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The 6 Best Lightweight Laptops - Spring 2023 Reviews

Updated
Best Lightweight Laptops

As most of us travel with our laptops, finding one that isn't overly bulky or heavy is essential. Thankfully, there are tons of lightweight laptops on the market these days. You can even find mobile workstations and gaming laptops with powerful components that are as lightweight as ultraportables. That said, you want to be careful not to over-prioritize weight, as manufacturers often sacrifice build quality to make the laptop as light as possible. You also want to consider other aspects of the laptop, like the quality of the screen, keyboard, and touchpad, as well as the port selection, overall performance, and battery life. Last but not least, don't forget about the power adapter, as some laptops come with a huge brick that's as heavy as the laptop itself.

We've tested more than 70 laptops, and below, you'll find our recommendations for the best lightweight laptops you can get. You can also check out our recommendations for the best laptops, the best laptops for college, and the best business laptops.


  1. Best Lightweight Laptop

    The best lightweight laptop we've tested is the Apple MacBook Air 13 (2022), a 13-inch premium ultraportable. It has a thin, compact design, and despite having a solid aluminum chassis, it only weighs 2.7 lbs. This laptop is designed for general productivity, like text processing, web browsing, and video playback. Still, it can also handle more demanding stuff like photo and video editing, as long as the material isn't overly complex. As with most MacBooks, you get a sharp and bright display, a spacious and tactile keyboard, and a gigantic haptic touchpad. A downside to its thin and light design is the lack of ports; you only get two USB-C/Thunderbolt 3s, a headphone jack, and a MagSafe charging port.

    If you find the M2 MacBook Air too pricey, know you can still get the older Apple MacBook Air 13 (M1, 2020). It starts at a lower price, and because it's older, it's often on sale for as low as $800. Its M1 SoC is slower but still powerful enough to handle general productivity tasks, and its battery lasts even longer, at around 13 hours. There are a few tradeoffs, like its lower-resolution webcam and dimmer display. Also, there's no Magsafe charging port, so you'll have to use one of the USB-Cs to charge the laptop, leaving you with only one USB port for a peripheral or external display.

    We have two options for Windows users: the LG gram 17 (2021) and the Microsoft Surface Laptop 5 (2022). The gram 17, as its name implies, is all about weight. It only weighs 3.1 lbs, which is impressive for a 17-inch laptop. As for the Surface Laptop 5, you can get it in a 13.5-inch or 15-inch size. The former weighs just under 3 lbs, while the latter weighs 3.5 lbs. The gram 17 and Surface Laptop 5 are premium models with a great user experience and enough processing power to handle general productivity tasks.

    See our review

  2. Best Mid-Range Lightweight Laptop

    If you want something more modest, go with the Acer Chromebook Spin 714 (2022), one of the best portable laptops we've tested. This 14-inch model has a nice bright screen, and since it's a 2-in-1 convertible, you can flip the screen around and use it as a tablet. It also supports pen input and comes with a stylus that you can dock into its charging slot at the front of the device for transport. It's available with various Intel 12th Gen. U-series CPUs, which are powerful enough for anything you'd need to do on a Chromebook. It has a comfortable keyboard, loud speakers, and a surprisingly good 1080p webcam. The main downside is that Chrome OS is very limited in the type of applications you can install, so you need to ensure you can complete your work through a Chrome browser or Android app.

    A Windows alternative would be the Acer Swift 3 14 (2020). It's also a well-built 14-inch model, weighing less than the Spin 714 at only 2.6 lbs. It provides a similar user experience; the only notable differences are its slightly dimmer display and a significantly worse webcam. Also, it isn't a 2-in-1. Battery life is roughly the same at around 13 hours of light use, and the laptop charges over USB-C. You can configure it with an Intel 11th Gen. Core i5 or i7, and up to 16GB of memory and 512GB of storage. Ports include two USB-As, one USB-C/Thunderbolt 4, a headphone jack, and a full-size HDMI.

    See our review

  3. Best Budget Lightweight Laptop

    Our best budget pick is the Lenovo Chromebook C340 15 (2020). This 2-in-1 convertible feels well-built, and while it's heavier than the picks above, it's still very portable for a wallet-friendly 15-inch laptop. You can configure it with an Intel Pentium Gold or Core i3 CPU; they're both getting long in the tooth but still fast enough to provide a smooth experience on Chrome OS. You can only get a maximum of 4GB of memory, so it isn't the best option for heavy multitasking. It has a comfortable full-size keyboard with a Numpad on the right and a small but reasonably responsive touchpad. Like most budget models, the main compromise is the display. It looks decently sharp and provides plenty of room for side-by-side windows; it just doesn't get very bright, and the colors look washed out. Its battery life is outstanding, though, enough to get you through a typical work or school day with plenty to spare.

    See our review

  4. Best Lightweight 2-In-1 Tablet

    The best lightweight 2-in-1 tablet we've tested is the Microsoft Surface Pro 8 (2021). With this form factor, you can use the device as a tablet to draw, take handwritten notes, or watch videos, and attach the keyboard when you need to type something out. Its 3:2 IPS display looks incredibly sharp, gets bright enough to combat glare, and has a 120Hz refresh rate to make pen input feel more responsive. The type cover keyboard feels good to type on, but you need to buy it separately, and the same goes for the stylus. The drawback of such a compact device is that there isn't much space for a wide port selection. You get two USB-C/Thunderbolt 4s, a headphone jack, and a Surface Connect charging port.

    If you're considering buying a Surface Pro, know that Microsoft has released a newer version, the Surface Pro 9. It's essentially the same device but with faster Intel 12th Gen. processors. It's always nice to have better performance, but the difference might not be all that noticeable if you're only doing light productivity tasks. Also, since the Surface Pro 8 is older, you can likely find it at a deeply discounted price.

    Get the Microsoft Surface Go 3 (2021) if you want something compact for on-the-go use. It's essentially a miniature Surface Pro that weighs 1.7 lbs. This device is meant for light use, like web browsing, emails, and video playback, so don't expect to do anything intensive. If your budget allows, we highly recommend getting a model with 8GB of memory, as you'll get a much smoother experience when multitasking. You still get a nice display, an excellent webcam, and a facial recognition IR camera. You can use the USB-C port to charge the device instead of the Surface Connect port, but you'd lose the only USB port available, which means you'll likely need a dock.

    See our review

  5. Best Lightweight Workstation

    For demanding tasks like video editing or 3D graphics, we recommend the Apple MacBook Pro 14 (2021), a premium mobile workstation. Before we get into more details, know that Apple has released a newer version of the MacBook Pro with their M2 SoC. The new model is identical in design, as the changes are internal. The upgrades include a faster SoC, Wi-Fi 6E, HDMI 2.1, and increased memory support. Everything else is the same. With that out of the way, let's talk more about the other features.

    This laptop is built like a tank but only weighs 3.5 lbs, making it one of the lightest mobile workstations on the market. It has a gorgeous Mini LED display with full DCI P3 coverage, a comfortable keyboard, and a gigantic, easy-to-use haptic touchpad. Its excellent port selection includes three USB-C/Thunderbolt 4s, an HDMI, an SD card reader, and a headphone jack with high power output for hard-to-drive cans. You also get great-sounding speakers and a sharp 1080p webcam. The SoC can handle nearly anything you throw at it, and it's incredibly power-efficient, resulting in all-day battery life.

    We recommend the Dell Precision 5570 (2022) for Windows users, a 15.6-inch mobile workstation with Intel 12th Gen. processors. Depending on your workload, you can get it with integrated graphics only or with a discrete NVIDIA GPU. Like the MacBook Pro, it provides a premium user experience with a nice display and a comfortable keyboard. You only get three USB-C/Thunderbolt 4 ports, though, and the battery lasts only six to seven hours of light use.

    See our review

  6. Best Lightweight Gaming Laptop

    For on-the-go gaming, we recommend the ASUS ROG Zephyrus G14 (2022). Unlike most gaming laptops, this model is incredibly compact and weighs only 3.6 lbs, making it easy to carry around. It sports a powerful AMD Ryzen 9 6900HS CPU, and you can choose between an AMD Radeon RX 6700S or 6800S GPU. The storage maxes out at 1TB, and it's user-upgradeable so that you can add more later on. Its QHD+ IPS display has a 120Hz refresh rate and a fast response time to deliver a clear image in fast-moving scenes, and it supports FreeSync to reduce screen tearing. Ports include two USB-As, two USB-Cs, an HDMI, and an SD card reader. Unfortunately, there's no Thunderbolt 4 support since it's an all-AMD system. Also, it gets hot and loud under load.

    See our review

Notable Mentions

  • Dell XPS 13 Plus (2022): The Dell XPS 13 Plus (2022) is a good alternative to the Apple MacBook Air 13 (2022). It's also a premium model that provides a great user experience and only weighs 2.8 lbs. However, its battery life is very short, and it only has two USB-C/Thunderbolt 4 ports. See our review
  • Framework Laptop (2022): The Framework Laptop (2022) is a great ultraportable laptop that weighs 2.9 lbs and is a good alternative to the Apple MacBook Air 13 (2022). It has a modular port system that allows you to swap out the ports on the fly for whatever you want, and it's much easier to upgrade the internals. However, its battery lasts only six to seven hours of light use. See our review
  • Lenovo Chromebook Duet 5 (2021): The Lenovo Chromebook Duet is a good alternative to the Microsoft Surface Pro 8 (2021) if you need a device mainly for media consumption. It has a nice OLED display, and its battery lasts over seven hours of video playback. See our review

All Reviews

Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best portable laptops you can get. We factor in the price (a cheaper laptop wins over a pricier one if the difference isn't worth it), feedback from our visitors, and availability (no laptops that are difficult to find or almost out of stock everywhere).

If you prefer to make your own decision, here’s the list of all of our laptop reviews. Keep in mind that most laptops are available in various configurations, and the table only shows the results of the model we tested, so it’s best to see the full review for information about other variants.