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- Huawei/Business Insider
- If you’re looking for the best laptop out there, there are a ton of different choices. However, the Huawei Matebook X Pro is the best laptop we’ve ever used – hands down.
- Its sharp edge-to-edge screen, sleek metal design, high-end specs, and decent $1,199.99 price tag make it a true winner.
A great laptop is essential when it comes to studying and working – and one that doesn’t work well can bring plenty of unwanted distractions.
If you’re looking for a new laptop, there are quite a few things to consider. After all, laptops are pretty complex machines. Here are a few key terms and features to keep in mind when you’re looking for a laptop:
- Operating system: While you will want to consider hard specs, the way that you interact with your laptop is through the operating system. You’re probably familiar with Windows, which is by far the most popular computer operating system, but there’s also Apple’s macOS, which is also very capable. Last but not least is Chrome OS, which is best for those who want a simple, affordable, no-fuss laptop for web browsing and other basic tasks.
- Specs: Computers vary widely in terms of processing power and other specifications. The processor and RAM will essentially dictate how fast your computer is, while the storage will determine how many files you can store on the computer. The screen resolution is another important spec, and you’ll probably want at least a Full HD, 1080p resolution. Battery life should be at least eight to ten hours.
- Size: Another thing you’ll want to think about is how big the computer is. A smaller laptop will ultimately be more portable, but a larger one will have a larger display, which is better for watching movies and video production. Common sizes for laptops are 13 inches and 15 inches, though 11 inches and 17 inches also appear every now and then.
Of course, apart from all these things, you’ll want to think about price. Although the very best laptops will cost you $1,000 or more, we’ve tried to offer a range of different laptops in different price ranges in this guide. You can also check out the best college laptops you can buy, best Chromebooks you can buy, and the best budget laptops if money is tight.
Here are the best laptops you can buy:
- Best laptop overall: Huawei Matebook X Pro
- Best Dell laptop: Dell XPS 13
- Best 13-inch laptop: HP Spectre x360 13t
- Best MacBook: Apple MacBook Pro 13 and 15
- Best Chromebook: Asus Chromebook Flip C302A
- Best 15-inch laptop: Samsung Notebook 9 Pro
- Best budget 15-inch laptop: ASUS VivoBook F510UA
- Best 2-in-1 laptop: Lenovo Yoga C930
- Best Microsoft laptop: Microsoft Surface Laptop 2
Updated on 12/21/2018 by Christian de Looper: Added the Surface Laptop 2 and the Lenovo Yoga C930.
Read on in the slides below to check out our top picks.
The best laptop overall
- Business Insider / David Slotnick
Why you’ll love it: The Huawei Matebook X Pro features a beautiful, slim design, along with top-tier specs that should make anyone happy.
Huawei may not be the first name you think of when you think laptops, but the company has proven in recent years that it has a whole lot to offer in the laptop game. So much so that we think the Huawei Matebook X Pro is currently the best laptop you can buy.
The computer features all the specs you would expect from a top-tier laptop. You have the option of either an 8th-gen Intel Core i5 or Intel Core i7 CPU, along with either 8GB or 16GB of RAM, and either 256GB or 512GB of solid-state storage.
Perhaps the best thing about the Huawei Matebook X Pro, however, has more to do with its beautiful design. The laptop features a gorgeous edge-to-edge display with a 3,000 x 2,000-pixel resolution. The webcam has been moved to the keyboard – press the key to pop it up when you need it, then press it again to pop it down. It’s a neat concept, especially for those worried about privacy.
The MateBook X Pro has a super fast Thunderbolt 3 port, a USB-C port, and standard USB port, so it’s ready for the accessories you own today and the ones you’ll buy in the future. Huawei also includes a Thundetbolt 3 adapter with the laptop, which has an HDMI port, regular USB port, VGA port, and USB-C port on it. The adapter lets you use even more accessories at once, and allows you to easily connect to your TV or projector.
There are a few downsides to this computer, though not many. The webcam placement is nifty but it’s not the most flattering. And, the Matebook X Pro is a little pricey, though not overly so considering the features on offer. Those downsides aren’t enough to dissuade reviewers, either. TechRadar gave the Matebook X Pro a top score of 5/5, while PCMag gave it a still excellent 4.5/5.
Pros: Great design, top-tier specs
Cons: A little pricey, webcam placement isn’t the most flattering
The best Dell laptop
Why you’ll love it: The Dell XPS 13 has awesome specs, but it’s also beautifully designed with an edge-to-edge screen and slim profile for portability.
The Dell XPS 13 has long been a top choice for those of you who are looking for a great new laptop, but the 2018 model of the XPS 13 really pushes it over the edge into best laptop territory. Why? It’s beautifully designed, extremely powerful, and very portable.
Let’s start with the design, which is one of the best things about this laptop. While edge-to-edge screens are now commonplace in the smartphone industry, they’re not as common in computers. The XPS 13, however, is one of the few laptops to break that trend. It has a beautiful big display with tiny bezels.
Sure, that means the webcam has been moved to a less than flattering position under the screen, but many will find it worth it. That display is absolutely beautiful, too. While the base model of the computer has a Full HD resolution, you can swap it out for a 4K resolution if you want to go all out.
The laptop can also be configured to be very powerful. The base model packs an 8th-gen Intel Core i5 chip, along with 4GB of RAM and a 128GB solid-state drive. If you want to spend more to get more power, the XPS 13 can be configured with up to an 8th-gen Intel Core i7 chip, with 16GB of RAM and a 512GB solid-state drive.
Around the edges, the laptop has two ThunderBolt 3 ports, along with one USB-C 3.1 port, and a microSD card slot.
So what are the downsides? Well, apart from the webcam placement, there aren’t many. It can get a little pricey, but then again that’s to be expected from a top-of-the-line laptop like this.
Pros: Beautiful big display, nice design, highly powerful
Cons: Webcam placement is awkward
The best 13-inch laptop
Why you’ll love it: The HP Spectre x360 13t is well-designed, high-powered, and versatile thanks to its convertible design.
HP has been a top company in the computer industry for some time now, and for good reason. The company has long offered computers that aren’t just high-powered and extremely capable, but that also come at a great price. The HP Spectre x360 13t is no exception to that rule.
The HP Spectre x360 13t comes in a few different variants, and the one we’re looking at is decked out with Intel’s 7th-generation i7 chip, a nice 16GB of RAM, and 512GB of solid-state storage. Beyond the hard specs, though, this computer has a lot more to offer. Like, for example, its 1,920 x 1,080-pixel touch-enabled display.
The laptop is convertible, too – that’s to say, you can use it in laptop mode, or you can flip the keyboard around to use it in tablet mode – which is great for watching Netflix in bed or drawing with the included stylus. It’s a perfect size for that, too, coming in at only 0.55 inches thick.
As far as ports go, the HP Spectre x360 13t comes equipped with two USB 3.1 Type-C ports, as well as a USB 3.1 Type-A port. And, you’ll get a headphone/microphone port. It also has built-in Bang & Olufsen quad speakers, so if you’re not using the headphone jack, the sound should still be relatively good.
Not everything is perfect though. While there are a good amount of USB ports, there’s no SD card slot or other ports, so you’ll need adapters if you have any peripherals that use ports other than USB. And, the computer isn’t necessarily cheap, either. It comes at $1,568.88 on Amazon, though you can get less high-powered versions for less.
Pros: High-powered, convertible, plenty of USB ports, touch display
Cons: Expensive, no SD card slot
The best MacBook
Why you’ll love it: The MacBook Pro is a classic in the laptop world, and the 2018 models prove that’s true now more than ever.
More interested in Apple’s macOS than Microsoft’s Windows? Then perhaps the latest MacBook Pro is the right laptop for you. However, as you might expect from Apple, it won’t come cheap. The MacBook Pro is always an important computer to consider when buying a new laptop, and the latest MacBook Pro models have a ton to offer.
The new MacBooks come in 13-inch or 15-inch variants, and they offer some pretty amazing specs. The 13-inch MacBook Pro itself comes in a few options. There’s a model without Apple’s Touch Bar (which remains unaltered spec-wise), and there’s a model with the Touch Bar, which recently got a spec bump.
The 13-inch model with Touch Bar starts at $1,799 and boasts an 8th-gen Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM. and a 256GB solid-state drive. Specs range up from there, though obviously, you’ll have to pay more for better specs.
The 15-inch model with Touch Bar starts at $2,399, and comes with an 8th-gen Intel Core i7 processor, 16GB of RAM and 256GB of storage, though again, specs range up to an Intel Core i9 processor.
For those who don’t know, the Touch Bar is a touch display that’s found right above the computer’s keyboard that allows you to control different aspects of some apps. That Touch Bar also has a Touch ID fingerprint sensor, meaning you can secure your computer to your specific fingerprint. You can also use it to buy things online with Apple Pay. You will pay extra for the Touch Bar, though.
For ports, the computer comes with four USB Type-C ports, so while there are plenty of ports to connect to all your peripherals, you may need to buy adapters, especially if you have a lot of USB Type-A peripherals.
Then there’s the all-important software. Often, users find that getting used to Apple’s macOS software can be easier than Windows, though that might not be the case if you’re more used using a Windows computer.
So what are the downsides to this computer? Well, for starters, it’s expensive. On top of that, many people don’t really like the Touch Bar, and the keyboard doesn’t feel as good as older MacBook Pro models. Still, reviewers generally liked the 2018 MacBook Pro, with CNET having given it a score of 8.2/10 and MacWorld giving it 4.5/5.
Pros: Great design, excellent specs
Cons: Expensive, Touch Bar takes some getting used to
The best Chromebook under $500
- ASUS//Business Insider
Why you’ll love it: The Asus Chromebook Flip C302CA combines a sharp touchscreen with a super slim build and ChromeOS to make a great laptop for students of professionals on a budget.
The third and final operating system that you might look into is Chrome OS, and there are quite a few great Chrome OS laptops out there. The best of them, however, is the Asus Chromebook Flip C302CA, which is perfect for most students.
So what makes this computer so good? Well, for starters, the Flip has pretty good specs, coming with an Intel Core m3-6Y30, 4GB of RAM, and 64GB of storage. Now, those specs might not be all that good compared to other laptops on this list, but they’re more than enough to power Chrome OS, largely because Chromebooks use largely web-based apps instead of locally stored apps.
Apart from the specs, the battery life of the laptop is pretty good, too. You’ll get 10 hours of battery life, which is a little more than you’ll find on some other Chromebooks. You’ll also get a touch-sensitive display and a backlit keyboard, which is nice. It’ll be even nicer once this Chromebook officially gets support for Android apps. Then, you’ll be able to use it just like a tablet.
There are a few downsides, of course. The laptop is a little more expensive than most other Chromebooks. Also, while it’s nice that it’s up to date with two USB-C ports, it does mean you’ll need to use adapters for non-USB-C peripherals. Regardless, this is an excellent choice for students or professionals on a budget who want something portable and affordable.
Pros: Nice specs, good battery life, convertible
Cons: A little expensive, no port variety
The best 15-inch laptop
Why you’ll love it: If you want a computer with a slightly larger screen and killer specs, then the Samsung Notebook 9 Pro is for you.
While there is a 15-inch laptop on this list in the form of the MacBook Pro, there might be a better choice of 15-inch computer. If we had to pick one 15-inch laptop to go for, it would be the Samsung Notebook 9 Pro.
Now, this is also a pretty expensive computer, but it’s worth it. For starters, the computer comes with an Intel Core i7 processor, along with a 16GB of RAM and 256GB of storage, which is plenty for those using their computer for word processing and for those willing to adopt cloud storage options.
It also comes with AMD Radeon 540 graphics, making it a great choice for video editors and even some gamers. And, of course, there’s the beautiful big screen, which has a 1,080p resolution and doubles as a touchscreen.
Seems too good to be true, right? Well, there are a few downsides. For example, the battery life seems to be a little inconsistent, according to some reviews. Not only that, but the speakers face downward, so the audio isn’t as clear as it could be.
Pros: Excellent specs, great design
Cons: Expensive, battery life varies
The best 15-inch laptop for about $500
Why you’ll love it: The ASUS VivoBook F510UA is a thin and powerful machine with tons of ports that won’t break the bank.
The VivoBook F510UA’s reasonable specs and low price make it a great affordable 15-inch laptop for budget buyers.
Like all of the more expensive laptops on this list, ASUS’ machine has 8GB for RAM and a quad-core i5 processor, but it has a 1TB hard drive instead of an SSD. Hard drives are slower and have mechanical parts, which makes them more prone to breaking over time. This means you’ll definitely want to keep regular backups of your laptop.
At 15.4 inches, this laptop’s 1080P screen is the largest one on this list. That’s great if you like having multiple windows open. It’s not a touchscreen, though, which may be a deal breaker if you want a laptop that can double as a tablet.
ASUS built this machine with plenty of ports, so you definitely won’t need to pick up any adapters. It has a USB-C port, USB 3.0 port, USB 2.0 port, HDMI port, and SD card slot. With those ports, you’ll be able to connect the laptop to a TV, or pop in a memory card from your digital camera, right after you boot it up for the first time.
The downside to including a big screen and building in all of these ports meant ASUS had to make a laptop that was bigger and heavier. At 3.7 pounds and 0.8 inches thick when closed, this is definitely the laptop you’ll feel most in a backpack, but that’s the tradeoff for those features.
Despite the slightly worse specs and extra heft, if you want a laptop that’s inexpensive and ready to go the second you turn it on, the VivoBook F510UA is a good choice. – Brandt Ranj
Pros: Big screen, plenty of ports, powerful enough for most work
Cons: Spinning hard drive, no touch screen, bigger and heavier than other laptops on this list
The best 2-in-1 laptop
Why you’ll love it: The Lenovo Yoga C930 is super well-designed and powerful, but the best thing about it is that you can use it as a tablet.
The previous-generation Lenovo Yoga 920 was loved for its excellent design and powerful specs – and the new Lenovo Yoga C930 2-in-1 continues that tradition – but at a price.
The device itself is beautifully-designed. Lenovo has slightly redesigned the hinge of the laptop to now feature a speaker built right in to it, which helps cut down on the thickness of the main body a little. It’s very thin, coming in at 0.57-inches, and pretty light at 3.0lbs.
Around the edges, there are two Thunderbolt 3 ports, one USB 3.1 port, and a headphone jack, which is a pretty decent selection of ports. Then there’s the fact that this is a 2-in-1, which is perhaps the main reason to buy this laptop over some of the other devices on this list. It’s a convertible 2-in-1, which means you can flip the screen around the body to use the device like a tablet.
Under the hood, the Yoga C930 is pretty powerful. The base model comes with an Intel Core i5 with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage, but it can be upgraded to feature up to an Intel Core i7 processor with 16GB of RAM and up to a 1TB hard drive.
The Lenovo Yoga C930 has gotten excellent reviews, too. Notably, Wired scored it 8/10, while Laptop Mag gave it an even better 4.5/5. The only real downside to the device is that it’s pretty expensive.
Pros: Beautifully-designed, powerful, plenty of connectivity
The best Microsoft-made laptop
Why you’ll love it: The Microsoft Surface Laptop 2 is beautifully-designed and super powerful. Plus, you can expect better hardware-software integration because Microsoft makes it.
There are a lot of advantages to buying a computer made by a company that also makes the software. Just look at Apple – MacBooks generally have a much longer life-span than Windows computers, and it’s because of the control Apple can exert over its product line. Thankfully, Microsoft makes its own hardware, too, and we think the Microsoft Surface Laptop 2 is the way to go.
There are a lot of things to love about the Surface Laptop 2. For starters, it’s an extremely stylish device. It features Microsoft’s now-standard Alcantara keyboard, along with a choice of four slick colors. It’s relatively thin, too. It comes in at 0.57-inches thick, and weighs in at 2.76 or 2.83 pounds, depending on the model you go for.
On the sides of the laptop, you’ll also get one USB 3.0 port, a headphone jack, a Mini DisplayPort, and a Surface Connect port for charging. We wish Microsoft would have included a USB-C port or two, so if you want super modern connectivity you may have to wait for the Surface Laptop 3.
Under the hood, the Microsoft Surface Laptop 2 is pretty powerful, too. The base model comes with an Intel Core i5 processor coupled with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, but you can configure the computer to offer up to an Intel Core i7 processor, 16GB of RAM, and 1TB of storage. Safe to say, even for those that need a lot of processing power, the Surface Laptop 2 is a great option.
The Surface Laptop 2 has gotten great reviews as well. TechRadar scored it a hefty 4.5/5, while The Verge gave it a slightly more conservative 8/10. The only real downsides to the device are that it’s a little pricey, the battery life isn’t amazing, and, as mentioned, there are no USB-C ports.
Pros: Beautifully-designed, powerful
Cons: A little pricey, no USB-C, average battery life