Skip to main content

The best Ultrabooks in 2022: thin and light laptops that also pack serious punch

Best Ultrabooks: HP Spectre x360
(Image credit: HP)

The best Ultrabooks represent the ideal no-compromise laptop for most people: thin and light, with great battery life, yet still fast and responsive. The Ultrabook label was introduced to distinguish the very best Intel-powered Windows laptops, those designed to compete with the power and portability of the best MacBooks (opens in new tab) like the MacBook Air.

So whether you want to do intensive photo or video editing on the go, or simply have a do-it-all laptop for work and play, the best Ultrabooks can take pretty much anything you can throw at them.

However, because they are high-end, zero-compromise laptops, Ultrabooks aren’t cheap. If you’re on a budget, and can live without the familiarity of the Windows operating system and some outright speed, check out the best Chromebooks (opens in new tab). These offer similar – and sometimes better – portability and battery life to most Ultrabooks, but can be a fraction of the price. Plus, we’ve also got a guide to the best budget laptops (opens in new tab) – Windows laptops that are likely to be bigger or slower than an Ultrabook, but again, will cost a lot less.

These days, the term ‘Ultrabook’ isn’t used all that often, so you’re unlikely to see many laptops specifically labelled as one. The laptops on this list may lack specific Ultrabook branding, but they all conform to the Ultrabook ethos of being super-thin and light, while offering slick, speedy performance and all while sipping battery power.

The best Ultrabooks in 2022

(Image credit: Dell)
(opens in new tab)

1. Dell XPS 15

We think this is the best Windows Ultrabook for most workloads

Specifications

CPU: Intel Core i5-12500H – i9-12900HK
Graphics: Intel UHD – Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 Ti
RAM: 8 – 64GB
Storage: 512GB – 2TB
Display: 15.6-inch 1200p – 3.5K OLED Touch Display
Dimensions: 34.44 x 23.01 x 1.85 cm (13.56 x 9.06 x 0.73 in)
Weight: 1.84 – 2.10 kg (4.06 – 4.62 lbs)

Reasons to buy

+
The 3.5K OLED is an absolute dream
+
Keyboard and trackpad are a pleasure to use

Reasons to avoid

-
GPU options a bit underwhelming
-
Battery life shorter on 4K model

Dell laptops are a favorite among pro users, and it's the Dell XPS 15 that sits at the top of that mountain. The ultimate Ultrabook, it boasts a lot of power and all-day battery life in a stunning woven chassis that is the envy of all Windows laptops. Because it has several configurations available, you can choose the best one for your needs. You don’t have to spend as much as a video editor would, for example, if you only need it for photo editing. That’s a good thing, since this is one of the priciest consumer-level notebooks today. On the other hand, if you have some extra cash lying around, you can go for the kitted-out model that should see you through the most demanding 4K video workloads. You can even shell out for the OLED 4K model for a richer viewing experience.

(Image credit: LG)
(opens in new tab)

2. LG Gram 17

We would pick this as the best 17-inch Ultrabook for traveling light

Specifications

CPU: Intel Core i5-1135G7 – i7-1195G7
Graphics: Intel Iris Xe – ​​Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 Ti
RAM: 16GB – 32GB
Storage: 512GB – 2TB SSD
Display: 17-inch 1600p
Dimensions: 38.02 x 26.01 x 17.78 cm (14.97 x 10.24 x 0.70 in) - 38.1 x 26.16 x 17.78 cm (15.0 x 10.3 x 0.7 inches)
Weight: 1.35g (2.98 lbs)

Reasons to buy

+
Very quiet, even under heavier loads
+
Nice, large and high-quality display

Reasons to avoid

-
Touchpad performance could be better
-
Screen glare limits where you can use it

The LG Gram 17 has won awards for its design, and for a good reason. It’s so light, especially for a 17-inch laptop, that you’ll think it’s defying the laws of physics. It’s not, though; it's just brilliant engineering. However, unlike other 17-inch (and some 16-inch) laptops, it isn’t powerful enough for video editing and graphic design tasks. This is best suited for lighter photo editing workloads and lots of productivity work, even if you do get the GTX 1650 Ti model. In other words, this is the laptop you should take with you when you’re traveling for work but not planning on doing any arduous editing on the road. That’s especially because it boasts a 17-hour battery life, which means it’ll see you through long-haul flights and whole-day drives.

(Image credit: Dell)
(opens in new tab)

3. Dell XPS 17

Our top Ultrabook choice for video editors and graphic designers

Specifications

CPU: Intel Core i5-12500H – i7-12700H
Graphics: Intel UHD – Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050
RAM: 8GB – 64GB
Storage: 512GB – 2TB SSD
Display: 17-inch 1200p Non-Touch – 2400p Touch Display
Dimensions: 37.45 x 24.81 x 1.95 cm (14.74 x9.76 0.77 in)
Weight: 2.21 – 2.42kg (4.87 – 5.34 lbs)

Reasons to buy

+
Enough power to tackle most tasks
+
Plenty of screen space

Reasons to avoid

-
Limited selection of ports
-
Premium price

While it doesn’t have as many options as its 15-inch counterpart, the Dell XPS 17 does have its Intel Core i7, RTX 3050 configuration to see you through your video editing or 3D graphic design needs. The best part about the XPS 17 is that while it may be larger and heavier, it also comes with a bigger display, allowing you more space when hooking up to a stand-alone display isn’t possible. That bigger screen should give you plenty of room to spread out and have a seamless workflow even when you’re editing 4K videos. Naturally, since it is an XPS laptop, it boasts the same sleek and classy design that tells everyone they’re dealing with a pro.

(Image credit: HP)
(opens in new tab)

4. HP Spectre x360

We think this is the best hybrid Ultrabook for work and for play

Specifications

CPU: Intel Core i7-1165G7 – i7-1195G7
Graphics: Intel Iris Xe
RAM: 16GB – 32GB
Storage: 512GB – 2TB
Display: 13.5-inch 1280p Touch Display – 3K2K OLED Touch Display
Dimensions: 4.63 x 3.41 x 0.26 cm (11.75 x 8.67 x 0.67 in)
Weight: 1.36 – 1.39 kg (3 – 3.06 lbs)

Reasons to buy

+
Easy to use in tablet or laptop mode
+
Manages to be both thin and powerful
+
The keyboard is satisfying to use

Reasons to avoid

-
Configurations can get expensive quickly

Hybrid laptops don’t always work. Some have hinge issues, while others are too thick to work as tablets. The HP Spectre x360 14-inch, however, has mastered both. Those two hinges are robust. Yet they turn effortlessly, making transitions from one mode to another seamless. Meanwhile, its size and thickness make it easy to use in its tablet form. Of course, there’s plenty of power in its portable frame as well. We wouldn’t use this for video editing since all current models only have integrated graphics, but there’s more than enough for photographers to do some editing work. And, at the end of the day, flip it to tent or presentation mode for streaming the latest blockbuster or to tablet mode for a bit of reading before sleep.

(Image credit: Asus)
(opens in new tab)

5. Asus Zenbook 13

We'd choose this as the best Ultrabook for budget-minded consumers and budding creators

Specifications

CPU: Intel Core i3-1115G4 – i7-1165G7; AMD Ryzen 5 5500U – AMD Ryzen 7 5800U
Graphics: Intel UHD – Intel Iris Xe; AMD Radeon
RAM: 8GB – 32GB
Storage: 256GB – 1TB SSD
Display: 13.3-inch 1080p non-OLED – 4K OLED Display
Dimensions: 30.42 x 20.3 x 1.39 ~ 1.39 cm (11.98 x 7.99 x 0.55 ~ 0.55 in)
Weight: 1.07 kg (2.36 lbs) – 1.14 kg (2.51 lbs)

Reasons to buy

+
A lot of value for the price
+
Few laptops are this light and portable

Reasons to avoid

-
Graphics disappointing on AMD models
-
Lots of ports but no headphone jack

The Asus Zenbook 13 has received its share of accolades, especially for being one of the world’s smallest 13-inch laptops. And, if you’re looking for the most lightweight and compact travel companion, this is the best Ultrabook for you. It comes with a few other merits as well. Its NanoEdge display is practically bezel-free, and its trackpad moonlights as a second screen, giving it a whole new slew of functionalities. For the more budget-conscious consumers, however, its most attractive feature is its price tag. We’re not saying it’s a budget laptop because it’s certainly not. However, it is one of the more affordable Ultrabooks, starting at under $800/£800.

(Image credit: HP)
(opens in new tab)

6. HP Elite Dragonfly G2

The best Ultrabook for business professionals constantly on-the-move

Specifications

CPU: Intel Core i3-1115G4 – i7-1185G7
Graphics: Intel UHD – Intel Iris Xe
RAM: 8GB – 32GB
Storage: 128GB – 2TB SSD
Display: 13.3-inch 1080p Touch Display – 13.3-inch 4K Touch Display
Dimensions: 30.42 x 19.76 x 1.60 cm (11.98 x 7.78 x 0.63 in)
Weight: Starting at 0.98 kg (2.18 lb)

Reasons to buy

+
Satisfying and comfortable keyboard
+
Stunning display with responsive touch
+
Long battery life plus fast-charging

Reasons to avoid

-
Too expensive for even some pro users

If you want a business Ultrabook, prepare to pay a hefty price. Business laptops are already typically expensive. Put them in a thin and light chassis, add in long battery life, and you’ve got yourself one pricey investment. However, if you need all the security of a business laptop in the travel-friendly form factor of an Ultrabook, then it’s a price worth paying. That’s especially true for the HP Elite Dragonfly G2, which is among the best business laptops on the market today. Beyond the price, you’ll be hard-pressed to find fault in it. It boasts a comfortable keyboard, stylish design, stunner of a screen, and a fast-charging battery with up to 12 hours of juice. It’s raising the business laptop bar, and if you have the money, this is the one to get.

(Image credit: LG)
(opens in new tab)

7: LG Gram 14" 2021 (14Z90P)

Ultra-thin, ultra-light, and ultra-efficient: this is the ultimate Ultrabook!

Specifications

Processor: 11th-gen Intel Core i7-1165G7 (8 cores, 4.7GHz boost)
RAM: 16GB
Storage: 512GB SSD
Screen: 14-inch IPS LCD, 1920x1080
Dimensions: 313 x 215 x 17 mm
Weight: 999g
Battery life: Up to 25.5 hours (72Wh battery)

Reasons to buy

+
Extremely light and slim
+
IPS screen
+
Great battery life

Reasons to avoid

-
Not as fast as some Ultrabooks
-
Screen res not the best

LG makes the Gram in three screen sizes: 14-inch, 15-inch, and 17-inch. All have their pros and cons for portability vs. viewing ease, but the svelte 14-inch model makes most sense as a go-anywhere Ultrabook. You get a Full HD 1920x1080 resolution; not the highest, but you do get a terrific 99% DCI-P3 color space coverage, and the Full HD res is still enough to produce a crisp viewing experience.

The Gram range as a whole is all about portability. The 14-inch version is only 1kg - compare this to the equally small Lenovo 14-inch ThinkPad X1 Carbon that weighs around 1120g and the Gram is noticeably lighter in the hand. The slim design still has room for a versatile selection of two USB-A ports, two USB-C/Thunderbolt 4 ports and an HDMI port, plus a microSD slot.

The Intel Core i7-1165G7 quad core processor isn't the most powerful you'll find in an Ultrabook today, but it is especially power efficient, enabling a tremendous battery life of up to 25.5 hours per charge.

(opens in new tab)

8. Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 9

The best Ultrabook for photographers

Specifications

Processor: Up to 11th-gen Intel Core i7-1185G7 (quad-core, 4.8 GHz Boost)
RAM: Up to 32GB
Storage: Up to 2TB SSD
Screen: Up to 14-inch IPS LCD, 3840 x 2400
Dimensions: 315 x 222 x 15mm
Weight: 1.13kg+
Battery life: Up to 16 hours

Reasons to buy

+
Light and compact 
+
Good battery life
+
Good screen options

Reasons to avoid

-
Non-user-upgradable RAM

The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon has long been one of the best Ultrabooks out there, thanks to its compelling blend of high performance and sleek, lightweight design.

The current, 9th gen, X1 Carbon can be specced with several 14-inch screen options. All have at least a resolution of 1920 x 1200 and a respectable 400-nit max brightness, plus 100% sRGB color coverage. The range-topping display is an ultra high res 3840 x 2400 panel with a 500-nit brightness and a hugely impressive 100% DCI-P3 color space coverage.

Elsewhere, bang-up-to-date 11th-gen Intel Core processors provide ample computing power, and though RAM appears to top out at 16GB, you can customise some X1 Carbon configs to pack 32GB. However, it's a pity the RAM comes soldered to the motherboard, so cant be swapped out for higher capacity modules at a later date. This also means you'd be unwise to settle for a base 8GB X1 Carbon, as this is a bit restrictive to qualify as an Ultrabook.

(Image credit: Microsoft)
(opens in new tab)

9. Microsoft Surface Book 3 (15-inch)

An Ultrabook and tablet in one

Specifications

Processor: Intel Core i7-1065G7 (4 cores, 3.9GHz base frequency)
RAM: 16GB
Storage: Up to 1TB SSD
Screen: 15-inch, 3240x2160, touchscreen
Dimensions: 343 x 251 x 15-23mm
Weight: 1.9kg
Battery life: Up to 17.5 hours

Reasons to buy

+
Tablet and laptop in one
+
Stunning design
+
High-end screen

Reasons to avoid

-
Spec getting a little dated
-
Bit bulkier than some Ultrabooks

The x360 moniker in the HP Spectre name refers to the touchscreen’s ability to flip round through 360 degrees so the laptop can convert to a tablet. Windows 10 automatically detects the screen’s position and adapts the interface to be more touch-friendly. While not a feature typical of an Ultrabook, it is useful if you regularly use your laptop on the go and can't always find a surface to rest it on.

HP has moved to an AMOLED screen for its flagship 2021 Spectre x360 13-aw2054na model. It still boasts a 4K (3840 x 2160) resolution, but you now get 100% DCI-P3 color space coverage and an impressive 400 nits peak brightness. The addition of a Corning Gorilla Glass anti-scratch coating further helps the x360's practicality in tablet mode.

Two Thunderbolt 4/USB 4 Type-C ports, one USB Type-A port, a Micro SD slot and a headphone jack make up the physical connectivity. There's also plenty of image editing power thanks to a quad-core 11th-gen Intel Core i7 processor and 16GB of RAM.

(opens in new tab)

10. Razer Blade 15

The best Ultrabook to go for if you work hard and play hard

Specifications

Processor: Up to Intel Core i7-11800H (8 cores, 2.3GHz base frequency)
RAM: Up to 32GBGB
Storage: Up to 1TB SSD
Screen: Up to 15.6-inch OLED, 4K 3840x2160, touchscreen
Dimensions: 355 x 235 x 18mm
Weight: 2.1kg
Battery life: Up to 6 hours

Reasons to buy

+
Healthy performance
+
Quality display and well made

Reasons to avoid

-
Quite heavy
-
Battery life not great

Ok, so the Blade 15 4K (opens in new tab) is primarily a gaming laptop - not stricty an Ultrabook - and it'll guzzle battery juice if you unleash its full performance. But, unlike most gaming laptops, the Blade 15 is slim and fairly light, and its talents don't stop with gaming.

The 15.6-inch 4K screen, which in the range-topping Blade 15 Advanced model is now an OLED panel, is capable of stunning color vibrancy and contrast, making it ideal for photo or video editing. It's even touch-sensitive, with a super-fast 300Hz refresh rate for ultra-smooth gaming, if that's your thing.

All Blade 15 configurations come equipped with the latest blazing-fast GeForce RTX 30-series graphics cards. That’s great for gaming at 4K resolution, where it’ll give a noticeable performance boost, but apps like Photoshop won’t really use the extra oomph. Solid build quality with excellent heat ventilation, as well as the three conventional USB ports are easily-overlooked plus points, while premium models sport Thunderbolt 4 ports and a UHS-III SD card reader.

How we test laptops

When reviewing a laptop, we assess its internal hardware features, build quality, ergonomics, performance in a variety of usage scenarios, value for money, and its overall suitability for its target buyer. Although we'll evaluate a laptop with a typical user in mind, we will also pay particular attention to the perspective of photo and video enthusiasts, with special focus given to screen quality and color space coverage. Where possible, a monitor calibrator will be used to measure a laptop's display performance to assess whether it matches a manufacturer's claims, and software benchmarks like GeekBench are used to measure a laptop's processor and graphics card capabilities.

Read more:

Best Chromebooks (opens in new tab)
Best MacBooks (opens in new tab)
Best laptops for photographers (opens in new tab)
Best laptops for video editing (opens in new tab)
Best student laptops (opens in new tab)
Best desktop computers (opens in new tab)
Best external hard drives (opens in new tab)
Best monitors for photo editing

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

Ben is the Imaging Labs manager, responsible for all the testing on Digital Camera World and across the entire photography portfolio at Future. Whether he's in the lab testing the sharpness of new lenses, the resolution of the latest image sensors, the zoom range of monster bridge cameras or even the latest camera phones, Ben is our go-to guy for technical insight. He's also the team's man-at-arms when it comes to camera bags, filters, memory cards, and all manner of camera accessories – his lab is a bit like the Batcave of photography! With years of experience trialling and testing kit, he's a human encyclopedia of benchmarks when it comes to recommending the best buys. 

With contributions from