Ultrabook Decathlon: Which Model Should You Buy?

Ultrabook Decathlon: Which Model Should You Buy?

No contest here. The HP Folio 13 lasted 7 hours and 50 minutes on the LAPTOP Battery Test, which involves continuous Web surfing over Wi-Fi on 40 percent brightness. That runtime is an hour longer than the next closest Ultrabook, the Lenovo IdeaPad U300s (6:52). The Toshiba Portégé Z835 came in third, with a time of 6:48.

Category Winners

1st Place 2nd Place 3rd Place
     
 HP
Folio 13
 Lenovo 
IdeaPad U300s
 Toshiba
Portege Z835

Runners-Up

The ASUS UX31 (5:58), Dell XPS 13 (5:46) and Samsung Series 5 Ultra (5:29) all delivered less than 6 hours of endurance.


One of the requirements of an Ultrabook is that it possess an SSD or at least an ExpressCache module to let the system boot and resume from sleep quickly. All the Ultrabooks we’ve tested boot into Windows 7 Home Premium in less than 45 seconds, but the fastest were the Toshiba Portégé Z835 and Folio 13, which tied at 26 seconds, followed closely by the XPS 13 at 27 seconds.

On our file transfer test, in which we duplicate 4.97GB of multimedia files, the clear winner was the 128GB SSD in the XPS 13, which finished in just 37 seconds for a rate of 137.5 MBps. The runner-up was the UX31 (98 MBps), followed by the U300s (83 MBps).

We then ran PCMark 07, which measures overall Windows performance. The UX31 again moved to the head of the pack, scoring 3,606, followed by the U300s (3,533) and the Dell XPS 13 (3,521).

For the OpenOffice Spreadsheet test, we matched 20,000 names with their corresponding addresses. Here the clear winner was the U300s (5:05), followed by the UX31 (5:50) and the XPS 13 (6:47).

All the Ultrabooks in our decathlon have integrated graphics, but there were slight variances between them. On the “World of Warcraft” test, with settings on autodetect, the XPS 13 and the Z835 both averaged 32 fps, with the U300s hot on their heels at 31 fps.

Category Winners

1st Place 2nd Place 3rd Place
     
 Dell XPS 13  ASUS
ZenBook UX31
 Lenovo 
IdeaPad U300s 

Runners-Up

On PCMark 07, the Folio 13 scored a strong 3,167, faster than the 2,498 turned in by the Toshiba Portégé Z835 with its slower SSD. The Samsung Series 5’s performance is held back because it offers a combination hard drive and ExpressCache instead of a full-fledged SSD.

Ultrabook Decathalon

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  1. Dan Tole Says:

    Great write up. I’m surprised the samsung and toshiba didn’t do a little bit better but looks like the others are just a little better at what they do. I know some of the samsung screens are really awful, no reflections but terrible picture quality and horrible viewing angles. That’s whats kept me away from them as of late.

  2. J.D. Says:

    I’m almost positive what you show as a photo of the ASUS Zenbook UX31 touchpad, is in fact the Toshiba Z830/Z835 touchpad. The Toshiba has the distinct buttons. All the ASUS UBs I’ve seen have the buttons as part of the touchpad

  3. J.D. Says:

    There are i3, i5 and i7 models of the Acer, ASUS, Toshiba, etc etc, and yet, you don’t say WHICH model variant you are testing. Might not matter for screen and keyboard and port comparison, but it sure DOES matter for performance comparisons. That’s a substantial lack of disclosure, lack of attention to detail, and not very good on your part. You’re not winning any medals yourself.

    How on earth does the Samsung Series 9 Ultrabook not get included in this review? Because, as a more premium model, it wins every category, has no peer, and would make the article a useless excersise perhaps? If not, it’s strange to have omitted it from the competition. No Ultrabooks on steroids allowed? lol

  4. Mike Prospero Says:

    J.D. – The specs for each notebook are in the individual reviews. Because the specs are not the same across all the systems, we addressed that in the Software, Warranty and Value section.

    HP Folio 13: Core i5 processor, 4GB of RAM, 128GB SSD
    Dell XPS 13: Core i5 processor, 4GB of RAM, 128GB SSD
    Toshiba Portégé Z835: Core i3-2367M processor, 4GB of RAM, 128GB SSD
    ASUS UX31: Core i5-2557M processor, 4GB of RAM, 128GB SSD
    Lenovo U300s: Core i7-2677M processor, 4GB of RAM, 256GB SSD
    Samsung Series 5: Core i5-2467M processor, 4GB of RAM, 16GB cache+500GB HDD

  5. John Says:

    Why isnt the top dog Samsung 9 series not included??Will that top every category

  6. grasshopper80 Says:

    @J.D. Your ridiculously condescending tone aside, your opinion about the Samsung Series 9 is incorrect. It would not “win every category.” It should have been included in the review. However, at nearly $500 more than the “winner” of this article, it would probably not win for Value. Barely brighter, with the same resolution screen, means it would probably tie with the Zenbook in Display. It also has an hour less battery life than the Folio 13 so there goes Battery. Despite having a faster processor, it basically tied with the Zenbook in the PCMark07 score. The Samsung 9 review from this site also reports that the audio is weak, the keys are shallow, and it scored the same FPS or below on World of Warcraft as many of the other ultrabooks. It certainly has areas where it shines, but despite being $500-600 more than most of the ultrabooks in this review, the “premium” Samsung Series 9 would not be the clear winner. However, I am sure that you already knew that considering you are an expert regarding ultrabooks and have your own successful and higher quality laptop review website.

  7. Rob Says:

    John — I suspect the Series 9 wasn’t included because it doesn’t fully conform to Intel’s specs and therefore isn’t technically an Ultrabook. Although I personally would have included it, because a typical consumer DOES consider it an Ultrabook and would probably like to know how it compares to the others.

    That said, this comparison seems a bit late to the party. All of these Ultrabooks will be leaving the scene in about a month when next-gen Ivy Bridge processors bring with them an entirely new batch of machines — such as the Asus UX31a, which will look the same but offer such goodies as a 1080 screen.

  8. narayana reddy Says:

    Very good article.
    but little disappointed that hp envy 14 spectre and samsung series 9 being omitted from the article.

    it would have been more interesting if envy 14 spectre was included since it has same 1600×900 display as asus(lower on brightness though), good selection of ports like toshiba, cool unique design, beats audio and good backlit keyboard.so, it could have been a good contender in this article even though pricier model.
    I think spectre barely makes it to ultrabook thinness.But given its features it should been included in the list.

    Samsung series 9 even though it has its USP’s, as grasshopper80 mentioned, it might have not made it to top 3.

  9. J.D. Says:

    I can see the photo of the ASUS touchpad has been fixed now

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