From the outside, ultrabooks can seem interchangeable with other laptops. Like any computer, they rely on the same shell for computing, keyboards and displays. However, top ultrabooks also have to be designed to follow Intel's demanding requirements. These include guidelines for dimensions, minimum battery life and processing horsepower. Ultrabooks bring several key advantages and disadvantages compared to other types of laptops.
Because of their smaller size, laptops have traditionally been a step behind desktop computers when it comes to speed. However, the best ultrabooks are designed to bridge this gap. Internally, ultrabooks frequently have high-end Intel Core i5 and Core i7 processors along with solid-state drives for fast processing performance. By comparison, entry-level and mainstream laptops often have to make compromises on processor or hard drive speed in order to maintain a low price tag.
While solid-state drives offer faster data-transfer speeds compared to traditional hard-disk drives, they do have one notable limitation. Solid-state drives generally cost more per GB compared to hard-disk drives. As a result, the base configurations for most ultrabooks use a 128GB or 256GB solid-state drive. If your ultrabook needs to store items such as a music library or large files, a bigger hard drive or external storage is a necessary upgrade.
Mainstream and business-focused ultrabooks take separate approaches to the ultrabook laptop's display. While ultrabooks always use high-resolution displays, business ultrabook screens typically top out at 1920 x 1080, which is a resolution equivalent to a standard home television. Screens at this resolution are more than capable of handling basic office tasks but offer limited visual fidelity compared to competing mainstream ultrabooks. These series often feature displays of up to 3200 x 1800, making them ideal for tasks like movie watching or photo editing.
While gaming laptops are the only type of computer explicitly designed for mobile high-end gaming, ultrabooks can handle casual games and current titles on lower quality settings if they are properly configured.
Most ultrabooks rely on Intel's integrated graphics units, which provide basic graphics processing performance. In comparison, discrete laptop graphics units from manufacturers such as AMD and Nvidia offer gaming performance comparable to desktop graphics cards. An ultrabook that is paired with a discrete graphics card offers well-rounded performance for business and recreational applications.
Intel's strict ultrabook specifications emphasize portability. With maximum thickness requirements of 0.78 to 0.9 inches, the thinnest ultrabooks have to fit a full slate of components into a small chassis. But consequently, manufacturers frequently have to make compromises on an ultrabook's connectivity options.
Optical drives and Ethernet jacks are often omitted on ultrabooks in order to save space. Manufacturers frequently offer USB-based adapters or external disc drives as an alternative, though these dongles also add additional bulk to the ultrabook. In addition, many ultrabooks offer limited options for display output and include either HDMI or Mini DisplayPort jacks. Still, options such as USB 3.0 ports and audio jacks remain standardized inclusions on all ultrabooks.
Ultrabooks are a smart option for lots of people. They offer processing speed and power comparable to many desktop computers. They also offer the portability of laptops. The dual nature of these computers can make them more expensive than regular laptops, but they are still a great option for home or business use.