Tested: The Lightest Laptops for 2022

By Yvonne

Catching a flight cross-country, or just shuttling from home office to den all day? The lightest possible laptop is essential. There are tons. This is how you can find the best one.

We tested the Lightest Laptops in 2022

Catching a flight cross-country, or just shuttling from home office to den all day? The lightest possible laptop is essential. There are tons. This is how you can find the best one.

Charles Lindbergh was an expert on traveling light. When preparing The Spirit of St. Louis for his transatlantic flight in 1927, the pilot jettisoned everything—from his parachute and radio to the traditional leather seat. He used a wicker seat. He even designed special lightweight boots.

While you may delegate concerns about the plane's range or fuel capacity to an airline, chances are that you don't want to bring extra ballast with your bag. That's why laptop vendors strive to trim every ounce from their designs, and why we at Sothinkmedia pay so much attention to the results—starting with this guide to the lightest laptops you can buy.

Below are our top picks. These are followed by a guide to buying lightweight laptops, and then at the bottom of this article is a breakdown of all our choices.

How light is a laptop? The upper limit for lightweight laptops is usually three to four pounds. This could be extended to four for systems with large 15.6 inch screens (although Acer Swift 5, a featherweight champ, is only 2.2 pounds). The computer's AC adapter is an important piece of luggage that many people overlook. It can range from an insignificant shirt pocket gadget to a bulky brick.

It's all about compromise when making an ultralight laptop. A smaller battery pack will save weight, but it won't last as long—a risky move in a market where many buyers expect to get through a full workday plus a Netflix movie in the evening. While exotic chassis materials such as carbon fiber or magnesium alloys are lighter than regular notebooks' aluminum and plastic, they can also be more expensive. Although a touch screen can be convenient, the glass overlay on it adds some weight.

Shopping for a slim laptop can be a matter of making choices. Some aren't particularly obvious, such as a system's expandability—the lightest machines may have their memory, for instance, mounted directly on the motherboard, rather than in the upgradable SO-DIMM sockets of bulkier models. Solid-state drives will be preferred over heavier, more expensive hard drives. However, the ability to upgrade these drives on the lightest laptops is possible.

There are other options, but they will all be in front of you, beginning with the obvious: the display panel.

The physical dimensions of the chassis are the most important factor in laptop weight, even though it may be insulting to your intelligence. Screen size is a key factor in laptop weight. You can be cool with a 11.6 inch display. There are many low-cost ultralights available. If you need a larger screen than that, the LG Gram 17 is your best option. This Core i7 system was crafted from 295 pounds of magnesium and nano carbon. This flagship model of the Gram line features 16GB RAM and a 1TB SSD. It also has a native resolution of 2,560-by-1.600 pixels.

As you would expect, most weight-savers are much smaller than this, but it is up to you to decide how small you want. Many shoppers don't realize that the 2.7-pound MacBook Air was not always Apple's traditionally lightest laptop—that's the discontinued 2.03-pound MacBook, though you may prefer the former's 13.3-inch to the latter's 12-inch display. The MacBook is still available in used and refurbished form.

For light laptops, the most common panel sizes are 13 and 14. The resolution is either full HD (1080p) or UHD (4K), also called Full HD (1,920 x 1,080 pixels). There are some pixel counts that fall somewhere in between these extremes. These include the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon screen options and special Retina resolutions on Apple's Mac computers.

It can be tempting, for example, to enjoy the fine detail of a 4K or 3K panel in video editing and streaming applications. However you shouldn't feel ashamed if your budget or needs dictate that a 1080p panel is more practical. You'll have a much better screen than the old standard 1,366 by 768 pixels. Also, you will get a significantly longer battery life.

Excess bulk is the enemy of light weight, so look for a laptop with a high screen-to-body ratio—in other words, thin rather than thick bezels surrounding the display. You can also opt for units with narrow borders either side of your keyboard.

Recent XPS 13 versions have moved the camera from the top to the bottom bezel thanks to mini-lens engineering. It's worth checking the webcam location before buying. A few lightweight cameras are still embedded in the top row or below the screen. This favors your neck rather than your face.

A panel aspect-ratio movement is another detail that screens and bezels are undergoing. In 2022, a lot of laptop makers (including Dell, HP and Lenovo) will be moving away from the 16:9 aspect ratio. Instead, they will adopt a square 16:10 screen aspect ratio or even 3:2. This gives you more space to view webpages, browse spreadsheets, and much more. This is something you should be aware of, particularly if your laptop will be used more for video browsing than for productive work. The 16:9 ratio works best for video viewing, but it doesn't do much else.

Imagine if your dream was to travel with your laptop. There were once notebooks that allowed you to replace your optical drive with empty, weight-saving slices. But such designs (and optical drives!) are now passé.

However, you can choose a tablet with a keyboard cover that allows you to remove it. You have two options: you can carry the tablet alone if your intention is to view videos, or use a stylus to take notes, or you can bring both. The weight of a tablet with its keyboard cover, or folio is usually less than that of a regular clamshell laptop.

For example, the 13 inch Microsoft Surface Pro 8 weighs in at just 2 and a little over 2 pounds each without its Signature keyboard cover. Microsoft charges an additional fee for the accessory keyboard, which is not common with other manufacturers of 2-in-1s.

Of course, detachables aren't the only 2-in-1 hybrid laptops—there are convertibles whose screens flip and fold from laptop to tablet mode, propping up for kiosk or easel-like presentation modes in between. Many of these laptops are light, such as the Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 at 2.9 pounds. However, their hinges can be heavier than clamshells. The Dell XPS13 weighs in at 2.7 pounds. This is not a significant difference.

The ports and expansion possibilities for lighter laptops are also less than those of their heavier counterparts. It is not uncommon to have only a few ports. Two Thunderbolt 3 ports are better on the Dell XPS 13, as well as a USB Type C port and a microSD slot. However, you will still require a dongle (which comes with) to attach a USB Type A device to your computer and another to connect to an external monitor.

If you are looking for a HDMI output or full-size SD slot, be sure to shop carefully. Also, keep in mind that ports found on heavier laptops, such as Ethernet ports for wired networks, can rarely be seen on lighter laptops.

The days of light laptops with short battery lives are over. Although a large battery is the best way to get a long-lasting runtime, lithium-polymer batteries are lightweight and efficient. This guide can be cross-indexed with our list of ultraportables and laptops that have the longest battery lives. You can rest assured, we have taken battery life into consideration when selecting our top picks.

By now it's clear—you don't have to strain your arm and shoulder to carry real productivity power. Here's a breakdown of all the top light laptops that we have tested. Although it doesn't cover every model , as we test so many, we update the list often with the latest and greatest. Safe travels, and safe landings.

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