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Shootouts

The great ultraportable notebook shootout (2021 edition)

By Kenny Yeo - 24 Jul 2021

Conclusion

Final words and revealing the winner

The current crop of ultraportable notebooks are very competent machines. Advances in design, display technology, and processor technology mean they have never been lighter, more compact, and more capable. Performance and battery life were generally quite good across the board – although there were some standouts. It’s also very nice to see that nearly all of them support the new and faster Thunderbolt 4 standard. This is especially important as it opens up a wide range of peripherals that you can enhance your machines with. Most crucially, it means you can dock these notebooks to an external GPU and have a truly competent gaming machine. In a way, it’s like having two machines in one, and that’s super cool. However, there can only be one winner and the winner is…

 

Best overall notebook - Lenovo Yoga Slim 7i Carbon

The Yoga Slim 7i Carbon checks a lot of boxes and it is priced attractively.

The Lenovo Yoga Slim 7i Carbon is our winner because it checks the most boxes. Let’s start with its design. At just 966g, it’s the lightest of the bunch. Coupled with its svelte body, it easily slips into bags and notebooks sleeves. And despite being so thin and light, it sacrifices little in the way of performance. Looking at the performance charts on the previous page, it was ranked consistently as one of the top performers. And even though it had the smallest battery, it lasted well over 9 hours and was one of the more power-efficient notebooks. This fact is even more remarkable when you remember that it has a higher resolution QHD display and not a Full-HD display like some of its rivals. And to round it all up, it has no less than three USB-C ports, support for Wi-Fi 6, a very pleasant keyboard, and a large touchpad. And if that’s not enough, there’s the price. The Yoga Slim 7i Carbon is the second most affordable notebook in this shootout. All things considered, the Yoga Slim 7i Carbon offers just about everything you’d want from an ultraportable notebook.

 

Best value - Huawei MateBook 14 AMD

The MateBook 14 AMD offers terrific value for money. If you are on a budget, this is a great choice.

It’s hard to argue against the Huawei MateBook 14 AMD when you look at the price tags of these machines. While it is certainly commendable that the general prices of flagship premium-class ultraportable notebooks have fallen over the past few years, none can match the MateBook 14 AMD’s affordability. At S$1,298, it’s S$701 less than the next most affordable notebook. Sure, we can nitpick its performance and feature set but it counters with class-leading build quality and that gorgeous high-resolution display with a 3:2 aspect ratio. If you are looking to get the most out of your hard-earned dollars, the MateBook 14 AMD is the undisputed winner.

 

And then the rest...

The Swift 5 is a strong all-rounder with great performance and battery life. But the design is a little dated and it only has one USB-C port.

The Acer Swift 5 offers unrivalled performance and battery life, and it’s also impressively light and compact. However, its Full-HD display is looking dated and it only has a single USB-C port. Overall, it’s an excellent notebook but not quite as refined and modern as our winner.

 

The ZenBook 14 Ultralight is an excellent ultraportable notebook but there are more value for money options around.

The ASUS ZenBook 14 Ultralight has impressive specs. It’s very thin and light, it has discrete graphics, and it’s one of only two notebooks to come with a 1TB SSD. Sadly, its performance wasn’t quite as good as we had hoped. Throttling is quite severe during heavy workloads. The Full-HD display also looks quite dated and it’s quite pricey.

 

The Dell XPS 13 is extremely polished and refined. However, it's pricey and its rivals offer more for less.

The Dell XPS 13 is possibly the most seductive notebook. It looks and feels expensive. The display is fantastic too. Super-thin bezels, razor-sharp visuals, and vibrant colours. The only knocks against it are its so-so performance and high price tag. But if you have deep wallets and you value visual quality over outright performance, this is still a very good choice.

 

This is LG's best ultraportable yet. Performance is now a lot more competitive and the display is a little better.

The LG gram 14 is the company's most polished ultraportable notebook yet. The gram 14 has always distinguished itself for its lightweight and long battery and this new model continues the tradition. Performance used to be a weak point but that’s no longer the case. This model performs quite admirably, although throttling is a bit of an issue. It also has the best selection of ports. It’s standing would have been elevated if only it had a better display and a more attractive price. Nevertheless, this is a very solid option especially if you are looking for a notebook that has every port you'll ever need, is super light and has grat endurance.

 

The MSI Prestige 14 Evo does some things well but its performance was disappointing and it doesn't feel as well built as its rivals.

The MSI Prestige 14 Evo was disappointing mainly because of its performance. Despite having the most powerful processor, it was unable to put the power down and distinguish itself in our benchmark tests. It just goes to show that on paper specifications are not everything. And when you consider its price and everything else that it offers, it’s clear that there are better options out there.

 

Sadly, the Razer Book 13 can't back up its good looks and class-leading build quality with the goods. Performance was lacklustre and battery life was below average.

If these notebooks were judged on looks alone, the Razer Book 13 would have probably won. Its design is as attractive as it is distinctive, and it feels very well put together. The 4K touchscreen display is also stunning. Sadly, its performance wasn’t very strong and neither was its battery life. Furthermore, it’s the most expensive notebook by a huge margin. When you put it all together, regardless of how good it looks, it just doesn’t represent good value for money. 

 

Final Ratings
Lenovo Yoga Slim 7i Carbon

Click here to see a rundown of pros and cons

Acer Swift 5

Click here to see a rundown of pros and cons

ASUS ZenBook 14 Ultralight

Click here to see a rundown of pros and cons

LG gram 14

Click here to see a rundown of pros and cons

Dell XPS 13

Click here to see a rundown of pros and cons

Huawei MateBook 14 AMD

Click here to see a rundown of pros and cons

MSI Prestige 14 Evo

Click here to see a rundown of pros and cons

Razer Book 13

Click here to see a rundown of pros and cons

 

Ratings Breakdown
Model Acer Swift 5 ASUS ZenBook 14 Ultralight Dell XPS 13 Huawei MateBook 14 AMD Lenovo Slim 7i Carbon LG gram 14 MSI Prestige 14 Razer Book 13
Design 8.0 9.0 9.5 8.0 8.5 8.0 7.5 9.5
Features 8.0 8.5 8.5 7.5 8.5 8.5 8.5 8.5
Performance 9.0 8.5 7.5 7.5 8.5 8.0 6.5 7.5
Value 8.0 7.5 7.0 9.5 9.0 8.5 7.5 6.0
Mobility 9.5 8.5 8.0 7.5 9.0 9.5 7.0 6.0
Overall 8.5 8.5 8.0 8.0 9.0 8.5 7.0 7.0
Price (as tested) S$2,298 S$2,398 S$2,599 S$1,298 S$1,999 S$2,199 S$2,349 S$3,299
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