Ultrabooks with the smallest bezels (Early 2018)

Ultrabook Screen-to-Body

This Synopsis

The call for maximized screen-to-body ratio in mobile devices is afoot, most notably in the smartphone and laptop markets. With ultrabooks, in particular, we want their footprints to be as small/thin as possible, but not necessarily the screen size. Everyone prefers a bigger screen, but there has to be a compromise for portability.

This is why bezel reduction is so important to ultrabooks. If done right, you can essentially get a 15″ display into a traditional 13″ laptop footprint. Who wouldn’t want that? So we’re glad that many laptop manufacturers have begun to address the engineering challenges with stretching displays closer to their frames. We’re not to “bezel-less” yet (despite what many news outlets say – a chin still counts as bezel), but we’re inching closer all the time. The Synopsis rounds up the ultrabooks with the best screen-to-body ratio.

The Short List

Huawei Matebook X ProAsus Zenbook 3 DeluxeDell XPS 13LG Gram 15
Huawei Matebook X ProAsus Zenbook 3 DeluxeDell XPS 13LG Gram 15

The Rundown

Huawei MateBook X Pro – 91% Screen-to-Body

The MateBook X Pro (successor to the original MateBook X) was shown off at MWC 2018 a couple months ago. It hit the scene hard, leaping past any laptop before it with a 91% screen-to-body ratio. Coupled with the first pop-up camera folks have ever seen (within a key on the keyboard), computer enthusiasts couldn’t help but be drawn to it.

Its first-rate construction from an experienced company also helps, in the heels of Apple’s MacBook Pro…maybe a little too much. That said, if you’ve wanted a MacBook equivalent that runs Windows, this is it. And Huawei made sure that the specs line up with the “Pro” moniker – this is as spec’d out as you’ll see an ultrabook.

Advantages

  • Premium metal build that’s 14.6mm thick and 2.9 lbs
  • 14″ 3:2 display with 3K resolution, bright 450 nits, and touchscreen
  • Best power you’d find in an ultrabook (including dedicated Nvidia MX150 graphics)
  • Large touchpad
  • Quad speakers with Dolby Atmos support
  • USB-C and Thunderbolt 3 ports
  • Fingerprint scanner

Downsides

  • Expensive – base config targeted to be around $1800 (not yet released)
  • 8th Gen Core i7 processor, 16GB RAM, and 512GB SSD are extras
  • No SD card slot
  • Pop-up camera is low resolution (1MP) and at a low angle
  • 57.4 Whr battery could be larger

ASUS ZenBook 3 Deluxe  – 84% Screen-to-Body

ASUS isn’t a stranger to ultrabooks; they’ve been in the laptop game a long time. We’re glad to see that they’re one of the companies in bezel reduction effort. The best offering they’ve got in this regard is the ZenBook 3 Deluxe (UX490UA). Its 14″, 84% screen-to-body ratio display isn’t the only area that it trails the MateBook X Pro. The ZenBook 3 Deluxe also has top-end power and quad speakers, and bests it with a thinner and lighter body (at 12.9mm thickness and 2.4 lbs).

Advantages

  • Premium metal and eye-catching construction
  • 14″ 16:9 display behind Gorilla Glass 5
  • Base config is 8th Gen i7 processor, 16GB RAM, and 512GB SSD
  • Quad speakers by Harman Kardon
  • USB-C and Thunderbolt 3 ports
  • Fingerprint scanner

Downsides

  • Display only 1080P resolution, average 280 nits brightness, and no touchscreen
  • 46Whr battery gives average life
  • Integrated chipset graphics
  • Sub-par webcam
  • No SD card slot
  • Not cheap

Dell XPS 13 (2018) – 80.7% Screen-to-Body

Dell’s XPS 13 is one of highest-regarded ultrabooks out there. Its Aluminum, tapered-shaped design pushed the thinness envelope a few years back, and was one of the first to push the display very closely up to the top three edges. Being that competitors have now caught up, Dell was urged to drop a progressed design. The 2018 XPS 13 has familiar construction, but maintains its features in a noticeably smaller body (23% less in volume) and shrunken 4mm borders. This also means some weight is shaved off too, resulting in a light 2.67 lbs.

Advantages

  • Premium metal build, competitively compact, and proven design
  • Can be spec’d out with top-end 8th Gen i7 processor, 16GB RAM, and 1TB SSD
  • Top-notch 13.3″ 16:9 display with 4K resolution, touchscreen, and around 400 nits of brightness
  • Gore Thermal Insulation keeps device cool
  • USB-C and Thunderbolt 3 ports
  • Choice of fingerprint scanner and or Windows Hello visual security

Downsides

  • Better specs can drastically increase the cost
  • Base display is matte, 1080P, and non-touch
  • Integrated chipset graphics only
  • Battery capacity slightly smaller (60 Whr to 52 Whr), and 1080P variant gets significantly better life
  • Webcam still below the display (although, it’s centered now)
  • Smaller design dumped the USB-A port and reduced SD card slot to less useful microSD

LG Gram 15 (2018)

LG refreshed the Gram line earlier in the year, quick to address complaints that customers had with the original models. Namely, the webcam is now above the display, fingerprint reader is now in the power button, and the USB-C port now supports the faster Thunderbolt 3 data transfer. The Gram stands by its name with an exceptionally light 2.4 lbs for a 15-incher. Despite being the largest laptop on this list, it’s the lightest – impressive. Note that there are smaller Gram variants, but the 15 is the one with the least bezel.

Advantages

  • 15.6″ 16:9 display that’s touchscreen
  • Top-end specs: 8th Gen i7 processor, 16GB RAM, and 1TB SSD
  • Large 72 Whr battery that equates to awesome endurance
  • Has military MIL-STD-810G durability rating
  • USB-C and Thunderbolt 3 ports
  • Fingerprint scanner

Downsides

  • Wallet-busting price – $2000
  • “Nano carbon magnesium” build feels like plastic
  • 1080P resolution display only, and average 265 nits of brightness
  • Integrated chipset graphics
  • MicroSD card slot instead of full SD
  • Small touchpad

Final Thoughts

LG Gram 15 Ultrabook
Ultrabooks on Amazon

We don’t yet see the same the urgency to diminish bezels in laptops that we do in smartphones. There aren’t many ultrabooks that reach an 80% screen-to-body ratio and beyond. And those that do don’t come cheap. But we at least feel like we’re in the turning point. We can thank Dell and its XPS 13’s Infinity display for pushing others to an edge-to-edge design. There’s several of the like, such as the HP Spectre 13 and Lenovo Yoga 920. Granted, the direct competition needs to cut down their sizable chins if they really want to compete.

Also See: Best True Wireless Earbuds

Josh is so enthused about tech that he writes about it. After time at several tech publications, he launched The Synops - concise and quality gadget synopses with information that readers want to know and details they want to see. You can also follow him at on Twitter (@joshnor713) and Google+ (+JoshNoriega). Email any inquiries to josh@thesynops.com.

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