Best laptop for school/students in 2022 – portable lightweight options

best ultrabooks for school
By Andrei Girbea, last updated on November 18, 2022

Back when I was in school I bought myself my first small laptop and I’ve been using sub-12.5-inch such devices ever since. I used to constantly lug my laptop with me to classes, the library, and then back to my dorm, and I was absolutely delighted when I was able to replace my bulky 15-inch notebook with a compact 11 incher at that time.

Anyway, I digress. If you’re also a student and need a computer for school, this article is going to come in handy. There are quite a few ultrabooks available out there, but few of them check the right boxes for a potential laptop for school.

We’re going to have a look at a few different options though, starting with the affordable models, continuing with some very light options and some 2-in-1 convertibles with touchscreens, considering the premium models and last but not least, we’ll also check out the powerful ultra-portables, for those of you that actually require the extra performance.

In other words, all the ultrabooks for college students and school listed in here are solid picks, they just address different needs.

The Best Affordable ultrabooks for school

This section is for those of you who only have up to $600 for a brand new portable laptop. If you want something even cheaper, you should also check out this list of the most affordable ultrabooks, as well as this selection of good ultrabook alternatives.

The sub-$400 mini-laptops

If you want to spend up to $400 for your next computer, then the Acer Aspire E3 and Aspire V3, the Asus K200MA and the Lenovo IdeaPad S210 are the ones to look at.

They are built on noise-free Intel Atom BayTrail-M hardware platforms which are only powerful enough to cope with basic daily activities, they run Windows and usually last for between 4 to 6 hours of standard use on a charge. You’ll find more about these devices in this article.

Chromebooks are other affordable options you should consider, selling for between $199 and $399 right now and you’ll find 11, 13 and 14 inch such devices. They run ChromeOS, a simple operating system built around the Chrome browser, and they are easier to set-up, simple and safe to use, but also snappier than regular Windows laptops in this price range.

However, they need to be connected to the Internet to function at full capacity. This post explains what you need to know before buying a Chromebook and this list contains a selection of the best Chromebooks available right now.

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

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

Then you could check out a few 2-in-1 mini laptops, starting with the very popular Asus Transformer Book T100 and Acer Aspire Switch 10 (both 10 inchers) and continuing with the Dell Venue Pro 11, the HP Pavilion x360 and the Asus Transformer Book T200TA. These are all stand-alone tablets built on Intel BayTrail-T hardware platforms, bundled with matching docking stations that include a keyboard, trackpad, extra ports and extra storage space.

When you need a bit more power

There are also the Lenovo Yoga 2 11  (reviewed here) and the Dell Inspiron 11 3000 to consider, 2-in-1 mini laptops with 360 degrees convertible screens, slightly more robust and more powerful than the units mentioned above, but also somewhat more expensive. These are available with either Intel BayTrail-M hardware or step-up to Intel Haswell Y-series platforms, thus are capable of more than just basic activities.

The Lenovo Yoga 2 11 and the Dell Inspiron 11 3000 and some of the most affordable 2-in-1 laptops available right now

The Lenovo Yoga 2 11 and the Dell Inspiron 11 3000 and some of the most affordable 2-in-1 laptops available right now

In fact, all the devices mentioned above can handle daily tasks well, including browsing, watching video content, listening to music, editing documents, etc , but they will start to choke when pushed heavier, when running more demanding tasks or multitasking between multiple apps at once.

If you do need the extra power, you should look for at least an Intel Core running laptop, and in this class you’ve got the Core Y-series devices (like the ones mentioned above or the Dell XPS 11) and the faster Core U-series units that we’ll address from this point onwards.

One of your first stops should be the Asus Vivobook X200LA, another 11 incher, but this time packing an Intel Core-i3-4010U processor, 4 GB of RAM and hybrid storage for roughly $500 (or even less online). It also bundles a touchscreen, albeit with only a TN panel, while the 2-in-1s mentioned before packed IPS displays. But for the money, you won’t find any compact laptop better than this one.

The Vivobook X202E is the most interesting affordable ultrabooks of the moment

The Vivobook X200LA is one of the most interesting affordable ultrabooks of the moment

Stepping it up a notch more, there are a few 13-15 inchers to consider (you’ll find out more about the best 13 inch ultrabooks of the moment from this post). Most of them sell for more than $600, but you could squeeze some of the lower-end configurations within your budget.

The Asus Vivobook Q301LA is available for roughly $550 these days in a configuration that includes an Intel Core i5-4200U processor, 6 GB of RAM and a 500 GB HDD. This laptop is not without flaws, as you can find from my detailed review over here, but it is nonetheless a good deal for that kind of money.

The Lenovo Flex 2 series starts at under $600 as well, both the 14.1 and the 15.6 inch models. You’ll get the base versions, with an Intel Core-i5-4210U processor, 4 GB of RAM and hybrid storage for those $600, plus an HD touchscreen with a TN panel. However, the Flex 2 series is not very portable, with the Flex 2 14 weighing 4.2 lbs and the Flex 2 15 tipping the scales at about 5.1 lbs.

You could also look for some of last year’s launches, you might find them discounted or even refurbished. Check out the Asus Zenbook UX32A (reviewed here), the Asus Vivobook S400CA (reviewed here), the Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 13, the Sony Vaio T (reviewed here) and maybe the Acer Aspire V5-131.

These are built on Intel IvyBridge hardware, while the newer laptops are built on Intel Haswell platforms, which do offer a slight boost in everyday performance and a big increase in efficiency, or in other words, the Haswell powered machines will last longer on a charge. But if you’re fine with these aspects, the older ultrabooks might do just fine for you.

The most affordable Zenbook -the Asus UX32A

The Asus Zenbook UX32A is one of the older ultrabooks that might still be worth your money these days

Best-Buy ultrabooks for college students

If you’d like something a bit snappier and with extra features, but don’t want to spend more than $1000, then you should have a look at the ultrabooks listed in this category.

The classic clamshell-type laptops

If you only need a standard laptop, with a clamshell body, then this section is for you. If however you’re interested in modern hybrids with convertible touchscreens, we’ll address those a bit further below.

  • Macbook Air 11 and 13 – the MBAs are the most popular ultraportables of the moment and for a good reason: they don’t have any major flaws. In fact, except for the screen, they best most, if not all the available ultrabooks. They offer an excellent keyboard and touchpad, a sturdy and beautiful case, powerful Intel Haswell hardware with Intel Iris graphics and can go for many hours on a charge (9 hours the 11 inch model, 13 hours the 13 inch model). On top of these, they aren’t that expensive. The Macbook Air 11 starts at $899 for an Intel Core i5 CPU/4GB RAM/128 GB SSD configuration, and is actually even cheaper online, while the Macbook Air 13 starts at $999, but you can also find it discounted in select webstores.
  • Asus Zenbook UX303LA – this is Asus’s 2014 line of premium ultrabooks, now more affordable than ever before. The UX303LA is built from aluminum, offers a good keyboard and trackpad, a large number of ports, a FHD touchscreen with an IPS panel and a few different Intel Haswell configurations to choose from. The base version starts at around $700, while an Intel Core i5/8GB/128 GB SSD sells for roughly $900, but all versions are available slightly cheaper online. Asus also offer the UX303LN Zenbook, with Nvidia 840M graphics; I’ve reviewed it in this post and I’ve also compared it to the UX303LA model over here.
  • Asus Vivobook V551LA – if you want a thin and light 15 inch laptop with an affordable price tag, this Vivobook should be on your list. I’ve reviewed it over here and didn’t have much to complain about, except for the HD screen with a TN panel. At the time of my review though, the V551 series was a bit pricey, but these days you can get Haswell Core i5 configurations for under $700 and Core i7s for under $800, which are pretty good deals. Follow this link for more details and potential discounts.
Some of the clamshell options: the Macbook Air, the Asus Vivobook V551 and the HP TouchSmart 15T (from left to right)

Some of the clamshell options: the Macbook Air, the Asus Vivobook V551 and the HP TouchSmart 15T (from left to right)

  • Dell Inspiron 5000 and 7000 Series – These are slightly bulkier and heavier 14 and 15 inch laptops, but Haswell powered and still more slender than an average laptop. Both series are available in a bunch of different configurations, but the 7000s sport a completely metallic unibody, larger batteries and an option for dedicated Nvidia graphics, while selling for a bit more than the 5000s. Even so, the two lines start at roughly $600 for Core i3 configurations, with beefier versions selling for around 1G.
  • HP TouchSmart 15T Series – HP’s alternative to the Dell’s above, with similar specs and prices. These too are rather heavy for this class, the 15 incher tipping the scales at 5.6-5.7 pounds.
  • Acer Aspire V7 482PG and 582PG – The V7’s sell for between $600 and $1100 and are available with 14.1 and 15.6 inches screens, plus a myriad of different configurations. The top version of the V7 582PG offers an Intel Core i7-4500U processor, 8 GB of RAM and Nvidia GT 850M graphics for a little over one grand, which is really an offer you must consider if you want this kind of fire-power and only have a limited budget. Follow this link for more details.
  • Lenovo IdeaPad U330 and U430 – These are Lenovo’s affordable IdeaPads, starting at around $700 (but you can found both of these discounted online, especially the more popular U430 model). For that, you’re getting solid built cases, a nice classic design, the Lenovo AccuType keyboard, a touchscreen (although some versions offer standard non-touch displays) and several different Haswell configurations. The U330 comes with a 13.3 inch screen, while on the U430 there’s a larger 14,1 inch one, both with HD TN panels. The U430 also gets an option for dedicated graphics, so it will handle some light gaming as well.
The Lenovo IdeaPad U330P and U430P are potential best-buys

The Lenovo IdeaPad U330P and U430P are potential best-buys

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 budget 2-in-1 ultrabooks

  • Lenovo Yoga 2 13 – the updated version of the classic Yoga, now sporting Intel Haswell hardware, a new body design (made out of plastic), an IPS FHD screen and a 50 Wh battery. The Core i5-4210U / 4 GB RAM / hybrid storage version of the Yoga 2 13 sells for about $850 these days, but you might be able to find it discounted online.
  • Asus Transformer Book Flip series – 13.3, 14.1 and 15.6 inch versions of these laptops are available in stores, and I’ve already reviewed several of them here on the site, like the 13 inch TP300 and the 15 inch TP500. These laptops are even cheaper than the Lenovo’s Yogas and sure offer a lot for what you’re going to pay for them, but they are a bit massive and heavy for devices that you’d supposedly carry around everyday. See the reviews for more details.
  • Dell Inspiron 13 7000 series (check out my review here) – a close match to those mentioned above, with what I consider a better looking and better built case, with a very good IPS screen and a comfortable keyboard. It can’t get hybrid storage though and only packs s 43 Wh battery, which translates in about 4 hours of use, and these might steer you away. But at the same time this Dell is really affordable, starting at $600 on Dell’s website, and you can find it even cheaper online.
  • Asus Transformer Book T300 – this one sports a different form-factor, it’s a detachable 2-in-1, a stand-alone tablet built on an Intel Haswell platform tuck inside a solid and good looking aluminum body, with a matching docking station that includes a keyboard, trackpad and extra ports. The Core i5-4200U / 4 GB RAM /128 GB SSD version of this hybrid sells for under $800 right now (follow this link for extra info and potential discounts)
  • HP Spectre X2 – this is HP’s alternative to the Asus above, also a 13 inch detachable with a compatible dock. Unlike the Transformer Book though, this one is slightly more affordable, but is only powered by Intel Haswell Y-Series processors, which are not as fast as the U-Series CPUs, but are more efficient, thus this device is going to last longer on a charge.
The Lenovo Yoga 2 13 (left), Asus Transformer Book T300 (middle) and the HP Spectre X2 (right) are some of the most interesting 2-in-1s you could get for school

The Lenovo Yoga 2 13 (left), Asus Transformer Book T300 (middle) and the HP Spectre X2 (right) are some of the most interesting 2-in-1s you could get for school

It’s important to mention that none of these 2-in-1s are ideal for taking notes in class or sketching/drawing, as their touchscreens react fine to swipes and various finger commands, but are not optimized for pen-input. For inking you’d want a 2-in-1 that integrates a digitizer and those are usually more expensive, but we’ll cover them a bit further below.

For more options on 2-in-1s check out this article.

The best ultrabooks money can buy

This chapter could span over tens of pages, as there are plenty of premium ultrabooks out there, especially if the budget is not a concern. We’ll try to put them in a few different groups though.

Laptops with digitizers and active pens

You might want to use your new computer to take notes in class and if so, you should know that not all laptops with a touchscreen can properly handle this task.

You will need a device equipped with a digitizer that’s goign to track a pen far more accurately. I’ve yet to put together a list of all the ultrabooks equipped with digitizers, but I will soon enough. In the meantime, here are some of the devices you should consider:

  • Windows tablets:
    • Surface Pro 2 (10.8 inch screen, Wacom digitizer, Haswell hardware);
    • Surface Pro 3 (12 inch screen, N-Trig digitizer, Haswell hardware);
    • Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet (10.1 inch screen, Wacom digitizer, BayTrail-T hardware);
    • Dell Venue 11 Pro ( 10.8 inch screen, Synaptics digitizer, BayTrail-T hardware);
    • Sony Vaio Tap 11 (10.1 inch screen, N-Trig digitizer, Haswell Y hardware).
  • Windows  2-in-1 laptops:
    • Sony Vaio Duo 11 (11 incher, older IvyBridge hardware, a few annoying quirks, more details);
    • Dell XPS 11 (11 incher, Wacom digitizer, Haswell Y hardware);
    • Lenovo ThinkPad Helix (IvyBridge hardware, standalone tablet with dock);
    • Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga (12.5 incher, only high end configurations offer pen support, my detailed review);
    • Sony Vaio Duo 13 (13 incher, Haswell hardware, long battery life, slider form factor – my detailed review);
    • Fujitsu Lifebook T904 (13 incher, Haswell hardware, Wacom digitizer);
    • Vaio Fit series (13,14 and 15 inchers, Haswell hardware, the pen is optional and only some versions are equipped with a digitizer);
    • Acer Aspire R7 (15 incher, only the updated Haswell version offers a digitizer).

This post from the forums will also come in handy and this article explains the difference between N-trig and Wacom digitizers.

The lightest ultrabooks

You can find 11 inch ultrabooks that weigh just under 2 lbs and full-size 15.6 inchers under 4 lbs, but there are actually quite a bunch of light laptops available in stores these days. Thus, if the weight is a major criteria in your selection, this list of the lightest available ultrabooks will come in handy.

High performance ultraportables

Intel’s requirement for ultrabooks are restraining and results in a flood of thin (and somewhat light) laptops that are actually too powerful to be called ultrabooks, as they are usually built on full-voltage hardware platforms. The Apple Macbook Pro with Retina Display, the Dell XPS 15, the Samsung ATIV Book 9 2014 or the Asus Zenbook NX500 (reviewed here) are just some of the premium ultra-portables in this situation.

But there are many others, most bundling powerful processors with up to 16 GB of RAM, dedicated graphics and various storage solutions, and you’ll be able to read all about them in this post.

High-end 2-in-1 ultrabooks

A handful of modern laptops offer some sort of convertible form-factors. I’ve covered some of them above, like the Lenovo Yoga 2 13 or the Asus Transformer Book T300, but there are actually more of them, with sleeker bodies and extra features. You’ll find out more by following this link.

Laptops with 4G/LTE conectivity

If you need to be always connected to the Internet on the go, you might be interested in some of the laptops covered in this list. Keep in mind that integrated 4G modems are mainly found on business solutions and these are expensive. A much simpler way to be always connected would be to turn your mobile phone into a Hotspot.


At the end of the day, there are plenty of good ultrabooks you can choose between. Your budget is going to make the difference, but also what you want to do with such a device and how small and light do you need it to be.

More expensive devices are usually going to offer extra features (like touchscreens with pen support and SSD storage), better keyboards, thinner and lighter cases made from premium materials and larger batteries, but that doesn’t mean you won’t be able to find something good within a more limited budget, as long as you keep your expectations realistic.

Anyway, hopefully, this article shed some light on your search and if you need more help deciding what your next ultrabook for college or school is going to be, feel free to leave your replies and questions below, I’ll be around to reply.

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Andrei Girbea, Editor-in-Chief. 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. 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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