Ultrabooks are basically laptops, which pack incredibly high amounts of performance inside an extremely small chassis. Think of them as MacBook-style alternatives for people who wish to use Windows instead of Mac OS. Traditionally, laptops have always been considered to be heavier, bulkier, and less user-friendly compared to Apple’s MacBook. However, when Intel released their new lineup of low voltage Core-i series processors a few years ago, it was finally possible to compress massive amounts of processing power into a sleek and lightweight body. Not only are Ultrabooks lighter and thinner than conventional laptops, but they also pack more features.
For example, any mid-range Ultrabook will come with a 1080p IPS display as standard, and most of them will feature touchscreens along with a copy of Windows 10 preinstalled from the factory. Ultrabooks also boast extra-long runtimes, in the range of 7 to 10 hours. This extra battery life is because of specially designed Intel low-voltage processors. Low-voltage CPUs have the “U” suffix (ex. i5-8250U), which means they consume less power than ordinary laptop processors, but at the cost of performance. Gaming laptops rarely use low-voltage CPUs in order to maximize power for heavy-duty applications such as games and content creation, but Ultrabooks put battery life first.
Another important thing to note about Ultrabooks is the build quality- while a standard laptop isn’t designed with much focus on how it looks and feels, an Ultrabook is intended to provide the customer with a premium experience. Which is why you will find many examples of Ultrabooks featuring machined aluminum bodies and narrow-bezel displays. Some high-end Ultrabooks even feature scratch resistant glass on the screen, similar to expensive smartphones. Lenovo Yoga and Acer R15 models allow you to swivel the display up to 360°, turning your slim laptop into a giant tablet. Many Ultrabooks are equipped with detachable screens and support styluses.
In this article, we are going to help you select the best Ultrabook under 1000 dollars. We reviewed a total of 4 models, and each one was selected on the basis of features, performance, and feedback from certified customers. These four are the cream of the crop, the very best amongst all sub-1000 dollar Ultrabooks. Each one has its unique strengths and weaknesses, and we are sure that you will find at least one model from our list that satisfies your needs.
- ASUS ZenBook – The Absolute Best
- DELL XPS – MacBook Killer
- Acer Aspire R15 – All Rounder
- ASUS VivoBook – Best Value for Money
- Conclusion – Which One of These Fine Machines Should You Purchase?
Lightweight, powerful, and beautiful- these words best describe the ZenBook UX430UA. However, cheap is one word that we wouldn’t dare use while in the presence of this amazing piece of hardware. In fact, it costs a couple dollars more than our stipulated budget, which is 1000. But what you get for that extra couple of dollars is insane- an i7 processor, a 14” touch display, and all the wired/ wireless connectivity one could want.
Since the main selling point of this laptop is its CPU, let’s talk a bit about it. The ZenBook UX430UA is powered by an Intel 8th generation Core i7 processor, the i7 8550U. This is a four core, 8-thread chip with a base clock of 1.8 GHz, and an insane boost clock of 4.0 GHz. The cache is massive, at 8MB, and average TDP is just 15 watts. It is based on the 14nm Kaby Lake R (refresh) architecture, and is incredibly versatile while also being super-efficient. You can load up several applications simultaneously, and swiftly tab between each one of them while the i7 8550U effortlessly runs through any workload you throw at it. Unlike any low-voltage i7 from previous generations, this one features a Turbo clock of 4.0 GHz, which is almost twice as much, boost compared to some older gen i7s.
However, the processor is not capable of doing things all by itself, it needs some memory and a storage. That is where the 16GB of LPDDR3 RAM and 512GB of super-fast SSD storage comes in. You can game, edit 1080p footage, and even render 3D models in Blender or Maya with the amount of hardware that is present in this laptop. All that power, packed into a sleek 2.75 lb. aluminum chassis, coupled with an anti-glare 1080p IPS display means that you will be enjoying whatever you do on this laptop, be it browsing the web or watching your favorite movies on Netflix with zero buffering, thanks to the 802.11 ac WIFI.
Insanely fast processor
Packs a 14” display in a body size typical of a 13.3” notebook
Weighs just 2.75 pounds, thanks to the Aluminum chassis
802.11 ac WIFI
Massive 512 GB SSD
16GB of RAM, perfect for doing everything from opening 100 tabs in Chrome, to editing a photo you capture on your DSLR camera
Stunning looks, premium build quality
One of the more expensive options
The keyboard could have been better
We know what to expect from this machine since it is an XPS. Amazing build quality and performance that will shame any Apple laptop under 1000 dollars. But other than that, you also have some features that are exclusive to Dell XPS 13 notebooks. Features such as the Gorilla Glass NBT, and Killer 1535 802.11 ac 2×2 WIFI. It even has a Thunderbolt 3 port.
This Dell Ultrabook has a smaller display compared to the ASUS ZenBook, 13.3” vs 14”. But, it is also lighter at 2.65 pounds compared to the 2.75 pounds of the ASUS. While that may not seem like a massive difference, this one also has a touch display while the ASUS has a standard 1080 IPS panel. But the good news does not end there, the 13.3” wide view anti-glare IPS screen of this XPS notebook is protected by a layer of CORNING Gorilla Glass. That’s right, the same protective glass layer that is used in high-end smartphones to prevent scratches and cracks on sudden impact. By now, you must be thinking, “well, why should I buy the ZenBook if it doesn’t have a touchscreen and Gorilla Glass like this Dell XPS?” Nice question, you surely didn’t expect Dell to offer all this at a lesser price than the ZenBookUX430UA did you?
The processor powering this Ultrabook is an Intel i5 7200U. It is a dual-core, 4 thread CPU based on 7th generation architecture and has 3MB of cache. The base clock is 2.5GHz, and Turbo frequency is up to 3.1 GHz. While it does have a higher base clock speed compared to the i7 8550U in the ZenBook, the boost speed is significantly lower, and there are half as many cores. But despite this fact, it is an incredibly good performer in daily tasks and can even handle light gaming or photo editing as long as you remember that you are working with a 128GB SSD and just 8BG of RAM (that is enough today, not 2 years from now).
Machined aluminum chassis and Gorilla Glass NBT coated touchscreen
Waves MaxxAudio Pro tuned stereo speakers
Thunderbolt 3 port
Killer 1535 802.11 ac 2×2 super-fast WIFI
Weighs just 2.65 pounds (lightest Ultrabook on our list)
128 GB SSD
Could use more RAM
It is a direct competitor to the Lenovo Flex 4 and Yoga lineup of notebooks. But we would take this Acer over the Lenovo any day of the week because it doesn’t feel flimsy around the hinges like the Flex 4. The keyboard is excellently designed and this is the only laptop on our list with dedicated graphics, so gamers and content creators are going to love it.
The body is made from aluminum, and the 1080p IPS display is touch-enabled, which puts this convertible Ultrabook in the same category as the Lenovo Flex 4 or Yoga. But there are a couple of key differences- firstly, the Flex series of notebooks don’t feature the same level of build quality as the Acer R15. Secondly, we don’t know of any Flex models that offer a fingerprint reader. In fact, the fingerprint reader on the R15 is actually very accurate and will usually unlock the notebook with just one pass. But how is it like to run applications on one of these? Well, quite pleasant actually. There is an Intel i7 7500U processor within the chassis of the R15, which is a dual core, 4-thread chip like the i5 7200U in the Dell XPS. But, this is an i7 so the clocks are slightly faster at 2.7 and 3.5 for base and boost frequencies respectively. It also has an extra MB of SmartCache compared to the i5 7200U.
The 12GB of DDR4 RAM is a pleasant surprise, we were not expecting Acer to go with DDR4, since most other Ultrabooks in this range use LPDDR3 (low power DDR3, more efficient than standard DDR3). But they didn’t just choose the faster RAM, they added a generous 12GB of it which is perfect for multitasking, gaming, and content creation. Talking of gaming, you get an NVIDIA 2GB 940MX GDDR5 GPU in this 15.6” notebook, which instantly makes it the best gaming machine on our list.
7th gen Intel Core i7 processor
NVIDIA 940MX 2GB GDDR5 GPU
12GB DDR4 RAM
256GB SSD with Windows 10 Home preloaded
9hr battery life
1080p multi-touch IPS panel
Built-in fingerprint reader
Heavier than most Ultrabooks at 4.74 pounds
Battery life can go down significantly when you are using the dedicated GPU
While sporting an i5-8250U quad-core hyperthreaded 8th generation Intel processor, this VivoBook is slightly let down by the tiny 128GB SSD. That is the only weakness of this otherwise brilliant Ultrabook. For the money, it doesn’t get any better than this. If you are on a tight budget or have been saving up for a long time for a brand new notebook, this is the one to get. It even has a fingerprint sensor and an IPS display that is typically found on models that cost 200 dollars more.
Since we are talking about value for money, let’s get straight into the heart of this laptop- an Intel Core i5 8250U is what powers this 15.6” Ultrabook. Coupled with 8GB of DDR4 RAM, that seems like a pretty sweet deal for just around 550 bucks. But ASUS had to make a compromise somewhere since they are offering hardware that is normally found on laptops costing 750 dollars and above. So they had to go with an SSD + HDD hybrid storage system instead of one single SSD. The VivoBook F510UA is equipped with a 128GB SSD and a 5400 rpm HDD. You can install a larger SSD yourself, by spending another 100 bucks, and the performance while booting or loading up applications will be similar, or even better than laptops that cost 200 dollars more.
The build quality feels really good for the price, and overall thickness is just 0.8”. It weighs only 3.7 pounds, which is light for a 15.6” Ultrabook. We were really impressed by the display of this laptop, it uses an anti-glare 1080p IPS panel and the colors, as well as contrast, will fool you into believing that this is a high-end Ultrabook that costs closer to 1000 dollars than 500. There is plenty of connectivity too, in the form of a reversible USB Type C connector with an any-way-up design which helps you connect devices much more easily. There is an HDMI out port, along with legacy USB 2.0 connectors. One of the things that make this budget Ultrabook unique is the fingerprint sensor, which is neatly integrated into the top left side of the touchpad.
Intel 8th generation i5 for a really low price
8GB of high-speed DDR4 RAM
Brilliant 1080p IPS display
802.11 ac WIFI
USB Type C reversible port
No LED notification on CAPS lock
Keyboard feels mushy and key presses are uneven at times
Conclusion – Which One of These Fine Machines Should You Purchase?
If you do not wish to compromise on performance or looks, then the ASUS ZenBook UX430UA-DH74 is what you are looking for. Simply put, it is the undisputed king of the hill when it comes to 1000-dollar Ultrabooks. Sure, there are cheaper options out there for someone who is looking to buy their first Ultrabook, but when you consider how much the ZenBook offers for its price, it really doesn’t seem like an expensive option. Is it the most expensive model in our review? Yes. Is it one of the most expensive Ultrabooks out there? By no means, because there are plenty of 2000 and even 3000-dollar Ultrabooks in the market. Nevertheless, what really impressed us is how well this ZenBook can hold its own against competitors that are almost twice as expensive. So if you want the absolute best, and are willing to spend just over 1000 dollars- buy the ASUS ZenBook. It will not disappoint you.
Before ASUS rolled into the Ultrabook market with their “ZenBook” lineup, Dell was the go-to option for anyone who wanted a slim high-performance laptop. And the XPS series is what made Dell famous among their premium clientele who were willing to shell out top-dollar for a machine that is built to Apple MacBook standards and performs brilliantly. However, that was the past; does the XPS still hold up against the likes of ASUS’s ZenBook and Lenovo’s Yoga Ultrabooks? Well, we are glad to say that it does. In fact, it doesn’t just match the competition, but it offers something that no other manufacturer can- the Dell XPS experience. Everything about this laptop makes you want to use it, even if you are not doing anything you just feel like you have to open it up and switch on the power. Not only does it look gorgeous, but the build quality is exactly what we have come to expect of Dell XPS by now. Machined aluminum and glass. The only signs of plastic you will find on the exterior of this Ultrabook are through the keyboard. Everything else is either metal or glass. And, somehow it still manages to weigh under 3 pounds.
The Acer R15 can be whatever you want it to be, and there are four different ways you can use this convertible Ultrabook- Standard notebook mode, Display-only mode, Tent mode, and Tablet mode. It is just like the Yoga from Lenovo, but with a few twists. First of all, no Yoga laptop in this price range offers NVIDIA 940MX dedicated graphics. Which means the R15 can double up as a gaming/ content creation device. Secondly, the R15 comes with an embedded fingerprint reader, something that is very rare in Ultrabooks at this price range. The only real competition that the R15 has in this price bracket is the Lenovo Flex 4, which is actually inferior in terms of build quality. The R15 probably has the best hinge and soft closing mechanism we have seen on any convertible Ultrabook. Even as you cycle through the various modes, the display doesn’t wobble and the keyboard feels great to type on. The whole machine feels like one solid unit all the time, which is very interesting when you consider the fact that it can completely fold up from a laptop into a tablet within seconds.
Most Ultrabooks do not come equipped with HDDs since disk drives are slower than solid-state storage. HDDs are also heavier and consume more power compared to SSDs. But the VivoBook F510UA sports a hybrid storage system, combining a 128 GB SSD with a 1TB 5400 rpm HDD. This is a slight concern for consumers who purchase this laptop to carry out tasks such as video/ photo editing, or even casual gaming. The HDD means that boot times will be slower, and applications will take longer to load. However, you can upgrade the tiny 128GB SSD to a 256 GB model, at your own expense. Once you do that, this affordable Ultrabook will be able to compete against much more expensive models. It is powered by an Intel i5-8250U, which is the second most powerful processor you will find in any Ultrabook under 1000 dollars. The most powerful Ultrabook processor (on a 1000-dollar budget) is the i7- 8550U in the ASUS ZenBook.