Best 11 lightweight laptops (ultrabooks) for school, college students in 2024

Best 11 lightweight laptops (ultrabooks) for school, college students in 2024
By Andrei Girbea, last updated on February 1, 2024

In this article, we’ll go over my favorite student ultrabooks and lightweight laptops for school/college use, devices that can handle both work and play at the same time, without breaking your back or the bank for you.

When I was in school, I lugged my laptop with me to classes, the library, and then back to my dorm almost every day, and I was delighted when I was able to replace my bulky 15-inch notebook with a compact and light 12 incher at that time. For me, the weight and portability mattered more than performance, at that time. And still do.

You might have different needs, though. These days, there’s a wide range of devices for you to choose from, so if you’re a parent looking for a school laptop for your young children, or if you’re a high-school or college student looking for a versatile multi-purpose laptop to replace you’re aging computer, this article is going to come in handy.

We’re going to have a look at several kinds of school laptops down below, starting with the affordable models made for casual use (ideal for those on limited budgets and for younger children that don’t need a lot of performance), continuing with some ultraportable options meant for daily multitasking (ideal for those of you favoring a light premium design), and then discussing the all-purpose and the performance laptops that can handle heavier workloads and games (ideal for more demanding school and college use).

Best affordable ultrabooks and laptops for school

We’re going in-depth over the best budget ultrabooks and portable laptops in this other dedicated article, but in here, we’ll briefly cover the options that make the most sense for school use.

For kids and generally younger users who don’t need a lot of power from their computer, a Windows mini laptop, a compact tablet, or a Chromebook would be my go-to recommendations.

In that first class, I would consider either the Microsoft Surface Go or the Asus Laptop L210.

The Surface Go is a compact lightweight tablet computer, with a sturdy magnesium construction, a beautiful touchscreen with pen support, a compatible keyboard folio, and enough performance for daily activities. It’s a bit on the expensive side for this class, though, once you add-up the folio and the pen.

The Asus L210 is an inexpensive small Windows laptop selling for around $150 or even less, and offers the standard functionality you would expect from a laptop, just in a small and affordable package. It’s a plastic design, though, and is not fast by any modern standards, so only consider it for light use.

We’re going over a wider range of small laptops and tablets in this dedicated article, if interested in more such options.

The Surface Go is arguably the best 10-inch small laptop out there

The Surface Go is arguably the best 10-inch small laptop out there

Chromebooks are other affordable options you should consider, with many good options selling for between $149 and $599, and available in a multitude of sizes and formats. They run ChromeOS, a simple operating system built around the Chrome web browser, and they are easy and safe to use, as well as snappier than regular Windows laptops in the same price range.

However, they must be connected to the Internet to function at full capacity. Keep that in in mind in your decision!

This post explains what you need to know before buying a Chromebook, and this one goes over a selection of the best Chromebooks available today.

Chromebooks are ideal for light activities and sell for between $200 and $400

Chromebooks are inexpensive and ideal for light school activities

Mid-tier affordable school laptops

If you need a Windows laptop with a bit more power or a larger display, this is the section for you.

The Acer Swift 3, the Asus ZenBook 14, the HP Pavilion 14, or the Lenovo IdeaPad 5 series are the ones I’d look into in the 500 to 800 USD/EUR price range.

These check most of the right boxes you’d want in a versatile school laptop:

  • sturdily built, with mostly metals used for the construction in recent years;
  • compact and lightweight enough to fit inside most backpacks and not become a hassle to carry around;
  • versatile, with a good keyboard, plenty of IO, and balanced ergonomics;
  • good displays (aim for an IPS FHD option, but you might even find an OLED with some of the newer models);
  • powerful enough for daily multitasking, browser/office work, music/video streaming, and even some occasional games – aim for a recent processor from Intel/AMD, 16 GB of RAM (as much as possible), and preferably 512 GB of SSD storage.

acer swift 14 main

We’ve reviewed these over time, in multiple variants, so go through the reviews for more details on each of these options.

This aside, if shopping on a limited budget, I would seriously consider getting a used or a refurbished laptop as well.

This way, you can end up with a premium design (such as a MacBook Air or a Dell XPS) for a fraction of what it cost brand-new, or a more powerful laptop than you would normally find new for a lower budget (such as an Asus ROG G14 or a Lenovo Legion gaming notebook). This approach is especially useful if you need a computer that can handle more than just basic multasking, either for your school projects (programming, engineering, design, CAD work etc.) or for running games.

Premium lightweight laptops for school and college students

If you’d like something snappier, nicer looking and with extra modern features, the portable laptops and premium ultrabooks listed in this category are the ones for you.

Apple MacBooks

The MacBook Air M1 is almost unmatched as a portable thin-and-light laptop around the $1000 mark (or less), as long you’re after a daily-use computer and don’t need Windows for your school tasks and gaming.

This needs no introduction, as it’s an iconic design with excellent build quality, excellent inputs, and a beautiful display. It’s also a snappy daily performer even in the most affordable configurations, and easily lasts for 10++ hours of use on a single charge.

Of course, an updated MacBook Air M2 is also available in the meantime, but it’s more expensive. And if you need something with better ports, a bigger battery, and extra power, the MacBook Pro 13 and especially the MacBook Pro 14 should catch your attention. You are sacrificing portability to some extent with these, though, and they’re also significantly more expensive than the Air M1.

Surface laptops, Dell XPS 13 and HP Envy 13/Spectre x360

These are some of the best Windows ultrabooks available out there, and the prime alternatives for the MacBook Air in the Windows space.

Microsoft offers the Surface Pro (tablet format) and the Surface Laptop (notebook format) lineups, with premium builds, competitive specs, and modern features. The Surface Pro is especially interesting as a school device for its portable form factor and the ability to easily use it for taking notes, inking, or drawing, something most other options don’t offer (at all, or in a more cumbersome way).

The XPS lineup offered for the last many years the ultimate Windows clamshell ultrabooks, and we’ve reviewed all models and generations over the years. If Windows is a must for you in a premium ultraportable design, these should be at the top of your list (especially in the US, but perhaps less so in other markets, where Dell laptops tend to be more expensive than the competition.

XPS laptops are available in a variety of sizes and formats, starting with the Dell XPS 13 and going up to the popular Dell XPS 15 and Dell XPS 17 models. The latter two can get very expensive, though.

As for the HP models, the Envy 13 is the clamshell premium alternative for the XPS 13, while the Specter x360 is one of the best hybrid 2-in-1 laptops on the market, available in either 13 or 15 inch variants.

Asus ZenBooks and VivoBooks

Asus offer some very competitive thin-and-light laptops in their ZenBook and VivoBook lineups. The ZenBooks are their premium ultrabooks, while the VivoBooks are the more affordable mid-tier options, and both are available in a multitude of variants with or without touchscreens, with Intel or AMD hardware, and in different colors and with various features and particularities.

Among these, the ZenBook S13 stands out as an excellent AMD-based 13-inch ultrabook, more powerful than most other similarly-sized Windows options in multitasking and complex loads. The ZenBook Pro 14 is another interesting model, this time a premium computer with the power and capabilities normally offered by higher-tier or larger devices, as it runs on a modern Intel Core H and RTX platform.

vs zenbook14 1

Lenovo ThinkPads and Yogas

Lenovo’s lineup of laptops is more complex than what most other brands offer, with a multitude of ThinkPads, IdeaPads, and Yogas to choose from.

The ThinkPads stand out as reliable daily drivers with excellent builds, clean looks and uncompromised ports, ergonomics and performance. They are available in a wide range up, starting with some affordable options and going all the way up to the exquisite and expensive X1 Carbon, X1 Nano, and X1 Extreme ultrabooks. I’d expect the lower and mid-tier ThinkPad E and L models to make their way to most classes, as the more affordable school options.

The Yogas, on the other hand, are especially interesting in their balanced all-purpose options that bundle capable processors and graphics chips into portable devices.

For more options, you should check out the selections of the best 11-inch, 13 inch, and 14/15 inch ultrabooks available in stores right now.

The best all-purpose school laptops

In the first part of this section, we’ll go over all-purpose laptops that ideally balance their format, performance, and price. And then we’ll follow up with a few larger, heavier, and higher-tier options that you should consider when performance trumps your other criteria.

Asus ROG Flow X13 and Flow Z13

These two are the most powerful 13-inch compact ultrabooks available on the market, and they’re some potentially excellent school companions due to their size and versatility.

Both offer 13-inch touchscreens and plenty of power and IO for general use, school projects and loads, and some gaming in your spare time.

The Flow X13 is a 2-in-1 convertible format, and is more usable in laptop form. It’s also built on AMD hardware, which means it will last for longer on a charge.

The Flow Z13 is a tablet format, like a Surface Pro on steroids. It’s the more powerful of the two and offers an advanced cooling module for this size. It’s also the more versatile tablet, for pen input and watching content. It’s an Intel platform, though, so won’t last as long on a charge, and is more expensive than the X13.

You’ll find more about these two from our coverage of the 2023 ROG Flow X13 and Z13 lineups. And here are our latest reviews of the Asus ROG Flow Z13 and Asus ROG Flow X13.

rog flow x13 z13

Acer Swift X, Asus VivoBook Pro 14x, Lenovo Yoga Slim X Pro

These are balanced 14-inch laptops with portable design, mid-tier specs, and competitive pricing around the 1000-1200 USD/EUR range.

These are the ideal mix of portability, ergonomics, and performance for most high-school and college students that require something more capable than a standard MacBook or Windows ultrabook.

We’ve reviewed them all on the site over the years.

Asus ROG Zephyrys G14, Alienware X14, Razer Blade 14

These two are still 14-inch laptops, but with extra features and more powerful specs than the options in the previous section.

The ROG Zephyrus G14 is the most popular ROG laptop of recent years, and for good reasons. It’s available in a multitude of configurations, from mid-specced affordable models up to top-tier models with performance and specs that can rival full-size desktop replacement laptops (such as RTX 4090 graphics and Ryzen 9 processors).

The Alienware X14 is a thinner and more refined product, but not as powerful as the ROG.

The Razer Blade 14 should also be included in this section, due to its premium design and excellent performance. This is a pricey laptop, though, and hasn’t been yet updated to the latest specs.

Razer Blade 15/16, Asus Zephyrus G15/M16, Dell XPS 15/17

These are premium portable laptops with 15 to 17 inch displays, my recommendation if you need a larger screen estate on your computer.

The XPS models are impressive designs, light and compact for their sizes, but as as powerful as the other options in this section.

The ROG Zephyrus G15, G16, and M16 are solid performers and well-priced options, but not as nicely built and finished as the others.

Finally, the Razer Blades are excellently crafted and manufactured, and offer solid specs and performance for their size, but can get very expensive in the latest-year models.

blade14 vs blade15

Acer Nitro 5, Dell G15, Lenovo Legion 5

These are some excellent performance and gaming laptops, ideal options if portability is not important to you.

They offer the best bang for your buck in terms of capabilities in demanding workloads and games, and are available in a multitude of configurations, with various hardware specs and screen options.

You’ll find more about these from our detailed reviews.

legion5pro vs 2


At the end of the day, there are plenty of good ultrabooks you can choose between, based on your requirements and budget.

More expensive devices are usually going to offer extra features, like touchscreens with pen support, premium lightweight design, and higher-tier specs, but that doesn’t mean you won’t be able to find a balanced mid-tier school laptop within every budget, as long as you keep your expectations realistic.

Anyway, I’m confident that this article helped you in your search, and if you need extra help deciding what your next ultrabook for college or school is going to be, get in touch down below in the comments section. I’ll be around to reply.

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Article by: Andrei Girbea
Andrei Girbea is a Writer and Editor-in-Chief here at I write about mobile technology, laptops and computers in general. I've been doing it for more than 15 years now. I'm a techie with a Bachelor's in Computer Engineering. I mostly write reviews and thorough guides here on the site, with some occasional columns and first-impression articles.


  1. Vlad

    August 13, 2013 at 8:17 pm

    Nice list, but I consider my ASUS S550-CB the best ultraportable for the price and even has an optical drive at only 0.9″ thickness.

  2. Vish Periyasamy

    August 15, 2013 at 6:14 am

    Hey, I have read several of your reviews and for college I am down to two choices – Sony Vaio Pro 13 or the Asus UX51VZ. I love the portability, touch screen, battery life and carbon design of the Sony but the hardware specs of the UX51VZ are also superb along with a larger display and supposedly even better customer service. In your opinion, which would you rather choose for a college student? Also considering the UX51VZ is a couple hundred dollars more than the Pro 13?

    Thanks again,

    • Andrei Girbea

      August 15, 2013 at 10:08 am

      do you need the extra power? do you need the dedicated graphics for games/ video editing? If yes, get the Asus.

      If you want something light, easy to carry around and still fairly snappy, get the Vaio pro 13

  3. Peter

    August 15, 2013 at 6:31 pm

    I think the perfect size for students is 13.3″ (maybe 14) and less than 4 lbs or around that. Anything smaller is hard to do work on and anything bigger is a bit too much to lug in your bag. Lenovo U330s have not been released in many places so at the moment, I’m debating between the U310 (i5-3337U) model or the Asus Vivobook S300 or S400 (both also with a 3rd gen i5). They both have touch screens, Intel HD 4000 for light gaming, standard resolutions, glossy screens :(, 4 GB ram which is soldered on, around 4 lbs, similar batteries, and small SSDs. So trying to choose between either those (or possibly a Zenbook if it comes within $750ish CDN).

    Another thing that would be very helpful to students even if they get a non-touch ultrabook is a Wacom tablet for $50-70. Would be a good way to take down diagrams or formulas which your laptop can’t and if you don’t wanna use a pen/paper.

    • Andrei Girbea

      August 16, 2013 at 8:33 am

      The U330 is not available yet, but will be by the end of the month. So I’d wait for it, if I could, mostly for the battery life increase you’re getting with Haswell

  4. Natalie

    August 21, 2013 at 9:02 pm

    I am about to start my freshmen year of college very soon, and I was considering getting a tablet or something similar until Black Friday deals rolled around. However, another article convinced me that I would much rather invest in a ultrabook.
    Nonetheless, money is a VERY large factor in my decision, yet I do want quality as well.
    Though before I read these articles I didn’t know the difference between a normal laptop and a ultrabook, I know now that my standards aren’t that high in my selection process. The main thing, like I said before, was costs. After that, I just get picky because I’m a girl: I’d prefer it to be touchscreen and possible even convertible, but that is solely because I will be taking notes in class and this device will be with me quite often during the course of a day. Weight and screen size don’t really matter to me, since ultrabooks have that whole standard thing already. Another nice thing to have is nice battery life, but from what I read, ultrabooks keep that in check too.
    So yeah really low costs and if possible touchscreen and convertibility are what I’m wanting.
    Does anything in the world of ultrabooks offer that?

    I’m also partial to those ultrabook alternatives, however I didn’t really see any that did the whole touchscreen and convertibility thing… nonetheless, if the price is right, I’ll definitely manage! :)

    Thank you for any feedback!

    • Andrei Girbea

      August 22, 2013 at 8:54 am

      Hey Natalie.

      When you say low price, what exactly do you have in mind?

      The thing is, you can get some decent devices for around $500 with touchscreens. But, not with convertibles touchscreens.

      And if you’re looking to take notes, not all touchscreens will do, you will need something pen-compatible and those are pricey (the cheapest good one I can think of right now is the Sony Vaio Duo 11)

      Another option would be for your to get a Windows tablet with a touchscreen and pen support and later on buy a keyboard-case for it. But again, the budget is crucial here and thes devices are not very powerful, but should deal fine with browsing, office programs, movies, several apps running at once.

      So, tell me the exact budget and I’ll get back to you.

  5. Natalie

    August 22, 2013 at 2:39 pm

    See that’s the thing, I don’t have a exact budget right now because things (and money) are flying all over the place. My hope was that we could get things narrowed down to a computer and then I just work/ask until I meet its price.
    And the whole convertibility and touchscreen thing was just a preference, and totally not a requirement. I was totally considering the Windows Tablets when I first started my college tech search, but there’s an article somewhere that gave a pretty good argument for iPads and tablets for college students. Not to mention that I am really easily distracted as it is…so yeah.
    I guess I can set the budget right now at $500, but we can exclude the whole convertibility and touchscreen thing if necessary, since that raises up prices. I really just need a computer before I head out by myself and all.

    Thanks again for the help man, I really appreciate it.

  6. Natalie

    August 24, 2013 at 7:25 pm

    I don’t really have an exact budget, but I’m going to say $500 for this. I doubt it’d be that high when I finally get a real budget amount, but at least it’d be something I can work towards.
    And I don’t have to have the touch screen and converting stuff, it was just a nice perk. It doesn’t even have to be a ultrabook. Honestly, I just need a really inexpensive, light and student friendly computer while at school so I won’t be in the library at 3am by
    So whatever the lowest and most convenient is what I’m looking for.

    Thanks for your help.

    • Andrei Girbea

      August 26, 2013 at 10:15 am

      Hey Natalie, sry for the late reply, I’ve been offline for the weekend

      For $500, your options are very limited. I’d look at the 11.6 inch Asus Zenbook X202E or the 11.6 inch Acer Aspire V5 . The Asus has a touchscreen, the Acer has a faster processor. You’ll find plenty of reviews for these online, including here on the site

  7. Jessica

    September 7, 2013 at 11:34 pm

    Im having some serious trouble deciding what to buy. Im looking for something light, portable, good battery life, powerful enough for my needs, decent storage. I was looking at the Dell XPS 14 ultraBook (I have a “Dell History”), but I’ve seen some bad reviews, and its quite costly. Something less expensive would be better for my finances.

    My 5.5 yr old Dell has 5 min batt life currently and is heavy and falling apart. I prefer a 14-15 in screen but 13 is acceptable. Prefer Solid state drive if an option (the Dell offers a 500GB solid state). Like USB ports. Optical drive nice but not necessary, as can use a plug and play one.

    Uses: (1)Internet surfing, researching, etc. (2)Microsoft office. (4) Photoshop. (5) Occasional use of stats software. (6) Viewing of movies/TV shows.

    Aside from the Dell I was looking at Lenovo IdeapPad Yoga. Thinkpad has sooo many models I dont know where to start.

    Any advice you have would be much appreciated.

  8. Licia

    September 15, 2013 at 3:01 am

    Hi Mike,
    I want to have something light and has long battery life. I only need it for typing (mostly office function), edit and store bunch of photos, store songs and few movies, read some journal articles. And of course, browsing the net. Oh yeah, I need it runs fast.
    I am considering macbook air. Do you think this is the best choice?
    If yes, 11 inch of 13? Currently I am using my 4 years old Toshiba 14 inch lappy.

    Any advice would be appreciated.


  9. Gaurav B

    September 23, 2013 at 11:23 am

    I’m having trouble deciding which ultrabook to opt for.
    Preferably a 13 inch screen and light. It should be either a regular without touch-screen or if not, then a convertible.
    I’m looking in the range below $1700.
    Usage is internet surfing, documents and basic gaming.
    Could you tell me which ultrabooks meet the above specifications (releasing in India before October 15)?
    Thanks :)

  10. RH

    December 1, 2013 at 6:26 am

    My budget is $800~$1200 and I’m looking for a 13″~17″ convertible tablet/ultrabook that has long battery life and good graphics for CAD programs and games.
    I’m also going to use it for university notes so I’d need one that has a good keyboard preferably backlit.
    Suggestions would be appreciated.

  11. Yaw hon

    December 12, 2013 at 9:46 am

    I live in a boarding school .i support asus and Lenovo .i am a non gamer.i need something that has long battery life and good for working.

    • Tim

      December 28, 2013 at 2:59 pm

      I’d look at the Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro

  12. Emelie

    December 31, 2013 at 9:46 am


    My old computer is about to collapse, and I’m starting college in a month. So now I’m trying to find a new laptop that satisfy my needs. So long, I find it a bit difficult. So I hope that you could help me narrow it down.

    Wanted qualifications:
    * Ultrabook (light and 13/14 screen size)
    * Must be able to have windows-programs like word, excel and powerpoint.
    * i5 or i7 processor.
    * at least 500 gb hard drive.
    * Space for pictures, music.
    * Good keyboard, silent, all-rounder, good quality.
    (avoid a shiny screen).

    I hope this is not impossible!
    I have been looking at the different choices at Asus, but get a bit disorientated.

    • Emelie

      December 31, 2013 at 10:04 am

      Forgot to mention that it needs to have at least 5 gb RAM.
      And a touch-screen is not something I would care to much about.
      I’m mostly going to use it for writing, internet, music, pictures.
      And that it look nice, as well.

      There you go!

      Hope to hear from you as soon as possible! :-)

  13. adlgx21

    January 4, 2014 at 9:26 am

    Hey Mike, can you recommend any ultrabook/laptop under 14′ inches with a processor speed above 1.1 GHz, 2GB RAM & above, and a Hard Drive space above 200? As well as a budget between $200 – $400? Thanks a lot

  14. Tommy

    March 10, 2014 at 4:24 am

    Hey, Mike, you have a great website here. I am trying to decide on a laptop for a 6-month, intensive online program. I’m going to be spending a lot of time in front of the screen reading. I am trying to decide between Dell’s (Haswell) XPS 12, 13, or 15 laptops. I really like the versatility that the XPS 12 has to offer but my biggest worry is that the 12 or 13 inch screens are going to be too small for spending so much time reading text on. I’m afraid that this will lead to eye strain. What’s your opinion on the matter?

    • Tommy

      March 10, 2014 at 4:28 am

      Forgot to mention: obviously, I’m also afraid that the XPS 15 will be too big/heavy for portability’s sake. Thanks!

    • Andrei Girbea

      March 10, 2014 at 3:40 pm

      I’m using a 12.5 inch laptop as my daily driver, and I’m very happy with it. However, it’s a matte 1366 x 768 px IPS panel, unlike the one on the Dell, which is glossy and sports a higher resolution.

      Those being said, you will have to scale up fonts on the XPS 12 and that’s going to be OK most of the time. However, Windows 8.1 still encounters some scaling quirks, mostly in desktop mode, when loading older software.

      So, I’m probably subjective here, but for me a 12.5 incher is excellent. You should give it a try and see if you can get used to it, if you can. The XPS 13 si only marginally bigger and lacks the versatility (flippable screen), while the XPS 15 is a completely different machine (powerful, but not very portable)

      • Tommy

        March 11, 2014 at 11:43 pm

        Great, thanks!

  15. Hakan

    August 20, 2014 at 11:17 pm

    Maybe you need to check the price of 13″ Macbook Air. Because The cheapest version starts at 999$ not 1099…

  16. Marlee

    August 23, 2014 at 3:33 am

    Hey, so i’ve been reading your laptop reviews and they are awesome, please keep up the great work!
    Anyway, i’m a college student and looking to buy a laptop.
    I’m going into nursing school plus i love photography so i’d like something that can let me edit pictures, edit video clips, and have lots of room for lectures and my workload.
    I’m looking for something around 14 inches with a Intel i5.
    I love the Dell Inspirion 15 7000 but it’s kind of big,
    i liked the Asus vivobook S400 but since i want a touchscreen the low-grade screen didn’t seem like a good option,
    any suggestions?? I’m really bad with technology, so i don’t need anything crazy for gaming, but something good with photos and videos.

    • Andrei Girbea

      August 23, 2014 at 9:39 am

      Most 14 inchers only offer HD touchscreens with TN panels. The Lenovo IdeaPad U430, Asus Vivobook V4551 or the Asus Aspire V7-472 are at the top of my list. The Asus Transformer Book FLIP TP400 should offer an IPS panel, but I don’t know when this one is going to be available. The TP300 and the TP500 are, maybe you can look into those.

      • Marlee

        August 23, 2014 at 2:17 pm

        thanks! I will defiantly look into those, just one question, whats the difference between the TN panels and a IPS?

      • Andrei Girbea

        August 23, 2014 at 3:11 pm

        In just a few words, TN panels are used on older and cheaper computers and have good response times, but rather poor contrast, viewing angles and colors, while IPS panels have very wide viewing angles and usually better contrast and more accurate colors. Do a quick search on Google on TN vs IPS panels and you’ll understand more about each of them

  17. Ayelet

    August 24, 2014 at 4:13 pm

    Hey, I’m an architecture student, and so I need a pretty powerful laptop, especially considering it’s video properties. Also, I don’t want it to be too heavy, so I’m looking for a 13″ laptop.
    So far, I’ve only found one model that has a Nvidia gpu, is also 13″, and that is the Asus Zenbook UX303LN.
    I’ve read your review of it, but I was ondering if there were any other laptops that are small but still powerful? What aould you recommend?

    • Andrei Girbea

      August 24, 2014 at 6:55 pm

      Hi Ayelet. There are a few others, like the Asus UX32LN, Asus UX302LG and Vivobook Q301, Transformer Book TP300 or the older 13inch Samsung Series 7 Ultra. However, the Nvidia 840M chip is the fastest you’ll find on an ultrabook right now.

      You should also check out this post for more options of powerful ultraportables with dedicated graphics:

  18. Jake

    August 26, 2014 at 9:14 am

    I am faced with very tough challenge of selecting a laptop.
    I am an experienced software developer​ and looking for a laptop for my personal use like practicing/learning web/enterprise application development, word processing, browsing and presentations. I may use it for some music and movies also.

    Below spec seems reasonably good for me:
    – Intel core i4/i5/i7
    – 8 GB RAM
    – I may have to carry it with me often when I travel in UK so prefer lighter ones
    – value for money
    – reliability, quality of after-sale-service
    – I may dual boot it with Ubuntu later
    – cost less than £700 to £800 also. But, if something matching above available for much lesser price, I will be very happy to go for it.
    – Touch is not required as I am still not sure if the touch technology is mature enough for us to use it
    – I am ok with clamshell and do not fancy about convertible, hybrid etc.
    – I do not like glossy panels. I am not a gamer or a person who uses it for lot of movies, music

    I stumbled upon IdeaPad U330p, HP Spectre, and few Asus models. But, not able to make up my mind.

    Please could you guide me.

    • Andrei Girbea

      August 26, 2014 at 12:17 pm

      For starters, I can’t comment on after-sale-service in the UK, I’m not really familiar with that market. Over here, also in Europe, Lenovo, HP and Asus all have decent post-sale and warranty services. Lenovo offer better for their THinkPads, but these are probably out of you budget.

      You haven’t mentioned how small you’d want your device, although you probably want in 13 incher, from your options. If you’re OK with a 12.5 incher, maybe you can check out the Core i5 version of the Lenovo X240, you might find it within 800 pounds with back-to-school discounts.

      I would advice to get a Core i-54200 or Core i5-4210 config within your budget. The U330P is a good laptop, a bit bulky for this class. It only offer a 1366 x 768 px screen with a TN Panel (poor viewing angles, colors), while there are some newer devices with 1080p IPS panels within your budget, but all of them are touchscreens, thus glossy. Unless you plan to use the laptop outside mot of the time, I’ve pick them over the matte options available right now on lower end devices. I’ve seen reports of various problems with the wireless module on this unit, so you might want to digg into this.

      Not sure which HP Spectre you found, maybe you can shed more light.

      As for the Asuses, well, I’d look at the Zenbook UX303LA, it’s one of the best available out there (might not be yet in stores in the UK, it will soon though). You can get it with only 4 GB of RAM and a HDD, and then upgrade the RAM (up to 1 GB) and the storage bay (uses standard 2.5″ 7 mm drives). It has a metallic case and a 1080P IPS screen. Not sure which other models you’ve seen, but I’d stay away from the UX32A, UX31A as these are older. The UX32LA and I believe the UX31LA could be other options.

      • Jake

        August 26, 2014 at 2:24 pm

        Thanks for your help.

        I am looking for screen size of 13″ to 14″.

        I came across these HP Spectre models:
        HP Spectre 13-4251ea for £699

        HP Spectre 13-3010ea Ultrabook for £899

        I could not find the Asus Zenbook UX303LA here in UK.

        I plan to visit some shops to check out these models before buying.

        Please advise on HP Spectre compared to IdeaPad and Zenbook.

      • Andrei Girbea

        August 26, 2014 at 5:20 pm

        The first one is a Spectre X2, powered by an Intel Core Y generation processor, which is slower than what you find on most ultrabooks (COre U Haswell platforms). The X2 is also a detachable, a stand alone 13 inch tablet with a latchable docking station that includes a keyboard, etc.

        The second option looks good, the Spectre 13 is overall a good laptop, but that version seems to only offer a HD screen with a TN panel and I’d say you’re better with the UX303 series that gets you a higher resolution, higher quality screen for the same kind of money. Like I said, the UX303LA might not be available yet in the UK, but it will soon. Can you wait a few weeks or do you need to buy this now?

        The UX303LN is just like the UX303LA, but with dedicated graphics. However, Asus UK said they’re not bringing the LN version to the UK, but they are the LA.

        These posts should help:

  19. Jake

    August 26, 2014 at 1:18 pm

    Thanks Andrei for the quick response and help.

    I am looking for screen sizes of 13″ to 14″.

    These are the HP Spectre models:$ja=cgid:10095143702|tsid:41408|cid:177976022|lid:54848120333|nw:g|crid:38920145222|rnd:8204105813231518109|dvc:c|adp:1o4

    I guess Zenbook UX303LA is not yet available in UK. And, I heard Zenbook UX303LN is better option.

    I would love to check them in a shop so that I can try the keyboards and screens if they are ok.


  20. Jake

    August 26, 2014 at 7:55 pm

    Apologies for the duplicate post.

    I needed it urgently. I just went to a shop to check the few models myself. There was Lenovo 430. Did not like it at all – was looking very boxy, poor screen and just did not like it. Saw some other Asus model and liked the build etc.

    Yes, I needed it urgently so not sure I might end up buying one of these as suggested in some other post:

    1. HP Spectre 13T-3000,
    2. Dell XPS 13,
    3. Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro, the
    4. Acer Aspire S7-392 or the
    5. Sony Vaio Pro 13

    What is your suggestion about the next best option ?


    • Andrei Girbea

      August 26, 2014 at 8:45 pm

      but those are not within your initial budget of 800 pounds :)

      I wouldn’t get the Sony. It’s a nice machine, but flawed by serious wi-fi problems. Plus Sony sold the Vaio line and that might stir up trouble with post-sale services

      All the others are good options, with pros and cons. You’ll find article about all of them here on the site, and some reviews. Personally, I’d probably go for the Dell XPS 13 or the HP Spectre 13T, as these are probably the cheaper options in here. Keep in mind that there’s no card-reader on the XPS 13, in case this breaks it for you. The Yoga 2 Pro is another good device, with some screen and Power Manager issues, but it does give you the 2-in-1 form factor. And the Aspire S7 is a great machine, but rather pricey. And it has a special layout for he keyboard, without an extra row of Function keys, which I find annoying.

  21. Jake

    August 27, 2014 at 12:14 pm

    Agree with you about Dell xps 13 – no card reader. And the models I find are around £1000 – pricey !
    HP Spectre – I like it but the touch pad issue can be very annoying. For the same price, zenbook is better.
    Acer Aspire S7: Looks great but pricey and keyboard is annoying.

    So, I am kind of deciding to go for Asus Zenbook UX303LA within my budget of 800£. Came across this on Amazon but it does not say if it is touch screen. For the same model one other site mentioned it is a touch screen. On amazon it is still out of stock but if it is going to come in a week, may be I can wait.

    Thanks for your help. It really helped a lot.

    • Andrei Girbea

      August 27, 2014 at 9:12 pm

      The UX303LA is only going to be offered with a Touchscreen. Try to contact Asus UK, they’re active on Twitter, maybe they can give you an approximate date.

  22. Jake

    August 29, 2014 at 12:09 pm

    Amazon now says it will be 1-2 months for the Asus UX303LA-R5160H to arrive. Thats too long a wait for me.
    Just wondering if it is already available in neighbouring UK countries. I have friends in Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Brussels etc. and may be can ask them to get it from there.
    Wish these laptop companies had list of models available in each country, their model name and price so that it is easy for us to buy from anywhere that is convenient.


  23. Michael

    August 21, 2015 at 12:00 am

    In a month i will go to university (computer science) in Germany. My budget is around 600 euro. The already mentioned UX303LA looks so perfect that i might even buy it for 787 euro… do you have any other suggestions for me? Maybe only 4 GB RAM, older CPU and i need at least 4 hours battery life.

    Thanks for your help,


    • Andrei Girbea

      August 23, 2015 at 9:43 am

      I wouldn’t go for 8 GB of RAM, 4 GB is really not enough on a modern laptop. You can however go for a device with only 4 GB of RAM that allows memory upgrades and this way you could add more RAM in the future

      You could go for an older device, to a Haswell powered laptops. There’s a list that can help you here: , it should help you narrow down your options.

  24. Daniel

    April 9, 2016 at 8:04 pm

    Hey Andrei,

    I’m in the UK and am looking for something super portable (thin and light) that has a nice quality 13-15.6″ matte screen (IPS or really good LCD) and a good keyboard. Good looks, batterylife are also a plus.

    The most demanding thing I will be doing is watching livestreams.

    The UX303LA looked good but is over my £350 maximum budget, I might try to find one from eBay though.

    Any suggestions? Matte screens seem hard to come by.

    • Andrei Girbea

      April 13, 2016 at 12:04 pm

      matte screens are hard to come by for sure, especially in your budget. I’d suggest the UX305FA, although that’s still probably over, but you might find it discounted.

      Another option would be to get a regular laptop and just put a matte film on it. These way you’d have way more options. Even so, 350 pounds won’t get you much, but try to get a Core i5 processor and preferably 8 GB of RAM.

  25. Catherine

    August 22, 2017 at 8:23 pm

    Hi, i need a laptop for college. My needs are pretty much: Office, Chrome, Adobe Reader and a few apps. I really want a lightish, affordable, long battery one. Any suggestions? Thanks

    • Andrei Girbea

      August 23, 2017 at 5:18 am

      Budget? And would you referrer something small and portable, or a full-size laptop with a 15-inch screen?

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