Best Ultrabooks Windows Central 2020
As far as Ultrabooks are concerned, Microsoft's Surface Laptop 2 is our top pick. It has a premium build quality, a knockout touch display, and plenty of configuration options available to help you get exactly what you need.
- Best Overall: Surface Laptop 2
- Runner-up: Lenovo IdeaPad S940
- Runner-up: Dell XPS 13 9380
- Best Convertible: Lenovo Yoga C930
- Best Gaming: Razer Blade 15
- Best Value: HP Spectre x360 13t
- Modular Design: Surface Book 2
- MacBook Look: Huawei MateBook X Pro
- Best 17-inch: LG gram 17
- Best Versatility: MSI PS63 Modern
- Best Business Convertible: Dell Latitude 7400 2-in-1
Best Overall: Surface Laptop 2
The Surface Laptop 2 is a 13.5-inch clamshell notebook with a touch display that supports the Surface Pen for a premium inking experience. It has a 2256x1504 resolution and 3:2 aspect ratio with a relatively thin bezel. In our testing, color accuracy hit 99 percent sRGB and 81 percent AdobeRGB, both excellent results that contribute to a vivid picture.
Inside is a faster solid-state drive (SSD) compared to the original Surface Laptop, this time able to hit read and write speeds in the area of 1,500 MB/s and 811 MB/s, respectively. Both Core i5-8250U and Core i7-8650U Intel CPU options have four cores for robust performance, you can add up to 16GB of DDR3 RAM, and the SSD size goes up to 1TB.
You can expect to get between eight and ten hours of life from the battery when going about general tasks, allowing you to leave your charger at home. An IR camera for Windows Hello logins is seated above the display, and the keyboard and touchpad are some of the best around, with an Alcantara palmrest adding a bit of luxury. If you're in the market for an Ultrabook, don't sleep on the Surface Laptop 2.
- Gorgeous 13.5-inch touch display
- Premium build with Alcantara fabric palmrest
- Battery lasts all day
- Extra security from IR camera
- Fast SSD storage
- More affordable options available
- Port selection is limited
The best Ultrabook for most people
With a slim, light chassis, the Surface Laptop 2 has the portability and performance needed to get through a standard day's work.
Runner-up: Lenovo IdeaPad S940
Lenovo's IdeaPad S940 is a close second to the Surface Laptop 2, deemed runner-up only because of the lesser battery life and lack of touch display option. Aside from those two nitpicks, this is a laptop that's bordering on a work of PC art thanks to an all-metal chassis, precision cut angles, and a knockout 13.9-inch display that's available in either FHD or 4K with HDR 400.
In the case of the latter, higher-resolution option, brightness hits more than 500 nits and color accuracy reaches 100% sRGB and 86% AdobeRGB, both excellent results. Lenovo's new Contour Display technology is shown off here, meaning the display curves on its edges like a smartphone, resulting in an ultra-thin bezel.
The chassis is one of the lightest and slimmest options available on the market, and Lenovo has made good use of available space. The Precision touchpad is about as big as possible and the keyboard is comfortable for all-day typing, and above-average speakers run along the edges of the laptop for unmuffled audio powered by Dolby Atmos. Ports include two Thunderbolt 3, one USB-C, and a 3.5mm audio jack, so consider checking out a quality docking station for added connectivity.
- Beautiful 4K HDR display with contour
- Compact, light 14-inch build
- Plenty of configuration options
- Stellar Dolby Atmos quad speakers
- Strong performance
- Below-average battery life
- No touch display option
- Could use more ports
Awesome screen, great speakers, super thin
The IdeaPad S940 brings contoured glass, 4K HDR display, and Dolby Atmos sound to one of the smallest 14-inch Ultrabooks on the market.
Runner-up: Dell XPS 13
The latest XPS 13 9380 made some subtle changes to an otherwise gorgeous Ultrabook that we've come to love over the years. The webcam, which was seated below the display, has now been moved back to the top where it doesn't shoot up your nose, though it's now lacking IR for Windows Hello facial recognition. Rest assured there is still a fingerprint reader built into the power button.
The 13.3-inch display available in FHD or touch 4K sits in a chassis the size you'd expect for an 11-inch display, owing its compactness to the nearly-eliminated bezel around the screen. The laptop is thin and light enough to be carried easily under an arm, yet it retains a respectable modern port selection, including two Thunderbolt 3, USB-C 3.1, and a microSD card reader.
Inside, get up to an Intel Core i7-8565 CPU, 16GB of RAM, and a 2TB PCIe SSD for outstanding performance, and enjoy a large Precision touchpad and premium keyboard. Leave your charger behind when you head to the office thanks to all-day battery life.
- Gorgeous 4K display
- Large precision touchpad
- Light and thin construction
- Two Thunderbolt 3 ports
- Strong performance and battery
- No IR camera for Windows Hello
- No USB-A ports
Beautiful laptop at a competitive price
The XPS 13 9380 is built incredibly well, has a beautiful display with almost no bezel, and performance will get you through a day's work.
Best Convertible: Lenovo Yoga C930
Like the previous Yoga 920, the Yoga C930 has a premium design and build with features and performance to match. A fingerprint reader adds security, a webcam shutter ensures no one looks in on you, and a built-in active pen provides a natural inking experience when coupled with the 13.9-inch touch display available in FHD or 4K.
An 8th Gen Intel Core i7-8550U CPU, 16GB of DDR4 RAM, and a 1TB PCIe SSD ensure you have the power for a day's work, and two Thunderbolt 3 ports and USB-A 3.1 give you plenty of options for connecting accessories. The keyboard is among the best around, so you won't have any issues if you type every day.
This is a convertible laptop with a lid that can wrap around for tent, stand, and tablet modes, but instead of a regular hinge, it was a quality soundbar that pumps out robust audio, making this an ideal laptop for entertainment purposes.
- Hinge doubles as a soundbar
- Modern port selection
- All-day battery life
- Premium build quality
- Comfortable keyboard
- Display could be brighter
- Might not need a convertible design
Premium convertible with soundbar hinge
Lenovo's Yoga C930 asks a relatively high price, but its set of premium features will certainly make sense for a lot of people.
Best Gaming: Razer Blade 15
With up to a NVIDIA RTX 2080 Max-Q graphics card (GPU), 15.6-inch FHD display with 240Hz refresh rate, Intel Core i7-9750H CPU, 16GB of DDR4 RAM, and a 512GB SSD, you won't have any issues getting an amazing gaming experience from the Razer Blade 15. It might run hot, but that's expected from something this thin (0.70 inches!) with this much power.
There are likewise 4K display options with a 60Hz refresh rate if you'd like a higher resolution, and no matter what you choose you get the same attractive slim bezel and perfect color reproduction. The RGB keyboard can be customized for extra style, and the laptop has an enormous Precision touchpad for use when you don't have an external gaming mouse connected.
Ports include Mini DisplayPort, HDMI, Thunderbolt 3, and USB-A 3.1, allowing you to easily hook up an external display and a few other accessories if you'd like to use the Blade 15 as the centerpiece to a gaming battlestation.
- Gorgeous 4K and FHD display options
- Insane gaming performance
- Slim, premium build
- Decent port selection
- Enormous Precision touchpad
- Very expensive
- Runs hot
The ultimate gaming Ultrabook
The Razer Blade 15 is slim, it's packed with powerful gaming hardware, and it has beautiful display options.
Best Value: HP Spectre x360 13t
HP's Spectre x360 13t is a premium convertible Ultrabook that costs less than a lot of similar devices. And yet, it brings a unique gem-cut design with angled corners, an active pen is included for use with the 13.3-inch touch display in either FHD or 4K, and it has all-day battery life and strong performance from up to an Intel Core i7-8565U CPU, 16GB of RAM, and a 2TB M.2 PCIe SSD.
Ports include two Thunderbolt 3, USB-A 3.1, and a microSD card reader for easy connectivity, and there's a fingerprint reader coupled with an IR camera for extra security through Windows Hello. The convertible build means you can use the laptop in tent, stand, or tablet mode, and the edge-to-edge keyboard makes typing a breeze. The touchpad is quite large, though it is stuck with Synaptics drivers instead of Precision drivers.
If you're in the market for convertible Ultrabook with a premium build and powerful hardware inside, the Spectre x360 will likely save you the most money with all features considered.
- Unique gem-cut chassis
- All-day battery life
- Active pen included
- Competitive price
- Beautiful display options
- No Precision touchpad drivers
- Thick top and bottom bezel
Likely the best value you'll find
The all-new Spectre x360 13t demonstrates HP can do jaw-dropping hardware and design, and a great price only adds to the package.
Modular Design: Surface Book 2
Both screen sizes of the Microsoft Surface Book 2 have a 3:2 aspect ratio, though the 13.5-inch display has a 3000x2000 resolution and the 15-inch display has a 3240x2160 resolution. Detach from the keyboard to use the display as a tablet, and take advantage of the Surface Pen for a great inking experience.
The 13-inch model is cheaper but doesn't quite have as much power, while the 15-inch model is available with maximum hardware. Get inside up to an 8th Gen Intel Core i7 CPU, 16GB of RAM, and a 1TB PCIe solid-state drive (SSD), and add an NVIDIA GTX 1060 GPU with 6GB of GDDR5 VRAM. This is a lot of power, allowing you to use the Surface Book 2 in many different situations, including gaming and multimedia editing.
You'll get about 10 hours of battery life from the 15-inch Surface Book 2 model and about 11 hours from the 13-inch model, enough to get you through a workday without carrying around a charger. An IR camera for Windows Hello is nestled above the display, and the touchpad and keyboard only complement everything else.
- Enough power to rival a desktop
- Can be used as an Ultrabook or tablet
- Dedicated NVIDIA GPU
- Gorgeous high-res 3:2 display
- Premium keyboard and touchpad
- Relatively expensive
- Might not need the modular feature
Performance and versatile style
Available in two sizes, the Surface Book 2 is one of our top choices thanks to a modular design, beautiful display, and powerful hardware.
MacBook Look: Huawei MateBook X Pro
The MateBook X Pro comes at you with a 13.9-inch touch display with 3000x2000 resolution and 3:2 aspect ratio, made more impressive thanks to almost no bezel at all. It's truly stunning despite not offering any pen support.
Inside, along with an Intel Core i7-8550U CPU, 16GB of RAM, and a 512GB SSD, is a NVIDIA MX150 dedicated GPU for better gaming and editing performance, making this a versatile Ultrabook. It's all wrapped up in an aluminum chassis that's just 0.57 inches thick and weighs 2.93 pounds (1.33kg).
The comfy keyboard stretches from edge to edge and will delight anyone who types all day, and it includes a pop-up webcam that unfortunately has an angle straight up your nose when conferencing. The Precision touchpad is enormous, promoting productivity, and the speakers pump out quality sound. If you love the look of a MacBook but want to stick with Windows, this is an ideal choice.
- 3K touch display with 3:2 ratio
- Dedicated GPU
- Great price considering hardware
- Almost no bezel
- Premium build quality
- Awkward camera angle
- No pen support
A perfect MacBook lookalike
The MateBook X Pro brings a premium aluminum build, stunning 3K display with 3:2 aspect ratio, and a dedicated GPU for added versatility.
Best 17-inch: LG gram 17
If you love the idea of an enormous 17-inch laptop but can't imagine carrying around something that weighs more than five pounds, you need to check out the LG gram 17. Despite its 17-inch non-touch display with 2560x1600 resolution, it weighs in at just 2.95 pounds (1.34kg).
Although we'd like to see a larger touchpad and better use of space around the keyboard, you won't mind typing all day or pointing on the smooth Precision touchpad. A fingerprint reader is built into the power button for extra security and is compatible with Windows Hello.
Battery life is outstanding and will last for a full workday and more, yet it has inside an 8th Gen Intel Core i7-8565U CPU, 16GB of RAM, and a 512GB SATA SSD that will cut through a regular day's work with ease. Ports include three USB-A 3.0, Thunderbolt 3, HDMI 1.4, and a microSD card reader.
- 2K display with 16:10 ratio
- Light build despite size
- All-day battery life
- Respectable port selection
- Fingerprint reader
- Slow SATA SSD
- Keyboard and touchpad relatively small
A huge laptop that remains light
The LG gram 17 is an extraordinarily light and capable 17-inch Ultrabook that's perfect for students, photographers, and other pros.
Best Versatility: MSI PS63 Modern
A thin Ultrabook with a dedicated GPU — in this case either a NVIDIA GTX 1050 or GTX 1050 Ti with Max-Q design — usually means significantly decreased battery life, but not in the MSI PS63 Modern. Along with an 8th Gen Intel Core i7-8565U CPU, 16GB of RAM, and a 512GB SSD, you can still expect to get about 10 or 12 hours of life from a single charge.
The 15.6-inch display has near-perfect color reproduction, and the anti-glare finish on the FHD resolution makes it easier to work even in a well-lit room. The Precision touchpad has a fingerprint reader built in and the keyboard promotes productivity thanks to ample travel and spacing. Ports include three USB-A 3.1, USB-C, HDMI, and a microSD card reader, though there is no Thunderbolt 3.
The combination of performance and design truly make it ideal for typing, writing, editing, or medium gaming, and considering everything included, the price is respectable. It also weighs in at just 3.53 pounds (1.60kg) and is 0.63 inches thick, making it easy to take wherever you go.
- Light and thin premium build
- Includes dedicated GPU
- Oustanding battery life
- Fingerprint reader
- Thin bezel around FHD display
- No Thunderbolt 3
- Poor speakers
Combination of power and battery life
The MSI PS63 Modern delivers a powerful NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 (or 1050Ti) in a 15.6-inch Ultrabook, making it a rare find.
Best Business Convertible: Dell Latitude 7400 2-in-1
Dell's Latitude 7400 2-in-1 blurs the lines between business and standard consumer laptop, offering a staggering 15 hours of battery life, a brushed aluminum all-metal body that hides smudges, and a generous selection of ports. It might be a bit on the heavy side, but the large battery and touch display are more than worth it.
It would be nice to have options for 2K or 4K resolutions, but the FHD low-watt display does have great color and contrast. It hits 100 percent sRGB and 77 percent AdobeRGB, both excellent results, and you can add an Active Pen for jotting down notes or making sketches in tablet mode. Above the display, set into the thin bezel, is an IR camera that only unlocks the laptop, but also locks your device as soon as you walk away.
A SIM slot resides on the right side of the laptop, below the microSD card reader, ideal for anyone who wants to stay connected at all times regardless of proximity to Wi-Fi. Other ports include two USB-A, 3.5mm audio, two Thunderbolt 3, and HDMI.
- Gorgeous low-watt FHD display
- Good audio
- Impressive battery life
- Premium build quality
- Great port selection
- On the heavy side
- No 2K or 4K display option
Best Business Convertible
Excellent battery, super adaptive
Dell's revamped Latitude 7400 2-in-1 for 2019 leads the pack for 14-inch Ultrabooks and overall battery life.
It's a great time to be shopping for an Ultrabook, and you're sure to find something that exactly fits your needs. If you're unsure where to look first, Microsoft's Surface Laptop 2 is always a safe bet and remains our top pick for an Ultrabook for most people.
It's built to a high standard, meaning it will last for years to come, it has all-day battery life so you can get more done without worrying about plugging in, Alcantara fabric coats the palmrest for extra comfort, and a high-resolution touch display makes it easy to use every day.
Credits — The team that worked on this guide
Cale Hunt Cale Hunt is a staff writer at Windows Central. He focuses mainly on PC, laptop, and accessory coverage, as well as the emerging world of VR. He is an avid PC gamer and multi-platform user, and spends most of his time either tinkering with or writing about tech.
Daniel Rubino is executive editor of Windows Central. He has been covering Microsoft since 2009 back when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Surface, HoloLens, Xbox, and future computing visions. Follow him on Twitter: @daniel_rubino.
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