Buying a new laptop is like picking a new car, spouse, or tattoo. Whether it’s the right choice for you or not, you’re going to be spending a lot of time with it. That’s why we’ve made this guide to the year’s best new laptops as simple as possible. If you tell us what kind of person you are, we’ll tell you the new laptop that is most likely to bring you joy. Or at least a convenient way to watch YouTube.
The Best Laptop for Nearly Everyone (Who is Used to Using Windows Devices): Dell XPS 13 9370
A sleek design that rivals Apple and a tiny bezel that maximizes the viewable portion of the screen. You get the computer most of us need: capable of watching videos, browsing the web, and sending email, and it has a battery life of nearly an entire day. It has an eighth-generation i7 processor, 256-GB drive and 8 gigs of RAM. Plus, there’s facial recognition and a fingerprint reader, if you’re concerned about security.
The Best Laptop for Nearly Everyone (Who is Used to Using Apple Devices): MacBook Pro
The MacBook Air may be the newest shiny toy from Apple, but we’d recommend spending $100 more for the entry-level MacBook Pro. Although you get a shorter battery life (10 hours instead of 12), the 8 GB of RAM and 128-GB SSD drive is the same, the 7th-generation i5 processor speed is nearly 50 percent faster at 2.3 GH, which will make a big difference, and it weighs only 0.25 pound more. Don’t worry about paying more for the touch bar. In our tests, we’ve found that we don’t use it that much.
The Best Laptop for Under $700: ASUS Vivobook S15
Okay, so it’s just a penny under, at $699.99, but that’s still under $700. The S15 is a cool mix of fun and professional, with a metal body and (optional) colorful trim. (Or get the whole thing in a funky aqua color.) The insides are plenty for daily use: a 1.6-GHz eighth-generation i5 processor, 256 GB of storage, and 8 GB of RAM. It has plenty of ports—including three USB-A, if you’re still beholden to thumb drives or charging cables. There’s also a cool hinge that props the keyboard up at a small angle, which makes a big difference in typing comfort.
The Best Chromebook: Acer CB3-431 Chromebook 14
If you use a laptop only to browse the web, send emails, and maybe work on the occasional Google doc, save your money and buy a Chromebook. This Acer has 4 gigs of RAM, a 32-GB hard drive, a 12-hour battery, and a passable Intel Celeron processor. You won’t be able to install iTunes or have room to install much software of any kind, actually, but you’ll have a simple, solid machine that should last.
The Best Laptop for Video Editors: MacBook Pro 15-inch
If you’re working in Final Cut or Premiere, you need a powerful machine like this one. It comes with a 2.9-GHz eighth-generation Intel i9 processor that won’t get bogged down by huge video files. The LED-backlit retina display is crisp and beautiful, which your work obviously deserves. Plus is has 16 GB of RAM and a 256-GB solid-state drive. You’re probably going to want to invest in an external drive, too. Something to hold that opus you’ve been working on.
The Best Laptop for Gamers: Razer Blade 15
Unlike most gaming laptops, you can actually upgrade components in the Blade 15 when they’re dated, which won’t be for a very long time. It’s thin and well designed, and no matter how hard you push it, it’s unlikely to heat up. For this price, you get a 512-GB SSD, a six-core Intel i7 processor, a top-of-the-line Nvidia GTX 1070 GPU and 16 GB of RAM. The 1080p screen has a 144-hertz refresh rate that will keep pace with any game that’s currently available—and nearly anything that comes out in the future.
The Best Laptop for Gamers on a Budget: Dell Inspiron 15 7000
For well under a thousand bucks you get a 2.5-GHz seventh-generation i5 quad-core processor, a discrete graphics card (Nvidia GTX 1050), 8 GB of RAM, and a 256-GB SSD. What does that mean? A computer that lets you play most modern games—maybe not at the highest performance and resolution, but something you can definitely still enjoy. You’ll have to deal with the fans getting pretty loud during marathon gaming sessions, and the battery life is somewhat disappointing at only 4.5 hours, but that’s what the cord is for.