In this article, we have been able to do a compendium of best laptop categories, manufactured with a certain use or audience in mind.
And of course, when shopping for a laptop, decide what you primarily intend to use the laptop for and seek out a category that aligns with those interests.
Below are some best laptops, prices and their categories:
The best laptop: Dell XPS 13
The question is why should you buy this? It’s portable, fast, attractive, and reasonably priced.
Who’s it for?: Everyone except gamers.
No laptop in the past few years has been more influential than the XPS 13. It started this race to thinner bezels back in 2015, which has now spread to every gadget that has a screen.
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In its latest iteration, Dell’s taken things even further. The 2020 XPS 13 has made the screen larger using a 16:10 aspect ratio, all while shrinking the bottom bezel. The result is a larger screen without needing a larger overall laptop.
The best MacBook: MacBook Air
Another question is, why should you buy this: Those who want something shiny to bring to school.
Who’s it for? Students and Apple fans.
We decided to pick the MacBook Air based on its functions:
With the recent announcement that Apple is moving to its own ARM-based silicon in future Macs, you should proceed carefully about buying a new MacBook today.
Rumors hint that a new MacBook Air or MacBook Pro could be the first to get the all-important update to Apple Silicon later this year. Meanwhile, the current MacBook Air is a solid choice if you absolutely must have a new Mac laptop today.
It’s not the most powerful laptop in the world, but it makes up for raw performance with an excellent screen, world-class build quality, and a surprisingly good set of speakers.
For a laptop that starts at just $999 (or $899 for students), it’s hard to beat. Even the keyboard is a delightful experience, now that Apple has ditched the troublesome butterfly keyboard. If you’re doing any kind of content creation, bumping up to the MacBook Pro is wise. For most people, the MacBook Air is as much laptop as you’ll need.
The best Asus ZenBook 13
Why should you buy this: You want an affordable Windows PC that’s will help you keep up with your homework.
Who’s it for: High school and college students who want portability, power, and long battery life — but don’t want to spend an arm and a leg.
Students don’t often have the budgets to accommodate premium laptops like the Dell XPS 13, and thus for them, we suggest the Asus ZenBook 13 UX333. It’s an ultrabook that comes with our highest recommendation and costs just $850. 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, but in its most recent iteration, it almost matches the XPS 13 in terms of its tiny bezels. It’s also a great looking laptop that keeps things light and thin without sacrificing build quality.
The bang-for-your-buck value here is particularly impressive. The current model comes with an 8th-gen Intel Core i5 processor, but a 2020 model was recently announced, promising an even thinner chassis and improved performance.
The best Chromebook: Google Pixelbook Go
Why should you buy this: You want an inexpensive but well-built Chromebook.
Who’s it for: Students, people who need only basic functionality, anyone who wants a cheap laptop to use as a second PC.
Why we picked the Google Pixelbook Go:
Chromebooks are best-known as cheap alternatives to Windows PCs, and there are plenty of good options for under $500. The Pixelbook Go, though, makes a serious case for a Chromebook with a bit more finesse. It’s beautifully designed, rigidly built, and a joy to use.
Thanks to its ultra-light 2.3-pound weight and fantastic battery life, it’s a great option for students and people taking their work on the go.
With a starting price of $649, it’s not a significant cut from the $999 original Pixelbook. You do, of course, face the usual limitations with Chrome OS. It’s designed around Google’s Chrome web browser, meaning you can’t download your normal Windows applications. It’s wonderfully simple and intuitive to use, however, and with the inclusion of the Google Play Store, you can fill some of the gaps in software with Android apps.
The best 2-in-1 laptop: Microsoft Surface Pro 7
Why should you buy this? You want a great laptop and a good tablet.
Who’s it for? Anyone who needs versatility on top of performance.
Why we picked the Surface Pro 7?
The Surface Pro line has earned its dedicated following over the years with its excellent detachable keyboard and full Windows 10 performance.
It’s the familiar PC experience you’re used to, with the added interest of 2-in-1 capability, Surface Pen stylus compatibility, and a tablet mode.
It’s a supremely well-built device, complete with a beautiful, high-resolution display and rock-solid kickstand.
The latest model, the Surface Pro 7, doesn’t make any substantial changes to the formula, but it does offer a couple of key upgrades.
You now get a USB-C port rather than a mini-DisplayPort, as well as upgrade performance with 10th-generation Ice Lake processors from Intel. That means snappier performance and improved integrated graphics.
Do we wish the Surface Pro 7 had the slimmer chassis and smaller bezels of the new Surface Pro X? Of course. But the Surface Pro 7 is cheaper, faster, and more universal in terms of app support.
The best business laptop: HP Elite Dragonfly
Who’s it for? Business pros who want a laptop that won’t embarrass them.
Business laptops have a certain stigma around them. It’s often assumed that they need to be clunky, ugly, and full of bloatware. Not so.
The Elite Dragonfly has everything your IT department will need (and you’ll appreciate), without getting in the way of a supremely beautiful and modern laptop.
The ideal person for the Dragonfly is someone who takes their work on the go with them, whether that’s in long flights or subways. That’s where the Dragonfly really comes alive as a highly portable laptop that might actually fit on your pull-down tray.
On top of all that, the Dragonfly is one of the first 5G-enabled laptops, which could come in handy as the faster connectivity standard rolls out.
The best budget laptop: Lenovo Yoga C640
Why you should buy this? Good performance for so little money, and a complete complement of hardware features.
Who’s it for: Those who want a do-everything Windows laptop without breaking the bank.
Why we picked the Lenovo Yoga C640:
Spending under $1,000 on a laptop is dangerous. I say that not because there aren’t good options, but because there’s a lot to dig through to find the gems. The Yoga C640 is the brightest of them. It offers a beautiful 1080p screen, a large keyboard and touchpad, and fantastic battery life. For a laptop that starts at $600, it’s hard to ask for more.
The dual-core, 10th-gen Intel Core i3 isn’t the fastest processor, though it’ll handle basic computing tasks just fine. If your daily routine consists of no more than Chrome, Slack, YouTube, and Spotify, you’ll find plenty of performance here under the hood.
For those that rely on intense multitasking or need to do some occasional heavy lifting, moving up to the $690 model will get you four cores and twice the storage as well. Even at that price, you’re getting an incredible value laptop that should last you for many years. For even cheaper laptops, check our choices for the best laptops under $500.
The best gaming laptop: Razer Blade 15
Why should you buy this: It provides a fantastic gaming experience on the go.
Who’s it for: People who want a fantastic laptop that can also game.
Why we picked the Razer Blade 15:
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 frame rates makes it a bit of a miracle.
Now with new RTX Super graphics, maxing out at the RTX 2080 Super, and a 300Hz refresh rate display, the Razer Blade is a killer gaming machine.
The Razer Blade made short work of just about everything we threw at it — as long as you stay away from 4K, 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 Assassin’s Creed Odyssey and Battlefield V.
Simply put, this is the most elegant, beautiful gaming laptop you’ve ever seen. If you need something a bit more affordable, the new AMD-powered Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 is an excellent choice.
The best laptop for video editing: Dell XPS 15
Why should you buy this: You want a portable PC that can churn through your video editing projects.
Who’s it for: Video editors who want powerful components and a big, beautiful display.
Why we picked the Dell XPS 15:
When you’re editing video, you want plenty of space to view both the results and your favorite application’s interface. But, if you’re using a laptop rather than a desktop PC, then you want to be able to do your editing on the go. That’s where 15-inch laptops come in — they’re both powerful and, thanks to today’s thin-bezel movement, highly portable.
The best 15-inch laptop around is the Dell XPS 15 — and in 2020, Dell has relaunched the line with a whole new design. It’s gorgeous. It has an even thinner bezel, now surrounding a 16:10 aspect ratio screen.
The 4K screen is slightly taller, and it feels far more immersive thanks to the thin borders. There’s also some improved speakers, a larger touchpad, and a four Thunderbolt 3 ports. Dell even throws in the full-size SD card slot — a huge convenience for video editors.
Internally, you still have an option for an eight-core, Core i9 processor and the latest GTX 1650 Ti graphics. For multi-threaded applications like Adobe Premiere, you can expect some impressive rendering times.
There are two caveats. First, the Core i9 configuration isn’t yet available. Second, the XPS 17 is expected to drop soon as well. It’s a larger and more powerful version of this same laptop.
The best laptop for photo editing: Apple MacBook Pro 16-inch
Why should you buy this: You want the most extensive software support in a laptop and a picture-perfect display.
Who’s it for: Photo editors who want a display that will give them real-world results.
Why we picked the Apple MacBook Pro:
Apple’s MacBook line has been a favorite among photo editors forever. The company has built up such a huge following by ensuring that the best software runs on MacOS, and by offering some of the best and most accurate displays you can buy.
The MacBook Pro maintains that focus on creative professionals, especially if you opt for the new 16-inch model. It offers plenty of power in a very thin and light form factor, up to 8th-gen Intel Core i7 CPUs, 16GB of RAM, and 2TB of fast storage.
And, its display is great for editing photos thanks to a 16:10 aspect ratio providing more vertical space and wide color gamut (100% of sRGB and 91% of AdobeRBG) with the most accurate colors you can get.
The 16-inch MacBook Pro has a similarly-great display with new Intel 9th-gen CPUs, and provides the larger screen that some photographers will appreciate. It also features an improved keyboard and powerhouse performance.
Windows laptops are catching up, but the MacBook Pro retains its place at the top of the photo editing laptop market. It’s not the least expensive photo editing platform around, but it’s still the best.