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Best Windows Laptop for 2024

Looking for a new laptop? Check out our favorite Windows laptops, tested and reviewed by CNET's laptop experts.

Updated Feb. 21, 2024 2:28 p.m. PT

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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
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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

Operating System

Size

Screen

Processor

Graphics

Memory

Storage

$850 at HP
HP Pavilion Plus 14 on a purple background.
Best overall Windows laptop
HP Pavilion Plus 14
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$1,200 at Amazon
Asus Zenbook S 13 OLED UM5302 laptop open on a purple background.
Best ultraportable laptop
Asus Zenbook S 13 OLED
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$880 at HP
HP Pavilion Aero 13
Best compact laptop less than $1,000
HP Pavilion Aero 13
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$1,899 at LG
LG Gram 17 laptop at an angle against a gray wall
Best big-screen-but-still-portable laptop
LG Gram 17
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$461 at Amazon
An Acer Aspire 5 laptop on an orange background.
Best entry-level laptop
Acer Aspire 5
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$830 at Best Buy
Acer Predator Helios Neo 16 at an angle against a gray wall
Best budget gaming laptop
Acer Predator Helios Neo 16
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$2,400 at Dell
alienware-seq-00-00-01-12-still001
Best gaming laptop
Alienware m18
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$2,400 at Samsung
Samsung Galaxy Book 3 Ultra 16-inch laptop on a gray wood table.
Best laptop for work and gaming
Samsung Galaxy Book 3 Ultra
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$1,100 at HP
HP Dragonfly Pro from the side in front of a gray wall
Best MacBook Pro 14-inch alternative
HP Dragonfly Pro
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$1,400 at Lenovo
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 11 laptop has both pointing stick and touchpad
Best business laptop
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 11
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$900 at Best Buy
Lenovo Yoga 7i 2022 14-inch two-in-one laptop in stand mode with the display facing left on a yellow background
Best 2-in-1 for less than $1,000
Lenovo Yoga 7i
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$1,500 at HP
HP Spectre x360 14 Intel Core Ultra laptop at an angle against a gray wall
Best premium 2-in-1
HP Spectre x360 14
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What is the best Windows laptop?

The HP Pavilion Plus 14 is the best overall Windows laptop. We love it for its all-metal enclosure, strong performance and gorgeous OLED display. Sitting between the meat-and-potatoes Pavilion line and higher-end Envy line, the Pavilion Plus series offers attractive features at affordable prices. At the top of this 14-inch Pavilion Plus model's list of headlining features is a 2.8K OLED display that offers stellar contrast, sharp text and vivid colors. Add in the solid, compact chassis and a big, long-running battery, the Pavilion Plus 14 is easy to recommend for home, work or school.

While the Pavilion Plus 14 would make a good match for many people shopping for a Windows laptop, there are other models we've tested and reviewed that are great fits for narrower audiences, from budget models and 2-in-1 convertibles to high-powered gaming laptops. With decades of experience testing and reviewing laptops, our laptop experts conduct performance testing under controlled conditions in the CNET Labs and also perform extensive hands-on tests to assess the design, features and performance of each laptop we review.

You'll find a good number of recommendations here, but we also have more specific picks in different laptop categories, starting with the best overall laptop and also including best gaming laptop, best cheap gaming laptop, best laptop for college students and best two-in-one laptop. If you narrowed it to a specific brand, check out our picks for best Dell laptop and best HP laptop. And beyond Windows, we have recommendations for the best MacBook and best Chromebook.

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$850 at HP

Best overall Windows laptop

HP Pavilion Plus 14

There are a lot of Windows laptops. A lot. Which makes narrowing it down to just one more than a little tricky. However, the HP Pavilion Plus is exemplary because it can meet the needs of a lot of people while still being affordable. It’s available in 14- and 16-inch sizes; we tested the 14-inch, which is small enough for travel but big enough that you won’t feel cramped while working. HP offers AMD and Intel processors, and it can be configured with entry-level discrete graphics too. There are also multiple displays to match your budget, including a beautiful OLED panel. 

The starting price is $850, but we recommend getting that OLED screen if you can afford it. It adds about $100 to the package, but it’s worth it. The good news is that HP regularly has deep discounts, so you can get the OLED and a faster processor or more storage and still be around $1,000.

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$1,200 at Amazon

Best ultraportable laptop

Asus Zenbook S 13 OLED

It's not easy to find an ultralight laptop that still feels sturdy, but the Asus Zenbook S 13 OLED does. At just 2.2 pounds, the 13.3-inch laptop is lighter than Apple's MacBook Air, making it the perfect little travel companion. Despite its compact footprint, Asus squeezed in a comfortable keyboard and a big touchpad. And it features a 13.3-inch, 2.8K OLED display with excellent color and contrast. Based on an efficient 13th-gen Core i7 U-series processor, the Zenbook S 13 OLED offers long battery life, which is not always the case with an OLED laptop. There's nothing quite like the Zenbook S 13 OLED at its price. It's a commuter's delight.

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$880 at HP

Best compact laptop less than $1,000

HP Pavilion Aero 13

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 2.2 pounds. Amazingly, considering all that it offers, it has a regular starting price of less than $800 but it's regularly on sale for less than $600.

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$1,899 at LG

Best big-screen-but-still-portable laptop

LG Gram 17

The LG Gram 17 is the rare large-screen laptop that you can easily take with you. With an expansive 17-inch, 16:10 display and scant 3.2-pound weight, the Gram 17 is impossibly thin and light. It also boasts lengthy battery life, making it a great choice as an on-the-go laptop that provides ample room on which to work. And with the option to outfit it with RTX 3050 graphics, it's suitable for content creators and even those who might like to dabble in a bit of casual gaming. It's pricey but worth the elevated cost if you are looking for a roomy display in a lightweight package with a long runtime.

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$461 at Amazon

Best entry-level laptop

Acer Aspire 5

The Acer Aspire 5 continues to be one of the best Windows laptop deals around. Available in 14-, 15.6- and 17.3-inch sizes, I am partial to the 15.6-inch size because it's relatively compact and lightweight but still full-featured. Acer has a wide range of configurations to choose from, starting at less than $400. This budget laptop also has a USB-C Thunderbolt 4 port, two USB-A 3.2 Gen 1 ports, Ethernet and an HDMI port. Aside from internal components, the Acer Aspire 5 has changed little since we reviewed it last in 2020. However, we tested a 2023 model, currently $750, and it still has excellent performance and features for its price.

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$830 at Best Buy

Best budget gaming laptop

Acer Predator Helios Neo 16

Like other gaming laptop makers, Acer has two lines: a budget-friendly Nitro series and midrange and premium models that carry the Predator label. Oddly enough, it's under the latter you'll find our budget gaming pick: the Helios Neo 16. It's strikingly similar to the Acer Nitro 16 but with slightly better build quality and graphics performance. The only place it really faltered was its speakers, which put out disappointingly flat audio with nonexistent bass.

The Predator Helios Neo 16 we reviewed with RTX 4050 costs $1,200. That is high for a budget gaming laptop. The trick is to be patient and wait for a sale, which happen regularly, and the price drops to $830.

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$2,400 at Dell

Best gaming laptop

Alienware m18

One of the first of the new generation of 18-inch laptops, the m18 can get expensive if you push it up to a high configuration -- an RTX 4090 and Core i9-13900HX will get you to $3,000. But if the big screen is most important to you, it starts at $1,750 with a respectable AMD Ryzen 7 7745HX and RTX 4060. Don't expect great battery life, and the fans can get loud when you're pushing it.

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$2,400 at Samsung

Best laptop for work and gaming

Samsung Galaxy Book 3 Ultra

Samsung (with help from Intel and Microsoft) has created a near-seamless experience for using the Galaxy Book 3 Ultra with its other Galaxy devices. That means you can do things like quickly share files between your Galaxy phone, Tab or Galaxy Book, use the Galaxy Book's keyboard and trackpad to control your other devices, instantly pair your Galaxy Bud earbuds as soon as you put down your phone and open the Galaxy Book, and the list goes on and on. But even if you don't own another Samsung device, the Ultra is still a great pick if you need a high-end 16-inch display covering 100% DCI-P3 color space, strong processing and graphics performance and relatively long battery life, all wrapped up in a thin, stylish body that weighs just 4 pounds. 

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$1,100 at HP

Best MacBook Pro 14-inch alternative

HP Dragonfly Pro

The 14-inch Dragonfly Pro is a MacBook alternative that boasts a similarly clean and rigid design and targets the same mainstream "pro" users. And priced at a reasonable $1,400, it costs hundreds less than the 14-inch MacBook Pro. You may not use its gimmicky hotkeys that connect you to HP support, but you will undoubtedly love the look and feel of this minimalistic, matte-black laptop. And it's more than just a pretty face. It offers competitive performance with its Ryzen 7 7736U processor and also supplies a high-res 1440p webcam and quad speakers that deliver rich, full sound. The Dragonfly Pro is about as close as you can get to a MacBook Pro in a Windows laptop.

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$1,400 at Lenovo

Best business laptop

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 11

The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 11 is the company's flagship business ultraportable and has become the standard against which other business ultraportables are measured. Although it delivers no surprises or revolutionary upgrades from past iterations, its security, build quality and performance remain excellent. Its 14-inch display and 2.5-pound weight are the sweet spot of enough screen space to work long stretches without needing to connect to an external display, while also being light enough for daily travel. With an industry-best keyboard, long battery life and greener construction, Lenovo's latest X1 Carbon is a near-perfect business ultraportable.

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$900 at Best Buy

Best 2-in-1 for less than $1,000

Lenovo Yoga 7i

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. The latest version with 13th-gen Intel processors starts at $900 at Best Buy and can frequently be found on sale for less.

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$1,500 at HP

Best premium 2-in-1

HP Spectre x360 14

The Spectre x360 14 is one of the first laptops with Intel's new Core Ultra CPU that promises AI capabilities that will become more important in the future with improved performance you can feel today. The 14-inch, 2.8K OLED display is stunning and can be rotated into tablet mode for additional versatility, and the 9-megapixel camera can capture crisp, 4K video so you'll look your best on video chats. With HP’s revolving discounts, it’s not unusual to get this compelling mix of performance and features and design for $1,150.

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Other laptops we've tested

MSI Cyborg 15 Review: 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 Review: Standout profiling and calibration for its class makes Asus' first OLED in the line stand out from the crowd.

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

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga Gen 8 Review: 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.

HP Dragonfly G4: HP's compact premium business laptop stands out with its unusual 3:2 display and unique dual-webcam capability.

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

Dell XPS 13 Plus (2023): An unconventional ultraportable gets a minor update.

Apple MacBook Pro 14 (Late 2023): The M3-based models don't seem especially good buys, but the M3 Pro choices should deliver.

Apple MacBook Pro 16 (M3, Late 2023): Apple's high-end MacBook Pro gets faster -- a lot in some respects -- and darker.

Acer Swift Go 16: It’s a good choice for those who want a big-screen laptop with productivity power, but it gets lost between Acer's own 16-inch Swift X and Swift Edge laptops.

Dell Inspiron 16 Plus 7630: Dell's more budget-friendly content-creation laptop offers powerful discrete graphics and a large, 16-inch panel with an improved 120Hz refresh rate, but I still want some display upgrade options.

Asus Zenbook S 13 OLED (UX5304): Want a quick little laptop for getting work done anywhere? We strongly recommend giving Asus' ultralight 13-inch OLED laptop a look

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 11: The latest X1 Carbon gets 13th-gen Intel processors and greener construction but is otherwise unchanged and remains a top pick for business travelers.

HP Spectre Foldable PC: It's slick but quirky. And it costs.

HP Dragonfly Pro Chromebook: It’s the premium Chromebook to beat.

Lenovo Yoga 7i 16: The 14-inch Yoga 7i has long been a favorite for offering more for less. The "more" on this version includes a 16-inch display with a low resolution that makes text fuzzy and it's an awkward size for a two-in-one.

Acer Swift Go 16: It's is a good choice for those who want a big-screen laptop with productivity power, but it gets lost between Acer's own 16-inch Swift X and Swift Edge laptops.

Dell Inspiron 16 Plus 7630: Dell's more budget-friendly content-creation laptop offers powerful discrete graphics and a large, 16-inch panel with an improved 120Hz refresh rate, but I still want some display upgrade options.

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 5 and 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. 

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 number of 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 or not 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 monitorscreatorsgamers 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 only has 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. 

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.