There’s no doubt that laptops are lighter than ever before — some of them can be carried with one hand! If you’re like me and find yourself constantly carrying your old 15-inch MacBook Pro around to meetings or taking it on the train for work (I do both), then I think we’d all agree that this is an improvement worth celebrating. However, as our world becomes increasingly mobile, there’s been a shift toward smaller devices that still offer excellent performance at affordable prices.
The latest wave of these ultraportables are known collectively as “thin” or “lightweight” computers; they usually weigh less than five pounds and measure less than 14 inches deep. These new notebooks aren’t just smaller versions of their predecessors — they often feature thinner displays, faster processors, more RAM and storage space, longer battery life — even lower price tags. They’ve got everything consumers to want from a computer without any compromises.
Here’s what sets lightweight laptops apart from regular ones:
Display thickness: Most laptops today use LED-backlit LCD screens, which are significantly thinner than those in older models. A typical ultrabook screen measures between 0.6 and 1 inch thick.
That puts it somewhere between smartphone and tablet size, making it perfect for users who want portability but don’t need high-resolution displays. Thin displays also help boost battery life since manufacturers don’t have to worry about packing extra electronics into the display area to increase its power efficiency.
Battery life: Laptops typically come equipped with batteries ranging from 10 to 13 hours; some go beyond that if necessary. This makes thin laptops better suited for road warriors who spend most of their time away from home offices. And because ultrabooks tend to pack fewer components inside, they consume less energy when running.
For example, Apple claims that its 11-inched MacBook Air uses only 8 watts while playing 1080p video content.
Weight and size: In bulkiness, many ultrabooks fall under the category of mainstream notebook PCs. Although they may not be as big as traditional desktop replacements, ultrabooks are larger than netbooks and take up slightly more desk space. However, thanks to technological advances, such as improved fan design and heat dissipation techniques, ultrabooks generally run cooler than other laptops, requiring less room near your body to stay cool. You’ll probably notice the difference immediately after moving one from your lap onto a desk. At the same time, it will feel warm to touch when first picking one up; most ultrabooks’ fans keep the interior nice and cool within seconds.
RAM/CPU speed: Since ultrabooks focus heavily on performance, they prioritize processing power over memory capacity. Many slim laptops ship with 4 GB of RAM instead of 8 GB, giving buyers plenty of options depending on how heavy their computing needs get. Other features include Intel Core i5 chips clocked anywhere from 3GHz down to 2.26 GHz and AMD Athlon 64 X2 dual-core CPUs with speeds reaching up to 2.8 GHz. On average, ultrabooks have twice the number of CPU cores compared to traditional laptops.
Storage drive: Storage capacities vary greatly among ultrabooks. Some ships with 256 GB solid-state drives, and others boast 500 GB hard disk drives. But regardless of whether SSDs replace HDDs completely, it’s clear that manufacturers recognize that ultrabooks are intended primarily for people who use cloud services for file sharing. With their relatively small amounts of onboard storage space, ultrabooks are designed to connect quickly and seamlessly to Wi-Fi networks and Internet data centers.
Price: Price varies wildly across brands and product lines, but ultrabooks currently start at $1000. As of early 2021, Apple sells several configurations of Macbook Air starting at $999. Of course, buying a top-of-the-line ultrabook doesn’t mean sacrificing quality. It’s possible to customize ultrabooks according to personal preferences, including choosing different colors, materials, and finishes.
So now you know the basics of what separates lightweights from full-sized machines. To learn more about specific products, check out reviews and comparisons of popular laptops here. Good luck finding a lightweight PC that suits your style and budget!