The best lightweight laptops of 2024: Expert tested

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As laptop technology continues to advance, we’re seeing huge upgrades in terms of portability. It’s almost impossible to imagine now, but Apple’s first laptop, the Macintosh Portable weighed a hefty 16 pounds. Today, we have machines that weigh little more than two.

The laptops included on this list are all extremely portable, and were chosen as the best lightweight machine for their particular use cases. These are laptops you can throw into a backpack and hardly notice, while still providing powerful performance that justifies using a laptop in the first place (as opposed to a tablet or Chromebook). With so many laptops on the market today, the margins between what is considered “lightweight” and “average” are becoming more and more thin. However, all of the laptops on this list are undeniably light, none weighing more than 3.3 pounds.

Also: The best laptops you can buy: Expert tested

What’s the best lightweight laptop right now?

Our overall top pick for the best lightweight laptop has to go to the Apple MacBook Air M3. In terms of portability, sleek form factor, a solid battery life, and AI-capabilities, the MacBook Air M3 reigns supreme among the lightest of the light. It might not be the best pick for you, however, so we included other options that round out the spectrum of most common use cases.

The best lightweight laptops of 2024: Expert tested

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Apple MacBook Air M3

Best lightweight laptop overall

The resounding success of Apple’s M2 MacBook Air was only improved upon with its successor, the M3 MacBook Air, and is our pick for best overall lightweight laptop. Available in a 13-inch and 15-inch display size, the MacBook Air is thin, light, and incredibly compact for the amount of power it has. At just barely over three pounds, the MacBook Air can be slipped into virtually any bag and go with you wherever you go.

The M3 MacBook Air is also as versatile as it is portable, with the ability to support two additional monitors with the lid closed (using an Apple Studio Display lets you connect directly with a Thunderbolt port), and act like a desktop. 

It’s also no secret that the M3 lineup was designed to handle AI workloads, and the MacBook Air is no exception. With a 16-core Neural Engine (along with accelerators in the GPU/CPU for improved on-device machine learning) the M2 MacBook Air can run various AI models and is future-proofed for the inevitable deluge of AI applications coming.

Review: M3 MacBook Air review: Apple’s AI computer for the masses has arrived

Apple MacBook Air M3 tech specs: 8-core CPU with 16-core Neural Engine | 8GB, 16GB, or 24GB of unified memory with 10-core GPU | 512GB, 1TB, or 2TB storage | LCD, 60Hz refresh rate, 500 nits max | Up to 18 hours of battery life | 13-inch: 2.7 points; 15-inch: 3.3 pounds 

M3 MacBook Air on desk

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Acer Swift Go 14

Best lightweight AI laptop

The Acer Swift Go 14 is one of the first portable laptops to come with Intel’s new “Meteor Lake” processor, which has a dual-core neural processing unit (NPU) designed to take on AI workloads. This makes the Acer Swift Go 14 well-positioned to handle AI technology as it becomes increasingly more ubiquitous, giving it an edge that makes it our pick for best lightweight AI laptop.

AI is here, it’s only a matter of time before the platforms and operating systems we’re using now are powered by AI functionality, and for users that want to be ahead of the curve, the Acer Swift Go 14 provides portability and forward-thinking in a future-proof design. 

Acer Swift Go 14 tech specs: Intel Core Ultra 155H, two-core NPU | Intel Arc GPU | 16GB memory, 1TB SSD | 14-inch touch display; 400-nit brightness | Up to 19 hours of battery life | 2.87 lbs 

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Asus ROG Zephyrus G14

Best lightweight laptop for gaming

The Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 is a solid gaming machine in its own right, but it’s the combination of power and portability together that make it our pick for best lightweight gaming laptop.

The hardware in this laptop is no slouch; its AMD Ryzen 9 8000-series processor delivers a powerful baseline of performance, while the Nvidia GeForce RTX 4070 GPU completes the package as a graphics card that can gaming with ease. This isn’t necessarily the best gaming laptop on the market, but it is perhaps the most portable, particularly when it comes to this amount of power in a compact, clean form factor.

The Zephyrus G14 isn’t necessarily pigeonholed into being a gaming laptop, either. This is a machine that will do just as well in the office as it will handling heavy workflows with creative software such as video editing or animation. If you do take it to the office, you’ll notice it comes stacked with practical ports: you have two each of USB-A and -C, HDMI, headphone jack, and a microSD slot. 

In addition, the battery lasts surprisingly long for a machine with this level of hardware and an OLED display. Most people will be able to get an entire workday plus a little more out of just one charge, even while performing demanding tasks.

Review: Asus’ new laptop is a solid MacBook alternative that’s better in several ways

Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 tech specs: AMD Ryzen 9 8945HS | Nvidia GeForce RTX 4070, 8GB | 32GB memory, 1TB SSD | 14-inch OLED display | Up to 12 hours of battery life | 3.3 lbs 

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LG Gram Pro 17

Best lightweight laptop with a 17″ display

The LG Gram Pro 17 takes portability to the extreme. At just half an inch thick and weighing barely over three pounds, the Gram Pro 17 not only holds a Guinness record, but achieved something that at one time was thought to be impossible for a 17″ laptop.

Its portability is matched by a suite of powerful hardware, including an Intel Core Ultra 7 processor, 32GB hard drive with 2TB of storage, and even a solid video card. This is a machine designed with work in mind, but it could handle some light gaming with this configuration.

Speaking of work, the LG Gram Pro 17 is light enough to go wherever you go, and brings a powerful enough battery to back it up. Battery life times depend on how hard you’re pushing the machine, but expect to get well over a day’s work on one charge, even taking into account strenuous workloads such as video editing or image rendering.

The LG Gram Pro 17 is the definition of portability, so this is the laptop for someone who is committed to that idea, as there is a cost associated with this level of innovation.

Review: LG’s 17-inch Gram Pro laptop’s best feature isn’t its extreme portability

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Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon

Best lightweight laptop for work

Lenovo’s ThinkPad laptop series has been popular with professionals seeking durable Windows machines for years now, and the X1 Carbon is no exception. This is an elegant, lightweight workhorse of a laptop designed with the working professional in mind, and comes with a host of powerful hardware to back it up. 

The 12th-Gen ThinkPad X1 Carbon offers some small improvements on the eleventh-generation laptop from the same series, which was actually ZDNET’s pick for the best Lenovo laptop. One of those improvements is the display, which is equipped with a 14-inch 2.8K resolution OLED that delivers bright, vivid color as well as an anti-glare coating.

It also comes with an 8MP webcam that can shoot in 4K, perfect for presenting a high-quality image on videoconferencing. The spacious trackpad features the ThinkPad’s signature three-button design, and a functional keyboard is comfortable enough to support extended typing and work sessions. The X1 Carbon’s elegance is ultimately expressed in its functionality, as this is not the flashiest laptop, but it is one of the most well-designed.

Review: Lenovo’s latest ThinkPad has new features that will make professionals jump for joy

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon tech specs: Intel Core Ultra 7 155H processor | Integrated Intel graphics card | 16GB memory, 1TB SSD | 14-inch OLED display | Up to 8 hours of battery life | 2.47 lbs 

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The best lightweight laptop in 2024 is the Apple MacBook Air M3. Portable, powerful, and with a long-lasting battery, the MacBook Air M3 is a versatile workhorse that you can throw in a bag and take with you anywhere you go. The M3’s 8-core CPU and 10-core GPU is armed to take on almost anything you throw at it, and the entire package weighs just 2.7 pounds.

Laptop

Starting cost

Processor/GPU

RAM/Storage

Weight (lbs)

Apple MacBook Air M3

$1099

M3 8-core CPU

8GB up to 16GB, up to 512GB

2.7

Acer Swift Go 14

$799

Intel Core Ultra 7, Intel Arc

16GB, 1TB

3.05

ASUS ROG Zephyrus G14

$1600

AMD Ryzen 9 8945HS, GeForce RTX 4060

16GB, 1TB

3.31

LG Gram Pro 17

$1299

Intel Core Ultra 7 155H, Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050

16GB, 1TB

2.7

Lenovo X1 Carbon

$2263

Intel Core Ultra 5 125U, Intel Arc Graphics

16GB, up to 1TB

2.4 

The best lightweight laptop for you depends on what you want to get out of it. Laptops packed with powerful gaming hardware like the Asus Zephyrus G14 are going to weigh a little more, while extreme lightweight machines like the LG Gram Pro 17 will have some design tradeoffs that go along with their compact size.

Choose this lightweight laptop…

If you want…

Apple MacBook Air M3

An all-around powerful laptop that can do it all in a lightweight, portable form factor. 

Acer Swift Go 14

A lightweight laptop that is prepared for AI functionality. 

ASUS ROG Zephyrus G14

The lightest machine you can get while still calling it a proper gaming laptop.

LG Gram Pro 17

The lightest, thinnest 17-inch laptop on the market, no matter the cost. 

Lenovo X1 Carbon

A durable, powerful laptop for work. 

These laptops all offer solid performance in their own right, but paired with their lightweight design, bring a new level of convenience with their portability. Keep in mind that the differences in their weight here are broken down to tenths of a pound, while most people won’t even notice much of a difference between two and three pounds. These other factors went into the decision making process: 

  • Display: All of the laptops evaluated here are the 14″ versions, except the Gram Pro 17 of course, which is 17-inches and still one of the lightest.
  • Battery life: In order to be considered for this list, I considered machines with better-than-average battery life. This is one metric that will vary significantly based on use case, but all of these laptops will easily last an entire workday (eight hours) on one charge, even while undergoing demanding workloads
  • Price: Cost is an important factor and will make or break many consumers’ choices. The reality is that ultraportability does come at a cost, as none of these laptops would be considered “budget” by any rate. The Acer Swift Go 14, however, is still quite affordable, starting at $800, though upgrades will move that number more in line with the others on this list.

I chose these five laptops because they offer the greatest amount of value relative to their extremely light weight. Besides the LG Gram Pro 17, they may not be the absolute lightest laptop that exists on the market, but they are the lightest to offer this amount of performance in a compact form factor.

The answer to this question is simple: laptops are made to be carried around, and no one wants to carry a heavy computer. Having a thin, lightweight machine opens up its usability and lets you take it places you normally wouldn’t consider possible.

Ultraportability does come with tradeoffs, however, both in terms of design and cost. When talking about design, the constraints on manufacturers to squeeze value out of every square inch of space in the laptop means that certain elements may be smaller, lighter, or in non-conventional locations. This especially refers to the laptop’s battery, its display, or the laptop’s keyboard. 

In terms of cost, ultraportable laptops are often made with high-end, special lightweight materials that are going to cost more to produce and manufacture than simple plastic or aluminum. All of the laptops on this list were chosen for their well-designed, functional form factors and use of lightweight materials.

While every computing platform has its loyal supporters, most people end up using a particular operating system because of key applications running on it, employer preferences, or budgetary constraints. Windows, which ranges from budget to premium, and Apple’s MacOS, which is exclusive to premium devices, cover a broad spectrum. Chrome OS is mostly limited to mid-range devices.

Also: Comparing the best Macs: Is a MacBook or Mac Studio right for you?

All Windows devices listed here meet the requirements for Windows 11. If you purchase a device with Windows 10 installed, you will be able to upgrade to Windows 11 if you choose to do so. Note that after October 14, 2025, Windows 10 support will end, and there will be no further security patches or feature updates.

Laptop technology is getting better all the time, and manufacturers are pushing the limits to what is not only possible, but accessible and affordable. As such, there are quite a few alternative options out there for lightweight laptops that weren’t included on this list, but need to be mentioned.

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