Quite the engineering feat, the Dell XPS 13 manages to cram a vibrant and sharp display into an 11-inch chassis, making it one of the most compact Ultrabooks yet. (You can barely see the razor-thin bezel.) This 2.8-pound laptop also delivers fast performance, thanks to its Core i5 processor and SSD. Starting at $799, the non-touch-screen version of this machine lasted nearly 12 hours on a charge, giving you plenty of endurance. Dell also sells a version with a sharper quad-HD touch display, which is even more vibrant. Overall, the new XPS 13 is the best ultraportable for the money.
Although the new 12-inch MacBook is sleeker, the MacBook Air 13-inch is a better deal overall. This 3-pound aluminum ultraportable lasted 14 hours on the Laptop Mag Battery Test, which is well above the category average. Although the screen resolution could be sharper (it's just 1,440 x 900p) the Air's comfortable keyboard, superfast flash storage and sub-$1,000 price tag make it one of the best laptops on the market.
Never before has $200 bought a laptop this good. The Asus Eeebook X205TA runs a full version of Windows 8.1 and comes with free one-year subscriptions to Office 365 and 1TB of cloud storage on OneDrive, along with solid quad-core Atom performance, 2GB of RAM and 32GB of onboard flash storage. The X205TA offers one of the best screens on a notebook in this price range fitted in a slim and sleek body. The best part? The X205TA's 12+ hour battery life is almost double the length of low-cost competitors.
Lenovo's ThinkPad T series line of business laptops have long been known for their powerful performance, long battery life and superior usability. The 14-inch ThinkPad T450s builds on that rich tradition, offering a gorgeous, 1920 x 1080-pixel touch screen; a durable, MIL-SPEC-tested design; and the most responsive keyboard on the market. With more than 15 hours of endurance with the extended battery, this lightweight powerhouse lets you get your work done in style, anywhere at any time.
This gaming laptop doesn't need a light show -- it is the light show. The Alienware 17 is back in all of its customizable backlit glory. This time around, the machine has been updated with an Nvidia GeForce GTX 980M GPU, making it a beast when it comes to churning out high frame rates. But if you need a little more oomph, there's the optional Graphics Amplifier, which brings in the big guns in the form of a desktop GPU. Combined with the gorgeous 1080p display and powerful Core i7 processor, you've got a laptop that can talk the talk and walk the walk.
With a bright screen, strong battery life and a sturdy rotating hinge all for just $440, the Dell Inspiron 11 3000 2-in-1 is a lot of computer for not a lot of money. You also get above-average performance, and the understated design looks good in both tablet and laptop modes. Most importantly, despite its rock-bottom price, the Inspiron doesn't feel like a budget machine, which makes it easy to recommend to both price-conscious buyers and hybrid lovers alike.
If you want a lightweight, stylish laptop that's easy to use and tote around, the new $329 Toshiba Chromebook 2 is a solid choice. Running Chrome OS smoothly, it lets you check emails, stream music, watch videos and browse the Internet on a stunning 1080p, IPS screen that makes it look like you should have paid much more for this Chromebook. The Chromebook 2 also packs an Intel Celeron processor, strong Skullycandy-tuned speakers and will offer nearly 8 hours of battery life on a single charge -- all at a great value. Starting in October, Toshiba will also offer a revamped version of the Chromebook 2 featuring a new backlit LED keyboard and your choice of a new Intel Celeron or Core i3 CPU for $330 and $430 respectively.
The 12.5-inch ThinkPad X250 crams the power and versatility of a high-end productivity system into a 2.8-pound laptop with 15+ hours of battery life. Features like a high-res 1,920 x 1,080 display, comfortable keyboard and speedy Intel 5th Generation Core Series CPU help you get work done. A full array of ports, including Ethernet and an SD card reader, means that you don't have to compromise on functionality to gain portability.
When you're editing video, you not only need a sharp screen, but also a GPU capable of pushing all those pixels. The Asus UX501J has a gorgeous 4K display, backed by an Nvidia GTX 960M GPU, a Core i7 processor, and a 512GB SSD, all wrapped in an attractive aluminum body. Its affordable price tag also means you won't need the backing of a major studio to finance your purchase, either.
Microsoft is finally getting into the laptop hardware market with the new Surface Book. This sleek looking machine packs in 6th generation Intel Core processors, discrete Nvidia graphics and speedy PCIe SSDs. The 13.5-inch touchscreen display can also be detached and reversed for use as a tablet. Microsoft claims the clamshell will last up to 12 hours on a charge. It will start at $1,499 without the GPU and go up to $2,699 for the top config.