Why 15? As the middle child between more expensive, big-screen 17-inch models and smaller, less powerful 13-inch models, 15 inches strikes the Goldilocks balance between price, performance and size for many people -- at least in the US. Some other regions find 14 inches more to their liking, which is why we have so many similar options to choose from in both sizes.
Many of these are on the pricey side; if you're looking for a broader set of options, check out our picks forand . And picking just a handful out of a sea of hundreds pretty much ensures you'll miss some important options, especially if you're looking for something more tailored to specific needs, so you should also head over to see our , and , as well as the , and for the Windows set. Plus, if you just want pure power or battery life, our rankings of and are for you.
Because configurations, designs and availability tend to change so frequently, we've limited our choices to laptops we've reviewed in the past year -- the individual stories above cover a longer span of time. So, for instance, the, which blew us away with its battery life and light weight in March 2018, isn't here because we haven't run the battery tests on current configurations, which, of course, directly affect it.
Note that CNET may get a share of revenue from the sale of the products featured on this page.
Razer's featureless-slab aesthetic slips seamlessly fits into almost any environment, and if you opt for one of the higher-end configurations it's (unsurprisingly) a great laptop for both creative work and gaming. If you're willing to go with black and an emptied wallet, you can get an Adobe RGB calibrated 4K OLED display and a GeForce RTX 2070 for $3,300. Read Razer Blade 15 Advanced review
The Lenovo Yoga Chromebook C630 further expands the boundaries of what you can expect from a Chromebook in 2019. The standout feature is a terrific convertible, 15.6-inch, 4K display -- but it also has a complement of solid components and a sturdy, tasteful aluminum chassis. And like most Chromebooks, it costs hundreds less than a similarly configured Windows counterpart. Read Lenovo Yoga Chromebook C630 review
Given that there are only really two dual-screen options available at the moment -- the other is the fast HP Omen X 2S gaming laptop -- choosing one seems kind of moot. But the ZenBook Pro Duo has a lot going for it in general, including a color-accurate OLED screen plus a smaller IPS panel below it. The secondary display may only be about half an extra screen, but it's still really useful when you want to fit more video or photos on the main 15-inch monitor or work in a small space. The ZenBook Pro Duo's primary OLED touchscreen display provides excellent color accuracy for Adobe RGB and P3, plus it's got a high-powered i9-9980HK 8-core processor, making it a portable powerhouse. It's relatively heavy for its class at 5.5 pounds, though and the high-end model we loved costs $3,000 -- don't expect blazing speed (though it should be respectable) from the less expensive Core i7, RTX 2060 configuration. Plus, the battery life isn't very good and the keyboard can be uncomfortable without the wrist rest. Read Asus ZenBook Pro Duo review
I'm not a fan of the keyboard or Touch Bar, but the combination of the MacBook Pro's hardware and MacOS extracts the maximum performance from the components while delivering class-leading battery life in a way Windows systems never seem to do, and the screen remains terrific. You pay for it, though -- base price for the 15-inch model is $2,399 and that's with a meager 256GB SSD. Read more
The Acer Predator Triton 500 is a gaming powerhouse in a thin and light package, at least in the pricey full-on configuration including an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Max-Q. The keyboard isn't terrific and it can run hot and loud, and like any gaming laptop the battery life is pretty short. But if you need maximum graphics and CPU performance in a reasonably portable laptop, this is a good option. Read Acer Predator Triton 500 review
Dell's G series comprises some of the best mainstream gaming laptops you can find thanks to its strong performance, a variety of component options and a more travel- and user-friendly design than most. Plus, its battery life is a lot better than the typical gaming laptop, and a solidly performance base configuration starts at less than $1,000. Read Dell G5 15 5590 review
Dropping down to 14 inches does confer some benefits, notably lighter weight, and since the components tend to be less powerful than in the 15-inch models, battery life is typically much better. And for a two-in-one, the slightly smaller size makes it less awkward when using it as a tablet. The Yoga C930 has a great design in addition to its weight and battery-life advantages; small touches like the bundled active pen has a storage and charging slot in the body and physical webcam shutter make it stand out from the crowd. Read Lenovo Yoga C930 review