Laptops date back several years, with the first one introduced to the world around the 1980s. Back then, computers were heavy-duty affairs that took tons of space to host. Traveling with one of these behemoths was laughable at best. But time has flown and how! Today, a good and reliable laptop has become almost mandatory in daily life, whether you are a student, working professional, homemaker, or traveler.
As of 2020, the laptop marketplace abounds in products of various shapes, sizes and models, spoiling the customer for choice. In this feature, we will discuss ten of the best laptops you can find today and how to go about making your purchase decision.
In the varied, multi-layered world we live in, needs and wants fluctuate tremendously. A computer you can fall back upon for day-to-day necessities such as browsing the internet, working on projects, dealing with business requirements, etc., makes everything a great deal smoother.
Several professions and educational courses require laptops for assignments, projects, running applications, etc. Essentially, choosing the right computer for you comes down to identifying your core areas of focus. So, how can you select the best laptop for you?
Today, many laptop companies build notebooks that are excellent all-rounders. These laptops can fulfill a range of tasks successfully, from creative projects to business modeling. When in doubt, you can turn to one of these laptops.
However, it might be a wiser idea to fine-tune your requirements so that you can zero down upon a computer that will stand the test of time. Technology becomes outdated before you can say Jack Robinson, and specialized devices have a better chance of being sustainable.
As a rule of thumb, selecting the right laptop is a decision that involves three steps:
- Understanding the type of laptop you require: This spans gaming machines, portable devices, full-purpose workstations, etc. One shoe doesn’t fit all, so what might be the best laptop for a business person might not be apt for an on-campus student.
- Selecting a laptop brand tailored to your needs: The right brand for you will be the perfect mix of features, build, specialization and budget. The trick lies not in choosing the “top” or the trendiest brand, but in identifying a manufacturer that gets your computing needs. Style, construction, in-vogue features and sustainability will also have a role in picking the manufacturer.
- Selecting the features, configuration and specifications you want in your laptop: This is the key to avoiding purchase dissonance. You need to get a good understanding of the entire package, from the processing chamber and the display to the battery backup and the availability of USB ports. Many laptop makers allow users to customize this as per their needs and budgets. It pays dividends to select a laptop that will enable you to upgrade as you go. This also lets you stay attuned to the times and beef up your machine when your needs escalate.
Let us understand this process in some detail.
- Types of Laptops to Explore: Which One Suits You?
- Best Laptop Brands to Explore
- Essential Requirements in a Dependable Laptop
- Latest Laptop Features to Look Out For
- Our Picks: Best Laptops 2020
- 1. Dell XPS 13 7390 – Best Laptop 2020
- 2. Apple MacBook Pro – Best Mac Laptop 2020
- 3. ALIENWARE AREA-51M – Best Gaming Laptop
- 4. New Dell XPS 15 7590 – Best Laptop for College Students
- 5. Lenovo Yoga C930 – Best 2 in 1 Laptop
- 6. MSI GS65 Stealth-432 – Best Laptop for Photo and Video Editing
- 7. Acer Aspire 5 A515-54-51DJ – Best Budget Laptop Under $500
- 8. Acer Aspire 5 A515-43-R19L – Best Cheap Laptop Under $300
- 9. ASUS ZenBook 13 UX333FA-AB77 – Best Laptop Under $1000
- 10. ASUS Chromebook Flip C434TA-DSM4T – Best Chromebook
- Closing Note
Types of Laptops to Explore: Which One Suits You?
Laptops are now available in various sizes, form factors, models and designs. The one you choose will be a function of your individual needs and lifestyle. It is important to pick carefully, as your selected laptop will either facilitate or encumber your standard day.
- All-rounder: The most popular choice in the computing world, all-rounder laptops can adapt to various needs in style.
These laptops can be used as professional companions or campus buddies, home entertainment devices or workstations on the go.
What makes these laptops multipurpose is their efficient processor coupled with abundant storage and pleasant graphics.
Brands like Dell and Acer make all-rounder notebooks in different price buckets.
- Gaming machine: Intended for gaming enthusiasts, these laptops are powerful and resilient with efficient cooling mechanisms.
Gaming laptops boast of brilliant graphics and sound systems to elevate your gameplay.
Additionally, you can find features like keyboards with per-key backlighting, support for various gaming profiles, and compatibility with over-clocking.
Usually, these laptops are expensive; however, many brands now make pocket-friendly gaming machines for casual gamers.
- Multimedia enthusiast: While many gaming machines can also cater to creative professionals, you can find a laptop tailored to the arts.
These computers are built to support applications for animation, simulation, multimedia editing, etc.
They usually have crystal-clear displays, great sound, and a powerful processor. You will enjoy using these machines if you are a film-maker, architect, graphics designer, or in an allied profession.
- Convertibles and Travelers: Convertibles are highly flexible laptops, allowing users to switch between notebook and tablet mode.
They are good for users who need to travel frequently; the tablet mode comes in handy on public transport, flights, etc.
For convertibles, the mainstay is the ergonomic and user-friendly design. Many brands now make convertibles with mid- to high-end specifications that can fulfill your day-to-day needs.
If you don’t want to get a 2-in-1, you can still find a travel-friendly laptop that boasts of lightweight construction, a thin profile, a damage-resistant screen, and long battery life.
- Budget purchase: Reasonably priced with low to mid-range configurations, these laptops are good for everyday pursuits.
You can comfortably use these computers for standard tasks like working on documents, browsing the internet, or streaming a favorite movie. Sometimes, budget laptops also offer premium features like backlit keyboards and fingerprint-based security.
Best Laptop Brands to Explore
The market is full of choices. The brand you select will have a significant bearing on your comfort quotient while using the laptop, upgradability, and alignment with your lifestyle. Broadly, you can choose from the following major brands:
- Acer: Renowned for creating portable computers with updated features, Acer is a great option you can consider for a budget purchase.
Several laptops in Acer’s stables are stupendous design achievements too, with compact frames and narrow-bezel monitors that expand your screen area.
Although Acer has multiple laptops in the affordable pricing bucket, it manages to endow them with competitive features like backlit keyboards and fingerprint readers.
- Apple: Once a go-to brand for multimedia enthusiasts, Apple has, over time, evolved into a brilliant, multipurpose laptop brand.
If you are okay with paying a premium for superior visuals, immense performance, tons of storage space, and dependability, Apple is unlikely to disappoint.
New laptops in the family also boast of a lightweight chassis, trendy design, and top-notch features like Touch Bars and smoother keyboards.
- ASUS: This company has quickly established a wonderful reputation in the gaming world.
The Republic of Gamers (ROG) series by ASUS is one of the finest for gamers, renowned for top-notch processing and excellent graphics at affordable prices.
ASUS is a reliable laptop brand to opt for and offers a decent configuration without being as expensive as some of its contemporaries.
If you value portable computing, then ZenBooks and Chromebooks by ASUS are excellent options to explore.
- Dell: This is definitely one of the best laptop brands to consider as it has managed to pass the test of time for durability and performance.
With Dell, you can enjoy a build quality you can fall back upon, long battery life, and a keen focus on functionality.
The Alienware series has firmly established Dell in the gaming landscape too. Dell is also well-known for providing top-notch customer service and support.
- Lenovo: The Lenovo ThinkPad laptops were among the first portable computers in the market.
Today, Lenovo experiments with new designs such as 2-in-1 laptops. The company’s focus on performance and durability remains intact, but it has been sprinkled with a generous dose of style and flexibility.
You can consider exploring Lenovo’s line-up for both personal and professional use.
- MSI: MSI is an extremely high-performance laptop brand, with its gaming computers some of the best in the business.
While the pricing might be at the higher end of the spectrum, the performance and sustainability you get are worth it. MSI laptops make brilliant picks for gaming and multimedia-based uses.
Bonus: MSI lets users customize and upgrade their machines easily. This makes life easier when your needs change, but you don’t want to invest in a fresh purchase right away.
Besides the brands listed here, you can also explore Microsoft, HP, Razer and Samsung. Razer is quite popular with the gaming populace as it builds laptops with dazzling graphics and performance at competent prices.
HP and Microsoft are dependable options with established brand identities. They make good choices for business users as well as students.
Samsung is yet another option that you can invest in, especially if you are already a smartphone user of the same brand.
Since our use of multiple screens has gone up, seamless connectivity between the mobile phone and the laptop has emerged as an important consideration.
Essential Requirements in a Dependable Laptop
Now that you have identified the broad category of notebook you want to purchase, it is crucial to enlist the features you should look out for. Depending upon your budget and requirements, the ideal laptop must meet the following criteria:
- A performance-oriented processor: The CPU is the heart of your computer. While selecting a notebook, ensure that the processor is speedy and efficient.
Typically, a CPU upwards of an Intel Core i5 will be adequate for both standard computing pursuits and more intensive endeavors.
It is also a good idea to get a processor that can be over-clocked so that it can adapt to your usage patterns.
You can consider getting an equivalent AMD Ryzen processor for your laptop. These CPUs tend to be cheaper but are adept at handling tasks that involve multi-threading.
- Ample memory and storage space: The processing chamber is only as competent as the RAM and storage it offers. Look for upwards of 8GB RAM and at least 128GB of storage for standard needs.
For laptops intended for gaming, multimedia streaming or complex programming, your RAM requirement can go up to as much as 64GB.
If you don’t intend to use your laptop to keep much data, you can get cheaper notebooks that offer around 64GB of storage.
An SSD (solid-state drive) will provide great read-write speeds and a more satisfying overall experience.
However, you can also look at laptops that combine an SSD with good old hard disk drives. It is also possible to get machines with extensive cloud-based storage.
- Absorbing display: This is a key aspect of a good laptop since you are certain to engage in A/V pursuits on an average day. Most laptops now offer FHD (Full High Definition) screens with anti-glare panels and color clarity.
Look for an optimal screen resolution like 1920 x 1080 to ensure you can view your content without incurring a loss of detail.
If your primary focus is on multimedia or gaming, you should also consider a monitor with support for In-Plane Switching (IPS).
This will allow you to enjoy distortion-free content from any viewing angle. Of course, depending on your needs and budgets, you can opt for higher-end displays such as OLED.
- Good battery backup: A long battery life lends you an amazing degree of portability. You do not need to be tethered to a power station and can easily travel with your machine.
However, this is one feature that depends heavily on the type of laptop you choose.
Many powerful gaming computers can offer only a few hours of backup while some travel-friendly portables can run unplugged for over ten hours.
A good idea is to hunt for a laptop that gets charged quickly, so you can power up whenever you get the opportunity.
- Well-built chassis: The sturdier your chassis is, the more durable the laptop is likely to be. Choose a machine that has been built well and blends style with able construction.
Modern-day laptops often employ a metallic structure with lightweight metals or alloys like magnesium-aluminum.
If looking good is important to you, it makes sense to find a computer with alluring colors, interesting polishing, and stand-out visual identities like logos and patterns on the cover.
- Portability: When laptops were first launched, this was their top selling point. You could actually carry these machines with you, unlike their bulky predecessors that had to be housed in separate, air-conditioned rooms.
Now, you can find laptops as light as 3lbs and as thin as one-inch or less. These lightweight, sleek computers can fit into backpacks and be carried around without torturing your back and shoulders.
- Device support: Your laptop should have a good assortment of ports, including USB and display ports. This is important if you plan to connect to external devices or peripherals.
In modern times, some laptops sacrifice a full array of ports for an extra-slim profile. It is up to you to judge whether you enjoy this trade-off.
- Internet connectivity: It is hard to imagine life without an internet connection, isn’t it? Look for Wi-Fi compatibility and support for LAN/Ethernet in your laptop.
A decent, updated Wi-Fi standard like 802.11ac will help you get a reliable network connection and good speed while browsing.
Latest Laptop Features to Look Out For
Besides the essentials we just discussed, you should also keep a lookout for some premium, innovative features that are now available in many laptops. These are not just bells and whistles; they are designed to up your laptop’s overall performance and functionality.
- Better-designed keyboards: Modern keyboards offer a comfortable key-travel distance that is easier on your fingertips.
Companies like Apple have invested heavily in new keyboard designs like the butterfly mechanism (unlike the conventional scissor mechanism that standard keyboards use).
While the new model has faced some backlash, it is a step in the right direction. The idea is to produce innovative keyboard designs that simplify a laptop’s overall flexibility of use.
Note: If gaming is your focus, you can find glorious keyboards with RGB backlighting and support for millions of colors. This adds a beautiful aura to your gameplay. Likewise, if you perform a lot of number crunching or data entry operations, you can ask for a keyboard with a separate numeric keypad.
- Smoother graphics technology: Visuals have become the mainstay of computer use for many audiences. If you engage in gaming, multimedia editing or movie-watching, you would want the imagery to be smooth and free of distortion.
NVIDIA now offers the G-SYNC technology that majorly minimizes lags and delays. If you invest in a powerful laptop with an efficient processing chamber, it makes sense to couple it with a smooth graphics co-processor.
- Modern webcams: You can bid adieu to jaded webcams that barely gave you any clarity during video calls. Today, laptops come with superior webcams that are positioned better and offer a clear picture and great sound.
Some of these come with privacy shutters that prevent awkward situations with your boss or colleagues. You can also get webcams that support noise reduction.
- High-speed, consistent internet connectivity: The Wi-Fi support on laptops has improved significantly in the last few years. Laptops that are compatible with 802.11ac Wi-Fi or Killer Wi-Fi are especially promising as they deliver consistent, speedy connectivity.
During gaming, you can prioritize the streaming you require for your gameplay; the network will adapt accordingly. Plus, many laptops that are committed to fast internet connectivity continue to offer the routine assortment of USB ports and Ethernet/LAN.
- Foolproof security: As work environments become more collaborative, security occupies considerable mind space. The last thing you need in a professional setting is someone getting access to your confidential data.
Laptops now provide innovative security provisions such as face recognition, fingerprint-based log-in, data encryption, and high-end security chips.
Our Picks: Best Laptops 2020
We have compiled a list of the finest laptops 2020 for various audiences. Depending on what your priority is—say, gaming or multimedia content editing—you can take your pick. Rest assured that you won’t be disappointed!
1. Dell XPS 13 7390 – Best Laptop 2020
Our pick for the best all-rounder laptop goes to the 13” Dell XPS 13 7390. The title celebrates its competent Intel Core i7-10510U processor, engaging thin-bezel display, innovative webcam design, battery life of almost 21 hours, and affordable under-$1000 price.
The display, in particular, is dazzling, with a screen-to-body ratio of 80.7%, a 100% sRGB color gamut, and 400-nit brightness. This computer is equipped with 16GB RAM and a 1TB SSD—adequate for day-to-day tasks as well as endeavors like multimedia editing and streaming.
This portable laptop weighs only 2.7lbs and is about 0.3–0.46” thick. It also comes well-connected and secure with a Type-C USB port, a fingerprint reader, and Dell Mobile Connect for seamless integration across devices.
2. Apple MacBook Pro – Best Mac Laptop 2020
If you are looking to buy a Mac laptop, we would recommend the Apple MacBook Pro, available in 13-inch and 15-inch sizes. This laptop is driven by an Intel Core i9 CPU, up to 32GB RAM, up to 4TB of storage, and a beautiful Retina display.
The latest MacBook Pro lives up to Apple’s lineage of providing top-notch multimedia support with provisions for Radeon Pro Vega GPU. Other stellar features include a keyboard with the butterfly mechanism for smoother operation and a wide color gamut that has 25% more colors than sRGB.
Bonus: This is a powerful but incredibly light laptop, weighing only 3lbs and 4lbs for the 13” and the 15” models respectively. Hello, traveling! Your comfort of use also improves thanks to the Touch Bar that replaces the function keys. You can use familiar gestures like flicks to get through your day.
3. ALIENWARE AREA-51M – Best Gaming Laptop
You can opt for a monitor with a refresh rate of 144Hz and NVIDIA G-SYNC for fluid gaming. An efficient cooling mechanism with liquid-crystal polymer fans keeps things sustainable.
The ALIENWARE AREA-51M looks as powerful as it is within, partly due to its sturdy magnesium-alloy chassis. This laptop understands that gamers demand a blend of form and function. It offers a per-key-RGB-backlit keyboard with anti-ghosting, Tobii eyetracking, and Killer Wi-Fi 6 AX1650. Note that this is a rather heavy machine at 8.54lbs.
4. New Dell XPS 15 7590 – Best Laptop for College Students
The 15.6” Dell XPS 15 7590 is a great pick for students, providing blazing-fast performance (up to an Intel Core i7 CPU), a gorgeous display (up to OLED), and a lightweight chassis weighing 4.5lbs.
The screen is protected from daily wear-and-tear by Corning Gorilla Glass. Keeping you connected with peers and any devices you need is an array of USB ports, an HDMI, and support for Dell Mobile Connect.
But here’s what we love best: the battery can last for over 20 hours on the FHD model and over 10 hours on the OLED model. That is terrific for present-day campus life.
5. Lenovo Yoga C930 – Best 2 in 1 Laptop
The Lenovo Yoga C930 is one of the best 2-in-1 laptops out there, with competent performance, flexible design, and a pleasing display with 4K clarity. The processing chamber hosts an Intel Core i7 CPU, 16GB RAM, and a 1TB SSD.
This laptop comes with a garaged pen that lets you doodle away with amazing accuracy (4096 points of pressure sensitivity). Even the webcam is well-thought-out, with a privacy shutter for peace of mind.
At only 3lbs and 0.57”, this 2-in-1 is astonishingly easy to carry with you. The rotating sound bar with Dolby Atmos is a terrific triumph and makes this a particularly great pick for audiophiles and multimedia enthusiasts. The premium aluminum construction and polishing lend this laptop a luxurious look.
6. MSI GS65 Stealth-432 – Best Laptop for Photo and Video Editing
Gamers and multimedia aficionados, take note. The 15.6” MSI GS65 Stealth-432 is a fantastic laptop for all things creative. It is driven by a high-speed Intel Core i7-9750H processor, 32GB RAM, and a 1TB SSD.
An NVIDIA GeForce RTX2070 graphics card brings you the best in A/V performance, including real-time ray tracing. The thin-bezel monitor (4.9mm or 0.19”) has a refresh rate of 240Hz which guarantees attention to detail.
We also love the Nahimic 3.0 Surround Sound virtualization and the Dynaudio Speaker System that add a whole new level of engagement to the game.
Bonus: Although this is a supremely powerful machine, it still offers over eight hours of unplugged usage. Plus, it comes with a slim power adaptor that is easy to lug along. Note that this is a rather heavy computer weighing 8.85lbs.
7. Acer Aspire 5 A515-54-51DJ – Best Budget Laptop Under $500
For an under-$500 laptop, the 15.6” Acer Aspire 5 A515-54-51DJ is phenomenal! It is fitted with an Intel Core i5-8265U processor, 8GB RAM, and a 256GB SSD which make it perfectly capable of handling everyday tasks.
The FHD display, the narrow-bezel monitor, and the Acer Color Intelligence technology come together for a pleasant visual experience.
This laptop also packs in rather premium features such as a backlit keyboard that lets you work even in poorly lit environs. A fingerprint reader brings you added security in collaborative work settings or while on the go.
The Acer Aspire 5 also boasts of over nine hours of battery life. This, combined with its lightweight build (3.97lbs) and a full assortment of USB ports, make it ideal as a travel companion.
8. Acer Aspire 5 A515-43-R19L – Best Cheap Laptop Under $300
Are you looking for an unbelievably cheap laptop that still caters to your daily needs without a fuss? The 15.6” Acer Aspire 5 A515-43-R19L is an AMD laptop fueled by an AMD Ryzen 3 3200U processor, 4GB RAM, a 128GB SSD, and Vega 3 graphics.
While this configuration is not ideal for complex computing tasks, you can comfortably use this laptop for standard pursuits like working on documents, browsing the internet, or checking your e-mail.
The FHD display supports IPS and comes with a blue light filter to protect you from eye strain. Acer has also equipped this machine with a backlit keyboard and over seven hours of battery life. It is a fairly portable laptop weighing 3.97lbs and measuring 0.7” in thickness.
9. ASUS ZenBook 13 UX333FA-AB77 – Best Laptop Under $1000
A ZenBook can be an excellent choice if you crave a balance of performance, style and mobility. The 13.3” ASUS ZenBook 13 UX333FA-AB77 is powered by an Intel Core i7-8565U processor, 16GB RAM, and a 512GB SSD.
It has a beautiful FHD screen with a wide view and an exceptional screen-to-body ratio of 95%! At 2.6lbs, it is highly portable; the royal blue color and smart, hinge-based design also make it quite a looker.
This ZenBook has some exclusive security and portability features such as an IR camera for facial recognition, a TPM security chip for data encryption, and MIL-STD 810G military standard for construction.
Also noteworthy is the touchpad with a numeric keypad. It comes in handy for anyone who does extensive number crunching or data entry operations during the day.
Bonus: This laptop has a stupendous battery life of 14 hours!
10. ASUS Chromebook Flip C434TA-DSM4T – Best Chromebook
One of the best Chromebooks you can find in the market today is the 14” ASUS Chromebook Flip C434TA-DSM4T with its Intel Core M3-8100Y CPU, 4-Way NanoEdge display, and 360-degree hinge design.
This all-metal laptop weighs only 3lbs, which makes it extremely travel-friendly. The processing chamber has 4GB RAM and up to 64GB of storage—not bad for the budget-friendly price tag of under-$600.
This Chromebook offers up to ten hours of battery life and a color gamut of 100% sRGB. But the finest feature has to be the sleek design, made possible by the super-thin bezel (5mm or 0.19”) and support for multiple modes of use.
- Best 15 Inch Laptops, Best 13 Inch Laptops, Best 11 Inch Laptops
- Best Laptops for College Students
- Best 2 in 1 Laptops
- Best Laptops for Video Editing
- Best Gaming Laptops Under $1500
Finding the “best” laptop can be very subjective, with the choices differing vastly across various audiences. While a computer with long battery life and a lightweight body may be just the thing for you, others may value performance or graphics support.
With several laptop manufacturers competing against each other to offer top products, laptop seekers are almost spoilt for choice. Brands like Apple, ASUS, Acer, Dell, MSI, and Lenovo are among the top-of-the-rung laptop makers with diverse line-ups of offerings.
Before selecting your computing companion, have your priorities listed out clearly. For instance, if you want the best gaming machine, then you will be delighted with the ALIENWARE AREA-51M (#3).
Likewise, the Acer Aspire 5 A515-54-51DJ is one of the best available laptops if you are tightly watching your budget.
Having a clear idea of what you value most in a computer—power, visuals, flexibility, sustainability—can help you land a good deal. But guess what else this list of machines has going for itself? Most of the identified picks also work brilliantly as all-rounder notebooks, which works out very well if your priorities are multiple.
Have a great time finding the laptop of your dreams!