Best 15-inch Laptops 2019
When 17-inch laptops are too big and 13- and 14-inch systems don't have enough screen real estate, 15-inch laptops are there to fill that midsize hole in your life. Whether you're looking for a college laptop, a budget Windows machine, a Chromebook, a premium stunner, a business notebook, a gaming beast or a jack-of-all-trades 2-in-1, there's a 15-inch laptop with your name on it.
We thoroughly review dozens of laptops using benchmarks and hands-on testing and comparisons to determine which ones are worthy of your money. Here are our top picks for 15-inch laptops.
News and Updates (August 2019)
- We're in the process of reviewing the Razer Blade 15 with OLED and the new Acer Nitro 5. Stay tuned for our full impressions!
- You want OLED, we've got OLED! Check out our reviews of the Alienware m15 and the new Dell XPS 15, which earned 4.5 stars and an Editor's Choice award.
- Lenovo refreshed the ThinkPad X1 Extreme with a 4K OLED display.
Best Overall: Dell XPS 15
Productivity, multimedia and even a bit of gaming — the Dell XPS 15 can do it all — and do it well. Starting at $1,099, the XPS 15 offers an attractive, slim design that's bursting with power, including an Intel Core i9 processor and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 GPU. The keyboard is surprisingly comfortable, and the Infinity Edge display is simply lovely. Oh, and did we mention the speedy M.2 PCIe SSD and gorgeous OLED display? In short, you've got a certified beast on your hands.
Pros: Striking 4K OLED display; Great overall and graphics performance; Webcam in the right place; Slim, attractive design
Cons: Below-average battery life
Key Specs — CPU: 2.4-GHz Intel Core i9-9980HK CPU * GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 GPU with 4 GB of VRAM/Intel UHD Graphics 630 GPU * RAM/Storage: 32GB/1TB M.2 PCIe SSD * Display Size/Resolution: 15.6/3840 x 2160
Best Value: Acer Aspire 5
Strong performance and long battery life, the Acer Aspire 5 has a lot to offer at a seriously affordable price. Powered by an Intel Core i3 processor and integrated graphics, the Aspire 5 is a great choice for light productivity, checking your social media pages or watching a video or two. Speaking of which, the notebook has a bright 15.6-inch display with decent sound. And with close to 9 hours of battery life, the Aspire 5 will have plenty of juice in the tank to get through a workday.
Pros: Strong performance; Long battery life; Bright, 1080p display; Affordable
Cons: Middling graphics; Questionable graphics
Key Specs — CPU: 2.1-GHz Intel Core i3-8145U CPU * GPU: Intel UHD Graphics 620 * RAM/Storage: 4GB/128GB SDD * Display Size/Resolution: 15.6/1920 x 1080
Best Chromebook: Acer Chromebook 15
In the Chromebook arena, the Acer Chromebook 15 is supersized, but that just means there's more laptop to love. The attractive aluminum chassis, large 15.6-inch touch display, comfortable keyboard and over 9 hours of battery life belie its sub-$400 price. And if you’re familiar with Google Chrome, you know how to use Chrome OS. And now that Chrome OS plays nice with apps in the Google Play Store, the Chromebook 15 is even more versatile.
Pros: Metal chassis; 1080p display; Solid keyboard
Cons: Display is dim
Key Specs — CPU: 1.1-GHz Intel Pentium N4200 CPU * GPU: Intel HD Graphics 505 GPU * RAM/Storage: 4GB/32GB Flash * Display Size/Resolution: 15.6/1920 x 1080
Best Gaming Laptop: Alienware m15
Light shows, awesome graphics performance and long battery life. The Alienware 15 is a gaming, virtual reality and multitasking machine, thanks to its 8th Gen Intel Core i7 processor and Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 Max-Q GPU. If that wasn't enough, the notebook is outfitted with a customizable backlit keyboard and a luminous, -colorful display with a stunning OLED display. The Alienware 15 also has an integrated eye tracker and Alienware's revamped Control Center.
Pros: Beautiful OLED display; Good overall and gaming performance; Comfortable keyboard; Sleek, lightweight design
Cons: OLED severely impacts battery life; Bottom runs hot
Key Specs — CPU: 2.2-GHz Intel Core i7-8750H CPU * GPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 Max-Q GPU with 8 GB of VRAM/Intel HD Graphics 630 GPU* RAM/Storage: 16GB/512 GB PCIe m.2 SSD * Display Size/Resolution: 15.6/3840 x 2160
Best Business Laptop: Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme
With its speedy Core i7 processor and gorgeous 4K HDR display packed into a luxurious design, the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme is in fact one of the most extreme business laptops we’ve seen. It’s also armed with GTX 1050 Ti Max-Q GPU that’ll easily handle productivity apps that typically tax your graphics card. On top of that you get Lenovo’s world-class keyboard and a military-durable chassis that passed 12 MIL-STD-810G standards.
Pros: Phenomenal 4K HDR display; Blazing-fast performance; Luxurious design; Thin and lightweight; Comfortable keyboard
Cons: Below-average battery life; Runs warm; Expensive
Key Specs — CPU: 2.2-GHz Intel Core i7-8750H CPU * GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti Max-Q GPU * RAM/Storage: 32GB/1TB SSD * Display Size/Resolution: 15.6/3840 x 2160
Best Gaming Under $1,000: Dell G7 15
Just call it a gaming laptop of a different color. Dell's new G-series laptops are an evolutionary step forward, replacing the company's entry-level Inspiron series with something more interesting and powerful. Regarding the G7 15, you get a 15-inch laptop with solid gaming and overall performance, thanks to the discrete Nvidia graphics. This Dell also delivers good sound in an eye-catching Alpine White chassis. The system's a great choice for gamers who don't want to pay an arm and a leg to play their favorite titles.
Pros: Strong overall and gaming performance; Striking design; Good battery life
Cons: Dim display; Shallow keyboard
Key Specs — CPU: 2.2-GHz Intel Core i7-8750H CPU * GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 Max-Q GPU with 6GB of VRAM * RAM/Storage: 16GB/128GB SSD with 1TB 5,400-rpm HDD * Display Size/Resolution: 15.6/1920 x 1080
Best Photo/Video Editing: Apple MacBook Pro 15
The new 15-inch MacBook Pro is definitely the best yet, with some of the fastest speeds we've ever seen, a better screen and a better keyboard — provided you have deep enough pockets. Available with an Intel Core i9-8950HK CPU, 32GB of RAM and an AMD Radeon Pro 560X GPU with 4GB of memory, the MacBook Pro 15 is an undeniable powerhouse. And whether you're editing photos or watching movies, you'll enjoy the Retina display with Apple's TrueTone technology, which delivers rich, mesmerizing colors and sharp detail.
Pros: Insanely speedy general performance; Fastest SSD we've tested; Comparatively thin and light design; Vivid, sharp display; Improved keyboard; Strong sound; Long battery life
Cons: Exorbitant price; Warm underside; No USB Type-A ports
Key Specs — CPU: 2.9-GHz Intel Core i9-8950HK CPU * GPU: AMD Radeon Pro 560X GPU with 4GB of VRAM * RAM/Storage: 32GB/2TB PCIe SSD * Display Size/Resolution: 15.6/2880 x 1800
Best 2-in-1: HP Spectre x360 15-inch
What do you get when you combine a luxurious design with serious power? If you're talking about laptops, then you're probably referring to the HP Spectre x360. In addition to a gloriously vivid touch display, you get an Intel Core i7 CPU, an Nvidia GeForce Mx150 GPU, 16GB of RAM and a 1TB SSD, all in a sleek, foldable aluminum chassis. But the piece de resistance is the 4K OLED panel that is stunningly beautiful. And while it has discrete graphics, the x360 targets creative professionals, allowing consumers to transform from a traditional laptop to a tablet to a tent mode with ease. However, with only 7 hours and 46 minutes of battery life, you'll want to keep the power cord handy.
Pros: Sexy design; Solid performance and graphics; Vivid 4K OLED display; comfortable keyboard
Cons: Battery life could be better; Non-configurable; Bezels a bit thick
Key Specs — CPU: 1.8-GHz Intel Core i7-8565U CPU * GPU: Nvidia GeForce MX150 GPU * RAM/Storage: 16GB/1TB SSD * Display Size/Resolution: 15.6/3840 x 2160
Best Innovation: Asus ZenBook Pro 15
The Asus ZenBook Pro 15 doesn't just look good; it works damned hard, too, making it a great choice for mobile professionals. You get a slim, sophisticated system with a striking 4K display, an Intel Core i9 processor, an Nvidia GTX 1050 Ti GPU and a smoking-fast SSD. In addition, you get the ScreenPad, an LCD display that can easily switch between a touchpad, a music player, a productivity shortcut toolbar and a viable second display. Plus, you get an absolute beauty of a notebook, which, despite its svelte dimensions, manages to fit some extremely powerful specs. However, all that power and innovation comes at a cost to productivity as the notebook barely lasted over 4 hours with the ScreenPad enabled.
Pros: Elegant, sophisticated design; Powerful overall and graphics performance; ScreenPad complements productivity tasks; Lightning-fast transfer speeds; Supervivid, 4K touch screen
Cons: Below-average battery life; Low-res webcam
Key Specs — CPU: 2.9-GHz Intel Core i9-8950HK CPU * GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti Max-Q GPU with 6GB of VRAM/Intel UHD 630 Graphics * RAM/Storage: 16GB/512GB NVMe PCIe SSD * Display Size/Resolution: 15.6/3840 x 2160
Best Gaming Thin-and-Light: MSI GS65 Stealth Thin
MSI’s GS65 Stealth Thin is one of the company's slimmest and prettiest laptops to date. But don't let the sophisticated and svelte design fool you, as this is still a gaming laptop. Packed with a Nvidia GTX 1070 Max-Q GPU, the notebook is capable of delivering high frame rates at the highest settings, which, coupled with the 15.6-inch display with a 144-Hertz refresh rate, makes for a bona fide portable gaming laptop.
Pros: Great overall and graphics performance; Barely there bezels; Excellent audio quality; Slim, beautiful design; Impressive battery life
Cons: Gets hot while gaming
Key Specs — CPU: 3.9-GHz Intel Core i7-8750H CPU * GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 Max-Q GPU with 8GB of VRAM * RAM/Storage: 16GB/512GB M.2 SSD * Display Size/Resolution: 15.6/1920 x 1080
Best Workstation: HP ZBook Studio x360 G5
Underneath its military-durable aluminum chassis, the HP ZBook Studio x360 G5 is armed with a beastly Intel Xeon processor and Nvidia Quadro graphics that’ll shred through the most rigorous of tasks. And despite all of its power, the Studio x360 is only 0.8 inches slim. The ZBook also features a vibrant 4K display, a punchy keyboard and a responsive stylus with customizable buttons. Not to mention that this baby gets a little over 9 hours of battery life.
Pros: Premium design; Gorgeous 4K display; Military-grade durability; Great keyboard and stylus; Excellent performance and graphics; Long battery life
Cons: Lid flexes; Lackluster webcam; Expensive
Key Specs — CPU: 2.9-GHz Intel Xeon E-2186M CPU * GPU: Nvidia Quadro P1000 GPU * RAM/Storage: 32GB/1TB SSD * Display Size/Resolution: 15.6/3840 x 2160
How We Test Laptops
When we bring a laptop into our laboratory, our goal is to see how it would work if you brought it into your home or office. While we use a number of industry-standard benchmarks such as Geekbench and 3DMark, we focus heavily on real-world tests that we have developed in-house.
To test endurance, the Laptop Mag Battery test surfs the web at 150 nits of brightness until the system runs out of juice. To judge pure processing power, we use a giant spreadsheet macro that matches 65,000 names with their addresses, a video transcoder that converts a 4K video to 1080p and the Geekbench 4 synthetic test. We measure graphics prowess with both 3DMark Ice Storm / Fire Strike and a series of actual game titles.
We use a colorimeter to measure screen brightness and color gamut while other instruments help us determine a laptop's key travel and ambient heat. See this page on How We Test Laptops for more details on our benchmarking procedures.
Specs: 1080p / Core i5 / 8GB Are Best Bets
You can spend a lot of time delving into specs, but here are the key components to think about. If you just want really good mainstream performance, go for a Core i5 CPU, 8GB of RAM, a 256GB SSD and a 1080p screen.
- Screen Resolution: Unfortunately, 66 percent of consumer laptops and 51 percent of business systems have low-res screens. If at all possible, get a display with a 1920 x 1080 (aka 1080p, or full HD) or higher resolution.
- CPU: An Intel Core i5 provides good mainstream performance. Some budget systems will come with Core i3, Celeron or Pentium CPUs, which are good for basic tasks, but not heavy multitasking. Get a Core i7 or a quad core processor (serial number ends in HQ or HK) for gaming or high-end productivity tasks such as video editing and 3D modeling.
- RAM: 8GB is ideal for most users. 4GB is acceptable for budget systems. Secondary laptops and Chromebooks may have less.
- Storage: Unless you're a gamer or a power user, 256GB of internal storage is probably enough. If at all possible, get an SSD (solid-state drive) rather than a hard drive, because it's going to make your computer a lot faster.
- Graphics Chip: Gamers and creative professionals need to do some research and figure out which discrete GPU is good enough to run their favorite software. Everyone else will be happy with the built-in Intel HD Graphics that come with the CPU.