What every best Laptops has:
- At least 2 GB of RAM.
- A minimum screen resolution of 1,366 by 768 pixels.
- A comfortable keyboard and touchpad.
The 2016 version of the Dell XPS 13 breaks from the pack with a near-edge-to-edge Infinity display that fits a 13-inch screen into a laptop sized similarly to an 11-inch model. This Dell laptop is available in a variety of stock and customizable configurations ranging from a non-touch, Core i3 model that's ideal as a budget choice for school and home, to Core i7-driven high-resolution touch versions that can handle anything up to hard-core gaming. Road warriors will appreciate the near 12-hours of battery life that the non-touch versions reached in some tests. The Dell XPS 13 gets great reviews from nearly every expert that's tested it.
Even if a laptop is a great performer in every other way, modern, high-end games can make most buckle, slowing them to a crawl at all but the lowest graphics settings. The Razer Blade isn't most laptops, however. Its current-generation Core i7 processor and near-top-end NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970M graphics deliver terrific gaming performance at full HD resolutions, even with the toughest titles, and its QHD screen can come fully into its own on less demanding games and videos. It's also got the chops to perform admirably as a work computer for graphics pros. The price is nice for a competent gaming ultraportable laptop, too.
For good, everyday performance in a super-cheap Windows laptop, it's hard to find fault with the Asus VivoBook E403SA. The premium brushed aluminum finish, Ultrabook profile (both thin and light), and solid build quality is more in line with what you would expect in a laptop costing twice as much, or more. It's not a performance power house, and users bring up some addressable faults, but it will more than do for basic computing -- web surfing, document creation, video watching -- the sorts of things most people use a computer for on a daily basis. The full HD screen at this price point is a welcome feature.Buy for $389.90
The ultra-cheap Asus Chromebook Flip gets that way by ditching Windows. Instead, you do almost everything in the cloud via Google Chrome, and as of June 2016, apps from the full Google Play Android store (and the Flip is one of the first Chromebooks to gain that feature). This convertible laptop's screen flips around to form a fully functional touch-enabled slate. The build quality is excellent, with an aluminum chassis rather than cheaper plastic. Performance isn't a powerhouse, but is on the right side of more than good enough as long as you don't go crazy with open browser windows. Android functionality is surprisingly good, too.
If you love the price of a Chromebook and can live with its modest performance, but hate being tied to Google's ecosystem for all your apps, the Windows-based Lenovo Ideapad 100S could be just the ticket. The Ideapad runs the full Windows operating system -- you even get a full year of Microsoft Office and 1 TB of cloud storage, a $70 value. While it's not a computing powerhouse, the laptop is more than powerful enough for the types of low-impact tasks most home users typically do. The case is colorful (red, white or blue, depending on where you buy it), and the system is well built. Value is unmatched.
The 12-inch Apple MacBook has supplanted the long loved MacBook Air as the lightest and thinnest Apple laptop you can buy. Performance is excellent, even though it's handicapped slightly by a power-conserving processor that trades a little computer horsepower for near epic battery endurance. The Retina display is as gorgeous as ever, and user ergonomics are well regarded by most reviewers. If there's a gripe, it's that the limited connectivity (just a single USB-C port) that peeved some last year remains unchanged. Its position as the best Apple laptop might also be challenged when the 2016 Apple MacBook Pro finally debuts later this year.Buy for $1,149.00