With all of the ‘lightweight’ and ‘durable’ plastic laptops out there it can be difficult to know if they really stand up to real world usage.
These laptops act as what we call ‘fingerprint magnets’ which makes them more susceptible to scratches and general wear and tear.
You’ll be hard pressed to find genuinely durable laptops because of the saturation of lower quality machines.
Another issue with lower quality laptops is their lack of impact resistance, you absolutely do not want to have a plastic bodied laptop when it eventually takes a bump on your floor or even worse, the sidewalk.
Even if all of the major components of the laptop survive and it continues working, the external and structural damage your expensive machine will sustain will be huge.
Thankfully there is a solution to this annoying problem and we’re here to help simplify your search for a good laptop.
Aluminum chassis laptops retain the lightness and portability of their plastic alternatives whilst still being structurally integral enough to withstand more significant knocks and bumps.
Being a stable metal aluminum has fairly decent heat dissipation properties meaning that the whole body of your laptop can act as a heatsink to allow the internals to passively cool.
We’ve put together a list of the best laptops with an aluminum chassis that you can currently get on the market.
We’ve also included a buyer’s guide that’s going to make it easier for you to choose your own aluminum laptop and know that it can still perform well enough for you to be productive.
In a Rush
Are you in a hurry to get your new laptop set up so you can get that screenplay finished, sitting in a comfortable coffee shop? Not to worry we’ve got our top pick right here for you.
This laptop is the best computing experience you can find for a Windows user. Considering that this laptop also comes with an aluminum alloy outer body, you’ve got yourself a top performing laptop with a hardy and durable design.
- Intel i7 CPU that massively increases multi-core performance over other i5 and i3 CPUs.
- Huge battery life lasting up to 11.5 hours.
- 16GB of RAM and 512GB of storage, plenty for multi tasking and large files.
- 2256 x 1504 PixelSense Display that makes using this laptop a dream.
OUR TOP PICK
The Surface Laptop lineup from Microsoft was designed to take on Apple’s monopoly of slim and light high quality laptops. They successfully pulled off a MacBook experience for the Windows user.
While still keeping true to the Microsoft Windows infrastructure, Microsoft has made laptops more accessible for non Mac OS users. The quality of this laptop far surpasses previous attempts made by other manufactures to corner the slim and light market.
With a 10th generation i7 processor powering this laptop you can easily get through your daily workload and even take on some more CPU intensive tasks without breaking a sweat. The new 10th Generation intel processors are amazing inside laptops due to their low base clock and TDP.
But, with a boost clock of 3.90GHz you can’t go wrong. These ultra-lower power models manufactured by Intel have a TDP of 25W meaning they use less than a fifth of the full powered desktop units.
The major benefit of these processors is the increased battery life and lower max temperatures. The fact that this laptop has a 4 core, 8 thread cpu with a thickness of 0.57 inches is a wonder.
The Surface laptop 3 is configurable to a few different processors, memory, screen size ,and storage options, the one we have chosen here is the 13.5” variant. Microsoft doesn’t use panels made by any other manufacturer, they’ve always created custom panels for their surface laptops that have a minimum pixel density of 200 PPI.
This is why the resolution of the 13.5” and 15” models are slightly different. Microsoft has named this panel a PixelSense panel. The panel is a full IPS panel and looks amazing with any type of content on it. You will easily be able to go hours using this screen without any eye strain.
These laptops don’t use a standard aspect ratio and with a resolution of 2256 x 1504 you get a higher than 2k resolution without the horizontal space which makes multitasking more appealing.
The version of the laptop that we’re looking at today has 16GB of RAM and 512GB of Storage. This is more than enough RAM to have 10+ Chrome tabs open with a few word documents and a couple of spreadsheets open without lag or stuttering.
Having half a terabyte of storage is the minimum we would recommend for aluminum laptops due to the lack of storage upgradability.
There is also more than enough I/O for the laptop to be versatile as an everyday driver. You won’t have an issue plugging is external storage, external devices, and charging it at the same time. You can also get this laptop in 4 beautiful different colors.
- Low TDP 10th Generation i7 CPU that extends battery life and reduces thermal output.
- PixelSense Display with a 200 PPI pixel density looks crisp and sharp.
- Enough memory and storage capacity for peak productivity.
- The 11.5 hour battery life is enough for all day work.
- Non-standard aspect ratio can be difficult to get used to.
The XPS 13 is the next best option for Windows users who want a slim and light laptop that uses Windows.
The XPS 13 was the one of the original premium ultra slim laptops on the market and held the top spot on a lot of lists for a couple of years. Since the Surface laptop 2 and 3 were released we’ve had a few more options to choose between.
This laptop comes with the newest 11th Generation i7 low powered CPU. As with the previous low powered CPU, this one has a lowered base clock but with a boost clock of 4.80GHz this isn’t something you need to worry about. It also has 4 cores and 8 threads which is the minimum we’d recommend for decent multitasking.
Dell has packed a 500 Nit FHD+ display into this 13.4” form factor. It is a touch screen and therefore is covered by capacitive glass that increases the color accuracy of displays. This is a beautiful IPS display that pairs with Dolby vision to give you a great viewing experience.
With 16GB of RAM and 512GB of storage this laptop has more than enough of each to be your main driver for years to come.
The XPS 13 comes with a carbon fibre wrist rest that feels great when typing and doesn’t get slick like a metal finish can. There is also a fingerprint sensor built in to make signing in a simpler process.
- Newest 11th Generation i7 processor that can handle heavy workloads.
- FHD+ Touch display with 500 nit brightness can be used in direct sunlight with little issue.
- 16GB of 4000+ MHz RAM can handle all multitasking features.
- Aerospace Carbon fibre palm rests look good and feel comfortable.
- The I/O consists of 2 USB-C thunderbolt 3 enabled ports.
If we’re talking about aluminum laptops we had to put at least 1 MacBook on the list. These were the first premium thing and light laptops on the market and did everything their bulky competitors did without all of the heft.
The newest MacBook Air comes with Apple's proprietary, new processor known as the M1 chip. This chip has been designed to work with apple systems and it does so perfectly.
The processor works perfectly in tandem with the OS and you get major performance out of such a low powered chip. This is an 8 core chip that Apple stated can even be used for light gaming.
At only 13.3” the monitor doesn’t need to have a huge resolution to have a high pixel density. The display still meets Apple’s ‘retina’ standard and does have a high resolution of 2560 x 1600 with a density of 227 PPI.
The MacBook Air only comes with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage. This is plenty of memory for apple programs. In terms of storage you may need to purchase some extra iCloud storage down the line but for now this is enough.
With an 18 hour battery life this is the largest on the list and will easily take you through 2 or even 3 days of work between charges.
- Apple’s new M1 Chip makes this the most efficient and speedy MacBook Air.
- The 13.3” Retina display makes content look great.
- Mac OS is a huge selling point and makes this laptop compatible with the Apple ecosystem.
- Lower memory and storage than the other options.
This is HP’s updated take on the XPS 13 with a few added features.
With a full powered i7 10th Generation processor built in there isn’t a lot this laptop can’t handle. With 4 cores and 8 threads this is similar to the previous i7 CPUs but this one has a boost clock of 4.9GHz.
This is the largest display on our list at 15.6”. This is also the only display on our list with a standard aspect ratio so far.
With an FHD resolution of 1920 x 1080, you won’t have to worry about pixel differentiation but the clarity and sharpness will definitely take a hit. This is also a touch display.
With 8GB of memory and 512GB this laptop meets the requirements we set out. The high speed SSD and memory mean you aren’t going to have any issues with performance.
This is what’s known as a 2 in 1 or convertible laptop. HP has included a full rotation hinge that allows you to swing the screen around and use it in tablet mode.
- Full i7-10510U powered meaning it can handle hard to run programs with ease.
- Upgradeable RAM for future proofing.
- Full rotation hinges let you switch between laptop and tablet mode.
- Heavier and harder to carry than other laptops.
This laptop has the same 11th Generation i7 processor as the XPS 13 further up the list and benefits from it exactly the same. The small form factor of this laptop makes this processor; with its low power consumption and low thermal output, a perfect fit.
The 13.3” FHD display is full IPS and has almost no bezels making it look amazing. The lower resolution is imperative to this laptop as it reduces power consumption and with a maximum thickness of 0.53” it can’t store a huge battery.
Despite its Ultra-Slim form factor ASUS has still managed to pack in 16GB of RAM and a 1TB PCIe SSD.
The hinge design of this laptop accentuates a few premium features you don’t normally get from a product this slim.
As you lift the screen it creates a foot that lifts the back of the laptop up which improves your typing position and comfort, increases the laptop’s cooling ability, and funnels the audio making it louder and fuller.
- 11th Generation i7 that boosts up to 4.80GHz meaning it is powerful enough for all types of work.
- Extremely slim and portable at 0.53” max thickness and weighing only 2.45lb.
- Highest storage and memory bundle on the list.
- Textured lid is prone to scratches.
Best Aluminum Laptops Buying Guide
When looking for a decent laptop there are a number of different components that you have to evaluate and identify their effect on the efficacy of said device as your pc.
Deciding the build quality and material of the laptop’s body is one of those components that we can now look past since we’ve decided on Aluminum as the build material.
The other features are going to be mostly internal and are responsible for the performance of the laptop. Which is arguably just as important as its physical features.
A lot of first time buyers will usually look at a laptop and decide on whether to get it based on 2 things; how it looks and which operating system it has.
We’ll break down a few different components and features that you should look at before choosing a laptop as these will arguably be more important in the long run.
The components we’re evaluating in these laptops are the processor, the screen, the memory and storage, and the extra features like an aftermarket cooling system, macro keys, etc.
The CPU of your laptop is the main computing unit, any actions or applications that you run on your computer are powered by the CPU.
How quickly your programs can run, how quickly they open up and how many applications you can have open at the same time are all determined by different parts of your CPU.
Also how smooth your computer runs, in general, is dependent on your CPU. The major factors that dictate a CPU’s performance are its Clock speed and core count. The clock speed is a metric that essentially shows the speed of a CPU in terms of its frequency.
It shows how many operations it can perform in a single cycle but all you need to know is that the higher the clock speed the better the performance.
All CPUs have 2 clock speeds, the base clock and boost clock, the base clock is the lowest possible frequency each core can operate at and represents the lowest TDP and power draw of the processor.
The boost clock is the highest possible frequency of each core dependent on the CPUs power draw and temperature. Given that your laptop has adequate cooling it’ll reach higher clock speeds and run faster giving you a free performance boost.
The second factor is the core and thread count, a CPU core is almost equivalent to a mini processor that makes up the whole CPU when put together with more of itself. The more cores and threads your CPU has the more actions and programs it can deal with simultaneously.
With laptop CPUs the TDP is also important as your computer is powered by a battery, therefore the higher the TDP the lower your battery life will be. Higher speed and higher core counts lead to a higher TDP.
Finding a balance between a high core count, high speed and low TDP is how you find a good laptop processor.
The screen is extremely important to the overall quality of your laptop and it’s what you stare at 99% of the time you’re using a laptop.
Getting this right will make all the difference in how enjoyable using your laptop will be. It also makes those extended project/streaming sessions more tolerable and less taxing on your eyes.
Making sure you don’t experience eye fatigue and stress related injuries is a very important factor laptop monitors. The factors that determine the quality of a laptop’s monitor are the resolution, the size, and the panel type.
If we were looking at a gaming machine then we’d also look at the refresh rate but that’s not too important for standard productivity laptops. The resolution of your laptop’s screen defines how sharp the image is and how ‘nice’ the image looks.
The higher the resolution the higher quality the image is and also the harder it is to drive at a decent refresh rate of 60Hz. The size of your monitor isn’t just how big the screen is but also how densely packed the pixels are and again how sharp the image is.
If you had an FHD resolution at 32 inches then you pixel density is 69 PPI (Pixels Per Inch) your image is going to look blown out and you’d be able to differentiate individual pixels from each other, however if you shrink that screen down to 13 inches your pixel density jumps up to 170 PPI meaning that you more than double the sharpness of the screen.
Finally the panel type determines the color accuracy and viewing angles. The color accuracy of a monitor is a measure of how true to life the color representation is of your monitor. Having high color accuracy is extremely important to how good a screen looks.
The 2 types of panels we’ve looked at today are IPS and VA panels. IPS panels are usually considered the best on the market for color accuracy, brightness, and viewing angles but they are harder to run and use more battery life.
VA panels are more cost effective, can be run at higher refresh rates, and still retain their viewing angles, they suffer in color accuracy and brightness.
Memory and Storage
These are 2 components that are often confused with each other but the 2 are fairly different. The amount of RAM your laptop has is what is known as your system’s memory.
It basically determines how many things your laptop can do at the same time and how smoothly you can transition between those, your CPU cores determine how many you can work on at once.
The speed and capacity of the memory determine its quality. The storage of your laptop is where things are stored long term, like for example the install folders of an application or your photo files.
The 2 main features of the laptop’s storage that need to be evaluated are its speed and capacity. How fast your storage is will determine how quickly your laptop powers on and applications can open. The capacity is fairly self explanatory, it determines how much you can store on your laptop.
With most aluminum laptops what you’ll find is a unibody system meaning that storage is hard capped at the capacity you purchase it at, so to avoid massive cloud storage fees getting a high enough capacity is imperative.
The extra feature of a laptop can range from expandable storage to a more diverse I/O interface to an active cooling system.
As we stated above the temperature of your system can affect its overall performance and without a decent cooling system you’re essentially giving up free computing power.
Standard laptop cooling systems are usually effective enough when combined with mobile processors, when however, a desktop cpu is put inside a smaller laptop body you will more often than not, see an increase in TDP that the cooling system can’t handle.
A more diverse I/O interface can be all the difference between being able to charge your laptop and being able to charge your laptop with a USB mouse plugged in or an external storage device being used at the same time. Any and all extra features increase the versatility and usability of a laptop.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are Aluminum laptops more expensive than normal laptops?
Not necessarily, aluminum is normally only used on the bodies of more premium laptops but you can find aluminum laptops priced similarly to magnesium alloy laptops or even some high grade plastic laptops.
Aluminum laptops are usually more durable and easier to maintain.