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Published Mar. 16, 2022

The best laptops pack excellent performance, portability, and comfort into a sleek device. While smartphones and tablets are convenient and practical, in many cases, a laptop is the best tool for the job. Whether it’s for writing emails, browsing the web, gaming, or editing photos and videos, there’s a laptop up for the task. 

It’s hard to find a truly bad laptop nowadays (especially when shopping from reputable brands) but the best laptops are a cut above, offering even better performance and comfort. There are plenty of high-quality laptops available at a range of price points and with a variety of features. Read on to learn more about what features to look for when shopping for a new laptop, plus explore the best laptops for browsing, productivity, and play.

How We Selected These Products 

Methodology 

When it comes to laptops, shoppers are spoiled for choice with a variety of budget-friendly and high-performance options available. We considered over 35 laptops to narrow down our top picks, choosing from ultra-portable notebooks, reliable workstations, and powerful gaming machines. 

We evaluated laptops according to their performance, portability, and user-friendliness. Features like the laptop’s processor, RAM, storage capacity, and battery life were taken into consideration. Size and weight determined portability (although we also chose some less portable options for their powerful performance). When evaluating user-friendliness, we considered the laptop’s operating system and design, which includes its ergonomics and durability. 

These specifications can vary widely across different laptop types and models. Price tends to be a good indicator of performance (a higher price generally comes with better specifications—although that doesn’t mean a more expensive laptop is better for every user). But not every shopper wants or needs to spend a lot to get a suitable laptop. To even the playing field, we judged the laptop’s specs against its cost to determine the top performers. This allowed us to choose the best laptops for a range of users and budgets. 

The Best Laptops: Reviews & Recommendations

Best Laptop Overall: Apple MacBook Air

Why It Made The Cut: The ​​Apple MacBook Air (2020) is a great laptop for general users and some professionals, packing impressive features into a beautiful design, all at a reasonable price. 

Specs:

  • Display Size: 13.3 Inches
  • RAM: 8GB
  • Storage Capacity: 256GB or 512GB

Pros:

  • Apple’s M1 Processor offers excellent performance 
  • Very portable
  • Silent operation 
  • Fantastic battery life

Cons: 

  • Minimal ports 

Apple’s 2020 MacBook Air is one of the brand’s most impressive offerings to date. This upgraded Air features Apple’s M1 processor, which provides speedy performance (significantly faster than past MacBook Airs) without sacrificing battery life — and with up to 18 hours of battery life, this laptop is a top performer.  

This lightweight laptop is excellent for browsing the web and working, as well as some heavy-duty activities, including video editing and some gaming. At a reasonable price point, it’s an excellent choice for general users and some professionals (heavy-duty users might want to consider a MacBook Pro instead).

The base model has 8GB of RAM and 256GB or 512GB of storage (configurable to 16GB of RAM and up to 2TB of SSD storage). The base model is suitable for a wide range of users. Of course, it runs Apple’s user-friendly Mac OS operating system, but this updated MacBook can also run iOS apps for iPhones and iPads to open a whole new world of apps.  

These specs are packaged in a sleek design (weighing in at just 2.8 pounds) with the simple and durable build quality that Apple is known for. A 13.3-inch Retina display offers sharp and bold text and images. This laptop is Apple’s thinnest and lightest notebook and features a fanless design for silent operation, so you can work or play from anywhere.

Best Budget Laptop: Lenovo IdeaPad 3 (14-inch AMD)

Lenovo

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Why It Made The Cut: This durable laptop packs in excellent features for a reasonable price, making it the best budget pick for everyday computing tasks. 

Specs:

  • Display Size: 14 inches
  • RAM: 8GB
  • Storage Capacity: 256GB

Pros:

  • Reasonable price 
  • Decent connectivity options 
  • Durable and attractive build
  • Built-in webcam privacy shutter

Cons: 

  • Not great for heavy-duty use 
  • Mediocre built-in speakers

While impressive specs can draw shoppers in, they’re not always necessary for casual computer users. For answering emails, browsing the web, creating documents and spreadsheets, and streaming shows, the Lenovo IdeaPad 3 is a more than suitable choice for many. This laptop is powerful enough to handle a range of tasks without breaking the bank. 

With a lightweight and attractive design, this laptop is made for daily computing tasks. To handle everyday needs, this laptop has an AMD Ryzen 5 5500U mobile processor and 8GB of RAM (another version with an Intel Core i3-1005G1 Processor with 4GB of RAM is also available). This model’s 256GB of storage capacity is plenty for storing documents, family photos and videos, and other personal data. It runs on the Windows 11 operating system, so it’s a great choice for professionals and students.   

A 14-inch full-HD screen offers decent visuals and intelligent thermals keep the laptop cool while you’re working, browsing, or streaming. This laptop has a decent 7.5-hour battery life and features a USB, USB-C, HDMI, and an SD card port for versatile built-in connectivity. 

Although this laptop comes at a budget price, it doesn’t have a low-end feel. It’s still made of plastic (like many cheaper laptops), but it boasts a sturdy and attractive construction. 

Best for Productivity: Microsoft Surface Laptop 4

Microsoft

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Why It Made The Cut: Powerful performance, a fantastic battery life, a comfortable keyboard, and a convenient touchscreen make this laptop an outstanding choice for productivity. 

Specs:

  • Display Size: 13.5 inches
  • RAM: 8GB – 32GB
  • Storage Capacity: 256GB – 1TB

Pros:

  • Several models to choose from to suit a range of needs
  • Sleek design and great build quality
  • Excellent battery life
  • Responsive keyboard and touchscreen 

Cons: 

  • Limited ports 

A work laptop carries a lot of responsibility, so you’ll want a reliable and high-performing pick. The Microsoft Surface Laptop 4 is a flexible choice, suitable for a range of everyday and professional uses. 

Microsoft offers several versions of this laptop: shoppers can choose between an AMD Ryzen 5 to 7 or 11th-generation Intel Core i5 to i7 processor, 8GB to 32GB of RAM, and 256GB to 1TB of storage capacity. This offers flexibility for a wide range of professions, so you can find the ideal model for creating word documents and spreadsheets or for editing high-quality photos and videos. As expected, this laptop runs on Windows operating system (Windows 10). 

Not only does this laptop boast great specs, it’s also comfortable to use (a must if you’re working away all day). It has a nice, tactile keyboard and a convenient touchscreen display with a 3:2 ratio, ideal for working on documents. This laptop also has a built-in USB-A, USB-C, and headphone jack. This port selection may be enough for some users but lacking for others, depending on your intended use. 

An impressive battery life (up to 19 hours) means you can get all your tasks done throughout the day. A sleek design complete with an HD camera and studio mics also make this laptop an excellent work and play companion. 

Best for Gaming: Razer Blade 15

Why It Made The Cut: No clunky gaming laptops here: this gaming laptop has the power to handle today’s most popular games, all crammed in a sleek and lightweight package. 

Specs:

  • Display Size: 15.6 inches
  • RAM: 16GB
  • Storage Capacity: 256GB

Pros:

  • Solid performance 
  • Attractive design
  • RGB keyboard lighting 
  • Good connectivity options 

Cons: 

  • Pricey 

A gaming laptop has the performance gamers need for smooth gameplay in a compact package. The Razer Blade 15 is amongst the best laptops for gamers, striking a good balance between power and portability. 

This laptop features NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660 Ti graphics and a 10th Gen Intel Core i7-10750H processor which provides the power for smooth gameplay. Paired with 16GB of RAM and a 120Hz full-HD thin bezel display, this laptop can handle today’s most popular games with ease. Razer also sells advanced models of this laptop with more impressive specs, but they also come at a price bump. 

The display on this laptop measures 15.6 inches and offers a vivid picture, balancing a large enough screen for immersive gameplay while also being portable. Users can store games, documents, and other personal data on the 256GB SSD. 

The laptop boasts great connectivity features, including a webcam, two USB-A ports, two USB-C ports, an HDMI port, and headphone/microphone jack. These specs are housed in a compact device made of CNC aluminum for a sleek look and durable build. RGB keyboard lighting and a glass touchpad adds an attractive look and feel that appeals to gamers. 

While this laptop is great for gaming, it’s useful for other tasks too. The Windows 10 operating system is ideal for everyday tasks and work, and since it’s not too clunky, this laptop won’t look out of place on a work desk. 

Best 2-in-1: Microsoft Surface Pro 8

Microsoft

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Why It Made The Cut: The Microsoft Surface Pro 8 has the features you want in a 2-in-1 laptop: it has the processing power of laptops much larger in size, in a body that is beautiful, durable, and very lightweight. 

Specs:

  • Display Size: 13 inches
  • RAM: 8GB – 32GB
  • Storage Capacity: 128GB – 1TB

Pros:

  • Attractive and very lightweight design 
  • Well-designed kickstand
  • Designed for Windows 11

Cons: 

  • Keyboard sold separately
  • Pricey
  • Not great for gaming 

2-in-1 laptops (also known as “convertible” or “hybrid” laptops) combine a laptop and a tablet in one device. These ultra-lightweight models have a flip screen or a detachable keyboard to convert from a traditional laptop to a touchscreen tablet. The Microsoft Surface Pro 8 fits serious power into a very lightweight package (it weighs just under 2 pounds). 

Microsoft sells this 2-in-1 laptop in a range of models that will appeal to moderate to heavy users. Processor options include the Intel Evo Platform Core i5 or i7, 8GB to 32GB of RAM, and 128GB to 1TB of storage capacity. This laptop runs Windows 11, and was designed for this operating system in mind. 

These specs are housed in a thin and attractive 13-inch tablet made of anodized aluminum. The device features a built-in kickstand that adjusts nearly 180 degrees so you can work from almost any angle. Unlike many tablets, this 2-in-1 has a couple of convenient ports, with two USB-C and Thunderbolt 4 ports plus a dedicated charging port. Microsoft advertises up to 16 hours of battery life, so this laptop can follow you to work or school and likely even run through your commute without a problem. 

Accessories like the detachable Surface Pro Signature Keyboard and Surface Slim Pen 2 are sold separately, which makes this option a pricier purchase. But the cost can be well worth it for those looking for a powerful but ultra-portable setup.  

Things to Consider Before Buying the Best Laptops

Operating Platform

The three most common operating systems are Windows, Chrome OS, and MacOS, and the best system for your needs comes down to personal preference. Windows is a flexible and popular operating system that is available on a range of laptops. This robust operating platform is a favored choice for business users, students, and gamers.

Popular amongst creatives, Mac OS is only available on Apple MacBooks and is known for its elegant and user-friendly interface. Google’s Chrome OS is found on budget-friendly Chromebooks, which are mainly suited to accessing the web, and is the simplest (but least flexible) operating platform of the three. 

Performance

The best laptops are powerful enough to get the job done — and the ideal performance will depend on your needs. Consider what tasks you will use the laptop for, whether it’s light everyday use, like answering emails and browsing the web or heavy-duty use, like intense gaming or for editing 4K videos. When evaluating laptops, consider RAM, storage capacity, and battery life. 

“RAM” stands for random-access memory, and ranges from 4GB to 16GB on most laptops. The more RAM, the more tasks a laptop can handle at a time without slowing down. If it’s in the budget, look for a laptop with at least 8GB to 16GB of RAM. Heavy users might prefer a laptop with 32 or even 64GB. Some laptops allow users to upgrade and add more RAM down the line. 

Storage capacity is another factor to consider. Laptops with HDDs (hard disk drives) tend to offer more storage space (and are more affordable per gigabyte), but at the expense of size and weight. SDD (solid state drives) are lighter, faster, and run quieter, but tend to have a lower capacity because of their higher cost. Laptop storage space can range from 32GB to upwards of 512GB — choose according to how much data you plan to store on the laptop.  

Most laptops have a powerful enough processor to handle light and average use. For demanding use, like for gaming and editing high-quality photos and videos, consider a laptop with a more powerful processor, more RAM, and higher storage capacity. 

For those who plan to take their laptop out and about all day, also take a look at battery life. Eight hours or more of battery life is ideal for most users. 

Size

Laptops are intended to be portable, but they can still vary widely in size from sleek tablet-like 2-in-1 laptops to chunkier gaming laptops. Consider your needs and look at both the size and weight when shopping for a new laptop. 

A smaller, lighter laptop is more portable and will be more comfortable to carry on a commute to work or school. This can come at the cost of a smaller screen and sometimes performance cuts or fewer ports to accommodate the size. Larger laptops can be a pain to carry, but they often come with some benefits, like better specs or a more budget-friendly price tag. 

Display

The laptop’s screen resolution refers to the display’s picture quality (measured in pixels). The higher resolution, the better the on-screen image looks. HD (1366 x 768 pixels) is the minimum resolution for most laptops nowadays, and is decent enough for casual use, but resolution can go up to 4K Ultra HD (3840 x 2560 or 3840 x 2160 resolution). 

Laptop screens are measured diagonally from corner to corner and can range from around 11 to 18 inches across. Large screens are excellent for viewing content and working, but can increase the overall size and weight of the laptop. 

Touch-screen displays make navigating your laptop easier than ever, and are available on some Windows laptops and Chromebooks. 

Design

The best laptops are ergonomic and comfortable to use, with a user-friendly keyboard and trackpad. Take into account what types of ports are built-in to the laptop, which can include USB-A, USB-C, Thunderbolt, HDMI, and SD card slot ports. Some laptops forgo some ports for a thinner and lighter design; opt for a laptop that balances a portable design with your desired ports. 

FAQs

Q: How do I choose a laptop?

With a wide array of excellent laptop options, choosing the best laptop for your needs can feel overwhelming. Some of the key specs to consider include the laptop size, operating system, RAM, storage capacity, battery life, and connectivity options. It may be easier to start with your budget and narrow down options from there. 

Q: What is a good price range for a laptop?

Laptops come at a wide range of prices and there’s no one-size-fits-all choice. Those on a strict budget can find options under $500 to handle basic tasks. Many shoppers will be happy with a laptop in the $800 to $1200 range, which balances cost and great performance. Those who want a premium product or who need specific specs for work or play can spend a few thousand dollars—and that cost is likely worth it for those users who need a powerful machine. 

Q: Which laptop is most durable?

If you frequently commute or travel with your laptop, durability is a factor to keep in mind. The most durable laptop will be a rugged laptop, which are designed for worksites or dangerous environments (Dell and Panasonic have some sturdy picks). However, these laptops look and feel bulky, so for everyday use, look for a standard laptop with a durable build. Build quality varies from model to model, so the best way to judge durability is by getting your hands on the laptop. If that’s not possible, look for specs like a sturdy construction (metal tends to fare better than plastic) made to withstand bumps and drops, a spill-resistant keyboard, and a good display.

Q: Is 4GB RAM enough for a laptop?

For basic tasks, like running low-intensity programs or using a few browser tabs at a time, 4GB of RAM is enough. Laptops with lower RAM often come at a budget-friendly price, so these can be a suitable choice for casual users on a strict budget. For those with a moderate budget, it’s worth upgrading for 8GB of RAM, which is ideal for general office work and some light-intensity gaming. 

Final Thoughts

The Apple MacBook Air outperforms its predecessors and comes at a reasonable price. This laptop is a good choice for almost any user: it has a powerful processor, excellent battery life, and beautiful design and interface.

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