Lenovo decal on the Lenovo Slim Pro 7
Hannah Stryker / How-To Geek
Update, 05/08/2023: We’ve reviewed our recommendations and updated our pick for the Best Laptop for Photo and Video Editing and the best Chromebook.

What to Look For in a Laptop in 2023

There’s no one best laptop for everyone. You might want a Windows PC, a MacBook, a Chromebook, or even one with Linux. You might want a thin and light computer with excellent battery life, or you might want a powerful tank of a machine with a big display or excellent graphics horsepower for playing games.

That’s not even all you’ll need to consider. Do you want a touchscreen? Do you want a 2-in-1 laptop that can also be used as a tablet? You might just want to save some cash, or you might want to spend extra for a premium device with powerful hardware.

But, even if you know roughly what you want in a laptop, choosing a laptop can be complicated. There are so many different models, and digging through endless lists of hardware specifications won’t tell you the full picture.

We’re here to give you our top picks to make your shopping process as speedy and uncomplicated as possible.

Note: All the Windows laptops we recommend here either ship with Windows 11 or are capable of upgrading to it for free.

Best Laptop Overall: Dell XPS 13

Dell XPS 13
Josh Hendrickson / How-To Geek


  • Great build quality
  • Long battery life
  • Solid PC performance
  • Incredibly customizable


  • Premium price
  • Integrated graphics means this isn't a gaming system
  • Not everyone wants Windows

The Dell XPS 13 is a great all-around PC laptop. If we had to recommend just one best Windows laptop—and it’s so hard to pick just one—this is the laptop we’d recommend to most people. The latest XPS model also ships with Windows 11.

This Dell model is a 13-inch laptop, the most popular size for a reason. At 13 inches, you’re getting a decent-sized screen and full-size keyboard, but it’s also lightweight, compact, and portable. The XPS 13 is thin and light at 0.55 inches thick and starts at just 2.59 pounds. It’s got great build quality with a keyboard that feels great to type on and a smooth touchpad.

Of course, some people will want bigger laptops. 15-inch is a popular size if you want to step up, and Dell also offers a 15-inch version of this laptop.

Dell regularly updates the XPS 13 series with the latest Intel processors and other design improvements, and every release is better than the last. Of course, you can customize the Intel processor you get, CPU, memory, and SSD.

From the 12th-generation Intel CPUs onward, these laptops benefit from Intel’s hybrid CPU design, with a small number of high-performance cores and numerous energy-efficient cores. This offers a massive improvement in performance, battery life, and temperatures.

In addition, Dell promises up to 12 hours of battery life while streaming video, although it will vary depending on what you’re doing.

Unlike typical laptops, Dell uses a 16:10 display instead of a 16:9 display. This means the laptop’s display is slightly taller, giving you more vertical room on your screen. It’s also an InfinityEdge display with smaller bezels around the screen.

Years ago, older versions of the XPS 13 design had a “nose cam” that looked up from below your screen, but modern XPS 13 laptops have a properly positioned webcam above the screen. The webcam even supports Windows Hello, so you can sign into your device with your face.

The biggest downside to Dell XPS 13 laptops is that they come with integrated Intel graphics. If you’re looking for a gaming laptop with a powerful GPU—or if you need a GPU for video editing, rendering, or other professional graphics applications—you’ll want to check our gaming laptop pick instead.

That being said, the latest Intel Iris Xe integrated GPUs are far more powerful than they’ve been in the past, so be sure to look at some benchmark results for the apps or games that interest you—you may be surprised to learn the XPS 13 can run it.

Of course, this is a Windows laptop, so if you’re a Mac person, you’ll want to look for the best MacBook. If you’re a Linux fan, though, you’re in luck! Dell offers a version of this PC that comes with Linux.

Best Laptop Overall

Dell XPS 13

Read Review Geek's Full Review

Do you need a laptop that does it all? You’ll want the Dell XPS 13. This is a solid laptop with great battery life, so provided you’re fine with Windows, this is the way to go.

Best Budget Laptop: Acer Aspire 5 Slim Laptop

Family using Acer Aspire 5


  • Amazing specs for the price
  • Large IPS screen
  • No real compromises


  • Build quality can't match something like the MacBook Air

When looking for a budget laptop that’s preferably under $500, you’ll probably be faced with an ocean of Chromebooks. While we love Chromebooks and they fill an important niche, they aren’t Windows laptops that run every software package you may need for work or study.

The Acer Aspire 5 A515-45-R74Z comes with a Hexa-core Ryzen 5 CPU, 8GB of DDR4 RAM and Radeon integrated graphics. The 1080p 15.6-inch screen is an IPS model, the 256GB SSD is an NVME model, and you even get Wi-Fi 6.

These are not the sort of specifications you think of in a budget laptop, that’s for sure. While it can’t quite match the performance, thinness, or build quality of something like the Apple M1 MacBook Air, the Aspire 5 comes incredibly close at half the price of Apple’s popular entry-level computer.

Best Budget Laptop

Acer Aspire 5 A515-45-R74Z Slim Laptop

The Acer Aspire 5 A515-45-R74Z offers unbelievably good specifications for a low price. This may be the best MacBook Air alternative we've ever seen, at a significantly better price.

Best Gaming Laptop: Lenovo Legion 7i



  • Fantastic gaming performance
  • Tons of ports including multiple Thunderbolt 4 ports
  • Superb build quality
  • Wi-Fi 6E
  • MUX Switch with Advanced Optimus
  • Excellent screen with fast response times


  • Expensive
  • The screen's not great for color-critical work

The Lenovo Legion 7i is the best gaming laptop on the market right now, and deservingly so. It comes with either the most powerful mobile CPU around, the Intel Core i9-12900HX, or its barely slower cousin, the Intel Core i7-12800HX. When it comes to the GPU, you can pick between the beastly RTX 3080 Ti or the RTX 3070 Ti, which is almost as fast.

Our recommendation is the Core i7-12800HX and the RTX 3070 Ti—just make sure to pick 32GB of fast DDR5 memory. We’re also looking at a fantastic keyboard, especially for a gaming laptop.

The keyboard resides inside an all-metal chassis boasting impressive build quality and a striking industrial design that doesn’t scream a gamer aesthetic. If you do want the whole world to know you have a gaming laptop, you can turn RGB lighting on, which encircles the entire body.

Other features worth a mention include multiple Thunderbolt 4 ports, a secondary M.2 slot allowing for a quick and easy storage upgrade, a MUX switch with Advanced Optimus, and a 16-inch, 16:10, 165Hz QHD IPS panel with more than 500 nits of max brightness and excellent color coverage.

With that said, we don’t recommend the Lenovo Legion 7i for gamers who’re also into photo or video editing because the included screen only covers 70% of the DCI-P3 color gamut. But for every other gamer, this is the laptop to aim for if you want the best gaming experience on the go.

Best Gaming Laptop

Lenovo Legion 7i

The Lenovo Legion 7i is the best gaming laptop around. It's got fantastic hardware, excellent, lighting fast screen, impressively sturdy chassis, a MUX switch with Advanced Optimus, lots of ports including multiple Thunderbolt 4 ports, and a brilliant keyboard.

Best Laptop for Students: HP Envy 13

HP Envy 13 closeup


  • Standard SSD
  • Multiple configurations
  • Good value for money


  • Not a premium laptop
  • Not the cheapest laptop, either

For college students who want a powerful yet portable system with long battery life at a significantly lower price than that of our best laptop overall, we recommend the HP Envy 13.

Multiple configurations are available for the Envy 13, although most come with 8GB RAM—offering more than enough power for multitasking during a research-intensive project or group assignment. You’ll also be treated to a standard SSD that helps reduce load times and keeps everything running smoothly.

If you are taking virtual coursework, you can use the built-in 720p camera with dual-array microphones. It won’t offer images as vivid as a standalone webcam, but for a camera on a budget laptop, it’ll get the job done.

Depending on your workload, the HP Envy 13 will get you about 11 hours of battery life before needing a recharge. That means you shouldn’t run into problems if you forget your charger when rushing off to class in the morning.

Overall, the HP Envy 13 is a solid package with good performance for the price level. It’s not as “premium” in build quality or hardware as many of our other picks, but it’s hundreds of dollars cheaper and checks most of the boxes students require.

All that being said, it’s hard to go wrong with many of the other laptops here for college, either. Maybe you want a more premium laptop without the touch and pen input, a Chromebook, or a beefier PC laptop you can play games on.

If you want a Mac, the quintessential Mac for college is the MacBook Air. Students can save $100 on a MacBook with Apple’s education pricing. Or, for something more premium, check out our pick for the best MacBook. Students can save on it, too.

Best Laptop for Students

HP Envy 13

Its spec sheet isn't going to break any records, but the HP Envy 13 offers reliable performance at a reasonable price. Students enrolled in remote classes will love its surprisingly robust built-in webcam, and the laptop's slim profile makes it easy to pack and take to any on-campus lectures.

Best 2-in-1 Laptop: Lenovo Yoga 9i 14-inch Laptop With Pen

Lenovo Yoga 9i being used for studying


  • Gorgeous, large screen
  • Includes a pen
  • Excellent specifications


  • 14-inches may be too large for some users

Lenovo’s Yoga laptop series is partly responsible for advancing this 2-in-1 laptop and making it popular with users who want the best of both the tablet and laptop worlds. The Yoga 9i 14-inch model is the series’s flagship and now comes with a 12th-generation Intel Core i7 CPU, 16GB of RAM, and 512GB of SSD storage.

That means this is a serious daily-driver computer, but with all the perks you get from a tablet. The Yoga i9 even comes with a pen included in the package. You’d think that 14-inches would be too large for tablet use, but there are iPads close to this size, and Samsung’s flagship Android tablets are not far behind.

The Intel Iris Xe integrated graphics on offer here are more than enough for day-to-day use and even some light gaming, and battery life is rated for up to 10.5 hours. The design and build quality are both excellent, and the final asking price is surprisingly fair, especially if you look at the cost of buying separate devices that can do everything the Yoga can.

Best 2-in-1 Laptop

Lenovo - Yoga 9i 14 2.8K Touch 2-in-1 Laptop with Pen

The latest Lenovo Yoga 9i has heaps of performance for general users, includes a pen, and sports a gorgeous design and screen at a price only slightly more than the most popular thin and light laptops, but much less than buying a laptop AND a tablet.

Best Laptop for Video and Photo Editing: Apple MacBook Pro (14.2-inch, M2 Pro)

MacBook Air M2 resting on desk while closed
Marcus Mears III / How-To Geek


  • M2 Pro chipset is super fast
  • Impressive Liquid Retina XDR Display
  • Apple built quality is impressive as always


  • Pricey compared to PC alternatives

Ask a group of creatives what computers they use for their work, and you’ll likely find that at least half of them use Macs. When the company switched to its own chips over Intel, Pro model computers like the 14.2-inch M2 Pro Apple MacBook Pro became an even better choice.

Apple has been using its own Apple Silicon chips for a few years, improving and refining them. While the M2 Pro isn’t the fastest chip that Apple makes (that would be the M2 Max), it’s a major step up in terms of performance. The model we’re recommending features a 10‑core CPU and 16‑core GPU, 16GB RAM, and 512GB storage.

This uses a 14.2-inch Liquid Retina XDR Display, which offers impressive high dynamic range (HDR) performance. This is effectively a mini LED display, and the ability to turn pixels off entirely gives the screen excellent contrast and makes the HDR capabilities even better.

Like the earlier M1 Pro-powered MacBook Pro models, this features a 1080p FaceTime HD camera. This is enough for videoconferencing, while the three-mic array easily picks up every word. The built-in six-speaker array features Spatial Audio support, which you won’t find in many other laptops on the market.

The 14.2-inch MacBook Pro is available in Space Gray and Silver color variants. If you require more power, you can bump up to an Apple M2 Max chip and 1TB storage.

Best Laptop for Video and Photo Editing

Apple MacBook Pro (14.2-inch, M2 Pro)

With a power Apple Silicon M2 Pro chipset featuring a 10‑core CPU and 16‑core GPU, 16GB RAM, and 512GB storage, the 14.2-inch Apple MacBook Pro can handle any photo or video workload you throw at it.

Best Laptop for Business: Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Lock Screen
Hannah Stryker / How-To Geek


  • Lightweight yet sturdy carbon fiber and magnesium chassis
  • Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.2
  • Briliant selection of panels including an OLED one
  • One of the best keyboards on the market
  • Quality, 1080p webcam
  • Dual Thunderbolt 4 ports


  • Memory is soldered and cannot be upgraded
  • Lacks an SD card slot
  • Expensive

The latest version of Lenovo’s ThinkPad X1 Carbon notebook is a near-perfect business laptop. The carbon fiber and magnesium body has a top-notch build quality, the keyboard is one of the best you can find on the entire laptop market, and the 1080p webcam is perfect for long Zoom meetings.

We also like the presence of physical click keys on the trackpad, which is on the smaller side but precise and a worthy replacement for a regular mouse. As for the display, you can pick among a range of 14-inch, 16:10 panels.

From a 1080p IPS option with 400 nits of max brightness to a 4K IPS to a 2.8K OLED screen with 100% coverage of the DCI-P3 color gamut for color-critical work. And while the OLED option rules, even the base IPS panel offers ample brightness and vivid colors and is good enough for anyone besides photo and video editing professionals.

Concerning ports and connectivity, dual Thunderbolt 4 ports in combination with two USB-A 3.2 5Gbps ports, a full-sized HDMI port, and a headphone jack make for a compelling port selection. The same can be said about the Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.2 combo regarding connectivity. The only thing we’re missing regarding ports and connectivity is an SD card slot.

The battery’s good enough to get you through a usual eight-hour workday, and even a couple of hours of overtime won’t make you look for an outlet. As for the hardware inside the ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10, you’ve got multiple Intel 12th Gen i5 and i7 CPUs to choose from, with each option coming with Intel vPro support.

Our recommendation is the Intel Core i7-1260P in case you’re good with 16GB of memory or the Intel Core i7-1280P if you need 32GB of RAM. This decision’s more important than you think because the memory is soldered and you cannot upgrade it, so choose wisely.

Best Laptop for Business

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10

Read Review Geek's Full Review

ThinkPads are well-known productivity laptops, and the latest Gen 10 model is no exception. The ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10 offers lots of horsepower for any task, lightweight yet well-built chassis, one of the best keyboards on the market, multiple Thunderbolt 4 ports, impressive screen options, and Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.2 support.

Best Laptop for Kids: Acer Chromebook Spin 311 Convertible Laptop

Family using Acer Chromebook Spin 311


  • Affordable price
  • Convertible to tablet
  • Gorilla Glass screen
  • Snappy Intel CPU


  • Can't run Android apps natively like ARM Chromebooks do

Chromebooks have taken the world of education by storm, and it’s not hard to understand why. These affordable machines let students do all the basic things they need for learning and also offer schools numerous ways to track, manage, and assist students.

The Acer Chromebook Spin 311 has modest specifications, but this is a proper Intel laptop rather than an ARM-based Chromebook. Storage space might seem limited at only 32GB, but ChromeOS has a tiny footprint, and this Chromebook comes with 100GB of Google Drive storage.

Since kids using Chromebooks are expected to mostly work online, this is a smart way to keep the costs of these devices down. There’s a slightly more expensive 64GB model if your child needs more offline storage, and there’s always the SD card slot for cheap storage expansion.

Even better, this Chromebook is a convertible touchscreen model. This means your child can use a tablet-style interface for educational games or tasks that work better. The screen uses Corning Gorilla glass, so it should also stand up to spirited use.

Best Laptop for Kids

Acer Chromebook Spin 311 Convertible Laptop

Like all Chromebooks, the Spin 311 from Acer is an excellent educational device, but this laptop stands out from the crowd with its tablet mode, Gorilla Glass touch screen, and snappy Intel CPU.

Best Touch Screen Laptop: Microsoft Surface Laptop 4

Task view open on a surface laptop to open a alternate desktop
Hannah Stryker / How-To Geek


  • All models include touch screens
  • Long battery life
  • Great touchpad, too


  • Not a transformable 2-in-1
  • Can't officially use Android apps until Windows 11

Many laptops have touch screens these days—but not always by default. While you can find many great laptops with touch screens, we like Microsoft’s Surface Laptop 4. All Surface Laptop models include a touch screen, so you’re not guessing whether or not your model has one.

The Surface Laptop 4 supports 10-point touch input, and you can also draw on it with the Microsoft Surface Pen. Unlike most other Surface devices, this is a standard laptop form factor, so it doesn’t feel like a tablet.

Since all models have a touch screen, you don’t have to sacrifice battery life, as with other laptops. The base model with an AMD Ryzen 5 processor boasts up to 19 hours of battery life, while the Intel models get a few hours less.

Microsoft’s Surface Laptop 4 also includes a particularly excellent touchpad for moving your mouse cursor and a comfortable keyboard. This is just a solid, all-around laptop. If you want more of a “transformable tablet with a keyboard cover” experience, the Surface Pro 7 is also a great computer.

If you’re looking for a 2-in-1 system that can transform into more of a laptop form factor, consider our favorite 2-in-1. If you want a laptop that runs Android apps, this feature is now available in Windows 11. The new operating system is pre-loaded on the Surface Laptop 4, so you no longer need to get a Chromebook to enjoy these apps on a laptop.

If you need Thunderbolt 4 connectivity think about getting the latest Surface Laptop 5. Being more of a sidegrade than a straight upgrade, we cannot recommend it over the Surface Laptop 4 since the newer version comes with slower CPU options — at least when it comes to multi-core performance — worse battery life, and a noticeably higher price.

Best Touch Screen Laptop

Surface Laptop 4

If you want a laptop with a touch screen that's not a 2-in-1, the Surface Laptop 4 is your best option. With all models having a touch screen and a long battery life, this is a solid choice.

Best MacBook: MacBook Air (13.6-inch, M2, 2022)

2022 M2 Apple MacBook Air sitting on a desk
Justin Duino / How-To Geek


  • M2 chip makes this the fastest MacBook Air yet
  • Can configure with up to 2TB SSD and 24GB RAM
  • New design is slimmer than older wedge design
  • MagSafe 3 and improved Liquid Retina display


  • The in-display notch takes some getting used to
  • $200 more than the M1 MacBook Air

Unless you’ve got a heavy video or photo workload, you probably don’t need the most powerful Mac you can buy. Now that Apple has moved to its own chips, even its less powerful Apple Silicon models are far more powerful than their equivalent Intel models. For that reason, the 2022 M2 MacBook Air is more than enough for most people.

If you haven’t seen a MacBook Air in a few years, the design of Apple’s latest model might be somewhat confusing. After sticking with the Air’s signature wedge shape for over 10 years, this redesigned model resembles a slimmed-down MacBook Pro, complete with a notch in the display.

Speaking of the display, the Liquid Retina display in the 2022 MacBook Air is the best-looking display in this line to date. While the notch design may take some getting used to, it allowed Apple to outfit this generation of the MacBook Air with a far better webcam than previous models.

After years of sticking to a USB-C port for power, Apple resurrected MagSafe for MacBooks in 2021. The 2022 MacBook Air is a beneficiary, with the MagSafe 3 power joining USB-C, giving you multiple options for charging your computer.

The base 2022 M2 MacBook Air model comes with 256GB storage and 8GB RAM, retailing for $1,199. If you want to max out the RAM and storage with a 2TB SSD and 24GB RAM, you’ll spend $2,499.

The 2022 M2 MacBook Air comes in Apple’s standard Space Gray and Silver finish options, but these are joined by Midnight and Starlight models for those who prefer a unique look.

Best MacBook

MacBook Air (M2, 2022)

Read Review Geek's Full Review

The 2022 M2 MacBook Air is the biggest upgrade to Apple's long-running MacBook Air line in years, and the M2 chip, updated display, and touches like MagSafe 3 make it the best MacBook for most people.

Best Chromebook: Acer Chromebook Spin 714

Acer Chromebook Spin 714


  • 14-inch Corning Gorilla Glass touchscreen
  • Intel 12th Generation Core i5-1235U offers ample power
  • Iris Xe graphics are decent


  • May seem pricey for a Chromebook
  • Battery life is lower than average

Chromebooks have come a long way, and they aren’t slowing down. Unlike the cheap-feeling early Chromebooks, the Acer Chromebook Spin 714 is a 2-in-1 that feels like an actual PC, just not one that runs Windows. That means the price is slightly higher than the average Chromebook, but still much lower than an equivalent Windows or Mac laptop.

The Spin 714 is powered by an Intel 12th Generation Core i5-1235U processor and features 8GB RAM and 256GB storage. This means that, while Google’s cloud storage is still tightly integrated, you’ve got plenty of room to install apps and keep files local.

This model features a 14-display with a full-HD resolution of 1920 × 1080 pixels. The integrated Intel Iris Xe graphics don’t offer the most power, but they handle the typical daily use cases of Chromebooks and Android games. This Chromebook also comes with a touch screen, and it uses Corning Gorilla Glass to ensure it’s tough and stays fingerprint-free.

As this is a slightly more powerful Chromebook than most, you don’t get the same battery life you may expect. This will last you 10 hours, which is a full workday, and given the extra performance, it’s well worth having to plug in to top up occasionally.

Best Chromebook

Acer Chromebook Spin 714

The Acer Chromebook Spin 714 shows that Chromebooks have come a long way and are only continuing to improve. This 2-in-1 features ample memory and storage with all the cloud-powered convenience you'd expect.

Best Linux Laptop: Dell XPS 13 Plus Developer Edition

Del XPS 13 Developer Edition laptop.


  • Dell officially supports Linux on our favorite overall laptop
  • Great build quality, long battery life, and excellent performance


  • You can install Linux on a cheaper laptop, if you're savvy

You can install Linux on many laptops, but most manufacturers don’t support Linux on their hardware. If you pick up a random laptop and install Linux on it, you may get stuck dealing with hardware driver problems.

We recommend getting a laptop that officially supports Linux. Dell offers the Dell XPS Plus 13 (a beefier version of the standard XPS 13 we rated as our best overall laptop), but pre-loaded with Ubuntu Linux.

Dell officially supports Linux on this hardware, so you know that everything will work properly. Whether you’re looking for a developer system for Linux programming or you just want an open-source operating system, this is the hardware we recommend.

The XPS Plus 13 offers a beefy 12-core, 16-thread CPU. This is a mix of high-performance and efficiency cores, so if you’re busy with a light workload, the battery will last much longer than previous generation computers. Then, when you need to compile your code or render a project, all of the cores come into play to get the job done as quickly as possible.

RAM options start at 8GB of DDR5, topping out at 32GB, and the rapid Gen. 4 SSD with options up to 2TB in capacity. That flexibility also extends to the monitor options, with a 3.5K OLED and a 4K UHD+ touch screen among the options. Though at this screen size, we recommend the FHD+ touchscreen option.

If you want to spend more money for a more premium experience, Lenovo also offers a Linux edition of its ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 9 laptop. It’s our favorite laptop for business, so it’s great that Linux users have options for premium laptops with good official support for Linux operating systems.

Best Laptop for Linux

Dell XPS 13 (With Ubuntu)

Many laptops can have Linux installed on them, but few are built with the operating system in mind. This version of our best overall pick is ready for Linux, and all the hardware will work properly.

Frequently Asked Questions

The Best Linux Laptops of 2023

Dell XPS 13
Best Linux Laptop Overall
Dell XPS 13
Star Labs StarLite 11-inch
Best Budget Linux Laptop
Star Labs StarLite 11-inch
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10 With Linux
Best Premium Linux Laptop
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10 With Linux
Purism Librem 14
Best Open Source Linux Laptop
Purism Librem 14
System76 Oryx Pro
Best Linux Laptop for Gamers
System76 Oryx Pro
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Chris Hoffman is Editor-in-Chief of How-To Geek. He's written about technology for over a decade and was a PCWorld columnist for two years. Chris has written for The New York Times and Reader's Digest, been interviewed as a technology expert on TV stations like Miami's NBC 6, and had his work covered by news outlets like the BBC. Since 2011, Chris has written over 2,000 articles that have been read more than one billion times---and that's just here at How-To Geek.
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