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The best travel laptops of 2020

Best travel laptops
(Image credit: Dell)

The best travel laptops are designed help you get stuff done while you're out and about – whether that's attending to a design event, visiting clients, or just packing in some exploring around your day job. Almost everyone travels these days, and quite a few – especially creative professionals – travel full time while also working remotely. 

A laptop that's robust, extremely portable and very reliable is invaluable if you want to be able to work whilst on the move. To make the hunt for the best travel laptop a little easier, we've gathered the best options available now, factoring in everything that makes each one the perfect travel companion.

Looking for a more general list? See our guide to the best laptops for graphic design or the best laptops for programming. If not, read on for some tips on what to look for, plus our roundup of the best travel laptops right now.

How to pick the best travel laptop

Not every laptop can be a good travel laptop. Some are powerful yet too heavy to go traipsing around with, while others just aren’t powerful enough to be reliable, especially for digital nomads whose computing demands are more intensive than that of regular users.

The best travel laptops must combine portability with power and durability. They must be thin and light so you can easily slip them in your backpack or carry-on, and not have to worry too much about the added weight. Anything under 1.59kg (3.5lbs) is ideal. After all, traveling as light as possible is one of the key things for a more relaxing – and cheaper – trip.

They must also be powerful enough to handle your needs, whatever those may be. If you’re just looking to do travel research, stream movies and chat with friends, a less powerful laptop will do. However, if you’re planning on working while traveling, not just any laptop will do. Luckily, there are excellent mobile workstations out there that are fitted with powerful processors and plenty of memory.

The best travel laptops must also be extremely durable, robust enough to not only handle hard bumps, but also accidental drops. MacBook Pros, for example, are tough enough to survive a high fall.

A long battery life is also extremely useful. While most cafes, airports, stations, trains and planes provide outlets for laptop users, a portable that will last you a while on a single charge is preferred in case you find yourself stuck in a place where charging just isn’t possible. It wouldn’t hurt to have plenty of storage space, either – although Cloud storage and external hard drives are readily available, if upgrading to a bigger storage space proves too pricey for you.

MacBook Pro 13-inch

(Image credit: Apple)

01. MacBook Pro 13-inch

Best travel laptop for those invested in the Mac environment

CPU: 8th-generation Intel Core i5 – i7 | Graphics: Intel Iris Plus Graphics 645 – 655 | RAM: 8GB – 16GB | Size: 30.41 x 21.24 x 1.49 cm (11.97 x 8.36 x 0.59 in) | Weight: 1.37 kg (3.02 lbs)

Thin and light
Excellent build quality
Thunderbolt connectivity only
Pricey storage upgrade

The MacBook Pro 16-inch may have been the talk of the town when it launched in late 2019, but it’s still a bit too big for jet-setting Apple fans. Luckily, Apple has also updated its 13-inch MacBook Pros, making them better than ever.

The thin and light 2019 MacBook Pro 13-inch is touting not just new specs, but also features like Apple’s Retina display and that convenient Touch ID. The non-Touch Bar models have been phased out, so fans of the Touch Bar feature will be happy to know that they won’t be paying extra to get it. Better yet, this 2019 model keeps its predecessor’s price tag, so you won’t be paying more for these fresh updates.

Bear in mind though that the MacBook Pro 13-inch won’t be able to handle the more intensive tasks like video editing and AutoCAD design. Also, it only has Thunderbolt ports available. However, if you’re only looking to send emails, write up documents and stream videos – and maybe squeeze in some light photo editing every now and then – this is the best travel laptop for you.

HP Spectre x360 13T

(Image credit: HP)

02. HP Spectre x360 13T

Thin, light and stunning for your hybrid laptop needs

CPU: 8th-generation Intel Core i5 – i7 | Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 620 | RAM: 8GB – 16GB | Size: 30.89 x 21.79 x 1.45 cm (12.16 x 8.58 x 0.57 in) | Weight: From 1.32 kg (2.92 lbs)

Responsive touch display
2-in-1 form factor
Expensive

The new HP Spectre x360 13T is gorgeous, with its elegant gem-cut design that will be the envy of everyone on your train. However, this light and portable laptop isn’t just all looks. Designed to compete with MacBook users, it also boasts plenty of power – more than enough to convince hardcore Apple fans to switch over to Windows.

Not only that, but the HP Spectre x360 13T is feature-rich as well, making it in many ways better than the newer MacBook Pro models. It offers a good variety of ports, for one, so you can connect all your non-Thunderbolt devices. It also boasts great Bang & Olufsen speakers, an exquisite touchscreen display and a whopping 12-hour battery life. More importantly, it has a hybrid design so you can work in traditional laptop mode, play games in tablet mode and stream your favourite shows in tent mode.

This is one of our favourite laptops for 2020, and among the best travel laptops for creative professionals who prefer the Windows environment.

Microsoft Surface Laptop 3

(Image credit: Microsoft)

03. Microsoft Surface Laptop 3

One of the lightest travel laptops in the premium market

CPU: 10th-generation Intel Core i5 – i7 | Graphics: Intel Iris Plus Graphics | RAM: 8GB – 16GB | Size: 30.8 x 22.3 x 1.45 cm (12.10 x 8.80 x 0.57 in) | Weight: Up to 1.27 kg (2.79 lbs)

One of the lightest Ultrabooks
Great keyboard and trackpad
Too few ports
Average battery life

The new Surface Laptop 3 continues Microsoft’s tradition of crafting excellent – albeit pricey – portables. This time around, the Surface Laptop 3 comes in both the 13-inch and 15-inch models, with the 15-inch touting the latest AMD processors.

It’s the 13-inch, however, that we’re singing high praises for as far as Ultrabooks for traveling. These thin and light laptops come fitted with 10th-generation Intel Core processors, plenty of memory for most computing needs and decent storage options. It delivers such an excellent performance, and boasts Microsoft’s impressive keyboard and trackpad as well, although these might be a bit of a departure from the predecessor’s.

However, what really makes this among the best travel laptops out there is its weight. At up to 1.27 kg, this is lighter than most of its 13-inch rivals, so if weight is a top priority for you, this must be at the top of your list of options. For more details read our Surface Laptop 3 review, or see how it compares to its predecessor in our Surface Laptop 2 review.

Dell XPS 13

(Image credit: Dell)

04. Dell XPS 13

Travel laptop that will last you a while

CPU: 10th-generation Intel Core i3 – i7 | Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics | RAM: 8GB – 16GB | Size: 30.2 x 19.9 x 1.16 cm (11.9 x 7.8 x 0.46 in) | Weight: Starting at 1.23 kg (2.7 lbs)

Webcam placement fixed
Great performance
Not for the budget buyers
Graphics card could be better

For years, Dell’s XPS line has topped many best laptops list. The XPS laptops are simply some of the best in their class. And, the newest 2019 models don’t fall far from the tree. 

However, rocking 10th-generation Intel Core processors, as well as a battery boost from the previous model, the Dell XPS 13 is more powerful than ever for most computing tasks. More importantly, Dell has finally fixed that awful webcam placement under the display – the webcam, which has also been improved with four lens elements, is now sitting in its rightful place above the screen. When video chatting with friends and family back home, they won’t be looking up your nose any more. 

The InfinityEdge display has been updated as well, with thinner bezels so it looks fresher than ever. Speaking of looks, it now also comes in Frost for those who think black is boring. Finally, if size is a major concern, the Dell XPS 13 is one of the smallest laptops out there. It’s the perfect travel companion, if you prefer to jet-set with just a single travel bag.

Razer Blade Stealth 13

(Image credit: Razer)

05. Razer Blade Stealth 13

Best ultra-thin travel laptop for gaming and productivity

CPU: 10th-generation Intel Core i7 | Graphics: Intel Iris Plus – Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 with Max-Q | RAM: 16GB | Size: 30.46 x 21.0 x 1.53 cm (11.99 x 8.27 x 0.60 in) | Weight: Up to 1.48 kg (3.26 lbs)

Thin and light for a gaming laptop
Beautiful display
Pricey for its internals
Not many customisation options

Razer is no stranger to excellent gaming laptops that boast mind-blowing power, but it’s the Razer Blade Stealth 13 that’s really impressed us. While most gaming laptops are big and bulky machines, this 13-inch model has fitted all that gaming prowess in an Ultrabook laptop, so you can play all those latest games smoothly at 1080p while on the go. 

This updated Razer Blade Stealth may not be the cheapest gaming machine out there, but thin does come at a price. If you’re willing to pay it, this delivers enough power and boasts a stunning display. It’s not just for games, mind you – it can handle creative tasks like photo and video editing as well. There’s even a 4K option for an even better image quality. And the sophisticated and sleek non-gaming aesthetic is a bonus.