Modern nomads demand everything from their laptops: they need to be lightweight and powerful, with a battery capable of going the distance on a long-haul flight. As recently as a few years ago, Apple was the only game in town for such machines. Thankfully, times have changed, and a number of manufacturers now offer ultra-portable workhouse laptops that won’t break the bank. Here are four of the best travel laptops for 2018.
The Best All-Around: Dell XPS 13
Since Dell launched its sleek, class-leading XPS 13 a few years ago, we’ve been hooked. At the time, it was a pioneering design that challenged the industry to take a big step forward. It was — and still is — lightweight, offering the largest display relative to its form factor of any laptop on the market and featuring powerful internals that have only gotten better for 2018. The new design is so pretty, you almost won’t want to hide it in your messenger bag. You can score an entry-level configuration for under USD $800, but the all-in sticker price for the flagship model with the best 4K, 13.3-inch touch display and an Intel Core i7 CPU/16GB/512GB SSD configuration runs closer to USD $2,000.
The Lightest of the Lightest: LG Gram 15
In the realm of travel-friendly laptops, the LG Gram 15 is damn near-perfect. The flagship Gram boasts a beautiful, 15.6-inch, full-HD IPS touchscreen display, 16GB of memory, and two 512GB SSD hard drives. But the kicker is that it weighs just 2.5 pounds. There are other laptops on the market in this weight class, but none with a 15-inch screen. If you’re looking for the lightest laptop with the biggest screen and best battery life, this is it. But, of course, “light and powerful” almost always translates to expensive. The Gram 15 line starts under USD $1,200, but the all-in price tag with the bells and whistles mentioned above tops USD $2,000.
The Best Value: Acer Spin 5
Acer has made a name for themselves with a steady stream of solid, middle-of-the-road laptops at a great price. The Acer Spin 5 is no exception. The two-in-one design means it’s useful as a standard laptop with a keyboard or as a tablet. The 13.3-inch screen boasts a native 1,920×1,080-pixel resolution, the keyboard is decent, the speakers pack a punch (considering the laptop’s diminutive size), and it offers a great variety of ports. Plus, battery life is excellent — a huge boon for travelers. The new and improved all-metal build is sturdy if a bit heavy. But the best part is that you can score one for just a little more than USD $600.
The Most Budget-Friendly: Asus Chromebook Flip (C302CA)
If you’re looking for a light, travel-friendly laptop at a rock-bottom price, you needn’t look further than a Chromebook. The Asus Chromebook Flip C302CA offers everything you’d expect in a sub-$500 ultra-portable laptop. The 360-degree hybrid hinge design makes it a worthy tablet and laptop. It boasts two USB-C ports, a backlit keyboard, and a sharp, 12.5-inch full HD touchscreen display, all wrapped in a surprisingly modern, 2.5-pound, all-aluminum design. It’s a great blend of portability, design, and price.