Here at Ultrabookreview.com, we’ve reviewed hundreds of ultrabooks and portable lightweight laptops over the last 15 years, of all kinds and from all brands.
In this guide, I’ll tell you which are our favorite ultrabooks right now and explain why, in order to help you choose the best ultrabook for your needs and budget out of the multitude of available models.
Table of Contents
- Table of contents – the best 2023 ultrabook
- The best premium thin-and-light ultrabook
- The best-value ultrabooks and thin-and-light laptops
- The best gaming ultraportables
- Productivity lightweight laptop for work, creators, or programmers
- 2-in-1 convertible ultrabooks with touchscreens
- Fanless ultrabooks and tablets
- Wrap-up – what’s the best ultrabook?
With the multiple types of light compact laptops out there, I’ve split this guide into a few different sections, based on their overall size, capabilities, and pricing; the Table of Contents will point you toward the section of interest. I kept things as simple as possible, with only the best options mentioned in each category, but I’ve added links to our reviews and more detailed guides that go in-depth over each subtopic, if you’re interested in more variants or details.
I also mention that we update the article several times a year, or when something remarkable comes out, and if you need more guidance or have any questions, there’s a comments section at the end of the post where you can get in touch with us.
That aside, please account for the fact that thorough testing and analysis take a lot of time and effort, thus if you’ll find the article helpful, I’d appreciate you supporting our work. Sharing the post with your friends, disabling your adblocker, or buying from our links greatly helps us continue what we do here.
Table of contents – the best 2023 ultrabook
- our favorite premium ultrabooks;
- the best-value options – best bang for your buck;
- productivity 14 to 17-inch portable notebooks – versatile full-size ultrabooks, best suited for engineers, creators, or programmers;
- 2-in-1 touchscreen ultrabooks – 2-in-1 convertible/tablet designs with touchscreens;
- portable gaming laptops – the best compact performance laptops for demanding workloads and gamers;
- fanless ultrabooks – the completely silent options.
This section goes over our recommendations for premium thin-and-light ultrabooks with the latest hardware specs and modern features. We’re only looking at traditional clamshell formats here, as we’re also covering 2-in-1 models with convertible touchscreens or tablet formats in the following section.
Dell XPS 13 – the complete compact laptop
The XPS 13 has been my ultraportable of choice for many years now and the recent variants have improved on the original model in multiple ways, even if I’m not entirely happy with how Dell split the XPS 13 lineup into two different products lately: the regular XPS 13 and the XPS 13 Plus. We’ve reviewed both, and here’s a quick summary of the two, with links to our reviews:
- Dell XPS 13 – starts at $829, premium metal build and weighs 2.6 lbs (1.17 kg), standard inputs and USB-C only IO, 13.4-inch 16:10 matte display with FHD panel, Intel Core U low-power hardware implementation with up to 32 GB RAM, 51 Wh battery;
- Dell XPS 13 Plus – starts at $999, premium metal build and weighs 2.7 lbs (1.23 kg), unique inputs and USB-C only IO, 13.4-inch 16:10 matte or touch display with several panel options, Intel Core P higher-power hardware implementation with up to 32 GB RAM, 55 Wh battery.
There’s a more detailed comparison of the two in this post and you should also check out the video comparison available further down. Overall, though, the XPS 13 lineup is now more difficult to understand than in the past.
On one side, there’s the traditional XPS 13 design that follows in the footsteps of the previous XPS generations, but is now only configurable with lower-power Core U hardware, and only offers USB-C only IO and options only for FHD+ matte/touch screens (for now, that might change in the future).
Overall, this regular XPS 13 ultrabook model is meant for general everyday use and light multitasking, and is the more affordable option of the two.
On the other is the new XPS 13 Plus design, which offers a unique and controversial set of inputs and multiple screen options, including the FHD panels from the regular XPS, but also 3.5K OLED or 4K IPS options, both with touch and 100% DCI-P3 color coverage.
Furthermore, the XPS 13 Plus is a more complex internal design, with a more advanced cooling solution and more competent Intel Core P hardware, running at higher power settings. That’s not going to make much difference for daily use, but definitely will with demanding CPU loads, heavier multitasking, and sustained loads.
You’ll have to get used to that quirky keyboard, though, the fact that you’re only getting two USB-C ports and nothing else, and the fact that XPS 13 Plus offers poorer battery life than the regular XPS 13, even if it packs a slightly bigger 55 Wh battery (vs 51 Wh in the regular model). In fact, if that’s important to you, there are alternatives that will outlast both these models by a fair degree, with larger batteries and more efficient AMD hardware.
All in all, the XPS 13 series remains competitive in this premium ultrabook space, with some configurations being quite competitively priced. At the same time, I feel that these XPS models are no longer the iconic ultrabook symbol that this series presented in the past, and they are not the right call for everyone, as explained in our reviews.
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon, X1 Nano – the business ultrabooks
The X1 Carbon is still Lenovo’s flagship premium ThinkPad ultrabook, alongside the ultra-compact, but not as powerful, ThinkPad X1 Nano.
The ThinkPad X1 Carbon( reviewed here) is a 14-inch laptop, thus somewhat larger than the XPS 13, but actually a bit lighter due to it being made out of magnesium alloys. It also offers what most consider the iconic ThinkPad design, keyboard, clickpad, and TrackPoint, as well as a more diversified IO, more hardware and 16:10 display configurations, a larger 57 Wh battery, and some extra business features (IR sensor, TPM, vPro CPUs, etc).
At the same time, though, the X1 Carbon is more expensive than the XPS 13 in most regions, is only available in a single color (the classic black ThinkPad design), and even with the updated speakers, is no match for the audio quality of the XPS. Furthermore, while the latest XPS 13 and X1 Carbon models are both built on the same Intel Core hardware platform, the XPS 13 tends to outperform the X1 carbon in sustained demanding loads, as explained in our reviews. Both are excellent snappy computers with daily use and multitasking, though, and you’re not going wrong with any of them.
Still, too bad there’s no AMD option on any of these premium chassis, as that’s only available on the more mainstream ThinkPad T14s model.
Anyway, follow this link for up-to-date details on the available ThinkPad X1 configurations and potential discounts, or this link for all our reviews of the ThinkPad lines.
As for the ThinkPad X1 Nano (reviewed here), this one is a less-powerful hardware implementation that favors portability thanks to its sub-1-kilo (221 lbs) total weight, more compact 13-inch 16:10 display, and minimalistic USB-C IO, but otherwise, this is still a ThinkPad in most ways. If you need a highly portable premium ultrabook for light use and everyday multitasking, this X1 Nano is one of the better options out there, but if you’d be alright with a slightly larger chassis, the X1 Carbon and the XPS 13 remain the more powerful and versatile ultrabooks.
The X1 Nano also sells at a premium over the X1 Carbon or the XPS 13, starting at $1500, and that might put it out of reach for many of you. Follow this link for more details.
Apple MacBooks – the unmatched daily drivers
Apple have offered portable versions of both the popular MacBook Air and the more powerful MacBook Pro for many years now, but as of 2021 and later these are available with Apple’s own silicon (M1, M2, and later), which proved to be a major game-changer for the MacBook lineup in comparison to most of the Windows laptops out there.
In fact, unless you prefer the Windows environment or must use a Windows laptop for specific workloads (or games), or if perhaps you’d prefer a format or certain features that are only available with Windows ultrabooks (such as a matte or touch screen, or a convertible form factor), there’s little reason not to go with an Apple MacBook for daily use these days. Windows ultrabooks still win with their diversity and these specifics and features, but these MacBooks are very hard to beat as daily drivers.
Aside from the excellent design and build quality, the excellent inputs with the updated key switches, the balanced Retina displays, and the smooth hardware/software integration, these Apple silicon MacBooks are now also more powerful and more efficient than their Intel-based predecessors. That means they run cooler and for much longer with everyday casual use; in fact, the MacBook Airs are fanless designs, and the Pros keep completely silent with light loads. Plus, these are a lot faster with some workloads than the previous MacBooks and even many of Windows ultrabooks (with some exceptions). There are countless videos on Youtube showing how smoothly these MacBooks handle Photoshop, After Effects, CAD, Premiere, or Davinci Resolve.
Furthermore, these MacBooks are even more enticing for those already in the Apple ecosystem. The phone, the watch, the earbuds, the laptop, all work seamlessly together and make your digital life easier. Not necessarily better, but definitely easier. And that’s coming from someone who uses most of these Apple products everyday.
As for the two laptop variants that we recommend, the Air is the more affordable model and completely fanless, while the Pro is slightly more powerful, includes a higher-quality display, larger battery, a touch bar, and extra Thunderbolt ports, but also sells for more.
There are in-fact two versions, for both the Pro and the Air. The Pro M1 and M2 are identical, with just a bump in specs for the latest model. The MacBook Air M2 is a revised designed with a better screen and various updates, but also a more expensive product, especially when specced up. That’s why my recommendation around the 1000-1200 price-range still goes towards a mid-specced variant of the MacBook Air M1.
That’s starting at sub $999 MSRP without considering discounts, while the Air M2 starts at $1199 and the MacBook Pro at $1299+. Follow these links for more details on the MacBook lineup, updated configurations, and potential discounts: the MacBook Air and the MacBook Pro. And keep in mind you most likely don’t want to go with the base-tier models, but rather with the middle-specced variants with more RAM and storage space.
Asus ROG Flow X13 – the gaming ultrabook
After many years at the top of this sub-niche, the Razer Blade Stealth 13 has been decrowned by the Asus ROG Flow X13 as the most capable performance and gaming ultrabook on the market right now, mostly thanks to the more advanced AMD and Nvidia platforms that power the Flow, but also because of how well balanced this Flow X13 series is in its niche.
Somehow Asus managed to put a Ryzen 9 HS processor and an RTX (up to 4070 on the latest variant) inside a compact 13-inch chassis here, without sacrificing the build quality, inputs, ergonomics, thermals, or battery life. On top of all these, the Flow X13 is a convertible with a 360-degree 16:10 120Hz touchscreen and is also more affordable than the top-tier Stealth laptops of this generation. Follow this link for updated configurations and prices in your region, and this one for our review of this series.
A unique particularity of the Flow X13 is also the fact that it is the first Asus laptop compatible with the ROG XG Mobile GPU enclosure, which includes higher power RTX 4080 and 4090 Nvidia mobile graphics chips and hooks up to the laptop through a proprietary connector. Combined, the two offer the same kind of GPU performance and gaming experience that you can expect from the beefiest gaming laptops of this generation, if that’s something you are interested in and you’re willing to pay around 3K USD for the two.
I’m more blown away by the ROG Flow X13 as a stand-alone ultraportable, though, and the unmatched versatility it provides in a sub-3-lbs format, both with casual everyday use and especially with sustained workloads and games, where the Ryzen 9 is not a match for the Intel platforms currently available.
I must also add that the Flow X13 is not the only powerful 13/14-inch ultraportable on the market right now, and we’ll go over some of the other such options in the dedicated section that goes over performance/gaming ultrabooks, further down, including the Asus ROG Flow Z13, the Asus Zephyrus G14, and the Razer Blade 14.
Acer Swift X – the good value all-purpose laptop
This year, the Acer Swift X (reviewed here) replaces last year’s popular Lenovo’s IdeaPad/Yoga Slim 7 as our best-value performance ultrabook available in stores at the time of this update, the best balanced multi-purpose ultraportable that you can get for around 1000-1200 USD/EUR.
The Swift X is pretty much an updated and significantly more powerful version of the popular Acer Swift 3 series, powered by AMD Ryzen APUs and the same kind of Nvidia RTX 3050Ti graphics also available in the Flow X13, on the top-tier configuration, or by a GTX 1650 dGPU on the mid-range models. Acer redesigned the internals and implemented a slightly thicker chassis to accommodate the cooling module required by this sort of hardware in a 14-inch chassis, while the design lines, inputs, IO, and screen options are borrowed from the Swift 3 14 inch models.
That means you’re only getting a FHD 60Hz screen option here with a middling 350-nits 100% sRGB panel, as well as not the kind of finesse, materials, audio quality, or typing experience available on the more premium ultraportables. But the overall value and performance offered in this 3.1 lbs laptop for only around $1100 in the US (for the top Ryzen 7 5800U + RTX 3050Ti configuration) are unmatched by any of the competitors available at the time of this update.
Follow this link for more details on the Acer Swift X series, as well as the latest configurations and prices.
Things might change once the Asus VivoBook Pro 14X becomes available in stores, with the superior thermal design and nicer OLED 90Hz screens, but for now, the Swift X is my recommendation in this sub-niche.
I’ll also still leave the Lenovo IdeaPad/Yoga Slim 7 in here, both the 2020 model with Ryzen U and a FHD 16:9 display, which should be quite affordable these days if you can still find it in stock, but especially the Lenovo Slim 7i Pro X (reviewed here). This one gets full-power Intel H processors with an RTX 3050 dGPU, as well as an updated 16:10 high-res screen with 120Hz refresh rate.
Follow this link for updated configurations and prices.
Given the multitude of excellent premium ultrabooks out there, I’ve also put up together this list of honorary mentions in this segment, with links towards our detailed reviews and guides.
You might want to consider these for specific features and traits that might not be available with our recommendations above, such as certain screen formats and types of panels, certain design choices, longer battery life, or more affordable price tags in your region, as the Dell XPS and Lenovo ThinkPads tend to get very expensive in some countries, making other brands more competitive there.
- Asus Zenbook series – reviews – ultra-compact 13 and 14-inch ultrabooks available in a multitude of screen sizes and formats; mostly premium builds and very good inputs, full-size IO; middling hardware implementations of the latest Intel and AMD platforms and 60+Wh batteries;
- Asus ExpertBook B9 series – review – sub 1-kilo 14-inch business laptop with modern specs, IPS screen, big battery, and uncompromised IO and business features;
- Dell Latitude 7000 13/14 – configurations and prices – Dell’s alternatives for the ThinkPad X1 line, excellently crafted business models with 13/14-inch screens, solid features, and big batteries; tend to get very expensive;
- Microsoft Surface Laptop – configurations and prices – compact 13.5-inch and 15-inch ultrabooks with 3:2 high-resolution screens, modern hardware, and excellent keyboards, all tucked inside portable unibody designs; small batteries and limited availability;
- Lenovo ThinkPad X13 and T14s – reviews – 13/14-inch business ultrabooks, value alternatives for the X1 Carbon and X1 Nano, with mostly similar traits, but increased dimensions/weight;
- LG Gram series – reviews – configurations and prices – compact and ultralight 13/14/16 and 17-inch ultrabooks with matte screens, good inputs, and large batteries; not as sturdily built as other premium options;
- Samsung Galaxy Book Pro series – ultralight 13 and 15-inch laptops with Intel hardware and big batteries, available as clamshell or 2-in-1 convertibles;
- Razer Book 13 – review – premium 13-inch ultraportable with 16:10 display and the iconic Razer build quality; bit heavy and on the expensive side.
And don’t forget this section only touches on premium clamshell ultrabooks, and we’re also covering the value options and the 2-in-1 convertibles further down.
The best-value ultrabooks and thin-and-light laptops
While the market offers compact laptops that range from between several hundred to several thousand dollars, most of you are looking to maximize the return of your money, and my years of experience show me that the sweet spot for that is somewhere in the $700 to $1200 price range or local equivalents in your area.
Shopping at the higher limit of that budget would allow you to get versatile mid-specced variants of some of the premium ultrabooks mentioned earlier (such as the Apple MacBook Air, Dell XPS 13, Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon) and the full-size performance options (such as the Asus ZenBook Pro, Dell XPS 15, HP Envy 14/15 lineups or Razer Blade 14/15) that we’re going to cover in the next section.
There are, however, some excellent-value options to consider at the lower-end as well, in the $500 to $1000 price range, and we’ll go over them down below, listed alphabetically. We’re looking at both Windows ultrabooks and some excellent-value Chromebooks.
Acer Swift 3 and Chromebook Spin 713
The Acer Swift 3 is one of the best-selling lineups of thin-and-light laptops for the last many years, and for good reason, as Acer were able to refine this series into mature and uncompromised products, while still keeping the prices down and competitive.
The Swift 3 series is available in a multitude of options, with screen sizes ranging from 13 to 16-inches, and they all deliver good specs and connectivity, backlit keyboards, and fair-quality displays, but without pushing the boundaries into the more premium section, which means these Swift 3s might lack the finesse and some of the features available in more expensive laptops.
We’re reviewed most of the Swift 3 models and generations over the years, and you’ll find our articles over here.
The Chromebook Spin 713, on the other hand, is one of the best-value premium Chromebooks on the margin, a portable 13-inch product with snappy hardware, long battery life, and a productivity-oriented 3:2 high-res touchscreen. If you’re OK going with a Chromebook as your main computer, this here is one of the best options in that segment, at around $650 at the time of this update. Our review of the Chromebook Spin 713 is available here.
Asus ZenBook 13 OLED
The Asus ZenBook series is a slightly more refined, but also more expensive, alternative to the Acer Swift lineup. In fact, Asus offers their own series of mid-range ultraportable with their VivoBooks, but I feel that the ZenBook 13 OLED earns its place in this section over all the other Asus ultrabooks at this point.
Available with a punchy OLED screen and either Intel or AMD hardware, the ZenBook 13 is an ultra-compact laptop that punches above its class in construction quality, display quality, and battery life. Of course, its small format leads to a slightly cramped keyboard and not the most powerful implementation of the Intel/AMD platforms, but if you’re after a tiny daily driver and don’t have oversized hands and fingers, this right now is one of the best options in its class.
You’ll find more about it from our detailed review of the ZenBook 13 OLED series.
Dell Inspiron series
These Dell Inspiron laptops are more affordable alternatives to the XPS 13 series, and at the same time unique in their own way.
There are multiple Inspiron models and configurations out there, but the ones that draw my attention in this class are the competitive 15-inch Inspiron 15 5155 convertible with AMD hardware, reviewed over here, and the versatile 14-inch Inspiron 14 5410 series, a more powerful and competitively priced alternative for the Acer Swift 3 and Lenovo Ideapad 14 lineups.
HP Envy 13/14 and Pavilion Aero 13
HP have been constantly pushing and improving their laptop lineups over the last years, and they end up with three value mentions in this section.
The Envy 13 is an excellent-value 13-inch ultrabook and alternative for the Asus ZenBooks or the Dell XPS/Inspiron lineups. It tends to be very competitively priced in most regions, at around $700-$800 for mid specced configurations, as well as nicely made, compact, and equipped with an alright FHD 400-nits IPS screen, latest hardware platforms, and a 51 Wh battery.
The Envy 14 is a slightly larger and more powerful laptop, with a 14-inch 16:10 FHD+ display and Intel U + Nvidia GTX 1650Ti specs. These make it a viable alternative for the Acer Swift X, nicer built and with a better display, but not as powerful in multitasking and demanding loads.
Finally, the Pavilion Aero 13 (reviewed here) is the most affordable of these HP laptops, the lightest at just 2.2 lbs (1 kilo), and also arguably the faster in daily use and multitasking, as this is built on the latest AMD Ryzen hardware specs. It also offers a nice 450-nits 16:10 FHD+ matte screen, but comes with a rather small battery and is not as nicely made as the Envy models. Even so, this is a very competitive budget ultrabook these days and a solid alternative for the ZenBook 13 and the Envy 13 lineups.
You’ll find more about HP laptops from our reviews and coverage over the years.
Huawei MateBook 14 and D 15
While not available worldwide, Huawei Matebook laptops tend to punch outside their price segments where they are, based on our reviews.
Huawei offers both budget and premium Matebooks, such as their fanless MateBook X illustrated down below, but for me, the better value is in their more inexpensive products, such as the 15-inch all-around MateBook D 15 and their more portable MateBook 14 models. The latter offers AMD hardware, a nice-quality metal chassis, good inputs, and a 3:2 high-res IPS display for a very competitive price over here in Europe. Just make sure you’re OK with the ethics of buying a Huawei laptop.
Lenovo IdeaPad 5 and Chromebook Flex 5
While alphabetically last in this section, Lenovo make some of the most competitive mid-tier and budget ultrabooks right now, with the AMD-powered IdeaPad 5 (clamshell) and Ideapad Flex 5 (convertible) series starting at as low as $600 over here, and the even more affordable Chromebook Flex 5 going for less than $400, as still the best-value Chromebook of its generation in our Chromebook top.
You’ll find more about the two Windows-running IdeaPads from our reviews linked above. They’re both sturdily made, uncompromised in any major way, and both powerful and efficient at the same time. But they’re also plagued by subpar screen choices, IPS panels, but with dim brightness and washed-out colors. These screens are OK for a budget product, but still enough to make me recommend you to save up extra for any of the other options mentioned earlier that offer a nicer display, if possible.
The Chromebook Flex 5 doesn’t get an excellent display either, but is also a much cheaper device at sub $400 and pretty much unbeatable as a whole at that level.
The best gaming ultraportables
We’ve already thoroughly covered this topic in a separate article, sofollow this link for our detailed guide on gaming ultrabooks and portable gaming laptops.
In just a few words, though, gaming ultraportables are compact and light-performance laptops with capable processors and graphics. Most of these are full-size devices with 15 to 17-inch screens, but with compact designs.
The best options include premium ultraportables such as the Razer Blade 15 Advanced, Asus ROG Zephyrus M16, Acer Predator Triton 500, or the MSI GS66 Stealth Thin, but also good-value full-size notebooks like the Lenovo Legion 7 or the Acer Predator Helios 300. As for the 17-inch models, I’d turn my attention to the Alienware X17, Asus ROG Zephyrus S 17, the Gigabyte Aero 17, or the Razer Blade 17. All these have been reviewed here on the site.
Those interested in even smaller and lighter options should consider some of the available 13 and 14-inch gaming ultrabooks, such as the compact Asus ROG Flow X13 and Razer Blade Stealth 13, the value mid-tier 14-inchers such as the Acer Swift X, the Asus VivoBook Pro 14X or the HP Envy 14, as well the 14-inch gaming notebooks with more capable graphics such as the Razer Blade 14 or the Asus ROG Zephyrus G14.
As mentioned, follow this link for our detailed guide on gaming ultrabooks, or this one for a wider coverage of the thinnest and lightest 14/15-inch laptops out there.
Productivity lightweight laptop for work, creators, or programmers
This section caters to those among you in need of a portable and powerful laptop for complex workloads and school tasks, the kind you could not properly run on most of the ultra-compact devices mentioned in the previous sections of the article. These recommendations are meant for university students, engineers, programmers, architects, and creatives, but still with a portable and slim form-factor in mind.
For sure, the gaming/performance ultraportables already covered above make for excellent all-around work&play devices. However, most of those laptops are primarily gaming-focused and thus prioritize performance over fan-noise and fast high-refresh-rate screens over the color coverage (100% DCI-P3 or AdobeRGB) and image fidelity that you might require in your creative endeavors. And here’s where the options in this class come in handy, which offer power profiles better optimized for everyday use and work, even if this does take a toll in performance on the thinnest designs, high-gamut high-resolution displays, as well as certain software and hardware optimizations meant to enhance your productivity.
Dell XPS 15/17, Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme, and HP Envy 15
These three lineups have dominated the premium 15-17 inch segment of portable performance laptops for the last years, and still are the better options in this sub-niche to consider, as long as they fit within your budget and you understand and accept their quirks. And as long as you’re not specifically looking for an AMD laptop, as these are all still Intel exclusive.
They are primarily built with portability and ergonomics in mind, so don’t offer the same kind of hardware specs or thermal designs available with gaming notebooks. In fact, the ThinkPad X1 Extreme is the most powerful option here, toping at an Intel Core i9 configuration with RTX 3080 MQ graphics, but both limited in performance by the compact design over what they would deliver in beefier products.
So the Dell XPS 15 and the HP Envy 15 are both premium 15-inch ultrabooks, the ThinkPad X1 Extreme gets a slightly bigger 16-inch 16:10 display in its latest iteration, and the XPS 17 is available with a 17-inch 16:10 display. Here are the rest of their important specs and particularities:
- Dell XPS 15 – compact aluminum build, Core H hardware and up to RTX 3050Ti MQ graphics, 15.6-inch 16:10 FHD+/UHD+ IPS screen options, matte or touch, up to 86 Wh battery, starts at 1.81 kg / 4 lb, front speakers;
- Dell XPS 17 – compact aluminum build, Core H hardware and up to RTX 3060 MQ graphics, 17-inch 16:10 FHD+/UHD+ IPS screen options, matte or touch, up to 97 Wh battery, starts at 1.85 kg / 4.1 lbs, front speakers;
- Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme – magnesium ThinkPad build, Core H hardware and up to RTX 3080 MQ graphics, 16-inch 16:10 QHD+/UHD+ IPS screen options, matte only, 90 Wh battery, starts at 1.81 kg / 4 lb, front speakers, most expensive option;
- HP Envy 15 – compact aluminum build, Core H hardware and up to RTX 2060 MQ graphics, 15.6-inch FHD IPS or UHD AMOLED screen options, 83 Wh battery, starts at 2.2 kg / 4.8 lbs, front speakers, more affordable than the XPS 15.
As the most recent design of this selection, the ThinkPad X1 Extreme is the arguably most interesting choice here, with its only obvious drawback being the lack of any touch or OLED screen choices. It’s also the most expensive, though. I haven’t properly reviewed it yet, so make sure to look into more details before jumping on this one, so you’ll know what to expect in terms of performance, thermals, and overall value. The clip below sheds some light on potential quirks to further look into.
Asus ZenBook Pro Duo, VivoBook Pro 16X, and StudioBook 16
Asus gets an entire panel in this section with their OLED models targeted towards creators.
The VivoBook Pro 16X is a newer launch and it’s in here because it pairs a competent hardware platform with one of these new-gen 16-inch OLED displays, in a mid-priced product that sells for less than the premium models mentioned earlier. I’ll be reviewing this in the very near future and will update the article, but in the meantime, you should know that Asus puts a Ryzen 9 HX processor in this chassis and mid-tier RTX 3050Ti graphics, alongside 4K+ 16:10 OLED touch panels with 400-nits of brightness and 100% DCI-P3 coverage, plus a 96 Wh battery.
The ZenBook Pro Duo is not a new design, but is still one of the very few laptops to offer two screens in a 15-inch laptop chassis. It’s somewhat dragged down by the Intel-hardware implementation being not as competent as the AMD-based ROG Zephyrus DUO, which also gets a faster GPU and better cooling, as you’ll find from my review. However, that one is not available with the high-res high-gamut OLED screen that you’re getting on the ZenBook.
Oh, and if you like the dual-screen design but don’t plan on spending 2-4 K on your laptop, Asus also offers a regular ZenBook Duo 14-inch model that we’ve reviewed here. It’s smaller and more affordable, but also less powerful.
Finally, the ProArt StudioBook 16 OLED is Asus’s new flagship creator lineup, meant to take on the MacBook Pro and the XPS 15 heads-on.
This one is Intel exclusive, but can be configured with Core i9 and Xeon processors, GeForce RTX 3070 or RTX 3000/5000 professional studio graphics, a 90Wh battery, as well as a 16:10 matte panel available with either a 4K+ OLED or a QHD+ IPS panel. This is also coming for review in the near future, and I’ll update this section once I get to spend more time with it.
Apple MacBook Pro 16
An updated MacBook Pro 16 with Apple M1x/M2 silicon is expected in the next few weeks, and I’ll update this section when available.
In the meantime, follow this link for the latest details on the 16-inch MacBook Pro.
These aside, I’d also consider laptops such as the Gigabyte Aero 15 OLED, the unique Acer ConceptD 7 Ezel, or the portable MSI Creator 16Z in here. However, we haven’t properly reviewed the latter two yet to be able to properly judge their worth, while the former is mostly a gaming laptop with a 4K OLED screen, so might not meet the design, portability, and construction expectations of this niche.
Finally, the creators among you might want to consider some of the newer generation Studio-branded options available, with the latest Nvidia RTX A3000 to RTX A5000 graphics and optimized drivers and software support. Follow this link for all our Studio RTX notebook reviews.
2-in-1 convertible ultrabooks with touchscreens
Hybrids are modern devices with convertible or detachable touchscreens, and they can be used as either regular notebooks or as tablets. We’ve covered this topic in-depth in this separated article about the best 2-in-1 laptops, which you should head over to if primarily interested in a convertible over any of the other ultrabooks in this article, but we’ll also quickly go through our top recommendations down below.
First, though, you need to be aware that there are mainly two kinds of 2-in-1s: stand-alone tablets that can act as laptops when hooked to an external dock or keyboard-folio, and regular laptops with 360-degrees convertible screens. The latter are more versatile in notebook format, especially when used on the lap, and tend to get larger batteries, faster hardware, and more ports, while the former are highly portable and excellent tablets, but less practical when not on a flat sturdy surface.
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 series.
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 $400 at the time of this update (plus ~$100 for the Keyboard Folio). It’s compact, lightweight, and rather inexpensive, which makes it an awesome mini-computer for school or travel companion. It runs Windows S by default but can be upgraded to regular Windows for 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 chassis. It gets a 13-inch 3:2 touchscreen with smaller bezels, Intel Core U hardware (fanless in the i3/i5 variants on the Pro 5-7 generations, fan-cooled on all versions of the Pro 8), and a larger battery, but with a starting price between $799 to $1099 for a mid-tier configuration. The keyboard and pen are not included and cost roughly $150 extra combined. 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 a lot more versatile than in the past, with the latest hardware and software updates, and includes an excellent screen with pen support, for the same budget 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 devices, but has its own software advantages and integration with the Apple ecosystem. Follow this link for more details.
All these lineups of premium 2-in-1s have been available for a while now, and incrementally updated over the years.
The HP Spectre x360 is available in either a 13-inch or a 15-inch variant, both reviewed here on the site. The Spectre x360 13t makes more sense as a convertible, due to its smaller build, but the x360 15t offers faster hardware, a larger battery, and improved IO. Both are premium computers and bundle the latest and greatest in terms of features, connectivity, and everyday user experience in their niche. They also emphasize on their excellent screens, with high-resolution wide-gamut panel options on both sizes, as well as OLED variants.
The Lenovo Yoga 9i (reviewed here) is available in 14 and 15-inch variants. The smaller model is not as portable as the Spectre or the XPS 13, but is still within a few millimeters and tens of grams. It does get a large battery, an OLED screen, and excellent audio, with part of the speaker system integrated within the hinge. The 15-inch Yoga 9i is a completely different beast though, with Core H and dedicated GTX hardware, thus more powerful than the 15-inch HP and Dell models.
Finally, the Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 is a lighter and smaller 13-inch convertible with a 16:10 500-nits IPS touch display. The thinner and smaller construction makes it more portable than the other options, but only leaves room for a smaller battery and more cramped keyboard, though, and fairly warm chassis temperatures with demanding loads. Thus, the XPS 13 2-in-1 makes for an excellent convertible ulrtabook, but the Spectre and the Yoga should be the go-tos if you need the extra performance and longer runtimes.
Follow this link for a more thorough list of recommended 2-in-1 laptops and hybrids.
Top affordable convertible: Asus Chromebook Flip
Much like the Surface Go, the Asus Chromebook C434 is a competent all-day convertible laptop, but in this case, a Chromebook built on ChromeOS. That makes it well suited for browsing, streaming, text-editing, and everything else Internet-based, as well as a snappy overall computer with excellent battery life, much like all the other flagship Chromebooks of this generation.
The Chromebook Flip C434 is available for around $450 at the time of this update. Follow this link for more details.
If you’d rather get an affordable Windows 2-in-1, I’d look into some of these options: Acer Spin series, Asus ZenBook Flip, Dell Inspiron 2-in-1, or the Lenovo Flex series. I’d especially turn my attention to that recent Lenovo Flex 14 based on AMD Ryzen hardware, a great value option in its niche, as long as you can live with a lower-quality IPS screen.
Fanless ultrabooks and tablets
If you want a completely silent computer without a fan inside, fanless passively-cooled options are the ones for you. Just keep in mind that most of these passively-cooled models are not going to be as powerful in sustained loads and multitasking as the beefier platforms with more competent active cooling.
The Apple MacBook Air with the proprietary Apple silicon (M1 or later) is by far the go-to fanless multipurpose ultrabook to get these days and the exception to the rule mentioned above, as it’s at the same time both faster and more efficient than the Intel variants of the MacBook Air or most of the available Windows ultrabooks. And even the MacBook Pro 13 runs completely silent for most of the time, with its fan only kicking in with demanding workloads.
MacBooks aside, most of the competent Windows models are not fanless, with the exception of the lower-tier variants of the Microsoft Surface Pro tablet and the Huawei MateBook X 13-inch ultrabook. There are however a few fanless Windows mini-laptops and tablets to consider, such as the compact Surface Go tablet or the inexpensive Asus Vivobook L210 (11-inch) and L410 (14-inch)/L510 (15-inch) notebooks.
Plus, if you’d be fine with a Chromebook, the Google Pixelbook Go, the Lenovo Chromebook Duet series, or the Samsung Galaxy Chromebook are all amazing-value options for everyday use, and all passively cooled.
Finally, we’ve also compiled a complete list of fanless ultraportables in this separate article if you’re interested in a deeper dive into this topic.
Wrap-up – what’s the best ultrabook?
Ultrabooks have come a long way over the years.
The hardware is more powerful and more efficient these days, and alongside came new form factors and features, as well as improvements on all the fundamentals that make for a competent laptop: build quality, inputs, screens, IO and connectivity, and battery life, among them. As a result, there are now many excellent ultrabook options to choose from.
As for what’s the best ultrabook for you, that’s for each one of you to decide. You know what you want and value in a laptop, so go through the options in this article and pick the one that best fits your needs and budget.
And if by any chance you haven’t found what you were looking for in this massive post, you could also check out these other articles on the site:
- gaming ultrabooks with dedicated graphics chips (recommended for gaming, but also programmers, engineers, or creators);
- 2-in-1 convertibles with touchscreens;
- fanless ultra portables – perfectly quiet, without a fan or a spinning HDD inside;
- best-rated Chromebooks – affordable mini-laptops for Internet-based activities, selling for between $150 and $400;
- what is an ultrabook and how do ultrabooks compare to regular laptops?
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 we’re updating this list of recommended ultrabooks and portable lightweight laptops every three to four weeks, if not more often. Your support is greatly appreciated.
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.
September 10, 2016 at 4:51 am
Hi, do you need it to run Windows, or would a Chromebook work as well?
September 10, 2016 at 11:38 am
No it needs to be windows but i think in some chromebooks windows can be installed right?
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.
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?
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.
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 !
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
October 12, 2016 at 2:42 am
Why no Fujitsu ultrabooks in review?
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.
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.
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/
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.
October 18, 2016 at 4:13 am
Any sings of coil whining on your unit? And how’s battery life?
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…
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.
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.
October 20, 2016 at 5:02 am
Yeah, that’s a good idea. I’ll add it to the list.
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.
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.
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.
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.
November 4, 2016 at 9:19 am
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
December 28, 2016 at 7:45 am
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.
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 :)
February 1, 2017 at 5:29 am
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
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.
February 4, 2017 at 2:33 pm
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 $) or chromebook (more quality)
March 23, 2017 at 12:37 pm
Hi again Andrei
I wrote to you about getting a new laptop for my desires, you told me to wait for spring 2017 and and here we are. As mentioned in that comment I was hoping for a mulimedia ultrabook, with a great graphics card for now demanding games, while also being thin and goodlooking since I also need it for college. Last year i had my eyes on the asus zenbook UX501/10 but I want a better graphics card. Any laptops that cames out for now that his these demands? :P being under 1700$?
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.
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?
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.
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?
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.
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?
April 9, 2017 at 11:22 am
what browser? that shouldn't happen
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.
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"
+1080p ips screen
active pen support
preferably convertible but detachable is ok too
kabylake processor, preferably Core U but Core Y is ok too
i know Dell XPS 13, Hp Spectre x360 and Acer Spin 5
what other options do i have?
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.
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.
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.
July 12, 2017 at 8:19 am
is there an alternative to Acer Spin 5 in terms of bang for buck? thanks
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/
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!
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.
August 9, 2017 at 9:34 am
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?
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.
August 10, 2017 at 4:05 am
The new Matebook X might be a good fanless option too although just 13". Have a look:
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
December 29, 2017 at 10:38 am
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.
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.
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!
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.
April 12, 2019 at 11:57 am
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.
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.
June 10, 2019 at 7:42 pm
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.
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.
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?
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?
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.
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.
July 22, 2019 at 9:36 pm
Jeanette, you still didn't mention a budget
July 23, 2019 at 12:07 am
Budget is not a problem.
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.
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.
* 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.
November 28, 2020 at 10:22 am
Thanks for this extensive work !
Have you ever mind reviewing the Honor MagicBook series ?
November 28, 2020 at 11:55 am
I haven't' so far because the Honor lineup of laptops is not available over here. However, those are very similar to the Huawei laptops and we've reviewed a couple of them. They're pretty solid value in their niches. Let me know if you're interested in one model in particular and I will come back with impressions based on the Huawei counterpart, if I've reviewed it.
November 28, 2020 at 1:45 pm
@Andrei, thanks for your comment.
I'm thinking about buying the MagicBook Pro 16, which comes with 16 GB of RAM and a Ryzen 4xxx processor.
It will basically have to manage large number of tabs in Firefox or Chrome, simultaneously with raw photos post-processing in Lightroom, and occasionnally light video editing.
It would be great if it can do this without being always plugged to power outlet.
I cannot see any competitor at this price point, but I may be missing some ?
November 28, 2020 at 8:21 pm
That chassis is used by Honor and Xiaomi, and unfortunately, I don't have any hands-on experience with it, so I can't comment on the performance when unplugged. For what is worth, there's an in-depth review over here on NBC: https://www.notebookcheck.net/Honor-MagicBook-Pro-in-review-16-inch-multimedia-laptop-with-a-lot-of-power.501957.0.html
I'd suggest getting it from a store that allows returns, that shouldn't be a problem if you're in the UK/US. Give it a try, see how it works for you, and return if not satisfied. Based on my experience with the 14/15-inch models from the Chinese brands, I think this should be fairly solid. Not sure about that fan noise that Notebookcheck mentions in their article, that could be deal-breaker but no way to tell without trying it in person.
November 28, 2020 at 9:07 pm
Thanks a lot for your inputs.
I'll take a look at this review by NotebookCheck.
Here in France, we can buy Honor products from hihonor.com which, I think is directly operated by the brand, and apply the European obligation to accept returns for 14 days.
So your idea may be the best, just try and see :-)
January 7, 2021 at 12:17 am
I've had a read through some of your reviews- thank you! I'm very torn about what laptop to get for the past few weeks and I'm desperate. Ultimately I need something that is light, handles basic web browsing, MS office, emails, netflix etc (plus a few programmes for grad school), and beautiful (sorry to be vain haha!) without breaking my bank account. I was tempted to get the Acer Swift 3 but then read your review where you mentioned you found the keyboard to be a little cramped which put me off it.
My old Asus Zenbook Flip UX360U has breathed it's last breaths and it was actually the perfect laptop for me. Light, had an incredible keyboard, pleasant to use and powerful enough for me. Terrible speakers but that's not a priority for me. What would you recommend? I can live with paying £800max. Many thanks!
January 7, 2021 at 9:28 am
The recent Swift 3 14-inch models should be fine for what you need. Aim for at least a core I5 processor (preferably the newer i5-1135G7), 8 GB of RAM and 512 GB SSD.
The Lenovo Yoga Slim 7 and Asus VivoBook 14 are also good options, especially the former. These aside, since you're in the UK you could also consider the Huawei MateBook 13 2020, with the 3:2 screen. Bit small battery, but good keyboard/clickpad and nice build/design.
January 7, 2021 at 9:47 am
Thank you for getting back to me so quickly, I really appreciate it! I'll look into the ones you recommended.
Ultimate priority for me is size, battery life and comfortable typing/using experience. It's a bit of a problem because I can't actually check out the laptops in real life before buying it due to the lockdown!
I think I'll skip the huawei matebook despite the keyboard, purely because you mentioned the battery not being as good.
Is the swift 3 14inch not as cramped keyboard wise as the 13.5inch model? Did you find it easier to use?
January 7, 2021 at 9:53 am
This is the latest 14-inch Swift 3: https://www.ultrabookreview.com/42008-acer-swift-3-14-sf314-59-review/ . Not my favorite keyboard, but fine. Mind that what you'll find in shops comes with the backlit keyboard, which I like better than the non-backlit model on that review unit.
Still, out of the three mentioned, I'd say the Lenovo gets the best keyboard, with the Asus coming second and this Acer coming last. If you can find that Ideapad Slim 7 within your budget, that's what I'd go with. You'll find reviews for all of these here on the site.
Since you're in the UK, you should also consider buying from stores that allow easy returns, just to be on the safe side in case you're not entirely satisfied with your purchase.
Ariella Knopp Warner
February 22, 2021 at 9:35 pm
You have one of the best sites for reviews I've found. Thank you! I'm searching for a new laptop, and while your reviews helped, I'm still a tad lost. I use Adope apps for video and photo editing, hobby right now, I do a lot of writing, video meetings, multitasking, often a lot of browsers and apps open at once. I currently run an older i7, 1TB ssd, 16gb ram, HP Spectre 2017. It didn't hold up as well as I'd like, and the screen is going on it already, it runs extremely hot when I'm barely doing more than browsing. I paid a lot for it at the time. I'd like to pay less than 1500 or less USD for my new laptop, which is half of what I spent for the current one. I do light gaming, and not very often. Ultimately I would like the option, but it doesn't have to be the newest fastest gaming laptop. This will be my work/play laptop so I have to be able to do whatever I need. Any help or suggestion would be great.
April 15, 2021 at 12:02 pm
DELL Inspiron 13 (7306) 2 in 1, COD: DI7306UI71165G716GB32GB512GBW3Y vs ASUS ZenBook S UX393EA-HK001R, pe care il recomanzi, amandoua fiind cam la aclesi pret. Care ar fi mai fiabil? Avantaje si dezavantaje?
Ar face fata la lucrat cu baza de date statistice in fisiere excel sau word de marimi mari cca 100 MB, pline de tabele si formule si grafice? Am dell latitude e6540 face fata cu greu la astfel de fisiere. Trebuie sa fie ultraportabil ca munca acasa si apoi il plimb dupa mine. Multumesc.
April 15, 2021 at 1:43 pm
Please keep it to English. Both should be fine, I'd go with the Asus for that larger screen though.
Not sure about the performance, though, the i7-1165G7 might not be ideal for that kind of use. If possible, get the laptop, give it a try, and return if not good enough. Something Like a Lenovo IdeaPad Slim with a Ryzen 7 4800U or Ryzen 7 5700U might be better for those kinds of tasks.
January 7, 2022 at 6:14 pm
I travel a lot and need a 13 or 14" computer. I also do very intense excel. I want something super fast – but can be counted on with great build quality.
I currently use an HP Spectre X360 with Core i7-1065G7 1.3 Mhz.
What do you recommend? I will pay for it. I really do not want super heat, super loud fans, or horrible battery life.
I know.. I am looking for a unicorn – but what is your best recommendation – assuming that you are working on the go 50% of the time.
January 8, 2022 at 2:07 pm
Ideally, I'd go with something built on a Ryzen 7 8C platform, with 16-32 GB of RAM and a big battery. You might want to research what's available in your area. From the top of my mind, the Lenovo IdeaPad 5 Pro is a more budget friendly option that should fit these requirements, and there are also some Thinkpads to consider, such as the T14/T14s series. Finally, the ZenBook 14X UM5401 should be interesting, with the largest battery of them all and good cooling – I don't it's available in stores yet.
February 22, 2022 at 6:49 pm
When do you think Dell will release the XPS 13 Plus with the new multi-threading processors? I am hoping any day now!
February 22, 2022 at 7:20 pm
should be available soon, end of the month or early March
November 12, 2022 at 3:24 pm
I'm looking for a mid-range laptop (14-16 inches) with the best possible IPS display and decent performance (I tested Vivobook and Zenbook with an OLED matrix, but unfortunately my eyes hurt). What would you recommend?