Laptop Size and Weight Buyer's Guide

Average dimensions and weights for various laptop PC sizes

The Ultimate Laptop Buying Guide
The Ultimate Laptop Buying Guide
Introduction

Laptops are designed to be portable, but their portability depends on the size and weight of the device. Standard laptop dimensions can be broken into five categories: ultrabooks, ultraportable, thin and light, desktop replacements, and luggables.

Standard Laptop Dimensions

The weight listed is the weight for the laptop only and not a travel weight, so expect to add between 1 and 3 pounds for accessories and power adapters. The numbers listed break down to width, depth, height, and weight:

  • Ultrabook/Chromebook: 9-13.5" x 8-11" x <1" @ 2 to 3 lbs.
  • Ultraportable: 9-13" x 8-9" x .2-1.3" @ 2-5 lbs.
  • Thin and Light: 11-15" x <11" x .5-1.5" @ 3-6 lbs.
  • Desktop Replacement: >15" x >11" x 1-2" @ >4 lbs.
  • Luggables: >18" x >13" x >1" @ >8 lbs.

Tablets have their own separate height and weight standards.

Person shopping for laptops.

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Ultrabooks and Chromebooks

Intel worked with manufacturers to release ultrabooks. They originally were the most portable of systems with screens the size of 13 inches or smaller, but they have since moved into the larger 14- and 15-inch screen sizes with thinner and lighter profiles than other laptops with similar-sized displays.

Chromebooks are similar in concept to ultrabooks, but they are generally more affordable and designed to run the Chrome OS instead of Windows. Now the market features 2-in-1 computers that are essentially systems that can function as either a laptop or a tablet, which will have two rough sizes and weights depending upon which mode is used.

Width, Depth, and Height

The size of the laptop refers to its external physical dimensions. Many laptops no longer ship with DVD drives to save on space because these components are not as essential as they once were. This means that if you need to burn discs, you also have to carry an external optical drive.

Some laptops feature a swappable media bay to allow you to change between a DVD and a spare battery, but this configuration is becoming less common, even in corporate systems. And, if you need to recharge or power these external devices, you also need to carry their respective power adapters.

All systems list three physical dimensions for their size: width, depth, and height or thickness. The width refers to the size of the laptop frame from the left side of the keyboard deck to the right. Depth refers to the size of the system from the front of the laptop to the back panel hinge.

The depth listed by a manufacturer may not include the additional bulk that sits behind the laptop hinge from an oversized battery.

Height or thickness refers to the size from the bottom of the laptop to the back of the display when the laptop is closed. Many companies list two measurements for thickness because the height tapers down from the back to the front of the laptop. Generally, if a single thickness is listed, this is the thickest point of the laptop's height.

Weight vs. Travel Weight

The tricky part with laptop weight specifications is identifying what is included in the weight. Most manufacturers list the weight of the computer with its standard battery installed. Sometimes they list a weight range depending on what media bay or battery type is installed on the laptop. This weight fails to include other items such as power adapters, peripherals, or detachable keyboards.

Look for the "travel weight" to get a more accurate estimate of real-world weight. This figure should include the weight of the laptop with its power adapters and possible media bays. Some desktop-replacement laptops that demand a lot of power require power adapters that can weigh as much as a third of the laptop.

The weight of a laptop is what tends to most directly affect the portability of a computer. Any frequent traveler who has to bring a laptop around airports and hotels will attest to the fact that the lighter systems are easier to bring along even if you don't have all the functionality of the larger systems. This is why ultraportables remain popular among business travelers.

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