You’re incredibly busy, so only the best small laptops will do. Whether you are running from home to the office, or from school to work, only to get off work and pull late nights studying, you need a laptop that is as portable, powerful and resilient as you.
There are a lot of laptop choices out there. We mean a lot, and there is a ton of information to wade through. Are you a Mac or PC person? If you’re a PC person, what brands are good? 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.
But we aren’t here to stress you out about buying a laptop. There’s plenty of other things to be stressed out about right now. We made it simple to find the best small laptop for your needs by showing you what we looked for in a mini laptop and how we picked the best ones.
How We Chose the Best Small Laptops
When selecting the best small laptops for sale in 2020, 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 13-inch screen or smaller
- One that weighs 3 lbs. 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 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 work day. Finding one with at least ten hours of battery life is a good baseline, because more than likely, with non-stop use, a 10 hour battery life will more likely be closer to eight hours, depending on your settings and usage patterns.
Why You Should Go With a Small Laptop
Needless to say, it’s a good time to be a laptop user. With so many options these days, it’s never been easier to find the perfect laptop at the perfect price. Students looking for a budget laptop under $300 can find high-quality Chromebooks and 2-in-1 convertibles, while designers and professionals can benefit from the latest generation of MacBook Air laptops. But while there are now more laptops brands and models to choose from, you’ll want to do a little research before settling on the right mini laptop. When reviewing the best small laptops, you need to consider price, expected lifespan, battery life, and function.
When portability is a must, it’s important to choose a laptop that’s both lightweight and reliable. That’s the beauty of the best small laptops — the tiny footprint doesn’t equate to poor performance. The 2020 MacBook Air for instance can be configured to have up to 2TB of SSD storage, has all day battery life, and is still one of the most lightweight laptops available. Some of the more lightweight models like the Air or Dell XPS 13 are almost as light and slim as some tablets, but with the full functionality that a powerful laptop provides.
The MacBook Air and Dell XPS models aren’t your only options. There are a lot of great laptops available right now, but some of the larger models will be a major pain if you need to use them on the go. That’s why we’ve rounded up our favorite small laptop models. From performance powerhouses to great on-the-go options for class and more, these mini laptops are great for students, adventurers, gamers and everyone in between.
1. MacBook Air (2020)
The new Macbook Air keeps its slim and sleek profile all while adding more storage and better battery life than its predecessors. The battery life lasts all day without a charge, and when you max out the new Air, you can get up to 2TB of SSD storage. So long to the old, uncomfortable keyboard —the Air now sports the same keyboard found on the MacBook 16.
People used to see the MacBook Air as 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, Air is no longer MacBook Pro’s wimpy little brother.
2. HP Elite Dragonfly
Boasting unique features like SureView Reflect Technology and Tile tracking, the Elite Dragonfly is as unique as it is powerful. The Reflect technology tints the screen so rubber-neckers can’t spy on what you’re doing, while the built-in Tile tracker can help you track your laptop down if you leave it behind or it is stolen. On top of the new stuff, it has all day battery life and 2-1 capabilities. It’s a bit on the expensive side, but oh so worth it.
3. MacBook Pro 13 (2020)
If you want a little more juice than a MacBook Air can provide, go with the all new 13-inch MacBook Pro. It’s still a small laptop, has a great 10-hour battery life and a vivid Retina display that’s great for any multimedia editing and creative work. Not to mention the new Magic keyboard that is more comfortable and quiet than its predecessors. And, of course, the touch bar along the top of the keys makes multimedia tasks like video and photo editing more convenient than ever.
4. Microsoft Surface Book 3
5. Dell XPS 13
The Dell XPS 13 is not only one of the best laptops in terms of size and performance but also a premium choice for laptops overall. With excellent reviews for its performance and an elegant and compact design, this laptop establishes itself as one to consider when looking for a smaller machine. Beyond impressive performance, it also has an impressive battery life of 11 hours with the 4K UHD display configuration. It’s got a 13.4 inch 4K Ultra HD InfinityEdge Touchscreen with Intel HD Graphics and a 10th Generation InteI Core processor. All of this performance is packed in a machine that weighs less than 2.7 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.
The Dell XPS 13 comes in a variety of configurations depending on the computer power you need. Most students can probably get by with the $1,199 version, which comes with 8GB of memory and 225GB SSD. However, for more intensive use, opt for the fully tricked out $2,149 XPS 13, which boasts 32GB of memory and a 1TB M.2 PCIe NVMe Solid State Drive.
6. Dell Inspiron 7373
This is a great value option, especially for a touchscreen laptop. It provides plenty of utility with its foldable design, creating great viewing and working angles in tent mode. Beyond utility comes plenty of power with 3.4GHz processing, 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage. If you want to save a little coin, but still get an overall solid laptop, this is a smart choice.
7. HP Spectre x360 (13-aw0020nr)
If you’re looking for a premium 2-in-1 laptop with crystal clear displays that go right up to the edge, then look to HP’s line of Spectre x360 convertible laptops. The x360 line of laptops is available in a variety of configurations, but the one pictured below boasts a 10th Generation Intel Core i7 processor, a 4K OLED display, an Intel Iris Plus Graphics Card, 16 GB memory and 512 GB SSD storage. The 13.3-inch foldable Spectre x360 laptop has great utility, especially when you use the stylus to draw right on the touchscreen display. The hardware inside this device would be impressive in any laptop, but it’s especially noteworthy in such a portable and compact computer.
8. HP Envy 13.3 Inch
Another impressive small laptop from HP, the Envy 13.3-inch has great features and powerful computing ability. For starters, the 4K touch display looks incredible as well as allows you to get really hands-on with your projects. And its 16GB of RAM and 512GB of storage can handle virtually any office task you throw its way. Speaking of handling tasks, it’s 12-hour battery life can handle even your most hectic days. If you’re looking for a reliable PC, the Envy is a solid choice.
9. Asus Rog Zephyrus G14
This is a powerful laptop that is not only great for your office or schoolwork, but robust enough to use for gaming. All that power is packed in a 3.5-pound package, which is a hair on the heavy side among the best mini laptops, but still impressive for such a strong computing package. You can expect around nine hours of battery life — good enough to get you through your workday. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have a webcam, so if you’re video conferencing for work or school, this is not a viable option.
10. Apple 13-Inch MacBook Air (2019)
First released over a decade ago, the MacBook Air has helped revolutionize the world of thin laptops. A lot has changed since then, but the MacBook Air is still a favorite among frequent-travelers and students alike. At only 2.96 pounds, it’s truly lightweight and easy to carry everywhere. Choose between a 1.8 GHz Dual Core i5 or a 2.2 GHz Dual-Core i7 processor for more power, and 128 GB, 256 GB or 512 GB of storage, depending on your needs. The MacBook Air does leave something to be desired if you like to use your computer for gaming, but for professionals and students, the MacBook Air is the best small laptop year after year. No matter what you need to do, this laptop helps you do it quickly, and with style.
11. LG Gram
The LG Gram comes in many configurations, but regardless of the configuration you choose, you’re going to get a lightweight and powerful small laptop. The LG Gram only weighs 2.41 pounds, making it one of the most portable options you can find, although the 15.6-inch screen makes this computer slightly less portable than other options on this list. Compared to our other picks for the best small laptops of 2020, the LG Gram has a seriously impressive battery life. The 18.5 hours of battery life is enough to last you through the entire work or school day, and then some.
Even though this small laptop is lightweight and portable, it still provides plenty of connectivity options. It features an ever-so-useful HDMI port, three 3.1 USB ports as well as a Micro SD reader and headphone jack. It’s is a smart option if you are looking for a laptop that leaves a small footprint, but doesn’t compromise on connectivity.
12. Asus ZenBook 13
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 an Intel Core i5-8265U processor, 8 GB of RAM and up to 256 GB of storage, there’s plenty of power to handle all the tasks you throw at it. The battery life is equally as impressive with up to 14 hours of use, but it’s closer to 10 hours of continuous use, which is still a full day’s work or a flight from LAX to London. 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.
13. MSI GF63 THIN Gaming Laptop
Just because a laptop is small doesn’t mean it can’t be powerful. This thin gaming laptop from MSI packs a major punch with a 15.6″ Thin Bezel screen, GTX 1650 graphics capabilities and an Intel Core i7-9750h 2.6-4.5 GHz processor. Store all your games and more on this compact laptop with 256 GB of storage and never worry about overheating due to intense gameplay with two fans, four exhausts and seven pipes. Plus, the red backlit keyboard really adds to the whole experience no matter what game you’re dialed into at the moment. This model comes in larger versions with bigger screens, but this smaller affordable option is a great option for gamers on the go too.
14. Acer Spin 5
The Acer Spin 5 is an affordable two-in-one convertible mini laptop option for those who like the idea of being able to switch between a laptop and tablet at will. The Spin 5 comes in either 13-inch or 15-inch display configurations, both of which boast 1080p HD resolution. You can really enjoy both the convertibility and 1080p display when you flip the screen around and use the laptop in “tent mode,” which is a great way to watch video when space is minimal (airplane table trays anyone?).
The Acer Spin 5 has plenty of processing power with an 8th generation Intel Core i5-8250U, 256 GB SSD and 8 GB of RAM, which is similar to many other laptop specs in the mini laptop world. If there is one downside, it’s that the Acer Spin 5 weighs 3.31 pounds, which is on the heavier side compared to our other best small laptops. If you don’t mind the extra weight, you’ll enjoy the extra convertible features this small laptop boasts.
15. Google Pixelbook Go
The Google Pixelbook Go is Google’s best Chromebook to date. When you factor in the price, it’s incredible what you get out of this small laptop. For starters, at 2.3 pounds, it’s super lightweight, and the 12.2 x 8.1 x 0.5 dimensions mean it leaves a tiny footprint. It’s small, but the battery life is anything but. You can expect around 12 hours of battery life on a single charge. And if you need a quick charge-up before you hop on a flight, you can get two hours of battery life from a quick 20-minute charge.
Equally as impressive is the 1080p touch display along with a 1080p camera, which is a better camera than the brand new 16-inch MacBook, which only boasts a 720p camera. One area where the Pixelbook lags in is connectivity, which only has two USB-C ports and a headphone jack. If you think that’s all you need, this is an impressive mini laptop at an affordable price.
16. Asus Vivobook 15 Thin and Light Laptop
Sophistication meets style with this ultra-thin (and lightweight) Asus laptop. The 15.6-inch screen features a beautiful four-sided NanoEdge display, which really helps make all those colors and images pop. With a powerful AMD Quad-Core r5-3500u Processor and 8 GB of ram, it offers more than enough data and storage for most of your everyday needs. And because it’s so thin and lightweight, it makes a great travel laptop, too.
17. HP 14 Inch Touchscreen Laptop
If your main use for a laptop is listening to music and watching movies, then look no further than this HP Stream Laptop PC. This laptop might be compact, but it packs a punch: Its upgraded WiFi antenna conveys a stronger and more stable internet connection so you can download or stream your favorite shows easily. Plus, with dual front-facing speakers, you can really feel the emotion in the movie or the music you’re listening to. However, we know that not everything is all fun and games, so this laptop also gives you access to Microsoft Office programs that’ll help you get the work done. It’s like they say: work hard, play hard(er.)
18. Microsoft Surface Pro 7
The Microsoft Surface Pro is still considered the standard of convertible laptops, and the Surface 7 makes small improvements on the already impressive mini laptop. The Surface Pro 7 features an i7-8032U CPU, 16 GB of RAM and 512 GB of flash storage. The battery life gets an upgrade for the Surface Pro 7, which results in roughly 10.5 full hours of continuous use without a recharge, which should get you through an entire workday plus a little time to spare. The battery can also charge to 80% in less than an hour, getting you back on your feet quickly. It’s got more ways to connect, with both USB-C and USB-A ports for connecting to multiple displays and accessory charging. It also won’t weigh you down with all the extra power, as it weighs in at 1.7 pounds total.
19. Acer Chromebook R11 Convertible Laptop
When looking for small, simple, convenient small laptops there’s no one better than the Chromebook. This machine gets down to it and eliminates all fluff so you have a dependable laptop that boots up quickly and lasts for nearly 10 hours on a single charge. It runs on the Chrome OS operating system by Google with virus protection, automatic updates and a consistently fast connection so you can worry about what you’re working on and not your WiFi connection. All of the powerful Google apps you already use come pre-loaded and with the Google store you can access their whole library of games, shows, movies, etc. It’s got 100 GB of offline storage space and an 11.6-inch touchscreen display.
20. Acer Chromebook R 11 Convertible
Featuring a 360-degree hinge, you can easily turn this Chromebook into a tablet. What’s more, this Chromebook Convertible is incredibly efficient — the 802.11ac wireless provides connection speeds up to three times faster than previous models. Throw in a beautiful 11.6-inch HD display and 32 GB of internal storage and you have one heck of a powerful, portable laptop and one of the best small laptops available under $400.