With restrictions and lockdowns lifting in many parts of the world now life if starting to return to normal, and that means everyone from students to professionals are going to be once more travelling for study and work. The importance in owning a portable, lightweight laptop can make a massive difference to how a person works on the move, as well as how convenient they find it.
Which is why T3 curates this in-depth best lightweight laptops guide. Here you'll find the very best ultraportable laptops on the market today in 2021 no matter what kind of budget you have or what kind of work you need your new laptop to do. If you're looking for the best ultrabook laptop, then we've designed this guide to help you find the right system for you.
These incredibly portable systems are ideal for those people who find themselves commuting a lot on public transport, working in shared spaces or coffee shops, and spending much of their working day dashing between meeting rooms. It's also great for professionals who attend plenty of trade shows. Basically, if you need to carry your computer around with you a lot then these ultraportable laptops will be ideal.
There's no such thing as one laptop that'll be perfect for everybody, though. The perfect laptop for students is unlikely to be the best lightweight laptop for professionals on the go, and the best lightweight laptop for families may not be the best lightweight laptop for musicians. That's why we've included a wide range of options including Windows laptops and Mac laptops, hybrid laptops and 2-in-1 laptops, ultrabooks and Chromebooks. And if Chromebooks are your preferred option, we've written an entire guide to the best Chromebooks too.
In addition to finding you the right lightweight laptop, we want you to get it at the best price too. That's why we're constantly scouring the shops for the very best lightweight laptop deals so that you can get the maximum bang for your buck.
Whether you're considering the polished Dell XPS 13, the seriously professional HP Elite Dragonfly or Apple's marvellous MacBook Air (M1, 2020), the best lightweight laptops you can buy today are really impressive: the days when you had to sacrifice power in the name of portability are long gone.
In this guide we're focusing solely on lightweight laptops, and while everything here is more than up to the job of everyday computing there are some sacrifices that are necessary in the name of weight saving – so for example you'll often find that the best lightweight laptops don't have the same amount of expansion ports as some heavier devices. If portability isn't your number one priority, check out our best laptops guide: it's filled with the crème de la crème of portable systems. And if you want your laptop to transform into a tablet, our best 2-in-1 laptops guide is home to the very best hybrids.
We have other guides too: for students there's our best student laptops roundup, while gamers looking for pixel-pushing powerhouses will find the best ones in our best gaming laptops guide. And for those who are in love with Dell portables, then our best Dell laptops feature will be of great use.
Let's discover the best lightweight laptops you can buy today.
The best lightweight laptops you can buy today
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 the latest 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.
The only reason the new 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.
That's a minor quibble, though. The MacBook Air (M1, 2020) is a game changer and an absolutely superb lightweight laptop. To learn even more about this fantastic lightweight laptop check out T3's full MacBook Air (M1, 2020) review.
In addition, to see how this ultralight laptop compares to a top-rated Windows 10 alternative, check out T3's HP Elite Dragonfly vs MacBook Air comparison feature.
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 specialises in.
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.
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.
In fact the LG Gram 17 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 of 2021 then, and it would earn a high ranking in a list of the most stylish-looking laptops of 2021 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 10 on the market today.
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.
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. That's saying something because the first Dragonfly was so highly rated that it won the Best Laptop award at the T3 Awards 2020.
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.
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 8th-gen 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.
To compare the Acer Swift 7 to another excellent ultraportable laptop be sure to check out T3's Acer Swift 7 vs Apple MacBook Air (M1, 2020) comparison feature.
As we note in our Latitude 9410 2-in-1 review, 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 track pad, 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.
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.
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 is also not shabby at all coming in at 10 hours and 30 minutes on a single charge, and the system comes running a full fat version of Windows 10 in terms of operating system. The design, with its mixture of sharp angles and clean, straight lines is also very modern.
We've listed the spec for the Snapdragon-based Samsung Galaxy Book S above, but there's also an Intel-based version that's arguably even better – it offers better compatibility with older Windows applications, and it's almost as good in terms of battery life. Whichever version you pick though, you're guaranteed a very special lightweight laptop with the Samsung Galaxy Book S.
From the light, compact design, to the bright and sharp screen, to the textured finish, this is a laptop with a lot going for it. The screen isn't 4K in its resolution, but it doesn't matter very much at all at this size, and as you would expect from Samsung the display looks top-notch.
Battery life is very good and performance is excellent as long as you're not going to try to do any heavy gaming or demanding video editing on this device. Our favourite part of the Samsung Galaxy Book S experience is just how compact and aesthetically appealing it is though – the perfect laptop to have in your bag while you're on the go and to pull out at a moment's notice.
Every laptop on the market has to hit some sort of balance between performance and portability – it's hard to stick the most powerful components, the ones that need the most cooling, inside the lightest cases – but few computers manage that balance quite as well as the Lenovo Yoga Slim 7.
To begin with, it has looks that are ultra-premium. The slate grey and orchid red shades are both worth considering, and the grey version has the option of a fabric topping instead of aluminium if that's what you prefer. The laptop is even available in different sizes, with 14-inch or 15.6-inch display panel.
Those customisation options continue under the hood as well, with a choice of top-tier AMD or Intel processors and plenty of variations when it comes to the RAM, SSD storage and GPU options that can be fitted here. If you need that extra boost of power, and you can afford it, then the Yoga Slim 7 is able to meet those needs.
We also like the number of connections and ports on board the laptop (even if the lack of a fingerprint sensor is a big miss), and the battery life is good too: you'll be able to spend a whole day away from a power source with the Lenovo Yoga Slim 7, and then some.
We have to admit to being impressed with what the Huawei MateBook X Pro 2020 has to offer, but considering how good the 2019 version was, it's perhaps no surprise that its follow-up is one of the best laptops of the year – and also one of the most lightweight, considering its compact dimensions.
If you can get past the price – which is steep, admittedly – we think you'll find this a very competent laptop indeed. Under the hood you've got an Nvidia GPU and a 10th-gen Intel i7 processor, not to mention a very generous 16GB of RAM. Unless you're doing some really demanding gaming or video editing, this laptop should be able to do everything you need and then some.
From the rather fetching Emerald Green colour option, to the thin bezels around the 13.9-inch screen, to the fingerprint sensor built into the power button, the Huawei MateBook X Pro 2020 has plenty to tempt in buyers. We're very much looking forward to what's in store from Huawei in 2021.
The Acer Swift 5 is another excellent entry from the Acer Swift line (after the awesome Swift 7 at the top of our guide): 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 990 grams, 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.
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.
If you want absolutely massive ultraportable power then you should definitely consider the Microsoft Surface Book 2. It remains one of the best lightweight laptops money can buy in 2021.
The second edition of this ultra-premium (and ultra-expensive) 2-in-1 laptop-tablet is a marked improvement in every respect, with a suite of powerful internal hardware components including an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 GPU, a stunning 15-inch 3,240 x 2,160 resolution display, and excellent battery life combining to deliver a superb all-round computing package.
You don't get a stylus included to full make the most of the device in tablet mode, but if you can stretch to the Surface Book 2's very high price point, then you can probably spend a little extra to complete the dream setup.
To learn even more about this lightweight laptop be sure to scope out our detailed Microsoft Surface Book 2 review.
If you're happy to sacrifice a little bit of thinness and lightness for some extra gaming power, then the Razer Blade Stealth 13 might well be the best lightweight laptop for you in 2021. With an 8th-gen Intel Core i7 processor, up to 16GB of RAM, the option of a 4K screen and an Nvidia GeForce MX150 under the hood, it's going to offer decent performance on even the most demanding games.
This being a Razer laptop, it comes packed with extra touches for gamers (like customised keyboard lighting and immersive audio), and offers a build quality that puts a lot of laptop makers to shame. You'll have to pay a premium for this, but it's worth it.
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.
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 for 2021 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 2021.
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.
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