Most powerful/reliable Ultrabook as of August ('12)?

Hello,

My MacBook Air just died, and I need a new notebook as thin as the MBA, so I have been looking at Ultrabooks, but the slight variations in model numbers and the CPU model numbers mean nothing to be, and as far as I know I can't even tell which ones have the newest 'Ivy Bridge' processors because the notebook product catalogues don't even advertise the code name of the processors along with the technical specs.

Price isn't really an issue, as long as it's not something ridiculous like $5,000 USD.

But in general I'll be using it mostly for mathematical/physics processing and computations. I have a main rig at home to do most of the work so its function isn't as much priority as its sleekness/thinness/durability (I'd like 14" or smaller). But obviously if they're all similar sizes, I want the most powerful and reliable one. I've had it with Apple products always failing me.

The ThinkPad X1 Carbon looks pretty interesting, especially if I can get a battery slice for it to extended the battery life. Sometimes I go 12-14 hours without having access to a power outlet. I don't know what other laptops are coming out this summer, but I need one before school starts again (end of August). I can make due if a superior ultrabook comes out maybe a few weeks later than that, but that's all I'm going to be willing to wait.

1. What is your budget?

<$3,000

2. What is the size of the notebook that you are considering?

14" or less (maybe 14.1")

3. What screen resolution do you want?

Anything standard res 1366 x 768 or above (preferably higher, like 1920 x 1080)

4. Do you need a portable or desktop replacement laptop?

Portable. I travel a ton

5. How much battery life do you need?

12-14 hours

6. Do you want to play games with your laptop? If so then please list the games that you want to with the settings that you want for these games. (Low,Medium or High)?

No games

7. What other tasks do you want to do with your laptop? (Photo/Video editing, Etc.)

Programming
Maths/Physics computation

8. How much storage (Hard Drive capacity) do you need?

Doesn't really matter to me.

9. If you are considering specific sites to buy from, please post their links.

10. How long do you want to keep your laptop?

Longer than 5 years

11. What kind of Optical drive do you need? DVD ROM/Writer,Bluray ROM/Writer,Etc ?

Don't really need any

12. Please tell us about the brands that you prefer to buy from them and the brands that you don't like and explain the reasons.

13. What country do you live in?

USA

14. Please tell us any additional information if needed.

I despise glare, so I prefer matte screens unless there are glossy screens without any glare in the sun/lighting.
21 answers Last reply
More about most powerful reliable ultrabook august
  1. The X1 Carbon seems to be a very good choice. Unfortunately there is no official release date (at least that I am aware of). It has a 1600x900 resolution screen, too bad it's a standard TN panel instead of an IPS panel.
  2. For an Ultrabook its hard for me to even consider anything other then the Asus Zenbook. This is what I am talking about http://www.amazon.com/ASUS-Zenbook-UX32VD-DB71-13-3-Inch-Ultrabook/dp/B00863L2MS/ref=sr_1_1?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1342330665&sr=1-1&keywords=asus+zenbook+ux32vd

    Now I would wait to find a 1.9GHz i7 is available, especially since you have a huge budget. They are some places, but amazon is all sold out I believe.
    The quick and dirty way to tell if its 3rd gen/ivy bridge is a 3 in the descriptive number after the CPU type. So basically if you look at the one from the Asus I linked to, the CPU is a "Intel Core i7-3517UM 1.7 GHz" After the "Intel Core i7" we see "3517UM". That 3 at the beginning of this tells you it is third gen. Another quick note, the U at the end means its specially designed for ultrabooks and the M means it is a mobile processor. If there is a Q in this area you know it is quad core - I do not know of any quad core ultra books at the moment though, so the big things are to look for the 3 to know if its ivy bridge and then clock speed!
  3. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16834230468&nm_mc=OTC-FroogleNEW&cm_mmc=OTC-FroogleNEW-_-Notebooks-_-ASUS-_-34230468

    <--- IPS 1080P, less than 3 pounds. Looks sexy too. Can't commit on glare of the screen though...
  4. Thanks for those identification tips rubbateckie. Do you know if the processors designed for ultrabooks are typically better than the mobile ones? How many cores are typically in those processors?

    I don't think TN/IPS matters to me all that much...AFAIK, it only affects the viewing angle, doesn't it? I'm going to be sitting right in front of it pretty much all the time that I use it, so..
  5. Oh no... an IPS has a MUCH better screen. Viewing angles are just icing on the cake. We are talking about richer, better colors.
  6. rockymegaman said:
    Do you know if the processors designed for ultrabooks are typically better than the mobile ones? How many cores are typically in those processors?
    Ultrabook CPUs are dual core ultra low voltage mobile processors. They are lower power, lower performance than the 'standard' mobile CPUs.

    Example: Ultrabook CPUs
    Core i5-3317U 1.7Ghz (2 cores 4 threads)
    Core i7-3517U 1.9Ghz (2 cores 4 threads)

    Mainstream CPUs:
    Core i5-3210M 2.5Ghz (2 cores 4 threads)
    Core i7-3520M 2.9Ghz (2 cores 4 threads)

    Performance CPUs:
    Core i7-3610QM 2.3Ghz (4 cores 8 threads)
    Core i7-3720QM 2.6Ghz (4 cores 8 threads)
  7. rockymegaman said:

    I don't think TN/IPS matters to me all that much...AFAIK, it only affects the viewing angle, doesn't it? I'm going to be sitting right in front of it pretty much all the time that I use it, so..


    Every time I adjust the way I sit, I also need to adjust the angle of the screen on a laptop with a TN panel. Then again I am used to using H-IPS panel monitors. But e-IPS panels on a laptop is still rather rare so finding the "perfect laptop" including an e-IPS panel will be somewhere between pretty difficult and impossible.

    The 13.3" Asus Zenbook with a 1920x1080 screen sound nice... just make sure your eyesight is good enough to read text on a relatively small screen and high resolution. In the 14" and lower category I would prefer a 1600x900 resolution.
  8. Would IPS be healthier on the eyes if working on it for extended periods of time?
  9. What about the Samsung Series 9 (or this slightly slower 13")?

    Or you could just get another Macbook Air. I'm not sure what model of the Macbook Air you had, but the 2011 and 2012 models are much faster than the previous models. You can get up to a i7@2.0ghz on current models.
  10. I am now considering a VAIO Z. It's not classified as an Ultrabook, but upon looking at video reviews, it looks pretty darn thin. It has i7 Quad Cores unlike Ultrabook processors, and RAID SSD (which I don't really need, but there's no other option). Also has a battery slice which can allow me to use the thing for 12 hours without having to recharge, which is very important to me.
  11. Well I think your answer about the processors was already answered by someone probably more knowledgeable than me.

    For the VAIO Z, the prices look a little higher than I would expect for something of the same specs but it does look pretty fantastic. I wouldn't buy into that batter life too much though because its really hard to pull off that much battery with the quad cores!
  12. How are the battery lives for these products even determined? What sort of tests are they running to be able to legally advertise a certain amount of battery life? For all I know, the tests run could've just been the machine idling in Hibernation mode before it shuts down a few hours later..
  13. rockymegaman said:
    Would IPS be healthier on the eyes if working on it for extended periods of time?


    There is no evidence that IPS or any type of LCD panel technology is better for your eyes.
  14. rockymegaman said:
    How are the battery lives for these products even determined? What sort of tests are they running to be able to legally advertise a certain amount of battery life? For all I know, the tests run could've just been the machine idling in Hibernation mode before it shuts down a few hours later..


    Battery life estimates varies from manufacturer to manufacturer. Typically the maximum battery life is based on mostly idle usage (i.e. no watching movies, playing games or anything that is CPU / GPU intensive) and very low backlight settings. For example, reading / writing documents and working on Excel non complex spreadsheets. Maybe some limited web surfing.

    The best thing to do is to find reviews of specific laptops (if any) to find out what the actual battery life is. Sometimes they use a synthetic test like Battery Eater.

    http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/benchmark-laptops-battery-life-battery-eater/

    Based on my experience with and IBM ThinkPad T40 and Lenovo IdeaPad Y470 their battery life claims are/were pretty realistic. The T40 was advertised at 5 hours (if I remember correctly) and the Y470 was rated at 4 hours based on idle usage.
  15. Question about the RAID 0: I've used RAID before, but only because the computers at work utilized them, so I didn't even know they were RAID. I just knew they were there to keep us from losing work in case of a failure or something.

    Inside a laptop, how does that work? The only ones I've seen were on server rackmounts and stuff. Will it be an issue if I want to reformat the entire hard drive to install a different OS or anything? Is there anything I have to fiddle with, or does RAID 0 just work silently in the background without me having to do anything to it or mess with it, if I want to work on the hard drive? (Formatting, partitioning, etc.)
  16. RAID 0 does not provide any redundancy. It basically combines the capacity of two physical hard drives into one logical hard drive. It's called striping. RAID 0 increases the read / write speed, but if either hard drive should fail, then potentially all data can be lost.

    RAID 1 provides a basic level of redundancy; it is known a mirroring. Whatever is written on one drive is also written on the other. This slows down data writing, but increases reading performance.

    RAID 5 is likely what they use at your company, there are other different RAID configurations though. RAID 5 requires a minimum of 3 hard drives. Should a single hard drive fail, it is possible to reconstruct the original data. If more than one hard drive fails at the same time, then most if not all the data is lost.

    Not sure if a laptop can handle any type of RAID and laptops are typically limited to 2 hard drives. Ultrabooks will only have room for 1 hard drive.
  17. The typical way to backup data on a laptop is to use an external hard drive. Many external hard drives comes with software that will allow you to backup data either automatically or by pressing a button.
  18. I don't need to back up anything, but the VAIO Z model comes standard with RAID 0, I have no option to choose a regular hard drive or SSD, which is why I wanted to know how it worked and if I needed to do anything special on the notebook to not mess it up.
  19. I assume the VAIO Z comes standard with RAID 0 because they use SSD instead of HDD. Since SSD have relatively small capacity two SSDs are RAIDed together to provide a larger single logical drive. There should be nothing special you need to do.
  20. What would be the purpose of having two 64GB RAID 0 drives as opposed to one 128GB SSD? Like, why didn't Sony just stick a single 128GB SSD in their notebooks and opt for two RAID 0 drives?
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