Windows 8 PCs rated and reviewed

The first wave of Windows 8 desktops, laptops, tablets, and hybrids has been benchmarked and tested. Find out what we loved and hated.

The first wave of Windows 8 PCs is already on sale, and our collection of reviews continues to grow.

We've been benchmarking and field-testing new Windows 8 systems, including all-in-one desktops, traditional clamshell laptops, hybrid PCs with detachable screens, and convertible laptops with displays that flip or twist around to form tabletlike devices. The latest additions include Lenovo's ThinkPad Twist convertible laptop and Acer's high-end Aspire S7.

Some of what we found surprised us, such as how well nontransforming laptops worked with added touch screens, or how important a decent touch pad still was for navigation. The majority of these first Windows 8 systems were inventive, if not always successful in their experimentation, and if there's one takeaway, it's that the combination of touch and the new Windows 8 not-Metro interface means we'll be seeing a lot more laptops and desktops that play with the traditional forms we've been accustomed to for years.


Lenovo ThinkPad Twist (4 stars)
The well-made Lenovo ThinkPad Twist a bit of a throwback, using a center-hinge, swiveling-screen design that will be familiar to anyone who used or shopped for a Windows tablet pre-2010. Read the full Lenovo ThinkPad Twist review.


Acer Aspire S7 (4 stars)
While the hardware and design of the Aspire S7 is definitely premium (it's arguably our favorite Windows 8 laptop so far), it's a tough sell at $1,649, especially with touch-screen Windows 8 laptops available for as little as $529. Read the full Acer Aspire S7 review.


Acer Aspire M5 481PT (4 stars)
The touch-enabled Aspire M5 481PT with Windows 8 is a very good all-around laptop, even if it lacks the Nvidia dedicated graphics included in the last model. Read the full Acer Aspire M5 481PT review.


Acer Aspire V5 (3.5 stars)
If you're looking for an inexpensive entry point to the Windows 8 touch experience, that's going to be hard to beat; the V5, with its edge-to-edge glass and big, buttonless touch pad, its a real looker. Read the full Acer Aspire V5 review.


Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 13 (4 stars)
The Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 13 looks as good as any 13-inch ultrabook, with the added attraction of a 360-degree screen and a laptop body that can fold into a tent, stand, or slate. But most importantly, it doesn't compromise the traditional laptop experience. Read the full Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 13 review.


Acer Aspire 7600U (3 stars)
Three HDMI ports, a responsive touch screen, and its sleek looks give the Acer Aspire 7600U some appeal. Its problem is that for a similar price you can get the Dell XPS One 27, which is faster and has a higher-resolution 27-inch touch display. Read the full Acer Aspire 7600U review.


HP Envy TouchSmart Ultrabook 4 (3.5 stars)
The HP Envy TouchSmart Ultrabook 4 is a good gateway to the Windows 8 experience, but it's on the heavy side for an ultrabook, and the touch pad is jumpy at default settings. Read the full HP Envy TouchSmart Ultrabook 4 review.


Toshiba Satellite U845W-S430 (3 stars)
The wide screen is intriguing but not necessary for movie-watching (in fact, many 16:9 movies will end up with "reverse letterboxing" on the sides as opposed to the top/bottom in order to fit the screen), and it feels like it's missing something without touch. Read the full Toshiba Satellite U845W-S430 review.


Sony Vaio Tap 20 (3.5 stars)
For a 20-inch all-in-one touch-screen desktop with no optical drive and a low-voltage Core i5 chip, $999 seems like a lot to ask. But thanks to a built-in battery and a semiportable design, the Tap 20 might be the most distinctive Windows 8-launch PC. Read the full Sony Vaio Tap 20 review.


Dell XPS One 27 (4 stars; Editors' Choice Award winner)
Dell has the best of both worlds with this PC. It offers high-end options for those who want to pay for them, and it also outclasses its competition by offering the same high-resolution screen with its more modestly priced starting models. Read the full Dell XPS One 27 review.


Toshiba Satellite U925t (3.5 stars)
Like other slider convertibles, the Toshiba Satellite U925t is an engineering marvel, with a carefully constructed chassis that pulls open and rotates into place, giving you a final form that's closer to an iPad sitting in a keyboard case than a traditional clamshell laptop. It's an acquired taste, but a fun deviation from the norm. Read the full Toshiba Satellite U925t review.


Dell XPS 12 (3.5 stars)
The new XPS 12 has a screen that swivels at the middle of the lid's sides, so it can face out from the back of the lid's frame or fold down to a tablet. This is a slim, well-built, and frankly ambitious convertible, but it works better as a laptop than as a tablet. Read the full Dell XPS 12 review.


Sony Vaio E17 (3 stars)
As a Windows 8 laptop, it falls short. It lacks a touch screen, and its included touch pad just isn't up to the task for Windows 8's gestures. The battery life is also very short, although that's common for big-screen laptops. Read the full Sony Vaio E17 review.


Sony Vaio T13 Touch (3.5 stars)
The Sony Vaio T13 Touch gives you the convenience of a full-size keyboard and touch pad with a responsive touch screen for experiencing the Windows 8-style interface. Read the full Sony Vaio T13 Touch review.


Sony Vaio Duo 11 (3 stars)
Sony is selling the Vaio Duo 11 as being the best of both worlds: a full-HD laptop and touch-screen tablet in one. And it is both of those things -- sort of -- and it comes off as a tablet cobbled together with a makeshift keyboard. Read the full Sony Vaio Duo 11 review.


Josh Miller/CNET

Microsoft Surface RT (3.5 stars)
As the only Microsoft-branded Windows RT hardware to launch with the new operating system, the tablet serves as ambassador and flagship for the touch-focused, wildly risky Windows grand experiment. Read the full Microsoft Surface RT review.


Read the full CNET Review

Toshiba Satellite U925t

The Bottom Line: The mechanical elements of the Toshiba Satellite U925t convertible laptop are complex, but well-made. It won't be your main machine, but it's one of the more usable Windows 8 launch experiments. / Read full review

Read the full CNET Review

Sony Vaio Duo 11

The Bottom Line: While there are certainly things to like about the Sony Vaio Duo 11, the design gets in the way of enjoying them. / Read full review

Read the full CNET Review

Dell XPS One 27 (Windows 8)

The Bottom Line: Updated with a touch screen, a new stand, and up-to-date components, the Dell XPS One 27 leads the inaugural class of Windows 8 PCs. / Read full review

Read the full CNET Review

Sony Vaio T13 Ultrabook (touch screen)

The Bottom Line: If you like the idea of having a touch screen on your Windows 8 laptop, the Sony Vaio T13 Touch isn't a bad way to go. / Read full review

Read the full CNET Review

Sony Vaio E (17in)

The Bottom Line: If you want a reasonably priced desktop-replacement big-screen laptop, the Vaio E17 is worth a look. But it’s not a good Windows 8 showcase machine, and it lacks any touch interface other than a small touch pad. / Read full review

Read the full CNET Review

Sony Vaio Tap 20

The Bottom Line: A compelling experiment in tablet-desktop hybridization, the Sony Vaio Tap 20 is a great fit for home tech enthusiasts willing to try something new. / Read full review

Read the full CNET Review

Dell XPS 12

The Bottom Line: Dell has revamped its rotating Duo laptop concept into the much-improved XPS 12, but like most convertibles, it makes a better laptop than tablet. / Read full review

Read the full CNET Review

Microsoft Surface RT

The Bottom Line: If you're an early adopter willing to forget everything you know about navigating a computer, the Surface tablet could replace your laptop. Everyone else: wait for more apps. / Read full review

About the author

Rich Brown is an executive editor for CNET Reviews. He has worked as a technology journalist since 1994.

Dan Ackerman leads CNET's coverage of laptops, desktops, and Windows tablets, while also writing about games, gadgets, and other topics. A former radio DJ and member of Mensa, he's written about music and technology for more than 15 years, appearing in publications including Spin, Blender, and Men's Journal.

 

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