Best Laptops of 2019

Sherri L. Smith ·
Editor
Updated

Whether you're shopping for a sub-$200 laptop, a lightweight laptop for work and play, a 2-in-1 or a powerful gaming rig, the sheer number of choices can be overwhelming. To help you choose, we've picked out the best laptops in every major category, based on our extensive testing, research and comparisons.

Looking for something a bit more specific? We've got guides for gamingcollege and business laptops as well as Chromebooks and 2-in-1s. And if you need something that can last a really long time, check out our roundup of the laptops with the longest battery life. Shopping on a budget? Check out our laptops for under $500 as well as our sub-$1000 gaming laptops like the $799 MSI GF63 8RB notebook we recently reviewed. And if you're looking to save a few dollars, check out our roundup of the best-refurbished deals and the best deals of the month

If you're shopping for a premium Chromebook, check out our faceoff between the Lenovo Yoga Chromebook C630 and Google Pixelbook. Looking for unmitigated power? Then you need to check out our exclusive review of the Alienware Area-51m, it's unlike anything Alienware's ever done before. And if you need something really tough, check out our review of the Dell Latitude 5420 which earned 4.5 stars and the vaunted Editor's Choice award. Other laptops on the way include the Lenovo X1 Yoga (the first aluminum ThinkPad) and Asus' wild ROG Mothership gaming PC. 

And if you're looking for some helpful laptop tips, check out our how-to on removing duplicate files on Windows 10 or our Chromebook Buying Guide. Mac owners, be sure to read our write up on how to protect your laptop from the latest MacOS vulnerability. And check out our latest face-off that pits the MSI's gorgeous PS63 Modern against our reigning champ the Dell XPS 15. 

Here are the best laptops to buy right now.

Best Laptops

Best Laptop Overall
1. Dell XPS 13 (2019)
The Dell XPS 13 serves up a new color, a powerful Intel Whiskey Lake processor, a 4K display (and ditches the ridiculous "nosecam") - all in a slim, lightweight chassis.
View on Dell.com
$899.99@Dell.com
Best Laptop Overall
1. Dell XPS 13 (2019)
Best Sub-$500 Laptop
2. Acer Aspire E 15 (E5-575-33BM)
The Aspire E15 is a superb value, offering a vibrant screen and long battery life for less than $500.
View on Amazon
Best Chromebook
3. HP Chromebook x2
The HP Chromebook x2 is a detachable with a great tablet display and lengthy battery life.
View on HP
Best Laptop Overall
The new Dell XPS 13 is a gorgeous thin and light laptop with great performance.
The best 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.
Pros
  • Slim, lightweight design
  • Strong performance
  • Gorgeous 4K display
  • InfinityEdge bezels with properly placed webcam
Cons
  • Below-average battery life
$899.99Dell.com
Read the full review
Best Sub-$500 Laptop
The Aspire E15 is a superb value, offering a vibrant screen and long battery life for less than $500.
The E 15 is one of the few laptops you can buy that still comes with a built-in DVD burner. It also packs in a plethora of ports, including USB Type-C, Type-A, VGA, Ethernet and HDMI connections. Despite the laptop's budget price, the Aspire E 15's screen can reproduce over 150 percent of the sRGB color gamut. This system also lasts over 8 hours on a charge. At 4.97 pounds, this laptop isn't particularly light, but it makes a great family or student PC that you keep within the home or the dorm.
Pros
  • Colorful, full-HD display
  • Long battery life
  • Plenty of ports and DVD drive
  • Accurate sound
Cons
  • Grainy webcam
  • Narrow viewing angles
$349Amazon
Read the full review
Best Chromebook
If you want a Chromebook that's also a tablet, the HP Chromebook x2 is a fantastic option.
The HP Chromebook x2's bright, colorful display and lengthy battery life will make you take Chrome OS seriously. You also get a comfortable typing experience, surprisingly powerful audio and solid performance thanks to its Intel Core m3-7Y30 GPU. Throw in a quick, accurate pen and the ability to convert the system from a laptop to a tablet and you've got an ultraportable jack-of-all-trades machine that offers versatility and style.
Pros
  • Bright, high-res display
  • All-day battery life
  • Comfortable typing experience
  • Solid sound
Cons
  • A bit heavier than other convertibles
  • Thick bezels
  • Core m3 CPU isn't the fastest
$599.99HP
Read the full review
Best Value
Huawei's 14-inch MateBook D packs a solid AMD processor and touch-screen display into a sleek aluminum body for an affordable $629. This MacBook doppelganger also boasts long battery life, a comfortable keyboard and a pair of decent speakers. Its AMD processor and GPU performed well on our tests and also offers a solid keyboard. Its premium build and performance belies its affordable price. A.
Pros
  • Aluminum chassis
  • Very good graphics performance
  • Punchy keyboard
  • Long battery life
Cons
  • MacBook-look-alike design
  • Display could be brighter
  • Grainy webcam
$599.00Newegg
Read the full review
Best 2-in-1
Lenovo's moved away from its classic watchband hinge on the Yoga C930 in favor of a soundbar speaker that's both stylish and practical -- providing 360-degree audio and a place to store the digital pen. The C930 is just as versatile as its forebears, transforming with ease into a variety of use cases while doling out strong performance and lasting more than 10 hours on a charge.
Pros
  • Stylish, premium design
  • Thin and lightweight
  • Strong performance
  • Long battery life
  • Versatile speakers
  • Webcam cover
  • Integrated pen slot
Cons
  • Shallow keyboard
  • Display could be brighter, more vibrant
$1149Lenovo
Read the full review
Best Gaming Laptop
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.
Pros
  • Stunning space station aesthetic
  • Excellent graphics and overall performance
  • Lightning fast SSDs
  • All major components upgradable
Cons
  • Exorbitantly expensive
$2549.99Dell
Read the full review
Best Business Laptop
The X1 Carbon's snappy, deep keyboard is its best feature. Combined with a soft-touch deck, the responsive keys will make you a faster and more efficient typist. The accurate TrackPoint and touchpad make navigation a pleasure. No matter which of its three screen options you choose, you'll get an extremely bright and colorful panel. However, the high-end, 2K HDR screen is one of the best we've seen on any laptop, providing nearly 500 nits of brightness and covering close to 200 percent of the sRGB color gamut. When you carry the ThinkPad X1 Carbon, you don't have to worry about battery life. In our tests, the laptop lasted over 11 hours on a charge.
Pros
  • Eye-popping HDR display
  • Long battery life
  • Best-in-class keyboard
  • Lightweight
  • Attractive design
Cons
  • Tinny audio
  • Mediocre webcam
$1519Lenovo
Read the full review
Best Laptop for Kids
Because kids need more than just a device that won't break, the Chromebook Flip C213SA provides more than adequate performance and the ability to run Android apps. Its 11.6-inch screen flips back so they can run it in tablet mode. Young typists will appreciate the C213SA's snappy keyboard, which provides the kind of feedback we normally see on professional productivity laptops. Asus's convertible lasts over 11 hours on a charge which is more than enough for school and after-school activities.
Pros
  • Flexible and durable design
  • Long battery life
  • Touch-screen display
  • Good sound
Cons
  • Average performance
  • Poor cameras
$307Amazon
Read the full review
Best Detachable
The king of 2-in-1 detachables just got even better. Not only does the Surface Pro 6 last 2 hours longer than its predecessor, but it also boasts faster performance thanks to its 8th-gen quad-core processor. All of those gains are tied together in an elegant matte black design with a bright and colorful 2736 x 1824 display with smooth Surface Pen functionality for drawing and taking notes.
Pros
  • Fast quad-core performance
  • Excellent battery life
  • Bright and colorful display
  • Comfortable keyboard
  • Silky-smooth pen input
Cons
  • Still no USB-C/Thunderbolt ports
  • 256GB option is pricey and a bit sluggish
$899.00Microsoft Store
Read the full review
Best Photo / Video Editing Laptop
While other laptops with similar specs also provide the performance necessary to edit 4K videos or create 3D animations, they're all clamshells. With the Surface Book 2, you can edit a high-res clip using Adobe Premiere when you're attached to its dock and then pop off the screen so you can sketch a quick drawing while you stand in line. The Surface Book 2 is also the first Microsoft device to provide a USB Type-C port so you can connect to a variety of new peripherals. When connected to its keyboard, this laptop lasts over 12 hours on a charge.
Pros
  • Modern, detachable design
  • Great stylus
  • Long battery life
  • Vivid, bright display
  • Finally has USB Type-C
Cons
  • Expensive
  • No Thunderbolt 3
$2499Best Buy
Read the full review
Best 15-inch Laptop
The laptop's optional 4K display can reproduce an awesome 188 percent 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.
Pros
  • Beautiful display
  • Clear audio
  • Solid battery life
  • Strong performance
Cons
  • Webcam looks up your nose
$979Dell.com
Read the full review
Best Ultraportable
The Huawei MateBook X Pro is finally available in America, and it was definitely worth the wait. The 14-inch laptop packs a gorgeous super high-resolution display, a Core i7 CPU and a discrete Nvidia MX150 GPU so you can get some light gaming in on the go. A surprisingly comfortable keyboard, great audio quality and nearly 9 hours of battery life only serve to sweeten the pot.
Pros
  • Fast performance
  • Exquisite screen
  • Comfortable keyboard
  • Long battery life
  • Both USB Type-C and Type-A ports
Cons
  • Limited availability
$1499Newegg
Read the full review

Why Trust Us

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.

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.