Best Laptops of 2023 – CNET

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$899 at Lenovo

Lenovo Yoga 7i 2022 14-inch two-in-one laptop in stand mode with the display facing left on a yellow background

Lenovo Yoga 7i Gen 7 (14-inch)

Best Windows laptop for students

$520 at HP

HP Pavilion Aero 13

HP Pavilion Aero 13

Best laptop on a budget

$650 at Dell

dell-g15-3

Dell G15 Gaming Laptop

Best budget gaming laptop

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What is the best laptop overall?

The Apple MacBook Air M2 currently tops our list of the best laptops 2023 has to offer because it is a solid choice for most people. It offers a great combination of everything we look for when we’re testing: reliable everyday performance, long battery life and a design that works for a broad range of users. The latest MacBook Air starts at $1,199, which is why we still recommend the 2020 MacBook Air M1 as a lower-cost alternative to the newest Air model, as it’s still an all-around excellent laptop. For those looking for a more value-oriented option, HP’s Pavilion Aero 13 is an excellent small and light laptop starting at $550, but even fully loaded it’s a reasonable $900.

At CNET, our laptop experts have collective decades of experience testing and reviewing laptops, covering everything from performance to price to battery life. This hand-curated list covers the best laptops across various sizes, styles and costs, including laptop computers running on Windows, MacOS and Chrome.

If you want more laptop brands and options for a particular category, we also have specialized lists you can look at, including the best gaming laptopsbest 15-inch laptops, best two-in-ones and best Chromebooks, as well as the best laptops for college students, designers and the best MacBook Pro alternatives. If you need to stay as low as possible on the price of a new laptop computer, check out our best budget laptop and best budget gaming laptop picks.

This best laptop list is updated periodically with new models we’ve tested and reviewed. If you need advice on whether a particular type of laptop or two-in-one is right for you, jump to our laptop FAQ at the bottom of the list, and if you’re looking to save some money on your purchase, be sure to check out our best laptop deals page.

Best laptops 2023

Apple MacBook Air M2 2022 on a wooden desk.

Josh Goldman/CNET

Thanks to a new design, a larger display (13.6 inches versus the previous 13.3 inches), a faster M2 chip and a long-awaited upgrade to a higher-res webcam, the 2022 version of the MacBook Air remains our top choice for the most universally useful laptop in Apple’s lineup, with one caveat. At $1,199, the $200 increase over the traditional $999 MacBook Air starting price is a disappointment. That’s why you’ll still find the M1 version of the Air retains a spot on our best laptop list. Still, we like everything else about it and it’s our first choice if you’re considering an Air and don’t mind spending more.

Pros:

  • Bigger, brighter screen
  • A high-res webcam
  • Excellent performance and battery life

Cons:

  • More expensive than the model it replaces
  • New power adapter is a paid upgrade on some configs
  • New webcam adds a screen notch

Apple MacBook Air M2 review

dell-xps-13-2022-a

Dan Ackerman/CNET

The Dell XPS 13 is a perennial favorite for its size, weight and performance as well as overall good looks. For 2022, Dell made the XPS 13 even smaller and lighter, kept its sub-$999 starting price the same, and dropped in the latest 12th-gen Intel processors. The design is still great (though there’s no headphone jack; a USB-C adapter is included instead) and the battery life is long. 

Pros:

  • All-aluminum design gives it a polished, modern look
  • Excellent battery life
  • Good configurations are reasonably priced

Cons:

  • No audio jack
  • Lower-power chips hold back performance
  • Clicky touchpad

Dell XPS 13 9315 review

M1 MacBook Air on a table

Dan Ackerman/CNET

Despite the availability of the new bigger and better M2 MacBook Air, the M1 MacBook Air (one of the first to switch from Intel to Apple silicon) is staying around and that’s a good thing. As Apple’s entry-level laptop it is still our go-to recommendation for a MacOS laptop for basic everyday use. It has great performance and long battery life — up to 18 hours — and is a solid choice for school or work.

Pros:

  • Great battery life and performance
  • Fanless design runs cool and quiet

Cons:

  • No external design or feature changes
  • Still more expensive than equally capable Windows laptops

Read our Apple MacBook Air M1 (Late 2020) review.

Lenovo’s thin, 3-pound convertible is a solid choice for anyone who needs a laptop for office or schoolwork. The all-metal chassis gives it a premium look and feel, and it has a comfortable keyboard and a responsive, smooth touchpad. Though it’s light on extra features compared to its premium linemate, the Yoga 9i, it has a more affordable price. It does have one of Lenovo’s sliding shutters for its webcam that gives you privacy when you want it. And it has a long battery life to boot, at 12 hours, 45 minutes in our tests. 

Pros:

  • Great battery life with strong performance
  • Premium look and feel
  • 1080p webcam
  • Fingerprint reader and facial recognition for fast sign-ins

Cons:

  • Memory soldered on
  • USB-C ports all on left side
  • Prices can vary wildly depending on sales

Lenovo Yoga 7i Gen 7 (14-inch) review

HP Pavilion Aero 13

Josh Goldman/CNET

HP packed a lot of value into the Aero 13: Eye-pleasing magnesium-aluminum chassis, strong processing performance, long battery life, a bright, colorful display and a weight of just 2 pounds (0.94 kilogram). Amazingly, with all that it offers though, it doesn’t break the bank in terms of price: It starts at just over $500 and is about $1,300 fully loaded. If you want something a bit larger with more to offer when it comes to components, consider the HP Pavilion 14 instead or any of our other picks for the best laptops on a budget.

Pros:

  • Weighs under 2.2 pounds
  • Long battery life
  • Excellent performance for everyday tasks

Cons:

  • Backlit keyboard not standard
  • No touchscreen option
  • Memory is soldered on

HP Pavilion Aero 13 review

Acer Chromebook Spin 714 open and facing to the right on a wooden table with windows behind it.

Josh Goldman/CNET

A Microsoft Surface Pro 8 sitting on a blue table outside.

Dan Ackerman/CNET

Although this Microsoft Surface laptop is not the Surface Laptop, the Surface Pro continues to hit all the right notes if you’re looking for a do-it-all Windows tablet that doubles as a Windows laptop. Microsoft updated it for the Surface Pro 9, but little has changed beyond a processor upgrade from 11th-gen Intel Core processors to 12th-gen chips, as well as an option for a Microsoft SQ 3 processor with 5G wireless. If you were contemplating a Pro 8, it’s still around but now with a lower price, and is our go-to choice. However, here’s our review of the Surface Pro 9 so you can see how they measure up. 

Pros:

  • Bigger, better display from previous generation
  • Nice haptic slim stylus
  • Can charge via USB-C

Cons:

  • All-important keyboard still isn’t included in the box
  • No 5G options, 4G only for business customers
  • Fan can get loud

Microsoft Surface Pro 8 review

Lenovo Yoga 9i Gen 7 14 inch on a blue background

Joshua Goldman/CNET

Lenovo launched the Yoga line 10 years ago with Windows 8 and now, with Windows 11, the flexibility of the design has only gotten better. The company’s flagship 14-inch Yoga 9i Gen 7 has an updated look with comfortable, rounded edges and 12th-gen Intel processors that give it a big multicore performance jump. A beautiful OLED display and improved audio make it excellent for work, video conferences and entertainment. Lenovo includes an active pen and a laptop sleeve to complete the premium package. 

The powerful speakers do add some vibration to the palm rests when turned up, and Lenovo has cluttered the laptop with pitches for optional services and software. But, overall, the Yoga 9i is the two-in-one convertible laptop to beat. The 2023 version of the Yoga 9i is now available, too, but it’s mainly a specs update to the latest 13th-gen Intel processors. 

Pros:

  • Big multicore performance jump
  • Great visual and audio experience
  • Laptop sleeve and active pen included

Cons:

  • Cluttered with pitches for optional services, software
  • Speakers add vibration to palm rests

Lenovo Yoga 9i Gen 7 review

Alienware m18 gaming laptop, open

Dan Ackerman/CNET

One of the first of the new generation of 18-inch laptops, the m18 can get expensive if you push it up to a high configuration — an RTX 4090 and Core i9-13900HX will get you to $3,300, without even a lot of memory or storage. But if the big screen is most important to you, it starts at $2,000 with a respectable i7-13650HX and RTX 4050. And don’t expect great battery life, plus the fans can get loud when you’re pushing it.

Pros:

  • Massive screen for gaming
  • Amazing performance from the Nvidia RTX 4090 GPU
  • Tactile CherryMX keyboard
  • Lots of ports and connections
  • Less expensive than the other 18-inch gaming laptop we’ve reviewed

Cons:

  • Bland color options than the previous gen
  • Better components drive up the price
  • Fans can get loud while gaming

Alienware m18 review

dell-g15-3

Dan Ackerman/CNET

Dell’s G15 has been a favorite budget gaming laptop for the past few years, along with the HP Victus line. It was joined this year by a 16-inch version, the G16. We tested both and were impressed with what each offers. 

If you’re looking for a gaming laptop bargain, the G15 is the way to go. But if you can afford to spend a couple hundred dollars more, the G16 is a better bet for longevity. Either way, you’ll get a good gaming laptop for the money, but we strongly recommend waiting for a sale. 

Pros:

  • Very inexpensive way to get into PC gaming
  • Many screen options
  • Can double as an everyday work PC

Cons: 

  • Least-expensive config has scant storage
  • Mediocre keyboard and touchpad
  • Limited ports

Dell G15 and G16 Gaming Laptop review

The Apple MacBook Pro 16 open in front of a studio's multicamera video control setup

Dan Ackerman/CNET

Apple’s 2023 update to its flagship MacBook Pro 16-inch line is a modest refresh from the more significantly redesigned 2021 model; notably, it upgrades to the latest generation of M2-class processorsWi-Fi 6E and HDMI 2.1. With those updates, it gains support for displays up to 8K/60Hz and 4K/240Hz as well as variable refresh rates. The combination of the old and new enhances the veteran laptop’s chops as a powerhouse computer for creation and development work. 

You pay for it, though: The base price for the 16-inch model of this premium laptop is $2,499.

Pros:

  • Fast with solid battery life
  • Good, bright screen
  • Wi-Fi 6E and HDMI 2.1 support

Cons:

  • Heavy
  • iPhone-like camera notch 

Apple MacBook Pro (16-inch) review

Dell XPS 17 9720 (2022)

James Martin/CNET

The XPS 17 combines the same slim, premium design of its 13-inch linemate but with increased performance possibilities. It can be configured with up to a 13th-gen Intel Core i9 processor, up to 64GB of memory, up to 8TB of storage and a 12GB Nvidia GeForce RTX 4080 graphics chip. The best part: The body is so trim that you get a 17-inch display in what’s about the size of an older 15.6-inch laptop. You’re getting a lot of power and a big screen in the smallest possible package. 

Pros:

  • Big, high-res screen
  • Enough graphics power for creative work and mainstream gaming
  • Slim design for such a large laptop

Cons: 

  • Low-res webcam
  • Minimal ports

Dell XPS 17 review

How we test laptops

The review process for laptops and other computers and tablets consists of two parts: performance testing under controlled conditions in the CNET Labs and extensive hands-on use by our expert reviewers. This includes evaluating a device’s aesthetics, ergonomics and features. A final review verdict is a combination of both those objective and subjective judgments. 

The list of benchmarking software we use changes over time as the devices we test evolve. The most important core tests we’re currently running on every compatible computer include: Primate Labs Geekbench 5Cinebench R23PCMark 10 and 3DMark Fire Strike Ultra

To test laptop battery life, we change the default settings to keep the system from going to sleep or hibernating, disable pop-ups and notifications that may interfere with the test and set screen brightness and volume (output to earbuds) to 50%. We then stream a looped, custom YouTube video over Wi-Fi in the Chrome browser and use a timer app to track how long the system remains active.

A more detailed description of each benchmark and how we use it can be found in our How We Test Computers page. 

Laptop FAQs

How much do good laptops cost?

Setting a budget is a good place to start when shopping for the best laptop for yourself. The good news is you can get a nice-looking, lightweight laptop with excellent battery life at prices under $500. If you’re shopping for a laptop around $500 or less, check out our top picks here, as well as more specific buying advice for that price range.

Higher-end components like Intel Core i-series and AMD Ryzen processors and premium design touches like thin-display bezels and aluminum or magnesium bodies have made their way to laptops priced between $500 and $1,000. You can also find touchscreens and two-in-one designs that can be used as a tablet or a laptop — and a couple other positions in between. In this price range, you’ll also find faster memory and ssd storage — and more of it — to improve performance. 

Above $1,000 is where you’ll find premium laptops and two-in-ones. If you’re looking for the fastest performance, the best battery life, the slimmest, lightest designs and top-notch display quality with an adequate screen size, expect to spend at least $1,000. 

Which is better, MacOS or Windows?

Deciding between MacOS and Windows laptop for many people will come down to personal preference and budget. Apple’s base model laptop, the M1 MacBook Air, starts at $999. You can sometimes find it discounted or you can get educational pricing from Apple and other retailers. But, in general, it’ll be at least $1,000 for a new MacBook, and the prices just go up from there. 

For the money, though, you’re getting great hardware top to bottom, inside and out. Apple recently moved to using its own processors, which resulted in across-the-board performance improvements compared to older Intel-based models. But, the company’s most powerful laptop, the 16-inch MacBook Pro, still hasn’t been updated to Apple silicon. 

But, again, that great hardware comes at a price. Also, you’re limited to just Apple laptops. With Windows and Chromebooks (more on these below), you get an amazing variety of devices at a wide range of prices. 

Software between the two is plentiful, so unless you need to run something that’s only available on one platform or the other, you should be fine to go with either. Gaming is definitely an advantage for a Windows laptop, though.

MacOS is also considered to be easier and safer to use than Windows, especially for people who want their computers to get out of the way so they can get things done. Over the years, though, Microsoft has done its best to follow suit and, with Windows 11 hereit’s trying to remove any barriers. Also, while Macs might have a reputation for being safer, with the popularity of the iPhone and iPad helping to drive Mac sales, they’ve become bigger targets for malware.

Are Chromebooks worth it?

Yes, they are, but they’re not for everyone. Google’s Chrome OS has come a long way in the past 10 years and Chromebooks — laptops that run on Chrome OS — are great for people who do most of their work in a web browser or using mobile apps. They are secure, simple and, more often than not, a bargain. What they can’t do is natively run Windows or Mac software. 

What’s the best laptop for home, travel or both?

The pandemic changed how and where a lot of people work. The small, ultraportable laptops valued by people who regularly traveled may have suddenly become woefully inadequate for working from home. Or maybe instead of needing long battery life, you’d rather have a bigger display with more graphics power for gaming.

If you’re going to be working on a laptop and don’t need more mobility than moving it from room to room, consider a 15.6-inch laptop or larger. In general, a bigger screen makes life easier for work and is more enjoyable for entertainment, and also is better if you’re using it as an extended display with an external monitor. It typically means you’re getting more ports, too, so connecting an external display or storage or a keyboard and mouse are easier without requiring a hub or dock. 

For travel, stay with 13- or 14-inch laptops or two-in-ones. They’ll be the lightest and smallest while still delivering excellent battery life. What’s nice is that PC-makers are moving away from 16:9 widescreens toward 16:10- or 3:2-ratio displays, which gives you more vertical screen space for work without significantly increasing the footprint. These models usually don’t have discrete graphics or powerful processors, though that’s not always the case.

Which laptop is best for gaming or creating?

You can play games and create content on any laptop. That said, what games you play and what content you create — and the speed at which you do them — is going vary greatly depending on the components inside the laptop. 

For casual browser-based games or using streaming-game services like Google Stadia, Nvidia GeForce Now and Xbox Cloud Gaming, you don’t need a powerful gaming laptop. And similarly, if you’re just trimming video clips, cropping photos or live-streaming video from your webcam, you can get by with a modestly priced laptop or Chromebook with integrated graphics. 

For anything more demanding, you’ll need to invest more money for discrete graphics like Nvidia’s RTX 30-series GPUs. Increased system memory of 16GB or more, having a speedy SSD for storage and a faster processor such as an Intel Core i7 or AMD Ryzen 7 will all help you get things moving faster, too. 

The other piece you’ll want to consider is the display. For gaming, look for screens with a high refresh rate of 120Hz or faster so games look smoother while playing. For content creation, look for displays that cover 100% sRGB color space. 

How we test laptops

The review process for laptops and other computers consists of two parts: performance testing under controlled conditions in the CNET Labs and extensive hands-on use by our expert reviewers. This includes evaluating a device’s aesthetics, ergonomics and features. A final review verdict is a combination of both those objective and subjective judgments. 

The list of benchmarking software we use changes over time as the devices we test evolve. The most important core tests we’re currently running on every compatible computer include: Primate Labs Geekbench 5Cinebench R23PCMark 10 and 3DMark Fire Strike Ultra

A more detailed description of each benchmark and how we use it can be found in our How We Test Computers page. 

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