A relatively new option in the portable computer world, ultrabooks combine sleek and stylish designs with high end functionality.
These super slim laptops are well under an inch thick when closed, and usually include touch screens and top-of-the-line specs.
Ultrabooks generally aren’t cheap though so finding the right ultrabook model for you can be quite challenging especially if you’re on a budget.
It usually takes a lot of research to find cheap and affordable ultrabooks as well as their features. Thankfully you’re reading this article since we did the job for you. Let’s take a look at what’s currently available on the market with the best budget ultrabooks you can find under $1000.
Recommendations for January 2021
Best Budget Ultrabooks Under $1000 Of 2020
Asus Vivobook S15 – Thin And Light
Alright, so we’re actually fudging a little bit here. The VivoBook usually retails at $500 to $800, but it does go on sale and you can find special offers through Amazon to lower the price.
Honestly though, you don’t want to go cheaper than this when looking for the best ultraportable laptop. Anything under this price range is going to feature simply unacceptable specs.
This particular model is the baseline for what you should expect from any slim and lightweight device.
Due to the extremely thin bezel design, ASUS managed to fit a 16-inch diagonal screen into a 15 inch frame. At 3.97 pounds and well under an inch thick, this is much lighter than your typical work or school laptop.
With an 8th gen processor and 8GB of RAM, you get great specs in a thin and light package.
Some versions of the Asus Vivobook S15 will have you end up with a hard disk instead of a solid state drive, which is the main downside to going this cheap and the biggest complaint from buyers.
Thankfully this model comes with a 256 GB SSD and replaces the larger but slower HDD of previous models.
Recommended Configuration For Asus Vivobook S15
CPU: Intel Core I5-8265U CPU| Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce MX250 | RAM: 8 GB RAM | Screen: 15.6 inch Full HD 4 Way NanoEdge bezel Display | Storage: 256 GB SSD | Operating System: Windows 10 Home | Battery Life: 7 hours | Weight: 3.97 lbs
Lenovo Yoga C930 – Ultrabook For Artists
The 2020 Lenovo Yoga has an incredible battery life of over 10 hours which is great for those doing their work away from a charger. Its 2-in-1 capability means that it’s as versatile as you need it to be and can fold into the most comfortable position for you.
With a top of the line processor, you should have no problem doing all the work necessary to wow the world with your amazing art. 16 GB of RAM will keep all your programs and tabs running for as long as you need them to.
It has loads of storage as well so you shouldn’t have to worry too much about running out unless you’re working with huge file sizes. Purchasing an external hard drive is an alternative if you find yourself needing more space.
The Lenovo Yoga C930 also comes with unique features as well. It comes with an active pen included and has a space to store the pen when you’re done with it. The Yoga’s only drawback for the artist is its lack of a media card reader. However, you can purchase a peripheral card reader that will work just fine.
The Yoga has plenty of ports to accommodate your needs, including: 1 USB 3.0 slot, and 2 Thunderbolt 3 slots.
Other features include: a fingerprint scanner to keep your documents and information safe and secure and a rotating soundbar so you can enjoy the audio experience no matter which position you have the laptop in.
Recommended configuration for Lenovo Yoga C930
CPU: Intel Core i7-8550U | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 620 | RAM: 16 GB RAM | Screen: 13.9 Inch Energy-efficient LED backlight 4K (3840 x 2160) Ultra HD Touchscreen | Storage: 512 GB SSD | Operating System: Windows 10 Home | Battery Life: 10 hours| Weight: 3.00 lbs
HP Spectre x360 – 360 Degree Display
The HP Spectre essentially doubles the specs from the Lenovo Yoga contender listed above (with the exception of RAM), and is even thinner!
With 8 GB of RAM, a 10th gen processor, and a 512GB SSD, this model outclasses quite a few high end desktop machines.
You pay a premium for those specs, however. You won’t find this model anywhere close to under the $1,000 mark.
Like the Lenovo Yoga, you can flip this ultrabook around and use it as a tablet. The Spectre even includes a stylus and is designed with Microsoft Ink in mind.
When you need a hybrid device, you won’t find many with better specs of features. Of course by going this thin you lose out on the DVD drive, but that’s a small price to pay.
The Spectre also includes a fingerprint ID scanner. You definitely want that feature when you’re investing this amount of money on a laptop.
Buyers frequently mention loving the distinctive dark ash and gold color scheme, but note the fans run more frequently than other ultra thin models.
Although it probably won’t matter at this price point, there’s another consideration here to keep in mind. The battery for the HP stylus can’t be plugged in to charge.
That means you’ll need to buy a fairly steady supply of disposable AAAA batteries, or invest in a rechargeable set.
Recommended Configuration For HP Spectre x360
CPU: 10th Gen Intel Core i7-1065G7 | Graphics:Intel Iris Plus Graphics | RAM: 8 GB RAM | Screen: 13.3″ FHD (1920×1080) IPS BrightView WLED Multi Touch Screen | Storage: 512 GB SSD| Operating System: Windows 10 Home | Battery Life: 16 hours | Weight: 2.8 pounds
ASUS ZenBook 14 – Military-grade Durability
Ultra lightweight units tend to start at 13 inches, with some even going as low as 11 for the ultimate in portability. Some users prefer a bigger viewing area though, and that’s where this Asus ZenBook comes in.
You get a bigger screen than your average 13 inch portable computer, but it’s still extremely light at 3.26 pounds. That extra inch gives you more than just a wider display screen, as well. The ultrabook is surprisingly durable thanks to its military-grade durability.
With two drive slots, you get a chance to fill both slots with an SSD. That means you’ll have blazing fast boot up speeds and plenty of storage space.
There is a trade off on the RAM, unfortunately. Most high end ultrabooks will come standard with 16 GB of RAM, so you lose out on the memory front.
That issue can be mitigated if you expand the memory later on. This machine’s motherboard comes with one 8GB stick, and can handle a second for a total of 16 GB.
Buyers often praise the lightweight, space saving design. There is one downside they mention in that design, however.
For some reason, the power button is a keyboard key, and it’s positioned right next to the Delete key. Don’t be surprised if you accidentally put your computer to sleep a couple of times while getting used to that keyboard layout.
Recommended Configuration For ASUS ZenBook 14
CPU: Intel Core i7-10510U Processor | Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce MX250 | RAM: 8 GB RAM | Screen: NanoEdge 14 inch Full HD display with 86% screen-to-body ratio in a 13” chassis | Storage: 512 GB SSD | Operating System: Windows 10 Home | Battery Life: 8 hours | Weight: 3.26 lbs
LG Gram – Long Battery Life
The LG Gram isn’t just the best 15 inch version of a portable laptop — it’s also one of the best ultrabooks available, period.
This is one of the lightest, slimmest devices available on the market. Despite weighing less than 2.5 pounds, it still manages to fit a full 13 inch display just like a standard portable laptop.
It also sports an incredibly slim bezel, so you actually get more viewing area than with your typical 13-inch notebook computer.
Like most ultrabooks, there just simply isn’t room for an optical DVD-RW drive here. That’s not a big issue though, because you get three USB 3.0 ports, a USB Type-C, HDMI, and MicroSD ports.
Because this is a 13 inch model, the keyboard does not sport a full 10 key side pad. Like with the Asus ZenBook, the power button is on the keyboard, but it’s in the far top right corner and clearly marked..
Two primary complaints are brought up by buyers who reviewed the Gram. The screen is glossy rather than matte, which some users find less pleasing to the eye for viewing videos.
The speakers are also positioned underneath the laptop, rather than on the top or side. That’s not usually a design you see unless you are getting a 2-in-1 machine, which isn’t the case here.
What that means is that you’ll get slightly muffled sound if you aren’t using headphones or an external speaker setup.
Lastly, the LG gram has over 20.5 hours of battery life allowing it to last for days before needing a charge.
Recommended Configuration For LG Gram
CPU: Intel Core i7-8565U | Graphics:| RAM: 16 GB RAM | Screen: 13. 3 Inch Full HD (1920 x 1080) IPS LCD Touchscreen | Storage: 256GB SSD | Operating System: Windows 10 Home | Battery Life: 20.5 hours | Weight: 2.5 lbs
MSI GF65 – Gaming Ultrabook
It’s not often that you’ll find a portable ultrabook that also happens to be a VR-ready gaming powerhouse. That’s what you get with the Stealth Thin version of MSI’s GS65 laptop.
It is slightly more heavy than the other contenders, but not by much. That’s simply a concession that has to be made to get a dedicated graphics card, though.
This unit remains incredibly thin, at less than an inch thick. Other contenders in our lineup have more storage space, but none have even close to the graphical power.
With a powerful Intel Core i7-9750H processor, a GeForce GTX 1660 Ti and 8 GB of RAM, you can expect to play pretty much anything on high settings.
No one will ever mistake this for a simple school computer either. You get a striking black and gold design here, along with a full RGB keyboard.
There are a few downsides to take note of when picking an ultrabook for gaming. Most notably, they are going to have less battery life.
In general, gaming laptops are meant to be played while plugged in, which is a trade off for the portability. Unless they are in our laptop with the longest battery life list.
Laptop speakers also just aren’t going to be up to par of an external set on a desktop machine, and that’s a fact referenced often by reviewers.
If you play games where sound matters — like listening for footsteps in a Battle Royale title — you’ll want to get headphones.
Do you intend to use your ultrabook for both work and gaming? Don’t forget this model has an optional Office 365 bundle available through Amazon as well!
Recommended Configuration For MSI GF65
CPU: Intel Core i7-9750H | Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660 Ti| RAM: 8 GB RAM | Screen: 15. 6″ FHD (19201080), IPS-Level 120Hz Thin Bezel | Storage: 512GB SSD | Operating System: Windows 10 | Battery Life: 6 hours | Weight: 4.1 lbs
Acer Swift 5 – Business Ultrabook
If you’ve seen the term “signature edition” before but weren’t sure what it meant, you certainly aren’t alone.
For an ultrabook, it means you’ll pay more but in exchange get a completely clean installation with no bloatware of any kind. For business users who need speed and a clean copy of Windows, that’s a huge bonus.
That’s just the start of the high end features here, though. Notably, the Acer Swift 5. The laptop includes a “full view” display with almost no bezel at all blocking any screen viewing area.
The ultrabook comes with a button that doubles as the fingerprint scanner, so with one touch you are signed in and ready to go. That’s a feature you can expect to see many other manufacturers start to mimic in the near future.
For office settings, this machine has very high battery life that will have you working a full day — even on overtime — with a single charge.
In another design innovation you can expect to see become standard, this model uses a privacy-focused pop-up camera. An employee has to actually tap the camera on the keyboard to bring it into view, which offers better security.
Despite its thin profile, this model also includes a powerful processor and a reliable graphics card. That makes it perfect for an office where you are running high end video editing or CAD software.
The Acer Swift 5 also comes with a backlit keyboard that makes it easier to work at night. It also features a Gigabit Wi-Fi which enhances the Wi-Fi signal enabling you to work uninterrupted and smoothly. This also ensures steady download speeds as well so you can enjoy watching smoothly without having to load the video and buffer it beforehand.
One of the main issues you get with the Acer Swift 5 is that you tend to get a lot of coil whine and fan noise with this model. Keep that in mind if you tend to use your laptop in a quiet location.
Recommended Configuration For Acer Swift 5
CPU: Intel Core i7-8565U | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 620| RAM: 16 GB RAM | Screen: 15. 6 Inches Full HD (1920 x 1080) widescreen | Storage: 512 GB SSD | Operating System: Windows 10 Home| Battery Life: 10 hours | Weight: 2.20 lbs
Dell XPS 9380 – InfinityEdge Display
In terms of sheer operational time and battery power, it doesn’t get much better than the XPS. The hybrid 2-in-1 style and lightweight design give you up 11 hours of usage for most tasks.
With 8 GB of RAM and a 256 GB SSD, you still get excellent overall specs even with that insane battery life.
Unlike the HP Spectre listed above, this unit doesn’t include its own stylus. If you want to use this as an Ink tablet, be sure to pick up a Dell stylus as well.
Don’t care for the hybrid 2-in-1 design but still want to use your ultrabook all day long? Keep in mind that the Huawei MateBook X Pro and LG Gram also have astonishingly high battery lives.
But asides from that, it has a magnificent FHD display. What’s even better is that this display is enhanced by its InfinityEdge feature which seamlessly blends the laptops display in the surroundings.
Recommended Configuration For Dell XPS 9380
CPU: Intel Core i7-8565U Processor | Graphics:| RAM: 8 GB RAM| Screen: 13.3″ FHD (1920×1080) Non-Touch InfinityEdge Display | Storage: 256 GB SSD| Operating System: Windows 10 Home | Battery Life: 11 hours| Weight: 2.67 lbs
Microsoft Surface Book 2 – For Drawing
The Microsoft Surface Book 2 isn’t exactly under $1000 but it is under the $1100 so people who might be looking for a ultrabook might be interested in forking out that extra $100 for this quality piece of hardware.
During the year 2015, when the Surface Book 2’s predecessor was released, nobody may have foretold that the follow-up would prolong to make the MacBook Pro look like an inexpensive toy in comparison. But, that’s specifically what happened. And, while the Surface Book 2 is pricier than its predecessor, it quite must be. Instead of signifying a laptop that can flip around, it really is two devices in one.
Surface Book 2 does inherit the original’s idea, switching things up only enough to make the critics happy. The Dynamic Fulcrum Hinge, for instance, is a lot more solid on the Surface Book 2. The compact 13.5-inch design also delivers its come back alongside the 15-inch Surface Book 2 we evaluated here.
In terms of the Surface Book 2’s look and feel, in all its brushed aluminum glory, it’s a real understatement to mention that Microsoft took the Surface Book and blew it up in every way to create the Surface Book 2 the stunning 15-inch device that it is. While Microsoft did apparently place plenty of effort into considerably improving the Surface Book 2’s power profile and screen technology, this is, in some ways, an even bigger Surface Book.
Recommended Configuration For Microsoft Surface Book 2
CPU: Intel Core i5 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 620| RAM: 8 GB RAM | Screen: 13.5-inch PixelSense Touchscreen with pen input| Storage: 256 GB SSD| Operating System: | Battery Life: 17 hours| Weight: 3.38 lbs
Dell Latitude 7390 – Business Convertible
We admit to being rather confused regarding why Microsoft has ostensibly replaced others as the laptop maker to emulate. The Surface machines are heavily imitated by other hardware manufacturers, eager to grab a slice of the market they occupy.
Dell has an extensive variety of business laptops under the Latitude name, and the 7000 series are some of the most powerful and expensive on offer. The new 2019 releases involve the Latitude 7200, a 2-in-1 layout that apes other laptops in numerous respects and surpasses it on several important levels.
The result is a by-the-numbers tablet chassis with a variable angle kickstand and a light-weight magnetically attached keyboard covering. Although unlike Microsoft, Dell includes the worth of its keyboard cover at the regular price, and if you don’t want it, you can claim back a small amount of refund.
You can’t use the Dell machine on your knees, because there is no rigid joint between the keyboard and tablet, and the kickstand has a very narrow blade.
This is where the Dell Latitude 7390 comes in with its powerful and reliable specs and sleek business design. It ideal for business meetings with its incredible FHD display allowing you to present your work quite easily especially since online meetings love doing screenshares.
Recommended Configuration For Dell Latitude 7390
CPU: 8th Generation Intel Core i5-8350U Processor, | Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 620 | RAM: 8GB RAM| Screen: 13.3″ FHD Touch Anti-Glare Display Laptop | Storage: 512GB SSD | Operating System: Window 10 Pro | Battery Life: 10 hours| Weight: 4.78 pounds
Picking The Best Ultrabook Laptops Under $1000 Of 2021
Generally speaking you should focus on the processor since it is the most important part of any laptop, then check for the graphics card. RAM and Storage is also important but it should be the last of your priorities.
This is because RAM and Storage are upgradable while the CPU and GPU are generally stuck with the laptop and you’re better off buying a new laptop instead of replacing its CPU and GPU.
Are Ultrabooks under $1000 worth it?
First of all you should expect that you won’t get the top of the line ultrabooks if you’re looking only for an ultrabook under $1000. Ulrabooks have a higher price than your average laptop so keep this mind when choosing an ultrabook.
There are a few options that are budget-friendly, but most of these machines are over the $1,000 mark. So it’s really hard to find state of the art ultrabooks that are cheap or at least come at an affordable range.
In exchange for that higher price tag, a buyer can expect extremely lightweight machines. Your average ultrabook is in the two to three pound range.These devices are meant to be effortlessly carried around college campuses, office cubicles, or between home and work.
However, ultrabooks under $1000 are still relatively amazing as well. They won’t have the 16 GB RAM or latest 10th gen or Ryzen 10 processors but they can compete with laptops on their price range and they have the advantage of being thinner and more portable than other laptops.
What Exactly Qualifies As An Ultrabook?
An ultrabook (or ultra portable notebook) is a fairly catch-all term at this point that doesn’t always have exact specifications. Anything thinner than your average full size laptop can technically apply here.
In general, you want to go with three pounds or under to truly get the thin ultrabook experience. There are a few exceptions though, like if you are specifically looking for a gaming machine.
In that case, the “stealth” options from gaming computer manufacturers signify an ultraportable. Stealth versions are usually in the low four pound range, which is still quite a bit less than your average five – six pound laptop.
Besides just weight, the thickness also has to be taken into account. Generally, an ultrabook means something under an inch, with half inch models becoming increasingly popular.
Despite their extreme portability, ultrabooks tend to have two main downsides. Getting high end specs in a lightweight package means the price goes up, significantly.
Due to their compact designs, ultrabooks also tend to experience a phenomenon known as “coil whine” more frequently. This means the internal electronic parts vibrating creates a noticeable sound even when there isn’t a cooling fan actively in use.
What Features Should I Look For In An Ultrabook?
As with nearly any laptop, your baseline for specs should be 8GB of RAM and a solid state drive. An 8th gen processor is always better for lower power consumption and faster install speeds.
From there, it all depends on what you need from your computer. Most ultrabooks ditch the optical drive entirely to save space.
That makes sense, because drives take up space and ultrabooks needs to be as thin as possible.
Since you can’t use DVDs, that means you want to take into account the specific ports available in an ultrabook.
In general, 3 USB ports and a card reader are the best ways to go for the most data storage and external peripheral options. If you need to connect to an external display, don’t forget to look out for an HDMI port.
What Sort Of Battery Life Can I Expect From An Ultrabook?
In most cases, ultrabooks strip out larger moving parts and use a slimmer design with smaller screen size.
Usually, that means ultrabooks tend to have better battery life than their larger counterparts.That isn’t always the case however, so pay careful attention to the specs before buying.
8th gen processors and smaller screens help keep the power consumption down. Some ultrabooks still stick to the 15 inch design though or even have 4k screens, so they may not have high battery life.
Keep in mind that the hours of usage listed by manufacturers are usually estimated on streaming videos with the brightness turned down. If you keep the screen brightness at max, have a backlit keyboard, and are playing games, your battery life plummets.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are Ultrabooks good college laptops?
Yes! Ultrabooks make excellent college laptops because they are so ultra light and portable. You’ll be running all over campus, going back and forth between the dorms, your lectures, clubs, sports, etc. So, you’ll need a light and powerful laptop to keep up with your busy life. Any of Ultrabooks on this list would be a great fit for your college career. Personally, I had an Asus Vivobook through all of my undergrad and postgrad years and loved it! It lasted me 6 years!
Are there any problems to look out for when owning an Ultrabook?
The main problem ultraportable laptops have are heat issues. To make a laptop thin and light, the manufacturer has to remove some of the standard pieces of hardware, namely fans. Without fans and under lots of pressure, an Ultrabook can heat up to scorching temps. Not all Ultrabooks have this problem but you should always be vigilant of your laptop’s temperature. Too hot of temps can cause hardware damage and malfunction or worse, it can even burn you! Know what your laptop can and can’t handle and you should be just fine.
Can I play games on my Ultrabook?
It depends on the Ultrabook and the games you are planning on playing. You can definitely play games on the MSI on this list. As for the others, you may be pushing them past their limits if you’re planning on playing hardware taxing games. First look at the recommended specs for the game. I’d say all the laptops on this list could handle low end games. Most games are going to require a graphics card a little beefier than the Intel HD graphics card that’s pretty standard with Ultrabooks. Your gaming experience may be a bit lacking without that important piece of hardware but in the end, it’s up to you and the games you play.
Finding The Best Ultraportable Notebook
Did you find the perfect thin and light laptop in our lineup of contenders? From 2-in-1 hybrids to full size 15 inch devices, one of these should be the best ultrabook to fit your needs and budget!
Be sure to let us know which one you think is the best ultrabook, and leave a comment if you’ve found a better option we didn’t list here.