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The best 15-inch laptops you can buy: Expert tested

We tested dozens of the best 15-inch laptops available based on battery life, display, price, and more to help you choose the right one.
Written by Kyle Kucharski, Editor

Why you can trust ZDNET

ZDNET's reviewers spend weeks to months testing each laptop on this list, using it for both everyday tasks like browsing, streaming, and gaming, to more performance-intensive work like photo and video editing. We aim to give you a view into how each laptop could actually fit into your life and workflow, and the pros and cons of their various features like performance, display, and battery life.

What to Consider

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Design

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Performance

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Storage and RAM

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Purpose

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Value

Apple MacBook Air M3 | Best 15-inch laptop overall
M3 MacBook Air close up
Apple MacBook Air M3
Best 15-inch laptop overall
View now View at Apple
Dell XPS 15 | Best 15-inch laptop for the office
Dell XPS 15 by the window
Dell XPS 15
Best 15-inch laptop for the office
View now View at Amazon
Acer Aspire Go 15 | Best budget 15-inch laptop
Acer Aspire Go 15
Acer Aspire Go 15
Best budget 15-inch laptop
View now View at B&H Photo-Video
Asus Vivobook Pro 15 | Best 15-inch laptop for creators
asus-vivobook-pro-15-main
Asus Vivobook Pro 15
Best 15-inch laptop for creators
View now View at Best Buy
Razer Blade 15 | Best 15-inch gaming laptop
A Razer Blade 15 gaming laptop on a yellow background
Razer Blade 15
Best 15-inch gaming laptop
View now View at Walmart

For many users, 15-inch laptops are the "Goldilocks" of sizes. The 14- and 13-inch sizes can have small displays you have to squint at, while 16-inch and above can be bulky and hard to squeeze into a bag. There is a huge selection of 15-inch laptops available, but their 16-inch cousins often overshadow them. Luckily, we've done hands-on testing with dozens of laptops in this category and compiled the best 15-inch laptops we've reviewed here.

Also: The best laptops for college

What's the best 15-inch laptop right now? 

Our pick for the best 15-inch laptop overall is the MacBook Air M3. Regarding versatility, performance, and portability, it's hard to beat Apple's 15-inch super thin laptop. I've included four additional specific use cases here, but the MacBook Air M3 is definitely the most well-rounded while also having a substantial degree of power. Apple's M3 processor brings AI readiness with a 16-core NPU, and the resilient battery on this laptop makes it a solid pick for the office, students, and creators alike. And to top it off, its thin form factor seals the deal for ultimate portability.

However, I get that the MacBook Air isn't for everyone, so I've included four other great 15-inch laptops on this list for some common use cases: best for the office, best budget, best for creators, and best for gaming.

The best 15-inch laptops of 2024

Apple MacBook Air M3

Best 15-inch laptop overall

Regarding performance, Apple's 15-inch MacBook Air with the M3 processor is hard to beat. The MacBook Air is as portable as it is thin, and its combination of sleek form factor, substantial battery, and winning display make for the best overall 15-inch laptop of 2024.

The 15-inch MacBook Air is available in a host of different configurations, but with a maximum of 16GB unified memory and 512GB of SSD storage, it's powerful enough for a variety of people, from creators to professionals to students to everyday browsers. The sheer adaptability of this laptop deserves to be called out as a laptop that has the hardware to handle whatever you can throw at it.

Review: M3 MacBook Air: Apple's AI computer for the masses has arrived

The M3 chip's 16-core neural engine future-proofs it with AI readiness, while the option to load it with up plenty of storage offers plenty of space to stick with you. The M3 Air's 18 hours of battery life is also one of the best out there, especially in the class of 15-inch displays.

Apple MacBook Air M3 tech specs: 8-core CPU with 16-core Neural Engine | 8GB, 16GB, or 24GB of unified memory with 10-core GPU | 512GB, 1TB, or 2TB storage | Display: LCD, 60Hz refresh rate, 500 nits max | Battery: Up to 18 hours | Weight: 3.3 lbs. 

M3 MacBook Air close up
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Dell XPS 15

Best 15-inch laptop for the office

The Dell XPS 15 is a well-rounded laptop and the most instantly recognizable of Dell's flagship laptops. Its iconic slim-bezel design and brushed aluminum finish make for a sleek, stylish-looking laptop with a host of solid hardware under the hood to prove it's more than just a pretty face.

This is a great laptop to take to the office, with its gorgeous OLED display and a generous selection of ports, including three USB-C ports (two of which are Thunderbolt 4), an SD card slot, and a 3.5mm headphone jack.

Review: I traded my MacBook for a Dell XPS 15 for a month and didn't regret it at all

Visually, this is one of the most sharp-looking, color-accurate displays I've seen on a laptop, and it's a feature I'd recommend for potential buyers who do photo and video work. The solid processor ensures it can handle virtually any task you can throw at it, from graphical work to running through complex spreadsheets. 

That being said, after the workday is done, this laptop makes for a great entertainment machine. With its pairing of the top-firing speakers that flank the sides of the keyboard, the multimedia experience on the XPS 15 can be mesmerizing. It's one of the few display-speaker pairings I'd rank alongside Apple's 16-inch MacBook Pro.

Dell XPS 15 tech specs: CPU: 13th Generation Intel Core i9-13900H | GPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX 4070 | RAM: 16GB-32GB | Storage: 512GB, 1TB | Display: FHD+, 60Hz refresh rate, 500 nits | Battery: Up to 18 hours | Weight: 4.21 lbs.

Dell XPS 15 by the window
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Acer Aspire Go 15

Best budget 15-inch laptop

For just $300, the Acer Aspire Go 15 is an ideal laptop for budget-conscious consumers. Not everyone needs a powerful laptop with high-end hardware, especially if they have a desktop as their primary computer. And for a portable notebook built to cover the basics, it doesn't get much more affordable than this. 

This laptop has half the RAM and memory of the other Chromebook I typically recommend, the HP Dragonfly Pro, but it's a third of the cost, making it a great bang-for-buck device or secondary laptop for use on the go. 

Review: This $299 Windows laptop is my new go-to recommendation for budget shoppers

The Aspire Go is also very adaptable. The 15-inch screen provides enough room for working with spreadsheets and productivity software, and the keyboard features a number pad on the right side. Add a webcam, a good selection of ports, and a Kensington lock slot, and you have a laptop that covers all your bases. 

Dell XPS 15 tech specs: CPU: Intel Core i3-N305 | GPU: Intel UHD Integrated | RAM: 8GB | Storage: 128GB | Display: FHD, 60Hz refresh rate, 500 nits | Battery: Up to 12 hours | Weight: 3.75 lbs.

Acer Aspire Go 15
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Asus Vivobook Pro 15

Best 15-inch laptop for creators

Armed with an impressive arsenal of hardware, the Vivobook S 15 is a powerful laptop with a gorgeous OLED screen that creators will love. Its solid processor and video card combination means it can easily handle demanding tasks such as photo and video editing.

The Harmon Kardon audio drivers support Dolby Atmos, allowing for sound quality that isn't too shabby for a laptop. High-resolution video looks great on the display as well.

Review: This Asus laptop looks unassuming, but it has a powerful feature creatives will love

To appeal to the creator demographic, the Vivobook has the DialPad functionality built into the trackpad. This function brings up a quick menu for toolkits found in creative software. It allows you to quickly change brushes or swap tools in Photoshop and offers pinch-and-click support for layer management, navigation, and media control.

HP Chromebook Plus x360 tech specs: CPU: Intel Core Ultra 7 155H | GPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 | RAM: 16GB | Storage: 1TB | Display: FHD OLED, 60Hz refresh rate, 400 nits | Battery: Up to 8 hours | Weight: 4.19 lbs.

asus-vivobook-pro-15-main
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Razer Blade 15

Best 15-inch gaming laptop

The Razer Blade 15 is either a creator laptop disguised as a gaming rig or a gaming rig you can also take to the office, depending on who you ask. The 15-inch version of Razer's Blade laptop line was announced at CES 2023 and released soon after with a high price tag, which is true to form for Razer. Fortunately, the price has since dropped to accessible levels, which is excellent news as this is a crowd-pleasing gaming laptop that's a lot of fun. 

The laptop has an Intel Core i7-12700K processor, which can be overclocked to 5.0GHz for graphics-heavy games. The processor has a liquid cooling system to help keep it running at optimal temperatures, which is necessary for overclocking. The laptop also features 16GB of RAM, a 1TB SSD for storage, and an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070Ti graphics card. 

The 15.6-inch display is equally impressive, featuring a 360Hz refresh rate and a solid 1080p resolution. If you need many ways to connect peripherals, storage devices, and displays, the Razer Blade 15 has six USB ports (including Thunderbolt 4), HDMI 2.1, Bluetooth 5.2, and an SD card reader for quickly transferring photos from your camera to your laptop. 

Razer Blade 15 tech specs: CPU: Intel Core i7-12700K | GPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070Ti with 8GB | RAM: 16GB | Storage: 1TB | Display: FHD, 360Hz refresh rate, 400 nits | Battery: Up to 8 hours | Weight: 4.43 lbs.

A Razer Blade 15 gaming laptop on a yellow background
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What is the best 15-inch laptop?

The best 15-inch laptop in 2024 is the M3 Apple MacBook Air. Portable, powerful, and with a long-lasting battery, the MacBook Air M3 is a versatile workhorse you can throw in a bag and take anywhere you go. The M3's 8-core CPU and 10-core GPU are armed to take on almost anything you throw at it, and the entire package weighs just 2.7 pounds.

Laptop

Starting cost

Processor/GPU

RAM/Storage

Weight (lbs)

Apple MacBook Air M3

$1,299

M3 8-core CPU with 16-core NPU

8GB up to 16GB, up to 512GB

3.3

Dell XPS 15

$1,249

13th Gen Intel Core i9-13900H

16GB-32GB, 1TB

4.21

Razer Blade 15

$2,481

Intel Core i7-12700K

16GB, 1TB

4.43

Acer Aspire Go 15

$299

Intel Core i3-N305

8GB, 128GB

3.75

Asus Vivobook Pro 15

$1,299

Intel Core Ultra 7 155H

16GB, up to 1TB

4.19 

Which is the right 15-inch laptop for you?

The best 15-inch laptop for you depends on what you want to get out of it. Laptops packed with powerful gaming hardware, like the Razer Blade 15, come with some high-end hardware, but the price inevitably goes up. In that case, it's only worth paying for a gaming laptop if you intend on using it for serious gaming. 

More well-rounded machines like the Dell XPS 15 or the MacBook Air M3 are better suited for users looking for a "jack of all trades" machine. 

Choose this 15-inch laptop…

If you want…

Apple MacBook Air M3

An all-around strong 15" laptop that can handle most use cases and is portable and future-proofed. 

Dell XPS 15

A sleek laptop with the performance to back it up, something that works hard and plays hard.

Razer Blade 15

A powerful gaming laptop that pulls out all the stops. 

Acer Aspire Go 15

A budget laptop that is capable enough for everyday tasks. 

Asus Vivobook Pro 15

A laptop for creators with powerful photo and video editing capabilities. 

How we test laptops

We use a combination of methods to test laptops here at ZDNET. First, we acquire data from benchmarking software to analyze a system's metrics under the hood, and compare those to advertised numbers. Then, we spend an extended amount of time with the laptop (usually a week or two) using it the same way a normal consumer would, in order to analyze its portability, form factor, and how well the battery actually holds up, among others. For an extensive breakdown, check out our comprehensive laptop testing methodology.

  • Benchmarking: First, we run a series of tests to put the computer's hardware through the wringer in order to see what it's capable of. Cinebench is one of the most commonly-used hardware testing suites, which tests the laptop's rendering performance on single and multiple CPU cores. PCMark 10 is another powerful program that covers a wide variety of tasks performed in the workplace, and there are many others that we use in tandem to gather as much data as we can. Some components we run tests on include:
  • Processor: The "brain" of the laptop, and one of the most important factors that determines performance. The four biggest manufacturers that make most of the CPUs found in laptops today are Intel, AMD, Qualcomm, and Apple (in their own machines only). This is tested in benchmarking software.
  • The display: The size of the display (measured diagonally from corner to corner) is also what dictates the laptop's overall size, and play a big role in the laptop's cost. Brightness is measured in "nits", and color spectrums are tested in benchmarking software.

  • The graphics processor (GPU): Whether it's integrated into the CPU or a dedicated graphics card, how well the machine handles graphics is a key factor when it comes to demanding visual tasks like video editing, rendering, and of course, gaming. We test the GPU with a combination of benchmarking software, gaming, and media playback. 

  • Physical form factor: Finally, the laptop's overall appearance and physical form factor encompasses its weight, thickness, how the keyboard and trackpad feel, and whether or not it has a display that can be folded back to form a tablet. We carry the laptop around for at least a week and note how well it commutes.

  • Battery testing: We test a unit's battery in a few ways. A handful of benchmarking programs have their own battery testing components, but we also will just let the laptop run for as long as it can under a medium load. We ensure screensavers and hibernation mode are turned off, set the display's brightness and audio at 50%, load up a livestream on YouTube in Chrome, and wait 'til the end.
  • The human element:  As we mentioned earlier, metrics and system data is important, but numbers alone don't give you the full picture. This is where we weave in our personal experience with the device and tap into the practical use cases that consumers actually care about. 

Also: The best laptop docking stations you can buy: Expert tested  

Ultimately, our goal is to break down the capabilities of each and every laptop we test into digestible terms that real people can find useful. There is a lot of noise and confusion when it comes to navigating the laptop and computer consumer market, so we hope to bring an intuitive element to the whole process by leveraging our team's decades of experience. 

Factors to consider when choosing a 15-inch laptop

All 15-inch laptops run the gamut from high-end gaming machines to budget devices, so it's important to consider which of the most common factors you value most when picking out a new machine. First and foremost on the list, though, is to determine what exactly you want to get out of it. 

  • Ideal use case: Consider what you actually envision doing with your new laptop. Are you a gamer? Is this a machine for work? Manufacturers go to great lengths to differentiate their products by highlighting a specific consumer demographic. Knowing how you're going to use the laptop will go a long way into deciding which device is the best one for you. 
  • Display: The Dell XPS 15 and the Asus Vivobook Pro 15 have the best displays with gorgeous OLED screens (though you can opt for less expensive ones). 
  • Battery life: The best battery life on this list goes to M3 Apple MacBook Air, although the Acer Aspire Go 15 also has impressive battery life due to its relatively modest suite of hardware.  
  • Portability: 15-inch laptops are a good middle ground between smaller, ultra-portable 13- and 14-inch machines (which tend to be thicker) and larger 16- and 17-inch laptops (which tend to be thinner). When looking at weight, the M3 MacBook Air is both the thinnest and the lightest on this list. 
  • Price: The Acer Aspire Go 15 is the cheapest laptop on this list, at just $300. On the other end, the Razer Blade 15 is a pricey machine at nearly $2,500. The other three laptops on the list are essentially around the same price. 

What's the difference between 14-, 15-, and 16-inch laptops?

You would think that one inch wouldn't make all that much of a difference when it comes to the size of a laptop, but when you're talking about motherboards, processors, and complex circuitry that are all fractions of a millimeter, an entire inch has a lot to do with design. 

The reality is that "larger laptops" (16 inches and above) tend to be thinner, as there's more surface area for their internal parts to occupy. Smaller laptops (14 inches and below) tend to be thicker, as their reduced size leaves less room for hardware. The happy medium in all this is the 15-inch laptop, which, when designed correctly, results in a thin and light laptop. 

Also: One of the best productivity laptops I've tested is not made by Dell or Apple

The M3 MacBook Air and Dell XPS 15 are perfect examples of thoughtful, expert designs that result in portable yet powerful computers. 

Which operating system should I choose: Windows, MacOS, Chrome OS, or Linux?

While every computing platform has its loyal supporters, most people use a particular operating system because of key applications running on it, employer preferences, or budgetary constraints. Windows, which ranges from budget to premium, and Apple's MacOS, which is exclusive to premium devices, cover a broad spectrum. Chrome OS is primarily limited to mid-range devices.

Also: Microsoft's Surface Pro and Laptop are the ultimate 'AI PCs', and I'm worried for Apple

All Windows devices listed here meet the requirements for Windows 11. If you purchase a device with Windows 10 installed, you can upgrade to Windows 11. Note that after October 14, 2025, Windows 10 support will end, and there will be no further security patches or feature updates.

Are there alternative 15-inch laptops worth considering?

15-inch laptops are by no means uncommon, but there are perhaps more flashy flagship models that come with 16-inch displays. That said, quite a few alternative 15-inch machines deserve to be mentioned here, even though they didn't earn a spot on the official list. 

View at AcerView at Best Buy
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