If your computer of choice is a laptop, then having the right model to take care of all your needs is essential, regardless of whether you use it for work, school or simply to keep in touch with friends and family. Just like any other technology device, laptop brands and models are plentiful but not all the same. The features on different computers often vary a great deal, and it’s important to understand exactly what you need and know exactly what you’re getting.
Both the specs and the price are vastly different if you need a laptop for basic computing versus hardcore gaming with its top-of-the-line video and memory requirements. If you’re not already computer savvy, be sure to spend some time learning what all the different terminology means. When you’re ready to start looking for your new laptop, start with this list of some of the best laptops on the market and their individual features.
Best Overall Laptop: Dell XPS 13
The Dell XPS line of laptop computers features the company’s premier technology for standard home and business computing. In this line, the 13-inch Dell XPS laptop has a touchscreen and comes with either Windows 10 Home or Windows 10 Pro already installed. Reviewers loved this portable computer’s screen quality and battery life as well as the standard 16 GB of RAM and powerful Intel i7 processor. The slim design is compact, allowing you to take it with you almost anywhere when you’re on the go.
Best Value Laptop: Acer Aspire 5 Slim Laptop
This Acer Aspire 5 slim laptop technically has a newer counterpart, the Aspire 7, but this laptop is still widely available and offers users a great value for the price. It includes all the features you would expect a laptop to include — Windows 10, 4 GB DDR4 RAM, three USB ports, an HDMI port, a widescreen LED backlit display and more — but at a lower price than its competitors. Reviewers loved its rich, bright screen and slim design, and it also boasts an AMD Ryzen processor and 7.5 hours of battery life for power on the go. The 15.6-inch screen is easy on the eyes, whether you plan to use it for work or play.
Best Chromebook: Asus Chromebook Flip C434 2-in-1 Laptop
Voted the best Chromebook by users and industry reviewers like Laptop Mag, this Asus Chromebook Flip 2-in-1 gives you the power of a laptop combined with the versatility and convenience of a tablet. The 14-inch touchscreen is larger than the screen on most 360 computers, and the Intel Core m3-8100y processor is strong and durable. The computer’s light, 3-pound weight makes it easy for you to carry it nearly anywhere, just as you would a traditional tablet.
Best Laptop for Students: HP ENVY
Lightweight and easy to carry around a big, sprawling campus, the entire line of HP ENVY small laptops is a great choice for students. Reviewers particularly loved the high-tech fingerprint sensor on the laptop for added security as well as the responsive touchscreen. Either an AMD Ryzen or an Intel Core processor (depending on the model) and 4K video technology work together to ensure powerful graphics that are clear and never stall. The Gorilla Glass construction even protects the computer against breaks from accidental drops.
Best Laptop for Gaming: Alienware M17
The Alienware M17 from Dell is a top choice for gamers, partly because of its NVIDIA Turing architecture. Reviewers love the stellar quality of the graphics card as well as the battery life. This laptop boasts a large 17-inch screen but is still only 23 mm thick for ease of carrying. Several different connector ports, including a USB 3.1 connection, help you connect to a variety of gaming and other peripherals to enhance the user experience.
Best Laptop for Business: Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon 7th Generation Ultrabook
If you work from home or have a small business, the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon is a terrific option. What reviewers loved most about it was how lightweight and easy it was to carry. Additionally, the 14-inch, anti-glare LED touchscreen offers sharp graphics while a fingerprint reader maintains security at premium levels. The Intel Core i7 processor behind it all packs a powerful punch when your business needs to manage large volumes of data.
Best Laptop for Kids: Samsung Chromebook 4
Finding the right laptop for kids can be challenging, but the Samsung Chromebook 4 delivers with features like a compact size ― 11.6 inches ― and more than 12 hours of battery life. It’s also spill-resistant for an extra layer of kid protection. The RAM and hard drive space are limited — 4 GB and 64 GB, respectively — but it’s generally all the computing power kids need. Reviewers loved the screen quality and the durable feel of the construction, despite the very reasonable cost. It’s a Chromebook, so you can quickly integrate kids’ Google accounts for easy setup.
Best 2-in-1 Laptop: Microsoft Surface Pro 7
Perhaps the most recognizable of all the 2-in-1 laptops, the Microsoft Surface Pro 7 doesn’t disappoint. Reviewers raved about this computer’s screen quality and touchscreen sensitivity and loved how lightweight it is to carry around. Enhancing the entire experience, the Surface pen lets you put the tablet in studio mode for art projects but then go right back to using it as a laptop and tablet. In terms of power, the Surface Pro features 10th generation Intel Core processors and up to 16 GB of RAM. Battery life also packs a punch at more than 10 hours.
Best High-end Laptop: MacBook Pro
MacBook Pro laptops are well known for their high-quality graphics and slim, feature-packed designs. Reviewers love the brightness, track bar and easy-to-use video editing software that is bundled with the computer. Macs have long been the top choice for graphic designers and artists, and the latest Pro laptops feature Retina displays with True Tone to take those capabilities to the next level. State-of-the-art Intel Core i9 processors give the systems a turbo boost unlike any other.
Best Budget Laptop: Lenovo IdeaPad
The 15.6-inch Lenovo IdeaPad is a powerful little laptop for anyone who is on a tight budget but still has work to do. Reviewers were fond of the bright screen with high-definition (HD) quality and the computer’s long battery life. An AMD dual-core processor and 4GB of DDR RAM ensure graphics, websites and everything in between load with precision. The slim design and light weight make it easy to carry this laptop everywhere.