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Best laptops 2020

Best Laptops 2020
(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

Laptops. There’s just so many of them. But what's the best laptop for you? Is it a business notebook, a powerful gaming laptop or a Chromebook? We know the sheer number of choices can be overwhelming, which is why we made this list.

We've created this handy-dandy guide so you'll know all the ins and outs of your prospective system before you make the decision to hit the buy button. From advice on choosing screen size, to selecting between an SSD and HDD to insider scoops on where to find the best prices on laptops, here are some essential tips for finding the right system for you.

Cyber Monday 2020

Cyber Monday kicks off on November 30 and we expect to see tons of deals on the industry’s best laptops, including HP notebooks, from now until then. Be sure to bookmark our Cyber Monday laptop deals page for this year’s exclusive deals on laptops. 

Over the course of a year, we review over 150 laptops covering every price point and use case. Whether you’re looking for a productivity workhorse, a badass gaming system or a multimedia machine to kick back and watch a movie or two, we can help you find your ideal match. 

In order to make our Best Laptops of 2020 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.

What are the best laptops right now?

The Dell XPS 13 is currently our top overall pick for best laptop of 2020. Powered by a 11th Gen Intel Core i7 processor and integrated Intel Iris Xe graphics, the 1080p version of the laptop is ideal for work, play and light content creation. And with it’s bright, vivid display, the laptop is also great for watching videos. Plus, it’s also incredibly slim and light making it an ideal laptop for mobile professionals. 

Those in the market for a convertible should give the Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 a look. If 13-inches is too small, we suggest the Dell XPS 17, which also earned a spot on this list thanks to its powerful performance that makes it ideal for students, mobile and creative professionals. 

For our Apple aficionados, you can’t beat the MacBook Pro (16-inch, 2019). The successor to the 15-inch MacBook, this new laptop supplies the same powerful performance, Mac lovers have come to expect. However, Apple has made some much-needed changes, namely with the keyboard, switching out the much-maligned Butterfly keyboard for the highly-lauded Magic Keyboard. 

Those in the market for gaming laptops need to take a look at the Asus ROG Zephyrus G14, the latest entrant into the 5 star club. Powered by an AMD APU, not only does the laptop pack a punch in the gaming department, it’s also a powerful multitasker. 

Intel has just announced its new Tiger Lake chips, which promises better performance, longer battery life, Thunderbolt 4 and USB 4. And the integrated chips can play some AAA titles. The Asus ZenBook 13 UX325EA and Asus ZenBook Flip S are the first to show off what Intel can do in grand fashion. 

See our picks for best laptops below.

The best laptops you can buy today

Best Laptops 2020: Dell XPS 13 (Model 9310, Late 2020)

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

1. Dell XPS 13

The best overall laptop you can buy

CPU: Intel Core i7-1165G7 | GPU: Intel Iris Xe Graphics | RAM: 16GB | Storage: 512GB M.2 NVMe SSD | Display: 13.4-inch, 1200 | Size: 11.6 x 7.8 x 0.6 inches | Weight: 2.8 pounds

Attractive, premium chassis
Great performance
Good battery life
Lacks legacy ports

What do you get when you put one of Intel’s new Tiger Lake processors into a Dell XPS 13? Even more awesome. The latest Dell XPS 13 keeps all the things we loved about this year’s previous model, such as a smaller frame, four-sided InfinityEdge bezels and a larger keyboard. But this refresh brings Intel’s 11th Gen Tiger Lake processor and a host of promised features, including better CPU and graphics performance and longer battery life. You also get Thunderbolt 4 and Wi-Fi 6.

But does Tiger Lake live up to the hype? Absolutely. With the new Intel Iris Xe GPU you can play certain AAA games on an integrated GPU, albeit on low settings. And in many cases, the overall performance is top-notch as well. The battery life even surpasses Intel’s new Evo standards by two hours. Those looking for a laptop with equal parts beauty, power and longevity, the Dell XPS 13 is the laptop for you. 

See our full Dell XPS 13 (2020) review.

 

Best Cyber Monday XPS 13 deals

Dell XPS 13 (Core i3/8GB/256GB): was $849 now $649 @ Dell
This Dell Cyber Monday doorbuster takes $300 off the excellent Dell XPS 13 touch. It packs a 13.3-inch (1920 x 1080) InfinityEdge touch display, a 1.8-GHz Intel Core 10th Gen Core i7-10510U quad-core CPU, 8GB of RAM, and a 256GB SSD. View Deal

Dell XPS 13 Laptop: was $899 now $749 @ Dell
The Dell XPS 13 is the best laptop to buy and is now $150 cheaper. This model on sale packs a 13.3-inch (1920 x 1080) Infinity Edge touch display, a 1.6-GHz Intel 10th Gen Core i5-10210U quad-core CPU, 8GB of RAM, and a 256GB SSD.View Deal

New Dell XPS 13 Touch Laptop: was $1,399 now $1,199 @ Dell
The Dell XPS 13 is the best laptop to buy. This machine packs a 13.4-inch (1920 x 1200) InifinityEdge touch display, a 2.8-GHz 11th Gen Intel Core i7-1165G7 quad-core CPU, 8GB of RAM, Intel Iris Xe graphics and a 256GB SSD.View Deal

Dell XPS 13 Touch Laptop: was $1,149 now $849 @ Dell
This Dell laptop takes $300 off the excellent Dell XPS 13 touch. It packs a 13.3-inch (1920 x 1080) InfinityEdge touch display, a 1.8-GHz Intel Core 10th Gen Core i7-10510U quad-core CPU, 8GB of RAM, and a 256GB SSD. View Deal


Best Laptops 2020: MacBook Pro

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

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
Display not 4K
No full-size USB port or SD card slot
Pricey

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 16" MacBook Pro Cyber Monday deal

Apple MacBook Pro 16": was $2,399 now $2,149 @ Adorama
The Editor's Choice MacBook Pro with Touch Bar and Touch ID is $250 off at Adorama. It packs a 16-inch Retina display, a 2.6-GHz 9th Gen Intel Core i7 6-core CPU, 16GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD. Rounding out its hardware specs is a Radeon Pro 5300M GPU with 4GB of graphics memory. Best of all, it has the new Magic Keyboard. Amazon mirrors this deal.View Deal


Best Laptops 2020: Acer Swift 3 AMD 2020

(Image credit: Future)

3. Acer Swift 3 (2020, AMD Ryzen 7 4700U)

Amazing performance at a jaw-dropping price

CPU: AMD Ryzen 7 4700U | GPU: AMD Radeon Graphics | RAM: 8GB | Storage: 512GB SSD | Display: 14-inch, 1080p | Size: 12.7 x. 8.6 x 0.6 inches | Weight: 2.7 pounds

Herculean performance
A beastly multitasker
Clicky keyboard
Dim display

The AMD version of the Acer Swift 3 is really the little laptop that could. Armed with an AMD Ryzen 7 4700U processor and Radeon Graphics, the Swift 3 is taking on the likes of the MacBook Pro 13 and the XPS 13 with aplomb. And it's doing that for less than $700. And if you're curious, it smoked its Intel-powered counterpart as well. 

The laptop served up surprising power on our benchmarks including overall and graphics performance. Plus, it has staying power with over 11 hours of battery life. Plus, it's got premium good looks and a rather comfortable keyboard. The laptop does have one flaw however, it's display which isn't as bright as we would like. But for the price, it's a minor quibble for a sub-$700 laptop that can best some of the most premium laptops on the market. With a herculean processor that whizzes past all its competitors, the Acer Swift 3 certainly earned its spot on this list.

See our full Acer Swift 3 (2020, AMD Ryzen 7 4700U) 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
Keyboard has shallow travel
Just two Thunderbolt 3 ports
Thick bezels

It's not the huge leap forward that you wanted, but it is the incremental changes that you needed. So while it's true that the latest MacBook Pro isn't the 14-inch beauty that had been rumored, it's still got a lot going for it. Number one, Apple has doubled the amount of storage you can get with every configuration. Number two, the company has closed the chapter on the much-maligned Butterfly keyboard in favor of the highly-lauded Magic keyboard. 

Making the jump to a 10th Gen Intel processor, the 13-inch MacBook Pro held its own against top-rated competitors in the competitive premium laptop space and even excelled. The system proved itself as a top-ranked laptop with great performance, lightning-fast transfer speeds and over 10 hours of battery life. It's a solid upgrade that Mac fans will appreciate. 

See our full MacBook Pro (13-inch, 2020) review.

Best 13" MacBook Pro Cyber Monday deals

Apple MacBook Pro with M1: was $1,299 now $1,199 @ B&H
This epic Cyber Monday deal takes $100 off newly released MacBook Pro with M1 chip. Beside a new 8-core CPU, it packs a 13.3-inch (2560 x 1600) IPS Retina display, 8GB of RAM, and a 256GB SSD. It scored a rare 5-star rating from us, making it the top laptop on the market. View Deal

MacBook Pro with M1: was $1,299 now $1,249 @ Amazon
The newly released MacBook Pro with M1 is already on sale at Amazon in a surprise deal. While this only takes $50 off, we weren't expecting to see any discounts for a long time. This model has 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD. It scored a rare 5-star rating from us, making it the top laptop on the market. 
View Deal


Best Laptops 2020: Dell XPS 13 2-in-1

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

5. Dell XPS 13 2-in-1

Best 2-in-1 laptop

CPU: Intel Core i7-1165G7 | GPU: Intel Iris Xe Graphics | RAM: 16GB | Storage: 512GB SSD | Display: 13.4-inch, 1200 | Size : 11.6 x 7.8 x 0.6 inches | Weight: 2.9 pounds

Top-rate build quality
Long battery life
Fast Intel 11th Gen CPUs
Shallow keyboard isn't for everyone
Display could be more colorful
No USB-A ports

The new XPS 13 2-in-1 is without question among the best 2-in-1 laptops you can buy. That shouldn't come as a surprise. Dell smartly used the XPS 13 as a blueprint for the XPS 13 2-in-1, an almost identical laptop, but with the ability to transform into a tablet. 

New features to this year's edition make the XPS 13 2-in-1 more appealing than before. Intel's 11th Gen Tiger Lake CPUs with Iris Xe Graphics deliver a solid performance and graphics boost from the previous chips. The XPS 13 2-in-1 also received a quality-of-life improvement in the way of an IR camera, so you can stop typing in passwords. And although the design is unchanged, a new Frost lid matches the white color option. 

It's a great choice for those looking for versatility along with performance and endurance. 

Best Dell XPS 13" 2-in-1 Cyber Monday deals

Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 Laptop: was $999 now $899 @ Dell
Now here's a handy laptop! This super-portable 2-in-1 has a gorgeous 13.4-inch touchscreen display, 3.4-GHz Core i3-1005G1 processor, 4GB of RAM, and a 256GB SSD. There's a lot to like about this ultraportable machine, including the $100 discount. View Deal

Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 Laptop: was $1,549 now $1,249 @ Dell
This super-portable 2-in-1 has a 13.4-inch touchscreen display, Intel Core i7-1065G7 processor, 16GB of RAM, and a 256GB SSD. There's a lot to like about this ultraportable machine, including the $300 discount. View Deal


Acer Chromebook Spin 713

(Image credit: Future)

6. Acer Chromebook Spin 713

The best Chromebook overall

CPU: Intel Core i5-10210U | GPU: Intel UHD Graphics | RAM: 8GB | Storage: 128GB SSD | Display: 13.5 inches, 1504p | Size: 11.8 x 9.3 x 0.7 inches | Weight: 3 pounds

Bright, colorful touchscreen
Exceptional battery life
Speedy performance
Shallow keyboard isn’t for everyone
Lackluster webcam and speakers

For high school and college students who need an inexpensive, portable and durable laptop both on and off-campus, the Acer Chromebook Spin 713 could be a downright godsend. If you’re looking for versatility in a Chromebook-flavored clamshell, look no further. Thanks to increased processing power, app store compatibility, and a variety of mindful partnerships the Chromebook Spin 713 is our top Chromebook pick.

There’s an awful lot to like about the Acer Chromebook Spin 713, no matter what you’re using it for. Avid writers will love the keyboard and extra screen real estate, while multimedia mavens will love the streaming capabilities of Google OS. The notebook offers a brilliant 2-in-1 form factor that feels much more high-end than its price tag would have you believe. It’s durable enough for daily use, and powerful enough to replace the functionality of many full-fledged laptops. Plus, the battery life is top-notch.

See our full Acer Chromebook Spin 713 review.

 

Asus ZenBook 13 UX325EA

(Image credit: Future)

7. Asus ZenBook 13 UX325EA

The best Intel Tiger Lake laptop

CPU: Intel Core i7-1165G7 | GPU: Intel Iris Xe Graphics | RAM: 16GB | Storage: 1TB M.2 PCI 3.0 SSD | Display: 13.3-inch, 1080p | Size: 11.9 x 8 x 0.5 inches | Weight: 2.5 pounds

Sleek, lightweight frame
Powerful overall and gaming performance
Excellent battery life
Weak speakers
Display could be brighter
No headphone jack

The Asus ZenBook 13 UX325EA straddles the line between business and premium. You get a system rocking the fetching good looks of the company’s top-tier laptops with some of the durability and security features of the ExpertBook, the company’s new business line. Plus, you get the added muscle of Intel’s new 11th Gen chips and all the features Intel’s Evo initiative brings, including over 13 hours of battery life. And you can even game in a pinch (just not at the highest settings).

The laptop handily surpassed its competitors on our rigorous benchmark tests, making it a great choice for work and play.  Plus, this is one of the few laptops with a good integrated webcam thanks to a new camera module and Asus' camera algorithm.

See our full Asus ZenBook 13 UX325EA review

Best Laptops 2020: HP Envy x360 13 (2020)

8. HP Envy x360 13 (2020)

The best sub-$1000 mainstream laptop

CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 4500U | GPU: AMD Radeon Graphics | RAM: 8GB | Storage: 256GB NVMe PCIe M.2 SSD | Display: 13.3-inch, 1080p | Size: 12.1 x 7.7 x 0.7 inches | Weight: 2.9 pounds

Outstanding performance
Long battery life
Excellent value
No IR camera
AMD CPU means no Thunderbolt 3
A bit thicker and heavier than rivals

The Envy x360 13 is turning the mainstream market on its head. Instead of considering what features need to be removed to get the price under $1,000, HP thought about what aspects of the flagship Spectre models could be brought to the Envy. As a result, the Envy x360 13 shares much of the same DNA as the Spectre. It  flaunts an excellent 13-inch touchscreen and a comfortable keyboard. HP smartly opted for AMD's new 4000-series CPUs, which deliver never-before-seen performance at under $1,000. You even get a decent selection of ports. 

The Envy x360 13 is hands down the best sub-$1,000 laptop on the market. We're still trying to figure out how HP kept the price so low. It's got a bright, vivid display to the luxurious aluminum chassis and blisteringly fast performance, is undeniably top-rate. Whether you're a student looking for the best college laptop or just want a portable 13-inch laptop, there is no better option than the Envy x360 13.

See our full HP Envy x360 13 (2020) review

 

Best Cyber Monday Envy x360 deal

HP Envy x360 13: was $799.99 now $719.99 @ HP
Using the code 'BL10' you can currently save 10% on a number of HP laptops, including the 'HP ENVY x360 13-ay0008na Convertible Laptop 2020 Edition Ryzen 5'. This model comes with the AMD Ryzen 5 4500U CPU, includes a 13.3" diagonal FHD, is multitouch-enabled, and features 8 GB of memory with a 256 GB SSD.View Deal


Asus ROG Zephyrus G14

The Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 offers over 11 hours of battery life and great gaming performance.  (Image credit: Future)

9. Asus ROG Zephyrus G14

The longest battery life ever in a gaming laptop

CPU: AMD Ryzen 9-4900HS | GPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 Max-Q | RAM: 16GB | Storage: 1TB SSD | Display: 15.6-inch, 1080p | Size: 12.8 x 8.7 x 0.7 inches | Weight: 3.5 pounds

Killer AMD and Nvidia performance
Longest-lasting gaming laptop ever
Lightning fast SSD
No webcam
Poor keyboard lighting

Asus is stepping up its game when it comes to gaming laptops. Case in point, the Asus ROG Zephyrus G14. Powered by AMD's new powerful Ryzen 9-4900HS processor, the laptop is a powerful multitasker. But paired with an Nvidia RTX 2060 Max-Q GPU, the laptop is a forced to be reckoned with on the gaming front. Top that off with a lightning-fast SSD, a bright, 14-inch, 120Hz display, a comfortable keyboard and strong speakers packed into a gorgeous milky-white magnesium alloy chassis, and the ROG Zephyrus G14 is a near-perfect gaming laptop.

But where the Zephyrus G14 really shines is its battery life. The top-rated laptop lasted 11 hours and 32 minutes on our Laptop Mag Battery test, making it the longest-lasting gaming laptop ever. It's nearly three times as long as the 4:26 mainstream gaming laptop average. Ultimately, between its killer AMD performance and epic battery life, the Zephyrus G14 is the gaming laptop to beat.

Read our full Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 review

Best Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 Cyber Monday deal

Asus ROG Zephyrus G14: was $1,449 now $1,349
There's almost nothing that this baby can't do. For $100 off, you get the new powerful AMD Ryzen 9-4900HS processor comboed with an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 Max-Q GPU. Top that off with a lightning-fast SSD, a bright, 14-inch, 120Hz display, a comfortable keyboard and strong speakers packed into a gorgeous milky-white magnesium alloy chassis, and the ROG Zephyrus G14 is a near-perfect gaming laptop.View Deal


Best Laptops 2020: Samsung galaxy book flex 15

(Image credit: Future)

10. Samsung Galaxy Book Flex 15

A beautiful, versatile 2-in-1 laptop

CPU: Intel Core i7-1065G7 | GPU: Nvidia GeForce MX250 | RAM: 12GB | Storage: 512GB | Display: 15.6-inch, 1080p | Size: 14 x 9 x 0.6 inches | Weight: 3.5 pounds

QLED display
Epic battery life
Good performance
Quiet speakers
Oddly placed fingerprint scanner
Shortened Shift key

We love a beautiful laptop. So we are infatuated with the Samsung Galaxy Book Flex 15. With its royal blue aluminum frame, the Flex 15 is drop-dead gorgeous. And thanks to its 360-degree hinges and bundled S-Pen, its incredibly versatile transforming from a traditional clamshell into a powerful note-taking machine. And Samsung didn't stop there, the Flex 15 is also the first laptop to feature a QLED screen that's incredibly bright and vivid. 

With its 10th Gen Intel Core i7 processor, the Flex 15 is a powerful workhorse, able to handle most productivity tasks with ease. And with its discrete Nvidia graphics card, the laptop can also do some light gaming. And despite its beautiful display, the Flex 15 still managed to last over 15 hours on our battery test, making it one of our longest lasting systems. 

See our full Samsung Galaxy Book Flex 15 review

Best Laptops 2020: Dell XPS 15 (2020) review

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

11. Dell XPS 15 (2020)

The best 15-inch laptop money can buy

CPU: Intel Core i7-10750H | GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 Ti Max-Q/Intel UHD Graphics | RAM: 32GB | Storage: 512GB PCIe SSD | Display: 15.6-inch, 4K | Size: 13.6 x 9.1 x 0.7 inches | Weight: 4.5 pounds

Attractive premium chassis
Great overall and graphics performance
Good battery life for a 4K laptop
Expensive
Runs a bit hot

The Dell XPS 15 continues to sit atop the throne by instituting small tweaks that amount to big changes. The company managed to make the laptop 5.5% smaller than the previous model while making the keys and touchpad significantly larger. And while that might seem minor, the four-border InfinityEdge bezel has made possible one of the highest resolution displays on the market. 

And while physical changes are great, this top-rated laptop's interior is just as exciting. Armed with a 10th Gen processor and discrete Nvidia GeForce GPU, the Dell XPS 15 is a serious force to be reckoned. It's also got a speedy SSD and excellent audio thanks to its powerful quad speakers. Plus, it lasted over 8 hours on our battery test, which is good for a 4K laptop. 

If you want a powerhouse with a gorgeous display, excellent audio and a host of other premium features, the Dell XPS 15 is the absolute way to go. 

Read our full Dell XPS 15 (2020) review..

Best Dell XPS 15 (2020) Cyber Monday deal

Dell XPS 15 (2019): was $1,349 now $1,049 @ Dell
This Dell XPS 15 laptop packs a 9th Gen Intel Core i7-9750H six-core CPU, 8GB of RAM, an Nvidia GTX 1650 GPU, and a 256GB SSD. While this is an earlier model, the price is great for the specs you get. The laptop is currently $300 off, but this is a fantastic deal, so act fast! View Deal


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

(Image credit: Future)

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

A drop-dead gorgeous 2-in-1

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

Elegant design with small footprint
Strong performance
Lightning-fast SSD
Lots of bloatware
Shrill speakers at max volume
Runs a bit warm

The HP Spectre x360 is back — smaller and prettier than ever. The top-rated laptop has strong performance combined with a lightning-fast SSD, a vivid 13.3-inch 4K OLED display and a comfortable keyboard, all packed in the Spectre's gorgeous signature design. It's easily one of the best 2-in-1 laptops currently available. 

It's stellar results on our overall performance benchmarks and file transfer tests show that its an able worker in spite of its relatively slim frame. Heck, it even outperformed the previous iteration in the graphics department. In short, the Spectre x360 is in a league all its own. It's the laptop of choice for consumers on the hunt for a premium laptop that offers portability, serious versatility and packs a surprising punch in the performance department. It's also for people that want a seriously good-looking laptop. 

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

 

Best Cyber Monday Spectre x360 13" deal

HP Spectre x360 13t 2-in-1: was $1,299 now $949 @ HP
Now $350 off, the HP Spectre x360 is one of the best 2-in-1 laptops to buy. The base model packs a 13.3-inch (1920 x 1080) touch display, a 1.3GHz Core i7-1065G7 quad-core CPU, 8GB of RAM, Iris Plus graphics, and 512GB SSD. We recommend you customize with the free + 32GB Intel Optane for the best value.View Deal


Best Laptops 2020: Alienware Area-51m

13. 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
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's new Legend design doesn't look like anything we've ever seen from the brand, opting for rounded corners, muted colors and a more elegant light show. 

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. It's the gaming laptop du jour for enthusiasts by enthusiasts. 

See our full Alienware Area-51m review.

 

Best Laptops 2020: Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (8th Gen)

(Image credit: Future)

14. Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (8th Gen)

The best business laptop with a killer keyboard

CPU: Intel Core i5-10310U (vPro) CPU | GPU: Intel UHD Graphics 620 | RAM: 8GB | Storage: 256GB SSD | Display: 14-inch, 1080p | Size: 12.7 x 8.5 x 0.6 inches | Weight: 2.4 pounds

Slim, lightweight design
Bright, vibrant 1080p and 4K display options
Fast performance
Fingerprint magnet
Weak graphics

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. You even get far-field microphones in case you want to use a digital assistant. 

On top of that, you get strong performance and a fast SSD. That means if you're working on large spreadsheets with plenty of calculations, the X1 Carbon will handle them with aplomb. You can also expect 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 Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Cyber Monday deal

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 8: was $2,279 now $949 Lenovo
This Lenovo Cyber Monday deal takes $1,329 off the base model Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 8 via coupon "X1BLACKFRIDAY". It packs a 14-inch (1920 x 1080) display, a 1.6-GHz Intel Core i5-10201U quad-core CPU, 8GB of RAM, and a 256GB SSD. View Deal


Best Laptops 2020: Lenovo Chromebook Duet

(Image credit: Future)

15. Lenovo Chromebook Duet

The best 2-in-1 Chromebook

CPU: MediaTek Helio P60T | GPU: ARM G72 MP3 | RAM: 4GB | Storage: 64GB eMMC | Display: 10.1-inch, 1200p | Size: 9.6 x 6.7 x 0.7 | Weight: 2 pounds

Lasts long on a charge
Colorful display
Extremely affordable
Cramped keyboard
No headphone jack

At first glance, The Lenovo Chromebook Duet looks like an innocuous journal, but open it up, and it’s a small laptop with a colorful 10.1-inch display. But this device’s transformative capability isn’t its only alluring feature — the Lenovo Chromebook Duet lasted almost 13 hours on our battery test, which beats the 10-hour average runtime for Chromebooks. Price is another big selling point of the Lenovo Chromebook Duet. For under $300, you can own a lightweight machine that can handle all your intensive web multitasking.

Everyone likes getting more for less. With the Chromebook Duet, you get the colorful display and solid performance. It’s so small, travelers can prop it up on the airplane tray table and get some light work done. Overall, we recommend the Duet for kids who want an attractive 2-in-1 for light gaming, YouTube, Netflix and web browsing. Best of all, it's hundreds of dollars cheaper than a similarly-specced Windows 10 laptop. It's a great starter system for kids and secondary device for more advanced users. 

Read our full Lenovo Chromebook Duet review.

 

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

(Image credit: Future)

16. 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
Fast performance
Long battery life
Scant port selection
Integrated graphics still underperform

The Surface Laptop 3 for Business with Intel processors is a better laptop than its AMD sibling. It has better performance, longer battery life, a faster hard drive and ships with Windows 10 Pro. If the gulf in price were wider — the Intel model is only $100 more expensive — then we might consider the AMD model, but we strongly recommend going to Microsoft's online store and ordering the business edition instead.

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: Dell XPS 17

(Image credit: Future)

17. Dell XPS 17

The best 17-inch laptop for creative professionals

CPU: Intel Core i7-10875H | GPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 Max-Q GPU | RAM: 32GB | Storage: 1TB M.2 PCIe SSD | Display: 17-inch, 1200/4K | Size: 14.7 x 9.8 x 0.8 inches | Weight: 5.5 pounds

Attractive, compact chassis
Powerful overall and graphics performance
Great battery life
Expensive
Lacks legacy ports

Whoever said bigger is better must have been referring to the Dell XPS 17. The laptop takes everything I loved about its smaller sisters and supersizes it –– but not really, because despite wielding a magnificent 17-inch, 4K panel, the XPS 17 is smaller than most 15-inch systems. And if that isn’t impressive enough, the performance of its 10th Gen Intel Core i7 processor and Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 GPU should be. And let’s not forget the speedy SSD, bumping sound, and highly efficient thermal system. 

If you’re looking for a true competitor to the 16-inch MacBook Pro, look no further. The $3,049 Dell XPS 17 can handle all of your productivity/creativity/multimedia needs. And it's all in a chassis that’s 48% smaller than most 15-inch laptops on the market. And despite its super high-res display, it lasted over 9 hours on our battery test. Consumers looking for a true MacBook Pro alternative will be hard-pressed to do better than the Dell XPS 17.

See our full Dell XPS 17 review

Best Dell XPS 17 Cyber Monday deal

Dell XPS 17 Laptop: was $1,999 now $1,749 @ Dell
If you want a larger screen, This Dell Cyber Monday deal takes $250 off the Dell XPS 17. It packs a 17-inch (1920 x 1200) InifinityEdge touch display, a 2.6-GHz 10th Gen Intel Core i7-10750H 6-core CPU, 16GB of RAM, GeForce GTX 1650 Ti GPU with 4GB of graphics memory and a 512GB SSD.View Deal


Why trust Laptop Mag

Laptop Mag has been testing and reviewing laptops for over two decades. We test over 150 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

Laptop Mag has been testing and reviewing laptops for over two decades. We test over 150 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.

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.