Laptops are getting thinner and lighter with each generation these days. The hardware is getting faster and smaller, to the point where the actual processor, memory and all the other chips only occupy a small fraction of a modern computer, leaving more room for battery cells.
All these advances lead to a new trend in the world of mobile computing: fanless laptops and ultrabooks, or in other words laptops with a passive cooling solution that does not include a spinning fan. You’ll find quite a few models available in stores already and this post lists all of them based on screen size, weight, the hardware inside, and of course, price.
There’s one important reason why you’ll want a fanless laptop: it’s going to be perfectly quiet, especially if the passive cooled hardware is paired with an SSD. There are exceptions, though. Fanless machines, especially among the more affordable options, may come with spinning HDDs‒ but even those can be upgraded in order to deliver what the fanless consumer desires: a quiet everyday experience on a laptop, similar to what has been offered for years by tablets or phones.
You have to understand that a fanless computer is going to be built on a low-power hardware platform and will handle most everyday tasks to a point, but won’t be able to cope with the more demanding ones you might want to perform on a modern laptop (editing videos and photos, running programming software or modern PC games, among others). At least for the time being. We’ll talk a bit more about the platforms available at this very moment towards the end of the post, so you’ll understand exactly what to expect from each one of them.
For now though, these are the available fanless laptops and ultra-portables. Click the links on each product’s name for more details and reviews, as well as the links in the Prices column for the latest offers and discounts on the products you’re interested in.
Full size fanless laptops
This section is reserved for the full-size everyday machines with anything above a 14 inch screen (15 inchers are thus included in here as well). There aren’t many options in this chapter, simply because most fanless laptops are also compact and highly portable, which aren’t exactly words you can put next to these large-footprint devices. I do have a selection of the best 14 and 15 inch ultrabooks you can find right now, in case you’re interested.
|HP Chromebook 14||clamshell||14.0″ TN HD||Nvidia Tegra K1||3.75 kg / 1.7 lbs||$299|
|HP Envy X2 15||detachable||15.6″ touch IPS FHD||Intel Core M||2.45 kg / 5.42 lbs (w/ dock)||$749|
Fanless Ultrabooks and ultra-portables
This section is reserved for the portables computers with screen sizes between 12 and 13.9 inches diagonal. That includes the popular 12.5 and 13.3 inch categories that offer the ideal match between a decent sized display and keyboard, a fair selection of ports, and the power to handle most usual activities well.
|Acer Swift 7||clamshell||13.3″ IPS FHD||Kaby Lake Core Y||1.1 kg / 2.4 lbs||$999|
|Acer Aspire Switch 12S||detachable||12.5″ IPS touch FHD||Skylake Core M||1.5 kg / 3.3 lbs (w/ dock)||$1199|
|Acer Aspire Switch Alpha 12||detachable||12.5″ IPS touch||Skylake Core U||1.3 kg / 2.85 lbs (w/ folio)||$599|
|Acer Chromebook 13 CB5-311||clamshell||13.3″ TN FHD||NVIDIA Tegra K1||1.49 kg / 3.3 lbs||$299|
|Apple MacBook 12||clamshell||12.0″ IPS retina||Skylake Core M||0.90 kg / 2.0 lbs||$1199|
|Asus Chromebook 13||clamshell||13.3″ TN HD||Intel Celeron BayTrail||1.40 kg / 3.1 lbs||$229|
|Asus Transformer Book Chi T300||detachable||12.5″ IPS touch QHD||Broadwell Core M||1.40 kg / 3.1 lbs (w/dock)||$699|
|Asus Transformer 3 T305CA||detachable||12.5″ IPS touch||Kaby Lake Core M||1.14 kg / 2.5 lbs (w/dock)||$699|
|Asus Zenbook UX305||clamshell||13.3″ IPS FHD and QHD+||Skylake Core M||1.27 kg / 2.8 lbs||$699|
|Asus Zenbook UX330CA||convertible||13.3″ IPS FHD and QHD+||Kaby Lake Core M||1.2 kg / 2.65 lbs||$799|
|Asus Zenbook Flip UX360CA||convertible||13.3″ IPS touch FHD and QHD+||Skylake Core M||1.3 kg / 2.86 lbs||$699|
|Dell Latitude 12 7000||detachable||12.5″ IPS touch FHD or UHD||Skylake Core M||1.66 kg / 3.7 lbs (w/ dock)||$1199|
|Dell XPS 12 9250||detachable||12.5″ IPS touch FHD or UHD||Skylake Core M||1.27 kg / 2.8 lbs (w/ dock)||$999|
|HP EliteBook Folio G1||clamshell||12.5″ IPS FHD or touch QHD||Skylake Core M||0.97 kg / 2.13 lbs||$1099|
|HP Spectre X2 12||detachable||12″ IPS touch FHD||Intel Core M||1.22 kg / 2.68 lbs (w/ dock)||$899|
|HP Stream 13||clamshell||13.3″ TN HD||Intel Celeron BayTrail||1.54 kg / 3.4 lbs (w/ dock)||$249|
|Lenovo Yoga Tablet Pro 2||tablet||13.3″ IPS touch QHD||Intel Atom BayTrail||1.02 kg / 2.27 lbs||$699|
|Lenovo Miix 710||tablet||12″ IPS FHD+||Kaby Lake Core M||0.77 kg / 1.7 lbs||$749|
|Lenovo Yoga 900S||convertible||12.5″ IPS FHD+||Skylake Core M||0.99 kg / 2.2 lbs||$1099|
|Microsoft Surface Pro 4||tablet||12.3″ IPS FHD+||Skylake Core M||0.77 kg / 1.7 lbs||$799|
|Samsung ATIV Book 9 NP930X2||clamshell||12.2″ IPS touch WQXGA||Broadwell Core M||0.95 kg / 2.1 lbs||$1199|
|Samsung Chromebook 2 13||clamshell||13.3″ IPS FHD||Samsung Exynos 5 Octa||1.38 kg / 3.06 lbs||$399|
|Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro S||tablet||12.1″ IPS FHD+||Skylake Core M||0.69 kg / 1.53 lbs||$999|
|Toshiba Chromebook 13 CB35||clamshell||13.3″ TN HD||Intel Celeron BayTrail||1.33 kg / 2.95 lbs||$249|
|Toshiba Portégé Z20t||convertible||12.5″ IPS touch FHD||Broadwell Core M||1.59 kg / 3.5 lbs (w/ dock)||$1299|
Fanless Mini laptops
Finally, we list here the smallest options, usually built on very low power hardware and thus only meant for basic daily tasks.
They are especially designed with either budget or long battery life in mind (most of them check both these boxes), but if you’re a demanding user or type for a living you might find them either too small or too slow for your needs.
|Acer Aspire ES11||clamshell||11.6″ TN HD||Intel Celeron Braswell||1.27 kg / 2.8 lbs||$229|
|Acer Aspire R 11||convertible||11.6″ TN touch HD||Intel Celeron / Pentium Braswell||1.58 kg / 3.50 lbs||$249|
|Acer Aspire Switch 10 2015||detachable||10.1″ IPS FHD||Intel Atom BayTrail||1.2 kg / 2.64 lbs (w/dock)||$399|
|Acer Aspire Switch 10 E||detachable||10.1″ TN HD||Intel Atom BayTrail||1.28 kg / 2.82 lbs (w/ dock)||$279|
|Acer Aspire Switch 11 V||detachable||11.6″ IPS touch FHD||Intel Core M||1.55 kg / 3.5 lbs||$499|
|Asus EeeBook X205||clamshell||11.6″ TN HD||Intel Atom BayTrail||0.95 kg / 2.10 lbs (w/ dock)||$199|
|Asus Transformer Book Chi T100||detachable||10.1″ IPS WUXGA||Intel Atom BayTrail||1.08 kg / 2.38 lbs (w/ dock)||$399|
|Asus Transformer Book T100HA||detachable||10.1″ IPS HD||Intel Atom CherryTrail||1.14 kg / 2.52 lbs (w/ dock)||$299|
|Asus Transformer Book T101HA||detachable||10.1″ IPS HD||Intel Atom CherryTrail||1.08 kg / 2.38 lbs (w/ dock)||$299|
|Asus Transformer Book T102HA||detachable||10.1″ IPS HD||Intel Atom CherryTrail||0.79 kg / 1.74 lbs (w/ dock)||$349|
|Asus Transformer Book Flip TP200SA||convertible||11.6″ TN touch HD||Intel Celeron / Pentium Braswell||1.20 kg / 2.65 lbs||$349|
|HP Elite x2 1011 G1||detachable||11.6″ IPS touch HD/FHD||Intel Core M||1.62 kg / 3.57 lbs (w/ dock)||$899|
|HP Pavilion 360 11||convertible||11.6″ touch HD||Intel Core M||1.4 kg / 3.1 lbs||$399|
|Dell Venue 11 Pro 5000||detachable||10.8″ IPS touch HD or FHD||Intel Atom BayTrail||0.71 kg / 1.57 lbs (without dock)||$699|
|Dell Venue 11 Pro 7140||detachable||10.8″ IPS touch FHD||Intel Core M||0.72 kg / 1.59 lbs (without dock)||$699|
|HP Stream 11||clamshell||11.6″ TN HD||Intel Celeron BayTrail||1.27 kg / 2.8 lbs (w/ dock)||$199|
|Lenovo Yoga 3 11||convertible||11.6″ IPS touch FHD||Intel Core M||1.18 kg / 2.6 lbs||$749|
|Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 10||tablet||10.1″ IPS touch FHD||Intel Atom BayTrail||0.63 kg / 1.38lbs||$699|
|Lenovo Miix 3 10||tablet||10.1″ IPS touch WUXGA||Intel Atom BayTrail||0.55 kg / 1.21 lbs||$399|
|Lenovo ThinkPad Helix 2||detachable||11.6″ IPS touch FHD||Intel Core M||1.36 kg / 3 lbs (w/ dock)||$999|
|Microsoft Surface 3||tablet||10.8″ IPS FHD||Intel Atom CherryTrail||0.62 kg / 1.37 lbs (without keyboard)||$499|
|Panasonic Let’s Note RZ4||convertible||10.1″ IPS touch FHD||Intel Core M||1.83 kg / 4.05 lbs (w/ dock)||$1499|
There are a couple of other small-factor fanless tablets and mini-laptops out there, but it would be a huge chore to include them all in here. I do talk about them in my list of 10.1 inch hybrids, this selection of 11.6 inch Mini-laptops or ultrabooks, as well as this list of all the best Chromebooks available these days.
As a side note, you should know that the Price column contains the starting MSRPs for each of the products above. That means that the higher configurations are going to be more expensive, but at the same time there’s a very good chance you can find pretty much all these products discounted by the time you’re reading this post. Click on the links on each price for details and up-to-date numbers.
Also, here’s a short glossary of the terms mentioned above:
- tablet: a standard Windows running slate;
- clamshell: classic shaped computer whose screen closes on top of the keyboard and does not flip into any sort of tablet mode;
- convertible: 2-in-1 laptop whose screen rotates and converts to a tablet mode (or similar), but cannot be detached from the base;
- detachable: 2-in-1 laptop whose screen detaches from the base. These are mostly stand-alone tablets bundled with matching docking stations that most often include docking keyboards, ports, batteries and other features;
- slider: 2-in-1 laptop whose screen slides up and down on top of the body and usually reveals a keyboard hidden underneath.
- Resolutions: HD ( 1366 x 768 px), HD+ ( 1600 x 900 px), FHD (1920 x 1080 px), WUXGA (1920 x 1200 px) retina (2304 x 1440 px), QHD (2560 x 1440 px), WQXGA (2560 x 1600 px), QHD+ (3200 x 1800 px), UHD (3840 x 2160 px) – also see this post;
- Intel Atom BayTrail – 22 nm platform (Silvermont) launched in 2013. There are different lines available for tablets (BayTrail-T), laptops (BayTrail-M) and desktops (BayTrail-D).
- Intel Atom CherryTrail – 14 nm platform (Airmont) launched in 2015. Replaces the BayTrail-T lines.
- Intel Celeron/Pentium Haswell – 22 nm platform based on Haswell hardware
- Intel Celeron/Pentium Braswell – 14 nm platform (Airmont) launched in 2015. Can be found in low-power/affordable laptops and replaces the Haswell Pentium/Celeron lines.
- Intel Core M – a mid-level platform launched in 2014 as the low-power version in Intel’s Broadwell family. Meant to offer a good balance between performance and battery life, is present on the more premium fanless machines available at the time of this post.
OK. That’s about it for this post. I do hope you find it useful and if you’re looking for an ultrabook or any other ultraportable laptop, you should also check out the other lists on the site and my reviews.
I’m constantly working at keeping these selections and lists up-to-date, but if you spot anything that should be in here and it’s not, please leave a reply and tell me about it. In fact, feel free to get in touch in the comments sections if you have anything to add, anything to ask or need help choosing your next fanless mini-laptop, I’m around to reply and help.
Douglas Black contributed to this report.