best ultrabooks – Toshiba Kirabook 13 2017

Toshiba’s flagship ultrabook is the KIRAbook 13 i7S1X Touch, a 13-inch touchscreen ultrabook that offers the performance and design quality you would expect given the premium price. The KIRAbook’s configuration – the only configuration sold by Toshiba at the time of this writing – boasts a 2.4GHz Intel Core i7-5500U processor paired with 8GB of memory and a 256GB solid-state drive (SSD) for storage.


The KIRAbook features a magnesium-alloy chassis, which is both lightweight and strong, and an internal honeycomb structure that adds to the sturdiness of the design. The look of the system is a little bland, with a plain brushed metal surface and a slightly beige finish. Measuring just 12.44 x 8.15 x 0.70 and weighing 2.91 pounds, the KIRAbook is quite portable, but it is actually one of the thicker ultrabooks we reviewed. The small footprint of the laptop also doesn’t leave much room for the keyboard, and typing on the KIRAbook felt a little cramped when we used the device.

In tests run by our colleagues at Laptop Mag, the KIRAbook offered fairly brisk performance, scoring 6,396 points in Geekbench 3 and completing Laptop’s spreadsheet test in 4 minutes and 32 seconds. That sort of performance puts it in good company with some of the best ultrabooks we reviewed. Graphics performance is also good, with playable framerates in World of Warcraft (54 frames per second) and a respectable 56,950 points in 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited.

The KIRAbook’s 13.3-inch touchscreen is touted in marketing materials as one of the laptop’s key selling points, with 2560 x 1440 pixel resolution and calibrated color. The laptop ships with Technicolor Color Certified accuracy and includes a preinstalled Chroma Tune app for dialing in the best color on the display. Despite all of these display-focused features, Laptop’s testing found that the accuracy was off, with a DeltaE of 5, and it had a disappointing maximum brightness of 222 nits.

Along the sides of the ultrabook you’ll find three USB 3.0 ports, one with USB Sleep and Charge capability, along with an SD card reader and an HDMI output with support for 4K video. Wireless connections include 802.11AC Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0, which are standard for the category.

Toshiba covers the KIRAbook with an unusually generous two-year warranty, double the standard coverage offered on most ultrabooks. This longer coverage period is tempered somewhat by the fact that Laptop Mag rated Toshiba 9th out of 10 in its independent support service testing due to a limited period for phone support (90 days after purchase) and an automated support tool called “Virtual Help Desk” that is poorly organized and largely unhelpful. That said, Toshiba does throw in a few extras to sweeten the premium-priced deal, such as including free copies of Adobe Premiere Elements 12 and Photoshop Elements 12 with the ultrabook.

The Toshiba KIRAbook 13 i7S1X Touch is a well-made premium ultrabook, but it fumbles a few key details. The highly-touted display is ultimately disappointing, and the design that uses premium materials but is still relatively thick and heavy. Those are small missteps, to be sure, but it’s enough to relegate the KIRAbook to the middle of the pack in our review of the best ultrabooks.