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Best 15-inch Laptops 2021

When 17-inch laptops are too big and 13- and 14-inch systems are too small, 15-inch laptops are there to fill that midsize hole in your life. When it comes to portability, performance and display real estate 15-inch laptops are a top choice as they split the difference between svelte ultraportables and bulky desktop replacement. 

And with laptop manufacturer's getting smarter with design, notebooks across the board are getting lighter and slimmer, making it the decision to slip the system into the bag that much easier. Even better, although 15-inchers are getting thinner, in many cases, it's not due to sacrificing performance with many laptops sporting powerful processors, graphics cards and SSDs. In other words, for those of us who like the middle, it's a wonderful time to invest in a 15-inch laptop. But the question is, which one?

There are lots of laptops out there covering a gamut of budgets and use cases. While some can be happy with a basic system for web surfing and social media, others need a laptop that can handle more intensive tasks such as data calculation, 3D rendering and photo editing. But whether you're looking for a college laptop, a budget Windows machine, a Chromebook, a premium stunner, a business notebook, a gaming beast or a jack-of-all-trades 2-in-1, there's a 15-inch laptop with your name on it.

Over the course of the year, the staff at Laptop Mag thoroughly review over 100 laptops. We employ rigorous benchmarks, hands-on testing and comparisons to separate the wheat from the chaff. We've identified some of the best 15-inch laptops on the market based on budget and use case. 

The best 15-inch laptops right now

The Dell XPS 15 is our top 15-inch laptop. The current iteration has made a number of small tweaks that add up to big change. The notebook is 5.5% smaller, but still manages to fit a display that's 5% larger into the chassis. Speaking of the display, Dell  finally found a way to get rid of that last chunky bezel, giving viewers a four-sided InfinityEdge panel that got a bigger screen aspect for a better viewing experience. Plus, the laptop has on of Intel's new 10 Gen H-Series processor paired up with a discrete Nvidia GPU, which serves up a bunch of power. In short, the Dell XPS 15 is the 15-inch laptop to beat. 

Samsung is making a pointed return to the laptop market with the Samsung Galaxy Book Flex 15. This laptop is a feast for the eyes and a boon to those productivity sticklers. Nestled in a stunning blue aluminum chassis, the Flex 15, takes all the great things about the recent Galaxy Note smartphones and brings it to laptops. The Flex 15 offers a responsive stylus for taking notes. It's the first laptop to feature a QLED display. The stunning 2-in-1 also lasted over 15 hours on our battery test. And armed with an Intel Ice Lake processor and Nvidia graphics card, it's a serious force to be reckoned with.

Gamers looking for their next mobile battle station should take a long, admiring look at the Asus ROG Zephyrus G15. The follow up to the excellent ROG Zephyrus G14, the new laptop features one of AMD's new 5000 processors and Nvidia's new 3000-series GPU. The G15 serves up some powerful performances whether you're gaming or creating a presentation for work. 

Best 15-inch laptops: Dell XPS 15 (2020)

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

1. Dell XPS 15

The best 15-inch laptop overall

CPU: 2.6-GHz Intel Core i7-10750H CPU
GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 Ti GPU with 4 GB of VRAM/Intel UHD Graphics 630 GPU
RAM/Storage: 32GB/512GB M.2 PCIe SSD
Display Size/Resolution: 15.6/3840x2400
Reasons to buy
+Bright, vivid, super high-res display+Great overall and graphics performance+Good battery life for a 4K laptop
Reasons to avoid
-Expensive-Runs a bit hot

Productivity, multimedia and even a bit of gaming — the Dell XPS 15 can do it all — and do it well. Starting at $1,299, the XPS 15 offers an attractive, slim design that's bursting with power. 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 if that isn't enough, check under the hood and you'll find a 10th Gen Intel Core i7 Comet Lake H-Series processor and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 Ti. The laptop dominated all of our benchmark tests including our graphics test. That means you could get a solid gaming session going in a pinch. It's a jack-of-all-trades system that excels at just about everything.

See our Dell XPS 15 (2020) review.

Best 15-inch laptops: Acer ConceptD 7 Ezel

(Image credit: Future)

2. Acer ConceptD 7 Ezel

A powerful convertible for content creators

CPU: 2.6-GHz Intel Core i7-10750H
GPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060
RAM/Storage: 16GB/1TB M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD
Display Size/Resolution: 15.6/4K
Reasons to buy
+Attractive, versatile design+Strong overall and gaming performance+Good battery life
Reasons to avoid
-Expensive-Weak audio-Display could be more vivid

Designed for creators, the ConceptD 7 Ezel has something for everyone. For consumers that place a high premium on design, you get a slick, convertible system that combines form and function. Those in need of power can rely on the Intel Core i7 processor and Nvidia RTX graphics. And despite the high-powered specs, the laptop has solid battery life and even comes with a pen and some light security features. 

The Acer ConceptD 7 Ezel is what happens when a gaming laptop has a kid with a premium 2-in-1. On one hand, you have the powerful performance of the Intel Core i7 processor and Nvidia RTX 2080 GPU, plus the SSD is smoking fast. On the other, you have the adjustable 4K display which delivers versatility plus sharp details. Overall, if you’re a multimedia content creator or you like playing games and working on a sleek, powerful system with good battery life, the Acer ConceptD 7 Ezel is the system for you. 

See our full Acer ConceptD 7 Ezel review

Best 15-inch laptops: HP Chromebook 15

3. HP Chromebook 15

Good-looking chassis, large screen, strong performance

CPU: 2.2-GHz Intel Core i3-8130U CPU
GPU: Intel UHD 620 GPU
RAM/Storage: 4GB/128GB eMMC storage
Display Size/Resolution: 15.6/1920 x 1080
Reasons to buy
+Refreshing design+Good battery life+Strong overall performance+Comfortable keyboard
Reasons to avoid
-Warm screen-Tiny audio

Need an affordable Chromebook with good performance? Look no further than the HP Chromebook 15 (de0517wm). For under $500, you get strong Core i3 performance, a comfortable keyboard and long battery life, all packed into a good-looking chassis. But overall, the HP Chromebook 15 is a great value and one of the best Chromebooks you can buy if you prefer a bigger screen. 

Although the screen isn't the most vivid, it's plenty bright, which should make for a solid viewing experience. The laptop also has quite a bit of endurance, lasting 9 hours and 51 minutes on our battery test. And since Chrome OS is a stripped-down operating system that literally runs only on the Chrome browser. So if you run your life with Google through and through, then this OS is perfect for you. 

See our full HP Chromebook 15 review

Best 15-inch laptops: Alienware m15 R4

(Image credit: Future)

4. Alienware m15 R4

Kickass performance, beautiful display and a sexy design

CPU: 2.6-GHz Intel Core i7-10870H
GPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070
RAM/Storage: 16GB/1 TB SSD
Display Size/Resolution: 15.6/4K
Reasons to buy
+Awesome performance and graphics+Gorgeous 4K OLED display+Stylish design
Reasons to avoid
-Short battery life-Expensive

This baby has it all. Power, beauty (on the inside and out) and a soft touch. The Alienware m15 R4 will grace you with its intense Intel Core i7  processor and Nvidia 3000-series GPU, a poppin’ 15.6-inch, 4K OLED display and a punchy keyboard wrapped in a familiar but stylish design. But don’t let this thin figure deceive you; there’s a mighty Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 Max-Q GPU with 8GB of VRAM lying beneath the surface. 

The Alienware m15 R4 is a stunning notebook that hits almost all of the boxes when it comes to being the best gaming laptop. The Alienware m15 R4’s 15.6-inch, 3840 x 2160-pixel (4K) OLED display is luxurious, delivering images that are incredibly bright and vivid. You can’t deny its raw power, incredible display and bangin’ keyboard. Overall, the Alienware m15 R4 is one of the best gaming laptops you can own if you can afford it. 

See our full Alienware m15 R4 review

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

5. Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme

The best 15-inch business laptop in class

CPU: 2.6-GHz Intel Core i7-9850H CPU
GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti Max-Q GPU
RAM/Storage: 32GB/1TB SSD
Display Size/Resolution: 15.6/3840 x 2160
Reasons to buy
+Phenomenal 4K HDR display+Blazing-fast performance+Luxurious design
Reasons to avoid
-Below-average battery life-Runs warm-Expensive

Lenovo didn't make any major changes to the design of this sophomore effort. This machine's sleek, thin-and-lightweight chassis remains the best presentation (alongside the X1 Carbon) of Lenovo's iconic ThinkPad aesthetic. With a similarly attractive and portable design, blistering-fast performance and a gorgeous 4K HDR display option, the ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 2 is a great choice for content creators and business users alike. It's also one of the best ThinkPads around. 

The ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 2 is a breath away from being the best 15-inch laptop on the market. The ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen is almost a perfect laptop for content creators and business users. Its sleek design looks great, and it's surprisingly durable yet portable. Performance is also impressive thanks to a Core i7 CPU and GTX 1650 Max-Q graphics. You can even equip the X1 Extreme with 64GB of RAM, although storage maxes out at only 1TB. All things considered, the 2nd Gen ThinkPad X1 Extreme is an excellent laptop with one glaring flaw that many customers will find hard to overlook.

See our full Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme (Gen 2) review

Best 15-inch laptops: Dell Precision 7550

(Image credit: Future)

6. Dell Precision 7550

One of the most powerful workstations around

CPU: 2.4-GHz Intel Xeon W-10885M
GPU: Nvidia Quadro RTX 5000
RAM/Storage: 32GB/1 TB SSD
Display Size/Resolution: 15.6/4K
Reasons to buy
+Powerful performance and graphics+Bright 4K display+Amazing battery life
Reasons to avoid
-Exorbitantly expensive-Display could be more colorful for the price

If you’re looking for the king of workstations, we might’ve just found it. The Dell Precision 7550 offers incredible performance from its Intel Xeon W-10885M CPU and Nvidia Quadro RTX 5000 GPU. There’s also a bright 15.6-inch, 4K display, long battery life, a comfortable keyboard and even a pair of high-quality speakers. Not to mention, this machine is super configurable. 

The 4K panel is bright with crystal-clear details and lusciously saturated colors. The laptop consistently beat its competitors on both overall and graphics performance. Given all of the pros that come with this laptop, especially the battery life and power combo, the Dell Precision 7550 is undoubtedly one of the best workstations you can buy, that is, if you can afford it.

See our full Dell Precision 7550 review

Best Photo/Video Editing: Apple MacBook Pro 15

7. Apple MacBook Pro 15

Super fast, long battery life, really expensive

CPU: 2.9-GHz Intel Core i9-8950HK CPU
GPU: AMD Radeon Pro 560X GPU with 4GB of VRAM
RAM/Storage: 32GB/2TB PCIe SSD
Display Size/Resolution: 15.6/2880 x 1800
Reasons to buy
+Insanely speedy general performance+Fastest SSD we've tested+Long battery life
Reasons to avoid
-Exorbitant price-Warm underside-No USB Type-A ports

It's the last of Apple's 15-inch laptops, at least for now. The last 15-inch MacBook Pro is definitely the best yet, with some of the fastest speeds we've ever seen, a better screen and a better keyboard — provided you have deep enough pockets. Available with an Intel Core i9-8950HK CPU, 32GB of RAM and an AMD Radeon Pro 560X GPU with 4GB of memory, the MacBook Pro 15 is an undeniable powerhouse. And whether you're editing photos or watching movies, you'll enjoy the Retina display with Apple's TrueTone technology, which delivers rich, mesmerizing colors and sharp detail.

If you're a MacBook Pro fan, but aren't too keen on either the 13 or 16-inch variations, you should purchase the MacBook Pro 15-inch. It's got plenty of power and endurance and now that the system's being retired in favor of its larger cousin, prices should be dropping substantially over the next few months, but don't wait too long or you might miss out.

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

Best 2-in-1: HP Spectre x360 15-inch

8. HP Spectre x360 15-inch

Colorful 4K OLED display with great performance

CPU: 1.8-GHz Intel Core i7-8565U CPU
GPU: Nvidia GeForce MX150 GPU
RAM/Storage: 16GB/1TB SSD
Display Size/Resolution: 15.6/3840 x 2160
Reasons to buy
+Sexy design+Solid performance and graphics+Vivid 4K OLED display
Reasons to avoid
-Battery life could be better-Non-configurable-Bezels a bit thick

What do you get when you combine luxurious design with serious power? If you're talking about laptops, then you're probably referring to the HP Spectre x360. In addition to a gloriously vivid touch display, you get an Intel Core i7 CPU, an Nvidia GeForce Mx150 GPU, 16GB of RAM and a 1TB SSD, all in a sleek, foldable aluminum chassis. 

But the piece de resistance is the 4K OLED panel that is stunningly beautiful. And while it has discrete graphics, the x360 targets creative professionals, allowing consumers to transform from a traditional laptop to a tablet to a tent mode with ease. However, with only 7 hours and 46 minutes of battery life, you'll want to keep the power cord handy. But overall, the 15-inch OLED Spectre x360 is an awesome premium laptop with a truly stellar display and great features that consumers and professionals will appreciate.

See our HP Spectre x360 (15-inch, OLED) review

Best Display: Razer Blade 15 OLED

9. Razer Blade 15 OLED

Razer's beautiful chassis with a show-stopping OLED display

CPU: 2.6-GHz Intel Core i7-9750H CPU
GPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Max-Q GPU/Intel UHD 630 Graphics GPU
RAM/Storage: 16GB/512GB NVMe SSD
Display Size/Resolution: 15.6/3840 x 2160
Reasons to buy
+Sleek, gorgeous design+4K OLED display is extremely bright and vivid+Great overall and gaming performance
Reasons to avoid
-Expensive-Runs hot while gaming

Leave it to Razer to make an already beautiful laptop that much more of an opulent spectacle. The latest iteration of the Razer Blade 15 Advanced adds a mesmerizing 4K OLED to the mix. In addition to all that eye candy, you get a powerful Intel Core i7 processor, an Nvidia RTX 2080 Max-Q GPU and a swift SSD. And despite that beautiful yet power-sapping display, it managed to last more than 4 hours on our battery test. If you're looking for a thin-and-light gaming laptop that serves up power, speed and endurance with a beautiful 4K OLED display, the Razer Blade 15 is a cut above the rest.

Blade 15 has always been a beautiful laptop, but with a 4K OLED panel, it's a head-turner from the inside out. Equipped with a Core i9 processor and an Nvidia RTX 2080 Max-Q GPU, the notebook has more than enough power for play (and work, if you're so inclined). 

See our Razer Blade 15 (OLED) review

Asus ZenBook Pro Duo

(Image credit: Future)

10. Asus ZenBook Pro Duo

Two gorgeous screens, one powerful laptop

CPU: 2.4-GHz Intel Core i9-9980HK CPU
GPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 GPU
RAM/Storage: 32GB/1TB PCIe SSD
Display Size/Resolution: 15.6/3840 x 2160
Reasons to buy
+Two beautiful 4K touch displays+Great overall and gaming performance+Dual-screen functionality easy to use
Reasons to avoid
-Chunky and heavy-Short battery life-Weak Audio

Two is better than one. This is especially true of the Asus ZenBook Pro Duo which employs a pair of 4K displays into a single laptop with the goal of increasing your productivity. Did we mention the main display is an OLED panel? So not only do you get crisp detail -- you also get mind-blowing color. But the ZenBook Pro Duo is more than just stunning touch displays with an overclockable Core i9 processor, 32GB of RAM, a seriously fast 1TB SSD and a powerful Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 GPU with 6GB of RAM. That means there’s not much this laptop can’t do.

Second displays on laptops aren't a new concept: Asus had quite a library of dual screens in the early 2000s. However, it's currently the only company that does the conceit justice. The $2,999 ZenBook Pro Duo not only gives you an absolutely beautiful 4K OLED touch panel but also gives you a full-length, 4K touch display right underneath. Overall, the ZenBook Pro Duo is a serious contender for creative and mobile professionals looking for a worthy alternative to Apple.

See our full Asus ZenBook Pro Duo review

Best 15-inch laptops: Gigabyte Aero 15

(Image credit: Future)

11. Gigabyte Aero 15 OLED (2021, RTX 3070)

An excellent choice for content creators

CPU: 2.6-GHz Intel Core i7-10870H
GPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070
RAM/Storage: 32GB/1 TB SSD
Display Size/Resolution: 15.6/3840 x 2160
Reasons to buy
+4K, OLED Samsung display+Sturdy, all-aluminum design+Great overall performance
Reasons to avoid
-Poorly placed webcam-Quiet speakers

Gigabyte got a lot of things right with the Aero 15, including its sturdy, all-aluminum, jet-black chassis, gorgeous OLED panel and satisfying, clicky keyboard. Its gaming and performance benchmarks are decent, too. The Aero 15 is an excellent choice for content creators. Photo and video editors will benefit from the Aero 15’s color-accurate 4K panel, but they’ll also enjoy the pleasures of diving into one of their favorite triple-A titles after a long day of work.

The Gigabyte Aero 15 packs a powerful Nvidia RTX 3070 GPU that can handle all of your taxing triple-A titles — just make sure to game in 1080p. If you’re a professional photo editor and/or video editor who loves gaming, the Aero 15 will be a beastly companion that will help you accomplish your work tasks in the morning and fire up your favorite games with decent frame rates at night. The Gigabyte gaming rig is a fine choice for early adopters who want to get their hands on an Nvidia 30-series laptop with a spectacular Samsung 4K AMOLED display.

See our full Gigabyte Aero 15 OLED review

Samsung Galaxy Book Flex 15

(Image credit: Future)

12. Samsung Galaxy Book Flex 15

A convertible, note-taking powerhouse

CPU: 1.3-GHz Intel Core i7-1065G7 CPU
GPU: Nvidia GeForce MX250 GPU
RAM/Storage: 16GB/512GB SSD
Display Size/Resolution: 15.6/1920 x 1080
Reasons to buy
+QLED display+Epic battery life+Built-in S pen
Reasons to avoid
-Quiet speakers-Oddly placed fingerprint scanner-Shortened Shift key

The Samsung Galaxy Book Flex 15 (reviewed at $1,399) is a blue-hued, 2-in-1 head-turning laptop that will rock your world with a built-in, show-stealing S Pen that attracts all the attention. Taking notes (pun unintended) from its successful Galaxy Note smartphone series, Samsung packed a pizazz-filled, entertaining layer of stylus fun for artistic creatives, scribble-happy students and note-taking professionals. But the pen is just the “cherry on top” of this spectacular convertible — there’s so much more that this badass ultraportable offer.

The Samsung Galaxy Book Flex 15 is an excellent ultraportable workstation that delivers a beautiful melange of entertainment and power to satisfy your tasks as an on-the-go professional while giving you a splash of fun along the way.  The Samsung S pen is the Swiss Army knife of styluses  — you can sketch, color, highlight, underline, swipe screens, operate videos and so much more with this versatile tool. The Samsung Galaxy Book 15 is a worthy competitor in the premium 2-in-1 space that rivals should keep their eyes on.

See our full Samsung Galaxy Book Flex 15 review

Best 15-inch laptop: MSI WS66 10TMT

(Image credit: Future)

13. MSI WS66 10TMT

A 15-inch laptop with class-leading performance and endurance

CPU: 2.4-GHz Intel Core i9-10980HK
GPU: Nvidia Quadro 5000 Max-Q
RAM/Storage: 64GB/1TB SSD
Display: 15.6-inch, 4K
Reasons to buy
+Outstanding performance and graphics+Long battery life+Sleek, portable design
Reasons to avoid
-Only one USB-A port-Fans run loud-Expensive

The tug-of-war between performance and battery life just doesn't exist in the WS66's world. You get stellar performance from a 10th Gen Core i9 CPU and 64GB of RAM and long battery life at 10+ hours. This, despite the WS66 having a relatively slim chassis, which, by the way, is tested to military-grade durability.

The MSI WS66 10TMT is an excellent workstation with few downsides. You get fast performance, impressive graphics and long battery life in a durable, yet portable chassis. The display and keyboard, while short of class-leading, are great and the extra-wide touchpad will be useful to some business users. The WS66 also comes with the features you'd expect from a premium enterprise notebook, including a fingerprint sensor, IR camera and a decent selection of ports.

See our full MSI WS55 10MT review

Best 15-inch laptops 2021: Asus ROG Zephyrus G15Best Laptops 2021: Asus ROG Zephyrus G15

(Image credit: Future)

14. Asus ROG Zephyrus G15

Longest lasting gaming laptop ever

CPU: 3.0-GHz AMD Ryzen 9 4900HS CPU
GPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 Max-Q GPU with 6GB of VRAM
RAM/Storage: 16GB
Display: 15.6-inch, 1080p
Reasons to buy
+Killer AMD and Nvidia performance+Longest-lasting gaming laptop ever+Lightning fast SSD
Reasons to avoid
-No webcam-Poor keyboard lighting

The Asus ROG Zephyrus G15 is easily one of the best gaming laptops  you can buy right now. The laptop offers amazing performance from its AMD Ryzen 9 5900HS processor and Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 GPU. It even boasts a similarly long-lasting battery life, a clicky keyboard, a 15.6-inch, 1440p display and a set of powerful speakers wrapped up in an even more elegant Moonlight White design.

The Zephyrus G15 boasts a 15.6-inch, 2560 x 1440-pixel panel with a 165Hz refresh rate, making it sharper and smoother than its 14-inch counterpart. It comes in at the top of the food chain with an RTX 3080 GPU (with an 80-watt TDP) with 8GB of VRAM. This monster shrugged off our benchmarks and tore through the competition.

See our full Asus ROG Zephyrus G15 review

Asus ZenBook 15

(Image credit: Future)

15. Asus ZenBook 15

Twice the screens, more powerful performance

CPU: Intel Core i7-10510U
GPU: GeForce GTX 1650 GPU
Display: 15.6-inch, 1080p
Size: 13.9 x 8.7 x 0.7 inches
Weight: 3.7 pounds
Reasons to buy
+Glamourous, durable design+Improved ScreenPad functionality+Comfortable keyboard+Great audio
Reasons to avoid
-Mixed performance-Display could be brighter

Asus sure knows how to make a beautiful laptop. The company also knows how to turn gimmicks into bona fide features. Asus combines both talents on the ZenBook 15 (UX534F). The laptop bucks the silver/rose-gold trend and goes with a bewitching blue chassis that's as durable as it is alluring. The company also brings back ScreenPad in a larger space, with even more functionality. Throw in an Intel Comet Lake processor, discrete graphics and longer battery life, and you've got a great laptop for mobile professionals.

 The ZenBook 15 maintains the glamorous looks of its predecessor and adds MIL-SPEC durability to the mix. It keeps the surprisingly useful ScreenPad, makes it bigger and adds more useful apps. The keyboard now sports a number pad and the bezels are noticeably smaller. Heck, the battery life is now nearly twice as long.  The biggest addition to the ZenBook is Intel's Comet Lake, which is powerful enough for multitasking and is is a great choice for mobile professionals who want to squeeze every bit of functionality possible out of their notebook. 

See our full Asus ZenBook 15 review. 

How We Test Laptops

When we bring a laptop into our laboratory, our goal is to see how it would work if you brought it into your home or office. While we use a number of industry-standard benchmarks such as Geekbench and 3DMark, we focus heavily on real-world tests that we have developed in-house.

To test endurance, the Laptop Mag Battery test surfs the web at 150 nits of brightness until the system runs out of juice. To judge pure processing power, we use a giant spreadsheet macro that matches 65,000 names with their addresses, a video transcoder that converts a 4K video to 1080p and the Geekbench 4 synthetic test. We measure graphics prowess with both 3DMark Ice Storm / Fire Strike and a series of actual game titles.

We use a colorimeter to measure screen brightness and color gamut while other instruments help us determine a laptop's key travel and ambient heat.  See this page on How We Test Laptops for more details on our benchmarking procedures.

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 for basic tasks, but not heavy multitasking. 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 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 with the CPU.

If you want to learn more about buying a laptop, check out our full Laptop Buying Guide. Gamers should read our Gaming Laptop Buying Guide and list of Best Gaming Laptops.

Sherri L. Smith
Sherri L. Smith has been cranking out product reviews for since 2011. In that time, she's reviewed more than her share of laptops, tablets, smartphones and everything in between. The resident gamer and audio junkie, Sherri was previously a managing editor for Black Web 2.0 and contributed to BET.Com and Popgadget.