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The 6 Best Lightweight Laptops - Fall 2023 Reviews

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 over 85 laptops, and below, you'll find our recommendations for the best lightweight laptops. 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. Apple's M2 SoC has no problem handling general productivity tasks like text processing, web browsing, and more demanding stuff like photo and video editing, so long as the material isn't overly complex. The battery lasts around 11 hours of light use, which is more than enough for a typical day, but it takes about three hours to fully charge.

    As with most MacBooks, you get a sharp and bright display, a spacious and tactile keyboard, and a gigantic haptic touchpad. Port selection is its main downside; it only has two USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 ports with support for a single external display. If you want a larger but still lightweight laptop, go with the Apple MacBook Air 15 (2023). It's the same device as the 13-inch model but with a 15.3-inch display and better speakers. At 3.3 lbs, it's only slightly heavier than its smaller sibling. However, it's $200 USD more expensive, and its battery life isn't quite as good.

    For Windows users, we recommend the LG gram 14 (2023). LG's gram laptops are well-known for their lightweight design, and it's no different here. This model weighs only 2.1 lbs, which is even lighter than the MacBook Air. Its portability does come at a cost, though, as its magnesium alloy chassis doesn't feel as sturdy as the MacBook's all-aluminum build. Also, its display isn't as sharp or bright as the MacBook Air. Battery life is about the same at around 10 to 11 hours of light use, and instead of a fingerprint sensor, you get a facial recognition IR camera.

    See our review

  2. Best Mid-Range Lightweight Laptop

    Our best mid-range pick is 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 the side of the laptop for transport. It has a comfortable keyboard, loud speakers, and a surprisingly good 1080p webcam.

    Regarding specs, you can configure this Chromebook with an Intel 12th Gen U-series Core i3, i5, or i7 CPU; they're all powerful enough for anything you'd need to do on a Chromebook. However, availability is scarce because it's a 2022 model, and Acer has released a 2023 version. While we haven't tested the newer model, it looks similar design-wise. Upgrades include a faster Intel 13th Gen CPU and a 1440p webcam, but it no longer has stylus support. You can get the 2023 model on Amazon or at Best Buy.

    See our review

  3. Best Budget Lightweight Laptop

    For those on a tighter budget, we recommend the Acer Swift 3 14 (2020), a 14-inch Windows ultraportable. Acer's Swift models are typically more expensive, but since this is a 2020 version, you can get it much cheaper. It's available with an Intel 11th Gen Core i5 or i7 CPU and up to 16GB of memory and 512GB of storage. The Intel 11th Gen CPUs are a few years old but can still easily handle general productivity tasks like web browsing and text processing. Plus, the battery lasts over 13 hours on a full charge.

    It has a nice FHD IPS display, a decent keyboard, and a wide port selection, including two USB-As, one USB-C/Thunderbolt 4, a full-size HDMI, and a headphone jack. Unfortunately, it isn't the best for video calls, as the webcam's image is too dark, and the microphone sounds staticky.

    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, watch videos, or attach the keyboard when typing 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 noticeable if you only do 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 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 (2023), a premium mobile workstation. 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. You can configure it with an M2 Pro or M2 Max SoC; both can easily handle demanding workloads like video editing and 3D animation. The RAM and storage aren't user-replaceable, so get enough for your needs upfront. You get plenty of ports for peripherals and external displays, including three USB-C/Thunderbolt 4s, an HDMI, and a full-size SD card reader. You also get great-sounding speakers and an outstanding 1080p webcam.

    Go with the Lenovo Slim Pro 7 14 (2023) if you want something cheaper. You can configure it with a high-performance AMD Ryzen CPU and an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3050 discrete GPU. They aren't as powerful as the MacBook Pro 14's M2 SOC but are still more than adequate for demanding tasks. It has a spacious and tactile keyboard, and its battery lasts nearly 10 hours of light use. However, its display isn't as bright to combat glare, and there's no Thunderbolt 4 support. Also, you can only get up to 16GB of soldered RAM.

    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 to add more later.

    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

  • Microsoft Surface Laptop 5 (2022): The Microsoft Surface Laptop 5 (2022) is a great alternative to the Apple MacBook Air 13 (2022). It's available in a 13.5- and 15-inch size, with the smaller model weighing only 2.8 lbs. Like the MacBook Air, this high-end laptop provides a premium user experience. The downsides are its slightly dimmer display and shorter battery life. See our review
  • ASUS Zenbook 14 Flip OLED (2023): The ASUS Zenbook 14 Flip OLED (2023) is a great alternative to the Apple MacBook Air 13 (2022). This 2-in-1 convertible feels as well built as the MacBook Air but weighs a little more at 3.3 lbs. Its OLED display makes it a better option for media consumption; however, it doesn't get as bright to combat glare and is susceptible to permanent burn-in. Also, its battery life is shorter at around eight hours of light use. See our review
  • Lenovo Yoga 7i 16 (2023): The Lenovo Yoga 7i 16 (2023) is a good alternative to the Acer Chromebook Spin 714 (2022) if you need Windows or prefer a larger device. At 4.4 lbs, it's heavier than the Spin 714 but relatively lightweight for a 16-inch device. 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

Recent Updates

  1. Sep 13, 2023: Replaced the Lenovo Chromebook C340 15 (2020) with the Acer Swift 3 14 (2020) because it performs better and is more portable. Replaced the Apple MacBook Pro 14 (2021) with the Apple MacBook Pro 14 (2023) because the M1 models are no longer available. Added the Lenovo Yoga 7i 16 (2023) as a Notable Mention.

  2. Jul 14, 2023: Small text changes to include the LG gram 14 (2023) as an alternative to the Apple MacBook Air 13 (2022). No change in recommendations.

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.