There are great laptops available now (as pandemic-fueled sales remain strong), and you can see our tested favorites below. But if you yearn for the latest and greatest, you’ll want to see our reviews of Ryzen 5000 and RTX 30-series mobile, and the news about the latest laptops from CES, some of which will begin shipping soon. (Psst: Check out our list of the first laptops available with RTX 30-series.)
Check out the latest news and reviews, along with our top picks below.
Best laptops cheat sheet: Our top picks
Latest laptop news and reviews
Here are the latest stories:
- Apple’s new M1 chip continues to make waves. This time Intel tries to take it down with a volley of benchmarks showing the M1’s not so fast. PCWorld’s Gordon Mah Ung analyzes the fight.
- Microsoft’s Surface Pro 7 upgraded to the 7+ recently, with a big CPU upgrade. We have an early look at the performance benchmarks, and the difference is stark. (Full review coming soon!)
Best thin-and-light laptop
Dell’s XPS 13 7390 proves you can have both performance and light weight in the same laptop. With its 6-core Intel Core i7-10710U CPU, this thin, light machine (available via Dell.com) actually outpaces bigger workhorse models.
Granted, the XPS 13 7390 and its Comet Lake-U CPU are getting a bit old in the tooth. The newer XPS 13 9310 2-in-1, with Intel’s 11th-gen Core CPU, suggests that the clamshell XPS 13 with the same chip will likely blow the XPS 13 7390 out of the water. But we’ve thought long and hard about which XPS 13 is best for you, and the truth is, a lot of people could get good bang for buck on the discounted XPS 13 7390 instead of paying top dollar for the shiniest new thing.
Now that Apple’s M1 chip has raised the bar for lightweight laptop performance, there’s a question every ultraportable PC maker must address: Why would someone buy this instead of a MacBook Air?
Well, here’s an answer for the new Acer Swift 5: It’s fast enough to play Fortnite and a bunch of other games that are absent from Apple’s platform, but it weighs only 2.3 pounds and gets stellar battery life for work or web browsing. It also has a touchscreen and a bunch of useful ports, including HDMI out and USB-A, none of which you’ll find on Apple’s thin-and-light (ahem). Read our full review.
[Currently about $1,300 on Amazon.com, but prices fluctuate frequently.]
Best laptop under $500
If this particular model of the Acer Aspire 5 looks familiar, it’s probably because it’s been sitting atop Amazon’s laptop bestseller list for months. It’s easy to understand why. This AMD Ryzen 3-powered Aspire 5 packs some enticing features for the price, including a Full-HD 15.6-inch display, a slim-and-trim chassis, and solid performance on everyday computing tasks.
That said, a Windows 10 laptop this inexpensive has its compromises. In this case, we’re talking a scant 4GB of RAM and a cramped 128GB solid-state drive, while battery life falls significantly short compared to similar Aspire 5 models that don’t cost much more. Read our full review.
[Currently $410 on Amazon, but prices fluctuate frequently.]
Best 14-inch/15-inch workhorse
The Dell XPS 15 9500, an overdue refresh to the company’s high-end workhorse, arrives just in time for it to be truly considered the “MacBook Pro killer” it’s always aspired to be. Dell gave it a top-to-bottom redesign, including a 16:10 aspect ratio, 15.6-inch panel running 4K+ with HDR400 and Dolby Vision support—and the slenderest of bezels. The result is a stunning all-screen look that is likely to set the style for other laptop makers to emulate. Read our full review.
The Porsche Design Acer Book RS is a slim, light, Porsche-branded laptop that, true to its name, nails it in the performance department. Its 11th-gen Intel Tiger Lake CPU tears it up in multicore CPU performance, while the peppy integrated Iris Xe graphics should keep content creators busy.
All this comes without compromising battery life or portability. Even better, the Porsche Design Acer Book RS is priced more like a Honda (well, one of the nicer ones, anyway) than a Porsche 911. Read our full review.
Best convertible laptop
Dell’s XPS 13 2-in-1 9310 is mostly an evolutionary update to the XPS 13 7390 2-in-1 we reviewed last year, but with one key change. Thanks to Intel’s 11th gen Core i7-1165G7 chip, gaming is actually conceivable on this sub-three-pound laptop.
Most other things didn’t change, and we have our beefs about the design. But that game-ready performance boost alone makes the XPS 13 2-in-1 special. Read our full review.
[$1,714 as tested; available on Dell.com]
Best budget convertible laptop
The Lenovo Yoga C740 14 (currently $790 on Lenovo.com) is one of the most impressive 2-in-1 laptops we’ve seen in its price range. Weighing in at just three pounds and jammed with nifty features, the slim, sturdily built, Yoga C740 packs in plenty of productivity pep, and it can last the whole day without its AC adapter. A bright, Dolby Vision-enabled display plus Dolby Atmos sound provide plenty of eye and ear candy. A physical camera shutter (which, unfortunately, is a little tough to slide open and closed) and a fingerprint reader help to bolster security.
In a world where high-end laptops no one can afford get all the attention, and budget laptops can be a bucket of compromises, it’s nice to see a mid-priced laptop that has so much going for it. The Lenovo Yoga C740 easily earns our Editor’s Choice award and our top pick for budget convertibles.
[$900 MSRP; $790 as reviewed]
Best 2-in-1 / tablet / hybrid laptop
This category originally started out as the best “Surface” category because, well, for a time, there was nothing like Microsoft’s 2-in-1 / tablet / hybrid device. Competitors picked up the pace, and the Lenovo Miix 520reigned for over a year. No longer.
The Surface Pro 7 represents Microsoft’s return to form, both with an up-to-date 10th-gen “Ice Lake” processor inside, but also a tweaked, modernized design that recognizes that USB-C is the wave of the future. Some legacy ports have disappeared (adios, MiniDisplayPort) but otherwise Microsoft’s tablet retains its traditional light weight and form factor. Sadly, a pen and Signature Type Cover are still extra. Read our full review for more details.
[$1,499 SRP as reviewed, excluding keyboard and pen; currently $1,199 on Microsoft.com]
Keep reading for our top picks in gaming laptops and more.