Find the perfect laptop for yourself, using our laptop buying guide. We’ll walk you through what to look for in your next laptop, and we’ll help you find the perfect model.
Laptops have come a long way in recent years, and it’s no surprise that they’re now considered one of the most versatile and convenient pieces of technology a person can own. The list below includes some of the best laptops on the market, specifically for doing business and incorporating helpful tech for students to incorporate into their daily studies.
When it comes to picking out a laptop, first you need to figure out what your needs are. If you’re traveling a lot for example, then you will be better served by a bigger screen. However, if you’re using it at home and in the office, you might have more space available to you and a laptop with a smaller screen may make more sense.
Buying a laptop can be tough, but it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. We’ve put together some helpful tips so you can figure out what your needs are! Check our ultimate buying guide for laptops.
Laptop Buying Guide Quick Tips
Choosing the right laptop can be difficult. You have to select one that you know you can connect with and feel is an extension of yourself – after all, if you don’t feel like your laptop reflects who you are, then it’s not going to do you any good as a tool. Factors to consider when deciding which laptop best meets your needs:
Below are the top key things to consider when buying a new laptop.
1. 12.5 to 14-inch screens are the best choice for ergonomics on paper and making sure people don’t strain their eyes when using them. But whether or not having a larger screen is good or bad depends on the specific need of a given person. Because there will always be certain situations in which certain screen sizes simply won’t fit properly. There’s no doubt that kids need something a bit more convenient and portable – so they should absolutely get tablet computers with such a screen size as it makes things easier for them.
2. When you’re spending money on a new laptop whether you’re getting it on Amazon or even visiting a physical store, there’s always the option of whether to spend above $600, but if you’ve got the cash then we recommend working with higher specs.
For example, upgrading to a Core i5 or AMD Ryzen 5 CPU, 1920 x 1080 screen resolution and 8GB of memory rather than getting a hard drive instead. Better yet, save extra for a touchscreen and more storable SSD storage capacity.
3. Durability is an important factor when it comes to a device we use to take our work (or play) with us wherever we go. If you need something that can survive the commute from home to work and back, choose something that will be able to withstand being packed under bus seats, bumped around on subways/trains and generally mistreated. Always make sure you’re getting the most out of your computer by using tech support number.
Laptop Buying Guide 8 Essential Tips
1. Comparison of Windows 10, Mac OS, and Chrome OS? | Pick a Platform: Windows 10 vs. Mac vs. Chrome OS?
When it comes to deciding between using a PC or a Mac computer, there are several factors that can make things confusing. Find out what to consider when choosing between Windows, Mac OS or Chrome OS!
Microsoft Windows 10 is a popular operating system, having sold more than 200 million installations worldwide. It launched in July 2015 and the software giant has been improving it ever since then with the release of the major March 2017 Creators Update. Microsoft has been working on making Windows 10 more attractive to business customers, releasing Windows 10 S in May 2017 (a special version of Windows that only runs Store apps).
Microsoft’s newest operating system is designed for use on the go. For students, it’s ideal for note taking and even editing and handling homework assignments. Plus, if you want to be a full-fledged businessperson, Windows 10 helps you out a lot too! It can search through your emails using natural language (like how you’d ask Google questions!) and helps you catch up on what’s happening as they happen by providing breaking news alerts. The only gaming laptops worth buying are all running this operating system – highly recommended!
There are many things that one will have to look or bear in mind when looking forward to choosing the best laptop. The very first thing is the operating system it comes with, and the next would be its processor. These factors are very important for one to look into because a person needs a laptop that has an Operating System that a person is comfortable using as well as processing power capable of keeping up with the standard activities on a person’s daily call.
Whatever the reason behind it, macOS is not made for touch. It’s actually an iPad operating system as of Big Sur, as apps will be taken over to the Mac (and sorts of apps can run natively on M1 Macs), while Siri will get huge improvements in terms of being able to do many more actions with greater speed. This its update ushers in a new era for macOS – Siri has been running on iPads since last year, but its arrival on the desktop presents it with way more functionality than ever before.
Chromebooks are found on inexpensive Chromebooks like the Samsung Chromebook 3. Its OS is simple and secure, but more limited than Windows or macOS. Google’s user interface looks a lot like Windows with an application menu, a desktop and the ability to drag windows around, but the main app you use is the Chrome browser. The downside to it however is that many of the “web apps” you use don’t work particularly well offline (though this can be overcome) and those trying to find a laptop for those who are looking for a Linux machine have better options out there BUT that’s changing as all new Chromebooks, including the high-end Google PixelBook, can now run Android apps which gives ChromeOS users access to hundreds of thousands of additional apps compared to before!
If you need a device to surf the web and check email, navigate social networks and chat online, Chromebooks are highly portable devices that offer good battery life at low prices.
Often preferred by schools and parents for their kids compared to iPad tablets because they’re harder for kids to hack into or infect with malware. You should look for one with 4GB of RAM which is optimal although some models still cost a few hundred dollars less than what we recommend.
You may also want to consider storage capacity – 16GB is recommended but 8GB can still be good if you don’t want to spend too much money. Screen resolution: 1920 x 1080 would be ideal but it could come out as overkill but 4k resolution looks stunning.
2. Decide If You Want a 2-in-1
Some PC laptops, commonly called 2-in-1’s, can take the form of a hybrid device capable of switching between multiple positions and modes. The different forms, known as tent mode and tablet mode are seen to be the most common, but there are others that can benefit users as well with some schools offering classes on their capabilities. Nowadays it is even possible to purchase 2-in-1’s that can flip 360 degrees or detach completely from the keyboards entirely.
Most of these systems are mostly better able to serve one purpose than the other, with bend-backs being laptops first and detachable offering a superior tablet experience. However, if you don’t see the need to use your notebook as a slate, you’ll usually get more performance for your money with a traditional clamshell laptop.
3. Choose The Right Size
When looking at laptops, it’s important to factor in the input of friends who have pertinent advice regarding laptop size and specifications. Displays come in different sizes so be sure to ask a few people what they recommend as it pertains to your situation. In fact, read with care the experiences of others so you can easily find out what type of laptop would best suit your needs!
- The thinnest and lightest systems around are between 11 – 12 inches in screen size and typically weigh between 2.5 – 3.5 lbs.
- A laptop with a 14-inch screen provides the best of both worlds. With its portable and lightweight design, you can use your laptop anywhere!
- 15 to 16 inches: The most popular size, 15-inch laptops usually weigh 4.5 pounds or less, which makes them perfect for the traveler who plans to lug around their notebook often. If you want a larger screen then consider the larger size and always keep in mind how often you plan on traveling with your laptop before making a purchase! Those with 16-inch displays are rare but they are available from Apple.
- 17.3 to 18.4-inch screens: A screen this size would allow you to do workstation-level productivity but if you move around and prefer your laptop to follow you from place to place then a 15- or 16-inch screen is more suited for you because of its portability.
4. Check that Keyboard and Touchpad
Durability and build quality are essential considerations when purchasing an ultrabook or laptop computer. Durable laptops need to have good physical specifications and feel sturdy / not flimsy. You probably won’t be using your laptop on a daily basis, but if you do plan on using it a lot, typing long documents (for example) it’s essential that you choose a laptop with keys that provide reasonable travel distances without needing constant re-adjustment.
Touchpad drivers for Windows computers will also make sure swiping between screens/documents is smooth which is useful as well.
No matter how impressive your laptop’s technical details are, they won’t mean as much if you can’t be comfortable while using it. If you travel often, or plan on doing all your work on a computer, make sure the keyboard has excellent feedback and enough space between the keys to minimize typos. Windows users should look for precision touchpad drivers in case they need their mouse more than just there to click around.
5. Pick Your Specs
It may seem like notebook components are vital to each and every users experience, what with processor, hard drive, RAM and graphics chip. It’s alright if you don’t know much about them because it seems like alphabet soup to some folk who may instead opt for a desktop computer. Hopefully this can serve as an introduction into the world of notebook computers.
The “brain” of your computer, the processor can have a significant impact on performance depending on what you’re looking to do with your PC. However, even the simplest models tend to get the job done if all that is being used for is basic internet browsing and document editing. Here’s where things can get a bit confusing:
Intel 11th Generation Processors
Intel has introduced the first in their Tiger Lake family of processors. Specifically designed for laptops, this 10-nanometer chip brings a much needed performance boost to the integrated Iris Xe graphics as well as support for Thunderbolt 4 and faster USB 3.2 data transfer speeds. In keeping with Intel’s ‘evolution not revolution approach’, the new processor is compatible with existing 200,000 plus laptop computers running on 7th Gen Lake chips. The results are improved performance without any added power consumption.
Intel Core i9
A core CPU is the dull and gray processor found at the heart of computers, tablets, phablets and smartphones. In a nutshell, it does all of the number-crunching that allows for tasks like internet browsing, playing games and streaming media to work quickly. Intel recently introduced a new line of nine-core CPUs called i9 which provide even faster capabilities over their original counterpart from the seven-core series (Core i7).
Intel Core i7
One step up from the more mainstream Intel Core i5, CPUs with numbers that end in HQ or K offer higher wattage, more cores and are able to achieve sharper speeds during use. For even greater performance and output, if you’re willing to pay an additional price, there are also Core i7 Y series chips that can be purchased. Remember though that they will come at an increased cost due to their lower power consumption as opposed to their older counterparts.
Consider models with a 10 in their model number as these are part of Intel’s latest range of 10th and 11th generation Core Series CPU’s (Central Processing Units) which offer enhanced speed and performance despite being no different from their previous generations besides the addition of “i” for integrated graphics – because who doesn’t want that?
Intel Core i5 Laptop
For mainstream laptops, you can’t go wrong with systems that have an Intel Core i5 processor. Models ending in U are the most common. Those with a Y in the name are low power and have worse performance. Often, systems with HQ processors use more wattage and appear in thicker gaming and workstation systems. The newest 11th Generation Tiger Lake CPUs have four cores, but it’s also important to note they offer Wi-Fi 6 support, Thunderbolt 4 integration and better AI functionality so if you’re on the lookout for one of those models at least be sure to check out Intel’s latest offerings before making your purchase decision!
Intel Core i3
If you’re moving from a computer that provided everything you needed in terms of performance, this is an excellent entry-level CPU. If your current machine isn’t meeting your needs and is older, upgrading to a Core i3 would be another logical move in order to get more bang for your buck . In an ideal situation, however, we’d suggest stepping up the ladder to a Core i5.
Incredibly powerful and expensive processors for large mobile workstations. If you do pro-level engineering, 3D modeling or video editing, a Xeon-powered laptop might be worth the purchase but you won’t get much battery life.
Intel Pentium / Celeron
Intel Pentium and Celeron: Common in sub-$400 laptops, these chips offer the slowest performance, but can do if your main tasks are web surfing and light document editing. A Core i3 or i5 would be a better match if you can afford it.
Intel Core i5/i7 “Y Series”
Many Y series motherboards are designed with low-power consumption and low heat output so that they can provide an array of remarkable features. On a performance scale, this series of computer processors fall just below the standard i3 and i7 series but still make for high performing machines which perform above what Celeron CPUs can do which is why many businesses choose to invest in these particular types for their organization’s general purposes needs.
AMD Ryzen 4000 And AMD Ryzen 5000
The AMD’s new series of performance-driven processors aims to compete with the Intel Core i5 and Core i7 chips. Performance tests have shown the new CPU part, the AMD Ryzen 5 4500U, can outperform its equivalent Intel Core processor with roughly the same price tag. Not only does it give you superior performance and endurance, but it promises a significantly more affordable laptop for gamers who don’t want to drop loads of cash on fancy specs when all they really want is great performance from their hardware.
AMD: K Series, X Series or U Series Sockets
If you’re looking for a budget-friendly computer, then an AMD-powered machine will be up your alley. These CPUs — such as the AMD Kaveri A10-7850K or the AMD FX-8320E — are the perfect choice if you want to browse the web or watch movies on your PC.
Apple’s patented micro controller (M1) integrates an ARM core with high-performance memory and storage, offering highly advanced computing power at a low cost. In fact, it clinched the gold medal when pitted against similar chips in a lab test! It was found on the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro.
Guys who have their own gaming systems know that a system with at least 8GB of RAM is most ideal for them to run the latest games, but developers should aim for 16GB or more if they can afford it. Most consumers don’t need more than 32GB but hardcore gamers might want to get 64GB or even 128GB if they can splurge a little bit.
Storage Drive (SSD)
No matter how fast your CPU is, if you have bloatware or just an old version of Windows 10 running on a full disc setup, your computer will be painfully slow to use. Today’s SSDs perform at least three times faster than the standard mechanical hard drive, and even a standard 7200RPM hard drive is faster than any obsolete 5400RPM laptop storage media. If your computer has a slot for an mSATA or M.2 PCI card, try to get a 256GB PCIe model rather than going full size PCIe (x4 NVME vs x2 AHCI).
Laptop Screen Resolution And Display
The more pixels your display has, the more content you can fit on-screen, and the sharper it will look. Sadly, some budget laptops still have 1366 x 768 displays and so do a few business laptops but if you can afford it we recommend paying extra for a panel that runs at 1920 x 1080 also known as Full HD or 1080p. Higher-end laptops have screens that are 2560 x 1600, 3200 x 1800 or even 3840 x 2160 (4K), which all look sharp but consume more power lowering your battery life.
A laptop’s display quality is so much more than just resolution. Some make great use of color and brightness while others leave us longing for something better. Explore our laptop reviews to compare the differences in screen displays, as well as aspects like color accuracy and brightness before making your next purchase because you want an impressive picture each and every time you use your laptop without sacrificing power. The most beautiful displays are those that make the best of OLED technology and advance with miniLED.
If you’re buying a regular laptop, rather than a 2-in-1 device, it’s unlikely that it comes with a touchscreen. This will likely impact your battery life because touchscreens tend to rely on more power. On 2-in-1 devices, touchscreens tend to be standard, but if you want one, double check this by checking out our Best Touchscreen laptops section.
If you’re not looking to play PC games, do 3D modeling or render video projects that are heavy in high-resolution effects, an integrated graphics chip (one that shares system memory) from Intel or AMD should suffice. Also see the paragraph above for recommendations on low- and mid-range discrete graphics chips. Gamers and professionals who need a higher degree of rendering performance usually seek out Nvidia Quadro or AMD Radeon Pro GPUs which offer less performance than top-tier cards but still run significantly faster than their integrated chip counterparts.
Nvidia is the vendor of choice for all MacBooks, but you shouldn’t buy one for gaming. Nvidia’s high-end graphics cards are up to the RTX 2080 and its middle-of-the-road GPUs are up to the RTX 2060. The lists of these graphics cards differ slightly from vendor to vendor so be sure to check both lists and make sure that Nvidia makes the model that you want.
One of the most important factors to consider when deciding on a laptop is whether or not it’s got the right ports. Most mainstream laptops come with USB 3.0 connections and an HDMI output, which should cover your basic needs. However, if you’re looking at more feature-packed laptops, you might be better off going with one that has USB Type-C connections. USB Type-C can be used to transfer information from the internet or a phone, or it can also be used to connect compatible devices like mobile phones through their USB port for universal charging purposes. It all just depends on what you have and what you are planning to do with your laptop!
Your devices may be outdated. Be ready for future products and their faster performance, such as our new 4 USB port (USB 4) which will arrive soon along with transfer rates twice as fast and the ability to chain multiple 4K monitors together. We also have accessories you might find useful like SD card slots, headphone jacks, and Ethernet ports if you’re looking for a gaming computer that can do it all!
Here are the (most relevant) specifications to look for in a Windows laptop if you’d like it to connect to LTE or 5G networks depending on which frequencies your operator supports. This will allow you to have an internet connection even when you are away from a network router. If you get a data plan for your laptop with a data subscription that corresponds to what networks support. If you need the absolute latest and greatest when it comes down to connectivity, we suggest looking for devices that support 802.11ax and also Wi-Fi 6 . Here are our suggestions.
With the wide availability of online-streaming services, DVDs are becoming obsolete. Nowadays, very few laptops come with an optical drive that can play or burn discs because all software and movies are downloadable from the internet. However, if you have extremely sensitive data on CDs/DVDs that you need to read/write and don’t want to risk downloading it over a public Wi-Fi connection, barring spending hundreds for a Pentium-based laptop that comes with a disc drive (if you even find one) there is one really simple solution… buy an external USB DVD drive for less than $50.
6. Don’t Skimp On Battery Life
Our tests measure a notebook’s endurance based on its performance when browsing the web while connected to wifi, checking email, and playing casual games. Manufacturers tend to list longer times that include running less demanding tasks (like playing movies), but by using more objective methods we’re able to provide a more realistic points of comparison between different notebooks.
To determine how long your laptop battery should last, don’t trust results provided by manufacturers – compare them with results from third-party reviews like ours!
7. Plan Based On Your Budget
These days, you can get your hands on a wearable device that monitors everything from heart rate to motion detection. Priced at under $200, you’ll get a system with reasonably acceptable build quality and performance. Not too shabby if you are on a budget, but if it is within your means we recommend paying that little bit more to get something more suitably high-end. Here is what you’ll get for each price range.
Laptops Under $300
The cheapest notebooks are Chromebooks and Windows PCs with limited storage and slow processors, like the HP Stream 11 and the Dell Inspiron 11 3000. Use these as secondary computers only or give them to kids.
Laptops Under $600
For under $600, you can get a notebook with an Intel Core i5 or AMD A8 CPU, which are both respectable CPUs. At this price point, however, most notebooks won’t have an SSD or full-HD display. But, there are a few notable exceptions, such as the Acer Aspire E 15 and Asus Chromebook Flip C434.
Laptops Under $1000
As you get above the $600 price range, you’ll start to see more premium devices. In this category, you can expect to have a better quality screen and storage, as well as long battery life. The Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3 and Apple MacBook Air are great examples of laptops that offer all these perks for less.
Laptops Under $1500
At this price point, you are looking at more powerful laptops that are designed for speed and portability. Faster processors, higher display resolution, and storage capacity will be a given when choosing a laptop in this category. You’re also likely to see the addition of graphics cards and the support of multiple external displays. Our top picks would be the Acer Predator Helios 300 and ASUS ZenBook 14 which both have high-quality screens, reliable performance, and long-lasting battery life!
8. Mind the Brand
If a man’s only tool is a hammer, then all problems begin to look like nails. In 2015, Laptop Mag evaluated the top laptop brands and other technology companies in the Tech Support Showdown by creating tests and overseeing an expert panel of judges to decide which company provided excellent support services for users in the past year. The winner was Apple because it had the best track record of responding to emails swiftly, quickly resolving problems for customers with third-party software and hardware issues, and offering chat-based remote-access support if you run into difficulties when working on a Mac computer.
Only part of what makes a notebook brand worth your money is the support you can get. You also have to consider how the manufacturer stacks up to the competition in terms of design, value and selection, review performance, and other criteria. In our report on the Best Laptop Brands, HP came out on top, followed by Asus and Dell. We’ve also rated gaming laptop brands, with MSI taking first place and Acer and Alienware rounding out the top three.