Updated: Out of the shadow of the Surface Pro 4, the HP Spectre x2 has emerged as an affordable Windows tablet champion
Laptops are on the rise again thanks to Windows 10's arrival, Nivida's efficient Maxwell graphics cards, and fresh new Skylake processors from Intel. Notebooks once thought to be replaced by tablets are more plentiful and diverse than ever between gaming laptops that hook up to liquid-coolers, thin and light Ultrabooks to incredibly affordable Chromebooks. Even Microsoft has gotten into the game with the Surface Book.
Article continues below
With so many options to choose from, picking the best laptop for your needs is more important than ever. Those who crave fast boot up times and a lightweight machine to carry might drool over an Ultrabook. Serious gamers will gravitate towards gaming laptops tailored to their graphical and processing needs, while those after flexibility might fancy a convertible laptop-tablet hybrid.
It might seem overwhelming at first – what with all of the available choices – but we're here to help you find the best laptop for you. Believe us when we say that there is a perfect laptop out there for you. With this guide, you'll find the absolutely best machines.
1. Dell XPS 13
Dell's latest laptop is a masterpiece ahead of the curve
CPU: 2.2Ghz Intel Core i5-5200 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 5500 | RAM: 8GB | Screen: 13.3-inch 3,200 x 1,800 UltraSharp QHD+ touch display | Storage: 256GB SSD
The Dell XPS 13 isn't just an astonishingly thin and light laptop, it's a revolution in design. Fitting a 13.3-inch screen into a 11-inch laptop frame is no small feat, but Dell has pulled off a miracle creating a nearly borderless infinity display. This is also one powerful and long lasting machine that only gets better with the new Skylake processors, all while coming in at a very affordable starting price. For these reasons, it easily takes the top slot as the best Ultrabook, the best Windows laptop and the best overall laptop.
Read the full review: Dell XPS 13
2. Asus ZenBook UX305
Better than the MacBook and at a fraction of the price
CPU: 800MHz Intel Core M 5Y10| Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 5300 | RAM: 8GB | Screen: 13.3-inch FHD 1,920 x 1,080 (matte) | Storage: 256GB SSD
The Asus ZenBook UX305 might look like a MacBook Air from every angle, but it's a better machine in almost every way. It's thinner, lighter and even more attractive in some ways with its purple tinged aluminum body. With a sharp display, a good helping of storage space and a fanless design to keep things thin and silent, this machine is one hot ticket. Most importantly, though, you can get this whole great package at a very affordable price.
Read the full review: Asus ZenBook UX305
3. Asus Chromebook Flip
A premium Chromebook that backflips on command
CPU: 1.8GHz Rockchip 3288-C | Graphics: ARM Mali T624 | RAM: 2GB LPDDR3 SDRAM | Screen: 10.1-inch, WXGA (1,280 x 800) IPS multi-touch display | Storage: 16GB eMMC
When most people think of Chromebooks they might expect some cheap, plastic device that's only just good enough to get them by through a day of computing. Asus on the other hand offers the fully metal Chromebook Flip that doubles as a tablet just for the heck of it. The 10.1-inch, 2-in-1 Chromebook is an exceedingly light laptop that feels premium to the touch. Thanks to a little known Rockchip processor, it can also outrun most other Chrome OS machines both in performance and with its eight hour battery life.
Read the full review: Asus Chromebook Flip
4. 13-inch MacBook Air (early 2015)
Light and faster than ever
CPU: 1.6GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 6000 | RAM: 8GB | Screen: 13.3-inch, LED-backlit glossy display (1440 x 900) | Storage: 256GB SSD
While the latest MacBook Air sticks to its guns with a dated design and low-resolution screen, it's not showing any signs of slowing down on the performance front. Thanks to a capable CPU, this thin and light machine can handle everything from simple web browsing to serious number crunching and even some light gaming. Sure the New MacBook is lighter and thinner, but it does not come with the Air's spread of full-sized ports nor a 13 hour battery life to last you though an entire day.
Read the full review: 13-inch MacBook Air (early 2015)
5. Surface Pro 4
The best iteration in Windows 10 tablets
CPU: 2.4GHz Intel Core i5-6300U | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 520 | RAM: 8GB | Screen: 12.3-inch, 2,736 x 1,824 PixelSense display | Storage: 256GB
There's a new reigning king of Windows tablets and its name is the Surface Pro 4. Building on everything the last iteration got right, this new slate introduces a larger screen more sensitive touchscreen perfected for everything from penning documents to painting images. Thanks to a newly redesigned island keyboard, tapping away on the Type Cover feels almost as good as a real laptop and the glass trackpad feels simply superb. Internally the Microsoft's latest also features a faster processor and storage, all in a shell that's actually lighter and thinner than the Surface Pro 3. Overall, these improvements make the Surface Pro 4 an affordable Windows tablet that really can replace your laptop.
Read the full review: Surface Pro 4
6. Surface Book
The ultimate Windows 10 hybrid laptop
CPU: 2.4GHz Intel Core i5-6300U | Graphics: Intel HD graphics 520; Nvidia GeForce graphics | RAM: 8GB | Screen: 13.5-inch, 3,000 x 2,000 PixelSense Display | Storage: 256GB PCIe3.0 SSD
If you're looking for a more traditional notebook, Microsoft knocked it out of the park with its first ever laptop, the Surface Book. Though it has a peculiar 3:2 aspect ratio and 13.5-inch screen that's outside of the norm for most Ultrabooks, it's one of the best designed convertible laptops ever created. As a standalone tablet, otherwise known as the Clipboard, it's the most powerful and thinnest Windows 10 computers in the world, then docking it into the keyboard base affords it even more performance by way of its discrete GPU.
Read the full review: Surface Book
7. Toshiba Chromebook 2
One of the best full HD Chromebooks
CPU: 2.16GHz Intel Celeron N2840 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics | RAM: 4GB | Screen: 13.3-inch, 1920 x 1090 TruBrite TFT display | Storage: 16GB SSD
Of course, if a long lasting machine is what you seek, you should invest in a Chromebook. The Toshiba Chromebook 2 lasts for six and a half hours and packs a wonderfully colorful full HD screen to boot. It's a better package compared to most Windows laptops you can pickup at this low, low price. Although the Toshiba Chromebook 2 is looking a bit old now with its last generation processor, it can still hold its own, and even today it remains to be one of the more attractive Chrome OS machines - better yet, Toshiba has announced it updated the Chromebook 2 with Broadwell Celeron and Core i3 processors.
Read the full review: Toshiba Chromebook 2
8. New MacBook 2015
Gorgeous, thin and light
CPU: 1.1GHz dual-core Intel Core M | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 5300 | RAM: 8GB | Screen: 12-inch, 2,304 x 1,440 LED-backlit IPS display | Storage: 256GB SSD
If you want a real bombshell of a laptop, look no further than the extremely slender MacBook. It's come a long way from the days of being the MacBook Pro's rounded, plastic underling. Apple reintroduced the MacBook as one of the World's thinnest and lightest laptops featuring a razor sharp aluminum unibody and high-resolution Retina display, which still hasn't made its way into the MacBook Air. The nigh travel-less keyboard takes a little getting used and forget about using ports without an adapter, but if you can get over these humps, the MacBook is a machine that will turn heads and make your friends jealous.
Read the full review: New MacBook
9. Lenovo Yoga 900
A thoughtfully refined 2-in-1 convertible
CPU: 2.5GHz Intel Core i7-6500U | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 520 | RAM: 16GB | Screen: 13.3-inch QHD+ 3,200 x 1,800 IPS display | Storage: 512GB SSD
Whereas the Lenovo Yoga Pro 3 had a winning design and underwhelming performance, the Yoga 900 is the full package. By integrating more powerful Intel Core I processors and a larger battery, Lenovo's latest flagship convertible can stand toe-to-toe with most Ultrabooks and even Microsoft's latest Surface Book. All this extra power has only made the Yoga 900 slightly thicker and heavier, however, it still largely retains a very thin and flexible frame that folds back into tablet mode.
Read the full review: Lenovo Yoga 900
10. HP Spectre x360
Striking the perfect balance between a laptop and tablet
CPU: 2.2GHz Intel Core i5-5200 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 5500 | RAM: 8GB | Screen: 13.3-inch, 1,920 x 1,080 FHD Radiance LED-backlit touchscreen | Storage: 256GB SSD
The HP Spectre x360 comes easily as one of our most recommended 2-in-1 hybrid laptops. It's one of the best looking and most powerful hybrid notebooks out today, and the vibrantly bright display doesn't hurt either. Although it weighs nearly as much as a 13-inch MacBook Pro Retina, its dimensions put it more in line with a MacBook Air and the fully metal body is a nice touch too, even if it ends up making this convertible notebook a tad bit too heavy for prolonged tablet use. Users who want even more power should look to the Bang & Olufsen limited edition version, which comes with newer Skylake processors.
Read the full review: HP Spectre x360
11. MacBook Pro 13-inch with Retina display (early 2015)
Robust and stunning, the MacBook Pro is as good as old reliable
CPU: 2.7GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 | Graphics: Intel Iris Graphics 6100 | RAM: 8GB | Screen: 13.3-inch IPS, 2,560 x 1,600 pixels| Storage: 128GB SSD
The MacBook Pro is a tried and true road warrior. Whether you're a student, graphic designer, desk jockey, photographer, DJ or a simple everyday user, this is one of the most versatile and best laptops ever made. Along with delivering great performance and amazing battery life, this latest MacBook Pro comes with Apple's new fangled Force Touch trackpad giving you access to more gesture commands. It's an even more enticing option when you add up all the bundled freebies including office programs and software upgrades.
Read the full review: MacBook Pro 13-inch with Retina display (early 2015)
12. HP Spectre x2
A budget Windows tablet filled to the gills with tech
CPU: 1.2GHz Intel Core m7-6Y75 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 515 | RAM: 8GB | Screen: 12-inch, 1,920 x 1,280 WUXGA+ IPS WLED-backlit touchscreen | Storage: 256GB SSD
While the Surface Pro 4 has established itself as one of the very best Windows 10 tablets in the market, the HP Spectre x2 is another standout device that comes at a very attractive price. This Intel Core M-powered 12-inch tablet is a smidge thinner while offering a long battery life. Aesthetically, the Spectre x2 feels like an even more premium device with a solid metal body and stylish bar-shaped kickstand. The Windows tablet also comes jam packed with tech including a quadruple speakers and a total of three cameras.
Read the full review: HP Spectre x2
13. Dell Inspiron 13 7000
A great all-around laptop-tablet hybrid for discerning students
CPU: 2.4GHz Intel Core i7-5500 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 5500 | RAM: 8GB | Screen: 13.3-inch, 1,920 x 1,080 FHD IPS touchscreen | Storage: 256GB SSD
Then again for those who don't need the latest laptop on the block and rather stick to their guns with something more traditional, the Dell Inspiron 13 7000 is a lovely fit. With a metal chassis coated in soft-touch rubber, this Special Edition 13-inch laptop hardly feels like a budget machine. Aside from the more than serviceable computing experience you'll get out of this notebook, the screen also flips back giving you a 1,080p tablet experience.
Read the full review: Dell Inspiron 13 7000
14. Acer Chromebook 15 C910
This 15-inch Chromebook has it all
CPU: 2.2GHz dual-core Intel Core i5-5200 | Graphics: Intel HD 5500 | RAM: 4GB | Screen: 15.6-inch full HD (1,920 x 1,080) | Storage: 32GB SSD
Who says Chromebooks can be big too. While the mass majority of Chrome OS machines come in the shape of low-powered 13- to 10-inch laptops, the Acer Chromebook C910 is the 15-inch big daddy. Not only does it come rocking a vibrant 15-inch, 1080p display, it also has a substantially more powerful Intel Core processor for some more heavy duty Cloud computing. You might think all this added power would take a chunk out of the battery life, but this Chromebook colossus can last for nearly nine hours.
Read the full review: Acer Chromebook 15 C910
15. Lenovo LaVie Z
This skinny kid can fight
CPU: 2.40GHz Intel Core i7-5500U | Graphics: Intel HD Graphic 5500 | RAM: 8GB | Screen: 13.3-inch WQHD (2560 x 1440) LED anti-glare | Storage: 256GB
A laptop as light as a tablet? It's not as crazy as you think with the Lenovo LaVie Z weighing less than two pounds. Aside from its lightweight chassis, the Lavie Z offers better performance and a higher resolution screen than most of its 13-inch Ultrabook competitors. Still, this machine has a few unfavorable characteristics including a soft build quality, inferior battery life and inflated price tag; major turn offs for what is an otherwise splendid device.
Read the full review: Lenovo LaVie Z