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The best laptops for every type of person and budget

To help you find the right laptop, ZDNET has tested and compiled the ultimate list of the best laptops available for different use cases and budgets. And don't forget to check back for the verdict on Samsung's Galaxy Book 3 laptops.

When faced with the question "what's the best laptop?", the first sensible response is, "What do you want to use it for?" That's because the best laptop for knowledge workers in the office or home, for example, will be very different from the kind of device that's suitable for power users and creators, or for students and the otherwise cash-strapped, and so on. Then there are the platform enthusiasts who will only consider Windows, macOS, Chrome OS, or Linux devices, for whatever reason, or determined early adopters who must have the latest and greatest mobile technology.

As a result, this 'best laptop' roundup covers a range of different use cases and computing platforms to provide an early 2023 overview of the cream of the laptop market. As always, individual requirements and preferences will vary, so when choosing a laptop, check out other similar models, examine the specifications and price points, visit the manufacturers' online forums to see how customer relations are working out in practice, get hands-on if you can, to get a feel for the ergonomics, and of course, read the reviews.

Editor's note: Samsung recently announced the third generation of its Galaxy Book laptop series. There are four new Intel Evo-branded Galaxy Book 3 laptops: three traditional clamshell designs and a 2-in-1 convertible. Screen sizes have stepped up a notch from 13.3-inch and 15.6-inch models in the first two generations. Your choices now include the 14-inch and 16-inch Galaxy Book 3 Pro, the 16-inch Galaxy Book 3 Pro 360, and a new flagship 16-inch Galaxy Book 3 Ultra with Nvidia's latest GeForce RTX 4050/4070 Laptop GPU. ZDNET is currently considering whether the laptops should be added to this guide.

Pros & Cons
  • Remarkably slim and light
  • Larger, brighter Retina display than M1 model
  • 1080p webcam
  • More expensive than its predecessor
  • Battery life takes a modest hit
More Details

Tech specs:

  • Operating System: MacOS (Ventura)
  • CPU: Apple M2 (8-core)
  • GPU: Apple M2 (8 or 10 cores)
  • RAM: 8GB, 16GB, 24GB
  • Storage: 256GB, 512GB, 1TB, 2TB
  • Screen: 13.6-inch Liquid Retina display, 2560 x 1664 (224ppi), 500 nits
  • Wireless: Bluetooth 5.0, Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax)
  • Ports and slots: 2x Thunderbolt 3/USB4, MagSafe 3
  • Camera: 1080p FaceTime HD
  • Audio: 4 speakers, 3 mics, 3.5mm headphone jack
  • Battery: 52.6Wh (18h movie playback, 15h web browsing)
  • Dimensions: 304.1mm x 215mm x 11.3mm (11.97 inches x 8.46 inches x 0.44 inches)
  • Weight: 1.24kg (2.7 pounds)
  • Price: Starting from $1,199 (8-core GPU, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD), $1,499 (10-core GPU, 8GB RAM, 512GB SSD)

Apple's M2 MacBook Air offers a larger (13.6-inch), brighter (500 nits) screen than its M1-based predecessor in a sleek redesign that's actually 20% smaller by volume. Despite its thin-and-light chassis, the M2 MacBook Air is sturdily built and fanless, making it silent in operation. It is equipped with a quad-speaker system, two Thunderbolt 3/USB4 ports, and a MagSafe power connector. Additionally, there's a welcome upgrade to a 1080p webcam.

Read the review: M2 MacBook Air review

The M2 MacBook Air delivers excellent performance with its 52.6Wh battery, powering the system for nearly 16 hours -- equivalent to two full working days -- in ZDNET's rundown test.

Rated as "Outstanding" and "one of the lightest and most elegant ultraportable laptops we've seen," the M2 MacBook Air is not only ZDNET's choice for the best overall laptop but also ZDNET's Product of the Year.

Also recommended: Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10

Pros & Cons
  • Good CPU and GPU performance
  • Excellent keyboard
  • Slim but solid build
  • No mobile broadband option
  • No 3.5mm audio jack
  • No OLED screen option (yet)
More Details

Tech specs:

  • Operating System: Windows 11 (Home, Pro), Ubuntu Linux 20.04 LTS
  • CPU: Intel Core i5-1230U, Core i7-1250U
  • GPU: Intel Iris Xe Graphics
  • RAM: 8 GB, 16 GB, 32 GB
  • Storage: 512 GB, 1 TB
  • Screen: 13.4-inch InfinityEdge, FHD+ (1920 x 1200, 169 ppi), non-touch/touch, 500 nits
  • Wireless: Bluetooth 5.2, Wi-Fi 6E (802.11ax)
  • Ports and slots: 2 USB-C/Thunderbolt 4, MicroSD
  • Camera: HD (720p) RGB and IR
  • Audio: 2 microphones, stereo speakers, USB-C to 3.5mm headset adapter
  • Battery: 51Wh
  • Dimensions: 295.4 mm x 199.4 mm x 13.99 mm (11.63 in. x 7.86 in. x 0.55 in.)
  • Weight: from 1.17 kg (2.59 lbs)
  • Price: From $749 (Core i5), $999 (Core i7)

Knowledge workers spend a significant amount of time staring at their screens and typing on their keyboards while running a combination of productivity and collaboration apps. Along with a decent screen and keyboard, knowledge workers require a well-rounded performance, a spare connection for an external monitor (if necessary), and a high-quality webcam/microphone/speaker combination for handling video calls, which is especially crucial for those working remotely. Although numerous devices could fulfill these requirements, the Dell XPS 13, in our opinion, leads the field.

Read the review: Dell XPS 13 review

The 2022 model (9315) is lightweight, durable, and compact, and it is powered by 12th-generation Intel Core i5 or i7 processors with integrated Intel Iris Xe Graphics. The minimal-bezel InfinityEdge display is available in a 16:10 FHD+ resolution with 500 nits of brightness, with or without touch capability, while the keyboard is both responsive and well laid out. This model does not have a 3.5mm audio jack, but it comes with a USB-C adapter in the box. Performance is suitable for mainstream productivity workloads, and the 51Wh battery should provide all-day battery life, depending on the workload mix and screen brightness setting.

Dell offers a variant of the previous-generation XPS 13 (9310) with a 3.5K (3456 x 2160 pixels) OLED touch display with 400 nits of brightness. At the time of writing, an OLED version of the 9315 model is not available.

Also recommended:

Pros & Cons
  • Compact, lightweight and durable
  • Plenty of configuration options
  • Excellent keyboard and speakers
  • 1080p webcam with privacy shutter
  • Small trackpad and wrist rest
  • Disappointing battery life
  • No SD/MicroSD card slot
More Details

Tech specs:

  • Operating system: Windows 11 (Home, Pro), Ubuntu Linux 20.04 LTS
  • CPU: Intel Core i5-1230U, Core i7-1250U
  • GPU: Intel Iris Xe Graphics
  • RAM: 8 GB, 16 GB, 32 GB
  • Storage: 512 GB, 1 TB
  • Screen: 13.4-inch InfinityEdge, FHD+ (1920 x 1200, 169 ppi), non-touch/touch, 500 nits
  • Wireless: Bluetooth 5.2, Wi-Fi 6E (802.11ax)
  • Ports and slots: 2 USB-C/Thunderbolt 4, MicroSD
  • Camera: HD (720p) RGB and IR
  • Audio: 2 microphones, stereo speakers, USB-C to 3.5mm headset adapter
  • Battery: 51Wh
  • Dimensions: 295.4 mm x 199.4 mm x 13.99 mm (11.63 in. x 7.86 in. x 0.55 in.)
  • Weight: from 1.17 kg (2.59 lbs)
  • Price: From $749 (Core i5), $999 (Core i7)

The 14-inch ThinkPad X1 Carbon from Lenovo sets the standard for business laptops, and the latest Gen 10 model features 12th-generation Intel Core processors, an OLED screen option, Wi-Fi 6E (with 6GHz support), and a 1080p webcam. In addition to these features, you get a compact, lightweight, and durable design, a good selection of ports including Thunderbolt 4 and HDMI, and optional LTE or 5G mobile broadband.

Read the review: ThinkPad X1 Carbon review

As expected from a ThinkPad, the keyboard is top-notch, and the Dolby Atmos quad-speaker system provides excellent audio quality for a laptop of its size. The ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10 performs adequately when running mainstream productivity apps and undemanding games, but its integrated GPU precludes more serious graphics-intensive workloads. Battery life is arguably the main drawback of this superb laptop, and it may be challenging to get a full day's work out of it away from a power source. Additionally, it does not have an SD or MicroSD card slot.

Also recommended: Microsoft Surface Laptop 5

Pros & Cons
  • Gorgeous 14-inch OLED display
  • Large trackpad with an edge-to-edge keyboard
  • Rotating Bowers & Wilkins soundbar
  • Silent but mushy keyboard
  • Battery life underdelivers
  • Bloatware
More Details

Tech specs:

  • Operating system: Windows 11 Home 64
  • CPU: Intel Core i7-1240P, Core i7-1260P
  • GPU: Intel Iris Xe Graphics
  • RAM: 16GB
  • Storage: 512GB, 1TB
  • Screen: 14-inch touch screen: FHD+ (1920 x 1200) IPS, 400 nits; 2.8K (2800 x 1800) OLED, 400 nits; WQUXGA (3840 x 2400), OLED, 400 nits
  • Wireless: Bluetooth 5.1, Wi-Fi 6E (802.11ax)
  • Ports and slots: 1 USB 3.2, 1 USB-C 3.2, 2 Thunderbolt 4
  • Camera: 1080p with IR
  • Audio: Bowers & Wilkins rotating sound bar, 2 microphones, 3.5mm audio in/out jack
  • Battery: 75Wh
  • Dimensions: 318mm x 230mm x 15.2-16.5mm (12.52 in. x 9.06 in. x 0.6-0.65 in.)
  • Weight: 1.48 kg (3.26 lbs)
  • Price: From $1,453

Convertible 2-in-1 devices that can function as both a traditional laptop and a tablet, with a 360-degree-hinged screen that can be positioned at various angles in between, can satisfy a variety of use cases depending on their specifications. In our opinion, the Lenovo 14-inch Yoga 9i is the leader in this category as a premium 2-in-1 device, with a starting price of $1,453.

The base model includes an FHD+ (16:10) IPS touchscreen, but the Yoga 9i's most outstanding feature is its vibrant OLED screen, which is available in 2.8K or 4K resolution. This is enclosed in a solid Comfort Edge chassis with rounded edges, weighing 3.26 lbs. Underneath the hood, the device houses 12th-generation P-series Intel Core processors, 16GB of RAM, and up to 1TB of SSD storage, which can provide good performance for a wide range of apps. However, the integrated Iris Xe Graphics are not sufficient for more demanding graphics applications and games.

Read the review: Lenovo's 14-inch Yoga 9i review

The edge-to-edge keyboard is quiet, although somewhat "mushy" in feel, and the touchpad is large. The device includes a 1080p IR-equipped webcam, a fingerprint reader, and a decent set of connections, including two Thunderbolt 4 ports. The Yoga 9i also comes with a stylus pen, although there is no on-device housing for it. Another highlight of the Yoga 9i is its speaker system, which includes a pair of tweeters in a "rotating soundbar hinge" and a pair of subwoofers on the underside of the chassis.

Perhaps the only disappointment with the Yoga 9i is its battery life. In ZDNET's test, the 75Wh battery averaged eight hours under an everyday mix of workloads, which is good but not class-leading.

Also recommended:

Pros & Cons
  • Superb CPU and GPU performance
  • Impressive battery life
  • Outstanding Liquid Retina Display
  • Expensive
  • Limited upgrade options
  • Slightly heavier than its predecessor
More Details

Tech specs:

  • Operating system: macOS (Ventura)
  • CPU: Apple M1 Pro, M1 Max (10 cores)
  • GPU: Apple M1 Pro (16 cores), M1 Max (24, 32 cores)
  • RAM: 16GB (M1 Pro), 32GB, 64GB (M1 Max)
  • Storage: 512GB, 1TB, 2TB, 4TB, 8TB
  • Screen: 16.2-inch Liquid Retina XDR Display, 3456 x 2234 (254ppi), 1000 nits (1600 nits max)
  • Wireless: Bluetooth 5.0, Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax)
  • Ports and slots: 3 USB-C/Thunderbolt 4, HDMI, SDXC slot, MagSafe 3
  • Camera: 1080p FaceTime HD
  • Audio: 6 speakers, 3 microphones, 3.5mm headphone jack
  • Battery: 100Wh (21h movie playback, 14h web browsing)
  • Dimensions: 355.7mm x 248.1mm x 16.8mm (14.01 in. x 9.77 in. x 0.66 in.)
  • Weight: 2.1 kg/4.7 lbs (M1 Pro), 2.2 kg/4.8 lbs (M1 Max)
  • Price: From $2,499 (M1 Pro, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD), $3,499 (M1 Max, 32GB RAM, 1TB SSD)

Laptops designed for creators typically come with premium price tags because they require high-end features such as powerful processing capabilities, robust graphics, abundant memory and storage, a large high-quality screen, and a sturdy industrial design with plenty of ports. Apple has long been a leading supplier of such devices and addresses the market with its 16-inch MacBook Pro, which is based on the company's M1 Pro and M1 Max chips.

The M1 Pro/Max-based MacBook Pro is slightly larger and heavier than its Intel-based predecessor, but it has a larger 16.2-inch Liquid Retina XDR Display with higher resolution (3456 x 2234 pixels, 254ppi), higher brightness (1000 nits), and dynamic refresh rate adjustment (47.95Hz-120Hz) via Apple's Promotion technology. As a result, the upgraded 1080p webcam is now located in a phone-style in-screen notch.

Read the review: Apple 16-inch MacBook Pro (M1 Max, late 2021) review

Other design changes include a Magic Keyboard without a Touch Bar, a MagSafe 3 power connector, an HDMI port, three USB-C/Thunderbolt 4 ports, and an SDXC card reader.

Where the 16-inch MacBook Pro stands out, particularly in its M1 Max version, is in its performance and battery life. In our testing, the M1 Max MacBook Pro delivered 1.66 times the multi-core CPU performance of the first-generation M1 (in the 24-inch iMac) and 2.95 times the GPU performance (under Geekbench 5 in both cases). It also outperformed Dell's Precision 5750 mobile workstation, based on a 10th-generation Intel Core i9, by a similar margin (1.68 times) on CPU performance. When it comes to battery life, our review unit streamed a full-screen video for a very impressive 11 hours and 42 minutes via its 100Wh battery.

However, the 16-inch MacBook Pro is expensive, starting at $2,499 with an M1 Pro, 16GB of RAM, and a 512GB SSD and rising to a princely $6,099 with an M1 Max, 64GB of RAM, and an 8TB SSD.

Also recommended:

Pros & Cons
  • 4K DreamColor display
  • Multiple CPU options up to Xeon
  • Up to 128GB of RAM and 8TB of storage
  • High-end configurations are very expensive
  • 720p webcam
More Details

Tech specs:

  • Operating system: Windows 11 (Home, Pro), Windows 10 Pro, Ubuntu Linux 20.04
  • CPU: 11th generation Intel Core i5, i7, i9, Xeon processors
  • GPU: Nvidia T1200 (4GB), Nvidia RTX A2000 (4GB), RTX A3000 (6GB), RTX A4000 (8GB), RTX 5000 (16GB), AMD Radeon Pro W6600M (8GB)
  • RAM: 8GB, 16GB, 32GB, 64GB, 128GB
  • Storage: 4x M.2 slots for up to 8TB
  • Screen: 15.6-inch FHD (1920 x 1080) IPS, 250 nits, 400 nits, 1000 nits with privacy screen; 4K (3840 x 2160) IPS, 600 nits, DreamColor
  • Wireless: Bluetooth 5, Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax), optional LTE mobile broadband, optional NFC
  • Ports and slots: 2 USB-A (5Gbps), 2 Thunderbolt 4/USB4 (40Gbps), RJ-45 Ethernet, Mini DisplayPort, HDMI, smart card reader, SD card reader
  • Cameras: 720p, with IR option
  • Audio: 2 Bang & Olufsen speakers, 2 microphones, 3.5mm audio in/out
  • Battery: 94Wh
  • Dimensions: 14.21 in. x 9.55 in. x 1.02 in.
  • Weight: from 5.18 lbs
  • Price: From $1,507 (Core i5-11500H, Nvidia T1200, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD, FHD IPS)

Many people require more computing power, graphics capabilities, memory, and storage than even a power user/creator laptop can provide. These demanding professionals include 3D designers, architects, engineers, scientists, video editors, VR developers, and others who require a full-blown mobile workstation.

In addition to Core i7/i9/Xeon or Ryzen 9 CPUs, Nvidia RTX or Radeon Pro GPUs, at least 16GB of RAM (with 32GB or more being preferable) and multiple terabytes of storage, workstation-class laptops need high-quality IPS or OLED screens with high resolution (preferably 4K) and good colour space support (sRGB, Adobe RGB, DCI-P3). To indicate that specific configurations are optimised for mission-critical apps, they also need certifications from ISVs (Independent Software Vendors) such as Adobe, Autodesk, Avid, and others.

Read the review: ZBook Fury 15 G8 review

The leading mobile workstation vendors are Dell, HP, and Lenovo, but your search for a suitable solution may also include recent entrants from the gaming market such as Gigabyte, MSI, and Razer. We have chosen HP's 15.6-inch ZBook Fury 15 G8, which is a compact but highly configurable all-rounder (and also available with a 17-inch screen).

The ZBook Fury 15 G8 can be purchased for a modest $1,507 with a Core i5-11500H processor, a 4GB Nvidia T1200 GPU, 8GB of RAM, 256GB of SSD storage, and an FHD IPS screen with 250 nits brightness and just 45% of NTSC color gamut coverage. But that doesn't scratch the surface of what this well-built chassis can pack in. Processor options rise through 11th-generation Core i7, i9, and Xeon CPUs, discrete GPUs go up to a 16GB Nvidia A5000, RAM to 128GB, and SSD storage to 8TB. The top-end screen configuration is a superb 4K IPS DreamColor panel with 600 nits brightness and 100% coverage of the DCI-P3 color gamut. However, it's a shame that the webcam is only 720p.

High-end specifications don't come cheap, and you can rack up an impressive price tag by piling them on: with a Core i9-11900H processor, the DreamColor display, an 8GB Nvidia RTX A4000 GPU, 32GB of RAM, and 2TB of storage, the price is currently $3,348 -- and you can easily more than double that.

Pros & Cons
  • High-quality display
  • Lightweight but solid build
  • Thunderbolt 4 support
  • All-day battery life
  • No card reader
  • 720p webcam
More Details

Tech specs:

  • Operating system: Windows 11 Home 64
  • CPU: 11th and 12th-generation Intel Core i5, i7; AMD Ryzen 5 5625U, AMD Ryzen 7 5700U
  • GPU: Intel Iris Xe Graphics; AMD Radeon Graphics, AMD Radeon Vega 8
  • RAM: 8GB, 16GB
  • Storage: 256GB, 512GB, 1TB
  • Screen: 14-inch FHD (1920 x 1080), QHD (2560x1440); 13.5-inch 2256x1504
  • Wireless: Bluetooth 5.x, Wi-Fi 6 and 6E (802.11ax)
  • Ports and slots: USB-A, USB-C, HDMI
  • Camera: HD (720p)
  • Audio: 1 microphone, stereo speakers, 3.5mm headphone/mic combo
  • Battery: 7-16 hours
  • Dimensions: 323 x 218 x 18mm (12.71 in. x 8.58 in. x 0.71 in.)
  • Weight: from 1.2kg (2.65 lbs)
  • Price: From $600 (Intel), $800 (AMD)

Not everyone can afford the laptop they might like to have (students and employees of small businesses come to mind), but that doesn't mean you have to settle for a substandard device. The top-tier manufacturers all have "affordable" ranges, and there are any number of unashamedly budget brands, many of which offer excellent-value devices. Our choice, Acer's Intel- or AMD-powered Swift 3, is from a top-tier vendor and gets the nod thanks to its excellent combination of sub-$1,000 price and solid performance without making too many trade-offs on features, build quality or support options.

Most Swift 3 models come with 14-inch FHD (16:9) screens and either Intel or AMD processors, with current prices ranging from $600 to $1,100 (Intel) and $800 to $880 (AMD). There is one current Intel-based Swift 3 variant with a 13.5-inch 3:2 aspect ratio screen at 2256x1504 resolution, and one with a 14-inch 16:9 QHD (2560x1440) screen.

Not only are CPU, RAM and storage options well up to scratch, but wireless connectivity -- up to Bluetooth 5.2 and Wi-Fi 6E on certain models -- is up-to-date, which is impressive in this price band. The Swift 3's build quality is good, there's a good selection of ports (including Thunderbolt 4 on some models), the keyboard is backlit, and you can expect to get a full day's work done (not too demanding) on battery power. It's not too heavy either, starting at 2.65 pounds.

As noted earlier, there are any number of affordable laptops out there, and you can easily find usable Windows 11 devices for under $500 if your budget is more constrained.

Also recommend: Microsoft Surface Laptop Go 2

Pros & Cons
  • Exceptionally lightweight
  • Excellent wide-gamut IPS screen
  • Good keyboard with separate number pad
  • Large 16:10 touchpad
  • Two Thunderbolt 4 ports
  • Moderate graphics performance with integrated GPU models
More Details

Tech specs:

  • Operating system: Windows 11 Home
  • CPU: Intel Core i7-1260P
  • GPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX 2050 (4GB)
  • RAM: 16GB
  • Storage: 1TB
  • Screen: 17-inch IPS 2560 x 1600 (177.6ppi)
  • Wireless: Bluetooth 5.1, Wi-Fi 6E (802.11ax)
  • Ports and slots: 2x USB-C Thunderbolt (4), 2x USB-A, HDMI, MicroSD card slot
  • Camera: FHD IR webcam
  • Audio: 2W or 1.5W stereo speakers, 3.5mm audio jack
  • Battery: 90Wh
  • Dimensions: 381mm x 274mm x 19.8mm (14.97 in. x 10.24 in. x 0.70 in.)
  • Weight: 1.43kg (3.16 lbs)
  • Price: $1500 ($500 off at time of writing)

Many laptop users would like a large screen -- for more expansive knowledge work (multiple document windows, large spreadsheets), video viewing, or gaming, for example -- but are wary of the weight of a typical 17-inch device. If you fall into that category, the LG Gram 17 may be the laptop for you. Its weight starts at an astonishing 2.98 lbs (1.35kg), but despite this, its slim, lightweight magnesium alloy chassis is robust to MIL-STD 810G standard.

The screen on the highlighted Core i7-1260P model is a 17-inch IPS panel with a 16:10 WQXGA resolution of 2560 by 1600 pixels and support for 99% of the DCI-P3 color gamut. Graphics are handled by Nvidia's discrete RTX 2050 GPU with 4GB of video RAM, and there's 16GB of RAM and 1TB of storage. The LG Gram 17's large-footprint chassis provides plenty of room for the backlit keyboard, a separate number pad, and a large 16:10 touchpad.

Read the review: LG Gram 17 review

Wired connections run to two USB-A (3.2 Gen 2x1), two Thunderbolt 4/USB4, HDMI, and a 3.5mm headphone jack, with one of the USB-C ports used to charge the 90Wh battery. The Wi-Fi module supports the latest Wi-Fi 6E standard with support for the 6GHz band. Note that the 1.43kg/3.16lb model highlighted here weighs a little more than the base 1.35kg/2.98lb unit, thanks in part to its discrete Nvidia GPU (other models use integrated Intel Iris Xe Graphics).

Also recommended: Dell XPS 17

Pros & Cons
  • First Chromebook with a haptic touchpad
  • Premium but light build quality
  • Sharp and vivid display with a 3:2 aspect ratio
  • Consistent software and security updates
  • Expensive for a Chromebook
  • Battery life could be better
  • Glossy display can be too reflective
More Details

Tech specs:

  • Operating system: Chrome OS
  • CPU: 12th-generation Intel Core i3, i5, i7
  • GPU: Intel Iris Xe Graphics
  • RAM: 8GB, 16GB, 32GB
  • Storage: 128GB, 256GB, 512GB
  • Screen: 13.5-inch IPS touch screen: QHD+ (2256x1504) 400 nits, WUXGA+ (1920x1280) 400 nits, WUXGA+ (1920x1280) 1000 nits, Sure View Privacy
  • Wireless: Bluetooth 5.3, Wi-Fi 6E (802.11ax), optional mobile broadband
  • Ports and slots: 2x USB-C Thunderbolt 4/USB4 (40Gbps), USB-A (10Gbps), HDMI 2.0, MicroSD card slot
  • Camera: 5MP
  • Audio: 2x speakers, 3.5mm audio in/out jack
  • Battery: 50Wh
  • Dimensions: 294.4mm x 221.7mm x 16.51mm (11.59 in. x 8.73 in. x 0.65 in.)
  • Weight: from 1.27kg (2.8 lbs)
  • Price: from $1,099

Chromebooks have become increasingly popular during the coronavirus pandemic due to their simplicity, affordability, and long battery life, which catered to the needs of students and knowledge workers who were required to work and study from home. The Chromebook market has experienced a decline since its peak in 2020/21, with analyst firm IDC reporting a year-on-year growth of -34.4% in Q3 2022. IDC also noted that "Chromebooks face a number of challenges in the industry, not all of which are because of limitations to the platform."

Read the review: HP Elite Dragonfly Chromebook review

Chromebooks come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and price points, but HP's Elite Dragonfly Chromebook is currently the top pick. It is a premium 13.5-inch 2-in-1 convertible that costs from $1,099 and can reach over $3,000 for a fully-specified Enterprise device. According to ZDNET's review, the Elite Dragonfly Chromebook is "a no-compromise, Google-powered laptop that functions as well as it looks" and is "clearly not for the average consumer." However, it is likely the current state of the art in Chromebooks.

Also recommended:

Pros & Cons
  • Fully rugged
  • Many modular options
  • Dual, swappable batteries
  • 5MP IR webcam
  • Bulky and heavy
  • Expensive
More Details

Tech specs:

  • Operating System: Windows 11 Pro, Windows 10 Pro (downgrade option)
  • CPU: Intel Core i5-1145G7 vPro, Core i7-1185G7 vPro
  • GPU: Intel Iris Xe Graphics, AMD Radeon Pro W6300M
  • RAM: 16GB, 32GB, 64GB
  • Storage: 512GB, 1TB, 2TB
  • Screen: 14-inch IPS FHD (1920 x 1080) touch, 1200 nits
  • Wireless: Bluetooth 5.1, Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax), optional 4G LTE & 5G (sub-6GHz + mmWave), optional dedicated GPS
  • Ports and Slots: 2x USB-A (10Gbps), Thunderbolt 4 (40Gbps), RJ-45 Ethernet (1Gbps), Micro SDXC card slot, HDMI, power, port replicator connector, quad pass-through antenna connector
  • Camera: 5MP + IR + privacy cover
  • Audio: 2x speakers, 4x mics, 3.5mm audio in/out jack
  • Battery: 6500mAh (18h, 36h with 2nd battery)
  • Dimensions: 354mm x 301mm x 54.4mm (13.84in. x )
  • Weight: from 3.36kg (7.4lbs)
  • Price: from $4,899

Laptops often have to endure harsh conditions, including extreme sunlight, rain, dust storms, high temperatures, significant vibration, and drops from various heights onto different surfaces. With so many hazards to face, it's no wonder that rugged laptops come in many forms, such as fully rugged, semi-rugged, business rugged, or extreme rugged. To evaluate the ruggedness of laptops and other equipment, two primary classifications are used: the US military's MIL-STD 810 series (810G or the latest 810H), and the IP or Ingress Protection code. Most laptops only undergo a subset of the numerous MIL-STD 810 tests, so it's essential to carefully review the specifications to see which ones are performed. The IP code features two numbers; the first indicates resistance to solids (5 indicates "dust-protected," while 6 means a device is "dust-tight"), and the second refers to liquids (1 signifies "dripping water," while 9K denotes "powerful high-temperature water jets").

Our choice for the rugged laptop category is Panasonic's 14-inch Toughbook 40, a fully modular device that can be customized to fit a wide range of challenging applications in industries such as the military, police, and utility companies. The Toughbook 40 has undergone MIL-STD 810H temperature, humidity, and vibration tests, and carries an IP66 rating, meaning it is extensively drop-tested from a height of 1.8 meters (6 feet).

Read the review: Panasonic Toughbook 40 review

Thanks to its modular design, there are multiple configuration options for the Toughbook 40. Besides the ability to replace the main battery, RAM, and SSD drives, four areas - left and right sides, rear, and palm-rest - can accept a variety of options. These options include a second SSD and a second battery, an optical drive, a smart card reader, various combinations of ports, and a fingerprint reader. If that's not enough, a fully-featured desktop port replicator is also available, along with an ecosystem of accessories, such as a vehicle mount and a four-bay battery charger. Panasonic claims the Toughbook 40 will last for 18 hours on one battery and double that with two batteries installed. There's even a one-touch Concealed Mode function that disables light and electronic transmissions, designed for military operations.

Top PC manufacturers such as Lenovo, HP, and Dell offer rugged laptops, and there are also several specialist vendors such as Getac, Xplore, and DT Research.

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Pros & Cons
  • Good build quality
  • 165GHz display
  • Good performance
  • Good battery life
  • Expensive
More Details

Tech specs:

  • Operating System: Windows 11 Home
  • CPU: AMD Ryzen 9 6900HX
  • GPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 Ti Laptop (8GB)
  • RAM: 16GB
  • Storage: 1TB
  • Screen: 14-inch QHD (2560 x 1440), 165Hz
  • Wireless: Bluetooth 5.3, Wi-Fi 6E (802.11ax)
  • Ports and Slots: 2x USB-A (10Gbps), 2x USB-C (USB4, 40Gps), HDMI 2.1
  • Camera: 1080p + IR
  • Audio: 2 speakers, array mic, 3.5mm audio in/out jack
  • Battery: 61.6Wh
  • Dimensions: 220mm x 319.7mm x 16.8mm (8.66in. x 12.59in. x 0.66in.)
  • Weight: 1.78kg (3.92lbs)
  • Price: $2,200

When it comes to gaming laptops, the Razer Blade 14 stands out. It is a powerful laptop, up to 70% faster than RTX 2070 SUPER laptops, and it can deliver 100 frames per second at 1440p resolution. Equipped with a powerful AMD Ryzen 9 6900HX processor (8-cores/16-threads, 20MB cache, up to 4.9 GHz max boost) with Radeon 680M Graphics, it provides an optimal gaming experience.

According to ZDNET's roundup of the best gaming laptops, the Razer Blade 14 delivers a "perfect balance of power and portability." In addition to the high refresh rate and high resolution, it features the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 Ti graphics card, which allows for gameplay at maximum settings, along with 1TB of total storage and 16GB of RAM.

The 14-inch display has an anti-glare finish and FreeSync Premium. This laptop packs a lot into a 1.78kg chassis. While it comes with a hefty price tag due to its quality specs, Razer is currently offering this product at an 11% discount. Best Buy is offering $300 off and a 1-month Xbox Game Pass.

Pros & Cons
  • Foldable 17-inch OLED display
  • Versatile design
  • Bulky when in laptop mode
  • No discrete GPU
  • Expensive
More Details

Tech specs:

  • Operating System: Windows 11 Home, Pro
  • CPU: Intel Core i7-1250U
  • GPU: Intel Iris Xe Graphics
  • RAM: 16GB
  • Storage: 1TB
  • Screen: 17.3-inch folding OLED, 2560 x 1920 (4:3 aspect ratio), 500 nits
  • Wireless: Bluetooth 5, Wi-Fi 6E (802.11ax)
  • Ports and Slots: 2x Thunderbolt 4 (40Gbps)
  • Camera: 5MP + IR
  • Audio: 1 speaker, array mic, 3.5mm audio in/out jack
  • Battery: 75Wh
  • Dimensions: 378.5mm x 287.6mm x 8.7-2.9mm (14.90in. x 11.32in. x 0.34-0.51in.)
  • Weight: 1.5kg (3.31lbs) - without keyboard
  • Price: $3,499

The Asus ZenBook 17 Fold has a folding display that can work in laptop, tablet, or desktop mode. Although the Asus Zenbook 17 Fold isn't a brand-new laptop form factor because Lenovo released the first-generation 13.3-inch ThinkPad X1 Fold in 2020 (now superseded by a 16-inch Gen 2 model), it's the first 17-inch transformer-style laptop.

Unfolded, the 17.3-inch OLED screen offers 2560x1920 resolution, 500 nits brightness, and 100% of the DCI-P3 color gamut, and can be used as a large tablet or propped up with its kickstand and used with a Bluetooth keyboard as a desktop PC. Inside there's a 12th-generation Core i7 processor, 16GB of RAM, and 1 TB of storage. There's no discrete GPU, which benefits battery life but rules out demanding graphical apps and games. Fold the screen down the middle, and you can use an on-screen keyboard or drop the physical one onto the bottom half of the screen, giving you a 12.5-inch clamshell laptop.

Also: Asus launches ZenBook 17 Fold

This is a new way of making a portable but flexible computer, and there remain issues with the smoothness of hardware and software interaction when flipping between usage modes. It's also an expensive device right now, although battery life seems to be pretty good considering the size of the screen and internal specification. Watch this space to see how the foldable laptop concept develops.

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What is the best laptop?

The 13.6-inch Apple MacBook Air (M2) is the best laptop for 2023. This MacBook is thin, light, and fanless, and offers useful new features and upgrades compared to the previous 13.3-inch M1-based model. With its sleek redesign, strong performance, and long battery life, it is one of the lightest and most elegant ultraportable laptops available. ZDNET has named it the overall Product of the Year for 2022.

Best laptop


Display size



Battery life


Apple MacBook Air (13.6-inch, M2)

from $1,199

13.6 inches

Apple M2

8GB, 16GB, 24GB

52.6Wh (18h movie playback, 15h web browsing) 

256GB, 512GB, 1TB, 2TB 

Dell XPS 13

from $749

13.4 inches

12th-gen Intel Core i5, i7

8GB, 16GB, 32GB


512GB, 1TB 

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10

from $1,152

14 inches

12th-gen Intel Core i5, i7

Up to 32GB


Up to 2TB

Lenovo Yoga 9i Gen 7

from $1,543

14 inches

12th-gen Intel Core i7



512GB, 1TB

Apple MacBook Pro 16-inch (2021)

from $2,499

16.2 inches

Apple M1 Pro, M1 Max

16GB (M1 Pro), 32GB, 64GB (M1 Max)

100Wh (21h movie playback, 14h web browsing)

512GB, 1TB, 2TB, 4TB, 8TB

HP ZBook Fury 15 G8

from $1,507

15.6 inches

11th gen Intel Core i5, i7, i9, Xeon

8GB, 16GB, 32GB, 64GB, 128GB


4x M.2 slots for up to 8TB

Acer Swift 3

from $600

14 inches

11th/12th-gen Intel Core i5, i7 • AMD Ryzen 5, 7

8GB, 16GB


256GB, 512GB, 1TB

LG Gram 17


17 inches

12th-gen Intel Core i7




HP Elite Dragonfly Chromebook

from $1,099

13.5 inches

12th-generation Intel Core i3, i5, i7

8GB, 16GB, 32GB


128GB, 256GB, 512GB

Panasonic Toughbook 40

from $4,899

14 inches

11th-gen Intel Core i5, i7

16GB, 32GB, 64GB

6500mAh (18h, 36h with 2nd battery) 

512GB, 1TB, 2TB

Razer Blade 14


14 inches

AMD Ryzen 9 6900HX




Asus ZenBook 17 Fold OLED


17.3 inches

Intel Core i7-1250U




Which is the right laptop for you?

The key question when buying a laptop -- as with any product -- is: 'What do you want to do with it?' Once you've established the use case, you'll have a focus for your research, and should quickly get a feel for the key features to look out for. If you're a mobile knowledge worker, for example, you'll want a usable and performant combination of lightweight, flexible configuration, sturdy build, connectivity, security, battery life, and design credibility. But if you're a largely deskbound graphic designer or creator who occasionally needs to visit a client, with laptop in tow, your priorities will be different.

Once you have a long list of potential candidates, your budget will likely trim it down at the top end, while your cautionary instincts should kick in at the bottom end (if something appears too good to be true, it probably is). Armed with a well-researched shortlist, you should have a good chance of ending up with a laptop that will satisfy your requirements.

Choose this laptop...If you need...
Apple MacBook Air (13.6-inch, M2)An elegant, portable, capable and long-lasting 13.6-inch laptop
Dell XPS 13A compact and lightweight 13-inch laptop for mobile knowledge work
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10A well-specified 14-inch laptop for business users
Lenovo Yoga 9i Gen 7An elegant 14-inch 2-in-1 convertible with a great speaker system
Apple MacBook Pro 16-inch (2021)A powerful, long-lasting 16-inch laptop for creators
HP ZBook Fury 15 G8A highly configurable 15-inch mobile workstation
Acer Swift 3An affordable 14-inch laptop for students and home users
LG Gram 17An astonishingly lightweight 17-inch laptop
HP Elite Dragonfly ChromebookA well-designed and capable 13-inch 2-in-1 convertible Chromebook
Panasonic Toughbook 40A modular and highly configurable 14-inch rugged laptop
Razer Blade 14A powerful and portable 14-inch gaming laptop
Asus ZenBook 17 Fold OLEDAn innovative 17-inch foldable laptop

How did we choose these laptops?

Since the 1990s, I have been writing, commissioning, and editing reviews of laptops, along with many other types of tech products. The selection process for this "Best" list is based on a combination of personal usage and experience, participation in the ZDNET reviews process, and analysis of other reviews and roundups.

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Why should you buy a laptop, and not a desktop or a tablet?

For most people these days, a "computer" is a type of laptop. While the desktop form factor, especially in the form of all-in-one (AIO) devices, still exists, laptops come in various sizes and cover many use cases (as mentioned above). They range from thin, light, and ultraportable to bulky, powerful, and deskbound. If a smaller laptop screen is an issue, an external monitor can always be connected. Additionally, many hybrid 2-in-1 devices straddle the divide between laptop and tablet.

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

While every computing platform has its loyal supporters, most people end up using 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 mostly available in premium devices, cover a broad spectrum, while Chrome OS is mostly limited to affordable devices.

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

Also: Windows 11 hands on: Microsoft's biggest minor upgrade ever is all about new hardware

What brand of laptop is best?

In general, the leading PC vendors have the most extensive range of offerings and the best-documented track records for product development and customer relations. Therefore, if you do not have a specialized use case or budgetary constraints, you will typically consider vendors such as Lenovo, HP, Dell, Apple, and Asus. These vendors currently lead the PC market in terms of shipments, along with several other well-known brands.

What are the best laptops for gaming?

The best laptops for gaming are those with dedicated graphics cards, high RAM, and fast processors. My top choice for the best laptop for gaming is the Razer Blade 14.

What are the best laptops for students?

The best laptops for students are those that are lightweight, portable, and have good battery life. The Acer Swift 3, in my opinion, is a good option for students.

What are the best laptops for business?

The best laptops for business are those that are durable, reliable, and have good security features. I think you can't go wrong with the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon.

What are the best laptops for video editing?

The best laptops for video editing are those with powerful processors, dedicated graphics cards, and high-resolution displays. Some popular options include the Apple MacBook Pro and Dell XPS 13 and 15.

Are there alternative laptops worth considering?

Concerned about the environment? Take a look at these sustainable laptops.

The Acer TravelMate Vero is an alternative laptop to consider buying because it offers an eco-friendly design with recycled materials and biodegradable packaging.

The Framework Laptop Chromebook Edition has a modular, user-upgradeable design, allowing for easy customization and repair.

The Apple MacBook Pro (14-inch, M1 Pro) offers powerful performance with an M1 Pro chip, long battery life, and a high-resolution Retina display.

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