For some digital products, brands may not matter much. But when it comes to purchasing a laptop, you want to ensure your data—and internet experience—is in good hands. We’re reviewing the best laptop brands and sharing what we like—and don’t like.
Dell leads the way in our ranking, with HP coming up close behind. We’re big fans of powerful processors, sleek designs, and ample battery life—but you can find plenty of great features with other brands, too.
Dell’s work, particularly in the ultrabook field, has yielded an incredible new crop of ultraportable laptops that work great, have powerful specs, and don’t give up the ghost without a fight. If you need a PC for work or school and want it to last for as long as possible, Dell’s machines are a great choice. And Dell has arguably one of the best business laptops in its Latitude 7400 2-in-1, which offers a solid design and multi-day battery life.
This is especially true with its latest XPS models, which do everything to a high standard. They have the latest screen resolutions, connections, software, and innovative materials. There’s a reason that the XPS 13 is surprisingly good for compact laptops. The newer versions even have the webcam back on the top bezel, like a more traditional laptop, and can be configured with up to a six-core Intel 1oth-gen Comet Lake processor.
And Dell isn’t standing still. It was among the first to introduce Intel’s upcoming Ice Lake 10th-gen CPUs, which provides even better performance and battery life. The XPS 13 2-in-1 refresh was Dell’s initial entry, and it also improved the screen ratio from the usual 16:9 to 16:10 for better productivity.
Dell’s line up of laptops look great, offer decent internal hardware, and have heaps of style. They’re made with premium materials, sport solid battery life, and are light and portable. Some of Dell’s budget or business-oriented laptops are still lackluster, but in the XPS line, it’s hit after hit.
If there’s one thing that nearly everyone agrees on, it’s that Apple laptops are very reliable and predictable. When you buy a MacBook, you know what to expect. You’ll get a fantastic screen, solid battery life, and a beautiful chassis with thin bezels. They do tend to be a little more expensive than their Windows counterparts and sometimes the hardware doesn’t always quite measure up, but when it comes to style, ease of use, and reliability, Apple laptops are top-notch.
Apple also updated the MacBook line with faster CPUs in the Pro family, along with an added Touch Bar to all MacBook Pros. All without raising prices. Later in 2020, we should expect to see even more significant updates including a new keyboard that should solve the reliability issues with the current butterfly models. On top of all that, there’s a new MacBook Pro 16-inch model that we reviewed and consider the best Mac in years.
The MacBook Pro line is easily its best, but that doesn’t mean the standard MacBooks aren’t worth considering. Apple recently refreshed the MacBook Air lineup, introducing a new device that comes configured with the 8th generation 1.6GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 Y-series processor. We really liked the new MacBook Air for its beautiful thin and light design, excellent build quality, improved keyboard and trackpad, and loud, clear speakers.
HP may not have always had the best laptop reputation, but the latest HP laptops have taken some design cues from their contemporaries and have really raised the bar. The current crop of notebooks are fast, powerful, and easier for consumers to adopt for their personal projects. They’re also quite lovely, with the new gem-cut design adorning the Spectre line and a sleek, modern look to the latest Envy 13. And through it all, HP has earned a reputation for reliable laptops with very competent customer services.
Today HP regularly goes head to head with some of the best laptop manufacturers in the world. Its Spectre x360 stole the show against the Surface Laptop in our head to head and even gave the Surface Book 2 a run for its money. There’s even AMOLED versions of the Spectre x360 15 and brand-new Spectre x360 13 that provide incredibly bright and vibrant displays that will please creative types and Netflix bingers alike. The new Spectre x360 13 even fixes its large bezel problem and cuts the smallest figure for a 13.3-inch 2-in-1.
Customer support options place HP in the top five of all manufacturers. With options for up to three years of comprehensive warranty, you can net yourself some serious protection for your new laptop too.
HP’s laptops may not always steal the show, but its lineup of hardware is stronger today than it’s ever been and is all well worth considering if you want an alternative to some of the above offerings.
A decade ago no one would have thought that Microsoft would be one of the best laptop brands in the world, but today it has a well-earned spot on this list. After a few iterations of Surface tablets with some reliability issues, today Microsoft claims a 99 percent reliability on its new Surface devices and offers hardware that is often class-leading in its own way.
The Surface Book 2 has some of the best battery life we have ever seen in a laptop, convertible or no, and the Microsoft’s new Surface Pro 7 is our favorite 2-in-1 right now. Even more mid-range devices like the Surface Laptop 3 (now with a 15-inch version) and a budget tablet like the Surface Go help bolster Microsoft as one of the best laptop brands today. It offers a standard one year warranty for Surface products should new owners run into trouble, with 90 days of free technical support.
Not all of the Surface devices are fantastic and we certainly have our favorites, but that’s no different from the other entries on this list, making us more than a little excited about what Microsoft has up its sleeve for the next round of refreshes. Its laptops aren’t the most repairable, with iFixit describing one device as a “glue-filled monstrosity,” but Microsoft does seem to be improving its reliability and support as it becomes more established as one of the better laptop brands out there today.
Asus laptops might not often take the top spot in our best-of lists, but they usually warrant a medal placing due to their fantastic all-round capabilities. The current crop of its laptops includes thin and light Zenbooks, affordable Chromebooks, as well as powerful gaming machines like the ROG Zephyrus S (GX701). And as much as anyone, Asus is leading the movement to tiny bezels that pack as much laptop as possible into the smallest chassis.
The ASUS Zenbook 13 has one of the most attractive and distinct designs we’ve seen, an excellent 1080p screen, and long battery life. The Asus ZenBook S13 UX392 is also a stunner, and it comes in with a 97 percent screen-to-body ratio thanks to bezels that are just 2.5 millimeters thick. Other excellent choices from ASUS include the Asus Zenbook 15 UX534FN and the Zenbook 14 UX433FN, both of which come with thin bezels and small and light chassis, along with plenty of performance.
Consider Asus the David to the Goliaths of Dell, HP, and Apple. It makes great laptops at attractive prices, and the company even tosses in a year of accident and spill protection for free.
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