There's one primary selling point for the best lightweight laptops, and that's portability. These are devices that you can take on the go with you and not feel weighed down – they pack a powerful computing punch in thin and svelte form factors.
With back-to-school season approaching, there's going to be some overlap with the best student laptops (opens in new tab) here for obvious reasons. One of the characteristics that makes for a good student laptop is one that you can carry around easily to lectures, seminars and study sessions in the library so portability is definitely something to consider before you head back to school.
In this carefully curated and thoroughly researched guide, we've picked out some of the best ultrabooks and ultraportables offer the best quality and value to those looking for the best lightweight laptop.
From Lenovo to Apple to Dell, you're going to find a variety of makes and models covered here, and all the top brands you need to know about. We've also done our best to cover as many different price points as possible here.
What are the best lightweight laptops 2022?
Before we get into the list properly, here are our top three picks:
The best lightweight laptop for most people is the Dell XPS 13 (9310). A reliable brand that always offers power and style. This laptop is a great choice for those who need a lightweight laptop to take with them on the go.
The best premium lightweight laptop has to be the Apple MacBook Air (M1, 2020). Apple always delivers premium quality, and this is no different. It's sleek, stylish, powerful, and most importantly, portable.
The best lightweight laptop with a large screen is the LG Gram 17. LG has done superbly well to put together a 17-inch laptop that is this thin and svelte, and if you know that you're going to make full use of that screen space then we'd recommend it.
We've tried and tested every one of these laptops, and you can find out more about how we test at T3 here (opens in new tab).
The best lightweight laptops you can buy in 2022
The Dell XPS 13 series has consistently wowed us here at T3, and the latest version of the laptop continues that trend – it's powerful, supremely well built, and compact, so just about everything you could possibly want in your search for the best lightweight laptop. This will in no way weigh you down.
With 11th-gen Intel processors installed and up to 16GB of RAM on board, this is a portable computer that's going to be able to handle everything that you want to throw at it. From late-night Netflix to early-morning report writing, you'll find the Dell XPS 13 a capable and competent laptop.
It's that 13.4-inch display with the super-thin bezels that really makes the XPS 13 stand out though: if you want to, you can go all the way up to a 4K resolution, but the 1,920 x 1,080 resolution models still look fantastic (4K doesn't make a huge amount of difference on a laptop display this size).
The battery life is a very respectable 10 hours as well, meaning that you can legitimately use it all day for study as well, even if there isn't a power socket nearby. To see how the Dell XPS 13 stacks up against another strong laptop choice, be sure to take a look at our Asus VivoBook S15 vs Dell XPS 13 comparison feature.
The only reason the M1 MacBook Air isn’t topping our chart is because it’s a little more expensive than the Windows equivalents. That said, Apple's new M1 processor makes it exceptional value for money and an even better buy than the Intel-powered MacBook Air it replaces. If you can afford it, you won’t be disappointed.
The new MacBook Air may look identical to the previous model, but there's a revolution going on inside. Apple has moved to its own processors, and they combine system and graphics memory together: in other laptops the system memory and graphics memory are separate. That delivers very significant speed increases, and it means that the MacBook Air doesn't require you to compromise between portability and power. It delivers both.
The speed of the new M1-powered Macs is truly extraordinary, and in benchmark tests we’ve seen the new MacBook Air absolutely destroy laptops that cost many times more. That addresses the only major issue we’ve had with the MacBook Air in the past: the Intel-powered ones weren't always brilliant performers, but this Apple-powered one really is. In fact, it’s the number one choice in our best laptops guide.
There is still one little problem, mind you, and that’s the webcam. When you consider the camera technology that Apple puts in every iPhone, the inclusion of a mere 720p FaceTime camera seems like an odd corner to cut. The camera is improved over the previous version – it has better dynamic range, noise reduction and face detection thanks to a new image processor – but it’s still an annoying flaw in what’s otherwise a near-perfect lightweight laptop package.
As you can see from our LG Gram 17 review (2021), this is a laptop that does lightweight properly – despite it having a larger-than-average 17-inch screen, the portable computer is the exact opposite of bulky and unwieldy. It tips the scales at a mere 1,350 grams (that's nearly 3 lbs) and this, along with its lithe dimensions (26.01 x 38.02 x 1.78 cm), make it an ultraportable in every sense of the word.
Definitely worth a place in our list of the best lightweight laptops then, and it would earn a high ranking in a list of the most stylish-looking laptops as well. LG has done a really nice job here, putting together a laptop that looks great from any angle without being flashy or overstated.
You can get this laptop kitted out with some seriously internal specs as well, further adding to its appeal, though the integrated graphics mean you shouldn't attempt any serious gaming on this machine. For taking a large screen around with you everywhere though, it's perfect.
Throw in an impressive battery life, strong keyboard and small bezels, and you've got an ultraportable star. One of the absolute finest lightweight laptops running Windows that you can pick up on the market today – and particularly worth considering if you need something with a large screen that won't weigh you down.
While the HP Elite Dragonfly G2 is targeted at business users, it really is one of the best lightweight laptops around no matter who you are – it looks fantastic, it has a gorgeous screen, and it's a productivity powerhouse... it's just a joy to use all around. Okay, it's a little on the pricey side, but it's definitely worth it.
Tipping the scales at less than a kilogram, the laptop is versatile too. The 13.3-inch display can fold right over, so you can use it in tent or tablet mode as well if you like, and it comes with an included stylus if you want something that's more accurate than your finger to operate the touchscreen.
A choice of configuration options are available, and you can pack the HP Elite Dragonfly G2 with an 11th Gen Intel Core i5 or Intel Core i7 chip. That's a lot of flexibility both in the level of performance that you can expect and in the amount of money you'll have to part with.
Very similar to its predecessor, the HP Elite Dragonfly, the second generation has kept everything that made the original so great and has made it even better. This series of laptops has consistently been in consideration for T3 awards and it's not difficult to see why.
It's hard to give a general overview of the Surface Laptop 4 from Microsoft, because it's available in multiple configurations and a choice of two screen sizes, but we'll give it a go: this is a stylish, very capable laptop that looks great and that has enough power for all but the most demanding users.
If lightweight computing is important to you then you're probably going to go for the smaller 13.5-inch display option, and what a screen it is – with a 3:2 aspect ratio and a 2,256 x 1,504 pixel resolution, it's perfect for browsing the web and getting some work done. The integrated graphics are good enough for some light gaming too.
With decent battery life to get you through the day, the Surface Laptop 4 is an all rounder that we can recommend to just about anyone, as long as it's in your budget. It's certainly well put together, with an excellent typing and trackpad experience to enhance your input/output operations.
It's not the lightest laptop around but it's certainly not going to weigh you down, and coming from Microsoft you know that it's going to be built to be perfectly in sync with Windows. Microsoft hasn't always got it right with its computers but it definitely has with the Surface Laptop 4.
There’s a certain magic about this laptop. Weighing just 1.2kg thanks to its fanless design and ultrathin battery, the Swift 7 feels nothing short of futuristic. The 14-inch touch display covered by Corning Gorilla Glass provides great colour density, with a bezel that is almost non-existent. In fact, when the screen is showing off its excellent true blacks, it’s difficult to tell where the display ends and the bezel begins. The Swift 7 only comes in black, too; Henry Ford would be proud.
Inside, there's an Intel i7 processor with integrated graphics and 8GB of RAM, optimised to produce minimum heat so the passive cooling system never gets overwhelmed. It’s a relatively modest laptop performance-wise, not best suited for demanding tasks such as video editing, but for on-the-go office work there’s scarcely anything better. Folded down, it’s just nine millimetres thick.
In addition to the stylish design, this laptop comes packing some nifty security features. The power button doubles as a fingerprint scanner for secure booting, and webcam hacks are a fear of the past thanks to a spring mechanism that conceals the camera within the body of the laptop when not in use. Overall, it's not cheap, but there are few ultralight laptops as elegant as this.
If you need something that's going to attract a lot of envious glances whenever you pull it out, this is definitely worthy of consideration. Acer also makes a smaller Swift 5 model that you can weigh up if you want to go even more compact.
If you're a student or a business user on a budget, then one of the best lightweight laptops you can buy will be the Lenovo Yoga Slim 7i Carbon. That said though, it's the sort of laptop that's going to appeal to everyone.
As the name suggests, its chassis is made from high-strength carbon fibre which is durable and light, this laptop weighs less than a kilogram and is about the size of a notepad. It'll be able to withstand knocks and bumps in your bag which is sure to give you peace of mind if you plan to take it out with you a lot.
Sporting a choice of 11th-gen Intel Core processors and a crisp QHD 13.3inch screen, it'll be great for getting work done wherever you are – be that at home, on the train or in a cafe. The keyboard's low-profile keys are large and firm which make it satisfying to type on as well.
There is one downside: the battery life. It's not the best you'll get, in fact, it's pretty average but luckily it barely takes anytime at all to recharge. If that's something you can live with, then this ultraportable laptop will be an excellent choice.
As we note in our HP Spectre x360 14 review, this is a super-slim, high-end laptop that can be used in laptop tent and tablet orientation, making it a great choice for those who want a slate as well as a lightweight laptop. This kind of versatility and flexibility isn't all that common in laptops.
The screen isn't the only thing that makes this ultraportable laptop a good choice, though, as it also comes with an 11th-gen Intel Core i7 Tiger Lake CPU, Intel Iris XE GPU and, if specced for it, a 3,000 x 2,000 resolution OLED screen.
This light laptop's audio system is also top draw (for the product category), thanks to a collaboration with audio maestros Bang & Olufsen. From deep and enveloping bass to the crisp clarity of percussive sounds it impresses across the soundscape.
Battery life isn't shabby at all either, coming in at 10 hours and 30 minutes on a single charge, and the system comes running a full fat version of Windows in terms of operating system. The design, with its mixture of sharp angles and clean, straight lines is also very modern.
As far as big-screened, lightweight laptops go, the Samsung Galaxy Book2 Pro 360 is one of the very best. It boasts a huge 15.6-inch FHD AMOLED display which is perfect for creative work like photo editing as well as streaming videos. But having such a big screen doesn't mean it's bulky, it still only weighs 1.4kg so you'll easily be able to carry it around in your bag.
In the Samsung Galaxy Book2 Pro 360 review that's not all we were impressed by, saying 'you’ll be able to rely on the Samsung Galaxy Book2 Pro 360 to help you get your work done - it’s powerful, easy to type on, it comes with the S Pen included'. Admittedly, the 16:9 aspect ratio of the screen won't suit everyone, particularly those who spend a lot of time typing out documents, but other than that, there aren't many bad things to say about this laptop.
When it comes to Chromebooks and Chrome OS, you've got a huge number of models to choose from – and the Google Pixelbook Go is one of the best and the most lightweight. It's stylish, it's capable, and you can customise the specs of the device to meet your exact requirements.
Every Pixelbook Go comes with a 13.3-inch screen: it runs at a 1,920 x 1,080 resolution on the cheaper models but does go up to 4K if you're willing to pay for it. The other internal components can be specced out as required, so it's really up to you how much you spend.
We like the black and pink colour options, we like the grippy rubber on the bottom to keep the laptop in place, and we like the smooth and subtle lines of the design as well. Some people are going to be looking for a larger screen of course, but for portable computing this is more than fine.
You're not going to be embarrassed to pull this Chromebook out at a coffee shop or your next meeting at work. As for Chrome OS, it continues to get better and better. It doesn't slow down, it's easy to use, and the addition of Android apps means that it's now more versatile than ever before.
How to choose the best lightweight laptop for you
It's easy to see the appeal of the best lightweight laptops: you don't want something that's too heavy or too big to carry around comfortably, and yet you don't want to be tapping out emails and browsing the web on tiny device. A super-thin, feather-light ultraportable is the perfect tool for the job.
The emergence of Chromebooks at the budget end of the market means that the world's best thin and ultraportable laptops are being pushed down in price, sometimes to very appealing prices – keep your eyes on the sales that are regularly appearing for the best chance of bagging a bargain.
And while you're doing your shopping, bear in mind that it's not just the weight and specs of these laptops that are important – these super-portables have to look good as well, while you're doing your computing on the move.
With that in mind, all ultraportables listed here in our curated best lightweight laptop guide deliver on the specs front, and score highly in the appearance department too. All-metal constructions, wafer-thin form factors and internals that can rapidly handle demanding tasks are the order of the day.
As you may have noticed, we're not fans of slow, poorly made technology here at T3, so you can be confident that these really are the best lightweight laptops and best compact laptops for speed, style and quality you can get right now in 2022.
How we test lightweight laptops
Obviously, testing lightweight laptops is very similar to most other forms of laptops, however due to their slant toward portability, T3 ensures that travelling with and using a system while on the go is central to each review.
This let's us ascertain key things such as how good is a lightweight laptop's battery, how robust is its chassis and keyboard, and how easy it is to slip into a bag. These are real-world important things that no amount of wizzy specs can compensate for if lacking, as they are fundamental to the lightweight laptop experience.
Those considerations aside, T3 first evaluates lightweight laptops in terms of their overall package, design and build quality. We want to know what the system comes with out of the box, and just how ergonomically and aesthetically pleasing it is. If a system has a poor trackpad or cheap feeling chassis, we'll find out here.
Next we consider the system in terms of specs and hardware, before proceeding to the benchmark the laptop to see what that translates as in terms of performance. We then actually use the lightweight laptop to see how that benchmark performance translates into real world usage.
Finally, we then consider the system's operating system, software and any extra unique features, such as biometric sign-in tech, touchscreen stylus support or built-in webcams and mics. Here we want to ascertain just how easy to use the system is, as well as if anything has been cheaped out on to save money.
The lightweight laptop is then assigned a score, with five stars the best a system can receive and one star the worst. If an ultraportable scores highly it is then considered for inclusion in T3's best lightweight laptops guide.