Best Ultrabooks 2018

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Dell XPS 13 (Kaby Lake CPU)

Editor's Choice

The ultimate combination of portability, longevity and usability, Dell's XPS 13 lasts close to 14 hours on a charge, even though it weighs just 2.7 pounds and is only 0.6 inches thick. Even more impressive, Dell's Ultrabook squeezes a gorgeous 13-inch screen into what's normally an 11-inch lid by nearly eliminating the bezel. The XPS 13 starts at a reasonable $799 with a Core i3 processor standard, but we'd opt for the Core i5 CPU that starts at $999 to give you better performance. The latest models come with Intel 7th Generation Core Series (Kaby Lake) processors, Killer 1535 Wi-Fi cards and a Rose Gold color option.

Dell XPS 13 Review

Best Ultrabooks 2018
Product: Use Case: Rating:
Dell XPS 13 (Kaby Lake CPU) 4.5 out of 5
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (2017) Best Business Ultrabook 4 out of 5
Microsoft Surface Laptop Best MacBook Air Alternative 4 out of 5
Asus Zenbook UX330UA Best Value 4 out of 5
HP Spectre x360 Best 2-in-1 Ultrabook 4.5 out of 5
Microsoft Surface Book with Performance Base Best Ultrabook for Creatives 4 out of 5
Dell XPS 15 (999.99) Best 15-inch Ultrabook 4 out of 5
HP Spectre Best Design 3.5 out of 5
  • Best Business Ultrabook

    Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (2017)

    Editor's Choice

    The ThinkPad X1 Carbon proves that you don't have to sacrifice performance, battery life or keyboard comfort to make a light weight Ultrabook. The Intel 7th Generation Core-powered laptop weighs just 2.49 pounds, 0.11 pounds less than the prior model, but lasts over 12 hours on a charge. Its snappy keyboard is among the best we've used while its soft-touch deck felt like a gel rest beneath our wrists. Even better, the X1 Carbon packs in all the ports you need, including USB 3.0, Ethernet, HDMI and Thunderbolt 3.

    Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Review

  • Best MacBook Air Alternative

    Microsoft Surface Laptop

    Editor's Choice

    The new Surface Laptop starts at the same $999 as Apple's ultraportable but gives you a much sharper and brighter 13.5-inch touchscreen, faster 7th-generation Core i5 performance and a cooler design, complete with an Alcantara fabric deck around the keyboard. The 9 hours of battery life is strong, too. Getting the Surface Laptop in the sleeker burgundy, blue or gold costs $1,299, but that will also get you double the RAM and SSD storage.

    Surface Laptop Full Review

  • Best Value

    Asus Zenbook UX330UA

    Editor's Choice

    This 13-inch notebook offers more than 10 hours of battery life in an easy-to-carry 2.7-pound design. The Asus UX330UA also offers a speedy 256GB SSD, accurate audio and a bright and colorful display for much less than you might expect.

    Asus ZenBook UX330UA Review

  • Best 2-in-1 Ultrabook

    HP Spectre x360

    No other ultrabook crams this much power and endurance into as sexy a design. Weighing 2.8 pounds and measuring just 0.54 inches thick, the HP Spectre x360 easily transforms from laptop to tablet, and it's 13-inch display is bright and colorful. The best part is the combination of 7th-generation Intel Core speed and more than 10 hours of battery life.

    HP Spectre x360 Review

  • Best Ultrabook for Creatives

    Microsoft Surface Book with Performance Base

    Getting good graphics performance from an Ultrabook is an incredibly rare thing. But on top of having one of the most stylish and innovative designs on the market, Microsoft's Surface Book with Performance Base features a discrete Nvidia 965m GPU, a Core i7 CPU, and up to 1TB of SSD storage. Starting at $2,399, it's not cheap, but when you stack it up against pretty much every other 13-inch system on the market, there's nothing like the Surface Book with Performance Base.

    Microsoft Surface Book with Performance Base Review

  • Best 15-inch Ultrabook

    Dell XPS 15 (999.99)

    While most 15-inch laptops feel bulky, Dell's XPS 15 weighs just 4.4 pounds and measures only 0.66 inches thick, making it even more svelte than the MacBook Pro. This lightweight laptop has a nearly bezel-free Infinity display, similar to its little brother's. But the 15-incher one-ups the XPS 13 by offering an optional 4K resolution panel, which reproduces a stunning 191 percent of the sRGB color gamut.

    Dell XPS 15 Review

  • Best Design

    HP Spectre

    The HP Spectre is the quintessential ultrabook. It's fast, it's light and at just 10.4mm, it's thinner than any other notebook on the market. With its stylish copper and black design, the 13-inch Spectre might also be best looking laptop right now. Starting at a reasonable $1,170 for a full Core i5 CPU, 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD, the Spectre has one of the best notebook keyboards to go with its solid performance and light chassis. Only subpar battery life and warm bottom temps keep it from topping our list. 

    HP Spectre Review

How to Choose an Ultrabook

The word "UltraBook" officially refers to notebooks which meet Intel's strict standards for weight, thickness and usability. These days, non-business laptops rarely carry the chip-maker's official Ultrabook label, but many people still use the term to describe super-thin and light laptops of all kinds.

We've listed our favorite Ultrabooks on this page. If you're shopping for one, consider the following:

  • 3 Pounds or Less: If you want a system that's really easy on your arms, look for one that's under this threshold.
  • 9+ Hours of Battery Life: What good is a highly-portable laptop if you need to re-charge it every few hours. Look for systems that lasted at least 9 hours on the Laptop Mag Battery Test.
  • The Right Ports: Decide what ports you absolutely need, before you buy. Some Ultrabooks only have USB Type-C or Thunderbolt 3 ports while others have a mix of both next-gen and legacy connectors.
  • Touch or Non-Touch?: If you're buying a 2-in-1, a touch screen comes standard. However, if you're getting a clamshell laptop, touch may cost extra and drain more battery life.

Whatever Ultrabook you choose, you should always prioritize functionality over design. Some systems trade battery life, performance or keyboard quality for a bragging rights and an ever-so-slightly thinner chassis. Don't do the same.