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The 6 Best Travel Laptops - Summer 2023 Reviews

Updated
Best Travel Laptops

When shopping for a travel laptop, a couple of requirements immediately come to mind: size, weight, and battery life. Finding a thin and light laptop isn't so much a problem when it comes to general productivity and media consumption devices, but finding a relatively portable mobile workstation or gaming laptop can still be challenging. You must also ensure that portability doesn't come at the cost of a flimsier, cheaper-feeling build. Screen brightness is another thing to consider, as you want a display that can overcome glare in bright settings, and you'd want a good keyboard and touchpad, as they're your primary input methods. A good port selection is a must if you don't want to carry around a hub or dock, and webcam quality is important if you're often on video calls. Biometrics isn't necessary but more of a nice to have, especially if you don't like typing out your password or PIN in a public area.

We've bought and tested over 90 laptops. Below are our recommendations for the best laptops for travel you can buy. You can also see our recommendations for the best laptops, the best business laptops, and the best laptops for college.


  1. Best Laptop For Travel

    The best travel laptop we've tested is the Apple MacBook Pro 14 (2023). This premium mobile workstation has a study all-aluminum chassis, and it's surprisingly thin and light for a laptop with so much processing power. Plus, the battery lasts almost 12 hours on a full charge. It sports a sharp, bright 120Hz Mini LED display, a spacious and tactile keyboard, and a gigantic, easy-to-use haptic touchpad. Its excellent port selection includes three USB-C/Thunderbolt 4 ports, an HDMI 2.1, and a full-size SD card reader. The webcam is among the best on the market, and the same goes for the speakers. You can configure it with an M2 Pro or M2 Max SoC; both can easily handle demanding tasks like video editing and 3D graphics. The RAM and storage aren't user-replaceable, so make sure you get enough for your needs upfront.

    The Lenovo Slim Pro 7 14 (2023) is a cheaper alternative. You can configure it with an AMD Ryzen CPU paired with an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3050 discrete GPU, which aren't as powerful as Apple's M2 Pro/Max SOCs but still more than adequate for heavy workloads. There are two display options: a 90Hz QHD+ and a 120Hz 3k panel. Both look very sharp and get bright enough for use in most indoor settings, and you can also do some color work, as the 3k display has full DCI P3 coverage. Its battery lasts nearly 10 hours of light use and charges quickly in under two hours. The only downsides are that it lacks Thunderbolt 4 support and is only available with 16GB of soldered RAM.

    See our review

  2. Best Upper Mid-Range Laptop For Travel

    If your workload includes lighter tasks like text processing, web browsing, spreadsheets, and video playback, get the Apple MacBook Air 13 (2022) instead. Like the Apple MacBook Pro 14 (2021) above, it's a high-end model that provides a premium user experience; however, it doesn't have as much processing power, so you aren't overpaying for performance you don't need. Don't worry; its M2 SoC is fast and can stand toe-to-toe with current-generation Intel and AMD CPUs. While its IPS panel isn't as impressive as the MacBook Pro 14's 120Hz Mini LED display, it's still pretty and bright enough for outdoor use. The main drawback is the port selection; it's limited to two USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 ports with support for a single external display.

    So, what about the Apple MacBook Air 15 (2023)? It's a good option if you want more screen space and don't mind its higher price tag. The larger display lets you work more comfortably, especially when multitasking with side-by-side windows, and you also get louder speakers with a fuller, more bassy sound. It's still very portable for a 15-inch model, though it might not fit into smaller messenger or sling bags. You also have to compromise on battery life, as it lasts about two hours less than the 13-inch.

    We recommend the LG gram 14 (2023) on the Windows side. At 2.1 lbs, this 14-inch ultraportable is even lighter than the Apple MacBook Air 13. It provides a good user experience overall, and while its battery life is shorter, it's still enough to get through a typical workday. It also has a wider port selection that includes two USB-C/Thunderbolt 4s, allowing you to connect up to two 4k displays at 60Hz with a single cable. Naturally, there are compromises, like a worse dimmer, lower-resolution FHD+ display, and a less premium-feeling magnesium alloy build. Also, the webcam's video quality is worse, as the image is too underexposed.

    See our review

  3. Best Mid-Range Laptop For Travel

    Our best mid-range pick is the Acer Chromebook Spin 714 (2022), a 14-inch 2-in-1 convertible Chromebook. It's a very compact device that's easy to carry around, and its battery lasts over 13 hours of light use. The display gets bright enough for use in most indoor settings, and since it's a 2-in-1 convertible, you can set it up in tent mode for media consumption or flip the screen all the way around and use it as a tablet. If you want to take handwritten notes, it supports pen input and comes with a stylus that you can dock into its charging slot at the front of the device. Ports include one USB-A, two USB-C/Thunderbolt 4, and an HDMI port.

    Spec-wise, this laptop has various Intel 12th Gen CPUs, from a Core i3 to a P-series Core i7. However, only the Core i5 model with 8GB of memory and 128GB of storage is widely available, and even that model is getting hard to find. There's a newer 2023 model, which we haven't tested but expect to be very similar. The 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. Lastly, if you're new to Chrome OS, know that it's limited in the type of applications you can install, so you need to ensure you can do everything through a Chrome browser or Android apps.

    See our review

  4. Best Budget Laptop For Travel

    For those on a tighter budget, get 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 has a nice FHD 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. 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 two generations behind Intel's latest offerings but can still easily handle general productivity tasks like web browsing, text processing, spreadsheets, and video playback. Plus, the battery life is amazing at over 13 hours of light use. Its 720p webcam is its main weakness; the image is underexposed, and the microphone sounds staticky.

    See our review

  5. Best Compact Laptop For Travel

    If you need something compact to browse the web or answer emails on the go, get the Microsoft Surface Go 3 (2021), a 10.5-inch tablet PC with a built-in kickstand and a detachable keyboard. It's super compact, and its battery lasts a little over seven hours of light use. Its FHD+ display looks very sharp, gets bright enough to combat glare, and supports pen input. You get an excellent 1080p webcam, a second back-facing camera, and a facial recognition IR camera for quick logins. Like all Microsoft 2-in-1 tablets, you must buy the keyboard and stylus separately. The keyboard is worth getting, as it's much more comfortable to type on than an on-screen keyboard, and it protects the screen from scratches.

    The Surface Go 3 is available with an Intel Pentium Gold or Core i3 CPU. They perform well enough for this tablet PC's intended use, which is to say simple tasks like web browsing, emails, and video playback, but don't expect to do anything remotely intensive. If your budget allows, it's worth upgrading the memory to 8GB, as you'll get a much smoother experience with fewer slowdowns when multitasking. Port selection is limited; you only get a USB-C, a headphone jack, and a proprietary Surface Connect charging port.

    See our review

  6. Best Gaming Laptop For Travel

    We recommend the Razer Blade 14 (2022) for gaming on the go. This 14-inch model is surprisingly thin and light for a gaming laptop, and aside from its green logo on the lid, it has a fairly understated design, so it doesn't stick out in a professional environment if you use it for work. It's available in three preset configurations: a 1080p 144Hz display with an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060 GPU, a 1440p 165Hz display with an RTX 3070 Ti, or a 1440p 165Hz display with an RTX 3080 Ti. All three configurations deliver a smooth gaming experience in demanding AAA titles.

    Of course, as this is a gaming laptop, it has per-key RGB keyboard backlighting. It wouldn't be a gaming laptop if it didn't, right? We don't have many complaints about the keyboard; the keys have a good amount of travel and feel tactile, but they could be more stable. As for upgradeability, the storage drive is replaceable, but not the memory, as all three configurations come with 16GB of soldered RAM.

    A cheaper alternative would be the ASUS ROG Zephyrus G14 (2022). It's slightly lighter than the Razer but also marginally bulkier. It has an all-AMD system with a Ryzen 9 6900HS CPU and a Radeon 6700S or 6800S GPU. Its QHD display has a slightly lower refresh rate of 120Hz, but it gets much brighter to combat glare. Its overall build doesn't feel as rigid and premium as the Razer, and it gets hotter and louder under load.

    See our review

Notable Mentions

  • ASUS Zenbook 14 Flip OLED (2023): The ASUS Zenbook 14 Flip OLED (2023) is a great 2-in-1 Windows convertible and a good alternative to the Apple MacBook Air 13 (2022). It feels as well built as the MacBook Air and has a gorgeous, albeit slightly dimmer, OLED display. It has a wider port selection, including two USB-C/Thunderbolt 4s with support for multiple external displays. Unfortunately, it's heavier at 3.3 lbs, and its battery life is shorter at around eight hours of light use. See our review
  • Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 11 (2023): The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 11 (2023) is a great ultraportable alternative to the Apple MacBook Air 13 (2022). It has a wider port selection and Thunderbolt 4 support, and its SSD is user-replaceable. However, it's slightly bulkier, and its battery doesn't last as long. It's also more expensive. See our review
  • Microsoft Surface Laptop 5 (2022): The Microsoft Surface Laptop 5 (2022) is a good alternative to Apple MacBook Air 13 (2022). It's available in a 13.5- or 15-inch size, so you can choose the one you prefer. It provides a similar user experience as the MacBook Air, but its battery life is shorter. See our review
  • Lenovo Chromebook Duet 5 (2021): The Lenovo Chromebook Duet 5 (2021) is a good alternative to the Microsoft Surface Go 3 (2021) if you only need a device for media consumption. It has a much nicer OLED display, and its battery lasts longer. It's a 13-inch device, though, so it isn't as portable as the Surface Go 3. See our review

Recent Updates

  1. Sep 18, 2023: Replaced the Apple MacBook Pro 14 (2021) with the Apple MacBook Pro 14 (2023) because the M1 model is no longer available. Small text changes to include the Lenovo Slim Pro 7 14 (2023) as an alternative to the MacBook Pro 14. Replaced the Lenovo Chromebook C340 15 (2020) with the Acer Swift 3 14 (2020) because the Acer is a better value.

  2. Jul 18, 2023: Verified that the picks are valid and available. Added the ASUS Zenbook 14 Flip OLED (2023) as a Notable Mention.

All Reviews

Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best travel 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.