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Best ultrabooks and portable laptops in 2019 – complete buying guide

Best ultrabooks and portable laptops in 2019 – complete buying guide
By Andrei Girbea - @ andreigirbea , last updated on November 12, 2019

Here at Ultrabookreview.com, we’ve reviewed hundreds of ultrabooks and portable laptops over the last decade, of all kinds and from all brands. Throughout this guide, we’ll tell you which are our favorite current options and why, to make it easier for you to choose the laptop that would better fit your needs and budget, out of the multitude of available models.

We’ll primarily cover ultrabooks, notebooks that favor a compact and light-weight form-factor, computers meant for everyday use and productivity loads. We’ll also touch on some of the full-size value buys as well, especially since most of these are also fairly compact these days.

However, with the many types of portable laptops out there, we’ve split this guide into a few different sections, based on the overall size of the options, their capabilities, and their pricing. There’s a Table of Contents above that will point you towards the section of interest; I kept things as simple as possible, with only the best options in each category, but you’ll find links towards our reviews and more detailed articles that treat each subtopic in-depth, in case you want to look into more variants.

We update the article several times a year, or when something remarkable comes out. If you need more guidance or have any questions, there’s also a comments section at the end of the post where you can get in touch with us.

Thorough testing and analysis take a lot of time and effort, thus if you’ll find the article helpful, we’d appreciate you supporting our independent journalism endeavor. Sharing the post with your friends or buying from our links both greatly help us continue what we do here.

Table of contents – best 2019 ultrabooks

Besides these, all our reviews are available in this dedicated section.

The best traditional ultraportables

The section includes the best thin-and-light traditional (clamshell) ultrabooks with modern hardware and features.

Dell XPS 13 – the compact option

The XPS 13 has been my ultraportable of choice for a few years now (here’s my initial review, if interested) and the recent variants improved on the original model with updated hardware, better screens, news designs, improved performance, and thermals, among others.

There are a lot of reasons why the XPS 13 is one of the most appreciated ultrabooks on the market. The small 13-inch form-factor with tiny bezels, the excellent build quality, the premium materials, the excellent display options, the performance, the TB3 connectivity or the speakers are some of them. On the other hand, some aspects like the typing experience could still be improved, and there are also some quirks you just have to accept, like the fact that the case gets hot with demanding loads and some units are plagued by coil whine. Overall though, this laptop is hard to beat for those who value portability, just make sure to get it from places that handle returns properly, in case you run into any of the quality-control issues.

The latest iterations, the XPS 13 7390 and the XPS 13 9380, refine their 2018 XPS 13 9370 predecessor (reviewed by me here and by Doug over here) on quite a few different levels. They finally put the camera at the top of the screen, add improved software control over the fans and performance, new screens (with options for matte FHD, touch FHD or the high-res touch UHD panel), as well as a new color scheme, with a white woven interior and Silver Frost outer shell. The keyboard/trackpad, the 52 Wh battery, and the miniaturized IO haven’t changed, though.

The XPS 13 9370 is also one of the few ultrabooks available with a six-core Core i7 U processor, and that makes it roughly 20% faster in demanding loads that can benefit from the increased processing power. So if you’re a programmer or engineer, this might be the ultraportable for you, but keep in mind it’s still lacking in the graphics department, just like all the other ultraportables based on Intel HD graphics.

For the average user, my recommendation goes primarily towards the mid-range configurations with the Core i5 processor, 8 GB of RAM, 256 GB SSD and the FHD displays, either matte or touch. The i7 models with 16 GB of RAM and 512 GB of RAM are also good-value, at around $1400 for the FHD screen options and $1650+ for the UHD touchscreen models. At this level, there are some other options you could also consider, though.

Follow this link for up-to-date details on the available XPS 13 configurations and potential discounts, or this link for all our reviews of the Dell XPS 13 lines.

Dell's XPS 13 catches attention with its unrivaled design and compact footprint

Dell’s XPS 13 – compact footprint, excellent build, and performance

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon – the business ultrabook

The X1 Carbon is Lenovo’s flagship ThinkPad, and we’ve reviewed the latest generation in this detailed article, as well as pitched it against the XPS 13 in this one.

It gets a 14-inch screen, thus it’s a bit larger than the XPS 13, but it’s lighter due to the choice in materials used for the case. It also gets what most consider a better keyboard and clickpad, as well as a more diversified IO, more configuration options and improved business features (IR Sensor, TPM, vPro CPUs, etc).

At the same time, though, the X1 Carbon is more expensive than the XPS 13, is only available in a single color scheme (the classic black ThinkPad design) and only gets a 51 Wh battery, smaller than the 57 Wh option on the 2018 Carbon. Finally, the X1 Carbon is also not available with the six-core CPU Dell puts on the XPS 13, and its thermal design struggles even with the quad-core i7s in taxing loads, as explained in our review.

That’s why, despite its advantages, I prefer the XPS over the X1 Carbon. Potential users should, however, check out the ThinkPad X390 and T490 as well, though, as slightly larger and overall better value alternatives with similar ThinkPad core traits.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon - lighweight and packed full of features, but expensive

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon – lightweight and packed full of features, but expensive

Huawei MateBook X Pro  – the multimedia all-rounder

This is a rather unique laptop with undeniable value, and there are a lot of reasons why it might suit your needs, and very few why it might not.

Metal is used for the case and not only is the build tough, but this notebook is also compact, thin and light (around 3 lbs, 1.33 kg). The screen is its main selling points: 13.9-inch touchscreen with a 3:2 aspect ratio, tiny bezels, 3000 x 2000 px resolution and a bright 500-nits IPS panel. Then there’s the keyboard, which uses short-stroke keys like all the other ultraportables, but feels nicer in daily use than other implementations. The features list also includes a 58 Wh battery, a finger-sensor integrated within the power button, a spacious touchpad and decent IO for such a thin device, with both full-size ports and Thunderbolt 3.

As far as performance goes, the MateBook X Pro is built on Intel Core U hardware, with fast storage and optional Nvidia MX250 graphics on the higher-end Core i7 models. That doesn’t make it a gaming laptop by any means, but it allows this to tackle older titles at FHD resolution and medium details, as well as the popular casual games available these days (this article takes a closer look at the MX250 chip’s performance). It also allows it to top the Intel-based options in certain professional applications.

Follow this link for updated prices and configurations at the time you’re reading the article.

As for those reasons why you might want to skip this one, well, it’s a thin computer with powerful hardware, so it gets hot with demanding loads, and with the small bezels around the screen, the camera was dumped at the keyboard level. But the less obvious reasons are the potential lack of quality support in case something goes wrong or you end up with a flawed unit, as well as those privacy concerns around Huawei.

The MateBook X Pro is a brilliant ultrabook and more affordable than the competition, but beware of the hidden flaws

The MateBook X Pro is a brilliant ultrabook and more affordable than the competition, but beware of the hidden flaws

Apple MacBook Pro 13  – the professional all-rounder

Apple offers both 13 and 15-inch versions of the MacBook Pros, but we’re only referring to the 13-inch model here. Compared to the Windows alternatives, this is nor the smaller, the lightest, the most powerful, or the most features-stuffed, and it also gets very expensive when specced up.

However, this is nonetheless one of the better performance ultraportables out there, due to a mixture of hardware and software reasons. Among those, the craftsmanship quality, the bright high-resolution retina display, the punchy front-facing speakers, the long battery life and the touchpad experience are hardly matched by other options. On top of these, the software/hardware optimization and ecosystem integration lead to an excellent user experience, with the exclusive software, Apple’s support, and post-sale services as the cherries on top.

At the same time, current MacBook Pros struggle with known keyboard defects, lack a touchscreen and only rely on Thunderbolt 3 connectivity. They are also increasingly more difficult to upgrade and repair, so keep that in mind if you plan to keep your unit outside warranty. I strongly recommend buying an extended warranty, but that will further add up to the total cost.

Speaking of it, the base 13-inch MacBook Pro starts at $1299 for the quad-core i5 configurations, with 8 GB of RAM and a non-upgradeable 128 GB SSD, while the better-specced variants quickly jump past $2000. Follow this link for up-to-date configurations and prices at the time you’re reading the post.

All in all, the MacBook Pros remain solid options for those already absorbed into the Apple ecosystem. The phone, the watch, the earbuds, the laptop, all work excellently together and improve your digital experience, and the software options and optimizations further transform the MacBook Pro into an excellent computer for a certain class of professionals. All these do come at a premium, though, and the MacBook Pros have also started to show their age, that’s why the Windows alternatives are worth considering as well, especially if you’re shopping on a lower budget.

Select professionals will benefit from the MacBook Pros' performance, screens and selection of accessories, but the average-user might find better value elsewhere

Select professionals will benefit from the MacBook Pros’ performance, screens and selection of accessories, as well as Apple’s excellent support, but the average user might find better value elsewhere

The honorary value options

While all the options above are excellent traditional ultrabooks, they’re also expensive. So how about some good-value mid-level options?

There are a bunch of them, each with their pros and their quirks. We’re not going to get in-depth in this post, we’ll just list the very good options down below (alphabetically), with links towards our reviews, where available.

  • Acer Swift 3 SF314-55 review – configurations and prices – metallic body, modern hardware (Core U CPUs and Nvidia MX150 dedicated graphics), good quality matte 14-inch screen and long battery life, all in an affordable package.
  • Asus Zenbook S UX392 –  review – an ultra-compact 14-inch laptop with modern Core U hardware, MX150 graphics, an excellent IPS screen, fast keyboard, and 50 Wh battery, tucked inside an aluminum unibody that weighs under 1.1 kilos.
  • Asus ZenBook 14 UX434review – slightly more affordable and heavier version of the ZenBook S, with similar specs and features, but a dimmer 14-inch display. Good value for what it is.
  • Dell Latitude 7000 13/14 – configurations and prices – Dell’s alternatives for the ThinkPad T line, excellently crafted business laptops with a 13/14-inch screen, solid features, and big batteries, but expensive.
  • HP Spectre 13  configurations and prices – HP’s alternative to the XPS 13, a premium compact 13-inch laptop with a bright touchscreen and modern specs, that only weighs 1.1 kg (2.45 lbs); only gets a small 43 Wh battery and struggles in demanding loads.
  • Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 – previewconfigurations and prices – slim 13.5-inch laptop with a 3:2 high-resolution screen, modern hardware, and an excellent keyboard, all tucked inside a compact 2.8 lbs aluminum unibody shell; pricey and limited IO;
  • MSI Prestige 14configurations and prices – compact and light 14-inch laptop, the fastest notebook in its size-class with a six-core Core i7 processor and GTX 1650 graphics; well priced for what it is;
  • Lenovo ThinkPad X390 – 13-inch business laptop, a better value alternative of the X1 Carbon, with similar traits and slightly larger chassis;
  • Lenovo ThinkBook 13s review – affordable 13-inch laptop, larger than other options, but excellently built quality and a solid performer with daily chores;
  • Razer Blade Stealth 13 reviewconfigurations and prices – compact 13-inch model, the most powerful ultrabook in this class, with pretty good gaming abilities; gets very expensive.

The best gaming ultraportables

We’ve already thoroughly covered this topic in a separate article, so follow this link for the detailed guide.

In just a few words, though, gaming ultraportables are compact and light performance laptops with capable graphics. Most of these are full-size, thus get 15 or 17-inch screens. Options include premium ultraportables like the Razer Blade 15, Asus ROG Zephyrus S, MSI GS65 Stealth Thin or the Gigabyte Aero 15, but also good-value full-size notebooks like the Lenovo Legion Y740 or the Acer Predator Helios 300. All these notebooks have been reviewed here on the site.

Those interested in even smaller and lighter options should also consider the existing 13 and 14-inch gaming ultrabooks. Just keep in mind you’ll sacrifice on the performance and won’t get a fast 144/240 Hz display with these. Among the best options in this sub-niche are the Razer Blade Stealth 13 and especially the MSI Prestige 14, both powered by GTX 1650 GPUs and Core U processors.

The best portable gaming laptops on the moment

The best productivity laptops

This is a complex topic, as each of you might have specific expectations from a multi-purpose computer.

The gaming ultraportables already covered above make for excellent all-round devices, especially in their mid-tier configurations with Core i7 processors and GTX 1660Ti/RTX 2060 graphics. But there are also a few other types of such well-balanced laptops. What we’re looking for are computers that check most of these boxes: built well, compact and lightweight, good screens, comfortable keyboards, decent performance and battery life, no major flaws.

Premium multimedia laptops

These are some of the best multi-purpose notebooks with compact shells and latest-gen specs and features. These are full-size 15-inch computer and make little to no compromise on the build quality, ergonomics, performance or battery life. They don’t come cheap, though.

We’ve listed our recommendations below, in alphabetical order, with links towards our more detailed reviews and guides:

  • Apple MacBook Pro 15 – unibody construction, 15.4″ glossy retina screen (500+ nits), problematic butterfly keyboard, up to Core i9 CPUs + AMD Vega graphics, 4x TB3 ports, 80 Wh battery, quiet fans, punchy front-facing speakers, starts at 1.83 kg / 4.05 lbs, expensive and rather outdated for this day and age;
  • Asus Zenbook Pro UX550 and Zenbook Pro UX580 – up to Core i9 + Nvidia 1050 Ti, mushy keyboard, 15.6″ matte or touch FHD/UHD screens (both 350+ nits), all-metal builds, 2x TB3 ports, 71 Wh battery, start at 1.8 kg / 3.97 lbs for the non-touch version, the UX580 gets a secondary screen within the trackpad, more affordable than the competition;
  • Asus ZenBook Pro Duo UX581 – 2019 model, premium construction and a unique design with two touchscreens, expensive and not very practical when not on a desk;
  • Dell XPS 15 – up to Core i9 + Nvidia 1650 Max-Q, multiple screen options, solid metal, and carbon fiber build, 1x TB3, 56 or 97 Wh battery, good speakers, starts at 1.85 kg / 4.1 lbs for the non-touch version with 56 Wh battery, well priced in this class;
  • Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme and ThinkPad P1– up to Core i9 + Nvidia 1650 Max-Q, multiple screen options, ThinkPad looks, features and construction, 2x TB3 and dual-storage, 80 Wh battery, starts at 1.75 kg for non-touch version, gets expensive once specced up.

And some of the premium 15-inch options: Dell XPS 15, Asus Zenbook UX580 and HP EliteBook 1050

These aside, if you’re a creator and looking for powerful hardware and a wide-gamut display in a compact computer, there’s a whole range of Studio laptops to consider. These get Turing Quadro graphics, clean designs, very quiet fans and various types of top-tier displays, but are also significantly more expensive than the option mentioned above. Follow this link for all our Quadro RTX notebook reviews, or look for devices like the Asus StudioBook Pros, the Razer Blade Studio Edition, the Acer ConceptD Pro or the MSI WS65/75 and Creator 15/17 lines.

Finally, if you’d rather get an even more portable full-size laptop and don’t really need the performance offered by the options above, then perhaps options like the Asus ZenBook 15, the Samsung Notebook 7 Force, the light and long-lasting LG Gram 15 or even the premium (and overpriced) Microsoft Surface Laptop 15 would better fit your bill.

Affordable multimedia laptops

We’ll continue with the more affordable options next, recommended for those of you without high demands and expectations in terms of features and performance. These are well suited for everyday use, school-related work, and other such activities.

If you’re looking for ultra-compact options, my recommendations would go towards something like the Lenovo ThinkBook 13s, the Dell Inspiron 13 2-in-1, the Asus ZenBook 13 or the HP Pavillion 13. Follow the links for reviews and more details. These are available for between $500 and $800, and get modern specs, IPS screens, SSD storage, backlit keyboards, and mid-sized batteries.

Chromebooks are the best options at an even lower price-tag, and we’ve covered all the best options in this separate article. However, if you’d rather not have to deal with their limitations, you should perhaps consider some of the AMD Ryzen options instead, many of them selling for under $500. These are full-size 14 and 15-inch laptops, though.

There are a lot of other good-value full-size devices with 14 and 15-inch screens. We’ve covered them in this detailed article, which I’d recommend going through, but I also added a very short selection below, just in case you don’t want to:

  • Acer Swift 3review – configurations and prices – Core U + MX150, compact metallic build, good IO, 14/15-inch matte IPS FHD screens (~230 nits), 48 Wh battery, 1.8 kg/4 lbs – 15″ model, the sound could be better;
  • Acer Aspire 5 – review – configurations and prices – various Intel or AMD configurations, plastic build, good IO, 15-inch matte IPS FHD screens (~200 nits), 42 Wh battery, 2.2 kg/4.9 lbs – 15″ model;
  • Asus VivoBook S14 and S15review – configurations and prices – various Intel or AMD configurations, compact metallic build, 14/15-inch matte IPS FHD screens (~220 nits), 42 Wh battery, 1.7 kg/3.8 lbs – 15″ model;
  • Lenovo IdeaPad 540 – configurations and prices – various Intel or AMD configurations, compact plastic build, good IO, 14/15-inch matte IPS FHD screens (~250 nits), 45 Wh battery, 1.5 kg/3.3 lbs – 14″ model.

 

 

The best 2-in-1 convertibles

Hybrids are modern laptops with some sort of convertible or detachable touchscreen, which means they can be used as regular notebooks, as tablets, or in a few other modes in-between.

We’ve covered this topic in-depth in this separated article, which you should head over to, but we’ll also quickly go through our top recommendations below.

But first, there are two kinds of 2-in-1s: stand-alone tablets and can act as laptops when hooked to an external dock or keyboard-folio, and laptops with 360 degrees convertible screens. The latter are more versatile notebooks, especially when used on the lap, and tend to get larger batteries and more ports, while the former are excellent tablets, but not as practical when not on a flat surface.

The best tablets: Microsoft Surface Go, Surface Pro, and iPad Pro

Microsoft makes some of the best Windows tablets out there, with the compact and affordable Surface Go and the powerful Surface Pro.

The Surface Go is a 10-inch tablet with a high-resolution 3:2 touchscreen, fanless Core Y hardware and a base selling price of around $330 at the time of this update (plus $130 for the Keyboard Folio, and there’s also a more expensive LTE version). It’s compact, light and rather inexpensive, which makes it an excellent school-computer or secondary travel companion. It runs Windows S by default, but can be upgraded to regular Windows for the extra functionality. Follow this link for more details.

The Surface Pro is a much more powerful and capable device, able to handle daily multitasking and demanding chores, in a lightweight and compact magnesium made chassis. It gets a 12.3-inch 3:2 touchscreen with smaller bezels, Intel Ice lake Core U hardware, and a larger battery, but with a starting price of $899 for a configuration that makes some sense these days (Core i5, 8 GB of RAM and 128 GB of storage). The keyboard and pen are not included and cost $260 combined. Ouch! Follow this link for more details.

Finally, the iPad Pro makes its way into this section as well, as a competent choice for graphics artists and creators. It’s now a lot more versatile than in the past, with the latest hardware and software updates, and includes an excellent screen with pen support, for less than you’ll pay for a fully accessorized Surface Pro. Of course, it’s not a Windows tablet and can’t run the things you can run on the Surface slates, but has its own software strong points. Follow this link for more details.

The Surface Pro and iPad pro battle at the top of this niche, but the Surface Go might just be the better value option for less-demanding customers

The Surface Pro and iPad pro battle at the top of this niche, but the Surface Go might just be the better value option for less-demanding customers

The best premium convertibles: Dell XPS 13 2-in-1, HP Spectre x360 and Lenovo Yoga C940

— we’re currently updating this section, come back in a day or two for the final version

 

The best affordable convertible: Asus Chromebook Flip C434

Much like the Surface Go, the Asus Chromebook C434 is an excellent multi-purpose convertible laptop, but this time built on ChromeOS. That makes it excellent for browsing, streaming, text-editing and everything else you can do in a browser, as well as a snappy computer with excellent battery life, much like the other flagship Chromebooks of this generation.

The Chromebook Flip C434 is available for around $550 at the time of this update. Follow this link for more details.

Honorary mentions:

  • HP Spectre X2 – review configurations and prices – a more affordable alternative of the Surface Pro, with a more versatile keyboard and fanless hardware;
  • Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga configurations and prices – premium business convertible with a 14-inch display and Wacom AES digitizer. Weighs 3 lbs, but is expensive and runs hot under load.
  • Microsoft Surface Pro – configurations and prices – a premium 12-inch Windows tablet with Core M and Core U hardware. Provides a great tablet experience and pen support for inking and drawing, but it’s not as good as a laptop;
  • Samsung Book 9 Pro configurations, and prices – a 13-inch premium convertible with excellent build quality and user reviews, an option for those looking for a top-tier configuration;

Follow this link for a more thorough list of recommended 2-in-1 laptops and hybrids.

The best fanless ultraportables

If you want a quiet computer without a fan or a spinning hard-drive inside, these options right here are the ones for you. Just keep in mind that passively cooled platforms are not going to offer the same amount of power as those cooled by a fan, so you should only get one of these for daily activities and limited multitasking.

I’ve listed my favorite options below, and a complete list of fanless ultraportables is available in this article, in case you’re interested in more options.

HP Spectre 12 X2 – the affordable detachable

The Spectre X2 is a detachable, a tablet with a keyboard dock. It offers good specs and performance in a thin and sleek aluminum body, as you can see in the pictures below. It also includes a 12-inch screen with pen support, Core M hardware, a 42 Wh battery, decent IO and a keyboard dock with backlit keys, all weighing around 2.7 lbs.

The higher specced versions of the X2 are rather expensive ($800 and up), but a Core m3 model with 4 GB of RAM and 128 GB of SSD storage goes for under $600 these days (you’ll find out where by following this link). The keyboard dock is included on all models, while a pen is included only on certain configurations, but the device gets an active digitizer so it’s going to work with most pens, there’s no specific need to buy the HP one.

The Spectre X2 is my favorite option in this category of 2-in-1s

The Spectre X2 is my favorite option in this category of 2-in-1s

Apple MacBook 12 – the ultralight option

The MacBook is one of the lightest and slimmest traditional clamshell laptops out there. It weighs 2.02 lbs (0.92 kg) and it’s just .5″ (13 mm) thick, but despite these, it’s also extremely well built and packs some good hardware.

Its case is entirely made out of aluminum, the keyboard is backlit and the screen gets a high-resolution IPS panel, without touch. As for the internals, the MacBook is powered by Intel Core m hardware with 8 GB of RAM and 256 or 512 GB of SSD storage, with a 41 Wh battery that’s going to provide around 8 hours of real daily use. Not bad at all.

The MacBook is expensive though, the base version sells for $1299 and includes a Core m5 processor with 8 GB of RAM and 256 GB of storage space. You’re paying a premium for the overall quality and the brand, of course, but given the specs, the MacBook is not much more expensive than other premium Core m options. Potential buyers have to be aware that this laptop gets an unusual keyboard with very limited travel and a single USB-C port, so you might have to spend extra on adapters or a dock.

Follow this link for more details, user reviews, and potential discounts.

This is the Apple Macbook 12

This is the Apple Macbook 12

Best Budget: Acer Chromebook R11

The R11 is a Chromebook, so it’s not running Windows, but ChromeOS, a simple and secure software meant to offer solid experience in Internet-based activities like browsing, editing documents, streaming multimedia content and music, etc.

The Chromebook R11 is a best-buy in its class. It sells for around $270 and this kind of money will get you a white notebook with a convertible 11-inch IPS touchscreen, an Intel Celeron processor, 4 GB of RAM, 32 GB of storage and a 35 Wh battery, which are solid specs for a mini-laptop in this price range. No wonder the Chromebook R11 is one of the best selling computers in the US and also one of the most appreciated, scoring good reviews with most buyers.

Follow this link for more details, user reviews, and potential discounts.

The Chromebook R11 is the best value option in its class

The Chromebook R11 is the best value option in its class

Honorary mentions:

  • Acer Switch Alpha 12 SA5-271 configurations and prices – this is a tablet with a keyboard folio and at the same time one of the very few fanless implementations of a Core U hardware platform. It performs well and it has a correct price but is not capable of running for a long while on a charge.
  • Microsoft Surface Pro – configurations and prices – only the base version of the Surface Pro is available in a fanless version, with a Core m3 processor, 4 GB of RAM and 128 GB of storage, for $899, not including the Keyboard Folio. Expensive, but otherwise a solid slate with an excellent screen, pen support, battery life, and build quality.
  • Chromebooks – these are solid picks in the sub $300 price range, excellent for Web work and light activities. Most Chromebooks are fanless and you’ll find a large selection in this post, as well as details about the best available options.

Follow this list for a more detailed list of fanless ultraportables you could consider.

Laptops with digitizer and pen support

This section is short and we’ll develop it shortly, as we’re working on a dedicated article on this particular topic, which will also include details on the types of digitizers (EMR, AES, etc.) and pens available these days.

For now, a couple of good options with digitizers are the:

  • 2-in-1 tablets (detachables): Microsoft Surface Pro, Surface Go, and Surface Book lines, Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro S, Asus Transformer 3 and 3 Pro, HP Spectre X2 and Elite X2, Dell Latitude 13 7000, Acer Aspire Switch Alpha 12;
  • 2-in-1 convertibles (360-degrees rotating screen): HP Spectre x360 13 and 15, Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga, Asus ZenBook UX362/UX562.

Stay tuned for the update.

The best affordable laptops under $500

You have a few options to consider when shopping for highly affordable laptops:

  • Chromebooks – ChromeOS notebooks great for web-based activities, with prices starting at as low as $150 and screen sizes ranging between 10 to 15.6 inches. Good picks for casual tasks as long as you’re connected to the Internet, not that good for offline use. This article explains what to exactly expect from a Chromebook, how it compares to a regular Windows laptop and includes a detailed list of recommendations, based on budget and features.
  • affordable mini laptops windows computers with small 11 to 13-inch screens and lower-end hardware specs. Some options sell for under $300, but if you want a faster platform, larger battery or an IPS screen you’ll have to spend a little more.
  • affordable full-size laptops – you can find traditional notebooks with 14/15-inch screens in this budget, with fairly competitive specs and features, like Core i3 and i5 processors, 4-8 GB of RAM and decent storage, including SSDs in some cases. These cut some corners on the build quality and choice of materials, getting all plastic cases, and most also get a small battery, a non-backlit keyboard, and a TN screen, but if you dig carefully you’ll even find IPS panels in this price range.

There’s a large collection of popular laptops that sell for under $500 over here, with user reviews and extra details. That aside, you should head over to this article for my selection of top-affordable ultraportables, with solid options going for under $500 and premium best-buy options in the $500 to $800 range.

Portable laptops based on screen size

This topic is covered in the following separated articles:

However, I’ll also add a few words on what to expect from each class.

The offer for ultra-compact computers with 10-inch screens, follow-ups of the highly popular netbooks back in the days, is limited to a few 2-in-1s like the Asus Transformer Pad or the Acer Aspire Switch 10 families, as well as the newer Microsoft Surface Go. They get a touchscreen, are built on low-power hardware and are only good enough for basic tasks, but will last for a long while on a charge.

11-inchers, on the other hand, are available in greater numbers and diversities, from the most affordable Chromebooks selling for $150 and up, to higher-end options with advanced features. However, most premium ultra-portables get a 12 to 13.3-inch screens these days, and that’s the segment where you’ll find the better options if you want a computer that looks good, is built well, performs properly, lasts for 6+ hours on a charge and doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. Most of the devices featured in the various sections of this post get a 12 to 13-inch screen.

On the other hand, you’ll have to step up to a larger device if you need faster hardware for professional use or gaming. There are quite a few excellent 14-inchers out there, yet this niche is mostly populated with business options, toughly built, packed with enterprise-oriented features and pricey. 15 and 17-inchers are mostly oriented towards regular consumers, but even in this segment, the offer is vast, with options for those interested in portability, performance, gaming abilities or even convertible with touch displays.

These aside, there are also plenty of thin (under 1-inch) full-size notebooks out there if that’s what you’re after, as well as many that are very light, at around 1 kilo or even beyond. Just keep in mind that powerful hardware and a thin case don’t always make for a happy couple, and make sure to read reviews if you don’t want to end up with a computer that gets hot, noisy or throttles under load.

Wrap-up – what’s the best ultrabook?

None of the laptops listed here are perfect, but if you’ll take a look back at the ultra-portables launched in these last years, you’ll see the current generations have come a long way.

The hardware is faster and more efficient these days, which was expected, but alongside came new form factors and features, plus improvements on all the fundamentals that make a laptop great: build quality, keyboards, touchpads, screens, connectivity, and battery life, among them. As a result, there are now many good options to choose from.

As for what’s the best ultrabook for you, that’s in the end for each one of you to decide. You know 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 the 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 check out these other articles on the site:

Last but not least, you can check out the reviews posted here on the site and our thorough comparisons, or get in touch in the comments section 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 every two or three weeks, if not more often, 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 updates and launches.

Disclaimer: Our content is reader-supported. If you buy through some of the links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.
Andrei Girbea, Editor-in-Chief of Ultrabookreview.com. I've been covering mobile computers since the 2000s and you'll mostly find reviews and thorough guides written by me here on the site.

754 Comments

  1. Cat

    June 29, 2016 at 2:48 pm

    Hi Andrei,

    Do you know what is the status with the Zenbook UX305UA? I can’t find it for sell. I am also looking at the Dell XPS 13, Acer Aspire S13 S5-371-75ML, as well as the ThinkPad 13 for my boss. He travels a lot and needs a light weight laptop. All he does on the laptop is Outlook, Word, Excel, and surf the internet. No movies. Which of the above is good for him? His eyes are also going. Is there a lightweight 14 or 15 inches that will work for him? Thank you!

    • Andrei Girbea

      June 30, 2016 at 8:14 am

      The UX305UA should be available in most regions, including the US. Out of those three, I’d have the XPS 13 as the top pick if the budget would be a constrain. Otherwise, I’d probably go with the THinkPad 13. There are plenty of 14 and 15 inchers available, there’s a post here: https://www.ultrabookreview.com/2404-14-15-inch-ultrabooks/

  2. lishwanth

    July 8, 2016 at 11:38 am

    Which laptop is best in all aspects topend version of dell xps 13 or top end version of hp spectre????

  3. Justin

    July 10, 2016 at 7:19 pm

    You have a fantastic taste in laptops. There are so many hideous designs out there. My metrics are, thin bezel, big trackpad, and a keyboard that goes edge to edge, with a non touch screen that is as least 14 inches. There are surprisingly few like this! I finally went with the LG Gram 14, a beautifully designed and powerful ultrabook.

  4. Lud

    July 18, 2016 at 12:06 pm

    hallo Andrei,

    many thanks, you wrote interesting reviews.

    At now a new 3:2 (fine displays :) for working, with active pens and touch screen, but glare :( so great “make-up mirror”s )
    as the Microsoft “Surface Pro 4”- comperior- not a clone . is coming on the market: the
    Acer “Aspire Switch Alpha 12” fanless with special cooling, and a fine 12-inch-IPS

    Perhaps it will be possible to use the Acer Graphics Dock with GTX 960M per USB-C :) if thunderbold will be integrates in the USB-C port ;) .

    Last year you test the ACER “SWITCH 12 SW5-271” with trackpoint ( built-in mouse stick ) – without trackpad ! https://www.ultrabookreview.com/7177-acer-switch-12-review/

    A better FineTrack will be a positiv second input for the Switch Alpha 12 – perhaps ACER will sold these with lights in the future:
    — We love the favorably 5° curve FineTouch (TM) keyboard with the green FineTrack (TM) + two FineTrack buttons with integrated Bio-Protection fingerprint reader supporting FingerNav 4-way control functions,
    as a dual navigation control the touchpad with 4-way scroll button – center between two touchpad buttons FineTouchpad plus two mouse keys and the center button :) for 4-way-window scroll. :)

    … these in our Acer TravelMate 6492 with the FineTrack is a fantastic beautiful and powerfull fine business input device. :)

    Do you ever have tested these FineTrack?

    We think these build in TravelMates 2006/2007 was better as the Pointing sticks in ThinkPad.

  5. Steve

    July 26, 2016 at 5:43 am

    Are you going to review the Lenovo x1 yoga anytime soon?

    • Andrei Girbea

      July 26, 2016 at 2:53 pm

      To be frank, probably not. I have very poor contacts with Lenovo lately and I don’t plan on buying that product just for reviewing it.

  6. Francesco

    August 11, 2016 at 3:25 pm

    Hi Andrei,
    First of all words of appreciation for what you do everyday. This website has been my main reference point for ultrabook and laptop in general and there’s just no competition, Good job!
    It must be 5 or 6 months i am looking for the “my perfect” ultrabook.
    Rather then making a long introduction, i’ll just cut to the chase and tell you what are my needs.
    FORMAT: 15″, with all ultrabooks have (low weight, practicality exc)
    SCREEN: FHD, don’t need no fancy 4K
    VGA: Very important, has to be dedicated…Nvidia 950 or better. 950 should be enough to play some moba like HoTs, Smite and some other non demanding games
    KEYBOARD: Not backlit? Deal braker!
    BUDGET: around 1000€

    And that would be all…Models I found interesting are Asus N55 series and Acer Nitro V5…should be the best all around and with everything i ask from them.

    Only catch is…the eye catch…I’d really love some eye catch and premium feel, something you can get out from Zenbooks, Yogas or S7, S13.

    Are there any chances to group all those needs in 1 fine piece of hardware?

    Thank you for your advice and again, good job on this fantastic website.

    • Andrei Girbea

      August 15, 2016 at 2:08 pm

      Hi and sry for the late reply. The Acer V15 Nitro Black looks pretty good imo and the Asus GL552VW isn’t very bad either. Should be around your budget. If you can wait a few weeks, maybe a bit longer, Asus will have a Zenbook UX510 in stores which might squeeze into your budget, but that one comes with dual-core Core i5 and i7 processors, so it’s not as fast as the quad-cores.

  7. Tommaso

    August 21, 2016 at 5:31 pm

    Excellent reviews, complete, concise and clear. Not too technical but enough to answer all questions.

    What is the usebility threshold between core i and core m? Could you give a few practical examples of multitasking better suited to core i? And every day use that core m cannot handle very well? Can core m occasionally be used with gimp or ps to retouch photos, for example removing background? And more examples in real, tangible use, please?

    Thank you,

    Tommaso

    • Andrei Girbea

      August 22, 2016 at 6:07 pm

      I’d say Core M (let’s take the m5, mid level unit, for reference) is OK for browsing with up to 10 tabs, all sorts of video content including 4K, text editing, music. Multitasking is OK, but it depends on what’s your threshold for accepting lag and occasional hiccups.

      Core i (again, i5 for reference) can do all the above, and multitask smoother and between more apps. It can also handle software that requires more processing power, like Photoshop, Premiere, programing software, etc. Core I processors are bundle much faster graphics and would be better suited for games and other applications that actually benefit from the GPU.

  8. Tommaso

    August 25, 2016 at 2:28 am

    Hello Andrei,

    I am shopping for a laptop around 14″ and before I post more specific questions about models, I was wondering if you would comment about my number one requirement in my list: “hardware reliability”.

    2 main areas:

    A)Programmed hardware failures:
    Lot’s of talk about pre-programmed life cycle and engineered “expiry dates”. It is rumored that all laptop brands refrain to develop, engineer and manufacture the most reliable hardware and, in fact, programme hardware failures in order to keep us consumers buying replacements. I find this hard to believe given the importance that track record and reputation play in long term business economic performances.

    B) Statistic data:
    Can you point to valid and usable statistic data for hardware reliability analysis with reference to (1) model and (2) brand? I searched a bit and only came across 5 separate hardware reliability studies that were (allegedly) supported by statistical data (I am not interested in the least in opinions and personal anecdotes not factually supported). All 5 concurred that Apple products were best (by a long way) and 4 out of 5 placed Asus second with a good margin on the 3rd. From 3rd down all brands were within few points percentage of each other.
    I know how hard it is to find accurate information on this topic so I would really appreciate if you could comment to this post of mine with facts and sources.

    Again, thank you for the good reviews.

    Tommaso

    • Andrei Girbea

      August 25, 2016 at 8:56 am

      A. Computers, like all other things, will fail in the end. Going for a business-grade computer usually ensures that certain standards are met amd should results in a more reliable device.

      B. There are very few such studies and they are not very relevant imo. For instance, Apple only makes premium computers, so it’s expected to have higher reliability and customer service scores. Someone like Asus makes a vast range of computers, from cheap to premium models, so their scores are an average of all these models (the lower-end variants drag down the higher-end ones).

      Like I said, my advice is to go with a higher-tier device, no matter the OEM, and consider the Warranty and post-sale services offered when deciding for a final product. Also read reviews for hidden flaws. For instance, some Asus Zenbooks have a known hinge issue, which tends to shatter after a while.

      FOr example, this is one of the reasons I went with a ThinkPad a while ago. In my country, ThinkPads come with 3years warranty by default and 7-day service (someone comes and picks up the product and they’ll fix it in 7 days). Things might be different where you live, but Lenovo, HP, Dell and others usualyl offer such services for their business lines.

  9. Tommaso

    August 25, 2016 at 2:33 am

    Hello Andrei,

    I appreciate your reviews and I want to contribute.

    In the “say thanks” page you mention that you benefit from us buying from the stores that you link/list. I guess that this means that we have to actually click those links, right? If I just go to one of those websites (without clicking on your links) how can that benefit you?

    Tommaso

    • Andrei Girbea

      August 25, 2016 at 8:57 am

      It would only benefit me if you’d buy after clicking one of those links. If the store is not in the list, then it’s not going to help me, but don’t worry about it. recommending the website to others is good enough for me :)

  10. Nick

    August 26, 2016 at 5:01 am

    Given the price point and functionality of the newest iteration (2016), how would the Acer Aspire R13 fare in this lineup?

    I had been in the market for a 2-in-1, but was always concerned about the 360-flip design due to the exposed keyboard. I’d be curious to hear your thoughts on how it compares to the ones mentioned in this article.

    Btw, thank you so much for putting this list together, for keeping a detailed description and review of each item, and for continually updating this list. It is a tremendous resource and is very much appreciated. Thank you.

    -Nick

    • Andrei Girbea

      August 27, 2016 at 8:19 am

      It’s a pretty good laptop, a bit bulky for my liking and on the pricey side for a plastic computer, that’s why I don’t think it’s as good overall as the HP Spectre or the Samsung ATIV Book or the Zenbook UX360UA. I have a review of the older model here: https://www.ultrabookreview.com/6598-acer-aspire-r13-review/ , the newer generation gets an improved keyboard with F-keys.

  11. Tommaso

    August 28, 2016 at 2:38 am

    Andrei,

    A general buying guide and tips question related to *browser experience* only:
    1. best hardware
    2. best OS/software

    I regularly have 20+ tabs open on my browser in order to compare content and pages scroll slowly and not smoothly, new tabs take time to open, etc.

    All else being equal, can you:
    1. list hardware/software items that will affect browsing experience most?
    2. express their importance in proportion, say from 100?
    – CPU number of cores?
    – CPU type (m/U)
    – CPU generation
    – CPU class (i3, i5 or i7)?
    – CPU speed?
    – RAM?
    – RAM type (which one)?
    – SSD technology/speed (which one)?
    – WiFi adapters (which one)?
    – Screen resolution?
    – OS (which one)?
    – Browser (which one)?
    – Other?

    Thanks, Tommaso

    PS: pls exclude anything related to Apple from your recommendations

  12. Eric

    August 31, 2016 at 3:31 pm

    Your fanless section (and likely other sections) should mention the new Acer Aspire Switch Alpha 12 as it’s the ONLY fanless Core i series “ultrabook” out there. I’m shocked you haven’t reviewed it on this site.

    I think as more and more folks realize you are getting full Core i3/i5/i7 power in a fanless design without the noise – the better this product will sit with people. More manufacturers need to go fanless and not just with Core M CPUs. Just because we are all used to active cooling and deal with lousy fans in our laptops doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be celebrating fanless designs that are NOT compromised in power.

    • Andrei Girbea

      August 31, 2016 at 5:03 pm

      I never got the chance to review the Switch Alpha 12 but I’m goign to check it out asap. I wasn’t aware that the Core i versions are actually fanless, that’s a huge deal, thanks for the heads-up on this unit.

      I agree with what you’re saying about more fanless options. My experience with the few Core M units I’ve tested mostly broguht me to the conclusion that the technology is not there yet. Even Core M hardware throttles under load, Core U would perform even worse, and that’s not something I want. Right now I think the best compromise is a fan-cooled computer that is capable to only kicking on the fan for high load activities, but provide a fanless experience in daily tasks. To some extent, that’s what my XPS 13 is capable of and that’s the reasons I’m still using it.

  13. Zona

    September 9, 2016 at 9:29 pm

    I’m looking for a cheap laptop less tan $500 with these specs:

    MATTE Screen 11.6 to 13.3
    Weight less than 3 pounds (1.3kg)
    Long Battery Life
    Decent processor** (NO ATOM or celeron)

    ** I don’t need much powa but also not a crappy Atom, i3 U, core M, those are okay

    I DON’T FIND ANY BECAUSE:

    1- All are touchscreen wich is glossy, and i hate glossy (don’t care about touchscreen)

    2- Most are convertible, and that adds weight and limits battery capacity, so either they have short battery life or heavy weight… or both.

    • Andrei Girbea

      September 10, 2016 at 4:51 am

      Hi, do you need it to run Windows, or would a Chromebook work as well?

      • Zona

        September 10, 2016 at 11:38 am

        No it needs to be windows but i think in some chromebooks windows can be installed right?

        • Andrei Girbea

          September 10, 2016 at 1:05 pm

          Not really, the storage is very limited on those, usually 16 or 32 GB, which is not going to be enough for Windows.

          Out of the top of my mind, I can’t think of any unit that would meet all your criteria, even those that don’t come with a touchscreen usually get a glossy screen in this segment, and the very few ones with matte screens are really expensive, like the Samsung Book 9. You should check out the units in this post: https://www.ultrabookreview.com/8162-skylake-ultrabooks/ and this post: https://www.ultrabookreview.com/5165-broadwell-ultrabooks/ , perhaps that’s something that I’m missing right now.

          • Zona

            September 10, 2016 at 4:39 pm

            Thanks for the quick replies!
            I think what i look for doesn’t exit for now–
            What if i leave the matte screen? there is a good glossy laptop with these specs?

          • Andrei Girbea

            September 11, 2016 at 6:18 am

            Well, not really if you don’t want to go the convertible route and really want at least a Core M processor. The clamshell ultraportables in this size range are usually business laptops like the Lenovo X250/x260 , Dell Latitude 12, and other high end premium laptops like the Macbook, Samsung Ativ Book, Asus Zenbook 3.

            If you’re OK with convertibles, than Dell, HP, Acer, Asus and a few others have some 11-12 inchers around your budget for a Core i3 processor, albeit it might not be a latest gen one.

  14. Maziane

    September 25, 2016 at 1:14 pm

    Hi, maybe someone already asked you, but are you going to review the Xiaomi Air 13,3′, because this one looks really really impressive, and so cheap for so many caracteristics !

    • Andrei Girbea

      September 25, 2016 at 5:12 pm

      I would want to say yes, we have a collaboration in place that should provide one for review, but I don’t know when that’s going to happen or even if these partners will actually provide the sample as promised. So the answer is: I don’t know right now.

  15. Nina

    September 28, 2016 at 5:29 am

    *sigh* I’m having such a trouble finding an actual laptop in 13.3″ under 1.5kg and with a matte screen. The Asus Zenbook 305 might have a matte screen, but the lid being lower than the base makes it useless as a laptop. The edge simply hurts my leg after a while. Dell XPS: Due to the small size it’s not well balanced. Smaller laptops simply fall off my lap if I don’t constantly hold them.

    Do you have any other suggestions? Are there glossy screens that don’t reflect so madly, especially when sitting with the back/side to a window? Alternatively, as matte screens seem to be so difficult to get what about testing screen protectors that take the reflectiveness off screens?

    • Andrei Girbea

      September 28, 2016 at 9:11 am

      There are also the Acer Aspire S13 and the Lenovo ThinkPad 13, but imo they’re not on par with the XPS 13. I’m able to type on mine just well on my lap and to be frank, it never felt off-balanced to me. Did you give it a few days to get used to it?

      One other unit to look into could be the newer Zenbook UX330, although it might not be available in the US for a while. Still, the screen’s angle is limited and I see that as a problem for screen use.

      • Nina

        September 28, 2016 at 9:34 am

        Thanks a lot. I tried the Acer and hated the keyboard. As typing is my main use that’s not good. The UX330 also seems to have the lid that lifts up the entire notebook, again a no due to the sharp edge. It seems to be available soon in Europe, where I am.

        No, I’ve not tried the XPS as such as Dell’s returns policy in Europe is rather annoying and expensive, but similar sized laptops. I kind of curl up on a sofa and balance the book on the side of one thigh usually and it didn’t work with similar sized books. I guess it’s like: a bike with a wide bar is more stable than one with a narrow one.

        It almost looks like I need to accept a glossy screen, convince myself to get the ThinkPad 13, or continue using my current ultrabook with all it’s bugs it’s developed over the years.

        • Andrei Girbea

          September 28, 2016 at 3:14 pm

          Well, perhaps you can at least find it in a store and give it a try. I’m probably biased, since the XPS has been my ultraportable of choice for a long while now, but I don’t think there’s another like it out there.

  16. Nina

    September 28, 2016 at 2:42 pm

    Do you happen to know whether Dell ever allowed screen brightness adjustment to the XPS 13 (new or previous model) matte screen? If this is possible then I maybe should go for this one even though the Dell service seems to be really abysmal in Europe. If this is not possible then I really need a different computer due to having special needs eyes. HP after all? Despite all the Lenovo 13? Hmm.. difficult

    • Andrei Girbea

      September 28, 2016 at 3:16 pm

      The matte screen isn’t very bright, if you plan to use it outside or in bright environments it probably won’t suffice. You can adjust the screen brightness of course, but only within its limits, with the upper one at around 270-300 nits if I remember right.

  17. Eugene

    October 12, 2016 at 2:42 am

    Why no Fujitsu ultrabooks in review?

    • Andrei Girbea

      October 12, 2016 at 1:32 pm

      Well, which one would you have included? There are some interesting Fujitsu business options, but very expensive and imo not the best picks for regular buyers.

  18. Ariff

    October 15, 2016 at 6:39 am

    Hi Andrei great comprehensive write up.

    Im lost between getting a HP spectre x360 13 or Dell XPS 13. In my country so far only Dell comes with iris 540 graphic. But the difference between HP and Dell is huge.

    Reviews say the iris 540 is *up to* 40% improvement over hd 520. Im wondering if getting iris 540 is going to be worth it because I do some video editing and I love playing some strategy games like Starcraft 2.

    Basically I’m ok if paying more means the laptop lasts longer. Whats your opinion/experience on the Iris 540? Thanks in advance.

    • Andrei Girbea

      October 16, 2016 at 5:53 am

      I’d get the Iris 540 configuration if you’re into games, it’s quite beefy. There’s a review of the Iris 540 XPS 13 here: https://www.ultrabookreview.com/10427-dell-xps-9350-review/

      • Ariff

        October 18, 2016 at 1:00 am

        Thanks Andrei, thanks for your quick reply.

        I finally did get the xps 13. Only the Gold i7 version is available. There is a promotion with an option to redeem a GoPro Hero 4 camera. So that sealed the deal. Made the laptop much more cheaper.

        So far so good. Tried a bit of Starcraft 2 on max res and medium setting. Quite smooth. And I didn’t find the laptop overheating. I did find the trackpad a bit jumpy at times as mentioned in the review. Hopefully an update will fix that. At least now I don’t look like an old gamer with this xps haha.

        • Andrei Girbea

          October 18, 2016 at 4:13 am

          Any sings of coil whining on your unit? And how’s battery life?

          • Ariff

            October 20, 2016 at 5:26 am

            I put my ear near the back and I can’t say I hear any “coil whining”. But I did run into other problems:

            1. When i tried to redeem the gopro cam or any other prizes it simply says “sorry out of stock”! I’m quite frustrated because that’s the main reason I chose the Dell. So i blew a lot of money thinking I would get two products.

            2. Two keys on the keyboard are defective. Its the no 6 and quote keys. I have to press twice for it to register. But then it comes out twice! So if I press ” once it doesn’t come out but press twice it comes out as ” “.

            Honestly I wasn’t expecting such defects from a reputable company like Dell. They are suppose to send a technician the next day but he didn’t turn up! Also I feel cheated with the promo. They could have at least just state the prize is “out of stock” on their website without needing to purchase something and log in. Shocking…

          • Andrei Girbea

            October 20, 2016 at 5:29 am

            Ha, that’s crappy on their part. I’d probably return it if possible or at least ask for an exchange to get a properly working keyboard.

  19. Zona

    October 18, 2016 at 9:55 pm

    I think an article dedicated to make a top of the laptops with best battery life would be great.

    This is my main problem with the laptops, because is not something easy to check like the weight, some places don’t even specify the battery specs, and in my opinion why would i want a light ultraportable laptop if it’s going to have a crappy battery life? for having the lap stuck in one place i get a desktop which is far cheaper, besides you also have to consider that battery life gets shorter with time, if you plan to have the laptop for 2+ years you need to consider getting one with more hours than the needed.

    • Andrei Girbea

      October 20, 2016 at 5:02 am

      Yeah, that’s a good idea. I’ll add it to the list.

  20. Dani

    October 19, 2016 at 2:29 am

    What’s up with the Lenovo Idwapad 710s in Europe? It looks ok depending on the keyboard. There are a couple European reviews out there in unusual sites that are a couple of months old, us ebay sellers offer it and some Korean sellers offer it with Kabi Lake apparently. Lenovo uk has a website for it… and that’s all. No discussions about it on the usual forums as far as I can see with mobile phone, not availabe, no reviews from the usual sources.

    • Andrei Girbea

      October 20, 2016 at 5:03 am

      I don’t have any contacts with Lenovo as of lately and I really can’t comment on their products. I haven’t even reviewed any of them in the last months.

  21. Jenna

    October 28, 2016 at 9:51 am

    I am not a tech savvy, I'm here to search for an upgrade to my 5 years old Laptop. Considering the new MacBook Pro, is it worthy? Are there alternative options I should look into. I do quite a bit of photo editing and videos.

    • Andrei Girbea

      October 30, 2016 at 2:09 pm

      The 13-inch Macbook Pro is pretty interesting. I can't say whether it's a good buy or not though, we'll have to wait for some proper reviews to come up.

  22. sanjeev k

    November 4, 2016 at 9:19 am

    hi Andrei
    Your reviews are always most enlightening . Kindly suggest me a new laptop in a tight budget of Indian rupees 40 k, a 12.5 inch to 13.5 screen convertible good battery-life, new-generation processor laptop.I am from an indian interior where commercial tranport links are weak
    Thanks

  23. Iris

    December 28, 2016 at 7:45 am

    Hi Andrei
    Thank you for your reviews. I especially like that you update them.
    I currently have a Sony VIAO PRO 3 SVP13216PG bought in Jan 14 which I absolutely love. I use it for work & Uni. Specs are FHD (1920 × 1080) touchscreen, i5-4200U, 4GB and I have the additional sheet battery.
    I recently dropped it and cracked the screen. My local IT Store is in the process of trying to source a replacement screen but in light of it being a touchscreen and Sony selling the VIAO brand in mid to late 2014 it is not looking too good.
    Can you suggest any ultrabook/laptop that would be a suitable replacement in the event I have to replace it.
    Thanks
    Iris

    • Andrei Girbea

      December 29, 2016 at 7:11 am

      HI, that's a really nice laptop, but Sony stopped making laptops a while ago, so getting parts can be problematic.

      I'd look at the Dell XPS 13 or the new HP Specter X360 for replacements, these are my favorite 13-inchers available right now. Not very cheap though, but you didn't mention a budget so I suggested the best :)

  24. Chloe

    February 1, 2017 at 5:29 am

    Hey Andrei,

    This article was definitely enlightening and helpful. Ill be a student starting university this year and looking for thin (but not too thin) but still portable laptop and looking for something with good build so will last long. I am willing to stretch the budget but just needing the guidance. I will mainly be in research area and would like a battery that lasts at least 10 hours on a charge. As I will be attending lectures and dont want the laptop dying on me during a session. So Id like to stay safe and long battery life will be a bonus and still have everything mentioned above. Thank you so very much! C

    • Andrei Girbea

      February 2, 2017 at 6:14 am

      This post should help narrow down your options. You should start by deciding on size (13-inch screen, smaller or bigger) and then pick what best fits your budget. You haven't mentioned any, so can't make any recommendations. Few options will offer 10h of continuous daily use though.

  25. Mantas

    February 4, 2017 at 2:33 pm

    Hi, Andrei,

    It's great overview of laptops !

    I'm still struggle with selection. What would be the best (or few) choice for such requirements:

    * MATTE Screen 11.6 to 14 (for reading, now reflections)
    * Fanless (silent, activities: browsing, video)
    * Longer than average Battery Life, rather light
    * OS: Windows (price up to 1000 $) or chromebook (more quality)

  26. Charry

    March 23, 2017 at 12:37 pm

    Hi again Andrei
    I wrote to you about getting a new laptop for my desires, you told me to wait for spring 2017 and and here we are. As mentioned in that comment I was hoping for a mulimedia ultrabook, with a great graphics card for now demanding games, while also being thin and goodlooking since I also need it for college. Last year i had my eyes on the asus zenbook UX501/10 but I want a better graphics card. Any laptops that cames out for now that his these demands? :P being under 1700$?
    -Charry

    • Andrei Girbea

      March 28, 2017 at 6:54 am

      Hi Charry. I'd look at the Dell XPS 9560 or the MSI GS63 or GS73, depending on the type of graphics card you'd need and the design lines you prefer. Both are withing your budget and have been reviewed here on the site.

      • Charry

        March 31, 2017 at 1:09 pm

        Hey it seems that is a lil bit 2 much money for the Dell, but it's something like that, also it doesnt have the numpad on the site :/, the msi looks cool but I dont want it to scream gaming pc, like the logo of GAMERS it doesn't look good haha imo. I am waiting for something more like the dell xps, u know if some of the other companies makes something similiar this year? before august?

        • Andrei Girbea

          April 1, 2017 at 3:38 am

          perhaps you'd find something you'd want in this list: https://www.ultrabookreview.com/11702-laptops-nvidia-1060/ , there are also lists of laptops with NVidia 1050 and 1070 graphics, use the search at the top to find them pls.

          • Charry

            April 1, 2017 at 10:10 am

            Hey Again, I just found out that the Asus Zenbook Pro UX550 is coming out soon, I think i will get that, you know the exact date for release? and will you do a review of it?
            -Charry

          • Andrei Girbea

            April 2, 2017 at 11:41 am

            I don't, and can't tell if i'll review it for the time being. Will ask for it though.

  27. Mikhail

    April 8, 2017 at 5:07 pm

    Tried reading the article, but the page gets reloaded every half a minute or so and you are at the top again and have to scroll down to where you were. Can you please make it not to reload?

  28. zinbo

    May 14, 2017 at 10:37 am

    is there a ultrabook finder application like we have phone finders in gsmarena and phonearena? i think they both are great.

    despite your big efforts i still struggle to find what i am looking for.
    https://www.ultrabookreview.com/11638-intel-kabylake/
    this list was a good starting point but i dont know which one has active pen support.

    i am looking for:
    +13", preferably 15.6"
    +8gb ram
    +1080p ips screen
    active pen support
    ssd
    preferably convertible but detachable is ok too
    kabylake processor, preferably Core U but Core Y is ok too
    budget friendly

    i know Dell XPS 13, Hp Spectre x360 and Acer Spin 5
    what other options do i have?

  29. Chris LOPEZ

    June 16, 2017 at 6:50 pm

    Dear Mr. Girbea,
    I own a Lenovo Thinkpad E330 currently that has 3 years. It's an i5 processor and 4Gb RAM plus a HDD of 500Gb.
    Originally it came with Windows 7 but I upgraded it to Windows 10 last year.
    I am now wanting to either upgrade it to 8Gb RAM and replace the HDD by an SSD OR buy a new laptop/ultrabook.
    What would you recommend? Is the upgrade risky or maybe not worth it?
    I can't make up my mind.
    Thanking you upfront for your advice.
    Best regards,
    Chris

    • Andrei Girbea

      June 17, 2017 at 12:16 pm

      Depends on what you do on the computer. For daily use, that older processor is still good enough imo, and upgrading the RAM and especially the HDD to an SSD is going to make a big difference. Plus, it should cost that much. Of course, with a 3 year old laptop there's always the chance of something falling apart at some point, but that's mostly a matter of luck. I still own a 2012 ThinkPad and works just fine, for example.

      If you need a faster computer and especially one that can last longer on a charge, you could consider getting a new laptop. Up to you.

      • Chris LOPEZ

        June 18, 2017 at 3:32 pm

        Thank you Mr. Girbea.
        Having looked on the web, it's true that specification wise my computer is still good.
        Considering the price of some additional RAM and an SSD drive I'll go for that option to give my machine a second breath in life.

        Is there anything special I need to do once I have copied my HDD contents to the SSD drive?
        Or is it just copying my actual disk to the SSD disk and plug in the SSD into laptop afterwards?
        A friend told me I might need to change things in the BIOS… but at that part I am for sure not good.

        Thanking you once again.
        Best regards,
        Chris

  30. Nathan

    July 12, 2017 at 8:19 am

    is there an alternative to Acer Spin 5 in terms of bang for buck? thanks

    • Andrei Girbea

      July 12, 2017 at 8:42 am

      You might have some options with the new Lenovo Yoga series scheduled for the second part of the year, but otherwise, not really if the budget is limited. HP, Dell and Asus have a few nicer options, like the Dell Inspiron 5000 13-inch, Asus Vivobook Q302/TP300 or the HP Pavilion x360 13t, but they're usually more expensive for similar specs. Worth considering though, the Spin 5 has quite a few quirks as far as I remember: https://www.ultrabookreview.com/13486-acer-spin-5-review/

  31. Jan Pinxter

    July 24, 2017 at 7:57 am

    As I read your udate, se below:

    Update: As of late 2016 there’s a new version of the HP Spectre x360 available, with a more compact and lighter body, Intel Kaby Lake hardware and two Thunderbolt 3 ports, and you can read all about it in our in-depth review. Spoiler alert: it’s an excellent 13-incher, but it no longer offers a digitizer and pen support like the previous version.

    Pity it is not really updated yet having now support of an active pen and, optionally, a 4K/UHD display, although at least in Europe!

    • Andrei Girbea

      July 24, 2017 at 8:03 am

      Yes, this article is in need of a rehaul, I'm sorry for the misinformation, working on it.

  32. Carina Potgieter

    August 9, 2017 at 9:34 am

    Hello Andrei,

    I have to commend you on your excellent use of language and clear, unambiguous writing style. I shy away from many review sites because of their poor language, which simply does not instil (British English :)) confidence. Thank you also, for not alienating the man in the street, like me, with heaps of confusing jargon.

    I am urgently looking for a new computer for work purposes – possibly a 15" laptop to use in conjunction with a wide screen on my desktop at times. My requirements are, roughly:

    – SILENT operation
    – Soft-touch responsive keypad (spill-proof would be great!) or even chiclet
    – Relatively fast processing speed supporting latest software
    – Large screen
    – If possible fanless, with SSD
    – A computer which will NOT overheat easily (I work very long hours)
    – Matt screen, preferably
    – If possible, number pad
    – I am not a gamer, so I won't need elaborate graphics, nor will I need a touchscreen

    I am from South Africa (different model types here) and have been looking at middle-of-the-range computers, such as the HP Envy 15 (Core i7, 12 gig RAM, 512 SSD, fanless, with number pad, USB-C slot and Windows 10). I have, however, previously had HP machines and found them to overheat easily. Does this happen with the Envy too? I don't want a repeat of the same problem! If so, what can you recommend? Any other computers?

    In South Africa, Dell has better after-sales service than HP, which is also a consideration for me.

    Also, I have back problems and was wondering about the strain caused by working on a laptop with a desktop screen further away. Is this a problem?

    Kind regards
    Carina

    • Andrei Girbea

      August 10, 2017 at 3:26 am

      Hi, thank for the kind words. You didn't mention a budget, that would have been very helpful, but you do say mid-range and I'll work with that.

      What I can tell you is that there are no 15-inch fanless options that I can think of, and the thinner the laptop, the hotter it would get. I don't have a lot of experience with HP laptops lately, they are not that widely available over here. Could be good options, ut I suggest looking for reviews on notebookcheck.net and other websites, I can't share any insiders.

      I would also suggest checking on the mid-level Dell Inspiron laptops, series 5000 and 7000, should check most boxes. Lenovo makes some good 15-inchers as well, their IdeaPad 320, 510 and 710 lines. The Asus Zenbook Pro UX550 could be an option if you want something nicer and more powerful, as well as the Dell XPS 15, but these are expensive. Not sure if any of these are available down there, but check them out.

      • Pinxter

        August 10, 2017 at 4:05 am

        The new Matebook X might be a good fanless option too although just 13". Have a look:
        theguardian.com/technology/2017/jul/05/huawei-matebook-x-review-fanless-macbook-pro-rival

        • Andrei Girbea

          August 11, 2017 at 3:17 am

          Yes, thanks for the suggestion. I'd wait for reviews first, there's plenty that could go wrong on such a build. But Huawei made some pretty interesting WIndows devices in the last year, so this can be good too.

          • Jan Pinxter

            August 11, 2017 at 4:36 am

            The many reviews I read sofar were pretty positive, except maybe the battery time its limited connectivity and no touch panel but ultraslim (less than 1/2 inch), gorgeous display and no fan but still having proper Intel® Core™ i7-7500U processor.
            Looking forward to your review Andrei!

  33. Aaron

    August 24, 2017 at 8:39 am

    Hi, any recommendations of a laptop which is suitable for students to make notes for long hours yet powerful enough for games like Dota 2? It will be best if it is light enough to carry around whole day (around 3.5 lbs). Preferably Asus products or similar design. I can afford price range below $800. Thank you for your help.

    • Andrei Girbea

      August 26, 2017 at 4:12 am

      I'd get at least a laptop with Nvidia 940MX for Dota 2 so that means the Zenbook UX303UB or perhaps the UX410UQ, if available in your region. Not sure if you can find them in your budget though.

  34. antoine amanieux

    November 18, 2017 at 3:28 pm

    great site, very useful thanks.
    i had one suggestion : try to add rough estimates of numbers of units sold because we want to buy a machine a lot of people also bought.
    1/ for the wisdom of the crowd that will translate good choice into high sell number (we are all unique but 80% of our "jobs to be done" are the same)
    2/ we will always at one time come upon a problem due to hardware/firmware/software conflicts and when you buy a laptop a lot of people also bought you increase your chances of googling a right answer to your problem if a lot of people had the same problem on the same machine.

    • Andrei Girbea

      November 20, 2017 at 5:44 am

      Hi, that would be helpful, but unfortunately there's no way I can add it, as nobody provides such info.

  35. Ahmed

    December 28, 2017 at 10:38 pm

    Love how you break down the categories, quite helpful.

    I'd like to ask about the Lenovo yoga e11, please. I have three options right now: one with a n3160 processor, another with an n3150, and a third with an m5y10c. I looked up the processors online and am getting mixed messages, which one is best? My main use for this unit will be remotely accessing my workstation which (i.e. the workstation) will be running fairly intense graphics.

    Many thanks,

  36. Tora

    December 29, 2017 at 10:38 am

    Hello Andrei!
    Thank you for a great site with thorough reviews that are easy to understand.
    I am looking to buy an asus zenbook 3, but then I noticed that all the zenbooks were described as too fan active, which worries me. I live in Sweden but dont mind ordering from outside and waiting for delivery.

    Budget: 1100 euro.
    Mostly quiet.
    Doesnt have to handle games at all, but multitask for example tor guard and around 15 browser windows and powerpoint.
    Max weight 1.6 kg, the lighter the better.
    No need for a backlit keyboard, but I like low resistance keys.
    Not apple.
    Matte screen.
    I dont care what it looks like.

    I need to buy it on sunday 31st at the latest, and I completely understand if you dont have time to answer so fast. Thank you so much!
    Tora

    • Andrei Girbea

      January 2, 2018 at 7:04 am

      Hi, sry for the late reply, something like the new Zenbook UX331 or the Zenbook UX430 should meet your requirements fine. You'll probably get the i5 configuration with 8 GB of RAM for that kind of money, though.

  37. Dimonoid

    April 12, 2019 at 11:57 am

    Hello,
    I am looking for a laptop weighting 1.0-1.2kg with touch screen and resolution quad hd or greater(1080p is not enough for me). The diagonal must be 14 inch or greater. Also I need a great battery life at least 8-10 hours.

    I was looking at the lg gram 17, but it does not have touchscreen, and it is a little too heavy.

    Thinkpad x1 yoga 3rd gen is also too heavy, as it is whole 1.4 kilograms, and I heard it's battery is bad.

    Thanks.

    • Andrei Girbea

      April 12, 2019 at 1:25 pm

      That's not realistic.

      You'll need a big battery for that kind of battery life, I'd say at least 60 Wh, preferably more. And a big battery + touch + 14-inch screen add up on the weight. You can go through this list, it doesn't include all the latest launches, but it's a starting point: https://www.ultrabookreview.com/4219-the-lightest-ultrabooks/ .

      My first choice for what you need is probably the Surface Pro (yes, it's smaller, I know), with the Lenovo Yoga 920/930 as a second, but you'll have to compromise on some of those requirements.

  38. Hong

    June 10, 2019 at 7:42 pm

    Hi Andrei,

    I am looking for an ultrabook which can support Microsoft office (for business emails), wifi and for watching movies.

    My budget is ~$1000. Please recommend a few models for me.

    • Andrei Girbea

      June 11, 2019 at 10:43 am

      there are many that can fit within that budget, go through he options int eh article and find the one that best fits your needs. I'd recommend something with a Core i5 processor, 8 GB of RAM and a 256 GB SSD.

  39. Yury

    June 15, 2019 at 8:09 pm

    why microsoft surface laptop is not on the list?
    isn't it the option to consider among thin and light laptops?

  40. Jeanette

    July 22, 2019 at 1:51 pm

    Hi Andrei, Thank you for a lovely site with lots of info, unfortunately it confused me more. I am going overseas shortly but still need to keep up with my e-mails, making payments and use a couple of Document files while away. Also need some space for saving photos. I do not want to take my Lenovo G50-30 as it is too big and heavy. What should I look for?

    • Andrei Girbea

      July 22, 2019 at 2:15 pm

      Hi, a budget would help in proving any recommendations, as well more details on certain features that you might want: long battery life, premium construction, touchscreen, etc etc.

      • Jeanette

        July 22, 2019 at 7:53 pm

        Hi, Battery life is important, construction – should withstand everyday wear and tear and travelling. Size and weight is important – smaller/lighter, touchscreen not that important but would like to work with cordless mouse. It should also not be sluggish.

        • Andrei Girbea

          July 22, 2019 at 9:36 pm

          Jeanette, you still didn't mention a budget

          • Jeanette

            July 23, 2019 at 12:07 am

            Budget is not a problem.

          • Andrei Girbea

            July 23, 2019 at 10:32 am

            I that case, I'd go with one of the best ultraportables out there:
            – Dell XPS 13 9370 – small, light, excellently crafted, good battery life, matte opt touch screen options, miniaturized ports
            – Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon – bit larger, different design, better keyboard, full-size ports
            – Huawei MateBook X Pro – excellent touchscreen with 3:2 aspect ratio (taller than most screens), good battery life
            – Huawei MateBook 13 – smaller and more compact, similar 3:2 screen, shorter battery life
            – Asus Zenbook S13 UX392 – compact and small, miniaturized ports, more affordable than the others

            On top of that, aim for at least a Core i5 processor, 8 GB of RAM and 256 GB of storage.
            You'll find reviews for all of these on the site, have a look and narrow down the one you like best.

  41. rob

    November 4, 2019 at 11:53 pm

    ok andrei, new category.

    -BYOD for office and work from home. Haul to the work office 2-3 days a week and haul to home office 2-3 days a week, only use as a literal laptop a handful times per year, but often enough that any present-day iteration of a slab PC like the old XPS 18 is a non-starter.

    -Valued attributes:
    * USB-C PD for universal docks in office and home (no dell/hp/lenovo proprietary docking solutions that have zero legs for personal use)
    * 14-15" display. 13" and smaller screens are useless when combined with desktop monitors, and 17" displays refuse to leave empty space in the chassis making them too heavy.
    * thermals. workflows that dip into a variety of intensive processes like video renders, code compiles, data/user modeling, high quantity shell pipeline looping. all together, something like 5% of the time but more time-important than the 95% of menial tasks. I hate modeling something that completes in under 5 minutes, then extrapolated expectation is wrong because thermal throttling kicks in when the real processing happens. workloads don't happen often enough to run them in an on-demand cloud solution.
    * weight. nothing over 5-6 lbs. every day even if it's only a couple hundred yards a day wears on you over the years.

    -low/zero value attributes:
    * all inputs; keyboard-trackpad-touchscreen, mic-speakers-camera, i/o ports that aren't named usb-c or tb3.
    * turbo performance over 2-5 minute workloads. workload assumption is anything that invokes turbo will run 15-60 minutes at a time, and anything that doesn't will bore any CPU/GPU in this system to death.
    * thinness. as a proxy for weight, sure fine whatever. but as a literal measure, I don't care about thin chassis at all. I actually would go out of my way to find a thicker chassis if it was a similar weight as the thermals would inherently improve.
    * battery life. 3 hours is more than enough. always plugged in to a wall anyway, and the only time I'm not plugged in is literally because I'm too lazy to plug in for a 2 hours meeting even though a power outlet is available.
    * budget. if it's too expensive I just won't buy it, but I'm alternating between gamer/media laptops and 2-in-1s over the past 6-7 years so ballparking it should be over $1k and less than $2k US.

    -comp to current daily driver.
    current driver x360 (2017) convertible 15-bl1xx, i7 8550u, 16gb ram, some SSD who knows. it's fine, but the thermals ssssuck. I don't need a heavy 15 inch tablet mode so clamshell would be fine in a new system. it's not heavy but at 4.1 lbs I wouldn't want to go a ton heavier unless there was an amazing performance advantage. I don't really game anymore so as long as it plays terrible freemium mtx junk and 10 year old stuff on low res that's good enough for me.

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