Things move fast in the world of laptops. Since the last holiday season, several models have received updates and a few new contenders arrived on the scene. Covering a variety of use cases, budgets, and styles, we’ve gathered together the best laptops based on our own experiences, professional reviews, and user opinions.

Best Overall / Ultraportable Laptop

Dell XPS 13 9380 (2019)

With ever increasing demand for light, portable and powerful laptops, the ultraportable market is very competitive, but it's also packed with excellent options. Coming out on top as the laptop we recommend the most to Windows users is Dell’s ever-popular XPS 13. Dell has made further refinements in the 2019 model of the XPS 13 offering faster 8th-generation Whiskey Lake CPUs, given a boost to battery life, and moved the webcam from the bottom of the display to the traditional top central position within the narrow screen bezel.

All other features that made the Dell XPS 13 such a compelling device are still here incuding the speedy NVMe storage, one of the best keyboards you’ll find on a laptop and the slim and light (2.7 pounds) body. The InfinityEdge design keeps the thin bezels and the display is crisp and bright in both the full HD and 4K touchscreen options -- the latter offers HDR and 400 nits brightness -- you also get 100 percent sRGB color coverage and a 1500:1 contrast ratio.

Connectivity-wise, there are two Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) ports, one USB-C 3.1 port, a microSD card slot, and a 3.5mm headphone jack. A minor negative with this hardware update is that with the new webcam placement, Windows Hello support has been removed, though Microsoft’s security system still works via the optional fingerprint reader.

The highly configurable machine excels when it comes to everyday use, business tasks, content consumption, and productivity. It starts at $899 and goes up to $1,499 (more with extra storage) for the 4K touch model.

Business-First Ultrabook

ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 7

For those who want something with a bit more of a business slant, there’s the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon. It comes with a 14” IPS screen, great connectivity including dual Thunderbolt 3 ports, an excellent keyboard and fast NVMe storage. Like the XPS 13, there are plenty of configuration options.

The latest version (2019, 7th-gen) brings Intel’s Whiskey Lake CPUs, redesigned speakers, and is slimmer and 6 percent lighter than its predecessor. You can even get a carbon fiber design on the lid of the 4K models. This flagship ThinkPad is expensive starting at $1,300, though you can save some money by getting the just-as-good 2018 version.

For Mac Users

Apple MacBook Pro 13


Apple has a very streamlined laptop lineup and right now if you want a lightweight Mac to go it's either the new MacBook Air or the MacBook Pro 13. In our opinion, the 13-inch MacBook Pro is by far the best suited to most users (at least the kind that read TechSpot). It’s a versatile laptop providing quad-core processors in a chassis just 15mm thick and 3 pound heavy. The 13-inch Pro offers a high resolution 2560 x 1600 retina display with wide gamut support and True Tone, making it a fantastic option for content creators. The display is brighter than the Air's, you get better battery life and a faster base Core i5 processor for $200 extra on essentially the same size and weight (starts at $1,200).

The MacBook Pro 13 recently got a refresh with better internals for the same price, which is great. Granted, MacBooks are expensive for what you get on the spec sheet and upgrades are expensive. You do get some perks in return, including great build quality except for the keyboard that has received widespread criticism and is expected to receive a do-over next year.

Other Noteworthy Alternatives

Those looking for something light with a small footprint and a stunning screen should check out the Lenovo IdeaPad S940, which has a glossy 4K IPS HDR screen that’s among the best we’ve seen on a laptop. The bezels are absolutely tiny and the sides of the display curve just like a phone. It can be specced up to a Core i7-8565U, 16GB of RAM and a very snappy 1TB PCIe SSD, has three USB Type-C ports (two are Thunderbolt 3), and the Windows IR camera and webcam sit in a “reverse notch” that’s placed above the screen rather than invading it.

If you place battery life above all else, few high-end ultrabooks can match the LG Gram (available in 13, 14, 15 and 17 inch models). The 2019 edition comes with an updated 8th-gen processor, though last year's model is just as good and will likely be found at a cheaper price.

Finally, there’s the Surface Laptop 2, which, like other Surface products, comes with a 3:2 aspect ratio that’s great for productivity. It’s got great battery life and is well built. Also starts at just $799.

Best 15-Inch Productivity Powerhouse

Dell XPS 15 7590 (2019)

A repeat on this category, we’ve picked Dell’s XPS 15 as the top pick in this category for the second consecutive year. Dell has taken the larger version of the XPS and made it even better for 2019 with minor refinements. Like the XPS 13, the webcam has moved to a more traditional central position above the screen. New hardware options include an 8-core 2.4GHz i9-9980HK CPU, a GTX 1650 -- a slight jump over the previous 1050 Ti -- and a 4K OLED display. Combined with 32GB of RAM and a 1TB M.2 SSD, this is a powerhouse of a machine packed into a slim and sexy chassis.

The XPS 15 still offers a great combination of performance, portability and price. And while the GTX 1650 is enough for video editing, code compiling, simulations, and so on, a dedicated gaming laptop is obviously going to be better for those who do more than occasional, light gaming.

The 4K OLED display is stunning and the majority of last year’s great design, including the slim bezels and great keyboard, remain. If there’s one complaint, some may say that Dell played it a bit safe with the latest model. But if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it (apart from that webcam.)

The ThinkPad and macOS Alternatives

The spartan and business-focused ThinkPad powerhouse comes in the form of the ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 2. The latest version of this laptop can be specced up to a Coffee Lake refresh i7-9850H, though an i9 model is coming soon, as is the option to add a 4K, 500 nit OLED touchscreen – right now, the top display is a 4K anti-glare IPS, which is still excellent. The 1050 Ti was replaced with an GTX 1650 Max-Q, and as it’s meant for professionals, it's packed with ports, including two Thunderbolt 3. You also get a fingerprint reader, improved audio, and a slew of other business features, all in a slim and light body with a screen that can fold to 90 degrees.

On what may be the complete opposite side of the spectrum, Apple's MacBook Pro 15 is built for high-performance productivity workloads like video editing, which is why 16GB of RAM and a discrete GPU are standard, packing either six or eight core processors starting at $2,100. Usually this would be the only relevant recommendation for any Apple user wanting the best possible performance on a laptop, however several rumors point to an all-new 16-inch MacBook Pro with faster internals, a new body, keyboard and a higher resolution display. Considering MacBook Pro owners tend to keep their machines for many years, waiting for this to pan out later this year is highly recommended.

Best Budget Laptop

Asus ZenBook 13 (UX333FA)

Editor's note (more expensive laptops?): While we were putting together this guide update, we noticed that pricing of laptops was fluctuating more than usual and prices of budget models (under $1,000) in particular were more expensive than weeks prior. With newer models coming out for the back to school season and in preparation for the holidays, we would normally expect prices to remain attractive for outgoing 2019 models. However we suspect that externalities -- tariffs and the tension in the US-China trade relationship -- could explain the higher than average pricing for many laptop models.

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Just because you’re paying under $1,000 for a laptop doesn’t mean you’ll be stuck with a dud. There are some good quality machines at around the $600 to $900 mark, and one of our favorites is the Asus ZenBook Pro UX333FA. With its almost non-exist bezels and small footprint, this ZenBook is one of the smallest 13-inch laptops around, and it weighs just 2.3 pounds. But that tiny chassis packs a i5-8265U, which offers a good price to performance ratio at ~$800. You also get 8GB of RAM and a 256GB PCIe SSD.

Like Asus’ more expensive ZenBook Pro 14, the UX333FA uses the company’s ErgoLift hinge, which elevates the keyboard section off your desk at an angle of three degrees when the lid is open, supposedly improving airflow, typing, and acoustics.

While you don’t get the “smart touchpad” ScreenPad, the touchpad here doubles as a numeric keypad while retaining its cursor function. And despite the small size, the laptop features a USB Type-C port, USB 3.1, USB 2.0, a MicroSD card reader, and even an HDMI port. Add to all this the amazing battery life, which goes on for over 11 hours, and the overall quality of the build, and you have an excellent machine for the price. If the display were only a little brighter, it would tick all the boxes.

Wallet-Friendly Choices

For something a little cheaper (~$600), check out another Asus machine: the VivoBook S S510UN has similar internals to the ZenBook, though you get an Nvidia MX150 discrete GPU and an older Kaby Lake Refresh Core i5-8250U. You also get good connectivity (USB 3.1, USB 3.0, USB 2.0, HDMI, and SD card), dual band 802.11ac Wi-Fi, a backlit keyboard, a fingerprint sensor in the touchpad and Windows Hello support. The display is a basic 15.6-inch 1080p LCD and the battery life is decent, but not outstanding. You do get slim bezels and the footprint reduction that comes with it, which is appreciated on a 15" class device that weights less than 4 pounds.

Another popular choice among budget laptops is the Acer Aspire E15 which has almost the same specs as the ZenBook but is over $200 cheaper. You do sacrifice looks, build and screen quality.

Best Gaming Laptop

MSI GS65 Stealth RTX

Admittedly, our favorite category: portable, slim and light gaming laptops. We think this is what really sells the concept of a gaming laptop. You should be able to take it around with you without needing to lug around 6+ pounds, it should be slim and easy to carry, and have decent enough battery life that it’s genuinely usable off the charger. Of course, it also needs powerful hardware for gaming.

The best option right now is the MSI GS65 Stealth at 15.6-inches in size, or alternatively the GS75 Stealth if you’d rather go with the 17-inch variant. We've tested most of the slim and light offerings in this new RTX generation and MSI's Stealth line is simply the best for a few reasons: it can deliver the full performance of the components inside without throttling, it does so at respectable fan noise levels, and it’s also the lightest of the main portable gaming options.

The Alienware m15, for example, is noticeably heavier and larger while also having cooler problems. The Gigabyte Aero 15 X9 is a decent offering but its loud cooler and inferior design sees it fall behind the MSI option. And the Asus Zephyrus, while good in a number of areas, has an awkward design with its side-positioned trackpad.

The MSI GS65 Stealth packs decent hardware, headlined by a 1080p 144Hz display, Intel Core i7-8750H CPU and 16GB of RAM. The default 256GB SSD option is a tad on the small side but it can be upgraded relatively easily, while battery life is pretty good.

There are a number of GS65 and GS75 variants out there, including older Pascal GTX models and newer Turing RTX models. The best option right now is the RTX 2060 model, it’s normally priced at $2,100 but can occasionally be found closer to $1,900, making it around the same price as the older GTX 1070 Max-Q variant. The RTX 2060 is about 8% faster on average than the GTX 1070 Max-Q, making it the better value choice.

The higher tier options with the RTX 2070 Max-Q and RTX 2080 Max-Q are priced at $2,400 and $2,800 respectively, but performance gains of 15% or less really aren’t enough to justify the price hike. Of course, if you want more power these models are available, but today the RTX 2060 is the sweet spot.

Also read: TechSpot's Best Gaming Laptops 2019 -- a buying guide dedicated to gaming machines of all forms and sizes. This is a condensed version of our gaming laptop recommendations...

Starting with our favorite category: portable, slim and light gaming laptops. You should be able to take your machine with you without needing to lug around 6+ pounds, it should be slim and easy to carry, and have decent enough battery life that it’s genuinely usable off the charger. Of course, it also needs powerful hardware for gaming.

The best option right now is the MSI GS65 Stealth at 15.6-inches in size, or alternatively the GS75 Stealth if you’d rather go with the 17-inch variant. We've tested most of the slim and light offerings in this new RTX generation and MSI's Stealth line is simply the best for a few reasons: it can deliver the full performance of the components inside without throttling, it does so at respectable fan noise levels, and it’s also the lightest of the main portable gaming options.

The MSI GS65 Stealth packs decent hardware, headlined by a 1080p 144Hz display, Intel Core i7-8750H CPU and 16GB of RAM. The default 256GB SSD option is a tad on the small side, but it can be upgraded relatively easily, while battery life is pretty good. There are a number of GS65 and GS75 variants out there, including older Pascal GTX models and newer Turing RTX models.

The best option right now is the RTX 2060 model, it’s normally priced at $2,100 but can occasionally be found closer to $1,900, making it around the same price as the older GTX 1070 Max-Q variant. The RTX 2060 is about 8% faster on average than the GTX 1070 Max-Q, making it the better value choice. The higher tier options with the RTX 2070 Max-Q and RTX 2080 Max-Q are priced at $2,400 and $2,800 respectively, but performance gains of 15% or less really aren’t enough to justify the price hike for most.

A hardcore 240Hz alternative

Asus Strix Scar III

Asus’ ROG division is a name familiar to most gamers. The brand is found on everything from graphics cards to monitors to motherboards, and it usually represents one thing: premium gaming, often at premium prices. The Strix Scar III is no exception, but you do get what you pay for. The biggest draw of this laptop is that 240Hz IPS display. For those who’ve tried 144Hz screens and imagine there won’t be any noticeable difference when jumping up an extra 96Hz, think again. Even the mouse pointer seems to slide across the screen with the kind of smoothness and fluidity you have to see to believe. And playing games on this thing is something special.

Pushing titles to 200 fps and over requires powerful hardware. Thankfully, the Scar III has that area covered. The top-specced machines boasts a full RTX 2070 combined with an eight-core Core i9-9880H, 32GB RAM and a 1TB M.2 NVMe SSD. All of which makes playing shooters such as Metro: Exodus, Doom, CS: GO and Far Cry New Dawn an absolute joy. While most 240Hz monitors are TN panels, the Scar III’s IPS screen means you get great color accuracy, vividness, and viewing angles. Other positive points include the keyboard thanks to a satisfying amount of travel and not being too soft. The speakers are loud enough that headphones aren’t a requirement, and, like other ROG products, the whole thing is a RGB-lovers dream.

Like all extreme gaming laptops, don’t pick the Scar III if you want something light and with good battery life. The plasticky body won’t be to everyone’s taste, it can get loud when the fans are pushed to their max, and you get an external webcam rather than any built-in version. Ultimately, though, the Strix Scar III’s caveats are present in virtually all extreme gaming laptops. There are certainly louder, heavier, and hotter machines than this, and they don’t have the advantage of that incredible screen.

Budget Gaming

Acer Predator Helios 3000

It feels like every time we update our gaming laptop recommendations, the Acer Predator Helios 300 always comes out on top in the budget category. This laptop is still priced at around $1,000 for the GTX 1060 6GB model, making it still the best value gaming laptop on the market. You’re still getting a Core i7-8750H processor, unlike a quad-core Core i5 model in some other budget offerings. You’re still getting a 1080p 144Hz display with 16GB of RAM and 256GB of storage.

What you’re not getting with the Helios 300 compared to more expensive models is mostly in the design. This isn’t a massive system but it’s not overly slim and the battery life is nothing special. There are some other models that do get pretty close, the Asus TUF FX504 is one such example. It’s not quite as good as the Acer and ~$100 more expensive right now, but if you’re checking prices in the future and the FX504 ends up in a good spot, it’s one we’d consider. For those after a 17-inch model, the Acer Aspire 17 is one to check out.

However there is one direction we wouldn’t go in, and that’s to buy anything below a GTX 1060 6GB. This GPU is the sweet spot to get the most gaming performance. If you opt for something like the GTX 1050 Ti, you might end up saving $250 or so, but the 1060 is easily more than 50% faster. And as you go lower in price, laptop makers tend to strip back features like storage, RAM and the CPU, so overall you end up with a lower quality product. Save up and drop $1,000 on the Helios 300 and you’ll be much happier with your purchase long term.

Best Convertible Laptop

Microsoft Surface Book 2 15"

The Surface Book 2 is a premium 2-in-1 that remains the best at what it does. Previously we had recommended the 13-inch version which is still pretty good, but after prolonged sessions with the larger model we are making it our top choice. The 15-inch model is bigger, a tad heavier, and more expensive, but for pure productivity it also has the extra screen space that can make a world of difference.

One of the best elements of the Surface Book 2 is its versatility. The 3240 x 2160, 3:2 PixelSense touchscreen display is not only gorgeous, but also brilliant for productivity tasks. If you want to use it as a tablet for some content consumption or with the optional stylus, simply hit the detach button and the screen pops off. The internal GTX 1060 6GB graphics are still good by most standards and can even handle many games at high settings when knocked down to 1080p.

The top Surface Book 2 options get you an 8th-gen quad-core i7-8650U processor that can boost to 4.2GHz, 16GB of RAM, and up to 1TB of storage. It also comes with that fantastic magnesium chassis that oozes quality and impressive battery life for such a powerful machine.

Buyers get two USB 3.1 ports, a USB Type-C, SD card reader, and an audio jack. Sadly, the lack of Thunderbolt 3 is probably the Surface Book 2’s worst element. On the other hand, its keyboard is just excellent with almost perfect feel and level of travel. As mentioned before, the Book 2 is a pricey affair. The i7 version ranges from $2,050 to $2,800 depending on the storage. But if you’re willing to sacrifice some performance, you can always go for the new i5 model, which is $1,999.

More Affordable Options

If you’re looking for a cheaper 2-in-1 alternative to Microsoft’s pricey device, there plenty of viable options out there, including Lenovo’s Yoga C930. This 14-inch laptop starts at $1,259, and its premium feature is the integration of the 360-degree hinge and a Dolby Atmos speaker into a single unit. The design is sleek and lightweight, it comes with a bundled stylus, and the 4K display option is great for watching videos. It also offers comparatively good performance.

While it’s more expensive than the Yoga, HP’s $1,999 Spectre x360 15T does offer a 15-inch 4K OLED screen that has the kind of gorgeous, accurate colors one would expect. The aluminum chassis is stylish, and it can be specced up to a an Intel i7-8565U with 16GB of RAM – you can even get it with a 2TB M.2 SSD.

The 10.1-inch Surface Go’s incredible portability and low price ($530) makes it ideal as a secondary PC or student option. While it can fall into the ‘love it or hate it’ category, like all Surfaces it’s a solidly built device.

You might not hit your highest wpm count on the keyboard, but it’s still one of the best you’ll find on such a small machine (shame it costs $99 extra). The display is surprisingly good, and it while there’s only one port, it is USB Type-C. Ultimately, the Surface Go is a specific use case: a flexible, super-portable, budget Windows machine that’s great for content consumption and light work, especially while on the move.

Business-minded Convertible

HP EliteBook x360 1040 G5

For those who want a business-oriented 14-inch convertible, HP’s EliteBook x360 1040 G5 is an excellent choice that won't break the bank. It has a great display, which can be specced from 400 to 700 nits and comes in an anti-glare option. Build quality is super, and performance is solid. There’s also the option of HP’s Sure View privacy feature, which hides the contents of your screen from nosey onlookers with the press of a button.

This ultrabook boasts optional 4G LTE connectivity, solid construction, a good (and very quiet) keyboard, an IR camera for Windows Hello, four B&O speakers, and an optional pen. And being a convertible, it can be used in tablet, tent, and laptop mode. The HP EliteBook x360 starts at around $1,300.

Best MacBooks

Apple MacBook Pro 13 - Mid 2019

Choosing the best MacBook for you is more straightforward today than ever thanks to Apple’s simple lineup. As it's usually the case with Apple's laptop offerings, there are only a few options and the best for your needs largely comes down to whether you want a smaller or larger more powerful machine.

The 15-inch MacBook Pro is more powerful and correspondingly more expensive, but the 13-inch model is more portable and still highly capable. Apple officially removed the ultra-slim but weak 12-inch MacBook from the menu this year, leaving the newer MacBook Air as the base model:

  • MacBook Air ($999 and above) -- A shiny new laptop for everyday computing, it has to be a Mac, you want it to be well-rounded and portable. It's the least expensive model, but you only get 128GB of storage for the price.
  • MacBook Pro 13" (starts at $1,200) -- All the above, but you want better overall performance for multi-tasking. The Pro 13" is about the same size and weight as the Air.
  • MacBook Pro 15" (starts at $2,100) -- Pro users that need workstation capabilities and faster graphics. The added weight and display size come handy for work, too.
  • MacBook Pro 16? -- Rumored model to be released before the end of the year.

In our opinion the 13-inch MacBook Pro is the best suited to most users (at least the kind that read TechSpot). It’s the most versatile laptop of the offerings, providing quad-core processors in a chassis just 15mm thick and 3 pound heavy. The 13-inch Pro offers a high resolution 2560 x 1600 retina display with wide gamut support and True Tone, making it a fantastic option for content creators. The display is brighter than the Air's, you get better battery life and a faster base Core i5 processor for $200 extra on essentially the same size and weight.

Granted, MacBooks are expensive for what you get on the spec sheet. If you want a decent amount of RAM and storage, the price quickly balloons by the hundreds. That's always been the case, but usually what you got in return was a convincingly good software ecosystem unique to Macs, a great display and build quality. Even resell value. Most of that remains true, but we should note that the keyboard's butterfly mechanism shared among all models has been the cause of frustration among many buyers of every model starting with the 12-inch MacBook from 2015 and up to the latest models that have inherited more or less the same mechanism. A 16-inch MacBook Pro is rumored to be released in late 2019 with an improved keyboard.

The more expensive 15-inch Pro is built for high-performance productivity workloads like video editing, which is why 16GB of RAM and a discrete GPU are standard, though again you have to pay for it. Several rumors point to an all-new 16-inch MacBook Pro with faster internals, a new body, keyboard and a higher resolution display. Considering MacBook Pro owners tend to keep their machines for many years, waiting for this to pan out later this year is highly recommended.