Battle of the Ultrabooks

These 9 Windows laptops take on the MacBook Air with Intel's Ultrabook technology. Let the battle begin!

Ultrabook specifications
Credit: NASA (background image)
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.

Acer Aspire S3-951-6828
Credit: Acer
Acer Aspire S3-951-6828

Processor: 1.6GHz dual-core Intel i5 ("Sandy Bridge")
SSD capacity: 240GB
LCD size: 13.3 inches
Graphics: Intel HD3000
Ports: HDMI, two USB 2.0, Ethernet, SD/MMC slot
Weight: 3.0 pounds
Useful options: DVD drive (third party)
What's special: Bluetooth 4.0
Price: $1,049

Apple MacBook Air
Credit: Apple
Apple MacBook Air

Processor: 2.0GHz dual-core Intel i7 ("Ivy Bridge")
SSD capacity: 256GB
LCD size: 13.3 inches
Graphics: Intel HD4000
Ports: Thunderbolt/Mini DisplayPort, two USB 2.0/3.0, SD slot
Weight: 2.96 pounds
Useful options: DVD drive ($79), video adapter ($29), Ethernet adapter ($29)
What's special: OS X, Bluetooth 4.0, backlit keyboard
Price: $1,599

Asus ZenBook UX31E
Credit: Asus
Asus ZenBook UX31E

Processor: 1.8GHz Intel i7 ("Sandy Bridge")
SSD capacity: 256GB
LCD size: 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
Useful options: DVD drive (third party)
What's special: Bluetooth 4.0, lots of ports, Bang & Olufsen audio, backlit keyboard
Price: $1,449

Dell XPS 13
Credit: Dell
Dell XPS 13

Processor: 1.7GHz dual-core Intel i7 ("Sandy Bridge")
SSD capacity: 256GB
LCD size: 13.3 inches
Graphics: Intel HD3000
Ports: Mini DisplayPort, USB 2.0, USB 3.0
Weight: 2.99 pounds
Useful options: DVD drive (third party), video adapter ($33)
What's special: TPM security module, backlit keyboard
Price: $1,669

Hewlett-Packard Spectre XT
Credit: Hewlett-Packard
Hewlett-Packard Spectre XT

Processor: 2.0GHz dual-core Intel i7 ("Ivy Bridge")
SSD capacity: 256GB
LCD size: 13.3 inches
Graphics: Intel HD4000
Ports: Mini DisplayPort, HDMI, USB 2.0, USB 3.0, Ethernet, SD/MMC slot
Weight: 3.07 pounds
Useful options: DVD drive (third party)
What's special: Beats audio system, backlit keyboard
Price: $1,525

Lenovo IdeaPad 300S
Credit: Lenovo
Lenovo IdeaPad 300S

Processor: 1.8GHz dual-core Intel i7 ("Sandy Bridge")
SSD capacity: 256GB
LCD size: 13.3 inches
Graphics: Intel HD3000
Ports: HDMI, USB 2.0, USB 3.0,
Weight: 2.9 pounds
Useful options: DVD burner ($90)
What's special: Colored bezel options (clementine and graphite)
Price: $1,549

Samsung Series 9 A03
Credit: Samsung
Samsung Series 9 A03

Processor: 1.7GHz Intel i5 ("Ivy Bridge")
SSD capacity: 128GB
LCD size: 13.3 inches
Graphics: Intel HD4000
Ports: HDMI, USB 2.0, USB 3.0, Ethernet, 4-in-1 card slot
Weight: 2.55 pounds
Useful options: DVD drive (third party)
What's special: Backlit keyboard, Bluetooth 4.0
Price: $1,299

Sony Vaio T Series
Sony Vaio T Series

Processor: 1.9GHz Intel i7 ("Ivy Bridge")
SSD capacity: 256GB
LCD size: 13.3 inches
Graphics: Intel HD4000
Ports: VGA, HDMI, USB 2.0, USB 3.0, Ethernet, SD slot
Weight: 3.54 pounds
Useful options: DVD drive (third party)
What's special: Price
Price: $1,240

Toshiba Portegé Z930-S9302
Credit: Toshiba
Toshiba Portegé Z930-S9302

Processor: 2.0GHz Intel i7 ("Ivy Bridge")
SSD capacity: 256GB
LCD size: 13.3 inches
RAM: 4GB
Graphics: Intel HD4000
Ports: HDMI, two USB 2.0, USB 3.0, Ethernet, SD slot
Weight: 2.47 pounds
Useful options: DVD burner ($70)
What's special: Bluetooth 4.0, backlit keyboard
Price: $1,699

Vizio Thin+Light CT14-A2
Credit: Vizio
Vizio Thin+Light CT14-A2

Processor: 1.9 GHz Intel i7 ("Ivy Bridge")
SSD capacity: 256GB
LCD size: 14.0 inches
RAM: 4GB
Graphics: Intel HD4000
Ports: HDMI, two USB 3.0
Weight: 3.39 pounds
Useful options: DVD drive (third party)
What's special: Antitraction bottom material, TPM security module, price
Price: $1,199