Laptop Mag has a “We asked 5 phone experts” series where we ask the industry’s brainiest phone geeks contentious iPhone vs. Android questions such as “What can Android do that iPhone can’t?”, so why not launch a “We asked 5 laptop experts” series, too?
For the first installment of this series, we’re asking a question many of our readers want to know: What is the best laptop of the year so far? This is Laptop Mag, so unlike We asked 5 phone experts, I didn’t have to go hunting near and far for knowledgeable pundits — we have ‘em all within reach.
Laptop Mag runs rigorous tests on each laptop that comes through our doors, allowing us to grab informative figures on review units’ battery life, display data, performance scores, graphics benchmarks, and other analyses that matter to our readers.
That being said, we tapped into our own reservoir of laptop experts, as well as some from our sister sites, to tell you which laptops reign supreme so far.
What’s the best laptop of 2023 so far?
To answer this question, we asked TechRadar’s Computing Writer Allisa James, Tom’s Guide’s Computing Writer Tony Polanco, Tom’s Hardware’s Senior Editor Andrew Freedman, Laptop Mag Contributor Momo Tabari, and our very own Editor-in-Chief Sherri L. Smith to contribute their thoughts.
1. Samsung Galaxy Book 3 Ultra
Out of the many laptops I’ve reviewed so far in 2023, the Samsung Galaxy Book 3 Ultra is my top contender by a landslide. Noted in my full Galaxy Book3 Ultra review of the Ultrabook, it’s an endlessly flexible laptop that can handle a wide variety of tasks, including everyday productivity work, creative projects and video editing, and even high-end gaming. This is thanks to its excellent 13th Gen Intel Core i7-13700H CPU and the GeForce RTX 4050 GPU powering it. Unlike the higher-end cards that throttle the CPU in other laptops, the i7 and 4050 work in perfect tandem to deliver the best possible performance in any task you give it.
The design is also a feat worthy of a miracle, a sleek, thin, and lightweight laptop that looks luxurious. It also boasts a gorgeous 3K AMOLED with HDR support, a solid port selection, a smooth and easy to type on keyboard with an equally quality touchpad, and a great sound system and webcam. Then there’s the crown jewel: the Samsung ecosystem that unifies Samsung devices like its smartphones and laptops. This is the standard for an Ultrabook, delivering on nearly every factor possible and completely worth the price of entry.
— Allisa James, Computing Writer at TechRadar
James' "best laptop" recommendation, the Samsung Galaxy Book 3 Ultra, is available at Best Buy for $2,399
2. MSI Cyborg 15
Although the Samsung Galaxy Book 3 Ultra is my favorite laptop of 2023, I wanted to spotlight the MSI Cyborg 15. Why? Because it changed my mind about budget gaming laptops. It might not be the most powerful notebook out there, but for what it offers at $1,000, it’s a device worth considering.
The Cyborg 15 is unique because of its translucent chassis that lets you see the laptop’s innards. As I said in my MSI Cyborg 15 review, this design reminds me of third-party gaming peripherals from the late ‘90s/early ‘00s. Beyond that, the laptop offers great performance, thanks to its 13th Gen Intel Core i7 CPU and RTX 4050 laptop GPU. At medium settings, I was able to play games like Doom Eternal at 135 to 144 frames per second.
The MSI Cyborg 15 is a rock-solid budget gaming laptop that’s perfect for people new to PC gaming or those on a tight budget. For $1,000, there’s a lot to like here.
— Tony Polanco, Computing Writer at Tom’s Guide
Polanco's "best laptop" recommendation, the MSI Cyborg 15, is available at Best Buy for $1,100
3. Lenovo Yoga 9i 2-in-1
The Lenovo Yoga 9i is the best 2-in-1 laptop available, packed with an Intel Core i7-1360P processor, 16GB of LPDDR5 RAM, 512GB of SSD storage space and a 14-inch 2.8K OLED display with a 90Hz refresh rate. It's got excellent performance scores, a hyper-fast SSD, loud speakers, a firm 360-degree hinge and more than 10 hours of battery life — all inside a glorious aluminum exterior that is lightweight and sturdy.
But that’s not what makes the Yoga 9i my favorite laptop available. The enormous cherry on top takes an already fantastic product and submerges it in divine grace: Its display boasts a vibrancy that makes everything I watch on it appear like a portal into another world. I tested "The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power" and was stunned by the variance in hue between the darkest and brightest corners of scenes, with the deepest blacks appearing beautifully inky and infinitely deep, while the lightest hues come across with a glorious luminescence befitting such a magical fantasy setting.
The Yoga 9i’s display made me rethink every monitor I had ever owned up until that point. Alongside the phenomenal design and performance, it’s impossible to say no to Lenovo’s reigning champion of 2023.
— Momo Tabari, Contributing Writer, Laptop Mag
Tabari's "best laptop" recommendation, the Lenovo Yoga 9i 2-in-1 (Gen 8), is available at Best Buy for $1,399
4. MSI Raider GE78 HX
Because we've seen so few non-gaming laptops this year (a lot of the productivity-focused machines are just starting to hit our test labs), I'm going to skew gaming. And high-end gaming, at that, because the RTX 4060 machines are also just hitting our testbeds.
Of those, the MSI Raider GE78 HX is a standout. $2,999.99 is a lot, but nets you an Intel Core i9-13950HX and a GeForce RTX 4080 with 175W max graphics power. (Some RTX 4090 machines go way higher in price!) That also gets you MSI's redesigned chassis with a 17-inch, 16:10, 2560 x 1600 display at 240 Hz and a light bar that shows you every individual bulb — as if someone pulled it off of a fancified jukebox. At 17-inches, it's not too huge to actually take with you (unlike some 18-inch machines that debuted this year). While its display doesn't match the mini-LED screens on MSI's Titan GT77 HX nor the Asus ROG Zephyrus Duo 16, it's still plenty colorful. Additionally, the comfortable keyboard is a joy to type on.
— Andrew E. Freedman, Senior Editor, Tom's Hardware
Freedman's "best laptop" recommendation, the MSI Raider GE78 HX, is available at Amazon for $2,166.
5. Asus ROG Strix Scar 18
Asus consistently sits at the top of my laptop list and notebooks like the Asus ROG Strix Scar 18 are the reason. Can you blame me? The Strix Scar 18 is a gorgeous piece of machine dripping in Cyberpunk aesthetic complete with a sword unsheathing when the system is powered on. But that 18-inch, 2560 x 1600 Nebula display is the real showstopper with its vivid color and brightness, and that 240Hz refresh rate means silky smooth frame rates, which appeals to the gamer in me, but will make movie buffs happy.
But what really makes the Scar 18 my early 2023 favorite is the power. The notebook is outfitted with an Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090 GPU with 16GB of VRAM, as well as an Intel Core i9-13900HX processor with 32GB of RAM, which means it’s an absolute powerhouse. No matter what tests we threw at it, the Scar 18 pushed forward. And I had a blast hacking, running and gunning my way through Cyberpunk 2077.
I’m never going to say no to more power, especially power on this scale. I know the Asus ROG Strix Scar 18's price tag is cost prohibitive, but if you can afford it, you’re going to be hard-pressed to find anything more powerful.
— Sherri L. Smith, Editor in Chief, Laptop Mag
Smith's "best laptop" recommendation, the Asus ROG Strix Scar 18, is available on Amazon for $2,849.