There’s no one best laptop for everyone. You might want a Windows PC, a Mac, 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 every laptop manufacturer is quick to tell you its hardware is right for you.
Where do you even start? 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
- ✓ 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.
The XPS 13 is a 13-inch laptop, which is the most popular size for a reason. At 13 inches, you’re getting a substantial laptop with a full-size keyboard, but it’s also lightweight, compact, and portable. 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, as well as CPU, memory, and SSD.
Do you want an XPS 13 with a touch screen? Do you want a beautiful 4K screen, or would you rather have a 1920×1200 screen and longer battery life? Dell offers a lot of choices.
The XPS 13 is thin and light at 0.58 inches thick and starts at just 2.64 pounds without a touch screen. It’s got great build quality with a keyboard that feels great to type on and a smooth touchpad. Dell promises up to 14 hours of battery life while streaming video, although it will vary depending on what you’re doing—and you’ll get less battery life if you opt for the 4K display and/or touchscreen.
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 in 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.
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.
Dell XPS 13
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 Swift 3
- ✓ An incredible hardware package
- ✓ Excellent performance
- ✓ Great value
- ✓ Seriously, this is a lot of hardware for the price range
- ✗ Higher end of budget
- ✗ Build quality and battery life could be better
No one wants to spend more money than they have to. When shopping for a lower-priced laptop, you’re going to have to think about the tradeoffs you’re making. The less you spend, the more you compromise.
We’re fans of the Acer Swift 3 if you’re on a budget. It’s often available for a bit over $600, which might seem expensive, but you’re getting what you pay for. The Swift 3 has a 14-inch 1080p screen, a speedy AMD Ryzen 7 eight-core processor with Radeon graphics, 8 GB of RAM, 512GB of fast NVMe storage, Wi-Fi 6, and a fingerprint reader. That’s an incredible amount of powerful hardware in a mid-range laptop package at this price level. The keyboard and touchpad work well, too.
But what’s the best laptop under $500, you might ask? Well, first we’d recommend upping your budget a bit. Lots of solid PCs, like the Acer Swift 3, are available in the $550 to $650 range. You’ll end up getting a laptop that you’ll be much happier with for a longer period of time.
If you can’t go about $500, then we’d recommend getting not a PC, but a Chromebook. The Lenovo Chromebook Flex 5 is an excellent Chromebook at any price range—although our favorite Chromebook is a bit more expensive—with speedy performance, solid battery life, and a good keyboard and trackpad. You won’t have to deal with Windows, either.
But just how cheap can you go? Well, there’s a computer called the HP Stream 11. It’s among the cheapest Windows laptops you can buy at just over $200. However, it has a slow Intel Celeron CPU, just 4 GB of RAM, and slow (and small) 32GB eMMC storage. At 11 inches, it’s smaller than the 13-inch laptops most people would be comfortable with. That’s a lot of compromises, and we wouldn’t recommend it for most people.
You’ll need to pick the machine that makes sense for you at your price point—but we think you’ll be pleased with an Acer Swift 3 as a PC laptop. It’s budget but doesn’t have too many compromises.
Acer Swift 3
Need a new laptop but on a budget? The Acer Swift 3 is a solid hardware package without breaking the bank.
Best Gaming Laptop: Asus ROG Zephyrus G15
- ✓ Blazing fast gaming performance
- ✓ Beautiful screen
- ✓ Surprisingly portable
- ✗ One stick of RAM is soldered
- ✗ No built-in webcam
- ✗ A gaming desktop will always offer more performance per dollar
A gaming desktop will always be more powerful than a gaming laptop, but you might be shocked by just how powerful gaming laptops have become. You might also be shocked by just how sleek they look compared to the lumbering tanks of a few years ago.
The Asus ROG Zephyrus G15 is one such gaming laptop. It pairs a high-end AMD CPU with an incredibly powerful NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070 GPU for blazing-fast performance. The base model comes with 16GB of RAM and 512GB of SSD storage.
This 15-inch laptop’s screen is beautiful. It’s not a 4K display, but it is QHD—in other words, 2560×1440 resolution. It has a fast 165Hz refresh rate, too.
You don’t necessarily want 4K in a gaming laptop, anyway. It takes more graphical horsepower to render games on a 4K screen, so a mobile GPU would have more trouble delivering high FPS (frames per second) at maximum graphics quality in the latest games.
In other words, you’re better off running a game with higher graphical settings on a lower-resolution display than with lower graphical settings on a higher-resolution 4K display.
Despite all that power, this 15-inch laptop boasts all-day battery life when you’re not gaming. It weighs about four pounds, so you don’t have to give up portability.
The ROG Zephyrus G15 is really awesome value for money. That being said, one of the RAM modules is soldered to the motherboard, which will prevent you from upgrading the RAM in that slot in the future.
This laptop also doesn’t have a built-in webcam, but you can always use an external webcam, and it does have a fingerprint reader.
Asus ROG Zephyrus G15
While desktops are usually better for gaming, if you want a gaming laptop, you can’t beat the Asus ROG line. This is a sleek, light gaming laptop that will suit all your gaming needs.
Best Laptop for Students: HP Envy 13
- ✓ Standard SSD
- ✓ Multiple configurations
- ✓ Good value for money
- ✗ Not a premium laptop
- ✗ Not the cheapest laptop, either
Multiple configurations are available for the HP 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 happen to be taking any virtual coursework, you can make use of the built-in 720p camera with dual-array microphones. It’s not going to offer images as vivid as a standalone webcam, but for a camera on what’s ultimately 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 still checks most of the boxes required by students.
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.
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: HP Spectre x360 13
- ✓ A great laptop at heart
- ✓ Excellent touch and pen input
- ✓ Unique color options
- ✗ Not the cheapest
- ✗ Screen doesn't detach, as with some 2-in-1s
HP’s Spectre x360 13 is an excellent 2-in-1 PC. It’s an excellent laptop in and of itself, and it lets you rotate it 360 degrees so it can function as a tablet. The Spectre has a touch screen and included stylus so you can write on the screen, too. Like our best laptop overall pick, this 14-inch laptop has a 3:2 display so you can see more content on the screen at a time.
The specs are solid, with a powerful Intel Core i5 or i7 CPU, great all-day battery life, and a great keyboard are all a given.
The HP Spectre x360 also has excellent build quality. Unlike the average laptop, it offers some stylish, unique color options that help it stand out in a crowded field. Choose from Natural Silver, Nightfall Black, or Poseidon Blue, and have your laptop stand out.
If you want a 2-in-1, HP has done an excellent job of combining a premium ultraportable laptop with tablet features and a unique design language to create a standout system.
Of course, some people might prefer the kind of 2-in-1 with a detachable keyboard. If you’re looking for that, we recommend Microsoft’s Surface line, from the inexpensive Surface Go 2 to the Surface Pro 7 all the way to the premium Surface Book 3.
However, aside from the Surface Book, these devices feel a bit closer to tablets with keyboard covers than 2-in-1 laptops. It depends on what you’re going for, really!
HP Spectre x360 13
The Spectre works like any good laptop would, and then you can flip it around completely on its hinges and use it as a tablet (with included pen). It’s the best of both worlds!
Best Laptop for Video and Photo Editing: MacBook Pro (14-Inch, M1 Pro)
- ✓ M1 Pro chip
- ✓ Liquid Retina XDR display
- ✓ Premium Apple build-quality
- ✗ Expensive
Apple’s MacBook Pro has long been one of the top choices for graphics professionals, photographers, and other creative professionals. If the software you use works on a Mac, then this 14-inch MacBook Pro (powered by the M1 Pro) is a great choice.
The M1 Pro chipset is the main reason this MacBook Pro model is an easy recommendation for professional editing, as its 8-core CPU and 14-core GPU will fly through any task you throw at it. You’re probably already storing files on an external drive, but Apple gave this model a 512GB SSD—so you can save plenty of data on it in a pinch.
Images and videos look sharp on its Liquid Retina XDR display, which offers a great dynamic range and contrast ratio. No matter how bogged down the screen gets with open tabs and applications, 16GB RAM should also keep things running smoothly.
Rounding out the package is a robust set of speakers (including force-canceling woofers), a 1080p FaceTime HD camera, a battery that’ll get up to 17 hours on a single charge, and a MagSafe charger. You’ll pay a pretty penny for all that tech, however—if you can get past the sticker shock though.
Apple MacBook Pro (14-Inch, M1 Pro) (2021)
The MacBook Pro features a powerful M1 Pro chip, vibrant Liquid Retina XDR display, and plenty of premium finishes.
Best Laptop for Business: Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 9
- ✓ Powerful hardware and long battery life
- ✓ Durable and lightweight
- ✓ Optional cellular connectivity
- ✓ Classic ThinkPad nub
- ✗ Expensive
- ✗ No discrete GPU, so it's not the best for gaming
- ✗ Some people will prefer a MacBook
Nearly any laptop can be good for business, but the ThinkPad is the classic line of business laptops for a reason. From battle-tested durability to a wide variety of ports and optional cellular connectivity, this line of laptops stands out.
With the 14-inch Thinkpad X1 Carbon Gen 9, Lenovo has created a premium line of business ThinkPads. At 2.49 pounds, it’s even lighter than our favorite overall laptop while still being robust thanks to the use of lightweight carbon fiber. Lenovo says ThinkPads are tested against military-grade requirements to ensure they will run in extreme conditions.
This is the Dell XPS 13, but better—and, of course, more expensive. It has a 16:10 display for more vertical screen real estate, which is great for productivity. You get great hardware like an 11th generation Intel Core i7 processor and a variety of ports, including traditional USB-A and full-size HDMI ports, so you can connect nearly any device you need to connect. Most ultraportable laptops skimp on the ports, forcing you to rely on dongles, so this is a bigger feature than you’d expect!
And, of course, this machine has the classic red “TrackPoint” nub you can use to control your mouse cursor from the center of your keyboard. It’s a ThinkPad, after all!
You can optionally get a 4G LTE/5G modem built-in, giving your laptop an internet connection anywhere you can get a cellular signal. That’s one of the things that makes this type of machine the best laptop for work—an always-on internet connection so you don’t have to worry about finding Wi-Fi.
If this laptop seems a bit too expensive for you, our pick for best laptop overall is a great, ultraportable business laptop as well. And of course, if you want a Mac, definitely consider our top MacBook.
ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 9
ThinkPads are well-known productivity laptops, and you can’t go wrong with this latest model. It’s durable and lightweight, making it easy to work no matter where you are.
Best Laptop for Kids: Lenovo Chromebook Duet
- ✓ 2-in-1 with a touchscreen
- ✓ Inexpensive
- ✓ No Windows to cause problems
- ✗ Lower-end performance
The Lenovo Chromebook Duet is a great laptop for kids. It’s a Chromebook, so you’re getting a simplified operating system—a kid won’t have to deal with the complexity of Windows.
For under $300, you’re getting a capable 2-in-1 device with a touch screen. A kid can use it as a tablet or a laptop and go back and forth. At 10 hours of battery life, you’re getting a lot of runtime before you have to plug this machine in, as well. Like many of our favorite laptops, it even has a 16:10 aspect ratio instead of the typical 16:9 aspect ratio.
The Duet is on the small side for a laptop at 10.1 inches, essentially a normal size for a tablet. The smaller-than-typical keyboard may not be a concern for a child, and the small size could make the system easier to use, especially as a tablet. Unlike some convertible computers, it comes with a keyboard and doesn’t make you purchase that separately.
Of course, sacrifices have to be made to hit this under $300 price point. This system has a lower-end processor (a MediaTek ARM chip), so it’s not going to compete with laptops that have high-end Intel CPUs, especially when doing a lot of multitasking.
If you’re looking for a Windows PC option, consider the Microsoft Surface Go 2. It’s a 10.5-inch 2-in-1 laptop starting at $400—but the keyboard will cost you extra. You get an Intel CPU, but it’s a slower Core M CPU. Just don’t expect the multitasking performance of a higher-end Intel laptop.
Lenovo Chromebook Duet
If you’re looking for technology for children, it’s important for it to be easy to use and durable. The Chromebook Duet is both, and Chrome OS takes some of Window’s oddities out of the equation.
Best Touch Screen Laptop: Microsoft Surface Laptop 4
- ✓ 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. For example, our favorite overall laptop is available with a touch screen, but the base model does not include one.
While you can find lots of 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.
It supports 10-point touch input (so you can use all your fingers at once), 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 you might with some 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 along with 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 is a feature that’s 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.
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 15-inch Laptop: Dell XPS 15
- ✓ Many XPS 13 features in a 15-inch package
- ✓ Excellent build quality
- ✓ Almost bezel-free display
- ✗ Won't perform as well as a gaming laptop
- ✗ The price is relatively premium
Dell makes a great 13-inch laptop, and the company also makes a great 15-inch laptop. The Dell XPS 15 is a solid, modern system that takes many of the Dell XPS 13’s great features, including a screen with a 16:10 aspect ratio, a great keyboard, and an excellent glass touchpad. You also get a camera that can sign you in with Windows Hello and a fingerprint reader.
Like the Dell XPS 13, the Dell XPS 15 sports an almost bezel-free InfinityEdge display. At 15.6 inches, you get a much larger display than your average 13-inch laptop. However, it’s still very portable, starting at 3.99 lbs for the base model. Battery life will vary depending on which model you choose as different battery sizes and components are available, but you should get all-day battery life away from a power outlet.
You can definitely spend less for a 15-inch laptop and pick up a mid-range or budget system, but you won’t get a piece of hardware this nice.
If you’re looking for a gaming laptop, take a look at our gaming laptop pick instead. Compared to our favorite gaming laptop, the base Dell XPS 15 with Intel integrated graphics is $600 cheaper. If you want a larger laptop without screaming-fast gaming performance, this is a solid system with great build quality.
If you’re a Mac fan, however, you should check out Apple’s MacBook Pro instead. Of course, both a MacBook and a gaming laptop will be much more expensive than this system.
Dell XPS 15
Need something a little bigger than the typical 13-inch laptop? The Dell XPS 15 is a bigger version of our overall top pick.
Best MacBook: MacBook Pro 14-inch (M1)
- ✓ New M1 Apple Silicon chip with active cooling
- ✓ 17-hour battery life
- ✓ More features than the MacBook Air
- ✗ Expensive
- ✗ A bit thicker and heavier than the MacBook Air
Powered by the M1 chipset, the MacBook Pro 14-inch is one of the most capable laptops on the market. It has everything you need from a connectivity standpoint (including MagSafe connectors, an HDMI port, and an SD card slot), while also bringing a sleek profile and the premium Apple build quality.
The M1 chip features a blistering fast 8-core CPU and 14-core GPU, making it cut through demanding video editing tasks with ease. Regardless of what project you’re working on, it’ll look great on the MacBook’s Liquid Retina XDR display.
You’ll also get up to 17 hours of usage on a single charge, although that can vary wildly based on how demanding your work is. However, you should be able to make it through a full day before even thinking about where you can find the nearest outlet.
The only drawback to the MacBook Pro 14-inch is its price tag. The 512GB model is listed at $2,000 and stepping up to the 1TB model brings that to $2,500. Your best bet is to wait for the laptop to go on sale, as retailers like to run generous discounts on the lineup throughout the year.
Even with its high price tag, the MacBook Pro 14-inch is still a product worth considering. Its hardware is relatively future-proof, its design is sleek and timeless, and there’s no denying the appeal of a premium Apple product.
Apple MacBook Pro 14-inch
Powered by the M1 chip and boasting a Liquid Retina XDR display, there's little on the market that can compete with Apple's premium laptop.
Best Chromebook: Acer Chromebook Spin 713
- ✓ Excellent performance
- ✓ Big, beautiful touch screen
- ✓ Solid build quality
- ✓ 2-in-1 laptop with Android apps
- ✗ Less battery life than a lower-end Chromebook
- ✗ High-end for a Chromebook
Asus has delivered a beautiful system with the 2021 version of the Chromebook Spin 713. It may be expensive for a Chromebook, but it’s a bargain compared to premium Windows laptops—and this is very much a premium laptop down to its solid keyboard and touchpad.
This Chromebook is packed with modern hardware. You’re getting an 11th-generation Intel Core processor (or you can opt for the i5 or i7). The USB-C ports support Thunderbolt 4 for speedy peripherals. Internal storage starts at 256 GB.
It’s in a whole different performance class compared to a budget Chromebook. Battery life will also be a bit lower than on a less powerful Chromebook, of course.
The screen is beautiful at 2256×1504 pixels. That means it’s a 3:2 screen, so it has even more vertical space than the 16:10 screens on our favorite Windows laptops here. This Chromebook has a touch screen, and the “spin” in the system’s name is a clue: This is a 2-in-1 convertible. Unlike a Windows 10 PC, you can install Android apps on a Chromebook and effectively use it as an Android tablet—or just run Android apps alongside Chrome.
You don’t have to spend this much on a Chromebook, however. We picked some great Chromebooks as the best laptop under $500 and our favorite laptop for kids. But, if you are willing to spend this much, you’re going to have a great Chrome OS experience.
Acer Chromebook Spin 713
The Acer Chromebook Spin has a detachable keyboard, an 11th-generation Intel core, and Thunderbolt 4, making it worth the premium Chromebook price.
Best Linux Laptop: Dell XPS 13 Developer Edition
- ✓ 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 a lot of 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 a Dell XPS 13 Developer Edition model that comes with Linux. This is a version of our favorite laptop overall, but this model comes with Linux. But Dell didn’t just throw Ubuntu on any old laptop and call it a day.
Dell officially supports Linux on this hardware, so you know that everything is going actually to 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.
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 to see that Linux users have options for premium laptops with good official support for Linux operating systems.
Dell XPS 13 Developer Edition
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.
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