Best Laptops 2018

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Top Laptop Overall

Dell XPS 13

Editor's Choice

The razer-thin, Dell XPS 13 has been our favorite consumer laptop for a few years, thanks to its attractive design, gorgeous screen and strong battery life. Dell's laptop is now available in two different models, both of which we recommend.

The new XPS 13 9370 is the slimmest and lightest model yet, with a stunning new rose gold and white color scheme. It also sports an extremely vibrant display, which is available in 4K resolution, better performance and up to 12 hours of battery life. However, if you want an even-longer, 16 hours of endurance and access to full-size, USB Type-A ports, the older, XPS 13 9360 could be an even better choice.

Dell XPS 13 Review

Best Laptops 2018
Product: Use Case: Rating:
Dell XPS 13 Top Laptop Overall 4.5 out of 5
Acer Aspire E 15 (E5-575-33BM) Best Sub-$500 Laptop 4 out of 5
Lenovo Yoga 920 Best 2-in-1 4.5 out of 5
Samsung Chromebook 3 Best Sub-$200 Laptop 4 out of 5
Microsoft Surface Book 2 (13-inch) Best Splurge 4 out of 5
Alienware 17 R4 (2017) Best Gaming Laptop 4 out of 5
Microsoft Surface Pro Best Detachable 4 out of 5
Lenovo ThinkPad T470 Best Business Laptop 4 out of 5
Asus ZenBook UX330UA (8th Gen Core) Best Value 4 out of 5
Dell XPS 15 Best 15-inch Laptop 4 out of 5
Microsoft Surface Book 2 (15-inch) Best Video/Photo Editing Laptop 4.0 out of 5
MacBook Pro 13-inch (Without Touch Bar) Best Apple Laptop 4 out of 5
Asus Chromebook Flip C302CA Best Chromebook 4 out of 5
Asus Chromebook Flip C213SA Best Laptop for Kids 4 out of 5
Dell Latitude 7212 Rugged Extreme Tablet Best Rugged Laptop 34 out of 5
  • Best Sub-$500 Laptop

    Acer Aspire E 15 (E5-575-33BM)

    Editor's Choice

    For under $350, this 15-inch laptop comes with a vibrant 1080p display, a solid Core i3 CPU, a 1TB hard drive and strong build quality. The Aspire E 15 (E5-575-33BM) also comes with a DVD writer and a ton of ports, including a USB Type-C connector, three standard USB ports, VGA out, Ethernet and an SD card reader.

    Acer Aspire E 15 (E5-575-33BM) Review

  • Best 2-in-1

    Lenovo Yoga 920

    Editor's Choice

    With a quad-core, Intel 8th Gen Core i7 CPU and over 12 hours of battery life, the Yoga 920 offers impressive speed and endurance. However, we're even more enamored with this convertible's stunning bronze-colored chassis and vibrant 13.9-inch display. The included active stylus makes drawing or taking notes a breeze while a wide selection of ports ensures that you can connect to both Thunderbolt 3 and standard USB devices.

    Lenovo Yoga 920 Review

  • Best Sub-$200 Laptop

    Samsung Chromebook 3

    Editor's Choice

    Samsung's 11.6-inch Chromebook offers solid build quality, a fairly bright display and nearly 10 hours of battery life. With 4GB of RAM, an amount of memory you usually find on more expensive laptops, the Chromebook 3 is a strong multitasker too.

    Samsung Chromebook 3 Review

  • Best Splurge

    Microsoft Surface Book 2 (13-inch)

    Editor's Choice

    If you can afford to spend close to $2,000 on your next laptop, the Surface Book 2 (13-inch) should be at the top of your shopping list. When it comes to versatility, the Surface Book family is in a class by itself. Where most detachables have flimsy keyboards and scaled-back performance, the Surface Book 2 and its 15-inch sibling has weighty keyboards that allow them to balance properly on your lap and a great typing experience.

    Better still, if you get at least the $1,999 model (it starts at $1,499), the Surface Book 2 comes configured with a powerful Intel 8th Gen Core Series CPU and speedy Nvidia GTX 1050 graphics (something we've never seen in a detachable this size). It also sports brilliant, high-res display, a great stylus and over 13 hours of battery life.

    Microsoft Surface Book 2 Review

  • Best Gaming Laptop

    Alienware 17 R4 (2017)

    Editor's Choice

    An absolute gaming beast, the Alienware 17 R4 shreds both standard 2D games and VR titles, thanks to its optional Nvidia GTX 1080 graphics chip and overclockable Intel 7th Generation Core i7 CPU. With an intergalatic design, comfy keyboard and available G-Sync screen, this is the mobile gaming rig to beat. Just make sure you configure the Alienware 17 with a 2K or 4K display option and a PCIe SSD.

    Alienware 17 Review

  • Best Detachable

    Microsoft Surface Pro

    Editor's Choice

    If you are looking for the best detachable money can buy, your search ends here. Microsoft's new Surface Pro offers longer battery life, better performance and more flexibility than any other detachable on the market. Oh, and it's Type Cover is still hands down our favorite removable keyboard around. While it's a shame that the Surface Pen no longer comes in the box, its capabilities have been improved with 4 times the pressure sensitivity. And in case you need a little color in your life, both the Surface Pen and Type Cover are now available in four colors: gray, burgundy, cobalt and black.

    Microsoft Surface Pro Review

  • Best Business Laptop

    Lenovo ThinkPad T470

    Editor's Choice

    The best balance between price, portability, performance and usability, Lenovo's 14-inch ThinkPad T470 combines a durable chassis, best-in-class keyboard and over 17 hours of battery life. Starting at under 3.5 pounds, this versatile productivity powerhouse has every port you could possibly want, including a Thunderbolt 3 connection for charging and outputting to multiple monitors over a single wire.

    Lenovo ThinkPad T470 Review

  • Best Value

    Asus ZenBook UX330UA (8th Gen Core)

    Editor's Choice

    For under $750, you get a super-light, 2.7-pound Ultrabook with a sharp 1080p display, speedy 8th Gen Core i5 processor and generous 256GB SSD. Best of all, the ZenBook UX330UA lasts 9 hours on a charge.

    Asus ZenBook UX330UA Review

  • Best 15-inch Laptop

    Dell XPS 15

    Editor's Choice

    The Dell XPS 15 is a powerhouse of a laptop with an optional 2.8-GHz Intel Core i7 CPU, up to 32GB of RAM and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 GPU. The 4K display option is bright and vivid - one of the best we've seen short of OLED -- and the entry-level gaming you can do with this machine looks great on the panel. The battery will last you all day, and if you need something cheaper than our $2,075 config, other models start at $999.

    Dell XPS 15 Review

  • Best Video/Photo Editing Laptop

    Microsoft Surface Book 2 (15-inch)

    Editor's Choice

    As powerful as a MacBook Pro (15-inch) and with even longer battery life, the Surface Book 2 (15-inch) is the first and only detachable 2-in-1 with Nvidia's speedy GTX 1060 card inside. Creative professionals can edit 4K videos on the Surface Book's gorgeous PixelSense display and then pop the top off to use the device as a drawing tablet. No other laptop can match this combination of performance and versatility.

    Surface Book 2 (15-inch) Review

  • Best Apple Laptop

    MacBook Pro 13-inch (Without Touch Bar)

    The best combination of performance, price and portability in Apple's lineup, the MacBook Pro 13-inch weighs just 3 pounds, is thinner than the Air and lasts over 12 hours on a charge. Though it doesn't have the innovative Touch Bar you get with its more expensive siblings, this $1,499 laptop has solid 6th-gen Core i5 performance, a speedy PCIe SSD and a vibrant Retina display.

    MacBook Pro 13-inch Review

  • Best Chromebook

    Asus Chromebook Flip C302CA

    If you want the most versatile Chrome OS device on the market, look no further than the Chromebook Flip C302CA. This powerful 2-in-1 features an aluminum design, great multitasking performance, nearly 9 hours of battery life and a touch screen to help it support Android apps in the future.

    Asus Chromebook Flip C302CA Review

  • Best Laptop for Kids

    Asus Chromebook Flip C213SA

    This convertible Chromebook is practically indestructible, surviving 3.9-foot drops onto concrete with just a few scratches. When it isn't accidentally slipping out of your child's hands, the Chromebook Flip C213SA offers a fantastic keyboard, over 11 hours of battery life and the ability to run Android apps on its 11.6-inch touch screen.

    Asus Chromebook Flip C213SA Review

  • Best Rugged Laptop

    Dell Latitude 7212 Rugged Extreme Tablet

    Like the Surface Pro, Dell's Latitude 7212 is a tablet in name, but a full-fledged Windows laptop when you attach its optional keyboard cover. Unlike most laptops and tablets in the world, the Latitude can survive 4-foot drops without getting a scratch, endure dust storms, resist some water and live through extreme temperatures. Its super-bright screen also makes it great for outdoor viewing.

    Dell Lattiude 7212 Review

How to Find the Right Laptop

When shopping for a laptop, there's a lot to consider. To help you choose a system, we've put our up-to-date list of favorite notebooks above, along with five points to keep in mind when choosing a system.

Budget: Over $700 for High-Quality

How much can you spend? Better-quality mainstream laptops usually cost more than $700 and premium Ultrabooks can run over $1,000. However, you can find serviceable Windows laptops and high-quality Chromebooks for under $500.

Screen Size: 12 to 14 inches for Portability

Knowing a laptop's screen size tells you a lot about its portability overall. If you want to use your computer on your lap or carry it around a lot, go for one with a 12, 13 or 14-inch display. If you want to use the computer on tables and desks and won't carry it around much, a 15-inch model may give you more value. Some gaming rigs, media machines and workstations even have 17 or 18-inch screens, but those are really hard to carry.

2-in-1 or Clamshell?

More and more of today's laptops are 2-in-1s with screens that either bend back 360 degrees or detach so you can use them as tablets. If you like the idea of using your laptop in slate mode for drawing, media consumption or just using it standing up, a 2-in-1 could be for you. However, you can often get better features or a lower price by going with a traditional clamshell-style laptop.

Battery Life: 8+ Hours for Portability

Unless you only plan to use your laptop on your desk, battery life matters. Even within the home or office, having plenty of juice enables you to work on the couch or at the conference table, without being chained to the nearest outlet. For the best portability, we recommend getting a laptop that lasted over 8 hours on the Laptop Mag Battery Test. The longest-lasting laptops endure for over 10 hours.

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: 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 enough for basic tasks, but not heavy mutltiasking. 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 entire 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 on the CPU.

If you want to learn more about buying a laptop, check out our full Laptop Buying Guide. Gamers should read our Gaming Laptop Buying Guide and list of Best Gaming Laptops.