Why Trust Laptop Mag
Laptop Mag has been testing and reviewing laptops for over two decades. We test over 150 different models per year, subjecting each system to a series of rigorous benchmarks that provides a complete picture of performance, battery life and usability.
Our expert reviewers also use each product to see how it looks and feels in everyday situations. Because we see so many different notebooks, we can compare each to its direct competitors and give you an idea of how it stacks up to the average laptop in its price band.
Best Chromebooks Under $500
|Tested battery life:||12 hours|
Why we like this one: If you want a larger screen and a number pad, we recommend the Asus Chromebook Flip CM5 . Its vibrant 15.6-inch touchscreen provides more room to get work done or enjoy media, and the number pad is useful if you input a lot of data. The Flip CM5s backlit keys and extra wide trackpad feel satisfying and responsive. Even though the CM5 will last a long time away from an outlet, its too large and heavy to carry around on a regular basis. If the CM5 is unavailable, or if you dont mind paying a bit more for a faster laptop, the virtually identical Asus Chromebook Flip C536 is also a great option.
Where it falls short: The 15-inch display makes the Flip CM5 heavier and bulkier, so its much less portable than our other pickswe dont recommend it if you need a laptop to take to work, class, or even a coffee shop. The CM5 also has a 360-degree hinge for some reason, but its way too weighty to flip around and use comfortably in other modes.
Should I Get A Longer Laptop Warranty
Most laptop makers offer one-year warranties on parts and labor. These standard plans are limited, so they won’t cover accidents that stem from spilling a drink on the keyboard or dropping the system on the sidewalk. Fortunately, your credit-card issuer likely covers such mishaps for a short period of time after you buy a new product, and it also may extend the manufacturer’s warranty. Check your account benefits guide for details.
If your credit-card issuer doesnt cover you, some laptop makers will happily sell you extended warranties. Apple, Dell, HP, and Lenovo all offer wide ranges of extended warranties and coverage for accidental damage. Expect to spend $100 to $300 for these options. Our rule of thumb is that if a warranty costs more than 15 percent of the laptop’s purchase price, you’re better off spending the money on backup drives or services that minimize downtime.
Of course, you can’t put a price tag on peace of mind. There are instances when the logic board or the displaythe most expensive parts of a laptopfail, and while rare, such a catastrophe can cost you half of what the laptop is worth in repair costs.
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Research And Buying Tips
Whats the best laptop brand?
Picking just one laptop brand as the best is a bit of a challenge lately. There are so many great laptops available today, and they come from several manufacturers. Hold our feet to the fire, though, and well have to pick Dell as the overall best. Dell seems invested in applying the latest materials to improve the performance of its laptops, and its constantly coming up with new innovative designs.
HP is no slouch either. It, too, utilizes some unique materials and makes some customer-friendly design decisions, such as resisting the thin-and-light trend to pack in more battery capacity.
In terms of customer service and reliability, Apple carries the torch for its convenience. Its issues with its recent keyboards have been fixed, making MacBooks highly durable. Its customer service is top-notch. Though if youre looking for 5G laptops specifically, only a few models already exist.
Whats a 2-in-1 laptop?
A 2-in-1 laptop is one that isnt limited to the traditional clamshell configuration. Instead, a 2-in-1 can convert from a clamshell into some form of tablet PC that allows for natural inking and media consumption.
Today, you can pick from among a variety of different kinds of 2-in-1s. The most popular types are the tablet with a detachable keyboard, epitomized by the Microsoft Surface Pro 7, and the 360-degree convertible where the display flips around to turn into a slate.
What processor should I buy?
Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon
Best overall business laptop
Reasons to avoid
Lenovo made several welcome changes to the 9th Gen edition of its flagship business laptop. Along with fast performance from 11th Gen Intel CPUs, you get longer battery life , powerful quad speakers, a new 14-inch display with a 16:10 aspect ratio, and plenty of ports, all in an impossibly lightweight chassis .
But it’s still those classic ThinkPad features a durable design , best-in-class keyboard and stealthy black/red aesthetics that carry the X1 Carbon to greatness.
Yes, we wish the ThinkPad X1 Carbon had a better webcam and hadn’t ditched the SD card reader in the previous. Also, top configurations can get very expensive still, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better business laptop.
Reasons to avoid
HP’s EliteBook x360 1040 G7 is among the best business laptops money can buy. This stunning laptop has a gorgeous chassis that flaunts a flexible hinge, allowing the x360 1040 G7 to convert from a laptop into a tablet.
For these reasons, the EliteBook x360 1040 is the best HP laptop for business users.
Reasons to avoid
The MacBook Pro 13-inch M1 delivers impressive performance and has the longest battery life weve ever seen on a Mac. If thats not enough, paired with Big Sur, you get blistering webpage load times and a better webcam experience all thanks to Apple Silicon. In short, the new MacBook Pro is everything Apple said and more.
Reasons to avoid
Reasons to avoid
Reasons to avoid
Reasons to avoid
Reasons to avoid
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What Are The Best Laptops Right Now
The Dell XPS 13 is currently our top overall pick for best laptop of 2021. Powered by a 11th Gen Intel Core i7 processor and integrated Intel Iris Xe graphics, the 1080p version of the laptop is ideal for work, play and light content creation. And with its bright, vivid display, the laptop is also great for watching videos. Plus, its also incredibly slim and light making it an ideal laptop for mobile professionals.
Those in the market for a convertible should give the Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 a look. If 13-inches is too small, we suggest the Dell XPS 17, which also earned a spot on this list thanks to its powerful performance that makes it ideal for students, mobile and creative professionals.
For our Apple aficionados, the new must-haves are the MacBook Pro and MacBook Air m1 laptops. Apple’s new silicone marks a new chapter in Apple computing, and computers as a whole. The ARM-based chips bring an unprecedented amount of power and endurance, the likes of which that places the typically underpowered Air on a par with major ultraportables.
See our picks for best laptops below.
Hp Elite Dragonfly Gen 2
Why you should buy this: Its the best business laptop you can buy in 2021.
Who its for: Business pros who want a laptop that wont embarrass them.
Why we picked the HP Elite Dragonfly:
Business laptops have a certain stigma around them. Its often assumed that they need to be clunky, ugly, and full of bloatware. Not so.
The Elite Dragonfly has everything your IT department will need , without getting in the way of a supremely beautiful and modern laptop. The ideal person for the Dragonfly is someone who takes their work on the go with them, whether thats in long flights or subways. Thats where the Dragonfly really comes alive as a highly portable laptop that might actually fit on your pull-down tray.
On top of all that, the HP Elite Dragonfly is one of the first 5G-enabled laptops, which could come in handy as the faster connectivity standard rolls out. And, HP announced two new models of the laptop at CES 2021, the Elite Dragonfly G2 and Max, the upgrade to Tiger Lake CPUs and add in a number of features that make the laptops even better for remote workers. Stay tuned for reviews of these new models, and theyll likely take this spot once weve had a chance to check them out.
Why you should buy this: Its the best laptop you can buy under $500.
Whos it for: Students, those with basic computing needs
Why we picked the Lenovo Chromebook Flex 5:
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What Should You Look For When Buying A New Laptop
There are certain things you can look out for when buying a new laptop in 2021 that can ensure you get the best laptop for your money.
Make sure you take a look at the specifications of a laptop before buying. This is a good way of quickly seeing how powerful a laptop is, and what it is capable of as long as you know what youre looking for.
First of all is the processor. This is essentially the brain of the laptop, and a laptop will usually have a processor made by either Intel or AMD. Intel is by far the most popular CPU maker for laptops, though were seeing an increasing number of AMD-powered laptops as well.
As a general rule of thumb, Intel processors offer better performance, but AMD processors are better value.
To make things more simple, both Intel and AMD have numbered their processors to give you a rough idea of what sort of tasks a laptop with that processor can perform.
If youre after a budget laptop for simple tasks like browsing the web or watching Netflix, then a laptop with an Intel Pentium, Intel Core i3 or AMD Ryzen 3, processor will do that job without making the laptop too expensive.
If youre after something with a bit more oomph perhaps to do more complex task like editing your home videos or playing games then go for a laptop with an Intel Core i5 or AMD Ryzen 5 processor as a minimum.
A newer processor performs better and is more power efficient so battery life will last longer. They are more expensive, though.
How We Test The Best Laptops
To find the best laptop, we run every machine through a rigorous suite of benchmarks and real-world tests to gauge how it will perform during everyday use.
We measure the average brightness and color quality of each laptop’s display using our in-house light meter and colorimeter. For general performance, we run our machines through tests that include Geekbench 5 , as well as various 3DMark tests to measure graphics capabilities. We also run a file transfer test to measure how fast a machine’s hard drive is, and a custom battery test that has the machine browse the internet over Wi-Fi until it runs out of juice.
When testing dedicated gaming laptops, we run benchmarks for popular games such as Shadow of the Tomb Raider, Hitman 2 and Far Cry: New Dawn.
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The Best Budget Laptop In 2021
You dont need to spend $1,000 to get a laptop that looks and feels premium. The HP Envy x360 2020 is the best budget laptop you can buy, thanks to its sturdy and compact build, chic convertible design, and excellent performance.
Part of what makes the Envy so great is that HP has ported over a number of elements from its excellent 2019 flagship, the Spectre x360, including the thin-and-light chassis and nearly bezel-free display with an 88 percent screen-to-body ratio. The touchscreen is bright and looks great. . And HP has added a row of convenient hotkeys to the keyboard, including kill switches for the microphone and webcam.
But the most exciting feature is inside: the new Envy x360 is powered by AMDs Ryzen 4000 series. The Ryzen 5-4500U in my model did an outstanding job with a fairly heavy load of multitasking. And AMDs integrated Radeon graphics delivered good gaming performance comparable to what youd expect from a lower-powered discrete GPU.
What’s An Ideal Size And Weight
Most people searching for a general-purpose laptop should choose one that measures about half an inch thick and weighs 3 pounds or less. In general, these are the maximum dimensions and heft a laptop can have for us to consider it an ultraportable, and for most users, portability is the key to maximizing use and enjoyment.
Aiming for that weight and thickness, in most cases, will limit the laptops screen size to 13 or 14 inches, although a few models with 15-inch or larger screens now fit into the ultraportable category. At most of these screen sizes, you can find models in either the conventional clamshell laptop shape or a 2-in-1 convertible design. The latter has a hinge that rotates the screen 360 degrees so you can use it as a makeshift tablet or prop it up like a tent for watching movies.
Some Windows and Chrome OS laptops do have smaller displays, such as 10 or 11 inches. Some of these are not technically laptops in the pure sense, but rather tablets with detachable keyboards. Unless youre specifically looking for a part-time tablet or the lightest possible laptop, avoid these designs. Theyre lighter than most 13-inch ultraportables, often less than 2 pounds, but theyre not as good at being tablets as the Apple iPad is, and their detachable keyboards mean theyre not much good at being laptops, eithertyping on most of them tends to be subpar.
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Where To Go From Here
Shopping for a laptop is an exercise in patience. An ultra-competitive market means that even if youve got specific requirements, you can almost certainly find a handful of excellent models that will meet them, and another handful of perfectly serviceable but ho-hum models that will, too. Now that you know which specifications to look for, we hope that parsing the good from the bad will be much easier. We update our top picks frequently, and you can find our current favorite laptops below.
Acer Aspire 5 Slim Laptop$36499
The top-selling laptop on Amazon currently is the Acer Aspire 5 Slim. There’s a good reason this computer is a bestseller: It offers compelling specs and features for a budget price of $364.99. It also has a larger, 15.6-inch screen that will help those working at home have more screen space without needing to add an external monitor.
This Aspire 5 has an AMD Ryzen 3 3200U dual-core processor, 4GB RAM, a 128GB PCIe NVMe SSD, AMD Radeon Vega 3 graphics and an advertised 7.5 hours of battery life. It has three USB ports, one HDMI port with HDCP support, 802.11ac Wi-Fi and a backlit keyboard that rounds out a solid laptop. It runs Windows 10.
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Asus Vivobook 15 Thin & Light Laptop 156 Fhd Display Amd Quad Core R7
- 15.6 inches Full HD 4 way NanoEdge bezel display with stunning 88% screen to body ratio
- Powerful AMD Quad Core Ryzen 7 3700U Processor
- AMD Radeon Vega 10 graphic with Windows 10 Home
- 8GB DDR4 RAM and 512GB PCIe NVMe SSD
- Ergonomic chiclet backlit keyboard with fingerprint sensor activated via Windows Hello
- Exclusive Ergolift design for improved typing position
- Comprehensive connections including USB 3.21 Type C, USB 3.2 Type A, USB 2.0, and HDMI Wi Fi 5
List price: $679.00
Apple Best Specs & Ecosystem
Apple Inc, is a technology company founded by Steve Jobs, Ronald Wayne, and Steve Wozniak in 1976. The company develops and sells computer hardware, electronics and devices. They are best known as the company that innovates and creates the next level of gadgets and devices. You probably know Apple from its products like the iPhone, the iPod, and its Macs.
Being a unique brand, Apple laptops have their own pre-installed OS called the Mac OS. Unlike other operating systems. the Mac OS is error-free and more secure than other operating systems currently on the market.
The renowned company is known for its user-friendly and simplistic designs, amazing cameras, high specs hardware, friendly and competent customer support, aesthetic designs and the feeling of exclusivity when you buy their products.
Apple products are simply a cut of the rest! They last longer and they perform better than other laptops. Unfortunately this means they are premium products and that they are more expensive.
Thankfully their laptops provide you with an option to buy a standard or an upgraded version of the laptop. So you dont have to spend a fortune to buy a super-specced laptop which you might not need.
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Apple Macbook Air With Apple M1 Chip
- Apple-designed M1 chip for a giant leap in CPU, GPU, and machine learning performance
- Go longer than ever with up to 18 hours of battery life
- 8-core CPU delivers up to 3.5x faster performance to tackle projects faster than ever
- Up to eight GPU cores with up to 5x faster graphics for graphics-intensive apps and games
- 16-core Neural Engine for advanced machine learning
- 8GB of unified memory so everything you do is fast and fluid
- Superfast SSD storage launches apps and opens files in an instant
List price: $899.00
Dell Xps 17 Battery Life
Typically, a laptop with a 4K display doesnt last past 8 hours on the Laptop Mag Battery Test. But after continuous web surfing over Wi-Fi at 150 nits of brightness, the XPS 17 lasted 9 hours and 5 minutes. It outlasted the Envy 17t and the premium laptop average . The MacBook Pro, however, was the last laptop standing at 10:55.
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