Best Laptop for 2023/2024 The 14 Laptops We Recommend
Best laptops 2022
Apple MacBook Air M1 2020
Best MacBook for basics
Despite the availability of the new bigger and better M2 MacBook Air, the M1 MacBook Air (one of the first to switch from Intel to Apple silicon) is staying around and that’s a good thing. As Apple’s entry-level laptop it is still our go-to recommendation for a MacOS laptop for basic everyday use. It has great performance and long battery life — up to 18 hours — and is a solid choice for school or work.
MacBook Air M1 review
Read our Apple MacBook Air M1 (Late 2020) review.
$800 at Amazon$999 at Apple$800 at Best Buy
Dell XPS 13
Best MacBook Air alternative
The Dell XPS 13 is a perennial favorite for its size, weight and performance and just overall good looks. For 2022, Dell made the XPS 13 even smaller and lighter, kept its sub-$999 starting price the same and dropped in the latest 12th-gen Intel processors. The design is still great (though there’s no headphone jack; a USB-C adapter is included instead) and the battery life is long.
Dell XPS 13 9315 review
$749 at Dell
HP Pavilion Aero 13
Best small laptop under $1,000
HP packed a lot of value into the Aero 13: Eye-pleasing magnesium-aluminum chassis, strong processing performance, long battery life, a bright, colorful display and a weight of just 2 pounds (0.94 kilograms). Amazingly, with all that it offers though, it doesn’t break the bank in terms of price.
HP Pavilion Aero 13 review
$835 at Best Buy
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Apple MacBook Air M2
Best laptop for most people
Thanks to a new design, a larger display (13.6 inches versus the previous 13.3 inches), a faster M2 chip and a long-awaited upgrade to a higher-res webcam, the 2022 version of the MacBook Air remains our top choice for the most universally useful laptop in Apple’s lineup, with one caveat. At $1,199, the $200 increase over the traditional $999 MacBook Air starting price is a disappointment. That’s why you’ll still find the M1 version of the Air retains a spot on our best laptop list. Still, we like everything else about it and it’s our first choice if you’re considering an Air and don’t mind spending more.
Apple MacBook Air M2 review
$1,049 at Amazon$1,049 at Best Buy
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Lenovo Yoga 7i Gen 7 (14-inch)
Best 2-in-1 for most people
This thin, 3-pound convertible is a solid choice for anyone who needs a laptop for office or schoolwork. The all-metal chassis gives it a premium look and feel, and it has a comfortable keyboard and a responsive, smooth precision touchpad. Though it’s light on extra features compared to its premium linemate, the Yoga 9i, it does have one of Lenovo’s sliding shutters for its webcam that gives you privacy when you want it. And it has a long battery life to boot at 12 hours, 45 minutes in our tests. The latest version with 12th-gen Intel processors starts at less than $1,000.
Lenovo Yoga 7i Gen 7 (14-inch) review
$1,200 at Best Buy$1,000 at Walmart
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Dell Inspiron 16 Plus
Best 16-inch laptop for creators on a budget
The Dell Inspiron 16 Plus’ 16-inch display is a great size since the laptop is barely bigger than a 15.6-inch model, but you get more room for work and a roomier keyboard and touchpad along with it. For this Inspiron, Dell packed in performance parts including a 12th-gen Intel Core i7 processor, Nvidia discrete graphics and the display covers 100% sRGB color gamut, which is good enough if you’re getting started with creating web content. Also, the laptop has a more premium fit and finish than we’re used to seeing in the Inspiron line.
$1,300 at Dell
Microsoft Surface Pro 8
Best Surface laptop
Although this Microsoft Surface laptop is not the Surface Laptop, the Surface Pro continues to hit all the right notes if you’re looking for a do-it-all Windows tablet that doubles as a Windows laptop. Microsoft recently updated it for the Surface Pro 9, but little has changed beyond a processor upgrade from 11th-gen Intel Core processors to 12th-gen chips as well as an option for a Microsoft SQ 3 processor with 5G wireless. If you were contemplating a Pro 8, it’s still around but now with a lower price, and is our go-to choice until we see how the Surface Pro 9 tests.
Microsoft Surface Pro 8 review
$800 at Amazon$800 at Best Buy$980 at Target
Lenovo Yoga 9i Gen 7
Best 14-inch 2-in-1
Lenovo launched the Yoga line 10 years ago with Windows 8 and now, with Windows 11, the flexibility of the design has only gotten better. The company’s flagship 14-inch Yoga 9i Gen 7 has an updated look with comfortable, rounded edges and 12th-gen Intel processors that give it a big multicore performance jump. A beautiful OLED display and improved audio make it excellent for work, video conferences and entertainment. Lenovo includes an active pen and a laptop sleeve to complete the premium package.
The powerful speakers do add some vibration to the palm rests when turned up and Lenovo has cluttered the laptop with pitches for optional services and software. But, overall, the latest Yoga 9i is the two-in-one convertible laptop to beat.
Lenovo Yoga 9i Gen 7 review
$1,530 at Lenovo$1,500 at Best Buy
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HP Victus 16
Best laptop gaming on a budget
HP’s Victus 16 is a surprisingly robust and powerful gaming laptop that keeps up with the latest games at a more affordable price. Compared to HP’s high-end Omen gaming laptop line, the Victus is more of an all-purpose laptop but still configured for gaming with a price starting at less than $1,000. HP offers several configurations with graphics chip options ranging from Nvidia’s entry-level GeForce GTX 1650 up to a midrange RTX 3060 or AMD Radeon RX 6500M. You can also get with AMD or Intel processors (though the AMD chips offer a better value).
HP Victus 16 review
$1,070 at HP
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Razer Blade 14
Best MacBook Pro 14-inch alternative
There’s a lot to love with the Razer Blade 14, which incorporates one of the fastest mobile CPUs available (for now, at least), the AMD Ryzen 9 5900HX, and top-end mobile graphics with the GeForce RTX 3070 or 3080. Its display can go pixel-to-pixel with the MacBook’s. And its high-quality build is up there with the best MacBooks but, like an Apple, it’s not necessarily the best laptop deal, even compared to other premium laptops.
Razer Blade 14 review
$2,302 at Amazon$2,800 at Best Buy
Apple MacBook Pro (2021, 16-inch)
Best MacBook Pro
New Apple silicon, new display, new design and all the ports we’ve been asking for: The latest 16-inch Apple MacBook Pro is the best Pro ever. The combination of the larger MacBook Pro’s hardware and MacOS extracts the maximum performance from the components while delivering excellent battery life. The new mini-LED high-resolution display is gorgeous. And if an HDMI output and SD card reader were on your shortlist for features, you’ll find those here too.
You pay for it, though: Base price for the 16-inch model of this premium laptop is $2,499.
Apple MacBook Pro (16-inch) review
$2,000 at Amazon$2,499 at Apple$1,999 at Best Buy
Acer Chromebook Spin 714
Best Chromebook for most people
Acer had one of the best Chromebooks available in 2021 with the Spin 713, and now it’s repeated that success with the Chromebook Spin 714. The premium two-in-one doesn’t stray far from its predecessor in terms of what it offers, but Acer did make some changes to keep it competitive, like including a USI pen that stores and charges in the 714’s body. There are less expensive options, but if you want a Chromebook that’ll last for years, this is it. Keep an eye out for a sale on this one: Its normal price is $729, but is frequently on sale for less if you shop at the right time.
Acer Chromebook Spin 714 review
$729 at Best Buy
Samsung Galaxy Book 2 Pro 360
Best 15.6-inch 2-in-1
Samsung’s latest big-screen two-in-one doesn’t look all too different from its predecessor, but inside is a new, 12th-gen Intel processor that gives it a sizable multicore performance bump. Plus, the other, smaller updates Samsung made to the Pro 360 improve the overall user experience, making it one of the best two-in-ones available right now.
Samsung Galaxy Book 2 Pro 360 review
$1,300 at Samsung$974 at Amazon$700 at Target
Dell XPS 17 9720
Great for work and gaming
The XPS 17 combines the same slim, premium design of its 13-inch linemate but with increased performance possibilities. It can be configured with up to a 12th-gen Intel Core i9 processor, 64GB of memory and a 6GB Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 graphics chip. The best part: Dell trimmed up the chassis so much that you get a 17-inch display in a body that’s the size of an older 15-inch laptop. You’re getting a lot of power and a big screen in the smallest possible package.
Dell XPS 17 review
$2,800 at Best Buy
How much do good laptops cost?
Setting a budget is a good place to start when shopping for the best laptop for yourself. The good news is you can get a nice-looking, lightweight laptop with excellent battery life at prices under $500. If you’re shopping for a laptop around $500 or less, check out our top picks here, as well as more specific buying advice for that price range.
Higher-end components like Intel Core i-series and AMD Ryzen processors and premium design touches like thin-display bezels and aluminum or magnesium bodies have made their way to laptops priced between $500 and $1,000. You can also find touchscreens and two-in-one designs that can be used as a tablet or a laptop — and a couple other positions in between. In this price range, you’ll also find faster memory and ssd storage — and more of it — to improve performance.
Above $1,000 is where you’ll find premium laptops and two-in-ones. If you’re looking for the fastest performance, the best battery life, the slimmest, lightest designs and top-notch display quality with an adequate screen size, expect to spend at least $1,000.
Which is better, MacOS or Windows?
Deciding between MacOS and Windows laptop for many people will come down to personal preference and budget. Apple’s base model laptop, the M1 MacBook Air, starts at $999. You can sometimes find it discounted or you can get educational pricing from Apple and other retailers. But, in general, it’ll be at least $1,000 for a new MacBook, and the prices just go up from there.
For the money, though, you’re getting great hardware top to bottom, inside and out. Apple recently moved to using its own processors, which resulted in across-the-board performance improvements compared to older Intel-based models. But, the company’s most powerful laptop, the 16-inch MacBook Pro, still hasn’t been updated to Apple silicon.
But, again, that great hardware comes at a price. Also, you’re limited to just Apple laptops. With Windows and Chromebooks (more on these below), you get an amazing variety of devices at a wide range of prices.
Software between the two is plentiful, so unless you need to run something that’s only available on one platform or the other, you should be fine to go with either. Gaming is definitely an advantage for a Windows laptop, though.
MacOS is also considered to be easier and safer to use than Windows, especially for people who want their computers to get out of the way so they can get things done. Over the years, though, Microsoft has done its best to follow suit and, with Windows 11 here, it’s trying to remove any barriers. Also, while Macs might have a reputation for being safer, with the popularity of the iPhone and iPad helping to drive Mac sales, they’ve become bigger targets for malware.
Are Chromebooks worth it?
Yes, they are, but they’re not for everyone. Google’s Chrome OS has come a long way in the past 10 years and Chromebooks — laptops that run on Chrome OS — are great for people who do most of their work in a web browser or using mobile apps. They are secure, simple and, more often than not, a bargain. What they can’t do is natively run Windows or Mac software.
What’s the best laptop for home, travel or both?
The pandemic changed how and where a lot of people work. The small, ultraportable laptops valued by people who regularly traveled may have suddenly become woefully inadequate for working from home. Or maybe instead of needing long battery life, you’d rather have a bigger display with more graphics power for gaming.
If you’re going to be working on a laptop and don’t need more mobility than moving it from room to room, consider a 15.6-inch laptop or larger. In general, a bigger screen makes life easier for work and is more enjoyable for entertainment, and also is better if you’re using it as an extended display with an external monitor. It typically means you’re getting more ports, too, so connecting an external display or storage or a keyboard and mouse are easier without requiring a hub or dock.
For travel, stay with 13- or 14-inch laptops or two-in-ones. They’ll be the lightest and smallest while still delivering excellent battery life. What’s nice is that PC-makers are moving away from 16:9 widescreens toward 16:10- or 3:2-ratio displays, which gives you more vertical screen space for work without significantly increasing the footprint. These models usually don’t have discrete graphics or powerful processors, though that’s not always the case.
Which laptop is best for gaming or creating?
You can play games and create content on any laptop. That said, what games you play and what content you create — and the speed at which you do them — is going vary greatly depending on the components inside the laptop.
For casual browser-based games or using streaming-game services like Google Stadia, Nvidia GeForce Now and Xbox Cloud Gaming, you don’t need a powerful gaming laptop. And similarly, if you’re just trimming video clips, cropping photos or live-streaming video from your webcam, you can get by with a modestly priced laptop or Chromebook with integrated graphics.
For anything more demanding, you’ll need to invest more money for discrete graphics like Nvidia’s RTX 30-series GPUs. Increased system memory of 16GB or more, having a speedy SSD for storage and a faster processor such as an Intel Core i7 or AMD Ryzen 7 will all help you get things moving faster, too.
The other piece you’ll want to consider is the display. For gaming, look for screens with a high refresh rate of 120Hz or faster so games look smoother while playing. For content creation, look for displays that cover 100% sRGB color space.
How we test computers
The review process for laptops, desktops, tablets and other computer-like devices consists of two parts: performance testing under controlled conditions in the CNET Labs and extensive hands-on use by our expert reviewers. This includes evaluating a device’s aesthetics, ergonomics and features. A final review verdict is a combination of both those objective and subjective judgments.
The list of benchmarking software we use changes over time as the devices we test evolve. The most important core tests we’re currently running on every compatible computer include: Primate Labs Geekbench 5, Cinebench R23, PCMark 10 and 3DMark Fire Strike Ultra.
A more detailed description of each benchmark and how we use it can be found in our How We Test Computers page.