Best lightweight laptops 2023: top Ultrabooks for college, gaming and more

The best lightweight laptops, Ultrabooks, portable laptops and thin laptops to buy this year

Best lightweight laptops 2023
(Image credit: xxxx)

The best lightweight laptops is our curated list of the top Ultrabooks that aim to offer the perfect balance of power, performance and portability. From top-of-the-line options from Microsoft, Dell and Acer to budget-friendly machines from Samsung – like the ever popular Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 360 – our guide is here to help you decide which lightweight laptop is best for you.

Considering every scenario we can, we've looked at the best (and cheapest) lightweight laptops for students as well as the best cheap lightweight laptops for families and work. We've included Windows and Mac laptops, hybrid laptops and Ultrabooks (there's even a Chromebook, although if that's your preference, it's worth checking out our best Chromebooks guide, too).

Many of the lightweight laptops you'll find on our list are some of the best student laptops (opens in new tab), too, and just may be available for cheap during Back to School sales. The laptops you'll find in our guide may be light and compact, but they'll still offer plenty of power to handle all your academic needs – and then some!

So if you are just looking for a good all-round laptop, or something more specialist, then one of T3's other laptop guides could be better suited to your needs. For example, our best laptops guide is filled with the crème de la crème of portable systems, while our best 2-in-1 laptops guide has machines that can act as both a laptop and a tablet.

The best lightweight laptops and ultrabooks

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Dell XPS 13 2020T3 Best Buy Award badge

(Image credit: Future)
The best lightweight laptop for most people


CPU: Intel Core i7-1185G7
Graphics: Intel Iris Xe
RAM: Up to 16GB
Screen: 13.4-inch Full HD+ LCD (1920 x 1200)
Storage: 512GB
OS: Windows 10 Home 64-bit
Dimensions: 198.70 x 295.70 x 14.80 mm
Weight: 1.2 kg

Reasons to buy

Fantastic looks
Powerhouse performance
Will last way beyond university

Reasons to avoid

Higher specs raise price

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.

As T3's Dell XPS 13 review (opens in new tab) says, "With eye-catching good looks, a gorgeous display and excellent build quality, the Dell XPS 13 is one of the finest ultrabooks on the market today."

With 11th-gen Intel processors installed and up to 16GB of RAM installed, 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.

apple macbook airT3 Award

Mac fans should look no further than the M1 Apple MacBook Air for an ultraportable laptop in 2022.

(Image credit: Future)
The best premium lightweight laptop


CPU: Apple M1
Graphics: Apple M1
RAM: 8GB unified memory
Screen: 13.3-inch 2,560 x 1,600 pixel-resolution Retina display
Storage: 256GB SSD
Connectivity: 2 x Thunderbolt 4 / USB-C
Camera: 720p FaceTime camera
Weight: 2.8 pounds
Dimensions: 11.97 x 8.36 x 0.63 inches (W x D x H)

Reasons to buy

Very fast
Superb keyboard
Impressive storage
Premium design

Reasons to avoid

More ports would be nice
Webcam still not great

The only reason the new M1 MacBook Air isn’t topping our chart is that 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.

As T3's Apple MacBook Air review says, "the MacBook Air (M1) is a small revolution. As much power as you could need in a light and silent design, with giant battery life."

It 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. 

If you're considering buying, it's worth noting that the MacBook Air M2 has just been announced and goes on sale in July 2022. So if you can wait a little longer, you can get even better features, including the new M2 chip, a brighter screen and a 1080P webcam. 

Lenovo Ideapad 3iT3 Approved badge

The Lenovo IdeaPad 3i is a great budget lightweight laptop choice.

(Image credit: Lenovo)
The best budget lightweight laptop


CPU: Intel® Core i3-1005G1
Screen: 14-inch, 1920 x 1080p
Storage: 128 GB SSD
Battery: 7.5 hours
OS: Windows 10 S

Reasons to buy

Very attractive price point
All the features and ports you need
Built to go the distance

Reasons to avoid

Specs aren't the fastest

The Lenovo IdeaPad 3i isn't going to win any benchmarking races and shouldn't be used for intensive tasks like video editing or gaming, but as light computing Windows laptops go, it is a great all-round choice.

What really stands out here, and why the 3i ranks so high in our best lightweight laptops list, is the price: this laptop comes in cheaper than almost every other system in this buying guide. As such, if the amount you're spending is important, then it might be worth putting the IdeaPad 3i on your shortlist.

The screen is a strong medium-size 14-inch panel, which means this system is a portable lightweight laptop that you can take pretty much anywhere – and it's designed to be bumped around a bit, too, with a solid build quality.

The system comes installed with a copy of Windows 10 in S mode, meaning that the OS is streamlined around light and fast usage. You can obviously switch to full Windows 10 if you desire, but if you're selecting this system you are doing so as you want a machine that can quickly run basic applications and programs, such as browsing the internet, sending emails, streaming the odd bit of Netflix, and playing Candy Crush Saga, which is what Windows 10 S Mode specializes in.

T3's Lenovo IdeaPad 3i review (opens in new tab) adds that "despite its low price, it's happy to handle day-to-day tasks such as email, web surfing, YouTube videos, Zoom calls, spreadsheets and word processing." To see how this budget light laptop stacks up against our number one choice, be sure to check out T3's Acer Swift 7 vs Lenovo IdeaPad 3i comparison feature.

lg gram 17 laptop blackT3 Approved badge

The LG Gram 17 weighs in at a feather-light 1.35kg (2.98lbs).

(Image credit: LG)
The best premium Windows 10 lightweight laptop


Model: 17z90p
Dimensions: H x W x D = 26.01 x 38.02 x 1.78 cm (14.97 x 10.24 x 0.7 inches)
CPU: Intel Core i7-1165G7 (2.8 GHz, Turbo up to 4.7 GHz, L3 Cache 12MB, 28W)
Graphics: Intel Iris Xe Graphics
Screen: 17 inch IPS WQXGA 2560 X 1600
Storage: 256GB SSD
Weight: 2.98 lbs. (1.35kg)

Reasons to buy

Fantastic 17-inch screen
Lightweight, stylish design
Plenty of battery life

Reasons to avoid

Not a touchscreen

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.

In fact, the LG Gram 17 tips the scales at a mere three pounds 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 of 2022 then, and it would earn a high ranking in a list of the most stylish-looking laptops of 2022 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 impressive battery life, strong keyboard and small bezels, and you've got an ultraportable star. One of the absolute finest lightweight laptops running Windows 10 on the market today.

T3's LG Gram 17 review (opens in new tab) adds that, "unless you specifically need a touchscreen, 2-in-1, or a gaming laptop, you won't find finer for this form factor at this price." 

Latitude 9410 lightweight laptop shown in tend orientation, approximately 65 degrees, in silver colorway and showing on its screen a screensaver of waves in a kind of violet, cyan and purple layering effectT3 Approved badge

The best 2-in-1 lightweight laptop for business users? That's the Latitude 9410 2-in-1 laptop.

(Image credit: Dell)
The best 2-in-1 lightweight laptop for business users


Weight: 1.36 kg
Screen: 14-inch, FHD, 1920 x 1080, 360-degree hinge
CPU: 10th Gen Intel Core i5-i7
GPU: Intel UHD 620
RAM: 8-16GB
Storage: M.2 256-512GB PCIe NVM SSD
OS: Windows 10

Reasons to buy

Superb battery life
2-in-1 flexibility
Automatic log-in
Great audio

Reasons to avoid

No 4K support
Lacks number pad

As we note in our Dell Latitude 9410 2-in-1 review (opens in new tab), "this premium laptop from Dell delivers good looks, fast performance and, unlike many systems in this best lightweight laptop list, 2-in-1 flexibility."

The laptop also is very thin,  tapering from 8.5mm to 15mm in height, and weighs in at just 1.36kg, making it very portable. Jumping between meetings and commuting with this laptop is easy.

The rotating screen is obviously a star attraction here, and it can rotate a full 360 degrees, meaning you can use this system in laptop orientation, slate orientation, and propped up as a mobile screen in a V shape.

The system comes with strong internals, too, with 10th Generation Intel Core processors joined with 16GB of RAM and M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD storage. There's lots of port choices as well, including 2x Thunderbolt 3, HDMI 2.0 and USB 3.1 with power share feature.

Throw in a good-sized trackpad, a battery life that just runs and runs (up to 27 hours 23 minutes between charges), and it's easy to see why this laptop is so ideal for business users.

hp elite dragonfly laptop blackT3 Approved badge

(Image credit: HP)
The best lightweight laptop for business users


CPU: Intel Core i7-8565U
Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 620
Screen: 13.3-inch 4K (3,840 x 2,160 pixels)
Storage: 512GB
Weight: 0.99 kg / 2.18 pounds

Reasons to buy

Excellent looks
Superb screen
Long battery life

Reasons to avoid

Average audio
Trackpad could be better

While the HP Elite Dragonfly 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, the battery life impresses... it's just a joy to use all around, really. Okay, it's a little on the pricey side, but we think it's worth it.

Tipping the scales at just under 2.2 pounds, 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.

T3's HP Elite Dragonfly review (opens in new tab) says it " isn't for everyone, but it looks great and ticks a lot of boxes for power users on the go."

A choice of configuration options are available, and you can pack the HP Elite Dragonfly with an Intel Core i5 or Intel Core i7 chip, as well as up to 16GB of RAM. There are multiple options when it comes to the display as well, all the way up to 4K (we've listed the top-end spec in the box above).

Surface Laptop 4 lightweight laptop shown in black colorway on white background with screen open at 95 degrees and showing a screensaver image of a desert plain and sand dunes, location unknownT3 Approved badge

(Image credit: Microsoft)
The best lightweight Microsoft laptop


CPU: Up to 11th-gen Intel Core i7 or AMD Ryzen
Graphics: Intel Iris Xe or AMD Radeon
RAM: 8GB, 16GB, 32GB
Screen: 13.5-inch or 15-inch
Storage: 256GB, 512GB, 1TB
Weight: Up to 1.54 kg (3.4 lbs)

Reasons to buy

AMD or Intel powered
Lots of style in the design
Excellent display

Reasons to avoid

Can get expensive
Chunky display bezels
Proprietary Surface port

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. In our Microsoft Surface Laptop 4 review we say to "give this a serious look if you want a stylish Windows laptop that can go just about anywhere and do almost anything." 

acer swift 5 laptop grayT3 Award

(Image credit: Acer)
The Acer Swift 5 continues to impress


CPU: 10th-gen Intel Core i5
Storage: 256GB
Graphics: Integrated
Weight: 0.99 kg (2.18 pounds)

Reasons to buy

Lightweight and sleek
Sharp and vibrant screen
Integrated fingerprint reader

Reasons to avoid

Busy keyboard text
Average battery life

The Acer Swift 5 is another excellent entry with a 14-inch, Full HD screen, some pleasing aesthetics, and a reasonable amount of power under the hood, it's likely to be on the shortlists of a lot of people shopping for a laptop for less than $1,000.

It's fantastically portable too, which is why it makes this list of the best lightweight laptops. Weighing in at just 2.3 pounds, you'll barely notice that it's there, and you can easily carry it in one hand if you need to. It'll squeeze into bags of most sizes without weighing you down.

T3's Acer Swift 5 review (opens in new tab) says, "with plenty in the positives column and hardly any negatives to talk about, the Acer Swift 5 is an appealing laptop choice for those after a good balance of price and performance."

With a 10th-gen Intel Core i5 processor and 8GB of RAM, this machine is respectable as far as specs go, but it's really the size, the weight and the design that you're going to be buying this one for. If you're after a mid-range laptop that balances price and performance well, then give the Acer Swift 5 a look.

google pixelbook go chromebook blackT3 Approved badge

Google's Pixelbook Go is an elite Chromebook.

(Image credit: Google)
One of the best laptops around for Chrome OS fans


CPU: Intel Core m3, i5, i7
Graphics: Integrated graphics
RAM: 8GB – 16GB
Screen: 13.3-inch up to 4K resolution
Storage: 64GB, 128GB or 256GB SSD
Weight: 2.34 pounds

Reasons to buy

Lightweight and fast
Stylish and sensible design
Chrome OS rapidly improving

Reasons to avoid

16:9 display feels squashed
No integrated stylus
Top spec costs a lot of money

When it comes to Chromebooks and Chrome OS, you've got a huge number of models to choose from – and the Pixelbook Go from Google is one of the best and the most lightweight. It's stylish, it's capable, and you can customize 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 color 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.

T3's Google Pixelbook Go review (opens in new tab) says it "isn't perfect – and it's possibly a little overpriced – but it's one of the best Chromebooks in terms of how much fun it is to use."

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.

lenovo thinkpad x1 nano laptop blackT3 Award

(Image credit: Lenovo)
Power in a lightweight body


CPU: 11th Gen Intel Core i5 to i7
Graphics: Intel Iris X
RAM: up to 16GB
Screen: 13.0" 2K (2160 x 1350) IPS, touchscreen
Storage: Up to 1 TB PCIe SSD
Weight: 1.99 lb (907g) to 2.21 lb (1001g)

Reasons to buy

Thin, light design that still feels robust
Excellent performance
Plenty of memory and storage space

Reasons to avoid

Limited ports

The lightest of the ThinkPad X1 range, the Nano weighs just under 2lbs for the basic model, or 2.21lbs for the top spec. Using Intel's 11th gen i5 and i7 processors and Iris Xe graphics, its a real powerhouse. And thanks to the EVO platform, it delivers great power management, for up to 13 hours of battery. 

While not designed for gaming, it's the perfect machine for work tasks during the day and entertainment in the evening. 

In our Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Nano review (opens in new tab) we say that "the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Nano has it all: excellent battery life, performance, all in a compact package."

Which is the best lightweight laptop to buy today?

The Dell XPS 13 takes the crown in our guide, offering an almost perfect balance of power, performance options and portability for the price. Available in multiple configurations that are both affordable and properly powered, Dell's XPS line is a great starting point for anyone looking to find the best lightweight laptop.

From the polished Dell XPS 13 to the seriously professional HP Elite Dragonfly and Apple's marvelous MacBook Air (M1, 2020), the sheer choice of models among the best lightweight laptops in the UK market is really impressive right now, and if you do your homework and shop smart then you can bag a bargain.

Those at school or university will be best served with our best student laptops roundup, while gamers will love the pixel-pushing powerhouses on offer in our best gaming laptops guide.

How do I choose the best lightweight laptop?

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, but you also don't want to be tapping out emails and browsing the web on a 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 for 2022 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 in 2022.

How are lightweight laptops tested?

Testing lightweight laptops is very similar to most other forms of laptops. However, due to their slant toward portability, T3 ensures that traveling with and using a system while on the go is central to each review.

This lets 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 whizzy 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.

Robert Jones

Rob has been writing about computing, gaming, mobile, home entertainment technology, toys (specifically Lego and board games), smart home and more for over 15 years. As the editor of PC Gamer, and former Deputy Editor for, you can find Rob's work in magazines, bookazines and online, as well as on podcasts and videos, too. Outside of his work Rob is passionate about motorbikes, skiing/snowboarding and team sports, with football and cricket his two favourites. 

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