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Best ultrabooks: Top 10 ultra-portable laptops

Trusted Reviews tests and ranks the best lightweight laptops to help you find the ultrabook to suit your budget and needs.

Laptops come in all shapes and sizes these days, but one of the most popular types are ultrabooks, which are incredibly light and thin, proving a great option for on-the-go work. But what are the best ultrabook options that you can currently buy?

Our team of experts have received countless laptops over the years, so we’ve decided to assemble this best ultrabook list with all of our top recommendations to have received at least a 4-out-of-5 star rating.

But what exactly is an ultrabook, and what distinguishes it from your average laptop? While Intel initially coined the term for its own range of ultra-portable laptops, it has since been used to reference any laptop that’s noticeably light and skinny – including even those powered by AMD and Apple. 

For our top 10 ranking, we’ve narrowed down the criteria to only include laptops with a maximum screen size of 14 inches, while ruling out any portable that’s either thicker than 20mm or weighs more than 1.5kg.

Not only have we taken this criteria into account, but we’ve also tested every single laptop on this list to see if they’re up to snuff in other areas. We’ve used benchmark tests to evaluate performance, colorimeters to judge screen quality and conducted battery tests to ensure they can last the working day. 

If you can’t see an ultrabook you like, then make sure to bookmark this page and return later, as we’ll be updating this article throughout the year, especially once we review upcoming laptops such as the MacBook 2022 and Dell XPS 13 Plus

And if you’re happy to buy a laptop that doesn’t meet the ultrabook criteria, then check out our Best Laptop, Best Student Laptop, Best MacBook and Best Gaming Laptop pages too.

How we test

Learn more about how we test laptops

Every laptop we review goes through a series of uniform checks designed to gauge key things including build quality, performance, screen quality and battery life. 

These include formal synthetic benchmarks and scripted tests, plus a series of real world checks, such as how well it runs the most frequently used apps. 

We also make sure to use every laptop we review as our primary device for at least a week to ensure our review is as accurate as possible.

Dell XPS 13 OLED

Best overall ultrabook
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Pros

  • The absolute best laptop screen for the price
  • Speedy productivity performance
  • Class-leading laptop design
  • Lots of configuration options

Cons

  • Short battery life
  • Stingy port offering

Out of all of the ultrabooks that we’ve tested, the Dell XPS 13 OLED is our absolute favourite. It excelled in our performance benchmark tests, and we were hugely impressed with the OLED screen, offering far more vibrant colours than your average LCD laptop display. 

It’s not quite the lightest laptop on this list, but we still found it to be very easy to transport around in a bag. It’s also astonishingly skinny, to such an extent that Dell hasn’t been able to fit on the rectangular-shaped USB-A port. You do get an adapter in the box as a compromise, but we still found it to be irritating when needing to connect a USB stick or wired peripheral. 

It’s also worth pointing out that the MacBook Air is more powerful, while the Lenovo Yoga Slim 7i Carbon is lighter, so the Dell XPS 13 OLED isn’t the absolute best laptop in every single category. 

But nevertheless, this is an outstanding laptop with a huge range of configuration options so you can customise the specs to your liking. If you don’t mind splashing the cash, this is our top ultrabook recommendation.

Reviewer: Ryan Jones
Full review:
Dell XPS 13 OLED review

MacBook Air (M1)

Best Apple-made ultrabook
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Pros

  • It’s so fast thanks to M1
  • Exceptional battery life
  • Strong app support
  • Great keyboard

Cons

  • Poor webcam
  • Same design as before
  • Poorly positioned (and only two) USB ports

If you want a lightweight laptop, but also crave as much performance power as possible, then we recommend the MacBook Air M1

Apple has supercharged the performance with the new M1 chip, which scored the best benchmark results we’ve ever seen in an ultrabook. We found it not only to excel at day-to-day tasks with blazing speeds, but also prove capable at more taxing jobs such as editing photos and videos. 

Our benchmark tests also showed that the MacBook Air has a great battery life, with it offering 18 hours of video playback and over 10 hours for generic office work use during our tests. For general use we were highly impressed by the comfortable keyboard and sharp 2560 x 1600 resolution display. 

The biggest issue with buying a MacBook Air right now is that a new model is expected to launch later this year, with the MacBook Air 2022 potentially seeing a sleeker design and more powerful M2 chip. But if you can’t wait until then, the existing Air is still a fantastic choice.

Reviewer: Max Parker
Full Review: MacBook Air M1 review

Surface Laptop Go

The best 12.4-inch ultrabook
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Pros

  • Incredible value
  • Small and classy design
  • Excellent performance
  • Comfortable keyboard

Cons

  • Low-resolution display
  • No keyboard backlight
  • No fingerprint scanner on base configuration

Most ultrabook laptops have a 13-inch or 14-inch sized display, but Microsoft has decided to make the Surface Laptop Go even smaller, taking it down to an incredible 12.4 inches. We found the laptop’s compact frame to be incredibly useful, making it easier for us to slip into a small bag or fit on top of a cramped desk. 

Despite its small size, our benchmark tests prove that this laptop is still powerful enough for day-to-day tasks such as office spreadsheets and university coursework. We found the keyboard to be comfortable too, so you don’t need to worry about your fingers cramping during a long essay. And best of all, it’s incredibly cheap with an RRP of just $549 / £549.

We did find one major issue with this laptop though, as its 1536 x 1024 is underwhelming, resulting in videos looking a little bit pixelated – the likes of Netflix and YouTube looks a lot sharper on other ultrabooks on this list. But otherwise, this is one of the best ultrabook options available, representing fantastic value.

Reviewer: Ryan Jones
Full Review: Surface Laptop Go review

Acer Chromebook Spin 513

Best Chromebook ultrabook
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Pros

  • Super-light and portable design
  • Sharp display with decent colours
  • Outstanding battery life
  • Whisper-quiet performance

Cons

  • Flat speakers
  • Mediocre performance
  • No keyboard backlight

A few years ago, it was near impossible to find a Chromebook that’s as skinny and lightweight as some of the very best ultrabooks, but that’s changing. The Acer Chromebook Spin 513 weighs just 1.2kg, making it one of the lightest laptops on this list. 

Such an ultra-portable design has been achieved thanks to the innovation of the Snapdragon 7c processor. Our performance benchmarks show it’s one of the weaker laptops here, yet still offers a smooth performance when carrying out simple tasks such as browsing the web and streaming video.

During testing, we were also impressed with the flexible hinge that allows you to fold the screen back so it takes the form of a makeshift tablet. We found it to be very useful to swap between the two forms, whether you need to write an essay or watch an episode of Stranger Things while tucked up in bed. 

We did admittedly find the ChromeOS software to be limited compared to Windows, especially when we wanted to download obscure software. But if you want a simple, streamlined experience, then we strongly recommend checking out the Acer Chromebook Spin 513. If you like the idea of ChromeOS, it’s also worth having a look at our Best Chromebook list.

Reviewer: Reece Bithrey
Full Review: Acer Chromebook Spin 513 review

Acer Swift 3 (2021)

Best budget-friendly ultrabook
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Pros

  • Well-built design
  • Beefy performance
  • Generous SSD capacity

Cons

  • Arguably uninspiring design
  • Patchy keyboard backlight

Many ultrabook laptops on this list cost upwards of $1000, which is expensive enough to put many people off. Fortunately, the Acer Swift 3 undercuts the competition by a few hundred quid, and yet still offers a fantastic all-round experience. 

Due to the Ryzen 5500U under the hood, the Swift 3 offers an impressive performance for its price, outscoring both the Surface Laptop Go and HP Pavilion 14 in our benchmark tests. We found it to run smoothly, even with multiple web browser tabs open simultaneously. 

We also noted that the blend of plastic and metal feels surprisingly premium at this price point, while the lightweight 1.14kg build makes it very easy to carry around. 

We were disappointed by the patchy keyboard backlight, while the design wasn’t as glamorous as the likes of the Dell XPS 13 and MacBook Air higher up on this list. But those are small flaws that are easy to overlook when you consider the fantastic value for money that Acer has to offer.

Reviewer: Reece Bithrey
Full Review: Acer Swift 3 (2021) review

Huawei MateBook X Pro (2022)

Best MacBook alternative
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Pros

  • Intuitive trackpad gestures
  • Vibrant and bright display
  • Thin and lightweight design
  • Powerful processor

Cons

  • Expensive considering lack of discrete GPU
  • Doesn’t include 12th-gen Intel processor
  • Mediocre battery life

If you love the classy design and high performance power of the MacBook Air, but can’t stomach swapping Windows 11 for macOS, then the Huawei MateBook X Pro is the best ultrabook for you. 

During the review process, we were really impressed with its minimalist styling, while the i7 Intel Core chip proved to be faster than the vast majority of CPUs in rival Windows ultrabooks. There may not be a discrete GPU here, but we found this laptop to still be able to perform admirably with heavy-duty tasks. 

It was the design that wowed us the most though, with a pin-sharp 3120×2080 screen resolution and a 3:2 aspect ratio optimised for productivity. It may not look quite as vibrant as the Dell XPS 13 OLED, but it’s still one of the better ultrabook displays we’ve ever tested. 

Despite launching this year, we did find it a little odd that there’s no Alder Lake processor here, while the battery life is middling at just under 9 hours. But if you’re a Windows fan who loves the MacBook vibe, Huawei MateBook X Pro should be right at the top of your wish list. 

Reviewer: Gemma Ryles
Full Review: Huawei MateBook X Pro (2022) review

Microsoft Surface Pro 8

Best ultrabook hybrid
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Pros

  • Solid performance
  • Great screen for work and play
  • Reliable battery life, especially in 60Hz
  • Well-built kick stand

Cons

  • Signature Cover and Slim Pen 2 not included
  • Limited port selection

Ultrabook laptops champion portability above all else, so why not get rid of the keyboard to make it as skinny and lightweight as possible? That was Microsoft’s philosophy when designing the Surface Pro 8 which weights just 891g when detached from the sold-separately keyboard.

We found this laptop’s flexibility to be invaluable, functioning as both a portable tablet and a clamshell laptop when required. We’re also big fans of how it works so well with the Slim Pen 2 active stylus, but it’s a shame that you need to pay extra for this accessory too.

Despite being able to take the form of a tablet, the Surface Pro 8 achieved a competitive performance in our benchmark tests – it ran the Dell XPS 13 OLED close, and even leapfrogged the Surface Laptop 4.

The Surface Pro 8 may not be an ultrabook in the traditional sense – and it’s annoying that you need to pay extra for all of the accessories – but it’s still a very good option for working on the go. And if you’re in need of both a tablet and a laptop, when not save money and get both with a single purchase?

Reviewer: Alastair Stevenson
Full Review: Microsoft Surface Pro 8 review

Lenovo Yoga Slim 7i Carbon

Best ultrabook under 1kg
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Pros

  • Very light at under 1kg
  • Decent 9-10 hour battery life
  • Practical, high-res matt screen

Cons

  • Maximum display brightness is not stellar
  • Lower performance than similarly specced laptops
  • Short-travel keyboard doesn’t offer comfortable typing

If you’re concerned about getting back pains and want the absolute lightest ultrabook on this list, then the Lenovo Yoga Slim 7i Carbon. It weighs less than 1 kilogram at 974g, which is remarkable considering it flaunts a 13.3-inch screen and an Intel Core processor. 

Lenovo has been able to construct such a lightweight design by using a magnesium alloy and carbon-fibre build. As a result, we did notice that the underside of the laptop feels too flexible for comfort, making us a little nervous about its durability if knocked off a desk. Fortunately, the rest of the laptop’s design feels pretty sturdy, so we’re still happy to recommend this ultrabook. 

We were also impressed by the Yoga Slim 7i Carbon’s high-resolution display, resulting in fantastically detailed images and videos. We recorded a decent battery life figure too, as it lasted just shy of 10 hours in our benchmark test. 

You can of course find more powerful laptops elsewhere – such as the MacBook Air – but if portability is your chief concern, it’s difficult to overlook the Lenovo Yoga Slim 7i Carbon.

Reviewer: Andrew Williams
Full Review: Lenovo Yoga Slim 7i Carbon review

Asus ZenBook Flip S (UX371)

Best 2-in-1 OLED ultrabook
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Pros

  • Great high-end design
  • Superb screen quality
  • Satisfying, speedy keyboard
  • Cheaper than rivals

Cons

  • Not quite as powerful as rivals
  • Underside becomes hot
  • Middling battery life

The Asus ZenBook Flip S is yet another ultrabook that is impressively light and slender, but features an extra party trick since it includes an 180-degree hinge. This enables you to flip it back into the form of a tablet, making it especially handy if you like to doodle and sketch on a touchscreen.

During the review, we were in awe with the 4K OLED panel, presenting superb vibrancy and nuance when playing any supported video on the likes of Netflix and Disney Plus.

Our benchmark results show that Asus had to limit the performance power to achieve a 2-in-1 form factor however, so you may be better off looking elsewhere (such as the MacBook Air) if you’re planning on engaging with heavy-duty work such as video editing.

But if you really like the idea of a portable hybrid laptop with a 4K OLED display, then we highly recommend checking out the ZenBook Flip S.

Reviewer: Mike Jennings
Full Review: Asus ZenBook Flip S review

Asus ROG Flow X13

Best gaming ultrabook
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Pros

  • Superb, versatile design of laptop and dock
  • RTX 3080 delivers great gaming speed
  • GTX 1650 is a solid eSports chip
  • High-quality display

Cons

  • Laptop and dock design won’t suit everyone
  • Laptop is sometimes too hot
  • Middling battery life
  • Minimal laptop connectivity

It may seem odd to see a gaming laptop make an appearance on a ‘best ultrabook’ list, but Asus has managed to make the ROG Flow X13 so compact that it comfortably meets the criteria, weighing just 1.3kg and measuring in at 15.8mm tall.

Our benchmark tests show that this is not the most powerful gaming laptop around, which is no surprise given its dinky dimensions and the fact it’s powered by a low-end GTX 1650 GPU.

But Asus is also giving you the option of bundling it with a ROG XG Mobile external GPU, which provides the power of an Nvidia RTX 3080 GPU when plugged in. The benchmark results improved dramatically once plugging in the eGPU, seeing a gaming performance similar to some of the very best gaming laptops that we’ve reviewed. 

Pairing this ultrabook with an eGPU is admittedly very pricey, but it’s well worth the cost for those people who fancy a laptop for both on-the-go productivity and AAA gaming. Alternatively, you could opt for the Asus ROG Flow Z13 instead, which also features support for the eGPU, but takes the form of a tablet instead for even more portability prowess.

Reviewer: Mike Jennings
Full Review: Asus ROG Flow X13 review

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FAQs

What is an ultrabook?

Intel originally coined the word to represent light-weight Windows laptops with a speedy performance provided by Intel Core chips. But the term has since been adopted by the wider market to represent any productivity laptop that is light and slender. For this list, we’ve set our own criteria: every laptop needs to have a screen size 14-inches or smaller, weigh no more than 1.5kg and to be thinner than 20mm when closed. Both Macs and Chromebooks can be included as long a they meet that criteria.

What is an ultrabook good for?

Ultrabooks are great for on-the-go work, since they’re light and small enough to carry around in small bag. If you frequently take your laptop to work or university, you’ll want an ultrabook that doesn’t add unnecessary weight.

Can you game on an ultrabook?

Ultrabooks are usually not built for gaming, as dedicated GPUs generally weigh a lot. There are of course exceptions, such as the Asus ROG Flox X13, but you still not going to get a high-end gaming performance by opting for an ultrabook. You can still use cloud-streaming services such as GeForce Now, Google Stadia and Game Pass Ultimate though.

Specs compared

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IP rating
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Battery Hours
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First Reviewed Date
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Trusted Reviews test data

Horizon Zero Dawn frame rate (Full HD)
Dirt Rally (Full HD)
Borderlands 3 frame rate (Full HD)
PCMark Battery (office)
Brightness
CrystalMarkDisk Write Speed
CrystalDiskMark Read speed
3DMark Time Spy
Geekbench 5 multi core
Geekbench 5 single core
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Black level
White Visual Colour Temperature
sRGB
Adobe RGB
DCI-P3
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PCMark Battery (gaming)
PCMark 10

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