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Small laptop reviews

Last tested: 12 October 2015

Thin and light laptops marry performance with portability. We test and review 15 small laptops, including the Surface 3 tablet which, with the optional keyboard and stylus pen, becomes a laptop substitute. Our laptops buying guide will tell you what to look for in a small laptop before hitting the stores.

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Our test covers Windows and Mac models. All the Windows 8 laptops come with a free Windows 10 upgrade waiting to be activated.

Our expert testers give every laptop a thorough workout to help find the models that:

  • have the most memory and power
  • longest battery life
  • biggest screen size
  • are the lightest
  • have more of the features you need.

Our interactive comparison tool helps you easily select models with a touchscreen, a backlit keyboard and front or rear cameras. Our CHOICE Buys will help you see quickly which models come out on top.

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Brand

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List of brands we tested in this review.

Price

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Price paid in July 2015, excluding delivery charges.

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Operating system supplied
Screen size (in)

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Weight with keyboard (kg)

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Test results

Battery life score
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Battery life score is based on light and heavy usage test scenarios.

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Display score
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Display score includes assessment of colour (45%), glare/surface reflections (35%), and angles of view (20%).

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Ease of use score
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Ease of use assessment takes into account connectors, design flaws/advantages, overall style, mobility and evaluation of security, manuals, and recovery options. All ease of use evaluation was conducted under the laptop's native operating system. 

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Performance score
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Performance score is based on analysis of the results of several benchmarking tools.

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Specifications

HDD capacity (GB)
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Hard disk drive (HDD) - uses magnetic spinning discs to store information. Capacity is measured in gigabytes (GB) or terabytes (TB). One TB is 1000 GB.

SSD (GB)
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SSD (solid-state drive) - Unlike a hard disk drive (HDD), which writes information to a magnetic spinning disc, an SSD has no moving parts, but instead stores information on solid-state flash memory (chips). SSDs offer much faster read and write speeds than HDDs and work silently, generate less heat and use less power. They are generally much more expensive than HDDs and offer far less capacity.

RAM (GB)
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RAM (random access memory) is the main memory used by the CPU and is measured in gigabytes (GB). These days 4GB of RAM is considered a standard starting point for most laptop or desktop PCs.

Features

HDMI
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Full size / mini / micro HDMI port. HDMI adapter sold separately: Apple MacBook 256GB.

Backlit keyboard
Headset port
Touchscreen

Included in this review

Members-only access
  • CHOICE Buy
  • Status
  • Overall score
  • Ease of use score
  • Battery life score
  • Performance score
  • Display score
  • Available user space (GB)
  • Weight with keyboard (kg)
  • Weight of power supply (g)
  • Average battery life – heavy usage (h:min)
  • Average battery life – light usage (h:min)
  • Good points
  • Bad points
  • Brand
  • Model
  • Price
  • Body type
  • Screen size (in)
  • Maximum screen resolution (px)
  • HDD capacity (GB)
  • SSD (GB)
  • RAM (GB)
  • Intel processor type
  • Video type (shared video RAM)
  • Touchscreen
  • Size HxDxW (mm)
  • USB 2.0 ports
  • USB 3.0 ports
  • Navigation pointing device
  • Ethernet port
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 type (dual-band)
  • WiDi
  • Memory card reader
  • Headset port
  • HDMI
  • Mini DisplayPort
  • Camera (front)
  • Camera (rear)
  • Backlit keyboard
  • Light sensor for auto screen brightness
  • Security lock slot
  • Operating system supplied
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