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Best college laptops in 2020: Best laptops for students

best college laptops - HP Envy 13

If you're a student, you'll want one of the best college laptops so you can ace your exams then stream TV or play games when it's time to relax. But with so many choices at so many different prices, it can be homework in itself to find out the very best laptops for students. 

When you're buying a laptop for school, make sure it has long battery life and fast CPU performance. And if you prefer to take notes by hand, buy one of the best 2-in-1 laptops. We're still in a process of reviewing some laptops that could find their way on this list, so be sure to check back in regularly for the latest and great laptops for students. 

Whichever laptop you get, you'll also want to pick up a few extras, such as a comfortable mouse, a well-appointed backpack and perhaps a solid all-in-one printer. Without further ado, here are the best college laptops, including some budget picks for those dreading tuition payments. 

Black Friday 2020

Black Friday kicks off on November 27 and we expect to see tons of deals on the industry’s best laptops from now until then. Be sure to bookmark our Black Friday laptop deals page for this year’s exclusive deals on laptops. 

What is the best college laptop?

We feel strongly about the Envy 13 and the Envy x360 13 2-in-1 as the best laptops for college students. Not everyone is on a budget, but most folks will want to save as much money as possible so they can pay off student loans. If you're in this group, the Envy 13 and Envy x360 13 deliver premium specs and features at a reasonable, sub-$1,000 price. 

The Envy 13 might be a mid-range notebook but it looks and feels of a more premium machine. The Envy also delivers fast performance, it has a great screen, and it's portable enough to carry around campus. Then there's the Envy 13 x360, which has all of those traits but is assisted by AMD's powerful new Ryzen 4000 CPUs. 

If your budget is a bit more flexible, consider buying the Envy's more premium sibling, the Spectre x360 13. This gorgeous device gets you the convenience of a 2-in-1 laptop, more power and an overall fancier chassis. Similarly, the XPS 13 2-in-1 and Yoga C940 are great 2-in-1 laptops for college students. 

Apple fans who prefer macOS should opt for the new MacBook Air or MacBook Pro. The Air is a good choice for those on a budget but the 13-inch MacBook Pro (13-inch) delivers much faster performance. If you don't have a budget and need a powerful machine for crunching numbers or designing 3D models, consider the 16-inch MacBook Pro or the Dell XPS 15. You could also go big on the Dell XPS 17, the best 17-inch laptop around. 

We should also point out that Intel has new 11th Gen Tiger Lake CPUs, which will power the next fleet of laptops going from 2020 into 2021. Top models, including the Dell XPS 13, Asus ExpertBook B9, Acer Swift 7 and Asus ZenBook S are already confirmed to launch in the coming months with the new chips. Along with performance gains, 11th Gen CPUs should deliver surprisingly capable gaming performance from the integrated Iris Xe graphics.  

Best laptop for college: HP Envy 13 (2019)

A premium package at a surprisingly affordable price, the HP Envy 13 is the best college laptop. 

1. HP Envy 13 (2019)

The best overall laptop

CPU: Intel Core i5/Core i7 | GPU: Intel UHD Graphics 620/Nvidia GeForce MX250 | RAM: 8GB/16GB | Storage: 256GB/512GB/1TB | Display: 13.3-inch, 1080p or 4K | Size: 12.1 x 8.3 x 0.6 inches | Weight: 2.8 pounds

Attractive, portable chassis
Fast performance
Bright display
11+ hours of battery life (FHD model)
No Thunderbolt 3

The best laptop for students is now better than ever. Refreshed with a new design, powerful speakers and useful security features, the new HP Envy 13 is the best sub-$1,000 laptop for students or anyone who needs a portable machine with loads of power and long battery life (11+ hours on the FHD model). 

New to the 2019 version is a fingerprint sensor and a webcam kill switch that shuts power to the camera so you don't have to worry about people snooping on you. Combine those features with a sleek chassis, bright 4K or 1080p display and plenty of performance from 8th Gen Core i5 and Core i7 CPUs, and it's easy to see why the Envy 13 is the best college laptop for students. And frankly, given that this is a budget laptop compared to many of the others on this list, the Envy 13 is an awesome choice. 

See our full HP Envy 13 review

Dell XPS 13 (2020)

The best overall laptop, the Dell XPS 13 is the best college laptop for science students.  (Image credit: Future)

2. Dell XPS 13 (2020)

The best premium Windows 10 laptop

CPU: Intel Core i3/Core i5/Core i7 (10th Gen) | GPU: Intel Iris Plus | RAM: 8GB/16GB | Storage: 256GB/512GB/1TB/2TB | Display: 13.4-inch, 1920 x 1200 or 4K | Size: 11.6 x 7.8 x 0.6 inches | Weight: 2.8 pounds

Attractive, premium chassis
Powerful performance
No bezels whatsoever
Excellent battery life
Lacks legacy ports

The Dell XPS 13 is a serious workhorse and the best premium laptop for college students. Powered by a 10th Gen Intel Core i7 processor with integrated Intel graphics, the notebook is ready for work or play. And with over 12 hours of battery life, you've got plenty of time for both, The notebook consistently performed either better or on a par with competing systems.

But rest assured, the laptop is just as pretty as it is powerful. The company managed to make a laptop that's smaller and lighter than previous models. Despite the smaller size, Dell added some big changes, including a larger trackpad and keyboard. Plus, you get a 13.4-inch, near-bezelless display on every side –– the first in the world to do so. 

It's an exercise in patient restraint, improving the notebook in a bunch of small ways that add up to a big leap for the system. If you're looking for the total package, the Dell XPS 13 is the laptop for you. 

See our full Dell XPS 13 (2020) review.

The HP Envy x360 13 is the best laptop for under $1,000, offering similar benefits to the Spectre at a lower price.

The HP Envy x360 13 is the best laptop for under $1,000, offering similar benefits to the Spectre at a lower price. (Image credit: Laptop Mag)

3. HP Envy x360 13 (2020)

The best 2-in-1 laptop

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

Outstanding performance
1080p display is bright and vivid
Stylish and compact aluminum design
Long battery life
No IR camera

The HP Envy x360 13 is the best laptop for under $1,000 and one of the best Ultrabooks on the market. While it doesn't come with a stylus (neither does the Surface Pro), the Envy is a 2-in-1, which lets you flip it into tent or tablet mode. What makes this such a fantastic value is its entirely aluminum design and Herculian AMD Ryzen processors. 

In our testing, we found that an Envy x360 13 with a Ryzen 5 4500U CPU can outperform laptops with 10th Gen Intel chips. This specific Envy costs just $800 and can outmuscle laptops that cost well over $1,000, including the exorbitant MacBook Pro. Moreover, the Envy x360 13 has a bright, vivid 13.3-inch display and a comfortable keyboard. 

There is very little we don't like about the Envy x360. If you can get over the lack of a Thunderbolt 3 port and IR camera, then it is the ultimate money-saving laptop.

See our HP Envy x360 13 (2020) review

MacBook Air 2020

Apple's new MacBook Air for 2020 improves upon its predecessor with a better keyboard and 10th Gen CPUs (Image credit: Future)

4. Apple MacBook Air (2020)

The best 13-inch Apple laptop

CPU: Intel Core i3/i5/i7 (Y-series) | GPU: Intel Iris Plus | RAM: 8GB/16GB | Storage: 256GB/512GB/1TB/2TB | Display: 13.3-inch, 2560 x 1600-pixel | Size: 11.9 x 8.4 x 0.6 inches | Weight: 2.8 pounds

Sleek design
Great battery life
Powerful sound
Magic keyboard is clicky and comfy
Underwhelming performance

If you prefer macOS to Windows 10, then there's only one 13-inch laptop you should consider: the Apple MacBook Air (starting at $999). The biggest improvement to this year's model is the new keyboard, which fixes all the issues we had with the previous Butterfly version. 

Other improvements include more powerful 10th Gen Y-series processors and a superfast SSD. The 13.3-inch Retina display is still a sight to behold, and the MacBook Air remains the sleekest laptop in Apple's lineup. 

Of course, you still get everything that makes Apple's laptops so popular: a gorgeous unibody aluminum design, good speakers and solid battery life. In the end, the MacBook Air is a great laptop for students and the best choice for those who prefer macOS over Windows.

See our full Apple MacBook Air (2020) review.

Beautiful, powerful and flexible, the HP Spectre x360 is the best 2-in-1 college laptop for students. 

Beautiful, powerful and flexible, the HP Spectre x360 is the best 2-in-1 college laptop for students.  (Image credit: Laptop Mag)

5. HP Spectre x360 (Late 2019)

The best 2-in-1 laptop

CPU: Core i5/Core i7 | GPU: Intel Iris Plus | RAM: 8GB/16GB | Storage: 256GB/512GB/1TB | Display: 13.3-inch, 1080p or 4K | Size: 12.1 x 7.7 x 0.7 inches | Weight: 2.7 pounds

Stunning, ultraportable design
Epic battery life
Bright, vivid display with thinner bezels
Fast overall performance
Lots of bloatware
Shrill speakers at max volume

The Spectre x360 13 is the best 2-in-1 laptop ever and one of the best college laptops for students with about $1,000 to spare. Updated with a 10th Gen CPU and a more modern design, the Spectre x360 13 is improved in almost every way over its excellent predecessor. Our only reservation about buying it is that the Envy x360 13 delivers much of the same but at a lower price. 

Highlights of this laptop include its stunning design, a bright 1080p display, epic 13+ hour battery life and fast overall performance. You also get a webcam kill switch for shutting out snooping creeps and a super comfortable keyboard. 

See our HP Spectre x360 13 (Late 2019) review

Lenovo's Yoga C940 (14-inch) refines a proven formula, making it one of the best laptops for college students.

Lenovo's Yoga C940 (14-inch) refines a proven formula, making it one of the best laptops for college students. (Image credit: Laptop Mag)

6. Lenovo Yoga C940

Another excellent 2-in-1 consumer laptop

CPU: Up to Intel Core i7-1065G7 | GPU: Intel Iris Plus | RAM: Up to 16GB | Storage: Up to 2TB | Display: 14-inch, 1080p or 4K | Size: 12.6 x 8.5 x 0.6 inches | Weight: 3.1 pounds

Slim, premium design
Beautiful 4K display
Fast performance
Crisp, dynamic speakers
Below-average battery life (on 4K model)

With the Yoga C940, Lenovo took a proven formula and refined it. Subtle design improvements, longer battery life (up to 11:46) and refreshed 10th Gen Intel processors make the Yoga C940 a worthy successor to last year's excellent Yoga C930 and one of the best student laptops.

As you'd expect from a Yoga-series laptop, the C940 has a premium, ultra-portable chassis and a unique hinge that doubles as a soundbar speaker. As a 2-in-1, that hinge can rotate 360-degrees to convert the Yoga C940 into a proper tablet. When it comes to viewing content, the Yoga C940's 1080p and 4K displays are crisp, vibrant and bright -- just beware, the UHD display drains the battery. 

For all the basics it gets right, my favorite things about the Yoga C940 are its extra features. Those include a webcam cover (no more need to buy tape), a slot for the included stylus and a fingerprint sensor. 

See our Lenovo Yoga C940 (14-inch) review.

MacBook Pro (13-inches, 2020)

(Image credit: Future)

7. Apple MacBook Pro (13-inch, 2020)

Best business laptop for macOS power users

CPU: Intel Core i5-1030NG7 | GPU: Intel Iris Plus | RAM: 16GB | Storage: 512GB | Display: 13.3-inch, 2560 x 1600 | Size: 12 x 8.4 x 0.6 inches | Weight: 3.1 pounds

Elegant design
Solid performance
Great keyboard
Excellent SSD speeds
Thick bezels

The MacBook Pro 13-inch brings mostly incremental changes to a tried-and-true formula and that's OK. Why? Because the Butterfly keyboard is finally gone. Yes, the uncomfortable unreliable keys have been replaced by the Magic Keyboard, which is a fancy name for the old scissor-style switch used before Apple went experimental. The new keys are much more comfortable to type on. 

With those shackles no longer holding back the MacBook Pro, this laptops shines. It has the same aluminum design we've all come to know and love. And while it's a bit hefty and the bezels need trimming, the laptop still feels elegant. Performance is another area where the MacBook Pro excels. At least the higher-end version we tested, which packs 10th Gen Intel Core CPUs. Add in a blisteringly fast SSD and powerful speakers, and the MacBook Pro is an awesome college laptop for students who prefer macOS over Windows. 

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

Acer Swift 3 AMD Ryzen 7 4700U

You don't need to spend a fortune on a laptop on top of your college tuition. Acer's Aspire 5 is the best college laptop for under $400.  (Image credit: Future)

8. Acer Swift 3 (2020, AMD Ryzen)

Best laptop for the price

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

Herculean performance
A beastly multitasker
Clicky keyboard
Fingerprint scanner
Dim display

If you want blistering performance at a budget price, look no further than the Acer Swift 3 with AMD Ryzen CPUs. This $649 laptop can outperform the Dell XPS 13 and even make a run at the MacBook Pro. It's really all about the Ryzen 7 4700U CPU inside, which trounces its Intel opposites in raw performance.

We also like the Swift 3's clicky keyboard, which was comfortable to type on thanks to the springy feedback. You also get a fingerprint reader on the deck for quick login and the chassis is made of aluminum and magnesium, not plastic. Our biggest beef with the Swift 3 is the dim and dull display. If that isn't a concern for you, the Swift 3 is an excellent choice at a reasonable price.

See our full Acer Swift 3 (2020, AMD) review.

Lenovo's ThinkPad X1 Carbon is, once again, the best business laptop thanks to its sleek design and fast performance. 

Lenovo's ThinkPad X1 Carbon is, once again, the best business laptop thanks to its sleek design and fast performance.  (Image credit: Laptop Mag)

9. Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (8th Gen)

Best laptop for business students

CPU: 10th Gen Intel Core i5/Core i7 | GPU: Intel UHD | RAM: 8GB/16GB | Storage: 256GB/512GB/1TB SSD | Display: 14-inch, 1080p or 4K | Size: 12.7 x 8.5 x 0.6 inches | Weight: 2.4 pounds

Slim, lightweight design
Bright, vibrant 1080p and 4K display options
Class-leading keyboard
Fast performance
Weak graphics

Lenovo didn't make many changes to our favorite business laptop but the new ThinkPad X1 Carbon now flaunts Intel 10th Gen CPUs. On top of delivering fast performance, you get long battery life (on the 1080p model) and two gorgeous, 1080p and 4K display options, all in an impossibly lightweight chassis (2.4 pounds). 

But it's still those classic ThinkPad features —  a durable design (with MIL-STD-810G strength), best-in-class keyboard and stealthy black/red aesthetics — that carry the X1 Carbon to greatness.

Yes, we wish the ThinkPad X1 Carbon hadn't ditched the SD card reader in the previous, and top configurations can get very expensive, but you'd be hard-pressed to find a better overall business machine.

If you want a 2-in-1 laptop with business features, consider the ThinkPad X1 Yoga (5th Gen).

See our full Lenovo ThinkPad Carbon X1 (8th Gen) review.

Google Pixelbook Go

Google Pixelbook Go (Image credit: Laptop Mag)

10. Google Pixelbook Go

The best Chromebook

CPU: Intel Core i5-8200Y | GPU: Intel UHD 615 | RAM: 8GB | Storage: 128GB | Display: 13.3-inch, 1080p | Size: 12.2 x 8.1 x 0.5 inches | Weight: 2.3 pounds

Superslim design
Bright, colorful display
Great battery life
Solid performance
Lackluster speakers

The Google Pixelbook Go is a fantastic laptop for students because you get the same sleek elegance as the Pixelbook but at a much lower cost. Starting at $649, the Pixelbook Go is among the cheapest laptops on this list, yet it delivers a lightweight chassis, fast performance and epic battery life. 

More classrooms are shifting to Chromebooks, so the Pixelbook Go should feel familiar to students. It's an easy-to-use, lightweight operating system centered around the Chrome browser. What makes the Pixelbook Go such a good option is that it's durable and powerful enough to survive for several years, so buy it for your freshman child and it should last him through high school graduation and into college.

See our full Google Pixelbook Go review

Best Cheap Gaming Laptops: Lenovo Legion Y545

With its understated good looks, surprising powerful gaming and overall performance and comfortable keyboard, the Lenovo Legion Y545 is our top cheap gaming laptop. (Image credit: Future)

11. Lenovo Legion Y545

The best cheap gaming laptop for students

CPU: 2.2-GHz Intel Core i7-9750H CPU | GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Ti GPU with 6GB of VRAM | RAM/Storage: 16GB/128GB SSD | Display Size/Resolution: 15.6/1920 x 1080

Elegant, understated design
Great gaming and overall performance
Comfortable keyboard
Below-average battery life
Runs hot when gaming

The Lenovo Legion Y545 offers strong gaming and overall performance with understated, business-ready looks — all for an affordable price. Thanks to an Nvidia GTX 1660 Ti GPU and an Intel Core i7 CPU, the Legion Y545 is the best cheap gaming laptop, keeping its competitors at bay. Instead of a flashy light show, Lenovo opted for an sophisticated, subtle design, allowing it to fit in an office setting or a LAN party. 

The laptop’s discrete Nvidia graphics chip serves up a surprising amount of power, with above-average results. And when you’re not gaming, the laptop’s Core i7 processor is more than capable of allowing you to create spreadsheets, do some light video-editing and, of course, watch some movies on the beautiful 1080p display. And despite its price, the laptop also delivers a comfortable keyboard and excellent audio. In short, it's the cheap gaming laptop to beat. 

See our full Lenovo Legion Y545 review.

Dell XPS 15 (2020) review

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

12. Dell XPS 15

The best 15-inch for college

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

Bright, vivid, super high-res display
Great overall and graphics performance
Good battery life for a 4K laptop
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 an 10th Gen Intel Core i7 Comet Lake H-Series processor and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 Ti. The laptop dominated on 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.

If you like what the XPS 15 offers but need an even larger display, consider the Dell XPS 17.

See our Dell XPS 15 (2020) review.

Apple macbook pro 16-inch 2019

Students who want an Apple laptop with loads of power should splurge on the 16-inch MacBook Pro, the best college laptop for film and animation students.  (Image credit: Laptop Mag)

13. Apple MacBook Pro (16-inch, 2019)

Best laptop for film and animation students

CPU: Intel Core i7/Core i9 | GPU: Radeon Pro 5300M/5500M | RAM: 16GB/32GB/64GB | Storage: 512GB/1TB/2TB/4TB/8TB | Display: 16-inch, 2072 x 1920 | Size: 14.1 x 9.7 x 0.6 inches | Weight: 4.3 pounds

Radically improved Magic Keyboard
Immersive 16-inch display with slimmer bezels
Powerful 6-speaker audio
No full-size USB port or SD card slot
Pricey

 The 16-inch MacBook Pro is just your type if you’ve been waiting for Apple to make a better keyboard. The Magic Keyboard on this premium laptop ditches the Butterfly mechanism in favor of a scissor switch, and the result is a much more comfortable typing experience. You also get a bright and sharp 16-inch display with slimmer bezels, powerful performance from an available Core i9 CPU and robust AMD Radeon 5300M or 5500M graphics. 

You also get up to 64GB of RAM and 8TB of storage if you really want to splurge. The 11 hours of battery life is another plus on this laptop, dwarfing the runtimes of its competitors. The 16-inch MacBook Pro is pricey, and Apple still doesn’t include full-size USB ports, but overall this is a very formidable workstation for creative pros. 

See our full Apple MacBook Pro (16-inch, 2019) review.

Asus ZenBook 13

Asus ZenBook 13 (UX334FLC) (Image credit: Kimberly Gedeon/Future)

14. Asus ZenBook 13 (UX334FLC)

A great ultraportable for college students

CPU: Intel Core i7-10510U CPU | GPU: Intel UHD 620/GeForce MX250 | RAM: 16GB | Storage: 512GB | Display: 13.3-inch, 1080p | Size: 11.9 x 7.4 x 0.8 inches | Weight: 2.8 pounds

Attractive chassis
Military-grade durability
Touchpad doubles as a mini-display
Nice variety of ports
Dim display

The Asus ZenBook 13 UX334FLC is a gorgeous, premium laptop that offers fast performance at a reasonable price. For $1,149, you get an Intel Core i7-10510U CPU, 16GB of RAM, 512GB SSD and GeForce MX250 graphics -- only the Envy 13 can compete with this value, making the ZenBook UX333FA one of the best budget laptops for college students.

But perhaps the best reason to buy the budget ZenBook 13 UX333FA is for its 9+ hours of battery life. Combine that exceptional endurance with a sleek aluminum chassis and it's easy to see why the ZenBook 13 is one of the best college laptops for students. 

See our full Asus ZenBook 13 UX334FLC review

Acer Chromebook Spin 713 review

Samsung Galaxy Chromebook Flex 15 (Image credit: Laptop Mag)

15. Acer Chromebook Spin 713

Best Chromebook for most college kids

CPU: Intel Core i5-10210U | GPU: Intel UHD | RAM: 8GB | Storage: 128GB | Display: 13.5-inch, 2256 x 1504 | Size: 11.8 x 9.3 x 0.7 inches | Weight: 3.0 pounds

Bright, colorful touch screen
Exceptional battery life
Speedy performance
Versatile form factor
Shallow keyboard

If you're a Chrome OS users who want more flexibility than what the Google Pixelbook Go offers, then don't hesitate to buy the Acer Chromebook Spin 713. This excellent 2-in-1 laptop costs only $629 yet it delivers a gorgeous 13.5-inch display and fast performance thanks to its Intel Core i5-10210U CPU. 

Better yet, with a battery life of nearly 12 hours, the Chromebook Spin 713 will last you an entire school day as you bounce from one class to the next. The laptop's flexible design means you can use it to draw, take hand-written notes, or quickly share a project with a classmate by folding the display back. 

Given its flexible design, fast performance, gorgeous display and outstanding battery life, the Chromebook Spin 713 is a top laptop for all students from K-12 and into college. 

See our full Acer Chromebook Spin 713 review

How to choose the best college laptop for you

There are a number of factors students should consider before buying a laptop for college. 

The first is portability, which goes hand-in-hand with screen size. 13-inch laptops are popular among college students because they offer a good balance between screen real estate and portability. The Dell XPS 13 is a great example. It weighs around 2 pounds and is just 0.5 inches thick, yet you get a 13.3-inch edge-to-edge display.  We're also seeing more and more 14-inch laptops, like the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon, which is remarkably portable for the screen size. 

Battery life is another key component of any good college laptop. If you plan to take the notebook to class or the library, don't count on there being an outlet!  Consider a laptop that gets at least 9 hours of battery life, which should be enough to get you through a couple of classes with enough juice for studies. 

When it comes to specs, we recommend buying a laptop with an Intel U-series or H-series Core i5 CPU, at least 8GB of RAM (16GB is great) and a minimum of 256GB of storage. AMD is coming in hot with its 4000-series chips, so keep an eye out for those. You might notice that the new MacBook Air 2020 doesn't fit those requirements (it has a low-power Y-series CPU) but it's still a good option if you prefer macOS and don't want to spend a fortune. Speaking of which, Chromebooks like the Pixelbook Go offer excellent value for college students. 

Other things that will help you punch up a successful report or research complex topics include a comfy keyboard and sensitive touchpad. And when it's time to relax, be sure to get a laptop with a vivid and bright display (like any of those listed here). 

How we test laptops

We put each laptop through extensive benchmark testing — both synthetic and real-world — before they end up in the hands of our reviewers. We evaluate each aspect of the laptop, including its performance, battery life, display, speakers and heat management.

In our benchmark testing, we use a Klein K10 colorimeter to detect the brightness and sRGB color gamut of the laptop's display. For performance testing, we run the laptop through a gauntlet of benchmarks, including Geekbench 4.3 and 5.0 and 3DMark professional graphics tests. 

To determine real-world performance, we task the laptop to convert a 4K video to 1080p resolution and to duplicate a 4.97GB multimedia file. Our real-world graphics test is the Dirt 3 benchmark with medium settings at 1080p resolution. 

We also run heat tests by playing a 15-minute full-screen video and measuring temperatures in different areas of the laptop. Last but not least, our battery test consists of continuous web surfing over Wi-Fi at 150 nits of brightness. For MacBooks and premium Windows 10 laptops, a runtime of over 9 hours is considered a good result whereas gaming laptops and workstations that can stay powered for longer than 5 hours deserve praise. 

These tests are complemented with extensive hands-on testing from our reviewers who critique everything from the laptop's materials to the feel of its touchpad.