Charles Lindbergh knew of one or two traveling light. In 1927, while preparing The Spirit of St. Louis for his transatlantic flight, the pilot snapped up everything from his parachute and radio to a traditional leather seat. (He used a wicker chair.) He also designed special lightweight shoes.
You probably see concerns about the range of your aircraft and the fuel efficiency of the aircraft, but you hate carrying any extra ballast in your carry-on. This is why laptop vendors try to trim every ounce from their designs, and why we focus so much on results on PCMag – the lightest laptop you can buy with this guide.
How do we define “light”
What defines a lightweight laptop? Most would agree that the upper limit is three pounds, possibly extending to four for a system with a larger 15.6-inch screen (though the 15.6-inch featherweight champion, the Acer Swift 5, is a notable 2.2 pounds). Neither of those figures count a computer’s AC adapter, often overlooking baggage that could be anything from a compact shirt-pocket gadget to an unintentional brick.
For manufacturers, designing an ultralight laptop is all about compromise. A small battery pack will save weight, but it won’t be a risky move in a market where many shoppers expect to get through a Netflix movie for a full workday and evening. Exterior chassis materials like carbon fiber and magnesium alloys are lower than vanilla notebook plastics and aluminum, but they also increase costs. A touch screen is convenient, but its glass overlay adds a few grams.
For you, shopping for a svelte laptop is all about options. Some are not particularly clear, such as the expendability of the system – most light machines may have their memory, for example, mounted directly on the motherboard, but in the socket of a rather heavy SO-DIMM socket model. Likewise, virtually all will use solid-state drives instead of inexpensive but bulky hard drives for storage, although the upgradeability of these drives in most light laptops will vary from (not) upgradeable. A SATA or PCI Express M.2 SSD module, if you can crack the case to access it).
Other options will start with, well, a clear one on your face: the display panel.
Screen Size: Weight vs. Squint
At the risk of offending your intelligence, the biggest factor in the laptop’s weight is the physical size of the chassis. And for a laptop, it deals with the screen size. If you’re cool with an 11.6-inch display, you’ve got plenty of ultralights to choose from; If you want a jumbo 17-inch screen, your only choice for our information is the LG Gram 17, a Core i7 system, carved with 2.95 pounds of nano carbon and magnesium. The flagship of the lightweight gram line offers 16GB of RAM, 1TB SSD and 2,560-by-600-pixel native screen resolution.
Most weight-savers are smaller than you would expect, although it is up to you how small. Many shoppers don’t realize that the 2.8-pound MacBook Air is not Apple’s traditionally lightest laptop – which is now the discontinued 2.03-pound MacBook, though you can use the former’s 13.3-inch for the latter’s 12-inch display. May like (MacBooks can still be found in refurbished and used form.)
The most popular panel sizes for light laptops are 13.3 and 14 inches. The resolution is usually 1080p, also known as Full HD (1,920 by 1,080 pixels) or 4K, also known as UHD (2,160 pixels by 2,840 pixels). Some pixel counts fall between those extremes, such as the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon at 2,560 to 2.440 pounds and the special retina resolution of Apple’s Mac machines.
While it may be tempting to revolve in an ultrapine detail of a 3K or 4K display for applications such as image editing or video streaming, don’t be embarrassed if your needs (and budget) favor the everyday productivity of a 1080p panel. In addition to getting a fully adequate screen (something that cannot be said for the standard standard for 1,366 old pixels), you’ll get significantly better battery life, everything else being the same.
Slim bezels are better
Extra bulk is the enemy of light weight, so look for a laptop with a high screen-to-body ratio – in other words, thin rather than thick bezels around the display. (Ditto for a unit without wide borders on either side of the keyboard.)
The Dell XPS 13 was an early precursor to an almost frameless screen design, not only that Dell described the 2.7-inch system in an 11-inch chassis as a 13-inch laptop. However, the drawback to Dell’s skinny screen borders for years was that the top bezel lacked space for webcams, resulting in the XPS 13’s camera being placed below the display instead of above. There, it gave your Skype conference participants a clueless view of your chin and nostril.
Thanks to miniature lens engineering, the 2019 (Model 9380) version of the XPS 13 shifted the camera to the top bezel, where it resides. But before you buy, check webcam placement. Huawei’s 2.93-pound Metbook X Pro and Acer’s latest Swift 7’s cameras are embedded in the keyboard’s top row, which are on the side of your neck rather than your face.
What if you want to enjoy your interior Lindbergh and redesign your laptop for travel? There used to be notebooks that let you replace their optical drives with empty weight-saving slices, but both that type of optical design and optical drives have a history.
However, you can opt for a tablet, which allows you to remove its keyboard cover. It gives you two options: if you’re watching videos or jotting short notes with a stylus, or need to type just a few, move both tablets. A tablet plus its thin keyboard cover or folio usually weigh less than a traditional CP laptop.
For example, the 12.3-inch Microsoft Surface Pro 7 weighs 1.7 pounds and is slightly over 2 pounds with its signature type cover. (For type cover accessory, Microsoft, unlike many manufacturers of different 2-in-1s, charges extra.)
Of course, detachables are not just 2-in-1 hybrid laptops – there are convertibles whose screens flip and fold from laptop to tablet mode, intermittently kiosks or evangelical-like presentation modes. Many of these qualify as light (the Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 is 2.9 pounds), though their versatile hinges are more than they add some weight to. (Dell XPS 13 is 2.7 pounds, not a huge difference in this case.)
If you are an avid gamer, then you should know that almost all ultralights rely on the integrated graphics of their processors rather than fast dedicated graphics – a discrete GPU is the first thing that moves away from the cargo roster when the designer hits Trying to do. A weight goal. The main exception to this is the Razor Blade Stealth 13, but the addition of the discrete GPU option reduced the weight from 2.8 pounds to 3.1 pounds, making it notable compared to many others on our list.
Light laptops have fewer ports and expansion options than their heavier cousins. For example, the Late Apple MacBook has a headphone jack and a USB Type-C port – that’s it. The Dell XPS 13 does better with two Thunderbolt 3 ports, a USB Type-C port, a microSD card slot, and an audio jack, but you still need a dongle (which includes) to connect a USB Type-A device. And another (not included) to connect external monitor.
If you’re looking for HDMI video output or a full-size SD card slot, shop carefully and realize that some ports seen on larger laptops (such as the Ethernet port for wired networks, although 802.11ac have Wi-Fi ) Ubiquitous) are seen on most lightweight laptops.
Fortunately, the days when light laptops lacked battery life more or less. Although beef battery packs are still the easiest route to last long, today’s lithium-polymer cells are both weight and energy-efficient. You can cross this guide against our roundup of Best Battery Life Laptop and Best Ultraport. But the rest assured that we made true battery life among our top selections.
So, which light laptop should I buy?
So far it is clear – you do not have to put pressure on your hands and shoulders to carry real productivity power. Below is the current list of the best light laptops we have tested. It is not comprehensive, because we review so many systems, but we refresh it often. Meanwhile, safe travel and happy landing.