The entire point of a laptop computer is for the portability it offers. A laptop is usually categorized by its display size. Which means that weight can vary widely. A thin and lightweight laptop, with a 10.1-inch screen, for instance, can weigh a slight 2.4-pounds (1.09kg).
On the other hand, the Samsung Notebook 9 has a 13.3-inch screen. And weighs even less, tipping the scale at under 1.9-pounds (0.86kg).
And according to a study conducted by DisplaySearch in 2010. Over 35% of laptops sold worldwide that year had a 15-inch screen (more than any other size category). These typically weigh between 5- and 6-pounds (2.3 to 2.7kg).
Finally, Desktop Replacements and Gaming laptops represent some of the largest laptops on the market. Something like the Acer Predator 21 X has a display size of 21-inches. And weighs 19.4-pounds (8.8kg).
What is all this leading up to? 60% of the laptops never leave the home. Which means that just because there’s a push towards ultra-thin profiles that achieve weight savings by eliminating components you might need like an optical drive. Doesn’t make them the right laptop for you.
So, let’s explore what size will be the right fit for you as we look at some recommendations.
A laptop’s heaviest component is the battery. Laptops that offer a longer battery life usually have bigger batteries, which adds to the weight. So, there’s a need to balance your preference for a lightweight laptop against one that offers a longer battery life.
Are you always on the move? Or are you the type of user who just needs the ability to take your computer from room to room?
If you’ll only be taking your laptop down to the local coffee shop every blue moon. You can probably deal with a slightly heavier option for the sake of a longer battery life.
If you’re a traveler whose always on the move. A laptop that’s lightweight will be much easier to carry; even if you have to plug it in more often.
Thinking about these considerations will help you determine how manageable you want your laptop to be; which will guide you throughout the laptop buying process.
The 3 Most Lightweight Laptop Types
The most obvious factor affecting a laptop’s weight is its screen size. Of course, the width, depth and height or thickest point of the laptop also play a role in its overall weight.
Typically, whenever the weight of the laptop is specified. This is only a reference to the weight of the laptop with the battery installed. Look for key terms, like “Travel Weight” to get a sense of how much the system will weigh with other components and power adapters in tow.
The lightweight laptop segment comprises of 3 distinct laptop types, each aiming toward a unique user experience:
Ultrabooks offer the most portable systems without sacrificing performance. Striking a slimmer profile than most laptops. They typically have a screen size of 13.3-inches, which translates to a weight around 3-pounds (1.4kg). Larger 14- and 15-inch Ultrabooks will weigh between 4- and 4.5-pounds (1.8 to 2kg).
Chromebooks are similar in concept. But with a less-polished design. They offer a lightweight laptop option with a point of entry that’s as attainable as the system is straightforward to use. Display sizes range from 11.6-inches, to 14-inches. They generally weigh between 2- and 4-pounds (0.9 to 1.8kg). Currently, the biggest Chromebook is the Acer Chromebook 15. It has a 15.6-inch screen, which is gigantic for a Chromebook. And weighs in at a whopping 4.85-pounds (2.2kg).
2-in-1 Convertibles bridges that gap between having the full functionality of a laptop. And being able to transform into a Tablet. You’ll often see two different weights and sizes for this laptop type depending on whether the keyboard is attached or not. Screen sizes are typically between 10.1-inches and 14-inches. Any bigger is unwieldy to manage in tablet mode. They can weigh anywhere from just under 2-pounds (1.8kg) to 4-pounds (1.8kg).
Laptops fall into 3 weight categories:
3 pounds or less: These are trim and streamlined laptops in terms of form factor and functionality. We highly recommend this option if you’re a student, commuter, or someone who spends a lot of time traveling and you only need to perform basic emailing, Web surfing, and document creation on the move.
4 to 5 pounds: These midrange options represent most of the laptops in the market. There’s a high demand for them. And we can see why. While not the most lightweight laptops out there. They’re also not as heavy as 17 inchers. Therefore, they make the perfect companion if you’re a user who only needs to take a laptop with you sometimes.
6 pounds or more: This is by no means a lightweight laptop. As you can see, bigger the form factor, less the portability. This weight-class is dominated by Workstations, Gaming Rigs and Desktop Replacements. They provide powerful processing power and large screens. Ideal if you are a user who is not accustomed to using your laptop away from the desk.
Screen Size Recommendations
11-12-inch screen sizes offer the thinnest and lightest systems around. And typically weigh between 2.5 to 3.5 pounds (1.1 to 1.6kg). We recommend these as the best options when you really want a lightweight laptop and don’t mind losing out on some functionality.
13 to 14-inch screen sizes strike the best balance between portability and usability. These sizes are the most typical of the lightweight laptop segment. We recommend these if you’re a business user or commuters; especially if you can get one that weighs less than 4 pounds.
15-inch displays are the most popular as mentioned in the introduction. But this is the point at which ‘Lightweight Laptop’ becomes a relative term. Laptops with this display size typically weigh 4.5- to 6.5-pounds (2 to 2.9kg). We recommend this screen size if you’re a gamer. Or someone who wants a larger screen; and not planning to carry your laptop around often.
17 to 21-inch display laptops are built for presentations and large-scale viewing. They obviously weigh too much to be considered lightweight laptops. We recommend laptops with this screen size if you require workstation-level processing power. And a high-end display for visually demanding tasks, like playing games, watching movies, video editing, and viewing documents side by side.
Next up in the series, we dive deep into laptop screen resolutions in our quest to help you choose the very best laptop.
Understand that a laptop with a big screen will increases the overall size, weight, and power consumption of the system. Don’t feel obligated to get one if what you really want is a lightweight laptop.
One way to supplement your laptop’s small display size is by hooking it up to one or more large monitors. This way, you’ll be able to take advantage of the laptop’s portability. And still get a larger viewing area when you need it.
What else do you think we should have included about the lightweight laptop? We want to hear from you. Please let us know in the comment section.