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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.