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The 5 best Ultrabooks of 2017: lightweight laptops for work and play

Besides being the best-named breed of laptop around,  Ultrabooks are a relatively young concept. Technically, the term ‘Ultrabook’ belongs to Intel (as it patented the phrase in 2011) but the term has gone on to be a bit of a catch-all term for laptops that are lightweight, somewhat versatile, and useful for work as well as play. Here are the 5 best Ultrabooks of 2017.

To be completely clear, while ‘Ultrabook’ is a trademarked term that technically belongs to Intel and Intel alone, here, we will be talking in broader terms. For the purposes of this article, we’ll be using ‘Ultrabook’ to mean a wide variety of lightweight laptops that are suitable for work as well as leisure. If a laptop is significantly thin, light and falls into the general descriptive framework of an Ultrabook, and it’s one of the best Ultrabooks of 2017 so far, we’ll be including it here. So don’t worry too much about the technicalities of the term.

One other thing to note is that our list is in no particular order, have a read through our top picks and hopefully you’ll end up with a good idea of which Ultrabook is the best fit for you. Right, let’s begin.

Surface Book

Microsoft Surface Pro 4

Kicking off our list is Microsoft’s rather unique entry into the field of Ultrabook-likes, the Surface Book. As Microsoft’s PR and Marketing will be proud to tell you, the Surface Book is the thinnest and most powerful Windows PC available right now. Fortunately, that convenient truth is backed up by the fact that the Surface Book functions as a stellar notebook laptop and tablet of its own right.

One of the key features of the Surface Book is the device’s versatility. It can be used as both an Ultrabook as well as a tablet device, when separated from the included keyboard. Inside the box, you’ll find an Intel Skylake processor as well as a ridiculously thin discrete Nvidia GPU. In terms of sheer power, the Surface Book far outperforms any other Ultrabook on this list. As far as downsides, all this beastly power means the system is noticeably heavier than most 13-inch laptops and the touchscreen isn’t quite as responsive as some users will want it to be without using the stylus.

The Surface Book is available in a variety of spec combinations, with different processors, storage sizes and RAM combinations in order to fit your specific purposes as best as it possibly can for the price you’ll pay. This is a seriously top-spec Ultrabook and will serve anyone incredibly well for years to come, as long as you don’t mind the extra bulk.

In the UK: Around £1354 from Amazon UK | In the US: Around $1500 from Amazon US

HP Spectre x360

HP Spectre x360

Fitted with a relatively brand new Kaby Lake processor, the HP Spectre x360 is a fine upgrade if you happen to have an aging Ultrabook or a previous iteration of the Spectre series. More than that, though, it’s a 2-in-1 system that somehow manages to be thinner and lighter than its predecessors, all while being much more powerful than anything that came before it. It’s also much prettier, frankly, thanks to the redesign that HP has given to the outer case and logo.

This system is kitted-out with two USB-C ports as well as a single regular USB port making sure that while the system is essentially future-proofed, it supports the many accessories and USB devices you already have in droves. If you have the budget for it, there is even a version of the HP Specre x360 that sports a 4K display and customers can choose to upgrade the internal storage all the way up to a vastly superior 1TB SSD, if they so choose.

In the UK: Around £1130 from eBay | In the US: Around $1340 from Amazon US

Razer Blade Stealth

Razer Blade Stealth

In recent years, Razer – one of the world’s most recognisable manufacturers of gaming-specific PC accessories – has decided to throw its hat into the ring of powerful Ultrabooks available to buy by creating a thin, streamlined version of its monstrously powerful Razer Blade laptop range. The Razer Blade Stealth retains a whole lot of tech and features from its bigger brother with some notable exceptions, all inside a slimline, sleek case that is somehow both eye-catching and subtle.

Primarily designed for on-the-go gaming, the Razer Blade Stealth on its own lacks some of the much-needed punch that is vital for playing games at high-specs. Of course, Razer has a solution for this in the form of the Razer GPU enclosure which means you can plug an external GPU into the Razer Blade Stealth and immediately enable a massively powerful gaming PC wherever you are. Even without this external add-on, however, the Razer Blade Stealth is far more capable than you may think at first.

The latest model of Razer Blade Stealth feature Intel’s Kaby Lake CPU architecture, which gives it an advantage over several of the other Ultrabooks on the market and the battery, while not as impressive as a few of the other laptops on this list, lasts just shy of 6-hours at a time which, considering this is a machine built for high-powered gaming, is rather impressive. The price you’ll pay for that (beyond the slightly high price tag for the machine itself) is in the inconvenient and bulky power brick that comes with the system. That said though, this is a seriously impressive machine that can be upgraded to feature a 4K screen and up to 1TB of SSD storage space. Its sleek black design is a nice minimalist one that is not often seen in the realm of gaming PCs, too.

In the UK: Around £1399 from Razer  | In the US: From $900 from Razer

Dell XPS 13

Dell XPS 13

According to many experts in the field, the Dell XPS 13 is one of, if not the very best Ultrabook available. From the slightly-lower-than-average price point to the general capability of this notebook, it’s easy to see why. The latest generation of the XPS series is an Intel-powered box with a 13.3-inch display that somehow fits into the 11-inch framework. Seriously, however that works, it’s a sight to behold. Weighing a mere 2.9 pounds, the XPS 13 is a highly portable, easy to use system that is a joy to use.

The system can withstand up to 7-hours of constant use and the lack of a bezel surrounding the screen adds a layer of immersion to everyday tasks that is hard to find in any other laptop model on the market. Add to that the fact that the XPS 13 is not only one of the most affordable Ultrabooks on our list, but is also available in a huge variety of styles, specs and designs, including an insanely powerful i7-7700U model. In terms of overall value, power and mobility, the Dell XPS 13 is king of the castle in many ways.

In the UK: Around £1045 from Amazon UK | In the US: Around $1060 from Amazon US

Acer Swift 7

Acer Swift

The Acer Swift 7 is a remarkable Ultrabook laptop to behold, especially if you get a chance to get your hands on one in the flesh. The Swift 7 is an astoundingly thin laptop, coming in at only 0.39-inches in width and yet, is a massively capable notebook for the majority of uses you can throw at it. Inside the alarmingly slender body, you’ll find a Windows 10 notebook that packs a punch. The 13.3-inch screen is a full HD IPS display, the processor is an Intel i5 in most models and the system comes complete with a pair of up-to-date USB-C ports.

The entire system weighs only 2.5 pounds and the battery can last up to 9 hours at a time, even while under considerable use. While a 9-hour battery doesn’t quite put it at the top range of Ultrabooks on this list, for a package that is this featherlight and thin, it’s an impressive feat. The Acer Swift 7 is not a hugely powerful notebook but if your priorities lie in web browsing, writing and other low-impact tasks, this will be a superb machine to accomplish these with. On top of all of that, it’s a gorgeous looking device which is not something that can be said about many laptops out there in the world.

In the UK: Around £1068 from Tesco Direct | In the US: Around $850 from Amazon US

Well there you go, that’s our list of the 5 best Ultrabooks that money can buy right now in 2017. We’ll keep our eyes peeled for more of the top laptops around over the coming months but if you know of something we should be checking out, send it over to us on Facebook or Twitter and we’ll take a look.

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