We can largely thank Apple and its MacBook Air for the Ultrabook trend we’re seeing. Where large, clunky laptops aren’t sleek enough, and thin, portable tablets aren’t powerful enough, the Ultrabook shines.
A unibody chassis packed with some of the best SSDs, processors and battery life available to devices this size, the Ultrabook is a thin and portable marvel that’ll let you get on with your business, browsing or buffering without the lengthy wait times.
With TechRadar’s extensive reviewing and lab testing, we’ve got a strong idea of what’s going to cut it in today’s Ultrabook landscape, and on this page we’ve ranked the best of the best so that you can find yourself a bargain on the cream of the crop.
Whether you’re chasing the well-known brands like Dell, HP, Microsoft and Lenovo, or some surprise entrants like Razer, we’ve got you covered.
If you want to know exactly what to consider before buying an Ultrabook, check out our video below:
1. Dell XPS 13
Ol’ reliable takes another crack at triumph
CPU: 8th-generation Intel Core i5 – i7 | Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 620 | RAM: 4GB – 16GB | Screen: 13.3-inch FHD (1,920 x 1,080; non-touch) – QHD+ (3,200 x 1,800; touchscreen) | Storage: 128GB – 1TB SSD
Centered IR webcam
Gorgeous new design
Steeper starting price
White option is pricier
Weighing it a a measly 1.21kg and measuring just 76mm thick, the Dell XPS 13 is the epitome of an Ultrabook, and it has the reputation and power to back up the ‘Ultra’ part too. You won’t find that it’s the most affordable Ultrabook, but it’s the most well-balanced option in Australia right now, with a healthy portioning of power and portability. It wields the latest 8th-generation Intel Core i5 and i7 CPUs, obviously, but it also rocks three USB Type-C ports and the option of an Alpine White finish that we’re absolutely in love with.
Read the full review: Dell XPS 13
2. Lenovo Yoga 920
Perfecting the craft of hybrid laptops
CPU: 8th-generation Intel Core i5 – i7 | Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 620 | Screen: 13.9-inch FHD (1,920 x 1,080) – UHD (3,840 x 2,160) | Storage: 256GB – 1TB SSD
Keyboard still annoys in tablet form
Fans can be loud when they kick in
There aren’t many Ultrabooks as illustriously designed as the Lenovo Yoga 920: a 2-in-1 laptop that’s as dreamy to look at as it is to use. In contrast to its nearest competitors, such as Microsoft’s Surface Book 2, it doesn’t weigh nearly as heavy on the wallet either. For the modest price you pay, you’re getting a gorgeous, all-metal finish that can be flipped inside out for extended functionality. It also houses the latest 8th-generation Intel processors, just in case speed was a concern.
Read the full review: Lenovo Yoga 920
3. MacBook Pro with Touch Bar (13-inch, mid-2018)
A well-balanced Apple offering
CPU: Intel Core i5 – i7 | Graphics: Intel Iris Plus Graphics 655 | RAM: 8-16GB | Screen: 13.3-inch (2,560 x 1,600) | Storage: 256GB – 2TB SSD
Incredibly quick SSD
True Tone display
Solid CPU and GPU performance
While we acknowledge that Intel’s Ultrabook specification is basically the Windows response to Apple’s MacBook Air, it wouldn’t be fair to not give Apple right of reply in this field. The latest MacBook Pro with Touch Bar is a sleek beast, offering some excellent and reliable performance with its quad-core CPU, and while you will be paying the kind of premium you’d expect from Apple, there are few Ultrabooks out there that get the balance of design and user experience quite as right as the MacBook Pro.
Read our full review: MacBook Pro with Touch Bar (13-inch, mid-2018)
4. HP Spectre 13
Bringing quad-core with style
CPU: Intel Core i5 – i7 | Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 620 | RAM: 8GB | Screen: 13.3-inch FHD (1,920 x 1,080) | Storage: 256GB – 1TB NVMe M.2 SSD
Light on ports
When you lay your eyes on the HP Spectre 13 for the first time, you might be blinded by its sheer beauty. HP has taken the already-beautiful Spectre, and spruced it up with gold trim and packed it with internal specs that blow the competition out of the water. One of the first Ultrabooks packing a quad-core CPU, the 2017 Spectre 13 more than doubles the CPU performance of most of its competitors. It comes at the cost of battery life, but clocking in at just under 6 hours – the battery is still passable.
Read the full review: HP Spectre 13
5. Razer Blade Stealth
Don’t be fooled: this is more than a gamer’s laptop
CPU: Intel Core i7 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 620 – Intel UHD Graphics 620 | RAM: 16GB | Screen: 12.5-inch UHD (3,840 x 2,160) – 13.3-inch QHD+ (3,200 x 1,800) | Storage: 256GB – 1TB PCIe SSD
Larger, brighter display
Subtler aesthetics on gunmetal version
Shorter and shorter battery life
No 4K display option in sight
Razer has to deal with the common misconception that it’s solely a gaming laptop and peripheral company, a reputation it subverted when it introduced the Blade Stealth back in 2016. And, if you’re unconvinced, the latest edition of the Razer Blade Stealth may change your mind by turning into a 13.3-inch, QHD+ beauty. There’s no longer the option for 4K, but the performance this Ultrabook delivers is worth the compromise.
Read the full review: Razer Blade Stealth
6. HP Spectre x360
The versatile and venerated people pleaser
CPU: Intel Core i5 – i7 | Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 620 | RAM: 8GB – 16GB | Screen: 13.3-inch, FHD (1,920 x 1,080) – UHD (3,840 x 2,160) touch panel | Storage: 256GB – 1TB SSD
Annoying keyboard layout
Rarely does a company think of everything when designing a laptop, but for what it’s worth, the HP Spectre x360 comes surprisingly close. It’s a 2-in-1 convertible laptop, which by default makes it not for everyone. Still, for those right-brained users out there, it comes bundled with a Windows Ink-compatible stylus, unlike the vast majority of hybrids. That would mean very little if the HP Spectre x360 didn’t have great sound and visuals, though it evidently does.
Read the full review: HP Spectre x360
7. Asus ZenBook 3
CPU: Intel Core i5 – i7 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 620 | RAM: 16GB | Screen: 12.5-inch FHD (1,920 x 1,080) | Storage: 512GB SSD
Crystal clear display
Lightweight and very portable
Weird fingerprint sensor placement
A single USB-C port
Anyone familiar with Apple’s thinnest and lightest laptop would be wise to compare the Asus ZenBook 3 to the 12-inch MacBook. The similarities are obvious, but one look at the specs and the differences stand out too. Adorned with the choice of a U-series Intel Core i5 or i7 processor, the ZenBook 3 is awfully powerful considering it’s less than half an inch thick and weighs two pounds. The port selection is sparse, but ultimately it’s well worth the sacrifice.
Read the full review: Asus ZenBook 3
8. Asus ZenBook UX310
A truly excellent ultrabook at a very agreeable price point
CPU: Intel Core i3 – Core i7 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 620 | RAM: 4GB – 16GB | Screen: 13.3-inch, FHD (1,920 x 1,080) – QHD+ (3,200 x 1,800) | Storage: 500GB – 1TB HDD; 500GB – 1TB SSD
Incredibly thin and light
Vibrant, glare-free screen
Weak sauce graphics
It’s no secret that Apple has all but neglected the MacBook Air recently, but in some cases a Windows Ultrabook can be just as good, if not better. Take the Asus ZenBook UX310, for example, the long awaited follow-up to the award-winning ZenBook UX305. Donning a 7th generation Intel Kaby Lake processor, a 178-degree rotating QHD+ screen, a USB-C port and an all-aluminium shell, this truly is a candidate for the MacBook Air’s throne.
Read the full review: Asus ZenBook UX310
9. Microsoft Surface Laptop
The Surface Book’s best prodigy
CPU: Intel Core i5 – i7 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 620 – Iris Plus Graphics 640 | RAM: 4GB – 16GB | Screen: 13.5-inch, 2,256 x 1,504 PixelSense display | Storage: 128GB – 512GB SSD
Windows 10 S is limited
No, it’s not another 2-in-1 – the Surface Laptop is a full-on traditional laptop (with a touchscreen) designed by the Microsoft hardware design lab. From the Italian imported Alcantara fabric material decorating the keyboard to its beautiful 13.5-inch, 3:2 PixelSense display, there’s no questioning the Surface Laptop’s appeal at face value – but dig even deeper and you’ll find a notebook that’s arguably more competent than Apple’s more expensive 12-inch MacBook. And, keep your eye out – we’re expecting the Surface Laptop 2 sometime in 2018.
Read the full review: Microsoft Surface Laptop
10. Lenovo Yoga 730
Thin, portable, affordable
CPU: Intel Core i5 – i7 | Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 620 | RAM: 8 – 16GB | Screen: 13.3-inch FHD (1,920 x 1,080) IPS (multi-touch, anti-glare) | Storage: 256GB – 512GB PCIe SSD
Short battery life
If you’re looking to get your hands on an entry-level Ultrabook that can get some work done (without spending a fortune), the Lenovo Yoga 730 should be at the top of your list. Sure, it doesn’t have the longest battery life, but with how much (or how little) this device will set you back, it’s a worthy trade off – especially considering the speedy SSD storage, quad-core processor and 8GB of RAM you’re getting at the entry level. For anyone on a budget, the Lenovo Yoga 730 is certainly one of the best Ultrabooks around right now.
Read the full review: Lenovo Yoga 730