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These are the best ultrabooks available today. Credit: Reviewed / Jackson Ruckar

The Best Ultrabooks of 2022

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These are the best ultrabooks available today. Credit: Reviewed / Jackson Ruckar

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Product image of Microsoft Surface Laptop 4

Microsoft Surface Laptop 4

A phenomenal keyboard, stylus-enabled touchscreen, and great performance make the Surface an easy laptop to recommend. Read More

Pros

  • Beautiful stylus-enabled touchscreen
  • Incredible keyboard and trackpad
  • Strong performance

Cons

  • Configuration options are limited
  • Battery life shorter than advertised
Editor's Choice Product image of Dell Inspiron 3501 (2021)

Dell Inspiron 3501 (2021)

It's not the prettiest laptop, but it has a slim and portable form factor, powerful performance, and long battery life—the basics are covered. Read More

Pros

  • Good performance
  • Comfortable keyboard and body
  • Sturdy and rugged

Cons

  • Dim screen
  • No outstanding features
  • Grainy webcam
Editor's Choice Product image of Dell XPS 15 9510 (2021)

Dell XPS 15 9510 (2021)

The Dell XPS 15 9510 is a luxurious laptop that feels fantastic to use, though its performance is just okay for the price. Read More

Pros

  • Luxurious design
  • Excellent OLED display
  • Great battery life

Cons

  • Performance is just okay
  • Runs hot
Editor's Choice Product image of Lenovo Yoga 9i (Gen 7, 2022)

Lenovo Yoga 9i (Gen 7, 2022)

With a 12th-gen Core i7 processor, a brilliant OLED display, and a handy stylus, the Yoga 9i is one of the fastest, most versatile laptops available. Read More

Pros

  • Breathtaking 4K display
  • Excellent stylus and tablet experience
  • Snappy performance

Cons

  • Mediocre battery life
  • Touchpad is too sensitive
Editor's Choice Product image of MSI Summit E16 Flip (2022)

MSI Summit E16 Flip (2022)

The Summit E16 Flip is one of the best 2-in-1s available on the market for artists. Its breathtaking, ultra-bright 4K screen is a great selling point. Read More

Pros

  • Phenomenal HDR display
  • Excellent stylus included
  • Sleek form factor

Cons

  • Poor battery life
  • Fingerprint magnet

Let’s face it: Lugging around a heavy laptop can be annoying and uncomfortable. If you’re constantly on-the-go, but need a portable laptop that's also powerful, that’s where ultrabooks come in.

Designed with portability in mind, ultrabooks are usually less than four pounds and are popular among business professionals and students. A lot of regular clamshells and 2-in-1s are also light these days, but what makes ultrabooks distinct is their premium build quality. So, can these tough, compact machines be powerful enough to handle demanding workloads? We looked at a number of the best ultrabooks available today to find out.

Editor's Note

The recommendations in this guide are based on thorough product and market research by our team of expert product reviewers. The picks are based on examining user reviews, product specifications, and, in some limited cases, our experience with the specific products named.

Product image of Microsoft Surface Laptop 4
Microsoft Surface Laptop 4

If you spend all day typing away, you will adore the Surface Laptop 4’s gentle but tactile keyboard. It’s just about perfect for typing quickly and accurately without all that finger fatigue. Meanwhile, its 3:2 screen ratio is crisp and vibrant, with plenty of vertical space to get work done.

Just like the other Surface laptops, the Surface Laptop 4 has a sleek brushed silver finish and a plush fabric interior that make the laptop look and feel luxe. Media playback is a pleasure with the laptop’s brilliant 3:2 touchscreen and its clear and full-bodied sound. In many ways, it feels like Microsoft’s answer to the MacBook Air.

We tested the Intel Core i7 model, which was one of the fastest laptops we’ve reviewed so far, but there is also an AMD Ryzen model available with even better performance and battery life. We only managed to squeeze eight hours of battery life from our unit, but many users claim they can get north of ten hours or more. This inconsistency holds it back from being the best Windows laptop we’ve tested, but it’s still a darn good laptop.

Pros

  • Beautiful stylus-enabled touchscreen

  • Incredible keyboard and trackpad

  • Strong performance

Cons

  • Configuration options are limited

  • Battery life shorter than advertised

Product image of Dell Inspiron 3501 (2021)
Dell Inspiron 3501 (2021)

Finding a good budget laptop that can keep pace with the premium ultrabooks is no small feat. The Dell Inspiron accepts it with grace: it’s thin, lightweight, and powerful enough to run any productivity task without issue.

While the Inspiron won’t win any beauty awards, the body feels rugged and does a great job of warding off fingerprints. The full-sized keyboard offers responsive keys that perfectly tow the line between soft and bouncy. Meanwhile, the decently large trackpad is smooth and has no issue picking up your finger’s movements. Unlike many of its budget peers, the Inspiron also manages to offer power without sacrificing battery life—it can go for almost eight hours before needing a recharge.

Our Intel Core i5 model was a workhorse, performing the same (or better!) as laptops that cost hundreds of more dollars. Whether you need dozens of Chrome tabs at the ready or find yourself working with Photoshop several times a week, this laptop will perform reliably. The only issue we had with the Inspiron was its dim screen, which may not be bright enough for those who work outside traditional office spaces. It’s not the fanciest, but boy does it get the basics right, offering a comfortable experience that won’t cost a fortune.

Pros

  • Good performance

  • Comfortable keyboard and body

  • Sturdy and rugged

Cons

  • Dim screen

  • No outstanding features

  • Grainy webcam

Product image of Dell XPS 15 9510 (2021)
Dell XPS 15 9510 (2021)

The Dell XPS 15 9510 hits all the marks: it’s powerful, it’s durable, it’s beautiful, and it has a nine-hour battery life. Whether you need to edit some video footage or just want to play some games, the Dell XPS 15’s Intel Core i7 processor and Nvidia RTX 3050Ti graphics card can handle a lot.

It’s not the most affordable Windows laptop, but its premium build quality and gorgeous 3.5K LED display make up for the cost compared to something like the Razer Blade 14 or MacBook Pro 16. The silver-tinted aluminum chassis is classy enough to blend into just about any environment, and with one of the best laptop keyboards out there, it’s perfect for coffee shop writing sessions or taking notes in the boardroom. The UHD OLED display is so brilliant it’s fit for professionals, touting X nits of brightness and great coverage of the P3 color gamut. HDR content looks as vibrant as it should on this screen.

With the option for a discrete processor, the Dell XPS 15 also makes a good creativity and modeling laptop for quick edits. Its entry-level Nvidia RTX 3050Ti graphics card can’t keep up with high-end gaming laptops, but it’s enough power to outclass any integrated graphics by far. It’s even more impressive Dell managed to cram this much power into a laptop without sacrificing battery life or laptop thickness. The Dell XPS 15 is the jack of all trades that can do a bit of everything.

Pros

  • Luxurious design

  • Excellent OLED display

  • Great battery life

Cons

  • Performance is just okay

  • Runs hot

Product image of Lenovo Yoga 9i (Gen 7, 2022)
Lenovo Yoga 9i (Gen 7, 2022)

The Lenovo Yoga 9i is Lenovo’s best 2-in-1 yet. With a 12th-gen Intel Core i7 processor, a brilliant OLED display, and a handy stylus, the Yoga 9i is one of the fastest, most versatile laptops available for serious productivity tasks. Photo editing is particularly a treat, as its 16:10 ratio 4K monitor covers over 90% of the DCI-P3 color gamut and can get to about 375 nits of brightness. Best of all, compared to the competition, the Yoga 9i usually sells for hundreds of dollars less than similar laptops and makes almost no compromises to do so.

For professional film editing or 3D modeling and rendering work, the Yoga 9i can get the job done, but it won’t get it done quickly. While its integrated graphics are excellent compared to those on other processors, the Yoga 9i lacks a discrete graphics processor that would elevate its utility for professional creatives. However, few 2-in-1s offer discrete graphics as an option, leaving you to choose between expensive options like the MSI Summit E16 Flip or settle for a traditional laptop like the Dell XPS 15 or MacBook Pro 14. For those who travel frequently, they may additionally find themselves frustrated with the Yoga 9i’s seven-hour battery life.

If it’s a convenient, delightful 2-in-1 that you’re after, the Yoga 9i is an ideal laptop for most people’s productivity needs. Its stylish and ergonomic form factor, gorgeous touchscreen display, and efficient processor earn it a high spot among our favorite 2-in-1 laptops.

Pros

  • Breathtaking 4K display

  • Excellent stylus and tablet experience

  • Snappy performance

Cons

  • Mediocre battery life

  • Touchpad is too sensitive

Product image of MSI Summit E16 Flip (2022)
MSI Summit E16 Flip (2022)

The Summit E16 Flip is one of the best 2-in-1s available on the market for artists. Its breathtaking, ultra-bright 4K screen can accurately display HDR content with a full DCI-P3 and Adobe RGB color gamut. If you do 3D modeling, its graphics processor is powerful enough to let you open and work on sculpts on the go. If you’re more of a 2D person, the MSI Pen stylus has 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity for crisp, varied line art. Even though the laptop has a massive 16-inch screen, it’s about the size of a standard 15.6-inch laptop thanks to its 16:10 aspect ratio and ultra-thin bezels.

For the times you do prefer to use it as a traditional laptop, you’ll find its large smooth trackpad and crip keyboard are a delightful experience. The only major downside to the Summit E16 Flip is its four-hour battery life. This puts it well behind other 2-in-1s, which can get eight hours of battery life or more (MSI’s previous model, the Summit E13 Flip, gets eight hours, for instance). However, these 2-in-1s often don’t have a 16-inch 4K display like the Summit E16—13 and 14-inch displays are much more common. While the Summit E16 Flip is one of the pricier 2-in-1s out there, its excellent pressure-sensitive display and powerful graphics hardware are some of the best on the market.

Pros

  • Phenomenal HDR display

  • Excellent stylus included

  • Sleek form factor

Cons

  • Poor battery life

  • Fingerprint magnet

Product image of Dell XPS 13 OLED (9310)
Dell XPS 13 OLED (9310)

Best-in-class keyboard? Check. 4K OLED touch screen? Check. High-end performance? Check. The Dell XPS 13 9310 is once again a standout laptop for those on the go.

It is one of the more expensive ultraportable laptops, but its attention to detail justifies it. The brilliant screen and Intel Core i7 Tiger Lake processor make the Dell XPS 13 a great pick for serious workloads, while its sleek aluminum body is easy to slip into your backpack and use in a meeting. Its 16:10 body ratio gives a surprising amount of room for the keyboard and trackpad so your fingers can keep going.

Sadly, its small body limits its port selection. There are just two Thunderbolt 4 ports, a microSD card reader, and a headphone jack. You’ll need to carry some dongles if you need a USB-A or Ethernet port.

The eight-hour battery life might get you through the day, but you may want to use it on a desk as the Dell XPS 13 tends to run hot. It’s expensive compared to its rivals, like the Asus Zenbook S 13 OLED and the Apple MacBook Air M2, but its overall performance and function make the Dell XPS 13 worth the extra cash.

Pros

  • Spectacular OLED display

  • Luxurious, robust design

  • Great keyboard and touchpad

Cons

  • No USB-A or Ethernet ports

  • Can run a bit hot

  • Battery life is just ok

What Is an Ultrabook?

Some laptops have a chunky form factor and are difficult to lug around. High-powered gaming laptops, for example, can often weigh six pounds or more. Simply put, an ultrabook is a laptop with a thin profile. They’re usually lightweight but powerful, capable of handling demanding workloads like videoconferencing and live streams. They make great business laptops and are also good for students or anyone who just wants to get work done on the move.

General Things to Consider

  • Performance: The CPU, graphics chip, RAM, and storage inside your PC determine how well your computer can multitask, handle intensive tasks like gaming, and store all your files. The better the specs, the snappier the laptop will feel as you work.

  • Build Quality: Not only do you want a laptop that can take a beating (since you’ll probably be lugging it around with you), but you want one with a well-built keyboard and trackpad since they’re your primary form of interaction with the machine. A poor trackpad or finicky keyboard can really kill the experience.

  • Touch Screens, Portability, and Features: 2-in-1 laptops have gained in popularity, but that touch screen and pen cost money to include. Similarly, cramming all those powerful components into a small, easy-to-carry package can often cost more than a larger laptop with fewer design constraints.

Display Size

You’ll usually find laptops in one of three main sizes, measured by the diagonal length of the display:

  • 13 inches and under: These smaller laptops are great for carrying around, and more than suitable for light work like writing papers and browsing the web.

  • 15 inches: Mid-sized laptops are a bit less portable, and won’t necessarily work in space-constrained spaces like airplane seats. But the larger display is useful for photo editing and watching videos.

  • 17 inches: This is very large, and only recommended if you are doing video editing or other intensive work that requires a lot of screen real estate—and you don’t mind lugging it around.

There can still be varying sizes within those categories—for example, the XPS 13’s smaller bezels make it much smaller than most 13-inch laptops—and sizes in between, like the 14-inch Lenovo Yoga C930. But in general, picking a size range you’re comfortable with can help narrow down the field.

You’ll also want to consider how many USB ports the laptop has, whether you need HDMI and Ethernet, and how comfortable the keyboard and trackpad are to use—this can vary quite a bit from model to model, and it’s important to get something responsive and durable.

Operating System

You’ll need to consider which operating system you need. Windows is still the dominant OS these days, and if you’re going to play games, edit photos and videos, or need certain software for work, you’ll probably stick with Microsoft’s offering.

If you spend all your time on the web, though, a Chromebook may serve you better than you’d think—between Netflix, Gmail, Google Docs, and even online photo editors like Pixlr, you can do almost anything in a browser, and many of those web apps even work offline for those rare occasions you don’t have Wi-Fi. Chromebooks have the advantage of being cheaper (since they don’t need as much processing power) and virtually virus-free (since they run Linux under the hood).

Under the Hood

Finally, you’ll need to consider the guts—the processor, graphics chip, RAM, and storage that determine your laptop’s capabilities. For browsing the web and using office software, lower-power chips (like the Intel Core i5) are more than adequate. 4GB of RAM is usable in a Chromebook, though even web browsing can eat up RAM these days, so 8GB is recommended if you tend to open lots of tabs, use lots of browser extensions, and want a laptop that’ll last you well into the future—we wouldn’t generally advise 4GB for most Windows users these days.

If, on the other hand, you run more intense workloads—whether that means heavy photo and video editing or running the latest PC games—you’ll want something with a bit more “oomph.” Intel’s higher-end i7 processors will make those video encodes run noticeably faster, and a dedicated graphics will ensure your games run smooth as butter (instead of choppy like a bad flipbook).

No matter who you are, we recommend erring on the side of more storage rather than less—people often underestimate how much space they’ll fill up with all their music, photos, and videos over time, and it’s a hassle to lug an external drive around. Storage can be expensive, though, so if you can’t afford a 256GB solid-state drive, consider buying a laptop with an SD card slot and using a high-capacity card for cheap, expandable storage.

Keep in mind internal upgradeability, too—many modern laptops solder their components onto the motherboard, meaning you can’t swap in more RAM or a bigger storage drive down the line. So either buy a laptop that keeps its components separate or spend a bit more to buy the specs you’ll need in a couple of years—not just what you need right now.

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