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Power on the move: the top 5 notebooks to buy

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Written by Tim Barnes-Clay

Powerful, portable tech has never been so widely available. Here’s our pick of the best notebooks so far this year.

While tablets and smartphones certainly have their place for people on the move, their ability to function is limited. Which is why the more powerful notebooks, lighter and slimmer than their older laptop sibling, still have mass itinerant appeal.

Last year saw a boom in the notebook market, with a host of new and updated devices entering the tech scene, from MacBooks to Ultrabooks. Whether used for work or play, they keep on coming and the buyers keep on buying.

The choices can feel a little overwhelming, though, especially if you’re not particularly tech-minded. To help you out, we’ve picked five of the best from the current assortment that we think are worth your time.

Best overall: Huawei Matebook X

This impressive beast has blown the competition out of the water – including both the Dell XPS 13 and the MacBook Pro. It’s a beautiful machine containing the most high-end quality technology in a stunningly sleek design.

The Matebook comes in a variety of builds. It contains an 8th-generation Intel Core i5-i7, 8-16GB RAM and 256-512GB SSD. Its 3000×2000 13.3-inch screen delivers crisp pictures and the performance speed will put you in a stupor.

The Matebook is a high-quality build and is not afraid to show it at every occasion – and, at the moment, it is even on sale at an incredibly affordable £1,079.99 on Amazon. No question about it, if money isn’t an issue and you need a new ultrabook, this is the one to buy.

Best overall runner-up: Dell XPS 13

The Dell XPS 13 has dominated the Windows-based ultrabook market for years. Its newest version follows in those footsteps. The 13.3-inch Dell XPS 13 is a superb machine in a wonderful design. At just 0.3 inches thick, it takes the word ultra-portable to a whole new level.

Despite its light weight at 1.21kg and slim features, it contains an impressive amount of power, with an 8th-generation Intel Core i5 at the cheapest starting point and 4GB RAM. If you can spare the coin, you can upgrade it to an i7 and impressive 16GB RAM.

Add to that a beautiful QHD+ touchscreen at 3,200×1,800 and 128-1TB of SSD storage, and you find yourself with a machine which will serve you well for years to come. It might not be the cheapest ultrabook on the market, but it’s certainly one of the strongest.

Best non-windows ultrabook: 13-inch MacBook Pro

Although the quality of Windows-based ultrabooks has caught up with MacBooks, you still might wish to opt for an Apple machine. While the OS still isn’t as flexible as Windows, most programs do come with a Mac alternative nowadays.

On top of that, Apple devices almost always guarantee excellent build quality. This one is no exception, starting with an Intel Core i5 2.3GHz processor, 8GB of RAM and 256GB SSD storage. Add to this a gorgeous 13.3-inch Retina display, and you’ve got one hell of a monster.

The MacBook Pro oozes quality from every pore. It’s as light as a feather and amazingly thin. If you find yourself regularly cursing at the Windows OS and have the cash to spend on a MacBook, this is a definite must-buy.

Best for gamers: 13-inch Razer Blade Stealth

Until recently, ultrabooks weren’t suitable for gaming-enthusiasts. But Razer has successfully altered that image with the entry of their new line of Blade Stealth ultrabooks, bringing gaming to the ultra-portable market. And what an entry it is!

The 13.3-inch Blade Stealth with its QHD+ touchscreen is a powerhouse containing an Intel i7-8550U CPU, 16GB Ram and enough storage with a 512GB SSD. The design is slightly less subtle than the other options on this list, coming either in a black or gunmental grey finishIts integrated Intel HD Graphics 620 won’t allow you to play games at the high settings you might be accustomed to from a desktop PC. But it will give you the best possible gaming experience on a portable machine.

Best budget ultrabook: ASUS ZenBook UX410UA

We’re not going to lie: ultrabooks can be pricey. But the ASUS ZenBook UX410UA is available at the affordable price of £539 from Amazon at the time of writing this article, making it the cheapest Windows-based ultrabook on our list.

The ZenBook comes integrated with a 14-inch Full HD Nano Edge Screen, an Intel Core i3-7100U CPU, 4GB RAM and 128 GB SSD storage, making this an affordable, yet reasonably powerful machine to work with.

While it might not be as strong as the newer ZenBook 3 Deluxe, it’s still beautifully designed with a sleek appearance and a decent keyboard. If you’re on a budget but don’t want to miss out on the delights of a Windows-based ultrabook, this one is for you.

Budget alternative: ASUS Chromebook C201PA

While technically not ultrabooks, the Google-based Chromebooks are ultra-portable and comparatively quick. Above all, they are mind-bogglingly cheap! This model only costs £159.99 on Amazon at the time of writing this article, much cheaper than even the most affordable ultrabook.

The downside? They’re still quite limited in their capabilities. They run neither Mac nor Windows OS, but Chrome OS, which is particularly dependent on online-connectivity and cloud-based programs.

But Google is expanding the app usability on Chromebooks. And since the price certainly can’t be topped, it is still a good thing to keep in mind, especially if you only use a computer to check your email, write, and use the internet. If that’s the case, this might be the right pick for you.