What is the best ultrabook?
Need a laptop that can easily be stowed in a bag without taking up too much room and weighing you down? Then you’re in the right place, as we’ve rounded up the very best ultrabook options that are available right now.
What exactly is an ultrabook though, and what distinguishes it from your average laptop? For our list, we’ve only included laptops with a maximum screen since of 14 inches, and ruled out any portables that are either thicker than an inch or weigh more than 1.4kg – that way, you should have no issue fitting it in your bag and taking it to work / lectures every day.
Do bear in mind though that we’ll be reviewing plenty more exciting ultrabooks in the near future, including the MacBook Air 2020, Galaxy Book S and Galaxy Book Ion. All three look to be promising ultrabooks, but if you can’t sit around waiting for those there are still plenty of excellent options underneath.
Related: Intel vs AMD
To make this guide as easy as possible to use, we’ve included a quick summary of every ultrabook in our list, with more detailed entries further down the page:
- Overall best ultrabook: Dell XPS 13 (2020)
- Best budget ultrabook: Honor MagicBook 14
- Best ultra-portable ultrabook: Acer Swift 5
- Most stylish ultrabook: Surface Laptop 3 13
- Great all-rounder ultrabook: Huawei Matebook X Pro
- Best 2-in-1 ultrabook: HP Spectre x360 13
- Best gaming ultrabook: Razer Blade Stealth 2019
- Best Apple ultrabook: MacBook Air (2018)
- Best Google ultrabook: Google Pixelbook Go
- Best business ultrabook: HP Elite Dragonfly
You should also explore our Best laptop deals round-up for discounts and any last-minute fire sales on these and other great ultrabooks.
1. Dell XPS 13 (2020)
The best Windows ultrabook available
- Ideal 16:10 InfinityEdge display
- Comfortable and clicky keyboard
- Remarkably thin and compact
- Productivity performance perfection
- Short on ports
- Keyboard can get a tad warm
The Dell XPS 13 2020 is our top recommended laptop right now, as we awarded it a 5-star rating for an incredible all-round performance. With a uniquely gorgeous InfinityEdge display, fantastic performance and dinky ultra-portable design, the XPS 13 nails all of the most important ultrabook features with aplomb.
It’s genuinely difficult to come up with flaws with this laptop. It could do with more ports, but that can easily be fixed with an adaptor. It’s also it tad pricey compared to rival ultrabooks, but you’ve got to spend that extra cash if you want the absolute best system.
If you’re happy to spend the money, you won’t find a better Windows ultrabook than the Dell XPS 13.
- Read our full Dell XPS 13 2020 review
2. Honor MagicBook 14 (2020)
The best budget ultrabook
- Student-friendly premium style
- Superb value
- Pleasant typing experience
- More than capable productivity performance
- Webcam position on keyboard
- Below average display
There’s no denying the Dell XPS 13 is a fantastic ultrabook, but it’s also pretty expensive, especially if you only need a device for browsing the web and watching Netflix. The Honor MagicBook 14 is a far cheaper alternative, costing half the price.
Despite the budget price, the MagicBook is a great laptop with an Apple-reminiscent design, comfortable keyboard and a performance greater that most devices at this price point. Don’t get us wrong, this is no powerhouse laptop, but it will happily get basic tasks done without much issue.
Our biggest complaints are the below-average display quality and annoying keyboard-placement of the webcam, but these are minor issues when you consider how cheap these excellent keyboard is.
- Read our full Honor MagicBook 14 review
3. Acer Swift 5
The best ultra-portable ultrabook
- Super cheap
- Solid performance, quiet running
- Pleasingly slim and light
- Looks great
- Couple of keyboard issues
The Acer Swift 5 is one of the lightest laptops on the market, weighing less than a kilogram. It’s also really affordable, sometimes available for around £600. An ultrabook at this price, with Intel’s 10th Generation processor, is practically unheard of, with rivals usually costing upwards of a grand.
Despite the low price, it’s hard to see where Acer has cut corners. It’s dainty size and weight means it’s incredibly easy to lug around, it has a very respectable battery life at ten hours and boasts some bang-up-to-date features such as Wi-Fi 6 support, Thunderbolt 3 and even the option of a dedicated graphics card.
The only negative points we can think of is that the keyboard requires firmer taps than usual, and the design isn’t quite as jaw dropping as Dell’s XPS 13. Otherwise, this is a pretty stellar ultrabook.
- Read our full Acer Swift 5 review
4. Surface Laptop 3 13
An ultrabook that merits a fashion degree
- Classy, ultra-portable design
- Excellent performance
- Stunning 3:2 display
- Fantastic keyboard
- Middling battery life
- Lack of Thunderbolt 3
If we’re talking solely about quality, the Surface Laptop 3 comes the closest to knocking the Dell XPS 13 off its perch. Microsoft’s ultrabook features Intel’s 10th Generation processor for a competitive performance, and looks good while doing so, especially with all of the available colour options. If style is your number one priority, you move this laptop to the top of your list.
Its not all style over substance here. A brilliant keyboard makes it dutiful essay machine, while the gorgeous 3:2 screen is one of the best on the market for prowling Instagram and YouTube. It’s may not be the lightest portable on this list, but 1288g is still very much in ultrabook territory.
Why did it fail to topple the XPS? The battry life was disappointing, while the lack of Thunderbolt 3 support is such an odd mystery we’re tempted to ring up Scooby Doo’s squad. Still, these are minor niggles for an otherwise belter of an ultrabook.
- Read our full Surface Laptop 3 13 review
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5. Huawei MateBook X Pro (2020)
A great value all-rounder
- Looks fantastic
- Screen aspect-ratio is great for productivity
- Lots of good specs for the price
- That green colour
- Reflective screen
- Everything about the webcam is bad
- SD slot would have been icing on the cake
The Huawei Matebook X Pro has one special sauce feature that most of its rivals lack, and that’s the 3:2 aspect ratio. This means it has a taller panel than most other laptops, allowing to fit more content on screen when browsing the web and social media feeds. Pair that with the delightfully crisp 3000 x 2000 resolution (narrowly missing 4K) and Instagram photos will look absolutely stunning.
There is a drawback to having such a tall screen though, as video content gets sandwiched by thick black bars. If you can overlook that though, the extra pixels actually help videos looks better than would on most other laptops.
With a gorgeous green design and decent performance, there’s a lot to love about this laptop. It’s not priced badly at all either, especially since Huawei is throwing in free accessories if you buy directly from its website.
- Read our full Huawei MateBook X Pro 2020
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6. HP Spectre x360 13
The best 2-in-1 ultrabook
- Gorgeous 4K display option
- Perfect mix of productivity and portability
- Improved keyboard and trackpad
- Premium build quality
- Below average battery life
- Slightly dated design
The HP Spectre x360 13 is a multi-talented laptop. It has a 2-in-1 form factor, so can be put on tablet duties whenever required, and also features the option of a 4K AMOLED panel, which gives Netflix videos (provided you’re subscribed to the highest plan) more detailed and vivid picture quality.
You also get Intel’s 10th Generation processors along for the ride, which are plenty powerful enough to plough through various productivity tasks. Want to open up lots and lots of browser gtabs at once? No problem, the Spectre x360 can handle it.
That 4K display does unfortunately shorten the battery life though, so it’s not the best option if you’re the type to frequently misplace the charger. And with rival ultrabooks making great efforts in the style department, the Spectre x360 looks bland in comparison.
- Read our full HP Spectre x360 13 review
7. Razer Blade Stealth 13 (late 2019)
The best gaming-focused ultrabook
- More powerful than rival ultrabook laptops
- Lack of dedicated GPU improves battery efficiency
- Stylish design
- Stunningly bright display
- Underwhelming gaming performance
- Pricer than rival ultrabooks
- Large bottom bezel looks outdated
Despite being made by Razer and rocking an RGB keyboard, the Razer Stealth 13 isn’t strictly a gaming notebook – this model doesn’t even have a graphics card. Instead, the Stealth is just as much an ultrabook as the XPS or Surface 3, but it does have one extra trick over the competition with a performance mode that grants it extra power for gaming.
This is quite possibly the most powerful ultrabook you can buy then, but since its using Ice Lake’s integrated graphics, its gaming capabilities are limited. Forget about playing the likes of Shadow of the Tomb Raider, although low-demanding titles such as Fortnite, Apex Legends and Overwatch are fair game.
Such power comes at a cost though, as the Razer Stealth is one of the most expensive ultrabooks on this list. And while we do like the design of the Stealth, it’s got a bigger chin than Popeye, which desperately needs squeezing down. Still, for gamers who need an ultra-portable laptop, there are few better options than the Stealth.
- Read our full Razer Blade Stealth 13 review
8. MacBook Air (2018)
The best ultrabook for Apple devotees
- A classic design, refreshed for 2018
- Lightweight, premium-feel body
- Retina Display screen
- Pro features for a lower price
- Only has two USB-C ports
There’s no question that the MacBook Air (2018) is starting to look terribly outdated. It’s still got a chunky bezel, the controversial butterfly keyboard switches and is running on the dated 8th Generation Intel Core processor – it’s in need of a reboot even more than the DC Extended Universe.
That said, the MacBook Air is still a great laptop in its own right, comfortably fitting the bill as an ultrabook with a 1.25kg weight and 13.3-inch display, which by the way, is typically gorgeous just like with any other Apple device.
For those who just can’t stomach using Windows or ChromeOS, the MacBook Air (2018) remains the best option, although we’re expecting Apple’s ultrabook to see a major update very soon.
- Read our full MacBook Air (2018) review
9. Google PixelBook Go
A Chromebook with ultrabook quality
- Fantastic keyboard
- Attractive, understated look
- Impressive battery life
- Android apps on Chrome can be useful (even if buggy)
- Can get far too expensive if you upgrade the specs
- No fingerprint scanner/facial unlock
- Have to get the top model if you want a 4K screen
Can you technically call a Chromebook an ultrabook? We’ll leave that up to you to decide, but the PixelBook Go certainly makes that decision harder by sporting laptop-grade components while running on Google’s ChromeOS operating system.
The most important thing to know, is the Chromebook Go hardly weighs a thing at just 1.06kg, while still managing to excel at the basic tasks including web browsing and web streaming. It’s also pretty cheap, with a starting price of £629 – although that can easily shoot up over the £1000-mark if you’re tempted by higher configurations.
If you’re happy with the constraints that come with Chromebooks though, the Pixelbook Go is a great ultrabook option for students and penny pinchers.
- Read our full Google PixelBook Go review
10. HP Elite Dragonfly
An ultrabook for the security conscious
- Sophisticated and ultra-lightweight design
- Crisp display
- Impressive port selection
- Keyboard lacking in tactile feedback
- Costs more than most ultrabooks
- No 10th Gen Intel Core processor (yet)
Who says you need a boring grey ultrabook when working at the office? The HP Elite Dragonfly is intended as a business laptop since its crammed full of security features to make sure nobody can hack or snoop on your saved data. But despite its business pedigree, it looks absolutely lush thanks to its dark blue paint job.
With the lovely design, great selection of ports and sharp display, the HP Elite Dragonfly hits the fundamentals of an ultrabook, making it a decent option for both business folk and those who just want a portable to watch YouTube. However, all those security features come at a cost, as this is one of the most expensive laptops on the list. Its also lacking powerful integrated graphics since its running on a 8th Generation vPro processor.
If you’re not bothered about all the security features that will keep your laptop safe from malware and potential hacks, you can find better value alternatives in this list. But if are feeling particularly vulnerable after watching Mr Robot, the Elite Dragonfly is a great remedy for your paranoia.
- Read our full HP Elite Dragonfly review
These are our top picks of the best ultrabooks. Read on if you want more information about what to look out for when buying an ultrabook.