The Best Lightweight Laptops for Travel

Oct 17, 2016

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Years ago, traveling with a computer required adding 5–10 pounds of weight for a small laptop with a battery that would hardly last the length of a full movie, let alone an entire flight.

Nowadays, things are different, and hitting the road with a laptop in tow isn’t the same burden it once was. Everyone wants to stay connected on the go, and to do so in the most efficient way possible means having an ultraportable computer. Consider this your go-to list of the best lightweight laptops for travel — presented below in no particular order — that are all powerful, have long last-lasting batteries and won’t break your back.

1. Apple MacBook

Apple’s recently rebooted MacBook is in a league of its own among all competitors. Weighing in at just a hair above two pounds — 2.03 lbs. to be exact — it’s the second lightest laptop on the list. This ultraportable machine has a stunning HD Retina display, 11 whole hours of battery life and comes in four gorgeous finishes.

Apple’s 12-inch MacBook weighs just 2.03 pounds despite its high-res display. Image courtesy of Apple.

While its processor doesn’t have the same level of horsepower you’ll find in some of the other laptops on this list, it does provide more than enough speed for everyday use. This computer’s biggest drawback, however, is the lack of ports, since it only comes with a single USB-C port and a 3.5mm headphone jack. This means you’ll probably need to buy an array of dongles and adapters before you can plug in your external devices. Keep in mind that USB-C is a new type of USB, so unless you’re up to date with the absolute latest in technology, chances are you probably don’t have any USB-C cables or devices on hand at the moment, so plan accordingly. Available on Amazon from $1,249. 

2. HP Spectre

This HP notebook shares its name with the last James Bond film, and we wouldn’t be surprised if the spy himself carried one in his bag. Although it weighs in a bit on the (relatively) heavier side at 2.45 pounds, its measurements are an impossibly thin 10.4 mm.

The HP Spectre is the slimmest laptop in the world. Image courtesy of HP.
The HP Spectre is the slimmest laptop in the world. Image courtesy of HP.

This machine features powerful Intel Core i series processors found traditionally on more beefy laptops. That means you’ll be able to get a lot more done on this device, especially considering its nine-hour battery life. The only downside is here is the lack of a touchscreen, something normally found on most Windows laptops in this category. Available on Amazon from $1,249. 

3. Dell XPS 13

Dell’s offering in the ultrabook category is certainly the heaviest notebook on the list — weighing between 2.7 and 2.9 pounds depending on which model you get — but its mile-long list of features make this more than worthy of making the cut. Winning multiple Laptop of the Year awards from numerous tech publications, the XPS combines the power and functionality of a full-sized laptop into nearly the same sized frame of the smallest laptops on the market. Better yet, Dell recently updated the machines with new processors and even longer battery life.

The Dell XPS is a solid offering despite weighing nearly 3 lbs. Image courtesy of Dell.
The Dell XPS is a solid offering despite weighing nearly 3 pounds. Image courtesy of Dell.

The XPS 13 sports an edge-to-edge touchscreen display, up to 22 hours of battery life (although most reviewers say this is exaggerated by Dell), Core i series processors and full-sized USB and SD card ports, among other features. Although the premium model retails at $1,599, you can still get the lowest base model for less than $1,000. Available on Amazon from $910. 

4. Asus ZenBook UX305

For the more budget conscious, Asus’ ZenBook might be the ultrabook for you. Priced at just $749, this is the cheapest laptop you’ll find with specs this good. Last year, many websites declared the ZenBook the year’s best budget notebook, and the 2016 model only improves on it. Measuring in at just 0.5 inches thick and 2.6 pounds, the ZenBook is no slouch in terms of specs.

The 2016 Asus ZenBook is one of the best budget ultrabooks out there. Image courtesy of ASUS.
The 2016 Asus ZenBook is one of the best budget ultrabooks out there. Image courtesy of ASUS.

The ZenBook has three full-sized USB ports and an SD card slot, a quad-HD display, offers 10 hours of battery life, and includes special technology by Asus called IceCool, which is meant to keep the palm rests by the trackpad cool so you don’t get sweaty hands while using the laptop. While the processor isn’t as premium as what you’ll get with other laptops here, it’s definitely a machine to consider if you’re particularly concerned with keeping your spending down. Available on Amazon from $749. 

5. Samsung Notebook 9

If having the single lightest laptop is most important to you, look no further than the Samsung Notebook 9. This thing nearly levitates at just 1.9 pounds and 0.53″ thin. Don’t let the weight fool you though — the Notebook 9 has an HD 13.3-inch display, two full-sized USB ports, stereo speakers, a Core i series processor, and 10 hours of battery life.

The Samsung Notebook 9 doesn
The Samsung Notebook 9 doesn’t weigh much more than a tablet at just 1.9 lbs. Image courtesy of Samsung.

While there’s no touchscreen, the Notebook 9 is particularly appealing if you have a Samsung smartphone, as you can pair the two devices so all your phone calls, text messages and other notifications are pushed directly from your phone to your computer. Available on Amazon from $939. 

6. Microsoft Surface Pro 4

This machine blurs the line between tablet and laptop, but if we’re going to be technical here, the Surface Pro runs full Windows and has a detachable keyboard, so we’ll say it’s a true notebook. However, the appeal of the Surface Pro is exactly what makes it hard to categorize — the keyboard detaches, giving this machine the ability to be the lightest device out of the six, but we’re assuming you’ll want to use it with the keyboard.

Microsoft’s Surface Pro 4 offers a detachable keyboard and runs full Windows 10. Image courtesy of Microsoft.

Even with the keyboard attached, it only weighs 2.36 pounds and measures at 0.52″ thin. Add a Core i processor, nine hours of battery life, an optional smart-stylus like device called the Surface Pen and a beautiful ultra-HD display, and the Surface Pro emerges as quite possibly the most perfect travel companion. Available on Amazon from $849. 

Which is your favorite laptop to take with you on the road? Let us know in the comments, below.

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