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Best laptops in 2020

Best Laptops
(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

What's the best laptop for you? We know the sheer number of choices can be overwhelming, which is why we made this list.

In the market for a cheap laptop or maybe a high-powered gaming notebook? Don't worry, we've got you covered. Our best laptops list includes every major category, from ultraportables and cheap laptops to 2-in-1s and gaming laptops.

Every laptop goes through our rigorous reviews process, which includes extensive testing, research and comparisons against top competitors.

In order to make our best laptops list, the system needs to score at least 4 out of 5 stars on our reviews and deliver on the things shoppers care about most. In our evaluations, we focus on design and comfort, display quality, the keyboard and touchpad, performance, battery life and especially value.

Best Laptops 2020: Dell XPS 13 (2019)

1. Dell XPS 13

The best overall laptop you can buy

CPU: Intel Core i7-8565U | GPU: Intel UHD Graphics 620 | RAM: 16GB | Storage: 1TB PCIe SSD | Display: 13-inch, 4K | Size: 11.9 x 7.8 x 0.3~0.5 inches | Weight: 2.7 pounds

Slim, lightweight design
Strong performance
Gorgeous 4K display
InfinityEdge bezels with properly placed webcam
Below-average battery life

The best laptop just got even better. Not only did Dell outfit the 2019 XPS 13 with a new Intel Whiskey Lake processor, but it also fixed one of the most annoying flaws of its predecessor. No longer does its webcam point up your nose, as Dell's engineers found a way to fit its webcam in a still-small top bezel. While the 4K model we tested offered lower battery life than some may need, we expect longer endurance on the model with a 1080p display.

See our full Dell XPS 13 review.


Best Laptops 2020: MacBook Pro

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2. MacBook Pro (16-inch, 2019)

An excellent choice for power users

CPU: Intel Core i9 | GPU: AMD Radeon Pro 5500M | RAM: 32GB | Storage: 512GB SSD | Display: 16-inch, 1920p | Size: 14.1 x 9.7 x 0.6 inches | Weight: 4.3 pounds

Radically improved Magic Keyboard
Immersive 16-inch display with slimmer bezels
Beastly performance
Powerful 6-speaker audio
Nearly 11 hours of battery life
Display not 4K
No full-size USB port or SD card slot

The 16-inch MacBook Pro is just your type if you’ve been waiting for Apple to make a better keyboard. The Magic Keyboard on this premium laptop ditches the Butterfly mechanism in favor of scissor switches, and the result is a much more comfortable typing experience. You also get a bright and sharp 16-inch display with slimmer bezels, powerful performance from an available Core i9 CPU and robust AMD Radeon 5300M or 5500M graphics. 

You can also configure the system with up to 64GB of RAM and 8TB of storage if you really want to splurge. The 11 hours of battery life is another plus on this laptop, dwarfing the runtimes of its competitors. The 16-inch MacBook Pro is pricey, and Apple still doesn’t include full-size USB ports, but overall this is the best laptop for creative pros.

See our full MacBook (16-inch, 2019) review.

Best Laptops 2020: Acer Aspire 5 (Core i3 2019)

3. Acer Aspire 5 (Core i3, 2019)

Good performance at a solid price

CPU: Intel Core i3-8145U | GPU: Intel UHD Graphics 620 | RAM: 4GB | Storage: 128GB SSD | Display: 15.6-inch, 1080p | Size: 14.3 x 9.9 x 0.7 inches | Weight: 3.8 pounds

Strong performance
Long battery life
Bright, 1080p display
Middling graphics
Questionable build quality

The Aspire 5 is an excellent budget laptop. It features great performance for the price, a display that's brighter than most cheap laptops, and it'll survive longer than your average workday. Despite its sub-$500 price, the laptop still delivers a premium aluminum chassis, a comfortable keyboard and an entry-level discrete graphics chip for more intensive tasks. Despite the laptop's budget price, the Aspire 5 outperformed the category average in display brightness, performance, file transfer and battery average -- all in a slim, lightweight chassis.

See our full Acer Aspire 5 review.


Best Laptops 2020: Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch

4. Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch

Our favorite Apple laptop

CPU: Intel Core i5 | GPU: Intel Iris Plus Graphics 645 | RAM: 8GB | Storage: 128GB SSD | Display: 13-inch, 1600p | Size: 11.9 x 8.4 x 0.6 inches | Weight: 3 pounds

Great battery life
Very fast performance
Bright and colorful display
Powerful speakers
Touch ID is convenient
Keyboard has shallow travel
Just two Thunderbolt 3 ports
Thick bezels

The new MacBook Pro 13-inch packs a much faster 8th Gen Intel Core CPU and both Touch ID and the Touch Bar. And while the keyboard still isn't great, Apple has introduced minor enhancements that will (hopefully) make it more reliable. Add in more than 10 hours of battery life and you have the best Apple laptop for most people -- at least those who want a future-proof system. For the price, you get a much faster processor, brighter display and considerably longer battery life for your money.

See our full 13-inch MacBook Pro review.

Best Laptops 2020: Asus Chromebook C434

5. Asus Chromebook C434

The best Chromebook overall

CPU: Intel Core m3-8100Y | GPU: Intel UHD 615 | RAM: 4GB | Storage: 64GB eMMC | Display: 14-inch, 1080p | Size: 12.6 x 8 x 0.6 inches | Weight: 3.1 pounds

Sleek, premium design
Thin display bezels
Vivid, 14-inch touch screen
Long battery life
Finicky touchpad
A tad pricey

With a larger display, longer battery life and stronger performance, the new Asus Chromebook Flip C434 is one of the best Chromebooks we've ever tested. The 2-in-1 has a sleek, aluminum chassis and a panel that is both vivid and bright. Thanks to its Intel Core m3-8100Y processor, it's a reliable multitasker when combined with ChromeOS. And with over 9 hours and 58 minutes of battery life, this laptop can transition from work to play with ease.

See our full Asus Chromebook C434 review.


Best Laptops 2020: HP Envy 13t

6. HP Envy 13t

A great college laptop with long battery life

CPU: Intel Core i7-8550U | GPU: Intel UHD Graphics 620 | RAM: 4GB | Storage: 256GB PCIe m.2 SSD | Display: 13.3-inch, 1080p | Size: 12.9 x 8.9 x 0.5 inches | Weight: 2.9 pounds

Aluminum chassis
Very good graphics performance
Punchy keyboard
Long battery life
MacBook-look-alike design
Display could be brighter
Grainy webcam

The new HP Envy 13 isn't just one of the best laptops around; it's also a great deal. Starting at $799, the new 2019 model gets you an attractive, slim chassis, great performance and powerful speakers. New to the latest Envy are a fingerprint sensor and a webcam kill switch for those who value their privacy.  The 1080p model of the Envy 13 also gets 11+ hours of battery life while both the FHD and 4K display options are bright and vivid. So unless you need a Thunderbolt 3 port (see Spectre x360), the Envy 13 should be at the top of your buying list. It's the best laptop

See our full HP Envy 13 (2019) review


Best Laptops 2020: Acer Swift 7 (2019)

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7. Acer Swift 7

Meet the world's thinnest 14-inch laptop

CPU: Intel Core i7-7Y75 | GPU: Intel UHD Graphics 615 | RAM: 8GB | Storage: 256GB PCIe NVMe SSD | Display: 14-inch, 1080p | Size: 12.9 x 9.3 x 0.4 inches | Weight: 2.6 pounds

Inconceivably thin and lightweight
Elegant design
Gorgeous 14-inch display
Surprisingly long battery life
Inconceivably thin and lightweight
Elegant design
Gorgeous 14-inch display
Surprisingly long battery life

If you want a large display in a super-portable chassis, look no further than the Acer Swift 7. At just 0.4 inches thin, this 14-inch laptop can slip into a backpack or briefcase during your daily commute or on long trips. Combine that portability with a gorgeous display and long battery and the Swift 7 earns a place as one of the best Ultrabooks around. It's the best laptop for on-the go professionals looking for an ultra lightweight laptop for frequent business trips. 

See our full Acer Swift 7 review

Best Laptops 2020: HP Spectre x360 (13-inch, Late 2019)

(Image credit: Future)

8. HP Spectre x360 (13-inch, Late 2019)

The king of 2-in-1 laptops

CPU: Intel Core i7-1065G7 | GPU: Intel Iris Plus | RAM: 8GB | Storage: 512GB PCIe NVMe M.2 SSD | Display: 13.3-inch, 1080p | Size: 12.2 x 8.6 x 0.6 inches | Weight: 2.8 pounds

Stunning, ultraportable design
Epic battery life
Bright, vivid display with thinner bezels
Fast overall performance
Comfortable keyboard
Lots of bloatware
Shrill speakers at max volume
Runs a bit warm

The HP Spectre x360 13 is practically perfect. Updated with Intel's 10th Gen processors and a modernized chassis, the Spectre x360 takes everything we loved about its predecessor and ramps it up. Starting with the laptop's design, which is more stunning than ever thanks to thinner display bezels and smaller footprint. 

Other highlights include a bright, vivid display and the Spectre x360's epic, 13-plus hours of battery life. Factor in a comfortable keyboard, fast performance and an included stylus, and it's easy to see why the Spectre x360 is one of the best 2-in-1 laptops ever.  

See our full HP Spectre x360 (13-inch, Late 2019) review.


Best Laptops 2020: Alienware Area-51m

9. Alienware Area-51m

The ultimate gaming laptop is upgradable

CPU: Intel Core i9-9900K | GPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080/Intel UHD Graphics 630 | RAM: 64GB | Storage: dual 1TB PCIe M.2 SSDs/1TB (+8GB SSHD) Hybrid Drive | Display: 17.3-inch, 1080p | Size: 16.1 x 15.9 x 1.2~1.7 inches | Weight: 8.5 pounds

Stunning space station aesthetic
Excellent graphics and overall performance
Lightning fast SSDs
All major components upgradable
Exorbitantly expensive

Sporting a new look and the first-ever design that enables upgradeable graphics Alienware is ready to take its place as the king of semi-mobile gaming. The Area-51m doesn't look like anything we've ever seen from the brand. Armed with a desktop Intel Core i9 processor and one of Nvidia's superpowered RTX GPUs, it absolutely demolished every test we put in front of it with graceful aplomb. It's Alienware's first true desktop replacement and the most powerful and upgradeable laptop we've reviewed to date.

See our full Alienware Area-51m review.


Best Laptops 2020: Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon

10. Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon

The best business laptop with a killer keyboard

CPU: Intel i5-8265U | GPU: Intel UHD Graphics 620 | RAM: 8GB | Storage: 256GB M.2 PCIe NVMe Opal 2 SSD | Display: 14-inch, 1080p | Size: 12.7 x 8.5 x 0.6 inches | Weight: 2.1 pounds

Attractive, lightweight chassis
Best-in-class keyboard
Long battery life (on 1080p model)
Bright, vivid display options
No microSD card slot
4K model has short battery life
Top configs get pricey

Lenovo made our favorite business laptop even better by improving its speakers, giving it a svelte carbon fiber texture and adding some useful security features, including a webcam shutter and IR camera. On top of that, you get fast performance, long battery life (on the 1080p model) and two gorgeous, 1080p and 4K display options, all in an impossibly lightweight chassis. But it's those classic ThinkPad X1 features --- a durable (military tested) chassis, best-in-class keyboard and stylish black/red aesthetics --- that carry the X1 Carbon to greatness.

Read our full Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon review.


Best Laptops 2020: Samsung Chromebook 3

(Image credit: Future)

11. Samsung Chromebook 3

A great laptop for kids

CPU: Intel Celeron N3060 | GPU: Intel UHD Graphics 620 | RAM: 4GB | Storage: 32GB eMMC | Display: 11.6-inch, 768p | Size: 11.4 x 8 x 0.7 inches | Weight: 2.5 pounds

Bright, accurate screen 
Superb battery life
 Strong performance
 Fun webcam
Muddy speakers
Awkward button layout
 Bottom runs warm

The Samsung Chromebook 3 is a great little laptop for both school and entertainment, especially for younger kids and frequent travelers. This 11.6-inch notebook not only boasts a fantastic screen and nearly 10 hours of battery life but also comes with 4GB of RAM, so you can expect solid performance. And because its 32GB of storage isn't taken up by Windows 10, you'll find plenty of onboard storage for your personal files.

Read our full Samsung Chromebook 3 review.


Best Laptops 2020: Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 for Business (15-inch, Intel )

(Image credit: Future)

12. Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 for Business (15-inch, Intel)

This is the one to buy

CPU: Intel Core i7-1065G7 | GPU: Intel UHD Graphics 620 | RAM: 16GB | Storage: 256GB SSD | Display: 15-inch, 1504p | Size: 13.4 x 9.6 x 0.6 inches | Weight: 3.4 pounds

Slim, lightweight chassis
Attractive metal design
Fast performance
Comfortable keyboard
Long battery life
Scant port selection
Integrated graphics still underperform

Ignoring Microsoft's misleading "for business" designation, the Surface Laptop 3 is one of the best 15-inch laptops around.  It has great performance, long battery life, a fast hard drive and ships with Windows 10 Pro. Plus, you get Microsoft's handsome aluminum chassis and a gorgeous display. If you're a fan of Microsoft's notebooks, this is the best laptop for you.

See our full Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 for Business (15-inch, Intel) review

Best Laptops 2020: Apple MacBook Pro (15-inch, 2019)

13. Apple MacBook Pro (15-inch, 2019)

A powerful laptop for photo and video editing

CPU: Intel Core i9-9980HK | GPU: Radeon Pro Vega 20 | RAM: 32GB | Storage: 4TB SSD | Display: 15.4-inch, 1880p | Size: 13.8 x 9.5 x 0.6 inches | Weight: 4 pounds

Superior speed
Sharp, colorful display
Powerful sound
Lots of battery life
Price starts high and gets crazy expensive
Still uses 'Butterfly' keyboard
No USB Type-A ports

Apple updated its 15-inch MacBook Pro with faster 9th Gen Intel processors, making it the fastest MacBook ever. In addition you get all-day battery life, with loud, warm audio, and a bright, colorful and sharp display. Throw in some seriously fast SSDs and you’ve got a system just waiting to help you create your next masterpiece. It's blindingly fast and with its improved Butterfly-switches and over 10 hours of battery life, it's also a good system to get some work done.

Read our full Apple MacBook Pro (15-inch, 2019) review.

Best Laptops 2020: Dell XPS 15

14. Dell XPS 15

The best 15-inch laptop money can buy

CPU: Intel Core i9-9980HK | GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650/Intel UHD Graphics 630 | RAM: 32GB | Storage: 1TB m.2 NVMe PCIe SSD | Display: 15.6-inch, 4K | Size: 14.1 x 9.3 x 0.5~0.7 inches | Weight: 4.5 pounds

Striking 4K OLED display
Great overall and graphics performance
Webcam in the right place
Slim, attractive design
Below-average battery life

This laptop's optional 4K display can reproduce an awesome 188% of the sRGB color gamut while registering a solid 282 nits of brightness. Its 45-watt Intel H series processor provides much stronger performance than the U series CPU in its smaller sibling while its Nvidia GTX 1050 graphics make it a legitimate content creation machine.

Read our full Dell XPS 15 review.

Best Laptops 2020: Lenovo Yoga C940

(Image credit: Future)

15. Lenovo Yoga C940

Small tweaks makes a big difference

CPU: Intel Core i7-1065G7 | GPU: Intel Iris Plus GPU | RAM: 16GB | Storage: 512GB SSD | Display: 14-inch, 1080/4K | Size: 12.6 x 8.5 x 0.6 inches | Weight: 3 pounds

Slim, premium design
Beautiful 4K display
Fast performance
Crisp, dynamic speakers
Long battery life (on 1080p version)
Below-average battery life (on 4K model)
Stylus is difficult to remove
No SD card

The Yoga C940 has a gorgeous design, along with bright, vivid 4K and 1080p display options; fast performance; and long battery life. It's the sort of laptop that will fit just about anyone, from students to business users and content creators. It has a premium chassis, a beautiful display (especially the 4K option), strong performance and long battery life. On top of that, the Yoga C940's unique features, a stylus garage and webcam cover, help it stand out from the alternatives. 

See our full Lenovo Yoga C940 review

Why trust Laptop Mag

Laptop Mag has been testing and reviewing laptops for over two decades. We test over 200 different models per year, subjecting each system to a series of rigorous benchmarks that provides a complete picture of performance, battery life and usability.

Our expert reviewers also use each product to see how it looks and feels in everyday situations. Because we see so many different notebooks, we can compare each to its direct competitors and give you an idea of how it stacks up to the average laptop in its price band.

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.

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: What you get for the money.

You can find good cheap Windows laptops and high-quality Chromebooks for under $500. However, better mainstream laptops usually cost more than $700 and premium Ultrabooks can run over $1,000. The best gaming laptops can cost $2.000 and up, but you can play the latest titles at decent frame rates on gaming laptops under $1,000.

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 hardest 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: 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 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.