Best Laptop Computers

Updated November 2021
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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HOW WE TESTED

We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.

62
Models
Considered
108
Consumers
Consulted
26
Hours
Researched

Buying guide for best laptop computers

A good laptop computer makes it easy to stay productive, play PC games, and enjoy streaming media wherever you go. Major computer manufacturers like Asus, Lenovo, and Apple release brand-new models sporting fresh innovations, ultraportable designs, and high-performance specs each year, and with so many laptops on the market, finding the best buy for your needs can be difficult.

For example, some laptops are optimized for fast and fluid gaming, while others are designed for business use or for creative professionals. While smart buyers may look at each laptop’s specifications and feature list, it can be difficult to identify the best laptop for you, especially if you don't know exactly what to look for.

laptop computers
If you plan to do a lot of typing, look for a laptop with a full-size comfortable keyboard.

Key considerations

There are a few questions you should ask yourself when you set out to find the best laptop available from the huge variety of competing computers on the market.

Will I use this laptop on the go?

People who need a reliable laptop for staying productive while traveling should look at thinner and lighter options with portability as a core design feature. After all, no one wants to carry around a bulky laptop wherever they go. If you plan on using your new laptop all day long, it is essential that you buy one with a battery that will easily last nine hours or longer.

What is the best processor for my laptop?

Simply put, a laptop’s processor manages how fast your computer is. It affects how well it can handle multitasking and what sorts of games and apps it can easily run. If you need a laptop for simple tasks like web browsing, email, and social media, you do not need an expensive laptop with a high-end processor.

On the other hand, if you are in the market for a gaming laptop or need a model for multitasking between programs, it may be worth buying an expensive laptop equipped with a premium processor for a smoother overall experience.

Should I get a pricey gaming laptop even though I do not play games?

No. While it is true that an expensive gaming laptop like the Razer Blade will feature a powerful processor and a high-quality video card, people who buy a gaming laptop only to use it for word processing and streaming movies will not get their money’s worth. You do not need to invest in a Razer Blade to get these features.

On the other hand, anyone searching for a good gaming laptop should be on the lookout for features like “VR Ready,” a high refresh rate, a high-quality graphics card, and a wider aspect ratio. In such a case, a Razer Blade would be a fine choice.

Features

Although many laptops share the same core features, there are a few special options that may be worth seeking out:

4K OLED HDR display

If you plan on watching a lot of Netflix, Disney+, and other streaming video apps on your laptop, consider investing in a nicer screen with thin bezels.

A higher resolution may provide a more immersive gaming experience as well, as long as the laptop was made for playing video games.

Ports

The average laptop may not feature too many connectivity options outside of a few USB-A or USB-C ports.

If you are the type of power-user who relies on a wide range of devices and dislike the idea of lugging around an additional dongle or two for all of your tech, look for a laptop that incorporates a variety of ports, such as Thunderbolt 4, Ethernet, and HDMI in addition to USB-A and USB-C.

You can fold the display of a two-in-one laptop behind its keyboard, and it will function like a tablet. The majority of these two-in-one touchscreen laptops are pricey, but it is a significantly more user-friendly interface for quick actions than the average touchpad.

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Security

You aren’t paranoid; there really are thieves and spies out there who would love to get your data.

Thankfully, some laptops were designed with security in mind. Take Windows Hello, for example. It is a smart webcam that automatically unlocks your PC when it recognizes your face. Other innovative security perks include a fingerprint scanner and a simple webcam shutter to keep out prying eyes.

Style

Why settle for a basic computer when you can buy a laptop that reflects your personal sense of style? While its specs and features are far more important than how it looks, you may want to go out of your way to see if the top laptops available come in slick metallic finishes or are made with customizable LED lighting.

laptop computers
Did you know?
Each major operating system is equipped with a helpful virtual assistant. Cortana is found on Windows, Google Assistant is found on the Chrome OS, and Siri is on the macOS.
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Picking an OS

Each of the most common laptop operating systems have their perks. Whether you prefer Windows, Chrome, or macOS, there are a few things to keep in mind when comparing the three most common platforms.

Windows

Microsoft’s Windows OS has been a PC staple since it was released in 1985.

As the world’s most popular OS, it is the default for the vast majority of laptops on the market today. Some of the benefits of running Windows on your laptop include frequent security updates, new features added to the platform on a regular basis, and compatibility with most programs and games.

Chrome OS

If you buy a Chromebook, it will use Google’s fast, web-based Chrome OS.

Some of the perks of buying a laptop running Chrome OS include its emphasis on security, its access to a huge library of Android apps, and its lightning-fast boot speeds, so you can use your laptop that much quicker.

macOS

Anyone who uses a Mac device like the Apple MacBook Air and iPad will be familiar with Apple’s macOS.

If you buy an Apple laptop running the Mac operating system, you can expect a streamlined user interface, premium privacy protection, and a speedy web browsing experience. Note that Apple laptops running the enhanced Apple M1 chip are especially well-suited for creative professionals who work with photography, music, and video editing.

laptop computers
DID YOU KNOW?
A laptop with a touchscreen drains battery power faster than a laptop without a touchscreen. Keep this in mind when noting the battery life of a potential purchase.
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Understanding laptop specs

Before purchasing a laptop, you need to speak the language of computers. (We mean jargon; you don’t have to learn binary code.) By understanding the components included inside the machine, you’ll be able to pick a laptop that truly meets your needs.

Battery life

Battery life, in the world of laptops, is tantamount to freedom.

Most laptops were designed to be ultraportable. If you plan on buying a laptop for mobile productivity or getting things done at work or school, it is worth seeking out a model with long battery life. If you plan on using your laptop while you are out and about, do not settle for less than eight or nine hours of battery life.

Memory

Simply put, the more memory or RAM (Random Access Memory) a laptop has, the faster its overall performance will be.

Take a look at the amount of RAM offered. It’ll be one of the primary specs listed when you go laptop shopping. While 4GB of memory is more than enough for basic web browsing and using social media, laptops with 8GB of RAM or more are better suited for smooth gaming and multitasking between apps.

Processors

A laptop’s processor is essentially its brain: it handles the machine’s computing capability.

A high-end option such as a laptop with an AMD Ryzen or 11th-gen Intel processor may be a pricier investment compared to the low-price budget laptops on the market. However, these are better for multitasking, gaming, and overall improved performance.

Intel Core i5 and Intel Core i7 processors are commonly found in business laptops as well as general-use models. Gaming laptops may include a processor optimized for impressive visuals and seamless gameplay, such as the AMD Ryzen 5 or AMD Ryzen 7.

Storage

Take note of the way any laptop you are considering stores its information.

Laptops will use either a hard disk drive (HDD), a solid-state drive (SDD), or a hybrid hard drive that utilizes both technologies to store apps, programs, and files. A laptop with an HDD drive is usually slower than an SSD drive, but it will likely cost quite a bit less overall. The price of SSD technology continues to drop year by year, though. As such, these speedier options are quickly becoming more mainstream.

Screen resolution

While the average laptop owner will be more than satisfied with a Full-HD (1080p) display, it may be worth looking for an Ultra HD (4K) model if you plan on watching a lot of movies or shows on your new computer.

Touch screen

Some laptops have touchscreens, offering you more versatility as you work or play. You can interact with your screen in a tactile way, using your fingertips or a stylus. Notably, these screens may need to be cleaned more often, and they tend to cost more than laptops without this type of screen. But if you’re used to using a tablet and like the freedom to use a keyboard or touch the screen, this may be a feature worth springing for.

Regardless of the quality of your new laptop, it’s still a good idea to back up your files often, either through cloud storage or an external hard drive.

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Pricing

Since laptops are available with a wide range of features and specs, you should expect to see a variety of prices as well. Knowing what to expect from laptops at various price points helps buyers to stay within their budget as they find the best model for their needs.

Less than $250

You can expect to see a range of solid budget laptops in this price range. Notably, the majority of these low-price machines are Chromebooks and basic Windows laptops.

This is a good price point if you need a basic laptop for web surfing, email, and social media. However, you should not expect to find a particularly speedy or versatile model for a laptop under $250.

$250 to $500

Faster, more powerful, and sporting an eye-catching feature or two such as an extra-large display, backlit keyboard, or an especially portable design, these mid-range laptops are a good option for streaming video apps like Netflix, office productivity, and schoolwork. The price range is not exorbitant, and many “average” users are likely to find a laptop or two in this range that they could be happy with.

$500 to $1,000

If you need a laptop for multitasking and all-around smooth performance, it pays to spend a little more for a model with superior specs. These laptops usually have a few outstanding features, such as a reliably speedy WiFi connection or a high-end processor.

$1,000+

The priciest laptops available are optimized for creative professionals, gaming, and a streamlined experience that power users will appreciate. If you regularly use a laptop for work or play, it may be worth it to make an investment in a premium model for the long haul.

laptop computers
DID YOU KNOW?
The CPU of your new laptop cannot be upgraded after you purchase it. Therefore, in most cases, you should select the highest-performing CPU they can afford.
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Tips

  • The “best screen size” available depends on how you will use the laptop. A laptop with a display of 12 inches or smaller would likely be the best option for mobile users due to the computer’s slimmer profile and lightweight design. A 13- to 15-inch laptop is a solid pick for the average buyer, but if you plan on watching movies, playing PC games, or simply keeping the computer on your desk, keep an eye out for models with a 16-inch display or bigger. With this size, you should get a superior viewing experience.
  • Digital artists should consider a 2-in1 laptop. The convenience of a powerful laptop that effortlessly transforms into a touchscreen tablet with a matching stylus is a value-packed deal for digital artists. You may be surprised to know that the prices of 2-in-1 laptops range quite a bit depending on the manufacturer, specs, and features. But, when it comes to a smoother experience, speed, and versatility, it is important to note that you get what you pay for.
  • You can save money by avoiding features you may not use. While a touchscreen, premium gaming graphics, and a 4K Ultra HD display are nice to have, thrifty laptop buyers can save a bundle by shunning features and high-end specs that they may likely never use. For example, if you want to buy a laptop for web browsing and word processing, a model with 32GB of RAM or more is excessive. Instead, you would be more than fine with a model sporting 4-12GB of RAM for a much lower price.
laptop computers
A laptop cooling pad can help keep your laptop cool, thereby protecting it from overheating. Laptop cooling pads don’t tend to cost a lot, and they frequently go on sale.

If you buy a low-cost laptop, you can still watch Netflix with it, but don’t expect the high-quality graphics you need for intense video tasks like video editing or playing video games.

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FAQ

Q. How do I know if a laptop has a good screen resolution?
A.
Unfortunately, a large number of affordable laptops feature a suboptimal screen resolution.

It’s sad to see new laptop owners lamenting their grainy screen and having to scroll from side to side to read websites optimized for full HD screens.

A “full HD” laptop screen will be, at minimum, 1080p (1920 X 1080). If you are investing in a long-term laptop, don’t settle for less than this.

Q. What should I look for when it comes to a laptop’s battery life?
A.
As far as battery life goes, a laptop should be able to run for at least eight hours between charges. After all, you need a laptop that will survive the average workday, or at least a daytime outing from your home and back.

With that said, an eight-hour battery life is the absolute minimum acceptable level for a laptop. If you can find better, you should go for it. Also, please note that you may need to adjust the laptop’s display settings to optimize its battery life.

Q. Do I really need a laptop with a touchscreen?
A.
No, but in the eyes of many, it’s a handy feature to have.

There are some pros and cons to owning this type of computer. For instance, the ability to instantly sign an electronic document with a touch pen or your finger beats printing, signing, and scanning the same document any day of the week. On the other hand, you may need to clean annoying, smudgy fingerprints from your screen more often than you’d like to.

If a touchscreen isn’t a big deal for you, you can save money by buying a model with a traditional screen and a trackpad instead.

Q. How do I find the best laptop deals available?
A.
Whether you plan on getting the best budget laptop you can afford or the best gaming laptop available, there are a few reliable tactics that can help you find a great laptop deal.

If you can wait for major shopping events and holidays, such as Black Friday or the days leading to Christmas, you can find some impressive deals. You may be surprised at how often the low price of budget laptops, gaming laptops, and business laptops gets lowered even more during these shopping events.

Q. Gaming laptops have incredible specs. Does that mean that I should get one?
A.
That depends on how you intend to use your new laptop. If you are buying a laptop for browsing with WiFi, compiling spreadsheets, connecting with friends on social media, and playing solitaire, there’s no way to justify spending so much more for a gaming laptop’s crystal-clear display, incredibly powerful graphics chip, and funky customizable keyboard lighting unless you enjoy playing video games.

When you compare features between laptops, focus on what you need the machine to do rather than what it offers. Not only will you end up finding the best buy for you, but you may save a lot of money by not buying features and components that you don’t need.

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