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The best laptops

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Best Laptops

The best laptops have to do it all. They need to be light, portable, powerful, beautiful, and reasonably affordable. Choosing one of them isn’t easy though, as there are a handful of fantastic options that fulfill all or most of those, depending on your needs.

Below you’ll find our picks for best overall laptop, as well as the best MacBook for Apple die-hards, the best Chromebook for those who desire an affordable laptop with a super-light OS, and the best budget laptops. We’ve also selected the best 15-inch laptop, best 2-in-1, and the best gaming laptop. To check out in-depth reviews of all the latest laptops head over to our laptop reviews.

At a glance

ProductCategoryRating
Dell XPS 13Best laptop overall5 out of 5
MacBook AirBest MacBook3.5 out of 5
HP Chromebook x2Best Chromebook4 out of 5
Surface Pro 6Best 2-in-1 laptop4 out of 5
Asus ZenBook 13 UX331Best budget laptop4.0 out of 5
Razer BladeBest gaming laptop4.5 out of 5
Dell XPS 15Best 15-inch laptop4.5 out of 5

Dell XPS 13

The best laptop

Dell XPS 13 2019 review (9380)
Riley Young/Digital Trends
Riley Young/Digital Trends

Why should you buy this: It’s portable, fast, attractive, and reasonably priced.

Portable, powerful, and beautiful, nothing offers the same value as Dell's flagship XPS 13.

Who’s it for: Everyone except gamers.

How much will it cost: Starts at $900

Why we picked the Dell XPS 13:

The Dell XPS 13 has been our favorite laptop for years now, but it always came with a caveat. The webcam position. We always thought it was worth the sacrifice for most people, but for those that depend on a webcam for video conferencing, it was an issue.

In the 2019 version, Dell has fixed that. By engineering a smaller webcam, the company has managed to squeeze it in into the top bezel without growing much at all. That means the XPS 13 keeps its fantastic, thin-bezel design we’ve always loved — but now without any of the trade-off. The thin bezel design is as functional as it is beautiful, making the overall footprint of the system smaller and lighter.

Does that make the XPS 13 too small? Nope. The touchpad is still as large as the competition and the keyboard is a breeze to use. The system is also energy efficient with a respectable battery size, so it can last all day on a charge in most situations and handle pretty much anything you throw at it. The same goes for performance, where Dell’s thermal solution continues to push its Intel Core Whiskey Lake CPUs to new heights.

The best part? It’s a relatively affordable laptop with a cheaper entry-level option than its competitors, starting at just $900. All the same, you can still spec it up to 2TB of solid-state storage and a beautiful 4K touchscreen if your heart so desires.

Read our full Dell XPS 13 (2018) review

MacBook Air (2018)

The best MacBook

Macbook Air (2018) Review
Riley Young/Digital Trends

Why should you buy this: You need MacOS, and Windows just won’t cut it.

Apple’s notebook will appeal to commuters, Apple adherents, and anyone who's willing to pay for supreme built quality.

Who’s it for: Students and Apple fans

How much will it cost: Starts at $1,199

Why we picked the MacBook Air:

No, the new MacBook Air isn’t the most powerful Mac laptop — that’s the 15-inch MacBook Pro with a discrete graphics card. It’s not the thinnest and lightest either — that’s the 12-inch MacBook. Even its screen, though technically “Retina,” isn’t as bright and colorful as these other options. However, what the latest iteration MacBook Air does offer is the most well-rounded Mac experience. It’s relatively thin and light, has the useful Touch ID sensor, and the best battery life of your Mac options. It also shares the same keyboard and excellent trackpad of the MacBook Pro.

Apple finally has an entry-level laptop that isn’t a terrible value or hopelessly outdated. It’s not that $1,200 is a cheap price for laptop. It’s not. You can find better performance in a handful of premium Windows 10 laptops. But if you’re looking specifically for a MacBook (as many people are), you’ll be happy you picked up the MacBook Air.

Read our full MacBook Air (2018) review

HP Chromebook x2

The best Chromebook

best chromebooks hp chromebook x2 1

Why should you buy this: You want an inexpensive, but well-built 2-in-1.

The HP Chromebook x2 is the best Chromebook on the market, full stop.

Who’s it for: Students, people who need only basic functionality, anyone who wants a cheap laptop to use as a second PC.

How much will it cost: $600

Why we picked the HP Chromebook x2:

The Chromebook x2 is the first of a new wave of innovative and premium Chromebook form factors, as a detachable tablet in the Microsoft Surface Book 2 mold. That is, the lovely and well-built “Ceramic White” slate portion, which holds all of the actual PC components, slots into magnetic tabs on a relatively heavy keyboard base. That creates a clamshell notebook that is stable on the lap (with just a little wobble) while serving in movie mode with the display reversed and as a stand-alone tablet for pen use and media consumption.

Based around a 12.3-inch IPS display running at 2,400 x 1,600 or 235 PPI and sporting the productivity-friendly 3:2 aspect ratio, the Chromebook x2 incorporates a 7th-generation Intel Core m3-7Y30 CPU, 4GB of RAM, and 32GB of eMMC storage. Those components are plenty fast for Chrome OS, and the Chromebook x2 takes full advantage. As icing on the top, the 48 watt-hour battery keeps the 2-in-1 going for a full workday — and then some.

Chrome OS, which is designed around Google’s Chrome web browser, is wonderfully simple and intuitive. While it used to only run extensions and web apps, that has been expanded to now include everything in the Google Play Store, which fills in some of the holes and expands your selection of apps and games.

Read our full HP Chromebook x2 review

Surface Pro 6

The best 2-in-1 laptop

Surface Pro 6 Review
Dan Baker/Digital Trends

Why should you buy this: You want a great laptop and a good tablet.

The Surface Pro 6 is a 2-in-1 detachable that combines stellar performance with a flexible, premium-built chassis.

Who’s it for: Anyone who needs versatility on top of performance.

How much will this cost: Starts at $900

Why we picked the Surface Pro 6:

If you’re not sure about laptops-as-tablets though, the Surface Pro 6 is the one to change your mind. First and foremost, it’s a stylish, lightweight, and powerful tablet that pulls double duty as a laptop. Worried about the Surface Pro as a laptop replacement? Think of it as a laptop with a detachable keyboard. Seriously, this thing has the power to do anything you need a laptop to do and more. The newest Surface Pro 6 has the same great design, only with faster internals and better battery life.

No matter which configuration you choose, you now get an 8th-gen Kaby Lake processor under the hood — our review unit was sent over with a Core i5 inside. The Surface Pro performed well enough in our benchmarks for typical productivity tasks, and it remains excellent as an everyday workhorse. It’s quick, snappy, and versatile, everything you could want out of an ultra-portable laptop — plus it’s the best tablet around when you need it to be.

In addition, the smaller, $400 Surface Go provides an interesting alternative to the Pro 6 if you’re on a tighter budget.

Read our full Surface Pro 6 review

Asus ZenBook 13 UX331UA

The best budget laptop

Asus ZenBook 13 UX331UA
Riley Young/Digital Trends

Why should you buy this: You want an affordable Windows PC that’s also a joy to use.

The surprisingly affordable UX331UA is competitive with laptops that cost twice the price.

Who’s it for: Everyone except gamers, other power users.

How much will it cost: $800

Why we picked the Asus ZenBook 13 UX331UA:

If you don’t want to pay the full price of a laptop like the Dell XPS 13 or Huawei MateBook X Pro, then we suggest the Asus ZenBook 13 UX331UA. It’s an ultrabook that comes highly recommended from us and costs just $800. While most laptops in this price range cut important things like battery life or display quality, this ZenBook 13 has it all. It’s not as powerful as the Dell XPS 13 or a MacBook Pro, nor does it emulate the suave designs of those laptops. It’s not trying to win a beauty contest, but it keeps things light and thin without sacrificing build quality.

The bang-for-your-buck value here is particularly impressive. The base model comes with an 8th-gen Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM, and a 256GB solid-state drive. That’s twice the memory and storage of the $900 Dell XPS 13 — and better battery life than what you’ll find in other competitors. Though you can still buy the UX330UA on Amazon, the newer version has thinner bezels, a lighter chassis, and improved battery life in web browsing.

Read our full Asus ZenBook 13 UX331UA review

Razer Blade

The best gaming laptop

Razer Blade (2018) fortnite
Riley Young/Digital Trends

Why should you buy this: It provides a fantastic gaming experience on the go.

The Razer Blade packs an impressive amount of gaming performance into this sleek, modern chassis.

Who’s it for: People who want a fantastic laptop that can also game.

How much will it cost: $1,800+

Why we picked the Razer Blade:

From the exterior, you might not even know the Razer Blade is a gaming laptop. It’s as light and thin as a MacBook Pro, with thin bezels, a world-class keyboard and touchpad, as well as a bright, vivid, 15-inch display. Even if it weren’t a gaming laptop, the Razer Blade would probably still be a contender for one of the best 15-inch laptops. The fact that it can play games at respectable framerates makes it a bit of a miracle.

With a GTX 1070 Max-Q graphics card and supremely powerful processor, the Razer Blade made short work of just about everything we threw at it — as long as you’re staying in 1080p, of course. Razer redesigned its thermal system to ensure that despite some throttling, the Blade can play nearly any game with settings maxed. That includes heavy loads like Deus Ex: Mankind Divided.

This is the most elegant, beautiful gaming laptop you’ve ever seen. The Alienware 17 R5 or Predator Helios 500 might perform better, but for our money, this is the gaming laptop we’d choose every time.

Read our full Razer Blade review

Dell XPS 15

The best 15-inch laptop

Dell XPS 15 9570 right angle
Dan Baker/Digital Trends

Why should you buy this: You want a sleek PC, but also need excellent performance.

Beyond a quick CPU and powerful graphics, the Dell XPS 15 can be kitted out with a stellar 4K display.

Who’s it for: Power users and those who want a big, beautiful display.

How much will this cost: $1,000+

Why we picked the Dell XPS 15:

The XPS 13 is great, but you may want something with a larger display. You’re not alone. Sales figures have continually shown 15-inch systems beating their smaller rivals. We think this is partially because good, small laptops aren’t cheap — but also because some people just want a bigger display.

Fortunately, Dell also has the XPS 15. It’s great for all the same reasons as the XPS 13, and because it’s larger, it can be optioned with the fastest hardware available today — up to a blazing-fast six-core 8th-gen Intel Core i7-8750H processor, Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti graphics, a beautiful display, and fantastic battery life. It’s easily the best all-around 15-inch laptop on the market today.

The XPS 15 was recently refreshed with the fastest 8th-gen processors, as well as with a more powerful GTX 1050 Ti in the higher-end configurations. These new components make the XPS 15 an even better value.

Read our full Dell XPS 15 (2018) review

How we test

You’ve read our laptop reviews. You’ve read our conclusions. And now you’re wondering how we came to them.

Good question. Reviews often lack context, which is evident in the wildly different scores some laptops receive from different publications. Conflicting opinions can actually make buying a laptop more difficult if the review’s criteria isn’t made clear.

Allow us to lift the veil. Here we’ll explain the benchmarks we use for objective testing and the perspective from which we approach subjective topics. We don’t expect everyone to agree with our opinions, but we hope that sharing our process will leave you better equipped to decide what laptop best fits your needs.


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