Shopping for a laptop can be a daunting task since there are tons of options to choose from. Also, most laptops are available with various display, CPU, GPU, and memory configurations, making the choice even harder. To help you narrow down your options, we've put together a list of our top picks for different uses, and hopefully, you can find something that interests you.
We've tested more than 50 laptops, and below you'll find our recommendations for the best laptops you can buy. You can also see our recommendations for the best Chromebooks, the best 2-in-1 laptops, and the best business laptops.
The best laptop we've tested is the Apple MacBook Air 13 (M1, 2020). It's a thin and light model designed for general productivity, like web browsing, text formatting, and video playback, although its M1 processor is powerful enough to handle some light photo and video editing as well. You get a device that feels well-built, with a sharp and bright display, a comfortable keyboard, and an incredibly long battery life. The webcam's video quality is excellent, and voices come across clearly on video calls. Its port selection is limited as it only has two USB-C ports, so you'll likely need a dock if you need to connect multiple peripherals, and unfortunately, it can only output a video signal to a single external display. The laptop doesn't get hot under load, and it's always silent since it's a fanless device, so there's no need to worry about causing too much noise in a quiet classroom or office.
If you must work in a Windows environment, go with our runner-up pick, the Dell XPS 13 (2021). It's also a 13-inch ultraportable laptop that provides a premium user experience. The base model comes with a 1080p display, which you can upgrade to a 4k IPS or OLED at the cost of shorter battery life. You can configure it with an Intel 11th Gen Core i3, i5, or i7, and up to 32GB of memory and 2TB of storage. The battery life isn't as good as the MacBook Air's, but still enough to get you through a typical school or workday. You get two USB-C/Thunderbolt 4 ports with support for two 4k external displays at 60Hz.
If you're shopping for a general productivity laptop on a budget, check out the Acer Swift 3 14 (2020). It's a well-built, thin, and light Windows laptop available with an Intel 11th Gen Core i5 or i7 processor. Both CPUs are powerful enough to handle everyday tasks like web browsing, text formatting, and video playback, and the battery lasts almost 14 hours of light use. Its 1080p display provides just enough space for some light multitasking, although it doesn't get very bright, so it's best suited for a moderately-lit room. It has a great port selection for your peripherals and external displays, including two USB-As, one USB-C/Thunderbolt 4, and an HDMI port.
Unfortunately, this laptop has been discontinued, so it's getting tougher to find in stock. Also, the webcam's video quality is bad, and while the keyboard feels decent to type on, it can be a little fatiguing over time due to its tight spacing. However, it doesn't get hot or loud under load, and the CPU only throttles slightly.
If you have a light workload and can perform all your tasks in a Chrome browser, a Chromebook like the Acer Chromebook Spin 713 (2020) might be a good fit. It's a 13-inch 2-in-1 convertible with a 360-degree hinge, meaning you can use it as a tablet or go into tent mode for presentations and media consumption. It's compact and lightweight, and its battery lasts over 12 hours of light productivity. The Core i3 model with 4GB is more than adequate to provide a smooth Chrome OS experience, though you'll have to limit the number of apps you have running simultaneously to avoid stutters and slowdowns. Its QHD display looks sharp and gets bright enough to combat glare, and the keyboard feels comfortable to type on for hours.
This model is a little hard to find as it's discontinued, but you can get the newer 2021 model with an Intel 11th Gen processor. While we expect the 2021 model to perform similarly, we haven't tested it.
If you need a 2-in-1 convertible Windows laptop, go with the Lenovo Yoga 9i 14 (2021). It's a thin and light laptop with a sturdy build and a sleek design. It has a sharp and colorful 1080p display that gets bright enough for use in well-lit settings and supports pen input. It comes with a Wacom AES-based stylus with 4096 levels of pressure sensitivity, but it doesn't support tilt, so it's more for note-taking than actual drawing. The keyboard feels spacious and tactile, and while the touchpad is a bit small, it tracks all movements and gestures well. The battery lasts about nine hours of light use, which is just enough to get through a typical eight-hour day, though you may have to plug it in if you perform more demanding tasks. As for the CPU and memory configurations, you can choose between a Core i5 (Mica model only) or i7, and 8GB or 16GB of RAM. One thing to note is that there are some design and feature differences between the Mica and Shadow Black, so make sure to check out our full review for all the details.
This laptop might be a bit too pricey for some, so if you want something cheaper, go with the Lenovo Yoga 7i 14 (2021). It's also a 2-in-1 with a 360-degree hinge and available with Intel 11th Gen CPUs. The battery lasts even longer than the 9i at around 15 hours of light productivity, and you still get a wide port selection and a great keyboard. Unfortunately, if you use your laptop in very well-lit environments, you'll have some visibility issues as the screen doesn't get bright enough to combat glare. Also, it doesn't come with a stylus, and there isn't a place to dock and charge a pen, which is inconvenient and increases the chance you might lose it.
The best gaming laptop we've tested is the ASUS ROG Zephyrus G14 (2022). It has an AMD Ryzen 9 6900HS CPU, and you can choose between an AMD Radeon RX 6700S or 6800S GPU. Both GPUs are powerful enough to provide a good gaming experience, and they're also suitable for production workloads like video editing and 3D animation. The AMD Radeon RX 6700S can push fairly high frame rates, even at the display's native QHD+ resolution. Speaking of the display, you get a 16:10 QHD panel with a 120Hz refresh rate, a fast response time, and FreeSync support.
It delivers a clear image in fast-moving scenes and has full coverage of the DCI P3 color space, making it well suited for HDR gaming. Thermal throttling is minimal, but the laptop does get hot and loud under load. There's a 720p webcam if you want to stream, and it supports Windows Hello facial recognition so that you can log in quickly.
If you're shopping on a limited budget and find the ASUS ROG Zephyrus G14 (2022) too expensive, get the Lenovo Legion 5 Gen 6 15 (2021). It's a 15.6-inch model available with an AMD Ryzen 5 or Ryzen 7 CPU and various NVIDIA dedicated GPUs, up to an RTX 3070. We recommend getting the 1080p or 1440p 165Hz panel for the best visual experience, though If you choose to get the 1440p display, you'll have to pair it with an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070 GPU to get the most out of it. Otherwise, any GPU will do if you plan on only gaming at 1080p.
The memory and storage are user-replaceable, meaning you can spend more of your budget on a better CPU or GPU configuration and upgrade the memory and storage yourself later on. The downside is that it's a fairly chunky device, so it isn't the best option for on-the-go gaming.
Our pick for the best workstation is the Apple MacBook Pro 16 (2021). Like the Apple MacBook Air 13 (M1, 2020), it's a premium laptop that feels exceptionally well built. It's larger and thicker than the Air, but it's still a relatively portable device that fits easily into most bags. It has Apple's MagSafe charging port to prevent the laptop from falling off a table should you trip on the cord, which is a nice quality-of-life feature. Other ports include three Thunderbolt 4 ports, an HDMI, a full-size SD card reader, and a headphone jack. Its Mini LED display has full DCI P3 coverage and gets incredibly bright, making it suitable for viewing and producing HDR content, and its color accuracy is superb out of the box.
It's also a ProMotion display, which means it can dynamically adjust the refresh rate up to 120Hz to make motion smoother or lower it to extend battery life. Apple's M1 Pro and M1 Max processors are particularly well suited for content creation as they have dedicated media engines that improve performance significantly. There's a 14-inch model if you prefer a more compact size for portability; it performs almost identically but has slightly shorter battery life.
Jun 29, 2022: Verified accuracy of picks; no change in recommendations.
Jun 08, 2022: Minor structure change. Added Acer Swift 3 14 (2020) as 'Best Budget Laptop'. Put Dell XPS 13 (2021) as an alternative to the Apple MacBook Air 13 (2020).
Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best laptops to buy for most people. We factor in the price (a cheaper laptop wins over a pricier one if the difference isn't worth it), feedback from our visitors, and availability (no laptops that are difficult to find or almost out of stock everywhere).
If you prefer to make your own decision, here's the list of all of our laptop reviews, sorted by price from low to high. Keep in mind that most laptops are available in various configurations, and the table only shows the results of the model we tested, so it's best to see the full review for information about other variants.