I’ve poked at and benchmarked almost 40 laptops, giving me a decent sense of which ones were the best. This was a weird year in that only a handful of laptops really stood out as significantly better or more innovative than others.
I haven’t reviewed every great laptop introduced in 2023, but I’ve had my hands on quite a few. I may have included the Apple MacBook Pro M3 on this list if I’d reviewed it, thanks to its serious injection of horsepower. But, I’ve limited this list to just those that I personally evaluated — and these were the ones that impressed me most.
First on this list is the HP Spectre Foldable PC. Few
The cost puts it out of reach of most people, which is a real shame. It features a massive 17-inch OLED panel that bends in the middle, with a hinge that promises to last longer than the display. It comes with a portable Bluetooth keyboard that features a decent touchpad and wireless charging. Providing the key to the Spectre Foldable PC’s flexibility is a kickstand that folds out from the back and holds the laptop firmly in place with the display fully extended.
These two pieces, the large tablet and external keyboard, combine to work well in both “clamshell” and “desktop” modes. Sure, the laptop’s a bit chunky and heavy when the keyboard is placed on the bottom half of the folded display, but it’s still incredibly comfortable to use. You can even pull the keyboard down to reveal half of the “second” display, giving you more room to work. Then, unfold the display and prop it up with the kickstand and you have something akin to a portable desktop. In all modes, it performs well enough for its intended purposes and has surprisingly good battery life.
Most people won’t use the tablet mode given the huge display, but it’s there for those who might. Certainly, its included active pen (also wirelessly charged when attached to the tablet) works well and creates a large canvas for digital artists. But I think most people would use clamshell and desktop modes – assuming they can afford to shell out the money.
The Asus Zenbook 14 OLED scored high marks for its combination of solid design, good performance, and an outstanding OLED display starting at just $700. I reviewed the laptop with an AMD Ryzen 5 7530U CPU, which is a low-power chip that promises great battery life. For just $170 more, you can upgrade the CPU and double the RAM to 16GB and the storage to 512GB.
Asus didn’t cut any corners in the laptop’s design. It’s all-metal and has a solid build, demonstrating just a little bit of bending in the lid. It exudes quality for the money and that alone would make it a relative bargain.
But throw in the outstanding 14.0-inch 2.8K OLED display running at 90Hz and we’re talking some real value. The display is as good as the one you’ll find on
I don’t review many gaming laptops, but one that I looked at stood out. The Lenovo Legion Pro 7i provided some spectacular performance for the price, beating out a number of more expensive
I reviewed the Legion Pro 7i in the only configuration that was available at the time. For $2,750, you get an Intel Core i9-13900HX CPU, 32GB of
In our benchmarks, the Legion Pro 7i did well in a handful of modern titles, running at around 100 frames per second at 1080p in each game with graphics turned up. Increasing to 1440p dropped the framerates by about 20 in each title, making the Legion Pro 7i a strong 144op gaming machine.
But where the laptop really shined was in creative apps. It achieved one of the highest scores we’ve seen in the Pugetbench Premiere Pro benchmark, meaning if you need to do creative work when not gaming, you certainly can.
Lenovo also took a stab at an ultra-flexible laptop with the Yoga Book 9i. This time, the design was quite different, using two 13.3-inch OLED displays to create a more modular approach. Lenovo built an origami stand that, once mastered, provides a number of ways to use the laptop. The uses include as a clamshell with an external keyboard, a wide view with the displays oriented side-by-side, and an extremely tall mode with the displays oriented vertically.
It’s a weird setup but it works. It’s also a lot more affordable than the HP Spectre Foldable PC at $2,000, still a premium price but within reach of anyone who wants an innovative and highly flexible laptop.
The Yoga Book 9i isn’t quite as nice in clamshell mode as HP’s foldable, with the keyboard lacking a touchpad and instead using a virtual version instead. It works but doesn’t feel as natural. Also, the keyboard can be pulled to the bottom half of the second display, giving the same additional screen space but without the touchpad. You’ll need to use an external mouse, which Lenovo includes.
The included active pen works well for inking, and the Yoga Book 9i is also very well-designed. Its performance is similar to the HP’s, and once again battery life is surprisingly good given the two OLED displays.
The last entry on my list is a Chromebook. That might surprise you, but this isn’t just any old Chromebook. It throws off the platform’s reputation for providing cheap but usable
The Dragonfly Pro Chromebook costs $1,000, which is a lot for a ChromeOS machine. But it offers an Intel Core i5 CPU, 16GB of
But that’s not all. The Dragonfly Pro Chromebook offers the elegance and high build quality of all Dragonfly machines. It also has an excellent keyboard with RGB lighting that’s easy to control within Chrome OS. You get four Thunderbolt 4 ports, which are also unusual on Chromebooks. The haptic touchpad works extremely well, and it’s probably the best touchpad you’ll find on a Chromebook.
The kicker is the 24/7 Pro Live technical support that’s a click away in HPS’s Support Assistant app. Once you log into HP’s system, you get instantaneous access to a live person who can answer troubleshooting, configuration, and use questions. It’s free for the first year, and then $11 a month thereafter. Busy small business owners will appreciate having immediate access to a live technical support rep.
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