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Best ultrabooks and portable laptops in 2021 – complete buying guide

Best ultrabooks and portable laptops in 2021 – complete buying guide
By Andrei Girbea - @ andreigirbea , last updated on January 21, 2021

Here at, 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 that laptop that would better fit your needs and budget, out of the multitude of available models.

We’ll primarily cover ultrabooks in here, compact and light-weight laptops meant for everyday use and productivity, but we’ll also touch on some of the full-size value buys, especially since most of these are also fairly portable these days.

With the multiple types of portable laptops out there, we’ve split this guide into a few different sections, based on their overall size, capabilities, and pricing; there’s a Table of Contents bellow 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 at more variants.

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, 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 2021 ultrabooks

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

The best traditional ultraportables

This section includes our recommendations on thin-and-light traditional (clamshell) ultrabooks with modern hardware and features.

Dell XPS 13 – the complete ultra-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 have improved on the original in many ways.

In fact, there are many reasons why the XPS 13 is one of the most appreciated ultrabooks on the market right now. The small 13-inch form-factor with tiny bezels, the sturdy and lightweight build, the excellent display options, the performance and battery life, the Thunderbolt connectivity, or the fair audio quality are some of them. These make the XPS 13 hard to beat for those who highly value portability, as long as it’s within your price range and as long as you don’t run into any quality-control issues. For that reason, I’d recommend buying this from stores that properly handle returns and give it a good test once it arrives, just in case.

The latest iteration of the XPS 13 further refines on its predecessors (reviewed by me here and by Doug over here). Dell put a 16:10 screen on this generation available in a multitude of options, updated the hardware specs, and further improved the cooling design and power profiles, allowing us to easily juggle with the performance, thermals, and noise levels according to our need. They’ve also updated the keyboard and clickpad, which were in dire need of a revamp. The 52 Wh battery and the miniaturized IO haven’t changed, though.

Now, the XPS 13 is available in many different configurations, starting at just under $1000 for an i3/8GB RAM/256 GB SSD model that can still handle everyday use well-enough. Higher tier models add in a UHD touchscreen, more powerful processors, extra memory and storage space, with the i7/16 GB RAM/ 512 GB SSD model going for around $1600 at this moment, which is fairly expensive. Furthermore, Dell notebooks tend to be more expensive than the competition outside the US, and that can affect their value in some markets.

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.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon – the business ultrabook

The X1 Carbon is Lenovo’s flagship compact 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 offers what most consider a superior keyboard, as well as a more diversified IO, more configurations, 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 in most regions, is only available in a single color scheme (the classic black ThinkPad design), and only gets a 51 Wh battery and rather measly speakers. Furthermore, the X1 Carbon is built on a different hardware-platform than the XPS 13, which allows it to do well in multitasking and CPU-heavier loads, but not perform great with GPU-demanding activities, and on top of that, its cooling module somewhat struggles at the higher end, as explained in our reviews.

Overall, I still lean towards the XPS 13 over the X1 Carbon, but the choice is up to you. As a heads up, though, if you can live with a slightly thicker and heavier laptop at around 3 lbs of weight, I’d also recommend checking out Lenovo’s ThinkPad X13 and T14s/T14 updates, available with both Intel and AMD Ryzen hardware.

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.

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

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

Apple MacBooks – the friendly all-rounders

Apple offers portable 13-inch versions of both the popular MacBook Air and the more powerful MacBook Pro.

Aside from the excellent build quality, solid features, and smooth hardware/software integration, MacBooks are even more enticing for those already into 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 easier nonetheless.

The Air is meant for everyday use, for browsing, streaming, text editing, and casual multitasking, and is not as powerful as the Pro and in fact not as powerful as most of the Windows-based products either. But it still works fine and lasts for a long while on a charge, it’s still very well built, compact and lightweight, it still includes a good quality screen and punchy speakers, and, at last, a good keyboard, with the latest 2020 update. All these for $999 and up, and the base model is what I’d primarily look at here, if you’re fine with just 256 GB of storage space.

The Pro is a more powerful product with an improved thermal module, a higher-quality display, a larger battery, and a slightly different keyboard, as it implements what Apple calls a touch bar at the top, instead of a regular row of Function-keys. At the same time, it’s also slightly heavier and chunkier than the Air, but by a small margin.

Much like the Air, the Pro can easily handle everyday use, but also some serious multitasking as well, so it’s better suited for programming, creative work, and other activities that require extra processing power. It’s still built on an Intel Core U platform, though, so onyl expect that much, as this is not a power-horse.

Finally, the MacBook Pro is a fair bit more expensive than the Air, with the base-model starting at $1299, but the updated versions built on the latest Intel hardware going for $1799. However, both the Air and the Pro are available on sale quite often, usually at least $100 off the MSRP price. If you end-up deciding on one of these, I’d suggest following these links for updated prices and configurations: the MacBook Air and the MacBook Pro.

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

Razer Blade Stealth 13 – the gaming ultrabook

The Blade Stealth 13 is by far the most capable gaming ultrabook on the market right now, as the only 13-inch device with a 120 Hz display and a GTX 1650Ti dGPU. We’ve properly reviewed it in this article, but we’ll also quickly go through what makes this unique down below.

From starters, you should know that this is an expensive little laptop, starting at $1399 MSRP and going for $1799 for a balanced configuration, plus is also not available worldwide and only on select markets. Discounts are available here and there, though.

However, if you’re willing to spend that kind of money and cand find it in your region, this thing can game and handle all sorts of every-day and demanding loads. It’s still built on an Intel Ice Lake platform, the same kind you’ll find inside the XPS 13 and a couple of other options, but it’s backed up by the Nvidia dGPU, competent power profiles, and a thermal module that can actually cope with both the processor and the graphics chip in this 13-inch chassis.

Furthermore, Razer products are among the best built in the branch, don’t skimp on inputs, ports, audio, or screens. However, while a 120 Hz panel is available on this Stealth 13, another of its unique particularities, this is not one of those fast panels offered on full-size 15-inch laptops, so expect to notice some degree of ghosting with CS:GO and other such fast-paced titles. Nonetheless, this is the best gaming panel available in a sub-15-inch format for the time being.

Follow this link for update Blade Stealth 13 configurations and prices, or this link for our detailed review.

We can’t move on without also mentioning the Asus Zephyrus G14 as a more powerful 14-inch gaming ultrabook, an interesting option if you’re after a mid-sized performance laptop built on an AMD Ryzen 9 HS platform and up to Nvidia RTX 2060 graphics. This is not nearly as compact as the Blade Stealth 13, but is a far more competent performer for even less money. You’ll find all about it from our detailed reviews.

Lenovo IdeaPad/Yoga Slim 7 – the value performance option

Lenovo’s IdeaPad/Yoga Slim 7 should be on your map if you’re after a truly powerful ultrabook for only about 1000 USD/EUR.

This is available in two variants, with either AMD Ryzen or Intel + Nvidia MX350 hardware. The latter is a more competent gamer, while the former implements the fastest mobile platform currently available, with the Ryzen 7 4800U, and smokes the alternatives in CPU-demanding tasks. You can find all about it from our detailed review.

Lenovo didn’t just put up together a list of good specs with this product, they also made sure to implement a thermal design that can cope with this sort of hardware, as well as matching power profiles that allow for either maximum-performance, a balanced experience, or long battery life and quiet fans, according to your needs. They also made the Slim 7 out of metal, put in a decent screen, IO and inputs on it, as well as fairly punchy speakers.

Now, this doesn’t feel as refined as the XPS 13 or the MacBooks and doesn’t offer the same typing experience or the same kind of premium display options, but it’s also a lot more affordable, with the higher tier configurations going for around 1000 EUR/USD where available, in both the Intel and AMD variants. That makes the IdeaPad Slim 7 one of the best-value performance laptops on the market right now, and a clear recommendation in its price-segment, as long as you actually need that kind of power and can find it in stock in your country.

Follow this link for updated configurations and prices, and this one for our detailed review.

Lenovo Ideapad Slim 7 review

Honorary mentions

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:

  • Asus Zenbook S13 series – review and review – ultra-compact 14-inch laptops with modern specs, bright IPS screens, and big batteries, tucked inside lightweight aluminum unibody designs. The latest ZenBook UX393 series gets a 3:2 display, Tiger Lake hardware and a large 67 Wh battery.
  • Asus ZenBook 14 seriesreviews – mid-range compact and lightweight ultrabooks, various options with either Intel + MX or AMD hardware.
  • Asus ExpertBook B9 seriesreview – 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.
  • HP Envy 13  configurations and prices – well-rounded mid-range compact 13-inch ultrabook based on Intel + Nvidia MX hardware. HP’s more affordable alternative to the Dell XPS 13.
  • Microsoft Surface Laptop previewconfigurations and prices – compact 13.5-inch ultrabook with a 3:2 high-resolution screen, modern hardware and an excellent keyboard, all tucked inside a 2.8 lbs aluminum unibody shell; small battery and limited availability;
  • MSI Prestige 14configurations and prices – compact and light 14-inch laptop, among the most powerful in its size-class with a six-core Core i7 processor and Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 graphics; well priced for what it is;
  • Lenovo ThinkPad X13 and T14spreviews – 13/14-inch business ultrabooks, value alternatives for the X1 Carbon, with similar traits, but larger batteries and increased dimensions/weight;
  • LG Gram series – configurations and prices – compact and ultralight 13/14-inchers with matte screens, good inputs and large batteries; competitively priced for what they are.

Soem of the other premium options: Asus ZenBook S13, MS Surface Laptop and LG Gram

Affordable alternatives

And what if you’re not willing to spend $1000++ on a portable laptop? Well, we’ve got you covered, and this section includes a list of good-value mid-level options for you to check out:

  • Acer Swift 3 series reviews – configurations and prices – multiple options with Intel+ Nvidia MX or AMD hardware, 16:9 or 3:2 displays, and various features. Good value and affordable.
  • Asus Vivobook 14 seriesreviewsconfigurations and prices – affordable lightweight ultrabooks, various options with either Intel or AMD hardware.
  • Dell Inspiron 13 configurations and prices – Dell’s lineup of affordable compact laptops, available with Intel hardware.
  • HP Pavilion 13 configurations and prices – similarly, HP’s lineup of affordable compact laptops, also available with Intel hardware.
  • MSI Modern 14 configurations and prices –  MSI’s affordable ultrabooks based on either Intel or AMD hardware.
  • Lenovo ThinkBook series review – affordable 13/14-inch notebooks, larger than other options, but sturdily built and solid performers with daily use.
  • Lenovo IdeaPad 5review – affordable 14/15 inch series based on AMD Ryzen hardware, solid options across the board, but beware of the poor screen options.

Make sure to go through detailed reviews of these products to figure out the inherent quirks you’ll have to accept once you step into a lower price bracket. Look at the build quality, typing experience, displays, and thermal/power performance, and pick the one that checks most of your expectations. Understand that you’ll most likely have to compromise here and there.

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 devices, thus get 15 or 17-inch screens. Options include premium ultraportables such as the Razer Blade 15 Advanced, Asus ROG Zephyrus S, Acer Predator Triton 500, MSI GS66 Stealth Thin or the Gigabyte Aero 15, but also good-value full-size notebooks like the Lenovo Legion 7i or the Acer Predator Helios 300. As for 17-inch models, I’d turn my attention to the Asus ROG Zephyrus S 17, the Gigabyte Aero 17, the MSI GS75 Stealth or the Razer Blade Pro. All these have been reviewed here on the site.

Those interested in even smaller and lighter computers should consider the existing 13 and 14-inch gaming ultrabooks mentioned earlier, such as the Razer Blade Stealth 13 or the Asus ROG Zephyrus G14. Furthermore, there are also quite a few ultrabooks based on Nvidia MX350 and MX450 dGPUs you should also check out, especially when shopping at a lower budget.

The best portable gaming laptops on the moment

Productivity laptops

This section caters to those among you in need of a portable and powerful laptop for complex work and school tasks, the kind that cannot properly run on the ultra-compact devices mentioned in earlier sections of this article. These recommendations are meant for university students, engineers, programmers, architects and creatives, and mostly for those looking for a capable and reliable notebook, but still value a portable form-factor that’s easy to lug around every day.

For sure, the gaming ultraportables already covered above make for excellent all-round work&play devices, especially in their mid-tier configurations with i7 processors and Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660Ti/RTX 2060 graphics. However, you might appreciate a cleaner design and perhaps you might value a high-end display more than beefy specs, and if that’s the case, some of the options down below might better suits your requirements.

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

  • Apple Macbook Pro – Core H hardware, optional Radeon Pro and Vega graphics, 15.4″ glossy retina screen, aluminum unibody construction, 4x TB3 ports, 84 Wh battery, starts at 1.83 kg / 4.05 lbs;
  • Asus ZenBook Pro – Core H hardware with GTX 1650Ti MQ graphics, 15.6″ UHD OLED touchscreen, slim and lightweight aluminum construction, 1x TB3 ports, up to 96 Wh battery, starts at 1.8 kg / 4 lbs;
  • Asus ZenBook Pro Duo – Core H hardware and RTX 2060 graphics, dual-screens with OLED main screen and matte touch second Screen, chunky all-metal build, 1x TB3 ports, 71 Wh battery, starts at 2.5 kg / 5.4 lbs ;
  • Dell XPS 15 and 17 – Core H hardware and up to RTX 2060 MQ graphics in the XPS 17, multiple screen and configuration options, up to 4x TB3, up to 97 Wh battery,  starts at 1.85 kg / 4.1 lbs for 15-inch, 2.2 kg / 4.8 lbs for 17-inch;
  • Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme – Core H hardware and Nvidia 1650Ti MQ graphics, multiple screen and configuration options, ThinkPad looks, features and construction, 2x TB3, 80 Wh battery, starts at 1.7 kg for non-touch version;
  • HP Envy 15 – Core H hardware and up to Nvidia 2060 MQ graphics, UHD AMOLED touchscreen, aluminum build, 2x TB3, 71 Wh battery, starts at 2.05 kg /4.5 lbs;

Keep in mind that given the portable and slim form-factor of these products, the thermal design plays a crucial role in the way these perform with demanding loads, and I suggest carefully looking into detailed reviews to figure out what to expect from the units of your choice. Follow the links for our in-depth reviews and coverage, and get in touch in the comments section at the end if you have any questions about them.

Some of the premium performance ultrabooks: Apple MacBook Pro, Asus ZenBook Pro Duo and Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon

Furthermore, the creators among you should prioritize a high-tier display on your products, and that means one of the UHD versions with %100 AdobeRGB/DCI-P3 color coverage, available in either IPS or OLED variants, each with their own advantages and quirks. Specs and everything else should come secondary on a creator laptop, but you might want to look at one of the Studio-branded options available. These get Nvidia Quadro graphics with optimized drivers and software support, clean designs, quiet fans and various types of displays, but are also highly expensive. Follow this link for all our Quadro RTX notebook reviews, or check out our coverage of the Asus StudioBook Pros, the Razer Blade Studio Edition, the Acer ConceptD Pro, the MSI WS65/75 or the Creator 15/17 lines.

2-in-1 convertible ultrabooks

Hybrids are modern devices with a convertible or detachable touchscreen, so they can be used as either regular notebooks or tablets. 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, you need to be aware that there are 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 notebooks, 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 not as practical when not on a flat 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 $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 awesome 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 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 roughly $250 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 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 devices, but has its own software strong points. Follow this link for more details.

Premium convertibles: Dell XPS 13 2-in-1, HP Spectre x360 and Lenovo Yoga C940/9i

Both the HP Spectre x360 and the Lenovo Yoga C9xx have been around for a few years and were further refined with each generation, so it’s no surprise they top this segment.

The HP Spectre x360 is available in either a 13-inch of 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 aster 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 excellent screens, with high-resolution wide-gamut options on both sizes, as well as OLED variants.

The Lenovo Yoga C940 is available in 13.9 and 15-inch variants, thus the smaller model is not as portable as the Spectre or the XPS 13, but still within a few millimeters and tens of grams. It does get a large battery, a larger UHD screen (finally brighter than in the past), and better audio, with part of the speaker-system integrated within the hinge. The 15-inch Yoga C940 15 is a completely different beast though, with Core H and dedicated GTX hardware, thus more powerful than the 15-inch HP and Dell models. Both Yogas are however more expensive than their direct competitors. As of recently, Lenovo also launched the Yoga 9i updated 14-inch ultraportable, as a successor of the C940 series. It’s not yet available at the time of this update, but something to keep an eye on in the future.

Finally, the Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 is a lighter and smaller convertible with one major strong point: a 16:10 display with a punchy and bright 500-nits panel. The thinner and smaller construction only leaves room for a smaller battery and more cramped keyboard, though, as well as leads to noisier fans and higher temperatures in demanding loads. Thus, the XPS 13 makes for an excellent everyday convertible, but the Spectre and 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.

Convertible Ultrabooks: Hp Spextre x360, Lenovo Yoga C940 and Dell XPS 13 2-in-1

Convertible Ultrabooks: HP Spextre x360, Lenovo Yoga C940 and Dell XPS 13 2-in-1

Top affordable convertible: Asus Chromebook Flip C434

Much like the Surface Go, the Asus Chromebook C434 is a competent all-day convertible laptop, but this time a ChomreBook built on ChromeOS. That makes it well suited for browsing, streaming, text-editing and everything else you can do in a browser, as well as a snappy overall 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.

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, Lenovo Flex and Yoga 6 series. I’d especially focus on that recent Flex 14 based on AMD Ryzen hardware, it’s a great value option in its niche.

Fanless ultraportables

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

I’ve listed my favorite options below, as well as gathered a complete list of fanless ultraportables in this article, in case you’re interested in more suggestions.

  • Apple MacBook 12 – compact and ultralight, runs on older Core M computer, but still OK for light daily use. Competitively priced these days, if you can still find it.
  • Asus Chromebook Flip – 14-inch ChromeBook with solid traits and a competitive price. Thanks to the lightweight operating system, most Chromebooks run on silent hardware and perform smoother than the Mac/Windows alternatives in this class.
  • Microsoft Surface Pro – the base Core i3/i5 variants on the Surface Pro are passively cooled and provide the best Windows experience you can get in a fanless computer these days; expensive for what they are.

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

This is the Apple Macbook 12

This is the Apple Macbook 12

Laptops with digitizer and pen support

We’re working on a dedicated article on this particular topic, with recommendations and details on the types of digitizers (EMR, AES, etc.) and pens available these days.

In the meantime, these options should get you started with your search:

  • 2-in-1 tablets (detachables): Microsoft Surface Pro, Surface Go, Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro S, Asus Transformer 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, Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga, Asus ZenBook Flips.

Stay tuned for the update.

Affordable laptops under $500

There are a few types of computers you should consider when shopping on a budget, and we’ve covered them in separate articles:

  • Chromebooks awesome for web-based activities and dependent on an Internet connection, snappier, easier to use and safer than Windows laptops in the same price segment. Available in multiple sizes and variants, starting at as low as $150.
  • affordable mini laptops compact Windows computers with small 11 to 13-inch screens and entry-level specs. Some 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 – budget traditional notebooks with 14/15-inch screens and competitive features. Most are fast enough for everyday use and some multitasking, but you’ll have to pay a little extra for modern perks like a backlit keyboard, SSD storage, metallic builds or an IPS .

Over here you’ll also find large collection of popular laptops that sell for under $500, with user reviews and extra details. We’ve also covered this topic in this separated article here on the site, my selection of top-affordable ultraportables

Wrap-up – what’s the best ultrabook?

None of the laptops listed here are perfect, but the current generations have definitely come a long way over the years.

The hardware is faster and more efficient these days, which was expected. Alongside came new form factors and features, as well as improvements on all the fundamentals that make for a competent laptop: build quality, typing experience, touchpads, screens, connectivity, and battery life, among them. As a result, there are now many excellent 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 and value in a laptop, so go through the options and pick the one that best fits these needs and your budget.

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 we’re updating this list of recommended ultrabooks and portable laptops every three to four weeks, if not more often. That takes a lot of work, so your support is greatly appreciated.

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 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.


  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:

  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 !

    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,


    • 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.


    • 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?


    • 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.


    • 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: , the newer generation gets an improved keyboard with F-keys.

  11. Tommaso

    August 28, 2016 at 2:38 am


    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


    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: and this post: , 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:

      • 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

  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.

    • 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$?

    • 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: , 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?

        • 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.
    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
    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,

    • 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,

  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:

  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

    • 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 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:

        • 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!

    • 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

    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.


    • 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: .

      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.

  42. Colin

    November 28, 2020 at 10:22 am

    Hi Andrei,
    Thanks for this extensive work !
    Have you ever mind reviewing the Honor MagicBook series ?

    • Andrei Girbea

      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.

  43. Colin

    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 ?

    • Andrei Girbea

      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:

      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.

  44. Colin

    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 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 :-)
    Thanks again

  45. Maria

    January 7, 2021 at 12:17 am

    Hi Andrei,
    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!

    • Andrei Girbea

      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.

  46. Maria

    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?

    • Andrei Girbea

      January 7, 2021 at 9:53 am

      This is the latest 14-inch Swift 3: . 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.

  47. 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.

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