They may not be as easy to upgrade as a desktop (and, in the case of the Surface Laptop, even a MacBook), but laptops still have their place in the world. After all, isn’t it more convenient to have your monitor, mouse and keyboard all neatly packaged into one device?
Despite tablets being all the rage for a split second, there’s still an unbridled need for the best laptops. With Intel processors under their belts, they’re powerful yet portable and tote designs that will make your coffee shop acquaintances green with envy.
Whether you crave the autonomy of playing your favorite PC games on the go or simply prefer the efficacy of drafting up documents using a full-size physical keyboard, the top laptops have it all. A laptop is the one device to truly marry both productivity and leisure.
With hybrids, Ultrabooks, traditional clamshells and – more powerful than ever – gaming laptops in tow, these are the best laptops you can buy. To get straight to the reviews, check the links below:
- Dell XPS 13
- Razer Blade Stealth
- Asus Chromebook Flip
- HP Spectre x360
- Razer Blade
- Samsung Notebook 7 Spin
- Acer Aspire S 13
- Samsung Notebook 9
- Surface Book
- Asus ZenBook Flip UX360
- Dell XPS 15
- Huawei MateBook X
- Apple MacBook Pro (15-inch, Late 2016)
- Acer Swift 7
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. 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
3. 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
4. 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
5. 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
6. 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
7. 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
8. 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
9. 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 is too small but the Surface Laptop is too traditional, Microsoft knocked it out of the park with its first convertible laptop, namely 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 notebooks 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 the top of the line Surface Book i7. Save for the controversial fulcrum hinge, the Surface Book is a glimpse of the future, even if it’s long due for a sequel.
Read the full review: Surface Book
Gorgeous, thin and light
CPU: Intel Core m3 – m7 | 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
11. 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 – like HDMI and USB Type-A – that have been done away with virtually everywhere else. 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
12. 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
13. Huawei MateBook X
A MacBook-like design with Ultrabook specs
CPU: Intel Core i5 – i7 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 620 | RAM: 4GB – 8GB | Screen: 13-inch, 2,160 x 1,440 IPS | Storage: 256GB – 512GB SSD
When the third largest smartphone maker in the world starts manufacturing its own laptop, it’s worth paying attention. And by that, we’re referring to the Huawei MateBook X, a thin and lightweight Ultrabook shamelessly inspired by Apple’s 12-inch MacBook, almost to a T. While it’s a little pricier than Apple’s most affordable non-Air laptop, the Huawei MateBook X demolishes in terms of specs. Rather than using Intel Core M- or Y-series processors, the Huawei MateBook X takes advantage of a more competent 7th-generation U-class processor of either the i5 or i7 variety. The crisp, QHD-esque display and Dolby Atmos speakers are merely icing on the cake.
Read the full review: Huawei MateBook X
14. 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.
Read the full review: Apple MacBook Pro (15-inch, Late 2016)
15. Acer Swift 7
The anti-MacBook, for better or worse
CPU: Intel Core i5 – i7 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 615 | RAM: 8GB | Screen: 13.3-inch, FHD (1,920 x 1,080) IPS LED | Storage: 256 – 512GB SSD
If you value portability and design over performance, the Acer Swift 7 may be the best Windows alternative to the 12-inch MacBook you can buy. Featuring a 13-inch full HD screen, what it lacks in pixels, it more than makes up for in its mobility. And, speaking of which, the Acer Swift 7 is thinner than both the MacBook and the HP Spectre, another one of its closest rivals, though it is notably heavier than both of them. Still, the Swift 7 starting configuration is both faster and cheaper than Apple’s, plus it has – not one but – two USB Type-C ports on board. Just be prepared for somewhat substandard battery life.
Read the full review: Acer Swift 7
Gabe Carey has also contributed to this article