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9 best laptops of 2024: tested and reviewed

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To earn the crown as the best laptop in 2024, a device needs to have it all: gorgeous design, killer performance, a productive keyboard, long-lasting battery life, and much more.

Each of the laptops below has been vetted thoroughly by us here at Digital Trends. Whether it’s an affordable Chromebook or a top-of-the-line gaming laptop, they’ve all been subjected to real-world testing, as well as benchmark and battery tests to collect data to objectively pit them against each other.

With lots of new laptops coming in 2024, it’s wise to consider whether or not it’s worth waiting for the updates — but as it stands now, these are your best options.

Quick Overview

  • Apple MacBook Air M2: a fast, efficient, and portable laptop for everyone
  • Dell XPS 13: an affordable and well-built mainstream option
  • Razer Blade 14: a fast, yet mobile gaming workstation
  • HP Spectre x360 14: HP’s loveliest and most useful convertible 2-in-1
  • Asus ZenBook 14 OLED: the best laptop you can buy under $1,000
  • Apple MacBook Pro (M3 Max): the best creator pro laptop
  • Microsoft Surface Pro 9: the best touchscreen laptop just keeps getting better
  • Lenovo Yoga 9i Gen 8: a fast, solidly built convertible 2-in-1 that looks great
  • Lenovo Chromebook Duet 3: a usable and flexible Chromebook 2-in-1 for less than $300

Why you should trust us

Our expert laptop reviewers have tested and reviewed more than 500 laptops over the years, searching for the best of the best. We’ve reviewed every kind of laptop available, from traditional clamshell laptops to a variety of 2-in-1s to gaming laptops to unusual and innovative machines. We’ve applied a consistent and reliable formula to each of our reviews, pulling from a massive database of performance testing to make it possible for you to compare laptops with confidence.

Key considerations when selecting the best laptop

Laptops are complex machines, so there are a few key considerations we focus on when evaluating them.

Performance

You’ll want a laptop that’s fast enough for your needs, but you don’t want to overspend for performance you don’t need. So don’t buy a gaming laptop with a super-fast CPU and a powerful discrete GPU if you’ll just be surfing the web and answering email. Pay close attention to the processor choice, regardless if it’s Intel, AMD, or Apple. And in the end, it’s key to be honest with yourself and the kind of performance you actually need.

Portability

If you need a large display for tasks like video and photo editing, then by all means, choose a 15-inch or larger laptop. You’ll also be able to get more powerful components. But if you need something you can easily slip inside a backpack without weighing yourself down, then you’ll want to pick a laptop that’s smaller and lighter. It’s also important to consider battery life here to ensure you have what suits your lifestyle.

Build quality

You’ll be handling your laptop and carrying it around into all kinds of environments. Some laptops are built better than others, so make sure you pick a machine that will stand up to your typical abuse. No matter the price, you want something that feels sturdy and robust. It’s not worth saving a couple hundred bucks if the thing is falling apart one year later.

Price

You probably have a budget to work with, which can range from a few hundred dollars up to many thousands. If you’re using your laptop to drive a business, then you’ll probably be more inclined to make a significant investment, whereas if you’re a hungry college student, you might be willing to compromise in a few areas to make it fit your budget.

And more

Beyond those listed above, you should also consider the display quality, the webcam, port selection, design, keyboard, touchpad, and speakers. That’s a lot, but don’t be overwhelmed! These are all factors we consider when reviewing and recommending laptops.


Digital Trends

Apple MacBook Air M2

The best laptop

Pros

  • Incredibly thin
  • Upgraded webcam and speakers
  • Shockingly good performance
  • Battery life stomps the competition
  • Screen and keyboard are world-class

Cons

  • Worryingly hot internal temperatures
  • Still only supports one monitor
Specifications
CPU:Apple M2 8-core
RAM:8GB, 16GB, 24GB
GPU:Apple M2 8-core, 10-core
Screen:13.3-inch Retina
Storage:256GB, 512GB, 1TB, 2TB SSD
Dimensions:11.97 x 8.46 x 0.44 inches

When Apple updated the MacBook Air to its latest M2 processor, it didn’t stop there. Instead, the laptop was completely redesigned, starting with the chassis which took on the same general design as the larger MacBook Pro. The iconic MacBook taper was dropped and the chassis was trimmed, resulting in a minimalist and elegant laptop that’s among the thinnest ever made at just 0.44 inches thick.

The M2 is an incremental improvement over the M1, slightly faster and more efficient but not a game-changer. It provides outstanding productivity performance and excellent battery life, making it one of the more balanced laptops you can buy today. The Liquid Retina IPS display is as good as always, and the keyboard (making it among the best laptops for writers) and Force Touch touchpad are the best available.

A recent price drop to $1,099 makes the MacBook Air M2 the second-most affordable MacBook, behind only the MacBook Air M1 that’s $100 cheaper. There’s even a larger 15-inch model that’s also excellent. Even with the M3 MacBook Air coming soon, the M2 MacBook Air remains a fantastic option.

Apple MacBook Air M2

Apple MacBook Air M2

The best laptop

dell xps 13 9315 review img 2436 1

Digital Trends

Dell XPS 13 (9315)

The best Windows laptop

Pros

  • Aggressive price
  • Very compact design
  • Great battery life
  • Comfortable keyboard
  • Display is bright and high quality

Cons

  • No headphone jack
  • Performance is lacking
Specifications
CPU:Intel Core i5-1230U, Core i7-1250U
RAM:8GB, 16GB, 32GB
GPU:Intel Xe Graphics
Screen:13.4-inch 1920 x 1200 IPS
Storage:256GB, 1TB, 2TB SSD
Dimensions:11.63 x 7.85 x 0.55 inches

There are two things you need to know about the Dell XPS 13 before buying one. First, it doesn’t have a headphone jack. Second, its performance is a bit lackluster compared to many of the 12th-generation Intel-powered laptops.

With those downsides in mind, you might wonder why a laptop like this is still showing up on this list. Well, it all comes down to value. If you can set those two negatives aside, you’ll find a gorgeous little laptop priced like none other. The base configuration tends to fluctuate in price, but it ranges between $749 and $1,099, making it the cheapest the XPS laptops have ever sold for. Keep in mind, you’re getting 512GB of storage in that model, too. That makes a lot of laptops on this list seem overpriced, especially considering how good the battery life and display are. That’s even true sitting next to the M1 MacBook Air. It’s a fantastic value — so long as you can accept the lack of a headphone jack.

Of course, you’ll also find a laptop here with premium features, such as a comfortable keyboard, a great touchpad, and a killer IPS screen. And, of course, the design is stellar. The compact little machine that’s one of the best 13-inch laptops continues to have remarkably thin bezels, and the new color options are both unique and tasteful. It’s very hard to find a laptop under $1,000 that hits all those marks, especially without sacrificing anything major.

You might wonder why we’ve included the XPS 13 on the list rather than the XPS 13 Plus. After all, the Plus model is more powerful and has some really excellent features, such as the seamless haptic feedback trackpad and the larger, edge-to-edge keyboard. Those features are all neat and certainly make it a futuristic-feeling laptop, but we’re not sure they’re worth the extra cost over the standard XPS 13, which comes in at hundreds of dollars cheaper. With the XPS 13 redesign coming soon, you may want to consider how this model stacks up against the new model.

Dell XPS 13 9315

Dell XPS 13 (9315)

The best Windows laptop

Razer Blade 14 (2023) sitting on a coffee table.

Jacob Roach / Digital Trends / Digital Trends

Razer Blade 14

The best gaming laptop

Pros

  • Fantastic gaming performance
  • Relatively cool and quiet
  • Solid IPS screen
  • Great battery life and portability

Cons

  • Bulky charger
  • More expensive than the previous model
Specifications
CPU:AMD Ryzen 9 7940HS
RAM:16GB, 32GB
GPU:Nvidia RTX 4060, RTX 4070
Screen:14-inch QHD+ 240Hz refresh rate
Storage:1TB SSD
Dimensions:12.23 x 8.97 x 0.70 inches

Gaming laptops are their own class of laptop that demand their own list, but we wanted to include some here that could easily double as your standard laptop – of course, with the added benefit that these can do some serious gaming after work.

The Razer Blade 14 might be the best example of such a premise. In many ways, it doesn’t feel like it shouldn’t be possible. Up to an RTX 4070 in a thin, 14-inch laptop? Yep, that’s right. And it does it with some pretty impressive performance, too. It comes with a 2160p screen with a 240Hz refresh rate, ensuring that you’re never bottlenecked by the display. Then again, the previous model, that’s still available to purchase, has an optional 1080p 144Hz panel that can be configured with up to an RTX 3060 and a Ryzen 9 6900HX CPU and manages to land well under $2,000, which is a rare feat for a Razer laptop.

Yes, this bad boy’s expensive. But what you’re paying for is the ability to switch between work and play without batting an eye. The Razer logo on the lid and the per-key RGB backlighting might catch some attention at the office, but hey, this is a gaming laptop through and through.

There will always be room for larger gaming laptops like the Razer Blade 15 or Lenovo Legion 5 Pro, but the Razer Blade 14 still feels like a miracle. Amazingly, the Razer Blade 14 does all this at a few hundred dollars cheaper than the Razer Blade 15.

An update to the Razer Blade 14 is in the works for 2024, but so is a redesign to the impressive ROG Zephyrus G14, which has increasingly become a popular alternative.

Razer Blade 14 (2023)

Razer Blade 14

The best gaming laptop

HP Spectre x360 13.5 front angled view showing display and keyboard deck.
HP Spectre x360 13.5

Mark Coppock / Digital Trends

HP Spectre x360 14

Best HP laptop

Pros

  • Attractive aesthetic
  • Very good productivity performance
  • Good to great battery life
  • Excellent haptic touchpad
  • Superb 120Hz OLED display
  • Superior audio quality

Cons

  • No discrete GPU option
  • A bit expensive
Specifications
CPU:Up to Intel Core Ultra 7 155H
RAM:Up to 32GB
GPU:Intel Arc Graphics
Screen:14.0-inch OLED 120Hz
Storage:Up to 2TB SSD
Dimensions:12.35 x 8.68 x 0.67 inches

We’ve always liked the HP Spectre x360 series, but the new 14-inch model might be the best of the lot. It’s fast, flashy, and portable — but in a balanced way. That’s always been the name of the game for the Spectre x360.

It can’t compete with some of the more powerful 14-inch laptops that offer better graphics, like the MacBook Pro 14-inch, Dell XPS 14, or even the Razer Blade 14. However, the Spectre is the choice if you want a super-premium laptop with a 360-degree hinge that excels at both work and movie-watching. The OLED 120Hz screen is fantastic — and it’s an exceedingly pretty laptop. That earns it more points than you might assume.

It’s one of the nicest new laptops to come with Intel’s latest Core Ultra processors, adding NPUs into the mix, as well as some impressive efficiency at low wattages. These chips also provide the Spectre x360 14 with vastly improved integrated graphics. These aren’t unique to the HP Spectre x360 14, but again, it’s one of the most premium new laptops to feature the Core Ultra chips and you can buy it right now.

HP Spectre x360 14

HP Spectre x360 14

Best HP laptop

asus zenbook 14 oled review featured

Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

Asus ZenBook 14 OLED

The best affordable laptop

Pros

  • Excellent value
  • Competent productivity performance
  • Great battery life
  • Comfortable keyboard and NumberPad 2.0 touchpad
  • Solid build and attractive aesthetic
  • Outstanding OLED display

Cons

  • Creative performance is lacking
Specifications
CPU:AMD Ryzen 5 7530U, Ryzen 7 7730U
RAM:8GB, 16GB
GPU:AMD Radeon graphics
Screen:14.0-inch OLED
Storage:256GB, 512GB, 1TB SSD
Dimensions:12.34 x 8.68 x 0.67 inches

Sometimes, a laptop comes along that offers surprisingly good value with impressive features, placing it at the top of our list of best budget laptops. The Asus ZenBook 14 OLED is one such laptop, coming in at $700 for the base model with a Ryzen 5 CPU, 8GB of RAM, and a 256GB SSD, and costing just $870 for a more powerful configuration with a Ryzen 7, 16GB of RAM, and a 512GB SSD. Most impressive, though, is getting an excellent OLED display at these prices. In fact, it’s one of the best OLED laptops you can buy today.

As with all OLED panels, the one on the ZenBook 14 OLED is bright, colorful, and displays inky blacks. It’s great for productivity, creative work, and streaming HDR media, and it’s rare to get this kind of display quality at such a low price. But the ZenBook 14 OLED isn’t just cheap. It also performs well and gets great battery life.

Toss in a solid build, excellent keyboard and touchpad, and you have the best option currently available for under $1,000. It’s not exactly a budget laptop, if you define that as one that costs $500 or less, but it’s certainly an excellent value.

ASUS Zenbook 14 OLED

Asus ZenBook 14 OLED

The best affordable laptop

apple macbook pro m3 max review 1

Luke Larsen / Digital Trends

Apple MacBook Pro (M3 Max)

Pros

  • Space Black is the new king
  • GPU performance gets big upgrade
  • XDR display is even brighter
  • Speakers are fantastic
  • Decent webcam

Cons

  • Storage and RAM is soldered on
  • M3 model only supports one external display
Specifications
CPU:Apple M3 Max
RAM:Up to 128GB
GPU:Up to 40-core
Screen:Liquid Retina XDR display
Storage:Up to 8TB
Dimensions:12.31 x 8.72 x 0.61 inches

The M3 Max is a big deal. I already loved the MacBook Pro, don’t get me wrong. The mini-LED screen was already the best you could find on a laptop. But with the M3 Max, the MacBook Pro becomes an unstoppable force. There’s a huge upgrade in the graphics of the M3 Max, rivaling the discrete GPU options on comparable laptops. It’s even a half-decent gaming laptop — if only there were some more games available.

But really, this is the complete package. It’s top of the line in every thinkable way, and you’ll pay for it. Can a $3,000-plus laptop really be worth it? I’d say so. Especially if you’re a creative professional who wants the best possible portable workstation that money can buy. If that’s you, look no further. I won’t vouch for the M3 or M3 Pro MacBook Pro with that same kind of enthusiastic recommendation, but the M3 Max is something special.

Apple 2023 MacBook Pro Laptop M3 Max chip with 14‑core CPU, 30‑core GPU: 14.2-inch Liquid Retina XDR Display, 36GB Unified Memory, 1TB SSD Storage. Works with iPhone/iPad; Silver

Apple MacBook Pro (M3 Max)

Lenovo ThinkPad Z13 front view.
Lenovo ThinkPad Z13

Digital Trends

Lenovo ThinkPad Z13

Best laptop for work

Pros

  • Excellent battery life
  • Performance is impressive
  • Small footprint
  • Webcam is solid
  • Unique design
Specifications
CPU:AMD Ryzen 5 Pro 6650U, Ryzen 7 Pro 6850U
RAM:16GB, 32GB
GPU:Integrated AMD Radeon 660M
Screen:13.3-inch IPS
Storage:512GB SSD, 1TB
Dimensions:11.59 x 7.85 x 0.55 inches

Business laptops don’t have to be boring, and the ThinkPad Z13 proves it. Its faux-leather lid looks unique while still feeling classy, with just enough touches across the chassis to feel modern. Not that you need to work for a big company to love what the ThinkPad Z13 has to offer. The ThinkPad Z13 is the kind of business laptop that the average person would likely be delighted to use — so long as you appreciate the ThinkPad brand and buttoned-up aesthetic.

Of course, the ThinkPad Z13 is more than just an interesting-looking new laptop. It’s one of the best laptops to run on AMD’s new Ryzen 6000 chips, which provide excellent performance and long-lasting battery life. Yes, the security features come baked-in too, but it’s the battery life that really sold us on these chips. With MacBooks leading the charge in battery life, it’s great to see a Windows option that lasts almost as long and doesn’t have an Apple logo plastered to the lid.

The ThinkPad Z13 also includes a 1080p webcam that produces some solid results for videoconferencing. That’s as important as ever, and Lenovo’s design even highlights the feature with its brushed metal Communication Bar. It’s a significant jump up in clarity and sharpness over older laptops with 720p and follows the trend of improving image quality for remote work. There’s even an OLED model if you really want to take the screen to the next level, though we found the cheaper IPS display to be solid on its own.

All of it comes together in a package that feels both unique and appropriate for the office, which is especially hard to pull off at this price. Unlike many high-end business laptops and ThinkPads in general, the ThinkPad Z13 isn’t extravagantly overpriced, which makes the excellent performance, battery life, and features even more noteworthy.

Lenovo ThinkPad Z13 (AMD)

Lenovo ThinkPad Z13

Best laptop for work

The Surface Pro 9 with the Type Cover keyboard lifted up.
Microsoft Surface Pro 9

Luke Larsen / Digital Trends

Microsoft Surface Pro 9

Best touchscreen laptop

Pros

  • New colors look great
  • Design and build quality are top notch
  • SQ3 is a solid alternative
  • Type Cover keyboard is excellent
  • High resolution webcam

Cons

  • No headphone jack
  • Upgrades still too expensive
  • Limited performance improvements
Specifications
CPU:Intel Core i5-1245U, Core i7-1255U
RAM:8GB, 16GB
GPU:Integrated Intel Xe graphics
Screen:13-inch PixelSense Flow
Storage:128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB SSD
Dimensions:11.3 x 8.2 x 0.37 inches

For many years, the Surface Pro was all on its own. Other manufacturers had given up on the 2-in-1 form factor, and Windows wasn’t doing much to improve touch interfaces. But that changed this year when multiple new Surface Pro-like devices were released, no doubt thanks to the momentum Microsoft is building with Windows 11.

That means the Surface Pro 9, the latest model in the line, has some serious competition. But even with challengers like the Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 available, the Surface Pro 9 remains on top. Microsoft has been perfecting this hardware for years now, and it shows. The buttery smooth 120Hz display is a highlight, especially with the thin bezels introduced in last year’s model. Microsoft has a more polished product, and even though it asks for more money, the product experience is totally worth it.

Interestingly, though, the Surface Pro 9 is also the first to offer both an Intel model and an ARM configuration. The ARM model uses the Microsoft SQ3, the company’s latest collaboration with Qualcomm, and you might be wondering if it’s finally become a better option than the more conventional Intel model. It certainly gets more battery life, and the addition of 5G connectivity is a bonus. But if performance is what you’re looking for, the Intel model is still the way to go, especially since the 12th-gen chips bring quite a performance jump over the previous generation.

As it stands, that’s the way most people should go, though we wouldn’t blame you for wanting to try something new with the SQ3 model. It seems like many companies want ARM to be the future of Windows PCs, and portable 2-in-1 devices seem like a category ripe for more efficient chips. The Surface Pro 10 is rumored to be a big change, though it may not be available until this summer.

Surface Pro 9

Microsoft Surface Pro 9

Best touchscreen laptop

lenovo yoga 9i gen 8 review featured

Mark Coppock/Digital Trends / Digital Trends

Lenovo Yoga 9i Gen 8

Best Lenovo laptop

Pros

  • Fast productivity performance
  • Spectacular OLED display
  • Solid build quality
  • Good keyboard and touchpad
  • Elegant good looks

Cons

  • Battery life is below average
  • Slightly expensive
Specifications
CPU:Intel Core i7-1360P
RAM:16GB
GPU:Intel Iris Xe
Screen:14.0-inch OLED
Storage:512GB SSD
Dimensions:12.52 x 9.06 x 0.60 inches

The Lenovo Yoga 9i Gen 8 inherits the gorgeous, rounded design of some other recent Lenovo laptops, giving it both an elegant look and a comfortable feel. The latter is particularly nice when you’re using this 360-degree convertible 2-in-1 in tablet mode, where the lack of sharp edges are welcome.

The laptop is thin and light enough to be useful in this mode as well, thanks to minimal bezels and the increasingly iconic Lenovo reverse notch at the top of the display that houses a 1080p webcam. Even given its relatively svelte frame, it provides solid performance thanks to 28-watt Intel 13th-gen CPUs, plenty of RAM, and fast storage. Toss in excellent active pen support and you have a laptop that can tackle any task.

And you’ll particularly enjoy the 2.8K or 4K OLED display, either of which will provide incredibly wide and accurate colors, plenty of brightness, and the kind of inky blacks that only OLED can provide. If you’re a creator, either makes for the perfect display, and if you consume a lot of high dynamic range (HDR) video then you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the image quality.

Battery life isn’t the best, but that’s a small price to pay for such a flexible and powerful machine that’s one of the best 14-inch laptops. This is Lenovo’s best all-around machine, making its place on this list a natural one.

Lenovo Yoga 9i Gen 8

Lenovo Yoga 9i Gen 8

Best Lenovo laptop

Lenovo Chromebook Duet 3 front view showing display and keyboard.

Mark Coppock/Digital Trends / Digital Trends

Lenovo Chromebook Duet 3

Best Chromebook

Pros

  • Good enough productivity performance
  • Excellent battery life
  • Surprisingly good display
  • Folio kickstand and keyboard included
  • Strong value

Cons

  • Keyboard is too cramped
  • Limited to Wi-Fi 5
Specifications
CPU:Snapdragon 7cG2
RAM:4GB, 8GB
GPU:N/A
Screen:11-inch 2000 x 1200
Storage:128GB eMMC
Dimensions:10.16 x 6.57 x 0.3 inches

Laptops that cost $300 shouldn’t be this good. Seriously. Most laptops you can buy at that price have serious deficiencies, like pitiful performance or awful 720p screens. That’s often true, even on Chromebooks.

But the Lenovo Chromebook Duet 3 manages to deliver a great laptop experience, albeit on a very small device. But this little 10.9-inch is perfect for students or anyone who just needs a compact device to take on the go. The screen resolution is even better than 1080p, reaching up to 2000 x 1200. That’s very sharp for a screen of this size, making it excellent for writing and reading text. It even gets up to 400 nits of brightness, meaning working near windows isn’t an issue. Again, this is unheard of for a laptop of this price.

Surprisingly, the Lenovo Chromebook Duel 3 also comes with a 5-megapixel camera for solid videoconferencing. It has just about everything it needs to compete with the iPad (especially with the recent price jump). The iPad is undoubtedly a better tablet. It’s lighter and has a wide range of gestures and apps to support touch-only controls. The Lenovo Chromebook Duet 3 will disappoint you in that regard, even with support for Android apps. But that’s nothing new for ChromeOS tablets.

The Lenovo Chromebook Duet 3 excels, though, as a work or school device and is one of the best laptops for college. As good as iPads have become at doing work, if you’re needing to do actual work or school work, having a normal desktop browser and a full keyboard goes a long way toward being more efficient. The magnetic back cover also gives the tablet a kickstand for lots of angles, and you can even bundle in the Lenovo Digital Pen for stylus use.

Lenovo Chromebook Duet 3

Lenovo Chromebook Duet 3

Best Chromebook

How we test laptops

Hands-on experience

We extensively handle every laptop we review and use them in a variety of real-world conditions. We’re looking for how well a laptop is built, how it feels in hand, and hold it generally holds up to the uses for which it’s designed. We describe our experiences and discuss the materials and concepts used in a laptop’s design to provide an informative hands-on impression.

Interface interaction

On all laptops, we test the keyboard and touchpad to make sure that both are comfortable to use for extended periods of time. For keyboards, we consider the key spacing, keycap size, and switch performance to determine how precise and comfortable it is to use. For touchpads, we test for how smooth the surface is and how responsive it is to taps and clicks. If the buttons are too loud, we’ll tell you. If a laptop has a touch display and supports an active pen, we’ll tell you how those work, as well.

Display and audio impressions

We give the display both an objective test with a professional colorimeter, judging it based on color width and accuracy, brightness, and contrast. We also provide our subjective viewpoint – is the display pleasant to use, is it sharp enough, and does it support advanced capabilities like high dynamic range (HDR) video. We also listen to the audio, giving an impression of its volume and clarity and its suitability for more than just playing system sounds.

Performance

We run every laptop through a suite of benchmarks, both synthetic and real-world, to provide an indication of how it performs relative to other similar machines. We test both the CPU and the GPU, and during testing we provide an idea of how loud and hot a laptop gets while performing typical productivity tasks as well as more demanding uses like video editing and gaming.

Editors’ Recommendations




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