This year's crop of laptops are among some of the best we've ever seen, and while the MacBook Air (M2, 2022) still reigns supreme, it is facing some serious competition from Dell, HP, Lenovo, and others.
This is more important than ever as we all head back to school in the US and UK, whether for yourself, your partner, or your child. Laptops are an essential part of any student's educational toolbox, and it's important to find one that can get your through whatever program of schooling you need it for.
We'll be updating this list all month with new laptops as we review them, so definitely check back regularly as you do your last minute back to school shopping.
- John Loeffler, US Computing Editor
The best laptop on the market is going to be the one that best suits your needs at a price you can afford, and with so many options out there, there is a laptop that easily fits the bill.
The problem, of course, is finding that laptop. With literally hundreds of laptops to choose from, it can often be overwhelming to shop for a new notebook. With everything from the best gaming laptops to the best MacBooks and best Ultrabooks providing their own unique trade-offs, it's essential to know what kind of laptop you really need.
If you're looking to game on the go but money is tighter than you'd like, then the best cheap gaming laptops will have a lot to offer. If you're just looking for something to get you through school, then the best student laptops or best 2-in-1 laptops will likely serve you well.
Whatever you're after though, we're here to help you find the laptop you're looking for. We've tested the best laptops out there across all categories and we've pulled together our top picks to help make your buying decision easier than ever, whatever your need and budget.
The best laptops 2022
As we had hoped, the new Apple MacBook Air (M2, 2022) is the best laptop you can currently buy, improving on Apple's previous model (which is still on this list), in a range of important ways.
It's got a brand-new design that gives it a more modern feel, while making it thinner and lighter, and in our review, we loved the fact that it also features a larger, brighter, screen.
There's even more good additions with this new model, including a larger Touch ID sensor for logging in with your fingerprint, and a 1080p webcam, which makes the new MacBook Air a brilliant laptop for people who make a lot of video calls - and these days, that's most of us. Meanwhile, the new MagSafe charging port makes topping up the battery of the new MacBook Air easy, safe and fast.
The insides of the MacBook Air are just as revolutionary as the outside, with the powerful new M2 chip offering excellent performance for a range of tasks such as 4K video editing. The MacBook Air (M2, 2022)'s battery life is also absolutely fantastic, lasting over 16 hours in our tests, so if you're looking for a laptop that is thin, light and powerful, and can be taken almost anywhere, this is for you.
However, it is more expensive than the previous model - by quite a bit, so if you're looking for something more affordable, consider the still-excellent MacBook Air (M1, 2020), which is our pick as the best value laptop of 2022.
Make sure you check out all the best MacBook Air deals and sales available now before you buy.
Read the full review: MacBook Air (M2, 2022)
The brilliant Lenovo IdeaPad Duet Chromebook proves how good modern Chromebooks are these days. It can be used as a laptop or a tablet, and it's backed up by some very impressive specs.
Is it a Chromebook or is it a tablet? Well, luckily, you won’t have to decide with the brilliant Lenovo IdeaPad Duet Chromebook. True to its name, this Chromebook delivers two form factors in one, while utilizing the versatility of the Chrome OS and setting you back much less than many of the top Windows tablets out there.
Like all the best Chromebooks, its battery packs an incredibly long life of almost 22 hours – so you could pull an all-nighter, work through the day and mid-afternoon, and you’ll still pass out before it runs out of juice.
For this price, sacrifices have to be made, naturally – in our review, we noted that the keyboard is tiny, the trackpad isn’t as reliable, and the charger and headphones share one port. However, if budget is your top priority, those are definitely not deal-breakers.
Read the full review: Lenovo IdeaPad Duet Chromebook
The Apple MacBook Air (M1, 2020) remains easily the best value laptop money can buy right now. Thanks to the revolutionary ARM-based Apple M1 chip that powers the MacBook Air, this is a stunning achievement: a thin and light laptop that offers great performance, even with 4K video editing, while also offering incredible battery life.
We were really impressed by the battery life in our review. Easily managing over 11 hours on a single charge, this is a laptop you can easily carry around with you at work or school, and its price is incredibly competitive compared to Windows 10 rivals like the Dell XPS 15. Running both new and old Mac apps, the M1 MacBook Air can now also run iOS apps for iPhone and iPads, giving it access to hundreds of brilliant mobile applications and games as well.
While the newer MacBook Air (M2, 2022) is now out (and is our current pick as the best laptop overall), it's a lot more expensive, and with the price of the older MacBook Air (which Apple is still selling) often hitting $899 or less, while still offering excellent performance, this is a great laptop for people who want excellent value for money.
Read the full review: MacBook Air (M1, 2020)
While Apple blew us away with the new MacBook Air (above), arch rival Microsoft has also impressed us with its Surface Laptop 4. As with previous Surface devices, build quality and design is absolutely top-notch here, and its gorgeous PixelSense touchscreen really sets it apart from the competition (a touchscreen is something we've yet to see on an Apple laptop, as Microsoft likes to remind us).
It also comes with a brilliant keyboard that's a joy to type on, and some pretty great specs as well, which ensures that Windows 11, and all your favorite apps, run extremely well. Battery life is also very impressive – lasting over 13 hours in our tests – and the price is impressively competitive as well.
Read the full review: Microsoft Surface Laptop 4
Beyond the Acer Swift 3's modest exterior, you'll find an excellent laptop that boasts plenty of power for work and study. The Swift 3 (not to be confused with the Switch 3 another laptop from Acer) is an inexpensive laptop; however, that plain chassis is all-aluminum and packed with beefy components.
In terms of performance, it gets surprisingly close to the far more expensive Microsoft Surface Laptop. Its display is a little lower-res, but the two are otherwise strikingly similar - other than the price.
It's also pretty robust, as we found out in our review through an unfortunate cat-related incident, which is always a positive worth noting.
This laptop is incredible to use as well, with its roomy trackpad as well as its backlit keyboard that offers a comfortable typing experience with decent travel. If you're going to be writing a lot – whether you’re traveling or at the office, this is one of the best budget laptops 2022 has on offer.
Read the full review: Acer Swift 3
The powerful MacBook Pro 14-inch is easily the best productivity laptop you can buy in 2022. For creative professionals such as photographers, video editors and music producers, the MacBook Pro 14-inch (2021) is a dream to use, thanks to a choice between powerful new M1 Pro or M1 Max chips that can handle even the most intensive workloads with ease.
In fact, based on our experience, we think this is hands-down the best laptop for creative professionals we’ve ever tested.
Not only that, but its Liquid Retina XDR display with mini-LED technology is absolutely stunning, and the best screen you can get on a laptop right now. Add in a 1080p webcam and boosted port selection, and you have a brilliant business and productivity laptop. It won't be for everyone – the price and power will be too much for most people's needs – but if you want a killer laptop to do creative work on, this is the laptop to get. For everyone else, check out the MacBook Air (M1, 2020) instead.
Read the full review: MacBook Pro 14-inch (2021)
Now coming with 11th-generation Intel Core processors, which offer a decent performance boost, and feature better integrated Intel Iris Xe graphics, the HP Spectre x360 (2021) is better than ever.
It still features the impeccable 2-in-1 design and pristine gem-cut chassis that these laptops are known for, meaning that the HP Spectre x360 (2021) is one of the best looking 2-in-1 laptops ever made, and when it comes to build quality, it's rivalled only by the excellent MacBook Air (M1, 2020).
While it's certainly pricey, you're getting some excellent extras, such as formidable security features and Bang & Olufsen speakers. In our review, we did find its tablet mode a bit clumsy since it’s a bit too big to use comfortably. However, if you care about aesthetics as much as you do performance and overall quality, this is the laptop for you.
Read the full review: HP Spectre x360 (2021)
At this point, we doubt that the Dell XPS line can do anything wrong. Its yearly updates have consistently made it into our best laptops list, and they’re only getting better. The Dell XPS 13 (2020) is not only a gorgeous piece of kit. It also comes, as expected, with excellent performance, a stunning display and long battery life, alongside a few others.
Much like its predecessor, it’s a pricey investment – but that is barely reason enough for us to discourage Ultrabook fans. Our one gripe, as with most Ultrabooks, is the confounding choice of downward-firing speakers that can muffle the sound. For this price, we'd hope for better. Still, you'd be pressed to find much better.
Once again, Dell has produced an incredibly accomplished thin and light notebook that's a joy to use, and well worth investing in, if you have the budget.
Read the full review: Dell XPS 13 (2020)
This luxurious thin and light gaming laptop from Razer just oozes class, and is an ideal laptop for people who want a gaming device they can take around with them. In our Razer Blade 14 review, we called it the "go-to gaming laptop for anyone who wants a luxury gaming laptop." It's solidly built, so you won't worry about it getting damaged during your travels, and it's one of the nicest looking modern gaming laptops we've seen.
It's not all about looks, however, as the Razer Blade 14 comes with cutting edge components as well, including the awesome AMD Ryzen 9 5900HX processor and up to an RTX 3080 graphics card. This means you'll be able to play any AAA game you want in all its glory. It's by far the best gaming laptop you can buy in in 2022, but it does cost a lot of money.
Read the full review: Razer Blade 14
The Dell XPS 17 (2022) is the best laptop for people who are looking for a large screen, but also want a slick and stylish device that can be comfortably carried around. This year's model comes with Intel's latest 12th-gen Alder Lake CPUs, and it can even be kitted out with a graphics card. While we wouldn't suggest using this as a gaming laptop, it means it's great for graphic-intensive tasks like video editing.
With its gorgeous display and outstanding design, this is also a fantastic laptop to show off while you're out and about getting your work done, whether that's at the office, at the coffee shop, or on the road if you travel for work. It's got a fantastic battery life that will let you keep working for hours without needing a charge. If you like the look of the Dell XPS 13, which is also on this list of the best laptops, but want a larger screen, this is a fantastic choice.
Read the full Dell XPS 17 (2022) review
The Asus ZenBook 13 is a brilliant laptop, and the 2021 model comes with some of the best mobile tech you'll find in a modern notebook. So, it packs a choice of an AMD Ryzen 5000 series processor, or Intel 11th gen CPU. It also has an absolutely stunning 13.3-inch OLED screen and one of the best battery lives around.
There's also up to 32GB of RAM and up to 1TB of SSD storage, which makes this a brilliant laptop for working on.
It's also supremely thin and light, as well as stylishly designed, which makes it a joy to carry around and use. It's also pretty respectably priced compared to competitors like the Dell XPS 13. The only downsides are that there's no headphone jack – which is a bit of a shame, but likely a result of its ultra-thin design, and during our time testing and reviewing the Asus ZenBook 13, we found that the integrated AMD Ryzen graphics weren't quite as good as Intel's offering. Despite that, this is still a brilliant ultra-thin laptop that's well worth considering.
Read the full review: Asus ZenBook 13 (2021)
The Asus TUF Dash F15 is ideal if you're looking for a machine that can play the latest games, but doesn't blow a hole in your bank balance.
Asus' TUF lineup of laptops have been earning plaudits for their excellent value for money, and the new Asus TUF Dash F15 continues that fine tradition.
While we weren't too jazzed with its keyboard and trackpad in our review, its excellent build quality, brilliant battery for a gaming laptop, and impressively thin and light design makes it a brilliant value gaming laptop.
It also features Intel Tiger Lake processors, Nvidia GeForce RTX 3000 mobile GPUs, and up to a 240Hz 1080p display.
Read the full review: Asus TUF Dash F15