While there are quite a few excellent compact ultrabooks out there, many of you still prefer full-size laptops with large screens and enough power to smoothly handle daily tasks, work loads and games.
However, I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t say no to a full-size laptop that’s actually thin and light, as long as it still meets the requirements and falls within the right budget.
We’ve tested most of the laptops available in stores these days, of all kinds and from all brands, and in this article we’ll tell you which are in our opinion the best 14 and 15-inch ultra-portable laptops you can buy.
You can go through the entire post for the complete picture of what’s available out there, or just read the subsections of interest.
You’ll find a selection of units in each of them, enough to accommodate all demands and expectations. You’ll also find links towards our detailed reviews and links towards Amazon pages, where you can find user-reviews and updated configurations/prices for each specific model.
Keep in mind that some of the products that might initially look outside your budget might actually sell for less at the time you’re reading the article, so those links are definitely worth a look.
Thin and light all-round (multimedia) laptops
This section includes portable all-round laptops with traditional form-factors, computers with modern specs and features, but with a focus on the thin-and-light form-factor.
There are many good options and that’s why we listed our recommendations below, with only a few of their important traits and links to our detailed reviews and articles where you can find more about them.
Among the many 14-inch multimedia variants, these are on our lists (ordered alphabetically):
- Acer Swift 3 SF314-54 and SF314-55 – all-rounders, Core U hardware, optional Nvidia MX150 or MX150 Max-Q graphics, IPS matte screens with small bezels, fast keyboard, 48 Wh batteries, from 1.35 kg / 3 lbs, competitively priced;
- Asus Zenbook UX433 – ultracompact all-rounder, smaller and lighter update of the popular UX430 series, Core U hardware, full-power Nvidia MX150 graphics, IPS matte/touch screens with tiny bezels, 50 Wh battery, from 1.1 kg / 2.4 lbs, competitively priced;
- Gigabyte Aero 14 – a more powerful and expensive 14-incher, built on Core H hardware and GTX 1050 Ti graphics, with a high-res matte screen and 94 Wh battery, 1.9 kg / 4.2 lbs;
- Huawei Matebook X Pro – ultracompact all-rounder, Core U hardware, high-res IPS touchscreen screen with 3:2 aspect ratio, minuscule bezels, TB3 ports, 57.4 Wh battery, 1.32 kg / 2.95 lbs, good value, but more expensive than most alternatives;
- Lenovo IdeaPad 720s – all-rounder, bit heavier than the bunch, Core U hardware, optional Nvidia MX150 Max-Q graphics, IPS matte screen, small bezels, TB3 port, 56 Wh battery, 1.5 kg / 3.4 lbs, competitively priced;
- LG Gram 14 – thin-and-light notebook, Core U hardware, Intel UHD 620 graphics, IPS matte screen, minuscule bezels, 60 Wh battery, ultra-light at 0.99 kg / 2.19 lbs, good price.
- MSI Prestige PS42 – ultracompact all-rounder, Core U hardware, full-power Nvidia MX150 graphics, IPS matte screen with small bezels, 50 Wh battery, 1.2 kg / 2.6 lbs, competitively priced;
These aside, if gaming is not on your interests list and portability is an important criteria, you should definitely consider the existing 13-inch options on the market, as well as some of the good business ultraportables that some my prefer as daily-drivers, if the budget allows, like the Dell Latitude 7490, Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon or the Thinkpad T480s, which we’ll cover in-depth in a further section.
Some of the excellent 14-inch options: Huawei Matebook X Pro, Asus Zenbook UX430 and Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon
The choice of a full-size 15-inch multimedia notebook is a bit more difficult, but most options can be split in two camps: More Portable/ Less Powerful and Less Portable / More Powerful.
First we’ll cover our recommendations in the former subsection, thin-and-light 15-inch notebooks powered by Intel Core U hardware, with an emphasize on the compact form-factor, smooth everyday experience and long battery life, but not the best picks if you’re also running demanding chores and games:
- Acer Swift 3 15 – Core U hardware, Nvidia MX150 graphics, IPS FHD matte screen, small bezels, metallic build, 48 Wh battery, 1.8 kg / 4.0 lbs, more affordable than most alternatives;
- Asus Vivobook S15 – updated version of the VivoBook S510, Core U hardware, optional Nvidia MX150 graphics, IPS FHD matte screen, small bezels, plastic build, 42 Wh battery, 1.75 kg / 3.8 lbs, competitively priced;
- Asus Zenbook UX533 – Core U hardware, optional GTX 1050 Max-Q graphics, IPS FHD matte or UHD touch Pantone screen, tiny bezels, premium metallic build, 73 Wh battery, 1.62 kg / 3.8 lbs, more expensive;
- Dell Inspiron 15 7000 – Core U hardware, optional Nvidia MX150 graphics, IPS FHD matte or UHD touch screen, small bezels, plastic build, 42 or 56 Wh battery, 2.0 kg / 4.4 lbs, competitively priced;
- LG Gram 15 – highly portable, Core U hardware, Intel UHD 620 graphics, IPS FHD glossy non-touch screen, small bezels, metallic build, TB3, 72 Wh battery, 1.1 kg / 2.43 lbs, competitively priced;
- Samsung Notebook 9 – highly portable, Core U hardware, optional Nvidia MX150 graphics, IPS FHD glossy screen, small bezels, magnesium build, 1x TB3, 75 Wh battery, 1.3 kg / 2.8 lbs, rather expensive;
- Xiaomi Mi Notebook Pro – Core U hardware, Nvidia MX150 graphics, IPS FHD matte screen, small bezels, metallic build, 60 Wh battery, 1.95 kg / 4.3 lbs, more affordable than most alternatives.
Some of the 15-inch thin-and-light all rounders: Dell Inspiron 7000, LG Gram 15 and Samsung Notebook 9
Then, if you’d rather get a more powerful computer than can handle both everyday use and demanding loads, but the premium build and thin form-factor are still among your main priorities, these higher-end multimedia ultraportables should be the ones for you:
- Apple Macbook Pro – Core H hardware, optional Radeon Pro 555/560 graphics, 15.4″ glossy retina screen, aluminum unibody construction, 4x TB3 ports, 84 Wh battery, starts at 1.83 kg / 4.05 lbs;
- Asus Zenbook Pro UX550 and Zenbook Pro UX580 – Core H hardware, optional Nvidia 1050 / 1050 Ti graphics, 15.6″ matte or touch FHD/UHD screen, all metal build, 2x TB3 ports, 71 Wh battery, starts at 1.8 kg / 3.97 lbs for the non-touch version, the UX580 get a secondary screen within the trackpad;
- Dell XPS 15 – Core H hardware, Nvidia 1050 Ti Max-Q graphics, 15.6″ matte FHD or touch UHD screen, metal and carbon fiber build, 1x TB3, 56 or 97 Wh battery, starts at 1.85 kg / 4.1 lbs for the non-touch version with 56 Wh battery;
- HP Elitebook 1050 – Core H hardware, Nvidia 1050 graphics, 15.6″ matte FHD or UHD screen, aluminum unibody construction, 2x TB3 and dual-storage, 96 Wh battery, starts at 2.06 kg / 4.55 lbs for the non-touch version with 56 Wh battery;
- Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme – Core H hardware, Nvidia 1050 Ti Max-Q Graphics, matte FHD or touch UHD screen, standard ThinkPad looks, features and construction, 2x TB3 and dual-storage, 80 Wh battery, starts at 1.7 kg for non-touch version.
And some of the premium 15-inch options: Dell XPS 15, Asus Zenbook UX580 and HP EliteBook 1050
The best gaming and high-performance laptops
The devices in this section can handle games and most other demanding chores that require a powerful CPU and GPU. We’ve split them in two categories, those that offer the best performance for your buck, but with little fluff and fancy features, and the nicer more compact options with modern features, but with matching price-tags.
Bang for the buck options
In this section we’re not going to care much about size and portability, but rather look for value, the best performance and traits we can get for our money. There are many good variants you can consider, and we’ll only mention the better options and link to our detailed articles and reviews for in-depth analysis.
At around $700 to $900, your attention should turn towards the Acer Nitro 5, Asus Vivobook Pro N580 and TUF Gaming FX505, or the Lenovo Legion Y530, fairly compact full-size laptops with Core H and GTX 1050/1050Ti graphics, IPS screens, backlit keyboards, proper IO and average sized batteries.
These computers can handle taxing loads and FHD gaming with medium/high settings, but you’ll have to up the budget if you’re after configurations with an i7 processor, more RAM and dual-storage, and also look into reviews to find out more about each unit’s performance, thermals and various quirks. There’s an ampler list of GTX 1050/1050Ti laptops in this detailed article.
Some of the better budget gaming laptops: Asus TUF FX505, Acer Nitro 5 and Lenovo Legion Y530
At around $1000 you can reach for GTX 1060 powered laptops with improved gaming abilities, but the cheapest variants include i5 processors with little RAM, have rather dim screens and not necessarily the most appropriate cooling implementations for this kind of a GPU. Devices likes the Lenovo Legion Y530, Dell Gaming G7 or the Acer Aspire 7 should be on your list here.
There is however better value in the mid-range segment of GTX 1060 laptops, with nicer builds, brighter screens with high-refresh rates and small bezels, improved configurations, adequate cooling and larger batteries. The Acer Predator Helios 300 and Xiaomi Mi Gaming are some of the most affordable options here, or you can step up to the Lenovo Legion Y730, Alienware 15, Asus ROG GL504, MSI GE63 Raider or some of the existing Clevo/Sager/Schenker bare-bones. More about all these options in this article.
You could also look into the existing GTX 1070 laptops if you’re an enthusiast gamer, but the 15-inch versions are rather expensive and that chip makes more sense inside a 17-incher with extra space for cooling. You’ll find a detailed list of 15 and 17-inch GTX 1070 laptops in here.
Better value GTX 1060 options: Lenovo Legion Y730, Acer Predator Helios and Asus ROG GL504
Portable 14 and 15-inch gaming notebooks
If size and weight matter and you’re willing to spend extra for a more portable computer, there are a lot of nicer laptops for you out there.
We’ve covered this subject in-depth in this article, so we’re not going to reiterate it here again, just follow the link for the available options and our recommendations. In very few words though, our top picks at the time of this latest update are the Gigabyte Aero 15X, Razer Blade 15 and Asus Zehpyrus M. You’ll find out why from here.
On top of that, this list of portable notebooks built on Nvidia’s Max-Q architecture specifically designed for thin-and-light performance laptops might also come in handy.
The best 2-in-1 convertibles
We’ve covered this topic in-depth in a different dedicated article that you should check out if you’re primarily interested in a 2-in-1 laptop, but we’ll also mention the better 14 and 15-inch options with convertible touchscreens in this section.
At the mid-range and more affordable end you’ll get to choose among a handful of devices built on Core U hardware with or without dedicated graphics, FHD IPS touchscreens, mid-level builds, average sized batteries and standard features. These are the better picks:
- Acer Spin 5 – 15-inch convertible with FHD touchscreen, dim panel; Core U hardware and GTX 1050 graphics, but with some performance issues; 48 Wh battery; fairly chunky and heavy, at 2.25 kg/5 lbs; competitively priced;
- Dell Inspiron 15 7000 – 15-inch convertible with FHD/UHD touchscreen; Core U hardware and optional MX150 graphics; 42 or 56 Wh battery; updated design and fairly portable, at 2kg/4.4 lbs;
- HP Envy x360 15 – 15-inch convertible with FHD/UHD touchscreen, dim panel; Core U hardware and optional MX150 graphics, or AMD Ryzen hardware; 56 Wh battery; compact metallic build, but rather heavy at 2.17 kg/4.8 lbs; rather expensive;
- Lenovo Flex 14/15 – 14/15-inch convertible with FHD touchscreen, fairly dim panel; Core U hardware; 45 Wh battery – 52Wh for 15-inch model; fairly compact and average quality plastic build, but light at 1.7 kg/3.7 lbs (14-inch model); competitively priced;
- Lenovo Yoga 730 – 15-inch convertible with FHD touchscreen, mid-quality panel; Core U hardware and GTX 1050 graphics, but with some performance issues; TB3; 52 Wh battery; fairly compact and well built – 1.8 kg/4.2 lbs; competitively priced.
Some of the mid-tier options: Acer Spin 5, HP Envy x360 and the Lenovo Flex 14
On the other hand, if you can spend more, at the higher-end you’ll find a lot of interesting options with premium builds, high resolution screens, powerful hardware and nifty features. These are the options to consider:
- Asus Zenbook Flip – 15-inch convertible with FHD/UHD touchscreen, Pantone UHD panel; Core U hardware and GTX 1050 Max-Q graphics; 57 Wh battery; ultracompact and well built, fairly light at 1.9 kg/4.3 lbs;
- Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 – 15-inch convertible with FHD/UHD touchscreen, good panels; Core G hardware and Vega graphics, good performance; interesting low-travel keyboard; 2x TB3; 75 Wh battery; compact, premium build – 2 kg/4.4 lbs; expensive;
- HP Spectre X360 15 – 15-inch convertible with UHD touchscreen, good panel; Core G or Core U/MX150 hardware, good performance; TB3; 84 Wh battery; premium build, but a bit heavy at 2.1 kg/4.6 lbs; expensive;
- Microsoft Surface Book 2 15 – 15-inch detachable with high-res 3:2 screen, N-trig digitizer, good panel; Core U hardware and optional GTX 1060 graphics in the base; great keyboard; 86 Wh battery; premium build – 1.9 kg/4.2 lbs; gets very expensive;
- Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga – 14-inch business convertible with FHD/WQHD screen, excellent high-res OELD panel; Core U hardware; 2x TB3; 54 Wh battery; good build quality and compact form-factor – 1.4 kg/3.2 lbs; gets expensive;
- Samsung Note Pro 9 15 – 15-inch convertible with FHD screen, good panel; Core U hardware; 54 Wh battery; well built, but not as nice as the other options; compact and light – 1.7 kg/3.7 lbs; fair price.
And some of the premium 2-in-1s: Dell XPS 15 2-in-1, Microsoft Surface Book and the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga
Affordable all-round laptops (under $600)
This section includes the best large-screen all-round laptops you can get for under $600, devices capable of handling everyday tasks and even games, to some extent. Expect to get good specs for the money, but don’t expect premium builds, excellent craftsmanship or fancy features.
Acer Chromebook 14 and 15
If you want a simple, fast and inexpensive computer for daily tasks and especially Internet based activities like browsing, movies, music, email or document editing, you should consider these Chromebooks.
The Acer Chromebook 15 is the most affordable option, going for around $250 to $300. This kind of money will get you a fanless Celeron hardware platform, 4 GB of RAM, 16 to 32 GB of storage, a 15.6-inch IPS FHD screen and a rather small 32 Wh battery, yet enough to keep this going for around 5-6 hours of use on a charge. All these are tucked inside a rather chunky body that weighs 4.8 lbs, with plenty of ports on the sides, front-facing speakers and a fairly good non-backlit keyboard.
An updated version with a slimmer and lighter construction and updated hardware is also available, for a little under $400, but for most there’s probably better value in the cheaper variant. Follow this link for more details and the latest pricing updates.
Overall, the Chromebook 15 is one of the simplest laptops that actually work well, as long as you understand exactly what a Chromebook can and cannot do.
The Acer Chromebook 15 gets a rather bulky and heavy plastic body, but you’re not going to find a more capable full-size laptop for under $250
The 14-inch Chromebook is a more compact and more premium device. The latest model gets an aluminum chassis and a more portable build (weighs 3.4 lbs), upgraded hardware, a 48 Wh battery that delivers around 8 hours or real-life use on a charge, a backlit keyboard and glass trackpad, as well as an IPS FHD screen with optional touch. Older versions are a tad larger and don’t get the backlit keyboard.
The Acer Chromebook 14 starts at $349, making another excellent buy for those on a really limited budget, and the older variants sell for under $300. Follow this link for more details, user reviews and the latest prices.
The latest 14-inch Acer Chromebook is smaller and better specked
Affordable all-round laptops
This section includes full-size Windows laptops that sell for under $600 and can handle everyday use, multitasking and some light gaming.
As a general rule, at the time of this post I would recommend buying a laptop built on a latest-generation Core i3/i5 processor, 8 GB of RAM and if possible, SSD storage. You’ll also find a fair bit on devices with Pentium/Celeron processors and just 4 GB of RAM, but those CPUs are rather slow and that amount of RAM is hardly enough for modern browsers and multitasking, that’s why I advise getting a Core i3/i5 CPU and 8 GB if you plan to keep the laptop for a few years. There are also a few interesting AMD powered options out there to consider, but towards the upper price limit of this section.
As far as the storage goes, an SSD is going to make your laptop much faster than if it came with a regular HDD, but you can settle for a HDD if an SSD configuration is outside of your budget, as you’ll be able to upgrade that in the future, if you want to.
With all these in mind, all the major OEMs offer a computer in this segment. In the around the $400 budget you’ll find Core i3 laptops with 8 GB of RAM, HDD storage, HD screens with TN panels, rather small batteries and mostly non-backlit keyboards, in devices like the Lenovo IdeaPad 330, Acer Aspire E15 or the Dell Inspiron 15 3000 series.
At around the $500 mark you’ll find slightly more powerful laptops with Core i5 hardware, IPS screens and backlit keyboards, both in upgraded configurations of the lines mentioned earlier, but also in devices like the Asus VivoBook series, Acer Aspire 5, Dell Inspiron 15 5000, Lenovo ThinkPad E series, the HP Pavilion 15 or the premium Asus C302 2-in-1 Chromebook.
And then if you’re willing to spend around $600, at this level you’ll find laptops with nicer and smaller builds, bigger batteries, SSD storage, optional Nvidia MX150 graphics and a few options with convertible touchscreens.
Follow this link for a longer list of good laptops in the $500-$600 range, with updated prices and user reviews.
Just some of the good affordable laptops out there
The best business notebooks and workstations
Business notebooks are either workstations with powerful hardware, designed for heavy workloads on the go, or all-rounders with simple aesthetics, sturdy builds, excellent keyboards and features like vPro, TPM, LTE connectivity and fingerprint-readers. These are mostly meant for business environments, but you consider them as daily drivers as well, if they meet your requirements and fall within your budget.
There are a few different models to consider among the many business all-rounders, and we’ve listed them below. We mostly recommend 14-inch notebooks in this section, due to their increased portability and reduced weight, but some of these are also available with 15-inch screens in case you just want a larger display.
- Asus Pro P5440 – more details – thin-and-light laptop with MIL-graded magnesium build, an excellent keyboard, a matte IPS screen, punchy speakers a the performance to handle daily activities. Gets a 50 Wh battery, complete IO (without TB3 though) and is overall more affordable than the competition.
- Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon – more details – review – the X1 Carbon has the looks, the build quality, the performance, the keyboard and the screen required from a top-of-the-line ultrabook. The latest generation gets a traditional form-factor with a thin-and-light 14-inch body, compact bezels and a total weight of just 2.5 lbs. Previous versions were 2-in-1s, which is now a features of the ThinkPad X1 Yoga line. You’ll have to make very few compromises with these laptops, and the limited IO and rather mediocre speakers are two of them. The X1 Carbon is however expensive, with the base configuration starting at around $1250 and beefier versions getting close to $1700-$1800.
- Lenovo ThinkPad T480 – more details – this is Lenovo’s standard clamshell business notebook and bundles the hardware and the features you’d expect from a work-computer, as well as a huge up to 96 Wh battery. The T480 is slightly chunkier and heavier than the other options in this selection, starting and 3.5 lbs and going to about 4 lbs for the 96 Wh battery variant, but is also more affordable, starting at around $800 for the basic models.
- Lenovo ThinkPad T480s – review – the more portable version of the T480, weighs 2.95 lbs, gets a 57 Wh battery, is thinner and starts at $1200.
- Dell Latitude 14 7000 – more details – Dell’s alternative for the Lenovo T400 lines, these laptops are highly configurable and top tier models include bright FHD screens with matte IPS panels, good IO, the latest Intel Core U hardware and a 60 Wh battery. The Latitudes are on the pricey side in most regions.
- HP EliteBook Folio 1040 series – more details – a design change from most other business laptops, these get an aluminum unibody construction, but with similar build quality and sturdiness. They are also available multiple configurations and include an excellent keyboard, multiple matte or touch screen options, modern Core U hardware and a 67 Wh battery in a compact shell that weighs around 3.2 lbs. The EliteBook Folios are also on the pricey side.
You should also check out this post for more options on business ultrabooks with internal 4G/LTE connectivity.
Some of the business options: Lenovo ThinkPad T480s, Dell Latitude 7000 and HP EliteBook 1040
As far as workstations go, our recommendations for thin-and-light options with fast processors (up to Core i9 and Xeon) and professional grade Nvidia Quadro graphics are the following:
- Dell Precision 5000 – workstation variant of the Dell XPS 15, with up to Intel Xeon processors, 32 GB of RAM and Nvidia Quadro P2000 graphics;
- Lenovo ThinkPad P1 – 15-inch laptop with 100% aRGB 4K display, up to Intel Xeon processors, 64 GB of RAM and Nvidia Quadro P2000 graphics;
- MSI WS65 – workstation variant of the MSI GS65 Thin, with the same build and characteristics, but up Core i9 processors, 32 GB of RAM and Nvidia Quadro P4200 graphics.
There you have it, these are some of the best 14 and 15 inch ultrabooks you should consider these days. They are thinner and lighter than most regular laptops, they offer the performance required by your daily activities and more (multimedia, games, demanding software), and they last for quite a few hours on each charge.
You’ve got plenty of options to choose from from, with or without touchscreens, with or without dedicated graphics, with premium metallic bodies or more affordable price tags. So if you do want one of these large-format ultrabooks, you should find one in this article.
I’m constantly updating this list of the best 14 and 15-inch ultraportables and I’m also here to reply to your questions and help you in any way possible, so if you do want to ask something or add to the post, get in touch in the comments section below.