avatarby Leon HitchensOctober 4, 20160 comments

Surface Pro 4 MacBook 11

Ultrabooks have come a long way from when they were first introduced. They’re lightweight, able to handle most the task you can throw at them, and have long battery life. They’re the laptops that you’ll want to carry around without hurting your back or sacrificing a lot of features. But above all, they’re bleeding edge laptops with some of the newest standards like SSDs, USB Type-C, and Intel Core M processors.

Every manufacturer is trying to make the thinnest, lightest, and most powerful ultrabook they can. As such, we are excited that there are so many great ultrabooks to choose from. If you’re looking for the best ultrabook around, you’ve come to the right place.

We will regularly update this list with new and exciting ultrabooks. This month we’ve added a few devices that launched at IFA in Berlin. Look for the Lenovo Yoga Book and Yoga 910, Acer Swift 7 and Spin 7, as well as an update to the ASUS ZenBook and a surprise monster at the end.

Dell XPS 13

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The Dell XPS is one of the best ultrabooks around and the one to beat since it launched in early 2015. It comes with a 13.3-inch screen but has a body that’s the same size as an 11-inch notebook. The bezel-less screen makes the screen look so much bigger, and is something you’d gawk at for hours, especially if you upgrade to the QHD+ display.

The ultrabook has USB Type-C, Thunderbolt, a 2-in-1 card reader, and others. While there isn’t an HDMI port, you can use a USB Type-C dongle to plug into a monitor or other screen. The USB Type-C ports also can double as a way to charge the laptop if you decide to leave behind the provided power brick. Check out our Dell XPS 13 review and our Dell XPS 13 vs Apple Macbook comparison more information!

Specs:

  • Intel Core i5
  • 4 GB of RAM
  • 128 GB SSD Storage
  • 13.3 Inch FHD display with 1920 x 1080 pixels or 13.3-inch QHD+ display with 3200×1800
  • 2.8 pounds
  • 11 hours of battery life with the QHD+ display
Buy the Dell XPS 13 now

Dell XPS 15

Dell XPS 15

The Dell XPS 15 can be summed up as a bigger more powerful version of the beloved Dell XPS 13. The screen is a 15-inch display, but it’s jammed into a 14-inch laptop body. The more powerful ultrabook includes the Nvidia Geforce GTX 960 M video card, letting you play games with higher quality and better performance.

The ultrabook also has USB Type-C, Thunderbolt, a 2-in-1 card reader, and others. While there isn’t an HDMI port, you can use a USB Type-C dongle to plug into a monitor or other screen. The USB Type-C ports also can double as a way to charge the laptop if you decide to leave behind the provided power brick. Check out our Dell XPS 15 review for more information!

Specs:

  • Intel Core i5
  • 8GB of RAM
  • 1TB HDD and a 32GB SSD
  • 15 inch QHD+ display with 3200×1800
  • 3.9 pounds
  • 17 hours battery life
  • Nvidia Geforce GTX 960 M
Buy the Dell XPS 15 now

Asus Zenbook 3

ASUS Zenbook UX310-1

The Asus Zenbook 3 is an entirely metal body ultrabook; that’s thin, light and the sub $700 price makes it more attractive. The Intel Core M is more than capable of browsing the web or another light task, but anything heavier like video or photo editing won’t be a good fit on this ultrabook. The processor allows for longer battery life, but also lets the ultrabook go without a fan.

There are a lot of ports on the laptop with 3 USB 3.0 ports, an SD card reader, and a micro HDMI port to connect external monitors or displays. While the Zenbook 3 isn’t a powerhouse for performance, it is one of the most affordable ultrabooks with Windows 10.

Update! ASUS was at IFA 2016, they, I guess you’d say, re-introduced the ZenBook 3 , as well as the Transformer 3 Pro and more. These sleek, slim and powerful devices will be coming soon, check it out for more details:

ASUS ZenBook 3, Transformer 3 Pro and ROG G701vi announced at IFA

Specs:

  • Intel Core M
  • 8 GB of Ram
  • 256GB SSD
  • 13.3-inch screen with 1,920 x 1,080 IPS display
  • 2.6 pounds
  • 7 hours of battery life

Related reading: Asus announces new laptops, tablets and more at Computex 2016

Buy the Asus Zenbook 3 now

Asus Zenbook Flip

ASUS Zenbook Flip

The Asus Zenbook Flip takes the Asus Zenbook 3 and adds a 360-degree hinge. This hinge allows the screen to flip around and use the ultrabook like a tablet. The Flip has the same metal body as the Zenbook 3, and similar specs overall. The Flip does have 10 hours of battery life which is longer than the Zenbook 3. The Flip is a great middle point between the hybrid and ultrabook.

There are still the same number of ports which let you do any amount of work you need to do without dongles. The Core M processor allows for the extended battery, also allows for a fanless hybrid in a price point that doesn’t hurt the wallet. Check out our Dell XPS 13 review for more information!

Specs:

  • Intel Core M
  • 8GB of RAM
  • 512 GB SSD
  • 13.3-Inch Touchscreen displays with 1920 by 1080 resolution
  • 6.3 pounds
  • 8 hours of battery life

Related reading: Asus announces new laptops, tablets and more at Computex 2016

Buy the Asus Zenbook Flip now

HP Spectre 13 2016

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The HP Spectre is the world’s thinnest laptop coming in at 10.04mm thick. Not only is it the world’s thinnest laptop it’s also the first Ultrabook to pack 3 USB Type-C ports. The overall design of the laptop is slick, and sports HP’s new premium logo. This is something you’d be proud to pull out during a conference or at a coffee shop. However, the high price is preventing the laptop from selling thousands of units like the Macbook or Macbook Air could and will do.

The Spectre is a higher end ultrabook that can not only browse the web but also do some photo and video editing with ease. Everything from the keyboard to the screen feels premium, with HP not skimping on any part of this ultrabook. The only significant downside to the ultrabook is poor battery performance, but compared to other ultrabooks it isn’t doing that bad. Check out our HP Spectre 13 2016 review and our HP Spectre vs Apple Macbook comparison for more information.

Specs:

  • Intel Core i5
  • 8GB of RAM
  • 256GB SSD
  • 13.3-Inch display with 1920 by 1080 resolution
  • 2.45 pounds
  • 6 hours of battery life

Related reading: HP Spectre X2 hands on impressions

Buy the HP Spectre 13 now

Razer Blade Stealth

Razer Blade Sleath

The Razer Blade Stealth is one of the world’s best gaming ultrabook. The Razer ultrabook has the same feel and design as other Razer laptops, except the Stealth is thin and light. The chroma branded keyboard is a standout feature, you usually need to purchase a high-end gaming laptop to get this feature rich of a backlit keyboard. The keyboard is a level of personalization other ultrabooks cannot match.

The Blade Stealth is not a standalone gaming laptop. When paired with the Razor Core, an external housing for a single graphics card like the Nvidia Geforce 980, the ultrabook can play graphics intensive games or edit photos and videos with ease. The only problem is your ultrabook is then tethered to a desk for high performance needs, luckily, it is very portable otherwise. The Razer Blade Stealth starts at $999, but when you think about adding in the Razer Core for $499 it becomes a more expensive setup than others. Check out our Razer Blade Stealth review for more information!

Specs:

  • Intel Core i7
  • 8GB of RAM
  • 128GB SSD
  • 13.3-inch QHD display 2560 x 1440
  • 2.75 pounds
Buy the Razer Blade Stealth now

Acer Swift 7, Spin 7, Swift 1, Swift 3 and Swift 5

Acer Swift 7 Hands On-15

Have you had your fill of Acer yet? We haven’t even started writing yet! Acer was another big name at IFA in 2016, announcing several laptops, hybrids, ultrabooks and tablets. The Swift 1, 3 and 5 are not exactly entry level products, but the Swift 7 and Spin 7 are the devices we want on the list today. Of course, none of these devices are available for sale yet, so we’re just talking theory for now.

With the Swift 7 measuring in with a 13-inch display and just 9.98mm of thickness, the Spin 7 will be the larger of the two, with a 14-inch display. Both are aluminum laptops that will ship with the next generation Intel Core i processors. That’s the Core i5 in the Swift 7, then the Core i7 in the Spin 7.

These thin, lightweight Windows machines will hit the market in October for $999 for the Swift 7 and $1299 for the Spin 7. Be sure we’ll break this out into two entries when the devices land.

Hands-on with the Acer Swift 7 and Spin 7
Acer announces Swift 7 and Spin 7 at IFA 2016


Acer Aspire Switch

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The Acer Aspire Switch is a 2-in-1 that won’t break the bank, but may not be powerful enough to do much beyond browsing the web or checking email. The snap hinge lets you take the screen completely off and use it as a tablet, or with the keyboard base you’re able to move it around into a handful of different options. The keyboard and touchpad are one of the better ones on an ultrabook of this size.

In the world of high performance ultrabooks, the Aspire Switch is a bit of a budget device, particularly when you consider it is comes with just 32GB of internal storage. The price will make the Switch an easy purchase, netting you a decent device for your basic computing needs. It doesn’t feel cheap like other budget 2-in-1 Windows laptops.

Specs:

  • Intel Atom Quad Core
  • 2GB of RAM
  • 32GB SSD
  • 10.1 inch 1,280 x 800
  • 2.5 pounds

Related reading: Acer Chromebook 14 with metal chassis

Buy the Acer Aspire Switch now

Acer Aspire S7

The Acer Aspire S7  is a sturdy and attractive ultrabook with a battery that’ll last almost all day. The Intel Core i7 will breeze through any task, and for the price, the ultrabook is one of the best options for your money. As long as you don’t mind the white color or keyboard that is a little sensitive with shallow key travel.

Overall the Aspire S7 is stunning and accomplishes most anything you throw at it. We’re looking forward to an update to this laptop, but for now the last gen processor is well priced, grab your new Aspire S7 for under $1000.

Specs:

  • Intel Core i7
  • 8GB of RAM
  • 256GB SSD
  • 13.3 inch 1,920 x 1,080 touchscreen
  • 2.9 pounds

Related reading: Acer Chromebook 11 and Chromebook 14 land in the Google Store

Buy the Aspire S7 now

Lenovo Yoga 910

Lenovo hit IFA in a big way with a few new devices that live in the laptop, 2-in-1 convertible and tablet segments. The Yoga 910 is a step up from the Yoga 900, which is next on our list, packing in a 13.9-inch IPS display in either 4K or Full HD resolution, Intel Core i processors, up to 16GB of RAM and as much as a 1TB SSD for storage.

Gone is the microSD card slot, but here are near bezel-less display, USB Type-C and 10.5 – 15 hours of battery life, depending on your display choice and usage, of course. With a starting price of about $1299, stay tuned for the Lenovo Yoga 910 to hit stores in October. You can pre-order now if you’re sold on it.

Pre-order the Lenovo Yoga 910 now

Lenovo Yoga 900

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The Lenovo Yoga is a perfect match between power and design. It’s more powerful thanks to trading in the Core M processor for the Core i5 or Core i7 processors that’ll allow for video and photo editing on the go. The bigger battery will get you through the whole day, and the QHD+ display will keep your attention.

The 2-in-1 capabilities will let you use the Ultrabook as a tablet or laptop whenever you need, but you won’t have to worry about the usual problems of 2-in-1 like being top heavy, or flexing of the screen. The Yoga 900 is a large improvement from the Yoga Pro 3. You might also want to check out our Lenovo Yoga 900S review!

Specs:

  • Intel Core i7
  • 16GB of RAM
  • 512GB SSD
  • 13.3 inch QHD+ 3,200 x 1,800 display
  • 2.84 pounds
Buy the Lenovo Yoga 900

Lenovo Yoga Book – running Android

We feel like Lenovo decided to put a hinge on two tablets then use one as a keyboard, the result is this Yoga Book, the Android or Windows powered convertible with a wildly unique take on the keyboard. A laptop that runs Android is a rare thing, let alone one with an Intel processor. Packing 4GB of RAM, the Intel X5 processor, microSD card slot, a Full HD 10.1-inch display and 8500mAh battery, we’re not talking about a gaming rig here, but you should be able to get a solid amount of battery life for your normal daily grind.

Perhaps the best feature of this design is that the tablet I said operates as a keyboard is a full touch panel, able to be used as a drawing tablet as well. Grab your stylus or slap an actual piece of paper over top and watch as your real writing and drawing digitizes as you go.

As another fun IFA announcement, we have been provided no pricing or availability as yet. Stay tuned for more!

Lenovo Yoga Book hands on
Yoga Book announced


Macbook 12

MacBook 12

The Macbook is a beautiful Apple ultrabook, but it’s not without its flaws. The single USB Type-C port makes it hard to charge devices and plug in more than one device at a time, but it’s nothing a dongle can’t solve. The Macbook comes in 4 different colors, but the starting price of $1,300 might put some folks off.

The entry level Intel Core M processor will get daily web browsing, email, and messaging done, but you’ll want to bump up to the Core m5 or Core m7 chipsets if you want to do any photo or video editing with your new Macbook. The area the Macbook excels is battery life, lasting all day and being able to charge from the single USB Type-C port. Overall it’s a beautiful ultrabook, adhering to Apple’s typical level of craftsmanship, which also means it runs a tad more expensive than similarly spec’d ultrabooks out there.

Check out our Apple Macbook 12 review and our Dell XPS 13 vs Apple Macbook and HP Spectre vs Apple Macbook comparisons for more information

Specs:

  • Intel Core M
  • 8GB of RAM
  • 256GB SSD
  • 12 inch 3,304 x 1,440
  • 2.03 pounds

Related reading:

Buy the MacBook 12 now

Microsoft Surface Book

Surfacebook

The Surface Book is Microsoft’s best professional 2-in-1 ultrabook. The drop dead gorgeous screen offers great color accuracy, and if you want you can flip the laptop to act more like a tablet. Then you can use the pen to draw, which is a unique feature that you won’t find on other ultrabooks. Of course, this is the same Surface Pen smart stylus as on your Surface Pro 4 windows tablet.

The powerful ultrabook is heavier than others, and the larger 13.5-inch screen makes the device a bit bulkier. As a tradeoff for the size, this powerful device has specifications that will make it a daily driver that can do anything you throw at it. Check out our Microsoft Surface Pro 4 review for more information.

Specs:

  • Intel Core i5
  • 8GB of RAM
  • 256GB SSD
  • 13.5-inch 3,000 x 2,000 PixelSense Display
  • Nvidia Geforce GPU
  • 3.48 pounds
Buy the Surface Book now

Samsung Notebook 9

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The Samsung Notebook 9 is slim and lightweight, but also budget conscious, unlike other Samsung laptops. The Notebook 9 weighs less than most tablets and ultrabooks and feels paper thin.

The downside to being so thin is bad battery life, which can be a drag when you’re traveling or out and about. The Full HD screen is sharp, beautiful but colors are almost too saturated. The ultrabook also doesn’t come with a lot of bloatware, which is nice on a Windows laptop.

Specs:

  • Intel Core i5
  • 8GB of RAM
  • 256GB SSD
  • 13.3 inch 1,920 x 1080 display
  • 1.85 pounds

Related reading: Samsung announces Galaxy TabPro S Windows tablet to compete with Surface Pro

Buy the Notebook 9 now

HP EliteBook Folio G1

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The HP EliteBook is a business machine in disguise. Under the thin frame and fanless chassis, is a slew of enterprise features including a fingerprint scanner, enterprise security, and military build. It’s not something you’d notice at first glance, but it’s something you could use when you’re traveling for business.

The beautiful screen, easy to use keyboard and overall premium build makes this laptop feel like a consumer laptop rather than something you’d use for business.

Specs:

  • Intel Dual Core M
  • 8GB of RAM
  • 256GB SSD
  • 12.5 inch 1920 x 1080 screen
  • 2.68 pounds

Related reading: HP Chromebook 13, a high-end Chrome OS offering

Buy the EliteBook Folio G1 now

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon

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The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon is another business ultrabook that’s just a little bit better looking than you might expect. The X1 Carbon keeps the same ThinkPad design we’ve come to know, but with a smaller and lighter chassis that makes carrying it around a breeze.

The X1 Carbon has more than enough ports to ensure you won’t run out when you’re presenting a project or charging all your devices. The device will also handle almost anything you need to get done, and the 14-inch Full HD display will make working just a little easier.

Specs:

  • Intel Core i5
  • 4GB of RAM
  • 512GB SSD
  • 14 inch 1920 x 1080 display
  • 2.87 pounds
Buy the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon now

Honorable mentions:

Apple Macbook Pro 13 with Retina Display

MACBOOKPRO

The Macbook Pro 13 with Retina display is one of the go-to professional laptops on the market. Popular with folks who like to edit video and photos, this is as powerful of a machine as you’ll find in the Apple mobile device offerings. While the Macbook Pro isn’t the lightest or thinnest laptop around, it is still within the range of the larger ultrabooks out there.

The Macbook Pro begins its specification options in the ballpark of some high-end Ultrabooks, around $1300, you can then apply upgrade after upgrade until you are at a nearly $3000 price tag. It sound like a lot of money, but this really is a powerhouse of a device – it’s the video editing laptop of choice for half of our YouTube team over at Android Authority.

Specs:

  • Intel Core i5
  • 8GB of RAM
  • 128GB SSD
  • 13.3 inch 2560 x 1600 Retina display
  • 3.48 pounds
Buy the MacBook Pro now

Microsoft Surface Pro 4

Surface Pro 4 review

The Surface Pro 4 is a unique 2-in-1 that is less of a laptop, more of a tablet with a keyboard. Despite officially being a tablet, the available specifications are identical to most of the ultrabook offerings above. At the high-end, the Intel Core i7 chipset with 16GB of RAM packs a wallop of computing power, but is still not as capable as the full graphics card enabled Surface Book you looked at above. The Surface Pro 4 Type Cover is a pleasant feeling magnetically connected smart cover when closed, and a full functioning soft touch keyboard with trackpad when opened.

The Surface Pro 4 has a built-in kickstand that offers great flexibility on a desktop, but which can feel a little awkward when it’s on your lap. The Surface Pro 4 also comes with the Surface Pen, a smart stylus made for those that want to write or draw on their tablet.

Specs:

  • Intel Core m3, Core i5 or Core i7
  • 4GB, 8GB or 16GB of RAM
  • 128GB, 256GB, 512GB or 1TB SSD
  • 12.3 inch 2736 x 1824 display
  • 1.73 pounds

Related reading:
Surface Pro 4 review
Surface Pro 4 vs iPad Pro 9.7

Buy the Surface Pro 4 now

Huawei MateBook

Huawei MateBook

The Huawei Matebook is another 2-in-1 tablet with a thin keyboard cover like the Surface Pro 4. This time around the keyboard is built into a full leather cover for the tablet, and the cover folds in tp act as tablet stand. As far as the tablet experience goes, this is the nicer feeling device compared to the Surface Pro 4, but the MateBook Portfolio Keyboard case lacks a little in versatility when acting as a stand.

The Matebook is a decent device to house a single USB Type-C port, but enhances this with the optional MateDock. There is also a fingerprint reader built into the tablet and the artistic type can take advantage of the MatePen smart stylus. The starting price for the MateBook is lower than the Surface Pro 4, which is another huge plus.

Specs:

  • Intel Core m
  • 4GB of RAM
  • 128GB SSD
  • 12 inch 2160 x 1440 display
  • 1.41 pounds

Related reading: Huawei MateBook review

Buy the Huawei MateBook now

Who needs ultrabooks, check out this beast!

acer predator 21 x

Acer came out swinging at IFA 2016, a few fantastic devices join one show stopper – the 21-inch curved display gaming laptop, the Predator 21 X. It needs two laptop power supplies to run, it has two GTX 1080 GPUs, 2560 x 1080 pixels of resolution, big sound, lots of cooling fans, a 7th generation Intel processor, eye-tracking tech to help your gaming and it even has a full size mechanical keyboard.

I’m not entirely sure what to say about this laptop, it’s over 4 times heavier than the average ultrabook, and it’s probably going to cost as much more as well. Of course, the Predator 21 X is on the short list of devices that pass a Prime95 stress test, so we see this machine appealing to more than just the gamers out there, anyone in need of a portable supercomputer best pay attention.

Acer Predator 21 X announced
Hands-on review with the Acer Predator 21 X


Wrap up

The world of laptops, even if only focusing on these slim form-factor, lightweight and powerful devices we call ultrabooks, is vast. Rest assured, we’re going to be navigating these waters together. In the end, if our favorite tablets are attaching themselves to keyboards to pretend to be laptops, and doing a mighty fine job at it, we best see how they stand up when compared to this old computer form-factor made sleek in the ultrabook format.

What do you say, are these the top contenders in the ultrabook segment, or do you have another favorite that belongs on the list?

What’s next?