Features of the Best Small Laptops
There are many things to consider when shopping for the best small laptops. Let's go through them one by one to determine which features are the most important.
Most of the best small laptops are affordably priced at a few hundred dollars.
That's because these companies designed these laptops for people who, like yourself, just want something they can take with them and still have all the functionality of a basic laptop.
That being said, there Microsoft's Surface Pro 6, which packs a powerful punch if you're willing to pay for it.
Otherwise, the question becomes whether you're willing to shell out a couple hundred for better hardware. It all depends on your budget and preferences.
Chrome OS is a popular operating system for small laptops. Most of the things you will do with your laptop are probably available on this operating system.
For example, using Microsoft Office, checking emails, browsing the web, and streaming media would all be possible. Additionally, you'd also have access to the wide library of awesome apps available on Google Play Store.
It's basically a large android phone with a mouse and keyboard.
However, the alternative is Windows 10, which provides you with the full desktop experience. If you can think of anything you need for which a Google Play Store app does not exist, don't hesitate to go with one of those laptops instead.
For portability though, you might be surprised to find that Google OS has everything you need. As a bonus, the operating system's simplicity means that these laptops will likely have shorter boot times and run smoother in general.
As far as the display goes, 1366 by 768 resolution is pretty much the standard for these laptops.
However, one of the major decision you have to make when shopping for the best small laptops is whether or not to go for a touchscreen.
Touchscreens are very convenient at times and are especially nice when paired with Google OS.
The downside is that laptops with touchscreens often have less impressive hardware. That's because the money you'd others spend on hardware is going to the screen instead.
It's up to you it's worth it, but plan on spending a little bit extra if you want both the touchscreen and good specs.
Don't expect to do much gaming on these laptops.
Certain games will run just fine, especially two-dimensional ones like Stardew Valley, and old-school classics. But in general, ultra-portable gaming is best left to the Nintendo Switch for now.
To that end, video memory should be your least concern when shopping for the best small laptops.
In fact, most if not all small laptops use integrated graphics cards. That means they rely on the RAM for memory, rather than using their own dedicated VRAM.
Integrated graphics cards also require a fast CPU to perform well.
CPU stands for central processing unit and is determined by your laptop's processor. You can think of them as the life-blood of your laptop.
They rely on clocks which send pulses of electricity at regular intervals, storing and processing information in order to carry out tasks.
You may have heard of duo-core or quad-core processors. Multiple cores enable the computer to process more information simultaneously. If two cores are able to concentrate on two tasks, then four cores can do four and so on.
All things being equal, four cores is exactly twice as fast as two. However, there are other factors to consider, such as the speed of the clocks and the general quality of the hardware.
CPU influences the speed of your laptop more than any other feature.
It's a common myth that more RAM automatically means a faster computer. While having a lot of RAM is good, too much is superfluous. It won't hurt anything, but there's no sense in buying it if you're not going to use it.
RAM stands for random access memory. It exists to store temporary information, like the kind you need for running programs and applications. When you run multiple programs, it's common for PCs with low amounts of RAM to run extremely sluggishly.
Additionally, laptops with integrated graphics cards also rely on RAM for video memory, although this is usually only an issue when attempting to run video games. As a general rule of thumb, the best small laptops typically have around four gigabytes of RAM.
When comparing two laptops with the same amount of RAM, pay attention to whether the RAM is DDR2, DDR3, or DDR4. DDR4 is the fastest.
Audio isn't a feature we'll often consider because it doesn't vary much from laptop to laptop. Companies also don't put a lot of emphasis on this feature.
However, if you're the type of person who hates wearing earphones and doesn't want to carry a BlueTooth speaker around with you, you might want to prioritize laptops with quality built-in speakers.
Small laptops have a small amount of hard drive space, plain and simple. That said, there's plenty of space for documents and pictures if that's all you need it for.
Remember that streaming apps like Spotify and Netflix don't require you to save much on your computer. In fact, nowadays you can access almost everything via some form of the cloud.
Most of the best small laptops have the option of expanding their storage with a MicroSD card. However, if you're the type of person who has a huge media library they like to carry around with them, you may want to invest in an external hard drive.
Connections include things like HDMI, audio jacks, and USB ports. Since the others are a given, USB ports are the most important to consider. Fortunately, the best small laptops for ultra-portability require very few external devices.
You can connect practically everything short of an external hard drive via BlueTooth. Hardcore gamers might prefer a wired mouse, but they would also prefer a different laptop.
Certain niche devices like MIDI keyboards also need USB ports, but again, that's probably not your concern.
Unless you know otherwise, one or two USB ports is plenty.
Assuming you won't always be next to an outlet, long battery life is fairly important to have.
The best small laptops typically come with this feature because their hardware is not very demanding. However, it's still something you should take a close look at before buying.
All small laptops are much lighter than their larger cousins, but some are certainly heavier than others. Weight is also a fairly reliable way of determining how bulky the laptop is.
The difference of half a pound or so might not seem like a lot, but it can make a big difference when carrying something around all day every day. That is doubly true if you have many other items to carry with you.
To that end, the weight of a laptop makes for a good tie-breaker when shopping for the best small laptops.