15-inch Apple MacBook Pro ($2,000+)
Say what you will about Apple, but it’s hard to beat the Macbook Pro when it comes to a well-rounded balance of performance, battery power, and portability. The beautiful Retina display comes equipped on even the entry-level models, rendering it perfect for watching movies, viewing photos, or editing documents on the go. Underneath the hood, the Macbook Pro boasts a lightning-quick, 2.2GHz Core i7 processor and 8GB of RAM, along with solid state storage. You also get the same keyboard and resounding build quality with every model, with a recent price reduction to boot. Recent updates haven’t added much, yet the minor changes ensure the system remains at the top of the food chain. Well, at least until Apple unveils the next iteration.
Dell XPS 13 ($800+)
Dell’s redesigned XPS 13 came out of nowhere — and caught us totally off guard. You probably value portability over performance if you’re considering a 13-inch laptop, but with the slim XPS 13, you get both. Sure, connectivity suffers a little given the laptop lacks an HDMI port, but the standard 1080p display (upgradable to 3,200 x 1,800) is great for catching up on movies and shows between flights or morning meetings. The XPS 13 ran for more than nine hours in our Peacekeeper battery benchmark despite packing the latest i5 processor, which is an impressive feat for any laptop this well equipped.
ThinkPad T440s ($679+)
The Thinkpad T440s is close enough to the no-nonsense Thinkpads you’re used to, but with a few tweaks designed to bring it up to speed with the other laptops of 2015. The 1080p touchscreen is a nice addition, enabling a number of useful features for Windows 8, and the redesigned island-style keyboard is spacious and responsive. With an optional, extra battery pack, the T440s can run for an astounding 28 hours on a single charge, which is no small feat for a laptop of its size. The Thinkpad may not be the flashiest computer considering its general lack of bells and whistles, but it has remained a benchmark in the business world for years due to its sheer reliability and simple, professional aesthetic.
Thinkpad Edge E431 ($600)
Performance isn’t everyone’s top priority, and the Thinkpad Edge E431 gets that. It features a graciously-sized touchpad and spill-resistant keyboard, so you don’t have to worry about bringing it to the lunch meeting with your cohorts. It also keeps cool and quiet even under stress, which is great if you need to use it on your lap or during a presentation. Furthermore, if you’re using a dock to expand your laptop’s work area, the Edge E431 offers a Lenovo OneLink port designed to carry power and connectivity through a single cable. The price point is the most appealing aspect of the E431, though. It starts at a budget-friendly MSRP of $527, with a few extra customization options for upping the performance.