Best lightweight laptops 2021: get the best ultraportable laptop

Whether you want the lightest, smallest or thinnest, the best lightweight laptop should be able to go wherever you do

Best lightweight laptops 2021
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(Image credit: xxxx)

Welcome to T3's best lightweight laptops guide to 2021. Right here we've tracked down and then reviewed the very best ultraportable laptops on the market today, with every budget and usage scenario considered. We're confident you'll find the perfect ultrabook laptop for you right here. 

There's no such thing as one laptop that will suit everybody. That's why we've looked at the best cheap lightweight laptop for students as well as the best cheap lightweight laptops for families and for work. We've included Windows and Mac laptops, hybrid laptops and ultrabooks (there's even a Chromebook, although if that's your preference, it's worth checking out our best Chromebooks guide, too).

We're here to save you money as well. That's why we've collated the best lightweight laptop deals here, too: we've scoured the web to find the very best prices and included links to them in our buying guide to help you get the best possible deal on the best possible laptop. That should save you a substantial amount of cash.

From the polished Dell XPS 13 to the seriously professional HP Elite Dragonfly and Apple's marvelous MacBook Air, the sheer choice of models among the best lightweight laptops in the US is really impressive right now, and if you do your homework and shop smart then you can bag a bargain.

Remember, though, that if you are just looking for a good all-round laptop, or something more specialist, then one of T3's other laptop guides could be better suited to your needs. For example, our best laptops guide is filled with the crème de la crème of portable systems, while our best 2-in-1 laptops guide has machines that can act as both a laptop and a tablet.

Those at school or university will be best served with our best student laptops roundup, while gamers will love the pixel-pushing powerhouses on offer in our best gaming laptops guide.

Right here, though, we rank the best lightweight laptops out there.

The best lightweight laptops and ultrabook laptops

Best lightweight laptop 2021

The Acer Swift 7 is, arguably, the best lightweight laptop in the world right now.

(Image credit: Acer)

1. Acer Swift 7

The best lightweight laptop for most people

Specifications
CPU: Intel Core i7-7Y75
Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 615
RAM: 8GB
Screen: 14-inch Full HD
Storage: 256GB SSD
Weight: 2.6 pounds
Reasons to buy
+Innovative security features+Breathtakingly compact design+Runs silently

There’s a certain magic about this laptop. Weighing just 1.2kg thanks to its fanless design and ultrathin battery, the Swift 7 feels nothing short of futuristic. The 14-inch touch display covered by Corning Gorilla Glass provides great color density, with a bezel that is almost non-existent. In fact, when the screen is showing off its excellent true blacks, it’s difficult to tell where the display ends and the bezel begins. The Swift 7 only comes in black, too; Henry Ford would be proud.

Inside, there's an 8th-gen i7 processor with integrated graphics and 8GB of RAM, optimized to produce minimum heat so the passive cooling system never gets overwhelmed. It’s a relatively modest laptop performance-wise, not best suited for demanding tasks such as video editing, but for on-the-go office work, there’s scarcely anything better. Folded down, it’s just nine millimeters thick.

In addition to the stylish design, this laptop comes packing some nifty security features. The power button doubles as a fingerprint scanner for secure booting and webcam hacks are a thing of the past thanks to a spring mechanism that conceals the camera within the body of the laptop when not in use. Overall, it's not cheap, but there are few ultralight laptops as elegant as this.

The Acer Swift 7 is the best lightweight laptop in the world.

Best lightweight laptops 2021: MacBook Air M1

Mac fans should look no further than the M1 Apple MacBook Air for an ultraportable laptop in 2021.

(Image credit: Apple)

2. Apple MacBook Air (M1, 2020)

The best premium lightweight laptop

Specifications
CPU: Apple M1
Graphics: Apple M1
RAM: 8GB unified memory
Screen: 13.3-inch 2,560 x 1,600 pixel-resolution Retina display
Storage: 256GB SSD
Connectivity: 2 x Thunderbolt 4 / USB-C
Camera: 720p FaceTime camera
Weight: 2.8 pounds
Dimensions: 11.97 x 8.36 x 0.63 inches (W x D x H)
Reasons to buy
+Very fast+Superb keyboard+Impressive storage+Premium design

The only reason the new M1 MacBook Air isn’t topping our chart is that it’s a little more expensive than the Windows equivalents. That said, Apple's new M1 processor makes it exceptional value for money and an even better buy than the Intel-powered MacBook Air it replaces. If you can afford it, you won’t be disappointed.

The new MacBook Air may look identical to the previous model, but there's a revolution going on inside. Apple has moved to its own processors, and they combine system and graphics memory together: in other laptops the system memory and graphics memory are separate. That delivers very significant speed increases, and it means that the MacBook Air doesn't require you to compromise between portability and power. It delivers both.

The speed of the new M1-powered Macs is truly extraordinary, and in benchmark tests, we’ve seen the new MacBook Air absolutely destroy laptops that cost many times more. That addresses the only major issue we’ve had with the MacBook Air in the past: the Intel-powered ones weren't always brilliant performers, but this Apple-powered one really is. In fact, it’s the number one choice in our best laptops guide.

There is still one little problem, mind you, and that’s the webcam. When you consider the camera technology that Apple puts in every iPhone, the inclusion of a mere 720p FaceTime camera seems like an odd corner to cut. The camera is improved over the previous version – it has better dynamic range, noise reduction and face detection thanks to a new image processor – but it’s still an annoying flaw in what’s otherwise a near-perfect lightweight laptop package. 

That's a minor quibble, though. The MacBook Air (M1, 2020) is a game-changer and an absolutely superb lightweight laptop. To learn even more about this fantastic lightweight laptop check out T3's full MacBook Air (M1, 2020) review.

Best lightweight laptops 2021: Lenovo IdeaPad S130

The Lenovo IdeaPad S130 is a great budget ligthweight laptop choice.

(Image credit: Lenovo)

3. Lenovo IdeaPad S130

The best budget lightweight laptop

Specifications
CPU: Intel Celeron Dual Core
RAM: 4GB
Screen: 11.6-inch, 1,366 x 768 pixels
Storage: 32GB SSD
Weight: 1.15 kg (2.54 pounds)
Reasons to buy
+Very attractive price point+All the features and ports you need+Built to go the distance

The IdeaPad S130 isn't going to win any benchmarking races and shouldn't be used for intensive tasks like video editing or gaming, but as light computing Windows laptops go, it's really hard to beat.

What really stands out here, and why the S130 ranks so high in our best lightweight laptops list, is the price: this laptop comes in cheaper than even a lot of Chromebooks. As such, if the amount you're spending is important, then it might be worth putting the IdeaPad S130 on your shortlist.

The screen isn't the biggest at just 11.6-inches (you can upgrade to the 14-inch version if that's a problem), but that does mean this is a super small and portable lightweight laptop that you can take pretty much anywhere – and it's designed to be bumped around a bit, too, with solid build quality.

The system comes installed with a copy of Windows 10 in S mode, meaning that the OS is streamlined around light and fast usage. You can obviously switch to full Windows 10 if you desire, but if you're selecting this system you are doing so because you want a machine that can quickly run basic applications and programs, such as browsing the internet, sending emails, streaming the odd bit of Netflix, and playing Candy Crush Saga, which is what Windows 10 S Mode specializes in.

Best lightweight laptops 2021: Dell XPS 13


(Image credit: Dell)

4. Dell XPS 13 (2020)

One of the best premium lightweight laptops

Specifications
CPU: Up to 10th-generation Intel Core i7-1065G7
Graphics: Up to Intel Iris Plus
RAM: Up to 16GB
Screen: 13.4-inch display (up to 4K, 3,840 x 2,400 resolution)
Storage: Up to 1TB
Reasons to buy
+Powerhouse performance+Will last way beyond college

The Dell XPS 13 series has consistently wowed us here at T3, and the latest version of the laptop continues that trend – it's powerful, supremely well built, and compact, so just about everything you could possibly want in your search for the best lightweight laptop. This will in no way weigh you down.

With the latest 10th-gen Intel processors installed and up to 16GB of RAM installed, this is a portable computer that's going to be able to handle everything that you want to throw at it. From late-night Netflix to early-morning report writing, you'll find the Dell XPS 13 for 2021 a capable and competent laptop.

It's that 13.4-inch display with the super-thin bezels that really makes the XPS 13 stand out though: if you want to, you can go all the way up to a 4K resolution, but the 1,920 x 1,080 resolution models still look fantastic (4K doesn't make a huge amount of difference on a laptop display this size).

Asus VivoBook S15 vs Dell XPS 13: two of the best laptops head to head

Best lightweight laptops 2021: HP Elite DragonflyT3 Awards 2020

(Image credit: HP)

5. HP Elite Dragonfly

The best lightweight laptop for business users

Specifications
CPU: Intel Core i7-8565U
Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 620
RAM: 16GB
Screen: 13.3-inch 4K (3,840 x 2,160 pixels)
Storage: 512GB
Weight: 0.99 kg / 2.18 pounds
Reasons to buy
+Excellent looks+Superb screen+Long battery life

While the HP Elite Dragonfly is targeted at business users, it really is one of the best lightweight laptops around no matter who you are – it looks fantastic, it has a gorgeous screen, the battery life impresses... it's just a joy to use all around, really. Okay, it's a little on the pricey side, but we think it's worth it.

Tipping the scales at just under 2.2 pounds, the laptop is versatile too. The 13.3-inch display can fold right over, so you can use it in tent or tablet mode as well if you like, and it comes with an included stylus if you want something that's more accurate than your finger to operate the touchscreen.

A choice of configuration options are available, and you can pack the HP Elite Dragonfly with an Intel Core i5 or Intel Core i7 chip, as well as up to 16GB of RAM. There are multiple options when it comes to the display as well, all the way up to 4K (we've listed the top-end spec in the box above).

If you like the sound of this system you should consider it, as it is so highly rated that it has just won the Best Laptop award at the T3 Awards 2020.

Best lightweight laptops 2021 Samsung Galaxy Book S

(Image credit: Samsung)

6. Samsung Galaxy Book S

One of the best laptops for users on the go

Specifications
CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 8cx
Graphics: Integrated
RAM: 8GB
Screen: 13.3-inch, 1,920 x 1,080 pixels
Storage: 256 GB SSD
Reasons to buy
+Great design and build+4G LTE connectivity everywhere+Amazing battery life

We've listed the spec for the Snapdragon-based Samsung Galaxy Book S above, but there's also an Intel-based version that's arguably even better – it offers better compatibility with older Windows applications, and it's almost as good in terms of battery life. Whichever version you pick though, you're guaranteed a very special lightweight laptop with the Samsung Galaxy Book S.

From the light, compact design, to the bright and sharp screen, to the textured finish, this is a laptop with a lot going for it. The screen isn't 4K in its resolution, but it doesn't matter very much at all at this size, and as you would expect from Samsung the display looks top-notch.

Battery life is very good, and performance is excellent as long as you're not going to try to do any heavy gaming or demanding video editing on this device. Our favorite part of the Samsung Galaxy Book S experience is just how compact and aesthetically appealing it is though – the perfect laptop to have in your bag while you're on the go and to pull out at a moment's notice.

Read our full Samsung Galaxy Book S review

Best lightweight laptops 2021: LG Gram 17

(Image credit: LG)

7. LG Gram 17

The best 17-inch laptop... unless you're a gamer

Specifications
CPU: Quad-core 10th-gen Intel Core i7-1065G7
Graphics: Integrated Iris Plus
RAM: 16GB
Screen: 17-inch, 2560 x 1800 pixels
Storage: 512GB SSD
Weight: 2.98 pounds
Reasons to buy
+Fantastic 17-inch screen+Lightweight, stylish design+Plenty of battery life

As you can see from our LG Gram 17 review, this is a laptop that does lightweight properly – despite it having a larger-than-average 17-inch screen, the portable computer is the opposite of bulky and unwieldy. In fact, it tips the scales at a mere 1,350 grams (nearly 3 lbs).

Definitely worth a place in our list of the best lightweight laptops of 2021 then, and it would earn a high ranking in a list of the most stylish-looking laptops of 2021 as well. LG has done a really nice job here, putting together a laptop that looks great from any angle without being flashy or overstated.

You can get this laptop tricked out with some seriously internal specs as well, further adding to its appeal, though the integrated graphics mean you shouldn't attempt any serious gaming or video editing on this machine. For taking a large screen around with you everywhere though, it's perfect.

Best lightweight laptop 2021: HP Spectre 14

(Image credit: HP)

8. HP Spectre x360 14

A premium hybrid lightweight laptop

Specifications
Screen size: 13.5-inch OLED
CPU: 11th Gen Intel Core i7
GPU: Intel Iris Xe
RAM: 16GB
Storage: 512GB
Dimensions: 11.8 x 8.7 x 0.7 inches
Weight: 3 pounds
OS: Windows 10
Reasons to buy
+360-degree screen rotation+Excellent audio system+Rapid performance

As we note in our HP Spectre x360 14 review this is a super-slim, high-end laptop that can be used in laptop tent and tablet orientation, making it a great choice for those who want a slate as well as a lightweight laptop.

The screen isn't the only thing that makes this ultraportable laptop a good choice, though, as it also comes with an 11th Gen Intel Core i7 Tiger Lake CPU, Intel Iris XE GPU and, if specced for it, a 3,000 x 2,000 resolution OLED screen.

This light laptop's audio system is also top draw (for the product category), thanks to a collaboration with audio maestros Bang & Olufsen. From deep and enveloping bass to the crisp clarity of percussive sounds it impresses across the soundscape.

Battery life is also not shabby at all coming in at 10 hours and 30 minutes on a single charge, and the system comes running a full-fat version of Windows 10 in terms of the operating system. The design, with its mixture of sharp angles and clean, straight lines is also very modern.

Best lightweight laptops 2021: Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 7

(Image credit: Lenovo)

9. Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 7

Power and performance in a compact form

Specifications
CPU: Up to Intel Core i7 / AMD Ryzen 7
Graphics: Up to Nvidia GeForce GTX
RAM: Up to 16GB
Screen: 14-inch or 15.6-inch, up to 3840 x 2160 pixels
Storage: Up to 1TB SSD
Reasons to buy
+Polished and stylish design+Impressive battery life+Wide choice of spec options

The Lenovo Yoga Slim 7 strikes an excellent balance between power and portability, giving you a laptop that's capable of taking on pretty much every task you give it (including some light gaming and video editing) while looking the exact opposite of bulky and heavy. It's portable power taken to the extreme.

You'll be impressed with the stylish aesthetics of the laptop, first of all. Both the slate gray and orchid red shades look great, and the gray version has the option of a fabric topping instead of aluminum if you prefer. You even get a choice of screens: a 14-inch or 15.6-inch display panel.

Those customization options continue under the hood as well, with a selection of top-tier AMD or Intel processors available, and plenty of variations when it comes to the RAM, SSD storage and GPU that can be fitted. If you need more power and have the budget for it, then the Yoga Slim 7 might be the laptop for you.

There's a good choice of connections and ports onboard the laptop too (we're sad about the lack of a fingerprint sensor though), and the battery life is up there with the best too: you'll be able to spend the whole of the working day away from a power source, and then some, with the Yoga Slim 7.

Best lightweight laptops 2021: Acer Swift 5

(Image credit: Acer)

10. Acer Swift 5

The Acer Swift 5 continues to impress

Specifications
CPU: 10th-gen Intel Core i5
RAM: 8GB
Storage: 256GB
Graphics: Integrated
Weight: 0.99 kg (2.18 pounds)
Reasons to buy
+Lightweight and sleek+Sharp and vibrant screen+Integrated fingerprint reader

The Acer Swift 5 is another excellent entry from the Acer Swift line (after the awesome Swift 7 at the top of our guide): with a 14-inch, Full HD screen, some pleasing aesthetics, and a reasonable amount of power under the hood, it's likely to be on the shortlists of a lot of people shopping for a laptop for less than $1,000.

It's fantastically portable too, which is why it makes this list of the best lightweight laptops. Weighing in at just 2.3 pounds, you'll barely notice that it's there, and you can easily carry it in one hand if you need to. It'll squeeze into bags of most sizes without weighing you down.

With a 10th-gen Intel Core i5 processor and 8GB of RAM, this machine is respectable as far as specs go, but it's really the size, the weight and the design that you're going to be buying this one for. If you're after a mid-range laptop that balances price and performance well, then give the Acer Swift 5 a look.

Read our full Acer Swift 5 review

Best lightweight laptops 2021: Microsoft Surface Book 2

If you've got a large budget to play and want one of the best ultraportable laptops on the market today with 2-in-1 functionality, then the Surface Book 2 is the best-in-class option.

11. Microsoft Surface Book 2

The best lightweight laptop if you need premium hybrid functionality

Specifications
CPU: 1.9GHz Intel Core i7-8650U (quad-core, 8MB cache, up to 4.2GHz with Turbo Boost)
Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 620; Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 (6GB GDDR5 VRAM)
RAM: 16GB LPDDR3 (1866Mhz)
Screen: 15-inch, 3,240 x 2,160 (260 ppi) PixelSense display (3:2 aspect ratio; 1600:1 contrast ratio)
Storage: 512 GB PCIe 3.0 SSD
Weight: 3.64 pounds
Reasons to buy
+All-around powerhouse+Top rate battery life+Excellent screen

If you want absolutely massive ultraportable power then you should definitely consider the Microsoft Surface Book 2. It remains one of the best lightweight laptops money can buy in 2021.

The second edition of this ultra-premium (and ultra-expensive) 2-in-1 laptop-tablet is a marked improvement in every respect, with a suite of powerful internal hardware components including an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 GPU, a stunning 15-inch 3,240 x 2,160 resolution display, and excellent battery life combining to deliver a superb all-around computing package.

You don't get a stylus included to fully make the most of the device in tablet mode, but if you can stretch to the Surface Book 2's very high price point, then you can probably spend a little extra to complete the dream setup.

To learn even more about this lightweight laptop be sure to scope out our detailed Microsoft Surface Book 2 review.

Best lightweight laptops 2021 Microsoft Surface Laptop 2

Microsoft Surface Laptop 2

12. Microsoft Surface Laptop 2

The best lightweight laptop if portability is more important than power

Specifications
CPU: 8th-gen Intel Core i5 or i7
Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 620
RAM: 8GB or 16GB
Screen: 13.5-inch, 2256 x 1504 (261 ppi) PixelSense display (3:2 aspect ratio)
Storage: 128GB, 256GB, 512GB or 1TB SSD
Weight: 2.76 pounds
Reasons to buy
+Plenty of power available+A range of appealing colors+Long-lasting battery

For our second Microsoft entry in this list of the best lightweight laptops of 2021, we've gone for the Surface Laptop 2. It's a little more compact and svelte than the Surface Book 2, but doesn't carry quite the same performance oomph – so it really depends what you're prioritizing.

You don't get that clever detachable screen either, and there's no discrete GPU as there is on the Surface Book 2, but not everyone needs one. For everyday laptop tasks in a small and light form, the Surface Laptop 2 is ideal – aside from the graphics, the internal specs are very similar.

Best lightweight laptops 2021 Razer Blade Stealth

The Razer Blade Stealth packs a gaming punch while staying light and svelte.

13. Razer Blade Stealth

The best lightweight laptop for gamers

Specifications
CPU: 8th-gen 1.9GHz Intel Core i7-8565U (quad-core, 8MB cache, up to 4.6GHz with Turbo Boost)
Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 620; Nvidia GeForce MX 150 (4GB GDDR5 VRAM)
RAM: 8GB-16GB LPDDR3 (2,133Mhz)
Screen: 13.3-inch up to 4K (3840 x 2160) resolution
Storage: up to 512GB PCIe M2
Weight: 2.82 pounds
Reasons to buy
+Packed with some high-end components+A wealth of customization options

If you're happy to sacrifice a little bit of thinness and lightness for some extra gaming power, then the Razer Blade Stealth might well be the best lightweight laptop for you in 2021. With an 8th-gen Intel Core i7 processor, up to 16GB of RAM, the option of a 4K screen and an Nvidia GeForce MX150 under the hood, it's going to offer decent performance on even the most demanding games.

This being a Razer laptop, it comes packed with extra touches for gamers (like customized keyboard lighting and immersive audio) and offers a build quality that puts a lot of laptop makers to shame. You'll have to pay a premium for this, but it's worth it.

Best lightweight laptops 2021 Pixelbook Go

Google's Pixelbook Go is an elite Chromebook.

(Image credit: Google)

14. Google Pixelbook Go

One of the best laptops around for Chrome OS fans

Specifications
CPU: Intel Core m3, i5, i7
Graphics: Integrated graphics
RAM: 8GB – 16GB
Screen: 13.3-inch up to 4K resolution
Storage: 64GB, 128GB or 256GB SSD
Weight: 2.34 pounds
Reasons to buy
+Lightweight and fast+Stylish and sensible design+Chrome OS rapidly improving

When it comes to Chromebooks and Chrome OS, you've got a huge number of models to choose from – and the Pixelbook Go from Google is one of the best and the most lightweight. It's stylish, it's capable, and you can customize the specs of the device to meet your exact requirements.

Every Pixelbook Go comes with a 13.3-inch screen: it runs at a 1,920 x 1,080 resolution on the cheaper models but does go up to 4K if you're willing to pay for it. The other internal components can be specced out as required, so it's really up to you how much you spend. We like the black and pink color options, we like the grippy rubber on the bottom to keep the laptop in place, and we like the smooth and subtle lines of the design as well.

You're not going to be embarrassed to pull this Chromebook out at a coffee shop or your next meeting at work. As for Chrome OS, it continues to get better and better. It doesn't slow down, it's easy to use, and the addition of Android apps means that it's now more versatile than ever before.

Read our full Pixelbook Go review 

How to choose the best lightweight laptop for you

It's easy to see the appeal of the best lightweight laptops: you don't want something that's too heavy or too big to carry around comfortably, but you also don't want to be tapping out emails and browsing the web on a tiny device. A super-thin, feather-light ultraportable is the perfect tool for the job.

The emergence of Chromebooks at the budget end of the market means that the world's best thin and ultraportable laptops are being pushed down in price, sometimes to very appealing prices – keep your eyes on the sales that are regularly appearing for the best chance of bagging a bargain.

And while you're doing your shopping, bear in mind that it's not just the weight and specs of these laptops that are important – these super-portables have to look good as well, while you're doing your computing on the move.

With that in mind, all ultraportables listed here in our curated best lightweight laptop guide for 2021 deliver on the specs front and score highly in the appearance department, too. All-metal constructions, wafer-thin form factors and internals that can rapidly handle demanding tasks are the order of the day.

As you may have noticed, we're not fans of slow, poorly made technology here at T3, so you can be confident that these really are the best lightweight laptops and best compact laptops for speed, style and quality you can get in 2021.

How we test lightweight laptops

Obviously, testing lightweight laptops is very similar to most other forms of laptops.  However, due to their slant toward portability, T3 ensures that traveling with and using a system while on the go is central to each review.

This lets us ascertain key things such as how good is a lightweight laptop's battery, how robust is its chassis and keyboard, and how easy it is to slip into a bag. These are real-world important things that no amount of whizzy specs can compensate for if lacking, as they are fundamental to the lightweight laptop experience.

Those considerations aside, T3 first evaluates lightweight laptops in terms of their overall package, design and build quality. We want to know what the system comes with out of the box, and just how ergonomically and aesthetically pleasing it is. If a system has a poor trackpad or cheap feeling chassis, we'll find out here.

Next, we consider the system in terms of specs and hardware, before proceeding to the benchmark the laptop to see what that translates as in terms of performance. We then actually use the lightweight laptop to see how that benchmark performance translates into real-world usage.

Finally, we then consider the system's operating system, software and any extra unique features, such as biometric sign-in tech, touchscreen stylus support or built-in webcams and mics. Here we want to ascertain just how easy to use the system is, as well as if anything has been cheaped out on, to save money.

The lightweight laptop is then assigned a score, with five stars the best a system can receive and one star the worst. If an ultraportable scores highly it is then considered for inclusion in T3's best lightweight laptops guide.