Update, 09/23/2022: We have updated many of our recommendations with either new laptops or new models of our previous favorites.
What to Look For in a Laptop in 2022
There’s no one best laptop for everyone. You might want a Windows PC, a MacBook, a Chromebook, or even one with Linux. You might want a thin and light computer with excellent battery life, or you might want a powerful tank of a machine with a big display or excellent graphics horsepower for playing games.
That’s not even all you’ll need to consider. Do you want a touchscreen? Do you want a 2-in-1 laptop that can also be used as a tablet? You might just want to save some cash, or you might want to spend extra for a premium device with powerful hardware.
But, even if you know roughly what you want in a laptop, choosing a laptop can be complicated. There are so many different models, and digging through endless lists of hardware specifications won’t tell you the full picture.
We’re here to give you our top picks to make your shopping process as speedy and uncomplicated as possible.
Note: All the Windows laptops we recommend here either ship with Windows 11 or are capable of upgrading to it for free.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I upgrade my existing laptop?
Many laptops have their components soldered onto the motherboard, making it difficult or impossible to upgrade them. However, some laptops do allow for certain components to be upgraded; if this is important to you, make sure to check the specifications and which components are upgradeable before buying.
How much RAM does a laptop need?
What’s the best way to clean a laptop screen?
How do I connect my laptop to an external display?
How do I disable my laptop keyboard?
How do I take a screenshot with my laptop?
- ✓ Great build quality
- ✓ Long battery life
- ✓ Solid PC performance
- ✓ Incredibly customizable
- ✗ Premium price
- ✗ Integrated graphics means this isn’t a gaming system
- ✗ Not everyone wants Windows
The Dell XPS 13 is a great all-around PC laptop. If we had to recommend just one best Windows laptop—and it’s so hard to pick just one—this is the laptop we’d recommend to most people. The latest XPS model also ships with Windows 11.
This Dell model is a 13-inch laptop, the most popular size for a reason. At 13 inches, you’re getting a decent-sized screen and full-size keyboard, but it’s also lightweight, compact, and portable. The XPS 13 is thin and light at 0.55 inches thick and starts at just 2.59 pounds. It’s got great build quality with a keyboard that feels great to type on and a smooth touchpad.
Of course, some people will want bigger laptops. 15-inch is a popular size if you want to step up, and Dell also offers a 15-inch version of this laptop.
Dell regularly updates the XPS 13 series with the latest Intel processors and other design improvements, and every release is better than the last. Of course, you can customize the Intel processor you get, CPU, memory, and SSD.
From the 12th-generation Intel CPUs onward, these laptops benefit from Intel’s hybrid CPU design, with a small number of high-performance cores and numerous energy-efficient cores. This offers a massive improvement in performance, battery life, and temperatures.
In addition, Dell promises up to 12 hours of battery life while streaming video, although it will vary depending on what you’re doing.
Unlike typical laptops, Dell uses a 16:10 display instead of a 16:9 display. This means the laptop’s display is slightly taller, giving you more vertical room on your screen. It’s also an InfinityEdge display with smaller bezels around the screen.
Years ago, older versions of the XPS 13 design had a “nose cam” that looked up from below your screen, but modern XPS 13 laptops have a properly positioned webcam above the screen. The webcam even supports Windows Hello, so you can sign into your device with your face.
The biggest downside to Dell XPS 13 laptops is that they come with integrated Intel graphics. If you’re looking for a gaming laptop with a powerful GPU—or if you need a GPU for video editing, rendering, or other professional graphics applications—you’ll want to check our gaming laptop pick instead.
That being said, the latest Intel Iris Xe integrated GPUs are far more powerful than they’ve been in the past, so be sure to look at some benchmark results for the apps or games that interest you—you may be surprised to learn the XPS 13 can run it.
Of course, this is a Windows laptop, so if you’re a Mac person, you’ll want to look for the best MacBook. If you’re a Linux fan, though, you’re in luck! Dell offers a version of this PC that comes with Linux.
- ✓ Amazing specs for the price
- ✓ Large IPS screen
- ✓ No real compromises
- ✗ Build quality can’t match something like the MacBook Air
When looking for a budget laptop that’s preferably under $500, you’ll probably be faced with an ocean of Chromebooks. While we love Chromebooks and they fill an important niche, they aren’t Windows laptops that run every software package you may need for work or study.
The Acer Aspire 5 A515-45-R74Z comes with a Hexa-core Ryzen 5 CPU, 8GB of DDR4 RAM and Radeon integrated graphics. The 1080p 15.6-inch screen is an IPS model, the 256GB SSD is an NVME model, and you even get Wi-Fi 6.
These are not the sort of specifications you think of in a budget laptop, that’s for sure. While it can’t quite match the performance, thinness, or build quality of something like the Apple M1 MacBook Air, the Aspire 5 comes incredibly close at half the price of Apple’s popular entry-level computer.
Best Budget Laptop
Acer Aspire 5 A515-45-R74Z Slim Laptop
The Acer Aspire 5 A515-45-R74Z offers unbelievably good specifications for a low price. This may be the best MacBook Air alternative we’ve ever seen, at a significantly better price.
- ✓ GeForce RTX 3070 Ti
- ✓ 12th Gen Intel Core i7
- ✓ Crisp QHD display
- ✓ Excellent build quality
- ✗ Expensive compared to the similar MSI GS66 Stealth
The Razer Blade 15 isn’t the cheapest laptop you can get with gaming specs like these, but as an overall package, it strikes the best balance between build quality, portability, and performance.
With an aluminum chassis precision-made using CNC machines, this and the MSI GS66 are the only stealthy thin-and-light gaming monsters on the market. The GS66 Stealth is also a fantastic system and a good choice if the Razer is a little out of your budget, but if you have the extra funds and appreciate the higher level of refinement from the Blade, it’s well worth the asking price.
The Blade 15 offers a variety of hardware configurations, but we strongly recommend opting for the 240Hz 1440p (QHD) monitor option, with a 12th-generation Core i7-12800H and RTX 3070 Ti GPU. Unless you’re a content creator, the 4K display is wasted for gaming on a 15.6-inch laptop display.
The 3070 Ti is also a much better choice than the 3080 Ti here because both GPUs have to operate within the same power limit. This means both perform essentially the same, but the 3080 Ti increases the price significantly for no obvious benefit. To let the 3080 Ti mobile GPU stretch its legs, you’ll have to look at a large, hot, and heavy desktop-killer laptop like the MSI GE76 Raider.
As it stands, the Blade 15 should match desktop systems running i5-12600 CPUs with RTX 3060 Ti desktop GPUs, and that’s nothing to scoff at, given that the vast majority of gaming desktops and current-gen consoles are significantly less powerful than this machine you can slip in a backpack and take with you.
Best Gaming Laptop
Razer Blade 15 Gaming Laptop
While its price makes it less attractive next to similar laptops, the Blade 15 does enough to justify its steeper price tag and offers the best all-round mix of size, performance, and build quality in the gaming laptop market.
Best Laptop for Students: HP Envy 13
- ✓ Standard SSD
- ✓ Multiple configurations
- ✓ Good value for money
- ✗ Not a premium laptop
- ✗ Not the cheapest laptop, either
Multiple configurations are available for the Envy 13, although most come with 8GB RAM—offering more than enough power for multitasking during a research-intensive project or group assignment. You’ll also be treated to a standard SSD that helps reduce load times and keeps everything running smoothly.
If you happen to be taking any virtual coursework, you can make use of the built-in 720p camera with dual-array microphones. It’s not going to offer images as vivid as a standalone webcam, but for a camera on what’s ultimately a budget laptop, it’ll get the job done.
Depending on your workload, the HP Envy 13 will get you about 11 hours of battery life before needing a recharge. That means you shouldn’t run into problems if you forget your charger when rushing off to class in the morning.
Overall, the HP Envy 13 is a solid package with good performance for the price level. It’s not as “premium” in build quality or hardware as many of our other picks, but it’s hundreds of dollars cheaper and checks most of the boxes required by students.
All that being said, it’s hard to go wrong with many of the other laptops here for college, either. Maybe you want a more premium laptop without the touch and pen input, a Chromebook, or a beefier PC laptop you can play games on.
If you want a Mac, the quintessential Mac for college is the MacBook Air. Students can save $100 on a MacBook with Apple’s education pricing. Or, for something more premium, check out our pick for the best MacBook. Students can save on it, too.
Best Laptop for Students
HP Envy 13
Its spec sheet isn’t going to break any records, but the HP Envy 13 offers reliable performance at a reasonable price. Students enrolled in remote classes will love its surprisingly robust built-in webcam, and the laptop’s slim profile makes it easy to pack and take to any on-campus lectures.
- ✓ Gorgeous, large screen
- ✓ Includes a pen
- ✓ Excellent specifications
- ✗ 14-inches may be too large for some users
Lenovo’s Yoga laptop series is partly responsible for advancing this 2-in-1 laptop and making it popular with users who want the best of both the tablet and laptop worlds. The Yoga 9i 14-inch model is the series’s flagship and now comes with a 12th-generation Intel Core i7 CPU, 16GB of RAM, and 512GB of SSD storage.
That means this is a serious daily-driver computer, but with all the perks you get from a tablet. The Yoga i9 even comes with a pen included in the package. You’d think that 14-inches would be too large for tablet use, but there are iPads close to this size, and Samsung’s flagship Android tablets are not far behind.
The Intel Iris Xe integrated graphics on offer here are more than enough for day-to-day use and even some light gaming, and battery life is rated for up to 10.5 hours. The design and build quality are both excellent, and the final asking price is surprisingly fair, especially if you look at the cost of buying separate devices that can do everything the Yoga can.
- ✓ M1 Pro chip
- ✓ Liquid Retina XDR display
- ✓ Premium Apple build-quality
- ✓ M1 Pro is faster than the M2 chipset where it counts
- ✗ Expensive
Apple’s MacBook Pro has long been one of the top choices for graphics professionals, photographers, and other creative professionals. If your software works on a Mac, this 14-inch MacBook Pro (powered by the M1 Pro) is a great choice.
The M1 Pro chipset is a big part of the reason this MacBook Pro model is an easy recommendation for professional editing, as its 8-core CPU and 14-core GPU will fly through any task you throw at it. You’re probably already storing files on an external drive, but Apple gave this model a 512GB SSD—so you can save plenty of data on it in a pinch.
The other reason for recommending this model is the Liquid Retina XDR display, which offers a great dynamic range and contrast ratio. No matter how bogged down the screen gets with open tabs and applications, 16GB of RAM should keep things running smoothly.
Rounding out the package is a robust set of speakers (including force-canceling woofers), a 1080p FaceTime HD camera, a battery that’ll get up to 17 hours on a single charge, and a MagSafe charger. However, you’ll pay a pretty penny for all that tech, with the MacBook coming in at $2,500.
Note: There’s a new MacBook Pro on the block with the 2022 13-inch MacBook Pro, powered by Apple’s newer M2 chipset. While this chip is faster than the original base M1, the M1 Pro chipset in the 14-inch model will fly through tasks that the M2 may bog down on. This newer model also lacks the Liquid Retina XDR display, meaning it’s not as good for detailed photo or video work where color representation matters.
Best for Photo and Video Editing
- ✓ Powerful hardware and long battery life
- ✓ Durable and lightweight
- ✓ Optional cellular connectivity
- ✓ Classic ThinkPad nub
- ✗ Expensive
- ✗ No discrete GPU, so it’s not the best for gaming
- ✗ Some people will prefer a MacBook
Nearly any laptop can be good for business, but the ThinkPad is the classic line of business laptops for a reason. From battle-tested durability to a wide variety of ports and optional cellular connectivity, this line of laptops stands out.
With the 14-inch Thinkpad X1 Carbon Gen 9, Lenovo has created a premium line of business ThinkPads. At 2.49 pounds, it’s even lighter than our favorite overall laptop while still being robust thanks to lightweight carbon fiber. Lenovo says ThinkPads are tested against military-grade requirements to ensure they will run in extreme conditions.
The ThinkPad has a 16:10 display for more vertical screen real estate, which is great for productivity. You get great hardware like an 11th generation Intel Core i7 processor and a variety of ports, including traditional USB-A and full-size HDMI ports, so you can connect nearly any device you need.
And, of course, this machine has the classic red “TrackPoint” nub you can use to control your mouse cursor from the center of your keyboard. It’s a ThinkPad, after all!
You can optionally get a 4G LTE or 5G modem built-in, giving your laptop an internet connection anywhere you can get a cellular signal. That’s one of the things that makes this type of machine the best laptop for work—an always-on internet connection, so you don’t have to worry about finding Wi-Fi.
If this laptop seems a bit too expensive for you, our pick for the best laptop overall is a great, ultraportable business laptop. And of course, if you want a Mac, definitely consider our top MacBook.
- ✓ Affordable price
- ✓ Convertible to tablet
- ✓ Gorilla Glass screen
- ✓ Snappy Intel CPU
- ✗ Can’t run Android apps natively like ARM Chromebooks do
Chromebooks have taken the world of education by storm, and it’s not hard to understand why. These affordable machines let students do all the basic things they need for learning and also offer schools numerous ways to track, manage, and assist students.
The Acer Chromebook Spin 311 has modest specifications, but this is a proper Intel laptop rather than an ARM-based Chromebook. Storage space might seem limited at only 32GB, but ChromeOS has a tiny footprint, and this Chromebook comes with 100GB of Google Drive storage.
Since kids using Chromebooks are expected to mostly work online, this is a smart way to keep the costs of these devices down. There’s a slightly more expensive 64GB model if your child needs more offline storage, and there’s always the SD card slot for cheap storage expansion.
Even better, this Chromebook is a convertible touchscreen model. This means your child can use a tablet-style interface for educational games or tasks that work better. The screen uses Corning Gorilla glass, so it should also stand up to spirited use.
Best Laptop for Kids
Acer Chromebook Spin 311 Convertible Laptop
Like all Chromebooks, the Spin 311 from Acer is an excellent educational device, but this laptop stands out from the crowd with its tablet mode, Gorilla Glass touch screen, and snappy Intel CPU.
- ✓ All models include touch screens
- ✓ Long battery life
- ✓ Great touchpad, too
- ✗ Not a transformable 2-in-1
- ✗ Can’t officially use Android apps until Windows 11
Many laptops have touch screens these days—but not always by default. While you can find many great laptops with touch screens, we like Microsoft’s Surface Laptop 4. All Surface Laptop models include a touch screen, so you’re not guessing whether or not your model has one.
The Surface Laptop 4 supports 10-point touch input, and you can also draw on it with the Microsoft Surface Pen. Unlike most other Surface devices, this is a standard laptop form factor, so it doesn’t feel like a tablet.
Since all models have a touch screen, you don’t have to sacrifice battery life, as with other laptops. The base model with an AMD Ryzen 5 processor boasts up to 19 hours of battery life, while the Intel models get a few hours less.
Microsoft’s Surface Laptop 4 also includes a particularly excellent touchpad for moving your mouse cursor and a comfortable keyboard. This is just a solid, all-around laptop. If you want more of a “transformable tablet with a keyboard cover” experience, the Surface Pro 7 is also a great computer.
If you’re looking for a 2-in-1 system that can transform into more of a laptop form factor, consider our favorite 2-in-1. If you want a laptop that runs Android apps, this feature is now available in Windows 11. The new operating system is pre-loaded on the Surface Laptop 4, so you no longer need to get a Chromebook to enjoy these apps on a laptop.
- ✓ M2 chip makes this the fastest MacBook Air yet
- ✓ Can configure with up to 2TB SSD and 24GB RAM
- ✓ New design is slimmer than older wedge design
- ✓ MagSafe 3 and improved Liquid Retina display
- ✗ The in-display notch takes some getting used to
- ✗ $200 more than the M1 MacBook Air
Unless you’ve got a heavy video or photo workload, you probably don’t need the most powerful Mac you can buy. Now that Apple has moved to its own chips, even its less powerful Apple Silicon models are far more powerful than their equivalent Intel models. For that reason, the 2022 M2 MacBook Air is more than enough for most people.
If you haven’t seen a MacBook Air in a few years, the design of Apple’s latest model might be somewhat confusing. After sticking with the Air’s signature wedge shape for over 10 years, this redesigned model resembles a slimmed-down MacBook Pro, complete with a notch in the display.
Speaking of the display, the Liquid Retina display in the 2022 MacBook Air is the best-looking display in this line to date. While the notch design may take some getting used to, it allowed Apple to outfit this generation of the MacBook Air with a far better webcam than previous models.
After years of sticking to a USB-C port for power, Apple resurrected MagSafe for MacBooks in 2021. The 2022 MacBook Air is a beneficiary, with the MagSafe 3 power joining USB-C, giving you multiple options for charging your computer.
The base 2022 M2 MacBook Air model comes with 256GB storage and 8GB RAM, retailing for $1,199. If you want to max out the RAM and storage with a 2TB SSD and 24GB RAM, you’ll spend $2,499.
MacBook Air (M2, 2022)
The 2022 M2 MacBook Air is the biggest upgrade to Apple’s long-running MacBook Air line in years, and the M2 chip, updated display, and touches like MagSafe 3 make it the best MacBook for most people.
- ✓ Excellent performance
- ✓ Big, beautiful touch screen
- ✓ Solid build quality
- ✓ 2-in-1 laptop with Android apps
- ✗ Less battery life than a lower-end Chromebook
- ✗ High-end for a Chromebook
Asus has delivered a beautiful system with the Chromebook Spin 713. It may be expensive for a Chromebook, but it’s a bargain compared to premium Windows laptops—and this is very much a premium laptop down to its solid keyboard and touchpad.
This Chromebook is packed with modern hardware. You’re getting an 11th-generation Intel Core processor (or you can opt for the i5 or i7). The USB-C ports support Thunderbolt 4 for speedy peripherals. Internal storage starts at 256 GB.
It’s in a whole different performance class compared to a budget Chromebook. Battery life will also be a bit lower than on a less powerful Chromebook, but this isn’t necessarily a deal breaker.
The screen is beautiful at 2256×1504 pixels. That means it’s a 3:2 screen, so it has even more vertical space than the 16:10 screens on our favorite Windows laptops here. This Chromebook has a touch screen, and the “spin” in the system’s name is a clue—this is a 2-in-1 convertible laptop.
Unlike a Windows 10 PC, you can install Android apps on a Chromebook and effectively use them as an Android tablet or run Android apps alongside Chrome.
You don’t have to spend this much on a Chromebook, however. We picked some great Chromebooks as the best laptop under $500 and our favorite laptop for kids. But, if you are willing to spend this much, you will have a great ChromeOS experience.
Acer Chromebook Spin 713
The Acer Chromebook Spin has a detachable keyboard, an 11th-generation Intel core, and Thunderbolt 4, making it worth the premium Chromebook price.
- ✓ Dell officially supports Linux on our favorite overall laptop
- ✓ Great build quality, long battery life, and excellent performance
- ✗ You can install Linux on a cheaper laptop, if you’re savvy
You can install Linux on many laptops, but most manufacturers don’t support Linux on their hardware. If you pick up a random laptop and install Linux on it, you may get stuck dealing with hardware driver problems.
We recommend getting a laptop that officially supports Linux. Dell offers the Dell XPS Plus 13 (a beefier version of the standard XPS 13 we rated as our best overall laptop), but pre-loaded with Ubuntu Linux.
Dell officially supports Linux on this hardware, so you know that everything will work properly. Whether you’re looking for a developer system for Linux programming or you just want an open-source operating system, this is the hardware we recommend.
The XPS Plus 13 offers a beefy 12-core, 16-thread CPU. This is a mix of high-performance and efficiency cores, so if you’re busy with a light workload, the battery will last much longer than previous generation computers. Then, when you need to compile your code or render a project, all of the cores come into play to get the job done as quickly as possible.
RAM options start at 8GB of DDR5, topping out at 32GB, and the rapid Gen. 4 SSD with options up to 2TB in capacity. That flexibility also extends to the monitor options, with a 3.5K OLED and a 4K UHD+ touch screen among the options. Though at this screen size, we recommend the FHD+ touchscreen option.
If you want to spend more money for a more premium experience, Lenovo also offers a Linux edition of its ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 9 laptop. It’s our favorite laptop for business, so it’s great that Linux users have options for premium laptops with good official support for Linux operating systems.