The best laptops: Premium laptops, cheap laptops, 2-in-1s, and more
Our top picks feature the best tech advances in portable PCs, from new CPUs and GPUs to new materials.
- Latest laptop news
- Latest laptop reviews
- Best thin-and-light laptop
- Best laptop under $500
- Best 14-inch/15-inch workhorse
- Best convertible laptop
- Best budget convertible laptop
- Best 2-in-1 / tablet / hybrid laptop
- Best gaming laptop
- Best budget gaming laptop
- Best portable gaming laptop
- Best luxury laptop
- Best high-end Chromebook
- Best budget Chromebook
- Best MacBook
The laptop world is a-changing. New CPUs and GPUs—yes, mobile discrete GPUs—are bringing forth laptops that are thinner, lighter, and faster than ever, even gaming laptops. And the advances keep coming: We first glimpsed Intel's 10th-generation, 10nm laptop CPU first in Taipei at Computex, and we just got our first 10th-gen benchmarks as it rolls out officially. It will coexist with the 9th generation of Core mobile processors, and mobile GeForce GTX 1650 and 1660 Ti graphics. Stay tuned for new models we bring in for review.
Updated 08/07/2019: We added a review of Acer's Aspire 5 515-54-51DJ, one of the most popular laptops available today, a solid $500 value. Intel just announced its first big 10th-gen CPU, and it's a laptop processor with some interesting improvements. Read on for all the latest developments, plus our top picks in all categories and price points.
Laptop buyer’s cheat sheet
Our quick-hit recommendations
- Best thin-and-light laptop:Dell XPS 13 9380[dell.com]
- Best laptop under $500:Acer Aspire 5 A515-54-51DJ[amazon.com]
- Best 14-inch/15-inch workhorse:Dell XPS 15 9570[amazon.com]
- Best convertible laptop:HP Spectre x360 13t[hp.com]
- Best budget convertible:Asus ZenBook Flip UX360CA-DBM2T[amazon.com]
- Best 2-in-one/ tablet / hybrid laptop:IdeaPad Miix 520[amazon.com]
- Best overall gaming laptop:MSI GS75 Stealth[msi.com]
- Best budget gaming laptop:Acer Predator Helios 300 Gaming Laptop[amazon.com]
- Best portable gaming laptop:MSI GS65 Stealth Thin 8RE[amazon.com]
- Best luxury laptop:Microsoft Surface Book 2[microsoftstore.com]
- Best high-end Chromebook:Google Pixelbook (Core i5, 8GB RAM, 256GB eMMC)[amazon.com]
- Best budget Chromebook:Asus Chromebook Flip C101PA-DB2[amazon.com]
- Best MacBook:13-inch MacBook Pro (2017, Core i5)[apple.com]
Latest laptop news
Here are the latest stories:
- Intel introduced its 10th-gen Ice Lake notebook CPU on August 1, ushering in its 10nm architecture and a host of other improvements to go with that. Our own Gordon Mah Ung ran some pre-release benchmarks on Ice Lake. The results are promising for the next generation of laptops.
- In particular, Intel's integrated graphics for laptops, once the butt of many jokes, gets serious with the 11th generation that comes with Intel's 10th-gen Ice Lake mobile CPU. Gordon Mah Ung runs the numbers.
- Nvidia rolled out a product line of RTX Studio laptops at Siggraph on July 29. These machines are made for creators, with the latest ray tracing hardware. May be too rich for your blood and your wallet, but still fun to read about!
- A report from IHS MarkIt suggests that Microsoft's next Surface device will be a dual-display laptop capable of running Android apps. Windows and Android, living together? Could be interesting.
Latest laptop reviews
Catch up on the latest models we've tested here, including:
- Acer's Aspire 5 A515-54-51DJ is a solid $500 laptop value. It packs in more than enough power for everyday computing tasks. A fingerprint reader and nearly all-day battery life will appeal to productivity-minded road warriors, although they’ll have to settle for a display that’s on the dim side. Read our full review.
- Did we just review a near-perfect laptop? HP's Spectre x360 15t touch with an AMOLED display is pricey, and the looks might not float everyone’s boat. But the overall performance is great; the screen is second to none; the run time is over ten hours; and it supports Thunderbolt and USB 3.1 gen 2 for super-fast peripheral expansion. It's the full package. Read our review.
- Acer's Nitro 7 gaming laptop sticks close to $1,000 by opting for an above-average (for this price point at least) display, a generous amount of SSD storage, and a top-tier CPU. But it skimps on the graphics card, a fairly important component for a gaming laptop. Reasonable compromise? Read our review to find out.
Best thin-and-light laptop
It's finally happened. After years of mocking, Dell’s thrown in the towel and moved the camera on the XPS 13 from its unflattering vantage point below the display to its rightful place above the screen.
But there're more to the XPS 13 9380 than that. It packs Intel’s newest ultra-low power consumption Core i7-8565U, for instance—the first laptop we’ve tested with this Whiskey Lake U chip. Other changes in the CPU include native support for USB 3.1 10Gbps and integrated Wi-Fi support (except for the radio).
Don't worry about the price. The version we tested had everything on it, but lower-cost models are available. Read our review.
[$2,470 as tested; available on Dell]
Best laptop under $500
If you’re looking for an inexpensive quad-core laptop that’s less than three-quarters of an inch thick, the Acer Aspire 5 A515-54-51DJ might fit the bill. This slim laptop packs in more than enough power for everyday computing tasks, and its quad-core performance is respectable, if shy of awe-inspiring. A fingerprint reader and nearly all-day battery life will appeal to productivity-minded road warriors, although they’ll have to settle for a display that’s on the dim side. Read our full review.
Best 14-inch/15-inch workhorse
Workhorse laptops need to have enough CPU performance and screen real estate to keep you productive, plus good battery life and portability for long days on the road. Dell’s XPS 15 9570 (available on Amazon) sets the standard: It’s thin but packed with features, fairly light, and its 6-core Core i7 will keep up with you all day. So will the 97-Whr battery life, which lasted a whopping 14 hours in our video rundown test.
The much-lauded XPS design hasn’t actually changed much from prior generations—why mess with near-perfection?—but one highlight is an honest-to-goodness fingerprint reader. Read our full review.
The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme (available from Lenovo) come in a close second to the XPS 15 9570. It packs a six-core Core i7-8850H, GeForce GTX 1050 Ti Max-Q GPU, and a 15.6-inch 4K screen into a package that's a scant four pounds—a full half-pound lighter than a similarly configured XPS 15 9570. That's pretty awesome. Unfortunately because it's slightly slower than Dell's XPS 9570, and pricier than comparable laptops, it misses the top spot. Corporate types may actually prefer it nonetheless because of its vPro-capable Core i7-8850H CPU and other IT-minded perks—and have a fat budget to absorb the premium. Read our full review.
$1,395 to $3,727 ($3,149 as tested.)
Best convertible laptop
While Apple and Dell are content to show up to dance in the same dress year after year, you won’t have that from HP. Just two years removed from its original launch, the Spectre x360 13t (available at HP.com) has now gone through no fewer than three major redesigns. The latest, of course, is the best and adds a fingerprint reader, a nifty rechargeable pen, and of course, an 8th-generation Core i7 CPU too.
In raw performance it doesn’t quite keep up with Dell’s XPS 13 but this is a convertible and most convertibles give up a little performance for the ability to work as a tablet. What matters more is that it leaves the 7th-generation Spectre x360 13t in the dust on CPU heavy workloads.
The best part is battery life doesn’t suffer (it’s still damned good) and it’s even a couple of ounces lighter to boot. HP doesn’t make the faux pas, or is that port pas, and keeps a USB Type A port along with two Thunderbolt 3 ports that support external graphics.
So yeah, it’s easy to see why the Spectre x360 13t is our go to convertible laptop and the one everyone is chasing right now.
Lenovo’s latest Yoga 920 (reviewed here) comes close to pushing the Spectre from the top of the President-of-the-Hill contest (‘Murica folks) but in the end, the extra weight of the 14-inch Yoga and the extra cost hurt its position.
[$1,090–$1,600 MSRP; $1,100 MSRP as last reviewed]
We call this a runner-up, but you could also think of it as an upgrade. If you want a convertible, but with more screen and more power, it’s hard to beat the new HP Spectre x360 15. Unlike most 360 designs that either under-spec (and thus lack muscle) or over-spec (with too much hardware stuffed into the design causing inefficiency), HP’s Spectre x360 15 and its newfangled Intel Kaby Lake G CPU doesn’t give up much ground at all.
HP actually sells two different Spectre x360 15 laptops that are quite different on the inside. Our recommendation is for the Kaby Lake G version, which gives up some battery life for a lot of CPU and graphics performance (although, if gaming is your primary concern, make sure you see our recommendation for best gaming laptop first). The other Spectre x360 15 is based on the Kaby Lake R and sacrifices some CPU and graphics power in favor of more battery life.
[$1,539 to $2,269 MSRP; $1,619 as last reviewed]
Best budget convertible laptop
For years, Asus has offered great value in its notebooks, and the ZenBook Flip (available at Amazon) is a strong example of its affordable, high-performing offerings. For $700, you get a fully convertible notebook that can handle everyday tasks with ease.
In fact, its pricing and specs are virtually identical to our favorite budget ultrabook, the Asus UX305 (now discontinued). Inside you get a Core m3-6Y30, 8GB of RAM, and a 256GB SSD, and outside there’s a 1920x1080 IPS screen with an anti-glare finish.
Yet despite the modest CPU, the Asus ZenBook Flip is fairly peppy. In our benchmarks, it actually outperformed faster (and newer) Core m5 and m7 processors in rival machines during short CPU-intensive tasks. Its storage drive is no slouch, either.
This laptop is slender and lightweight, too. It measures 0.54 inches thick and 2.8 pounds, which keeps it in line with more expensive ultraportables. You’re not saddled with chunkier dimensions or extra weight in exchange for a lower price.
A couple of compromises do exist: There’s no backlighting on the keyboard, and the trackpad is a tad springy. Still, it’s a good deal in a price range that usually nets you thick, ugly, and plastic.
[$699 MSRP (256GB model); $749 MSRP (512GB model) as reviewed]
Best 2-in-1 / tablet / hybrid laptop
This category originally started out as the best “Surface” category because, well, for a time, there was nothing like Microsoft’s 2-in-1 / tablet / hybrid device.
The best Surface-like device isn’t built by Microsoft anymore, though. Instead, our pick for our top 2-in-1 / tablet / hybrid is Lenovo’s IdeaPad Miix 520 (currently about $876 on Amazon.) Besides being almost affordable, the Miix 520 wowed us because of its 8th generation Core i5 CPU. Yup: That’s a real quad-core CPU in a Surface-like device. Take that, iPad Pro.
If you’re turning your nose up at the Miix 520 because it’s “only” a Core i5, just know that in multi-threaded CPU-bound tests, you’re looking at a 36-percent increase in performance over a high-end Core i7 Surface Pro.
So yeah, if you thought there was no way you could do CPU-heavy tasks on a Surface clone, you can. There’s a price to be paid for that but you’ll have to read our review for those details.
[$999 SRP as reviewed with included keyboard cover and pen]
Samsung’s follow-up to its first 2-in-1 (available at Amazon) doesn’t take any extreme turns off the established path. It’s still incredibly thin and lightweight, and it offers an even more stunning AMOLED screen that supports HDR.
But it’s still not quite our favorite convertible, and that’s partially due to Samsung’s decision to sell both a small and a big version of the Galaxy Book. The more affordable, lower-power Core m3 model has a smaller 10.6-inch screen. If you want a 12-inch screen, you’ll have to jump to a starting price of $1,130.
Despite these two tougher choices, the Galaxy Book is still compelling. It offers solid performance (including over 10 hours of video playback on the 12-inch Core i5 model) and addresses some of our complaints with the Galaxy TabPro S. You now get two USB-C ports, and the keyboard secures tightly to the tablet. And of course, it has that gorgeous display.
So while it may no longer have a huge advantage in price, Samsung still manages to hold its own with a few compelling features. Particularly the included pen—Microsoft’s equivalent accessory is a $100 optional purchase.
[$630 or $1,130 MSRP base price; $1,300 MSRP as reviewed]
Keep reading for our top picks in gaming laptops and more.
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