Best laptop 2024: 10 best laptops tested and rated

New year, new laptop? You're in the right place with our best laptops of 2024 buying guide. The year ahead promises to be packed with cutting edge devices designed to cater to your every computing need. Whether you're looking for a reliable, lightweight Chromebook or a powerhouse workstation for all your editing and productivity needs, we've singled out the best options through our extensive reviews and testing at Laptop Mag.

Our buying guides aren't bunk. Only the best of the best make it to our top picks, and we try our best to select laptops that cover a broad range of budgets and use cases.

After over a decade of testing and reviewing laptops, I still never tire of them. It’s a passion that makes me the ideal guide for your quest to find the best laptop for you. Whether that's a sleek ultraportable for work, a Chromebook for school, a 2-in-1 that doubles as a tablet, or a gaming laptop to lay low your foes, this is the place to find it. This page is constantly 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 put them to use in real-world situations, evaluating overall performance, display brightness, keyboard comfort, and much more. We also run our own in-house battery test to let you know how long these laptops last on a charge.

Any laptop that earns a spot on this page is the best of the best and well worth hard-earned dollars. Read on to learn more about our top-rated laptops and we'll find one that is perfect for your needs. 

The Quick List

Champing 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 to our full review of whichever laptop you're interested in.

Best Laptop Overall

MacBook Air M2 review

(Image credit: Future)
The best laptop for most people

Specifications

CPU: Apple M2
GPU: Apple M2 GPU
RAM: 8 GB
Storage: 1TB SSD
Display: 13-inch, 1664p
Size: 12 x 8.5 x 0.4 inches
Weight: 2.7 pounds

Reasons to buy

+
Elegant redesign
+
Good performance
+
Excellent battery life

Reasons to avoid

-
Only two ports
-
SSD somewhat slower than M1 Air

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, M2 Max, M3, M3 Pro and M3 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 where the laptop hit 8,919, easily surpassing the 6,054 category average. It also performed well on the Handbrake video transcoding test, taking only 7 minutes and 52 seconds to transcode a 4K video to 1080p. Finally, there's the BlackMagic Read/Write tests which returned speeds of 2,800.1/2,210.6MBps. 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? However 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 Budget

Asus Zenbook 14 OLED (Q409EA)

(Image credit: Future)
The best laptop under $1,000

Specifications

CPU: Intel Core i5-1240P
GPU: Intel Iris Xe
RAM: 8GB
Storage: 256GB
Display: 14-inch, 1800p
Size: 12.4 x 8.7 x 0.7 inches
Weight: 3.1 pounds

Reasons to buy

+
Great battery life
+
Striking 90Hz display for price
+
Beautifully vibrant display with crisp detail

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive
-
Off-putting notch
-
Still no Face ID

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 features. 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. For example, the laptop produced a score of 8,590 on the Geekbench 5.4 test, which wasn't enough to hold off the MSI Prestige 14 Evo A12M (9,549) despite having the same processor. However, the Zenbook did defeat the 6,611 average. The Asus was right behind the MSI on the video transcoding test with times of 8:40 and 8:31 respectively. 

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. Plus, 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 ultraportable

Best Laptops 2023: Asus Zenbook S 13 OLED (2023)

(Image credit: Future)
Best ultraportable laptop

Specifications

CPU: Intel Core i7-1355U
GPU: Intel Iris Xe
RAM: 32GB
Storage: 1TB SSD
Display: 13.3-inch, 1800p
Size: 11.6 x 8.5 x 0.4 inches
Weight: 2.2 pounds

Reasons to buy

+
One of the best looking ultrabooks
+
Great keyboard and touchpad
+
Gorgeous OLED display

Reasons to avoid

-
Middling performance
-
Only decent battery life
-
Thermal throttling

Whew, this thing is thin! How thin? At 2.2 pounds, and 0.43 inches, the Asus Zenbook S 13 OLED (2023) is a skooch thinner than the M2 MacBook Air (2.7 pounds, 0.44 inches). But don't write the Zenbook S 13 OLED off as a toy as its got an Intel Core i7-1355U processor, 32GB of RAM, 1TB of RAM and an Intel Iris Xe GPU. Plus, it's got an absolutely beautiful 13.3-inch OLED display. And surprisingly, this diminutive PC has a rather strong speaker system. 

In terms of performance, the S 13 can get the job done within reason. Our reviewer noted that the notebook can handle most of your productivity and creative professional tasks like working in a large spreadsheet or editing in Photoshop. But a MacBook Air killer, it's not. When we tested the overall CPU performance, the Zenbook S 13 reached 7,482 which is short of the MacBook Air M2 (8,919) and the Lenovo ThinkPad Z13 Gen 1 (8,768). Chalk that up to the U-series processor which is geared for efficiency rather than performance.

On the File Transfer test, the Zenbook S 13 OLED smoked the ThinkPad Z13, producing a speed of 1257.3MBps compared to 930.4MBps.

Still, this is a seriously sleek machine with enough performance for your day-to-day, and a drop-dead gorgeous OLED display. It's a top choice for mobile professionals or anyone looking for a head turner of a system that can perform mid-range productivity tasks well.

See our full Asus Zenbook S 13 OLED (2023) review.

Best High Performance

Best Laptops 2023: Dell XPS 15 (9530)

(Image credit: Future)
The best high-performance laptop

Specifications

CPU: Intel Core i7-13700H
GPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX 4070
RAM: 32GB
Storage: 1TB M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD
Display: 15.6-inch, 2160
Size: 13.6 x 9.1 x 0.7 inches
Weight: 4.2 pounds

Reasons to buy

+
Slick, elegant design
+
Great overall and gaming performance
+
Vivid, OLED display

Reasons to avoid

-
Mushy keyboard
-
Below-average battery life

I'd be remiss if I didn't add the Dell XPS 15 (9530) to the list. After all, it kept its boot on our best 14-inch pick, the Lenovo Slim Pro 9i. And while I could put it firmly in the creative professional realm, the laptop can also serve as a powerful productivity machine and a passable gaming rig. It’s got a stunning 3.5K OLED touchscreen paired with powerful speakers that just screams multimedia machine. 

Armed with its 2.4-GHz Intel Core i7-13700H processor with 32GB of RAM, the XPS 15 (9350) can be a bit of a bully towards its competitors. Take for example, the notebook scored 12,171, defeating the 7,803 premium laptop average. The Dell however, had its work cut out for it from the Galaxy Book 3 (12,405) which has the same processor and the M2 Max MacBook Pro 16 which hit 14,626 on the Geekbench 6 overall performance test. 

The XPS 15 came back swinging, transcoding a 4K video to 1080p in 5 minutes and 1 second, outpacing the 8:18 category average along with the Vivobook Pro 16 (5:50) and Galaxy Book 3 (5:26). On the Laptop Mag Battery Test, the XPS 15 lasted 8 hours and 58 minutes which failed to meet the 10:25 premium laptop average and was well short of the MacBook Pro’s ludicrous 18:56. 

Along with the below-average battery life. the XPS 15 counts a mushy keyboard as a flaw. The latter is a minor annoyance compared to the battery life, but if you ensure that the Dell XPS 15 is always in the vicinity, it shouldn't be a problem, especially with the all the power the laptop brings to the table. The Dell XPS 15 is the ultimate jack-of-all-trades system that has something for everyone.

See our full Dell XPS 15 (9350) review

Best Gaming Laptop

Asus ROG Strix G18

(Image credit: Future)
The best gaming laptop

Specifications

CPU: Intel Core i9-13900HX
GPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090
RAM: 32GB
Storage: dual 1TB SSD in RAID 0
Display: 18-inch, 2560 x 1600
Size: 15.7 x 11.6 x 0.9~1.2 inches
Weight: 6.8 pounds

Reasons to buy

+
Impressive overall and gaming performance
+
Flashy, futuristic design
+
Captivating display

Reasons to avoid

-
Pricy
-
Webcam could be better
-
Below-average battery life

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 2-in-1 Laptop

Best Laptops 2023: Lenovo Yoga 9i

(Image credit: Future)

6. Lenovo Yoga 9i (Gen 8)

The best 2-in-1 laptop

Specifications

CPU: Intel Core i7-1360P
GPU: Intel Iris Xe Graphics
RAM: 16GB
Storage: 512GB SSD
Display: 14-inch, 2880 x 1880, OLED
Size : 12.5 x 9.1 x .6 inches
Weight: 3.1 pounds

Reasons to buy

+
Breathtaking 2.8K OLED display
+
Great productivity performance
+
Blisteringly fast SSD

Reasons to avoid

-
Display could be brighter

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.

Best Chromebook

Best Laptops 2023: Chromebook Spin 714

(Image credit: Future)

7. Acer Chromebook Spin 714

The best Chromebook

Specifications

CPU: Intel Core i5-1335U
GPU: Intel Iris Xe
RAM: 8GB
Storage: 256GB SSD
Display: 14-inch,1600
Size : 12.3 x 8.8 x 0.7 inches
Weight: 3.2 pounds

Reasons to buy

+
Almost 13 hours of battery life
+
Stylish chassisGood performance
+
1440p webcam

Reasons to avoid

-
Quiet speakers

I wrote an op-ed on how $1,000 Chromebooks shouldn’t be a thing and I stand by that statement thanks to the Acer Chromebook Spin 714. This sub-$500 has a lot going for it, including nearly 13 hours of battery life. Plus, according to our reviewer, it's the most attractive Chromebook they've ever review. That's high praise considering the less premium system tend to look like unassuming gray slabs. 

But let's leave the Spin 714's dark-gray finish with the gold accents for a minute and take a look beneath the chassis. With its Intel Core i5-1335U CPU, don't expect the system to do any heavy data crunching or run AutoCAD, but it can definitely do light-to-mid level work. But dismiss the 2-in-1 just yet.  On the Geekbench 6 test, it defeated the HP Dragonfly Pro Chromebook which costs $300 more –– 6,335 vs. 4,263. 

The tables were turned on the JetStream 2.0 benchmark, which tests how quickly large web pages load. The Chromebook Spin 714 achieved a score of 250.2, which bests the Chromebook average (240), but not the HP Dragonfly Pro Chromebook (256.7). 

The Spin 714 also got the win our battery test with a time of  12 hours and 43 minutes, totally eclipsing the Dragonfly's time of 9:17. It just goes to show, price doesn't always dictate quality. 

See our full Acer Chromebook Spin 714 review

Best MacBook

Best Laptops 2023: MacBook Pro 14 M3

(Image credit: Future)
The best MacBook

Specifications

CPU: Apple M3
GPU: Apple M3 GPU
RAM: 8GB
Storage: 512GB
Display: 14.2-inches, 1964
Size: 12.3 x 8.7 x 0.6 inches
Weight: 3.4 pounds

Reasons to buy

+
Excellent overall performance
+
Solid gaming performance
+
Incredible endurance

Reasons to avoid

-
Off-putting notch
-
Still no Face ID

Apple's silicon keeps getting better and better as its third series of chips, the M3 debut bringing even better performance than the last two generations. And they're also outpacing most of the Windows PCs on the market by a decent margin. Plus, it's $400 cheaper than M2 predecessor. It's an all-out win for students, mobile professionals, creatives –– just about anyone that calls themselves a MacBook fan. 

Boasting performance that's 20% faster CPU performance than the M1 chip, I saw the MacBook Pro 14 score 11,870 on Geekbench 6, beating the XPS 13 (10,525). But it couldn't top the Acer Swift X 14 (12,118).  But on the Handbrake video transcoding test, the MacBook took 5 minutes and 38 seconds to transcode a 4K video to 1080p, blasting past the 7:51 average. It also left the Swift X (7:46) and XPS 13 (8:14) eating its dust. 

Although Apple has been singing the praises of its new processors, the bigger news lies with the GPUs. Each graphics chip in the M3 series has a much larger GPU than past generations and sport Dynamic Caching, a new technology that includes hardware-accelerated ray tracing (a first for Apple) and mesh shading. The MacBook  Pro achieved 51 frames per second at 1200p, on the Sid Meier's s Civilization VI benchmark, surpassing the XPS 13 Plus’ (Intel Iris Xe graphics) 23 fps. It was just short of the 53-fps premium laptop average however, and the Swift X 14’s discrete Nvidia GeForce RTX 4050 GPU notched 92 fps (2.8K). 

And while it has mixed performance in some areas, the MacBook Pro 14 still sports a stunning display, excellent audio performance and an ultra-comfortable Magic Keyboard. And with over 17 hours of battery life, the MacBook Pro can do work or play for almost the entire day.

See our full Apple MacBook Pro 14-inch (M3, 2023) review.

Best Business Laptop

Best Laptops 2023: Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 11

(Image credit: Future)
The best business laptop

Specifications

CPU: Intel Core i7-1355U
GPU: Intel Iris Xe
RAM: 16GB
Storage: 512GB
Display: 14-inch, 1200
Size: 12.4 x 8.8 x 0.6 inches
Weight: 2.5 pounds

Reasons to buy

+
Shocklingly lightweight
+
Fast SSD
+
Great battery life

Reasons to avoid

-
Middling performance

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 (11th 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 13 hours and 45 minutes 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 (11..th 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 X1 Carbon Gen 11 review.

Best for Students

Best Laptops 2023: Acer Swift 14

(Image credit: Future)
The best Windows 11 laptop

Specifications

CPU: Intel Core i7-13700H
GPU: Intel Iris Xe Graphics
RAM: 16GB
Storage: 1TB SSD
Display: 14-inch, 2560 x 1600
Size: 12.2 x 8.4 x 0.6 inches
Weight: 2.9 pounds

Reasons to buy

+
Sleek design
+
Strong performance
+
Long battery life

Reasons to avoid

-
Iffy touchpad
-
Weak audio

Acer consistently delivers laptops that deliver a great combination of performance and value. Case in point, the Acer Swift 14. It’s easy on the eyes with our reviewer calling out its alluring Mist Green aerospace-grade aluminum with the fashionable bronze accents. At 2.9 pounds and 12.2 x 8.4 x 0.6 inches, it's not the slimmest or lightest laptop out there, but the system is still plenty portable. But the Swift 5 is about more than good looks.

Powered by a 13th Gen Intel Core i7 processor with integrated Intel graphics, the Swift 14 held its own against its competitors during our overall performance and file transfer tests. And it easily sailed past our category average. The Swift 14 had its best showing on the Geekbench 5.5 test where it scored an impressive 11,375. The  notebook also reigned supreme during the Handbrake test, completing the video transcoding testing 5 minutes and 41 seconds. 

We were also surprised at how well the notebook’s integrated Intel Iris Xe graphics performed, notching 28 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 nearly 12 hours of battery life. Other reasons to buy include a healthy smattering of ports and a bright, vivid 14-inch display that our reviewer declared "gorgeous." 

But it’s not a perfect system, however, as the laptop has an inordinate amount of bloatware. The speakers also could have been better and the touchpad was finicky at times. However, these are minor issues for an otherwise outstanding Windows 11 laptop. 

See our full Acer Swift 14 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.