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In the Market for a New Laptop? Here’s Your 2017 Guide

Lightweight laptops have gone from niche to necessity.


Though the tablet’s stolen a bit of the laptop’s thunder, true productivity hounds know that getting stuff done still happens more effortlessly on the latter. Today, laptop users enjoy the twin perks of thin and powerful devices, and with modern, svelte designs, outstanding battery life and sinking price tags, the lightweight laptop’s entering its golden age. If your laptop happens to be entering its golden years, look to these new, shiny, skinny power players. The current crop of laptops offers ultralight, ultra-potent computing that cranks with even the most demanding key tappers.

Additional contributions by Darren Murph

2016 MacBook Pro with Touch Bar

When Apple announced its new line of MacBook Pros in fall 2016, it effectively antiquated the MacBook Air. The new Pros are thinner and smaller in volume, plus they have higher-res displays, faster processors, faster memory, faster storage and faster graphics. They also weigh the same as the old Airs, just three pounds. (The 15-inch Pro weighs a pound more.) They might not be ideal for creatives, as they only have Thunderbolt 3 ports and a max 16GB of RAM, but they’re still extremely portable and come with some fancy features, like the new Touch Bar — a Retina Display multi-touch touchscreen strip that replaces the function keys on your keyboard — and a huge Force Touch Trackpad.

Weight: 3.02 pounds
Dimensions: 11.97 × 8.36 × 0.59 inches

Read our Touch Bar review, here.

Buy Now: $1,800

2016 MacBook Pro sans Touch Bar

Though it is cool, you probably don’t need the Touch Bar. Plus, going without it will save you a few hundred dollars. The catch is that this MacBook only comes in a 13-inch model, with only two USB-C ports instead of four. Otherwise, it’s pretty much the same exact computer as the other one.

Weight: 3.02 pounds
Dimensions: 11.97 × 8.36 × 0.59 inches

Read our full review, here.

Buy Now: $1,499

Dell XPS 13 2-in-1

If you’re looking for a great convertible laptop, the 2017 Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 is your best bet. It runs Windows 10 and has a touchscreen that borders on being an infinity display. Plus, if you’re willing to spend a little more, the XPS 13 2-in-1 can be configured with an Intel Core i7 processor and a beautiful 3200 x 1800 Quad HD+ display. It’s powerful, thin and extremely versatile, and it has a breat battery.

Weight: 2.70 pounds
Dimensions: 11.98 x 7.8 x 0.32 inches

Read our full review, here.

Buy Now: $1,000

Dell XPS 13 with Infinity Display

If you don’t need the 2-in-1 display, the 2016 XPS 13 is the way to go. It’s touted as the world’s smallest 13-inch laptop with an InfinityEdge display, and it starts at a reasonable $800. The design is remarkable, with a screen that has effectively no bezel, and you can opt for a sumptuous 3,200 × 1,800 pixel panel if 1080p isn’t dense enough for your liking. The bantam size cuts into the battery life, but it’s still respectable at over seven hours with normal use. The base model comes with an Intel Core i3 processor, but you can opt for an XPS 13 with a Core i7 processor, it’ll just cost more (around $800 more). Each model comes with Windows 10 Home OS.

Weight: 2.78 pounds
Dimensions: 11.98 × 7.88 × 0.6 inches

Buy Now: $800+

HP Spectre x360

HP’s new 13.3-inch ultrabook, Spectre, is thinner than the MacBook Pro (1.04cm versus 1.49cm) and has a larger display. Users can choose between either Intel’s Core i5 or i7 processors, and the Spectre comes with 8GB of RAM and up to 512GB of storage. It also has three USB-C ports, and two of those are compatible with Thunderbolt. The display’s 1920 × 1080 full HD touchscreen has a lower resolution than others on this list, but it does flip around so you can use it like a tablet.

Weight: 2.85 pounds
Dimensions: 12.03 × 8.58 × 0.54 inches

Buy Now: $1,050

Microsoft Surface Pro 4

The Microsoft Surface Pro 4 is roughly the same size as the Surface Pro 3, but boasts a slightly larger (12.3-inch) and higher-resolution (2736 × 1824-inch, 267 PPI) display. Its keyboard is upgraded as well, with a larger touchpad and keys that are more spread out (similar to traditional keyboards). Unlike past models, it comes fully decked out with Windows 10 Pro software, and unlike other lightweight laptops on this list, the Surface Pro can be used as a stand-alone tablet.

Weight: 1.7 pounds
Dimensions: 11.5 × 7.93 × 0.33 inches

Buy Now: $849+

Asus ZenBook 3

This ultra-portable laptop by Asus is thinner and lighter than the Apple MacBook. The ZenBook 3 weighs just 190 grams (two pounds), and is made with aerospace-grade aluminum. It has a beautiful 12.5-inch full HD display and comes with a powerful Intel Core i7 processor. You can also get a less powerful ZenBook 3 with a Core i5 processor for $500 less. Like the new MacBook Pros, it has also fully adopted USB-C.

Weight: 2.01 pounds
Dimensions: 11.65 × 7.53 × 0.47 inches

Buy Now: $1,299

HP EliteBook Folio G1 Notebook PC

HP claims their EliteBook Folio G1 is the thinnest and lightest “business-class notebook,” which, to be fair, is pretty specific. (0.49 inches thick is still impressive, in any case.) You can buy the EliteBook Folio with or without a touchscreen; the machine with the latter option is more expensive and weighs slightly more. Each comes with Windows 10 Pro OS, a powerful Intel Core M processor, Intel HD Graphics 515, and close to 10 hours of battery life.

Weight: 2.36 pounds
Dimensions: 11.5 × 8.23 × 0.47 inches

Buy Now: $1,017


The MacBook’s 12-inch, 2304 × 1440 pixel display was the thinnest, most energy-efficient Retina Display ever on a Mac — then the new MacBook Pro (above) came along. That said, the MacBook still has a market. It’s only two pounds, which is slightly lighter than the new Pros, and comes with your choice of any of Intel’s 7th-generation M processors. The MacBook also only has one USB-C power port, meaning you’ll need an adapter combination dock to connect multiple dongles. In short, with the MacBook, you’re purchasing a lighter, more affordable machine.

Weight: 2.03 pounds
Dimensions: 11.04 × 7.74 × 0.14 inches

Buy Now: $1,299 (12-inch)

Razer Blade Stealth

Razer has always been known for making super fast, high-res gaming laptops. Their Blade Stealth, launched early 2016, was their first real foray into the ultraportable mainstream market. The original Stealth has been updated with Intel’s superfast Intel Core i7 processor. Overall, it’s thin (0.52 inches), lightweight (2.81 pounds) and powerful machine, with lots of storage (128GB) and a beautiful quad HD touchscreen display. (If you jump up to $1,600, you can get the Stealth with a 4K display.) And it comes with Windows 10 OS.

Weight: 2.81 pounds
Dimensions: 12.6 × 8.1 × 0.52 inches

Buy Now: 1,000

Samsung Ativ Book 9 Pro

At 4.3 pounds, the Ativ Book 9 Pro is on the high end of lightweight laptops. However, its display is bigger at 15.6 inches and it comes with some high-end features that others lack: 4K Ultra UD touchscreen with 3840 × 2160 resolution, a variety of ports, Intel HD Graphics 4400 and an Intel Core i7 processor. Expect the battery to last between five and six hours.

Weight: 4.3 pounds
Dimensions: 12.4 × 8.7 × 0.6 inches

Buy Now: $1,149

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