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The best laptops you can buy: Expert tested

We tested the best laptops 2024 has to offer from brands like LG, Apple, Dell, and more so you can find your perfect match.
Written by Cesar Cadenas, Contributing Writer and  Kyle Kucharski, Editor
Reviewed by Kayla Solino

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






Storage and RAM





MacBook Pro (M3 Max) | Best laptop overall
Space Black MacBook Pro (M3 Max) running MacOS Sonoma wallpaper
MacBook Pro (M3 Max)
Best laptop overall
View now View at Best Buy
LG Gram Pro 16 2-in-1 | Best lightweight laptop
LG Gram Pro 16 2-in-1
Best lightweight laptop
View now View at LG
Dell XPS 16 | Best Windows laptop
Dell XPS 16
Dell XPS 16
Best Windows laptop
View now View at Best Buy
Alienware m18 R2 | Best gaming laptop
Alienware m18 R2
Alienware m18 R2
Best gaming laptop
View now View at Dell
Acer Aspire Go 15 | Best laptop under $500
Acer Aspire Go 15
Acer Aspire Go 15
Best laptop under $500
View now View at Amazon
MSI Creator Z17 HX Studio | Best laptop for content creators
Overhead shot of an MSI Creator Z17 HX Studio laptop and MSI Pen 2 stylus. The screen shows an open Photoshop project
MSI Creator Z17 HX Studio
Best laptop for content creators
View now View at MSI
Show more (1 item)

This year has been an exciting one for laptops, with new AI applications, huge advancements in processor technology, and lots of exciting new products for a variety of consumers. It's great that there are so many new products, but on the other hand, it can make shopping for a new laptop a confusing task.

Also: How we test laptops at ZDNET

Thankfully, we've tested dozens of new laptops this year and are excited to recommend our favorite machines for a variety of different use cases. The "best laptop" can mean different things to different people, but we broke down the most common uses and are willing to bet that what you're looking for aligns with one of our categories listed below.

What is the best laptop in 2024?

Our pick for the overall best laptop in 2024 is the MacBook Pro (M3 Max). It's hard to beat the MacBook Pro's 22-hour battery life, its suite of powerful hardware, and its gorgeous 120Hz refresh rate display, all in a super portable and sleek package. This is a laptop that checks off all the boxes and looks as good as it performs. 

The best laptops of 2024: Expert tested

MacBook Pro (M3 Max)

Best laptop overall

Desktop-class laptop -- that is what ZDNET's editor-in-chief Jason Hiner called the MacBook Pro M3 Max. It's a very apt description because the performance of this device can rival a Mac Studio. This machine can take sizeable RAW image files, process them through Adobe Photoshop's AI Denoise feature, and remove their graininess in less than 20 seconds. That's less than half as long as it would take on a MacBook Pro sporting an M1 Pro chip.

Review: MacBook Pro (M3 Max)

The MacBook Pro M3 Max's performance is pushed even further thanks to its GPU's unique architecture called Dynamic Caching, a more sophisticated form of graphics memory allocation. This allows for faster mesh shading, enabling high-quality graphics, better rendering, and even ray tracing, which you usually only see on high-end graphics cards. It also allows for more "photorealistic" lightning, perfect for enhancing immersion.

The accolades don't stop there. The MacBook Pro M3 Max sports a stunning display capable of outputting a 120Hz refresh and 1,600 nits of peak brightness for a level of clarity people have been asking for a long time. Plus, it's very power efficient, allowing it to last up to 22 hours with a low-end configuration. You can activate High-Power Mode to have it fire off on all cylinders when unplugged.

If it wasn't already clear, the MacBook Pro M3 Max is a monster. It's arrived at a perfect time, too, because the next generation of virtual reality is here, and we'll need this to experience Apple's Vision Pro at its peak.

MacBook Pro M3 Max features: Display size: 14-inch and 16-inch | Display type: Liquid Retina XDR | Resolution: 3456 x 2234 pixels | RAM: Up to 128GB | Storage: Up to 8TB | CPU: 14-core M3 Max | Battery life: Up to 22 hours

Space Black MacBook Pro (M3 Max) running MacOS Sonoma wallpaper
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LG Gram Pro 16 2-in-1

Best lightweight laptop

LG's Gram Pro 16 2-in-1 is light -- so light, in fact, that it currently holds the Guinness record for being the lightest 16-inch 2-in-1 in the world. This is an impressive feat considering its powerful hardware and gorgeous OLED display.

Review: LG Gram Pro 16 2-in-1

The thin, sleek matte black body of the Gram Pro belies a machine that's powerful enough for a variety of use cases, from productivity to creative tasks. Its 2-in-1 form factor allows for flexibility as a tablet or while watching media in tent mode, and in an apparent effort to defy its lightweight form factor, the Gram Pro can also come with a massive 2TB storage capacity. 

The touchscreen and addition of the stylus make this device especially well-suited for a variety of work environments, and its ultra-portability and its high-end keyboard and trackpad combo make it a laptop that's a joy to commute or travel with. 

LG Gram Pro 16 2-in-1 features: Display size: 16 inches | Display type: OLED | Resolution: 2880 x 1800 VRR OLED Touchscreen | RAM: Up to 32GB | Storage: Up to 2TB SSD | CPU: Intel Core Ultra 7 155H | GPU: Intel Arc | Battery life: 8 hours of video playback | Weight: 3.04 lbs

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Dell XPS 16

Best Windows laptop

With so many fantastic Windows laptops out there, it was hard to pick just one, but we had to give it to the XPS 16. It is such a good computer. We feel confident that it's good enough to become your primary device. Dell's machine has a stunning 4K resolution display surrounded by thin bezels. Having a thin frame is a slight touch, but it makes the screen seem significantly more prominent than it is.

Review: Dell XPS 16 (2024)

Under the hood, you're looking at an Intel Core Ultra 7 155H with an Nvidia GeForce RTX 40-series graphics card. Our review unit came with an RTX 4070 GPU. Combine these specs with its 32GB of RAM (64GB max), and you're looking at a laptop that can easily handle all demanding workloads, from gaming to video editing.

The XPS 16's also has a stylish design. The zero lattice keyboard and the function key touch panel give it a distinct look seen nowhere else. On the sides of the keys are the device's room-filling speakers. We want to warn you that the XPS 16 is rather heavy and doesn't have a wide array of ports so that you may need a docking station. Be sure to check out ZDNET's list of the best laptop docking stations for recommendations.

Dell XPS 16 features: Display size: 16.3 inches | Display type: OLED | Resolution: 4K | CPU: Intel Core Ultra 7 155H | RAM: Up to 64GB | Storage: Up to 4TB SSD | Battery life: 12 hours

Dell XPS 16
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Alienware m18 R2

Best gaming laptop

Dell's Alienware m18 R2 is a top-tier gaming laptop that runs upwards of $3,000, but it's well worth the cost. This is a beastly, high-powered laptop that is designed for one thing: immersive gaming. As the refresh of last year's m18 r1 model, the R2 is a powerful, top-of-the-line gamer's paradise stacked with a 14th-generation HX Intel 24-core 5.8 GHz max boost processor, high-end graphics capabilities, a sophisticated cooling system, and more ports than you'll know what to do with.

Review: I tested Dell's $3,000 gaming laptop and it spoiled me with unconventional features

Despite its colossal size, the m18 R2 is very comfortable to use. The touchpad is minimalistic and responsive, and the luxe Cherry MX mechanical keyboard feels exactly as satisfying as you'd expect, with each key getting the proper tactile "click" that feels the same no matter where on the key you press. 

Dell's Alienware m18 R2 is right at the top of the line when it comes to the best gaming laptops. This is a powerful machine with a distinct identity that can handle virtually any game you want, with vibrant graphics and blazing fast speeds. Plus, it can get dressed for the office at the press of a button.

Alienware m18 R2 tech specs: Display size: 18 inches | Display type: QHD | Resolution: 2560 x 1600 | CPU: 14th Gen Intel Core i9 | GPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090, 16GB | RAM: 16GB-64GB | Storage: 1TB-8TB SSD | Battery life: 10 hours 

Alienware m18 R2
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Acer Aspire Go 15

Best laptop under $500

We're calling the Acer Aspire Go 15 the best laptop under $500, but it's actually well under that price. For just $300, this is a capable laptop at a price you can't argue with. Not everyone needs a powerful laptop decked out in high-end hardware, especially if you're looking for a secondary computer. And for a portable notebook that is built to cover the basics, it doesn't get much more affordable than this. 

The Acer Aspire Go 15 is offered at such a low cost because it has just 8GB of RAM and 125GB SSD. This means it's not a device you want to dump all your photos and videos on. Instead, you can use it as a capable machine for work or staying connected while traveling.

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

The 15-inch screen gives enough room for working with spreadsheets and productivity software, where the full keyboard features a number pad on the right side. Add in a webcam, a good selection of ports, and a Kensington lock slot, and this laptop has your bases covered. 

Acer Aspire Go tech specs: Display size: 15 inches | Display type: LCD | Resolution: 1080p | CPU: Intel Core i3-N305 | RAM: 8GB | Storage: 125GB SSD | Battery life: Up to 11 hours 

Acer Aspire Go 15
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MSI Creator Z17 HX Studio

Best laptop for content creators

The Creator Z17 HX Studio from MSI is designed from the ground up to be the ultimate machine for content creators and creative professionals. The 17-inch QHD display not only gives you excellent color, detailing, and contrast, but it also supports touch inputs via the MSI Pen 2. This is excellent for anyone who wants to take notes during client meetings, create digital drawings and paintings, or have more control over their apps and programs. 

Review: MSI Creator Z17 HX Studio

What's particularly interesting about the MSI Pen 2 is that it can also write directly on paper via special graphite tips. This means you won't have to carry a bunch of pencils for meetings and work. It can all be done directly on the Creator Z17.

The laptop can house up to 64GB of RAM, an Intel Core i9-13950HX processor, an Nvidia GeForce RTX 4070 GPU, and a 2TB SSD, giving you all the power and performance you'll ever need. Plus, the device supports Wi-Fi 6 for lightning wireless internet speeds. MSI saw fit to equip their hardware with Thunderbolt 4 connectivity, enabling quick file transferring, battery charging, and the ability to set up a secondary display. 

MSI Creator Z17 features: Display size: 17 inches | Display type: LCD | Resolution: 2560 x 1600 | CPU: Intel Core i9-13950HX | RAM: 64GB | Storage: 2TB SSD | Battery life: 7 hours 

Overhead shot of an MSI Creator Z17 HX Studio laptop and MSI Pen 2 stylus. The screen shows an open Photoshop project
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What is the best laptop?

ZDNET's top pick for the best laptop is Apple's MacBook M3 Max, which features a stunning Liquid Retina XDR display, great performance, and promises 22 hours of battery life. This chart breaks down how the laptop stacks up with the top features on other devices, from price, to CPU/GPU, screen size, and display resolution. 

Best laptop

Starting price



MacBook Pro (M3 Max)


M3 Max

Up to 128GB, up to 8TB

LG Gram Pro 16 2-in-1


Intel Core Ultra 7 155H, Intel Arc 

Up to 32GB, up to 2TB

Dell XPS 16


Intel Core Ultra 7, Nvidia GeForce RTX 4070

Up to 64GB, up to 4TB

Alienware m18 R2


14th Gen Intel Core i9, Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090, 16GB 

16GB-64GB, up to 8TB SSD

Acer Aspire Go 15


Intel Core i3-N305, Intel UHD

8GB, 128GB

Corsair Voyager a1600


Intel Core i9-13950HX, Nvidia GeForce RTX 4070

64GB, 2TB

Which is the right laptop for you?

The main question when buying a laptop is: "What do you want to do with it?" Once you've established that, you can focus your research on finding the right machine for you.

For example, if you're on the move a lot, you'll want a good combination of flexibility, sturdiness, connectivity, security, and a long battery life. However, if you're a largely deskbound graphic designer or content creator, you should opt for a laptop with powerful hardware. Devices with top-tier processors and graphics cards tend to be heavier than most.

Here's a well-researched (and tested) list of our favorite laptops for a wide array of use cases. 

Buy this best laptop...If you need...
MacBook Pro (M3 Max
A powerful, well-rounded laptop for the office and home. The MacBook Pro with the M3 chip brings performance for everything from spreadsheets and video calls to content creation.
LG Gram Pro 16 2-in-1An extremely lightweight laptop with a brilliant OLED screen.
Dell XPS 16A Windows-based laptop with seriously powerful hardware and lots of different options for customizing it to your needs. 
Alienware m18 R2A top-of-the-line gaming laptop that comes stacked with powerful hardware.
Acer Aspire Go 15A seriously inexpensive laptop that has all the basics for everyday use. 
MSI Creator Z17 HX Studio A high-end laptop for content creators. With 64GB of RAM, a 2TB SSD, and RTX 4070 graphics card, you'll have plenty of power and performance for video and image editing as well as digital art and streaming.

How we test laptops

Cross section of an Asus Vivbook laptop.
Kyle Kucharski/ZDNET

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, to assess its portability, form factor, and how well the battery actually holds up. 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 Apple 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 plays 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 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 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. 

Ultimately, our goal is to break down the capabilities of each and every laptop we test into digestible terms that real people 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.

What are some factors to consider when choosing the best laptops?

Multiple factors go into choosing the laptops for this list. We look for machines with great designs, performance, and effective storage and RAM. We also considered the different purposes for which you may need or use your laptop and the overall value (including the price point) that the laptop promises. 

  • Design: Whether your laptop is your ultimate workstation or source of entertainment, its design, display, and portability determine how you interact with the unit. 
  • Performance: For many, laptops are essential for workflow and communication. The best laptops promise efficient speed and performance, powered by the greatest and latest chipsets (like the Apple M3 Max). 
  • Storage and RAM: It's likely you'll use a laptop to store key documents or memories, and the best models have plenty of room for you to do so. 
  • Purpose: We strive to answer the question, "What laptop should I get if ___" as we know you have different workflow and entertainment needs and preferences, from graphic design to gaming. 
  • Value: The best laptop can be a pricey investment, so we considered qualities that assure you'll get your money's worth. 

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

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. They range from thin, light, and ultraportable to bulky, powerful, and deskbound. Because of how good laptops are nowadays, most people opt for sticking with a laptop to serve as their main computer. If a small laptop screen is an issue, an external monitor can be connected. 

Which operating system should you choose: Windows, MacOS, ChromeOS, 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 exclusive to premium devices, cover a broad spectrum. ChromeOS is mostly limited to mid-range devices.

Also: The best lightweight laptops you can buy: Expert tested

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 Windows 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.

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, or 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 good news is that you don't need to have the biggest, best, newest components to get a decent gaming laptop. To play most triple-A and indie titles, we recommend a rig with at least 16GB of RAM, 512GB of storage, a 120Hz refresh rate for the display, and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 graphics card. 

Also: Best gaming laptops you can buy right now

And if you want to try your hand at content creation, something like the Corsair Voyager a1600 is a sure bet. You might also want to consider equipping with accessories. An Elgato Steam Deck integration, for example, can offer streamlined workflows when editing videos, livestreaming, and even setting up video calls with channel moderators or collaborators.

What are the best laptops for students?

It really depends on the student, but there are some common factors to consider when shopping for a laptop for school. You'll want something small and lightweight for easier commutes to and from school, as well as in between classes. 

Also: The best laptops for college students 

You'll also want something with at least an 8-hour battery life to get through a typical school day without needing to plug in (which is excellent for younger kids who may be forgetful and leave their charging cable at home). Also look for a laptop with at least 4GB of RAM, 256GB of storage, and cloud-storage backup to create duplicate copies of important files and classwork. You'll also want to avoid laptops with dedicated graphics cards aimed toward gaming to help cut down misuse and procrastination

What are the best laptops for business?

Whether you're looking for a single laptop for yourself or a fleet for your business, the best laptops for work not only offer great performance but also multiple connectivity options and durable builds. 

You'll want to look for a model that has at least 8GB of RAM, a 512GB storage drive, a quad-core CPU, and a display that is large enough to work on without being too bulky to travel with. You'll also want a model with, at least,  8 hours of battery life to get through a typical shift without needing to plug in.

What are the best laptops for video editing?

We strongly recommend getting a MacBook Pro (M3 Max) and purchasing Final Cut Pro, an editing software exclusive to the Mac ecosystem. There's also the option of buying the 16-inch MacBook Pro from early 2023. It sports an M2 Max chip and offers great performance for content creators. The machine can handle 4TB of footage with ease.

Review: Apple 16-inch MacBook Pro (M2 Max, 2023): A content creator's dream machine

Therefore, Apple MacBook Pros are a popular choice as are any laptops with powerful processors, dedicated graphics cards, and high-resolution displays such as the Dell XPS 13 and 15. 

Other laptops we've tested

There are many laptops on the market other than those listed above. If you're still looking around, consider these alternative best laptops we've tested.

View at AmazonView at DellView at Shop.asus

ZDNET writer Taylor Clemons also contributed to this list.

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