Menu
 

BestReviews is reader-supported and may earn an affiliate commission. Details

Best Laptops to Replace Your Desktop

Updated January 2024
Bottom line
Pros
Cons
Best of the Best
Apple 2023 MacBook Pro
Apple
2023 MacBook Pro
Check Price
Best Laptop
Bottom Line

This latest iteration of Apple’s powerful laptop has a 14-inch screen and uses the M2 chip.

Pros

The M2 chip comes in a “Pro” version and an even more powerful “Max” version. It's available with either a 512GB or a 1TB hard drive. It gets up to 18 hours of battery life.

Cons

It’s too expensive for casual use, and it doesn’t have an Ethernet port.

Best Bang for the Buck
HP Business Laptop
HP
Business Laptop
Check Price
Simple Yet Solid
Bottom Line

A solid performer with a larger screen size for those who need it.

Pros

Equipped with Intel Core i3-N305 Processor to enable high-performance processing. A 17-inch display provides ample real estate for whatever tasks you need to complete. Comes with Windows 11 Home.

Cons

Larger size makes it less portable.

Apple 2022 MacBook Pro Laptop with M2 chip
Apple
2022 MacBook Pro Laptop with M2 chip
Check Price
Premium Machine
Bottom Line

The M2 model features a more power processor than the M1 and comes at a lower price.

Pros

For the everyday laptop user who needs reliable speed and a long-lasting battery for working on the go, the MacBook Pro is a clear choice and offers great value. It’s cheaper than the 2021 model, and though it has fewer cores, its baseline performance for tasks like web browsing and opening apps was impressively fast in our testing.

Cons

Uses nearly the same design Apple has been using since 2016. Fewer ports than its predecessor.

Acer Predator Helios 300 Gaming Laptop
Acer
Predator Helios 300 Gaming Laptop
Check Price
Portable Convenience
Bottom Line

This gaming-focused laptop has a sleek, stylish design and enough power to run graphics-intensive PC games smoothly.

Pros

It has an Intel Core i7 processor, an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 graphics card, and 16GB of RAM. The full HD display has a 165GHz refresh rate for fluid gaming. Includes 89 bladed fans for superior air ventilation. Supports WiFi 6 technology for online gaming.

Cons

The battery life is poor if running under optimal gaming settings.

ASUS Vivobook 16" Laptop
ASUS
Vivobook 16" Laptop
Check Price
Best for Beginners
Bottom Line

With a Windows 11 operating system, this laptop is a solid choice for those looking for a new laptop.

Pros

You'll get impressive color and clarity with the 16-inch screen, plus an energy-efficient LED backlight. It weighs 4.14 lbs and only measures 0.78 inches thick, making it extra portable.

Cons

Does not have a built-in DVD/CD drive. No touchscreen.

Why trust BestReviews?
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. About BestReviews  
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. About BestReviews  
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.About BestReviews 
HOW WE TESTED

After going through an intensive research process to narrow down our short list of top products in this space, we tested the 2022 MacBook Pro to be sure that it’s worthy of our recommendation. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter and test to verify manufacturer claims.

30
Models
Considered
195
Consumers
Consulted
16
Hours
Researched
Category cover

Best laptops to replace your desktop

It’s true that there are some awesome powerhouse desktop computers with outstanding processing power and memory. But some laptops rival or exceed their capabilities. While laptops are typically more expensive than desktops of similar power, if you travel or are a hybrid worker, a laptop could become your primary tool. They’re useful for leisure, professional work and even gaming.

Whether you want to do video editing, digital illustration or online gaming, it’s helpful to know that laptops with the latest video cards and CPUs (on the more expensive end of the spectrum) are well-equipped for demanding tasks. On the other hand, if you’re looking to downsize to a smaller machine for everyday tasks like web browsing and word processing, there are countless budget laptops for professional and leisure use.

An important consideration before you buy a laptop is its operating system, or OS. While you may be partial to one OS over the others, each comes with its own advantages. Windows laptops are best suited to gaming and using a wide selection of professional tools and apps. Apple laptops (running macOS) are a favorite for illustration, video editing and casual use. Linux laptops offer extensive customization. ChromeOS laptops (often called Chromebooks) are affordable and focus on web browsing. 

Our experts recommend researching each operating system to make sure you’re using the one that suits you best. This applies whether you’re thinking of switching to a new OS or looking for a laptop with the same OS you’ve always used.

We tested the 2022 Apple MacBook Pro hands-on, putting it through a host of everyday tasks as well as intensive multitasking. We found that it exceeds earlier models and many of its competitors. It’s among our top picks for laptops to replace your desktop computer.

Laptops to replace your desktop

Apple 2022 MacBook Pro

An industry standard for years, the M2 MacBook Pro sports a powerful CPU and GPU, making it a popular choice among artists, photographers and videographers. Indeed, if you plan to use this for art-related projects or video, you’ll love the display resolution of 2560 x 1600 pixels, which makes the details in pictures and videos pop. 

When we tested it, we were impressed by the improved battery life, which allows you to work for hours without thinking about how much power you have left. The 24GB of unified memory reduces application startup time to almost nothing, which may satisfy your inner multitasker. If you have used Apple iCloud to back up another Apple computer, you can transfer your data in minutes. We also found the built-in speakers to be surprisingly loud and dynamic; even if you don’t use your laptop for streaming, this is a nice perk.

In short, whether you’re a longtime Apple user in need of an upgrade or looking to buy your first Mac, the 2022 MacBook Pro is a powerful and more than capable machine for the job.

Microsoft Surface Pro 4

If you’re not as concerned with power and app support, this popular model offers fast web browsing and streaming, making it a good everyday machine for schoolwork and word processing. Customers love the lightweight aluminum case, which looks sleek and feels smooth to the touch. 

It comes loaded with Windows 10 but can be upgraded to Windows 11 for free, though many people prefer 10 as an operating system. The 8GB RAM and 512GB solid state drive make it fairly quick and give you plenty of storage. Customers praise its vibrant 2256 x 1504-pixel display and responsive touchscreen functionality. 

If you’re on a budget but need a reliable laptop to last several years, the Surface Pro 4 is a reliable choice.

Asus TUF Dash 15 Gaming Laptop

If you’re a gamer on a budget, consider this svelte and durable gaming laptop equipped with the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060 for crisp, dynamic graphics and ray tracing capabilities. Compared to other gaming laptops, the form factor is quite slim and portable, and its durable design means it can handle a few drops. 

One major plus is this laptop’s easy upgradability, allowing you to keep up with the latest games for years. If you are new to gaming laptops (or gaming computers) and are hesitant to invest in an expensive machine or limit yourself to the specs of a cheaper one, the TUF Dash 15 strikes a middle ground with its excellent value and RAM and storage upgrade slots.

Dell XPS 13 Touchscreen Laptop

This popular laptop stands out for its slim design, highlighted by its 0.58-inch thickness and large screen with narrow bezels. The 1080p touchscreen functions well and displays vivid and accurate colors, allowing you to produce digital illustration with confidence or simply stream your favorite show. 

Though you are most likely to consider this laptop for work, the Intel Iris Xe Graphics can handle a surprising range of popular video games. It has two Thunderbolt 3 ports as well as an SD card slot, and the fingerprint reader offers a fast and secure way to access your device. 

Its lightweight design makes it easy to slip into a laptop carrying bag, and the aluminum case is well constructed. For the price, this is a robust machine for a variety of memory-hungry tasks, whether you’re gaming or running demanding apps.

Apple 2022 MacBook Air

The 2022 MacBook Air is an upgrade over its predecessors in a handful of ways, including processing power, form factor and speed to start. Though it sports a 13.6-inch 2560 x 1664 display, it’s thinner than the 13.3-inch 2021 M1 MacBook Air with the same length and width. 

The 18-hour battery life claim is no joke. If you often work on planes or public transportation, you won’t need to think about the next time you’ll be near an outlet. 

The M2 processor is 1.4 times faster than the M1, making this a more powerful package all around. We love the look of the midnight color option, which helps the backlit keyboard and vivid screen stand out, and the notch screen design makes for a narrow bezel. The 1080p webcam is a nice upgrade if you make video calls frequently.

Dell Inspiron 14 5420 14-inch Student Laptop

Similar in specs to the MacBook Air with its 16GB RAM and NVIDIA GeForce MX570 graphics processor, this laptop packs a punch at a lower price than the competition. The 14-inch screen is a comfortable size with the overall form factor measuring 12.36 wide and 0.75 inches thick. And, at 3.4 pounds, it’s fairly light. 

The 2.2K display is bright and clear — a plus if you’re a gamer. Most AAA games run smoothly, and the backlit keyboard is a nice touch. Customers appreciate the upgradable RAM and SSD, accessed by simply removing screws on the bottom. 

The 720p webcam is sufficient for video calls, and the sliding cover offers simple privacy. While it’s designed for college students, if you’re looking for an affordable machine that keeps up with current apps and games, this is a versatile computer in a small package. 

Razer Blade 15 Gaming Laptop

If you prefer your gaming machines streamlined rather than flashy, the Razer Blade 15 offers an elegant design with specs to handle most AAA games with ease. While it does have an RGB keyboard, the design is otherwise simple with a black aluminum shell and thin bezels that create a nearly edge-to-edge display. 

Colors pop on the FHD 15.6-inch screen, which boasts a 360-hertz refresh rate for smooth and fast images to (hopefully) give you an edge in online games. The 16GB RAM and 1TB SSD should hold you for a while, though easy upgradability means you can invest in this machine for years. 

Its vapor cooling system works well, and while this laptop belongs at your battle station, it can run for a few hours on a single charge. If you’re considering making the jump from your gaming desktop to a laptop, the Razer Blade 15 won’t leave you feeling like you’ve gone portable at the price of a downgrade.

Samsung Chromebook 4

Simply put, this is a basic machine designed for web browsing with none of the extra features of high-end Chromebooks and an appealing price tag to show for it. It looks and feels like a traditional laptop, and its Android app store support allows you to have an experience akin to a Windows operating system if this is your first foray into Chromebooks. Automatic updates offer reliable security, and you can customize your Chrome experience through countless extensions. 

If you’re already the owner of an Android phone or use Google Workspace, you can quickly access your files and transfer settings by logging into your account. The battery lasts for up to 12 hours, and the 720p webcam works well for video calls. 

There are few laptops as affordable as this one, which makes for an excellent internet browser attached to a keyboard if that’s all you’re looking for. 

HP 14 Laptop

With 4GB RAM and Windows 10 preinstalled, you’ll find a simple and capable machine in this small package, making it a great Chromebook alternative if you’re not ready to ditch a traditional operating system. The 14-inch 720p touchscreen is clear enough for video calls and streaming. And with an 11-hour battery, you’re likely to need to charge it just every other day. 

A one-year trial of Microsoft 365 gives you access to a range of programs. The two-tone design is eye-catching, and at 3.24 pounds, it’s easy to take on the go. If you often work on presentations, you’ll make good use of the HDMI port, two USB ports and USB-C port.

For the price, this is a capable little machine that can handle most everyday computing tasks.

How we tested

After comparing laptop models with features and capability similar to desktop computers, we compiled a list of our top choices and evaluated the 2022 Apple Macbook’s form factor and capability through testing.

Ease of use 

  • Setup: We looked at how fast and straightforward setup is from the perspective of a seasoned Apple user. 
  • User interface: Intuitiveness and organization are the most important considerations in UI, and we noted that Apple did not tweak the formula here, sticking with its decades-old top menu and moveable application dock. We explored this to see whether it was an approachable and straightforward system. 
  • Design: We noted that Apple’s classic aluminum case is just as sleek and durable as those of previous models. We tried out the trackpad and keyboard to determine whether it was comfortable and responsive. 

Quality 

  • Picture: We checked out its display resolution of 2560 x 1600 pixels to determine the clarity of pictures, video and text. 
  • Audio: We noted the sound quality of the built-in speakers. 
  • Webcam: Webcams are an essential feature in the age of virtual meetings. We evaluated its clarity compared to other built-in webcams.
  • Battery life: When looking at laptops with powerful CPUs and GPUs, battery life is always a concern. We noted how many hours we could use it before it needed to be charged.

Features and functionality

  • Multitasking: For those who like to have several applications and dozens of tabs open at once, we looked at whether it can handle multiple programs with ease.
  • Processing power: We compared the M2 chip to the M1 processor and noted the startup speed and loading times for most apps.

FAQ

Q. Do laptops last longer than desktops?

A. Most desktops will outlast a laptop for a few reasons. The first is that desktops typically have more memory and processing power, which makes them less likely to struggle with newly released software and games. The other is that you probably won’t take a desktop on the go, so it endures less wear and tear. Most laptops have a lifespan of around five years.

Q. Can you upgrade and replace parts in a laptop like you can a desktop? 

A. It depends on the model. In most cases, replacing parts is either impossible or too expensive to be worthwhile. Sometimes, components are even soldered into place. However, some companies make upgrading easier, leaving space for additional RAM or access panels. If upgrading is a must, research the model you are considering carefully.

Q. What ports do laptops have? 

A. Laptop ports are far from standardized. While USB-C and USB ports are common, not all laptops have 3.5-millimeter headphone jacks, and HDMI ports are even harder to find. However, USB-C and USB adapters can accommodate a range of accessories, and a USB hub increases the number and variety of devices you can connect.

Q. Can you connect a monitor to a laptop?

A. With the correct port, yes. If you still enjoy your home office setup, connecting a monitor is a good way to simulate a desktop experience or dual-monitor setup. 

Our Top Picks