Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus
Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus

Best ultraportable laptop

Among high-performance Windows Ultrabooks, the Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus is a critics' favorite. The QuadHD+ display is even higher resolution than the Retina displays found on Apple laptops, and it's touch sensitive to take full advantage of Windows touch features. Performance is robust enough to handle anything short of high-end gaming at maximum settings with ease.
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Est. $1,400 Estimated Price
Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 13
Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 13

Best convertible laptop

The Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 13's acrobatic screen isn't just a gimmick. Reviews say it's truly useful: You can fold the touch screen back 360 degrees, transforming the Yoga from a laptop to a tablet in a flash. It's a good computer, too, with solid performance and a classy build. In fact, the Yoga is one of critics' favorite ultralight laptops, period.
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Est. $850 and up Estimated Price
Razer Blade
Razer Blade

Best gaming laptop

The Razer Blade is the first of its kind: a hard-core gaming laptop no bigger than an Ultrabook. At just 4 pounds and 0.66 inch thick, you can actually carry it around as a daily companion thanks to all-day battery life and a comfy keyboard. The Blade could use a higher-quality screen, but testers are otherwise completely satisfied with this do-it-all laptop.
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15-inch Apple MacBook Pro with Retina Display
15-inch Apple MacBook Pro with Retina Display

Best Apple laptop

If top performance is a top priority, the 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display is the best Apple laptop you can buy -- and one of the best laptops overall. It can handle practically anything you throw at it, short of competitive gaming. The Retina display is as breathtaking as ever. The battery provides enough juice for a full day of work or play.
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Dell Latitude 6430u
Dell Latitude 6430u

Best business laptop

Speedier than most other ultraportables, the Dell Latitude 6430u also offers thoughtful, business-friendly touches you won't find on its rivals. Extras include a fingerprint-proof exterior, an all-day battery that's user-swappable, and a screen and ultra-comfy keyboard both sealed against coffee spills.
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13-inch Apple MacBook Pro with Retina Display
13-inch Apple MacBook Pro with Retina Display

Best multimedia laptop

The 13-inch Apple MacBook Pro with Retina Display is only the tiniest bit heftier than the sveltest ultraportables, including MacBook Air, but provides better performance for movie watching, media streaming, music listening and other everyday tasks. Content looks terrific on the Retina display, and the speakers are great for a small laptop. It's also exceedingly well-built.
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The best laptops for work and play

The best laptop is one that meets your computing needs. If you use a computer primarily for surfing the Internet or composing documents, a mainstream laptop costing $850 or less will probably be just fine. We cover these models separately in our report on cheap laptops.

This report covers full-featured laptops -- both PCs and Macs -- suitable for serious work or serious play. Business users and frequent travelers might want to look first at ultraportable notebooks that weigh less than 4.5 pounds and typically have very good battery life. Intel's Ultrabooks, for example, require at least five hours of battery life but aren't the most powerful laptops available. Experts say they're great for everyday computing, but most don't recommend them for gaming or intensive number crunching, graphics rendering or multimedia tasks.

Convertible laptops feature clever touch screens that either fold away or detach to let you use them as a laptop or a tablet. Convertibles pack Ultrabook-like specs, so they're fine for everyday tasks but not for heavy-duty gaming and similar tasks.

At the other end of the spectrum are powerful desktop replacement, gaming and multimedia laptops. Desktop replacement models are a good choice for mainstream users who don't care about portability. Although they often weigh much more than 5 pounds, desktop replacements have enough firepower to serve as your primary computer. Gaming laptops add discrete graphics processors and dedicated graphics memory, so you can fire your way through the most intense first-person shooters. Multimedia-focused laptops sport movie-friendly features like 3D displays, wireless streaming technology and Blu-ray Disc drives.

To find the best laptops, experts run benchmark and real-life stress tests such as 3D gaming, video streaming and graphics crunching. Features such as beautiful displays, rich-sounding speakers and comfortable keyboards, and silky-smooth touchpads and touch screens earn bonus points. Owners are polled to find out which laptop brands prove durable, and one professional source puts customer service to the test by having staffers go undercover with tech-support questions.

We scour hundreds of reviews from about two dozen sources to find the best laptops on the market. We consider not only performance but also factors such as ergonomics, design and value, as well as which laptop makers do the best job of standing by you if trouble crops up.

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