With a new and uncertain school year approaching, it’s the perfect time to take a look at the best, coolest laptops on the market right now. Whether trying to set up your child with the perfect device for at-home learning, looking to upgrade during lockdown or need a great Christmas gift, these laptops are the top machines available in winter 2020 and early 2021.
Called the “Ultimate Ultrabook” by Wired, Dell’s XPS 13 boasts a sleek look thanks to the super-thin bezels surrounding the screen. The XPS 13 includes a tiny webcam above the screen, replacing the previous model’s awkwardly-placed bottom camera. It comes with an Intel Core i3 processor, although customers can upgrade to i5 or i7 as well. While Wired noted the XPS 13 isn’t a great laptop for gaming, its portability and impressive eight-12 hour battery life led CNET to name it the “Best Windows Ultraportable” of 2019.
The aluminum-bodied, 15-inch Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 is a no-frills computer for people who don’t need a ton of extra features and connectivity. Equipped with one USB-A and one USB-C port, the Surface Laptop 3 is powered by a Ryzen 5 chip processor, providing “plenty of power for everyday tasks,” but may come up short for video editing or gaming, according to Wired. Looking for a good-sized laptop without too many bells and whistles for your kid? Look no further than the Surface Laptop 3.
If you’re willing to shell out a little extra, then Wired‘s “Best Luxury Chromebook” may be the right choice for you. Samsung’s Galaxy Chromebook boasts lightweight aluminum and a fanless chip design for optimal comfort — without overheating you lap. It’s AMOLED 4k Ultra HDscreen is compact yet still impressive at 13 inches, while its Intel i5 core provides speedy processing. It also come with an included stylus, which automatically opens Google Keep when removed from its holster.
A 2-in-1 laptop and tablet, the Lenovo Yoga C930’s most interesting feature might be the screen hinge that doubles as a soundbar, enabling quality sound from either configuration. It also comes pre-installed with Dolby Atmos, allowing users to fine-tune their sound experience. The Yoga includes an active pen stylus and a port to charge it, along with three USB-C ports, one USB 3.0, and a combination headphone/microphone jack. While not made to handle “demanding graphics tasks or games” according to CNET, the Yoga’s features and 12-hour battery life earned it the title of “Best 2-in-1” from the same publication.
Coming from a popular name in laptop gaming, the Razer Blade Stealth delivers the gaming performance expected from the brand in a compact package. Containing a 1.8 GHz Core i7 processor along with Nvidia GeForce MX150 graphics, the Stealth is a good machine for playing current and classic AAA titles on the go. Its battery lasts a robust 7.5 hours, and it includes a 13.3 inch, 1920 x 1080 resolution screen as well as two USB 3.1 ports and two USB-C ports. The mid-range model starts at $1,599.
Like the Yoga, the Microsoft Surface Pro 6 is a 2-in-1, although, with this one, users can detach the screen from the keyboard. While the Surface Pro 6 is sold separately from the compatible keyboard, mouse, and stylus accessories, the tablet itself contains a quad-core processor, 12.3-inch high-res display, and a battery life of 10+ hours. Originally starting at around $899, the Surface Pro 6 was recently spotted on Amazon for as little as $649.00, making the cost of accessories a little easier to bear.
Perfect for someone who’s always on the go, Lenovo’s Duet Chromebook provides the best of both laptop and tablet computing. With a 10 inch DIPS screen and compact design combined with a MediaTek Hello P6OT, the Duet crams quality and portability into a small but powerful package. Starting at under $300, Wired voted this model the “Best Chromebook Tablet.”
Called “the sushi knife of laptops” by Wired, the MacBook Air’s sleek design and precise performance more than live up to the comparison. With a 13-inch True Tone Retina display for optimized visuals, two USB-C ports, and a battery life of about 10 hours, the MacBook Air is a machine that can handle almost anything you throw at it. Named the “Best MacBook for most people,” the Air’s wide appeal makes it one of Apple’s most user-friendly machines.
The Acer Swift 5, billed as “the world’s lightest notebook with a 15-inch display,” effortlessly combines performance and portability. Weighing just 2.2 pounds, the Swift is powered by a 1.6 GHz Core i5 processor with 8 GB of RAM and 256 GB of SSD storage. A full HD touchscreen and USB-C, USB 3.0 and HDMI ports round out this notebook’s features. With a nine-hour battery life, the Swift is perfect for getting work done no matter where you are.
This versatile laptop-tablet combo boasts laptop, stand, and tablet modes, making it a great computer for just about any scenario. Voted “Best Budget 2-in-1” by Wired the x360 includes an Intel Celeron processor, 4 GB of RAM, 32 GB of storage, and a battery life of up to 8 hours. Wired specifically recommends the 12-inch model, which includes a 3:2 screen and retails for around $360.
With an Intel Core i7, 2.6 GHz processor and a battery life of around 10 hours, the Apple MacBook Pro was called the “Best balance of speed and battery life” by CNET. A 15-inch, high-resolution display and four USB-C ports complete the appeal of this powerful and popular computer. The Apple MacBook Pro starts at $2,399.
If the MacBook Pro isn’t for you, then CNET’s “Best MacBook Pro alternative” could be of interest. Sporting a 15-inch, 1920 x 1080 pixel display with ultra-thin bezels, the Razer Blade 15 Advanced provides a clear, sharp image ideal for gaming. With a starting price of $2,349, this laptop would be a worthwhile investment for anyone who takes gaming on the go seriously.
Maybe the best way to experience the functionality of a Chromebook, Google’s Pixelbook Go is a simple and sensible laptop that boasts top-notch performance. Powered by an Intel Core M3 chip in the base model, the Pixelbook Go has a 13.3 inch HD touchscreen, 8 GB of RAM and 128 GB of SSD storage. It’s a little light on ports, with two USB-Cs and a headphone jack, but with an impressive 12-hour battery life, the Pixelbook Go is a solid choice for anyone who is a fan of Chromebooks.
Here’s another one for gamers: The Acer Predator Triton 500 comes loaded with an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Max-Q graphics card for superior gaming performance. It also has a 15.6 inch, full-HD display and tons of ports for connectivity, including HDMI, Mini DisplayPort, USB-A 3.0, Thunderbolt, and Gigabit Ethernet. A possible drawback is the roughly two-hour battery life, as reported by CNET. Still, for a gamer looking for a powerful, compact system for the home, the Acer Predator Triton 500 is hard to beat.
For a robust package that Wired calls the best Chromebook for school, one could hardly do better than Acer’s Chromebook 714. An impressive 12-hour battery life insures that the device will easily make it through a school day without a charge, and a microSD port expands its 64 GB storage for plenty of filing space. With a 1080p screen, 12″ HDIPS display, and Intel Core i3 processor, the 714 is capable of tackling any educational challenges that may arise.
Like a scaled-down version of the Surface Pro 6, the Surface Go nevertheless boasts its own impressive capabilities and features. A 10-inch touchscreen display provides vivid visuals powered by an Intel Pentium Gold 4415Y processor. The Surface Go comes with 4GB of RAM and 64GB eMMC storage and, with a battery life of 4-5 hours, is a good machine for short trips or excursions.
The Chromebook line has made a name for itself for making reliable, affordable laptops, and the Chromebook Flip C434 is no exception. Named CNET’s “Best Chromebook,” this 2-in-1 laptop/tablet comes with a 14-inch, full HD display, as well as 8 GB memory and 64 GB storage. The Asus Chromebook Flip C434 starts at $500.
Another 2-in-1 offering, HP’s Spectre 360 is a solid laptop for anyone looking for a durable machine that gets work done. With a 1.8 GHz Core i7 processor, 8 GB RAM, and 256 GB of SSD storage, the Spectre is well-equipped to handle professional workloads of all kinds. Aside from a 13 or 15-inch touchscreen, an active stylus included in the package, and a decent array of USB-C Thunderbolt and USB 3.1 ports, the Spectre’s most impressive feature might be its battery life — an incredible 14 hours according to Wired.
Those looking for a reliable gaming laptop that won’t break the bank need look no further than the Dell G5 15. Starting at less than $1000, the G5 15 has an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 graphics card and is powered by an Intel Core i5-9300 processor. A 15.6-inch display with thin bezels creates an immersive gaming experience, while HDMI, Gigabit Ethernet, USB 3.1 and USB-C ports, and a DisplayPort provide comprehensive connectivity. A solid 8-hour battery life helped earn the G5 15 the distinction of “Best budget gaming laptop” from CNET.
Starting at a sensible $379, Dell’s Chromebook 11 is another strong option for completing school work. Its splash-proof and impact-resistant construction in particular make it an ideal choice for younger children. With an 11-hour battery life, an Intel Celeron processor, and a solid 11-inch HD IPS screen, it’s no wonder Wired named this the “Best Cheap Chromebook.”
Starting at $350, the Acer Aspire E 15 was named CNET’s “Best budget laptop.” With an Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB of memory, and 256 GB of storage space, the Aspire is a good amount of computer for the price. It includes 1 USB-C port, 2 USB 3.0 ports, 1 USB 2.0 port, HDMI, VGA, and Gigabit Ethernet, and boasts a truly impressive 12-hour battery life. While CNET notes that it “isn’t a gaming laptop,” the Acer Aspire E 15 should have everything you need to take care of business wherever you are.