Which laptop is best?
Manufacturers have gone to great lengths to not only ensure that laptops are powerful, efficient and lightweight, but also that their cases, keyboards, displays and touch controls are all durable and easy to use. As a result, it can be hard to wade through all the great options to find the one that’s right for you.
Our top choice laptop is the Dell XPS series. It comes in multiple sizes and each version offers high-end components and a premium design.
What to know before you buy a laptop computer
Some laptops pack nearly as much performance as desktop PCs, but not everyone needs that much firepower. Similarly, there are some high-end and surprisingly lightweight models in large sizes, but not all users need that much real estate or want to carry around a large laptop. If you’ll be using it mostly for everyday tasks like word processing and web browsing, there are many affordable options. Gamers will want to focus on performance-grade internals and high-refresh-rate screens. Photo and video editors have an entirely different set of needs and should look for something with moderate processing power and, above all, a bright, colorful and accurate display.
Notebooks can be slim and light. Even some 16- and 17-inch models, like the impressively lightweight and high-performance LG Gram, are remarkably portable. There’s also a good selection of models with durable, metal cases and verified military-grade durability. The slimmest and lightest laptops tend to cost quite a bit if you want one with top-of-the-line components, but sacrificing just a bit of performance can bring the price.
What to look for in a quality laptop computer
It’s tough to tell the difference between the wide variety of CPUs in the laptop space. There are two main options: Intel or AMD.
Intel Core i3 CPUs are pretty underpowered for anything aside from casual use. Core i5 CPUs are now mostly quad-core designs, which are great for a wide range of uses. Core i7 processors run with additional cores and increased performance, but come with a significant price jump.
AMD has fewer CPUs on the market. The Ryzen 5 and 7 lines are the most popular and the Ryzen 7 APU offers enough processing power to play relatively resource-intensive games. Both the Ryzen 4000 and 5000 series CPUs are powerful, efficient and can help you save a bit vs. comparable Intel configurations.
Despite Microsoft’s recommended minimum of 64GB of storage, Windows laptops should have at least 128GB of storage inside. It’s also recommended to go with one that has solid-state storage instead of a hard drive, as a traditional hard drive will greatly bottleneck the performance of the rest of the components. Storage sizes above 512GB tend to come at notably higher prices.
Look for at least 8GB, but 16GB is great for future-proofing or high-end gaming. Luckily, the latest laptop computers are usually offered with an 8GB option.
How much you can expect to spend on a laptop computer
The most affordable Windows laptops are around $500, but you can spend as much as $2,500 on an ultra-premium machine with powerful components.
Laptop computer FAQ
Are the new MacBooks good?
A. Apple’s latest line of MacBooks use an impressive in-house developed system-on-a-chip. They’re engineered for high performance due in part to their streamlined operating system and tightly controlled software and hardware ecosystem.
MacBooks are excellent machines, both trendy and somewhat niche at the same time. The Apple MacBook Air is one of the best ultraportables on the market, as long as you like using Apple products. Similarly, the Apple MacBook Pro adds an extra level of power. They are easy to use and have industry-leading display panels. The drawbacks to MacBooks are that they don’t play nicely with many Windows programs and they’re pricier.
Should I get a gaming laptop?
A. It depends. Gaming laptops have been affected by the ongoing worldwide microchip shortage and are currently a more expensive investment than is typical. But, if you want a gaming laptop’s power you can find some options that are worth the cost.
What’s the best laptop computer to buy?
Top laptop computer
What you need to know: A longtime favorite of enthusiasts, this premium line offers high performance, is lightweight and has a great screen.
What you’ll love: It comes in 13-, 15- and 17-inch versions with a variety of configuration options. The top CPU class sports Intel’s advanced Xe integrated GPU that can play games fluidly. It’s durable and dependable.
What you should consider: There’s very little to dislike about the XPS lineup, although dedicated gamers will want to look elsewhere for something with a discrete GPU.
Top laptop computer for the money
What you need to know: The Swift 3 boasts a slim construction and good performance at a reasonable price.
What you’ll love: Built around AMD’s impressively efficient Ryzen APU, this well-made laptop is offered in a few configurations. The 4500U or 4700U versions with 8GB of RAM will easily be powerful enough for most users.
What you should consider: Some users are frustrated by the off-center touchpad and the quality of the keyboard.
Worth checking out
What you need to know: This gaming notebook has good hardware and ample memory.
What you’ll love: The 17-inch version of the ROG Strix gaming laptop comes with either an RTX 3060 GPU and 144Hz display or an RTX 3070 chipset with a 300Hz panel. Both feature a Full HD resolution, and at 17 inches that’s roughly the same pixel density as most 4K TVs. The Ryzen 9 5900HX inside is one of the most efficient laptop GPUs ever produced.
What you should consider: There are other laptops with good systems that are less expensive.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
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Chris Thomas writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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