I’ve always been a fan of small and compact laptops, mostly because I for one tend to carry my device around quite often.
If you’re in school, you’re probably familiar with that as well, as you have to take your computer with you to classes, library and so on. I know I did back when I was a student.
If that’s the case, this article will help you, as I’m going to tell you which are, based on my experience, the most interesting ultrabooks you should look at as a student.
I’ve divided them in three different sections, based on budget: affordable, mid-range and money-are-not-a-problem options, in order to cover as many of you as possible. Of course, all the ultrabooks for college students and school listed in here are solid picks, they just address different needs.
Anyway, let’s jump to it, and if you have any questions or things you might want to add, make sure to leave your comments at the end of the post.
Affordable ultrabooks for school
If you only have about $500-$600 to spend for your next laptop, this is where you should look at. If however you want something even cheaper, I’d suggest having a look at this post, that lists a selection of good ultrabook alternatives.
Asus Vivobook X202E
It’s sleek, s compact and affordable. The Vivobook x202E is a small computer, with an 11.6 inch screen, but is also light (weighs less than 3 pounds), beautiful (aluminum is used for most of its case) and fairly powerful for everyday tasks. Packs a decent keyboard as well, that you’ll enjoy if you’re doing a lot of typing, as I presume you will in school, and also comes with a touchscreen.
Now, this is not one of those hybrid laptops that can be switched into a tablet and you can’t really use the screen to take notes with a pen, we’ll have some options that can do that later in this post.
Anyway, the X202E sells right now for between 400 and 600 bucks, based on the bundled configuration. My personal pick would be the VivoBook X202E-DH31T , with an Intel Core i3 processor, that sells for under $500 and is more powerful than the cheaper options.
More details, including places where you can find this one discounted, are available via this link. Oh, and I do have a detailed review of the Asus X202E, or the S200 as it’s called in Europe, and you can check it out over here.
Another very interesting Asus laptop worth mentioning here is the X550CA, a 15.6 inch laptop that’s less than an inch thick and weighs 5 pounds. It’s not an ultrabook per se, but it’s very close to one and start at as little as $400 these days. You’ll find more details about it over here.
Acer Aspire V5
There are three Acer Aspire V5 series I will mention in this post and all of them offer plenty for under $550.
One of them is the 11.6 inch Acer Aspire V5-171, similar in many ways to the Asus above, with some few exceptions. For instance, the Acer is faster, packing and Intel Core i5 processor, the one we usually find on larger laptops, plus 6 GB of RAM. On the other hand, it lacks a touchscreen and the battery life isn’t great, averaging around 4 hours of daily use. All these for around $480 bucks is a pretty good deal though, if you ask me.
And then, there are the 14 and the 15.6 inch versions, the Acer Aspire V5-471 and V5-571, for those of you that need a full-sized laptop with a large display. A touchscreen by the way. Except for that, these versions pack the exact same hardware as the 11 incher mentioned above, plus slightly larger batteries and better spaced keyboards.
You’ll get more details about all of these over here, including user reviews and links where you can find them discounted.
HP Envy TouchSmart 14
The HP Envy TouchSmart 14 is the best 14 inch ultrabook you can get for less than $550 these days. It’s beautiful, sleek and fairly light (4.7 pounds), packs a great backlit keyboard, an accurate trackpad and a touchscreen, plus an Intel Core i3 processor, with 6 GB of RAM and a 500 GB hard-drive. A Core i5 version is available as well, but sells for around $650.
Anyway, in this price range, the Envy is a winner, that if you don’t want a highly portable device like the 11 inchers listed above, of course.
More details about it are available over here, including user reviews and links towards online shops where you can find it discounted.
Best-Buy ultrabooks for college students
If you need something a bit snappier, with more features or just want a slightly larger laptop, the ultrabooks listed in this category should meet your requirements.
Asus Vivobook S400CA
The S400CA is a Asus’s 14 inch ultrabook with a touchscreen and it’s been very well received by those who already bought it in the last months. It sells for about $650 these days and for that kind of money you’re getting a sturdy and reliable device, a decent keyboard, a touchcreen and a powerful configuration, with an Intel Core i5 processor, that will handle easily all your daily tasks.
More details, including user reviews, are available via this link.
Oh, Asus also offers a larger version of this laptop, a 15 inch ultrabook, with or without a DVD drive. Check out this link for extra info on that one.
Lenovo IdeaPad U330 and U430
These are Lenovo’s new affordable IdeaPads, starting at around $700. For that, you’re getting a solid body, a nice classic looking-design, the famous Lenovo AccuType keyboard, a touchscreen and several different hardware configurations.The U330 comes with a 13.3 inch screen, while on the U430 there’s a large 14 inch one.
However, these Lenovos are some of the few ultrabooks in this category to ship with Intel Haswell hardware. You’re not getting big performances increase with that, but you are getting considerate longer battery life (about 7 in everyday use), which will be greatly appreciated during a long school day. You’re also getting dedicated graphics on the IdeaPad U430, so you’ll be able to run some games on it, but don’t expect too much, this is not one of those powerful gaming ultrabooks.
Asus Zenbook UX32A
This is the most affordable Zenbook available in stores these days, starting at around $550. For that you’re getting an Intel Core i3 configuration and if you want the faster i5 option, that one sells for around $750.
Anyway, the UX32A is a 13.3 inch ultrabook, with a sleek metallic body and a non-glare screen. There’s no touchscreen, this is just a classic slim and light computer.
Sony Vaio T series
Sony’s T series of ultrabooks starts at around $600 bucks as well and you can pick either a 13, 14 or 15.5 inch laptop, with or without a touchscreen.
All of these share a similar aluminum frame, and angular design, a rather shallow keyboard and two common traits: you get all the needed ports around the sides and a removable battery, which is unique among ultrabooks these days.
In terms of hardware, you’re allowed to pick between several Intel Core configurations, based on your needs.
Anyway, more details about the 13 inch Vaio T are available in my detailed review, while over here you’ll find more pictures, specs and users reviews.
Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 13
The Yoga is the first convertible ultrabook included in this list. It’s a bit more expensive than the other laptops mentioned above, without offering improved performances.
What it does offer is the 180 degrees convertible screen, that allows you to use this device as a laptop, as a tablet or as something in between, as you can see from the picture below.
The Yoga starts these days at around $850 online (the list price is set at around $1100) and for that you’re getting plenty of goodies: a touchscreen, a nice looking body, the AccuType keyboard and an Intel Core i5 hardware configuration, with a 128 GB SSD. A pretty good deal, if you ask me.
More details about the IdeaPad Yoga 13 are available via this link, alongside pics, user reviews and links towards online shops that have this discounted these days.
Of course, all the other laptops mentioned in this list of the best 2013 ultrabooks can be good picks as well, so go ahead and check it out.
The best ultrabooks money can buy
If you just want the sleekest or the most powerful ultrabooks out there, regardless of how much they cost, here’s where you’ll find them.
Sony Vaio Duo 13
This is perhaps the most interesting tablet-ultrabook hybrid you can find out there these days, and you’ll see exactly why from my detailed review.
The Duo 13 is a weird looking machine. On a first look, it seems to be an oversized tablet, with a large touchscreen on top. The screen however slides up, revealing a full-size keyboard. On top of that, you have plenty of ports around the sides and a pen, as the Duo 13 bundles a digitizer, so you can use it to take notes or sketches while in class.
Besides all these, the Duo 13 is motorized by the latest Intel Haswel hardware, which means that is powerful and very efficient, being able to run for 10 hours on a single charge.
Of course, all these don’t come cheap, as the Duo 13 starts at around $1400. Is it worth that kind of money? It could, but that’s up to you to decide.
Lenovo ThinkPad Helix
The Helix is a tablet with a latch-able dock that contains a keyboard and a bunch of extra goodies.
But it’s not the iPad kind of tablet or anything like this, it’s a fully baked computer, running Windows 8 and all the software you are familiar with from your PC. The entire thing is powered by some Intel Core platforms, with SSD storage and plenty of RAM, and on top there’s an 11.6 inch Full HD touchscreen, with pen support. The pen is included and you can use the Helix for taking notes and drawing, just like with the Sony Vaio above.
Overall the ThinkPad Helix is a niche computer. It’s mostly designed for business, hence the ports, the features and the solid build quality. But it can be an alternative for school, that if you’re willing to pay the very steep prices, as the Helix starts at about $1800 these days.
Macbook Air 13
Apple’s Macbook Air is NOT an ultrabook per se, but it is one of the best slim and light laptops out there.
Specs wise, it might trail some of the premium ultrabooks of the moment, as it lacks for instance a high-quality IPS panel. Except for that though, the MBA is pretty much flawless. It’s solid, it looks good, it packs an awesome keyboard and a trackpad like you can’t find on any other notebook. On top of that, is motorized by some Intel Haswell platforms and packs a large battery, that leads to 10-12 hours of everyday use on a single charge.
So if you don’t have to run Windows on your device, the MBA is definitely something worth looking at.
The cheapest version starts at $1099, while the 11 inch version starts at $999, but you can find both of these discounted online, as you’ll find out via this link. Oh, and if you’re still deciding between the MBA or an ultrabook, this article that compares them will surely come in helpful.
Asus Zenbook UX51VZ
The Asus Zenbook UX51VZ is in fact too powerful to be called an ultrabook, as Asus squeezed inside a thin aluminum body the kind of hardware they’re usually bundling on multimedia devices.
As a result, the Zenbook UX51 is powerful and can handle anything you might throw at it, from the basics, to more complex tasks, like video editing or gaming, as you can see from my detailed review posted a while ago.
Besides that, you’re getting a 15.6 Full HD IPS screen on this one, a decent keyboard, punchy speakers and alright battery life, when not pushing it too much. What are the downsides? Well, there are two: the frame does get hot when running games and the entire thing is quite expensive, starting at around $2000. But you can find it discounted online, as you’ll find out from this post.
Samsung ATIV Book family
Last but not least, we have the Samsung ATIV Book family members. Among them, there’s the powerful ATIV Book 6, a 15.6 incher that bundles a quad-core processor and dedicated graphics and can stand side by side with the Asus above when it comes to performances. It’s not as sleek and is a bit bulky, but I’m sure you can live with those, considering it only starts at $1200, so is significantly more affordable than the Zenbook.
There’s also the ATIV Book 9 series, that includes the sleekest and lightest ultrabooks Samsung has to offer these days. You can pick between 15 and 13 inch units here, all bundling powerful Intel configurations, Full HD touchscreens, SSD storage and a very light body (2.6 lbs for the 13 inch version, only 3.6 lbs for the 15.5 inch model). All these don’t come cheap though, as the Ativ Book 9s start at above $1100, but you can find them discounted online.
On top of that, Samsung also has this line called Book 9 Lite, that sells for $799 and up, and can be found even cheaper online. You’re making some tradeoffs when it comes to slimness, weight and features with them, but you’re still getting some very good devices, so you might want to look more into these as well.
At the end of the day, there are plenty of good ultrabooks you can choose between. Your budget is going to make a difference here, as you can get better devices if you’re able to spend more for them, with SSD storage, more comfortable keyboards and touchscreens.
The more affordable options however will do fine too, as long as you don’t have unrealistic expectations from them.
Anyway, hopefully this article was helpful, and if you need more help deciding what your next ultrabook for college or school is going to be, feel free to leave your replies and questions below, I’ll be around to reply.