Ultra light laptops

I couldn’t find a recent thread but I thought I’d share some experiences in case someone was looking for a light 13" laptop. I used the Asus for a month or two and the XPS13 a week.

Two well-regarded models are the Asus Zenbook UX305 13" and the XPS13.

Price: The Asus is available at 256 GB at about $600 taxed from the Microsoft store. The XPS13 costs substantially more, $1000 for a 128 SSD, $1400 for the 256 SSD. It does have a touchscreen option for about $1600. Fanless.

Keyboard: The XPS13 keys are nicer, but both work fine.
XPS13 layout has some strange choices. The F1-F10 keys are by default FN-enabled - that is, you use F1-F10 to access volume, brightness, etc. If you want to hit an actual F5 key you need to hit FN-F5.

XPS13 also has a backlight, which is handy at night. Why would you want to shut off the lights? That’s because of the biggest drawback of the XPS13: It has a glossy screen. While sitting on my bedroom, the normal 100w light reflected from the walls is enough to turn the screen into a mirror. Very annoying when watching Netflix. The Asus is a very nice matte. It’s slightly less bright. I did not test any outdoors in the sunlight, you get cancer if you go outside.

The XPS13 trackpad seems better. On the Asus I kept accidentally zooming chrome pages even when I disabled gestures.

Weight is similar - 2.6 lbs, 2.8 lbs if you want the touchscreen option.

Ports: Neither has a dedicated ethernet port. The Asus has a micro-hdmi so you’ll need an adapter to connect to a monitor. Reviews are old, neither comes with a USB to ethernet adaptor anymore. Both seem to support Miracast thought, so that’s what I’d do with a modern TV (only tested miracast on the dell).

Audio: The XPS13 is much louder.

So I did the research, rolled the dice, and ordered a refurbished XPS 13 9350 from a certified re-seller. This is the new Skylake model that was announced this last October! Hell, most of the major sites didn’t even review it until November or December!

It arrived today, and aside from a really scary hour where the Intel graphic drivers froze the display constantly (it was a driver issue; DO NOT rely on the ones from Windows Update; get the ones off of Dell’s support page), it seems like a complete steal. I’ve been going over it nonstop once I resolved the display issue, and it’s working perfectly and looks brand new.

I’m sort of befuddled by this. It’s really insane. It’s the i7-6500U, 8GB RAM, 256GB PCIe storage, and the 3200x1800 touchscreen… for $1,077. It even has a TPM chip! This very same system is selling on Dell right now for $1,650. That’s just nuts.

That sounds pretty terrific. Can you post a link to the reseller?


They also have a blog that has all sorts of info if you’re wondering what Dell did during the refurbishing process.

Extra bonus. No sales tax (unless you’re in Cali) and free 2-day shipping.

Small update now that I owned it for a while:

Update all the drivers when you get it from the website like Woolen Horde says! My XPS 13 out of the box had a really annoying bug where it would not go to sleep! This means you could close the lid and wake up to a dead laptop.

Still occasionally wake laptop and see the Nvidia driver has stopped responding message.

The bluetooth drivers seem to have an issue connecting with Miracast. It intermittently works.

Be aware only the non-touchscreen versions can come in MATTE. If you plan to watch a lot of video on the laptop it may be a better idea.

Yeah, definitely make sure to go to the Dell Support page and download and install all the latest drivers and such. My XPS was missing the previous two firmware updates, and Dell released a huge one near the end of the year that fixed a power issue with the NVMe SSDs; it restored an hour or more of battery life.

This is truly a gorgeous machine. Sleek, aluminum on the outer shell, but carbon fiber on the inside. The display is indeed drool worthy. I really like the Quad HD version. Yes, it does have Gorilla Glass rather than matte, but I’m used to glossy displays after years with MacBooks, and photos look spectacular on it.

The 1080p version does have a much longer battery life (Dell tops out the Quad HD at around 9-10 hours and 1080p is upwards of 18 hours.). The difference is that higher-res displays are much denser in terms of pixel count, and so the backlight has to burn brighter to get the equivalent amount of light through; that, and you do have millions of extra pixels that tax the processor.

Following several recommendations here, I bought an XPS 13 through MerkAmerica a couple of years ago (and had a great experience).

My son needs a new laptop, so we headed to their web site, and they have virtually nothing in stock (one or two Alienwares). Anyone dealt with them lately? Has Dell stopped shipping them refurbs? Temporary glitch?

I noticed the same thing recently. They might be retooling for a process switch. OTOH even the reforms are being cleaned out as well.

They haven’t had them in stock for almost a year, at least.

They are selling Bitmain miners, which makes me wonder if they were switching business or if Dell cut them off?

I just checked and they do have an Alienware model for sale.

If you live in LA, you can swing by their store and ask them what’s up?

A new model was just introduced this month and it was well reviewed.

In addition to what I would consider a shortlist of the Surface Book, XPS 13 and ZenBook lines, The Lenovo Yoga line is the only other PC ultrabook I’d consider.

New LG Gram is very well reviewed as well. I would buy a XPS13 myself, though, if I were in the market.

After a LOT of research and going back and forth, I’ll be going with the Lenovo 6th gen Thinkpad Carbon X1. Very light, well made, a ton of ports, great keyboard. It will cost a pretty penny, but my laptop is my only computer and I put a lot of miles on it.

Can it run Crysis?

Don’t know on games like that. I don’t do heavy duty gaming on my laptop (all on console other than strategy type games) these days.

The Thinkpad X1 Carbon is pretty nice, too. It’s a 14" screen but weighs 2.5 lbs and has a small footprint.
That extra inch is nice to have.

That’s my next notebook. Was just waiting for the 6th gen to come out.

I own one of these. It is currently the only Windows laptop that I use. I don’t game on it, but it does everything else very nicely. Thin, light, and easy to carry around.

For light tasks, I’ve taken to just using a Chromebook. Unless I’m doing development or gaming, the Chromebook handles it fine.

The Thinkpad T4xxs series (T480s is the current gen, T470s is last year’s version and so forth) is also a pretty solid choice - only 1/2 a pound lighter, slightly bigger footprint/bezel, but user upgradeable memory and storage and additional ports including full size ethernet.