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 55 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 Pro 14 (2021). It's a premium laptop with exceptional build quality and more than enough processing power to handle any workload, even demanding tasks like video editing and 3D animation. It's a portable device that fits easily into most bags, with a battery that lasts through a typical eight-hour day of light productivity. Its outstanding port selection includes three USB-C/Thunderbolt 4 ports, an HDMI, a full-size SD card reader, and a high-output headphone jack for difficult-to-drive cans. The Mini LED display is amazing. It covers the entire DCI P3 color space and gets incredibly bright, making it suitable for viewing and producing HDR content. Plus, you won't have to worry about calibrating it as color accuracy is superb out of the box. It has ProMotion, meaning it can dynamically adjust the refresh rate up to 120Hz to make motion smoother or lower it to extend battery life. You get a keyboard that feels great to type on and a large and responsive touchpad, arguably one of the best on the market. There's a 16-inch model if you want a larger screen for multitasking, though it's more expensive.
To be clear, this laptop isn't for everyone. It's mainly targeted at content creators and anyone who can make use of the M1 Pro and M1 Max SoCs' processing power. If you only perform light tasks like web browsing, video playback, text formatting, and even the occasional photo and video editing, then our mid-range pick, the Apple MacBook Air 13 (M1, 2020), is more than adequate. However, if your work requires a powerful machine or you just want a premium, best-of-the-best laptop, the MacBook Pro 14 and 16 are worth considering.
If you don't need the processing power of the Apple MacBook Pro 14 (2021) or its Mini LED display, you can save a lot of money with the more affordable but still premium-feeling Apple MacBook Air 13 (M1, 2020). It's thin and light, has amazing battery life, and its M1 processor can handle nearly all general productivity tasks, like text formatting, spreadsheets, video playback, and even some light photo editing. The display is sharp and bright, though it isn't Mini LED like the MacBook Pro and only goes up to 60Hz. The biggest downside of this laptop is that it only has two USB-C ports and can only output a video signal to one external display. It's a fanless device, so you don't need to worry about causing too much noise in a quiet classroom or office. At this time, the M2 MacBook Air is available and exists alongside the M1 MacBook Air. This new model gets a slightly larger screen with thinner bezels, a redesigned chassis, a better 1080p webcam, and more processing power. However, it's also more expensive. We haven't tested it yet; we'll update this article once we do.
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.
For a more modest mid-range option, we recommend the Lenovo Yoga 7i 14 (2021). It's a 2-in-1 convertible Windows laptop with a 360-degree hinge, allowing you to flip the screen around and use it as a tablet. It has a sturdy build, a sleek, thin, and light design, and exceptionally long battery life. You can configure it with a Core i5 or i7 and up to 16GB of memory and 1TB of storage. The main downside is that the display doesn't get very bright, so it isn't ideal for use in well-lit settings or outdoors in broad daylight. It supports pen input if you want to take notes or sketch, but you have to buy the stylus separately.
If you're okay with spending a little more, the Lenovo Yoga 9i 14 (2021) is also one to consider. It's very similar to the Yoga 7i, but it has a brighter display, better-sounding speakers, and a stylus that you can store in a charging slot at the back of the device. The stylus doesn't support tilt, though, so it's mainly for note-taking and quick scribbles. One thing to note is that there are some design and feature differences between the Mica and Shadow Black; you can check out our full review for all the details.
Our pick for the best budget laptop is the Lenovo IdeaPad 3 15 (2021). This 15.6-inch Windows laptop is portable, sturdy, and gives you just enough battery life to get through an eight-hour workday. It's available with AMD Ryzen 5000-series CPUs, which are capable of handling most general productivity tasks. You get a 1080p display that gets bright enough for use in most indoor settings, a good webcam for video calls, and a decent port selection, including an HDMI port.
Unfortunately, while the keyboard feels reasonably spacious and provides good tactile feedback, it can be tiring to type on for long periods as the keys require a fair amount of force to actuate. As for the touchpad, it's just okay as it's small and doesn't always register some movements and taps. Some models have a fingerprint sensor built into the power button, so if it's something you care about, it's best to check before buying.
If you find our budget pick still too expensive and want something cheaper, there's nothing better than a Chromebook. We recommend the Lenovo Chromebook C340 15 (2020). It's a 2-in-1 convertible that feels well-built, with enough battery life to get you through a typical school or workday. You can get this laptop with an Intel Core i3 or Pentium Gold CPU, both of which are getting a little long in the tooth but still powerful enough to provide a smooth experience on Chrome OS. That said, you can only get a maximum of 4GB of memory, so you have to limit the number of applications or Chrome tabs you open at once.
As with most budget laptops, the display is where Lenovo makes some compromises as it doesn't get very bright and looks washed out. Images and text look decently sharp, and there's plenty of screen real estate for multitasking. The keyboard feels great to type on, and while the touchpad is small, it tracks all movements and gestures well.
The best gaming laptop we've tested is the ASUS ROG Zephyrus G14 (2022). It's a well-built laptop with an aluminum and magnesium alloy chassis, and it's surprisingly compact for a gaming laptop with so much power under the hood. It has a comfortable and tactile keyboard with RGB backlighting and plenty of ports for peripherals and external displays. There's a 720p webcam if you want to stream, and it supports Windows Hello facial recognition so that you can log in quickly. It has a powerful AMD Ryzen 9 6900HS CPU, and you can choose between an AMD Radeon RX 6700S or 6800S GPU. Both GPUs can push fairly high frame rates, even in demanding games running at the display's native resolution.
Speaking of the display, it's a 16:10 QHD panel with a 120Hz refresh rate. It has a fast response time to deliver a clear image and supports FreeSync to reduce screen tearing. It also has full coverage of the DCI P3 color space, making it well suited for HDR gaming. The only complaint is that it gets hot and loud under load. You can change the fan and thermal profile if it bothers you, though at the cost of some performance loss.
For those on a tight budget, we recommend the Lenovo Legion 5 Gen 6 15 (2021). It's an affordable model with multiple GPU options, from an entry-level NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 to a powerful NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070. You can choose between an AMD Ryzen 5 5600H or Ryzen 7 5800H CPU, both of which are powerful enough to provide smooth gameplay. It has a sturdy build, a spacious keyboard with backlit keys, and a wide port selection that includes six USB and an HDMI 2.1 port. It's bulky, though, so it isn't very portable.
For the display, we recommend getting the 165Hz 1080p or 1440p panel for the best visual experience; just make sure you pair the 1440p panel with an RTX 3070 to get the most out of it. Any GPU will do for 1080p gaming, although the GTX 1650 can only reach 60 fps at low settings and might not reach reasonable frame rates in the newest AAA titles. The memory and storage are user-replaceable, so you can get a cheaper configuration first and upgrade it yourself later on. That way, you can put the bulk of your budget towards the best CPU, GPU, and display configuration you can get, as they aren't replaceable.
Sep 12, 2022: Verified accuracy of picks; no change in recommendations.
Jul 27, 2022: Restructured article to better match user expectations. Removed the Lenovo Yoga 9i 14 (2021) and the 'Best 2-In-1 Convertible' category. Replaced the Lenovo IdeaPad 5 15 (2021) with the Lenovo Yoga 7i 14 (2021) as the 'Best Mid-Range Laptop' because the Yoga is better and easier to find. Added the Lenovo Legion 5 Gen 6 15 (2021) as the 'Best Budget Gaming Laptop'.
Jul 25, 2022: Restructured article to better match user expectations. Added the Lenovo IdeaPad 5 15 (2021) as the 'Best Mid-Range Laptop', replaced the Acer Swift 3 14 (2020) with the Lenovo IdeaPad 3 15 (2021) as the 'Best Budget Laptop' because the Acer is hard to find, and the Lenovo Chromebook C340 15 (2020) as the 'Best Cheap Laptop'. Removed the Acer Chromebook Spin 713 as it's discontinued and hard to find.
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.