- Best High Performance Laptop
- Best Ultrabook
- Best Gaming Laptop Overall
- Best Budget Gaming Laptops
- Best MacBook
- Best Laptop under $1000
- Best Budget Laptop
- Best Business Laptop
- Best Laptop for Editing
- Best Rugged Laptop
- Best Mobile Workstation
As computer component miniaturization has improved, small hardware has become increasingly powerful, allowing for faster and more impressive laptops than ever before. If you’re not on a strict budget and want a powerhouse laptop, then consider a system designed for gaming, high performance, or an ultrabook that combines excellent components with a remarkably slim design.
There are also more wallet-friendly options including laptops under $1,000 and budget models for gaming and general use that give you portability and good performance at very reasonable prices. For Apple fans, there are a number of different MacBooks to choose from, with varying levels of speed and power found within them.
If you want a laptop for professional use, then consider business models or mobile workstations that can offer the performance of a desktop system with remarkable portability. You can even find laptops that are perfect for multimedia editing, while rugged laptops give you a portable computer designed to survive a fall and handle adverse weather.
There’s a lot you should know about laptop computers and the components inside them, so check out the laptop buyer’s guide below for important information on picking the best system for your needs.
Best High Performance Laptop:
When considering different high performance laptops, it's important to look at how well they can run and how powerful they are overall. Try to find setups that offer performance that would be fairly impressive as a desktop computer, but with the portability and ease of use of a laptop. Things like system memory, video cards, storage size, and hard drives are all very important as you look at and compare various models. Customization can be nice (even if it's just limited to a few items) so consider what options you might want to be able to add to your laptop before you ever get it. Since laptops are often used in less than stable locations, it can also be helpful to find reliable manufacturers that support their hardware with great warranties.
We've chosen these high performance laptops because all have at least 8GB of DDR4 or DDR3 memory, plus most of them include options to upgrade to even more. You also get excellent processors with these laptops, each one packing an Intel i5 or i7 CPU, and you can upgrade many of them to faster models if you need better performance. While a lot of laptops don’t have dedicated video memory, each one presented here has at least 2GB of dedicated graphics RAM. Despite the sleek design and smaller size of these laptops, you get at least 250GB of storage in these laptops with options for multiple hard drives or solid state drives in many of them. Connectivity is easy with these high performance options, thanks to support for both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth and at least two USB 3.0 ports integrated into each one.
Admittedly, this is designed and marketed as a gaming computer and certainly works incredibly well for playing games. But since it's designed for high-end gaming, this pick also works beautifully as a high performance laptop. The price tag on this model is pretty high since it is a specialty item, but you have a ton of customization options and it comes with an Intel i5 processor, 8GB of DDR4 RAM, and a video card with 6GB of dedicated graphics memory. Read Full Review
If you prefer Macs to PCs, then this is going to be the best option for you. The specs on this model are terrific, but the cost on it is fairly high, even compared to some other high performance laptops on the market. But if you want the best MacBook you can get, then this one gives you great performance thanks to an Intel i7 processor, 16GB of DDR3 RAM, and 2GB of dedicated video memory. Read Full Review
Here is a sleek, 15-inch model that offers great performance at a pretty reasonable price. While this certainly is not a "budget" laptop, compared to the offerings from Origin and Apple, it is a bit easier on your wallet. You get an Intel i7 processor, 16GB of DDR4 memory, and a video card with another 2GB of dedicated video memory for great overall performance. Read Full Review
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This is an impressive offering from Lenovo and certainly matches what you can find in a lot of other high performance laptops. Although there are different builds of IdeaPad 700 available, this particular model is packed with some excellent components. This drives the price up a bit from the starting cost, but you get an Intel i7 processor, 16GB of DDR4 memory, and a 1TB hard drive plus a solid state drive for your money. Read Full Review
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If you are looking for a prebuilt system and don’t want to deal with a lot of options and customization, then this is a great choice. It has an Intel i7 processor, a GPU with 4GB of video memory, and 8GB of DDR3 RAM, though you can get up to 16GB. While this high performance laptop offers excellent power and components, there just isn't anything that pushes it ahead of similar models on the market. Read Full Review
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Ultrabooks are typically separated from other laptops based on their general design. They are made to be as slim and streamlined as possible, while offering an impressive level of performance and reliability contained within their small cases. With the rise in popularity of tablets, components have really become smaller and more light-weight than ever before. This lets ultrabooks offer great performance and power, without sacrificing size or weighing a lot. Ultimately, however, you may need to choose between size and performance, at least a little bit, so consider which is really more important to you.
We've chosen the following best ultrabooks because they include at least 8GB of memory for fast performance and Intel i5 or i7 processors. You get at least 512GB of storage in these models, or 128GB or more of solid state memory to keep your programs running fast while ensuring better reliability. Since portability is just as important as power, all of these ultrabooks weigh less than five pounds and are less than one-inch high when closed.
Here is a very slim and lightweight option that works well and is the perfect choice if you prefer Macs to PCs, though even PC-users can find something to like about this model. It has an Intel i5 processor, 4GB of memory, and 256GB of Flash memory. You don't get any dedicated video memory in this model (which isn't unusual in an ultrabook) but it weighs less than three pounds and less than an inch in height. Read Full Review
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This is another small and slim option that offers great performance in a very streamlined package. It has an Intel i5 processor, 8GB of RAM, and a 128GB solid state drive. The 14-inch display is larger than most similar ultrabooks, it weighs just about two and a half pounds, and is 0.65 inches high when closed. Read Full Review
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If you’re not interested in choosing upgrades or various options, and prioritize performance over portability, then take a good look at this ultrabook. It has an Intel i7 processor, 16GB of DDR4 RAM, a 512GB hard drive, and an NVIDIA chipset with dedicated video memory. You get a 15-inch display in this model but it's weighs more than other options on our list at almost five pounds. Read Full Review
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There's a lot to like about this ultrabook, but its price is just a little high considering the internal components compared to other models on the market. It includes an Intel i5 processor, 8GB of memory, and a 128GB solid state drive which is quite good. There is no dedicated video memory and it only has a 13-inch display which would be understandable if the price was just a bit more reasonable. Read Full Review
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There are different models of this ultrabook available, but the 8GB model with 128GB of storage is probably the best overall option. The non-touch model weighs a bit less than those with a touch-sensitive screen, so keep that in mind if you want optimal portability. It also includes an Intel i5 processor and support for both Wireless-AC and Bluetooth 4.1. Read Full Review
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Best Gaming Laptop Overall:
A great gaming laptop is primarily about one thing and that's performance. This means you should look for the most powerful, fastest, and best-designed laptops on the market. Above all other considerations, you should look at the specs on different laptops to see what they offer in terms of memory, processing, and video cards. Of course, you're not going to find four video cards in a laptop like you will in high-performance gaming desktop computers, but these models still represent about as much power as you can pack into a laptop case. Fast memory, options for two video cards, and big screens really set quality gaming laptops apart from general-use or business models.
These best gaming laptops offer tremendous power and performance thanks to great mobile graphics cards that include at least 2GB of incredibly fast GDDR5 video memory which lets you run games at high settings. You also get nice big hard drives integrated into each one, with at least 500GB of storage so you can install multiple games without worrying about space and many of them have options for solid state drives. They all have at least 8GB of DDR4 RAM and come with Intel i7 processors which keeps them running nice and fast. They also have at least 17-inch screens so you can see your games clearly at high resolutions because there’s no reason to spend thousands of dollars on a powerful gaming rig just to see it on a tiny display.
Origin is hard to beat when it comes to options and performance with this being the best model they offer. What sets this apart from Origin's other offerings is it's a pre-built bundle you can select and order, rather than sorting through seemingly endless options. It has a terrific 17-inch display, includes 16GB of DDR4 memory, a 1TB solid state hybrid drive with 240GB solid state drive, and 8GB of video memory. Read Full Review
The default build of this gaming laptop is excellent and while the upgrade options might be a bit limited, they're still excellent. This pick comes with a 17-inch display that looks great and really shows off the graphics capability from the NVIDIA 8GB video card. You also get an Intel i7 processor, 16GB of DDR4 RAM, as well as both a 1TB hard drive and additional solid state drive. Read Full Review
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This is a tremendous gaming laptop that includes one of the largest displays of any model on the market. The 18-inch display is supported by an Intel i7 processor, a very powerful SLI graphics setup, and 24GB of RAM. While there are not a ton of options for customization, the default setup is so good you probably won’t even miss them. Read Full Review
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There are a few different Alienware 17 laptops available and this is the very best one as it offers the greatest performance and overall gaming experience. It has a 6th Generation Intel i7 processor, 32GB of memory, and an NVIDIA video chipset with 8GB of dedicated graphics memory. The included controller is nice for some PC gaming, but really just a nice bonus feature to an otherwise excellent laptop. Read Full Review
This is a great gaming laptop that you can pick up at a fairly reasonable price versus some other comparable models, but you don't have to sacrifice much performance for that savings. It has a 17-inch display for great picture quality and includes an Intel i7 processor. You also get 16GB of DDR4 memory and an NVIDIA graphics chip that gives you 2GB of dedicated GDDR5 video memory. Read Full Review
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Best Budget Gaming Laptops:
In looking at budget gaming laptops, the main goal is to find systems that are quite powerful but available at a pretty reasonable price. Now this is still a niche market so the budget models aren't going to be as inexpensive as certain types of laptops. A limit of around $1,400 is pretty reasonable for these models, which although may be high for some people, it's certainly less than the price of many dedicated gaming laptops. Processors, memory, and storage are all important, as are dedicated graphics chips and a decent screen size. Most of these laptops also have options for customization and upgrades, though this can increase the price and push them beyond $1,400.
All of these best budget gaming laptops have at least 8GB of DDR3 memory to run your games and other applications nice and fast, though some of them also have options for more RAM or DDR4 if you need better performance. They have 15-inch displays for great picture quality and a large field of view while gaming as well as a 1TB minimum hard drive for storing multiple games. You also get great graphics processing power with these laptops, with at least 2GB of dedicated video memory for optimal performance. These laptops provide great connectivity options as well, including both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth support along with at least two USB 3.0 ports.
This is a really nice option for a budget gaming laptop that still gives you great performance and gaming potential. There are a number of models available for this laptop from Dell and this is the most powerful, with 16GB of RAM, a 128GB solid state drive, and 1TB hard drive to support all your games and applications. You get an NVIDIA graphics chip in this laptop with 4GB of GDDR5 memory and a 15-inch display that looks great. Read Full Review
Although Sager may not be as recognizable a name as Dell or HP for many people, this manufacturer has a long history of building quality computers. This is a very nice gaming laptop that you can pick up at a reasonable price and the default components include an Intel i7 processor, 8GB of DDR4 memory, and a graphics card with another 3GB of video RAM. There are a good number of options for upgrades and customization, plus it includes Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, four USB 3.0 ports, and an HDMI output connection. Read Full Review
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This model comes in well under the $1,400 price point, but you can often find it on sale for an even better value. It has an Intel i7 processor, 16GB of DDR4 memory, and a 1TB hard drive. The 15-inch display looks great and the included 4GB of dedicated video memory really shines. Read Full Review
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This is a great, straightforward gaming laptop that packs some excellent components into its slim design. It has an Intel i7 processor, 8GB of RAM, and an NVIDIA video card with 4GB of dedicated graphics memory. With a 1TB hard drive, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth support, and two USB 3.0 ports, this laptop gives you what you need for some solid gaming, but unfortunately lacks any upgrade options. Read Full Review
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Here is another excellent option if you do not care about customization, and just want to pick out a laptop and get it quickly. You get an Intel i7 processor, 8GB of DDR3 RAM, and a 1TB hard drive in this gaming laptop. This laptop has an NVIDIA graphics card with 2GB of dedicated video memory, which is good, but certainly not exceptional. Read Full Review
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When it comes to MacBooks, a lot of the distinction between different models starts with the type of display available on it. While you can find some variations within these specific setups, these selections are the best offerings you'll see for the different types of MacBooks on the market. The Retina Display is Apple's best screen on a MacBook and something to strongly consider as you look at different options. It is only available on the MacBook Pro and certainly increases the price, but it truly looks gorgeous.
These MacBooks give you the best performance due to fast processors with a minimum of two cores, though the 15-inch MacBook Pro has a quad-core CPU. While there are different sizes available, the larger displays usually come with better components, so keep that in mind as you compare different options. All of these MacBooks have at least 4GB of DDR3 RAM for great performance, though most of these have 8GB or even 16GB of memory. You don’t get a ton of options for upgrades or customization with a MacBook, but these models do include some choices in terms of hard drive, and they all have at least 256GB of storage. This gives you lots of space for your files and projects, plus you can purchase an external Thunderbolt drive if you need even more storage.
For overall performance and looks, you just can't beat this model. It has the largest screen currently available on a MacBook, and the retina display definitely takes advantage of every inch of it. The Pro model also gives you the best options for performance and specs on the system, but is a bit larger than the MacBook Air. Read Full Review
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The standard MacBook isn’t tremendously powerful and lacks some options, but it’s still a solid laptop. You can choose from three colors and two different storage sizes, but the 512GB model gives you the best overall performance. The display on this one is rather small, so keep that in mind if you want the best picture quality possible. Read Full Review
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If you're looking for the best in style and portability, then the Air is probably the laptop for you. While you can still get a solid system packed into its slim case, the Air is specifically intended as a sleeker, lightweight option from Apple. You won't get the level of performance form this model that the Pro offers, but it is definitely lighter and easier to carry around. Read Full Review
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While this model has a retina display, there are a few major differences between this one and the 15-inch MacBook Pro. Not only is the screen itself smaller, but you also must pay more if you want as much memory as the 15-inch version. Most importantly, however, this one comes with a dual-core CPU, with no option for a quad-core model. Read Full Review
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This is simply the smallest and most streamlined MacBook available, making it hard to match in terms of portability. However, it means a sacrifice in performance, especially compared to the 15-inch MacBook Pro, but it is still a great option overall for a Mac laptop. Read Full Review
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Best Laptop under $1000:
While these are all models of laptops under $1,000, they are specifically systems that come in at the upper end of that price range. If you're looking for models that are quite a bit less than this price, then you should consider a budget laptop. Near the $1,000 price point, you'll find some laptops that have dedicated video memory, though not all of them do, so consider what kind of video chip these different systems have when comparing them. Good performance should be pretty well guaranteed at this price point, but there are different degrees of quality in the components in these laptops, including the amount of memory and types of processors in them.
These laptops under $1,000 offer excellent performance due to their Intel processors with at least two cores, though many of them can be upgraded for even better performance. You get at least 4GB of DDR3 memory in each of these laptops, though most of them have 8GB or more. There’s at least a 500GB mechanical hard drive or 128GB of solid state storage in each of these models, and most of them include options for additional space. Connectivity is great in all of these laptops thanks to support for WiFi and Bluetooth, and they all have at least two USB 3.0 ports.
While Sager might not be a household name like Dell or Apple, they make excellent laptops at a wide range of prices and performance levels. This model comes in a bit under the $1,000 price tag and has solid components for that price. You get some options for upgrades but the default build includes an i7 processor, a GPU with 2GB of video memory, 8GB of RAM, and a 1TB hard drive. Read Full Review
Lenovo is a great manufacturer if you are looking to get the most bang for your buck when picking a laptop. There are a few different versions of the Ideapad 700 available, and this one includes a 6th Generation i5 processor, 8GB of DDR4 memory, and a 500GB hard drive. It has a 17-inch display and 2GB of video memory which is quite good at this price point. Read Full Review
This laptop is quite good, but just lacks a few things that keep it from really being the best of the best. It has a 6th Generation Intel CPU and comes with 8GB of DDR4 memory for great speed and overall performance. While it includes a 500GB hard drive and small solid state drive, there's a lack of any graphics memory but it has a 15-inch display. Read Full Review
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This is a pretty great laptop under $1000 in its default configuration, but there are some upgrade options that make it even better. For the price, you can potentially upgrade it once or twice and still keep it under $1000, but even without upgrades it is a very good option. It has an Intel i7 processor, 8GB of DDR3 RAM, and a 17-inch display with a 1TB hard drive. Read Full Review
If you prefer Macs to PCs, then consider this model as a pretty good laptop under $1,000. This one comes in right at the top-end of this price, but the components in this model really don't justify the price. If you want a Mac, this system includes an Intel i5 processor, 4GB of RAM, and a 128GB Flash drive, but you can get more power for your money from a PC laptop. Read Full Review
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Best Budget Laptop:
In looking at budget laptop models, one of the first things you should do is settle on a price to serve as a cutting off point for different options. These laptops come in at or under $600 retail before any kind of discount or coupon. You might be able to find more expensive and powerful laptops on sale within this same price range but weekly discounts and online deals just aren't reliable. On the other hand, these models all start at a solid budget range. You should then look for models that provide you with enough power (based on components like processors and memory) to run a decent range of applications. None of these laptops are going to be amazing for playing the latest PC games or editing video, but they certainly work well for a number of other tasks.
We’ve chosen these best budget laptops because they include Intel and AMD processors that offer at least two cores for great program performance and speed. You also get at least 4GB of DDR3 memory in these laptops, though they all lack any dedicated video RAM which is to be expected at this price range. Each of these budget laptops has at least 500GB of storage, though some of them offer as much as a 1TB hard drive. A large screen can make a budget laptop feel like a more expensive model, and all of these models have a minimum 15-inch display. These picks are also enabled with wireless connectivity with native Wi-Fi support, but only some of them include Bluetooth.
With his model you get a lot of solid power thanks to an Intel 6th Generation i5 processor, 8GB of memory, and a 1TB hard drive. The 15-inch display looks good and it also has Wireless-AC and Bluetooth support. Read Full Review
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This is a fun little laptop that gives you some great functionality and solid performance at a very reasonable price. While it's certainly not the most powerful model out there in this price range, it should still run quite well for a variety of tasks. You get an Intel i5 processor, 4GB of RAM, and a 500GB hard drive with a 15-inch HD display. Read Full Review
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This is quite a nice budget laptop although you’re probably going to find it right at the $600 price point. It comes with an Intel i7 processor along with 8GB of DDR3 memory and a 1TB mechanical hard drive. It has a pair of USB 3.0 ports, support for Wireless-AC networks, as well as a DVD burner. Read Full Review
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Here is a great option which includes an AMD APU, giving you a solid combination of general and graphics processing power. It also comes with 8GB of memory, a 1TB hard drive, and a 15-inch display. You only get Wi-Fi support with this model (though Bluetooth support is very inexpensive to add onto it) and it comes with a DVD burner. Read Full Review
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Here is another great option for a budget laptop with an AMD APU that gives you great general and graphics performance. You get a 15-inch display which has an integrated webcam plus 8GB of RAM. It has a 500GB hard drive, a DVD burner, and includes support for both Wireless-AC and Bluetooth 4.0. Read Full Review
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Best Business Laptop:
When looking at business laptops, you're probably not looking for systems with amazing graphics options for gaming. Instead, you'll want to find powerful systems, so that programs and applications run quickly and reliably, with room for growth and solid customer service or warranties in place. After all, if you're buying a laptop for your business, you want to know that if it stops functioning, then there needs to be a support team to help you get it working again quickly. It's also helpful to consider a range of different laptops that work great for businesses of any size.
These best business laptops offer excellent performance due to each one having at least 8GB of memory which keeps your programs running fast and helps with multitasking. You'll also get an Intel i5 or i7 processor in all of these models which is great for reliable performance. All of these come with at least 500GB of storage or 120GB in a solid state drive which gives you lots of room for your files and projects as well as including support for both WiFi and Bluetooth. Lastly, they all include a minimum of two USB 3.0 ports so you can connect them to many different networks and devices.
Here is an excellent business laptop offering some great overall performance without giving you too much or too little of what you need. It has an Intel i7 processor, 8GB of memory, and even includes some dedicated graphics memory so you can stream HD media or prepare visually-intense presentations with ease. You also get a 256GB solid state drive that gives you a good amount of storage and keeps the system running nice and fast. Read Full Review
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If you prefer Macs to PCs, then this is the business laptop for you. It's not as powerful or large as some laptops on the market, but as a Mac-user you'll probably find that this is the best fit to keep you productive. This 15-inch model offers the best performance, thanks to an Intel i7 CPU, 16GB of RAM, and 512GB of Flash storage, plus it features the largest screen in an Apple laptop. Read Full Review
There are some excellent components in this business laptop that all come together to make it an ideal option. It has an Intel i5 processor, 8GB of memory, and a 256GB solid state drive. With three USB ports, both VGA and DisplayPort connections, and Wi-Fi and Bluetooth support, this is an excellent system that should work for a wide range of business needs. Read Full Review
This can be a pretty expensive option for a business laptop, but with that price you're paying comes a wealth of customization options. If you're looking to set up a laptop for professional use (and you want control over just about every component in it) then look no further. The default components are pretty good, with an Intel i5 processor, 8GB of RAM, and a 250GB hard drive, but the potential for customization is really this picks greatest strength. Read Full Review
There are several different models available for this business laptop, but the one with a 256GB solid state drive is probably the best overall value. It lacks any video memory but comes with 8GB of general RAM and an Intel i7 processor. You also get a 15-inch display and support for both Wireless-N and Bluetooth 4.1. Read Full Review
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Best Laptop for Editing:
When looking for a great laptop for editing (especially for editing video and other media with high memory demands) what you're really looking for is high performance. Much of what you want to find in a system for video editing also happens to be what a lot of serious gamers look for in their laptops. This means many of the laptops designed for gamers are also great for running and editing video, photographs, music, and other media, so don’t be surprised to find gaming rigs can double as an excellent laptop for editing.
All of these laptops for editing include at least 8GB of memory which is important since many editing programs require a lot of RAM for optimal performance. You get at least 500GB of mechanical storage or 250GB of solid state memory with these systems so you have plenty of space for raw files, processed files, and renderings. Since most editing software can also be demanding in terms of video performance, each of these laptops includes at least 2GB of dedicated graphics memory. You get Intel i5 or i7 processors in each of these picks as well as minimum 15-inch displays with most of these models have screens measuring 17-inches.
While this is a top of the line gaming laptop, it also happens to be a terrific choice if you want to do just about any kind of media editing. 8GB of RAM, an Intel i5 processor, and video card with 6GB of graphics memory are all terrific, which means you can run a lot of tasks at once while editing your work. If you prefer Apple products then the MacBook Pro will probably attract you, but for Windows-users this is going to be your best choice. Read Full Review
If you prefer Macs to PCs, then this is definitely the best pick for you. As a direct comparison it's not quite as good as the EON17-SLX from Origin, and certainly lacks the level of customization that Origin offers. This is still a terrific option thanks to an Intel i7 processor, 16GB of memory, and a 512GB Flash storage drive. Read Full Review
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While Sager may not be as much of a household name as Apple or Dell, they've put together a terrific laptop for editing with this model. It has a 17-inch display and excellent components including an Intel i7 processor, 16GB of RAM, and a video card with another 6GB of graphics memory. While you might not get as many customization options on this model as you can get with a system like the Origin EON17-SLX, there are still a number of upgrades available. Read Full Review
If you want a great laptop for editing and you're not interested in a lot of options for customization, then this pick is a great choice. It comes with an Intel i7 processor, 12GB of DDR4 memory, and a video card with 2GB of graphics RAM. You also get a 1TB hard drive in this laptop and a DVD burner, so it is a great pre-built choice that offers excellent performance. Read Full Review
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Here is another great option for a laptop for editing if you want to just pick out a model without dealing with a ton of customization and extra options. It comes with an Intel i5 processor, 8GB of DDR4 memory, and a 500GB hard drive for lots of storage. This model comes with an AMD graphics card that has 2GB of GDDR5 memory, which makes it a great option for any kind of editing. Read Full Review
Best Rugged Laptop:
Within the realm of rugged laptops you can find both fully rugged and semi-rugged systems. While fully rugged provides better overall protection, semi-rugged also ensures great performance and hardware safety in just about any conditions. A lot of rugged laptops are MIL-STD 810G compliant and IP65 certified, which means they're great options for military personnel, outdoor researchers, or for someone just looking to take their laptop along while hiking through rough conditions. The manufacturers of these systems set themselves apart because of the components they use and features such as excellent customer service and long-term warranties with at least three years of coverage.
These best rugged laptops we've chosen have at least 4GB of memory, but most of them have at least 8GB of RAM or are expandable to up to 16GB of total memory so these systems run fast and remain reliable even in difficult conditions. They all have Intel processors that run nice and fast, giving you effective performance to go along with their terrific durability. The screens on these rugged laptops are anti-glare or sunlight readable so they're ideal for use outside in most outdoor conditions. Additionally, all of these systems come with at least 500GB of mechanical storage or 128GB of solid state memory.
This is just a rock solid rugged laptop that's hard to beat which should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with Getac's level of performance. The customization options on this model are pretty good, with default components that include an Intel i5 processor, 500GB hard drive, and a 15-inch sunlight-readable display. Read Full Review
The 17-inch display on this model really stands out among rugged laptops since most have less than a 15-inch screen. You get 4GB of memory in this model, though you can upgrade that to up to 16GB, and it has a 500GB hard drive. This model includes some great options for upgrades and customization, and there are military package options with different features available. Read Full Review
This is a semi-rugged model, which means it cannot take as much abuse as something like the Getac X500, but also makes it quite a lot more portable. It has an Intel i5 processor, 4GB of RAM, and a 500GB mechanical hard drive, with upgrade options for a solid state drive. Read Full Review
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While this is not a great choice if you want a lot of customization, the default components are very good and it should work for a wide range of uses. It includes an Intel i3 processor, 8GB of memory, and a 128GB solid state drive, plus it has a 14-inch outdoor-readable display. Read Full Review
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Here is a great rugged laptop if you don't need quite the level of durability of the X500, but still want the great performance and reputation of Getac. This model comes with an Intel i5 processor along with 4GB of memory that you can upgrade to up to 16GB for faster performance. It has a 500GB hard drive and options for solid state memory, plus the 14-inch display is sunlight readable. Read Full Review
Best Mobile Workstation:
A mobile workstation is typically designed as a desktop replacement, giving you all the power and performance of a desktop PC with the portability of a laptop. As you consider different models, you want to look for a very high level of performance in terms of the specs and components inside these systems. While you can get a high-end gaming computer with incredible performance, you also tend to get unnecessary features like programmable touchpads or colored keyboard lighting on those setups. Look for systems that are all about performance, with little cost and energy wasted on extra bells and whistles.
All of these best mobile workstation systems have Intel i5 or better processors, allowing them to work just as well as most desktop computers. These mobile workstations also have at least 8GB of memory to run your programs fast (typically DDR4 RAM though some have more DDR3 memory). All of these systems have 250GB or more of storage and include video cards with at least 2GB of dedicated video RAM. You can use these mobile workstations with a wide range of networks and other hardware, thanks to support for Wireless-AC, Bluetooth, and at least two USB 3.0 ports for good connectivity options.
This is a tremendous mobile workstation that is well designed to handle just about anything you can throw at it. Although this pick lacks much in the way of customization or options for upgrades, the default components are already terrific. It has an Intel Xeon processor, 32GB of DDR4 memory, and a video chip with another 8GB of dedicated graphics RAM. Read Full Review
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Origin is well known for producing some of the best gaming computers available, but their professional models are equally noteworthy. This is about as large and powerful a mobile workstation as you're going to find, complete with options for just about everything you could want or need. While there are tons of choices for customization, the default build includes an Intel i5 processor, 8GB of DDR4 memory, and a video card with 6GB of dedicated graphics RAM. Read Full Review
There is a lot to like about this mobile workstation, and it is a great choice if you are not interested in a ton of customization options. It comes with an Intel i7 processor, 16GB of DDR4 RAM, and a 512GB solid state drive. You also get an NVIDIA graphics card with 2GB of dedicated memory, and the 15-inch display is decent but not particularly amazing. Read Full Review
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If you want something approaching the power and performance of the MSI WT72 Workstation, but prefer a smaller model at a more modest price, then take a look at this one. It has an Intel Xeon processor, 16GB of DDR4 memory, and an NVIDIA chip with 4GB of graphics memory. This model also has both a solid state drive and 1TB hard drive along with Wireless-AC and Bluetooth 4.1 support. Read Full Review
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Lenovo offers quite a few different versions of this mobile workstation, and this is the most impressive one they have put together, along with the most expensive. It has an Intel Xeon processor along with 32GB of DDR4 memory and a 512GB solid state drive. This model also includes an NVIDIA graphics card with 8GB of memory for terrific overall performance. Read Full Review
Laptop Computer Buyer’s Guide
Buying a new laptop computer can be intimidating; there are so many numbers and specifications to consider that it’s hard to know where to start. Fortunately, there are really only a handful of things to be aware of and look for, with the rest of the features in a laptop acting as icing on the proverbial cake. In terms of performance, the processor, memory, and video card are really what matter most. You’ll also want to look at the amount of storage in a laptop, as well as how portable it is and the size and quality of the display. Once you know what to look for and what all the numbers mean, picking the right laptop becomes much easier.
The processor, or CPU, in a laptop sets the rhythm and speed for all other components within a system, so it’s one of the most important parts of a computer. You’ll want to consider the speed of a CPU, measured in Gigahertz (GHz), with higher numbers indicating faster speeds. A fast CPU lets other components in a system run as fast as possible, so be sure to choose a processor with the speed that meets your needs.
You’ll also want to look at the number of cores and threads in a laptop computer’s CPU. Multiple cores let a processor run like multiple CPUs together, so you’ll get better performance from a system with a four-core or quad-core processor than you will from a single or dual-core CPU. Intel processors also use multiple threads, so keep that in mind when you compare i5 and i7 CPUs.
For in-depth information, check out our processor/CPU buyer's guide.
The memory (aka RAM) in a laptop is the temporary space used to run programs. More RAM lets you run demanding software or have multiple programs run together without slowing down your system and negatively impacting performance.
The amount of memory is measured in Gigabytes (GB), so look for more memory for better performance. 4GB of RAM should be sufficient for a low-end system, but if you want to run the latest PC games or need better performance, then look for 8GB or more. One thing to keep in mind is the type of RAM; you’ll usually find DDR3 in a laptop, but future improvements might make DDR5 more common in laptop computers since it’s much faster.
In a laptop computer, storage refers to the long-term memory used to save programs and files even when the system is turned off. The amount of storage is measured in Gigabytes (GB) or Terabytes (TB), and hard drives are typically either mechanical or solid state. You’ll probably want at least 512GB of storage, though 1TB is better for PC gaming or editing media so you have plenty of room for your applications and files.
Mechanical Hard Drive
These are the most common and least expensive option, providing large amounts of storage, but because they rely on spinning disks inside a casing, they are prone to corruption due to physical shocks and shaking.
Solid State Drive
More expensive and typically have less storage, but their lack of moving parts means falls and shaking are less likely to corrupt or damage your data. Some systems even have a large mechanical drive for storage with a smaller solid state drive for your operating system and other programs.
Video Chip and Graphics Memory
Graphics cards with dedicated video memory have become more common in laptop computers, which has made them better for multimedia editing and gaming. Video memory is used by a computer specifically for rendering 3D graphics, playing or streaming video, and is measured just like other memory so look for 1GB or more of video RAM, preferably DDR5, which is much faster than DDR3 and fairly common for dedicated graphics memory. You’re not likely to find laptops that can handle more than one video card, but a few high-end systems have room for multiple cards.
For in-depth information, check out our graphics card buyer's guide.
Despite the small size of a laptop, there are a lot of secondary features you can often find on them. You can get optical drives for playing media, as well as burners that let you back up data and make DVDs or even Blu-rays with your information and video. Touchscreens can be very handy as a form of input on a laptop, but touch sensitivity usually comes at an increased price.
If you need higher security, there are laptops that include fingerprint scanners, letting you keep others from accessing your data. A lot of laptops include built-in webcams, which make it easy to use video chat programs while traveling or to conference with coworkers. These types of features might not be the first thing you look at, but consider what media you might want to access and if you plan on using video conference software, then make sure whatever laptop you choose has the right optical drive and a webcam.
One downside to laptops is they’re typically difficult to customize and add upgrades to on your own. While it’s easy to open up the side of a computer tower and add components to the motherboard, laptops are harder to get into and change. With that in mind, look at customization options when purchasing a laptop.
Manufacturers like Origin provide incredible customization options, giving you dozens of choices and even the ability to add components they don’t normally offer. If you don’t want to make as many choices, then look at companies like Toshiba or Lenovo that keep it simple and offer a range of pre-built systems.
As tablets have become increasingly popular, a lot of people have found that a tablet works better for them than a laptop. With that in mind, there are more and more laptops that include convertible options that let them work like a tablet in some way.
For example, there are laptops with displays that can fold back to work in a number of positions, as well as laptops with screens that can rotate around and close to resemble a tablet. If you want something more than a traditional laptop, then look at convertible systems offered by different manufacturers and pick one with the components you need.
Portability and Screen Size
One of the best reasons to have a laptop is the portability it provides you with. Look at the size and weight of a laptop; most of them are based on the size of a screen. If you want a small laptop, then it’s going to have an equally small display. You can get some large size in a slim design with an ultrabook or similar model that is built around optimal portability.
A 17-inch display is about the largest you’ll find in a laptop, but it’s also going to be a pretty big system. Weight is usually based on the components in a system, as well as its size. A laptop with a 17-inch display and minimal components can be lighter than a 15-inch display model that includes two hard drives, an optical drive, and other features. If you know you’re going to be traveling a lot, look for a system that is lightweight and not too large.
Warranties and Product Protection
While good warranties are worth looking for on all electronics, a laptop with a good warranty is very important. Some manufacturers only provide one year of protection, which is much lower than it should be. Others, especially on high-end models, offer three or even five years, which is excellent protection on a portable system. Even companies that only offer one year typically allow you to extend that for more money. While the components in a system might be your first consideration, you should still look at the warranty to ensure your investment is properly protected.