Which is the best ultrabook? Here are the best we’ve tested
Looking for a laptop with a compact and lightweight design? 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 search, we’ve only included laptops with a maximum screen since of 14-inches, and ruled out any portables that are 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 every day.
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
- Best value ultrabook: Acer Swift 5
- Most stylish ultrabook: Surface Laptop 3 13
- Best ultrabook for Netflix: HP Spectre x360 13
- Best gaming ultrabook: Razer Blade Stealth 2019
- Best ultrabook for battery life: Lenovo Yoga C940
- Best budget ultrabook: HP Envy 13
- Best Apple ultrabook: MacBook Air (2018)
- Best Google ultrabook: Google Pixelbook Go
- Best business ultrabook: HP Elite Dragonfly
Related: Best Laptop Deals
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
The best Windows ultrabook available
- Huge range of configurations
- Improved performance and battery life
- Quality design and display
- Webcam repositioned back at the top
- SSD slow at saving data
- Screen not ideal for artists
- Still no full-sized SD card reader or USB port
The Dell XPS 13 2019 refresh only included a few minor improvements, such as a better-placed webcam and the option of Intel’s 10th Generation processor, but these were enough to boost this portable back to the top of our best ultrabook rankings.
With a stunning display, gorgeous design and super-charged performance, the Dell XPS 13 smashes through every major criteria. Although it’s not as light as the Acer Swift 5 and not as powerful as the Razer Blade Stealth, its impressive range of configuration options gives the XPS 13 enough of an edge to take the ultrabook throne.
It’s not perfect – we’d happily accept slightly more heft to this ultrabook if it meant a more generous offering of ports – and the quality of the display isn’t quite accurate enough for photographs, but if you are seeking a lightweight laptop that offers top-class performance, this is still our top recommendation.
- Read our full Dell XPS 13 2019 review
2. Acer Swift 5
The best-value ultrabook
- Super cheap
- Solid performance, quiet running
- Pleasingly slim and light
- Looks great
- Couple of keyboard issues
The best thing about the Acer Swift 5 is that you can get it at a dirt cheap price, sometimes available for around £600. An ultrabook at this price, with Intel’s 10th Generation processor, is practically unheard of elsewhere, with rivals usually costing upwards of a grand.
Despite the low price, it’s hard to see where Acer has cut corners. It weighs just under a kilogram to make it incredibly easy to lug around, has a very respectable battery life at ten hours and boasts some bang-up-to-date features such as Wi-Fi 10 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
3. 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
4. HP Spectre x360 13
The perfect portable for Netflix
- 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
5. 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
6. Lenovo Yoga C940
A straight forward battery behemoth
- Remarkable battery life
- Strong productivity performer
- Robust design
- Good value
- Lags behind on looks
- Screen isn’t the brightest
- Average keyboard
- Super-reflective screen
Battery life often ranges from average to poor for ultrabooks these days, with the size of the cell being one of the first compromises when designing a lightweight machine. The Lenovo Yoga C940 makes no such compromise, with our benchmark results proving the ultrabook lasts around 12 hours on a single charge.
In order for Lenovo to fit in this battery, it has had to make the laptop slightly more heavier than most other ultrabooks. But with a weight of 1.35kg, it’s still not going to cause any issues on the commute. The Yoga C940 also boasts Intel’s 10th Generation processor, proving it’s no slouch in terms of performance.
There are a few shortcomings here sadly, with a dull display, underwhelming keyboard and yawn-worthy styling that won’t jump out at you during a PC World peruse. But those are all easily forgivable if your main priority is lasting as long as you can without a recharge.
- Read our full Lenovo Yoga C940 review
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7. HP Envy 13
A great budget-buy ultrabook
- High-quality touchscreen display
- Punchy picture
- Nicely priced
- Average battery life
- No Thunderbolt 3
Not prepared to pay over a grand for an ultrabook? Then the HP Envy 13 should be one your shortlist, with an approximate starting price of £800, and that’s even with an Nvideo GeForce MX150 graphics card, which provides a boost for casual gaming.
The 13.3-inch display is also quite the looker, proving punchy enough to make your Disney Plus content dazzle. It also has some pretty nifty features not always found on ultrabooks, including a microSD card slow and a webcam kill switch for the privacy conscious.
However, the Envy 13 is still running on Intel’s 8th Generation chips which means it’s not the fastest machine. And with the Swift 5 offering even more outstanding discounts, this HP ultrabook is probably only worth buying once it sees the inevitable price cuts during the sales.
- Read our full HP Envy 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.