The 6 Best Lightweight Laptops of 2023

Ultrabooks can fulfill all of your computing needs without the added bulk or weight

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Lightweight laptops are sometimes referred to as ultrabooks. That means powerful enough for all but the most demanding tasks but much lighter than expected.

Most have enough processing power, RAM, and storage to complete everyday multitasking for the typical workday. Still, specialized models can rival the power of brawnier laptops or desktops with heavy-duty processors, expandable internals, and vivid and large displays with advanced graphics and color rendering. Above-average battery life that extends beyond a workday is also a bonus, and some models don’t require a recharge for 18 hours or longer.

Best for Travel

Microsoft Surface Pro X

Microsoft Surface Pro X

Courtesy of Amazon

What We Like
  • Less than 2 pounds

  • Up to 15 hours of battery life

  • Edge-to-edge 13-inch touchscreen

What We Don't Like
  • Keyboard and pen sold separately

  • Limited ports

If you’re keen on the flexibility a convertible laptop offers, the Microsoft Surface Pro X is an attractive option. While the keyboard and accompanying pen are sold separately, and you’ll have just two USB-C ports to work with, the main body of the Surface Pro X can rest flat on a surface or be propped up at your preferred angle with the help of the kickstand positioned on the back of the device. This versatile, super-compact 1.7-pound and 0.28-inch thick build and excellent 15-hour battery life make it an ideal traveling laptop.

While this convertible is relatively small, it still manages to offer an edge-to-edge 13-inch touch display with a high 2880x1920 resolution plus an assortment of other desirable assets such as an accelerometer, gyroscope, ambient light sensor, LTE support, and 1080p front- and rear-facing cameras with 4K quality supported on the latter. The custom Microsoft SQ1 processor with the standard 8GB RAM and 128GB SSD should be speedy and versatile enough for a variety of multitasking, but if you want more memory and storage, up to 16GB RAM and 512GB SSD configurations are available.

Best for Students

Google Pixelbook Go

Google Pixelbook Go Lightweight Chromebook Laptop


What We Like
  • Boots quickly

  • Battery lasts for at least 12 hours

  • 1080p camera

What We Don't Like
  • Limited selection of ports

  • Storage capped at 265GB

Chromebooks are portable and student-friendly devices, and the Google Pixelbook Go is no exception. While an upgraded processor, 4K display, and more storage and memory could start to add up, the standard Intel Core M3 processor and 8GB RAM, and a 64GB SSD are relatively budget-friendly. This standard configuration delivers speedy boot times of mere seconds, and there’s plenty of cloud storage to meet most students’ file storing needs. As with most Chromebooks, port selection is limited, but the trade-off comes with desirable portability at around 0.5 inches thick and a little over 2 pounds. 

While it’s not the most advanced display in the category, the 13.3-inch HD screen will do just fine for most tasks, including video streaming. A bonus is that the 1080p webcam is a step up from most Chromebooks and ultrabooks, which could be great for virtual learning. Another asset is the long 12-hour battery life and the ability to eke out 2 hours of use with a quick 20-minute charge. 

Best for Gaming

Razer Blade Stealth 13

Razer Blade Stealth 13


What We Like
  • Durable but lightweight build

  • Vibrant FHD display

  • Upgradeable SSD

What We Don't Like
  • Middling battery life

  • Thicker bottom bezel

If you’ve always dreamed of a lightweight gaming laptop, Razer has combined the appeal of slim ultrabooks with the graphics and processing power of gaming-ready machines in the Razer Blade Stealth 13. It sports a sleek, durable aluminum and anodized build that isn’t too unwieldy at approximately 0.6 inches thick and 3.2 pounds. The 13-inch FHD display is matte, supports up to a 120Hz refresh rate, is surrounded by razor-thin top and side bezels, and is sRGB-tuned for color accuracy and vibrancy. Oddly, the bottom bezel is significantly larger, which our product tester found to be an unfortunate loss of valuable real estate. He also experienced the battery life to be less impressive but quick to recharge.  

The Stealth 13 is billed as a gaming laptop, and that it is. Performance-wise, it’s a powerhouse with a tenth-generation Intel Core i7 processor, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 Max-Q graphics, 16GB of RAM, and 512GB SSD, which is upgradeable. For general ease of use and productivity, this compact laptop offers other valuable features such as biometrics for instant facial recognition access and numerous ports for connecting to gaming or other peripherals.

Best Battery Life

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Nano

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Nano

Lifewire / Matthew S. Smith

What We Like
  • Weights less than 2 pounds

  • Strong CPU and GPU performance

  • Great keyboard

  • Excellent battery life

  • Loud, clear audio

  • Windows Hello support

What We Don't Like
  • Mediocre display

  • Disappointing Wi-Fi performance

  • High pricing

  • Limited connectivity

The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Nano is built with travelers and frequent fliers in mind. It’s incredibly light, starting under two pounds, and lasts eight to nine hours on a charge. Yet it also packs excellent performance, especially in graphics workloads, where it’s shockingly capable for a 13-inch laptop.

This is an excellent laptop for productivity. ThinkPads are known for class-leading keyboards, and the X1 Nano does not disappoint. It also has a TrackPointer and an IR camera that supports Windows Hello for quick login via facial recognition. Our reviewer found the display a bit disappointing, though, as it can’t keep up with Apple’s MacBook Air or the new OLED display in Dell’s XPS 13.

This laptop starts just north of $1,450 and goes up from there. Whatever specifications you choose, the X1 Nano will be a few hundred dollars more expensive than a similar MacBook Air or Dell XPS 13. That’s hard to justify unless portability is your top priority. 

Best for Video Editing

Apple MacBook Pro (16-Inch)

Apple MacBook Pro (16-Inch)


What We Like
  • Powerful and fast processor

  • Up to 8 TB SSD

  • Retina display

What We Don't Like
  • Heavier build

  • Pricey

The Apple MacBook Pro 16-Inch isn’t a featherweight ultrabook or the most affordable option in the lightweight laptop class. Still, considering all the power at your fingertips, this is quite a manageable 4.3-pound workhorse. You can choose between an Intel Core i7 or i9 processor with 16GB of RAM (expandable to 64GB RAM) and a standard 512GB or 1TB SSD that can be upgraded to an astonishing 8GB of SSD storage. This processing power and storage are generous enough to support everyday multitasking and the most demanding creative projects, such as 3D rendering, professional video editing, and gaming development. 

Of course, visual tasks require a high-quality display, and the vibrant 16-inch 3072x1920 Retina display is the largest from the brand in laptop form. It uses the P3 wide color gamut to render true-to-life video and photo quality. You can also expect up to 11 hours of battery life, the convenience of a touch bar with secure touch ID access, and a Thunderbolt 3 port that supports up to two 6K external displays.

Best for Photo Editing

Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch (M1, 2020)

Apple introduced the Macbook Pro with M1 chip in 2020.


What We Like
  • Apple M1 chip

  • Up to 20 hours of battery life

  • Up to 2TB SSD

What We Don't Like
  • Not all apps optimized for M1 chip

  • Lack of ports

If you want the capable chops of the Apple MacBook Pro 16-Inch in a slightly more portable form factor, the 3-pound MacBook Pro 13-Inch with the M1 chip is a worthy alternative—especially if you need a machine for photo editing on the go. Like the 16-inch variation, this device sports a vivid Retina display with P3 wide color gamut technology that Apple says renders 25% more colors than sRGB. The new 8-core M1 chip is an impressive addition that delivers lightning-quick performance supported by up to 16GB RAM and up to a 2TB SSD. 

One catch with the specialty chip is that not all apps that run on MacBooks with Intel chips are optimized for M1-equipped models. But popular photo editing software such as Lightroom and Photoshop are covered by native apps or with the help of the Rosetta 2 translator that bridges the gap for hiccup-free use. This latest version of the 13-inch MacBook Pro does have a limited selection of ports (just two Thunderbolt ports). Still, it also boasts many amenities, including a handy Touch Bar with touch-ID access and slots for customizing shortcuts and the longest battery life of any MacBook—up to 20 hours.

What to Look for in a Lightweight Laptop

Screen size: Thanks to new displays with higher pixel density, smaller 11-inch or 13-inch displays are now more than acceptable for most tasks. That smaller screen also means you'll end up with a lighter and, therefore, more portable laptop. You can find models with bigger screens, but the trade-off is more weight.

Battery life: Thanks to recent advances, lightweight laptops have much better battery life than just a few years ago. If you prefer spending less time recharging or searching for an available outlet while traveling, some models have extended capacities of 11 hours or more.

Processor and memory: At this point, ultrabooks or light convertible laptops can handle any computing task, but if you have special needs like video editing or gaming, consider choosing a more powerful processor and adding additional RAM.

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