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Five ultrabooks go head to head: Acer vs Asus vs Dell vs HP vs Lenovo
We compared five ultrabooks to see how they fared when pitted against each other. They all had their merits but there could only be one winner.
Acer, Asus, Dell, HP and Lenovo have to give it their all because we’ll be looking at the details. Who do you think drew the short straw when it came to getting their hands on the performance crown?
But first off, we need to take a closer look at the devices that will be battling it out in the ring:
Spin 5 (SP515-51GN-88U9) (15.60", Full HD, Intel Core i7-8550U, 16GB, SSD, HDD)
For a life in the fast lane
ZenBook Pro 15 UX580GD-BN017T (15.60", Full HD, Intel Core i7-8750H, 16GB, SSD)
CHF 2299.–was 2799.–1
XPS 15 (15.60", UHD, Intel Core i7-8705G, 16GB, SSD)
Unimaginably narrow. Extremely powerful.
Spectre x360 15-ch060nz (15.60", 4K, Intel Core i7-8705G, 16GB, SSD)
YOGA 730-15IKB (15.60", Full HD, Intel Core i7-8550U, 16GB, SSD)
High performance 15.6" convertible notebook with aluminium body
Here’s the technical data for all the competing ultrabooks:
The main differences between the components of the devices are in the the graphics options and the displays (more on that later). Acer, Asus and Lenovo all come with Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050. Meanwhile Dell and HP rely on dedicated graphics power in the form of AMD’s Radeon RX Vega. I’m already intrigued to see who’ll come up trumps: AMD or Nvidia.
Design and ports
All the manufacturers of the five devices we tested opted for an aluminium chassis. But for me, the only one that actually felt like aluminium was the Dell. I personally thought the Dell and HP devices had the best finish.
Although all the ultrabooks feature a 15.6” display, the differences in size are noticeable. It’s even more distinct when you put the devices one on top of the other. The shiny blue beast at the bottom of the pile is the 38.15 cm long Acer ultrabook. Stacked above in the following order are the HP, Lenovo and Asus ultrabooks, with the most compact device from Dell coming in at just 35.4 cm in length on the top.
In terms of functionality, the Asus device is the one that stands out because the
display on the ZenBook Pro doesn’t fold all the way back.
As far as ports go, here’s an easy overview of what each device is fitted with:
What catches our attention here is the fact that, aside from the Dell XPS 15, all the devices come with an HDMI output. If you wanted to connect an external display to the Dell, you’d need a Thunderbolt adapter. The same goes for USB A.
Display: 2 x UHD, 3 x full HD
Apart from the Asus ZenBook Pro, all the ultrabooks feature a touchscreen, which can also be operated with a pen. Another thing that sets the others apart from the Asus ZenBook Pro is that they can all be used as a tablet, because the screen can fold all the way down. But let’s face it, a tablet that weighs 2 kg is no fun.
Even though it might seem like Asus is lagging behind in the match, this device has something that all the others don’t: the ScreenPad. (You can use the touchpad as a second screen.) Find out more in our [Asus Zenbook Pro review](in German)(https://www.digitec.ch/en/s1/page/asus-zenbook-pro-bloss-eine-spielerei-8409).
The Asus might not feature a touchscreen or offer tablet mode but it does have a ScreenPad
If we look at the panel resolution, the devices that punch above their weight are the Dell and HP. These ultrabooks offer UHD resolution, while the others «only» provide full HD. Given that all the manufacturers use IPS technology, the colours appear more natural. As a result, these types of displays also lend themselves to working with applications such as Photoshop.
The Dell and HP ultrabooks come with a UHD display
In comparison, the viewing angle on the the Acer Spin 5 display is only partially stable. And on the brightest setting the screen is a bit darker than the other displays. Another thing I don’t like about this model is that the edges on the display measure 1.9 cm on each side. Meanwhile, the edges at the top and bottom of the screen are even larger at 2.5 cm.
This really doesn’t have to be the case. Take Dell as an example, with its display edges coming in at a mere 4 mm. It’s not just that it makes the screen look great, it also lets the manufacturer sheer centimetres off the size of the ultrabook.
Sadly, Acer, with its huge display edges, and Lenovo only feature 1080p resolution
If you’re accustomed to a mechanical keyboard, typing on these ultrabooks might take a bit of getting used to. All of the keyboards we road-tested had a key drop of 1.5 mm or less. What’s helpful is all the keyboards offer distinct resistance. The typing experience is almost identical on the Acer, Asus, HP and Lenovo. In other words, it’s not taxing on your fingers or wrists and typing itself is quiet. The resistance is only slight but it’s palpable.
The ScreenPad is a sign Asus is taking a different path to that of the other manufacturers
The Lenovo keyboard layout
Dell’s keyboard, on the other hand, is clearly audible and the resistance is a bit stronger. If I were picking a device purely based on what it felt like to type on, it would be the Dell – I like this keyboard the most. Part of the reason for that is Dell is the only manufacturer in this group to have splashed out on a rubber surface for the palmrest.
The Dell ultrabook with rubber palmrest
Another deciding factor when you’re buying an ultrabook could be the keyboard layout. If you like having a keypad from the get-go, you’ll need to head straight for the Acer Spin 5 or the HP Spectre x360.
Acer also comes equipped with a keypad
I like the HP layout the best – especially because of the keypad
I carried out two tests to determine battery performance. The first lets me see how long the ultrabooks hold up under full load. The second shows each ultrabook’s capacity during a standard task.
HeavyLoad stress test
HeavyLoad pushes the ultrabooks’ performance to the limit. In practice that means the RAM, SSD, graphics card and processor are constantly running at full load. Before each test I set the display brightness to the highest setting.
Results of the stress test:
The Acer Spin 5 wins this round, with it operating just shy of two hours at full load. As a general rule, it’s safe to assume that the lowest performing device will hold up the longest. Whether that’s also the case here awaits to be seen in the benchmark tests below.
YouTube continuous streaming
Before the test, I made sure the screen brightness was on the middle level on all the ultrabooks. When it came to the Acer Spin 5, I judged it by eye and set the screen a bit brighter as the panel is slightly darker – something I touched upon earlier.
Here’s what the devices scored when they were put in the ring for the YouTube continuous streaming round:
HP won this with its ability to stream continuously for almost nine hours. Given its 84 Wh, that’s not so surprising. What got me sitting up and taking notice was Acer and Lenovo managing 8.5 hours with their meagre 48 Wh and 51.5 Wh respectively. With its 75 Wh, the Dell ultrabook still made it to 7 hours and 20 minutes. Meanwhile, Asus (71 Wh, six hours running time) should maybe consider reworking the device so it has improved battery performance.
As you’re about to see, it’s not easy to get a clear picture of the ultrabooks’ performance. The official drivers of the Vega graphics cards cause problems when combined with 3DMark.
Maxon’s Cinebench isn’t really made for testing gaming performance as it scales to 256 CPU threads and focuses on floating point performance. (The calculations for Cinema 4D, the mother of this benchmark, are normally carried out at large server farms.) This means that processors with more cores always deliver a better result. Today’s games and office applications usually only support two, four or six CPU cores – in other words, up to two threads.
In summary, if you want to compare processors with Cinebench R15, you can only do that when both processors have the same number of threads.
This is how the ultrabooks fare according to Cinebench R15:
AMD’s Vega manages to let the Dell XPS 15 and HP Spectre x360 come out on top in the OpenGL test. As far as CPU performance is concerned, the Acer Spin 5 seems to be having a few problems. Even though it has the same processor (Intel Core i7-8550U) as the Lenovo YOGA, it has a much lower score.
3DMark Fire Strike
The DirectX benchmark Fire Strike is best for determining gaming performance. But the official driver from AMD’s Vega isn’t supported, which is why the following results should be taken with a pinch of salt.
If you want to compare the results online, click below :
In-game benchmark Far Cry 5
With the graphics quality set to «high» and the resolution at 1920 x 1080 pixels, we’re ready to go into the next benchmark round.
According to the in-game benchmark, the Dell and Asus ultrabooks get the most out of their hardware. But let’s not forget Lenovo, which even manages a steady performance of over 33 fps. HP, on the other hand, falls as low as 27 fps in this benchmark, while Acer finishes the round with a meagre 19 fps.
Which ultrabook is best for you? This is really a question of what you intend to use the ultrabook for.
The thrifty solution: get the most for minimum outlay
If you don’t want to dig too deep into your pocket, you’ll only want to consider the Acer Spin 5 or the Lenovo YOGA. That being said, they both seem to have a few problems in the manufacture. The thin chassis makes it difficult to incorporate efficient cooling. This becomes particularly apparent with the Acer Spin 5, which ended up with way too low a CPU score in Cinebench. It meant Acer’s Intel Core i7-8550U scored 150 points less than the Intel Core in the Lenovo YOGA.
The Acer ultrabook’s score takes a dive even in terms of graphics performance. At least you can game on the Lenovo and from a design perspective it looks OK. The same can’t be said of the Acer, with screen edges that are way too thick. The good thing about this device is the generous battery life.
However… if you really do want to save your francs, you’d be better off looking for a normal notebook in the same price range. That is unless you need a thin device – in which case grab the Lenovo YOGA.
When you’re using an ultrabook in the office, it’s not just about pure power. The battery life and keyboard layout also play a big part.
As far as keyboards go, the HP Spectre x360 and the Acer Spin 5 have the edge with their keypads. The Asus ZenBook Pro has the advantage of offering applications on the ScreenPad. And it also comes with a keypad pre-installed as standard. But it is worth pointing out that Asus has the shortest battery life of all the devices we tested and Acer has performance problems.
As we all know, only one of the devices can win the office crown. With the HP Spectre x360 you’re not only getting a well finished device. HP is also rolling out the red carpet for battery life (8 h 47 min for YouTube continuous streaming). Not only that, it features UHD resolution. And according to Cinebench R15 as well as the tentative results from Fire Strike Benchmark, the HP ultrabook can pack a punch when it comes to power.
The performance crown goes to...
But there can only be one winner of this match and so the award for the most compact, best finished and most powerful device goes to Dell. The XPS 15 with UHD resolution and AMD Radeon RX Vega 870 comes out on top as far as design is concerned. That’s something I hear reinforced in the complimentary remarks from my colleagues about this device.
The only shortcoming with the Dell is that the battery life isn’t the best in the group, coming in as it did at 7 h 20 min for YouTube continuous streaming. But for a day in the office that should be more than enough. Yip, you guessed it, the Dell would be another contender for office royalty. That’s as long as you don’t just stream You
pornTube at work.
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