You might be wondering what grants a laptop the illustrious status of “ultrabook.” For the most part, it’s portability. Ultrabooks are generally lighter, smaller and have longer battery life than a normal laptop. Ultrabooks are geared towards the student who spends all day running from class to class or the business professional who takes their work wherever they go. In short, ultrabooks are designed to keep up with your busy lifestyle.
Now you might be thinking that a smaller, lighter laptop means much less processing power. That’s not the case either. Ultrabooks, although small, can still be used to handle intensive spreadsheet and multimedia work. Some even boast strong enough components to game. So don’t feel like you’re missing out on processing power just because you want something more portable.
Check out our list on the best ultrabooks available below.
1. Dell XPS 13
For the working road warriors, it’s hard to find a better performing ultrabook than the Dell XPS 13. The XPS 13 includes a 10th Generation Intel Core i3 – i7 processor ––depending on the option you go with –– that can handle intensive computing tasks with the best of them. It features 265GB of SSD storage and 8GB of RAM. PCMag.com benchmarked the XPS 13 by putting it through a handful of productivity, storage, and media tests. With the exception of the storage test, the XPS 13 beat out the competition easily. You can expect top notch performance, especially when doing intensive spreadsheet calculations.
Although the XPS 13 outshines the competition in a lot of different areas, battery life is not one of them. You can expect roughly 11 hours or so of continuous battery life if you get the 4K UHD 13-inch display configuration, which looks amazing, but does eat up a bit of battery. The base model features a display that boasts 1080p HD quality, and with that the battery life improves to 17-19 hours depending on the usage. There is also an option to go the touchscreen route, but that adds a bit more to the price of the laptop. Even though it’s a powerhouse, it’s still ultra-portable. The laptop weights 2.7 pounds, which is about the same as the MacBook Air, and it’s only 11.9-inches wide and .46-inches tall. And to add a little flair to all that utility, the XPS 13 is available in Frost (white), rose gold, silver and black carbon.
2. Asus ZenBook 13
The Asus ZenBook 13 is a great option for any college student or business professional who wants to save a little bit of money on a powerful ultrabook. The ZenBook 13 comes in either royal blue or icicle silver, both of which look great. The 1080p 13.3 LED backlit display looks vibrant and great as well, and has a small footprint to go along with its small price tag.
The ZenBook is a bit more compact than the XPS 13, and weighs 0.1 pounds less. The manufacturer claims up to 14 hours of battery life, but expect somewhere closer to 10 hours with constant use. Regardless, it’s still more than enough for a full day at the office. The guts of the computer are comprised of an Intel Core i5-8265U processor, 8GB of RAM and 265GB of storage, so there is plenty of computing power in this price range. There is also plenty of connectivity with a USB 3.1 Type-C port, USB 3.1 Type-A, USB 2.0 Type-A, HDMI and Micro SD card reader. That’s way more connectivity than the MacBook Air for instance. We also like that the trackpad has intelligent palm-rejections, so when your palm grazes the trackpad as you are typing, the cursor doesn’t jump from one place to another. You get a lot from the Asus Zenbook 13, without having to fork over a ton of cash.
3. Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 7
If you are ready and willing to spend a little bit more money on your ultrabook, we recommend the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 7. Depending on the configuration you choose, this ultrabook is going to run anywhere from $1,450 – $1900. However, the processing speed of the Intel Core i5 – i7 4 core processor can handle any business or school assignment you throw at it. Memory comes with either 8GB or 16GB configurations along with 256GB of SSD storage. The processing power is there, but the added features such as the comfortable keyboard the ThinkPad X1 comes with makes all the difference for all day typists. Even Wirecutter sang this keyboard’s praises.
The ThinkPad X1 is slightly bigger than the XPS 13, but is not quite as heavy, weighing only 2.4 pounds. So, you won’t feel the extra real estate weighing down your laptop bag. The manufacturer claims 18.3 hours of battery life, but according to Wirecutter testing, it’s closer to 10 and a half hours, but that all varies on the way you use the laptop. Even though it’s thin, it has plenty of connectivity. There are two USB 3.1 ports, two Thunderbolt 3 ports and a HDMI port, which is always handy for quick dual screen additions. There is plenty to like about this ultrabook, if you don’t mind the price.
4. LG Gram
BEST BATTERY LIFE
There are many configurations available for the LG Gram. You can purchase this laptop with a 14-inch display all the way up to a 17-inch display, but that gets a bit out of the realm of what we like to call an ultrabook. LG labels this laptop as ultra lightweight, and they aren’t kidding. The LG Gram only weighs 2.41 pounds, which is less than the majority of laptops on this list. Another stellar feature of this ultrabook is its long battery life. LG claims that the battery life can last up to 21.5 hours, but the battery life should last around 16 hours of use. That is basically two full days at the office before it needs a recharge, which is nothing short of incredible.
The Gram’s computing components are pretty much identical to that of the Asus Zenbook, and you can get configurations with touchscreen capabilities. The connectivity is top notch. The LG Gram comes with an HDMI port, three USB 3.1, Micro SD and a headphone jack. Overall, this is a great option if you are looking for a super lightweight ultrabook that is going to last all day.
5. Razer Blade Stealth
BEST FOR GAMING
You can really think of this laptop as an ultra performing ultrabook for business professionals, or a ultrabook that is powerful enough gaming. For the former, it’s a pretty expensive machine. For the latter, it has a decent price considering most gaming laptops are uber expensive. One of the more impressive feats is that even though it has strong processing power, it’s still lightweight and portable. The Razer Blade is only 0.54-inches thick and weighs 2.82 pounds, making it about as heavy as the HP Envy 13. And you can expect about 10 hours of battery life, which should last you all day without a charge.
You can purchase the Razer Blade with a 4K screen, which will help you work on intensive multimedia stuff like photo and video editing. If you’re willing to spend the cash, you can even up the configuration from 256GB of storage to 512GB and add better graphics card for gaming. The Razer sports plenty of connectivity too. There are two USB Type-C ports, two USB 3 ports and a Thunderbolt 3 port. Although there isn’t an HDMI, its nice to have that much connectivity available. The only thing we don’t like about this laptop is the price tag. If you are willing to dish out the extra dough, you’ll be handsomely rewarded with performance.
6. HP Envy 13
The HP Envy 13 comes in a couple different configurations, including one without a touchscreen, but the 4K touchscreen display not only looks great, it also adds a ton of utility. The thin bezel along the screen maximizes the 13.3-inch display, which makes the screen look and feel bigger than it is. Speaking of being bigger, weighing 2.8 pounds, this laptop is heavier than the XPS 13, but lighter than the MacBook Pro. So, its still plenty portable, albeit, not as portable as the LG Gram (but not many are).
With a configuration of an Intel Core i7-8565U processor, 16GB RAM and 512GB SSD storage, this laptop scored well in PCMAG.com productivity tests and battery tests. Business professionals and students will enjoy the processing power along with the 10 hour 30 minute battery life, which will get you through the whole work day. Even though there is plenty of processing power, one place the HP Envy 13 lacks is in connectivity. The Envy 13 features a single USB 3.1 USB Type-C port, two USB 3.1 Type-A ports, a media card reader and a headphone jack. Unfortunately, there isn’t a HDMI port or a Thunderbolt 3 port. There is, however, a kill switch for the camera to completely turn off the webcam if you are worried about privacy. Even with the connectivity short-comings, there is a lot to like about the HP Envy 13.
7. Lenovo Yoga C930
Sometimes, having a tablet is simply more convenient than a laptop. And other times a laptop provides the utility you need to complete your work. Having a laptop that turns into a tablet combines the best of both worlds. That’s what you get with the Lenovo Yoga C930 2-in-1. The 1080p HD screen moves on a 360-hinge, so you can bend it all the way back and use the touchscreen as a tablet. It also comes with a stylus that tucks away right into the hinge. The utility of having a 2-1 machine does come with the caveat of being heavier and wider than the Dell XPS 13. The laptop weights about three pounds. It might not seem like a big difference, but it becomes noticeable when you’re carrying it from class to class. If you can withstand the extra weight, the Yoga C930 has plenty of processing power. It’s available with Intel Core i5 – i7 processors and 8GB – 16GB of memory along with 256GB SSD storage configurations, which is fairly similar to the Lenovo ThinkPad X1. It doesn’t have as good as battery life as the XPS 13 or the ThinkPad. You’ll get about 10 hours of use, depending on what you’re doing, before you need a charge. But that should get you through a full work or school day. Unlike the Lenovo ThinkPad, it doesn’t boast a HDMI output, but it does have two Thunderbolt 3 ports and a single USB-A port. Even though it’s a bit heavier, and lacks a bit on battery life and connectivity, we enjoy the utility of this 2-in-1 Lenovo and think you will, too.
8. Microsoft Surface Laptop 2
The Microsoft Surface Laptop 2 is a powerful ultrabook that also has a bit of flare to it. The ultrabook comes in black, platinum, burgundy and cobalt blue to give your computer some style along with utility. Speaking of utility, the Surface Laptop 2 features a 10-point multi-touch display that is also high resolution. The 13.5-inch display boasts a high resolution of 2256 x 1504 pixels. Even with a touchscreen, high-res display, it still provides 14.5 hours of battery life, which is good for college students who spend all day in class and business travelers who need a lightweight laptop –– it weighs 2.76 pounds –– that will last all day.
And while you’re on the move, the hard drive isn’t. The solid state drive doesn’t have any moving parts, contrary to a traditional hard drive, making it better for travel because it can withstand more movement and wear and tear. The storage space can come in 128GB, 256GB, or 1TB on the SSD and can be configured with an Intel Core 8th Gen i5 or i7 processor. One area where the laptop is lacking is in the connection department. It only has 1 USB 3.0, a headphone jack, mini display port and a Surface Connection port. Other laptops have more connectivity.
9. MacBook Pro
BEST POWER MAC
If you love Mac OS, and you want a little more computing power than the MacBook Air, you’ll want to go with the MacBook Pro. This ultrabook comes in a handful of different configurations. You can go 13- or 15-inch display, both with 2560 x 1600 native resolution, which looks incredibly great, and is fantastic for heavy duty photo and video editing. The computing components include i5 – i7 Intel quad core processors and anywhere from 128GB all the way to 2TB SSD, if you really want to max our your MacBook Pro (p.s. it’s not cheap to do so). The trackpad is large and has palm recognition so it won’t jump all over if your palm accidentally drags across it. The track pad also has plenty of gesture shortcuts depending on how many fingers you use.
Anyone who is familiar with Apple knows that the connectivity is locked into the Apple ecosystem. There are only two or four Thunderbolt 3 ports, depending on your configuration, so you’ll need to buy a USB hub or dreaded dongles if you want more connectivity. The Pro is one of the heavier ultrabooks as well, weighing 3.02 pounds. There are lighter and smaller ultrabooks out there, but if you are already tied into the Apple ecosystem, the Apple MacBook Pro has more power and speed than the MacBook Air.
10. MacBook Air
BEST BUDGET MAC
The ultra light MacBook Air comes in three different colors: Gold (which is more like pink), space gray and silver (which are almost the same color). The Air is great for travelers being only .61 inches thick and 2.75 pounds. The 12-hour web usage battery life isn’t as good as the Microsoft Surface or LG Gram, but it should get you through a whole day of classes and business travel. And if you have multimedia classes, you’ll want a high resolution screen like the LED-backlit display that boasts 2560 x 1600 resolution with True Tone technology. The display is great for those who spend a ton of time editing video or in Photoshop.
The MacBook Air is made for portability more than anything else. The Intel Core i5 processor and the 8GB of RAM aren’t as strong of components as what’s in the Razer Stealth for instance, but the Air is configurable from 128GB of storage all the way up to 1TB SSD. The Air also doesn’t bring much connectivity. It has two thunderbolt ports and a headphone jack. Charging will take up one of the ports, so getting a USB port attachment is a must. If you really want to stay in the Mac ecosystem, but can’t afford a MacBook Pro, an Air is the way to go.