For Someone Always On The Go, These Are The Best Small Laptops

Electronics & Computers

Looking for the best small laptops to carry with you throughout the day? When a smartphone just isn't enough, and a full-sized pc is too much, these small laptops are just right.

Whether it's on the bus, in a coffee shop, or in the middle of class, having access to a keyboard and mouse makes certain tasks much easier.

Need a way to show off your PowerPoint presentation? Can't keep up by taking notes with a pencil and paper? Sending lengthy emails with attachments or managing spreadsheets?

The best small laptops are perfect for you because they're there when you need them and out of mind when you don't.

What Counts As a Small Laptop?

student using laptop

Image via Pixabay

Small laptops should fit easily into a purse, murse, or bookbag. Ideally, they also weigh as little as possible to avoid causing you discomfort throughout the day. The best small laptops are typically around 12 inches.

While 13-inch laptops are also popular, we consider them more of a medium-sized laptop for the purpose of this article.

They weigh more and, in particular, do not fit well into purses. They also have significantly different specifications within the same price range.

For ultimate portability, we really do suggest laptops around 12 inches.

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.

women using laptop

Image via Pixabay

Price

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.

Operating system

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.

laptop with OS windows 10

Image via Pixabay

Screen

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.

Graphics

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

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.

ramdom access memory hardware

Image via Pixabay

RAM

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

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.

Storage

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.

solid state device

Image via Pixabay

Connections

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.

Battery Life

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.

small laptop

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Weight

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.

How We Reviewed

We have quite a bit of experience comparing laptops, so trust us when we say we know what we're talking about.

That being said, we look closely at what customers say about a product to ensure we're giving you accurate information.

Our primary source for customer reviews is Amazon, but we do look at other vendors at well.

When writing our reviews of the best small laptops, we take all of the factors we've talked about into account as we give you our honest opinion.

The 7 Best Small Laptops

Without further ado, here are seven of the best small laptops:

Microsoft Surface Pro 6


Microsoft 2019 Surface Pro 6 12.3” (2736x1824) PixelSense 267 PPI...
  • High-resolution 12.3" (2736 x 1824) PixelSense 267 PPI 10-Point Touch Display, Intel HD Graphics 620, Include: Surface...
  • 8th Gen Intel Core i5-8250U (beat i7-7500U) Quad Core Processor (1.6GHz up to 3.4 GHz, 6MB Cache), 8GB LPDDR3 RAM, 128GB...
  • 1 x USB 3.0, 1 x Mini DisplayPort, 1 x 1/8" (3.5 mm) Headphone/Microphone, 2x Integrated Microphone, Integrated Stereo...

This Surface Pro 6 is the only product in our list that is slightly over 12 inches. It's also the only one with a max resolution of 1920 by 1080.

If there's one reason to spend the extra money on a Surface Pro, it's probably the beautiful hi-res display.

Additionally, the keyboard detaches so that you can use the touchscreen like a tablet with one major difference; This tablet has a built-in stand!

Surface Pros are also well-known for their impressive touch accuracy, making them great for tasks like drawing.

The only downside is that Windows 10 isn't quite as suited for tablet use as Chrome OS.

The Intel Quad Core 8th Gen i5-8250U processor has a base clock speed of 1.8 GHz, which is respectable for a touchscreen laptop in this size at this price range.

With eight gigabytes of DDR3 RAM, you should be able to run multiple programs without much trouble. You'll also find that software like photoshop runs smoothly as well.

As a bonus, handles many more video games than most other small laptops, despite having an integrated graphics card. The high amount of RAM helps immensely.

The 128-gigabyte hard drive is more than enough to get you started.

With the higher price being the only true downside, it's definitely one of the best small laptops available. 

Pros

  • Impressive specs
  • Exceptionally long battery life
  • High accuracy touchscreen that doubles as a tablet

Cons

  • Comparatively expensive
  • Only one USB port

Acer Chromebook 11


Acer Chromebook 11 C771 11.6" Touchscreen Chromebook i5-6200U 8GB 64GB...
  • Acer comfy View
  • Designed to keep on working
  • Powerful classroom level technology

The Acer Chromebook 11 is a Chromebook that runs off Chrome OS. Aspects of this laptop earn it a place on our list of the best small laptops.

The Intel Core i5 6200U is a duo-core processor with a base clock speed of 2.3 GHz. Obviously, we'd prefer it to be a quad-core. However, it evens out since Chrome OS is less demanding than Windows 10.

The eight gigabytes of DDR3 RAM is more than enough for Chrome, but at least you won't have to worry about running multiple apps simultaneously.

Using the touchscreen will allow you to navigate your apps and browse the internet more efficiently. But this laptop doesn't detach from the keyboard or rotate 360 degrees for a tablet mode.

At over 4.65 pounds, it's rather bulky. On the other hand, it's extremely durable.

This laptop has three USB ports, so you definitely won't have to worry about plugging in your devices.

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Chrome OS is more efficient
  • Plenty of USB ports
  • Eight gigabytes of DDR3 RAM
  • Touchscreen

Cons

  • No tablet mode
  • Subpar processor

Inspiron 11 3000 2-in-1


Flagship 2019 Dell Inspiron 11.6" 2-in-1 Convertible Touchscreen...
  • 11.6-inch HD (1366 x 768) LED-Backlit Touch Display with AMD Radeon R5, shared video memory. LED backlighting provides a...
  • AMD Dual-Core A9 9420e, 1.8GHz, 1MB Cache
  • RAM from 4G to 8G, Hard Drive from 500G HDD to1TB HDD, 128G/ 256G/ 512G SSD for your desired specs.

The Inspiron 11 3000 2-in-1 is among the best small laptops for a variety of reasons. It manages to cut back on bulk while still packing some pretty impressive hardware.

We don't say this often, but the defining feature of this laptop is probably the hard drive. Not only is 512 gigabytes much larger than average, but all of that is also flash memory!

Flash memory is significantly faster than most other types of storage, including HDD. Many of the best small laptops utilize flash memory to offset the negative effects of slower processors.

However, once you're forced to buy an external hard drive or memory card, you're no longer getting the full benefit of a speedy hard drive. That's why a large amount of flash memory is so beneficial; you won't have to upgrade your storage space any time soon.

Unfortunately, this laptop has an AMD processor, which simply isn't as desirable as an Intel processor. On the other hand, the AMD Dual-Core A9-9420e appears to respectable with a clock speed of around 2.5 GHz.

With eight gigabytes of DDR4 RAM, there's no reason to suspect this laptop will feel slow.

Like many of the best small laptops, this one has a touchscreen and can fold into a tablet mode. It's not quite as nice as the detachable keyboard, but it does work.

Dell seems to place a greater emphasis on audio than other manufacturers. Their laptops often come with MaxxxAudio, which improves the sound of the built-in speakers.

Lastly, this laptop has three USB ports.

Finding this exact product from other vendors proved impossible. 

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Chrome OS is more efficient
  • Plenty of USB ports
  • Eight gigabytes of DDR3 RAM
  • Touchscreen

Cons

  • No tablet mode
  • Subpar processor

2019 Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga 11e


2019 Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga 11e 11.6" Anti-Glare HD Touchscreen 2-in-1...
  • 4th Generation | rugged construction | tested to military specifications | flexible 360-degree hinge supports 4 modes:...
  • 128 GB SSD M. 2 Opal2 | 8 GB DDR4 RAM | Intel Dual Core i3-7100U 2. 4 GHz Processor (2 Cores 4 Threads, 3 MB Cache)
  • 11. 6-Inch IPS Anti-glare HD (1366x768) 10-point Multi-touch Screen, LED backlight | Integrated Intel HD Graphics 620,...

We chose the Lenovo Thinkpad Yoga as one of the best small laptops for being a nice all-arounder at a fair price.

The 128 gigabytes of flash memory offers enough storage for anyone who utilizes the cloud for streaming and won't be loading up on video games. As we mentioned, flash memory is a faster method of storage than most other drives.

With eight gigabytes of DDR4 RAM, this laptop shouldn't ever slow down from lack of temporary memory.

As far as processing speed, the Intel Core i3-7100U is a duo-core with a base clock speed of 2.4 GHz. Even though this is probably its weakest feature, comparatively it's not that bad for this size and price range.

The Lenovo Thinkpad Yoga is extremely durable, so it's a particularly good choice for those who are worried about dropping their laptop. That combined with its all-day battery life also makes this one great for very active lifestyles.

Since it has a touchscreen and can rotate into a tablet mode, get the most out of it by pulling it out and putting it away at a moments notice.

Note that Amazon lists this laptop as having 16 USB ports, but in reality, it only has 2!

Pros

  • Eight gigabytes of DDR4 RAM
  • 2 USB ports (not 16)
  • Touchscreen with tablet mode
  • Durable
  • All-day battery life

Cons

  • Average duo-core processer
  • Small amount of flash memory

HP ProBook 11 EE G2


No products found.

The HP ProBook 11 is another balanced laptop for an affordable price, making it one of the best small laptops available.

It's 128 gigabytes of speedy flash memory is enough for most people. The eight gigabytes of DDR4 RAM is also more than strictly necessary.

Like most of the other laptops on our list, this one has a duo-core processor with an average base clock speed of around 2.4 GHz.

The touchscreen is a nice addition to any laptop, although this one does not convert into tablet mode. It's also not a Chromebook, so most situations aren't really geared towards touchscreens.

Therefore, this laptop is for people who need or already have a tablet, and would rather save some money by opting out of that feature.

The HP Probook is significantly heavier and bulkier than other small laptops. Although it's 11.6", it has a much larger bevel around the screen.

This laptop has multiple USB ports.

Pros

  • Affordable
  • 128 gigabytes of flash memory
  • Eight gigabytes of DDR4 RAM
  • Durable
  • Multiple USB ports

Cons

  • Average duo-core processor
  • Large bevel
  • Almost four pounds

Dell Inspiron


No products found.

In many ways, this Dell Inspiron is extremely similar to the Flagship Dell we discussed earlier. However, this one is more affordable. It's impressive specs for its size and price range make this one of the best small laptops.

The Dell Inspiron includes 128 gigabytes of flash memory. As we've seen, this is fairly standard among the best small laptops. It's not the 512 gigabytes that the other Dell offers, but if you utilize the cloud and don't install many games, it works.

It also has eight gigabytes of DDR4 RAM, which we maintain is more than enough for a laptop that you'll mainly use for business, school, and media streaming. For anything else, it's still fantastic.

This laptop has a touchscreen and folds around into tablet mode, making it excellent for all sorts of tasks.

At 2.65 pounds, the Dell Inspiron weighs more than a pound less than some of the laptops we've reviewed. Not only is this nice for carrying around, but it's perfect for tablet mode as well.

Additionally, the MaxxAudio is nice for when you either don't have or don't want to use earphones, or a Bluetooth speaker. It adds more depth to what would are otherwise your basic low-quality laptop speakers.

The main downside of this laptop is the questionable dual-core AMD processor, which we would normally sidestep for an Intel. But since this one appears on par with most of the other laptops, we'll let it slide.

Finally, this laptop has three USB ports.

Pros

  • Very affordable
  • Very light
  • Touchscreen with tablet mode
  • Eight gigabytes of DDR4 RAM
  • 128 gigabytes flash memory
  • Three USB ports
  • MaxxxAudio for better built-in speakers

Cons

  • Average AMD dual-core processor

Acer Chromebook 11.6"


Acer Chromebook 11.6" Traditional Laptop (NX.GM9AA.001;C731T-C42N)
  • Celeron N3060/1.6 GHz
  • Chrome system
  • 11.6" IPS touchscreen 1366 x 768 (HD)

This Acer Chromebook features the Chrome OS that is the staple of all Chromebooks. Being the cheapest laptop on our list, we want to emphasize how much personal preference should place a role in your choice.

If you're looking for an affordable, reliable laptop for streaming media and editing documents via the cloud, this laptop could be perfect for you. That really is a large phone with a mouse and keyboard.

The base clock speed of its processor is 1.6 GHz, which is the lowest we've seen thus far. Keep in mind the Chrome OS also has smaller requirements for running apps smoothly.

With four gigabytes of DDR3 RAM, it should be enough for what you'll use it for. If you have reservations though, you may want to opt for a more expensive machine.

The touchscreen mixed with the app interface allows you to quickly access Microsoft Office, YouTube, Spotify, and anything else available on the Google Play Store.

Although this laptop does not fold into tablet mode, it's still generally quicker to navigate than Windows OS.

With only 16 gigabytes of flash hard drive space, this is definitely not a PC to load with media files. If you use it for it's intended purpose though, you won't need much more. You can add additional space easily with a microSD card.

Since this Chromebook uses basic hardware, its battery life lasts nearly all day. It's also significantly lighter than most laptops at 2.87 pounds.

Lastly, this laptop has two USB ports.

Pros

  • Chrome OS is more efficient
  • Very affordable
  • Weight under three pounds
  • Touchscreen
  • Two USB 3.0 ports
  • 10-hour battery life

Cons

  • No tablet mode
  • Small hard drive
  • Slower than the average duo-core processor
  • Four gigabytes of DDR3 RAM

The Best Small Laptops: Which to Choose?

Small Black Laptop

Image via Flickr

Now that you've seen the best small laptops available, you probably have a solid idea of which features are important to you.

If you're looking for a small laptop with all the power of a full-sized one, go for the Surface Pro 6.

However, if you just need a basic machine for streaming, browsing the internet, sending emails, taking notes, editing documents and more, the Acer Chromebook will save you a lot of money. At the same time, you'll have a lighter laptop with extended battery life.

Have a lot of music or video files? The 2018 Flagship Dell has a huge hard drive for this size and price range. Enhance portability by spending less time with an external hard drive plugged in.

Looking for something that has a long battery life and can take a beating? The Lenovo Yoga will do the trick.

Which features do you consider the most important? What laptop do you plan on buying? Let us know in the comments below!

Featured Image via Pixabay

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