Easing our way of a global pandemic, 2022 was a year full of laptop innovation both big and small. This year saw innovative, yet polarizing designs from Dell and a powerful second act from Apple by way of its M2 chips. Meanwhile, Intel, AMD and Nvidia put their best foot forward to deliver some of the best gaming laptops to date.
However, the biggest story of the year was our underdog laptop, the Acer Swift 5 which came out of nowhere with stunning performance for a ridiculously affordable price. The little notebook that could even outpaced the mighty MacBook Air and Pro, both of which are outfitted with Apple’s latest powerhouse chip.
And with 2023 on the horizon, join us as we take a fond look at some of our favorite laptops of 2022.
Acer Swift 5 (2022)
I love a good underdog story! After a stint of “meh” notebooks flooding into our labs during the first half of 2022, the Acer Swift 5 was the wake-up slap the laptop market needed, reminding OEMs to step their game up. This laptop surprised the hell out of me. It is so good, it trounces the M2 MacBook Air (and even the M2 MacBook Pro in some cases).
In other words, the competitively priced Acer Swift 5 delivered beastly performance numbers that blew us away. It crushed the M2 MacBook Air on the Geekbench 5.4, CrossMark and HandBrake benchmarks. Even in regards to the display, the Swift 5 covers more of the DCI-P3 color gamut, which means that it’s far more colorful than its Apple rival.
Its performance is so spectacular, I felt compelled to write a cheeky face-off: The Acer Swift 5 is cheaper, better than the M2 MacBook Air — fight me. I regret nothing.
— Kimberly Gedeon, Editor
Dell XPS 13 Plus
Okay, let’s get this out of the way –– the Dell XPS 13 Plus is polarizing. You’re either going to like the design choices or hate them. Be that as it may, you have to respect that the system is a serious conversation starter and a major powerhouse. The first Dell laptop to sport a 28-watt processor, the XPS 13 performed admirably on all our benchmarks. Not to mention it has an absolutely gorgeous 4K OLED display and a supremely comfortable keyboard.
Now some may take issue with the invisible touchpad resting in the smooth glass palm rest. The capacitive touch function row is also another oddity that some find off-putting. It switches between the Function and media keys by pressing the fn and esc keys simultaneously. And then there’s the lack of a headset jack. But none of that takes away from the fact that the XPS 13 Plus provides a tantalizing peek into the future that I’m ready and willing to explore.
— Sherri L. Smith, Editor in Chief
HP Envy x360 13 (2022)
The traditional clamshell design HP Envy laptop in itself is a powerhouse. The 2-in-1 functionality of the HP Envy x360 improves its capabilities by giving you the best of both worlds. One of the more affordable convertible laptops out there, the 12th Gen Intel Core i7 HP Envy x360 is priced at just under $800. It’s a great value for the price if spending upwards of $1,000 on a laptop is out of the question.
The latest Envy x360 boasts a 13.3-inch (1920 x 1200) touch screen, 12th Gen Intel Core i7-1250U Evo platform 10-core CPU, 8GB of RAM, Intel Iris Xe Graphics and a 512GB SSD. This configuration lets you power through day-to-day multitasking productivity, consuming content and light gaming.
HP laptops typically offer a nice selection of ports and the HP Envy x360 is no different. Integrated into its portable chassis are 2 x Thunderbolt 4 ports and 2 x USB 3.1 Type A ports. There's also a multi-format SD media card reader and headphone/mic combo jack built-in. In a nutshell, the HP Envy x360 is a solid buy for anyone who wants a portable laptop that moonlights as a tablet.
— Hilda Scott, Deals Editor
Huawei MateBook X Pro (2022)
The Dell XPS 13 killer. The M2 MacBook Air assassin. I’ve got many monikers for this absolute beast, but you simply know it as the 2022 Huawei MateBook X Pro. Not only has Huawei worked hard on a significant generational jump in the X Pro, but by doing so, the company has created one of the best ultrabooks you can buy today.
Sure, the webcam is a little lacking and the 720p webcam is pretty poor, but it overwhelmingly nails the essentials of an ultra-productive ultraportable with 12th Gen Intel power, a stunning touchscreen display, an ergonomic keyboard, a brilliantly spacious trackpad, and better speakers than you could ever imagine in a laptop this small — all enclosed in sleek, sexy chassis.
One thing is for sure, it’s getting very cramped atop the mountain of the best laptops of the year.
— Jason England, Content Editor
Asus ROG Zephyrus M16 (2022)
I thought I had found my dream gaming laptop last year in the Asus ROG Strix Scar G17 (2021), but Asus came back with an even sleeker, more stylish gaming laptop that I’m still doting over: the Asus ROG Zephyrus M16. With superb performance from its Intel Core i9-12900H CPU and Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 Ti with 8GB GDDR6 video memory, dazzling 16-inch WQXGA (2560 x 1600) 165Hz display, and a design I still marvel at, the Zephyrus M16 is now my new dream gaming laptop.
There’s a lot of power under the hood of this sleek and compact gaming laptop, meaning it can run hot under intense pressure, but that doesn’t mean it can’t outperform many of the best gaming laptops of the year. Yes, it’s a pricey beast, and it could have ditched the 720p “potato” webcam for something better. But as far as 16-inch gaming laptops go, the Zephyrus M16 knocks it out of the park.
The Asus ROG Zephyrus M16 makes for a favourable gaming laptop purchase that, if you’re like me, you’ll easily adore.
— Darragh Murphy, Editor
Asus ROG Flow X16
The Asus ROG Flow X16 is what happens when a giant gaming laptop gets freaky with a convertible ultraportable — and the result is glorious.
At its core, this is a great gaming laptop with a mesmerizing screen, strong battery life and decent port selection complete the package, which results in a system that is fantastic for both work and play.
But look deeper. By taking the convertible form factor that made the ROG Flow X13 such a stand-out system and making it bigger, Asus has stumbled upon what I think is the future of portable gaming systems. It changed the way I played, from being stuck with trying to fit a whole laptop on a small table, to being able to stick it in a more space efficient tent mode and play games like a console on the go.
— Jason England, Content Editor
Lenovo IdeaPad Duet 5 Chromebook
While Chromebooks aren’t a fit for all users, the Lenovo IdeaPad Duet 5 Chromebook won me over this year with its outstanding display, versatile form factor, and its incredibly affordable price at under $500.
The detachable 2-in-1 design makes this Chromebook a dual threat as a laptop replacement and tablet replacement with the ever improving Android app support on Chromebooks. Its Snapdragon processor isn’t as powerful as the other laptops on this list, but it’s sufficient for any typical tasks and gives the Duet 5 marathon battery life at 13 hours and 31 minutes in our testing.
The vivid OLED display makes the Duet 5 a dream for watching streaming content. The fabric keyboard case makes the Duet 5 comfortable to hold and despite its thin and light design it delivers an excellent typing and touchpad experience. If you are looking for an affordable laptop or considering a tablet, I would recommend taking a look at the Lenovo IdeaPad Duet 5 Chromebook as it can do double-duty for less than you would likely spend on either.
— Sean Riley, Assistant Managing Editor
Asus TUF Gaming F15
The Asus TUF Gaming F15 gives you exactly what you want from a great gaming laptop: plenty of power at a good price. And when it comes to powerful systems like this, value for money is a rarity. The TUF F15 we tested packs an Intel Core i7-12700H CPU, an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 GPU, 16GB of RAM and a 1TB SSD, alongside a 1080p, 300 Hz display to show it all off on — coming in at $1,499.
Yes, the experience is a little rough around the edges with tinny speakers, a potato for a webcam, loud fans, a cramped typing experience with a spongy touchpad, and a macho aesthetic that could be considered cringeworthy.
But come on — the TUF Gaming F15 emanates power potential that largely beats or matches the more expensive ROG Zephyrus G14 and G15 at a cheaper price. That value proposition is something you should not ignore in what is a great system for gaming at home or while you’re out and about.
— Jason England, Content Editor
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