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The best Ultrabooks back in more power per square inch than any other laptop. These lightweight and portable laptops are ideal for anyone that needs to take their work with them but needs more functionality than a high-end tablet.
When choosing the best Ultrabook for you, you'll want to focus on performance, which means a laptop with a solid CPU and enough RAM to handle running multiple tasks simultaneously. It doesn't hurt to throw in a decent Wi-Fi card while you're at it.
If you're wondering if an Ultrabook is right for you, check out our guide on how Ultrabooks differ from your typical laptop.
Respectable battery life
SD card slot not included
If you think Huawei's hardware design chops are limited to their smartphones, just wait till you gaze upon the MateBook X Pro. Having a CNC (Computer Numerical Controlled) machined metallic unibody with a premium sandblasted finish, this is an ultrabook that looks gorgeous from every angle. Up front, it features a crisp, 13.9-inch display with a resolution of 3000x2000 pixels and a 3:2 aspect ratio. The panel has 10-point multitouch support and comes with ultra-thin bezels, giving the laptop a screen-to-body ratio of 91 percent. Powering the MateBook X Pro is Intel's 8th-generation Core i7 CPU, helped by 16GB of RAM and 512GB of SSD storage.
You also get NVIDIA's GeForce MX 150 GPU with 2GB of dedicated graphics memory. External ports include USB Type-A, USB Type-C, Thunderbolt 3, and 3.5mm audio, with Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac and Bluetooth 4.1 taking care of wireless connectivity. Perhaps the most interesting design element of Huawei MateBook X Pro is its pop-up webcam, which stays hidden underneath a key when not in use and thus provides additional privacy. Speaking of which, the ultrabook has a fingerprint sensor built right into its power button. Other perks include a quad-speaker setup with Dolby Atmos, a four-microphone array, 15 hours of battery for web surfing, and Windows 10 Home (Signature Edition).
Impeccable design and build quality
Fast storage solutions
Dell's computing products are generally regarded as being among the foremost in the business, and the XPS 13 is no exception. With its thoughtful feature set and exceptional overall performance, this is an ultrabook that ticks all the right boxes. Weighing 2.7 pounds, the XPS 13 sports a 13.3-inch Full-HD display with a resolution of 1920x1080 pixels and a 16:9 aspect ratio.
The Infinity Edge panel features minimal bezels on three of its four sides, giving the XPS 13 the physical footprint of a much smaller laptop. Our recommended configuration includes an 8th-generation Intel Quad-Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM, and 512GB of SSD storage. Running 64-bit Windows 10 Home, Dell XPS 13 comes with a full-size backlit keyboard and a precision touchpad. For external inputs and outputs (also known as I/O), you get a USB Type-C port, two Thunderbolt 3 ports (with Power Delivery and DisplayPort support), a 3.5mm audio port, and a microSD card reader.
There's also a nifty battery gauge on the laptop's left side that lets you find out the remaining battery level with the press of a button, using an array of tiny LED lights. You won't have to check it very often, however, because you can get up to 13 hours on a single charge. Other notable inclusions are Wi-Fi 802.11 ac, Bluetooth 4.1, an HD webcam, a four-microphone array, and stereo speakers.
Fast CPU and GPU performance
Good battery life
Fast MicroSD reader
Very high core temperatures when running demanding loads
Lacks WAN, NFC
Dell also has a 2-in-1 ultrabook in its XPS line, and it just happens to be one of the best hybrid laptops and tablets you can buy today. Refreshed for 2019, the XPS 13 2-in-1 boasts a captivating display and great processing power while remaining lightweight and impressive in the battery life department. The XPS 2-in-1 has an awesome 1920x1200 resolution touchscreen display. Dell has tweaked InfinityEdge design, narrowing the bezels to provide 13.4 inches of screen real estate.
Available in four different configurations, the XPS 13 2-in-1 offers versatility. Its starting configuration has a 10th-generation Intel Core i3 processor, 4GB of RAM, and a 256GB NVMe SSD. Don’t be scared off by the Core i3, as its 10th-generation analog packs more of a punch, and Dell used high-quality memory and storage to make the XPS 2-in-1 a fast, efficient machine. If you want more power, though, you can opt for the Core i5 version with 8GB of RAM.
For those who regularly use their laptops with rigorous software, Dell has two Core i7 configurations, each with 16GB of RAM and better graphics. The top Core i7 configuration also comes with an Ultra HD display and 512GB of storage. The XPS 2-in-1 is sleek and alluring, and Dell claims the battery can run for up to 16 hours between charges.
Beautiful Retina display
Slim, lightweight design
Solid battery life
Very stingy with ports
Not great for resource-intensive games/apps
If not in name, Apple’s MacBook Air was actually the original “ultrabook” in design. At least three years before the term was even heard (it was coined and trademarked by Intel in 2011), Apple’s then-CEO Steve Jobs famously slid the company’s flagship ultra-portable MacBook out of a manila envelope. Since then, however, the MacBook Air has taken up its rightful place as the basis of Apple’s MacBook lineup.
It may be slim and sleek, weighing only 2.75 pounds and measuring just 0.61 inches at its thickest point, but it’s no slouch when it comes to performance. Apple has packed in an 8th-generation 1.6GHz dual-core Core i5 CPU that our testing showed can burst up to 3.6 GHz, along with 8GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD, although you can pay a bit more for more memory of storage — up to 16GB RAM and a 1TB SSD, respectively. There are also two Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C ports for connecting more storage, external displays, or even an external GPU for more graphics power.
The display is also something to be admired in a laptop of this class. Apple hasn’t pulled any punches in putting the best display that it can into the MacBook Air, featuring everything found in its MacBook Pro Retina display except the wider color gamut. But you still get a 2560x1600-pixel and 227 PPI native resolution, and with the latest model, Apple has even added the True Tone display feature for amazing color accuracy. 12 to 13 hours of battery life ought to keep you running for longer than most Windows ultrabooks, and Apple’s T2 security chip, as well as its Touch ID sensor, keep you more secure.
"At 2.75 pounds, the MacBook Air is very light, yet doesn't feel flimsy or unsubstantial." — Andrew Hayward, Product Tester
Stylish, durable design
Stellar battery life
Very limited ports
Unremarkable sound quality
Microsoft's original Surface Book was a revolutionary machine when it came out: a high-powered laptop with a removable screen that acts as a fully-featured tablet computer, and unique input options aimed squarely at designers.The second edition improved on almost every aspect, configurable with the latest CPUs, plenty of RAM and storage, and a high-end graphics card. No matter which version you buy, you can add the Surface Pen for drawing directly on the screen, and the Surface Dial, a puck-like device with customized shortcuts depending on the app you're using.The Surface Book 2 is available in 13" and 15" versions, with the larger version also having the best graphics card (NVIDIA GTX 1060.) We'd recommend getting more storage than you think you'll need—those design files aren't small!The crisp, high-resolution 3240 x 2160 screen has exceptional color accuracy and is easily calibrated for your specific requirements. You'll get up to 17 hours of battery life in laptop mode, so you can keep working late into the night if inspiration hits.This is by no means an inexpensive machine, but there's nothing else on the market like it for graphic designers. For the ultimate power and flexibility, you can't go past the Surface Book 2.
"If you're just planning on playing casually, the Surface Laptop 2 can handle some modern 3D games well enough." — Andrew Hayward, Product Tester
Compact and durable design
Solid productivity performance
No Thunderbolt 3
Although ASUS makes a lot of great laptops, some of the Taiwanese company's offerings stand out more than the others, a case in point being the Zenbook 14. Having the right blend of design, features, and performance, this well-priced ultrabook offers a lot of bang for your buck. ASUS Zenbook 14 comes with a 14-inch Full-HD display, having a resolution of 1920x1080 pixels and a 16:9 aspect ratio. The Nano Edge panel sports minimal side bezels, resulting in the ultrabook having an impressive 92 percent screen-to-body ratio. Delivering horsepower to the Zenbook 14 is Intel's 8th-generation Core i7 CPU, paired with 16GB of RAM and 512GB of SSD storage.
The unique Ergo Lift hinge automatically tilts the keyboard upwards by 3 degrees whenever the lid is opened; this not only enhances the typing experience but also improves cooling by increasing airflow around the underside of the laptop's chassis. Another interesting feature of the Zenbook 14 is its dual-function touchpad, which doubles up as a touch-enabled number pad. You also get USB Type-A (x2), USB Type-C, HDMI, 3.5mm audio and a MicroSD card reader for I/O, as well as Wi-Fi 802.11 ac, Bluetooth 5.0 for wireless connectivity, and 14-hour battery life.
As fast as heavier ultrabooks
Trackpad is smooth and accurate
Screen is incredibly reflective
Keyboard isn't comfortable for typing
LG's Gram-branded laptops are renowned for being ridiculously lightweight. If you're in the market for a feature-laden ultrabook that can be used all day without needing to be plugged in, you're going to love LG Gram. It sports a 13.3-inch touch-enabled display, having a resolution of 1920x1080 pixels and a 16:9 aspect ratio. At the helm is Intel's 8th-generation Core i7 CPU, alongside 16GB of RAM and 256GB of SSD storage.
Despite its svelte profile, the Gram runs the gamut of ports, including USB Type-A (x2), Thunderbolt 3 (with DisplayPort compatibility), HDMI, and 3.5mm audio. You also get a MicroSD card reader, stereo speakers, an HD webcam, and a fingerprint sensor (integrated into the power button). Running 64-bit Windows 10 Home, LG Gram comes with Wi-Fi 802.11 ac and Bluetooth 5.0 for wireless connectivity. However, as you would expect, the best thing about the Gram is its battery life. LG's ultrabook comes with a 72Wh battery that can go up to an astounding 21 hours on a single charge.
If you're looking for a laptop with a slim profile, but don't want to compromise on performance the Huawei MateBook X Pro is the way to go. Featuring excellent specs and a top-notch display, this ultrabook is one of the best available.
Ultrabooks are all about packing in as much performance into the smallest package possible, so our experts run tests that stress multitasking and processor performance. Cinebench is at the top of our list when it comes to making sure that a laptop's CPU is up to the job. They confirm the number and type of ports to make sure that your laptop has adequate connectivity as well as stress testing battery life to confirm how long you can last away from an open outlet.
Rajat Sharma started as a blogger, writing for well-known technology portals like I Love Free Software and Beebom. He then went on to work as a technology journalist with The Times Group, India’s largest media conglomerate.
Andrew Hayward is a Chicago-based writer who has been covering technology and video games since 2006. His areas of expertise include smartphones, wearable gadgets, smart home devices, video games, and esports.
Performance - While even the best Ultrabook won't exactly do laps around a gaming laptop, you're going to want a machine that can still handle a variety of productivity tasks without much trouble. This means making sure that the CPU and RAM are up to snuff as well as making sure that it can support a solid Wi-Fi connection.
Battery Life - Ultrabooks are intended to be portable, but that won't mean much if you have to lug a charger along with you. Some Ultrabooks can last over 20 hours on a single charge but barring that, a laptop that can be charged via USB-C offers a little more versatility.
Weight - An Ultrabook that weighs more than 5 pounds is just a laptop. If you're going to be toting a machine around with you everywhere, it'd better be slim and light.