Let’s face it: Lugging around a heavy laptop can be annoying and uncomfortable. If you’re constantly on the move, but need a portable laptop that’s also powerful, that’s where the Ultrabook comes in.
Designed with portability in mind, ultrabooks typically weigh less than four pounds and are popular among business professionals and students. Many regular clamshells and 2-in-1s are also lightweight these days, but what sets ultrabooks apart is their premium build quality. So, can these sturdy, compact machines be powerful enough to handle demanding workloads? We’ve looked at a number of the best ultrabooks available today to find out
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 are generally lightweight but powerful, capable of handling workloads such as video conferencing and live streams. They make great business laptops and are also good for students or those who just want to work on the go.
Consider the general issue
Performance: Your PC’s CPU, graphics chip, RAM, and storage determine how well your computer can multitask, handle intensive tasks like gaming, and store all your files. The better the specs, the more snappy the laptop will feel while you work.
Construction Standards: 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 those are your primary forms of communication with the machine. . A weak trackpad or clunky keyboard can really kill the experience.
Touch Screen, Portability and Features: 2-in-1 laptops have gained popularity, but including a touch screen and pen costs money. Similarly, cramming all these powerful components into a small, easily portable package can often cost more than a larger laptop with fewer design constraints.
Size of exhibition
You’ll typically find laptops in one of three main sizes, measured by the diagonal length of the display:
13 inches and less: These small laptops are great for traveling around, and are perfect for light tasks 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 large display is useful for photo editing and watching videos.
17 inches: It’s huge, and only recommended if you’re doing video editing or other intensive work that requires a lot of screen real estate—and you don’t mind clogging it up.
These categories can still range in size—for example, the XPS 13’s small bezels make it much smaller than most 13-inch laptops—and sizes in between, such as the 14-inch Lenovo Yoga C930. But in general, choosing a size range you’re comfortable with can help narrow 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.
You 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 specific software for work, you’ll probably stick with Microsoft’s offering.
If you spend all your time on the web, though, a Chromebook might serve you better than you think — between Netflix, Gmail, Google Docs, and even online photo editors like Pixlr, you can do almost everything in a browser, and these web apps Many even work offline for those rare occasions you don’t have Wi-Fi Chromebooks have the advantage of being cheap (since they don’t require as much processing power) and virtually virus-free (since they run Linux under the hood).
Under the hood
Finally, you need to consider hardware—the processor, graphics chip, RAM, and storage that determine your laptop’s capabilities. For web browsing and using office software, lower-power chips (such as the Intel Core i5) are more than adequate. 4GB of RAM is usable on a Chromebook, though web browsing can eat up RAM these days, so if you tend to open a lot of tabs, use a lot of browser extensions, and want a laptop that can last you well into the future—we’d usually get most these days. I wouldn’t recommend 4GB for Windows users.
On the other hand, if you run more intense workloads—that means heavy photo and video editing or running the latest PC games—you’ll want something with a little more “oomph.” Intel’s high-end i7 processors will make those video encodes run noticeably faster, and a dedicated graphics will ensure your games run as smooth as butter (instead of cutting like a bad flipbook).
Regardless of who you are, we recommend erring on the side of more storage 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 cram an external one. 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 use a high-capacity card for cheap, expandable storage.
Also keep in mind internal upgradeability—many modern laptops solder their components to the motherboard, meaning you can’t swap out more RAM or a bigger storage drive down the line. So either buy a laptop that keeps its components separate or spend a little more to buy the specs you’ll need in a few years – not just what you need right now.