The best laptops of 2017: top laptops for every need

Buying a new laptop is an investment – so you want to be sure you buy the perfect device for your needs. That's why we've put together this list of the best laptops in every category – so you can buy a new laptop with confidence.

With thorough testing, we have reviewed and ranked the top laptops. We’re so sure of our recommendations that we guarantee confidence, accuracy and comprehensiveness in our reviews.

Below is a list of the top laptops money can buy, made up of the newest, highest-rated laptops in several key categories you might be looking for, from Ultrabooks for travel to gaming laptops and hybrids in between.

Best laptop overall: Dell XPS 13

For most folks, this is the top laptop

CPU: Intel Core i3 – i7 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 620 – Iris Plus Graphics 640 | RAM: 4GB – 16GB | Screen: 13.3-inch FHD (1,920 x 1,080) – QHD+ (3,200 x 1,800) | Storage: 128GB – 1TB SSD

Faster than ever
Same long-lasting battery
Still poor webcam position
No Windows Hello via camera

From general use to photo editing and nearly everything in between, the Dell XPS 13 is handily the best laptop we'd recommend to just about anyone. Slim and feathery enough to carry around, lasting more than 7 hours on a charge, Dell’s flagship is the top laptop for most people. The notebook squeezes a 13.3-inch screen into an 11-inch frame, a feat that only just now Dell's rivals are catching up with. Couple that with Intel’s latest Kaby Lake processors and USB-C in tandem with legacy ports, like an SD card slot and USB 3.0, and all of the color options become just icing on top of what's a superb laptop.

Read the full review: Dell XPS 13

Other great options: If you’re looking to spend a bit less than a grand on a laptop, but still want a quality experience, we heartily recommend the Samsung Chromebook Pro as well as the Lenovo Yoga 720.

1. Best cheap laptop: Samsung Chromebook Pro

A premium hybrid laptop for less

CPU: 0.99Ghz Intel Core m3-6Y30 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 515 | RAM: 4GB | Screen: 12.3-inch, QHD (2,400 x 1,600) touchscreen | Storage: 32GB eMMC

Stunning, vivid screen
Stylus support on Chrome OS
Cramped keyboard
Weak speakers

The Samsung Chromebook Pro is among the best cheap laptops because of how much it offers for just around 500 bucks. For that price, you’re getting a 12.3-inch QHD touch display, with a 360-degree hinge and pen support to boot. Not only is this laptop one of the best budget laptops, it sits among the best Chromebooks, too. That’s a lot for so little of a price.

Read the full review: Samsung Chromebook Pro

Other great options: Other fine alternatives to this product that come in even cheaper are the Lenovo Yoga Book for less than 300 smackers using either Windows 10 or Android, as well as the HP Stream 14, a basic Windows laptop at a Chromebook price.

  • This product is only available in the US as of this writing. UK and Australian readers: check out a fine alternative in the Asus Chromebook Flip

Check out the rest of the best cheap laptops

Best laptops

2. Best Ultrabook: Dell XPS 13

Best in class for ultra-portables

CPU: Intel Core i3 – i7 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 620 – Iris Plus Graphics 640 | RAM: 4GB – 16GB | Screen: 13.3-inch FHD (1,920 x 1,080) – QHD+ (3,200 x 1,800) | Storage: 128GB – 1TB SSD

Faster than ever
Same long-lasting battery
Still poor webcam position
No Windows Hello via camera

The Dell XPS 13 is easily the best Ultrabook you can buy. Thin and light with a battery life exceeding 7 hours, Dell’s flagship is a posterchild Ultrabook. Squeezing a 13.3-inch screen into an 11-inch frame, the XPS 13 packs Intel’s Kaby Lake CPUs and USB-C alongside legacy ports, like an SD card slot and USB 3.0. Top it all off with a gorgeous Rose Gold frame option.

Read the full review: Dell XPS 13

Other great options: If you’re looking to still save some money on an Ultrabook, then the Asus ZenBook UX310 is a fantastic affordable Ultrabook. The same goes for the Acer Aspire S 13 – both laptops are available for less than $700 (£500) or $600 (£400), respectively.

Check out the rest of the best Ultrabooks

Best laptops

3. Best 2-in-1 laptop: Samsung Notebook 9 Pro

A top hybrid laptop without breaking the bank

CPU: Intel Core i7 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 620 – AMD Radeon 540 Graphics (2GB GDDR5) | RAM: 8GB – 16GB | Screen: 13.3-inch – 15.6-inch FHD (1,920 x 1,080) LED display with Touch Screen Panel | Storage: 256GB SSD

Uses S-Pen to great effect
Excellent look and feel
Inconsistent battery life
Downward-firing speakers

The Samsung Notebook 9 Pro’s only configuration is far stronger than the equally priced 13-inch MacBook Pro, and with more screen to boot. Pair that with a gorgeous touchscreen on which to use a packed-in and superb S-Pen stylus, and this becomes a top 2-in-1 laptop. While the screen is merely FHD against the MacBook’s Retina, you’ll be grateful for the battery life.

Read the full review: Samsung Notebook 9 Pro

Other great options: If you’d like to spend a little less on a 2-in-1 laptop, try out the Asus ZenBook Flip UX360, which can be had for under $550 or £650. Another fine choice would be the Samsung Notebook 7 Spin, available for less than $600 or £900 now.

  • This product is only available in the US as of this writing. UK and AU readers: check out a fine alternative in the HP Spectre x360 15.

Check out the rest of the best 2-in-1 laptops

4. Best Chromebook: Asus Chromebook Flip

The top Chromebook for every use case

CPU: Intel Pentium – Core m3 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 515 | RAM: 4GB | Screen: 12.5-inch, FHD (1,920 x 1,080) LED backlit anti-glare | Storage: 32GB – 64GB eMMC

Elegant tablet mode
Gorgeous, vivid screen
No out of box Android app support
Middling speakers

As Asus has proven with the Chromebook Flip C302, you can make a Chromebook that feels like an Ultrabook for half the price. Stacked with a gorgeous design, a keyboard that feels rich to the touch and even a 2-in-1 form factor, the Asus Chromebook Flip proves that Chromebooks can be high-end without going overboard. This is the Chromebook to beat in 2017.

Read the full review: Asus Chromebook Flip

Other great options: If your idea of a fantastic Chromebook is one that costs less than a games console, then try out the Acer Chromebook R11 or the Dell Chromebook 11 – both can be had for less than 200 bucks.

Check out the rest of the best Chromebooks

5. Best gaming laptop: Asus ROG Zephyrus GX501

A champion gaming laptop for mobile PC dominance

CPU: 2.8GHz Intel Core i7-7700HQ | Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 (8GB GDDR5X VRAM) | RAM: 16GB | Screen: 14-inch FHD (1,920 x 1,080) – QHD+ (3,200 x 1,800) IGZO (LED backlit, multi-touch) | Storage: 256GB – 1 TB PCIe SSD

Astonishingly powerful
Innovative and quiet cooling
Laughable battery life
Poor keyboard ergonomics

Asus’ ROG Zephyrus GX501 (among the first containing Nvidia’s Max-Q chip design) is significantly thinner than its closest competitors, yet generally just as powerful. Though battery life is lacking, the Zephyrus is otherwise a top gaming laptop that could finally replace your desktop and Ultrabook, thanks to pristine power and a super-slim profile.

Read the full review: Asus ROG Zephyrus GX501

Other great options: This choice may be the best, but it’s mighty pricey. Some cheaper top picks include the Dell Inspiron 15 Gaming as well as the Alienware 13 R3, both being sub-one-thousand-dollar devices when specced accordingly. 

  • This product is only available in the US and UK as of this writing. Australian readers: check out a fine alternative in the Alienware 17 R4

Check out the rest of the best gaming laptops

6. Best laptop for students: Dell XPS 13

The perfect laptop for school work of all kinds

CPU: Intel Core i3 – i7 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 620 | RAM: 4GB – 16GB | Screen: 13.3-inch FHD (1,920 x 1,080) – QHD+ (3,200 x 1,800) | Storage: 128GB – 512GB SSD

Faster than ever
Same long-lasting battery
Still poor webcam position
No Windows Hello

The only laptop featured twice in our list, there's more to the Dell XPS 13 than a masterclass Ultrabook. Now featuring new CPUs with stronger graphics, clearly there are more tangible advantages to the XPS 13 than its gorgeous frame. The XPS 13’s utility is extensive, spanning everything from writing to video editing and nearly everything in between.

Read the full review: Dell XPS 13

Other great options: Need to get a hold of something strong for school, but for less? We recommend you look into the Asus ZenBook UX310 or the Asus Chromebook Flip, available for less than $600 (£500) and under $500 (£570), respectively.

See the rest of the best laptops for students

Best laptops

7. Best laptop-tablet hybrid: Surface Pro

The best all-around Windows tablet

CPU: Intel Core m3 – i7 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 615 – Iris Plus Graphics 640 | RAM: 4GB – 16GB | Screen: 12.3-inch, 2,736 x 1,824 PixelSense display | Storage: 128GB – 1TB SSD | Connectivity: 802.11ac Wi-Fi; Bluetooth 4.1 | Camera: 8MP rear-facing, 5MP front-facing | Weight: 1.73 pounds | Size: 11.5 x 7.93 x 0.33 inches (W x D x H)

Hugely improved battery life
Much better Surface Pen
Surface Pen pulled from package
Only Core i7 can challenge A10X

The latest Surface Pro sees not only the battery life improve by as much as 32%, but the accessories have been revamped as well. Although it’s now sold separately, the Surface Pen has 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity. What’s more, the Alcantara Type Cover is markedly comfier than previous versions and, of course, the processor has been updated to Kaby Lake.

Read the full review: Microsoft Surface Pro

Other great options: If you’re looking to spend a little less on a great laptop-tablet hybrid, then we heartily recommend the HP Pavilion x2 for less than $200 or £220. Another winner for penny-pinchers would be the Samsung Galaxy TabPro S at just under $400 or £500.

  • This product is only available in the US and Australia as of this writing. UK readers: check out a fine alternative in the Lenovo Miix 510

Check out the rest of the best Windows tablets

8. Best MacBook: 12-inch MacBook (2016)

Despite everything, the top MacBook to buy

CPU: Dual-core Intel Core m3 – Core m7 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 515 | RAM: 8GB | Screen: 12-inch Retina (2,304 x 1,440) IPS | Storage: 256GB – 512GB PCIe Flash | Dimensions (W x D x H): 28.05cm x 19.65cm x 1.31cm

Terrific design
Great speakers
Single USB-C port
Controversial keyboard

Apple's MacBook in 2016 was granted a much-needed boost, and it helps macOS work much better. Divisive points remain in this model – namely the sole USB-C (Thunderbolt 2) port and the redesigned keyboard – but the 2016 version is less of a risk than the previous model was. Through and through, one of the top MacBooks money can buy – even refurbished!

Read the full review: 12-inch MacBook (2016)

Other great options: If you want to save even more on an Apple laptop, your only option is to shoot for the very latest MacBook Air.

Check out the rest of the best Macs

Which type of laptop is best for you?

General laptops: Where the best cheap laptops are found, devices that focus more on practicality than style, portability or power. Generally less than $600 or £400, these laptops feature HD screens and plenty of storage, but generally lack the lightweight and powerful nature of Ultrabooks.

Ultrabooks: Where you’ll find beyond-HD displays within frames that are feather-light and honed to impossible thinness, all with the latest, most powerful components. You'll pay dearly for one of the best Ultrabooks, between $700 or £500 and $2,000 or £1,800, for one of these mean machines.

2-in-1 laptops: Featured as a spin on laptops from both the general use or budget category as well as the pricier Ultrabook end of the spectrum, the best 2-in-1 laptops always introduce either a detachable or convertible HD touchscreen for which to use Windows 10 through its Tablet Mode.

Chromebooks: Based on Google’s browser-only Chrome OS, the best Chromebooks do much of what Windows and macOS can in the browser, focused on cloud storage over local, while recently getting Android app support for touchscreen models. Models generally cost less than $300 or £200.

Gaming laptops: Need a laptop to play games (almost) just like a shiny PC can? Then you’ll want one of the best gaming laptops. These machines generally cost from $800 or £600 to upwards of $3,000 or £2,800, depending on what level of gaming performance and screen quality you’re looking for.

Laptop-tablet hybrids: Designed from the tablet-first approach to laptop-tablet hybrids, these devices pack beyond-HD touchscreens, sometimes with kickstands in their frames or provided via keyboard covers. These generally shine with a stylus, and range from the budget to the premium price ranges.

Gabe Carey has also contributed to this article