The Best Small Laptops of 2022 Will Slip Right Into Your Backpack

best small laptops 2021
Product Photo Courtesy of Apple

If you purchase an independently reviewed product or service through a link on our website, SPY.com may receive an affiliate commission.

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 a lot of 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 — 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 2022, there are a lot of mini laptops for sale. We mean a lot, and there is a ton of information to wade through, too. Are you a Mac or PC person? If you love windows laptops, what brands offer the best laptop performance in 2022? 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 M1 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 2022 below, but here are our top picks at a glance:

1. Best Overall: M1 Macbook Air (2020) – $899.99

2. Runner Up: New Dell XPS 13 – Starting at $852.59

3. Contender: LG Gram 16 – $1,356.99

4. Lightest Laptop: Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon – $1,235.00

5. For the Office: Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Nano – $1,436.99

6. Best Small Laptop Under $500: MSI Modern 14 – $400.66

7. Antimicrobial Protection: Acer Swift 5 – $1,092.99

8. Best Under $750: Samsung Galaxy Book – $629.99

9. Great Battery Life: HP Spectre x360 13T – $1,499.99

10. Bantamweight Champ: HP Pavilion Aero 13Z-BE000 – $869.99

11. Best Chromebook: Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2 – $675.15

12: Best 2-In-1 Small Laptop: Microsoft Surface Book 3 – $998.97

13. Best Small Gaming Laptop: Razer Blade Stealth 13 – $1,781.49

14. Best Budget Buy: Asus Zenbook 13 – $1,099.99

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.

  

1. M1 MacBook Air (2020)

BEST SMALL LAPTOP OVERALL

The new M1 Macbook Air might just be the best laptop ever created, and we’re not the only ones who think so. The 2020 MacBook Air keeps its signature slim and sleek profile all while adding the new M1 chip (which is faster than virtually any laptop CPU out there) and better battery life than its predecessors. The battery life lasts all day without a charge, and this thing has so much horsepower that you won’t have to worry about it slowing down for a long time. People used to see the MacBook Air as a cheaper MacBook Pro alternative for people who only casually surf the web because it didn’t have enough power for content creators — the people who generally choose Mac over PC. But with all of the extra power and storage, the M1 Air is no longer MacBook Pro’s wimpy little brother. In fact, there are few reasons to buy a MacBook Pro at all right now — that’s how good this small laptop is.

Seriously, unless you have strong feelings about the Windows vs. Apple debate, there’s no reason to keep reading. For college students, creatives and business professionals alike, this is the laptop we’ve been waiting for. Best of all, this award-winning laptop costs under $1000, and Amazon has periodically dropped it to $850 — watch this space for those deals — less impressive laptops from Dell and Microsoft.

ON SALE NOW!

M1 MacBook Air, best small laptops for 2021 Courtesy of Amazon

  

2. Dell XPS 13

RUNNER UP

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.

 

dell xps 13, best small laptops for 2021 Courtesy of Dell

  

3. LG Gram 16

CONTENDER

We recently had the chance to test and review the new LG Gram 16. Normally, we wouldn’t consider a 16-inch laptop as a viable product in the small laptop category, but the LG Gram was designed to be super lightweight and portable, and it’s got so many attractive features that we couldn’t resist including this “game-changing laptop.” Seriously, this thing is light, weighing in at 2.62 pounds. It’s also incredibly thin, measuring just 0.66 inches in thickness. Despite this, it will stay charged for an entire day at a time, which is deeply impressive.

In terms of specs, the LG Gram comes fully loaded. Inside you’ll find an 11th Gen Intel Core i7 quad-core processor and 16 GB of RAM. Because of this, the Gram boots up in seconds and boasts touch sign-in. In terms of ports, you get a Thunderbolt 4 port, one USB-C port, a headphone jack, an HDMI port, two USB Type-A ports, and a microSD card slot as well. All of this is contained within a lean and mean magnesium alloy body that’s ideal for commuting, so long as your laptop backpack is big enough for a 16-inch laptop.

While it’s more expensive than the Dell XPS 13, it does offer more computing power and a bigger screen, so if you’re looking for a top-performing Windows alternative to the MacBook Air, then this would be our top recommendation for you.

lg gram 16 Amazon

  

4. Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon

SMALL AND POWERFUL

There is a lot of power packed into this mini laptop. For only weighing 2.4 pounds, it’s surprising how much oomph is included. At the base level, you can expect 8GB of RAM and 512GB of SSD storage, which is more than enough for school or work. But if you want to go really hard in the paint, it can be maxed out to 16GB and 1TB of storage. Plus there’s plenty of connectivity to supply all of your peripherals. And not to mention, the black chassis just downright looks sleek, too.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Courtesy of Amazon

  

5. Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Nano

FOR THE OFFICE

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.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Nano Courtesy of Amazon

  

6. MSI Modern 14

BEST VALUE

Priced under $500 with a bevy of features you’ll love, the MSI Modern 14 is well-worth considering. The super-light design, bolstered by a hefty aluminum construction, makes it easy to pick up and take on the go when you need a full-on laptop. A USB-C port allows for fast charging of all of your most important devices, while the eight hours of battery life make it extremely compelling. Plus, the vivid 14″ screen display gets its power from an Intel Core i3 processor, which delivers solid power in such a portable package.

MSI Modern 14 Amazon

  

7. Acer Swift 5

ANTIMICROBIAL PROTECTION

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.

LOW IN STOCK!

Acer Swift 5 Courtesy of Amazon.

  

8. Samsung Galaxy Book

WORKHORSE LAPTOP

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.)

Read More: Comparing The 10 Best Laptops for 2022

Samsung Galaxy Book Courtesy of Amazon.

  

9. HP Spectre x360 13T

GREAT BATTERY LIFE

If you have the extra cash, this small laptop can be your workhorse for school and at the job. The bright 13.3-inch display automatically adjusts to your surroundings to give you bright, clear, and vibrant imagery on the screen. HP Quickdrop also allows you to quickly send pictures or video from your phone to your laptop — think Airdrop for PC — without the hassle of emailing files back and forth. The small laptop packs a 4-cell 60wh Li-Ion polymer battery, while weighing in at 2.8 pounds.

HP Spectre x360 13T Courtesy of Amazon.

  

10. HP Pavilion Aero

BANTAMWEIGHT CHAMP

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.

HP Pavilion Aero Laptop - 13z-be000 Courtesy of HP

  

11. Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2

BEST CHROMEBOOK

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.

Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2, best small laptops Courtesy of Samsung

  

12. Microsoft Surface Book 3

BEST 2-IN-1 SMALL LAPTOP

Microsoft Surface Book laptops have always been solid overall computing devices, and the long-awaited Surface 3 is no lightweight. Released around the same time as the new Macbooks, Microsoft’s premium laptop packs plenty of power for multimedia editing with software like Photoshop and Premiere, all while providing up to 15.5 hours of battery life in low power mode (customers report that the actual battery life is closer to seven or eight hours). Plus, if you like using touchscreen tablets, you can detach the Surface Book screen from the keyboard and turn your laptop into the ultimate entertainment device. For anyone who prefers Windows to Mac OS, Microsoft has finally released a laptop to rival the MacBook Pro.

Read More: Best Laptops for Photo Editing

best small laptops, microsoft surface Courtesy of Amazon

  

13. Razer Blade Stealth 13

BEST SMALL RAZER LAPTOP

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.

Read More: Shop the Best Laptop Deals

Razer Blade Stealth, best Small Laptop for gaming Courtesy of Amazon

  

14. Asus ZenBook 13

BEST BUDGET BUY

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.

asus zenbook 13 laptop, best small laptops of 2021 Courtesy of Amazon

  

15. M1 MacBook Pro 13 (2020)

ALSO CONSIDER

If the MacBook Air happens to be sold out, or you think you’ll really be maxing your laptop out with 4K video editing, go with the new 13-inch 2020 M1 MacBook Pro. (The 2021 M1 MacBook Pro is also a great laptop to consider, but it’s larger than the 2020 model.) This device definitely qualifies as a small laptop, has a great 10-hour battery life and a vivid Retina display that’s great for multimedia editing and creative work.

Like the M1 MacBook Air, the Pro has the new M1 chip which offers mindblowing performance, but it also has a fan that keeps the internals cooler and will allow it to run at higher speeds for longer if you do manage to find a way to push this laptop to its (which, currently, is not easy). That fan will essentially cost you an extra $250, which begs the question: Is it worth it? Well, that will ultimately be for you to decide.

Apple M1 MacBook Pro, best small laptops of 2021 Courtesy of Apple

  

16. GPD P2 Max

ALSO CONSIDER

If small is what you’re after, then you’ll certainly find plenty of it with the GPD P2 Max. You might not be familiar with the brand, but the company is known for its ultraportable laptops. The GPD P2 Max runs Windows and is powered by Intel Pentium processor with 16GB of RAM. Even though it may lack the muscle power that the other laptops in our list offer, it’s still more than enough for basic things such as word processing.

What’s really impressive here is the space-saving quality it offers, measuring at 8.39 x 5.89 x 0.56-inches. We’re talking about something that’s almost as tiny as the Apple iPad Mini. Thanks to its 8.9-inch touchscreen display with 2K resolution, it doesn’t occupy a whole lot of space, making it perfect for traveling light.

  

17. Microsoft Surface Pro 8

HONORABLE MENTION

We already have another Surface laptop farther up the list, but you should also consider the Microsoft Surface Pro 8. It’s a true 2-in-1 convertible laptop because it can go from tablet to laptop with the help of its kickstand and optional signature keyboard. Speaking of that, it’s actually a comfortable keyboard because the keys are well sized, tactile and backlit, and it also features a large trackpad.

Its overall size at 11.3 x 8.2 x 0.37 inches makes it a svelte package that tips the scales at 1.96 pounds. Whether you decide to use it for personal things or as a business laptop, you can rest assured it’s equipped to handle just about anything you throw at it because it features an Intel Evo Platform Core i5 processor paired with 8GB of RAM.

Microsoft Surface Pro 8 Courtesy of Amazon.

  

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 2022, 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.

small laptops versus ultrabooks and chromebook Size comparison of a Samsung Chromebook, Apple M1 MacBook Air (2020) and Apple M1 MacBook Pro (2021) Courtesy of Samsung, Apple

  • 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 2022, 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?

Lenovo Slim 7i Pro X first look John Velasco | SPY

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.

  
Looking for More from SPY?
  

The Best Tablets Provide Laptop Power in Tablet Form