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Best Laptop for 2022: The 15 Laptops We Recommend

Top laptop picks across all categories, tested and reviewed by CNET editors.

Choosing a new laptop whether it's for work, home or going back to school isn't an easy decision but CNET's best laptops for 2022 is a great place to start with our top picks across brands, operating systems, budgets and categories. Many of the models from 2021 are currently being updated for 2022 with the latest chips from Intel and AMD, and Apple has introduced its new M2 chips, too. That includes new versions of two of our favorites, the MacBook Air and Dell XPS 13. (The new models also mean bargain hunters can find 2021 models at a discount.) 

At CNET, our laptop experts have collective decades of experience testing and reviewing laptops, covering everything from performance to price to battery life. This hand-curated list covers the best laptops across various sizes, styles and costs, including laptop computers running on Windows, MacOS and Chrome. (Microsoft released the full version of its Windows 11 operating system in October 2021; all of the Windows laptops on this list are on Windows 11.)

If you want more laptop brands and options for a particular category, we also have specialized lists you can look at, including the best gaming laptopsbest 15-inch laptops, best two-in-ones and best Chromebooks, as well as the best laptops for college students, designers and the best MacBook Pro alternatives. If you need to stay as low as possible on the price of a new laptop computer, check out our best budget laptop and best budget gaming laptop picks.

This best laptop list is updated periodically with new models we've tested and reviewed. If you need advice on whether a particular type of laptop or two-in-one is right for you, jump to our laptop FAQ at the bottom of the list.

James Martin/CNET

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 is our first choice if you're considering an Air and don't mind spending more. 

Apple MacBook Air M2 review.

 

Sarah Tew/CNET

The Dell XPS 13 is a perennial favorite for its size, weight and performance and just overall good looks. In 2020, Dell made the laptop even smaller, while making the laptop screen larger and increasing performance for both CPU and graphics-intensive tasks. For 2022, it 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.

While we haven't had a chance to test the new model yet, we expect it to be a strong Windows alternative to the MacBook Air. Also, if you want to save money, the 2021 XPS 13 with 11th-gen Intel chips is available for less now.

Josh Goldman/CNET

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 has a regular starting price of less than $700.

Read our HP Pavilion Aero 13 review.

 

Josh Goldman/CNET

A remarkable deal for simple tasks like email, word processing and much more, thanks to AMD Ryzen 5 and Ryzen 7 processors. It's available with 11th-gen Intel processors, too. This budget laptop has a backlit keyboard, a fingerprint reader and a USB Type-C port, too. The Acer Swift 3 is also an incredibly lightweight laptop -- less than 3 pounds -- for a machine that can be found for less than $700.

In addition to this Acer Swift, we're also fans of the Acer Aspire 5, which has a larger 15.6-inch display. The Acer Aspire 5 is available in a variety of configurations starting as low as $400, but can go up to $690 if you want entry-level discrete graphics for basic gaming and content creation.

Read our Acer Swift 3 (14-inch, 2020) review.

 

Sarah Tew/CNET

Regularly available for less than $800, 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.

Dan Ackerman/CNET

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. 

Read our MacBook Air M1 review.

 

Josh Goldman/CNET

Tired of trying to work on documents or spreadsheets on a small widescreen display? The Acer Chromebook Spin 713 uses one of Acer's bright VertiView displays, a 13.5-inch 2,256x1,504-pixel touchscreen with a 3:2 aspect ratio. As the name implies, it gives you more vertical room to work, but it still has the width of a typical 13.3-inch laptop with a 16:9 ratio. Between that and its battery life, which lasted nearly 13 hours in our tests, you'll be able to get more work done in a day with this Chrome OS laptop -- and it's still thin and light enough for an everyday carry. 

The latest version of this Chromebook is the first to receive Intel's Evo verification, which means you'll be getting the best possible mobile experience with this model. It's also the first with Thunderbolt 4 support, which lets you connect to multiple external displays as well as providing fast data speeds and networking.

Read our Acer Chromebook Spin 713 review.

 

Joshua Goldman/CNET

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. Unfortunately, its availability is limited at the moment so you might have to wait to buy one.

Read our Lenovo Yoga 9i Gen 7 review.

 

Josh Goldman/CNET

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.

Read our Samsung Galaxy Book 2 Pro 360 review.

 

Dan Ackerman/CNET

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.

Read our Apple MacBook Pro review.

 

Josh Goldman/CNET

There are plenty of 15.6-inch laptops, but 16-inch models like the Dell Inspiron 16 Plus are something of a rarity. The 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 Nvidia discrete graphics (though it's nearly half the price if you go with Intel integrated graphics) and the display covers 100% sRGB and 81% AdobeRGB color gamuts, 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.

Read our Dell Inspiron 16 Plus review.

 

Dan Ackerman/CNET

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 overhauled it for the Surface Pro 8, which has a larger 13-inch display, 11th-gen Intel Core processors and two Thunderbolt 4 USB-C ports. The Surface Pro 7 is still around for the time being at a discount, and an updated version called the Surface Pro 7 Plus will stay in the lineup, so you'll still be able to get the classic Pro design but with new processors.

Read our Surface Pro 8 review.

 

Sarah Tew/CNET

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.

Read our Razer Blade 14 review.

 

HP

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.

HP Victus 16 review.

 

James Martin/CNET

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.

 

Laptop FAQs

How much does a good laptop 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 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. 

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