Timing for buying a new laptop right now is as good as it possibly gets. Intel’s 10th-gen chips have found their way into most machines and even AMD’s Ryzen 4000 CPU is making a solid appearance, we only wish it was more widely available. Apple is destined to rock the boat late in 2020 once their first ARM-based MacBooks become available, so Mac users should definitely watch out for that. From $700 to $7,000 and covering multiple use cases, here are our favorite laptops on the market.
Best Ultraportable Laptop
Widely considered the best ultraportable available today is the Dell XPS 13. The laptop has long been regarded as the one to beat, and this 2020 version improves on an already great machine. As usual, the build quality of the XPS 13’s sturdy chassis is one of its best features. It weighs 2.8 pounds, the same as the HP Spectre x360 (our best 2-in-1 pick), and typing is a joy, thanks to the satisfying feedback, soft-touch coating, and edge-to-edge keyboard.
The 2020 model comes with smaller bezels (91.5% screen-to-body) and a 16:10 Infinity Edge display that’s great for productivity. It’s also incredibly bright, reaching 500 nits, and can be specced up to 4K with touch capabilities.
Battery life is another highlight, allowing you to surf the web for around 12 hours—expect less if you opt for the 4K screen, though. There’s also a Windows Hello-compatible webcam in those tiny bezels, a fingerprint reader, and Wi-Fi 6.
The latest XPS 13 machines get a performance boost from 10th-gen Intel processors. They start at $999 for the Core i3-1005G1 and reach $2,199 for a Core i7-1065G7, 32GB of RAM, and a 1TB PCIe NVMe SSD. Connectivity-wise you get two Thunderbolt 3 USB-C ports, a microSD slot, and a 3.5mm audio jack—but no USB Type-A, though Dell does include a Type-A to Type-C adapter in the box.
There are few negatives with the XPS 13. Port selection is a bit limited, and the keyboard can get toasty at times, but it remains at the top of the pile alongside the Spectre X360 (more on that one below).
Razer Blade Stealth 2020
Gaming isn’t usually a priority for people looking at ultraportables, but if you do want to combine work and play inside a light chassis, and can afford it, there’s the Razer Blade Stealth.
While it does include the same 10th-gen Core i7 1065G7 found in last year’s Stealth, there’s an upgraded GTX 1650 Ti Max-Q alongside 16GB of RAM, a 512 GB NVMe SSD, Wi-Fi 6, and a 120Hz display (100 percent sRGB color space coverage) in the FHD version. Opt for the 4K model, and you get a 60Hz touchscreen that’s individually calibrated to ensure color accuracy.
The all-aluminum chassis from the previous Stealths remain, as does the RGB key lighting, but the keyboard layout has been changed to include a full-sized Shift key. The trackpad is up there with the Spectre X360’s, and connectivity is great: two USB Type-A 3.1 ports, a USB-C Thunderbolt port, a USB-C 3.1 Gen 2 port, and a 3.5-inch jack. It also weighs just 3.11lbs and comes with a 100W charger.
That GTX 1650 Ti will push most titles around the 13.3-inch screen with ease, but gaming on the go comes at a steep price: $1,799.
Best 2-in-1 Ultraportable
There’s plenty to love about the most recent Spectre X360 13, beginning with the gorgeous optional 4K AMOLED touchscreen that makes colors look bright and vibrant—it’s a noticeable improvement over IPS screens. There’s also the excellent build quality, with a brushed metal finish and the 360-degree hinge that allows it to switch between laptop and tablet modes. Plus, the whole device weighs only 2.8 pounds, making it easy to haul around in a backpack.
The $1,399 model comes with Intel’s 10th-gen Core i7-1065G7 paired with Iris Plus integrated graphics. Add in the 16GB of RAM (DDR4-3200), 512GB SSD, and 32GB of Intel high-speed Optane storage, and you’ve got a laptop that can handle everyday tasks with ease, as well as creativity apps such as Photoshop. It’s also got astounding battery life.
A less-than-stellar trackpad found on previous X360 models has been updated with Microsoft’s precision drivers. That means improved single-finger tracking, two-finger scrolling, and multi-digit Windows 10 gestures. Moreover, the better palm rejection means you won’t be driven crazy by the cursor bouncing around while typing—there’s a reason this laptop’s trackpad quality has been called the closest you’ll get to a MacBook Pro.
Elsewhere, you’ll find Windows Hello-compatible facial recognition and fingerprint sensor for secure logins, Wi-Fi 6, and plenty of connectivity options for an ultraportable: two Thunderbolt 3 USB-C ports, a microSD slot, a 3.5mm audio jack, and, unlike its Dell XPS 13 rival, a USB-A 3.1 port. A possible downside could be the use of a 16:9 display, rather than the more productivity-friendly 16:10 screen used in Dell and Microsoft laptops. However, the rest of the Spectre X360’s plus points make it a top pick.
ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 8
Lenovo’s ThinkPad X1 Carbon is regularly one of the top business-focused laptops every year. The base model of the new ThinkPad X1 ups the CPU to a 10th-gen Core i5-10210U starting at $1,300. That amount gets you a fingerprint reader, 8GB of RAM, a 256GB PCIe SSD, Wi-Fi 6, two Type-C ports with Thunderbolt 3, two USB 3.1 Type-A ports, and HDMI 4.1. A somewhat similar system from the previous generation (Gen 7) is still readily available and lowers the price to just $999, which may be worth considering.
The carbon-fiber weave on the top cover remains an option with the 4K HDR400 display model, and those who want to keep prying eyes at bay will appreciate PrivacyGuard, an electronic privacy filter that ensures the screen’s contents is only visible when facing head-on.
HP Elite Dragonfly
If you’re an executive who travels a lot and wants a portable 2-in-1, the HP Elite Dragonfly’s a great choice, thanks mostly to its always-connected LTE coverage. There are three gorgeous displays to choose from: 400 nit Full-HD, 1,000 nit Full-HD, or 400 nit HDR, all touchscreens. It can be used in tablet, laptop, tent, or media mode.
The keyboard is another highlight, and connectivity comes from two USB-C (Thunderbolt 3) ports, one USB 3.1 Type-A, an HDMI, 3.5mm jack, and external nano SIM. There’s also a fingerprint reader, an optional SureView Reflect screen that works in the same way as Lenovo’s PrivacyGuard, four great speakers, and Wi-Fi 6, all wrapped in a 2.2-pound package. The only thing that lets the Elite Dragonfly down is its 8th-gen Whiskey Lake processor (Core i5-8265U), and the $1,704 price.
Best MacBook for Most
The MacBook Air is one of the most stylish lightweight laptop out there, but its appeal was diminishing before a revamp in 2018. In this latest version, Apple has added a few bells and whistles while fixing some issues, in particular the keyboard.
The display is arguably the Air’s best feature. The 2,560 x 1,600 pixels shoved inside the 13.3-inch (227 PPI) Retina display look gorgeous and are made all the better by the slim bezels. You also get Apple’s True Tone tech, which adjusts the color temperature depending on the ambient light. As with most Apple laptops, the build quality of the Air is exceptional, and the company has abandoned the troublesome butterfly keyboard for the vastly superior scissor-switch keyboard that’s also found in the 16-inch MacBook Pro.
There’s also a Touch ID sensor on the right for secure unlocks and Apple Pay, while the trackpad remains arguably better than anything Windows devices can offer. Storage in the base model has been upped to 256GB, and you can grab this entry-level MacBook Air 2020 (10th-gen Intel Corefirstname.lastname@example.orgGHz, 8GB) for $899 on Amazon.
Just two USB-C Thunderbolt 3 connections and a headphone jack are all you get in terms of ports, the webcam’s not the best, and it lacks Wi-Fi 6, but if you’re a fan of Apple’s excellent software and want a great ultraportable all-rounder, you won’t find better.
Best Gaming Laptop
While 120Hz would once have been a mythical refresh rate for a gaming laptop, even that isn’t enough for some demanding gamers today. That’s where laptops such as the Razer Blade 15 Advanced comes in, which features an astounding 300Hz screen. Like all Razer laptops, this one is incredibly stylish, with its CNC-milled aluminum chassis in metallic black combined with per-key RGB lighting. At five pounds, it’s far from the lightest but no heavier than most extreme gaming machines.
Opting for the Advanced Edition over the Base models means access to that stunning 300Hz 1080p IPS screen. Reaching those frame rates takes some power, which is why the GPU options reach the RTX 2080 Super Max-Q. It’s backed up with an eight-core i7-10875H CPU (turbo speed: 5.1GHz), up to 64GB of RAM, and a 1 TB M.2 NVMe SSD.
Elsewhere, the Blade 15 advance comes with three USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A ports, a USB-C 3.2 Gen 2 port, HDMI 2.0b, a 3.5mm jack, and a Thunderbolt 3 USB-C port. You also get Wi-Fi 6, vapor chamber cooling, and an SD card reader. Plus, the keyboard and trackpad are both excellent.
The Blade Advanced also comes with the option of a 60Hz 4K OLED screen, but gamers will likely prefer the 300Hz model.
As for drawbacks, it can get quite toasty and the webcam is just 720p, but what’s likely to put most people off is the price: The RTX 2080 Super version is a massive $2,999.
Runner Up for Gaming and Work
Gigabyte Aero OLED 15 XB
OLEDs might be common in the world of high-end TVs and phones, but they’re not seen too often in laptops. When they are used, though, you get the kind of display that annihilates the LCD-based competition.
The Gigabyte Aero OLED 15 4K AMOLED screen is superb. It boasts VESA DisplayHDR 400 True Black certification—meaning true HDR performance—100 percent DCI-P3 coverage, 99.8 percent sRGB coverage, 93.5 percent Adobe RGB coverage, X-Rite Pantone Certification, and is individually factory calibrated to a deltaE of below 1.0. All of which makes it fantastic for creators.
Pushing pixels around that screen takes some serious hardware, which is why the Aero comes with an RTX 2070 Super Max-Q, and can be upgraded to the 2080 S Max-Q. You can also pick from a Core i7-10750H, Core i7-10875H, or an i9-10980HK, up to 64GB of RAM, and two 512GB SSDs. It’s all kept cool using Gigabyte’s Windforce tech, which consists of two 71-blade fans and five heat pipes for increased heat dissipation.
Aimed at creators as much as gamers, there’s a fairly extensive port selection: three USB 3.2 Gen1 (Type-A), one 1x Thunderbolt 3 (Type-C), an HDMI 2.0, one mini DP 1.4, 3.5 mm jack, a card reader, and RJ-45. There’s also Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5, and Killer Ethernet E2600.
While the screen is amazing, it is of the non-touch 60Hz variety, and there’s always the concern of burn-in on an OLED. It’s also expensive, with the RTX 2070 Super version starting at ~$2,500. Still, many would argue that the display alone is worth the money.
Ryzen + Gaming on 14″
Capable gaming laptops no longer mean something the size of a sedan that weighs more than a collapsing star.
The Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 is closer to an ultrabook than a traditional mobile gaming machine, offering the perfect combination of weight (3.5 pounds), performance, price, display, footprint, and battery life.
The Zephyrus’ magnesium alloy case oozes style, and while the keys are restricted to white backlighting, you can opt for the AniMe Matrix lighting feature. These 1,215 individual LEDs are placed under the lid, allowing buyers to customize the laptop with their own designs and animations. It can even show notifications and battery life.
But it’s what’s under the hood that should interest enthusiasts and gamers alike. The G14 is one of the first laptops (and arguably the best so far) to feature a Ryzen 4000 chip; in this case, it’s the 8-core/16-thread Ryzen 9 4900HS. We praised the 7nm processor for its incredible performance, awarding it a score of 90.
Complementing the Ryzen 9 4900HS is an RTX 2060 Max-Q GPU, 16GB of 3200MHz SDRAM, and a 512GB/1TB M.2 NVMe PCIe SSD. There’s also a 120Hz FHD display that covers 100 percent of the sRGB color gamut and AMD’s FreeSync tech is supported, which works with Nvidia components as of last year.
Connectivity consists of two USB-C (one of which supports DisplayPort), two USB-A, a full-sized HDMI 2.0, a 3.5mm audio jack, Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5, but no Thunderbolt 3. It can also charge over USB-C, and there’s a jack for the 108W adapter.
Battery life, often one of the worst elements of gaming laptops, is great, lasting almost 13 hours in a looping video test. It may lack Thunderbolt 3 and a webcam, but at $1,449 for the 1TB model, it’s an amazing price for a balanced gaming machine with almost no flaws.
Gaming on a Budget
It used to be that any kind of gaming experience on a laptop would mean handing over at least $1,000. These days, however, a grand is no longer the minimum requirement for mobile PC gaming. The Dell G5 15 ticks plenty of gaming laptop boxes for under $700: a stylish design, decent discrete graphics power, optional 4-zone RBG backlit keyboard, and dual speakers with Nahimic 3D audio. It’s also a bit bulky and heavy.
You’re obviously going to want the Dell G5 to handle games well, and it does a good job at this price point.
The base model features a 10th-gen Core i5-10300H, 8GB of DDR4-2933MHz RAM, and a 256GB M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD. The most important component, of course, is the graphics card, which comes in the form of a GTX 1650 Ti (4GB GDDR6). That’ll get you over 60 fps in Gears 5 at high settings, and can even manage over 50 fps on the demanding Metro Exodus. You can improve gaming performance slightly by opting for the GTX 1660 Ti, which adds $80 to the price.
Depending on your region, Dell is also offering a G3 SE version with the powerful Ryzen 4800H CPU and Radeon RX 5600M graphics that could pose a very interesting alternative for the price.
There’s good connectivity, consisting of 2 x USB 2.0, 1 x USB 3.2 Gen 1, USB-C, and HDMI 2.0, while the GTX 1660 Ti model adds a Thunderbolt 3 port, a mini-DisplayPort, and a Killer E2500 v2 2×2 Gigabit Ethernet port.
Battery life is another one of the G5’s best elements, offering around 8 hours of web browsing. On the less positive side, the display could be brighter and isn’t great when it comes to color accuracy. Still, Dell’s machine is a great price vs performance option for gaming on the go.
Best Budget Laptop
HP has been building momentum for a couple of years with the Envy x360 series. We reviewed the first-gen Envy about two years ago and it was a highly impressive device, with excellent finish and build quality for the price. The latest version is even better, available in 13-inch (3 lbs) and 15-inch (4.5 lbs) models, sporting Ryzen 4000 series CPUs, and starting at just $599.
The base version comes equipped with a very decent Ryzen 3 4300U, then for an extra $100 to $150 you can configure a highly balanced machine that packs a faster six-core Ryzen 5 CPU, 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD. That should make it fly on average workloads and multitasking, and even be able to handle some casual gaming courtesy of the integrated yet capable Radeon graphics.
Connectivity is good for a budget machine, with two USB Type-A ports and one USB-C port capable of DisplayPort 1.4 and HDMI output (no Thunderbolt 3), a microSD slot, and the standard headphone/mic input. Standard in the Envy x360 is a 720p webcam with a built-in privacy shutter. If you want to keep things under a certain budget, you will have to pick and choose. The standard configuration gets you Wi-Fi 5 but you can upgrade to Wi-Fi 6 for $50. The base model also comes with a dimmer 300-nit display, but you can upgrade that as well.
Ultimately, for $700 or less you can configure a budget machine that uses a sturdy metal chassis with a 360-degree hinge, an acceptable 1080p touch display, and most importantly, the power of the latest Ryzen mobile CPUs.
For Zoom Users Working Or Studying From Home
Lenovo Chromebook Duet
With the pandemic forcing most people to work, study, and even socialize from home, we’ve seen an increase in demand for cheap, portable laptops used primarily for video chat services such as Zoom.
Cheap Chromebooks aren’t usually recommended buys, but Lenovo managed to pack a lot of the right elements into this detachable. The 10.1-inch WUXGA (1900×1200) display can reach over 500 nits and looks great, especially when you consider that it starts at just $279. That base model also gets you 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage along with an octa-core 2.0GHz MediaTek Helio P60T. You’re not going to be doing pro-level work on this, but it’s good for light use, such as streaming, content consumption, video calls, or even as a cheap second screen to sit alongside your main device.
The two cameras (2MP front, 8MP rear) are better than the webcams found on many full-price laptops, while the dual speakers offer great sound for a device this size. And unlike a lot of tablets, this one ships with a keyboard.
Battery life is good, giving you 11 to 12 hours of use. Being a Chromebook, it comes with Chrome OS, which means fast boots, automatic background updates every six weeks, Google Assistant, integration with Google’s ecosystem, and syncing with Android phones. Chrome OS does have its limitations, of course, and don’t expect to do a lot of multitasking, but at under $300, the Lenovo Chromebook Duet offers incredible value for money.
Best Productivity Powerhouse
Dell’s XPS 15 series is a long-time rival to the MacBook Pro, and this latest version is a genuine challenger for the ‘perfect productivity machine’ crown. If you’ve used a Dell XPS before, you’ll know they feature everything you could want in a laptop: fast performance, a fantastic keyboard, gorgeous display, and excellent audio all packed into a stunning body.
This year has seen Dell shave down the thickness and weight (4.5 pounds) of the XPS, which features a CNC-machined aluminum chassis, clean edges, and soft-touch carbon fiber palm rests that scream quality. It also has a quad-speaker arrangement beneath two upward-facing speaker grilles that offers some of the best audio you’ll find in any laptop.
As with its competitors, such as Microsoft’s Surface line, Dell has moved to a more productivity-focused 16:10 display. There’s the choice of non-touch FHD+ (1,920 x 1,200) or touch-capable UHD+ (3,840 x 2,400), the latter of which reaches 500 nits, is rated for HDR 400, and covers 100 percent of the Adobe RGB spectrum and 94 percent of the DCI-P3 color gamut.
In the latest models, Dell has gone ‘full Apple’ by moving entirely to USB Type-C. The XPS 15 gets you three ports, two of which support Thunderbolt 3. Opt for the nearly identical XPS 17 and you get four USB-C ports, all of which support Thunderbolt 3. Dell does include a USB-C to USB-A 3.0 and HDMI 2.0 dongle in the box in case you need it. There’s also a full-sized UHS-III compliant SD card reader, Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.1, and 2×2 MIMO antenna configuration.
Hardware-wise, the 15″ model can be specced up to an Intel Core i7-10875H, GTX 1650 Ti, 16GB of RAM, and a 512GB M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD. All that, combined with the comfortable keyboard and massive trackpad, make it a perfect choice for productivity tasks such as video editing. Really, the only drawback to this machine is the somewhat weak GPU and the fact that not everyone will appreciate only having USB-C ports.
The 15-inch base model starts at $1,299, while the 17-inch version starts at $1,399. Going bigger ups the weight to 5.53 pounds, but you do get the extra screen real estate along with the option of adding beefier hardware, including an RTX 2060 Max-Q.
Worthy of mention
LG Gram 17
If you want a big laptop with an ample display and plenty of connectivity but that won’t tire your arms, check out the LG Gram 17 (2020 model). As with LG’s other Gram notebooks, the standout feature is the fact it’s so light: 2.95 pounds, less than a 13.3-inch MacBook Pro!
LG has used some kind of witchcraft to fit everything into a sturdy body (MIL-STD 810G) that’s of similar size to a 15-inch laptop. In addition to being a satisfying 17 inches, the IPS display is excellent: 2,560 x 1,600, 16:10 ratio, great colors and contrast, and around 95 percent sRGB coverage with a Delta E of 1.35. Under the hood, there’s a tenth-gen i7-1065G7 processor, 16GB of RAM, and a 1 TB SSD. No dedicated graphics card, though, as that would add to the weight—you’ll have to make do with the Iris Plus Graphics.
Battery life is another one of the Gram’s standout features. LG says you can get 17 hours from its 80Wh battery, though that seems optimistic in the extreme. Nevertheless, it still outlasts virtually all similar-sized laptops. Elsewhere, you can find Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5, and an array of ports: a full-sized HDMI, three USB 3.1 Type-A, USB Type-C (Thunderbolt 3), UFS/Micro-SD, and ethernet.
At $1,696, the LG Gram 17 isn’t the cheapest laptop for the hardware, though plenty will argue that the benefits of the 17-inch screen outweigh its less than stellar performance.
Best MacBook for Pros
Apple isn’t who you turn to for a bargain. But if you’re a fan of the company’s products and want one of the best productivity laptops out there, get a MacBook Pro 16.
Aimed squarely at professionals, means plenty of power and storage. The MacBook Pro 16 comes with a 9th-gen, 8-core Core i9 CPU (up to 5 GHz), up to 64GB of RAM, up to a Radeon Pro 5600M, and up to 8 TB of SSD storage. Worryingly for your wallet, it starts at $2,499 and can reach a massive $6,699.
As with the MacBook Air, the Pro addresses the problematic butterfly keyboard by moving to a much-improved scissor mechanism, making typing an enjoyable experience. The ESC key also returns, while the Touch ID key is no longer integrated into the Touch Bar.
What’s especially appealing in this model is the display. Even though the screen size has gone up from 15.4 inches to 16 inches, the smaller bezels mean the overall footprint remains the same. The 16:10 aspect ratio display is not quite 4K, but the 3,072 x 1,920 picture (226 PPI) looks stunning and can reach 500 nits. Pros will also appreciate the 100 percent sRGB and 84 percent Adobe RGB coverage.
Like Dell’s XPS 17, ports are limited to four USB Type-C (all Thunderbolt 3), which some people might not like. There’s no Wi-Fi 6, and the battery is unlikely to last the 11 hours Apple claims, especially when using pro apps.
Despite the few drawbacks (and that price), there’s not much that can challenge the MacBook Pro when it comes to pro-level creativity tasks such as video editing, especially now that Apple is using a good keyboard. MacBooks also tend to conserve its value over time, more than any Windows laptop by far. Be in the lookout for Apple Silicon models replacing Intel processors in the next few quarters.
Best Convertible Laptop
The third generation Surface Book does not introduce any major design changes, but if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
The 2-in-1 still oozes quality, from the sturdy magnesium chassis to its beautiful display. Previous Surface Book users will be familiar with the dynamic fulcrum hinge that keeps the screen in place no matter how it’s angled. You can also turn the detachable display around 180 degrees to use it for presentations or watching movies, and it even has a tent mode.
Obligatory side note: The fact that the Surface Book 3 has not received any major updates on its exterior or build does mean you can buy the previous generation Book 2 at a healthy discount (for example this base config at $1,100), if you’re convinced this is the format of laptop/convertible you want.
The Surface Book’s PixelSense touchscreen is gorgeous. Whether you choose the 3,000 x 2,000 13.5-inch model or 3,240 x 2,160 15-inch version, both are fantastic for work and play and the 3:2 aspect ratio is excellent for productivity tasks. With the touch of a button, the display pops off, turning the book into a tablet that’s great for content consumption and surfing. The keyboard is another standout feature; it’s an absolute joy to type on, and up there with the best laptop keyboards—comfy and satisfying.
The latest version of the Surface Book moves to 10th-gen Intel CPUs (Core i7-1065G7), while the graphics options consist of a GTX 1650, 1660 Ti Max-Q or a Quadro RTX 3000 Max-Q. There’s also up to 32GB of RAM, up to 2TB of PCIe SSD storage, and the camera, microphone, and battery life have been improved.
Connectivity-wise, you get two USB-A 3.1 Gen 2 ports, a USB Type-C, a headphone jack, and a full-size SDXC card reader. Still no Thunderbolt 3, which Microsoft says is because of “security concerns.” Other features include Windows Hello and front-facing speakers with Dolby Atmos, Bluetooth 5, and Xbox Wireless built-in for easy pairing with an Xbox One controller.
On the negative side, it’s still quite a chunky, heavy machine, especially the 15-inch model, the lack of Thunderbolt 3 is disappointing, and Windows in tablet form is far from great. Plus, it remains expensive, starting at $1,400 for the smaller laptop and $2,242 for its big brother.