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 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. 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 12 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. Apple 13″ MacBook Air
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.
2. Dell XPS 13
BEST WINDOWS LAPTOP
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. When PC Mag compared the Dell XPS 13 against other computers in its class, it gave this mini laptop top marks on productivity, storage and media playback. Beyond impressive performance, it also has an impressive battery life of 11 hours with the 4K UHD display configuration. Also, if you want a touchscreen, you can add that option to the XPS 13, but the price does jump a bit. All of this performance is packed in a machine that only weighs 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.
3. LG Gram
BEST FOR AUDIO & VIDEO
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. Not only is it portable, but the 16 to 21.5 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.
4. 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.
5. Alienware Area-51M
BEST GAMING LAPTOP
Just because a laptop is small doesn’t mean it can’t be powerful. The Alienware Area-51M is one of the most powerful laptops you’ll find in a tiny package. But this kind of power comes at a price. For instance, the 1 TB SSD and 8 GB of RAM along with an i7-9700k processor and 17-inch display will cost you over $2,000. But the money buys you a mini laptop that is strong enough for all out gaming. Not many laptops on this list boast that sort of processing power or capability. If you don’t need that much processing power, you can choose less aggressive configurations that are a bit less expensive. Regardless, the Alienware Area-51M is an impressive machine in a mini-laptop body.
6. Acer Spin 5
The Acer Spin 5 is an affordable 2-in-1 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 heavy side compared to the best small laptops. If you don’t mind the extra weight, you’ll enjoy the extra convertible features this small laptop boasts.
7. 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 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.
8. Asus Vivobook 15 Thin and Light Laptop
BEST UNDER $600
Sophistication meets style with this ultra-thin (and light) 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.
9. HP Stream Laptop PC 11.6″ Intel N4000
BEST BUDGET PICK
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.)
10. Microsoft Surface Pro 6
The Microsoft Surface Pro is still considered the standard of convertible laptops, and the Surface 6 makes small improvements on the already impressive mini laptop. The Surface Pro 6 features an i5-8250U CPU, 8 GB of memory and 256 GB of storage. But the big difference from other iterations of the Surface Pro is the move to a quad-core 8th Gen Intel CPU. This improves processing power significantly compared to previous generations. The battery life also gets an upgrade for the Surface Pro 6, which results in roughly 10 full hours of continuous use without a recharge, which should get you through an entire workday plus a little time to spare. One downside, depending on the configuration, is having to buy the keyboard and stylus separately. The Surface Pro can start to move from budget pricing to premium pricing rather quickly. If you have the budget for a $1,000 mini laptop, the Microsoft Surface Pro 7 comes with a 10th Gen Intel Core i5 and faster processing speeds. But anyone looking for a convertible option under $800 will be pleased with the utility and performance of the Surface Pro 6.
11. ASUS Chromebook C202SA-YS02
This super sleek Chromebook includes a rotatable 180-degree hinge for easy viewing and a powerful Intel Celeron N3060 Processor. Not only that, this model was designed with portability in mind. Featuring reinforced rubber edges, a spill-proof keyboard and an extra sturdy construction, you’ll have no problems toting this Chromebook around. For students looking for a portable Chromebook under $175, this model from ASUS is a great choice.
12. Acer Chromebook R 11 Convertible
BEST BUDGET 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.