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The Top Portable and Potent MacBook Air Substitutes


The iconic Apple MacBook Air 13-inch (M2) laptop continues to set the bar for thin and light laptops. However, some of us want choice—as in, the choice to buy an equally thin and light laptop that runs Microsoft Windows instead of MacOS. If you’re one of those people, read on: We’ve compiled the best MacBook Air alternatives you can buy today.

There are a variety of thin and light laptops from PC makers to consider. Most of these laptops—including the Asus ZenBook S 13 OLED, our pick for best MacBook Air alternative overall—offer impressive specs that deftly handle productivity tasks, media creation and even casual gaming.

and light, and they run Microsoft Windows.

Illustration: Forbes / Photo: Retailers

To qualify as one of the best MacBook Air alternatives, a laptop needed to weigh about 3.5 pounds—the lighter, the better—and have a thin chassis. After thorough research and testing, we’ve compiled this list of Windows-based MacBook Air alternatives that fit every computing need.

Best Buy

Asus ZenBook S 13 OLED

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Dave2D

CPU: Intel Core i7-1355U | RAM: 32GB LPDDR5 | Graphics: Intel Iris Xe | Storage: 1TB SSD | Display: 13.3-inch OLED | Resolution: 2,880 x 1,800 | Refresh rate: 60Hz | Battery: Up to 10 hours | Weight: 2.2 pounds

Best for: Daily productivity and entertainment on a featherlight laptop.

The Asus ZenBook S 13 OLED combines a gorgeous screen with a super-light laptop. It is powerful, too, with a mid-range Intel processor and a whopping 32GB of fast DDR5 RAM. That’s plenty of memory for heavy multi-tasking and keeping a jillion browser tabs open. The 2.8K OLED screen is sharp, with ultra crisp text and images, inky blacks and vibrant colors. This laptop is the perfect tool for work, entertainment and content creation.

At just over 2 pounds, this laptop is super light and portable. It’s light enough that you can toss it in your bag and not notice it weighing you down on a day out. And with the battery lasting around 10 hours for mixed use, you spend the day away from an outlet without a problem. It has two Thunderbolt 4 USB Type-C connectors and one USB 3.2 Type-A port, but it lacks a touchscreen.

What the editors say: “This laptop’s light weight makes it easy to carry around without straining myself,” says tech editor Melissa Perenson. “The screen looks amazing, and I appreciated the feel of the plasma ceramic coating on the chassis.”

Pros:

  • Great performance
  • Crisp, vivid OLED display
  • Extremely light

Cons:

  • Lacks an onboard GPU for gaming
  • No touchscreen

Acer

Acer Swift Go 16-Inch

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CPU: Intel Core i7-13700H | RAM: 16GB DDR5 | Graphics: Intel Iris Xe | Storage: 1TB SSD | Display: 16-inch OLED | Resolution: 3,200 x 2,000 pixels | Refresh rate: 120Hz | Battery life: Up to 9 hours | Dimensions: 14 x 9.6 x 0.6 inches | Weight: 3.5 pounds

Best for: Taking a large, 3.2K screen on the go.

If you like the idea of the larger Apple MacBook Air 15-inch, then the Acer Swift Go 16 (model SFG16-71-7902) is our pick for a similarly sized PC. This 3.5-pound configuration comes with a thirteenth-generation Intel Core i7-13700H processor, 16GB of RAM and a roomy 1TB SSD. It also packs a 16-inch 2.8K OLED display with cinema-grade 100 percent DCI-P3 wide color gamut, low blue light emissions and near infinite contrast. Images look crisp, with inky blanks and vibrant colors. Plus, the display’s 120Hz refresh rate means fast action and animations look smooth, and any casual games you play can look their best.

The Swift Go 16 has two USB Thunderbolt 4 USB Type-C ports, two USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A ports (5Gbps), HDMI 2.1 and a microSD card slot.  

Pros:

  • Brilliant OLED display
  • Multiple useful inputs
  • Thin and lightweight

Cons:

  • Slower USB-Type A connections

MOST POPULAR

CPU: Intel Core i7-1250U | RAM: 8GB DDR5 | Graphics: Intel Iris X3 | Storage: 512GB SSD | Display: 13.4-inch | Resolution: 1,920 x 1,200 | Refresh rate: 60Hz | Battery life: Up to 12 hours | Dimensions: 11.6 x 7.9 x 0.6 inches | Weight: 2.6 pounds

Best for: General purpose computing on the go.

The Dell XPS 13 delivers good value. It strikes a balance between size and price, albeit with last year’s twelfth-generation CPU. The baseline model of the thin and light Dell XPS 13 offers a 13.4-inch FHD+ anti-glare display with a maximum brightness level of 500 nits. Optional upgrades via Dell’s site include a touchscreen, additional RAM (up to 32GB) and a 1TB SSD. The system weighs 2.6 pounds, so it’s light enough to carry all day.

You also get two Thunderbolt 4 USB Type-C ports for fast data transfers (but no other ports) and dual speakers. The battery lasts up to 12 hours—enough to get you through better part of a day.

Pros:

  • Light weight
  • Has two Thunderbolt 4 ports
  • Just over half an inch thick

Cons:

  • Lacks USB-A and other ports
  • Not upgradable after purchase

LG

LG Gram 14-Inch OLED

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Mrwhosetheboss

CPU: Intel Core i7-1360P | RAM: 32GB LPDDDR5 | Graphics: Intel Iris Xe | Storage: 1TB SSD | Display: 14-inch | Resolution: 1,920 x 1,200 pixels | Refresh rate: 60Hz | Battery life: Up to 15.5 hours | Dimensions: 12.3 x 8.4 x 0.7 inches | Weight: 2.2 pounds

Best for: More demanding multitasking on a highly portable system.

The LG Gram 14-Inch OLED weighs just 2.2 pounds, making it supremely easy to carry around with you. The 16:10 FHD+ OLED display supports 99 percent of the DCI-P3 color gamut to make graphics look vivid and sharp. You also get HD audio and Dolby Atmos through the dual 1.5-watt speakers.

Its internal specs are solid. Inside sits a thirteenth-generation Intel Core i7-1360P processor and a massive 32GB of RAM—plenty to support multitasking among apps or open browser tabs. It also comes with a 1TB SSD, which provides ample space to store media and data. This laptop may be thin, but it doesn’t skimp on its ports. It has two Thunderbolt 4 USB Type-C ports, two USB Gen 2.2 x 1 Type-A ports, an HDMI port and a microSD card slot. There’s also a 3.5mm audio port and Bluetooth 5.1. The LG Gram 14-Inch’s battery life impresses, too, topping out at 15.5 hours.

Pros:

  • Long battery life
  • Extremely lightweight
  • Excellent port selection

Cons:

  • No touchscreen support

Lenovo

Lenovo Yoga 9i (14-Inch Intel)

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CPU: Intel Core i7-1360P | RAM: 16GB DDR5 | Graphics: Intel Iris Xe | Storage: 1TB SSD | Display: 14-inch OLED touchscreen | Resolution: 3,840 x 2,400 | Refresh rate: 60Hz | Battery life: Up to 14.3 hours | Dimensions: 12.5 x 9.1 x 0.6 inches | Weight: 3.1 pounds

Best for: Using a 4K laptop in different modes.

The latest Lenovo Yoga 9i is a capable 2-in-1 laptop that works equally well in tent mode and tablet mode as it does as a traditional laptop. Its 4K OLED touchscreen display has a glossy finish and 400 nits brightness, and it supports HDR500, Dolby Vision and 100 percent of the DCI-P3 color gamut. The sound system by Bowers & Wilkins provides two 3-watt woofers and two 2-watt tweeters with Dolby Atmos support.

The Yoga 9i has plenty of inputs, with two Thunderbolt 4 USB Type-C ports, one USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A (10Gbps) and one USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C port (10Gbps), plus a 3.5mm headphone/mic jack. Lenovo includes its Precision Pen 2 with the Yoga 9i, so you can handwrite or draw directly on the screen.

Pros:

  • 4K OLED touchscreen display
  • Sleek 2-in-1 design
  • Fast USB Type-A ports

Cons:

  • No HDMI port

How We Chose The Best MacBook Air Alternatives

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We combined research with hands-on testing and experience, and we spoke with product experts and industry leaders to help us determine the products that made the cut. We carefully evaluated each MacBook Air alternative’s design, features, operating system, price and more. We also paid attention to what sets each MacBook Air alternative apart from its competitors.


How To Choose The Best MacBook Air Alternative For Your Needs

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When it comes to choosing an alternative laptop to the MacBook Air, it's essential to consider your specific needs and preferences. Here are some key factors to keep in mind:

Operating System

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Consider whether you prefer macOS or if you're open to Windows or Linux. If you’re seeking a MacBook alternative, chances are you’re looking for something that’s not macOS. If that’s the case, Windows laptops are your best best, offering a wide range of software compatibility and customization options.

You can opt for a Chromebook which usually runs a Linux-based operating system, but they usually are more designed for more casual use cases, and not the heavy multitasking the MacBooks can offer.

Performance

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Evaluate your performance requirements before making a choice. If you need a laptop for basic tasks like web browsing and document editing, a laptop with an Intel Core i5 or AMD Ryzen 5 processor should suffice. You can also opt for one of our top Chromebook picks or a budget-friendly laptop. However, for more demanding tasks like video editing or gaming, look for laptops with higher-end processors and dedicated graphics cards.

Portability

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If you value portability like the MacBook Air, you’ll want to seek out laptops with a slim and lightweight design. Many of the laptops on our list offer the lightweight chassis and portable design that has helped make the cut for our list.

Battery Life

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Battery life is crucial for on-the-go users. Laptops like the Lenovo Yoga 9i and the LG Gram 14-inch laptops offer impressive battery life with hours of playback time, ensuring you can work or entertain yourself without constantly reaching for your power bank.

Display

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If you’re using your laptop for video editing, having a quality display is a must. Seek a laptop with a high-resolution screen, either Full HD or 4K. In addition, you’ll need to decide which display is best for you; IPS or OLED can provide accurate colors and wide viewing angles.

Connectivity

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Ensure the laptop has the necessary ports for your needs, which, depending on your use for your laptop, it could require a plethora of different ports. In general, USB-C, Thunderbolt, HDMI and SD card slots can be essential for your daily tasks, and you’ll want to check to see if your chosen laptop offers these ports.

Budget

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Your budget plays a significant role in your choice. Brands like Acer and Asus offer budget-friendly alternatives to the MacBook Air, while the higher-end options include options on our list from Dell and Lenovo. In general, for the price, because Apple packs a lot of power into their laptops, you can expect to spend more on Windows-based laptops.

Ultimately, your choice should align with your specific use case. If you're a creative professional, consider a laptop with a high-quality display and powerful specs. For students, a budget-friendly option with solid performance may suffice.


Why Trust Forbes Vetted

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The Forbes Vetted tech team strives to offer accurate and trustworthy product assessments that are the result of intensive research and hands-on testing. Our writers and editors have years of experience writing about a broad range of consumer electronics and have the background and expertise to help you make the best buying decisions possible. Tech editor and reviewer Melissa Perenson remembers the days before 3-pound laptops became mainstream picks not just for corporate executives. She always looks first at lightweight laptops, since they make the best travel companions.


The Best Laptop By Category

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Looking for more options? We’ve got a list to help you find the best laptop for your lifestyle. From MacBooks and Chromebooks, to models under $500, we've got you covered.

Best Laptops By Brand

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  • Best Dell Laptops
  • Best Lenovo Laptops
  • Best HP Laptops
  • Best MacBooks
  • Best Chromebooks

Best Laptops By Type

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  • Best Gaming Laptops
  • Best 2-In-1 Laptops
  • Best Laptops For College Students
  • Best 17-Inch Laptops

Best Laptops By Price

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  • Best Laptops Under $500
  • Best Affordable Laptops
  • Best Gaming Laptops Under $1,000

Sources


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