Ultrabook Showdown

By Galen Gruman Jul 9th 2012
These 9 Windows laptops take on the MacBook Air with Intel's Ultrabook technology. Let the battle begin!
  • Apple's MacBook Air in 2008 made people rethink what a laptop could be: thin, light, capable, energy-efficient, and powerful. In 2011, Intel came up with its Ultrabook specification to let Windows PC makers create laptops that could compete with the Air. Here are the main contenders.

  • Acer Aspire S3-951-6828: Processor: 1.6GHz dual-core Intel i5 ("Sandy Bridge"), SSD: 240GB, LCD: 13.3 inches, Graphics: Intel HD3000, Ports: HDMI, two USB 2.0, Ethernet, SD/MMC slot, Weight: 3.0 pounds, What's special: Bluetooth 4.0, Price: $1,049.

  • Apple MacBook Air: Processor: 2.0GHz dual-core Intel i7 ("Ivy Bridge"), SSD: 256GB, LCD: 13.3 inches, Graphics: Intel HD4000, Ports: Thunderbolt/Mini DisplayPort, two USB 2.0/3.0, SD slot, Weight: 2.96 pounds, What's special: OS X, Bluetooth 4.0, backlit keyboard, Price: $1,599

  • Asus ZenBook UX31E: Processor: 1.8GHz Intel i7 ("Sandy Bridge"), SSD: 256GB, LCD: 13.3 inches, Graphics: Intel HD3000, Ports: Mini VGA, HDMI, USB 2.0, USB 3.0, 5-in-1 card slot, Weight: 2.87 pounds, What's special: Bluetooth 4.0, Bang & Olufsen audio, backlit keyboard, Price: $1,449

  • Dell XPS 13: Processor: 1.7GHz dual-core Intel i7 ("Sandy Bridge"), SSD: 256GB, LCD: 13.3 inches, Graphics: Intel HD3000, Ports: Mini DisplayPort, USB 2.0, USB 3.0, Weight: 2.99 pounds, What's special: TPM security module, backlit keyboard, Price: $1,669

  • HP Spectre XTProcessor: 2.0GHz dual-core Intel i7 ("Ivy Bridge"), SSD: 256GB, LCD: 13.3 inches, Graphics: Intel HD4000, Ports: Mini DisplayPort, HDMI, USB 2.0, USB 3.0, Ethernet, SD/MMC slot, Weight: 3.07 pounds, What's special: Beats audio system, backlit keyboard, Price: $1,525

  • Lenovo IdeaPad 300S: Processor: 1.8GHz dual-core Intel i7 ("Sandy Bridge"), SSD: 256GB, LCD: 13.3 inches, Graphics: Intel HD3000, Ports: HDMI, USB 2.0, USB 3.0, Weight: 2.9 pounds, What's special: Colored bezel options (clementine and graphite), Price: $1,549

  • Samsung Series 9 A03: Processor: 1.7GHz Intel i5 ("Ivy Bridge"), SSD: 128GB, LCD: 13.3 inches, Graphics: Intel HD4000, Ports: HDMI, USB 2.0, USB 3.0, Ethernet, 4-in-1 card slot, Weight: 2.55 pounds, What's special: Backlit keyboard, Bluetooth 4.0, Price: $1,299

  • Sony Vaio T Series: Processor: 1.9GHz Intel i7 ("Ivy Bridge"), SSD: 256GB, LCD: 13.3 inches, Graphics: Intel HD4000, Ports: VGA, HDMI, USB 2.0, USB 3.0, Ethernet, SD slot, Weight: 3.54 pounds, What's special: Price, Price: $1,240

  • Toshiba Portegé Z930-S9302: , Processor: 2.0GHz Intel i7 ("Ivy Bridge"), SSD: 256GB, LCD: 13.3 inches, RAM: 4GB, Graphics: Intel HD4000, Ports: HDMI, two USB 2.0, USB 3.0, Ethernet, SD slot, Weight: 2.47 pounds, What's special: Bluetooth 4.0, backlit keyboard, Price: $1,699

  • Vizio Thin+Light CT14-A2: Processor: 1.9 GHz Intel i7 ("Ivy Bridge"), SSD: 256GB, LCD: 14.0 inches, RAM: 4GB, Graphics: Intel HD4000, Ports: HDMI, two USB 3.0, Weight: 3.39 pounds, What's special: Antitraction bottom material, TPM security module, price, Price: $1,199

Equipping the Ultrabook battleships
Apple's MacBook Air in 2008 made people rethink what a laptop could be: thin, light, capable, energy-efficient, and powerful. It quickly became a best seller, attracting many Windows users. In 2011, Intel came up with its Ultrabook specification to let Windows PC makers create laptops that could compete with the Air. Here are the main contenders available for purchase, configured as closely as possible (for vendors that offer custom configurations).

All have integrated webcams, 4GB of RAM, and 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, but many use the older Intel "Sandy Bridge" processors, and supported ports vary widely.

The big surprise: Apple's MacBook Air offers more for the price than most Ultrabook competitors. Its only real competition (so far) are the HP Spectre XT, Toshiba Portegé Z930, and Vizio Thin+Light.

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