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Article updated on June 6, 2024 at 5:06 AM PDT

Best Battery Life Laptops of 2024

These are the longest-lasting laptops we've tested in the past year.

Our Experts

Written by 
Matt Elliott
Our expert, award-winning staff selects the products we cover and rigorously researches and tests our top picks. If you buy through our links, we may get a commission. Reviews ethics statement
Matt Elliott Senior Editor
Matt Elliott is a senior editor at CNET with a focus on laptops and streaming services. Matt has more than 20 years of experience testing and reviewing laptops. He has worked for CNET in New York and San Francisco and now lives in New Hampshire. When he's not writing about laptops, Matt likes to play and watch sports. He loves to play tennis and hates the number of streaming services he has to subscribe to in order to watch the various sports he wants to watch.
Expertise Laptops | Desktops | All-in-one PCs | Streaming devices | Streaming platforms
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What to consider

Price

The current sweet spot for a reliable laptop to handle average work, home office or school tasks is between $700 and $800. For a model suitable for creative work or gaming, plan to spend $1,000 and up. Every brand of laptop can be found discounted online at one time or another, however, so it pays to track deals to find the lowest price.

Operating system

For the most part, Microsoft Windows and Apple's MacOS do the same things, but they do them differently. Unless there's an OS-specific application you need, go with the one you feel most comfortable using. MacBooks currently start at $999, so if you need a laptop for significantly less, it’s Windows. A Chromebook running on Google’s ChromeOS is an excellent (and less expensive) alternative, but it can’t run Windows or Mac software.

Size

Remember to consider whether having a lighter, thinner laptop or a touchscreen laptop with a good battery life will be important to you in the future. Size is primarily determined by the screen, which in turn factors into battery size, laptop thickness, weight and price.

Screen

When it comes to deciding on a screen, there are many considerations: size, resolution, what types of content you'll be looking at and whether you'll be using it for gaming or creative work. Higher resolutions are better for fitting more on a screen and look for a dot pitch of at least 100 pixels per inch as a rule of thumb.

Processor

The processor, aka the CPU, is the brains of a laptop. Intel and AMD are the main CPU makers for Windows laptops, and Apple makes its own chips for MacBooks. Generally, the faster the processor speed and the more cores it has, the better the performance will be but at the expense of battery life.

Graphics

The graphics processor (GPU) handles all the work of driving the screen and generating what gets displayed, as well as speeding up a lot of graphics-related (and increasingly, AI-related) operations. For Windows laptops, there are two types of GPUs: integrated (iGPU) or discrete (dGPU), while Apple integrates its GPU into its own M2 or M3 processor.

Memory

We highly recommend 16GB of RAM, with 8GB being the absolute minimum. RAM is where the operating system stores all the data for currently running applications, and it can fill up fast. After that, it starts swapping between RAM and the storage drive, which is slower.

Storage

You'll still find cheaper hard drives in budget laptops and larger hard drives in gaming laptops, but faster solid-state drives (SSDs) have all but replaced hard drives in most models. A 256GB SSD is the minimum, and 512GB will last longer without getting filled up. Opt for 1TB or more if you work with large video files or plan to store a large game library on your laptop.

Our Picks

$2,499 at Apple
Laptop open facing you with multicolor wallpaper
Apple MacBook Pro 16 (M3 Max, 2023)
Battery life: 21 h 3 m
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$1,599 at Apple
Laptop sitting on gray chair, open and angled to your left. Screen has multicolored wallpaper
Apple MacBook Pro 14 (M3, 2023)
Battery life: 18 h 49 m
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$949 at B&H Photo-Video
Apple MacBook Air M3 13-inch laptop on a wood table with a blue couch in the background.
Apple MacBook Air 13 (M3, 2024)
Battery life: 17 hours, 59 minutes
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$1,299 at Apple
Apple MacBook Air M3 13-inch and 15-inch laptops on a wood table.
Apple MacBook Air 15 (M3, 2024)
Battery life: 16 hours
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$300 at Acer
Acer Aspire Go 14 laptop on a black desk mat against a gray wall
Acer Aspire Go 14
Battery life: 15 hours, 14 minutes
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$2,000 at Dell
Dell XPS 14 9440 keyboard and touchpad
Dell XPS 14 9440
Battery life: 14 hours, 52 minutes
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$1,369 at HP
Rounded edges and corner of the HP Dragonfly G4 laptop
HP Dragonfly G4
Battery life: 14 hours, 30 minutes
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$1,050 at Best Buy
The 16-inch Lenovo Yoga 7i two-in-one laptop on a wooden table with a blue background.
Lenovo Yoga 7i 16
Battery life: 13 hours, 40 minutes
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Everyone can agree that longer battery life in a laptop is better, but many parts of a laptop stand in contrast to a long runtime. High-powered CPUs and graphics, for example, drain the battery faster than more efficient and less powerful components. Larger, brighter and higher-resolution screens consume more battery resources than smaller, dimmer displays that have fewer pixels to power. The type of display matters too. While an OLED panel offers a superior picture than that of an LCD screen, it tends to drain the battery faster. The size of the laptop can also play a role, with compact and thin ultraportables usually relying on smaller batteries than larger laptops that have room for a bigger, longer-lasting battery.

So, there are trade-offs to be made in many cases in order for a laptop to achieve lengthy battery life. If your primary concern, however, is finding a laptop that will last the majority of a day on a single charge, then you've come to the right place. We've assembled a list of the laptops that have produced the longest battery life scores in CNET Labs in the past year. 

These runtime winners come in all shapes and sizes, but Apple's MacBooks dominate in battery life. In addition to exceptional performance, Apple's own M3 chips offer battery life that is superior to that of the nearest Windows competitor. That's not to say you can't find a long-running Windows laptop, but none can touch a MacBook's stamina. We haven't reviewed many long-running Chromebooks in the past year, but the Acer Chromebook Spin 714 and Acer Chromebook 317 are two semi-recent examples of a Chromebook with excellent battery life.

How do we test for battery life? In CNET Labs, we put every laptop we review through a suite of benchmarks to test for performance and battery life. To get a sense of how long a laptop can last on a single charge, we fully charge its battery and with uniform screen brightness, volume and sleep/hibernate settings, we conduct a video playback test that streams a video over Wi-Fi on an endless loop until the battery dies. For more details, you can read how we test laptops.

Our battery benchmark is just that, a benchmark. We use it because it can be replicated on any laptop regardless of operating system or manufacturer. You'll likely get shorter runtimes than the results of our battery-drain test if you're using the laptop for more demanding applications than streaming video, and you might be able to eke out ever better battery life under scenarios where the laptop sits idle in between sessions of use instead of constantly streaming a video. 

Best battery life laptops 2023/2024

These are the longest-lasting laptops we've tested in the past year or so, and each offers at least 10 hours of runtime.

Laptop name Battery life in hours, minutes
Apple MacBook Pro 16 (M3 Max, 2023) 21 h 3 m
Apple MacBook Pro 14 (M3, 2023) 18 h 49 m
Apple MacBook Air 13 (M3, 2024) 17 h 59 m
Apple MacBook Air 13 (M2, 2022) 17 h 19 m
Apple MacBook Air 15 (M3, 2024) 16 h
Apple MacBook Air 13 (M1, 2020) 15 h 33 m
Acer Aspire Go 14 15 h 14 m
Dell XPS 14 9440 14 h 52 m
HP Dragonfly G4 14 h 30 m
Lenovo Yoga 7i 16 13 h 40 m
Dell Inspiron 14 Plus 7440 13 h 27 m
Asus Zenbook 14 OLED Q425 13 h 11 m
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 11 12 h 55 m
Acer Swift Go 14 12 h 40 m
Asus ExpertBook B9400CBA 12 h 19 m
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga Gen 8 12 h 8 m
Lenovo Slim Pro 7 12 h 7 m
Dell XPS 17 9730 11 h 54 m
Dell XPS 16 9640 11 h 42 m
Dell Latitude 9440 2-in-1 11 h 29 m
LG Gram 17 Pro 11 h 4 m
Asus ZenBook S 13 OLED 11 h
HP Omen 16 10 h 55 m
HP Pavilion Aero 13 10 h 40 m
HP Spectre x360 16 11 h 8 m
Samsung Galaxy Book 3 Ultra 10 h 34 m
Dell Inspiron 16 Plus 7630 10 h 8 m
Alienware m16 R2 10 h 2 m
$2,499 at Apple

Apple MacBook Pro 16 (M3 Max, 2023)

Battery life: 21 h 3 m

With a battery life of more than 21 hours, the latest 16-inch MacBook Pro is the longest-running laptop we’ve tested in the last year. That’s an outstanding figure for any laptop and particularly so given the large, high-resolution display that the battery must power. And we tested an M3 Max model, which is likely more power hungry than the M3 Pro processor offered in the base models, making its 21-hour-plus runtime all the more impressive. (The previous 16-inch MacBook Pro with an M2 Pro chip lasted a preposterous 24 hours, 34 minutes in testing.)

How does Apple do it? For starters, its M processors have proven to offer an unparalleled combination of power and efficiency, with the M3 Max-based MacBook Pro being just the latest example. Specific to the MacBook Pro 16, Apple smartly pairs the roomy, 16.2-inch Liquid Retina XDR display with a high-capacity, 100-watt-hour battery. The big battery and Apple’s powerful yet efficient M3 Max processor results in a laptop that nearly can run around the clock.

$1,599 at Apple

Apple MacBook Pro 14 (M3, 2023)

Battery life: 18 h 49 m

The MacBook Pro 14 lasted nearly 19 hours on our battery test and is the runner up to the 16-inch model. It has a shorter runtime than the 16-inch Pro because it features a smaller, 70-watt-hour battery. That said, the 14-inch MacBook Pro will get you through a day’s worth of computing on a single charge. You’ll likely need to recharge before it will.

$949 at B&H Photo-Video

Apple MacBook Air 13 (M3, 2024)

Battery life: 17 hours, 59 minutes

Taking the bronze medal and giving Apple a clean sweep of the podium in the Battery Life Olympics is the 13-inch M3 MacBook Air. It lasted 1 minute shy of 18 hours on our battery test, which is 40 minutes longer than the impressive runtime of the previous M2 Air.

$1,299 at Apple

Apple MacBook Air 15 (M3, 2024)

Battery life: 16 hours

Powering a 15.3-inch display with a 66.5-watt‑hour battery, Apple’s latest 15-inch MacBook Air ran for 16 hours on our battery test. The MacBook Air 15 is an excellent and much more affordable option if you want a larger screen but don’t need Pro-level performance in a MacBook.

$300 at Acer

Acer Aspire Go 14

Battery life: 15 hours, 14 minutes

The Acer Aspire Go 14 surprisingly takes the crown as the longest-running Windows laptop we’ve tested in the last year. It’s surprising because this 14-inch laptop is also the cheapest Windows laptop we’ve reviewed this year. For just $300, Acer’s entry-level Aspire Go 15 holds its own against other budget models that cost twice as much or even more. The design cannot be described as enticing or exciting, but it's functional and unlikely to offend. Performance from the quad-core AMD Ryzen 3 7000 series CPU and 8GB of RAM suffices for basic use, and battery life lasts more than 15 hours.

The 14-inch display features a modern 16:10 aspect ratio and is sufficiently bright, but it suffers from poor viewing angles that might take some getting used to before you settle on the right angle to position the display. Another drawback is the tight storage of the laptop’s meager 128GB SSD. Neither drawback is a deal breaker when you consider the bargain-basement price. The Aspire Go 14 provides great value with its acceptable build quality, capable performance and long battery life.

$2,000 at Dell

Dell XPS 14 9440

Battery life: 14 hours, 52 minutes

Dell’s latest 14-inch XPS is the rare example of a long-running laptop with a dedicated GPU. This content-creation laptop features an Intel Core Ultra 7 processor and RTX 4050 graphics that deliver strong overall performance but not -- with a runtime of nearly 15 hours -- at the expense of battery life. The XPS 9440 has a striking design with a borderless touchpad, a flat keyboard with little to no spacing between the keys and a Function row made up of touch-sensitive icons. You might not like every element of its unique design, but it's unquestionably well put together and long-running.

$1,369 at HP

HP Dragonfly G4

Battery life: 14 hours, 30 minutes

HP’s premium business ultraportableIt features a 13.5-inch display powered by an efficient Intel Core i7 U-series processor and a 68-watt-hour battery that lasted 14.5 hours in battery testing. It also boasts a matte black aluminum body that rivals the elegance and sturdiness of a MacBook. Although it might decrease the battery life somewhat, I would recommend upgrading the Dragonfly G4’s basic IPS display to the higher-resolution OLED panel that HP offers.

$1,050 at Best Buy

Lenovo Yoga 7i 16

Battery life: 13 hours, 40 minutes

Lenovo’s large-screen two-in-one followed a similar script as the HP Dragonfly G4 above to deliver outstanding battery life. It features an efficient Intel Core i7 U-series processor and a high-capacity 71-watt-hour battery and ran for more than 13.5 hours in battery testing. 

Other laptops we've tested

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold 16: Lenovo makes strides with its second foldable-display laptop, but further refinements are still needed before it's ready for the masses.

Asus Zenbook 14 OLED Q425: It's a boon to get an OLED display in such a portable package with great battery life for roughly $1,000, but the fit and finish feel decidedly midrange.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 12: The latest X1 Carbon has many charms, but they will remain out of reach for many business buyers constrained by budgets.

Dell XPS 16 9640: Dell's new 16-inch XPS model offers a unique design backed by strong performance and surprisingly long battery life. Just be prepared to pay for its many configurable charms.

Alienware m18 R2 Gaming Laptop: When you're this big, the sky's the limit.

HP Omen Transcend 14: Neither a featureless slab nor a carnival of lights, HP's latest 14-inch Omen has its own unique flair. It doesn't scrimp on substance, either.

Lenovo Slim 7i: With an OLED display and a solid build, this is a rugged option for mainstream shoppers, but other touches are decidedly midrange.

Dell Inspiron 14 Plus 7440: For a reasonable $1,000, this 14-inch Dell model based on an Intel Core Ultra CPU lets you be productive and remain portable

Alienware m16 R2: This middle-class option for mainstreaming gaming fares better than average and is a sensible option for 1440p play.

Acer Predator Triton 14: With fast performance and a bright HDR screen, this mainstream 14-inch gaming laptop can be a great gaming value.

Lenovo LOQ 15: Lenovo's entry-level model is the opposite of flashy, but it's got good performance, and it's one of the cheapest RTX 4050 models (at least on sale).

HP Victus 16: It’s speedy and svelte, but gamers on tight budgets deserve more than this laptop's basic 60Hz panel.

Acer Nitro 16: With a roomy 16-inch, 16:10 display that's surprisingly bright and vibrant and powered by a full-octane RTX 4050 GPU, the Nitro 16 delivers the goods for gamers on tight budgets.

Acer Predator Helios Neo 16: The Helios Neo 16 is essentially a gussied-up version of the Acer Nitro 16. It just so happens to also have ample 3D performance for its budget-friendly price.

MSI Cyborg 15: It's one of the lowest-cost RTX 4050 laptops, but the Cyborg 15's GPU is restricted from running at full power, which puts a cap on 3D performance. And its display disappoints too.

Asus ROG Zephyrus G14: Standout profiling and calibration for its class makes Asus' first OLED in the line stand out from the crowd.

Lenovo ThinkPad Z13 Gen 2: It breaks with the ThinkPad tradition in many ways without abandoning the things that make it a ThinkPad.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga Gen 8: This 14-inch two-in-one for business users is compact for easy travel yet big enough to get work done, but Lenovo's display options for it miss the mark.

Acer Swift Go 14 (2024): Intel's new Core Ultra CPU gives this unassuming 14-inch laptop great battery life and a bit of a speed boost -- with potential AI acceleration down the road.

MSI Modern 14 C13M: Its audio-visual output won't wow you, but MSI's 14-inch budget offering boasts good build quality and competitive performance.

Acer Swift Edge 16 (2023): It's the rare 16-inch laptop that weighs less than 3 pounds. And the OLED display is awesome.

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How we test laptops

The review process for laptops consists of two parts: performance testing under controlled conditions in the CNET Labs and extensive hands-on use by our reviewers. This includes evaluating a device's aesthetics, ergonomics and features with respect to price. A final review verdict is a combination of both objective and subjective judgments. 

We test all laptops with a core set of benchmarks, including Primate Labs Geekbench 6Cinebench R23PCMark 10, a variety of 3DMark benchmarks (whichever can run on the laptop), UL Procyon Photo and Video (where supported), and our own battery life test. If a laptop is intended for gaming, we'll also run benchmarks from Guardians of the GalaxyThe Rift Breaker (CPU and GPU) and Shadow of the Tomb Raider.

For the hands-on, the reviewer uses it for their work during the review period, evaluating how well the design, features (such as the screen, camera and speakers) and manufacturer-supplied software operate as a cohesive whole. We also place importance on how well they work given their cost and where the manufacturer has potentially made upgrades or tradeoffs for its price.

The list of benchmarking software and comparison criteria we use changes over time as the devices we test evolve. You can find a more detailed description of our test methodology on our How We Test Computers page. 

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Factors to consider

There are a ton of laptops on the market at any given moment, and almost all of those models are available in multiple configurations to match your performance and budget needs. So if you're feeling overwhelmed with options when looking for a new laptop, it's understandable. To help simplify things for you, here are the main things you should consider when you start looking.

Price

The search for a new laptop for most people starts with price. If the statistics chipmaker Intel and PC manufacturers hurl at us are correct, you'll be holding onto your next laptop for at least three years. If you can afford to stretch your budget a little to get better specs, do it. And that stands whether you're spending $500 or more than $1,000. In the past, you could get away with spending less upfront with an eye toward upgrading memory and storage in the future. But laptop makers are increasingly moving away from making components easily upgradable, so again, it's best to get as much laptop as you can afford from the start. 

Generally speaking, the more you spend, the better the laptop. That could mean better components for faster performance, a nicer display, sturdier build quality, a smaller or lighter design from higher-end materials or even a more comfortable keyboard. All of these things add to the cost of a laptop. I'd love to say $500 will get you a powerful gaming laptop, for example, but that's not the case. Right now, the sweet spot for a reliable laptop that can handle average work, home office or school tasks is between $700 and $800 and a reasonable model for creative work or gaming upwards of about $1,000. The key is to look for discounts on models in all price ranges so you can get more laptop for less. 

Operating system

Choosing an operating system is part personal preference and part budget. For the most part, Microsoft Windows and Apple's MacOS do the same things (except for gaming, where Windows is the winner), but they do them differently. Unless there's an OS-specific application you need, go with the one you feel most comfortable using. And if you're not sure which that is, head to an Apple store or a local electronics store and test them out. Or ask friends or family to let you test theirs for a bit. If you have an iPhone or iPad and like it, chances are you'll like MacOS too. 

But when it comes to price and variety (and, again, PC gaming), Windows laptops win. If you want MacOS, you're getting a MacBook. While Apple's MacBooks regularly top our best lists, the least expensive one is the M1 MacBook Air for $999. It is regularly discounted to $750 or $800, but if you want a cheaper MacBook, you'll have to consider older refurbished ones. 

Windows laptops can be found for as little as a couple of hundred dollars and come in all manner of sizes and designs. Granted, we'd be hard-pressed to find a $200 laptop we'd give a full-throated recommendation to, but if you need a laptop for online shopping, email and word processing, they exist. 

If you are on a tight budget, consider a Chromebook. ChromeOS is a different experience than Windows; make sure the applications you need have a Chrome, Android or Linux app before making the leap. But if you spend most of your time roaming the web, writing, streaming video or using cloud-gaming services, they're a good fit. 

Size

Remember to consider whether having a lighter, thinner laptop or a touchscreen laptop with a good battery life will be important to you in the future. Size is primarily determined by the screen -- hello, laws of physics -- which in turn factors into battery size, laptop thickness, weight and price. And keep in mind other physics-related characteristics, such as an ultrathin laptop isn't necessarily lighter than a thick one, you can't expect a wide array of connections on a small or ultrathin model and so on. 

Screen

When it comes to deciding on a screen, there are a myriad considerations: how much you need to display (which is surprisingly more about resolution than screen size), what types of content you'll be looking at and whether you'll be using it for gaming or creative work.

You really want to optimize pixel density; that is, the number of pixels per inch the screen can display. Though there are other factors that contribute to sharpness, a higher pixel density usually means sharper rendering of text and interface elements. (You can easily calculate the pixel density of any screen at DPI Calculator if you don't feel like doing the math, and you can also find out what math you need to do there.) We recommend a dot pitch of at least 100 pixels per inch (ppi) as a rule of thumb.

Because of the way Windows and MacOS scale for the display, you're frequently better off with a higher resolution than you'd think. You can always make things bigger on a high-resolution screen, but you can never make them smaller -- to fit more content in the view -- on a low-resolution screen. This is why a 4K, 14-inch screen may sound like unnecessary overkill, but may not be if you need to, say, view a wide spreadsheet.

If you need a laptop with relatively accurate color, that displays the most colors possible or that supports HDR, you can't simply trust the specs -- not because manufacturers lie, but because they usually fail to provide the necessary context to understand what the specs they quote mean. You can find a ton of detail about considerations for different types of screen uses in our monitor buying guides for general purpose monitors, creators, gamers and HDR viewing.

Processor

The processor, aka the CPU, is the brains of a laptop. Intel and AMD are the main CPU makers for Windows laptops. Both offer a staggering selection of mobile processors. Making things trickier, both manufacturers have chips designed for different laptop styles, like power-saving chips for ultraportables or faster processors for gaming laptops. Their naming conventions will let you know what type is used. You can head to Intel's or AMD's sites for explanations so you get the performance you want. Generally speaking, though, the faster the processor speed and the more cores it has, the better the performance will be. 

Apple makes its own chips for MacBooks, which makes things slightly more straightforward. But, like Intel and AMD, you'll still want to pay attention to the naming conventions to know what kind of performance to expect. Apple uses its M-series chipsets in Macs. The entry-level MacBook Air uses an M1 chip with an eight-core CPU and seven-core GPU. The current models have M2-series silicon that starts with an eight-core CPU and 10-core GPU and goes up to the M2 Max with a 12-core CPU and a 38-core GPU. Again, generally speaking, the more cores it has, the better the performance. 

Graphics

The graphics processor (GPU) handles all the work of driving the screen and generating what gets displayed, as well as speeding up a lot of graphics-related (and increasingly, AI-related) operations. For Windows laptops, there are two types of GPUs: integrated (iGPU) or discrete (dGPU). As the names imply, an iGPU is part of the CPU package, while a dGPU is a separate chip with dedicated memory (VRAM) that it communicates with directly, making it faster than sharing memory with the CPU.

Because the iGPU splits space, memory and power with the CPU, it's constrained by the limits of those. It allows for smaller, lighter laptops, but doesn't perform nearly as well as a dGPU. In fact, there are some games and creative software that won't run unless they detect a dGPU or sufficient VRAM. Most productivity software, video streaming, web browsing and other nonspecialized apps will run fine on an iGPU, though.

For more power-hungry graphics needs, like video editing, gaming and streaming, design and so on, you'll need a dGPU; there are only two real companies that make them, Nvidia and AMD, with Intel offering some based on the Xe-branded (or the older UHD Graphics branding) iGPU technology in its CPUs.

Memory

For memory, we highly recommend 16GB of RAM (8GB absolute minimum). RAM is where the operating system stores all the data for currently running applications, and it can fill up fast. After that, it starts swapping between RAM and SSD, which is slower. A lot of sub-$500 laptops have 4GB or 8GB, which in conjunction with a slower disk can make for a frustratingly slow Windows laptop experience. Also, many laptops now have the memory soldered onto the motherboard. Most manufacturers disclose this, but if the RAM type is LPDDR, assume it's soldered and can't be upgraded. 

However, some PC makers will solder memory on and also leave an empty internal slot for adding a stick of RAM. You may need to contact the laptop manufacturer or find the laptop's full specs online to confirm. And check the web for user experiences, because the slot may still be hard to get to, it may require nonstandard or hard-to-get memory or other pitfalls.

Storage

You'll still find cheaper hard drives in budget laptops and larger hard drives in gaming laptops, but faster solid-state drives (SSDs) have all but replaced hard drives in laptops. They can make a big difference in performance. But not all SSDs are equally speedy, and cheaper laptops typically have slower drives; if the laptop has only 4GB or 8GB of RAM, it may end up swapping to that drive and the system may slow down quickly while you're working. 

Get what you can afford, and if you need to go with a smaller drive, you can always add an external drive or two down the road or use cloud storage to bolster a small internal drive. The one exception is gaming laptops: We don't recommend going with less than a 512GB SSD unless you really like uninstalling games every time you want to play a new game. 

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Laptop FAQs

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 hereit'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 10-plus years since they arrived 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 it 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 Nvidia GeForce Now and Xbox Cloud Gaming, you don't need a powerful gaming laptop. And similarly, if you're 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 in discrete graphics like Nvidia's RTX 30- or 40-series GPUs. Increased system memory of 16GB or more, having a speedy SSD of at least 512GB 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 at least 100% sRGB color space or, better yet, 100% DCI-P3.