Update: Featuring the option of a 4K screen, 7th-generation Intel Core “i” processors and a discrete graphics card – along with the classically (almost) bezel-less InfinityEdge display, we’ve replaced the Lenovo Yoga 910 with Dell’s XPS 15. Read on to number 14 to find out more!
Although pundits were bickering just a few years ago that laptops were on their way out along with the rest of PCs, there’s no denying the permanence of the best laptops. In fact, with Windows 10 S on the market and the Surface Laptop fresh on our minds, there are more choices than ever when it comes to buying a new laptop.
Though tablets were all the rage for a split second, there’s still an unbridled need for the best laptops. After all, nothing says comfort quite like a built-in keyboard and trackpad, and nothing screams portability like a display that folds. And, sometimes, with the advent of the 2-in-1 laptop, the screen even comes off, or flips backward.
Whether you crave the exclusivity of the full-fledged desktop version of Adobe’s Creative Suite or you prefer the look and feel of drafting up documents in Microsoft Office with a keyboard sized for humans, there’s no better alternative than a laptop. Portable, powerful and multi-talented, laptops are perhaps the only device you need for school, work and even play.
With hybrids, Ultrabooks, gaming laptops and traditional clamshells to choose from, these are the best laptops you can buy. To get straight to the reviews, check the links below:
- Dell XPS 13
- Asus ZenBook UX305
- Razer Blade Stealth
- Asus Chromebook Flip
- HP Spectre x360
- Razer Blade
- Samsung Notebook 7 Spin
- Acer Aspire S 13
- Samsung Notebook 9
- Surface Book
- HP Spectre x360 15
- Asus ZenBook Flip UX360
- Dell XPS 15
- Apple MacBook Pro (15-inch, Late 2016)
1. Dell XPS 13
This compact Ultrabook is the best in its class
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
The Dell XPS 13 reigns supreme as the best laptop you can buy today. Thin and light with a battery life that exceeds 7 hours, Dell’s flagship laptop is the posterchild for what an Ultrabook is supposed to be. Squeezing a 13.3-inch screen into an 11-inch frame, the Dell XPS 13 is outfitted with Intel’s latest Kaby Lake processors and USB-C without skimping on legacy ports, such as the withering SD card slot and traditional USB. Couple that with the option of a gorgeous Rose Gold finish, and it should come as no surprise that the Dell XPS 13 is number one.
Read the full review: Dell XPS 13
2. Asus ZenBook UX305
Better than the MacBook and at a fraction of the price
CPU: Intel Core Intel Core m3 – m7 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 515 | RAM: 8GB | Screen: 13.3-inch, FHD (1,920 x 1,080) – QHD+ (3200 x 1800) IPS display | Storage: 256GB – 512GB SSD
If you're looking for a Windows alternative to Apple's rose-tinted 12-inch MacBook, the Asus ZenBook UX305 might be more your speed. Though it looks like a Cupertino design from every angle, it's arguably superior to Apple's creations in almost every way. From its purple-tinged aluminum design to its sharp display and blisteringly fast M.2 SSD storage, the UX305 puts Windows back in style – fanless design, lengthy battery life and all. Just bear in mind that if you plan on using it for gaming or video playback, the integrated Intel HD 515 graphics are puny and the speakers are weak, but overall, the Asus ZenBook UX305 still holds up.
Read the full review: Asus ZenBook UX305
3. Razer Blade Stealth
The gaming Ultrabook you’ve been waiting for
CPU: Intel Core i7 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 620 | RAM: 8GB – 16GB | Screen: 12.5-inch, QHD+ (2,560 x 1,440) – 4K (3,840 x 2,160) IGZO LED-backlit multi-touch | Storage: 128GB – 1TB SSD
The Razer Blade Stealth is an exceptional Ultrabook hindered only in trying to be a competent gaming laptop. Without a discrete graphics card, the Razer Blade Stealth practically requires that you also shell out for the costly Razer Core GPU enclosure. Price-wise, it has the upperhand against key competitors, but don’t be fooled by its low cost. With an Intel Kaby Lake Core i7 processor, the latest Blade Stealth is more powerful and power-efficient than ever. Better yet, this laptop can change the lighting of each key on its keyboard and with more than 16.8 million colors to choose from. If only it had more travel and an SD card slot, the Razer Blade Stealth would be much improved.
Read the full review: Razer Blade Stealth
4. Asus Chromebook Flip
The winning premium Chromebook formula
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
Originally marketed as a “premium” Chromebook to compete with the likes of the Chromebook Pixel, it’s not hard to see why we were skeptical of the first Asus Chromebook Flip we reviewed. High-end Chromebooks had been done before, but always at an inordinately high cost. But as Asus has successfully exhibited with the Chromebook Flip C302, you can cut that price in half and still make a Chrome OS-powered laptop that feels like it belongs in the upper echelon. 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.
Read the full review: Asus Chromebook Flip
5. HP Spectre x360
A well-rounded 2-in-1 that exceeds expectations
CPU: Intel Core i5 – i7 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 620 | RAM: 8GB – 16GB | Screen: 13.3-inch FHD 1,920 x 1,080 – UHD 3,840 x 2,160 IPS multi-touch | Storage: 256GB – 1TB SSD
The 13.3-inch version of the HP Spectre x360 may not boast the SD card slot of its 15.6-inch sibling, but what it does pack are the same hardy internal components in a more portable physique. Then there’s the keyboard which, with 1.3mm of travel, feels like a significant improvement. What’s more, despite having a lengthy battery life of 8 hours and 45 minutes, the HP Spectre x360 still manages to weigh no more than a mere 2.85 pounds. Just when we thought there wasn’t a laptop that’s cutting-edge in every category, the HP Spectre x360 proves us wrong.
Read the full review: HP Spectre x360
6. Razer Blade
When you were partying, Razer studied the Blade
CPU: Intel Core i7 | Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 | RAM: 16GB | Screen: 12.5-inch, FHD (1,920 x 1,080) matte – UHD (3,840 x 2,160) IGZO | Storage: 256GB – 1TB SSD
The latest iteration of the flagship Razer Blade may not have a lot of customizable features, but it thrives in just about every other regard. Its slim form factor is joined by not only powerful, discrete graphics capable of running all the latest games at the highest settings, but the Razer Blade puts most laptops to shame when it comes to battery life. Even if you don’t know a GTX 1060 from a 940MX, you can at least appreciate that the Razer Blade lasted nearly 7 hours and 30 minutes in our movie test. Plus, even though you won’t be able to take advantage of this feature in games to great effect, there’s a 4K screen, convenient for lazy Sundays spent watching movies.
Read the full review: Razer Blade
7. Samsung Notebook 7 Spin
Premium build, affordable price point
CPU: 2.5GHz Intel Core i7-6500U | Graphics: Nvidia GeForce 940MX (2GB DDR3L); Intel HD Graphics 520 | RAM: 12GB – 16GB | Screen: 15.6-inch Full HD (1,920 x 1,080) LED with touch panel | Storage: 1 TB HDD – 1TB HDD; 128GB SSD
If you've ever wanted a MacBook Pro without the mortgage sacrifice, the Samsung Notebook 7 Spin not only delivers the style and glitz of Apple's professional-level laptops, but it even adds a touchscreen to the mix at an approachable starting price. For a hefty 2-in-1 with a Core i7 CPU, 12GB of RAM and even a discrete Nvidia GPU, the Samsung Notebook 7 provides top of the line specs considering its value. But, as Samsung probably asked while devising this quintessential hybrid notebook, why stop there? The company even went as far as to implement an HDR screen in the Notebook 7 Spin, and although it’s a feature that isn’t widely supported, the deeper blacks and more vibrant colors are appreciated to say the least.
Read the full review: Samsung Notebook 7 Spin
8. Acer Aspire S 13
Proof that the MacBook Air is getting old
CPU: Intel Core i3 – i7 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 520 – 620 | RAM: 4GB – 8GB | Screen: 13.3-inch, FHD (1,920 x 1,080) anti-glare touchscreen IPS | Storage: 128GB – 512GB SSD
Call it a MacBook Air clone if you want, but don’t quote us when you say that’s a bad thing. The Acer Aspire S 13 is an affordable alternative to Apple’s entry-level laptop that even outdoes it in some ways. It’s not quite as thin and light as many prominently featured Ultrabooks, nor is it particularly expensive looking. However, the Acer Aspire S 13 does pack quite a punch when it comes to performance. USB Type-C and a full HD display put it just over the edge in beating out the 13-inch MacBook Air, and for a much lower cost at that. Despite the efficacy of the CPU, the Acer Aspire S 13 even manages a battery life of 7 hours and 49 minutes.
Read the full review: Acer Aspire S 13
9. Samsung Notebook 9
Greatness doesn't need to break the bank
CPU: 2.3GHz Intel Core i5-6200U | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 520 | RAM: 8GB | Screen: 13.3-inch, FHD (1,920 x 1,080) LED anti-reflective display | Storage: 256GB
The Samsung Notebook 9 may not be the flashiest product on our list, but bang-for-buck, it’s easily one of the best values. A thin and light Ultrabook with a Core i5 Skylake processor, the Samsung Notebook 9 even has one of the most clever takes on an SD card reader we’ve ever seen. Besides being more powerful than a MacBook Air for a reasonable price, the Samsung Notebook 9 is featherlight without compromise, bearing a full range of ports and even an anti-glare display. On the downside, it's the battery life takes a hit. It only lasted 4 hours and 20 minutes playing Guardians of the Galaxy on loop. For a longer lasting alternative, see the Asus Zenbook UX305.
Read the full review: Samsung Notebook 9
10. Surface Book
The ultimate Windows 10 hybrid laptop
CPU: Intel Core i5 – i7 | Graphics: Intel HD graphics 520 – Nvidia GeForce graphics | RAM: 8GB – 16GB | Screen: 13.5-inch, 3,000 x 2,000 PixelSense Display | Storage: 128GB – 256GB PCIe3.0 SSD
If the Surface Pro 4 piques your interest but the Surface Laptop is too traditional, Microsoft knocked it out of the park with its first laptop ever, the Surface Book. Though it has a peculiar 3:2 aspect ratio and a 13.5-inch screen that's outside the norm for most laptops, it's one of the best 2-in-1 laptops ever created. That goes without mentioning its Clipboard Mode, wherein it's among the most powerful tablets in the world. Docking the screen into the Surface Book’s keyboard base affords it even more performance by way of a discrete GPU, assuming you opt for a configuration that allows for it. Save for the controversial fulcrum hinge, the Surface Book is a glimpse of the future, even if we’re readily awaiting the Surface Book 2 to amend its foibles.
Read the full review: Surface Book
11. HP Spectre x360 15
Thinner, sexier and faster than ever
CPU: Intel Core i7 | Graphics: Nvidia GeForce 940MX | RAM: 16GB | Screen: 15.6-inch, UHD (3,840 x 2,160) IPS UWVA-backlit multi-touch | Storage: 512GB SSD
HP nailed its 2016 revision to the Spectre x360, and it's done it again with the 2017 version that comes with a host of new modern features for the versatile laptop/tablet hybrid. It may not be as tightly packed as other Ultrabooks, but the HP Spectre x360 15 still looks beautiful, what with its 4K UHD screen. It also keeps the 360-degree hinge, letting you flip the device so you can use it comfortably no matter your needs. Because it includes a stylus and ships with Windows Ink support, the HP Spectre x360 15 may even appeal to dabbling artists. It doesn’t have the same level of pressure sensitivity of the Surface Pen or Apple Pencil, but as a complimentary pack-in, we wouldn’t expect it.
Read the full review: HP Spectre x360 15
Gorgeous, thin and light
CPU: Intel Core m3 – m5 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 515 | RAM: 8GB | Screen: 12-inch, 2304 x 1,440 LED-backlit IPS display | Storage: 256GB – 512GB SSD
Apple’s most attractive laptop yet still rocks an Intel Skylake Core M processor clocked at 1.1GHz to start, aimed at those who don't need power as much as portability and pizazz.The stylish, aluminum unibody design and the Retina display are all back, and the only connector port that remains is USB-C – aside from a single 3.5mm audio jack. Though the reversible port has gained more traction since last year's debut, the 12-inch MacBook still practically requires the willingness to lug around adapters and take a performance hit in the name of stellar design. However, if you don’t mind the sacrifices (or if you just don’t need to use many accessories), the appetizing Rose Gold finish of the MacBook might be just for you.
Read the full review: MacBook
13. Asus ZenBook Flip UX360
MacBook speeds with more ports for fewer dollars
CPU: Intel Core m3 – Core m7 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 515 | RAM: 4GB | Screen: 13.3-inch, FHD (1,920 x 1,080) LED-backlit glare touchscreen | Storage: 128GB – 512GB SSD
When it comes to crafting an affordable Windows laptop with a premium feel, Asus takes the cake. The Asus ZenBook Flip UX360 in particular combines a mid-range price tag with a convertible form factor, a full-size trackpad and keyboard and an extensive array of ports. These include USB-C, micro HDMI, micro SDXC, yes, standard USB ports and even a 3.5mm headphone jack. In the pre-2015 MacBook era, these features would be expected, but nowadays, they’re an anomaly given the standards of today’s laptops. Don’t go in expecting the ZenBook Flip UX360 to be old-fashioned, however, because as the name suggests, this is a notebook that prides itself on its ability to shapeshift 360 degrees, “flipping” seamlessly between tablet and laptop at will.
Read the full review: Asus ZenBook Flip UX360
14. Dell XPS 15
A multifaceted champion of 15-inch laptops
CPU: Intel Core i3 – i7 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 630 – Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 | RAM: 8GB – 16GB | Screen: 15.6-inch, FHD (1,920 x 1,080) – UHD (3,840 x 2,160) InfinityEdge display | Storage: 500GB HDD; 32GB SSD – 1TB PCIe SSD
The Dell XPS 15 is more than just a supersized version of the Dell XPS 13. Sporting the option of a 4K screen and a discrete, Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 graphics card, the Dell XPS 15 tries to do it all and – in some aspects – it succeeds. For productivity, the XPS 15 is a no-brainer. It boasts a smart yet subtle design exhibiting plenty of coffee shop appeal, while the battery gives you enough juice for several hours of work. And, unlike a lot of other laptops as of late, the Dell XPS 15 doesn’t oust your favorite ports in its adoption of USB-C.
Read the full review: Dell XPS 15
15. MacBook Pro (15-inch, Late 2016)
Bigger isn’t always better, but for the MacBook Pro it is
CPU: Intel Core i7 | Graphics: AMD Radeon Pro 450 – 460 | RAM: 16GB | Screen: 15.4-inch Retina (2,880 x 1,800) LED-backlit IPS | Storage: 256GB – 2TB PCIe SSD
For media production, the 15-inch MacBook Pro has been the go-to for many years now. Slight design changes have annually accompanied CPU upgrades, making every new MacBook Pro that comes out a subtle rewrite of its predecessor. The 2016 MacBook Pro, however, saw Apple make changes – for better or worse – that dramatically altered its utility. To Apple outsiders, the decision to omit all the standard USB ports and SD slots in favor of four USB-C connections is baffling. For the fans, however, it’s a strategic means of future-proofing. Regardless of how you feel about the concessions, the MacBook Pro’s most alluring invention is the Touch Bar, which replaces the function keys and, in turn, introduces a layer of functionality only possible with the latest MacBook Pro. While early impressions of the Touch Bar were skeptical, support for the hardware only seems to be accelerating.
Read the full review: Apple MacBook Pro (15-inch, Late 2016)
Gabe Carey has also contributed to this article