1. The list in brief
2. Best overall
3. Best for Windows
4. Best laptop under $500
5. Best laptop under $1,000
6. Best 2-in-1
7. Best Chromebook
8. Best gaming
9. Best business
10. Best business 2-in-1
11. Best MacBook for creative pros
12. Best Windows PC for creatives
13. Best ultraportable
14. Best 13-inch
15. Best 16-inch
16. How we test laptops
17. How to find the right laptop
18. Why trust Laptop Mag
Laptops. I’ve spent over a decade testing and reviewing them. It’s a passion of mine that puts me in a prime position to help in your quest to find the best laptop for you. Whether you’re looking for a sleek ultraportable for work, a Chromebook for school, a 2-in-1 that doubles as a tablet or a gaming laptop to decimate your foes, this is the place to find it. This page is constantly being updated to reflect the Laptop Mag staff’s current top laptop choices based on our latest reviews.
My best laptop recommendations are determined by rating, pricing and use case. We put every laptop through rigorous synthetic tests and we also use them in real-world situations, evaluating overall performance, display brightness, keyboard comfort and much more. We also run our own battery test to let you know how long these laptops last on a charge.
The laptops that earn a spot on this page are the best of the best and worthy of your hard-earned dollars. Read on to learn more about our top-rated laptops.
The Quick List
Chomping at the bit to find your perfect laptop? Not to worry, here's a quick look at all the laptops on the list complete with links that take you directly to a review of whichever laptop you're interested in.
The best overall
The best laptop for almost everyone
The MacBook Air M2 packs plenty of punch in a lightweight design. You get a powerful M2 chip, brighter display and over 14 hours of battery life in a 2.7-pound frame.
Best Windows laptop
The best laptop for Windows fans
The Acer Swift 5 delivers a great combo of speed and endurance for under $1,500. It’s gone toe-to-toe with some of the more powerful laptops on the market and come out on top.
Best laptop under $500
The best budget laptop
The Lenovo Chromebook Duet 5 offers long battery life, solid performance and a beautiful OLED display in a versatile detachable design. Best of all, the keyboard cover is included.
Best sub-$1,000 laptop
The best value
The Asus Zenbook 14 brings a bunch of premium features, including a gorgeous OLED display and a powerful Core i5 processor for under $1,000. Throw in nearly 11 hours of battery life and the ZenBook 14 is a steal.
The best 2-in-1
The Lenovo Yoga 9i (Gen 8) serves up versatility, power and endurance in a lightweight, portable chassis. The display could be brighter, but the 2.8K resolution OLED panel more than makes up for it.
The best Chromebook
The HP Dragonfly Pro Chromebook’s cup overflows with premium features. Aside from the Core i7 CPU, the laptop has one of the brightest displays we’ve seen on a Chromebook along with one of the best webcams.
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Best gaming laptop
The Asus Strix Scar 18 is large and in charge. But it’s not just the 18-inch display that wows The uber-powerful Core i9 CPU and Nvidia RTX 4090 GPU make the Strix Scar an undeniable beast of a gaming laptop.
Best business laptop
Then the Lenovo X1 Carbon (9th Gen) is the business laptop for you. Offering superior performance, more than 15 hours of battery life and Lenovo’s world renowned keyboard, the Lenovo X1 Carbon X1 Carbon is ready to get to work.
Best business 2-in-1
Best business 2-in-1
Being flexible is a key asset in business, which is why the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga (Gen 6) is the convertible to buy. In addition to switching between several helpful modes, the laptop boasts near 15 hours of battery life and can even play some games.
Best creator MacBook
Best MacBook for creatives
Whether you’re editing photos or videos, creating music or just working on a massive spreadsheet, the MacBook Pro 14 is the way to go. The M2 Pro chip put both Intel and AMD-powered systems to shame in power and endurance.
Best creator Windows
Best Windows PC for creatives
The Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio has you covered for all your creative needs.The notebook’s Core i7 CPU and Nvidia 3050 Ti GPU can handle most of your editing needs and then some.
The LG Gram 16 (16Z90Q) defies convention, bringing solid performance with a good selection of ports and a massive 16-inch display –– all while weighing in at a barely there 2.5 pounds. It's an ultraportable wonder.
With its aluminum chassis with chamfered edges and OLED display, the HP Spectre x360 is a sight to behold. But this machine is more than good looks with its powerful Core i7 CPU and integrated graphics that performed above and beyond expectations.
Sporting an Intel Core i7 processor and a discrete Nvidia 3060 GPU, the HP Envy is a jack-of-all-trades system that handles work and play with ease. The 16-inch super high-res panel is great for productivity and gaming.
Best Laptop Overall
Weighing a mere 2.7 pounds, Apple’s smallest laptop is also the best laptop for most people. There’s a lot to love about the MacBook Air M2, starting with its new look. This is one of the thinnest laptops around at only 0.4 inches thick, and yet it packs a big punch thanks to Apple’s M2 chip. This system handled most of our benchmarks with a breezy aplomb, outperforming most Windows laptops.
Other reasons to buy the MacBook Air M2 include a bright and colorful 13.6-inch display, a comfortable keyboard and over 14 hours of battery life based on our testing. Although the M2 chip won’t pull the numbers that its more powerful brethren (M2 Pro and M2 Max), the silicon is still more powerful than its predecessor.
Even better, it’s more powerful than the competition. For instance, the Air M2 crushed the Geekbench 5.4 test as well as the Handbrake video transcoding and BlackMagic Read/Write tests. That’s a lot of power for a relatively affordable price –– at least for a MacBook.
If that’s not enough, you also get a 1080p webcam. So what’s not to like? There’s only two Thunderbolt / USB-C ports, and the SSD is slower than we’d like. Overall, if you’re looking for an ultra lightweight laptop with power, the MacBook Air M2 deserves to sit at the top of your list.
See our full MacBook Air M2 review.
Best Windows Laptop
Acer consistently delivers laptops that deliver a great combination of performance and value. Case in point, the Acer Swift 5. It’s easy on the eyes with our reviewer proclaiming the Mist Green aerospace-grade aluminum system as “the most attractive notebook I’ve seen this year.” But the Swift 5 is about more than good looks.
Powered by a 12th Gen Intel Core i7 processor with integrated Intel graphics, the Swift 5 held its own against its competitors during our overall performance and file transfer tests. And it easily sailed past our category average. The Swift 5 had its best showing on the Geekbench 5.4 test where it scored an impressive 9,859. We were also surprised at how well the notebook’s integrated Intel Iris Xe graphics performed, notching 26 frames per second on the Sid Meier's Civilization VI benchmark. While it didn’t make our longest lasting laptop page, the Swift 5 still offers more than 11 hours of battery life. Other reasons to buy include a healthy smattering of ports and a bright, vivid 14-inch display.
But it’s not a perfect system, however, as the laptop has an inordinate amount of bloatware. The speakers also could have been better. However, these are minor issues for an otherwise outstanding Windows 11 laptop.
See our full Acer Swift 5 review.
Best Laptop under $500
If you’re in the market for a Chromebook, you can’t do better than the Lenovo Duet 5 Chromebook. Based on our testing, you get over 13 hours of battery life, a show-stopping OLED display and Qualcomm’s speedier Snapdragon 7c Gen 2 processor, which is a marked improvement over its predecessor.
Is the price a little high in my opinion for a Chromebook? Yes, but this is a really good value for under $500. And unlike some detachable laptops, Lenovo actually includes the keyboard cover with the system. However, the company stopped short of including the stylus, which is frustrating.
In everyday use, the Duet 5 Chromebook consistently delivered zippy performance, which is what you really want out of any laptop. This is why it’s been named our current best Chromebook.
See our full Lenovo Duet 5 Chromebook review.
Best Laptop under $1,000
This laptop almost makes me feel like I'm stealing from Asus. The Asus Zenbook 14 OLED (Q409ZA) comes in under $800, but doesn't skimp out on the feature. For instance, the laptop has Asus' proprietary Number Pad 2.0 which transforms the touchpad into a num pad at the touch of a button. Then you have the stunning 2.8K resolution display with a 90Hz refresh rate that's great for watching movies or videos. Plus, it comes with plenty of ports.
With its Intel Core i5-1240P CPU, Intel Iris Xe graphics, 8GB of DDR5 RAM, a 256GB SSD, you can expect middling performance. It isn't bad, it's just not up to a par with a Core i7 CPU. And while the laptop didn't stand out on our benchmark tests, it had no problem tackling real world multitasking as our reviewer had a hard time slowing it down. And the Zenbook 14 has solid power efficiency, lasting 10 hours and 52 minutes on our battery test.
Outside of the middling performance, the only other gripe we had with the Asus Zenbook 14 (Q409ZA) is the mushy keyboard.
See our full Asus Zenbook 14 OLED (Q409ZA) review.
Best 2-in-1 Laptop
Call this the most improved player on the list. When we reviewed the Lenovo Yoga 9i’s predecessor, we dinged it for its middling performance and substandard battery life. The 8th Gen Yoga 9i improves upon both weaknesses starting with a 13th Gen Intel Core i7-1360P CPU that met the previous best 2-in-1 laptop, the Samsung Galaxy Book 3 Pro 360, stroke for stroke –– many times coming out on top. For instance, the Yoga 9i scored 9,954 compared to the Galaxy Book 3 Pro’s 8,250. And the Lenovo SSD proved it was the speedier of the two with a file transfer rate of 1,669 megabytes per second compared to the Samsung’s 1,173.4MBps.
When we ran the Laptop Mag battery test, the Yoga 9i lasted 10 hours and 10 minutes. Is it the longest battery life we’ve seen? No, but that time is nearly three years longer than the Samsung’s 7:46. But those aren’t the only places, the Yoga 9i excels. Our reviewer was captivated by the 2-in-1’s beautiful 14-inch, 2880 x 1880 OLED display that possess a wider color gamut than the Galaxy Book 3 Pro 360 (142.1% to 85.2%) on the DCI-P3 scale.
But while the Yoga 9i has definitely improved, it does have a fault. While the OLED display is incredibly vivid, the brightness comes up a bit short with the Galaxy Book 3 was brighter at 381 nits compared to the Yoga 9i’s 353 nits. Which is why the notebook earned 4.5 stars with our coveted Editor’s Choice award.
See our full Lenovo Yoga 9i review.
I recently wrote an op-ed on how $1,000 Chromebooks shouldn’t be a thing. But it’s hard for me not to include the HP Dragonfly Pro Chromebook on our list as it does some great things that you normally wouldn’t find on a Chromebook. HP worked closely with Google to bring the Dragonfly Pro Chromebook to the masses and is the latter’s successor to the Pixelbook –– the first premium Chromebook.
So what makes the Dragonfly Pro Chromebook so special? Let’s start with the performance, which, powered by an Intel Core i5 processor, the Dragonfly Pro Chromebook created a wide berth between itself and the competition, scoring 5,246. When we ran the Jetstream 2.0 benchmark, the laptop reached 252.68 smoking competing notebooks. But that not the only place the Dragonfly Pro Chromebook excels. At 1,276 nits, it’s the brightest display we’ve seen on a notebook. Our reviewer was also shocked by the system’s excellent audio and the webcam. He noted that during a Google Meet call “my meeting partners stated that my video feed was sharp and that colors popped, indicating quality.”
But there are a few flies in the ointment. For one, the battery life could definitely be better. At 9:49, it’s 30 minutes short of the Chromebook average. And while the 14-inch, 2560 x 1600 is seriously bright, it’s not as vivid as we would like as its 77.8% is below the category average. And then there’s the price as $999 is a lot to ask for a Chromebook. But HP is betting that with the HP Dragonfly Pro Chromebook’s premium looks and features will win over consumers.
See our full HP Dragonfly Chromebook review.
Best Gaming Laptop
When it’s time to game, and I mean really game — like obliterate everything in the level with wild abandon — look no further than the Asus ROG Strix Scar 18. This behemoth with a 18-inch, 2560 x 1600 display with 240Hz refresh rate is the way to go for buttery smooth rendering, which in those crucial moments can mean the difference between getting the kill shot or receiving it.
But the destruction you’re going to unleash comes by way of the 13th Gen Intel Core i9-13900HX and the Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090 GPU with 16GB of VRAM. Both chips are the latest and greatest and very overclockable so you can squeeze every inch of power out of them. And while we’re here, I can’t overlook the pair of 1TB SSDs in RAID 0 configuration. This treacherous triad destroyed just about every benchmark we threw at it on both the overall and gaming performance.
Where the Strix Scar 18 hit a bit of a hiccup is the File transfer test and battery life. But about 4.5 hours is still pretty good for a laptop packing this much power. Outside of this, my only complaint about this system is the 720p webcam, which if I’m paying nearly $4,000, I expect 1080p –– hell 4K. But overall this is the gaming laptop to beat.
Read our full Asus ROG Strix Scar 18 review.
Best Business Laptop
Lenovo’s X1 Carbon series is a perennial mainstay on our best laptop page with good reason. They’re lightweight, powerful and serve up plenty of endurance. The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (9th Gen) follows in this vaunted heritage, starting with its looks. Our best business laptop is indeed office ready with its handsome matte black soft-touch surfaces. Weighing a scant 2.6 pounds with a thickness of only 0.6 inches, the X1 Carbon is commute ready. Plus, it’s MIL-SPEC tested so it can take a drop or two or some spillage.
Realizing that mobile professionals need an added measure of security, the laptop has a fingerprint reader and a TPM 2.0 chip to encrypt sensitive data. The Windows Hello-compatible IR camera isn’t standard, unfortunately, but can be added for an added cost. And when it’s time to get to work, the ThinkPad X1 Carbon has plenty of ports to create a full workstation. The 14-inch display isn’t as vivid as we would like, but it’s plenty bright. Meanwhile, the audio is loud and crisp and the world-renowned keyboard is just as comfortable as we’ve come to expect. However, the touchpad is smaller than we would like.
The X1 Carbon lasted a whopping 15.5 hours on our battery test and when it came to our benchmarks, there was no stopping this system. As a business laptop, the ThinkPad X1 Carbon (9th Gen) is an undeniable powerhouse with a few minor cons such as the 720p webcam, which in a world of remote work falls short of the mark. But the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (9th Gen) is a force to be reckoned with.
See our full Lenovo ThinkPad Carbon X1 (Gen 9) review.
Best Business 2-in-1 Laptop
Lenovo is synonymous with business. Which is why the versatile Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga (Gen 6) graces this list. You’re essentially getting all the bells and whistles of the X1 Carbon with the added cherry of seamlessly transitioning from a clamshell, to tent, presentation and tablet modes. You still get the understated good looks of a ThinkPad with the durability of MIL-SPEC certification and the security of a fingerprint reader, TPM 2.0 and a physical camera slider. Plus, our review unit came with an IR camera for Windows Hello facial recognition logins.
The X1 Yoga is packed with ports, including USB-A ports and there’s that super comfortable keyboard with the red trackpoint in the center. And you get an embedded stylus. In terms of performance, the X1 Yoga packs a potent punch, at times even beating its cousin, the X1 Carbon on our video transcoding and file transfer tests.
This is a business laptop, so while you can’t play more demanding games, the laptop did serve up 34 fps on the Sid Meier Civilization VI benchmark. During the Laptop Mag Battery test, the X1 Yoga lasted nearly 15 hours, which is very impressive.. There are a few drawbacks such as the lack of a SD card slot but overall the X1 Yoga is a winner.
See our full Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga (Gen 6) review.
Best MacBook for Creative Pros
The next entrants in Apple’s M2 series silicon are here and those who poo pooed the initial M2 chip are eating crow. The MacBook Pro 14 I reviewed was outfitted with Apple’s M2 Pro processor with 32GB of unified memory, a 2TB SSD and an Apple M2 GPU and it did not disappoint. The laptop consistently outperformed its challengers in overall performance. On the Geekbench 5.4, the laptop reached 14,965, scorching the premium laptop average.
On the BlackMagic Read/Write test, the speedy SSD produced 5,293.3/6,168.4MBps, smoking the category average and the challenging notebooks. It was a toss up during our gaming test, but good news everyone, you can actually game on this bad boy as I discovered on optimized versions of Resident Evil Village and No Man’s Sky.
And as cool as the M2 Pro chip is, I’d be remiss if I didn’t shout out the gorgeous 14.2-inch Liquid Retina XDR display with its plethora of vivid colors and crisp details. Then you have the excellent six speaker setup with its spatial audio capabilities. Plus, there’s the super comfortable Magic keyboard nestled into that iconic silver aluminum chassis that graces many a coffee shop and office space. And whether you’re working, watching video or playing games, the MacBook Pro 14 can go the distance serving up an impressive 14 hours, making it one of the best laptops for Mac users.
See our full Apple MacBook Pro 14-inch (M2 Pro, 2023) review.
Best Windows laptop for Creative Pros
Whether you’re shooting TikToks, flexin’ for the Gram or doing it big for YouTube, the demand for creator-class laptops is on the rise. And if you’re not on the Mac bandwagon, you definitely need to give the Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio a look. First things first. Even though the Surface Laptop Studio is a 2-in-1 machine, it’s not your typical convertible thanks to Microsoft’s special hinge that gives access to new modes. One of my favorites lets you pull the display over the keyboard, just in front of the touchpad allowing you to get up close and personal with the display.
The 14.2-inch display with a 120Hz refresh rate is gorgeous and great for any video or photo editing tasks you have on tap. We also like the quad Omnisonic speakers, which produced clear and balanced audio. And while the Surface Laptop Studio didn’t win every benchmarking round, it shined on our File Transfer Test, Sid Meier Civilization VI benchmarks and managed to last almost 11 hours on our battery test.
Now if I can be nitpicky for a moment, I’m not a fan of the thick bezel, skimpy port offering and Microsoft’s confounding choice to not include the excellent Slim Pen 2. No need to nickel and dime us, Microsoft. But if you’re looking for a cool looking convertible that goes beyond the average 2-in-1 with content creation in mind, the Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio is the way to go.
See our full Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio review.
I can't believe it's so light! And neither will you when you get your hands on the LG Gram16 (16Z90Q). Weighing in at a scant 2.5 pounds, the 16-inch laptop is definitely one of the lightest 16-inch laptops on the market if not the lightest. But don't let them slim proportions fool you, the Gram 16 is capable of performing some mid-to-high level tasks thanks to its Core i7 processor.
During our benchmarking, the LG Gram 16 held its own. The laptop stayed within striking distance of the MacBook Air M2 with the former scoring 8,431 compared to the latter's 8,919. The Gram also shined on our file transfer test with its 1,506.9MBps speed that was twice as fast as the category average and more than enough to decimate most of the competition. And then there's the battery life. Lasting 13 hours and 28 mintues, the Gram 16 is built for longevity.
And as great as all of that is, the LG Gram 16 does have its flaws, namely the rather dim display and the lackluster audio experience. But those looking for a lightweight 16-inch laptop that you can legitimately carry on a daily commute, the LG Gram 16 has few peers.
See our full LG Gram 16 (16Z90Q) review.
Best 13-inch laptop
Bend it, shape it, any way you want it, the HP Spectre x360 13.5-inch has earned its place on our best laptops page not only for its versatility as a 2-in-1 laptop, but also its excellent performance, phenomenal OLED display and it’s all-day battery life. Let’s start with the design, outside of the 360-degree hinges, the Spectre x360 is just a stunning laptop to behold with its aluminum Nightfall black chassis with pale brass contrasting accents. I’m a fan of the diagonally cut corners as they help the Spectre x360 stand out in a crowd while still being functional by housing a headset jack and Thunderbolt 4 jack.
Okay, now onto the performance. The laptop was nearly unstoppable with its Intel Core i7-1255U CPU, keeping all challengers at bay with the exception of the extremely polarizing Dell XPS 13 Plus. If not for that notebook, the Spectre x360 would have a shut-out. The convertible lasted over 10 hours on a charge which gives you plenty of time to truly enjoy that stunning 13.5-inch, 3000 x 2000-pixel OLED display that our reviewer described as “vivid, bright, colorful, and crisper than deep-fried rolled tacos” after work.
The laptop also has several security features including one where the screen blurs as soon as it detects someone behind you. It’s a really great laptop, but I wish there was a discrete GPU option and it wasn’t so expensive. But if you want premium features, you’re going to pay a premium price.
See our full HP Spectre x360 13.5-inch (2022) review.
Best 16-inch laptop
If you’re shopping for a big-screen laptop with punch, the HP Envy 16 can do it all.. Just to drive home the point, our reviewer dubbed the system a “multifaceted dream machine.” With an Intel Core i9 processor, 32GB of RAM, a 2TB SSD and an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 GPU, the HP Envy 16 can handle both work and play. The laptop really killed on the Handbrake video transcoding test and kept pace with the competition during the File Transfer test.
As it pertains to gaming, the Envy 16’s discrete RTX 3060 GPU ensures that it can play most games, even AAA titles –– just not at the highest settings. What we can say is that while the Envy 16 didn’t come out on top on most of our gaming benchmarks, it always stayed above our 30 frames-per-second playability threshold.
And speaking of gaming, take a good, long look at the 4K display while enjoying the better-than-average speakers. Just be sure to keep it plugged in while gaming as we only saw 1 hour and 20 minutes of battery life. However, during regular tasks, the laptop lasted 9:28. A jack of all trades and a master of some, be sure to check out the HP Envy 16.
See our full HP Envy 16 review.
How We Test Laptops
How we test laptops
Why you can trust Laptop Mag Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.
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 laptop of 2023 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.
Our expert reviewers also use each product to see how it looks, feels, and performs 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 5 synthetic test. We measure graphics prowess with both 3DMark Ice Storm / Fire Strike and a series of games including Assassin's Creed: Valhalla, Metro: Exodus, Grand Theft Auto V and Red Dead Redemption just to name a few.
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
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 $1,500 as well as the best 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. If you're a content creator, you'll want to look into at least a 2.5K resolution panel. And if you're a gamer, definitely pay attention to the refresh and response rate. We recommend 144Hz and 3-millisecond, respectively.
- 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. AMD is enjoying a renaissance with its Ryzen line of processors. Ryzen 7 is the middle-of-the-road chip that will bring mainstream performance while Ryzen 5 and 9 cover your entry level and power user needs. And of course we can't forget Apple with its M-series chips based on ARM architecture that has taken the industry by storm.
- 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.
Why Trust Laptop Mag
Why Trust Laptop Mag
Laptop Mag reviews over a hundred different laptops every year, from paperweight ultralights to everyday workhorses to lumbering gaming notebooks that scorch the frame rates of even the hottest AAA games. We're not just experts in the laptop field, as we go one step further by meticulously testing smartphones, tablets, headphones, PC accessories, software, and even the latest in gaming.
We are 100% independent and have decades of experience to help you buy with confidence. In fact, Laptop Mag has been testing and reviewing products for three decades, and we continue to deliver trustworthy reviews you can rely on.
Our experienced team of writers and editors scour the available information about the laptop and put it through its paces to determine which is best for you. But before they start, the testing team subjects each system to a rigorous regimen of synthetic and real-world tests to see how a system handles the type of work and games you’re most likely to throw at it.
Our editorial trustworthiness is enforced by one of the world's largest technology publishers, Future Publishing. As a company, we have unrivaled experience across every tech sector — and we're the group's specialist for all things mobile tech.