Ultrabook reviews, guides and comparisons

Best ultrabooks and ultraportable laptops of 2015 – buying guide and tips

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

I’ve got my hands on hundreds of portable laptops in the last ten or so years that I’ve been covering technology for a living, but I can’t say there was ever a a better time to buy a compact and light laptop than today, when ultrabooks are mature and versatile products.

This website, Ultrabookreview.com, is mostly dedicated to covering ultrabooks, and in this particular article we’re goign to talk about the best ultrabooks available in stores these days, in the second half of 2015.

The truth is there are a lot of great ultraportables out there and many are actually well worth your hard earned buck. That’s why I’ve cut this post into several different sections, so it will be easier for you to find the ultra-portable that best suits your requirements, based on size, special features, performance or budget.

Before we get to the actual products though, I do have to add that there’s no such thing as the perfect ultrabook. However, base on what particular traits you fancy more in a laptop, some of the units in this list will be better suited for you than others. I’ll let you know what each of the models included further down are best suited for, as well as what are their shortcomings, so by the end of the post you should be able to make a documented decision on what’s going to be your next machine. Just take the time to go through the entire article, it’s not a short read, but I’m confident it will be more than helpful.

Oh, and you might see that certain parts of this list are periodically marked as “being updated”, and that’s because I constantly work on my articles, keep them up to date and add new models as soon as they become available and I get to test them (BTW, all my detailed reviews are available over here).

Table of contents – best 2015 ultrabooks

First of all, we’ll sort these portable laptops by size, and this way we have:

Most of the ultrabooks mentioned in these sections are latest generation machines, built with the latest hardware and technologies. If your budget is limited though, you should:

And then, you can choose your ultrabooks based on several other criteria, like:

Check out the links above and the listings below, where we’ll get in depth with some of the top 13 inch ultrabooks of the moment. If you have any questions, feedback or need more help picking the right device for you, don’t hesitate to make good use of the comments section at the end of the article (I’m around and will reply as soon as possible).

New Gen Broadwell ultrabooks

Broadwell is at the moment Intel’s latest hardware platform and when it comes to thin and light laptops, we’re mainly interested in two subseries of the entire Broadwell range: Broadwell Y (or the so called Core M processors) and Broadwell U (with the 5th generation Core i3/i5/i7 processors).

There are a few differences between them, we’re not going to get in depth here, but here are the most basic aspects you need to know.

  • The Core-M architecture is as a successor of the Haswell Y line, designed for low-power and high-efficiency devices. As a particularity, some of the Core M devices are completely fanless.
  • The Broadwell U hardware, a follow-up of Haswell U, is significantly more powerful, fan-cooled and requires more energy, but it’s going to be present in most of this year’s portable laptops and is the one you should be interested in if you want a computer that can handle more than just light tasks.

The Core-M ultraportables

The full list of Core M ultraportables is available here and I’ve already reviewed some of those units. I’ll also mention some of the most interesting ones below (listed alphabetically):

  • Asus Zenbook UX305 – a fanless 13 inch ultrabook that sells for $700 and up and is available in a bunch of different configurations, with Core M-5Y10 and Core M-5Y71 processors, up to 8 GB of RAM, fast SSD storage and either a FHD or a QHD+ matte display. The Zenbook UX305 is also very thin and packs a 45 Wh battery. On the other hand, it tends to get hot easily, a side effect of the fanless design, and does not offer a backlit keyboard. Check out my complete review for more details and follow this link for potential discounts. There’s an amazing configuration available for $699 right now and you should at least give it a look.
If you're after a thin and light ultraportable and only plan to use it lightly, the Zenbook UX305FA could be the right pick for you

If you’re after a thin and light ultraportable and only plan to use it lightly, the Zenbook UX305FA could be the right pick for you

  • Dell Venue 11 Pro 7140 – a 10.8 inch fanless Windows tablet built on an Intel Core M-5Y10/5Y71 platform and capable of running for 7-9 hours of daily use. It can be paired with a matching keyboard dock and a few other accessories if you want to make it more productive. The base version starts at $700 and the dock will cost you extra.
  • Asus Transformer Book Chi T300 – a sleek and light 12.5 inch tablet powered by fanless Core M hardware. The Chi T300 only weighs 1.6 lbs and packs a high-resolution touchscreen, with an MSRP of $699 and up. The battery life is its single major drawback, as you’ll find from my detailed review.
  • HP Elite x2 1011 G1 – a slightly larger Windows tablet, with an 11.6 inch display and Core M-5Y71 hardware, plus a digitizer and Wacom Pen support for those of you that need to takes notes or draw on their computer. The Elite x2 1011 G1 isn’t cheap, but is versatile and can be matched with a multitude of accessories. Among them, there’s a slim keyboard folio, or a keyboard dock with an extra battery inside.
  • Lenovo Yoga 3 11 – this mini laptop starts at around $700 and for that kind of money you’re getting a Core M-5Y10 processor, 4 GB of RAM, a 180 GB SSD and an 11.6 inch FHD touchscreen. Like all the other Yogas, this one is a convertible too, and it’s also light and sleek (2.6 lbs, 0.6 inches in its thickest point), so should be a capable travel companion.
  • Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro – The Yoga 3 Pro is a more premium 13 inch convertible. It weighs as much as the Yoga 3 11 and it’s even slimmer, but offers a larger and higher resolution touchscreen, faster hardware, extra battery life and extravagant looks. All these don’t come cheap though, as the Y3P is one of the most expensive Core M ultraportables out there, and on top of that, this machine is not fanless, unlike most others present here. Check out my complete review for more details.
  • Samsung ATIV Book 9 NP930X2 – this one starts at $1199, which is darn pricey for a Core M platform, and will be available in stores by the end of Spring 2015. That kind of money will buy you an intriguing package though: a 12.2 inch 2560 x 1440 px display, a capable hardware configuration (Core M-5Y31 processor, 8 GB RAM, 256 GB SSD), a fanless design and a 35 Wh battery, all tucked inside a metal made body that only weighs 2.1 lbs.
These are some of the Core M ultrabooks out there:

These are some of the Core M ultrabooks out there: Samsung ATIV Book 9 (left), HP Elite X2 1011 G1 (middle) and the Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro (right)

Now, it’s difficult to say which of these devices is better than the rest. Some are expensive, but beefy and highly portable, some are more proper priced and most are fanless.

But before you get one of these Core M laptops, make sure you understand exactly what this platform can and cannot do. They’re mostly alright for casual everyday activities (browsing with several tabs open, watching videos, listening to music, editing documents), but will struggle with demanding software or serious multitasking. Thus, if you just want instant response from your laptop and don’t have the completely quiet experience as a main criteria in your selection, you’re probably better with one of the Broadwell/Haswell U devices we’re going to cover next.

The Broadwell U ultrabooks

As of early 2015, Intel unveiled their Broadwell U platform which lead to hardware updates of many popular 2014 Haswell models, as well as a spur of brand new and interesting laptops.

I already reviewed a few Broadwell U laptops, including the:

  • Dell XPS 13 2015 – a 13 inch ultraportable in an 11 inch body. The XPS 13 2015 is a completely revamped mini-laptop with two screen options (matte or touchscreen), several different hardware configurations, a nice keyboard and trackpad and longer battery life than most competitors. This device is already available in stores and starts at $799. Follow this link for more details.
  • Acer Aspire S7-393 – a follow-up of the popular Aspire S7-392. Not much has changed, except for the hardware platform, but this machine remains one of the most interesting premium 13 inchers of the moment and the top tier configurations are cheaper than the competition.
  • Acer Aspire V15 VN7-571G – a 15 inch multimedia laptop capable of handling all sorts of daily activities and some games, while going for 5-6 hours on a charge. Will be available with Broadwell U i7 processors and Nvidia 950M graphics later this year.
The Acer Aspire S7-393 and the Dell XPS 13 2015 are some of the most interesting Broadwell ultrabooks available these days

The Acer Aspire S7-393 and the Dell XPS 13 2015 are some of the most interesting Broadwell ultrabooks available these days

More are following, stay close for updates.

The list of Broadwell U ultrabooks is already quite lengthy, and I’ve covered most of them in this other post. For now though, here are a few devices that have caught my attention:

  • Lenovo ThinkPad X250 – the latest version of Lenovo’s iconic X line, with a 12.5 inch IPS FHD matte display, a more compact body, longer battery life and a revised trackpad, which brings back the awesome dedicated click buttons on top of the actual touchpad. This laptop will be available in a few different configurations, with prices starting at around $900, but unfortunately all of them are still limited at only 8 GB of RAM. Expect it in stores from February.
  • Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon 2015 – This is one of the best business laptops you will be able to buy in 2015, an updated version of the X1 Carbon 2014, which we reviewed over here, but improved here and there. The new generation is thinner and lighter, offers a brighter display and faster PCI-E storage, packs a larger 50Wh battery and, what’s probably more important than anything else, bundles a standard keyboard, without any finicky touch controls and a clickpad with dedicated physical click buttons. The X1 Carbon 2014 is already available in stores and starts at $1149. See this link for more details and potential discounts.
  • Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus NP940X – the updated versions of the previous ATIV Book 9 Plus NP930X series, these laptops are only available in select parts of the world and start at $1299. For that kind of money you’re getting a sleek looking metal-made device with a high-resolution touchscreen and a 55Wh battery. Will cover this in depth in a future article, so stay tuned.
  • Lenovo Yoga 3 14 – a follow-up of the popular Yoga 2 13, one of the best affordable 2-in-1s that were available in the last years. The new model is only narrowly larger and heavier than its predecessor, but packs a 14 inch FHD display now, a faster Wi-Fi AC wireless module and improved IO (with 3 USBs slots and full-size HDMI). The Broadwell i5 models start at $799, and i7 versions are also available. Follow this link for more details.
  • Dell Inspiron 13 7000 – I reviewed this laptop a while ago and it proved to be another great affordable 2-in-1. Dell now offers it with Broadwell U i5 and i7 processors, and the cheapest configurations start at $649. Follow this link for details.

There are also entire lines of everyday laptops from Dell, HP, Acer or Lenovo that were recently upgraded to Broadwell, and you can find them all in this list.

As a quick wrap-up, keep two things in mind:

  1. Some manufacturers are going to skip a Broadwell update and aim directly for Intel’s next generation hardware, Skylake, scheduled for the end of 2015.
  2. When it comes to raw CPU performance, Broadwell is just a minor improvement from Haswell, as proven by these article on the 5th generation Core i5 and Core i7 processors. The Intel HD 5500 graphics embedded within Broadwell U processors on the other hand is a significant step-up from the Intel HD 4400 solution, but even this one will only show its stregth in demanding activities, like playing games or watching 4K videos, which many of you might not even perform on their ultrabook.

That means Haswell laptops are clearly not obsolete and should still be high on your lists, especially since they might get discounted in the months to come. The next chapter will talk about the most interesting 13 inch Haswell portable laptops.

The premium Haswell ultrabooks

In here you’ll find the premium ultrabooks built on Intel’s Haswell hardware. While this platform is not significantly faster than the previous Intel Ivy Bridge, Haswell powered machines tend to run more efficient and offer more capable graphics. On top of that, the newer laptops improve and fix most of their predecessors’ issues, as manufacturers learned from their mistakes and from our feedback.

Asus Zenbook UX303 series (UX303LA and UX303LN)

Pros: solid built, nicely finished, good screens, plenty on configurations available, good connectivity, Nvidia 840M graphics on the UX303LN, excellent price, upgrade friendly
Cons: average battery life, potential screen issues (color reproduction and scaling), the UX303LN gets warm under load, heavier than other 13 inchers

The UX303 is going to be Asus’s top ultrabook series for the second half of 2014 and probably first part of 2015 as well, next to the already popular Zenbook UX301 and UX302 lines, which we’ll address a bit further below.

With the UX303 series Asus went for a simpler all-aluminum design and a slightly bulkier body (0.8″ thick, 3.3 lbs heavy) than you’d expect from a 13 inch ultrabook. But that leaves room for more ports (3 USBs on these laptops, HDMI, miniDP and a card-reader, plus VGA and LAN with the included adapters), allows more space for powerful hardware inside and helps drastically lower the price tags over last year’s UX301/UX302 lines.

As a result, the Zenbook UX303LN packs the Intel Core i5-4210U/i7-4510U processors, up to 12 GB of RAM, Nvidia 840M graphics and up to 512 GB of SSD storage, which is easily upgradeable BTW, and so is the memory. That makes this Zenbook the most graphics capable 13 inch ultrabook launched to-date, able to handle even the latest games on 19 x 10 resolutions with medium details. My detailed review will tell you more about that and all the things you need to know about this laptop.

The UX303LN is not just about power though, it also packs a good keyboard a trackpad, several screen options (among them, a non-glare IPS FHD panel) and a large enough battery. Of course, given the beefy hardware, the battery life only averages about 5-6 hours of daily use for the top-configured UX303LN, but lower end models will do better. At the same time, the UX303LN does get warm under load (not hot though, or too noisy for that matter), but this was expected when squeezing the Nvidia 840M chip into a metal-made 13 incher.

Now, you would probably expect all these to come expensive, but in fact the UX303LN will sell for between $800 to $1300. The available configurations are listed over here, and if you’re looking for some discounts and up-to-date prices, you should definitely follow this link.

The Zenbook UX302LA is the lower end version of the LN described above. The two are identical, with two exceptions: the LA does not get the Nvidia 840M graphics chip, instead relies solely on the Intel HD 4400 chip integrated within the Haswell CPUs, and the LA gets different screen options than the LN. I’ve compared the two lines in this post, if you’re interested.

The lack of the Nvidia chip will cripple this laptop’s gaming abilities, but will have a positive impact on running temperatures and autonomy, which are in fact the main reasons why you might pick the UX302LA over the LN. These, and the price.

As expected, the UX303LA is cheaper than the LN, but actually not as much cheaper as I was expecting. The UX303LA has list prices of $650 to $1150 and you might find these discounted if you’ll follow this link. As a general rule though, the UX303LA retails for 50 to 100 USD (or EUR) less than a similarly configured UX303LN, at least at launch, so unless you really don’t need the graphics or want a particular configuration that’s only available for the LA, I’d say there’s little reason to pick this model over then LN. In time though, once the UX303LA will get cheaper (and it will fairly quickly), this will change. So make sure to check the latest prices before taking any final decisions.

The Zenbook UX303 family has at least two members: the UX303LA and the UX303LN

The Zenbook UX303 family has at least two members: the UX303LA and the UX303LN

Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro – my detailed review

Pros: beautiful and proper built, 2-in-1 form-factor, sharp screen, good keyboard and trackpad, cool and quiet, excellent price
Cons: limited connectivity, only average battery life, the panel has color reproduction issues on Power Saving modes

This is Lenovo’s top-of-the-line ultrabook right now. It carries on from the design of the previous Yoga, but refines the looks and gets Intel Haswell platforms inside, plus a sharp and punchy 3200 x 1800 px 13.3 inch display with an IPS panel.

What sets apart the Yoga 2 Pro from the other premium ultrabooks is the unusual form factor though, as the screen can be flipped 360 degrees to the back, which allows you to use the device as a regular laptop, as a tablet, or as something in between, and this makes the Yoga 2 Pro a versatile device, adaptable to all sorts of use scenarios.

The keyboard does remain exposed under the body in tablet mode and that’s a bit annoying, but it is automatically locked so nothing will happen when pressing the keys by mistake.  And since we’re here, I do have to mention that the typing experience is quite solid on this laptop, although the travel is on the shallow side, and the clickpad is accurate and reliable.  When it comes to ports though, there’s only room for two USB slots on this device (one of them USB 3.0), a card-reader and a mini-HDMI connector, so no proper way of outputting higher than 1080p resolutions onto a large screen.

That aside, the Yoga 2 Pro handles daily activities just fine, even in its lowest-tier configurations, and runs cool and quiet pretty much all the time. So all in all the Yoga 2 Pro sure looks like a great pick, especially if you dig the form factor. The rather short battery life is however this one’s Achilles heel, averaging around 5 hours of everyday use on a charge. Also, the SSD used for storage is not as fast as what the competitors are offering.

On the other hand though, the Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro is cheaper than its direct rivals. A Core i3 version can be bought for $900 or so. The mid configuration, with an Intel Core i5-4200U processor, 8 GB of RAM and a 256 GB SSD sells for around $1200, which is several hundreds less than what Asus, Sony, Samsung or Acer are asking for their similar configs. And if you add $100 more, you’ll get the Core i7-4500U processor and all the others. Not to mention that all the options can be found slightly discounted online, as you’ll see from here.

Apple Macbook Air 2014 – more details in here

Pros: solid and good looking, powerful hardware, extra-long battery life, very good keyboard and trackpad, cool and quiet, good price
Cons: sub-par screen quality

The Air is not an ultrabook per-se, but is nonetheless one of the best 13 inch ultra-portables of the moment, if not the best. Unlike ultrabooks, it does not run Windows, but Apple’s operating system. That means that some specialized software might not work on it, but unless you’re a gamer or software engineer, that shouldn’t worry you much. And even so, there are solutions to running Windows-only programs on a Mac.

Those out of the way, the Macbook Air is highly appreciated by both reviewers and consumers. We won’t get in depth here (I did in this other post, if you’re interested), but there are several major reasons for that.

First of all, the MBA is sturdy, simple and looks good, with its aluminum unibody. It’s not as slim or as light as some of the modern ultrabooks and it might not use fancy materials like carbon-fiber or Gorilla Glass for its case, but it is designed to be practical and reliable. The Air also packs an awesome keyboard and trackpad, better than what you’ll be getting with most Windows ultrabooks right now. And it also bundles powerful hardware. The 2014 version packs the latest Intel Haswell processors with Intel HD 5000 Iris graphics, plus very fast SSD storage and Wireless connectivity. On top of that, the 2014 13-inch Macbook Air can actually last for 10 to 13 hours of everyday use on a charge, again, something no ultrabook can match.

The Air has one massive downside though: the sub-par screen, a 13.3 incher with 1440 x 900 px resolution and a non-touch TN panel, while most premium ultrabooks offer Full HD IPS panels, or better. I don’t necessarily mind not having a touch-display on the Air and not even the low resolution, but the viewing angles, contrast and colors are hard to get used to when you’ve seen what more capable panels can offers these days.

For you though, that might not matter as much when you’ll hear that the Apple Macbook Air starts at $1099, and you can actually find it discounted online. You should get the base version with the i5-4260U processor, Iris 5000 graphics, 4 GB of RAM and 128 GB SSD for under $1000, while beefier configurations sell for a few hundreds more.

Anyway, the MacBook Air is definitely worth at least a look, but it’s up to you whether it is the right laptop for what you need or not. And if you want to read a more in-depth comparison on how the MBA stacks against ultrabooks in general, this article over here will surely come in handy.

The Macbook Air is the most popular ultra-portable of the moment, and for good reasons

The Macbook Air is the most popular ultra-portable of the moment, and for good reasons

Dell XPS 13 2014 edition

Pros: compact for a 13 incher, solid built, good keyboard, trackpad and screen, option for the Intel Core-i7 4650U CPU, fast, big battery proper priced
Cons: no card-reader and HDMI, warm and loud under load, on the expensive side

Update: In the meantime Dell have released the XPS 13 2015 with Broadwell U hardware and a brand new design. You can check out my detailed review over here.

There are a few reasons why the Dell XPS 13 is one of the best ultrabooks in this class. First, it is solid built with its carbon-fiber and aluminum body and has a more compact footprint than any of its 13 inch rivals.

Then, it packs an above-average display. It’s a touchscreen, thus glossy, with a bright and popping FHD IPS panel, covered by a layer of Gorilla Glass. There’s no higher than 1920 x 1080 px resolution option on the XPS 13, but that’s actually just right on a 13 incher and keeps you safe from those pesky Windows scaling issues that are a given with higher-res panels.

Next on the list are the comfortable backlit keyboard and the accurate and responsive trackpad, some of the better found on any Windows based ultra-portable.

Hardware wise, the 2014 edition of the Dell XPS 13 is available in several different Haswell configurations (up to 8 GB of RAM and 256 GB SSDs), including the Core-i7 4650U processor for the top-tier model, a processor that bundles Intel’s Iris 5000 graphics and is not widely spread on ultrabooks (but also available on the Macbook Air). So if you want a slightly beefier graphics chips on your thin-and-light machine, you can get it with the XPS 13.

Last but not least, the Dell XPS 13 comes with a big 55Wh battery and while I was actually expecting better, this translates in roughly 7 to 8 hours of daily use on a charge.

On the cons side, the XPS 13 tends to run hotter and noisier than most other ultrabooks and lacks a card-reader or an HDMI slot. The latter should not be a problem, as you do get a miniDP connector on this laptop, but the former definitely is.

On top of that, the XPS 13 is rather expensive. The base version offers a Core i5-4210U processor, 8 GB of RAM and a 128 GB SSD, with a list price of $1199. Dell does offer occasional discounts though, so you can get this for under $1100 ( see this link for potential discounts ), but even so, you will find similar configs for less. The top tier version, with the  i7-4560U processor, 8 GB of RAM and the 256 GB SSD sells for roughly $1400, again, with discounts, available via the link above.

Dell's XPS 13 is compact and beautiful, but lacks some vital ports

Dell’s XPS 13 is compact and beautiful, but lacks a card reader and gets warm and noisy whens stressed

Asus Zenbook Infinity UX301LA and Zenbook UX302LG/LA

Pros: sexy looking, glass and metal used for the bodies, excellent screens, unique hardware configurations not available on other ultrabooks, good battery life
Cons: top-configs tend to get hot under load, the glass lid might not appeal to everyone, expensive (performance does not come cheap), limited availability

Asus has a handful of Haswell ultrabooks in stores right now. Among them, two are sleeker and sexier looking than the others: the Zenbook UX301LA (also known as the Zenbook Infinity – my review here) and the Zenbook UX302LG (my review here).

The first is the best ultrabook Asus has to offer right now, arguably superior to the UX303 line. It packs a sleek body covered in metal and Gorilla Glass, available in Blue or White. It also offers a 2560 x 1440 px IGZO panel, bright, sharp and capable of painting popping colors. And you do get several different hardware configurations, with the top one being unique among 13.3 inch ultrabooks: the Intel Core i7-4558U processor and Iris 5100 graphics. It’s punchy, as you’ll see from the review, but this top tier option doesn’t come cheap, as it sells for just shy of $1800 these days with 8 GB of RAM and a 256 GB SSD.

The more standard versions, with Core i5 and i7 Haswell processors, go for between $1300 and $1600, but you can find them slightly cheaper online, if you’ll keep your eyes peeled for deals and offers. See this link for some up-to-date prices and discounts.

The Zenbook UX302LG is a slightly thicker and heavier ultrabook. It’s not as aesthetically impressive as the UX301LA either, although the two share similar design lines and materials. However, the UX302LG does offer more ports and an Nvidia 730M dedicated graphics chip, which makes it quite versatile in games. Check out the review for more details. Besides these, the UX02LG does leave room for upgrades (RAM and storage), something you’re not usually getting with most ultrabooks. Again, the review will reveal more about that, so have a look.

Financially, the UX302LG starts at about $1300, with the top configurations going for $1700-$1800, but you should find them cheaper online. For the time being though, the UX302LG is really hard to come by in most regions, including the US. It is available in Canada, Europe and Asia, but I’d expect it to be widely replaced by the newer Zenbook UX303LN mentioned above fairly soon, which is faster, cooler and more affordable, as demonstrated by my detailed review here.

Asus has simpler version of the UX302LG in stores as well, called the Zenbook UX302LA, which ditches the dedicated graphics, but keeps all the other features and aspects. This particular unit is available in the US and a Core i5-4200U configuration with 4 GB of RAM and a 500 GB HDD will set you back about around $1100 (see this link for potential discounts).

Acer Aspire S7-392 – more details in here

Pros: beautiful, thin and light, solid build quality, good performance, Fast RAID storage, good battery life, runs cool and quiet
Cons: Odd keyboard layout, other similar laptops cost less, poor speakers

Update: There’s also the newer Acer Aspire S7-393 available right now, with Broadwell U hardware and a faster Wi-Fi AC wireless module. Check out my detailed review for more details.

The Aspire S7-392 is Acer’s best built machine I’ve seen in many years. It comes in two options, a more widespread white one with an aluminum case and a glass lid cover, and a silver, fully metallic one.

The S7 packs a decent keyboard and trackpad, a fair selection of ports (2 USBs, HDMI, card-reader and Acer Converter Port – gives access to miniDP, VGA or LAN with adapters ) , Intel Haswell hardware, fast RAID 0 SSD storage and a Full HD IPS touchscreen (with an option for a 2560×1440 px screen on some markets). It’s worth noting that the keyboard layout is unusual, as the top row of Functional keys is actually missing, and you’ll need some time to get used to it.

All these features are crammed inside a 0.5 of an inch thick body that weighs less than 2.9 pounds and there was room for a 47 Wh battery as well, which keeps the S7 running for an average of 6-7 hours on a charge, with everyday use. Keep in mind that the older Aspire S7-391 versions built on Ivy Bridge models packed a smaller battery that could only go for about 4 hours on each charge.

The Aspire S7-392 has a start price of of roughly $1300 these days, which makes it one of the most expensive 13 inchers in this list. For that you get the Core i5-4200U processor, 8 GB of memory and a 128 GB SSD, but other 13 inchers offer more for the money. If you really like it though, and there’s little reason not to, you’ll probably find the S7-392 cheaper online these days. Last time I’ve checked, I’ve spotted a Core i7-4500U / 8 GB/ 256 GB SSD configuration for under $1300 via this link.

An awesome looking, but pricey, Acer Aspire S7

The awesome looking, but pricey, Acer Aspire S7

HP Spectre 13T-3000 – more details in here

Pros: simple and sturdy, looks find, good screen, keyboard and trackpad, big battery
Cons: a bit heavy at 3.35 lbs, can get noisy and throttle under load

The HP Spectre 13T-3000 is definitely a 13 incher worth considering, if you can find it in stores anymore, as it really seems to be in short supply these days.

The price is what really sets this line apart from most other ultrabooks out there, as the Intel Core i5-4200U version of the Spectre 13T, with 4 GB of RAM, 128 GB SSD and a Full HD touchscreen sells for under 900 bucks these days, which is cheaper than pretty much any other configured 13 inch ultrabook (correct me if I’m wrong in the comments below). For that you’re getting a solid aluminum body, a FHD screen with an IPS panel (and an option for a QHD screen), Haswell hardware, a comfortable keyboard, a big battery and a proper selection of ports. More details about it, including some reviews, are available in this post.

If we’re to get picky, the Spectre 13T is probably not the sleekest ultrabook out there and some users reported that the laptop gets noisy and even throttles under serious load. So if you’re looking for the best performance in an ultrabook, it’s best to do it somewhere else. Those aside though, this HP is definitely a solid pick for the money.  This post will show you up-to-date prices and some discounts on this model, if you’re interested.

You'll be getting plenty for the money with the HP Spectre 13T-3000, that if you can find it anymore

You’ll be getting plenty for the money with the HP Spectre 13T-3000, that if you can find it anymore

Toshiba KIRABook 13 2014 – more details in here

Pros: sleek and nicely built, good specs, good port selection, decent keyboard, trackpad and battery life
Cons: buggy wi-fi, loud fan, expensive, somewhat dated design

The Haswell version of the Toshiba KIRABook is another 13 inch ultrabook you could consider, although there’s nothing that actually makes it stand out from the crowd. In fact, you could well characterize this machine as average.

It is sturdy built and fairly beautiful, it packs a decent keyboard and trackpad (although the keys are a bit shallow and the touch-surface does get jumpy from time to time), a proper selection of ports around the sides (3 USBs, card-reader, full-size HDMI) and a 2560 x 1440 px IPS touchscreen. It is available with Core i5 and i7 processors, plus up to 8 GB of RAM and 256 GB of SSD storage, and will last for about 6 hours on a charge, which is decent, but again, short of impressive.

On top of that, the KIRABook has a list price of $1499, and for that kind of money, I’d recommend looking the other way. However, you can get a Core i5-4200U/ 8 GB RAM / 256 GB SSD configuration for around $1150 online these days, which is not bad at all. See the link for more details, and keep in mind that a Core i7 version is available as well, but not as nicely priced as the i5 model.

There nothing special about the Toshiba Kirabook 13, but it's nonetheless a good laptop with an excellent price

There nothing special about the Toshiba Kirabook 13, but it’s nonetheless a good laptop with an excellent price

Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus NP940 – more about it in here

Pros: sexy design and solid build quality, sharp and bright touchscreen, good performance, runs quiet
Cons: rather shallow keyboard and occasional glitches with the trackpad, miniaturized ports, expensive when compared to competition, potential scaling issues

This is Samsung’s top-ultrabook right now and succeeds the highly appreciated Series 9 Ultra NP900. It maintains the good looks and slender silhouette, while bundling up-to-date Haswell hardware and a high resolution 3200 x 1800 px IPS touchscreen.

The ATIV Book 9 Plus is on the pricey side though, with a list tag of $1399 an up, and that puts it above most other 13.3 inch ultrabooks of the moment. But if you want a sleek device, the Book 9 Plus might be worth every penny. The slender, light and yet durable body makes it highly portable, the hardware inside takes care of anything you might throw at it and the screen is gorgeous and sharp. However, keep in mind that these high-density panels will encounter some Windows induced scaling issues.

This Samsung ultrabook is not without quirks though, as the keyboard is fairly shallow, the battery lasts for only about 5-6 hours of daily use on a charge (that’s not bad, but other ultrabooks can definitely go for longer) and last but not least, most of the ports included on the sides are miniaturized, as there was no room for their full-size versions. And that’s annoying, especially since the common extension adapters are missing from the pack and you’ll have to pay extra for them.

Even so, none of the things mentioned above are real deal-breakers, that’s why the Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus is one of the top 13 inch ultrabooks money can buy. I do feel that you’re overpaying for the brand and the looks here, as most similar 13 inchers are better priced (BTW, I’ve compared the Book 9 Plus with its direct rivals over here) and actually have less aspects on the Cons side, but you might feel otherwise.

Like I said above, the base version of the Book 9 Plus has a list price of roughly $1400 and you will find this discounted online, but even so, the Core i5-4200U/4GB/128GB SSD config is hard to find for less than $1200 these days. Check out this link for more discounts and up-to-date prices. And in case this is not enough for your needs, performance wise, the higher end configuration with the i5-4500U/8GB RAM/256 GB SSD sells for North of $1600 (with a list price of roughly $1800).

Sony Vaio Flip 13 – convertible with digitizer and pen

Pros: sleek, interesting form-factor, good screen with digitizer/pen support, solid performance, good connectivity
Cons: noisy fan, only average battery life

This is Sony’s latest 13 inch ultrabook and is also known as the Sony Vaio Fit 13 multi-flip. Yes, that’s confusing. Regardless, this ultrabook is Sony’s best take at a 2-in-1 laptop,  with a convertible screen and an unique and ingenious way of switching between laptop and tablet mode.

The dual-hinge screen is not perfect, but overall this Vaio looks and feels great. Metal is used for the entire body and the very sharp edges tend to cut into your fingers, but you could probably live with that just fine. However, the entire screen is rather heavy and tends to lift-up the device’s lower body when poking it, in regular laptop mode. Besides this, the same lower body tends to flex a bit too much for my liking, like on the Vaio Pro 13.

All those aside, the Vaio Flip 13 packs the latest Intel Haswell hardware, with several different configurations for you to choose from, packs a 13.3 inch Full HD IPS panel, with a digitizer. There’s a matching Sony pen included, but it looks like in some countries you’ll have to buy that on the side, as it’s not part of the package. Oh, and that’s still an N-Trig digitizer on this Vaio, like on the Duos, with its shortcomings (doesn’t work with Wacom digitizer pens, lacks proper pressure support in some important apps, etc).

All in all, the Flip 13 is a decent convertible ultrabook with a digitizer, something you’re not getting with many other such laptops these days. It starts at $1099, for a Core i5/8GB RAM/128GB SSD configuration, which is a fair price, but the top models can easily get past $1500. Regardless, you will find it discounted online.

But even with the good pricing, the Flip 13 is scared by its minor, but many inconveniences, like the very, very noisy fan, the poor balance, flexible body and only average battery life (about 6 hours on a charge). So unless you really want a 2-in-1 convertible with a digitizer , there are better options out there than this Sony Vaio Flip 13. I’ve put up together a long list of the available 2-in-1 laptops, in case you’re interested, available over here.

Sony Vaio Pro 13 – detailed review here

Pros: sleek, very light and thin, solid specs, good screen and keyboard, long battery life, punchy speakers
Cons: very flexible, can get noisy sometimes, some units suffer from severe Wi-Fi problems, some quality control issues reported

The Pro is Sony’s business ultrabook with a clam-shell form-factor. It steps out of the crowd with a minimalistic and simple design, a extremely light body (weighs only 2.4 pounds, which make the Pro 13 the lightest 13 inch ultrabook of the moment) and a nice selection of accessories, including a slice battery, a docking unit and a dongle that attaches to the USB port on the power brick and transforms a wired Internet connection into your own secure Wireless network.

Besides that, there’s a decent backlit keyboard on the Vaio Pro, a Full HD IPS touchscreen (and a non-glare non-touch IPS option on some units) and of course, several different Haswell configurations to choose from (Core i5-4200U and Core i7-4500U). You’ll find out more about the Pro 13 from my detailed review.

But what’s not to like about this Vaio ultrabook? Well, Sony went for a highly flexible fiber-carbon body, that feels somewhat fragile. Then, the sharp edges and corners aren’t exactly comfortable in everyday use, and on top of that, the Pro 13 can get really noisy when pushed. Oh, and quite a few buyers reported that the laptop had WiFi issues or other quality control problems with the screen and battery. And since Sony sold the Vaio division a while ago, I really doubt these will be addressed anytime soon (more like ever). So while you might get lucky with a good Pro 13, i don’t think it’s actually worth the risk.

The Sony Vaio Pro 13 has a list price of $1250, for the Core i5-4200U/4GB/128GB SSD configuration. However, you’ll find this version for under $1000 these days, while the top configuration with the i7-4500U CPU, 8 GB of RAM and a 256 GB SSD is available for around $1400. Check out this link for more details.

The thin and light Sony Vaio Pro 13 business ultrabook

The thin and light Sony Vaio Pro 13 business ultrabook

Sony Vaio Duo 13 – detailed review here

Pros: solid build quality, good looking, fast hardware, 2-in-1 form factor, plenty of ports, big battery
Cons: the form factor, cramped keyboard and trackpad, the N-Trig digitizer might not be good enough for some

The Vaio Duo is Sony’s most extravagant ultrabook of the moment. It’s a hybrid, so it can be used as a large tablet, or as a laptop, when sliding the screen and revealing the keyboard beneath. The slider form factor has some downsides, as you can’t actually adjust the viewing angle and you’ll have to settle for a rather cramped keyboard, but if you’re alright with these, you’ll end up loving the Duo 13.

It packs all the standard goodies, with plenty of ports, several Intel Haswell configurations to choose from, a large 50Wh battery (can go for up to 10 hours of everyday use) and a fairly comfortable backlit keyboard, although the lack of a palm-rest is a bit annoying, and so is the tiny trackpad. But like I said, there are compromises you’re making with this one.

You can however use the Duo 13 to take notes, sketches and so on, thanks to its screen that embeds a digitizer (N-Trig though) and the pen in the pack. You’ll find more about this and the laptop in general from my detailed Sony Vaio Duo 13 review.

The Duo 13 has a list price of $1399, but you can find it significantly cheaper online. The base configuration sells for between $1100 to $1200, with the i5 CPU, 4 GB of RAM and the 128 GB SSD, while the beefier combo with the i7-4500U processor, 8 GB of RAM and 256 GB SSD should be available for roughly $1400 these days.

The Sony Vaio Duo 13 is one of the few Haswell hybrids available these days

The Sony Vaio Duo 13 is one of the few Haswell hybrids available these days

The best affordable 13.3 inch ultrabooks

If you’re after a very good 13 inch ultraportable and don’t want to pay over $1000 for it, you should look at the options in this chapter. Also, have a look at my list of best ultrabooks under $800 (with many under $600 these days).

On top of that, keep in mind that some configurations of the premium options mentioned above do sell for under $1000 (mostly Core i5 processors with 4 GB of RAM and 128 GB SSDs). Among them, the Asus Zenbook UX303LN, the Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro, the Dell XPS 13 2014, the HP Spectre 13T-3000 and the Vaio Pro 13. So make sure to check for deals on these if you have about 1G to spend. However, if you want to spend as little as possible, than here’s when the options below come in play.

Keep in mind that with cheaper ultrabooks you’ll make concessions on weight and build quality, screen quality, hardware and some other features. That doesn’t meant that you won’t find good and cheap ultrabooks, you will, but you’ll also have to adjust your expectations to your budget if you actually want to get along fine with what you end up choosing.

Lenovo Yoga 2 13

The IdeaPad Yoga 13 is one of the most popular hybrid ultrabooks of the last years and the series that actually made the 360-degrees flippable screen form-factor as popular and widespread as it is today.

You’ll find a newer, Haswell powered version of this series in stores today, also called the Yoga 13 2 line, and the original series launched a few year ago, powered by older Intel IvyBridge platforms.

The two share a similar body (with some finishing differences – the new Yoga no longer uses the same soft rubbery plastic casing we saw on the original model. or the textured interior), keyboard, trackpad (smaller on the new model) and ports and there’s not a lot to complain about any of these. The new version however only sports a mini-HDMI connector, while the original model offered a Full-Size HDMI ports and there are a few other minor differences between the two generations, but not really enough to make a major difference.

Except for two important aspects. Well, three, if we consider the hardware, of course. One of them are the screens. The Yoga 2 13 packs a 1920 x 1080 px IPS touchscreen, while the older model settled for a 1600 x 900 px TN panel. The other is the battery life, where the 2nd generation Yoga outlasts its predecessor by a few hours on each charge.

Anyway, the Yoga 2 13 starts at $899 right now, for a Core i5-4200U/4GB RAM/ 500 GB HDD+16GB SSD config, while a similar version of the first gen Yoga 13, with the Core i5-3312U processor, sells for about $800. But you can find discounts on both series, if you’ll follow this link.

Long story short, the Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 13 are solid picks if you want a convertible machine with a fair price. The older model launched in 2013 is somewhat cheaper than the 2-14 Haswell powered version, but at the same, the price-gap between these and the Yoga 2 Pro series is not that big, so you should check out those units as well (they are listed above, in the premium ultrabooks section)

Asus Transformer Book Flip TP300LA and TP300LP

This is Asus’s version of a convertible 2-in-1 laptop, built around the same form-factor as the Lenovo Yoga. In fact, the two series are similar in many ways.

The Transformer Flip TP300 is somewhat heavier (3.85 pounds) than the Yoga and bulkier as well, and that makes it more uncomfortable to use in tablet mode. But on the other hand metal is a big part of its case, while the Lenovo is mostly built from plastic.

The Flip TP300 packs a 13.3 inch FHD IPS screen (with HD TN panels available on the base configurations), a decent keyboard and trackpad, a fair selection of ports and capable hardware, that leaves room for upgrades. You’ll find out more about this series from my detailed review posted on the site a while ago.

Asus does offer two models within the TP300 line, the TP300LP with Nvidia 820M dedicated graphics, and the TP300LA, without. The latter sells for between $700 and $1000, while the LP model is about 50 bucks more expensive than a similarly configured LA, but both can be found cheaper online.

All in all, the Transformer Book Flip TP300 is worth considering if you really want a convertible laptop with Haswell hardware and an affordable price tag, even cheaper than the Lenovo Yoga 2 13. But if the form-factor is not a major factor in your decision, you will find other good 13 inchers that offer similar features for less.

Dell Inspiron 13 7000 series

A fair match for the Asus and Lenovo 2-in-1s mentioned above, the Dell Inspiron 13 7347 is also a convertible built on the exact same form factor. It also packs Haswell hardware and an IPS FHD touchscreen. And it’s also a bit heavier than the average 13 inch ultrabook, tipping the scales at roughly 3.7 pounds.

This one has an awesome looking case on its side, the solid build quality and the comfortable keyboard, as well as the fast Wi-Fi and rich IO. And it’s rather affordable, with the Core i3 versions going for about $600 and the i5 models with 8 GB of RAM for $750 on Dell’s website, but you might find them even cheaper online. On the other hand, the Inspiron 13 7000 will only last for about 4-5 hours of daily use on a charge and bundles an unreliable trackpad. You can find more about it from my detailed review available here on the site or from the video below.

Asus Vivobook Q301LA/LP – simple and cheap

The Vivobook Q301LA (or S301LA as it is called on some markets) is just one of them. In fact, the Q301LA is more or less a TP300LA in a clam-shell body.

The entire thing is built on an aluminum body that houses a decent keyboard and trackpad, pretty much all the needed ports on the sides (except for VGA, you’ll need and adapter for those) and Haswell hardware. Besides that, some versions do bundle an AMD Radeon Mobility 8530G on top of all the other features, and these are sold as the Q301LP, or the Vivobooks V301LP in the United States.

However, as shown in my detailed review of this series, you will have to settle for a small battery (which translates in about 5 hours of daily use) and a 1366 x 768 px TN touchscreen if you end up choosing this device. Other from that, there’s little to complain about here.

Now, you will pay about $650 (or even less) for a Core i5-4200U, 4 GB of RAM, 500 GB HDD configuration of the Q301LA, which is about $100 less than a similar Transformer Book Flip TP300LA and more than $200 cheaper than the Yoga 2 13. So if you’re on a tight budget, the Vivobook Q301LA is definitely worth at least a look.

Lenovo IdeaPad U330 Touch / U330P – a sturdy ultrabook for school

The Lenovo IdeaPad U330 (or the U330P as it’s know on some markets) is one the toughest affordable ultrabooks of the moment. It’s basically the Haswell update of the IdeaPad U310, which I reviewed here on the site a while ago.

This newer version retains the simple design, the solid body, the accurate keyboard and fairly good trackpad of the older variant. It unfortunately keeps the screen as well, still a 13.3 incher with a rather poor LCD panel, but you can now get a touchscreen option as well, if you want to.

The hardware is the novelty here, as we get Core i5 and i7 Haswell processors inside the IdeaPad U330, with Intel HD 4400 graphics, up to 8 GB of RAM and hybrid storage. With Haswell, the U330 will surely last longer on a charge as well; Lenovo claims up to 10 hours, I’d reckon around 6-7 in everyday use, which is quite good. Also, Lenovo bundled an improved wireless chip on this U330 line, which is good news, considering some of the older U310 versions encountered Wi-Fi issues. Hopefully these are gone on the new model (I’ll keep my eyes open for details on this aspect).

Long story short, the IdeaPad U330 is already available in Europe, starting at 599 euros without the touchscreen, or 699 euros with it. The laptop is also available in the US and the latest prices and discounts can be found via this link, but you might actually have a hard-time finding this model in stores over there, it seems to be in short supplies.

Lenovo's IdeaPad U330 - just as tough as the u310, now with Haswell onboard

Lenovo’s IdeaPad U330 – just as tough as the u310, now with Haswell onboard

Samsung ATIV Book 9 Lite – a good all-rounder

The ATIV Book 9 Lite is not an ultrabook per-se, and that’s because it is motorized by an AMD designed hardware platform. With a quad-core processor, dedicated graphics, 4 GB of RAM and a 128 GB SSD, the Book 9 Lite might not go toe to toe with the Intel Haswell powered machines, but is still going to be snappy enough for your everyday tasks, multimedia and even light gaming. On top of that, you can expect about 5 hours of daily use from it, which is on par with what most affordable ultrabooks offer these days.

Hardware aside, there’s really no major difference between the Book 9 Lite and the other laptops in this section. The Samsung machine is a bit heavy for a 13 incher, tipping the scales at 3.5 pounds, but that’s not really that bad for this class. Plastic is used for most of the case, but the entire thing looks good and feels fairly sturdy. It is available in either white or black.

The display is perhaps a bit disappointing, as there’s only a 1366 x 768 px TN LCD touchscreen on this unit, but that’s again what you should expect from this price range.

Speaking of prices, the Samsung ATIV Book 9 Lite is listed at $799, but you can actually find it discounted online, for as low as $600. So if you want a basic computer with decent looks and Samsung’s name on the hood, the ATIV Book 9 Lite is definitely not a bad option to consider.

Samsung ATIV Book 9 Lite - a different ultraportable

Samsung ATIV Book 9 Lite – a different ultraportable

Older Ivy Bridge 13.3 inch ultrabooks worth considering in 2014

I’d generally advise to get one of the latest gen ultrabooks, not just because of the improved hardware (more efficient, more powerful graphics, but not necessarily a clear improvement in daily use), but more importantly because with these recent entries manufacturers actually improved what they screwed on their previous lines. But if you’re on a tight budget and don’t want to settle for the shortcomings of the affordable Haswell laptops, there are still a few IvyBridge powered 13 inch ultrabooks you could consider even in 2014. We’ll talk about these below.

Asus Zenbook Prime UX31A (and UX31A Touch) – see my full review here

This was a big hit last year, the UX31A Prime. With it, Asus took what was good on their Zenbook iteration (the UX31E), aka the design and build quality, and added a new keyboard, an improved trackpad, a new screen and updated hardware, while keeping the prices at bay.

As you’ll find out from the review, the result was great, even by today’s standards. The IPS Full HD display on the UX31A can easily rival any other screen featured on 13 inch ultrabooks, the laptop still feels very fast, the keyboard is backlit and fairly comfortable, the trackpad is a lot more reliable than before. There’s also a Touch version of this Zenbook, alongside the one I tested, with a non-glare screen.

Of course, no laptop is perfect, and with the Zenbook you should care about its underbelly getting really warm when performing more intense tasks (but not with casual use and movies) and the occasional jumpy trackpad. Early versions of the UX31A encountered some problems with the Wi-Fi Modules and SSD storage, but those should no longer be problem these days.

The Zenbook Prime UX31A used to start at $1099 at launch, for the Core i5-3317U CPU, 4 GB of RAM and 128 GB SSD, while the top options got to about $1500. But since the Primes are IvyBridge powered ultrabooks, you’re going to find them massively discounted online these days. For instance, a Core i7/4GB RAM/256 GB SSD configuration sells for under 1G today. However, keep in mind that this series has been discontinued, so the UX31A will eventually run out of stock.

It’s worth adding that Asus also offers a Zenbook UX31LA model on some markets, which is in fact the UX31A with Haswell hardware inside. A Core i7-4500U with 4 GB of RAM and a 256 GB SSD version of this particular model will set you back roughly $1200 ( more details via this link ).

The Asus Zenbooks UX31A are perhaps the best 13.3 inch ultrabooks of the moment, budget aside

The Asus Zenbooks UX31A are still top-picks even today

Samsung Series 9 Ultra NP900 (and Touch)

Samsung put a lot of effort into making a very slender 13.3 inch machine with their Series 9 Ultra, and the result weighs only 2.55 pounds and is only 0.5 inches thick. It’s also very solid and beautiful, with its razor-thin full metal body.

However, the thin body has its shortcomings: the laptop tends to get hot easily and a bunch of miniaturized ports are lined on the sides, as there’s no room for their full-size variants. Also, the backlit-keyboard is quite shallow on the Series 9, but you can probably get used to that.

The Series 9 Ultra packs a matte TN non-touch screen, with 1600 x 900 px resolution, which is not bad, but definitely can’t compere with the IPS displays bundled with most modern ultrabooks. A Series 9 Ultra with a Full-HD IPS touchscreen is also available on some markets. That aside, the Series 9 can go for about 6 hours of real-life use on a charge, which is above average for an IvyBridge powered 13 incher.

The Samsung Series 9 Ultra was fairly priced in its days, as the basic config used to start at about $999, and you can find it slightly discounted online these days. Overall, while the Samsung NP300 was not short on quirks, it can be something you could consider these days if you only have about $800 for a sleek computer, but the low weight and sexy aesthetics are probably the only reasons why you should choose this model over the others in this list.

The Samsung Series 9 Ultra is thin, light and beautiful, but also quite pricey

The Samsung Series 9 Ultra is thin, light and beautiful, but also quite pricey

Asus Zenbook UX32VD – the gaming ultrabook

The Asus Zenbook UX32VD was the first 13.3 inch ultrabook that packed a dedicated graphics chip and that made it highly popular in 2012.

Asus Zenbook UX32VD - keeps the looks, adds the power

Asus Zenbook UX32VD – keeps the looks, adds the power

On the outside, the Asus UX32VD came close to the Zenbook Prime UX31A, only a bit thicker and heavier ( 3.2 pounds), which left enough room for more ports. The aluminum body and the looks are the same though, as well as the IPS Full HD screen, backlit keyboard and trackpad are present as well. There’s enough

Hardware wise, the UX32VD comes with a Core i7 Ivy Bridge processor, up to 10 GB of RAM, Nvidia 620M dedicated graphics and hybrid storage. As a result, the UX32VD will deal with all kind of daily tasks at ease, even today, but can also handle games. However, the Nvidia 620M chip is not a lot powerful than the Intel HD4400 chip bundled withing the Haswell CPUs and definitely not a match for the 840M chip that can be found inside the newer Zenbook UX303LN. So the best you can expect from the UX32VD is to handle recent titles at 13 x 7 resolutions, with medium details.

Of course, all these didn’t come cheap back in the days, as the configuration mentioned above sold for roughly $1200-$1300. These days you could get the UX32VD cheaper, for around $1000 or so brand new, but if you really want 1 13 incher with dedicated graphics these days, you can surely get better for your money than with this old chump.

Asus Zenbook UX32LA – the affordable Zenbook – my review

Take the UX32VD laptop mentioned above, strip away the dedicated graphics, replace the IPS screen with a standard 1366 x 768 px TN panel and you’ll get the Asus Zenbook UX32A, one of the cheapest Zenbooks you could buy these days.

The sleek body, the ports, the decent keyboard and trackpad and all of the other goodies bundled on the modern Asus ultrabooks are present though.

The base UX32A version sells these days for as little as $600, for a Core i3 Ivy Bridge configuration, with 4 GB of RAM and 320 GB of hybrid storage, and that might be enough for those of you who don’t have high expectations from a laptop (office, browsing, movies, music, such stuff). However, keep in mind that actually finding this older Zenbook in-stock anymore might not be that easy, and if you’ll extended your budget a bit more, you could buy a similar laptop which is going to offer far superior performance and more features.

Asus UX32A budget Zenbooks - keep the looks, body and battery life of the more expensive Zenbook Primes

Asus UX32A budget Zenbook – keep the looks, body and battery life of the more expensive Zenbook Primes

How about 2011-2012 previous generation ultrabooks

Just to be clear, I wouldn’t get these today unless they were really really cheap. In fact, you might have a really hard-time finding them new anymore, so getting them used adds other potential problems down the line (no warranty, might die fast).

Again, that’s not because these older laptops are going to be too slow, no, the SandyBridge hardware platform is still more than capable of handling light tasks right now when paired with enough RAM and preferably an SSD, but mostly because these first-gen ultrabooks were really scared by a multitude of minor and annoying quirks which were later addressed by their successors. Even so, here’s what you COULD consider. Just make sure you understand exactly what you’ll end up with.

Asus Zenbook UX31E – the first generation Zenbook

These are the first generation Zenbooks, ultrabooks with tons of potential, but some very annoying issues. The laptops were awesome, with a solid aluminum case and their extravagant design. The UX31Eoffered a rather tacky keyboard and jumpy trackpad, a good 13.3 inch 1600 x 900 px screen and several hardware configurations, for a starting price of $1099 at that time. These days, if you can find a new one for $600 or less, it could be a could buy.

The Asus Zenbook are sleek ultrabooks, too bad for those pesky trackpads and overall poor screens

The Asus Zenbooks are sleek ultrabooks, too bad for those pesky trackpads and overall poor keyboards

Luckily though, Asus learned from their mistakes and their second generation machines, the Zenbook Primes UX21A, UX31A and UX32VD, all mentioned above in our post, feature better keyboards, trackpads and screens.

Acer Aspire S3 – the cheap ultrabook

The S3 used to be the cheapest ultrabook of its time and it is affordable even by today’s standards, as you can get it greatly discounted online, for as low as $500 or even less.

For that kind of money, you get a thin and light 13.3 inch laptop and a decently fast hardware config, although there’s no SSD included. But you can add one yourself, as the storage dirve is fairly easy to upgrade.

Of course, when compared to the modern budget ultrabooks, the Aspire S3 feels poorly built, packs a cramped trackpad and a mushy keyboard and the battery life is far from impressive. But at 400 or 500 bucks, it might be worth having a look.

The Acer Aspire S3 in cheap, but it's also slow and cheap looking for an ultrabooks

The Acer Aspire S3 is cheap, but there are several good reasons for that

HP Folio 13 – good bang for the buck

The HP Folio 13 has its roots amongst HP’s Elitebook series of business laptops, thus it’s sober looking, but not ugly, at least not in my book. On the other hand, the Folio weighs 3.3 pounds and is a bit more massive than many of the other ultrabooks out there.

The keyboard is actually quite good on the Folio, with a nice soft finish for the keys, proper travel and illumination.  The trackpad is not bad either, but far from perfect, especially because of those stiff integrated click buttons.

On the inside you get standard 1st gen ultrabook hardware, with a Core i5 Sandy Bridge ULV processor, 4 GB of RAM and 128 GB SSD, plus Windows 7 HP. And a battery that should be enough for about 6 hours of daily use, better than the average in this class.

In the end, the HP Folio is a good addition to the ultrabook market even today, when plenty of new generation ultrabooks are available in stores. So if you want a good everyday machine, you should still consider the Folio 13. $500-$600 would be a fair price for the Folio 13 these days, that if you manage to find it in stores anymore, as it seems to be a short supply. More in our dedicated HP Folio 13 review.

HP Folio 13 - bang for buck, one of the best, if not the best out there

HP Folio 13 – bang for buck, one of the best, if not the best out there

Wrap-up – what’s the best ultrabook?

None of the ultrabooks listed here are perfect, but if you’ll take a look back at the ultra-portables launched in these last years, you’ll see that they’ve come a long way.

Yes, it was obvious the hardware would get faster and more efficient, but alongside came new form factors and features, plus improvements on all the fundamentals that make a laptop usable: build quality, keyboard, touchpad, screen, connectivity and battery life, among them. Ultrabooks are now way thinner and way lighter than regular laptops were in the past. Besides that, we’ve seen more and more hybrid and convertible ultrabooks, plus smaller or larger 14/15 inch machines with a thin form factor. And even thin and highly-portable gaming notebooks.

As for the best ultrabook for you, that’s in the end for each one of you guys reading this post to decide. You know exactly what you want from your laptop and you know what you value more on such a device. That’s why you should choose between all these devices listed here, based on your budget and personal criteria. I’ve told you what you should know about all the ultrabooks that are worth considering, but the final decision rests with you.

And if by any chance you haven’t found what you needed in this massive post, you should probably check out my other lists mentioned below:

Last but not least, you can check out the reviews posted here on the site and our thorough comparisons, or leave a comment if you need any help with your decision, have any questions or just want to add something to this article.

Keep in mind that I’m updating the list at least each two or three weeks, if not more often, in order to keep it as accurate as possible. And I also post news, reviews and guides here on the site, so you should subscribe if you want to stay in touch with the latest ultrabook goodies.

And if you actually found this 10000 words post useful, don’t forget that buying a product after following the links spread throughout it is the best way to show your gratitude and the only way for me to keep this up-to-date.

Keep in touch.

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. Rajath Nandan

    March 11, 2015 at 6:54 pm

    Hey Andrei!
    I was waiting for the new MacBook 2015 for over 8 months. And once it was released, I immediately set my heart on the gold colour. But the only problem I have with it is its processor which is Broadwell M, 1.1Ghz with turbo boost of 2.4Ghz. I am college student majoring in computer science and will be programming a lot and surfing the web but nothing else. Will the Broadwell M processor be enough for multitasking and the programming, surfing the web and watching movies??

    • Andrei Girbea

      March 12, 2015 at 12:19 pm

      It depends on what programming software you’re going to run, but personally I would not get a Core M laptop for that, it will struggle.

  2. ansari

    March 16, 2015 at 3:06 pm

    Please suggest a powerful ultrabook and my budget is around 1100$. 15″ inch,i7,slylish and sturdy with 3 USB ports if possible. 13″ will be alright too but 15″ is preferred.

    • Andrei Girbea

      March 16, 2015 at 5:30 pm

      Check out the Acer Aspire V 15 Nitro, the Dell Inspiron 15 5000 and 7000 series or the HP Elitebook 750 and 850 series. The latter might be outside your budget though.

  3. Immanuel

    March 27, 2015 at 6:14 am

    Hello Andrei,

    I was wondering if you’ve had a chance to test the hp spectre x360? If so, how do you think it compares to the Dell XPS 13 and the zenbook ux305? Thanks!

    • Andrei Girbea

      March 27, 2015 at 6:16 am

      Not yet and i don’t know when i’ll get my hands on it, since it’s not yet available over here

  4. Martin

    March 29, 2015 at 5:07 pm


    Thank you for an informative page. I have two questions:

    1) Do any of your affiliate links supply computers with Scandinavian keyboards? As much as I’d like to show my appreciation using all of the letters in my native alphabet will be a priority…

    2) I bought a 1.2-kg Toshiba Portege in 1999. Small screen but true portability. Loved it. After that screen size took over and ‘moveability’ seemed to be enough so for a decade I saw nothing as light as that. I’ve been using stationaries since, but figure it’s time to go back to a laptop this time.

    Likely configuration will be a dock at home and using it as a true laptop when travelling, on vacation etc. Private use with normal surfing, some video streaming, document editing etc. Some gaming, but Civilization-type games more likely than first person shooters or MMOGs.

    In spite of expecting to usually dock weight is key and battery life important. I do not particularly need a touchscreen and prefer non-glare. Obviously I do not want to overpay but am not extremely price sensitive.

    My conclusion from your site is that basically anything with the weight I’m after will do since they’re all premium. I should probably go for an i5 or i7 processor. Graphics should be 5500 or dedicated in order not to preclude the games.

    Given the long and trusted life of my previous Portege Toshiba will be in the running with a Z30. I have liked the Vaio designs I have seen but they are no longer on the market in Europe. I have had Dells (Latitudes I think) at work and they have delivered but not inspired. Still, I have noted many positive reviews of the XPS so I should perhaps consider that.

    Let me know if I seem to be missing something or if there is anything you would recommend me to look at.


    • Andrei Girbea

      April 1, 2015 at 3:22 pm

      1. No

      I haven’t properly reviewed the Z30. I’ve seen it a few times, I wasn’t very happy with the trackpad and the keyboard, but otherwise seems like a good laptop. You should definitely read some detailed reviews before buying one though, and user opinions if possible would help even more. There should be an owner’s thread on the notebookreview.com forums.

      Besides that, I wouldn’t necessarily go for dedicated graphics for Civ like games. FOr instance, I can run Civ 5 fine on my XPS 13 2015 on 1920 x 1080 px with medium details. So the Intel 5500 should suffice.

      Portability wise, I’m happy with the XPS 13. It’s also fast (and I only have the base model with the i5 CPU and 4 GB of RAM), long lasting (5-8 hours) and offers a matte display. It’s not perfect of course, as it tends to get hot under load and the keyboard’s travel is rather limited.

      You could also consider the ThinkPad X250. I’ve been a ThinkPad user for many years before getting this Dell and I’m probably going to try it as soon as it becomes available where I live.

      • Martin

        August 12, 2015 at 6:56 pm


        If anyone reading this wonders what I ended up purchasing I followed Andrei’s advice and checked out the ThinkPad X250. It was on the big side for me as portability was a priority. But it got me looking at the X1 Carbon 2015, which is what I ended up buying.

        It is 100g heavier than I intended, but the screen (14 inch non-touch, non-glare 2560×1440) and the keyboard make up for it easily. The actual difference in weight to my (smaller) work Latitude is negligible but the X1 somehow feels lighter. I got a heavy discount on an i7 version but it was still more expensive than the competition, measured in GHz and GB. Don’t regret it for a second, it delivers all I need. Battery life is not the 10h plus as sometimes announced, but then again when I am on battery I use wifi or mobile broadband (SIM tray) heavily. Using it on my lap is not a problem – I only feel heat if I put my hand in front of the fan vent. The fan is not noisy and does not run often.

        Other than price the only minus I have noted is the propensity of the casing to pick up fingerprints and smudges. If you have the budget and think you’ll like it you will.

        (I wasn’t able to thank Andrei for a great site by buying via his links, but if my conclusion and mini-review is of use to someone at least I will have contributed.)

        • Andrei Girbea

          August 12, 2015 at 7:20 pm

          Thanks Martin, I’m glad I could help and you ended up with something you liked.

  5. Oruns Dru

    April 14, 2015 at 4:07 pm

    Am a computer science student and do lots of programming, networking stimulation, sql server and i run many heavy softwares. Most importantly, i want an ultrabook that can play pes2015 in high resolution mode without lagging. Won’t mind if you recommend one for me.

    • Andrei Girbea

      April 14, 2015 at 4:37 pm

      I’m going to need more than that. What’s your max budget and do you prefer a full-size laptop or something more portable (13 incher)?

  6. Bander

    May 2, 2015 at 11:17 pm

    I am looking for an ultra book that can do video editing (premier) and has good batty life.
    I am attending a conference and I will be needing to edit the video footage that I shoot.
    my max budget is 1200$ any recommendations as I am considering the new Dell XPS 13′ and the ASUS zenbook?

    • Bander

      May 8, 2015 at 11:10 am

      Any updates on my request?

      • Andrei Girbea

        May 8, 2015 at 3:00 pm

        Sry, I missed your earlier comment. The thing is that budget will buy you at most a Core i7 ULV processor (maybe Broadwell, Haswell for sure). You’ll also want as much RAM as possible, which is up to 12 GB on some ultrabooks and an SSD. Even so, there’s so much an ULV laptop can do with Premiere. SO the question is: how complex are your projects?

        • Bander

          May 8, 2015 at 3:51 pm

          Thanks for the reply.
          not very complex. Just a few transitions and effects. And 1080p render. No more than 5 mins videos.
          Ram Upgrade and ssd is not a problem. I am just stuck on ultrabook to get That has best battery life and CPU performance for my budget.

          • Andrei Girbea

            May 8, 2015 at 5:05 pm

            Well, then get the XPS with the Core I5 and 8 GB of RAM and 128 GB SSD, which you could swap for a much larger one later. I’m using my XPS for quick video editing on the go and it works fine, and I only have the version with 4 GB of RAM.

            Something like the Zenbook UX303LA would be nice as well, since it’s cheaper and can take 12 GB of RAM. Maybe you can squeeze the i7 processor within your budget. Battery life won’t be as good as on the XPS. And don’t get the Zenbook UX303LN, you’re not going to need the dedicated graphics and the high-res screen has color issues.

            You could also aim for a Haswell i7, but I don’t have any specific model in mind. The Zenbook UX301LA is truly fast, but outside your budget.

  7. Rajath

    May 8, 2015 at 3:44 am

    Hey! Am planning on buying the new MacBook Pro with retina 13 inch model for only programming purposes. I want to know if now is a good time or I should wait for a new update which will probably include a design refresh and also a performance boost with the Skylake chip. Please advise if the wait is worth it or not.

    • Andrei Girbea

      May 8, 2015 at 9:15 am

      A skylake refresh won’t be available until the the end of this year. So I’d say now is the right time to buy it.

  8. Priyanka

    May 12, 2015 at 10:37 am

    Okay so i am a college student taking up graphic design, my seniors have given me mixed suggestions about purchasing a new ultrabook – dell inspiron 13 7000, hp and macbook. Which one should i pick ? Please help me clear my confusion.

  9. Adam

    May 12, 2015 at 9:07 pm

    Not sure if this got posted earlier:

    Hi Andrei,
    Its refreshing to come across your review, and ready willingness to respond to our questions. hope you can help me with this one:

    Looking for powerful laptop primarily for photography, lightroom, etc. Display quality is paramount as well, but I want something with strong build, battery life, and graphic performance. and while I would like to be able to run some titles, Im not quite sure how important it is to have quad core processor, broadwell (dual) vs haswell (quad), 8 vs 16 ram, and 4k screen. my budget is flexible, but Wish to avoid 2500+ for mbp. Have my qualms about the glossy finish on mbp and xps 15

    Also, what laptops should we expect to arrived in June? Worth the wait?

    Thank you,

    • Andrei Girbea

      May 13, 2015 at 10:23 am

      I don’t expect to see many new laptops in the next few months, but plenty will be launched towards the end of the year, with Intel’s Skylake platform being launched.

      By glossy finishing, you’re referring to the screen, right? I was going to suggest the Asus NX500 as well, it sports a really awesome display. I had some heat issues with the unit I tested a few months ago, a pre-production model, but the final retail versions shouldn’t have the same problems. Definitely stay away from the Asus UX501 though, its newer successor, which has a messed-up screen.

      Anyway, you could also look at the MSI GHost 6 Pro models and the Gigabyte Aorus lines, there are some models with matte displays in there and the devices are still highly portable.

  10. Ruben

    May 13, 2015 at 10:25 am

    Hi Andrei, Amazing blog! I am looking for such kind of blog that will guide me in choosing the best ultra book. I am planning to buy the Apple Macbook Air and I think the blog will help me out. Thanks for sharing.

  11. Lisa

    May 14, 2015 at 9:10 pm

    need a computer for professional writing; want a light weight, something I can load word or equivalent; want to stream movies, music, surf web, check email….can store on USB, backlit keyboard and spend as little as possible; considering MacBook air–but always been a windows user etc.
    Can you recommend? So overwhelmed with choices….

    • Andrei Girbea

      May 15, 2015 at 6:53 am

      what does as little a possible mean? what’s your max budget? Most modern ultrabooks should be OK for what you need. Stick with something with a Core I5 processor, preferably 8 GB of RAM and SSD.

  12. Kyle

    May 17, 2015 at 3:12 pm

    Hi Andrei,
    I’m currently searching for a reliable and durable laptop that does not overheat. 13-14 inches with a minimum of 8G ram. I’ll be using a few engineering programs and some image rendering. Max budget of $1800.

    I’ve been looking at the Asus UX303 but not sure if i should get the LA or LN version. I also like the yoga style ultrabooks like the Lenovo Yoga 14″.

    What will you recommend and any other suggestions?

    • Andrei Girbea

      May 17, 2015 at 5:42 pm

      HI. The Asus UX303LN and the Asus ThinkPad Yoga 14 offer dedicated graphics. Not sure which programs are you using, but they might not benefit much from that.

      It might be wiser to go with a fast processor, fast SSD and as much RAM as possible. For that, the Lenovo THinkPad X1 Carbon and the Asus Zenbook UX301LA could be good options, if you can get the 28Wh Core i7 processors within your budget. You might… The Zenbook can get up to 12 GB of RAM.

  13. Sam

    May 20, 2015 at 5:21 pm

    Hi, I am looking for an ultrabook that is capabable of handling some basic video editing with Premiere CC. I am flexible in terms of budget but long battery life is important. Any recommendations? Thanks

    • Andrei Girbea

      May 20, 2015 at 8:40 pm

      Does it have to run Windows? Your best bet is going to be the Macbook Air. If you need Windows, try the Dell XPS 13 with a Core i7 processor, 8 GB of RAM and the FHD display. I could also recommend the Asus Zenbook UX301LA, which is powerful, but won’t last that long on a charge

  14. Mel

    May 22, 2015 at 6:17 am

    Hi Andrei,
    Could you please recommend me the best ultrabook? I’m a working professional (A Construction Manager). I need a lightweight laptop that can handle two softwares at the same time without struggling. The softwares I’m on right now are estimating software like Buildsoft and CostX. Can you please advise? Thanks heaps!

    • Andrei Girbea

      May 23, 2015 at 7:45 am

      I’m not familiar with any of those. I’d get something fast though. If you need Windows, then the Asus Zenbook UX301 could be the one for you. If you can go with a Mac, then the MacBook Pro is going to be a great option

  15. Mark

    May 29, 2015 at 10:54 am

    Great article! I am headed to Iraq for a year. I am torn between a premium ultrabook or a top of the line gaming rig. Cost is not really a factor. I am looking for something that will be able to handle multiple grueling tasks at the same time, has a strong battery life, ideally lightweight and portable, and has good display and sound. I don’t care at all about design or what it looks like. I should mention I am a spec junkie and typically will go for whatever has the highest specs. unfortunately for a laptop, where a laptop is #1 in a category, it seems to bottom out in others.

    • Andrei Girbea

      May 31, 2015 at 10:00 am

      Well, you’d be better with a gaming machine for what you need.

      If you want it to be lightweight, then perhaps the Razer 14 or the Gigabyte P34 V3 should be your options. Check out this post for a few more options: http://www.ultrabookreview.com/5729-gaming-laptops-nvidia-970m-980m/ . Given the climate in Irak though, I wouldn’t go for any of these thin and lights because powerful hardware dooes need appropriate cooling and sticking it into a thin chassis will always results in hot cases and even throttling. That’s going to be accentuated in a hot environment.

      Like you said, you’ll have to sacrifice something, either performance and temperatures or portability.

  16. Aditya T

    June 16, 2015 at 10:44 am

    Hi Andrei,

    I’m a computer science post grad student who tends do a lot of programming in java,python, hadoop and also work on other data science related tools. I am not as much into gaming but tend to surf and watch movies.
    I’m on a tight budget and would really appreciate if you can suggest me few good ultra books or good 2 in 1 convertible for under 600$. Fairly light and runs on Windows O.S.

    Looking forward to your response.

    • Andrei Girbea

      June 16, 2015 at 11:41 am

      You should skim though this list of Broadwell http://www.ultrabookreview.com/5165-broadwell-ultrabooks/#a1 and Haswell http://www.ultrabookreview.com/3331-haswell-ultrabooks/ laptops and see what you like within your budget. Those are MSRP prices and especially the Haswell options should be cheaper now.

      For your needs, I’d aim for a COre i5 processor and hopefully 8 GB of RAM, plus a HDD that you could latter upgrade to an SSD to increase speed. Something like the Asus TP300 or maybe the Dell 13 7000 or the Lenovo Yoga 2 13 could fit the bill. Stay away from Core M and the Core i3 configs, those aren’t going to be fast enough for those programs you mentioned.

  17. Binod K. Rijal

    July 6, 2015 at 5:26 am

    Hi Mr.Andrei!
    Can you suggest any best ultra book for multiple purpose? I mean best for all purpose and use. With all needs and ports,efficient, battery life, multimedia editing, graphic design, surfing Internet, streaming and all feature and stylish. There is no budget limit.

    Thanking you.

    • Andrei Girbea

      July 6, 2015 at 6:00 pm

      There’s no such thing, but if budget is not a limit, I’d get something like the Retina MacBook Pro or the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon 2015.

  18. Daniel

    July 26, 2015 at 6:57 pm

    Hi Andrei,

    thank you for your excellent reviews! They helped to narrow down my ultrabook selection to an Asus Zenbook, but I am struggling to choose the right configuration:

    Focus will be on photo editing and streaming, less to no on gaming. All three have pro and cons mainly dedicated graphic CPU, keyboard backlight, screen resolution, RAM and weight.

    Any suggestions from your side?


    • Andrei Girbea

      July 28, 2015 at 11:03 am

      It’s really a tossup between these three, but I’d probably get the UX303LA, and here’s why:
      – the UX303LB gives you he dedicated graphics that you’re not going to need if you don’t plan to play many games. You could also get the UX303LB but you’ll have to spend more to upgrade the RAM to 12 GB
      – the UX305LA is slimmer and lighter than the others, but only gets 8 GB of RAM from what I remember, and is not as easy to upgrade.

  19. Jack

    August 1, 2015 at 3:16 pm

    1. Which current ultrabooks would you recommend for a fair amount of multitasking, a lot of browser tabs open, various different programs… basically a lot of RAM, and a strong CPU, not so much GPU (mainly just youtube clips, definitely NO GAMES). I’m going to use Windows. Budget is around $2000, but that doesn’t mean I want to spend it all if I don’t have to.

    2. I really wanted something fanless but they don’t seem to carry capable CPU’s – I think you mentioned something about more ultrabooks coming at the end of the year with a new CPU architecture – could that have powerful fanless CPU’s?

  20. Rune

    August 5, 2015 at 6:19 pm

    Thanks for your reviews, they have helped me to narrow down my own choice of laptops as well.

    I am going to a university college in some weeks so I need to get myself a laptop for notes and written tasks. I was just wondering if I could get some help with my choices.

    I currently have two laptops in my mind, the Asus UX303LA (RO336H version) and the Lenovo U430.

    The specs are:


    CPU: Intel Core I5
    Harddrive: SSD 128 gb.
    RAM: 4GB
    Screen resoulution: 1366 x 768.

    Lenovo U430:

    CPU: Intel Core I5
    Harddrive: SSD 256 GB
    RAM: 8GB
    Nvidia graphic card
    Screen resoulution: 1920 x 1080.

    I know that the Lenovo clearly offers better specs, but I am a little curious about if this particular pc is reliable. I am also curious about which of these two that have the longest battery life. I honestly only need a long lasting laptop for notes and tasks done in the microsoft office programs.

    I would greatly appreciate your input, Andrei.

    • Andrei Girbea

      August 12, 2015 at 1:04 pm

      The U430 is a slightly older laptop, bulkier and heavier. It comes with a Haswell processor if I’m not mistaken and has a 52 Wh battery.

      Even so and even if the UX303LA is built on a Broadwell i5, the Lenovo is a much better deal. It gets more storage and more ram (4 GB are not enough on a modern laptop) and also a better screen. Between these two, I’d definitely get the Lenovo in this case.

  21. john

    August 7, 2015 at 1:13 pm

    1. Which are the current ultrabooks that you would recommend for a fair amount of multitasking, a lot of browser tabs open, various different programs… basically a lot of RAM, and a strong CPU, not so much GPU (mainly just youtube clips, definitely NO GAMES). I’m going to use Windows. Budget is around $2000, but that doesn’t mean I want to spend it all if I don’t have to.

    2. I really wanted something fanless but they don’t seem to carry capable CPU’s – I think you mentioned something about more ultrabooks coming at the end of the year with a new CPU architecture – could that have powerful fanless CPU’s?

    • Andrei Girbea

      August 12, 2015 at 1:14 pm

      1. Do you have a screen size in mind? are you looking for a 13 inchers or a 14-15 inch model?
      2. I do expect a fanless platform based on Skylake somewhere in the future, but it’s not coming anytime soon. And even when those would be limited, performance wise. I’m confident fanless platforms will make it into everyday mainstream laptops, but only in about 2-3 years.

      • john

        August 12, 2015 at 2:38 pm

        I’m looking for a 13 inch one. So it’s decided then – it’s gonna have a fan . But still – which one should I get?

    • Andrei Girbea

      August 12, 2015 at 3:34 pm

      OK, if you’re going to use Windows you’re going to be limited to the 15W Broadwell U series, or the Core i7-5500U processor. If you’d be willing to go with a Mac, you’d have the faster 28W processors which unfortunately are not present on Windows machines.

      This processor can be paired with 8 GB of RAM with most configurations and very few accept more.

      Try to narrow things down based on this list: http://www.ultrabookreview.com/5165-broadwell-ultrabooks/#a2

      • john

        August 12, 2015 at 4:04 pm

        One of the Asus Zenbooks or a Dell XPS 13? Would the i7-5500u processor be sufficient for multitasking? Would 8GB of RAM be sufficient?

        • Andrei Girbea

          August 12, 2015 at 7:19 pm

          For multitasking between everyday tasks, yes. By everyday tasks i mean browser, Outlook, Office, movie player, etc. If you plan to use the laptop for complex tasks (programing, photo/video editing), the same config can be decent for given chores, but will struggle with complex projects.

  22. Karla

    August 22, 2015 at 9:45 pm

    Hello Andrei!

    Thanks for all the amazing and detailed reviews, as I am currently trying to find the perfect Ultrabook for me. I have read a lot from your reviews and it has helped me narrow down what I need, but I am still struggling to decide. Here is what I need, I wonder if you could help me decide!

    I am a Graphic Design student, so I use Adobe software a lot, mostly Photoshop, Illustrator, Indesign, After Effects, etc.
    I already have my base laptop, a massive 17.3in Asus which is perfect for my every day tasks and gaming at home, but is just too heavy and big to carry around campus. So, I want something light and portable that I can use when I’m at college, but that can deliver for my design classes.

    I really liked the Acer Aspire S7-393, do you think it is gonna be a good choice, or should I consider others? I won’t make it my default device, I have my Asus for that.

    Thanks! I appreciate your time and effort. :)

    • Andrei Girbea

      August 23, 2015 at 9:53 am

      Hi Karla.

      The S7-393 is a good laptop, if you can live with its keyboard. It also has a nice screen that will help you with your work. I’ve reviewed it here: http://www.ultrabookreview.com/6258-acer-aspire-s7-393-review/

      On the other hand, there are other options with similar hardware. BTW, make sure you go for the Core i7 option with 8 GB of RAM, you’ll need all the processing power you can get for that software, even though this is not going to be your main computer.

      • Karla

        August 24, 2015 at 5:17 am

        Hello Andrei,

        Thanks a lot for your reply, I checked out your review, the keyboard issue doesn’t bother me much as I don’t really use the f keys.

        Indeed I do need those features you mention on the Ultrabook, in the end, it was the screen and resolution of the S7 that determined my choice, as I did see more of your reviews for the other Ultrabooks and the higher resolution screens seemed to have some issues with scaling :(, so I made my mind and bought the S7-393 following your link to Amazon. :) I can’t wait to have it and try it out!

        Once again, thanks for the help.

  23. joshua

    August 26, 2015 at 1:11 pm

    Hey. I have saved for the Razer Blade Pro with 256 GB SSD and a 1TB HDD. Is it really as powerful as they say and is heat an issue with it? I will be running decently stressful programs and games on it and I don’t want my house to burn down xD but at the same time I want some good power under the hood. Is it worth the $4,200?

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