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 mini 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 offer the best laptop performance in 2020? 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. So how do you ensure you’re buying the best small laptop for your needs?
We aren’t here to stress you out about buying a laptop. We wanted to make it simple to find the best small laptops by showing you what we look for in a mini laptop and how we pick the best ones. Keep reading to find out everything you need to know before buying your new laptop, and our 20 favorite models for sale right now.
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:
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 workday.
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.
1. The Best Small Laptop: 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 these new features, it has the all day battery life and 2-in-1 capabilities you expect from a premium HP laptop. It’s a bit on the expensive side, but oh so worth it.
The HP Elite Dragonfly has a 13.3-inch screen with a high-definition screen. And weighing in at just 2.19 pounds, it’s a lightweight machine with considerable firepower. If you’re looking for the best small laptops that don’t come from Apple, put the Dragonfly on your list.
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. 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.
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. For MacBook devotees with the budget, this is one of the finest laptops ever made.
Don’t make the mistake of assuming the new MacBook Pro is out of your price range. You can find many of these machines on sale right now for just $1,100, which is more affordable than the HP Elite Dragonfly of the Microsoft Surface Book 3. For students, creatives and professionals, this is a nearly perfect laptop.
4. Microsoft Surface Book 3
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.
The Surface Book 3 has more than enough computing 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). If you prefer Windows and traditional PCs to Apple products, Microsoft has finally released a laptop to rival the MacBook Pro.
The keyboard is as quiet and comfortable as they come. The lack of Thunderbolt 3 support is certainly a drawback, but it shouldn’t be a deal-breaker, especially if you prefer Microsoft laptops. The Surface Book 3 is available in both 13-inch and 15-inch display models and in a variety of configurations.
5. Dell XPS 13
Dell recently lowered prices on its flagship mini laptop, which is an affordable option for both students and professionals. The Dell XPS 13 is not only one of the best small 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 mini 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 $1,000 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 13 7390 2-in-1 Laptop
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 another smart choice from Dell
7. HP Spectre x360 13 (ap0046nr)
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 starting at $1,049, but the one pictured below boasts an 8th Generation Intel Core i7 processor, 16 GB memory and 512 GB SSD storage.
Plus, it comes with a modern copper-on-black colorway and an HP stylus. No matter which configuraiton you choose, 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-inch 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. While it’s large compared to the best small laptops on this list, it’s certainly small compared to other gaming laptops.
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 by 8.1 by 0.5 inch 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.
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 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.
Even better, it only costs $1,000. 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 top-rated laptops available right now, but some of the larger models will be a major pain if you need to use them on the go or throw them in your backpack. We worked hard to select the mini laptops featured above, and you can make a purchase confident that all of our favorite small laptops are great for students, adventurers, gamers and everyone in between.