Notebookcheck's Top 10 Ultrabooks

Redaktion (translated by Andreas Osthoff), 09/20/2014

September 2014 update. Here you will find the best ultrabooks reviewed by Notebookcheck in the last few months. Our list of top models is regularly updated, maintained and commented on and should assist in purchase decisions.

Intel initiated a new class of notebooks at the beginning of 2011, the so called ultrabooks. Notebook manufacturers could use the protected designation "Ultrabook" if they met some requirements, for example for the CPU (Intel Haswell ULV), battery runtime (6 hours FHD playback) and dimensions (<21 mm). Therefore, this notebook class mainly consist of very mobile devices with slim cases yet sufficient performance (Core i processors) for almost every display size. The latest versions also integrate a touchscreen.
Some of our review samples did not have a touch panel, but in this case there are also configurations with an optional touchscreen. The corresponding devices are marked since there could be different ratings with optional touchscreens.

The following table shows an overview of the Top 10 ultrabooks reviewed by Notebookcheck in the previous 10 months. If ratings are equal, the latest review is listed first. The table can be sorted by clicking its headers and filtered by entering text in the text field above it (e.g. "matte").

Ultrabook Charts as of September 2014

ScoreDateModelWeightHeightSizeResolutionFinishTouch
190%01/14Lenovo ThinkPad T440s
Intel Core i5-4600U
Intel HD Graphics 4400
8 GB RAM, SSD
From $1429 at Amazon
1.7 kg21 mm14.01920x1080matteopt.
288%12/13Dell XPS 15 (9530)
Intel Core i7-4702HQ
Nvidia Geforce 750M
16 GB RAM, SSD
from $1449 at Amazon
2.0 kg18 mm15.63200x1800glossytouch
387%04/14HP EliteBook 840 G1
Intel Core i5-4600U
Intel HD Graphics 4400
8 GB RAM, SSD
from $1479 at Amazon
1.8 kg21 mm14.01600x900matteopt.
486%08/14

new!
Toshiba Portege Z30t
Intel Core i7-4500U
Intel HD Graphics 4400
8 GB RAM, SSD
from 1599 Euros at Amazon
1.4 kg20 mm13.3 1920x1080mattetouch
585%05/14
Lenovo ThinkPad X240
Intel Core i7-4600U
Intel HD Graphics 4400
8 GB RAM, SSD
from $1440 at Amazon
1.5 kg20 mm12.51920x1080matteopt.
685%

05/14

HP EliteBook Folio 1040 G1
Intel Core i7-4650U
Intel HD Graphics 5000
8 GB RAM, SSD
from $1865 at Amazon
1.5 kg17 mm14.01920x1080matteopt.
785%04/14Lenovo ThinkPad T440
Intel Core i7-4600U
Intel HD Graphics 4400
8 GB RAM, Hybrid
from $1053 at Amazon
1.7 kg21 mm14.01600x900matteopt.
885%04/14

Dell XPS 13
Intel Core i5-4200U
Intel HD Graphics 4400
8 GB RAM, SSD
from $1155 at Amazon

1.4 kg21 mm13.31920x1080glossytouch
984%05/14Toshiba Kira 101
Intel Core i7-4500U
Intel HD Graphics 4400
16 GB RAM, SSD
from $1699 at Amazon
1.3 kg20 mm13.3 1560x1440glossytouch
1084%03/14Lenovo ThinkPad Carbon X1
Intel Core i7-4550U
Intel HD Graphics 5000
8 GB RAM, SSD
from $3577 at Amazon
1.4 kg20 mm14.02560x1440mattetouch

Top 10 of the previous 10 months at the time of writing the article, best rating first
Link: 
all reviewed ultrabooks ordered by total rating

Editor's Comments

One device for everything: Lenovo Thinkpad T440s
One device for everything: Lenovo Thinkpad T440s

1st

Lenovo offers almost countless versions of its ThinkPad T440s. That is not surprising, the flagship in the business segment is pretty much a perfect all-rounder, which means it tries to combine mobility, performance as well as ergonomics. The basic concept consists of a thin and light 14-inch device, which is equipped with Intel Core processors, an optional dedicated GPU and SSD and/or HDD, so it offers more than enough performance for common business tasks. Lenovo offers a couple of displays for this series, and there is a touch version to satisfy the ultrabook requirements as well. However, our rating is for the configuration with a matte Full HD IPS panel, which is probably the best choice for business customers.

» Read the reviews: T440s HD+ T440s FHD T440s FHD GT730M   » Buy the notebook 

Thin multimedia: Dell XPS 15
Thin multimedia: Dell XPS 15

2nd

The Dell XPS 15 is an almost perfect example that ultrabooks don't necessarily have to have a small display. As a contender for Apple's MacBook Pro 15 with Windows, it has a sophisticated aluminum case, very good input devices and a high-resolution 15-inch touchscreen. With a weight of just 2 kilograms and a height of just 18 millimeters, the device even undercuts the ultrabook requirements, despite the 15-inch display. High performance reserves (Intel quad-core CPU, Nvidia GPU) are combined with a very good battery runtime between 8 to 9 hours in practice.

» Read the review    » Buy the notebook 

Workhorse: HP EliteBook 840 G1
Workhorse: HP EliteBook 840 G1

3rd

HP has a suitable piece of hardware for the mobile business customer as well: The EliteBook 840 G1. There are also several configurations, so you can adjust the EliteBook perfectly to your individual needs. The high-quality and sturdy chassis, very good input devices and comprehensive communications and connectivity options are pretty much standard in this product class. Depending on the usage scenario, the Intel CPU can be complemented by a dedicated GPU, and there is obviously almost every possible storage solution available. Our review once again focuses on the non-touchscreen version with a matte panel. The alternative touch display has a lower resolution (1366x768), but according to HP, it also has matte surface.

» Read the review    » Buy the notebook 

Rare: Matte IPS touch panel - Toshiba Portege Z30t-A-10X
Rare: Matte IPS touch panel - Toshiba Portege Z30t-A-10X

4th

The highly mobile business line from Toshiba is called Portégé and the Portege Z30t is an ultrabook with a very interesting display. It has a 13.3-inch display with a high resolution of 1920x1080 pixels and also has a very convenient matte surface with touch support. Thanks to the IPS technology, it offers wide viewing angles even in extreme situations and a good color presentation. With a weight of just 1.4 kilograms and a battery runtime of around 8 hours in practice, the Z30t meets the requirements of a mobile device. There are also several alternative configurations and you can also choose a non-touch version.  

» Read the review    » Buy the notebook 

Small business: Lenovo Thinkpad X240
Small business: Lenovo Thinkpad X240

5th

As one of the first notebooks ever, the so to speak grandfather of the current ThinkPad X240, the X220, integrated a matte IPS display. The combination of good brightness, rich colors, generous viewing angles and ergonomic display surface often resulted in a big advantage when you compared devices. Two generations later, the grandchild still competes with the rivals. The package: 12.5-inch display, matte Full HD IPS panel, thin chassis, high quality input devices. This does not only sound like a good device for frequent travelers with high requirements in terms of security, service and support, the ThinkPad X240 was convincing in many sections of our review as well. There are also optional touch displays and you can choose between HD and Full HD resolution with a matte surface.

» Read the review    » Buy the notebook

Good and expensive: HP EliteBook Folio 1040 G1
Good and expensive: HP EliteBook Folio 1040 G1

6th 

The ultra-mobile version of the EliteBook 840 is called EliteBook Folio 1040 G1. The device cannot only surpass the mobility of its sibling, the price is much higher as well. However, HP offers quite a lot in return: For example the high-quality 14-inch IPS display with a matte surface and Full HD resolution. The aluminum case is on a similarly high level as the input devices. Low emissions in combination with compact dimensions and a weight of just 1.5 kilograms are good features for the mobile user. 

» Read the review    » Buy the notebook 

Evergreen: Lenovo Thinkpad T440
Evergreen: Lenovo Thinkpad T440

7th

The times of bulky and inconvenient business notebooks finally seem to be over. This is the only explanation for the fact that a standard 14-inch business notebook from Lenovo, the ThinkPad T440, meets the ultrabook requirements. And is does it pretty well, so the notebook can take a spot in our Top 10. Similar to the slimmer sibling T440s, the ThinkPad T440 is available im many different configurations, including one with an HD+ (1600x900) touch display with a matte surface.

» Read the review    » Buy the notebook 

Dell XPS 13
Dell XPS 13

8th

Dell's XPS 13-9333 tries to manage the balancing act between business and consumer, at least Dell sees its 13-inch made of aluminum and carbon in the backpack of wealthy students and on desks of traveling business customers. The integrated Full HD touch panel uses a glossy surface, which is typical for consumer devices. But according to Dell, this is no problem for business customers, either. Regardless of the surface, our measurements revealed a very bright display (up to 460 nits!), which can also convince in terms of color presentation and contrast. The thin case, an overall weight of 1.4 kilograms and battery runtimes of around 8 hours round off the attractive package.

» Read the review    » Buy the notebook 

Toshiba KiraBook
Toshiba KiraBook

9th

The KiraBook from Toshiba was available in its home market for quite a while before the responsible managers decided to bring the interesting device to Europe as well. The specifications once again indicate a compromise between business and consumer: 13.3-inch display, 1.3 kilograms, glossy display – but with a high-resolution WQHD panel (2560x1440 pixels).

» Read the review    » Buy the notebook 

Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon
Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon

10th

Another noble business notebook in our ultrabook charts is the Lenovo ThinkPad Carbon X1 Touch. Besides the T440 and the T440s it is the third device that wants to attract the attention of wealthy customers. To manage sufficient distance to the T440s, the Carbon X1 integrates a high-resolution touch panel with 2560x1440 pixels. The device is powered by a tuned Intel i7 CPU (HD 5000 GPU); besides the familiar ThinkPad input devices, the Carbon also has a new kind of touch input device.

 

» Read the review    » Buy the notebook

Size Comparison

Measurement Results

Lenovo Thinkpad T440s
Dell XPS 15
HP EliteBook 840 G1
Toshiba Portégé Z30t
Lenovo Thinkpad X240
HP EliteBook Folio 1040 G1
Lenovo Thinkpad T440
Dell XPS 13
Toshiba Kira 101
Lenovo Thinkpad Carbon X1 Touch
Screen
Brightness Center310349280312377293.4294450.1227228
Black Level *0.380.210.690.430.518.4940.918.6550.1660.23
Contrast81616624067267285943206871367991
Colorchecker DeltaE2000 *4.568.279.415.646.855.0810.94.532.56.29
Greyscale DeltaE2000 *5.127.9910.197.796.486.6811.885.322.557.79
Gamma *2.663.422.492.482.752.622.372.352.442.36
Color Space (Percent of AdobeRGB 1998)6469.0840644159.74055.666151.7
Noise
Idle Minimum *28.028.029.428.628.82831.529.129.628.8
Idle Average *28.028.029.428.629.028.131.529.229.628.8
Idle Maximum *29.829.829.428.629.028.231.529.329.628.8
Load Average *32.942.137.438.934.736.133.031.636.833.7
Load Maximum *33.442.138.643.840.53733.544.636.834.0
Heat
Maximum Upper Side *36.048.436.339.042.538.632.444.240.340.2
Maximum Bottom *37.464.641.137.248.745.638.748.434.138.8
Idle Upper Side *27.835.629.234.332.431.228.432.625.831.6
Idle Bottom *27.839.231.033.035.132.832.435.82632.3
Battery Runtime
Reader / Idle16958507781194719682858987835723
Load2251301121781079396217126107
WiFi750530364473363370260465393389
Power Consumption
Idle Minimum *3.410.24.33.03.94.13.34.1
Idle Average *7.515.17.76.67.97.15.68.7
Idle Maximum *8.517.49.37.99.89.77.610.2
Load Average *27.587.430.627.426.436.228.826.3
Load Maximum *42.2115.231.630.326.743.028.926.7

* ... smaller is better

Benchmarks

PCMark 7 - Score (sort by value)
Lenovo Thinkpad T440s
5022 Points ∼76%
Dell XPS 15
5937 Points ∼90%
HP EliteBook 840 G1
5303 Points ∼80%
Toshiba Portégé Z30t
4510 Points ∼68%
Lenovo Thinkpad X240
4629 Points ∼70%
HP EliteBook Folio 1040 G1
4626 Points ∼70%
Lenovo Thinkpad T440
3349 Points ∼51%
Dell XPS 13
4862 Points ∼73%
Toshiba Kira 101
5090 Points ∼77%
Lenovo Thinkpad Carbon X1 Touch
5321 Points ∼80%
PCMark 8
Home Score Accelerated v2 (sort by value)
HP EliteBook 840 G1
3610 Points ∼73%
Toshiba Portégé Z30t
2184 Points ∼44%
Lenovo Thinkpad X240
2470 Points ∼50%
Lenovo Thinkpad T440
2623 Points ∼53%
Toshiba Kira 101
2389 Points ∼48%
Lenovo Thinkpad Carbon X1 Touch
2981 Points ∼60%
Work Score Accelerated v2 (sort by value)
HP EliteBook 840 G1
5180 Points ∼96%
Toshiba Portégé Z30t
3232 Points ∼60%
Lenovo Thinkpad X240
3697 Points ∼69%
Lenovo Thinkpad T440
3816 Points ∼71%
Toshiba Kira 101
3052 Points ∼57%
Lenovo Thinkpad Carbon X1 Touch
3802 Points ∼71%
3DMark 11 - 1280x720 Performance (sort by value)
Lenovo Thinkpad T440s
951 Points ∼7%
Dell XPS 15
2974 Points ∼23%
HP EliteBook 840 G1
988 Points ∼8%
Toshiba Portégé Z30t
846 Points ∼6%
Lenovo Thinkpad X240
828 Points ∼6%
HP EliteBook Folio 1040 G1
962 Points ∼7%
Lenovo Thinkpad T440
901 Points ∼7%
Dell XPS 13
897 Points ∼7%
Toshiba Kira 101
993 Points ∼8%
Lenovo Thinkpad Carbon X1 Touch
1048 Points ∼8%

Legend

 
Lenovo Thinkpad T440s Intel Core i7-4600U, Intel HD Graphics 4400, Samsung SSD 840 250GB MZ7TD2560/0L9
 
Dell XPS 15 Intel Core i7-4702HQ, NVIDIA GeForce GT 750M, Samsung SSD SM841 512GB
 
HP EliteBook 840 G1 Intel Core i7-4600U, Intel HD Graphics 4400, Intel SSD Pro 1500 Series SSDSC2BF180A4H
 
Toshiba Portégé Z30t Intel Core i7-4500U, Intel HD Graphics 4400, Toshiba HG6 THNSNJ256GMCU
 
Lenovo Thinkpad X240 Intel Core i7-4600U, Intel HD Graphics 4400, Samsung SSD 840 250GB MZ7TD256HAFV
 
HP EliteBook Folio 1040 G1 Intel Core i7-4650U, Intel HD Graphics 5000, Sandisk X110 SD6SN1M-256G-1006
 
Lenovo Thinkpad T440 Intel Core i7-4600U, Intel HD Graphics 4400, Hitachi Travelstar Z7K500 HTS725050A7E630
 
Dell XPS 13 Intel Core i5-4200U, Intel HD Graphics 4400, Liteonit LMT-128M6M
 
Toshiba Kira 101 Intel Core i7-4500U, Intel HD Graphics 4400, Toshiba THNSNJ256GMCT
 
Lenovo Thinkpad Carbon X1 Touch Intel Core i7-4550U, Intel HD Graphics 5000, Samsung MZNTD512HAGL
> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Notebookcheck's Top 10 Ultrabooks
Author: Redaktion (Update: 2014-09-20)