Laptops come in a lot of different sizes, and the way they are measured can sometimes be a bit confusing. So in this article, I’m going to break down the different laptop sizes out there to help you wrap your head around it all.
Whether you’re shopping for a new laptop and wondering which size you should get, or maybe you’re trying to measure your laptop and you’re trying to understand the measurements, or maybe you’re just curious about all the different sizes out there. You’re in the right place, because in this article, I’m going to cover all that and more.
Measuring A Laptop
The way laptops are measured is actually kind of strange. When you measure a laptop, you actually measure just the screen. And you measure the screen diagonally.
So if you say you have a 14 inch laptop (this is a fairly common laptop size), that would mean that the screen of the laptop is 14 inches when measured diagonally from the top right hand corner to the bottom left hand corner.
This can be a bit confusing because you’re not actually measuring the outer shell of the laptop, you’re just measuring the screen inside it. So while knowing that the screen is 14 inches can give you a reasonable idea of how big the laptop is, some 14 inch laptops can actually be bigger than others.
This is because, when you measure the screen, you only measure the actual screen, not any of the bezel (the edges around the screen). And different laptop makers add different sized bezels around the edges of their screens, especially these days, bezels on laptops are getting smaller and smaller.
And to add to that, some laptops these days have different shaped screens. So while the screen might be 14 inches diagonally, it might actually be taller than usual and therefore less wide than some other 14 inch laptops.
So what all this basically means is not all 14 inch laptops are exactly the same physical size. This measurement is the industry standard and it does give you a reasonable idea of how roughly how large the laptop will be. And it does tell you exactly how big the screen is which is probably the most important aspect of a laptop’s size, but it can make things a little bit confusing.
For example, I have a 14 inch HP laptop from about two years ago, and the physical laptop is just under 13 inches wide. But this laptop has fairly slim bezels. A less modern 14 inch laptop with larger bezels might actually be closer to being 14 inches wide.
And if a different 14 inch laptop had super small bezels and a screen that’s taller rather than wider, it’s actually possible that it could be almost as small as 12 inches wide.
How should you measure your laptop?
So with all this confusion, how should you measure your laptop? Well, I guess that depends on why you’re measuring it.
If, for example, you’re shopping online for a new laptop and the website says it’s a 14 inch laptop, and you want to measure your current laptop to see how it compares, you’ll want to just measure the screen diagonally as I explained before.
While measuring the screen diagonally like this might not be the perfect, most exact way to measure a laptop, it is the industry standard and the manufacturer of the new laptop your looking at will have measured it this way. And it will give you a pretty good idea as to how big the screen will be compared with your old laptop and how big the overall laptop will be.
But just keep in mind that even if your old laptop and new laptop are both technically 14 inch laptops, the physical device might actually be slightly bigger or smaller.
On the other hand, if you’re measuring your laptop because you want to buy some sort of accessory for it like a bag, case, or anything else like that, measuring the screen diagonally will probably do the job, but you might want to measure it a bit more thoroughly.
If you’re buying something like a laptop bag, and it says it can fit a 14 inch laptop, and your laptop has a 14 inch screen when measured diagonally, it’s probably pretty safe to say that your laptop will fit.
But, if it’s a really tight laptop sleeve or a different accessory that needs more exact measurements, you might want to do some research and see if you can find the exact measurements of the accessory (eg: length x Width x Height). Then, you could measure the exact external measurements of your laptop (as though you’re measuring a box), and make sure it will fit.
Different Laptop Sizes – Which Are The Most Common?
So now that you know how laptops are measured, let’s take a look at the different sizes of laptops and which ones are most common. I would say the most common laptop sizes would be 13.3, 14, and 15.6 inches. But there are still quite a few other sizes out there.
Technically, laptops can be any size ranging from a practically unusable 6 inches all the way up to a ridiculous 21 inches, but it’s not common to find laptops in every single size, so below, I’m just going to list out the laptop sizes that are commonly available.
If you’re trying to find the smallest laptop you can, you probably won’t find one much smaller than 10.1 inches (diagonally). You can actually find absurd laptops even smaller than that, but those really aren’t practical and they’re not very common. For use as a real laptop, you really wouldn’t want one any smaller than 10.1 inches (and even that’s pretty small).
11.6 Inches – Most Common Small Size
The most common small laptop size would be 11.6 inches. If you look at Amazon, there are quite a lot of reasonably good 11.6 inch laptops all made by well known brands such as Lenovo and Dell. 11.6 inches is still very small, and I probably wouldn’t recommend using an 11.6 inch laptop all day every day. But it is certainly a fairly common and reasonably practical laptop size.
12 Inches (Roughly)
The next size up from 11.6 inches, would naturally be 12 inches. But 12 inch laptops actually aren’t very common, and the ones that do exist all come in slightly different sizes. Eg: 12″, 12.1″, 12.2″, 12.3″, 12.4″, 12.5″, etc.
This is a bit of a strange laptop size that’s not hugely common, and for that reason, I almost didn’t include it in this list, but there are a few laptops made by major manufacturers that are roughly 12 inches, so I thought I’d better mention it.
13.3 Inches – Most Common Small To Medium Size
Quite a common small to medium laptop size is 13.3 inches. Even Apple’s latest MacBook Air and their smallest MacBook Pro are 13.3 inches, so it’s certainly very popular. Personally, I still prefer laptops slightly bigger, but 13.3 inches is still a very practical size (especially if you want something portable).
I would certainly say 13.3 inches is more common than 13.5, and the difference is so small you can’t really tell without comparing them side by side, but there are quite a few 13.5 inch laptops out there.
14 Inches – Most Common
The next size up is 14 inches, and I’m going to go ahead and dub this the most common laptop size. And it’s also in my opinion a really good overall laptop size. It’s still small enough to be reasonably portable and can be carried around with ease, but it also gives you a big enough screen that you can really practically get a lot of work done.
15.6 Inches – Most Common Large Size
The next size up is typically 15.6 inches. These are probably not as common as 14 inch or even 13.3 inch laptops, but they would still be the third most common. And they’re really quite popular among people who want larger screens and don’t care quite as much about portability.
16 inch laptops are not quite as common as some of the other sizes, but there are quite a few around, and it’s even this size of Apple’s largest MacBook Pro. Obviously, 16 inches isn’t much bigger than 15.6 inches, so that is probably why 16 inch laptops aren’t quite as common.
But 16 inches is still a great size for anyone who wants a nice big screen and doesn’t care as much about portability.
17.3 Inches – The Biggest
While there is such a thing as a ridiculously huge 21 inch laptop, if you go to Amazon or some other computer store, the largest laptop you are likely to find will be 17.3 inches. 17.3 inch laptops aren’t overly common, but there are several very good ones around from well known laptop brands like HP and Acer.
While I probably wouldn’t recommend a 17.3 inch laptop if you need something very portable, 17.3 inch laptops can still certainly be a good option for the right use case. I actually use a 17 inch laptop every day and I love it.
Most of these large laptops are quite expensive and built with very powerful internals for pro computer users, and they’re fairly heavy and not the most portable.
But if you want a very powerful computer with a huge screen, and still want it to be a laptop so that you can bring it to and from the office, or use it on the couch from time to time, a 17.3 inch laptop can be a great option. I like to think of them as more of a portable desktop alternative.
And there you have it, now you know pretty much all there is to know about laptop sizes. So whether you were looking to buy accessories for your existing laptop, or buying a new laptop and trying to figure out which size to get, hopefully this article has helped answer your question.