We've tested all kinds of laptops over the past six months. This is a list of the standouts.
Joshua GoldmanManaging Editor / Advice
Managing Editor Josh Goldman is a laptop expert and has been writing about and reviewing them since built-in Wi-Fi was an optional feature. He also covers almost anything connected to a PC, including keyboards, mice, USB-C docks and PC gaming accessories. In addition, he writes about cameras, including action cams and drones. And while he doesn't consider himself a gamer, he spends entirely too much time playing them.
ExpertiseLaptops, desktops and computer and PC gaming accessories including keyboards, mice and controllers, cameras, action cameras and dronesCredentials
More than two decades experience writing about PCs and accessories, and 15 years writing about cameras of all kinds.
We like the whole 2020 XPS lineup, including the new XPS 15, but the XPS 13 has been our go-to Windows ultraportable pick for a couple of years now and for 2020 Dell gave us more screen in a smaller body with its new 13.4-inch display. The thing is pretty much just a display and keyboard, with good performance and long battery life.
The 2020 Air is a winner mostly because Apple switched to a new Magic Keyboard. The older butterfly keyboard design was a literal sticking point for buyers, and this new design is definitely an improvement. Apple also returned to a $999 starting price, which makes Apple's least expensive laptop slightly more affordable.
The 15.6-inch Element gaming laptop was born from a collaboration with Intel. It's a slim, stylish, 4-pound black slab that hits the right gaming notes for its size -- like a 144Hz display, an optomechanical keyboard with per-key RGB lighting and either an Nvidia 1660 Ti or RTX 2070 Max-Q for graphics. There's no bloatware either, and Maingear has great support to back it all up.
Asus is out in front with dual-screen laptops like the ROG Zephyrus Duo 15. The gaming laptop comes with a choice of 15.6-inch main displays, but comes standard with a secondary tilting 14-inch touchscreen just above the keyboard. The second display comes in handier than you might think, especially if you don't have room for an external display on your desk. Inside you'll find up to an Intel Core i9 processor and an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Super Max-Q graphics card, so you'll have plenty of gaming power. But you'll pay for it, too, with a starting price of $3,000.
Yes, yes, I know, the C940 was announced in 2019, but I reviewed it in March so I'm including it, because it's one of my favorites that I've used this year. Though it's not a huge leap over the Yoga C930, its improvements make it a pleasure to use. I also regularly recommend its streamlined cousin, the Yoga C740, because it's just a better deal if you want premium design but not necessarily high-end extras.
Watch this: CNET's laptop reviewers pick their favorite 2020 laptops
There were also a few laptops that showed up at the tail end of June that we've just started testing, but already look promising. The Gigabyte Aorus 15G, for example: A gaming laptop that starts at $1,699 with a Pantone-certified 15.6-inch display, a sports car-inspired aluminum chassis and a mechanical keyboard with Omron blue switches.