Ultrabook reviews, guides and comparisons

Best 30 gaming ultrabooks and portable laptops in 2015

By Andrei Girbea - @ andreigirbea , updated on October 11, 2015

Playing games on ultrabooks or thin-and-light laptops might have seemed unrealistic a while ago, but is a reality these days. Despite having compact bodies, many modern ultrabooks pack powerful-enough hardware to deal with quite a few recent titles.

As a buyer, you can pick a machine with integrated graphics, and as long as you get one with Intel Broadwell or Skylake 15W hardware, you’ll be able to play most games on 13 x 7 resolutions with low/medium details. There are also a few devices with Iris and Iris Pro graphics, which push gaming abilities even further.

However, there’s still that much an integrated chip can deliver, so if you’re planning on running the latest titles on your ultra-portable laptop, at 19 x 10 resolutions and high details, you’ll require a notebook with dedicated graphics. And here’s where this post comes in handy, a list of the best gaming ultra-portables of the moment.

To be included in this selection, a device needs to bundle at least a mid-level graphics chip (Nvidia 940M or equivalent) if it’s a sub 14-incher, or a high-end chip (Nvidia 970M or equivalent) if it’s a notebook with a 15-inch screen or larger. It also needs to be compact, light and of course an overall good buy, with very few to no deal-breaking flaws.

With that in mind, take your time and go through the post. It’s a long read, but it includes many great options you should know of. And before you start, keep in mind that I’m constantly updating this article in order to keep it up-to-date, so if you’ll find it useful, make sure to tell your friends about it and share it around, that’s the best way to say thanks for the hard work.

Gaming ultraportables with Nvidia GTX 970M and 980M graphics

These are the ones to look at if you want to best gaming performance in fairly thin and light bodies. The offer for 980M portable configurations is rather limited, but there are quite a few 17, 15 and even 14 inchers paired with Nvidia GTX 970M chips, capable of running smoothly most of the recent titles in 19 x 10 resolutions with High/Ultra details. I’ve gathered them all in this detailed article.

14-inch or smaller gaming ultrabooks

This section is reserved for the smallest laptops with dedicated graphics, with 10 to 14-inch screens, Intel Broadwell/Skylake hardware (or later) and at least an Nvidia 940M graphics chip (or an AMD equivalent). We’ll start with the more portable options first and then we’ll continue with the powerful models in the second half of this section.

The 13-inch Asus Zenbooks: UX303LN, UX303LB and UX303UB

The original Zenbook UX303LN is the most popular 13-incher with dedicated graphics ever built. It was launched back in Mid-2014 with Intel Haswell hardware and Nvidia 840M graphics, and later followed by the Zenbook UX303LB update (with Broadwell processors and Nvidia 940M graphics) and the more recent Zenbook UX303UB (with Skylake processors and Nvidia 940M graphics).

I’ve reviewed the UX303LN in this detailed article, and although Asus released its successors, the review is still of interest today, because the UX303LB and the UX303UB actually share the same chassis, keyboard or display with the UX303LN model. In other words, Asus kept the package and only updated the internals on the new generations.

These Zenbooks share a similar aluminum built case, which weighs around 3.3 lbs and feels both nice and strong. They are regular clamshell laptops, so the screen does not convert in any way and most models aren’t even offered with a touchscreen, but with a matte non-touch display. However, there are two aspects to keep in mind here. Previous buyers reported the hinge ensemble to be fragile and break easily, so you’ll need to pamper these notebooks. And second, it’s going to be important to pick the right screen-option for your needs.

Asus offers the UX303LN/LB/UB series with either a 1920 x 1080 px IPS panel or a 3200 x 1800 px IPS panel. The latter is crisp and bright, but suffers from documented issues with reproducing colors. Issues Asus never addressed, which ruin this machine for photo/video editors and anyone who needs a laptop with a color-accurate display. The 1080p panel is not as sharp or as bright, but does a much better job in painting proper colors, so is an alternative to consider, if this option is available in your region (it might not be).

That aside, the UX303s bundle a fairly good backlit keyboard, a decent trackpad, a proper selection of ports on the sides and, what probably matters the most on a gaming-machine, beefy hardware (for 13-inchers). Buyers can get these with Haswell/Broadwell or Skylake Core i7 U-Series processors (15W), Nvidia 840M/940M graphics with Optimus (which are identical in most way, despite the rebranding), up to 12 GB of RAM (4GB soldered + 1 spare DIMM) and various storage options, as there are both an M.2 SATA 6 and a 2.5″ bay available inside the laptop. There’s also a 50 Wh battery, which allows for roughly 5-6 hours of daily use on a charge and 2 hours of gaming.

The machines run a bit hot under load, but they won’t throttle under normal circumstances, not even when dealing with demanding chores. Performance is somewhat limited by the fact that there’s only ULV hardware inside and a mid-level Nvidia graphics chip, so don’t expect these to deal with everything flawlessly. The hardware section of the review will tell you more about what to expect, and you can also read the updated post on the UX303LB. A detailed analysis of the Zenbook UX303UB will be added to the site once that model will be available in stores (it’s not at the time of this update)

Price wise, you should expect to pay around $1300 (or 1300 EUR) for these 13-inchers, with the Core i7 processors, 12 GB of RAM, the Nvidia Graphics and usually 256 or even 512 GB SSDs. Follow this link for more details on the UX303UB Skylake update, this one for discounts on the Zenbook UX303LB, or this link for potential deals on the slightly older version, the UX303LN.

The Zenbook UX303UB is the latest 13-inch Asus ultrabook with Skylake hardware and Nvidia dedicated graphics, but it shares most of its traits with its predecessors, the original UX303LN (with Haswell hardware) and UX303LB (with Broadwell hardware)

The Zenbook UX303UB is the latest 13-inch Asus ultrabook, with Skylake hardware and Nvidia dedicated graphics, but it shares most of its traits with its predecessors, the original UX303LN (with Haswell hardware) and UX303LB (with Broadwell hardware)

Alienware 13 13-inch gaming notebook

While the Zenbooks above focus mostly on design, the Alienware 13 is an ultraportable built to deliver power in a 13-inch form-factor. In other words, it bundles an Nvidia GTX 960M graphics chip alongside the latest-generation Skylake Core U processors and up to 16 GB of RAM, which makes it a device far more capable of dealing with demanding daily chores and modern games.

The specs list also includes a 52 Wh battery, capable speakers placed on the lateral edges and several screen choices. Stay away from the TN HD panel included on the base models and aim for either the FHD or the QHD+ options with matte IPS panels.

Despite bundling all these features, the Alienware 13 is still fairly compact, but thick (1.1-inches) and heavy (4.5 lbs). Its case is made from plastic, with some soft rubber material on the inside, and there’s a fair amount of flex in the screen ensemble and the chassis, but overall the laptop feels well built. The IO is alright, but there’s no SD-card slot. On the back of the laptop you will notice a particular connector used for the Alienware Graphics Amplifier, an external graphics solution you can hook the laptop to if you need more processing power.

Another important aspect here is the keyboard, which does not offer a modern chiclet design, bur rather a classic layout. It looks a bit odd, but it types well and most users will probably like it. It’s also backlit and you can adjust the color from the included app, which also controls the backlightning of the Alienware logo on the hood and the one beneath the screen.

Now, since this is advertised as a gaming laptop, you need to know that it can handle most titles at 19 x 10 resolution, with Medium details. Once you crank those details up to High or above, the configuration starts to struggle and some games drop under 30 fps, and here’s where the external graphics can come in handy, if you choose to pay for it. On the other hand, you should know that the Alienware 13 does not throttle under load and doesn’t get extremely hot either.

Wrapping this up, the Alienware 13 is a capable 13-incher, just not a great buy for everyone imo. The base model starts at $999, but once you add a better screen, an SSD and 16 GB of RAM you’ll be looking at around $1500. You’ll probably find it cheaper online, but that’s still a lot of money for a 960M configuration with an ULV processor. $1500 could also get you a Gigabyte P34W for instance, which is a lighter and thinner 14-incher with Nvidia 970M graphics. We’ll talk about this one further down.

The Alienware 13 packs beefy hardware in a 13-inch form factor, but it's bulky and expensive

The Alienware 13 packs beefy hardware in a 13-inch form factor, but it’s bulky and expensive

Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga 460

The Lenovo Yoga 460 is a slightly different computer than all the others above, as it is a 14-inch notebook with a 360-degrees convertible display. The 4-in-1 form-factor allows buyers to use it not just as a regular laptop, but also as a tablet, stand or tent.

The 460 is more than just another hybrid though. It’s built to last, despite having a plastic case, it bundles an excellent backlit keyboard and a good trackpad with physical click buttons, it lines a solid selection of ports on the sides and is yet fairly compact and light for a 14-incher, weighing just 3.9 lbs. The specs list also include a WQHD IPS touchscreen and a 56 Wh battery.

However, the ThinkPad Yoga 460 is a part of this selection because it bundles an Nvidia 940M graphics chip, alongside the latest Intel Core U hardware platform, so its a good multimedia laptop that can tackle some gaming when needed, just like the Zenbook UX303 lines mentioned above. It can be paired with up to 8 GB of RAM and SSD storage.

The base model starts at around $999, with a Core i5 processor, while the Core i7 models with dedicated graphics are expected to sell for a little over $1000. Follow this link for more details and potential discounts.

The Lenovo Yoga 460 is a thin-and-light convertible with Nvidia 940M graphics and the latest Core U processors inside

The Lenovo Yoga 460 is a thin-and-light convertible with Nvidia 940M graphics and the latest Core U processors inside

Gigabyte Aorus X3 Plus series

If you’re after a top-of-the-line sub 14-inch gaming laptop, Gigabyte’s Auros X3 line should be on your shortlist.

The latest model sells for around $2000 and this kind of money will get you a latest generation Intel Core i7 HQ processor, up to 16 GB of RAM, Nvidia GTX 970M graphics with Optimus and dual M.2 storage, plus a 13.9-inch QHD or HQH+ IPS IGZO panel, backlit keyboard with macro keys and customizable profiles, stereo speakers, a 73 Wh battery and solid connectivity (Wi-Fi AC, Lan, Bluetooth, 3xUSBs, HDMI, mini-DP, card-reader).

The Aorus X3 Plus is sleek, compact and powerful

The Aorus X3 Plus is sleek, compact and powerful

All these are tucked inside a 23 mm thick body (just under 0.9 inches) that weighs 1.8 kilos (4.1 pounds). And did I mentioned the design? Well, the Aorus X3 Plus looks spectacular, with a black case and aggressive cooling vents towards the back. On the other hand, the laptop feels rather fragile, as there’s a lot of flex on the lid-cover and the keyboard frame, as you can find out from our detailed review. Our test unit also encountered some Wi-Fi problems, throttling and noise under serious load, so there there are certainly some pros and cons to weigh before buying one of these.

However, if you want the powerful hardware in such a compact body, the Aorus has very few rivals. The latest versions do sell for around $2000, but some of the previous configurations with Haswell/Broadwell processors and Nvidia 870M graphics can be bought for as low as $1400 online, as you can see from this post. That puts the Aorus X3 Plus on par with the Gigabyte P34W, but makes it much more affordable than the Razer Blade 14, And we’ll talk about both of these further down in this article.

Razer Blade 14 – sleek and fast

The Blade 14 is the thin-and-light gaming laptop to match these days. It has been called an “engineering marvel” and gathered countless praises, and here’s why.

On the outside, the Razer Blade looks and feels like a premium computer should. It’s both beautiful and rock-solid, with its dark aluminum hull, but it’s also fairly light and compact (about 0.70″ thick and the non-touch version weighs 4.2 lbs, while the touchscreen models weigh a little under 4.5 lbs).

Hardware wise there’s a Core i7 quad-core processor on the Blade 14, Nvidia GTX 970M graphics, 16 GB of RAM (onboard) and up to 512 GB of SSD storage space. These can be paired with either a 1920 x 1080 px IPS matte screen or a 3200 x 1800 px IGZO multi-touch display. But there’s a catch. While the FHD is more appropriate for gaming on a 970M chip, the configuration with the FHD panel only comes with 8 GB of RAM. That means most people would prefer the touch-option, which is an awesome display, just not that well suited for the Nvidia graphics bundled with this unit, which can’t handle the latest games at the native 1800p resolution. For anything else besides games though, the screen is going to be a delight to use.

These aside, you should also know there’s a 70 Wh battery on the Razer Blade 14, a backlit gaming keyboard with anti-ghosting, a great trackpad with physical buttons, front-facing stereo speakers flaking the keyboard and a fair amount of ports on the sides, although there’s no LAN and DP ports and no card-reader either, which might concern some of you.

Performance wise the Razer Blade 14 is a beast. Yes it will get hot, even seriously hot under load, but it won’t throttle under normal use, so it manages to squeeze quite a lot out of the hardware inside, which can’t be said about the Gigabyte Aorus X3 Plus or the P34W, its main rivals. Our own Doug is a sucker for performance in a tiny shell. He owns both the Razer Blade 14 and the Gigabyte P34W and has gathered his impressions of the two in this detailed post, which you definitely must read if you’re interested in any of these machines. It explains why he chose the Razer Blade 14, despite its high price tag.

Because if there’s anything that can steer buyers away from the Blade, that’s the outrageous amount of money Razer asks for this machine. The matte FHD model with 8 GB of RAM and a 256 GB SSD sells for $1999, while the touchscreen model with 16 GB of RAM start at $2199 for the base model, that only includes a 128 GB SSD. The model with 512 GB of storage space sells for $2700, and you’ll probably want this one, given how much space games need these days. That’s a lot of money, but Razer owners swear this thing is worth it. See this link for potential price cuts and more details about the Blade.

The Razer Blade - a 14 inch thin and powerful gaming laptop

The Razer Blade – the 14-inch thin-and-powerful gaming laptop to match these days

Gigabyte P34W

The Gigabyte P34W is another 14-inch ultra-portable with powerful hardware inside, but it’s more affordable than the Razer Blade 14 or the Aorus X3 Plus. In fact, the latest model with modern hardware sells for around $1500, and you can actually find it even cheaper online. That’s $500 less the the Aorus and $700 less than the Blade.

So what’s the catch? First of all, hardware wise the P34W matches and even outmatches the other two. It’s built on the same Intel Core i7 quad-core processor with Nvidia 970M graphics, supports 16 GB of RAM and actually dual-storage solutions, with both an M.2 SATA and a 2.5″ bay. The specs list also includes a 14-inch FHD matte display, a 61 Wh battery, a good selection of ports on the sides and a backlit keyboard. All these are tucked inside a fairly stylish body that only weighs 4 lbs and is about 0.8-inches thick. So on paper the P34W sounds like an awesome buy.

In practice the P34W is not as well built as the Razer though. As Doug shows in his detailed comparison of the two or you’ll see in the video below, the P34W is made from both metal and policarbonate, with plenty of of flex in the lid and frame. The Gigabyte is not a match for the Blade when it comes to screen or speakers quality either, but it does run longer on a charge, despite packing a smaller battery.

The biggest issue potential buyers will have with the P34W is the fact that throttles under high load. On the outside, it does not get as hot as the Razer Blade 14, but the inner components reach high temperatures sooner and as a result, throttling occurs more often when performing taxing chores or running demanding games. In other words, this laptop can’t get the full-potential out of the hardware platform inside.

If you’re fine with this particular aspect and would rather not pay the high-prices Razer asks for the Blade 14 though, the Gigabyte P34W remains an option to consider, especially since it is hundreds of dollars cheaper than the Blade or the Aorus X3 Plus. Just make sure you know exactly what you’ll be getting into.

MSI GS40 Phantom

The GS40 is one of the later launched 14-inchers with quad-core processors and dedicated Nvidia 970M graphics.

It’s built on the latest Core i7 HQ processors, supports DDR4 RAM (2xDIMMs, up to 32 GB of memory), bundles the GTX 970M 3GB graphics chip and offers both a PCIe gen3 M.2 storage slot and a regular 2.5″ bay for your mass-storage. These are paired with a 14-inch matte FHD IPS display, a Steelseries keyboard and solid IO (although an USB 3.1 slot in not included).

The MSI GS40 is compact and light, weighing just 3.6 lbs and inheriting the looks from the larger MSI GS60. That also means there’s only room inside for a small 4-Cell battery, so don’t expect more than 2-3 hours of daily use from this one.

But if you need a compact and powerful gaming laptop and don’t mind the short autonomy, the MSI Ghosy GS40 should be on your list. It starts at around $1600.

The MSI GS40 packs the latest Intel HQ processors with Nvidia 970M graphics

The MSI GS40 packs the latest Intel HQ processors with Nvidia 970M graphics

Lenovo Y40-80

The Lenovo is a slightly different gaming 14-incher, which a more affordable price tag than many of the others mentioned above. It sells for as little as $800 and  you might find it even cheaper online.

That kind of money we’ll get you a Core i5 or i7 U-Series processor, 8 GB of RAM, hybrid storage (1 TB HDD with 8 GB SSD) and an AMD R9-M275 graphics chip, which is roughly on par to an Nvidia 940M solution, performance wise. In other words, this is not a high-end gaming machine, just a multimedia notebook that can cope with some gaming as well.

On the other hand, the Y40 is rather chunky (4.4 lbs and 0.9-inches thick) and not that well built or good looking either, with its case made mostly out of plastic, with a sheet of metal on the plam-rest. And that’s not all: the keyboard is shallow and lack a backlight, while the screen is rather bad, as Lenovo went with a 1920 x 1080 px matte TN panel on this computer.

So in few words, the Lenovo Y40 offers good performance in a 14-inch form factor and is affordable, but makes concessions when it comes to size, weight and keyboard or screen quality. There are better computers out there, but for those of you on a limited budget this one could be the right pick anyway.

Lenovo Y40 - good specs and features, affordable price

Lenovo Y40 – good specs and features, affordable price

15 or 17 inch gaming ultra-portables

This section is reserved for the fastest thin and light gaming laptops of the moment. The entry bar is set at Haswell hardware, Nvidia GT 750M graphics or higher (or AMD equivalent), an under 1 inch thick body and again, no major flaws. On top of that, I’ve been looking at 15 inchers under 5.5 pounds and 17 inchers under 6.5 pounds, to keep the suggestions as portable as possible.

MSI GS60 Ghost Pro 3K 2PE and 2PC – review

These are some of the most interesting 15 inchers available right now. There are two GS60 Ghost Pro models, the top-version called the 3K 2PE and the lower-end model called 2PC (or simpler, the Ghost Pro 3K and the Ghost Pro), and they share most of their characteristics, with the hardware and screen options setting them apart.

The GS60s are both about 0.85 of an inch thick and weigh just under 4.4 pounds, but despite that, they offer a good looking aluminum-alloy case, a backlit keyboard and all the ports you’ll want on such a computer ( 3xUSB 3.0. HDMI, mini-DP, card-reader, SPDIF, LAN), plus a 6 Cell 52 Wh battery.

The MSI GS60 packs beastly hardware and top features inside a thin and light body

The MSI GS60 packs beastly hardware and top features inside a thin and light body

The GS60 Ghost 2PE Pro 3K model comes with an insane 2880 x 1620 px 15.6 inch display, with an IPS Panel and a low-glare finishing, while the GS60 2PC settles for a non-glare 1920 x 1080 px IPS display. That aside, the two are motorized by the same Intel Core i7-4710HQ processor, can take up to 16 GB of RAM and support dual-storage options (mSATA RAID 0 and a 2.5 inch bay). The top version gets an Nvidia GTX 870M graphics chip though, while the 2PC only gets an Nvidia GTX 860M solution. And while the former is for sure faster, don’t forget that it has to push more pixels if you’re planning on gaming at native resolution. On top of that, it runs hotter, and that’s a problem in a device this thin.

The Ghost GS60 is also available with Nvidia 970M graphics, and you can see how it performs in our detailed review available here.

In fact, that’s my only major gripe with the GS60 Ghost line: it gets warm with light use and actually very hot under extended load, and the components inside reach very high temperatures as well (above 90 °C), which might have a negative impact on their lifespan.

So, at the end of the day, the MSI GS60 offers solid performance and top-tier features in a very thin body, with a price tag of $2000 and up for the 2PE Pro 3K version, and about $1800 for the 2PC model, but both versions are available discounted online, as you’ll see from here. Still, are these laptops worth that kind of money? If not for the temperatures, I’d say yes for sure, but given the high temperatures, I’d suggest getting them only if you really want the compact form-factor and don’t mind the hot bodies. And make sure you’re buying extra-warranty as well. Otherwise, you should look at some of the other suggestions below.

 Asus Zenbook NX500 and GX500 – more details

These machines are going to be released towards the end of the year, so there’s not much to say about them for now.

We do know that these Zenbooks are going to have a metallic body, a low profile (under 0.8 inches thin) and reduced weight (under 5 pounds), while packing top features. Among them, there’s a 4K screen (3840 x 2160 px resolution), Asus’s Bang&Olufsen stereo speakers we’ve seen on many of their ultraportables, an Intel Core i7-4712HQ processor, up to 16 GB of RAM and dual PCI-E storage options. There’s also a rumored 6 Cell 96 Wh battery on these, which should translate in serious endurance, even when running games.

The two models are going to be separated by the graphics solution they’re going to offer, an Nvidia GTX 850M for the NX500 (read my full review over here) and an Nvidia GTX 860M chip for the GX500. On top of that, while the NX500 will keep the standard brushed aluminum looks we’ve been used to from previous Zenbooks (much like the UX51VZ launched a while ago), the GX500 will get a black theme with red stripes, which is somewhat more appropriate for a gaming ultrabook and closer to what Asus does with their N and G series laptops.

Anyway, these Zenbooks are expected in stores in Q3 or Q4 2014, with prices starting at roughly $2000, but I’ll update this section once we know more about them.

Asus Zenbooks NX500 (left) and GX500 (right) - top specs and a high-res 15.6 inch screen in a compact body

Asus Zenbooks NX500 (left) and GX500 (right) – top specs and a high-res 15.6 inch screen in a compact body

Gigabyte P35G v2 and P35W v2 Ultrablades

The P35G v2 Ultrablade is actually the larger version of the P34G v2 mentioned in the 14 inchers’ section. It offers the same Intel Core i7-4710HQ processor, up to 16 gb of RAM (2xDIMMs) and the Nvidia GTX 860M graphics chip, but offers a possible quadruple-storage solution (2 x M.2, 2 x 2.5″ bays), or a dual-storage solution plus a DVD Writer.

There is of course a 15.6 inch display on this laptop, with a 1920 x 1080 px matte IPS non-touch panel, and since the device is larger (weighs 5.1 lbs and is 0.85 inches thick, plus has a rather big footprint, as you can see from the bezel around the screen), there’s also room for a NumPad area on the keyboard and a 75Wh battery (although I’ve seen reports that this laptop will only last up to 5 hours in daily use).

Gigabyte will charge you roughly $1600 for all these, with 8 GB of memory and 128 GB SSD + TB HDD included in this configuration.

If you want a bit more power in your device, then you might to have a look at the P35W v2, which is mostly identical to the P35G, but packs an Nvidia 870M graphics chip and a Bluray burner for $200 extra.

Of course, the biggest concern with these laptops are the load temperatures and noise. From what I’ve seen so far, owners claim that these Gigabyte ultrabooks do get warm under load and you’ll hear the fans spinning, but the nor the temperatures or the noise are really problematic. And that’s the best you can expect from such thin, light and powerful devices.

Updated versions of these laptops bundling Nvidia GTX 970M and 980M graphics are available now. Follow this link for more details.

The Gigabyte P35G and P35W are powerful, thin and light, but not as compact as the other 15 inch gaming ultrabooks

The Gigabyte P35G and P35W are powerful, thin and light, but not as compact as the other 15 inch gaming ultrabooks

Dell XPS 15 Touch

Dell XPS 15 is one of the fanciest devices in here, with a slender 0.7 inch thick aluminum cast body that weighs only 4.4 pounds. But it’s fairly powerful as well.

Dell offers an Intel Core i7-4702HQ processor on their XPS 15, up to 16 GB of RAM, several storage options and an Nvidia GT 750M graphics, which barely qualifies it for this list. And that’s something to keep in mind, especially since this device comes with a 3200 x 1800 px display (a touchscreen, BTW), which means that actually running games at native resolution will require a lot of power. On top of that, the XPS 15 does get quite hot and noisy under serious load, and these are the reasons why this Dell is mostly a good all-rounder that can deal with occasional gaming, and not a proper gaming ultra-portable, like those mentioned before.

So unless you’re planning to do some heavy gaming on this machine, the XPS 15 is going to be good enough for most of you. Specs apart, you’re also getting a good keyboard with this one (nicely spaced, without a NumPad Area), a reliable touchpad, a decent selection of ports (3xUSBs, but only one of them USB 3.0, HDMI, mini-DP, card-reader) and either a 61W or a 91W battery. Considering that both the hardware and the screen are sippy, I’d go for the larger capacity one.

However, that big battery is only available on the higher specced models and those can get quite expensive. In fact, even the base version of the Dell XPS 15 start at about $1900, and for that kind of money you’ll get the CPU and graphics mentioned above, plus 16 GB of RAM and hybrid storage (1 TB HDD + 32 GB cache-SSD). Replacing that with a 512 GB SSD will cost you $300 extra, but most configurations are slightly discounted online, as you can see from here.

Dell's XPS 15 Touch is slender and light, but gaming performance is not its main asset

Dell’s XPS 15 Touch is slender and light, but gaming performance is not its main asset

Acer Aspire V5-573G  and V7-582PG

These should be on your list if you’re on a tighter budget.

The Aspire V5-573G really offers a lot for the money. You can get an Intel Core i7-4500U CPU with 8 GB of RAM, Nvidia GT 750M graphics and a 1 TB HDD for under $1000 (see this link for up-to-date prices and discounts). It’s true that there’s only an ULV processor on this Acer and the Nvidia 750M is no longer a top-of-the-line solution, but even so, it will do.

The thing is there’s only a 1366 x 768 px TN screen on this laptop, which is one of the reasons why it is so affordable, but that means that you’ll be able to run most games on it on High details.

If however you’re looking for an improved screen and faster gaming performance, then you you might want to check out the Acer Aspire V7-582PG. Roughly $1100 will get you an Intel Core i7-4500U processor, 8 GB of RAM and Nvidia 850M graphics, plus a 1920 x 1080 px IPS display, and the V7 can also be found discounted online.

BTW, both these laptops are fairly portable, with under 0.9 of an inch thick bodies that weigh about 4.8 pounds and there’s not much to complain about their build quality either (metal and plastic are used for the case).

But even so, you’ll be making compromises with these Acers, when compared to those others mentioned before. The looks, the keyboard/trackpad quality or the battery life (expect up to 5 hours of daily use) are just some of those, or the fact that you’re getting regular HDDs with each configuration (but this should not be a concern, as they can be easily swapped for SSDs later on). But let’s not forget that these laptops are a lot cheaper than most of their competitors, and that alone should be enough for most potential buyers.

Acer Aspire V5 and V7 - more affordable gaming ultrabooks

Acer Aspire V5 and V7 – more affordable gaming ultrabooks

Lenovo Y50

This is another affordable 15 incher you could consider these days.

Much like the Y40, the Y50 offers a plastic built body, a good keyboard with a NumPad section(which however flexes way too much), a reliable trackpad and plenty of ports (3xUSBs, HDMI, card-reader, LAN, SPDIF), all in a rather bulky body. In fact, this device barely makes it in this list, with a 0.9+ inch thick case and a total weight of roughly 5.3 pounds, so it’s definitely not as portable as some of the other machines mentioned before.

It does pack nice specs though: a FHD matte screen (with a TN panel), an Intel Core i7-4710HQ processor, up to 16 GB of RAM, Nvidia 860M graphics and various storage solutions, plus either a DVD or a Bluray unit. On the other hand, Lenovo chose to put a small battery on this notebook, so don’t expect more than 4 hours of daily use with it.

Even so, it’s hard to beat the Y50 for the money. $1100 will buy you the processor and the graphics listed above, 8 GB of RAM and a 1 TB storage drive, which is in fact better than what you’re getting with the Acer V5. And I expect prices to drop in the near future.

Of course, there are a few things you might not like about this Lenovo laptop, like the screen, the body’s lack of sturdiness and the very short battery life, but if you’re mostly after solid specs for as little money as possible, you’ll could learn to live with these and get the Y50 anyway. Or you might go ahead and buy a laptop like the Lenovo Y510p or the Asus N550JK, slightly thicker and heavier, but overall superior options.

The Lenovo Y50 laptop - good specs for the money, but with a few quirks that could make you look somewhere else

The Lenovo Y50 laptop – good specs for the money, but with a few quirks that could make you look somewhere else

There are a couple of other 15 inchers you could consider, like the:

  • Samsung ATIV Book 8 870Z5G – Intel Core i7-4700HQ CPU, up to 8 GB of RAM, Nvidia GT 750M graphics, 1920 x 1080 px IPS matte display, 94 Wh battery, 5.2 lbs. This model has a lot of potential and packs a huge battery. It is however difficult to find in stores these days, that’s why it only earned a place in the “others” section;
  • Asus N550JK – Intel Core i7-4700HQ CPU, up to 16 GB of RAM, Nvidia GT 850M graphics, 1920 x 1080 px IPS matte display, 59 Wh battery, 5.7 lbs, 1.1 inches thick – this barely gets outisde the requirements because it is a bit thick. But if you’re fine with this, you should definitely check it out. Prices start at around $1100 for this series (see this link for details) and my full review of the Asus N550 line is available over here;
  • Dell Inspiron 7537 – Intel Core i5/i7 ULV CPUs, up to 16 GB of RAM, Nvidia GT 750M graphics, 1920 x 1080 px IPS touchscreen, 58Wh battery, 5.6 lbs (heavy for an ultrabook!);
  • HP Envy TouchSmart 15 – Intel Core i5/i7 ULV CPUs, up to 16 GB of RAM, Nvidia GT 750M graphics, 1920 x 1080 px IPS touchscreen, 5.6 lbs (heavy for an ultrabook!).

Besides these, you should look at all the other ultrabooks from this list of recommended 15 inchers.

A few other 15 inchers you could consider: Samsung Series 7 Ultra (left), Asus N550JK (middle), Dell Inspiron (right)

A few other 15 inchers: Samsung Series 7 Ultra (left), Asus N550JK (middle), Dell Inspiron 7537 (right)

And there are also some interesting 17 inchers I’d like to mention, not ultrabooks per-se, but thin and light laptops in their classes:

  • Razer Blade Pro – the larger version of the Razer Blade mentioned above, this one packs an Intel Core i7-4700HQ processor, up to 16 GB of RAM, up to 512 GB SSD storage and an Nvidia GTX 860M graphics chip, plus a 1920 x 1080 px IPS matte display and a 74 Wh battery, all inside a fairly compact body (0.9 inches thick, weighs 6.5 lbs). On top of that, there’s a customizable LCD screen towards the right side of the keyboard, meant to improve your gaming productivity. The Razer Pro starts at $2300, with only 128 GB of storage, and goes up to $2700 for the 512 GB SSD version, but you might find potential discounts on all available configurations via this link.
The popular Razer Blade Pro

The popular Razer Blade Pro

  • MSI GS70 Stealth details – a slightly slimmer (0.85 inches thick) and lighter (5.9 lbs) 17 inch laptop than the one above, packs a similar Intel Haswell platform, paired with Nvidia GTX 765M graphics, dual storage solutions (mSATA and 2.5 inch bay), a Full HD non-glare screen and a dedicated gaming-keyboard, designed in collaboration with SteelSeries. The GS70 sells for $1600 and up;
  • Medion Erazer X7611details – this offers the same hardware specs as the MSI GS70, but a 1600 x 900 px TN screen, a poorer keyboard and a different case (marginally thicker and heavier), but at the same time is cheaper than 17 incher mentioned before by a few hundreds of dollars. However, the Medion Erazer X7611 is mostly available in Europe, as Medion is a German company.
  • Maingear Pulse 17details – this is one of the sleekest 17 inchers available right now, measuring under 0.9 inches in thickness and weighing under 6 pounds. At the same time it packs powerful hardware: an Intel Core i7-4700HQ processor, up to 16 GB of storage. Nvidia GTX 870M graphics and several storage options, plus a matte 1920 x 1080 px display. All these for $2000 and up, which makes the Pulse 17 a solution to check-out if you really need the powerful graphics, as the other 17 inchers in here do not offer the same high-end Nvidia chip;
  • Gigabyte Aorus X7 v2details – the bigger brother of the Aorus X3 and the only device in this list to offer SLI graphics ( two Nvidia GTX 860M chips – an updated version with two GTX 970M chips in SLI is also available), alongside an Intel COre i7-4860HQ processor, up to 32 GB of RAM (4 slots) and a quadruple storage solution (3 x mSATA, 1 x 2.5″ bay), plus a 73 Wh battery. All these inside a 0.9 inch thick body that weighs about 7 pounds. As expected, the Aorus X7 is expensive and the high end configurations will set you back about $3000. But if you want the ultimate gaming ultraportable of the moment, well, this is IT.

The downsides of this monster as the high temperatures when gaming and the battery life. The SLI implementation means that there’s no Optimus on the Auros X7, and that translates in up to 3 hours of light use, which is very low for a device described as “portable”.

Gigabyte Aorus X7 - SLI graphics, powerful CPU and up to 32 GB of RAM on a portable computer

Gigabyte Aorus X7 – SLI graphics, powerful CPU and up to 32 GB of RAM on a portable computer

A quick wrap-up

All in all, there aren’t that many true gaming ultrabooks available in this list. However, there’s a fair number of good gaming portable laptops, most of them just as thin and light, just more powerful, “motorized” by faster Intel full-voltage platforms, and not the ULVs you’ll mostly find in ultrabooks.

So as potential buyers, you’ve got a wide array of options these days, from the portable 13 inchers to the beastly 17 inch monsters, with prices starting under $1000 or easily going over 3G.

In the end though, the final choice is all yours. There’s no perfect gaming ultraportable, but there are quite a few that come close. So make sure you know exactly what you want from your computer and pick accordingly between all these devices mentioned above. And if you haven’t found anything that fits your needs in this post, maybe you should check out this list of the most powerful gaming ultraportables available right now.

Whit that in mind, it’s time to bring this post to a halt, but make sure you’ll check the article from time to time, as I’m constantly updating it when new good gaming ultrabooks pop in stores.

That aside, if you have any questions, anything to add or just need help picking your next computer, drop your comments below, I’m around to reply and help you out. And if you found this post useful, feel free to share it around on Forums, Facebook, Twitter or show it to your friends.

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. Abdul

    November 26, 2014 at 9:46 pm

    The new Lenovo Thinkpad Yoga 14 I would think is atleast as good as aspire V7. What are your thoughts about the new Yoga 14?

    • Andrei Girbea

      November 26, 2014 at 9:53 pm

      Haven’t got to test it yet but it’s a pretty good one from the reviews I’ve seen. Worth buying and I should add it in here asap.

  2. Doug

    December 14, 2014 at 12:38 am

    This is a very good list. One thing to consider is waiting a while. The new Intel Core M laptops are starting to arrive. Intel Broadwell is in Q1/Q2 2015. But the big news is Intel with its Skylake architecture. But that will be Q2/Q3 next year. Big improvements to cooling, optimus, with the 14nm architecture. Cooler running laptops is the big thing as well as better battery life. Should we hold out for Broadwell or Skylake and ship Haswell?

    • Andrei Girbea

      December 14, 2014 at 2:14 pm

      If you can wait, yes. But if you want something today, there are still plenty of good options to consider. There’s always going to be a next best thing, but sometimes we just have to settle for what meets the requirements at a given time.

  3. Bilal Akhtar

    December 24, 2014 at 9:42 pm

    Asus G751JT-CH71 OR MSI GT70 DOMINATOR-2293
    OR Any other around 1.5k……

  4. Nick Sullivan

    January 7, 2015 at 9:39 pm

    That was a really well written and informative round up of the 2014 machines – thank you. Now if only they could make there way to Australia that would be great. Currently waiting on the ASUS G551JM-DM169H to drop with our reseller.

    From what I’ve read above and seen online it seems to tick all the boxes and hit the price point very well. If only the Razer was 1k cheaper :)

  5. Claudio

    January 31, 2015 at 10:11 am

    HI Andrei!! Great webpage!! I was wondering, if there is any ultrabook with less than 13″ that have a dedicated graphic card? which is the smallest size you can find with a dedicated gf? Thanks!!!

    • Andrei Girbea

      January 31, 2015 at 11:29 am

      Ultrabook, not that I know of. If you want something a bit bulkier, Clevo had some 11 inch models and there was also the Alienware M11X, which hasn’t been updated lately though

  6. Sam

    February 3, 2015 at 10:17 pm

    Hi andrei,

    Great list!
    I’m thinking about buying the msi gs30 shadow.
    Did you already had the chance to test it?
    I think the laptop would be perfect for this list

    • Andrei Girbea

      February 3, 2015 at 10:56 pm

      Yes, that laptop will make it in here at the next major update. haven’t tested it though and I don’t think I will be able too, since MSI laptops aren’t sold over here.

  7. Craig

    February 4, 2015 at 9:44 am

    On Dells latest model of the “NEW 14 7000” under the official tech specs PDF it states that E7450 is capable of Nvidia 840M. However I cant option. Any ideas? Here is the link:


    • Andrei Girbea

      February 4, 2015 at 8:38 pm

      I’m not seeing that option either. Maybe they’ll add it later? You should really ask Dell about that, they should provide documented help.

  8. Ata

    February 13, 2015 at 5:11 am

    Hey Andrei,

    I’m about to go get the Asus UX303LN. Before I make the purchase though, just want your word that there is absolutely nothing else if you want light, decent battery, nice looks, and also gaming ability on a laptop for around $1000. If there is an upcoming, I’d rather not wait. So is the UX303LN the perfect laptop in this regards?

    • Andrei Girbea

      February 15, 2015 at 8:54 am

      if you want all these in a 13 inchers then there’s nothing else of this sort. If you can go with a bigger device, then there are other options.

  9. Kevin

    February 16, 2015 at 12:20 am

    Will you do a review on the Gigabyte P34W v3? Also, do you know anything about the P34K v3 in terms of availability and cost in the U.S.? I’m very interested in that configuration. If it has truly over 5 or 6 hours of battery life, that would be a god send.

    • Andrei Girbea

      February 16, 2015 at 9:56 am

      Gigabyte laptops are not available where I live, thus chances of mt reviewing something here are incredibly slim.

  10. Mihai-Robert Soran

    March 1, 2015 at 7:21 pm

    Salut Andrei,

    daca cumpar dupa sfatul tau, ai 10%. Direct.

    – Convertible
    – backlit KB
    – min. 1920
    – Win 8.1 +
    – GOOD streaming
    – not much worse than my ntel(R)_Core(TM)_i7-2670QM

    Sorry, can#t write more, KB a innebunit :-(

  11. Etienne

    March 2, 2015 at 3:43 am

    Very nice website!
    I can’t find the laptop with all the features I need.

    – 14 or 15″ screen (a nice screen so Lenovo Y40 and Y50 are out)
    – Effective trackpad, I won’t use my notebook with a mouse
    – Backlit keyboard
    – Convertible (optional)
    – Discrete graphics (a basic one could do the job).

    Do you have a suggestion ?
    Maybe the Acer Nitro but is the touchpad acceptable?

    Thanks. I love this website.

    • Andrei Girbea

      March 3, 2015 at 8:58 am

      HMmm. The ThinkPad Yoga 14 (or the soon to be available 15 inch model) comes close to what you want and the Acer Aspire V 15 Nitro 571G. The touchpad is better on the ThinkPad though.

      • Etienne Charbonneau

        March 3, 2015 at 3:35 pm

        Finally, I went for an older but much less expensive Acer V7-482PG.

  12. Raj

    March 21, 2015 at 3:02 pm

    I have a budget of around $2400 and I want a gaming laptop with great battery life. I’m looking for around 5-6 hours of charge while not on gaming tasks. While I am gaming, I will be at home so gaming on a charge is not too important. I will be using this laptop for college/university so battery life (while not gaming) is very important. The panel must be full hd and does not need to be touch screen. A backlit keyboard is a necessity. Also, an i7 chip Haswell/Broadwell CPU is required. The battery life is the most important component and thank you Andrei!

  13. arun

    April 27, 2015 at 5:17 am

    I want to buy an ultrabook that can run dota 2 at high settings.Priced max at 1200$. I like the xps 13 but I’m unsure of its capabilities.. Pls suggest a good one.. Preferably a convertible or a 2 in 1 . Thanks!!

    • Andrei Girbea

      April 27, 2015 at 8:16 am

      Hmmm, I’d probably get something with dedicated graphics. If you’re looking for a 13 incher, then the Zenbook UX303 will be a good option

      • arun

        April 29, 2015 at 12:29 pm

        The ux303 sure looks good. But I’m looking for something convertible or a2 in 1 . don’t mind if its 15 inches. Thanks a lot Andrei!

  14. Stanley

    April 29, 2015 at 7:44 am

    Hi, looking for a light (under 5 lb) 15.6 inch with a 10 key and glossy screen, around $1000-1200. The MSI GS60 would be fine but only the 3k or 4k has the glossy screen. Other laptops either don’t have 10 key (HP Omen or Dell XPS) or don’t have glossy screen (Acer V Nitro, MSI). Thank you

  15. Uros

    May 4, 2015 at 9:17 am

    Is the alienware 15 the only laptop in the world with 970m AND touch 4k screen?
    Thank you

    • Andrei Girbea

      May 4, 2015 at 10:28 am

      I believe so. The Razer Blade is a 14 incher with 970M and there are a few 15.6 inchers with 860M (and probably updates to 960M soon), but no other 15 incher besides the Alienware from what I know.

  16. Rob

    May 10, 2015 at 4:03 am

    It would be great if there was a small Table comparing the features and listing all the Laptops on a single page (or a short scroll to see it all, since this Article will have a long list).

    That would be similar to what was provided in the ‘Ultrabook List’.

    Doing so makes it easier for people viewing this Article on a Phone or Tablet.

    Thanks for this List, and providing this Website.

    • Andrei Girbea

      May 11, 2015 at 2:12 pm

      I’ll consider it for the next major update.

  17. Eliot Karam

    May 10, 2015 at 11:42 am

    Hi andrei!
    I wanted to ask you what is the best laptop with aroun 8 gb ram that is compatible for gaming and has a touch screen or 2 in 1 screen and also has a cd/dvd player.
    I’ve been looking around alot but i can’t decide on my own!
    Any suggestions?
    Thank you

    • Andrei Girbea

      May 11, 2015 at 2:11 pm

      Hmmm, what screen size are you looking at? And what kind of games?

      Most ultraportables don’t have optical drives, so you’ll probably want to look at some of the mainstream laptops, like the Asus G551/GL551, Dell Inspiron 15, HP Pavilion series, etc. Those usually do not pack top-tier graphics chips though… So get back to me with replies to those two questions I asked.

  18. Diana

    May 18, 2015 at 9:07 am

    Hi andrei,

    thanks a lot for this review!!
    What do you think about the asus g501? Is it worth buying it, even if it won’t have the full configuration if i purchase it in germany? I’m thinking to buy this one or the gigabyte p35w v3! which one do you recommend?

    Thank you!

    • Andrei Girbea

      May 18, 2015 at 9:37 am

      Haven’t tested it, but if it doesn’t overheat and the screen doesn’t have any color issues, should be a good buy. Notebookcheck.com reviewed it, check them out.

      THe p35W v3 gets the Nvidia 970M graphics? If yes, then it’s going to be a more capable solution for gaming.

  19. CJ

    May 19, 2015 at 10:08 am

    Hey Andrei,

    Really good stuff and my go to website for ultrabooks. Quick one, for the Asus Zenbook UX303LN, there are ALOT of comments about the hinge cracking especially 5-8 months in, which happens to be around now. Have you heard anything or come across any updates on this?


    • Andrei Girbea

      May 19, 2015 at 12:32 pm

      Yes, that seems to be a problem. It’s covered by warranty, but it’s annoying nonetheless. Those who actually had to deal with it swear they treated the laptop carefully, so this just happens…

  20. CPC

    June 2, 2015 at 3:31 pm

    Hello Andrei,
    I have a question but it is non gaming related. I am looking for a laptop to use 3DSMax to create animations only. No modelling, texturing or rendering. My first option is the Thinkpad W550s which only has a ULV processor, but I like the battery life, cooling and quietness in the reviews as I use the library quite often. Although it is heavier than I would like as I travel a lot, I am willing to sacrifice the weight, although I really would prefer something under 5lbs.
    However – I am unsure it can run the software. It is not listed on the autodesk website system requirements, but I would still like to know.

    If not, then my other 3 options are laptops under 5lbs in weight with no 4k or touch screen as I do not need these. I am not concerned by budget at this point and I though I do not game, I have heard many reports of gaming type laptops being good for 2d/3d creatives.

    1. The Asus G501 1080p version.
    2. Gigabyte P35g v2 – cant find any reviews on these, but I heard they may run hot and noisy?
    3. Asus N550JK

    I would much appreciate your thoughts and suggestions.

    • Andrei Girbea

      June 3, 2015 at 3:14 pm

      Hi, the thing is I’m not that accustomed to 3DSMax so I can’t tell for sure what kind of hardware would be needed for it. My limited experience tells me that it would be smarter to get a fast processor and as much RAM as possible. which would rule out the ULVs.

      You should try to contact the software manufacturers and see what they have to say about running your tasks on ULV hardware. Or maybe ask other users on the Notebookreview.com forums.

      As for your options, I haven’t tested the G501 yet and the P35g. I did spend some time with the UX501, which is similar in many ways, and I’d say it’s a decent machine, IF the price is right. Maybe you can find a config with 16 GB of RAM and a 256 GB SSD. Make sure you read about potential throttling issues, I’ve noticed them on the UX501, but I only got hold of a pre-production sample and can’t say if those will carry onto the final products. I did review the N550JK on tlbhd.com, if you’re interested.

      BTW, you could also consider the MSI GS60 GHost Pro, I know a few users and they are happy with it. There’s a review here on the site, try to contact Derek (the reviewer) in the comments if you have any questions about it.

      • CPC

        June 4, 2015 at 9:22 pm

        Thank you very much for taking time to reply. I have decided to rule
        out the ULV. I may rule out the Asus as it seems too powerful for my needs.I think the MSI would also be overkill as my needs are more CPU based than GPU.

        One more question I would be greatful if you could answer.

        You listed the Samsung NP870Z5G as a potential. Is there a reason why you
        recommended this particular model instead of the previous NP870Z5E which has
        a faster graphics card, JBL and supposedly better performance according
        to the 870Z5G review in the “cons” section?

        I have narrowed down my options and am looking as an option to purchase one of these models, though the 870Z5G – which has been refreshed and now is named the NT870z5G, has a i7 4710HQ and a 256 SSD installed, is only stocked in Korea.

        I may have to import to europe if it meets my needs.

        • Andrei Girbea

          June 6, 2015 at 12:43 pm

          Hmm, I wasn’t aware of the updated model. You should try to find some reviews and see how that AMD graphics chip performs. I haven’t tested any of them and can’t offer any in-depth info.

          Also, would the laptop come with International warranty if you plan to import it? Also, Samsung are not bringing their laptops to Europe anymore from what I know and that means warranty services could be problematic.

  21. CPC

    June 7, 2015 at 7:17 am

    Once again, thank you for your reply.

    It is actually the previous 870Z5E model that is more powerful then the newer 870Z5G.

    The NP870Z5E is the same model as the NP770Z5E, but it comes in black. They also come with 8GB on board, while the latter came with 4GB early on, however there are different configurations so some have 8GB soldered onto the board too. Both of these are matte displays and do not have touch screens. The NP880Z5E and NP780Z5E have touch screens. These 4 models(NP770Z5E / NP780Z5E / NP870Z5E / NP880Z5E) actually came out a good few months before the newer 870Z5G.

    These models GPU perform much faster as they are AMD Radeon HD 8870M(or 8770M on some models)2GB GDDR5, while the newer 870Z5G model are using Nvidia GT 750M DDR3 (not GDDR5). The CPU i7 4700HQ/i7 4710HQ on the 870Z5G is slightly faster than the 870Z5E i7 3635QM, but not by much according to CPUBOSS: cpuboss.com/cpus/Intel-Core-i7-4700HQ-vs-Intel-Core-i7-3635QM

    I have decided that it would be best to try to avoid importing these laptops if possible, as you made a good point about the warranty situation. I am not sure what the rules are, but it probably would be problematic since Samsungs laptop exit from europe.

  22. JBP

    June 29, 2015 at 9:53 pm

    Hi Andrei,

    Can you make a recommendation for a portable laptop (preferably under 3.5lbs that can handle gaming (nothing to extreme) to a decent level and has a fairly good battery life? <$1400 preferably?


    • Andrei Girbea

      June 30, 2015 at 10:00 am

      The Zenbook UX303LN / UX303LB is your best pick

      • JBP

        July 2, 2015 at 1:38 am

        I’ve had a look and I can’t see to find one with the broadwell processor, am I missing something? Even if there isn’t a broadwell version, am I right in believing that there wouldn’t be too much of a difference performance wise anyway?
        With skylake set to be released later this year, do you think it will offer significant enough improvement to wait for?

        • Andrei Girbea

          July 2, 2015 at 1:56 pm

          Full voltage Broadwell processors were just recently released (in June) and most devices haven’t been updated with them yet. I will have a major update of this post in the next couple of weeks though.

  23. Vee

    July 1, 2015 at 7:36 pm

    Hi there,

    Thank you for providing such detailed information on this site.

    I’m looking for a laptop to use for graphic design, illustration and animation. I’ll be using programs such as Illustrator, Photoshop, After Effects etc (RAM hogs!). Crispness, colour quality and accuracy are important to me, as well as a high resolution screen. It will be mainly used as I travel and attend university, so ideally it would be quite light.

    Can you please recommend me a laptop that would suit the above purposes? Should I be aiming for the best graphics card & an IPS screen? I’m thinkin around 15″.

    Should I also consider the MacBook Pro? It does seem heavy.


    • Andrei Girbea

      July 2, 2015 at 1:55 pm

      Yes, you should consider the MacBook Pro and yes, I believe a 15 incher would be best fitted for what you need. Something like the rMBP and the Asus Zenbook NX500, as well as the new Dell XPS 15 With Retina Display.

      If you’re willing to sacrifice performance for portability, the rMBP 13, MBA and the Asus Zenbook UX301LA are you better options.

      • Vee

        July 4, 2015 at 4:28 pm

        Hmm, I’m still tossing up between 15 inches or 13 inches. I already have a desktop that I use for the grunt work, and this will be a secondary device.

        The Asus Zenbook NX500 is not available in Australia, so I may have to consider either the Macbook Pro or the Dell for 15″. As for 13″, I cannot locate an Asus Zenbook UX301LA, but I have found a UX303LN. Will that still have enough power and good quality graphics?

        Also, how would you rate the Dell XPS 13 as an option?

        • Andrei Girbea

          July 4, 2015 at 9:03 pm

          The UX303LN is nice for games, but has one important quirk: major issues with accurate color reproduction.

          The Dell XPS 13 could be an option, but the 15W ULV processors are slower than what you can find in the rMBP 13. I own this laptop and it’s pretty good for my working habits, which includes some light Photoshop and Premiere use. If you decide to get this one, aim for the i7 processor with 8 GB of RAM.

          Still, if performance is your main concern, I’d look at a more powerful machine.

          • Vee

            July 12, 2015 at 7:34 pm

            I’ve decided to go for portability over performance, but still want a machine that can process high resolution images with a beautiful screen.

            It looks like the rMBP 13 is my best option, all things considered! Thanks for all your help.

  24. Joshua

    July 8, 2015 at 3:02 am

    Hi I wanted to know if there is a laptop with these specs for under 1150
    Decent 1080p screen with touch
    nvidia 860m or better
    backlit keyboard with number pad
    Intel i5 or better
    at least 8gb ram
    hard drive:not important
    os:preferrably windows 8
    screen size:no larger than 15.6 (preferably 15.6 though)

    • Andrei Girbea

      July 8, 2015 at 5:20 am

      The Acer Aspire V15 Nitro Black is portable and within your budget. You could also look at regular laptops (slightly thicker and heavier) like the Asus N550/N551/G551 series.

  25. Pourya

    July 16, 2015 at 11:50 am

    Hi,please make a review for the new MSI GE62 APACHE,Good job

  26. Wyatt

    July 20, 2015 at 9:16 pm

    Hey I am going off to college in the fall and was wondering if you could help me pick a laptop.

    Budget is around $1500 (obviously less if better).

    I am looking for a laptop that can handle some games but still has a competent battery.

    I would like a laptop that is around 14-15 inches and hopefully under 5 pounds.

    Thanks for all of your help!

    • Andrei Girbea

      July 21, 2015 at 9:56 am

      Not sure what you mean by “some games”, but I’d reckon you’d want something with dedicated graphics. I’d aim for Nvidia 840M/940M or higher, and that gives you the following options: Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga 14 (14 incher) and Acer Aspire V 15 Nitro Black or the Dell Inspiron 15 7000 (15 inchers). Something like the Asus Zenbook G501, Gigabyte P34W V3, Gigabyte P35W v3 or the MSI GS60 would be nice as well, but probably outside your budget. Keep an eye out though, you might find them discounted and get them for $1400-$1500.

  27. Henry

    July 23, 2015 at 11:52 pm

    Hi Andrei,

    I am looking for a portable compact sleek laptop for university. I have a budget of 1400-1500including tax. Something that is preferably less than 5lbs and 15inches. I plan to play games like csgo and h1z1. I was thinking of a macbook bro 13inch retina not sure though. Can you give me some recommendations.Thanks

    • Andrei Girbea

      July 24, 2015 at 7:02 am

      Let me get this straight, would you rather get a 13-inch laptop or a full-size 15 incher if under 5 lbs?

      • Henry

        July 24, 2015 at 5:22 pm

        Yes i would rather get a 13inch because i have to be carrying textbooks around as well it has to be light enough so it can easily be transportable.

        • Andrei Girbea

          July 26, 2015 at 8:24 am

          The Macbook Pro 13 is a good option.

          If you’re looking at Windows, consider something like the Asus UX303LN or the UX303LB. these have dedicated graphics thud will fare much better in games, but are not as fast as the Macbook Pro (or even the Macbook Airs) in terms of CPU performance – visible in apps like Photoshop, programming software, etc.

          Also keep in mind the UX303LN has a somewhat faulty display which is unable to show yellows accurately. So if you need the computer for color-accurate work, this is going to be a deal-breaker.

          Other 13 inchers won’t be able to deal with games properly.

  28. Tom

    August 24, 2015 at 7:24 pm


    Your list is missing alot of thin laptops.
    HP omen, Asus G501, Sager NP8651,…

    Could you please update it because im sure these laptops would be intresting to a lot of people.

    • Andrei Girbea

      August 25, 2015 at 6:06 am

      Hi Tom, I’m working on a major update right now and it will be up the in the next few days.

  29. omnia

    August 28, 2015 at 3:11 am


    can you hellp me in finding tge right laptop, please?

    I have a budget up to 1100$ or around it. .

    I want it for photoshop gaming development and applications development softwares. …

    RAM ( around 8 GB and if there is a dedicated graphic crd I can accept only 4 GB ram but more is okay)

    fast processor prefer to be 5th generation

    Ssd or HDD+no less than 128ssd … because I want it as fast as possible …

    the screen size …. o really don’t care ..13 or 15 it’s okay …

    I prefer something with dedicated graphic card .. but if it’s very cost .. I would appreciate if yu can tell me the closest shared one…

    I also prefer that it work as cool as possible and it’s battery life is not less that4-5 hrs under load ..

    I’m really sorry for putting load on yu, but I’m really confused in searching for the laptop, because of reading many reviews ( positive and negative) about the same laptop so I am very confused. ..

    I really don’t want to buy a laptop then to figure out that it’s not strong enough ( from the hardware side) I don’t want a laptop that would fall apart after one year . Or it heated so much .. or can’t be manufactured easily I heard in the case of Acer… so please help me choosing a good one …

    And one more question … can yu order those laptop according to the hardware maintenance …
    asus , lenovo, dell, toshba,

    I thank yu alot for yur help..

    • Andrei Girbea

      August 28, 2015 at 12:36 pm

      Try to narrow it down to a few options based on the articles here on the site, then come back if you need help0 deciding between the remaining options.

      • omnia

        August 30, 2015 at 2:34 am

        I was really in rush so I went to buy last Friday. Most of the laptops were 1TB HDD i7 or i5 touch screen intel graphic card with nvidi graphic ( as added graphic) for less than 900$ … I didn’t know what to choose but I bought a lenovo flex2 14inch .. i noticed that its battery life is only for 3 hrs or less and heated a little bit, but I said okay I can handke that. …I,, right a way, started working on Unity5 project l and I also downloaded android studio .. the laptop started to act weird andIit showed the window of the prprograms with a little blur ( I mean that the any thing inside the window was not edgy) .. also it was not fast at debugging the unity5 project :(

        is lenovo bad or only flex 2 lenovo are bad ?

        Do MacBooks air with graphic Intel 5000 or 60000 enough to run a progeams like unity3d and 3dmax?

  30. Rodnel

    September 1, 2015 at 1:04 am

    what would be the amd equivalent of the nvidia gt 750m?

  31. Thomas

    September 1, 2015 at 3:33 pm

    Hey Andrei, i’m looking for a alternative to the new macbook pro 13″ regarding to these criterias:
    sleek and light
    good battery performance
    good all around performance
    fast ssd
    great display
    what would you recommend? I’ve considered the dell xps 13, but it is the chassis and keyboard are to small me.
    And by btw thanks for this awesome site!
    Regards Thomas.

    • Andrei Girbea

      September 1, 2015 at 8:57 pm

      The XPS 13 is a 13-incher, just like the MBP, and the keyboard isn’t smaller. Still, if that’s not an option, perhaps something like the HP Spectre x360 (2-in-1) or the Asus Zenbook UX301LA would be some options you’d appreciate more.

  32. Thierry

    September 7, 2015 at 2:11 pm

    Very interesting article!
    i’m looking for an ultrabook ti play emulators like dolphin and pcsx2.Do you think an ultrabook with a dedicated graphic card and a processor i7-5500u will be enough?(it’s difficult on the web to find informations about emulation (128 bits consoles) on such portables)
    i hesitate between models like asus zenbook, Macbook Pro (by using bootcamp) and portables for gamers (as gigabyte-msi-schenker XMG but it’s more bulky in a backpack).
    Thank you for your help (and thank you for the quality of your site)

    • Andrei Girbea

      September 7, 2015 at 9:29 pm

      Sry, I’m not familiar with those and can’t say whether the hardware would be powerful enough or not

  33. thierry

    September 7, 2015 at 4:22 pm

    Hello Andrei,
    congrats for all your reviews.
    i’m searching the best combo for my backbag (durability-lightness-power-endurance..)
    Concerning gaming, i just want to use emulators (PCSX2 and Dolphin for ps2-gamecube and wii).
    I hesitate between an ultrabook with dedicated graphic card and i7 processor (as 5500U)-the MBP retina 13 (with i5 2.9ghz) and gaming machines as gigabyte- alienware 13 or schenker XMG A 305.
    My preference goes to the MBP .I could use on it MAC OS and windows via bootcamp.But it ‘s difficult to find on the web if those emulators (dolphin and pcsx2) works fine on the apple machine.
    In terms of gaming is the MBP better than all ultrabooks with I7 processor serie U?
    Thanks for your advice.

  34. Kyle

    September 10, 2015 at 9:03 pm

    Hi Andrei!
    Thanks so much for the great reviews. I was wondering what you would recommend for me. I’m looking for something on the thinner/ lighter side that will be able to handle gaming some newer games (GTA V, Fallout 4) but at low settings is fine. Here’s a couple of things I want:
    At least 1920 x 1080
    Must have SSD (at least 128 GB)
    At least 8GB ram.

    My budget is $1200

    • Andrei Girbea

      September 11, 2015 at 7:16 am

      Are you looking for a 15-incher? And if you want to play those games smoothly, I’d aim for a 970M chip and you’re not going to get it within your budget. You could however get a 960M on something like the Acer Aspire V15 Nitro Black, but you’ll have to trim down the details (to medium, even lower in some cases).

      • Kyle

        September 11, 2015 at 12:59 pm

        Thanks Andrei. I am looking for a 15 inch but would settle for smaller. I was thinking a 960m may be alright to play those games because I don’t need the settings on high. Low to medium is fine for me.

        • Andrei Girbea

          September 11, 2015 at 9:15 pm

          Well, the Acer Aspire V15 Nitro Black should be a great pick, as well as the Lenovo Y50 (stay away from the 4K screen).

  35. Constantin

    September 17, 2015 at 7:52 am

    Hi, what do you think about the 2015 HP Envy 14t with i7-5500U, 12 GB RAM, GTX 950M with 4GB, FHD WLED non-touch, no SSD? It’s configurable like this at hp.com and comes out under $950. I’m looking for a compact and highly portable (13-14″), yet capable and affordable machine with a GTX GPU, and this seems to be the only reasonable option I have identified so far. Thanks a lot.

    • Andrei Girbea

      September 18, 2015 at 10:33 am

      Looks like a great buy, but I haven’t tested it and can’t find any reviews for this model. My only concerns would be the keyboard quality and potential overheating/throttling under load. You could also consider the Aspire V15 Nitro NV5-571G , it’s a 15 incher but it’s pretty compact and light for its class.

  36. v

    October 5, 2015 at 8:59 am

    It’s a bit of a disappointment and a missed opportunity that Skylake gets bundled with 940M. Its integrated GPU is almost on par with the dedicated one, even beating it in some benches. If only Intel could see the wasted potential and step in with an Iris version in the U series…

    • Andrei Girbea

      October 5, 2015 at 9:24 am

      Wait, the Skylake processors aren’t yet out, what do you base your claim on?

      And the Iris and Iris Pro Core U processors will be available late this year and early in 2016. I hope at least some OEMs will make good use of them, besides Apple.

  37. Uzair Zaidi

    October 6, 2015 at 12:43 pm

    I never comment on these articles but I just wanted to say that you have done an amazing job here. Absolutely everything I ever wanted to know about before purchasing my next laptop. Fantastic job mate.

    I have a quick question for you.

    I’m looking at buying a gaming ultra book this month and was looking at investing in either a 14 inch or 15 inch model. Performance is absolutely key but my budget is around the £1,000 mark ($1500). What do you recommend in that range keeping in mind that it should be thin and lightweight (don’t want to be carrying a suitcase around). Games I primarily play are Dota 2 and look forward to Overwatch, Battleborn and Battlefront.

    I also have the option of waiting till December and ordering a laptop from the U.S since a friend of mine is coming to visit. So in case something new is scheduled for then or I’ll get better value for money if I order from the US then I don’t mind waiting.

    Sorry for the long walk of text. Thanks for the hard work you’ve put into this article.

    • Andrei Girbea

      October 6, 2015 at 1:04 pm

      That budget should buy you the MSI GS60 with Broadwell processors and the 970M processor, or the Gigabyte P34W with similar specs in the US.You’ll find articles about both of them here on the site.

      Not sure about the UK though, prices might not be that good there. You might have to step down to a 960M configuration like the Aspire V15 Nitro and some of the others. Dota 2 will run smoothly on the 960M chip, bot sure about those other three.

      Try to hunt these down and find out how much they cost in the UK.

  38. Maya

    October 21, 2015 at 5:17 pm


    I’m in the process of buying a new laptop. It needs to be light, so I can carry it to and from University and work; it needs to have a great battery life, because several classrooms don’t have a place to plug in our laptops; I need to be able to use AutoCAD360 on it and various graphics programs (like Inkscape) for work, so I need a really good monitor; and the largest I can carry in my laptop backpack is with a 14″ screen.
    Some of my friends said I should focus on the hard drive and the screen resolution and others said I need a really good graphics card.
    I want it to last for a while, and not need to replace it in a year or two, because it’s too archaic. (Preferably, it would last me through my master degree, so about 5-6 years.)

    • Andrei Girbea

      October 21, 2015 at 8:58 pm

      What’s your budget? I’d focus on getting a good screen, a fast processor, 8-16 GB of RAM, SSD storage and at least a mid-level dedicated chip. These won’t come cheap though, but you could look at the Gigabyte P34W and the MSI GS40 Phantom, if within your budget.

  39. Maurice

    October 22, 2015 at 3:10 am

    I’m searching for a convertible or detachable.
    The requirements:
    – graphics should have around 1.500-5.000 PassMark-points
    – Would be nice if the RAM is upgradable to 16GB
    – Stylus support
    In this segment there aren’t a lot of devices, just found the Thinkpad Yoga 14, but I’m unsure whether there are more powerful ones.

    I would be really glad about some help, thank you! :)

  40. Aaron

    October 29, 2015 at 6:44 pm

    Hi. Thanks for the great article!

    I am looking for a laptop to play the occasional FPS game and occasionally take to work in the car. (Also used for word processing etc). Won’t be main computer so don’t need heaps of storage). I’d like it to be a bit future proof though. I’m currently deciding between:

    (Contemplating a 14 inch…)

    (2GB Video card only – is this a big deal?)


    (4GB 950M and 256GB SSD, but is MSI a better manufacturer…?)



    • Andrei Girbea

      October 30, 2015 at 2:54 pm

      Hmmm, not sure how demanding those games you are mentioning are. Is the 950M chip going to be good enough? If yes, than these are good options and I’d probably go with one of the MSIs, as they have Steelseries keyboards and you mentioned you’re going to do a fair amount of typing. If not, perhaps the Acer Aspire V15 Nitro Black, the Asus G501 and the Ge62 with 960M graphics whould make it to your list, if within budget.

      I’d also wait for a Skylake configuration, if possible, those should be available worldwide by the end of November and Skylake is actually a significant update. It’s not necessarily faster, but it runs cooler, more efficient, plays videos nicely thanks to the hardware video decoder and supports DX12, although that probably won’t matter much since you’re getting dedicated graphics anyway. .

  41. Atarian

    October 31, 2015 at 10:50 am

    Hi Andrei,

    thanks for this very helpful guide! I ‘ve heard the new Lenovo Yoga 700 will come with i7 and Nvidia GeForce GT 940M 2GB. Can you give it a try please? Also any comments about the new Microsoft surface?

    Thank you!

    • Andrei Girbea

      October 31, 2015 at 4:31 pm

      I’ll try. And which surface are you referring to? The Pro 4 or the Book?

      • Atarian

        November 1, 2015 at 11:13 am

        Thanks for the reply. I mean the Book with the Nvidia graphics. I don’t think anything also can be close to “gaming”.

        • Andrei Girbea

          November 1, 2015 at 11:56 am

          From what I’ve seen, that Nvidia chip is pretty crappy. It wouldn’t be my pick for gaming, especially considering how much the Book actually costs. If you want to book for the form factor and other reasons, and plan to play some older games at time, then it could be an option. But even so, personally I can’t justify paying those prices for the Book.

          • Atarian

            November 4, 2015 at 9:24 pm

            I see, thanks for the input. It would be great if you can get the Lenovo Yoga 700.

  42. Andreas Hellman

    November 9, 2015 at 11:36 am


    Nice writing! Is this the latest of the same type of article or do you have one anymore updated?

    Anyway, looking for a gaming laptop since i move around quite a bit. I want pretty much high end performance. Heavy graphic games like Assassins Creed games, maybe BF4, (now a bit old) Crysis 3 etc. And also stuff like League of Legends CSGO. If possible, the ability to plug in a 120/144Hz would be a big plus but not a necessity.

    Have thought about both 15-17” screens, but I can’t really decide. Seems like if I want 4K I have to go with 15” but maybe I have missed something?

    So, I want a great gaminglaptop, not to pricey if possible, which I can move around but doesn’t need to be superthin and superportable. Just the ability to have something I can move “from home to home”, NOT like on the bus och train every day kinda thing.


    Thanks in advance!


  43. Gaming laptop

    November 10, 2015 at 4:05 pm

    Salut Andrei,

    Doresc sa imi cumpar un laptop pentru gaming.
    Ma intereaseaza in special placa video. Un gtx 870m sau 965-970m.si preferabil un i7. Dimensiunea as vrea sa fie de 15.6.
    Viata bateriei nu ma intereseaza.
    Bugetul este de 1200 de $

    Va rula jocuri gen: cs:go,gta v.

    Ideea e ca il pot aduce si din sua.

    Cate sugestii te rog. Multumesc

    • Gaming laptop

      November 10, 2015 at 4:07 pm

      Nu ma intereseaza sa fie nici superportabil sau super subtire. Poate avea si pana la 3 kg. Doar sa se incadreze in bani.

    • Andrei Girbea

      November 10, 2015 at 4:40 pm

      Articolul asta ar trebuia sa te ajute: http://www.ultrabookreview.com/5729-gaming-laptops-nvidia-970m-980m/ , vezi daca gasesti ceva din laptopurile alea. 970M in banii aia vei gasi greu de tot, aia e plaja de preturi pentru 960M in general.

  44. Eric Liang

    November 17, 2015 at 1:58 am

    Hey, I noticed that the picture of the gs40 phantom does not match what a gs60 ghost looks like. After some quick research, the initial photo on most websites including xoticpc was the cancelled version of the gs40. They ended up making it much thicker (0.78 inches to 0.87).

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