If the last few years have taught us anything, it’s that we have to be ready to adapt at a moment’s notice. Like many people, you may have had to leave your college classroom or office behind and get used to that WFH lifestyle. It doesn’t matter if you spend your days working at home, at a coffee shop, or in an uber-hip co-working space but now, more than ever, you need a laptop that’s versatile and portable. The best small laptops are up for the challenge, and they make it easy to switch locations and tasks without warning.
In 2023, we’re seeing an array of mini laptops for sale. We mean a lot, and there is a ton of information to wade through to boot. Are you a Mac or PC person? If you love windows laptops, what brands offer the best laptop performance in 2023? Dell alone has a huge lineup of great laptop options. Are you a gamer or someone who casually uses a laptop to surf the web and check emails? There’s a lot to process before you make a purchase decision, let alone one that is going to cost you a few hundred dollars — or more. (If you’re a Mac person, then your choice is much simpler, as the M2 MacBook Air continues to put other laptops to shame.)
So how do you ensure you’re buying the best small laptop for your needs? We’ve got a full breakdown of all the best mini laptops for sale in 2023 below, but here are our top picks at a glance:
The Best Small Laptops At A Glance
Don’t stress out about buying a laptop. Keep reading to find out everything you need to know before buying your new small laptop. Plus, we’ve got all the details on our favorite models for sale right now.
The combination of size, processing power and price is hard to beat. The upgraded M2 chip is lightning fast and you can configure the Air to be a beast with up to 2TB of storage and 24GB of memory. Even at its baseline of 8GB of memory and 256GB of SSD storage along with the M2 chip makes for a desirable processing machine.
All the extras like a 1080p Facetime camera and a crisp Liquid Retina display are simply cherries on top. If you’re team Mac, or you’re looking to jump ship from Windows, this laptop is the cream of the crop.
Dell XPS 13
Read More: The Best Dell Laptops Prove That You Don’t Need a MacBook Anymore
The update to the Dell XPS 13 not only makes it one of the best small laptops in terms of size and performance but also a premium choice for laptops of any size. With excellent reviews for its performance and an elegant and compact design, this mini laptop establishes itself as one to consider when looking for a smaller machine. Beyond impressive performance, it runs Windows and has an impressive battery life of up to 14 hours with the 4K UHD display configuration. It’s got a 13.4-inch InfinityEdge Touchscreen with Intel HD Graphics, an 11th Generation InteI Core i3 processor and 8 GB of RAM.
All of this performance is packed in a Dell laptop that weighs less than 2.6 pounds (which is lighter than a MacBook Air), making it as portable as it is impressive. It’s a little more expensive than other small laptop options, but the computing power is certainly worth it if you prefer Windows.
Lenovo ThinkPad X13s
Full Review: The All-Day Battery Life Windows Laptop We’ve Been Waiting For
When you’re the type of person where anyplace you can find a seat becomes your workspace, then you’ll want a laptop that has long battery life and is ultra-portable. The Lenovo ThinkPad sports 28 hours of battery life (that’s not a typo) and weighs just 2.35 pounds.
The processing power leaves something to be desired, but the 1GB hard drive and up to 16GB of RAM make up for what the processing lacks. After testing and reviewing the ThinkPad X13s, one of the SPY editors thinks this is a great option for commuters.
Alright, technically we said that we looked for laptops with 13-inch displays, but it is impossible to ignore that this large 17-inch screen laptop manages to keep the weight under three pounds. That’s incredible anyway you look at it, and deserves a spot on this portable laptop list.
Beyond the voodoo it takes to make such a large display so lightweight, it has an upgraded camera and the same comfortable keyboard from the previous model (hey, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it). The Gram 17 also has plenty of connectivity including two USB-C ports, HDMI and two USB 3.0 ports along with a MicroSD card reader.
Pair that with an Intel 12th Gen processor, and lengthy 20ish hours of battery life, it’s clear that this is one of the best small laptops available.
First and foremost, this Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10 is nothing short of fast and powerful. With a 12th Gen Intel processor along with 32GB or RAM and 1TB of storage, it’s simply an absolute powerhouse. But what truly separates it from others is the additional security features.
Like your computer auto-locking when you walk away (thanks to camera AI), or if you misplace your laptop or some jerk steals it, the laptop is “Tile ready” meaning if you subscribe to the Tile service, you can track your misplaced laptop down using your phone. There’s also a privacy shutter on the camera as well as fingerprint and facial recognition. Like we said, this Lenovo takes both processing power and your personal security seriously.
Microsoft Surface Laptop 5
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The Surface 5 comes in two screen sizes – 13.5 and a 15-inch model. Both displays feature Dolby Vision optimized for HDR, so if you like to binge your favorite streaming content on your laptop, you’re in luck here. It’s a good traveler too, weighing only 2.86 pounds.
And one of the biggest upgrades from previous models is the Surface 5 includes a USB-C port, which was missing in previous iterations. You can also expect about eight hours of battery life improving upon previous models. With all the additions, if you’re looking to upgrade your small laptop, the Surface 5 is a solid choice.
Whether you’re editing 4K video or mixing and mastering audio in Pro-Tools, Ableton or Logic, the MacBook Pro with M2 has the processing power to keep things moving along steadily. Along with the extra benefits of great processing power, you also get extended battery life with roughly 20 hours before you need a recharge, and portability considering this powerful machine only weighs three pounds.
The Air has a better FaceTime camera than the 13-inch Pro’s 720p, but the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pros make the upgrade in the camera, and can get real powerful with the spec configurations. To save some coin, go with the 13-inch Pro or Air, but for super processing power, upgrade to the 14-inch or 16-inch MacBook Pro.
Half laptop, half tablet, and overall an awesome product from Microsoft. The Surface comes in four colors, while the keyboard has five color options including a cool red that can make for some unique color combinations (although we’re bummed the keyboard and stylus are sold separately).
There are two different processor types available: Intel vs Microsoft SQ 3. Go with the Intel models – you’ll give up a little battery life (15.5 hours down from 19) but you gain more processing power. The Surface alone weighs less than two pounds making it incredibly portable. And with the handy stand, and when paired with the stylus, you can find creative ways to work that suit you best.
HP Spectre X360 (2022)
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The HP Spectre X360 sports a 3:2 aspect ratio OLED touchscreen display, and to that: *chef’s kiss*. This is especially great considering you can fold the laptop completely in half and use it as a tablet. The connectivity setup is unique in that there isn’t an HDMI immediately present, but the laptop comes with an USB-C dock and there is a HDMI port on it as well as additional USB-A ports.
Beyond the connectivity, the battery life is fantastic, lasting around 15 hours of nonstop use and the Intel 5 or 7 processor (depending on your configuration) provides plenty of processing power to boot. It really is a gorgeous convertible laptop with an incredible display great for both work and play.
Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2 360
Read More: The 13 Best Chromebooks Can Help You Get Your Work Done Quickly
If you’re looking to save some coin on an ultra portable small laptop, here’s your meal ticket. Aside from being affordable, it also is a dual purpose machine that can operate basically as a tablet or a laptop, providing you plenty of utility.
You can expect about ten hours of battery life, so just enough to get you through an entire day in class or at the office. It’s certainly not the most powerful or speedy laptop in the bunch, but if you want a good daily driver for low-intensive computing tasks, you can save yourself a good chunk of change going with this Chromebook.
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Nano
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In the unlikely event that you feel the 2.4 pounds is a little too heavy, consider the ThinkPad X1 Nano over the Carbon. Like the Carbon, it is scary powerful and incredibly light, only weighing in at 1.99 pounds. You get powerful internals — 16GB of RAM and 512GB of SSD storage, plus a great-looking 2,160 x 1,350-pixel 13-inch display.
This is a rare combination of size and power. If you are Team Lenovo, you can’t go wrong with the Carbon or the Nano as a solid workplace laptop.
The Acer Swift 5 is about certainly light weighing in at 2.31 pounds — not having a fan certainly helps keep the weight down and the noise to a minimum. The processing is comprised of an 11th Gen Intel Core i7-1165G7 Processor and 16GB of RAM — plenty for daily work and school tasks.
Interestingly, it features silver ion antimicrobial technology that has been applied throughout the laptop’s frame and exterior to help it repel germs. This is an excellent choice for anyone who prefers a PC to Mac, and is looking for a portable mini laptop.
Samsung Galaxy Book
Read More: Comparing The 10 Best Laptops for 2023
Coming in at the slightest bit over three pounds, the Samsung Galaxy Book Pro is a great choice for professionals who prefer the Android ecosystem to Apple’s. Even though it is right at the limit of what we’d consider for a small laptop, the specs are too good to leave it out.
Powered by an 11th Gen Intel Core i5-1135G7 paired with 256GB of storage and 8GB of RAM, this can be your daily driver, work computer and school workhorse. Plus, the 15.6-inch full-HD AMOLED display provides plenty of screen real estate and looks great while you’re at work on it (not to mention the Mystic Navy color looks about as stylish as a laptop can get).
At a mere 2.2 pounds, the HP Pavilion Aero is one of the lighter laptops on the list, and it sacrifices nothing in the way of speed or performance to make that lower weight.
Everything from word processing and spreadsheet crunching to web browsing and editing videos happens quickly and smoothly on this little powerhouse laptop, driven by an AMD Ryzen 7 5800U Processor, and the 11-hour battery life is above average.
Because some people can make do with a cloud-based device, we decided to include one Chromebook in our guide to the best mini laptops. No surprise, a Samsung Chromebook is our top recommendation. The Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2 promises to offer big performance at a price that is anything but.
Running on an Intel Celeron CPU may not sound impressive, but since Chrome OS requires less horsepower to run smoothly, an Intel Core i5 CPU is not as necessary. Combined with a form factor that comes in at 2.7 pounds and 0.55 inches, 4 GB of RAM and a highly desirable 13-inch 4K display, you’re likely to find that this laptop will suit all your needs.
You may have noticed that gaming laptops tend to have a very specific aesthetic, and it isn’t always everyone’s cup of tea. But if you’re looking for a small laptop that makes no compromises when it comes to looks or performance, the Razer Blade Stealth 13 is unquestionably the way to go.
This 13-inch laptop might not have as powerful a graphics card as the Zephyrus G14, and it will cost a little more if you want the 120 Hz FHD display (yeah, you totally want that), but it’s nearly half a pound lighter than the Zephyrus G14 and it also won’t scream “GAMER” every time you use it in public. Still, with a 10th-generation Intel Core i7 CPU, 16 GB of RAM and an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 Ti GPU, we think the performance and quality on display here are worth the cash.
This is a great budget option that doesn’t skimp out on performance. It’s a hair more compact and lightweight than the Dell XPS 13 and with a 10th-generation Intel Core i5 processor, 8 GB of RAM and 256 GB of storage, there’s plenty of power to handle all the tasks you throw at it. The battery life is rated for up to 22 hours of use, though you likely won’t get quite that much in actual practice. And you don’t trade portability for connectivity either.
The ZenBook 13 has an HDMI port, Micro SD reader and three USB ports. Plus, the laptop features an intelligent trackpad that will ignore errant palm grazes that send the cursor from one side of the screen to another. There is plenty to like about this mini laptop, especially the price.
Small Laptops, Thinnest Laptops, Chromebooks & Ultrabooks: What’s the Difference?
Needless to say, it’s a good time to be a laptop user. With so many incredible devices for sale in 2023, it’s never been easier to find the perfect laptop at the perfect price. However, there are quite a few different variations of laptops on the market — 2-in-1 convertibles, Chromebooks, ultrabooks, gaming laptops, traditional laptops — so a quick refresher on what’s what is helpful as you begin to shop for a new laptop.
- A small laptop is exactly what it sounds like. These are fully powered laptops, albeit ones in a decidedly smaller package (with a screen size of about 13 inches or less, with varying aspect ratios). That smaller screen size also allows for less weight, but these devices still include built-in storage of some kind, as well as some significant RAM.
- The thinnest laptops focus more on having razor-thin chassis and profiles, so they can fit in tight spots where thicker-sized laptops couldn’t. You would think a 1-inch thick laptop would be considered thin by today’s standard, but there are even sleeker ones that are under 0.5-inches.
- Chromebooks leverage Google’s ChromeOS and Google’s suite of productivity tools like Google Docs, Google Sheets and so forth. They’re primarily cloud-based in terms of storage, so you’ll need to have a persistent and strong Internet connection if you’re looking to get work done. Some Chromebooks do have limited onboard storage, but Chromebooks are seriously lacking in memory and processing power.
- Ultrabooks sit at the intersection of portability and performance, often classified as ultraportable laptops as well. If you think of laptops as cars, an ultrabook is like a BMW or any other foreign, exotic car. You’re getting a premium experience that doesn’t sacrifice performance. But there is a trade-off, of course — the best ultrabooks come with a hefty price tag.
- Finally, we should discuss convertible 2-in-1 laptops, too. Convertible laptops feature a hybrid laptop-tablet design. Typically, the screen folds all the way back so that you can use the touchscreen like a tablet. There’s quite a bit of crossover between convertibles and the small laptop category, and we’ve included some 2-in-1s in our list of the best mini laptops below.
To continue the car metaphor, a small laptop is like a reliable sedan that’s got good gas mileage and can get you from point A to point B without much concern. You don’t have as much storage as an ultrabook, but you have more than a Chromebook. It’s lighter than an Ultrabook, but not as light as a Chromebook. It’s basically a hybrid option between the two — but still one that’s well worth your consideration.
How We Chose the Best Small Laptops
When selecting the best small laptops for sale in 2023, we considered a range of factors including price, size, weight, battery life, hardware, display quality and customer reviews. For our purposes, we chose not to include budget Chromebooks and focused instead on true laptops and 2-in-1 convertibles. A few things you should look for to ensure you are getting a powerful-yet-portable small laptop:
- One with a 14-inch screen or smaller
- One that weighs 3-pounds or less
- At least 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage
- The best small laptops have at least 10 hours of battery life
Most of the laptops on this list have a 13-inch or 13.3-inch display, although some are even smaller. At the outer limit, we included laptops with 15.6-inch displays, which is the largest size that can still fairly be described as a small laptop. In our experience, 13-inch laptops offer much better portability and convenience on the go.
Speaking of being on the go, battery life is paramount when selecting the best small laptop for you. Some people literally don’t have enough time to sit down by a plug and wait for their laptop to charge. And if you work long hours, you are going to want a computer that can last the duration of your workday. Finding one with at least ten hours of battery life is a good baseline, because more than likely, with non-stop use, a ten-hour battery life will more likely be closer to eight hours, depending on your settings and usage patterns.
Finally, it’s worth considering brand reliability, especially if you’re looking for a product that will last four years or more. There are certain brands we trust more than others — Dell , HP, Lenovo, Microsoft and Apple laptops are at the top of that list — and you’ll find these brands well represented below.
Why Trust SPY When Buying a Laptop?
The SPY team is always looking for the coolest tech gadgets to share with our readers, and we put a lot of time and research into all of our shopping guides. We take a lot of pride in covering the latest tech news and product launches, and already this year we’ve been hard at work testing and reviewing the best wearables, smartphones, smart home devices, TVs, speakers, headphones and video doorbells (that’s our team member above installing a Wyze Video Doorbell Pro outside his home).
When it comes to buying a laptop, we’ve already done all the homework for you. From hunting down the best laptops for college students to comparing top-rated ultrabooks, we take our job very seriously. We want our readers to make a purchase knowing they’re getting the best possible value for their dollar. So if you’re in the market for a new small laptop, we’re confident you’ll find the right product on this page. Most importantly, we’ll never recommend a product to you that we wouldn’t buy ourselves.