Here at Ultrabookreview.com, we’ve reviewed hundreds of ultrabooks and portable laptops over the last decade, of all kinds and from all brands. Throughout this guide, we’ll tell you which are our favorite current options and why, to make it easier for you to choose the laptop that would better fit your needs and budget, out of the multitude of available models.
- Table of contents – best 2019 ultrabooks
- The best traditional ultraportables
- The best gaming ultraportables
- The best productivity laptops
- The best 2-in-1 convertibles
- The best fanless ultraportables
- Laptops with digitizer and pen support
- The best affordable laptops under $500
- Portable laptops based on screen size
- Wrap-up – what’s the best ultrabook?
However, with the many types of portable laptops out there, we’ve split this guide into a few different sections, based on the overall size of the options, their capabilities, and their pricing. There’s a Table of Contents above that will point you towards the section of interest; I kept things as simple as possible, with only the best options in each category, but you’ll find links towards our reviews and more detailed articles that treat each subtopic in-depth, in case you want to look into more variants.
We update the article several times a year, or when something remarkable comes out. If you need more guidance or have any questions, there’s also a comments section at the end of the post where you can get in touch with us.
Thorough testing and analysis take a lot of time and effort, thus if you’ll find the article helpful, we’d appreciate you supporting our independent journalism endeavor. Sharing the post with your friends or buying from our links both greatly help us continue what we do here.
Table of contents – best 2019 ultrabooks
- the best traditional ultrabooks – top 4 ultraportable notebooks;
- portable gaming laptops – best compact options for gamers;
- productivity thin-and-light notebooks – versatile full-size ultrabooks, best suited for engineers, creators, or programmers;
- the best 2-in-1 ultraportables – convertibles or tablets with touchscreens;
- fanless options – the silent options;
- portables with an active digitizer and pen support – for business users and creators;
- affordable laptops under $500;
- best options based on screen size.
Besides these, all our reviews are available in this dedicated section.
The best traditional ultraportables
The section includes the best thin-and-light traditional (clamshell) ultrabooks with modern hardware and features.
Dell XPS 13 – the compact option
The XPS 13 has been my ultraportable of choice for a few years now (here’s my initial review, if interested) and the recent variants improved on the original model with updated hardware, better screens, news designs, improved performance, and thermals, among others.
There are a lot of reasons why the XPS 13 is one of the most appreciated ultrabooks on the market. The small 13-inch form-factor with tiny bezels, the excellent build quality, the premium materials, the excellent display options, the performance, the TB3 connectivity or the speakers are some of them. On the other hand, some aspects like the typing experience could still be improved, and there are also some quirks you just have to accept, like the fact that the case gets hot with demanding loads and some units are plagued by coil whine. Overall though, this laptop is hard to beat for those who value portability, just make sure to get it from places that handle returns properly, in case you run into any of the quality-control issues.
The latest iterations, the XPS 13 7390 and the XPS 13 9380, refine their 2018 XPS 13 9370 predecessor (reviewed by me here and by Doug over here) on quite a few different levels. They finally put the camera at the top of the screen, add improved software control over the fans and performance, new screens (with options for matte FHD, touch FHD or the high-res touch UHD panel), as well as a new color scheme, with a white woven interior and Silver Frost outer shell. The keyboard/trackpad, the 52 Wh battery, and the miniaturized IO haven’t changed, though.
The XPS 13 9370 is also one of the few ultrabooks available with a six-core Core i7 U processor, and that makes it roughly 20% faster in demanding loads that can benefit from the increased processing power. So if you’re a programmer or engineer, this might be the ultraportable for you, but keep in mind it’s still lacking in the graphics department, just like all the other ultraportables based on Intel HD graphics.
For the average user, my recommendation goes primarily towards the mid-range configurations with the Core i5 processor, 8 GB of RAM, 256 GB SSD and the FHD displays, either matte or touch. The i7 models with 16 GB of RAM and 512 GB of RAM are also good-value, at around $1400 for the FHD screen options and $1650+ for the UHD touchscreen models. At this level, there are some other options you could also consider, though.
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon – the business ultrabook
The X1 Carbon is Lenovo’s flagship ThinkPad, and we’ve reviewed the latest generation in this detailed article, as well as pitched it against the XPS 13 in this one.
It gets a 14-inch screen, thus it’s a bit larger than the XPS 13, but it’s lighter due to the choice in materials used for the case. It also gets what most consider a better keyboard and clickpad, as well as a more diversified IO, more configuration options and improved business features (IR Sensor, TPM, vPro CPUs, etc).
At the same time, though, the X1 Carbon is more expensive than the XPS 13, is only available in a single color scheme (the classic black ThinkPad design) and only gets a 51 Wh battery, smaller than the 57 Wh option on the 2018 Carbon. Finally, the X1 Carbon is also not available with the six-core CPU Dell puts on the XPS 13, and its thermal design struggles even with the quad-core i7s in taxing loads, as explained in our review.
That’s why, despite its advantages, I prefer the XPS over the X1 Carbon. Potential users should, however, check out the ThinkPad X390 and T490 as well, though, as slightly larger and overall better value alternatives with similar ThinkPad core traits.
Huawei MateBook X Pro – the multimedia all-rounder
This is a rather unique laptop with undeniable value, and there are a lot of reasons why it might suit your needs, and very few why it might not.
Metal is used for the case and not only is the build tough, but this notebook is also compact, thin and light (around 3 lbs, 1.33 kg). The screen is its main selling points: 13.9-inch touchscreen with a 3:2 aspect ratio, tiny bezels, 3000 x 2000 px resolution and a bright 500-nits IPS panel. Then there’s the keyboard, which uses short-stroke keys like all the other ultraportables, but feels nicer in daily use than other implementations. The features list also includes a 58 Wh battery, a finger-sensor integrated within the power button, a spacious touchpad and decent IO for such a thin device, with both full-size ports and Thunderbolt 3.
As far as performance goes, the MateBook X Pro is built on Intel Core U hardware, with fast storage and optional Nvidia MX250 graphics on the higher-end Core i7 models. That doesn’t make it a gaming laptop by any means, but it allows this to tackle older titles at FHD resolution and medium details, as well as the popular casual games available these days (this article takes a closer look at the MX250 chip’s performance). It also allows it to top the Intel-based options in certain professional applications.
As for those reasons why you might want to skip this one, well, it’s a thin computer with powerful hardware, so it gets hot with demanding loads, and with the small bezels around the screen, the camera was dumped at the keyboard level. But the less obvious reasons are the potential lack of quality support in case something goes wrong or you end up with a flawed unit, as well as those privacy concerns around Huawei.
Apple MacBook Pro 13 – the professional all-rounder
Apple offers both 13 and 15-inch versions of the MacBook Pros, but we’re only referring to the 13-inch model here. Compared to the Windows alternatives, this is nor the smaller, the lightest, the most powerful, or the most features-stuffed, and it also gets very expensive when specced up.
However, this is nonetheless one of the better performance ultraportables out there, due to a mixture of hardware and software reasons. Among those, the craftsmanship quality, the bright high-resolution retina display, the punchy front-facing speakers, the long battery life and the touchpad experience are hardly matched by other options. On top of these, the software/hardware optimization and ecosystem integration lead to an excellent user experience, with the exclusive software, Apple’s support, and post-sale services as the cherries on top.
At the same time, current MacBook Pros struggle with known keyboard defects, lack a touchscreen and only rely on Thunderbolt 3 connectivity. They are also increasingly more difficult to upgrade and repair, so keep that in mind if you plan to keep your unit outside warranty. I strongly recommend buying an extended warranty, but that will further add up to the total cost.
Speaking of it, the base 13-inch MacBook Pro starts at $1299 for the quad-core i5 configurations, with 8 GB of RAM and a non-upgradeable 128 GB SSD, while the better-specced variants quickly jump past $2000. Follow this link for up-to-date configurations and prices at the time you’re reading the post.
All in all, the MacBook Pros remain solid options for those already absorbed into the Apple ecosystem. The phone, the watch, the earbuds, the laptop, all work excellently together and improve your digital experience, and the software options and optimizations further transform the MacBook Pro into an excellent computer for a certain class of professionals. All these do come at a premium, though, and the MacBook Pros have also started to show their age, that’s why the Windows alternatives are worth considering as well, especially if you’re shopping on a lower budget.
The honorary value options
While all the options above are excellent traditional ultrabooks, they’re also expensive. So how about some good-value mid-level options?
There are a bunch of them, each with their pros and their quirks. We’re not going to get in-depth in this post, we’ll just list the very good options down below (alphabetically), with links towards our reviews, where available.
- Acer Swift 3 SF314-55 – review – configurations and prices – metallic body, modern hardware (Core U CPUs and Nvidia MX150 dedicated graphics), good quality matte 14-inch screen and long battery life, all in an affordable package.
- Asus Zenbook S UX392 – review – an ultra-compact 14-inch laptop with modern Core U hardware, MX150 graphics, an excellent IPS screen, fast keyboard, and 50 Wh battery, tucked inside an aluminum unibody that weighs under 1.1 kilos.
- Asus ZenBook 14 UX434 – review – slightly more affordable and heavier version of the ZenBook S, with similar specs and features, but a dimmer 14-inch display. Good value for what it is.
- Dell Latitude 7000 13/14 – configurations and prices – Dell’s alternatives for the ThinkPad T line, excellently crafted business laptops with a 13/14-inch screen, solid features, and big batteries, but expensive.
- HP Spectre 13 – configurations and prices – HP’s alternative to the XPS 13, a premium compact 13-inch laptop with a bright touchscreen and modern specs, that only weighs 1.1 kg (2.45 lbs); only gets a small 43 Wh battery and struggles in demanding loads.
- Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 – preview – configurations and prices – slim 13.5-inch laptop with a 3:2 high-resolution screen, modern hardware, and an excellent keyboard, all tucked inside a compact 2.8 lbs aluminum unibody shell; pricey and limited IO;
- MSI Prestige 14 – configurations and prices – compact and light 14-inch laptop, the fastest notebook in its size-class with a six-core Core i7 processor and GTX 1650 graphics; well priced for what it is;
- Lenovo ThinkPad X390 – 13-inch business laptop, a better value alternative of the X1 Carbon, with similar traits and slightly larger chassis;
- Lenovo ThinkBook 13s – review – affordable 13-inch laptop, larger than other options, but excellently built quality and a solid performer with daily chores;
- Razer Blade Stealth 13 – review – configurations and prices – compact 13-inch model, the most powerful ultrabook in this class, with pretty good gaming abilities; gets very expensive.
The best gaming ultraportables
We’ve already thoroughly covered this topic in a separate article, so follow this link for the detailed guide.
In just a few words, though, gaming ultraportables are compact and light performance laptops with capable graphics. Most of these are full-size, thus get 15 or 17-inch screens. Options include premium ultraportables like the Razer Blade 15, Asus ROG Zephyrus S, MSI GS65 Stealth Thin or the Gigabyte Aero 15, but also good-value full-size notebooks like the Lenovo Legion Y740 or the Acer Predator Helios 300. All these notebooks have been reviewed here on the site.
Those interested in even smaller and lighter options should also consider the existing 13 and 14-inch gaming ultrabooks. Just keep in mind you’ll sacrifice on the performance and won’t get a fast 144/240 Hz display with these. Among the best options in this sub-niche are the Razer Blade Stealth 13 and especially the MSI Prestige 14, both powered by GTX 1650 GPUs and Core U processors.
The best productivity laptops
This is a complex topic, as each of you might have specific expectations from a multi-purpose computer.
The gaming ultraportables already covered above make for excellent all-round devices, especially in their mid-tier configurations with Core i7 processors and GTX 1660Ti/RTX 2060 graphics. But there are also a few other types of such well-balanced laptops. What we’re looking for are computers that check most of these boxes: built well, compact and lightweight, good screens, comfortable keyboards, decent performance and battery life, no major flaws.
Premium multimedia laptops
These are some of the best multi-purpose notebooks with compact shells and latest-gen specs and features. These are full-size 15-inch computer and make little to no compromise on the build quality, ergonomics, performance or battery life. They don’t come cheap, though.
We’ve listed our recommendations below, in alphabetical order, with links towards our more detailed reviews and guides:
- Apple MacBook Pro 15 – unibody construction, 15.4″ glossy retina screen (500+ nits), problematic butterfly keyboard, up to Core i9 CPUs + AMD Vega graphics, 4x TB3 ports, 80 Wh battery, quiet fans, punchy front-facing speakers, starts at 1.83 kg / 4.05 lbs, expensive and rather outdated for this day and age;
- Asus Zenbook Pro UX550 and Zenbook Pro UX580 – up to Core i9 + Nvidia 1050 Ti, mushy keyboard, 15.6″ matte or touch FHD/UHD screens (both 350+ nits), all-metal builds, 2x TB3 ports, 71 Wh battery, start at 1.8 kg / 3.97 lbs for the non-touch version, the UX580 gets a secondary screen within the trackpad, more affordable than the competition;
- Asus ZenBook Pro Duo UX581 – 2019 model, premium construction and a unique design with two touchscreens, expensive and not very practical when not on a desk;
- Dell XPS 15 – up to Core i9 + Nvidia 1650 Max-Q, multiple screen options, solid metal, and carbon fiber build, 1x TB3, 56 or 97 Wh battery, good speakers, starts at 1.85 kg / 4.1 lbs for the non-touch version with 56 Wh battery, well priced in this class;
- Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme and ThinkPad P1– up to Core i9 + Nvidia 1650 Max-Q, multiple screen options, ThinkPad looks, features and construction, 2x TB3 and dual-storage, 80 Wh battery, starts at 1.75 kg for non-touch version, gets expensive once specced up.
These aside, if you’re a creator and looking for powerful hardware and a wide-gamut display in a compact computer, there’s a whole range of Studio laptops to consider. These get Turing Quadro graphics, clean designs, very quiet fans and various types of top-tier displays, but are also significantly more expensive than the option mentioned above. Follow this link for all our Quadro RTX notebook reviews, or look for devices like the Asus StudioBook Pros, the Razer Blade Studio Edition, the Acer ConceptD Pro or the MSI WS65/75 and Creator 15/17 lines.
Finally, if you’d rather get an even more portable full-size laptop and don’t really need the performance offered by the options above, then perhaps options like the Asus ZenBook 15, the Samsung Notebook 7 Force, the light and long-lasting LG Gram 15 or even the premium (and overpriced) Microsoft Surface Laptop 15 would better fit your bill.
Affordable multimedia laptops
We’ll continue with the more affordable options next, recommended for those of you without high demands and expectations in terms of features and performance. These are well suited for everyday use, school-related work, and other such activities.
If you’re looking for ultra-compact options, my recommendations would go towards something like the Lenovo ThinkBook 13s, the Dell Inspiron 13 2-in-1, the Asus ZenBook 13 or the HP Pavillion 13. Follow the links for reviews and more details. These are available for between $500 and $800, and get modern specs, IPS screens, SSD storage, backlit keyboards, and mid-sized batteries.
Chromebooks are the best options at an even lower price-tag, and we’ve covered all the best options in this separate article. However, if you’d rather not have to deal with their limitations, you should perhaps consider some of the AMD Ryzen options instead, many of them selling for under $500. These are full-size 14 and 15-inch laptops, though.
There are a lot of other good-value full-size devices with 14 and 15-inch screens. We’ve covered them in this detailed article, which I’d recommend going through, but I also added a very short selection below, just in case you don’t want to:
- Acer Swift 3 – review – configurations and prices – Core U + MX150, compact metallic build, good IO, 14/15-inch matte IPS FHD screens (~230 nits), 48 Wh battery, 1.8 kg/4 lbs – 15″ model, the sound could be better;
- Acer Aspire 5 – review – configurations and prices – various Intel or AMD configurations, plastic build, good IO, 15-inch matte IPS FHD screens (~200 nits), 42 Wh battery, 2.2 kg/4.9 lbs – 15″ model;
- Asus VivoBook S14 and S15 – review – configurations and prices – various Intel or AMD configurations, compact metallic build, 14/15-inch matte IPS FHD screens (~220 nits), 42 Wh battery, 1.7 kg/3.8 lbs – 15″ model;
- Lenovo IdeaPad 540 – configurations and prices – various Intel or AMD configurations, compact plastic build, good IO, 14/15-inch matte IPS FHD screens (~250 nits), 45 Wh battery, 1.5 kg/3.3 lbs – 14″ model.
The best 2-in-1 convertibles
Hybrids are modern laptops with some sort of convertible or detachable touchscreen, which means they can be used as regular notebooks, as tablets, or in a few other modes in-between.
We’ve covered this topic in-depth in this separated article, which you should head over to, but we’ll also quickly go through our top recommendations below.
But first, there are two kinds of 2-in-1s: stand-alone tablets and can act as laptops when hooked to an external dock or keyboard-folio, and laptops with 360 degrees convertible screens. The latter are more versatile notebooks, especially when used on the lap, and tend to get larger batteries and more ports, while the former are excellent tablets, but not as practical when not on a flat surface.
The best tablets: Microsoft Surface Go, Surface Pro, and iPad Pro
Microsoft makes some of the best Windows tablets out there, with the compact and affordable Surface Go and the powerful Surface Pro.
The Surface Go is a 10-inch tablet with a high-resolution 3:2 touchscreen, fanless Core Y hardware and a base selling price of around $330 at the time of this update (plus $130 for the Keyboard Folio, and there’s also a more expensive LTE version). It’s compact, light and rather inexpensive, which makes it an excellent school-computer or secondary travel companion. It runs Windows S by default, but can be upgraded to regular Windows for the extra functionality. Follow this link for more details.
The Surface Pro is a much more powerful and capable device, able to handle daily multitasking and demanding chores, in a lightweight and compact magnesium made chassis. It gets a 12.3-inch 3:2 touchscreen with smaller bezels, Intel Ice lake Core U hardware, and a larger battery, but with a starting price of $899 for a configuration that makes some sense these days (Core i5, 8 GB of RAM and 128 GB of storage). The keyboard and pen are not included and cost $260 combined. Ouch! Follow this link for more details.
Finally, the iPad Pro makes its way into this section as well, as a competent choice for graphics artists and creators. It’s now a lot more versatile than in the past, with the latest hardware and software updates, and includes an excellent screen with pen support, for less than you’ll pay for a fully accessorized Surface Pro. Of course, it’s not a Windows tablet and can’t run the things you can run on the Surface slates, but has its own software strong points. Follow this link for more details.
The best premium convertibles: Dell XPS 13 2-in-1, HP Spectre x360 and Lenovo Yoga C940
— we’re currently updating this section, come back in a day or two for the final version
The best affordable convertible: Asus Chromebook Flip C434
Much like the Surface Go, the Asus Chromebook C434 is an excellent multi-purpose convertible laptop, but this time built on ChromeOS. That makes it excellent for browsing, streaming, text-editing and everything else you can do in a browser, as well as a snappy computer with excellent battery life, much like the other flagship Chromebooks of this generation.
The Chromebook Flip C434 is available for around $550 at the time of this update. Follow this link for more details.
- HP Spectre X2 – review – configurations and prices – a more affordable alternative of the Surface Pro, with a more versatile keyboard and fanless hardware;
- Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga – configurations and prices – premium business convertible with a 14-inch display and Wacom AES digitizer. Weighs 3 lbs, but is expensive and runs hot under load.
- Microsoft Surface Pro – configurations and prices – a premium 12-inch Windows tablet with Core M and Core U hardware. Provides a great tablet experience and pen support for inking and drawing, but it’s not as good as a laptop;
- Samsung Book 9 Pro – configurations, and prices – a 13-inch premium convertible with excellent build quality and user reviews, an option for those looking for a top-tier configuration;
The best fanless ultraportables
If you want a quiet computer without a fan or a spinning hard-drive inside, these options right here are the ones for you. Just keep in mind that passively cooled platforms are not going to offer the same amount of power as those cooled by a fan, so you should only get one of these for daily activities and limited multitasking.
I’ve listed my favorite options below, and a complete list of fanless ultraportables is available in this article, in case you’re interested in more options.
HP Spectre 12 X2 – the affordable detachable
The Spectre X2 is a detachable, a tablet with a keyboard dock. It offers good specs and performance in a thin and sleek aluminum body, as you can see in the pictures below. It also includes a 12-inch screen with pen support, Core M hardware, a 42 Wh battery, decent IO and a keyboard dock with backlit keys, all weighing around 2.7 lbs.
The higher specced versions of the X2 are rather expensive ($800 and up), but a Core m3 model with 4 GB of RAM and 128 GB of SSD storage goes for under $600 these days (you’ll find out where by following this link). The keyboard dock is included on all models, while a pen is included only on certain configurations, but the device gets an active digitizer so it’s going to work with most pens, there’s no specific need to buy the HP one.
Apple MacBook 12 – the ultralight option
The MacBook is one of the lightest and slimmest traditional clamshell laptops out there. It weighs 2.02 lbs (0.92 kg) and it’s just .5″ (13 mm) thick, but despite these, it’s also extremely well built and packs some good hardware.
Its case is entirely made out of aluminum, the keyboard is backlit and the screen gets a high-resolution IPS panel, without touch. As for the internals, the MacBook is powered by Intel Core m hardware with 8 GB of RAM and 256 or 512 GB of SSD storage, with a 41 Wh battery that’s going to provide around 8 hours of real daily use. Not bad at all.
The MacBook is expensive though, the base version sells for $1299 and includes a Core m5 processor with 8 GB of RAM and 256 GB of storage space. You’re paying a premium for the overall quality and the brand, of course, but given the specs, the MacBook is not much more expensive than other premium Core m options. Potential buyers have to be aware that this laptop gets an unusual keyboard with very limited travel and a single USB-C port, so you might have to spend extra on adapters or a dock.
Best Budget: Acer Chromebook R11
The R11 is a Chromebook, so it’s not running Windows, but ChromeOS, a simple and secure software meant to offer solid experience in Internet-based activities like browsing, editing documents, streaming multimedia content and music, etc.
The Chromebook R11 is a best-buy in its class. It sells for around $270 and this kind of money will get you a white notebook with a convertible 11-inch IPS touchscreen, an Intel Celeron processor, 4 GB of RAM, 32 GB of storage and a 35 Wh battery, which are solid specs for a mini-laptop in this price range. No wonder the Chromebook R11 is one of the best selling computers in the US and also one of the most appreciated, scoring good reviews with most buyers.
- Acer Switch Alpha 12 SA5-271 – configurations and prices – this is a tablet with a keyboard folio and at the same time one of the very few fanless implementations of a Core U hardware platform. It performs well and it has a correct price but is not capable of running for a long while on a charge.
- Microsoft Surface Pro – configurations and prices – only the base version of the Surface Pro is available in a fanless version, with a Core m3 processor, 4 GB of RAM and 128 GB of storage, for $899, not including the Keyboard Folio. Expensive, but otherwise a solid slate with an excellent screen, pen support, battery life, and build quality.
- Chromebooks – these are solid picks in the sub $300 price range, excellent for Web work and light activities. Most Chromebooks are fanless and you’ll find a large selection in this post, as well as details about the best available options.
Laptops with digitizer and pen support
This section is short and we’ll develop it shortly, as we’re working on a dedicated article on this particular topic, which will also include details on the types of digitizers (EMR, AES, etc.) and pens available these days.
For now, a couple of good options with digitizers are the:
- 2-in-1 tablets (detachables): Microsoft Surface Pro, Surface Go, and Surface Book lines, Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro S, Asus Transformer 3 and 3 Pro, HP Spectre X2 and Elite X2, Dell Latitude 13 7000, Acer Aspire Switch Alpha 12;
- 2-in-1 convertibles (360-degrees rotating screen): HP Spectre x360 13 and 15, Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga, Asus ZenBook UX362/UX562.
Stay tuned for the update.
The best affordable laptops under $500
You have a few options to consider when shopping for highly affordable laptops:
- Chromebooks – ChromeOS notebooks great for web-based activities, with prices starting at as low as $150 and screen sizes ranging between 10 to 15.6 inches. Good picks for casual tasks as long as you’re connected to the Internet, not that good for offline use. This article explains what to exactly expect from a Chromebook, how it compares to a regular Windows laptop and includes a detailed list of recommendations, based on budget and features.
- affordable mini laptops – windows computers with small 11 to 13-inch screens and lower-end hardware specs. Some options sell for under $300, but if you want a faster platform, larger battery or an IPS screen you’ll have to spend a little more.
- affordable full-size laptops – you can find traditional notebooks with 14/15-inch screens in this budget, with fairly competitive specs and features, like Core i3 and i5 processors, 4-8 GB of RAM and decent storage, including SSDs in some cases. These cut some corners on the build quality and choice of materials, getting all plastic cases, and most also get a small battery, a non-backlit keyboard, and a TN screen, but if you dig carefully you’ll even find IPS panels in this price range.
There’s a large collection of popular laptops that sell for under $500 over here, with user reviews and extra details. That aside, you should head over to this article for my selection of top-affordable ultraportables, with solid options going for under $500 and premium best-buy options in the $500 to $800 range.
Portable laptops based on screen size
This topic is covered in the following separated articles:
- 11.6-inch ultrabooks or smaller ;
- 12-inch ultraportables;
- 13.3-inch ultrabooks (most of this entire article);
- full-size notebooks with 14, 15-inch or larger screens.
However, I’ll also add a few words on what to expect from each class.
The offer for ultra-compact computers with 10-inch screens, follow-ups of the highly popular netbooks back in the days, is limited to a few 2-in-1s like the Asus Transformer Pad or the Acer Aspire Switch 10 families, as well as the newer Microsoft Surface Go. They get a touchscreen, are built on low-power hardware and are only good enough for basic tasks, but will last for a long while on a charge.
11-inchers, on the other hand, are available in greater numbers and diversities, from the most affordable Chromebooks selling for $150 and up, to higher-end options with advanced features. However, most premium ultra-portables get a 12 to 13.3-inch screens these days, and that’s the segment where you’ll find the better options if you want a computer that looks good, is built well, performs properly, lasts for 6+ hours on a charge and doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. Most of the devices featured in the various sections of this post get a 12 to 13-inch screen.
On the other hand, you’ll have to step up to a larger device if you need faster hardware for professional use or gaming. There are quite a few excellent 14-inchers out there, yet this niche is mostly populated with business options, toughly built, packed with enterprise-oriented features and pricey. 15 and 17-inchers are mostly oriented towards regular consumers, but even in this segment, the offer is vast, with options for those interested in portability, performance, gaming abilities or even convertible with touch displays.
These aside, there are also plenty of thin (under 1-inch) full-size notebooks out there if that’s what you’re after, as well as many that are very light, at around 1 kilo or even beyond. Just keep in mind that powerful hardware and a thin case don’t always make for a happy couple, and make sure to read reviews if you don’t want to end up with a computer that gets hot, noisy or throttles under load.
Wrap-up – what’s the best ultrabook?
None of the laptops listed here are perfect, but if you’ll take a look back at the ultra-portables launched in these last years, you’ll see the current generations have come a long way.
The hardware is faster and more efficient these days, which was expected, but alongside came new form factors and features, plus improvements on all the fundamentals that make a laptop great: build quality, keyboards, touchpads, screens, connectivity, and battery life, among them. As a result, there are now many good options to choose from.
As for what’s the best ultrabook for you, that’s in the end for each one of you to decide. You know what you want from your laptop and you know what you value more on such a device. That’s why you should choose between all the devices listed here, based on your budget and personal criteria. I’ve told you what you should know about all the ultrabooks that are worth considering, but the final decision rests with you.
And if by any chance you haven’t found what you needed in this massive post, you should check out these other articles on the site:
- the best 11.6-inch ultrabooks or smaller ;
- the best 14, 15-inch or larger ultrabooks and ultra-portable laptops.
- gaming ultrabooks with dedicated graphics chips (good options for programmers, engineers or graphic designers as well);
- 2-in-1 convertible ultrabooks with touchscreens;
- fanless ultra portables – perfectly quiet, without a fan or a spinning HDD inside;
- the best Chromebooks – affordable mini-laptops for Internet-based activities, selling for between $150 and $400.
Last but not least, you can check out the reviews posted here on the site and our thorough comparisons, or get in touch in the comments section if you need any help with your decision, have any questions or just want to add something to this article.
Keep in mind that I’m updating the list every two or three weeks, if not more often, to keep it as accurate as possible. And I also post news, reviews, and guides here on the site, so you should subscribe if you want to stay in touch with the latest updates and launches.