Laptop Rating Sources
PCMag.com evaluates a huge number of laptops. Reviews aren't overly long, but they are balanced and based on hands-on testing. You can sort the reviews to find inexpensive laptops that have earned an Editors' Choice award in various categories, including business, gaming, desktop replacements, ultraportables, and more. Lists of top laptops for various uses and users are provided as well.
Laptop Magazine reviews many laptops in detail. Reports are comprehensive and hands-on, and performance is compared to close competitors. Editors' Choices are named, and the very best laptops for specific uses and users appear on this list.
CNET's laptop reviews are balanced, reasonably detailed and backed by testing. Each laptop is rated, and the very best are singled out for Editors' Choice awards, though few laptops qualify. This page names the best laptops in various categories, along with some alternatives that are very good in their own right.
ComputerShopper.com is another prolific reviewer of laptops. Tests are thorough and each laptop is rated on a 5-star scale. The best laptops earn various awards. This website does a particularly great job of explaining which kind of user would want each laptop. This list names the top laptops tested, each of which earns an Editors' Choice award, though some of the systems included are old models.
ConsumerReports.org evaluates roughly 125 laptops. Testing is unbiased, and each laptop is rated for ergonomics, portability, performance, versatility, display, touch-screen quality (if applicable) and give an overall score. Editors also examine battery life and rate the reliability of popular brands. Each laptop gets an individual write-up, but these are very brief; you won't learn all the ins and outs of a particular laptop here. Some of the models are discontinued, but similar ones are often available. Many of the laptops (nearly half) rate well enough to earn recommendations.
The reviews at PC World are a little bit of a mixed bag. Some are highly detailed, comparing favorably with those at other technology sites, but others are a bit less detailed. Even so, editors' conclusions are backed by solid testing and each laptop is rated on a 5-star scale. Navigation appears to be greatly streamlined compared to previous years. Occasional articles highlighting top choices are helpful, but include some systems that are no longer available.
It's too bad that HotHardware.com doesn't evaluate more laptops, because the reviews that are here are outstanding. Real world and lab tests cover nearly every pertinent aspect, but ratings aren't provided. Almost every laptop earns some type of award such as Approved or Recommended; however, only the best receive Editor's Choice honors. Usability would be better, however, if the site said which laptops were standouts up front -- you have to click through to the last page of each review to see what's what.
TheWirecutter.com researches laptops reviews, then tests the most promising models to find the best choices for different users and different budgets. Discussion is typically long and highly detailed, and the selection and testing methodology is well explained. Coverage is updated on a fairly regular basis.
Once a prolific tester of laptops, TheVerge.com has evaluated fewer than a half dozen systems thus far in 2016. Reviews aren't as technically dense as at some sites, but also have fewer of the details that the technically obsessed sometimes demand. Ratings are provided and, while top laptops aren't named, conclusions are well explained.
These laptop reviews are well organized and detailed, and the site evaluates a fair number of systems. Testing is excellent and ratings are provided to make comparisons easier. Outstanding laptops earn Editors' Choice awards.
Reviewed.com looks at a fair number of laptops, with top picks winding up here. Like all such lists, some systems are older models, but there's also a good selection of current laptops in all price ranges and for all types of users, as well as a link to all of the systems the editors have tested. Evaluations are testing based, but rely less on formal benchmarking and more on hands-on impressions than some sites. Editors' Choice and Best of the Year laptops are named.
AnandTech.com evaluates laptops on occasion. The testing process here is incredibly extensive. Write-ups are balanced and conclusions are clear, but no ratings are given. Top-performing laptops sometimes get an Editors' Choice award, but that designation is handed out very rarely.
This site reviews everything Apple, including MacBook Laptops. Reviews are hands-on and rigorous, including benchmark testing. Ratings are provided, and comparisons are made to other Macs, but not to Windows PCs. This is a sister site to PC World, and the two sites often host the same reviews.
BestBuy.com sells a large number of preconfigured laptops, ranging from the cheapest laptops to high-end gaming rigs. Many score 4 stars out of 5 or higher after dozens, and in some cases hundreds and even thousands of reviews. In addition to an overall rating, each model is rated by owners on factors such as value and performance, as well as a bottom-line comment on whether the reviewer would recommend that laptop to a friend.
Amazon.com gives owners the opportunity to rate and comment on their laptop computers. The site is easy to use and lots of laptops are listed. However many are discontinued models available only through marketplace sellers. Top laptops -- including many Apple laptops -- draw enough feedback to be meaningful, but others get only a handful of reviews, or none at all.
Walmart.com might not be the first place you think of for laptops, but it offers an impressive selection of budget-priced and mainstream laptops, and even an occasional gaming rig. Owners don't hesitate to share their thoughts about purchases; many models receive more than a dozen user reviews, and some get hundreds of write-ups and ratings-only feedback.
Each year PCMag.com asks readers which tech products they like best and find most reliable. In the laptop category, Apple and MSI take home Readers' Choice awards as the best laptops overall, with Microsoft earning an Honorable Mention.
Rather than reaching out to readers, Laptop Magazine rates laptop brands based on the expertise of its editors, awarding points in areas such as quality, tech support, innovation, design and more, including how the company's laptops faired in Laptop Magazine's own reviews. Apple takes first place for 2016, followed by Dell and Asus.
For this report, testers go undercover to find out which laptop brand has the best customer service. They search for answers to two common questions -- "How do I set up Hey Cortana," and "How do I change the direction of scrolling on my touchpad?" -- using the maker's site, web-based help, social media and by phone. A question specific to each brand is also researched. Online and social support counted more heavily than phone support in this year's test. Apple, Microsoft and Samsung take the top three spots.