think it might be good.
    I have seen some other laptops with similar specs and price with the main difference in CPU. How does an i5 skylake compare to an i7 broadwell?
    My budget is $800.
    Please let me know if you have insight/advice.
    Thank you.

    • Andrei Girbea

      November 25, 2015 at 8:42 pm

      Hi, that’s a good pick for the money, especially since you get that IPS screen as well.

      The Core I7-4710/4720HQ is overall faster than the Core i7-6300HQ and gets HyperThreading, which the Core i5 lacks. So it will perform better in multithread tasks. How much more expensive ar those Core i7 options?

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