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 G14. One of the first laptops to feature AMD's new mobile processor, the G14 serves up some powerful performances whether you're gaming or creating a presentation for work. It also lasted over 11 hours on our battery test, officially making it the longest-lasting gaming laptop we've tested. And if that isn't enough to convince you, Asus has added a funky LED light show to the lid so you can create custom graphics or messages for the world to see.
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.
Strong performance and long battery life, the Acer Aspire 5 has a lot to offer at a seriously affordable price. Powered by an Intel Core i3 processor and integrated graphics, the Aspire 5 is a great choice for light productivity, checking your social media pages or watching a video or two. Speaking of which, the notebook has a bright 15.6-inch display with decent sound. And with close to 9 hours of battery life, the Aspire 5 will have plenty of juice in the tank to get through a workday.
The Acer Aspire 5 is the laptop to get if you're on a budget. The laptop held its own on most of our benchmark tests and even excelled at a few. And despite the price, you get a premium aesthetic It and great performance. You also get a display that's brighter than most cheap laptops, and it'll survive longer than your average workday.
See our full Acer Aspire 5 review.
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.
Light shows, awesome graphics performance and long battery life. The Alienware 15 is a gaming, virtual reality and multitasking machine, thanks to its 8th Gen Intel Core i7 processor and Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 Max-Q GPU. If that wasn't enough, the notebook is outfitted with a customizable backlit keyboard and a luminous, -colorful display with a stunning OLED display. The Alienware 15 also has an integrated eye tracker and Alienware's revamped Control Center.
Everything's better with OLED. Don't believe me? Then you need to take a gander at the latest Alienware m15 and its captivating 4K display with its sumptuous color, sharp details and clear contrasts. And if you manage to peel your eyes away from this panel, there's the strong Intel Core i7 processor and Nvidia RTX discrete graphics that deliver good performance on a par with the competition.
See our Alienware m15 OLED (2019) review.
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.
The Dell G5 15 SE (2020) is one of the first gaming laptops to pack all new AMD hardware, but does the new tech live up to the hype? The answer is yes. This top-ranking laptop blows its competitors out of the water. Especially when you consider that it's equipped with a colorful, 15.6-inch display and delivers over 7 hours of battery life, making it one of our longest lasting laptops. This notebook is a certified steal for the price.
The Dell G5 15 SE (2020) is a great mainstream gaming laptop thanks to its wild CPU performance, awesome battery life and bright 15.6-inch display. When it comes to overall performance, the G5 15 is at the head of its class in its price range. And the AMD GPU delivers great performance as well.
See our full Dell G5 15 SE (2020) review.
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.
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.
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.
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.
OLED panels are creeping their way into more and more laptops, and they especially shine on gaming laptops like the Gigabyte Aero 15 OLED. The Aero 15 offers an excellent 4K OLED panel, a super comfortable keyboard and solid performance to boot, all packed into a sleek aluminum chassis.
The Gigabyte Aero 15 OLED is a solid performer with a gorgeous 4K OLED panel, it's comfortable to type on and it's all wrapped in a sleek, 0.8-inch package. In addition, you get a comfortable keyboard and great overall and graphics performance thanks to the system’s Intel Core i7 CPU and Nvidia RTX 2070 Max-Q GPU. Despite some minor flaws, the Aero 15 OLED also made our short list of best gaming laptops.
See our full Gigabyte Aero 15 OLED review.
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.
MSI is breaking back into the workstation game with a straight-up champion, the WS65 9TM. The laptop packs a powerful 9th Gen Core i7 processor and Nvidia Quadro RTX 5000 Max-Q GPU into a super-slim, durable chassis. Top that off with solid battery life and a gorgeous 17.3-inch, 4K display and you've got one of the best workstations around.
The MSI WS65 9TM is more than capable of handling anything you can throw at it as evidenced strong performance that gave it the edge during our testing. The laptop is built for advanced computations, 3D rendering and everything in between. It's got solid battery life and a bangin' 4K display, stuffed it into an incredibly slim, military-tested frame. We're also big fans of its speedy SSD which serves up fast transfer speeds. Overall, it's one of the best workstations around.
See our full MSI WS65 9TM review.
We never thought we'd see the day when a gaming laptop delivered longer battery life than a traditional notebook. But today is that day, thanks to the Asus ROG Zephyrus G14. There's almost nothing that this baby can't do, 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.
Do you want 11-plus hours of battery life and killer performance? Oh, and a bright display topped with a comfortable keyboard and strong speakers? You just can't beat the Asus ROG Zephyrus G14. Between its killer AMD performance and epic battery life, the Zephyrus G14 is the gaming laptop to beat.
See our full Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 review.
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.