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In 2020, a number of laptop manufacturers released a slew of new energy-efficient processors, which require less cooling. The AMD Ryzen 4000 Series dropped, followed by Intel’s 10th Gen Core i7, and NVIDIA with their RTX GeForce SuperMax graphics cards, all of which run without big, clunky fans. Then Apple stole the spotlight with their game-changing custom silicon M1, which delivers a ton of power in a streamlined unit. All of this has led companies to introduce some of the most lightweight laptops to date.
Whether you’re working remotely or want something that’s easy to move from room to room (or couch to counter) in your house, the best lightweight laptops pack the performance features of a regular laptop into slim and portable packages. The best lightweight laptops are easily transportable, and won’t weight down your briefcase or bag. Want to get work done on the plane (or back of your Uber)? These laptops are ideal for powering up without the pounds.
The bulk of a laptop’s weight comes from its processor, and companies are making much more efficient processors these days, that take up less space in your laptop housing. Things like materials used can also affect weight. Of course, light weight isn’t everything in a laptop, and your machine of choice will still need speed to perform its best.
According to Apple’s claims, the M1 chip “has the world’s fastest CPU core ‘in low power silicon’ and the world’s best CPU performance per watt.” The M1 boasts an 8-Core CPU, as well as an 8-Core GPU, and includes four of the fastest, high-performance cores ever. With a total of 16 billion transistors, the efficiency is off-the-charts, as it shares the RAM, CPU and GPU to reduce power consumption, giving the best CPU performance-per-watt through their Unified Memory Architecture. At their debut presentation, Apple said its MacBook with the M1 chip can deliver twice the performance of a regular laptop, while using a third of the power, or sometimes even less. That means significantly
In any light laptop, a powerful graphics card – often referred to as a GPU, is a must-have, especially for gamers. Same goes for a a quick processor, a healthy amount of RAM (8 to 16GB is preferred), and a solid state drive that can keep up with your programs, projects and presentations. Make sure the screen supports 1080p and has a fast refresh rate too.
While our top pick for lightest laptop is the MacBook Air with the M1 chip, we’ve also selected four other fast laptops that are still light and loaded with helpful features and varying attributes. Our picks for the best lightweight laptops start at just over two pounds, making it super easy to carry around with you.
Keep in mind that many of these are also available with customizable parts and sizes, so if one looks good but has a too-small solid state drive, check to see if there’s a model with what you want. And if even the lightest of these is still too heavy or bulky, we suggest seeking out a tablet with a foldable keyboard option.
1. Apple MacBook Air with Apple M1 Chip
Even those of us who aren’t tech-savvy have probably heard some rumblings and rumors about Apple’s new M1 chip and what it’s bringing to the table.
The chip, designed exclusively by Apple, is up to five times faster, and supercharges the new MacBook Air which weighs in at only 2.8 pounds.
It’s up to 60% more energy-efficient to produce less heat. The Apple 8-Core GPU powers graphics and videos, while the large trackpad still gives plenty of room to comfortably move around. It’s also silent – totally silent. Despite not having a fan inside, it still manages an 18-hour battery life and an eye-popping 13.3-inch Retina display, with 2560×1600 native resolution and support for millions of colors.
According to users, the only letdown was the camera – which shouldn’t surprise anyone who’s gotten an Air in the past few generations. The quality is years behind where it should be, especially for a machine as modern as this. So if you’ll be taking video conferences all day, it’s best to invest in an external webcam if this one’s not up to your standard. But compared to everything else here, it’s a minor setback in a sea of cutting-edge tech, and a machine that’s pushing boundaries with its weight and performance.
Hit the Touch ID and you’re ready to experience it all.
2. Samsung Galaxy Book S
Not only is this 13.3-inch Samsung excellent for travel, but it’s designed to perform while far from a power source with an impressive 17 hours of battery life. The full aluminum chassis can handle the roughness of being in a backpack, and the backlit keyboard makes typing easy when the lights go off on your next night flight. The touchscreen is a nice feature too, when you want to tap and swipe through screens or folders quickly.
It’s also silent, with no fan inside, and still manages to stay cool while providing speeds to keep up with your projects and games. The Intel Core i5 Processor and loads of storage space, along with 8GB of RAM, keep it running smoothly, while two USB-C ports are a nice touch in an era where they’re disappearing and requiring dongles.
This can also pair with your home appliances through the SmartThings app, and with your mobile phone, letting you access your external device right on screen – an option that’s endlessly helpful if it’s low on battery.
3. ASUS ROG Zephyrus G14 Gaming Laptop
This one’s for the multitaskers out there. Fueled by the Ryzen 7 4800HS (up to 4.2 GHzBeat i7-10750H), with eight cores and 16 threads, the ROG Zephyrus can effortlessly run multiple memory-eating applications all at once. Photo editing software, games, and your browser of choice with way-too-many tabs open, all are no problem. The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 graphics card has got 4GB of dedicated video memory, for a fast, advanced GPU to power your online and offline life.
The 14-inch display has a beautifully crisp 1920x1080p resolution and the speed to match. The RTX 2060 graphics card moves through games with near-zero lag and incredibly smooth frame rates. All this is packed into a laptop that weighs just a pinch above three pounds, while being energy-efficient thanks to the LED backlight, and packing a hefty battery life for its class at around nine hours.
4. Dell New XPS 13 InfinityEdge Touchscreen Laptop
The XPS 13, Dell’s 13.4-inch aluminum bodied laptop, packs a dazzling display, and an Intel Core i7 10th Gen processor that clocks speeds up to 3.9GHz, with 16GB of RAM, and the one-touch power button responds quickly every time. The pair of fans keep things cool under pressure, as they’re separated to spread heat over a larger area, routing through dual heat pipes to a hidden exhaust vent.
The lack of ports could be a problem for some users, and others say that even with the heat dissipation, it can still get hot in your lap after long periods of time.
At 6.12 pounds, it’s the heaviest of the group here, while still remaining fairly light (and 6% thinner than previous generations). It also offers a long battery life and reliable batch of features usually found on heavier units. A Gorilla Glass-infused screen adds to its damage-proof durability, leaving you worry-free about touching the touchscreen too hard.
5. Razer Blade 15 Base Gaming Laptop
Much like its cousin, the Razer Blade Stealth, this one also seems to live up to its name and slip under the radar.
Don’t let that be an indicator of poor performance though – the Razer Blade 15 is anything but. With a 10th Gen Intel Core i7-10750H 6-Core processor reaching up to 5GHz max turbo, an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060, and a 144Hz 15.6-inch full HD display, there’s a lot here in a small footprint – only 0.78 inches thin and 4.7 pounds.
The whip-fast processing speeds make gaming a breeze, but this goes way beyond just gamers, and can handle heavy web browsing and creative applications too. It start to get hot when overwhelmed though, so a cooling platform may be a good idea if this will be the main device in your work (or battle) station.