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Best Ultrabooks in 2020

Dell XPS 13 (2020) - best ultrabooks
(Image credit: Future)

If you want a portable laptop, go with one of the best Ultrabooks. When a laptop is designated an Ultrabook you can trust that it will be thin and lightweight yet offer long battery life. But as these ultraportable laptops grow in popularity, it becomes more difficult to choose the right one. Fortunately, we've done the hard work for you and ranked the best Ultrabooks on the market. 

The best Ultrabook right now is the Dell XPS 13, which has a sleek design, fast performance and a gorgeous display. If you don't want to spend so much fast, consider the Envy 13 --- an $800 laptop that offers just about everything the Dell delivers. And macOS users really only have one choice: the MacBook Air. Yes, the MacBook Pro is great, but it's a bit heftier than what we consider an Ultrabook.

If you need a work machine, see our best business laptops rankings. Or if you're a student, we've put together a list of the best laptops for college. It's also worth checking out our best 13-inch laptops page as most of those listed below fall into this category. 

What are the best Ultrabooks?

Dell's XPS 13 has been the best Ultrabook for several years running and the 2020 model is the best yet. It takes the edge-to-edge display Dell popularized years ago and amps it up by removing the bottom bezel. The effect is mesmerizing. On top of that, the XPS 13 offers fast performance and long battery life in the smallest chassis yet for the thin and light series. 

If you don't want to spend so much, go with the HP Envy 13. It might not be quite as premium as the XPS 13 or its sibling, the Spectre x360 13, but at $800, you won't get much better. Apple fans or those who prefer macOS over Windows 10 should probably opt for the MacBook Air, which finally has a good keyboard. 

Other top Ultrabooks to consider include the aforementioned HP Spectre x360 13 or its rival the Lenovo Yoga C940. Lenovo still has the business market locked down with the ThinkPad X1 Yoga although HP is making a serious claim with the new Elite Dragonfly. 

The best Ultrabooks you can buy today

1. Dell XPS 13 (2020)
2. HP Envy 13 (2019)
3. Apple MacBook Air (2020)
4. HP Spectre x360 (Late 2019)
5. Lenovo Yoga C940 (14-inch)
6. HP Elite Dragonfly
7. Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (7th Gen)
8. Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga (4th Gen, 2019)
9. Asus Expertbook B9450

Dell XPS 13 (2020)

The ultimate portable laptop, Dell's XPS 13 packages fast performance in a compact, premium chassis.  (Image credit: Future)

1. Dell XPS 13 (2020)

The best overall laptop

CPU: Intel Core i3/Core i5/Core i7 (10th Gen) | GPU: Intel Iris Plus | RAM: 8GB/16GB | Storage: 256GB/512GB/1TB/2TB | Display: 13.4-inch, 1920 x 1200 | Size: 11.6 x 7.6 x 0.6 inches | Weight: 2.8 pounds

Attractive, premium chassis
Powerful performance
No bezels whatsoever
Excellent battery life
Lacks legacy ports

The Dell XPS 13 is a serious workhorse. Powered by up to a 10th Gen Intel Core i7 processor with Iris Plus graphics, the notebook is ready for work or play. And with over 12 hours of battery life, you've got plenty of time for both, The notebook consistently performed either better or on a par with competing systems.

But rest assured, the laptop is just as pretty as it is powerful. The company managed to make a laptop that's smaller and lighter than previous models. Despite the smaller size, Dell added some big changes, including a larger trackpad and keyboard. Plus, you get a 13.4-inch, near-bezeless display on every side –– the first in the world to do so. 

It's an exercise in patient restraint, improving the notebook in a bunch of small ways that add up to a big leap for the system. If you're looking for the total package, the Dell XPS 13 is the laptop for you. 

See our full Dell XPS 13 (2020) review.

 

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At under $1,000, the HP Envy 13 is the best Ultrabook value around. 

2. HP Envy 13 (2019)

The best value laptop

CPU: Intel Core i5/Core i7 | GPU: Intel UHD Graphics 620/Nvidia GeForce MX250 | RAM: 8GB/16GB | Storage: 256GB/512GB/1TB | Display: 13.3-inch, 1080p or 4K | Size: 12.1 x 8.3 x 0.6 inches | Weight: 2.8 pounds

Attractive, portable chassis
Fast performance
Bright display
Poor battery life (on 4K model)
No Thunderbolt 3

Starting at $799, the new HP Envy 13t is our favorite sub-$1,000 thanks to its sleek, portable design, bright 4K and 1080p display options, and fast performance. New to the 2019 model is a webcam kill switch and fingerprint sensor for those who value security and privacy. And unlike its predecessor, the latest Envy 13 has great speakers.  

All these perks make the Envy 13 the best laptop for anyone who wants a premium machine but is trying to save a buck. 

See our full HP Envy 13 (2019) Review

MacBook Air 2020

The MacBook Air 2020 has a lower starting price than its predecessor and offers improved performance.  (Image credit: Future)

3. MacBook Air (2020)

The most affordable MacBook

CPU: 10th Gen Y-Series Core i5 | GPU: Intel Iris Plus | RAM: 8GB | Storage: 256GB/512GB/1TB/2TB | Display: 13.3 inches, 2560 x 1600 pixels | Size: 12 x 8.4 x 0.6 inches | Weight: 2.8 pounds

Sleek design
Great battery life
Magic Keyboard
Underwhelming performance
Limited ports

The new MacBook Air is top among the best MacBooks for those who don't want to spend too much. This latest model not only starts at a lower $999 price as its predecessor but it now features the Magic Keyboard, which is a huge improvement in both reliability and comfort over the doomed Butterfly keyboard. 

On top of that, you get the latest Intel 10th Gen CPUs. Yes, they're still Y-series, so don't expect amazing performance, but they are a notch up from the previous model.  Another benefit of the new model is that it starts with 256GB of storage -- no more measly 128GB. 

Everything else about the 2020 model is about what you'd expect from a MacBook Air. It's a slim, sleek laptop that weighs just 2.8 pounds and comes in at 0.6 inches thick. Those numbers don't break any records but they keep this notebook easy to carry around. Battery life is also great, at 9 hours and 31 minutes, and the speakers sound remarkably good. 

See our full Apple MacBook Air (2020) review

Offering beauty and brawn, the HP Spectre x360 13 is the best 2-in-1 Ultrabook. 

Offering beauty and brawn, the HP Spectre x360 13 is the best 2-in-1 Ultrabook.  (Image credit: Laptop Mag)

4. HP Spectre x360 (Late 2019)

The best 2-in-1 laptop

CPU: Core i5/Core i7 | GPU: Intel Iris Plus | RAM: 8GB/16GB | Storage: 256GB/512GB/1TB | Display: 13.3-inch, 1080p or 4K | Size: 12.1 x 7.7 x 0.7 inches | Weight: 2.7 pounds

Stunning, ultraportable design
Epic battery life
Bright, vivid display with thinner bezels
Fast overall performance
Lots of bloatware
Shrill speakers at max volume

The Spectre x360 13 is the best 2-in-1 laptop ever and one of the best Ultrabooks around. Updated with a 10th Gen CPU and a more modern design, the Spectre x360 13 is improved in almost every way over its excellent predecessor. Highlights of this laptop include a stunning design, a bright 1080p display, epic 13+ hour battery life and fast overall performance. 

If you have a bit extra to spend, we recommend getting the Spectre x360 13 over the Envy 13, even if the latter is a better value.

See our HP Spectre x360 13 (Late 2019) review

Lenovo's Yoga C940 (14-inch) refines a proven formula, making it one of the best Ultrabooks around.

Lenovo's Yoga C940 (14-inch) refines a proven formula, making it one of the best Ultrabooks around. (Image credit: Laptop Mag)

5. Lenovo Yoga C940 (14-inch)

An excellent 2-in-1 laptop

CPU: Up to Intel Core i7-1065G7 | GPU: Intel Iris Plus | RAM: Up to 16GB | Storage: Up to 2TB | Display: 14-inch, 1080p or 4K | Size: 12.6 x 8.5 x 0.6 inches | Weight: 3.1 pounds

Slim, premium design
Beautiful 4K display
Fast performance
Crisp, dynamic speakers
Below-average battery life (on 4K model)
Stylus is difficult to remove

With the Yoga C940, Lenovo took a proven formula and refined it. Subtle design improvements, longer battery life (up to 11:46) and refreshed 10th Gen Intel processors make the Yoga C940 a worthy successor to last year's excellent Yoga C930.

As you'd expect from a Yoga-series laptop, the C940 has a premium, ultra-portable chassis and a unique hinge that doubles as a soundbar speaker. As a 2-in-1, that hinge can rotate 360-degrees to convert the Yoga C940 into a proper tablet. When it comes to viewing content, the Yoga C940's 1080p and 4K displays are crisp, vibrant and bright -- just beware, the UHD display drains the battery.

For all the basics it gets right, my favorite things about the Yoga C940 are its extra features. Those include a webcam cover (no more need to buy tape), a slot for the included stylus and a fingerprint sensor.

See our Lenovo Yoga C940 (14-inch) review.

HP Elite Dragonfly

A new business laptop from HP, the Elite Dragonfly is the best 2-in-1 Ultrabook for business.  (Image credit: Laptop Mag)

6. HP Elite Dragonfly

Best business 2-in-1 Ultrabook

CPU: Intel Core i3/i5/i7 | GPU: Intel UHD 620 | RAM: 8GB/16GB | Storage: Up to 2TB | Display: 13.3-inch, 1080p or 4K | Size: 12 x 7.8 x 0.6 inches | Weight: 2.2 pounds

Gorgeous, lightweight design
Extremely long battery life
Comfortable keyboard
Bright, vivid display
Audio needs some tuning

HP's Elite Dragonfly redefined what it means to be a business laptop. This stunning laptop has a breathtakingly gorgeous chassis that flaunts a unique dark-blue finish.

 The design is as practical as it is attractive; The Elite Dragonfly has flexible hinges that convert the laptop into a tablet, and at 2.2 pounds, it's one of the most portable 13-inch laptops around. 

You'll somehow need to take your eyes off the Elite Dragonfly's aluminum body to appreciate its bright and vivid 13.3-inch display. But the Elite Dragonfly's greatness doesn't stop there. The laptop also has a surprisingly comfortable keyboard, fast performance and a host of security features, including an IR camera, a fingerprint sensor and MIL-SPEC-810 rated durability. 

See our full HP Elite Dragonfly review 

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Lightweight, durable and powerful, Lenovo's ThinkPad X1 Carbon is the best business Ultrabook. 

7. Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (7th Gen)

The best business laptop

CPU: Intel Core i5/Core i7 | GPU: Intel UHD 620 | RAM: 8GB/16GB | Storage: 256GB/512GB/1TB SSD | Display: 14-inch, 1080p or 4K | Size: 12.7 x 8.5 x 0.6 inches | Weight: 2.5 pounds

Attractive, lightweight chassis
Best-in-class keyboard
Long battery life (on 1080p model)
No microSD card slot
4K model has short battery life

The ideal Ultrabook for productivity, the superlightweight ThinkPad X1 Carbon (7th Gen) packs everything you could want in a take-anywhere business laptop. That includes a world-class keyboard with deep travel, a fast 8th Gen processor and impressive battery life. 

You'll get less endurance from the optional HDR screen, but that panel is simply draw-dropping.  

See our Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (7th Gen) review.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga (4th Gen, 2019)

Among the best 2-in-1 Ultrabook laptops is the excellent Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga.  (Image credit: Laptop Mag)

8. Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga (4th Gen, 2019)

The best 2-in-1 business laptop

CPU: Intel Core i7 | GPU: Intel UHD 620 | RAM: 16GB | Storage: 1TBGB | Display: 14-inch, 1080p | Size: 12 x 8.5 x 0.6 inches | Weight: 3 pounds

Bright, vivid 1080p display
Slim, durable aluminum chassis
Best-in-class keyboard
Long battery life
Not available in carbon fiber
No SD card reader

Lenovo took a chance with the ThinkPad X1 Yoga --- the first metal ThinkPad --- and it paid off. While we still love the signature matte-black carbon-fiber found on most ThinkPads, the aluminum and magnesium ThinkPad X1 Yoga is a gorgeous change of pace. 

Not only does it have a slim design, but this convertible 2-in-1 flaunts a bright display and offers a best-in-class keyboard and long battery life. You also get loads of extra goodies, like a built-in stylus slot and webcam cover. 

Considering the OLED display option? See our review of the ThinkPad X1 Yoga OLED

See our full Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga (4th Gen, 2019) review.

Asus ExpertBook B9450

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

9. Asus ExpertBook B9450

Ultra portability

CPU: Intel Core i7-10510U | GPU: Intel UHD | RAM: 16GB | Storage: 1TB | Display: 14-inch, 1080p | Size: 12.6 x 8 x 0.6 inches | Weight: 2.2 pounds

Record-setting battery life
Incredibly lightweight yet durable
Attractive midnight-blue design
Mixed performance
Touchpad and keyboard quirks

16 hours and 42 minutes. That is how long the ExpertBook B9450 lasted on our battery test, which involves continuous web surfing over Wi-Fi at 150 nits. Almost 17 hours. Can you believe that? Because I can't. No other laptop has endured for that amount of time. 

It's incredible for so many reasons. Sure, that's super long. But what if I told you that the longest-lasting laptop ever weighs just 2.2 pounds. Or that it has a 10th Gen Intel U-series processor inside? Or that the midnight-blue chassis is one of the most gorgeous we've ever seen. There are so many reasons to love the ExpertBook B9450 and to even consider it over the ThinkPad X1 Carbon. Asus still has a few things to fix -- like the frustrating keyboard -- but it's on the right path. 

Read our full Asus ExpertBook B9450 review.

How to choose an Ultrabook

The word "Ultrabook" officially refers to notebooks that meet Intel's strict standards for weight, thickness and usability. These days, nonbusiness laptops rarely carry the chipmaker's official Ultrabook label, but many people still use the term to describe superthin and light laptops of all kinds.

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

  • Three 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 could drain battery life.

How we test Ultrabooks

We put Ultrabooks through extensive benchmark testing -- both synthetic and real-world -- before they end up in the hands of our reviewers. We evaluate everything from speed and battery life to display brightness, speaker volume and system heat.

We use a Klein K10 colorimeter to detect the brightness and sRGB color gamut of a laptop's display. For performance benchmarking, we run the laptop through a gauntlet of benchmarks, including Geekbench 4.3 and 5.0 and 3DMark professional graphics tests. 

To determine real-world performance, we task the laptop to convert a 4K video to 1080p resolution and to duplicate a 4.97GB multimedia file. Our real-world graphics test is the Dirt 3 benchmark with medium settings and 1080p resolution. 

We also run heat tests by playing a 15-minute full-screen video and our battery test consists of continuous web surfing over Wi-Fi at 150 nits of brightness. We consider everything over the category average (8 hours and 36 minutes) to be a good result. Of course, these tests are complemented with hands-on testing from our reviewers.