Best Ultrabooks 2015: top thin and light laptops

Updated: The new Lenovo Yoga 900 delivers more performance and battery life, while keeping the Yoga 3 Pro’s winning design.

Ultrabooks have come a long way since they were first introduced to compete with the MacBook Air world. They’re thin and light while featuring powerful Intel Core processors, fast SSD storage and superb battery life. But more than anything else they represent the bleeding edge of laptops; case in point the size shrinking Dell XPS 13, the unbelievably light Lenovo LaVie Z and Microsoft’s own addition with the Surface Book.

Buying Guide: 10 best Ultrabooks 2015: top thin and light laptops reviewed

Of course, this all means Ultrabook also come at a premium. Don’t be surprised with prices that start at $999 (around £584, AU$1,064) just for the low-end and nearly $2,000 (around £1,169, AU$2,131) at the very high end.

It’s an arms race in the Ultrabook world and there’s no room for losers in this space, as such it’s hard not to find a great machine. But if you’re looking for the very best cream of the crop, you’ve come to the right place.

Buying Guide: 10 best Ultrabooks 2015: top thin and light laptops reviewed

1. Dell XPS 13

Possibly the best laptop on the planet, Dell’s latest is a masterpiece

CPU: 2.2GHz Intel Core i5-5200 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 5500 | RAM: 8GB | Screen: 3,200 x 1,800 | Storage: 230GB SSD | Connectivity: 802.11 AC, Bluetooth 4.0 | Camera: 720p | Weight: 2.8 pounds

Gorgeous display, Super lightweight, No ethernet port, Off-centre webcam.

The new Dell XPS 13 has a 13.3-inch screen, but it has the small footprint of an 11-inch notebook. Fortunately for us, the XPS 13 isn’t all beauty and no brains. This laptop features the horsepower to make work and play enjoyable, and more than enough battery life to never die on you. Regardless of whether you choose to upgrade to the touchscreen quad HD+ version, or if you stand pat with the full HD model, the Dell XPS 13 will provide you with a delightful experience for years to come. And in case you’re not already on-board, there are also newer models with Skylake processors.

Buying Guide: 10 best Ultrabooks 2015: top thin and light laptops reviewed

2. Asus ZenBook UX305

A truly excellent ultrabook at a very agreeable price point

CPU: 800MHz Intel Core M 5Y10 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 5300 | RAM: 8GB | Screen: 13.3-inch 1920×1080 | Storage: 256GB SSD | Connectivity: 802.11n + Bluetooth 4.0 | Camera: 720p | Weight: 2.6 pounds | Dimensions: 12.8 x 8.9 x 0.5 inches

Very thin and light, Incredible performance, Wonky video driver, Tinny speakers.

The ZenBook UX305 is a superbly-built, fully metal machine that’s thin, light and very attractive. This lightweight system can easily take on any task whether its browsing the web, watching video or editing images. What’s more, you get excellent battery life out of this machine all while doing. The most striking thing about the UX305 is that it comes priced at $699 or £649 (about AU$902). While it isn’t exactly a shining symbol of innovation in the Ultrabook space, it’s the most affordable Ultrabook out today and it won’t disappoint you.

Buying Guide: 10 best Ultrabooks 2015: top thin and light laptops reviewed

3. Surface Book

The heavy duty performance Ultrabook

CPU: 2.4GHz Intel Core i5-6300U | Graphics: Intel HD graphics 520; Nvidia GeForce graphics | RAM: 8GB | Screen: 13.5-inch, 3,000 x 2,000 PixelSense Display | Storage: 256GB PCIe3.0 SSD | Connectivity: 802.11ac 2×2 MIMO Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0 LE | Camera: Windows 8MP rear-facing autofocus camera (1080p HD), 5MP front-facing Hello face-authentication camera (1080p HD) | Weight: 3.48 pounds | Dimensions: 12.3 x 9.14 x 0.51-0.90 (W x D x H)

Futuristic design, Seamless tablet separation, Battery life falls well below promises, A bit heavy set.

The Surface Book is both the world’s most powerful and thinnest Windows 10 PC in the world as well as an excellent laptop. This is all thanks to its ability to swap between being a really terrific notebook and tablet. Plus with all the power of an Intel Skylake processor and a discrete Nvidia GPU, this machine outpaces almost every other Ultrabook. The only thing users might find annoying is how it’s heavier and bigger than most 13-inch laptops thanks to its 3:2 aspect ratio and 13.5-inch screen.

Buying Guide: 10 best Ultrabooks 2015: top thin and light laptops reviewed

4. Lenovo Yoga 900

Performance meets design, Lenovo’s latest flagship is a jewel

CPU: 2.5GHz Intel Core i7-6500U | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 520 | RAM: 16GB | Screen: 13.3-inch QHD+ 3,200 x 1,800 IPS display | Storage: 512GB SSD | Connectivity: Intel Wireless-AC 8260; Bluetooth 4.0 | Camera: 720p webcam | Weight: 2.84 pounds | Dimensions: 12.75 x 8.86 x 0.59 inches

Gorgeous display, Slim design, Shallow keyboard, Display drivers issues.

If you’re all about style and want power to back it up, things don’t get much better than Lenovo’s latest flagship hybrid Ultrabook. It’s much more punch than its Intel Core M-toting predecessor thanks to trading in Core i5 and i7 CPUs, and it has bigger batteries to boot. Though it’s no longer one of the lightest Windows laptops to date, the Yoga 900 still retains an incredibly sharp and thin design. Although it comes at a steep price, such panache will be worth it for style nuts.

Buying Guide: 10 best Ultrabooks 2015: top thin and light laptops reviewed

5. Asus ZenBook Pro UX501

An attractive alternative to a certain fruit-flavoured laptop

CPU: 2.6GHz Intel Core i7-4720HQ | Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960M | RAM: 16GB | Screen: 15.6-inch, 3840 x 2160 IPS Display | Storage: 512GB PCIe x4 SSD | Connectivity: Intel PRO Wireless AC 7260 + BT Wireless LAN Combo | Camera: Built-in 720P Video Camera | Weight: 5.0 pounds | Dimensions: 15.08 x 10.04 x 0.84 inches

Bright, vibrant screen, Excellent performance, Feels heavy, Mediocre battery life.

If you’re looking for a laptop with a little more meat on its bones but don’t want to break the bank, the Asus ZenBook Pro UX501 is a stylish contender. It features a bright, vibrant 4K display and simply flies with the fastest storage drive around. While it’s not the lightest Ultrabook around, it comes with a very capable processor and a dedicated graphics card to handle some light gaming too. The UX501’s meaty innards and affordability make it an attractive option for content creators and media buffs alike.

Buying Guide: 10 best Ultrabooks 2015: top thin and light laptops reviewed

6. Lenovo LaVie Z

The lightest Ultrabook in the world

CPU: 2.40GHz Intel Core i7-5500U | Graphics: Intel HD Graphic 5500 | RAM: 8GB | Screen: 13.3-inch WQHD (2560 x 1440) LED anti-glare | Storage: 256GB SSD | Connectivity: Wi-Fi 802.11 ac and Bluetooth 4.0 | Camera: 720p HD | Weight: 1.87 pounds | Dimensions: 12.56 x 0.67 x 8.35 inches

Core i7 processor, Excellent WQHD screen, Mediocre battery life, Astronomical price tag

By creating the 1.87-pound LaVie Z, Lenovo has created the lightest laptop in the world. Aside from its lightweight chassis, the Lavie Z offers performance and display are among the best available today. However, the laptop’s somewhat questionable build quality, inferior battery life, and inflated price tag are qualities that could turn many off from what is an otherwise splendid device.

Buying Guide: 10 best Ultrabooks 2015: top thin and light laptops reviewed

7. HP EliteBook Folio 1020 G1

A thin, attractive business laptop posing as an Ultrabook

CPU: 1.2GHz dual-core Intel Core M-5Y71 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 5300 | RAM: 8GB | Screen: value | Storage: 256GB M.2 SSD | Connectivity: Bluetooth 4.0; dual-band 802.11ac (B/G/N), dual-band Wi-Fi | Camera: 720p webcam | Weight: 2.68-pound | Dimensions: 12.2 x 8.27 x 0.62-inch

Sleek design and tough construction, Fingerprint scanner, enterprise security, Underpowered Intel Core M performance, No full-sized SD card reader.

Although it has the look and body of an Ultrabook, the HP EliteBook Folio 1020 G1 is very much a business laptop in disguise. Underneath its MacBook Air like exterior, this machine packs plenty of enterprise perks including fingerprint scanner, enterprise security and the durable build quality to meet a Military Specifications certification. At the same time though, the HP Folio 1020 G1 has a gorgeous aluminum and fanless design that’s atypical of business-class notebooks. Add in a gorgeous QHD screen, comfortably ergonomic keyboard, and this premium business machine is well worth its slightly upscale price tag.

Buying Guide: 10 best Ultrabooks 2015: top thin and light laptops reviewed

8. Acer Aspire S7

Acer’s luxurious laptop is an ultraportable star

CPU: 2.4 GHz Intel Core i7-550U | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 5500 | RAM: 8GB | Screen: 13.3-inch, 1,920 x 1,080 touchscreen | Storage: 256GB SSD | Connectivity: value | Camera: value | Weight: value | 12.72 x 8.78 x 0.51 | Dimensions: 12.72 x 8.78 x 0.51 inches

Attractive glass design
Full-day battery life
Screen limited to 1080p Too much bloatware

If you have a passion for white electronics, the Aspire S7’s looks alone may seal the deal, but the laptop is more than just a pretty face. Acer packs in Intel’s Broadwell Core i7 processor, a battery that lasts close to a full work day, plenty of storage and RAM all into a sleek body. The Aspire S7 is an attractive and powerful laptop, but not one without compromises. If you’re willing to invest a little time to removing bloatware and can live with a keyboard with the shallow key travel, then the Aspire S7 rewards you with a very capable computing experience that also looks stunning on your desk.

Buying Guide: 10 best Ultrabooks 2015: top thin and light laptops reviewed

9. Toshiba Kirabook

A high-res Ultrabook that’s easy on the eyes

CPU: 2.4GHz Intel Core i7-5500U | Graphics: Intel® HD Graphics 5500 | RAM: 8GB | Screen: 13.3 inch 2560 x 1440 WQHD touchscreen | Storage: 256GB SSD | Connectivity: Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 7265 + Bluetooth 4.0 | Camera: HD webcam | Weight: 2.9 pounds | Dimensions: 12.4 x 8 x 0.37 inches

Stylish design

Good battery life

Expensive Dim, bendy screen

The Toshiba Kirabook (otherwise known as the Kira in the UK) sits at the higher end of the Ultrabook spectrum. It offers a high-res screen and a fully metal body that feels so premium, it even gives the MacBook a run for its money. While there were a few missteps with the annoying keyboard and dim screen, you’ll be pleased with this long lasting machine that’s easy on the eyes.

Buying Guide: 10 best Ultrabooks 2015: top thin and light laptops reviewed

10. Samsung Ativ Book 9 Plus

With stunning performance and screen, it doesn’t get much better than this

CPU: 1.6 GHz Intel Core i5-4200U | Graphics: Intel integrated | RAM: 4GB | Screen: 13.3-inch 3,200 x 1,800 | Storage: 128GB SSD | Ports: 3 x USB 3.0 | Connectivity: 802.11ac | Camera: 720p | Weight: 3.06 pounds | Dimensions: 12.6 x 9 x 0.5 inches

Incredible touchscreen

Excellent battery

It’s expensive

Full of bloatware

Samsung was one of the very first PC manufacturers to jump on the Ultrabook bandwagon. It’s done a fine job of representing Intel’s baby ever since, with some stunning offerings. Now Samsung’s Ativ Book 9 Plus (starting at $1,399, £1,412, AU$2,259) has kept the company ahead of the game for a while. It’s a wonderful-looking unit that’s thin and carefully crafted, with shiny, chamfered edges lining its all-aluminium chassis.


50 thoughts on “Best Ultrabooks 2015: top thin and light laptops

  1. Touchscreens don`t form part of ultrabook. Touchscreens are just part of a latest batch of additions to ultrabooks that came with Microsoft making windows touch friendly. CPU type defines ultrabook

  2. Ultrabooks are laptops that have an Intel Core i5 processor and up AND have a touch screen, got me a little confused too!

  3. Ultrabook is an Intel trademark that they only allow to be used on certain *Windows* notebooks, basically the machines must be below a certain size/weight and above certain minimum performance spec’s with specific Intel processors and chipsets. Touch only became mandatory on Haswell based Ultrabooks – which was done to reduce confusion in the market.

  4. No mention of the Asus Zenbook UX303LN? Amazing piece of hardware right there…

  5. your comment says it all about what apple fans’ priorities are in that the thing you choose to single out that makes it better is that it’s ‘thinner’

  6. except that the Zenbook 305 is thinner, cheaper, better screen, …

  7. A Macbook might be fine for you but some heterosexuals want thin / light laptops too. You never get accosted in a coffee shop when your laptop says Dell on it.

  8. For a over $1000 Macbook u can get a $600 laptop with the same or even better specs. But Macbook looks great and is lightweight.

  9. I bought a MacBook Pro, sold it a week later and got the Dell XPS 13. For a Windows power user, Mac makes no sense to own. Unless you aren’t very familiar with windows, Object Dock, Classic shell then yes Mac is for you!

  10. Andrew, I read your post with interest. I am trying to look for a new high end IT Pro laptop that has loads of memory , all SSD, good keyboard for typing loads and is really light as possible . I could do with a 15.6

  11. It isn’t. Just paid $400 to repair the trackpad on my Macbook Retina, because a defective battery swelled and broke it. Apple won’t admit it. No more Apple for me. Ever.

  12. I’ve been a lifelong apple user. I’ve had numerous macs from macbooc pro, iMac mac retina… My last mac laptop was a macbook pro 17

  13. I was the first Macintosh owner here in Belgium back 30 years ago. I switched to Windows because Windows IS THE MOST USER FRIENDLY MACHINE ON EARTH. I did not upgrade however to Windows 8/8.1 because its terrible interface (they tried to copy OSi!) I just hope that with Windows 10, we will return to the legendary straight operating system we got used to with Windows 7. OSi is made for people who wouldn’t understand any system, be it Windows, Linux or Mac. For those, the important is to have something exotic.

  14. Apple is meant for the non tech savvy crowd. Let them be with their Candy Crush powerhouses.

  15. Exactly what hassles were you having with Windows? And how is the experience so much better? I think you’re just spewing the typical Apple BS.

  16. I’ve been a lifelong windows user. I’ve had numerous laptops from Sony, Samsung, Dell, HP, Asus, Acer… My last windows laptop was a Lenovo Yoga 13. I recently bought a Macbook Pro retina. Wow. It’s not just that the experience is so much better than any laptop I’ve used previously (improving my productivity) it also feels like it’s built to last. I’m running windows 8.1 on it (using parallels) for visio and MS Project. I can’t see myself switching away from a Mac anytime soon! (And I could have saved a lot of hassle by switching before)

  17. None of them can touch the battery life of a Macbook Air. Have you compared specs? Obviously not.

  18. Whether the Macbook air is a ultrabook or not it is thinner and better than any of these windows machines.

  19. You found 18? The anti 201ceveryone is a winner! 201d list: Sony Vaio Pro 13 Lenovo X1 Carbon (2014 Haswell version) Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus

  20. @bradavon Who is looking for DVD drive now-a-days? Especially in an ultrabook? Get with the times.

  21. yeah its no prob so long as you cough up some extra cash for bootcamp or whatever its called, thats why i hate apple, their methodolgy is

  22. id rather have my eyes scooped out with rusty teaspoons than use OSX as a daily driver OS, its awful

  23. I love Windows. It is absolutely the best source of credit card numbers, social security numbers, a great place to inject my ‘bots for DDoS, you name it. OS X sucks droid. I would be the happiest girl on earth (or at least in China) if everyone in the world used Windows. Unfortunately, the tide is slowly turning against me. But I managed to get three Tesla Model S, a Ferrari, and a villa in Cap d’Antibes thanks to Windows users. My hat is off to you. The money you saved on your PC is the money that I raked in.

  24. Because millions of people = no one… And because Indians necessarily have to be poor… You’re a biased, stereotpyicising idiot who is probably just a spoiled kid with Apple products that cost 10k to buy, but only 2k to produce.

  25. Manish, you are right…I spent 25 years chained to my windoze desktop, constantly checking for viri, when I gambled on a Imac with intel processor 4 years ago… Apple rulez!!! jacque p.

  26. You made an id just for me…awwww….did I hurt your feewings that bad about your giant iPod… did Daddy buy you one so you could be like the cool kids

  27. You’re indian, with the inability to purchase a Mac. Stop spewing your bullshit around and check out Computer Science majors. No one likes windows. Try harder.

  28. OSX is a better OS than Windows? What exactly are you smoking. Windows 8 is perfect for a dual tablet/laptop and touchscreen environment for people who have an ounce of tech savvy in them. It appears your criteria for a laptop is how long it lasts rather than what it can actually do and gives you in terms of hardware options. Basically the essence of everything Apple – form over function

  29. OS X is not a better OS. I run both and I dread having to work on a mac. The only plus it has is battery life on laptops, and build quality – although that comes at a steep premium. Running windows on a mac sucks as well, you lose a lot of the performance and battery gains.

  30. OS X is a much better OS. So, that being said, if you want to work without using a touch screen, MacBooks make sense. If you want to have all of the bells and whistles, the Samsung ATIV is stylish and powerful. It isn’t really about being a fanboy, so much, as figuring out what you want to do with your technology. Parallels runs horribly on a dressed out MacBook Air, so if you want to run Parallels, you’d have to have a MB Pro. The thing I like about using Macs is that they are engineered well and seem to last a LOT longer than a Windows notebook. There is my 2 cents worth.

  31. It’s a piece of cake to boot Windows on a Macbook — dedicated, dual-boot, or in parallel with OS X.

  32. Show me an i5 of any mobile generation beating an i7 of that same generation. There’s a reason that one is a 5 and the other is a 7. I have tested Mobile CPUs and when it comes to streaming 1080p 60fps 1440p or 4k (which some ultrabook screens suppport) videos, Mobile i5 processors just CAN’T handle it. For games, the mobile i5 can compare but these aren’t gaming laptops. As for the RAM. You are correct, but tweaking ram or finding a large set of different modules for a laptop doesn’t really work like a Desktop.

  33. higher number doesn’t necessarily mean higher performance. so, you can find some i5 performing better than some i7. high quantity of ram doesn’t necessarily mean better performance since: – you must consider frequency and latency of modules – 4gb are enough for 99% of tasks (atm)

  34. Core i7 is not available on a MacBook Air. The Air also maxes out at 8GB of memory also

  35. The MacBook Air runs intel i3,i5,i7 Ultrabook processors. That`s why they are mainly called ultrabook. It`s not a fancy thin laptop name as one might think. By that definition, Apple`s laptop is an ultrabook.

  36. The MacBook Air is not an ultrabook. Ultrabooks are powered by Windows.

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