While gifts are about appreciating our friends and family, there can be a financial element, too: With the cost of living and economic turmoil, many of us are saving our dollars where we can.
Laptops were once considered a luxury item, but now, they (or desktop tower PC alternatives) are often necessary for work and study. Thankfully, there is now a hugely diverse ecosystem of laptops suitable for different budgets and intended uses, whether you need a first laptop for your child, a gaming rig, or you want to gift someone a device for productivity.
If you're stuck for ideas regarding laptops suitable to give as gifts, check out our top picks below. We will keep an eye out for the best deals we can find, too, and will update our recommendations accordingly.
The best laptop gift ideas
Below are the best laptop gift ideas ZDNET has found online.
- Price: $300 (save $90)
- Tech specs or features: 15.6-inch Full HD display | 4GB RAM | 128GB storage
A reasonably-priced laptop that could be the right choice for a gift is the Acer Aspire 5. This laptop model is equipped with a 15.6-inch Full HD display, an AMD Ryzen 3 processor, 4GB RAM, and 128GB SSD storage. We recommend this laptop as an average all-rounder suitable for all ages and basic tasks.
Sure, the specifications aren't the best we've seen on the market, but they are still fair considering the price point. At the moment, this laptop is discounted by $90.
- Price: $1049
- Tech specs or features: 15.6-inch Full HD display | 16GB RAM | 1TB storage
If you're planning to treat a loved one to a high-end laptop, if they happen to enjoy gaming, you might want to consider the Lenovo Legion 5 gaming laptop. This device is equipped with a 15.6-inch Full HD display, an AMD Ryzen 7 processor, 16GB RAM, Nvidia GeForce RTX Graphics, and 1TB SSD storage.
Stocks tend to sell out quickly so you should order this laptop ahead of time.
Also: What are laptop docking stations and which is best for your setup?
- Price: $830
- Tech specs or features: 14-inch touchscreen Full HD display | 8GB RAM | 512GB storage
The HP Pavilion range is a solid gift option best suited for teenagers and adults who need a reliable, sturdy laptop. Over at Best Buy, you can pick up an HP Pavilion x360 with a 14-inch touchscreen Full HD display, an Intel i5 processor, 8GB RAM, and 512GB SSD storage.
As an added bonus, the laptop's 360-degree hinge and 2-in-1 design mean you can flip it around to operate in a tent shape or close the keyboard and display together to become a tablet. The laptop runs on Windows 11 Home.
- Price: $2000 (save $1000)
- Tech specs or features: 15.6-inch display | 32GB RAM | 1TB storage
While it isn't cheap, the Acer Predator Triton 500 is a beast of a laptop that will be future-proof for years to come.
While extravagant, perhaps, the Acer Predator Triton 500 is a laptop gift option if you're looking for a device with great specifications. The laptop is equipped with a 15.6-inch display, an Intel Core i7 processor, 32GB RAM, 1TB SSD storage, Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Graphics, and a backlit keyboard, among other features.
At $2000 for a refurbished model, you are saving over $1000 on the typical RRP.
- Price: $1049 (save $150)
- Tech specs or features: 13.6-inch Liquid Retina display | M2 processor | 8GB RAM | 256GB storage
The Apple MacBook Air range is known for being lightweight, extremely portable, and a common sight across college campuses across the United States.
Apple MacBook Air laptops are a great choice if you need a gift idea for students or people who frequently travel for work. This particular model, currently available at Best Buy, comes with a 13.6-inch Liquid Retina display, Apple's M2 processor, 8GB RAM, and 256GB SSD storage.
Best Buy frequently launches sales on Apple devices so the retailer is worth watching. At the moment, you can save $150, or take advantage of a smaller discount at Amazon.
Also: The 18 best Apple deals happening right now: iPads, AirPods, and more on sale
- Price: $1700 (save $300)
- Tech specs or features: 14-inch Liquid Retina display | M1 processor | 16GB RAM | 512GB storage
An alternative gift option is a MacBook Pro. The MacBook Pro model comes equipped with a 14-inch Liquid Retina display, an Apple M1 processor, 16GB RAM, and 512GB SSD storage.
The MacBook Pro range is weightier than the Air line but trades portability with improved specifications and a larger screen size. With casual use, you can expect up to 17 hours of battery life on a single charge.
- Price: $998 (save $52)
- Tech specs or features: 13.3-inch touchscreen Full HD display | 16GB RAM | 512GB storage
The Samsung Galaxy Book Flex2 Alpha 2-in-1 laptop, which can also be used as a tablet, offers high specifications that will keep the laptop going as a valuable work tool for years to come.
The Samsung Galaxy Book Flex2 Alpha comes with a 13.3-inch Full HD QLED touchscreen display, an Intel Core i7 processor, 16GB RAM, Intel Iris Xe Graphics, and 512GB SSD storage. This laptop operates on Windows 11 Home.
Also: The 23 best laptop deals right now
- Price: $199
- Tech specs or features: 17.3-inch display | 4GB RAM | 64GB storage
The Acer 317 is quite unusual for a Chromebook as most models on the market have small to medium-sized screens. This Acer option, however, comes with a 17.3-inch Full HD IPS display set with an anti-glare coating and a thin bezel. If you're looking for a Chromebook with more screen space --- perhaps, for watching streamed content or YouTube -- as a gift, this could be the model for you.
You can expect up to 10 hours of battery life on a single charge.
- Price: $709
- Tech specs or features: 15.6-inch touchscreen Full HD display | 8GB RAM | 512GB storage
Another gift to consider is a convertible laptop with a screen large enough to satisfy work requirements -- as well as to enjoy video content in its full glory. The Lenovo Ideapad Flex 5i is equipped with a 15.6-inch Full HD touchscreen display and a hinge for using the laptop as a tented tablet. Plus, it has traditional features including an Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB RAM, and 512GB SSD storage.
The laptop operates on Windows 11 Home. At the time of writing, Lenovo has included this laptop in doorbuster sales.
- Price: $1479
- Tech specs or features: 17.3-inch Full HD display | 16GB RAM | 512GB SSD storage
This laptop has a 17.3-inch Full HD display (refresh rate: 165Hz), a 12th-gen, 14-core Intel Core i7 processor, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD storage, and Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 Graphics. The laptop operates on Windows 11 Home and also includes intelligent cooling modes to stop your device from overheating, a common problem when running resource-intensive games.
- Price: $170
- Tech specs or features: 11.6-inch touchscreen HD display | 4GB RAM | 64GB storage
If you're on the lookout for an affordable starter PC for your children, you could consider the Lenovo Flex 3 Chromebook. This 360-degree convertible Chromebook can be used as a laptop, tent, or tablet, and has specifications that are adequate for daily tasks, watching video content, and web browsing. These include an 11.6-inch HD touchscreen display, a MediaTek MT8183 processor, 4GB RAM, and 64GB eMMC storage.
For added safety, you can go into the laptop's settings and opt for different levels of parental control.
The best laptop deals at Amazon
Below are other laptop deals ZDNET has found at Amazon.
The best laptop deals at Walmart
Below are other laptop deals ZDNET has found at Walmart.
The best laptop deals at Best Buy
Below are other laptop deals ZDNET has found at Best Buy.
You may need to balance expectations, budget, and the need for new equipment this year due to the economic situation, but we still need PCs for both work and study -- and they certainly come in handy when it comes to keeping ourselves entertained.
While choosing these products, we tried to include options to suit a range of budgets while also keeping age ranges and their intended use in mind.
When you are searching for a new laptop, the first thing you should ask yourself is what its main purpose will be.
If you intend to use your laptop for work and at home, for example, you will probably want a model with at least a 15.6-inch display. However, if you will be traveling with your new device, you might prefer a more lightweight and easily portable 13.3-inch laptop.
Gamers might opt for a larger screen still and higher resolutions, whereas with daily tasks such as email and study -- with the occasion video call or social media check -- you can easily get away with mid-range specs, such as 8GB/16GB RAM.
Unless you are a Linux fan, you then need to decide what operating system you are the most comfortable with. The most common options are either Microsoft Windows or Apple macOS.
If you plan to make use of the holiday sales to pick up a laptop suitable for a student in the family, or for a friend, it's helpful to know what kind of class or degree they are undertaking.
You tend to see many Apple MacBook Airs and Pros around campus, and the majority of courses won't require a laptop that must run high-powered, specific software packages.
However, if the course is creative, things can become a little more complicated, as you will probably want to focus on a screen of at minimum 15.6-inch, at least 16GB RAM, and a high-quality graphics card.
The amount of storage on offer when you buy a laptop varies. Typically, you can expect storage to range between 128GB and 1/2TB solid-state drive (SSD) storage, although when it comes to Chromebooks, the smaller form facts mean that embedded MultiMediaCard (eMMC) storage is used, reducing capacity drastically.
1TB is usually adequate for apps, software, games, and music. However, in any case, you can purchase portable hard drives to boost your storage space -- and create backups of your valuable data.
ZDNET experts rounded up the overall best tech gifts of 2023.
But gifts can come in all shapes and sizes, so we also rounded up the best gifts by category, price, and retailer -- plus, the hottest tech toys for kids in 2023.
Gifts by category
Gifts by price
Gifts by retailer
Gifts for kids