Looking to upgrade to a brand-new laptop? If so, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve scoured the market looking for the top laptops and curated an even more select list of the very best available right now. All of the picks below have been personally tested and vetted by our experts here at PCWorld. From classic clamshells to versatile 2-in-1’s, we’ve got you covered. If you’re on a tight budget, don’t worry, we’ve also thrown in the best affordable options such as Chromebooks as well.

Read on to learn more about our picks for the best laptops. And if you’re looking to save some cash on your purchase, be sure to take a look at our roundup of the best laptop deals, updated every weekday.

Also, with just a few weeks left before the new semester, be sure to check out our back-to-school deals page to help stretch that college budget even further. We will be updating it with the best deals on Chromebooks, MacBooks, iPads, and more.

Without further ado, these are the best laptops we’ve tested.

Updated 01/23/2023: Check out our latest reviews of the Acer Chromebook Spin 514 and the HP Dragonfly Folio G3. The Spin 514 is a speedy 2-in-1 Chromebook with a durable design and a rather expensive price tag. The Dragonfly Folio G3 is a premium Windows 2-in-1 that is very pricey but comes with a nice feature set for business tasks and high-quality design elements.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 9 – Best productivity laptop

Pros

Roomy 16:10 display

Thin and light yet rugged

Stellar keyboard

Quiet operation

Booming audio

Two Thunderbolt 4 ports

Cons

Webcam limited to 720p

Display color is a bit cool





Best Prices Today:



$1,399.99 at Amazon

ThinkPads are generally hailed as being awesome business laptops because of their comfortable keyboards and silent operation. With its quiet keyboard, security features, and booming audio, the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 9 is one such laptop. It’s packing a quad-core Core i7-1185G7, 16GB of RAM, and integrated Iris Xe graphics. That means it’s well-equipped to handle “Office and other productivity apps” and “a variety of multitasking scenarios.” The real star of the show is the 16:10 display, though, as it gives you plenty of room to work with. If you consider yourself a business professional, you’ll definitely want to pick this one up.

Read our full
Review Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 9

Razer Blade 17 (2022) – Best gaming laptop

Pros

Excellent gaming performance

Great selection of ports including 2 x Thunderbolt 4

Sturdy robust design

Cons

Poor battery life unplugged

Keyboard lacks a numpad

The Razer Blade 17 (2022) is a gamer’s ultimate dream. It’s a robust laptop with a stunning 240Hz display and a wide array of ports, including two Thunderbolt 4. Plus, you can expect awesome gaming performance thanks to the Intel 12-gen i7 CPU and GeForce RTX 3080 Ti GPU. That’s some serious power. However, you’re going to pay out the nose for it, as it costs thousands of dollars. If you’re willing to shell out the big bucks, then the Blade 17 is phenomenal option. If your budget is more limited, check out the ASUS VivoBook Pro 15 OLED below, which is our best budget gaming laptop pick.

Read our full
Review Razer Blade 17 (2022)

ASUS VivoBook Pro 15 OLED Ultra Slim Laptop – Best budget gaming laptop

Pros

Good productivity performance

Superb display

Rugged design

Great battery life

Cons

Boring aesthetics

Unimpressive 720p webcam

Unreliable fingerprint scanner

Poor port selection




Looking for a reliable budget gaming laptop? The ASUS VivoBook Pro 15 OLED is a fantastic option. According to our tester, this laptop is great for “gaming, streaming, and day-to-day productivity.” Thanks to the AMD Ryzen 7 5800H CPU and the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 (4GB GDDR6) GPU, we were able to hit 60 frames-per-second at 1080p on high graphics during the Shadow of the Tomb Raider benchmark. Plus, the OLED display is absolutely beautiful and battery life is surprisingly good. There are a few minor shortcomings, however.

The overall design is a little plain and the port selection is limited, and you’ll need to drop down to Medium or High graphics in strenuous modern AAA games on the RTX 3050. Nitpicks aside, if you’re looking for reliable performance on a gorgeous OLED screen, the VivoBook Pro 15 is where the party’s at. If you don’t mind giving up those luscious OLED visuals for a bit more graphics firepower, you should take a look at the Acer Swift X, which is our next entry.

Read our full
Review ASUS VivoBook Pro 15 OLED Ultra Slim Laptop

Acer Aspire 5 – Best budget laptop

Pros

Affordable price

Rugged build

Great keyboard

Good selection of ports

Cons

Subpar webcam

Annoying bloatware comes pre-installed

Touchpad is a little hard to use





Best Prices Today:



$449.00 at Amazon

With its affordable price point, decent performance, and robust build, the Acer Aspire 5 is a good budget option for most people. While the color scheme is a little boring to look at, the build is surprisingly rugged. Our tester was surprised by its “solid, durable feel.” The keyboard is nice, too. It has a spacious layout, which is perfect for longer typing sessions. Performance is fast enough for general use tasks like writing emails and browsing the web, but that’s about it. If you’re shopping around for a solid everyday laptop that won’t break the bank, the Aspire 5 is definitely worth a look.

Alternatively, you can check out our review of the Acer Aspire 5 (2022 edition) for the latest updated version of this laptop. However, we didn’t feel that the upgrades—as well as the price hike—warranted replacing our original best budget pick.

Read our full
Review Acer Aspire 5

Dell XPS 13 Plus – Best ultraportable

Pros

Fast CPU

Gorgeous 3.5K OLED

Great audio

Cons

Only two USB-C Ports

Middling battery performance

No headset jack

The Dell XPS is not only an excellent ultraportable, but it comes with leading-edge performance and a stunning OLED panel. The 14-core Intel Core i7-1280P CPU means it’s no slouch in processing performance either. It’s not only great for general-use, but it can easily handle photo editing tasks as well. This device also comes equipped with Intel Xe graphics, 16GB of RAM, and 512GB of SSD storage.

Despite being only 13.4 inches, the OLED touchscreen is absolutely gorgeous. With a resolution of 3456×2160, the picture is sharp and vibrant. Unfortunately, since the design is so compact, it lacks some connectivity and the battery life is only mediocre. If you can forgive those limitations, then the Dell XPS 13 Plus is a good option for most people who need a laptop to travel with.

Read our full
Review Dell XPS 13 Plus 9320

HP Pavilion Plus 14 – Best budget ultraportable

Pros

OLED display is gorgeous

Sleek, all-metal chassis

Strong multimedia performance

Cons

Woeful battery life

Onboard memory can’t be expanded post-purchase

Low contrast between keys and key symbols




The HP Pavilion Plus 14 is a solid ultraportable with a budget-friendly price tag. The all-metal design looks nice and provides durability, giving you the feel of HP’s higher (much more expensive) line of laptops. Under the hood, you’ll find an Intel Core i7-12700H CPU, Intel Iris Xe integrated graphics, 16GB of RAM, and 1TB of PCIe NVMe SSD storage. That’s enough power for productivity work and general-use tasks. It also comes with an absolutely stunning 14-inch OLED display with a resolution of 2880×1800, an aspect ratio of 16:10, and a 90Hz refresh rate.

The main drawback is its substandard battery life, which is unfortunate for a laptop that many people will use during travel. But nonetheless, if you’re looking to save some money on an ultraportable with decent specs, then the HP Pavilion Plus 14 is a great option.

Read our full
Review HP Pavilion Plus 14

Acer Chromebook Spin 713 – Best Chromebook

Pros

Strong performance

Good build quality

Nice selection of ports

Beautiful display

Solid battery life

Cons

No privacy shutter on the webcam

Boring design

Fan noise is a bit loud





Best Prices Today:



$675.99 at Amazon

If you’re looking for a great convertible laptop, the Acer Chromebook Spin 713 will surely fit the bill. You can either prop it up like a tent or fold the screen all the way back and use it like a tablet. We were also impressed with its vibrant display, all-day battery life, and diverse selection of ports. The design is a little utilitarian, but this is the kind of machine that favors function over aesthetics. The build is robust and there was hardly any flex in the keyboard tray. There are a couple of downsides like the loud fan noise and the lack of a physical privacy shutter on the webcam, but these issues are relatively minor. Overall, the Spin 713 is a solid convertible laptop that performs well.

Dell XPS 17 (2022) – Best content creation laptop

Pros

Solid performance for the price

Massive, bright, colorful display 

Offers four Thunderbolt 4 ports 

Long battery life

Cons

Heavy and thick 

Mediocre keyboard

Lacks USB-A, HDMI, or Ethernet

RTX 3060 is the quickest available GPU




Dell’s updated XPS 17 boasts a huge 17-inch screen, 11th-gen Intel CPU, and GeForce RTX 3060 GPU. By packing its 4K, 10-bit color screen into such a compact laptop, and loading the notebook itself with every feature professionals ask for (hello, SD card reader and abundant Thunderbolt 4 ports), the XPS 17 is the poster child for what a content creation workhorse laptop should be. If you’re looking for something different, the Asus VivoBook Pro 16X OLED is a great alternative, thanks to its gorgeous OLED display and unique dial controls. It also happens to be our runner-up pick for the best content creation laptop. Check out the entry below.

Read our full
Review Dell XPS 17 (2022)

Acer Swift 3 – Best for students

Pros

Solid chassis and build quality

Large, attractive 16-inch 1080p screen

Enjoyable keyboard and touchpad

USB-C with charging and DisplayPort

Cons

Webcam, microphone, and speakers don’t impress

Intel processor falls behind AMD alternatives 

Disappointing battery life

Lots of bloatware





Best Prices Today:



$999.99 at Amazon

If you’re looking for a big screen on a modest budget, the Acer Swift 3 is a fantastic option. It features an attractive 16-inch 1080p display, a solid chassis, and an enjoyable keyboard and touchpad. However, battery life is subpar, so you’ll want to keep the charger on hand. This is unfortunate, as the Swift 3’s slim profile makes it a good laptop for travel. If you don’t mind the battery life, this is a great laptop for watching movies and streaming shows.

Read our full
Review Acer Swift 3 SF316-51

Microsoft Surface Pro 8 – Best detachable

Pros

Superior screen: larger, higher-res, higher refresh rate

Inking is a pleasure

Good audio, with louder speakers

New optional Type Cover integrates pen well

Cons

Webcam might need some tweaking

Pen and keyboard still cost extra

Still pricey

Microsoft’s Surface tablets were already atop our list of best 2-in-1 laptops, but Microsoft reworked the Surface Pro 8 in numerous ways by adding a larger, higher-resolution, faster screen, a pair of Thunderbolt ports that replace the legacy Surface Connector, and a new inking experience, among other features.

While this generation of the Surface Pro tablet forgoes an always-connected LTE option as well as the choice of a cheap Core i3, performance still soared to the top of the heap. Benefits like how the increased display refresh rate improves inking are subtle improvements that matter, too. It’s the most dramatic revamp of a Surface in years and it’s all for the better.

Read our full
Review Surface Pro 8

Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 (2022) – Best mid-range gaming laptop

Pros

Powerful CPU and GPU performance in a very compact design

AniMe Matrix screams unique

It has a webcam

Cons

Half permanent RAM

Keyboard backlighting is subpar

The ROG Zephyrus G14 is both lightweight and powerful—a very rare combination. It weighs just a little over three pounds, which makes it a capable traveling laptop. Between the AMD Ryzen 9 6900HS processor and AMD Radeon RX6800S GPU, you can expect strong performance as well. The only weakness is the keyboard. It feels a little mushy and the backlighting is rather unimpressive. That said, if you’re in the market for a portable laptop that delivers zippy performance, the Zephyrus G14 is a great pick.

Read our full
Review ROG Zephyrus G14 (2022)

Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 360 5G – Best coffee shop laptop

Pros

Fantastic 16-hour battery life

Ultra thin, light and svelte

Excellent 1080p OLED display and Dolby audio

Solid value, though a premium price

Cons

Shallow keyboard

A ton of preloaded apps, many from Samsung

No 4K display option




The Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 360 5G offers a gorgeous OLED screen, superb battery life, and an excellent inking experience. It also has a 360-degree hinge, which means you can fold it up like a tent or swing the display around and use it like a tablet. It’s very versatile, which may appeal to students or business professionals. In our review, our tester described it as “an excellent coffee shop PC.” The only drawback is the slow SSD.

Read our full
Review Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 360 5G

HP Chromebook x2 11 da0023dx – Best folio-style Chromebook

Pros

Gorgeous 2K touchscreen

Solid performance

Excellent battery life

Robust design

Cons

Trackpad is too sensitive at times

Light on ports





Best Prices Today:



$224.95 at Amazon

Ah, folio-style laptops. While some may find them cumbersome to deal with, our reviewer really liked this one. The HP Chromebook x2 11 is one of the best 2-in-1 laptops you can buy. The tablet’s aluminum chassis feels rugged and like it’ll last quite a while. The detachable keyboard took some getting used to, but ended up being fine for long typing sessions. The rear plate, which transforms into a kickstand that holds up the tablet, connects to the back of the tablet via magnets. The reviewer found the connection to be both clean and strong. As for the performance, it’s about what you’d expect out of a Chromebook. It’s zippy enough for everyday tasks like browsing the web and so on.

Read our full
Review HP Chromebook x2 11

Lenovo Yoga 9i 14 (2022) – Best 2-in-1

Pros

Sturdy and sleek all-metal chassis

Long battery life

Impressive audio output

Comfortable keyboard

Cons

16:9 screen feels cramped 

Included stylus is too skinny

Undersized touchpad

Limited ports all on left side




The Lenovo Yoga 9i is a fantastic convertible. It has an attractive design, a dazzling OLED display, and great sound quality. Plus, the 12th-gen Intel processor really boosts performance. According to our tester, the processor “packs four performance cores and eight efficiency cores.” That’s quite a bit of power. The 74 watt-hour battery is quite large for a compact 2-in-1 as well. When we put the laptop through our battery test, it died in about 12 hours. You can expect this laptop to last through the work day. There’s a couple of minor nitpicks to be aware of, though. The 19:9 aspect ratio makes the screen feel a bit squished and the touchpad is smaller than we like. If you can live with those small drawbacks, the Yoga 9i is well worth considering.

Read our full
Review Lenovo Yoga 9i 14 (2022)

How we tested

The PCWorld team puts each and every Windows laptop through a series of benchmarks that test GPU and CPU performance, battery life, and so on. The idea is to push the laptop to its limits and then compare it against others we’ve tested. Chromebooks, on the other hand, go through a series of web-based tests. It wouldn’t be fair or possible to run the same kinds of tests on a Chromebook, as they’re Chrome OS-based machines. Below, you’ll find a breakdown of each test and the reasons why we run them.

Windows laptops

PCMark 10: PCMark 10 is how we determine how well the laptop handles lighter tasks like web browsing, word processing, spreadsheets, and so on.HandBrake: HandBrake is more intensive than PCMark 10. It basically measures how long a laptop’s CPU takes to encode a beefy 30GB file. Cinebench: Cinebench is a brief stress test of the CPU cores. It does this by rendering a 2D scene over a short period of time.3DMark: 3DMark checks if 3D performance remains consistent over time by running graphic-intensive clips. Video rundown test: To gauge battery life, we loop a 4K video using Windows 10’s Movies & TV app until the laptop dies.

Chromebooks

CrXPRT 2: The CrXPRT 2 benchmark tests a Chromebook’s battery life. Speedometer 2.0: This test determines a Chromebook’s web browser performance. It simulates this by adding, completing, and removing a to-do list.Basemark Web 3.0: This benchmark gauges how well a Chromebook can handle web-based applications. Kraken 1.1: Kraken 1.1 is a JavaScript performance benchmark. Jetstream 2: Jetstream 2 is a combination of WebAssembly and JavaScript benchmarks. This is a way to gauge how well a Chromebook runs advanced workloads.

Laptop FAQ

Ah, here we are at the billion dollar question. Do you spring for a basic Chromebook or go for a Windows laptop with more features? Well, it really depends on your personal lifestyle and what you plan on using your laptop for. For example, Chromebooks are a great low cost option for those who just want the basics. I use a Chromebook as my primary work laptop, as it has everything I need for both editing and writing. If you travel a bunch for work, it’s probably a good idea to invest in a laptop with solid battery life. If you’re still unsure, don’t sweat it. I’ve put together a list of quick tips below.

What type of laptop should I get?

The first question you should ask yourself is what kind of laptop you’re looking for. There’s traditional clamshells, 2-in-1’s, Chromebooks, and much more. The displays on convertible laptops (aka 2-in-1’s), for example, can swing around 360 degrees. This allows you to use the laptop like a tablet. They can also be propped up like a tent for viewing movies or participating in video calls. Chromebooks, on the other hand, exclusively run Google’s web-focused Chrome OS and are generally used for everyday tasks. All you need is a Gmail account and boom, you’re in. There are pros and cons to each of them. Chromebooks are affordable and generally have good battery life whereas convertibles are normally lightweight and portable.

How much processing power will I need?

If it’s CPU power you’re looking for, look for processors with higher numerical names. A Core i7 is more suited to gaming and more intense work than everyday tasks. Intel processors are available in Core i3, Core i5, Core i7, and Core i9. The higher the number, the more powerful the CPU. If you don’t need a ton of power, Intel Core i5 processors are your best bet, as they offer good performance at a decent price. Basic office and web work gets along just fine on a Core i3. As for AMD options, the Ryzen 3 is good for basic productivity and web browsing, while Ryzen 5 chips rival Intel’s Core i5 as solid all-arounders. If you need more power, the Ryzen 7 chip is well suited for content creation like video editing. Finally, if you’re dealing with 4K video, spring for a Ryzen 9.

What’s the difference between discrete graphics and integrated graphics?

You’ll want a discrete graphics card for hardcore gaming or editing videos. It’s separate from the processor, so you can expect higher performance out of it. Integrated graphics, on the other hand, are attached to the CPU and uses less power as a result. This is perfectly fine for everyday tasks, especially if you’re not doing anything that’s graphics-intensive.

What about memory?

8GB of RAM is zippy enough for general use. If you’ve got a gaming laptop, 16GB of RAM is the way to go, and content creators will want even more.

How big should my display be?

If you’re a video editor or someone who does a lot of multimedia work, you’ll want a display that’s anywhere from 15- to 17-inches. The sweet spot is really anywhere from 13- to 14-inches, though. The bigger the display, the heavier your laptop is going to be. A 13- or 14-inch display is the best in terms of portability and value.

How long should my laptop last on a single charge?

If you plan on taking your laptop anywhere with you, aim for something that can last 10 to 12 hours on a single charge. That’s more than a full work day, so it should theoretically get you through long flights or a day of classes. Obviously, more is always better. Just know that the bigger the battery, the heavier the laptop.

How much should I spend?

The price really depends on your budget. If you’re strapped for cash (been there, trust me), go for a Chromebook or an entry-level business laptop. These laptops are good choices for students or young professionals. If you can afford to spend more, the versatility of a 2-in-1 laptop is really worth it.

What about connectivity?

A wide array of ports is always a plus in my book, as it eliminates the need for an adapter. I’d recommend a laptop that has both USB-C and USB-A. An HDMI port is good, too. This is especially useful for when you want to hook up to an external monitor.

Laptops

Looking to upgrade to a brand-new laptop? If so, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve scoured the market looking for the top laptops and curated an even more select list of the very best available right now. All of the picks below have been personally tested and vetted by our experts here at PCWorld. From classic clamshells to versatile 2-in-1’s, we’ve got you covered. If you’re on a tight budget, don’t worry, we’ve also thrown in the best affordable options such as Chromebooks as well.

Read on to learn more about our picks for the best laptops. And if you’re looking to save some cash on your purchase, be sure to take a look at our roundup of the best laptop deals, updated every weekday.

Also, with just a few weeks left before the new semester, be sure to check out our back-to-school deals page to help stretch that college budget even further. We will be updating it with the best deals on Chromebooks, MacBooks, iPads, and more.

Without further ado, these are the best laptops we’ve tested.

Updated 01/23/2023: Check out our latest reviews of the Acer Chromebook Spin 514 and the HP Dragonfly Folio G3. The Spin 514 is a speedy 2-in-1 Chromebook with a durable design and a rather expensive price tag. The Dragonfly Folio G3 is a premium Windows 2-in-1 that is very pricey but comes with a nice feature set for business tasks and high-quality design elements.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 9 – Best productivity laptop

Pros

Roomy 16:10 display

Thin and light yet rugged

Stellar keyboard

Quiet operation

Booming audio

Two Thunderbolt 4 ports

Cons

Webcam limited to 720p

Display color is a bit cool

Best Prices Today:

$1,399.99 at Amazon

ThinkPads are generally hailed as being awesome business laptops because of their comfortable keyboards and silent operation. With its quiet keyboard, security features, and booming audio, the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 9 is one such laptop. It’s packing a quad-core Core i7-1185G7, 16GB of RAM, and integrated Iris Xe graphics. That means it’s well-equipped to handle “Office and other productivity apps” and “a variety of multitasking scenarios.” The real star of the show is the 16:10 display, though, as it gives you plenty of room to work with. If you consider yourself a business professional, you’ll definitely want to pick this one up.

Read our full
Review Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 9

Razer Blade 17 (2022) – Best gaming laptop

Pros

Excellent gaming performance

Great selection of ports including 2 x Thunderbolt 4

Sturdy robust design

Cons

Poor battery life unplugged

Keyboard lacks a numpad

Best Prices Today:

$3,699.99 at Amazon$3699.99 at Best Buy

The Razer Blade 17 (2022) is a gamer’s ultimate dream. It’s a robust laptop with a stunning 240Hz display and a wide array of ports, including two Thunderbolt 4. Plus, you can expect awesome gaming performance thanks to the Intel 12-gen i7 CPU and GeForce RTX 3080 Ti GPU. That’s some serious power. However, you’re going to pay out the nose for it, as it costs thousands of dollars. If you’re willing to shell out the big bucks, then the Blade 17 is phenomenal option. If your budget is more limited, check out the ASUS VivoBook Pro 15 OLED below, which is our best budget gaming laptop pick.

Read our full
Review Razer Blade 17 (2022)

ASUS VivoBook Pro 15 OLED Ultra Slim Laptop – Best budget gaming laptop

Pros

Good productivity performance

Superb display

Rugged design

Great battery life

Cons

Boring aesthetics

Unimpressive 720p webcam

Unreliable fingerprint scanner

Poor port selection

Looking for a reliable budget gaming laptop? The ASUS VivoBook Pro 15 OLED is a fantastic option. According to our tester, this laptop is great for “gaming, streaming, and day-to-day productivity.” Thanks to the AMD Ryzen 7 5800H CPU and the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 (4GB GDDR6) GPU, we were able to hit 60 frames-per-second at 1080p on high graphics during the Shadow of the Tomb Raider benchmark. Plus, the OLED display is absolutely beautiful and battery life is surprisingly good. There are a few minor shortcomings, however.

The overall design is a little plain and the port selection is limited, and you’ll need to drop down to Medium or High graphics in strenuous modern AAA games on the RTX 3050. Nitpicks aside, if you’re looking for reliable performance on a gorgeous OLED screen, the VivoBook Pro 15 is where the party’s at. If you don’t mind giving up those luscious OLED visuals for a bit more graphics firepower, you should take a look at the Acer Swift X, which is our next entry.

Read our full
Review ASUS VivoBook Pro 15 OLED Ultra Slim Laptop

Acer Aspire 5 – Best budget laptop

Pros

Affordable price

Rugged build

Great keyboard

Good selection of ports

Cons

Subpar webcam

Annoying bloatware comes pre-installed

Touchpad is a little hard to use

Best Prices Today:

$449.00 at Amazon

With its affordable price point, decent performance, and robust build, the Acer Aspire 5 is a good budget option for most people. While the color scheme is a little boring to look at, the build is surprisingly rugged. Our tester was surprised by its “solid, durable feel.” The keyboard is nice, too. It has a spacious layout, which is perfect for longer typing sessions. Performance is fast enough for general use tasks like writing emails and browsing the web, but that’s about it. If you’re shopping around for a solid everyday laptop that won’t break the bank, the Aspire 5 is definitely worth a look.

Alternatively, you can check out our review of the Acer Aspire 5 (2022 edition) for the latest updated version of this laptop. However, we didn’t feel that the upgrades—as well as the price hike—warranted replacing our original best budget pick.

Read our full
Review Acer Aspire 5

Dell XPS 13 Plus – Best ultraportable

Pros

Fast CPU

Gorgeous 3.5K OLED

Great audio

Cons

Only two USB-C Ports

Middling battery performance

No headset jack

Best Prices Today:

$1349.00 at Dell Small Business$1499.00 at Dell Home$1,635.00 at Amazon

The Dell XPS is not only an excellent ultraportable, but it comes with leading-edge performance and a stunning OLED panel. The 14-core Intel Core i7-1280P CPU means it’s no slouch in processing performance either. It’s not only great for general-use, but it can easily handle photo editing tasks as well. This device also comes equipped with Intel Xe graphics, 16GB of RAM, and 512GB of SSD storage.

Despite being only 13.4 inches, the OLED touchscreen is absolutely gorgeous. With a resolution of 3456×2160, the picture is sharp and vibrant. Unfortunately, since the design is so compact, it lacks some connectivity and the battery life is only mediocre. If you can forgive those limitations, then the Dell XPS 13 Plus is a good option for most people who need a laptop to travel with.

Read our full
Review Dell XPS 13 Plus 9320

HP Pavilion Plus 14 – Best budget ultraportable

Pros

OLED display is gorgeous

Sleek, all-metal chassis

Strong multimedia performance

Cons

Woeful battery life

Onboard memory can’t be expanded post-purchase

Low contrast between keys and key symbols

The HP Pavilion Plus 14 is a solid ultraportable with a budget-friendly price tag. The all-metal design looks nice and provides durability, giving you the feel of HP’s higher (much more expensive) line of laptops. Under the hood, you’ll find an Intel Core i7-12700H CPU, Intel Iris Xe integrated graphics, 16GB of RAM, and 1TB of PCIe NVMe SSD storage. That’s enough power for productivity work and general-use tasks. It also comes with an absolutely stunning 14-inch OLED display with a resolution of 2880×1800, an aspect ratio of 16:10, and a 90Hz refresh rate.

The main drawback is its substandard battery life, which is unfortunate for a laptop that many people will use during travel. But nonetheless, if you’re looking to save some money on an ultraportable with decent specs, then the HP Pavilion Plus 14 is a great option.

Read our full
Review HP Pavilion Plus 14

Acer Chromebook Spin 713 – Best Chromebook

Pros

Strong performance

Good build quality

Nice selection of ports

Beautiful display

Solid battery life

Cons

No privacy shutter on the webcam

Boring design

Fan noise is a bit loud

Best Prices Today:

$675.99 at Amazon

If you’re looking for a great convertible laptop, the Acer Chromebook Spin 713 will surely fit the bill. You can either prop it up like a tent or fold the screen all the way back and use it like a tablet. We were also impressed with its vibrant display, all-day battery life, and diverse selection of ports. The design is a little utilitarian, but this is the kind of machine that favors function over aesthetics. The build is robust and there was hardly any flex in the keyboard tray. There are a couple of downsides like the loud fan noise and the lack of a physical privacy shutter on the webcam, but these issues are relatively minor. Overall, the Spin 713 is a solid convertible laptop that performs well.

Dell XPS 17 (2022) – Best content creation laptop

Pros

Solid performance for the price

Massive, bright, colorful display 

Offers four Thunderbolt 4 ports 

Long battery life

Cons

Heavy and thick 

Mediocre keyboard

Lacks USB-A, HDMI, or Ethernet

RTX 3060 is the quickest available GPU

Dell’s updated XPS 17 boasts a huge 17-inch screen, 11th-gen Intel CPU, and GeForce RTX 3060 GPU. By packing its 4K, 10-bit color screen into such a compact laptop, and loading the notebook itself with every feature professionals ask for (hello, SD card reader and abundant Thunderbolt 4 ports), the XPS 17 is the poster child for what a content creation workhorse laptop should be. If you’re looking for something different, the Asus VivoBook Pro 16X OLED is a great alternative, thanks to its gorgeous OLED display and unique dial controls. It also happens to be our runner-up pick for the best content creation laptop. Check out the entry below.

Read our full
Review Dell XPS 17 (2022)

Acer Swift 3 – Best for students

Pros

Solid chassis and build quality

Large, attractive 16-inch 1080p screen

Enjoyable keyboard and touchpad

USB-C with charging and DisplayPort

Cons

Webcam, microphone, and speakers don’t impress

Intel processor falls behind AMD alternatives 

Disappointing battery life

Lots of bloatware

Best Prices Today:

$999.99 at Amazon

If you’re looking for a big screen on a modest budget, the Acer Swift 3 is a fantastic option. It features an attractive 16-inch 1080p display, a solid chassis, and an enjoyable keyboard and touchpad. However, battery life is subpar, so you’ll want to keep the charger on hand. This is unfortunate, as the Swift 3’s slim profile makes it a good laptop for travel. If you don’t mind the battery life, this is a great laptop for watching movies and streaming shows.

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Review Acer Swift 3 SF316-51

Microsoft Surface Pro 8 – Best detachable

Pros

Superior screen: larger, higher-res, higher refresh rate

Inking is a pleasure

Good audio, with louder speakers

New optional Type Cover integrates pen well

Cons

Webcam might need some tweaking

Pen and keyboard still cost extra

Still pricey

Best Prices Today:

$659.99 at Best Buy$799.99 at AmazonNot Available at Adorama

Microsoft’s Surface tablets were already atop our list of best 2-in-1 laptops, but Microsoft reworked the Surface Pro 8 in numerous ways by adding a larger, higher-resolution, faster screen, a pair of Thunderbolt ports that replace the legacy Surface Connector, and a new inking experience, among other features.

While this generation of the Surface Pro tablet forgoes an always-connected LTE option as well as the choice of a cheap Core i3, performance still soared to the top of the heap. Benefits like how the increased display refresh rate improves inking are subtle improvements that matter, too. It’s the most dramatic revamp of a Surface in years and it’s all for the better.

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Review Surface Pro 8

Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 (2022) – Best mid-range gaming laptop

Pros

Powerful CPU and GPU performance in a very compact design

AniMe Matrix screams unique

It has a webcam

Cons

Half permanent RAM

Keyboard backlighting is subpar

Best Prices Today:

$1199.99 at Best Buy$1,699.00 at Amazon

The ROG Zephyrus G14 is both lightweight and powerful—a very rare combination. It weighs just a little over three pounds, which makes it a capable traveling laptop. Between the AMD Ryzen 9 6900HS processor and AMD Radeon RX6800S GPU, you can expect strong performance as well. The only weakness is the keyboard. It feels a little mushy and the backlighting is rather unimpressive. That said, if you’re in the market for a portable laptop that delivers zippy performance, the Zephyrus G14 is a great pick.

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Review ROG Zephyrus G14 (2022)

Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 360 5G – Best coffee shop laptop

Pros

Fantastic 16-hour battery life

Ultra thin, light and svelte

Excellent 1080p OLED display and Dolby audio

Solid value, though a premium price

Cons

Shallow keyboard

A ton of preloaded apps, many from Samsung

No 4K display option

The Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 360 5G offers a gorgeous OLED screen, superb battery life, and an excellent inking experience. It also has a 360-degree hinge, which means you can fold it up like a tent or swing the display around and use it like a tablet. It’s very versatile, which may appeal to students or business professionals. In our review, our tester described it as “an excellent coffee shop PC.” The only drawback is the slow SSD.

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Review Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 360 5G

HP Chromebook x2 11 da0023dx – Best folio-style Chromebook

Pros

Gorgeous 2K touchscreen

Solid performance

Excellent battery life

Robust design

Cons

Trackpad is too sensitive at times

Light on ports

Best Prices Today:

$224.95 at Amazon

Ah, folio-style laptops. While some may find them cumbersome to deal with, our reviewer really liked this one. The HP Chromebook x2 11 is one of the best 2-in-1 laptops you can buy. The tablet’s aluminum chassis feels rugged and like it’ll last quite a while. The detachable keyboard took some getting used to, but ended up being fine for long typing sessions. The rear plate, which transforms into a kickstand that holds up the tablet, connects to the back of the tablet via magnets. The reviewer found the connection to be both clean and strong. As for the performance, it’s about what you’d expect out of a Chromebook. It’s zippy enough for everyday tasks like browsing the web and so on.

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Review HP Chromebook x2 11

Lenovo Yoga 9i 14 (2022) – Best 2-in-1

Pros

Sturdy and sleek all-metal chassis

Long battery life

Impressive audio output

Comfortable keyboard

Cons

16:9 screen feels cramped 

Included stylus is too skinny

Undersized touchpad

Limited ports all on left side

The Lenovo Yoga 9i is a fantastic convertible. It has an attractive design, a dazzling OLED display, and great sound quality. Plus, the 12th-gen Intel processor really boosts performance. According to our tester, the processor “packs four performance cores and eight efficiency cores.” That’s quite a bit of power. The 74 watt-hour battery is quite large for a compact 2-in-1 as well. When we put the laptop through our battery test, it died in about 12 hours. You can expect this laptop to last through the work day. There’s a couple of minor nitpicks to be aware of, though. The 19:9 aspect ratio makes the screen feel a bit squished and the touchpad is smaller than we like. If you can live with those small drawbacks, the Yoga 9i is well worth considering.

Read our full
Review Lenovo Yoga 9i 14 (2022)

How we tested

The PCWorld team puts each and every Windows laptop through a series of benchmarks that test GPU and CPU performance, battery life, and so on. The idea is to push the laptop to its limits and then compare it against others we’ve tested. Chromebooks, on the other hand, go through a series of web-based tests. It wouldn’t be fair or possible to run the same kinds of tests on a Chromebook, as they’re Chrome OS-based machines. Below, you’ll find a breakdown of each test and the reasons why we run them.

Windows laptops

PCMark 10: PCMark 10 is how we determine how well the laptop handles lighter tasks like web browsing, word processing, spreadsheets, and so on.HandBrake: HandBrake is more intensive than PCMark 10. It basically measures how long a laptop’s CPU takes to encode a beefy 30GB file. Cinebench: Cinebench is a brief stress test of the CPU cores. It does this by rendering a 2D scene over a short period of time.3DMark: 3DMark checks if 3D performance remains consistent over time by running graphic-intensive clips. Video rundown test: To gauge battery life, we loop a 4K video using Windows 10’s Movies & TV app until the laptop dies.

Chromebooks

CrXPRT 2: The CrXPRT 2 benchmark tests a Chromebook’s battery life. Speedometer 2.0: This test determines a Chromebook’s web browser performance. It simulates this by adding, completing, and removing a to-do list.Basemark Web 3.0: This benchmark gauges how well a Chromebook can handle web-based applications. Kraken 1.1: Kraken 1.1 is a JavaScript performance benchmark. Jetstream 2: Jetstream 2 is a combination of WebAssembly and JavaScript benchmarks. This is a way to gauge how well a Chromebook runs advanced workloads.

Laptop FAQ

Ah, here we are at the billion dollar question. Do you spring for a basic Chromebook or go for a Windows laptop with more features? Well, it really depends on your personal lifestyle and what you plan on using your laptop for. For example, Chromebooks are a great low cost option for those who just want the basics. I use a Chromebook as my primary work laptop, as it has everything I need for both editing and writing. If you travel a bunch for work, it’s probably a good idea to invest in a laptop with solid battery life. If you’re still unsure, don’t sweat it. I’ve put together a list of quick tips below.

What type of laptop should I get?

The first question you should ask yourself is what kind of laptop you’re looking for. There’s traditional clamshells, 2-in-1’s, Chromebooks, and much more. The displays on convertible laptops (aka 2-in-1’s), for example, can swing around 360 degrees. This allows you to use the laptop like a tablet. They can also be propped up like a tent for viewing movies or participating in video calls. Chromebooks, on the other hand, exclusively run Google’s web-focused Chrome OS and are generally used for everyday tasks. All you need is a Gmail account and boom, you’re in. There are pros and cons to each of them. Chromebooks are affordable and generally have good battery life whereas convertibles are normally lightweight and portable.

How much processing power will I need?

If it’s CPU power you’re looking for, look for processors with higher numerical names. A Core i7 is more suited to gaming and more intense work than everyday tasks. Intel processors are available in Core i3, Core i5, Core i7, and Core i9. The higher the number, the more powerful the CPU. If you don’t need a ton of power, Intel Core i5 processors are your best bet, as they offer good performance at a decent price. Basic office and web work gets along just fine on a Core i3. As for AMD options, the Ryzen 3 is good for basic productivity and web browsing, while Ryzen 5 chips rival Intel’s Core i5 as solid all-arounders. If you need more power, the Ryzen 7 chip is well suited for content creation like video editing. Finally, if you’re dealing with 4K video, spring for a Ryzen 9.

What’s the difference between discrete graphics and integrated graphics?

You’ll want a discrete graphics card for hardcore gaming or editing videos. It’s separate from the processor, so you can expect higher performance out of it. Integrated graphics, on the other hand, are attached to the CPU and uses less power as a result. This is perfectly fine for everyday tasks, especially if you’re not doing anything that’s graphics-intensive.

What about memory?

8GB of RAM is zippy enough for general use. If you’ve got a gaming laptop, 16GB of RAM is the way to go, and content creators will want even more.

How big should my display be?

If you’re a video editor or someone who does a lot of multimedia work, you’ll want a display that’s anywhere from 15- to 17-inches. The sweet spot is really anywhere from 13- to 14-inches, though. The bigger the display, the heavier your laptop is going to be. A 13- or 14-inch display is the best in terms of portability and value.

How long should my laptop last on a single charge?

If you plan on taking your laptop anywhere with you, aim for something that can last 10 to 12 hours on a single charge. That’s more than a full work day, so it should theoretically get you through long flights or a day of classes. Obviously, more is always better. Just know that the bigger the battery, the heavier the laptop.

How much should I spend?

The price really depends on your budget. If you’re strapped for cash (been there, trust me), go for a Chromebook or an entry-level business laptop. These laptops are good choices for students or young professionals. If you can afford to spend more, the versatility of a 2-in-1 laptop is really worth it.

What about connectivity?

A wide array of ports is always a plus in my book, as it eliminates the need for an adapter. I’d recommend a laptop that has both USB-C and USB-A. An HDMI port is good, too. This is especially useful for when you want to hook up to an external monitor.

Laptops

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