What Are Ultrabooks?


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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The Intel low-power hardware platform

Ultrabooks need to be powered by an Intel low-power hardware platform, also known as ULV platforms, from the Sandy Bridge, Ivy Bridge, Haswell or what is right now the latest Broadwell family.

ULV platforms are designed to offer good performances, while focusing on efficiency. Basically, an ultrabook will be able to handle most of your everyday activities at ease, while not requiring a lot of energy. But, that means that ultrabooks are not really best suited for power-hungry tasks, like gaming, editing videos, running programming software, etc. However, it really depends on each person’s expectations. You CAN use the fastests Intel Core i5/i7 ULV configurations for these kinds of tasks if needed, and there are some nice gaming ultrabooks available these days that can handle more than just games, but it is recommended to look at more powerful options, built on full-voltage hardware platforms, if you’re a sucker for performances.

Ultrabooks have to meet another important hardware criteria: they have to use either SSD storage (for the premium devices), or hybrid storage options, with a classic HDD and an extra 24-32 GB SSD  for caching. This way, Intel wants to make sure ultrabooks are going to be snappy and responsive. The amount of memory has its important role too, but while most ultrabooks ship these days with at least 4 GB of RAM, there’s no restriction imposed here.

Ultrabook FAQs

Below are a few of the key frequently asked questions that may arise in your mind while buying an ultrabook.

What is an Ultrabook?

The word Ultrabook was trademarked back in 2011 by Intel for the first time to compete against tablets with more lightweight laptops. Ultrabook isn’t any brand or manufacturer but specific criteria for laptops to be called fully portable. Ultrabooks are configured with an Intel processor. They have low weight (below 3 pounds), provide better battery backup, and mostly have thickness under 0.7 inch. These laptops were introduced to promote portability and comfort to customers while traveling and working.

Why do you need an Ultrabook?

To answer this question, ask yourself that what are you gonna do with your Ultrabook? Do you see yourself as a regular traveler? A remote worker? Or someone who prefers compact display screens and low weight? You cannot expect workstation-like performance from Ultrabooks, but they indeed are well above notebooks. As a video editor, filmmaker, professor, student, businessman, and writer, etc. If you need a portable laptop capable of handling different stuff smoothly – Ultrabook is perfect to go with.

What is the best brand of Ultrabook?

Several well-renowned brands are contributing to Ultrabook’s ecosystem with excellent laptops. Keeping in perspective, you can’t miss appreciating LG Gram and Dell XPS series ultrabooks. Similarly, HP and Microsoft are not leaving any stone unturned. Envy x360 and MS surface book both are perfect definitions of Ultrabooks with lightweight, portable natures.

The Design, Thickness and Weight

1. Ultrabooks are Sleek

  • Ultrabooks are much thinner when compared to traditional laptops.
  • According to the standard set by Intel, an ultrabook of 13.3″ display should have a thickness of less than 20mm.
  • If the ultrabook has a touchscreen, the thickness can be up to 23mm.
  • Ultrabooks are available between 11″ to 15.6″.
  • Most ultrabooks weigh less than 1.5 KGs, handy laptops.
  • You can find ultrabooks that weigh less than 1KG.
  • In most devices, you can find Magnesium, Carbon Fibre, Glass etc being used.

2. Laptops are Common

  • Weight and screen size depend on the intended purposes.
  • Traditional laptops come with a variety of choice for screen size and weight.
  • You will be able to find laptops in varying screen sizes, from 13″ to 20″.
  • There are no specific standards, the weight of these devices can be anything. You can find the same configuration devices for 2KG and 3KG.
  • For gaming-oriented laptops, the weight can go up to 6KG or 8KG.
  • Unlike the ultrabook series, there are no particular standards for thickness.
  • Depending on the device configuration, the thickness will be between 20mm to 40mm.

How can I buy an Ultrabook?

In the years since they were first introduced, use of the term Ultrabook by PC marketers has declined considerably. Some analysts have attributed this to consumer confusion about where the new label fit in the hierarchy beside the existing netbooks and Chromebooks, tablets, 2-in-1s and regular laptops.

Still, PC makers regularly unveil new systems that meet or exceed the tough specifications Intel defined for Ultrabooks (see below). But most manufacturers have opted to sell these models under their own xxxxBook or Ultraxxxx trade names, or to add Ultrabook-like systems to their existing top-line brands, promoting them as high-powered laptops that are also “ultra light” or “extremely thin and light.”

Pricing – Laptop vs Ultrabook

Let’s get this simple.

  • Ultrabooks are much expensive than traditional laptops.
  • You can get a traditional laptop for even around $300 or $400, the best affordable laptop range, we call them – we mean, the devices with basic configuration and features.
  • However, you have to spend around $1000 if you like to get an effective ultrabook from a trusted manufacturer.
  • Some manufacturers are coming up with an affordable ultrabook solution. ASUS is an example of this.
  • By spending around $100 more than a basic laptop, you can get a good-to-go ultrabook from ASUS. But, if you are looking for one of the best ultrabooks, you need to spend more than $1000.

Other Differences Between Laptop and Ultrabook

  • Ultrabooks use smaller-size keyboards in comparison. Also, you can see backlit keyboards on most devices.
  • Some ultrabooks give extra space for the trackpad, to be used with gestures.
  • Ultrabooks ship with Windows 10, and not macOS, Ubuntu or Linux.

Our Verdict

So, we have compared the differences in ultrabook vs laptop duo. In the end, ultrabooks are much more comfortable and user-friendly than common laptops. Of course, there is a difference in terms of performance and intended purposes. For instance, you cannot use an ultrabook as a portable workstation. Also, in comparison, the best ultrabooks will take a lot of money from your wallets. Despite all these, if you can bear the price and need features of portability, ultrabooks are better than traditional laptops.

Connectivity of Ultra book

Indeed, they are equipped with Ethernet, HDMI, USB 2.0 and 3.0 ports, WiFi, but also a Thunderbolt port. Recall that the Thunderbolt technology offers data transfer rate that is 20 times faster than the USB 2.0. In terms of storage capacity, you will be delighted, because many of the machines are equipped with SSD sometimes reaching the size of 256GB or accompanied by mounted SATA hard drives with capacities from 500 GB to 1 TB The use of SSD provides an opportunity for ultra books be particularly fast at startup.

Battery life

Intel also wanted Ultrabooks to have longer battery lives than powerful laptops, with Ultrabooks lasting five hours or more on a single charge. This is achieved by using components that have been specially chosen for their power saving features.

As we mentioned earlier, modern technology has meant that laptop technology has become both more powerful and more power efficient, which means Ultrabooks do not need to make compromises when it comes to prolonging battery life.

Most modern Ultrabooks will run on mobile versions of Intel’s 8th generation Core processor family. These are Intel’s most powerful consumer processors to date, offering up to 40% better performance than 7th generation chips, according to Intel.

We’ve tested a number of laptops (Ultrabook and otherwise) with 8th generation processors, and we can confirm that there is a significant performance increase with laptops rocking the latest Intel processors – especially if you go from a dual-core laptop to a quad-core one. The more cores a processor has, the better it is at multitasking.

Not only are these chips more powerful, they require less power, which helps your battery life last longer.

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