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Group test: what's the best ultraportable laptop?

The best ultraportables you can buy

As well as being easy to transport, an ultraportable laptop needs to be able to cope with the ever-increasing demands of those who are constantly on the move. PC Advisor reveals today's best five lightweight models.

5. Dell XPS 12 Haswell Ultrabook (late 2013)

Dell XPS 12 Haswell Ultrabook (late 2013)
  • Reviewed on: 4 September 13
  • RRP: £1149 inc VAT
  • Rating: Rated 8 out of 10

If you’re looking for a lightweight tablet then look elsewhere. The Dell XPS 12 is primarily intended as a powerful working laptop, and its fourth-generation Haswell processor provides performance and battery life that could justify its high price. The tablet mode isn’t entirely successful, but it’s a nice little bonus that you can use to relax when you finish work at the end of the day.

4. HP EliteBook 840 G1

HP EliteBook 840 G1
  • Reviewed on: 11 December 13
  • RRP: £1344.00
  • Rating: Rated 8 out of 10

It's a shame that the EliteBook doesn't include a solid-state drive that can really make the most of its powerful processor and GPU, but this is still a well-designed and versatile laptop that will appeal to many business users. The high-quality display is particularly suitable for presentations, while its sturdy design, security features and battery life will appeal to anyone that spends a lot of time out on the road.

3. Apple MacBook Air 11in (Mid-2013)

Apple MacBook Air 11in (Mid-2013)
  • Reviewed on: 9 July 13
  • RRP: £849 (128 GB); £1029 (256 GB)
  • Rating: Rated 8 out of 10

We were worried about that 1.3 GHz clock speed at first, but the Haswell processor proves more than a match for its faster-looking Ivy Bridge predecessor while nearly a day’s battery life. Combine that performance with the MacBook Air’s lightweight, elegant design and you’ve got an ultraportable laptop that still sets the standard for its Windows rivals to copy.

2. Apple MacBook Air 13in (Mid-2012)

Apple MacBook Air 13in (Mid-2012)
  • Reviewed on: 9 October 12
  • RRP: £1249 inc VAT
  • Rating: Rated 9 out of 10

This revised 13in MacBook Air is a little bit faster in general speed, a lot faster in graphics speed – if only catching up with 2010’s Air – but with approaching an hour of extra battery life. We also appreciate the even quieter fan. This is the original ultrabook, and with extra details and quality touches it still beats all Ultrabooks we’ve seen so far.

1. Apple MacBook Pro 13in with Retina display

Apple MacBook Pro 13in with Retina display
  • Reviewed on: 7 December 12
  • RRP: £1699 inc VAT
  • Rating: Rated 9 out of 10

The essential specifications of the 13in Apple MacBook Pro with Retina display closely follow the groundbreaking original 15in version. Reduced size here necessitates integrated-only graphics, as well as a more efficient dual-core rather than quad-core processor. But this choice of components really delivers, and crucially in a state-of-the-art 13in notebook that takes the second-finest laptop display money can buy – beaten only by the 15in Retina model of the Apple MacBook Pro.

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