Best Lightweight Laptops for 2020

Looking for a highly portable computer? Check out these standouts from CR's lab tests.

An illustration of a lightweight laptop floating among feathers

If you’re in the market for a laptop that you can easily carry from the office to the local coffee shop—or merely from living room to bedroom—you have plenty of options.

Several models from well-known companies such as Apple, LG, and Microsoft offer solid performance and generous battery life while weighing less than 3 pounds.

“For the smaller laptops that are most popular for travel, say 12 to 14 inches, a good general weight to follow is 3 pounds,” says Antonette Asedillo, who oversees laptop testing for Consumer Reports. “If you can find a laptop at or below that, you should be fine for carrying it around.”

But not all laptops that weigh less than 3 pounds are worth the money, which is where we come in.

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Every year Consumer Reports rates dozens of laptops, buying them at retail and testing them in our labs. We run the laptops through a series of standardized tests to see how they compare with each other in performance, battery life, display quality, and other measures. Then we add in brand reliability and owner satisfaction data drawn from surveys of CR members.

The result is a database of laptops ranging from inexpensive beaters ideally suited for simple tasks like browsing the web to higher-end models that can handle just about anything you throw at them, whether that’s editing video or playing video games.

Below you’ll find our current tops picks of high-performing, lightweight laptops.

Microsoft Surface Go (1.7 pounds)

This is a 10-inch 2-in-1 detachable, which means the keyboard can be separated from the display, effectively giving you a Windows-based tablet. We tested it with the optional Surface Go Signature Type cover, which doubles as a protective case and adds $130 to the price. Or you can use any wireless Bluetooth keyboard (or wired USB keyboard, for that matter).

With the Surface Go Signature Type cover attached, the laptop weighs 1.7 pounds. Ditch the cover and you’re looking at 1.15 pounds.

The biggest trade-off here is that performance receives only a Fair rating. That means you might see sluggish performance while working inside large spreadsheets or editing digital photos. The Surface Go will browse the web just fine and handle dead-simple tasks like clearing out your email inbox, editing text documents, or watching videos on YouTube. But if you need raw power, you should look elsewhere.

One final note: As of late February 2020 whispers were beginning to appear online that Microsoft might announce a new version of the Surface Go sometime in the spring. Considering this model was released in mid-2018, an update seems due. 

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