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Laptops & Portables

Best Laptops

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.

Origin EON17-SLX Custom Gaming Laptop

Origin EON17-SLX Custom Gaming Laptop

Along with a 17-inch display, this model supports either one or two video cards with up to 8GB of graphics memory each although it comes with a 6GB NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970M in the default build. There are several different quad-core processors you can choose from for terrific speeds, with an Intel i5 3.2GHz model as the basic option. This high performance laptop also supports up to 64GB of memory even though it comes with only 8GB of DDR4 initially. That's about as much memory as you can possibly pack into this kind of laptop. It comes with a 250GB hard drive, but you can upgrade that to up to 2TB of storage, and there are options for multiple solid state drives. You get support for Wireless-AC and Bluetooth, along with USB 3.0 and 3.1 ports. One of the best things about this model is Origin really lets you customize everything about it, and you can even request components they don't normally offer.

Apple MacBook Pro MJLT2LL 15.4" Laptop with Retina Display

The 15-inch Retina display on this laptop is unmistakably beautiful to look at, so if you watch a lot of media and edit videos or photographs, then this model is pretty hard to beat. The specs on it are also quite impressive starting with an Intel i7 2.5GHz quad-core processor you can upgrade to a 2.8GHz model for faster performance. While you can't adjust the RAM that comes in this model, it has 16GB of DDR3 memory which should be more than sufficient for most applications. There are a couple different 15-inch MacBooks to choose from and this particular one is the more powerful option with 2GB of GDDR5 dedicated video memory for optimal performance. You can choose either 512GB or 1TB of fast, Flash storage, and it has two USB 3.0 ports as well as support for Wireless-AC and Bluetooth 4.0. While the customization options on this laptop don't approach the freedom offered by a company like Origin, you do have some measure of control over the final build of your system.

Dell XPS 15 Non-Touch Performance Laptop

This is a great option if you are not interested in tons of customization choices or other extra features and just want a really good laptop. It has a 6th Generation Intel i7 quad-core processor which runs applications very quickly and should be able to handle just about anything you throw at it. You get 16GB of DDR4 memory which is excellent, and it has a video card with 2GB of dedicated GDDR5 memory so this is a great choice if you play PC games or run demanding software for video editing. The 512GB solid state drive runs very fast and still gives you a great amount of memory for your files and applications. It only has a 15-inch display which is a bit smaller than some other high performance options on the market, but otherwise this is a great choice.

Lenovo IdeaPad 700 17" Laptop - 80RV0024US

The 6th generation Intel i7 quad-core processor in this laptop is fast and powerful to keep your system running beautifully for quite some time. This one has 16GB of DDR4 RAM for excellent speeds, along with an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 940M graphics chip that provides 2GB of dedicated GDDR5 video memory. If you plan on playing a lot of PC games or streaming tons of HD media, then this is a great choice for you. You can even do video and photo editing on this system without any hassle. This model includes a 1TB hard drive along with a 128GB solid state drive, so you get lots of space for your files and fast performance for your OS and common programs. It also has a nice big 17-inch HD display and it includes an integrated camera.You cannot customize very much about this laptop, and there are a few different models of this one available, but this is really the best overall value with optimal power and performance. You also get support for Wireless-AC and Bluetooth 4.0, plus it has two USB 3.0 ports and a USB 2.0 port.

HP OMEN 15t Quad Touch Select Laptop

This is a great choice if you want a high performance laptop that works great without having to make a ton of decisions about components, but it's not ideal if you prefer customizing your system. With that in mind, this laptop includes an Intel i7 4th Generation quad-core processor that runs beautifully and there's also a generous 15-inch touch-sensitive display. It has 8GB of DDR3 memory which is probably its biggest weakness, though you can easily upgrade that to up to 16GB. You get a 256GB solid state drive standard in this model though you can upgrade that to 512GB. This system also includes an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960M graphics card with 4GB of dedicated video memory which runs great and is ideal if you're interested in doing some PC gaming or want to stream and edit HD media. With support for Wireless-AC and Bluetooth, along with four USB 3.0 ports and an HDMI connection, this is a great high performance laptop that really only suffers from low default RAM.

15" MacBook Pro 2.5GHz with Retina Display MGXC2LL/A

One of the biggest selling points and strengths of this model is the retina display. While the screen may only be a modest 15-inch wide offering, the displays image quality more than makes up for it. Beyond the screen you get some terrific performance options from Apple in terms of the internal hardware. You get an i7 quad-core Intel processor; the default model has a 2.5GHz chip you can upgrade to a 2.8GHz processor. It comes with 16GB of memory with no option to alter that amount. This is terrific power for a laptop and this is the only MacBook that has an NVIDIA graphics chip with another 2GB of dedicated GDDR5 video memory. This one comes with 512GB of Flash storage, but you can upgrade that to 1TB if you want as much room for your files as possible.

12" MacBook with 512GB Storage MF865LL/A

While you don’t get many options for customization, you can choose from gold, silver, and gray when you purchase this MacBook. There are also two different models based on the hard drive included, and the 512GB model gives you twice the storage of the other version. It includes a dual-core Intel core M processor; the default model has a 1.2GHz CPU that you can upgrade to a 1.3GHz processor if you want more power. This standard MacBook includes 8GB of DDR3 RAM, without any options for upgrading, and there’s a graphics chip included but it does not have any dedicated video memory. The 12-inch display is a bit small but its retina display looks fantastic and offers an excellent overall computing experience.

Apple MacBook Air 13" Laptop

The Air is nicely streamlined for optimal portability. While it lacks the retina display of the standard or Pro model, it’s still a terrific option, especially if you need to move your laptop around a great deal. It comes with a 1.6GHz i5 dual-core Intel processor which you can upgrade to a 2.2GHz i7 dual-core CPU. This one only comes with 4GB of RAM standard, but you can upgrade to 8GB for excellent speed and performance. This model only has 256GB of Flash storage which you can upgrade to 512GB if you need more room for your files and applications. The slim design means this model is less than three pounds in weight, while the 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display weighs nearly four and a half pounds.

MacBook Pro 13" with Retina Display MF841LL/A

There's certainly a lot to like about this MacBook and although it has a smaller screen, it still looks great thanks to the retina display technology. It comes with a 2.9GHz Intel i5 processor standard, which you can upgrade to a 3.1GHz i7 model for better performance, but both are dual-core CPUs. While the 15-inch MacBook Pro was recently upgraded to the 4th generation of Intel processors, this one still uses an older processor that can impact performance and battery life. This MacBook comes with 8GB of DDR3 memory you can upgrade to 16GB, and the included 512GB of storage can be upgraded to 1TB. The major advantage this MacBook Pro has over the 15-inch model is it’s significantly less expensive. So if you need a more budget-friendly option, but still want the power of a Pro model, then give this one a good look.

11" MacBook Air MJVP2LL/A

If you're looking for optimal portability, and you're willing to lose some power for it, then this MacBook is tough to beat. It comes in at just over two pounds, about half the weight of the 15-inch MacBook Pro, and the smaller screen means the casing on this MacBook is smaller overall. Within this small frame you can pick between an i5 and an i7 dual-core Intel processor, with speeds of either 1.6GHz or 2.2GHz. This one comes with 4GB of RAM, which you an upgrade to 8GB for optimal performance. It has integrated video, with no option to upgrade to a dedicated graphics chip, so this isn't the best pick for video editing or playing games. Much like the other Air model, this comes with 256GB of Flash storage, but you can upgrade that to 512GB. The major distinction between the two Air models is the size of the screen, which also makes this one smaller and lighter than the other.

Sager NP5652 Notebook

This laptop includes an Intel 6th Generation i7 processor, and there really are not any options for upgrading or customizing the CPU. You get 8GB of DDR3 RAM with an option to upgrade that to 16GB of memory, but doing so will push it closer to the $1,000 price point. It includes a 1TB hard drive and you can upgrade that to a larger size or add a solid state drive if you need a lot more storage. It has a 15-inch display which is pretty good and this model includes an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 950M with 2GB of dedicated GDDR3 video memory. This laptop runs Windows 10, comes with both WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity, and includes three USB 3.0 ports.

Lenovo Ideapad 700 17" Laptop - 80RV0022US

Lenovo Ideapad 700 17" Laptop - 80RV0022US

There is a lot to like about this laptop, with only one or two potentially minor issues. The 6th Generation Intel processor in this laptop is very nice, though it's an i5 rather than i7 model. The laptop only has 8GB of RAM but it's DDR4 memory which is significantly faster than DDR3 and actually offers very good performance despite a lower amount of it than some other options on the market. You get a nice and big 17-inch display along with 2GB of dedicated video memory thanks to an NVIDIA GeForce 940M chip. While not amazing it's still quite good for a laptop under $1000. The 500GB hard drive is decent and quite reasonable for the price. It includes an external DVD burner, support for Wireless-AC and Bluetooth 4.0, plus there's a pair of USB 3.0 ports, a USB 2.0 port, and HDMI-out connection.

Dell XPS 15 Non-Touch Performance Laptop

This is a great option if you are not interested in tons of customization choices or other extra features and just want a really good laptop. It has a 6th Generation Intel i7 quad-core processor which runs applications very quickly and should be able to handle just about anything you throw at it. You get 16GB of DDR4 memory which is excellent, and it has a video card with 2GB of dedicated GDDR5 memory so this is a great choice if you play PC games or run demanding software for video editing. The 512GB solid state drive runs very fast and still gives you a great amount of memory for your files and applications. It only has a 15-inch display which is a bit smaller than some other high performance options on the market, but otherwise this is a great choice.

HP Envy 17" Laptop

HP Envy 17" Laptop

While this is a very good laptop just in the default configuration, there are a few upgrade options that can push it to a much higher level, although they'll also increase the price on it. You get an Intel 6th Generation i7 processor even in the default build though it lacks any dedicated video memory. You can upgrade to 2GB or 4GB of dedicated video RAM, but that will push the price up quite a bit. It comes with 8GB of DDR3 memory which is probably this picks biggest weakness, although upgrades can push that up to 12GB or 16GB, but there's no DDR4 option. The 17-inch display on this model is great, making it one of the best choices on the market if you need a large visual area for watching movies or playing games. It comes with a 1TB hard drive, which you can upgrade to up to 2TB of storage, though there is no option for a solid state drive. You get Wireless-AC and Bluetooth support with this model, plus it has a pair of USB 3.0 ports and an HDMI output.

Apple 13" 128GB MacBook Air

When ordering this laptop directly from Apple it comes in right at the $1,000 cap, and for that price you should expect a lot more than Apple delivers. This model has a 13-inch display which is decent but pales in comparison with similarly priced PC laptops that have 17-inch displays. You get an Intel i5 dual-core processor with this laptop, which is good but not exceptional. You can upgrade the CPU to a faster i7 model, but doing so bumps the units cost over the $1,000 price point. It only comes with 4GB of DDR3 memory which you can upgrade to 8GB of RAM, and it lacks any dedicated graphics memory. Performance from this laptop will be decent, but certainly not altogether impressive with such limited memory. This laptop only comes with 128GB of storage and while it's Flash memory for fast read/write speeds, that's still a very small amount of space. The small display size helps ensure this laptop is very slim and light-weight for optimal portability yet it still manages to include two USB 3.0 ports, a Thunderbolt port, and support for both Wireless-AC and Bluetooth 4.0.

Apple 13" 128GB MacBook Air

When ordering this laptop directly from Apple it comes in right at the $1,000 cap, and for that price you should expect a lot more than Apple delivers. This model has a 13-inch display which is decent but pales in comparison with similarly priced PC laptops that have 17-inch displays. You get an Intel i5 dual-core processor with this laptop, which is good but not exceptional. You can upgrade the CPU to a faster i7 model, but doing so bumps the units cost over the $1,000 price point. It only comes with 4GB of DDR3 memory which you can upgrade to 8GB of RAM, and it lacks any dedicated graphics memory. Performance from this laptop will be decent, but certainly not altogether impressive with such limited memory. This laptop only comes with 128GB of storage and while it's Flash memory for fast read/write speeds, that's still a very small amount of space. The small display size helps ensure this laptop is very slim and light-weight for optimal portability yet it still manages to include two USB 3.0 ports, a Thunderbolt port, and support for both Wireless-AC and Bluetooth 4.0.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon 4th Generation

Despite its very light-weight design, you still get some solid components in this ultrabook such as an Intel i5 processor and 8GB of DDR3 RAM. It doesn't have any dedicated video memory which is about the only weakness with this model but you do get a 128GB solid state drive for storage, and also runs Windows 10 Home edition. The 14-inch display is a bit larger than you can find on most other ultrabooks and when closed, it's only 0.65-inches tall. This model weighs less than three pounds which is perfect for portability and using this pick anywhere you want with ease. While there are some upgrade options with this model, you cannot upgrade individual components. Rather, you have to choose from more expensive pre-built models offering more RAM or a larger hard drive within the same ultrabook case.

ASUS ZenBook Pro UX501VW Ultrabook

While there are some ultrabooks on the market that are lighter and slimmer, this is a great option if you want better performance and don't need the lightest model possible. This is a pre-built ultrabook so it's not a great choice if you want upgrades and customization, but it includes an Intel i7 processor and 16GB of DDR4 RAM for fantastic performance and program speed. One of the really great features of this model is the inclusion of an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960M chip with 2GB of GDDR5 video memory which makes this an excellent choice if you want to play some PC games and need better graphics performance. It also has a 512GB hard drive giving you a lot of storage for your files and programs. The 15-inch display on this ultrabook looks great, it's only 0.8 inches high when closed, but it does weighs very nearly five pounds, making it quite heavier than some other options.

Toshiba Portege Z30-C1310 Ultrabook

This is a very nice little ultrabook that packs some decent performance into its small frame. You get a Intel i5 processor along with 8GB of DDR3 memory although it lacks any dedicated video memory. It has a 128GB solid state drive which runs nice and fast but doesn't give you a ton of room for saving data. Because of its small size. this laptop only has a 13-inch display which isn't exceptionally small but definitely prioritizes portability over performance. This pick also includes an HD webcam, a built-in microphone, as well as both WiFi and Bluetooth capabilities. At just over two and a half pounds, this is one of the most portable options out there for an ultrabook. The price on this model is a bit high for the components that are included, and considering what else is available on the market, it’s pretty hard to completely justify. However, if you find this one on sale then it's a great option.

Dell XPS 13 Non-Touch Laptop

In looking at different versions of the Dell XPS 13, the non-touch model with 8GB of memory is probably the most ideal overall choice. It lacks any dedicated video memory but has an Intel 6th Generation i5 processor and  a 128GB solid state drive for decent overall storage and performance. There's another non-touch model available with just 4GB of memory and an i3 CPU, but 8GB of RAM and the i5 chip are definitely worth the slightly higher price tag. If you want a touch-sensitive display, there are a couple models available of this same ultrabook with a touchscreen, and they also offer additional storage and a faster CPU if you want even better performance. In terms of weight and profile, this ultrabook is just 0.6 inches high when closed and weighs only 2.7 pounds.The touchscreen makes it weigh closer to three pounds, so keep this in mind if portability is a major priority for you.

Origin EON17-X RTS Gaming Laptop

Origin EON17-X RTS Gaming Laptop

Origin has always been known for offering a ton of options for customization so you can get exactly the right computer for your needs. While seemingly endless customization is terrific, it can also be completely overwhelming for someone who just wants a pre-built system; that's where this model comes in. It's a ready-to-ship bundle with a 17-inch display for excellent picture quality and loaded with great components. You get an Intel i7 quad-core processor, along with 16GB of DDR4 memory and an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980M video card with 8GB of dedicated GDDR5 memory. This laptop also has a 1TB solid state hybrid drive with a 240GB SATA drive for additional storage. You get Wireless-AC and Bluetooth support and plenty of configuration options if you want to make some changes. If you want to pick every component in your system from the beginning, consider the EON17-SLX, but otherwise this is an amazing pick.

XOTIC Sager NP9870 Gaming Laptop Computer

Customization options for this model listed by Sager might not be as extensive as those you’ll find on something like the Origin EON17-SLX, but there are still plenty of choices and the default components are excellent. It comes with an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 GPU with 8GB of GDDR5 video memory which looks great on the 17-inch display. If you need better performance, you can even step that up to a pair of video cards running in SLI.

This gaming laptop includes an Intel i7 processor and 16GB of DDR4 memory which you can upgrade to up to 64GB of RAM if you need truly insane performance. There are two hard drives included in this laptop with a 1TB mechanical drive for storage and a 250GB solid state drive that comes with Windows 10 Home installed on it. You can also upgrade either drive or add even more drives if you need additional storage, making this an excellent gaming laptop that can handle anything you throw at it.

MSI GT80 TITAN SLI-001 18" Gaming Laptop

If you want dozens of options for customization and choosing the components in your system, then you’ll probably want to consider a company like Origin or Sager. However, this model from MSI is a great choice if you just want a simple option you can purchase without a lot of extra options. The stand-out feature on this laptop is the 18-inch display that looks amazing and is larger than the screens on most other gaming laptops. It also has an Intel i7 processor and usually comes with 24GB of memory, but it can support up to 64GB of total RAM.

You get a pair of NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980M video chips in SLI in this system, providing 8GB of dedicated GDDR5 video memory. This laptop comes with a 1TB hard drive and can include a pair of solid state drives for terrific total storage and fast performance. With the final inclusion of a Blu-ray burner, thius laptop comes together as a great all around choice, especially if you want to purchase a laptop without sorting through a ton of options.

Alienware 17" Gaming Laptop + Controller

Alienware 17" Gaming Laptop + Controller

While there are other less expensive builds for the Alienware 17 gaming laptop available, this is the most expensive option that gives you the very best in gaming performance. It has an Intel i7 processor that runs well and includes 32GB of DDR4 memory for incredibly fast performance when running even the most demanding games on the market. You also get an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980M video card in this laptop with 8GB of dedicated GDDR5 graphics memory. That feature alone is going to give you absolutely fantastic performance, but you also get a 1TB storage hard drive and a 256GB solid state drive as a boot drive (and for your games) to ensure optimal performance. You get Wireless-AC and Bluetooth 4.1 support with this gaming laptop, and a 17-inch UltraHD display that looks absolutely fantastic. This laptop comes with an Xbox controller which can be great for some games but is really just an extra and not a major consideration when looking at what it has to offer.

ASUS ROG G752VL-DH71 17" Gaming Laptop

If you're not interested in any customization or secondary features and components, then this is a great choice that you can just choose and purchase without spending an hour picking features. You get a 17-inch display with this model and it has an Intel i7 processor for great overall performance when gaming or running other applications. There's also 16GB of DDR4 memory that runs very fast and you get a generous 1TB hard drive for storage.

One potential weakness with this model is the included NVIDIA GeForce GTX965M graphics card only includes 2GB of GDDR5 memory. While that should be enough for a wide range of PC games (and the GDDR5 RAM ensures they will run fast) it could be an issue if you want to push your gaming experience to the edge. Otherwise, this is a great gaming laptop that you can pick up for a pretty reasonable price and lets you easily jump right into PC gaming on the go.

Dell Latitude E6540 Secure Business Laptop

This is a great business laptop ideal for a wide range of situations so it should fit just about anyone's business needs. It has an Intel i7 processor but it's a 4th Generation model which is a bit older than some initials may be happy with. However, with that in mind you do get 8GB of DDR3 memory in this laptop along with an AMD Radeon HD 8790M graphics card that includes 2GB of GDDR5 memory. That lets this laptop run quite smoothly, even if you are streaming HD media or preparing a major presentation with graphics and video. The included 256GB solid state drive gives you a pretty good amount of storage but runs nice and fast for optimal business performance. This laptop includes Wireless-N support and Bluetooth 4.0, but it comes with Windows 7 Professional Edition, so keep this in mind if you need Windows 10 for compliance with your other professional devices and applications.

Apple MacBook Pro MJLT2LL 15.4" Laptop with Retina Display

The 15-inch Retina display on this laptop is unmistakably beautiful to look at, so if you watch a lot of media and edit videos or photographs, then this model is pretty hard to beat. The specs on it are also quite impressive starting with an Intel i7 2.5GHz quad-core processor you can upgrade to a 2.8GHz model for faster performance. While you can't adjust the RAM that comes in this model, it has 16GB of DDR3 memory which should be more than sufficient for most applications. There are a couple different 15-inch MacBooks to choose from and this particular one is the more powerful option with 2GB of GDDR5 dedicated video memory for optimal performance. You can choose either 512GB or 1TB of fast, Flash storage, and it has two USB 3.0 ports as well as support for Wireless-AC and Bluetooth 4.0. While the customization options on this laptop don't approach the freedom offered by a company like Origin, you do have some measure of control over the final build of your system.

HP ProBook 650 G2 Notebook PC

HP ProBook 650 G2 Notebook PC

In terms of performance, this business laptop offers terrific speed and power so it’s a great choice if you need to run some demanding software. It has an Intel i5 processor and includes 8GB of DDR3 memory, which is plenty of RAM for a business system. You don't get any dedicated video memory in this laptop, only an integrated Intel HD Graphics 520 chip, so this isn't a great choice if you know you run software with high video demands. This system has a 256GB solid state drive which gives you a good amount of storage that runs very fast. Connectivity options are great  since it includes three USB ports, a DisplayPort and VGA connection, and support for both Wireless-N and Bluetooth 4.2. It also comes with an integrated 720p HD webcam, microphone, and a spill-resistant keyboard that makes it great for travel and working on the road.

Origin EON17-SLX Pro Extreme Workstation Laptop

Origin EON17-SLX Pro Extreme Workstation Laptop

While Origin is largely known as a maker of gaming PCs, they also provide some very impressive options for business laptops. This business laptop has a 17-inch display and comes with a 4GB NVIDIA graphics card in it, though you can upgrade that to a faster chip with up to 8GB of video memory. It has an Intel i5 quad-core processor, which you can upgrade to an i7 CPU, and 8GB of DDR4 RAM, which you can upgrade to up to 64GB of memory. It comes with a 250GB solid state drive although you can upgrade that for more storage, and there's room for two solid state drives and a second hard drive for a ton of storage and incredibly fast performance. This model has both Wireless-AC and Bluetooth connectivity, along with USB 3.0 and 3.1 ports and there's even a fingerprint scanner to keep data safe and secure. One of the best things about Origin is they offer a ton of customization options and if they don't have a feature you want, then they'll track down and install it for you.

Lenovo ThinkPad T560 Highly Mobile Enterprise Laptop

Although Lenovo offers quite a few different models of this laptop, the best overall option is the one that includes a 256GB solid state drive. With that you also get an Intel i7 processor and 8GB of DDR3 memory that keeps your programs running fast. You can opt for a model with about twice the storage and RAM if you really need better performance, but that's not really essential for a lot of business environments. This one comes with a 15-inch display and an integrated 720p HD webcam which is perfect for video-conferencing and viewing HD media. There is no dedicated graphics memory with this laptop, so keep that in mind if you tend to do much video editing. Overall, this is a great choice and also includes three USB 3.0 ports, an HDMI output connection, and support for Wireless-AC and Bluetooth 4.1.

Dell Inspiron 15" 5000 Series Intel Non-Touch Laptop

In terms of raw performance, this budget laptop is pretty hard to beat. This pick has an 6th Generation Intel i5 quad-core processor which might not be the best CPU on the market, but certainly gives you great performance at this price point. You get 8GB of memory and it has a 1TB hard drive which gives you a ton of storage for your files and projects. You get both Wireless-AC and Bluetooth 4.0 support, which gives you just about all the wireless connectivity you could want. This laptop also includes an integrated 720p HD webcam, tray-load DVD burner, USB 3.0 port, and HDMI output connection. The 15-inch display looks great, and while not anything particularly exceptional it’s certainly better than a smaller 13-inch offering.

Acer Aspire V15 Laptop - V3-575-50TD

In terms of performance, this model excels and has some of the best components that you’ll find in this price range. It has an Intel i5 dual-core processor and 4GB of memory which makes it a great option for some light PC gaming or streaming media. It would be even better with some dedicated video memory, but let’s be realistic, you won’t find that kind of feature in a budget laptop. There’s a 500GB hard drive in this laptop which is quite good for its price and makes this a great choice for saving a lot of media or large files. This laptop comes with Windows 10 so you don’t have to worry about updating an older operating system and it has a 15-inch display. You only get Wireless-AC connectivity with this laptop as it lacks native Bluetooth support, but it does have a nice suite of extra features including a DVD burner, two USB 3.0 ports, and an HDMI connection.

ASUS F555UA-EH71 15.6" Laptop

There is a lot to like about this budget laptop, although there are a few things to consider before picking it as your new computer. It comes with an Intel i7 processor although you can save a little money by choosing a similar model with an i5 instead. It has 8GB of DDR3 memory for pretty good overall performance, though it lacks any video memory like most other budget models. You get a 1TB hard drive that gives you plenty of storage for your files and programs although a solid state drive would certainly be superior (but also more expensive). The 15-inch display looks great and it comes with Windows 10 installed, so it offers support for all the latest programs and applications. You get a DVD burner in this laptop, it includes support for Wireless-AC connectivity, and a pair of USB 3.0 ports. Unfortunately you don’t get any native Bluetooth support with this model.

HP Pavilion 15" Laptop

While there are certainly more powerful models on the market, this is a great option that should fit comfortably in just about any budget. It starts with an AMD quad-core A8-7410 APU that includes a Radeon R5 graphics chip which lacks any dedicated video memory but it does give you some solid graphics processing. The 8GB of RAM in this laptop is nice and you can spend a little more money to upgrade that to either 12GB or 16GB for even better performance.

You get a 1TB hard drive with this model which gives you a great amount of storage and there are some options for more storage or a solid state drive instead. This budget laptop includes support for Wireless-N but lacks Bluetooth support, though you can upgrade to Bluetooth and even add Wireless-AC support for just a little more money. The 15-inch display on this model looks very good and includes a DVD burner.

Lenovo Ideapad 500 15" Laptop - 80K40012US

At full retail price, this laptop is near the top of the budget range, but if you find this pick on sale then you’ve got an excellent choice on your hands. It has an AMD A8-8600P processor which gives you both general processing and graphics processing, making this a great choice for a wide range of uses. You get Windows 10 with this laptop which means it's easy to use and doesn't require extensive patching when you first start it up.

You get 8GB of DDR3 memory and though it lacks any video memory, the APU design of the processor in this laptop is great for budget gaming or streaming HD media. It has a 500GB hard drive, providing a good amount of storage and it comes with both Wireless-AC and Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity which lets you use it with a wide range of wireless devices and networks. A DVD burner is included and this laptop offers a pair of USB 3.0 ports and an HDMI out connector.

Getac X500 Laptop

Getac X500 Laptop

While there's not a ton of customization available for this system, your options are still quite good and you can set up a really powerful laptop. You can pick from either an Intel i5 or i7 processor, and this system comes with 8GB of RAM though it’s expandable to up to 16GB of memory. While that's not as much as you'll find in a powerful mobile workstation, those devices aren't built to survive a six-foot drop like this one is. This pick comes with an integrated graphics chip but you can upgrade it with an NVIDIA chip that adds 2GB of dedicated video memory if you need decent graphics performance.

The waterproof keyboard on this laptop is backlit for nighttime use, and it comes with a 500GB hard drive, although you can add up to a 512GB solid state drive for even better performance. You get a 15-inch sunlight readable display in this system which is quite large for a rugged laptop, and there’s even an option to make it a touchscreen device if desired. Getac offers a five-year warranty which is about as good as you can get in the computer industry.

AMREL Rocky RF10 17" Rugged Laptop

AMREL Rocky RF10 17" Rugged Laptop

This is a great rugged laptop that really sets itself apart from other models due to the beautiful 17-inch display that's significantly larger than what you will find in pretty much every other rugged model on the market. The other components in this laptop are also quite good thanks to an Intel i7 processor, 4GB of RAM, and a 500GB hard drive. While the integrated memory in this model is a bit low, you can upgrade up to 16GB if better performance is needed. There are also additional slots for more mechanical and solid state drives if you want more storage, and this pick includes integrated graphics with no dedicated video memory. Wireless and Bluetooth connectivity are available with this model, and you can choose a military package option that presents this rugged laptop in NATO Green instead of black.

Panasonic Toughbook CF-532JCZYCM 14" Laptop

If you're looking for solid durability without giving up too much portability, then this is a great option which is rather small but easy to take wherever you need to go. The specs on this model are pretty good thanks to an Intel i5 processor and 4GB of RAM which you can upgrade to 8GB if you need more memory. A 500GB hard drive is included with this laptop and there's options for a 128GB, 256GB, or 512GB solid state drive if you need additional storage and want the reliability of an SSD.

This system only comes with a 14-inch display which is rather small but also makes this one a bit lighter and slimmer than other rugged laptops and the screen has optional touch-sensitivity. With a standard battery, this model weighs less than six pounds which is very good for a rugged system, although if you choose a touchscreen then it weighs quite a bit more. Panasonic covers this pick with a three-year manufacturer's warranty.

Dell Latitude 7404 Rugged Extreme 14" Touchscreen Notebook

This is an excellent choice for a rugged laptop if you’re not interested in customizing your system and choosing a lot of components yourself. Dell doesn’t give you many options for the hardware in this system, but the default setup is already pretty good with an Intel i3 dual-core processor and 8GB of DDR3 memory. While there’s not a ton of storage in this laptop, it does have a 128GB solid state drive which is perfect for a rugged laptop designed to sustain falls and other adverse conditions. The 14-inch display is an outdoor-readable touchscreen that gives you a great deal of control and input options while you use it. Dell also covers this rugged laptop with a three-year warranty.

Getac S410 Semi-Rugged Notebook

Getac S410 Semi-Rugged Notebook

This laptop comes with an Intel i5 processor, though there are options to upgrade to an i7 for even better performance. You get 4GB of memory in this laptop that you can upgrade to up to 16GB if you need it to run faster, and though it only has integrated graphics there's an option for an NVIDIA GeForce graphics card. This rugged laptop has a 500GB hard drive and options for a 1TB mechanical drive or a solid state drive from 128GB to 512GB if you need additional, reliable storage.

Perhaps the biggest potential weakness with this model is it's only semi-rugged and not fully rugged. That means that it has a splash resistant keyboard rather than being waterproof and it has only been certified to survive a three-foot drop rather than one from six feet up. With that in mind, however, this is still a great choice for a wide range of harsh situations and it's supported by Getac’s five-year warranty.

MSI Computer WT Series WT72 17.3" Laptop

If you're interested in customizing your mobile workstation, then consider another model, but this is a great choice for a powerful system that works great right out of the box. It starts with the powerful Intel Xeon processor that runs beautifully, along with 32GB of DDR4 memory which can handle just about any software you throw at it. You also get an NVIDIA Quadro M5000M video card with 8GB of GDDR5 graphics memory which is amazing for any graphically intense programs you might want to run. The 17-inch display looks great as it adequately shows off the power of the included graphics card, and this mobile workstation includes both a 1TB hard drive and a 128GB solid state drive, giving you a ton of storage and fast program performance. You get some great connectivity options with this laptop which include support for Wireless-AC, Bluetooth 4.1, and a whopping six USB 3.0 ports.

Origin EON17-SLX Pro Extreme Workstation Laptop

Origin EON17-SLX Pro Extreme Workstation Laptop

While Origin is largely known as a maker of gaming PCs, they also provide some very impressive options for business laptops. This business laptop has a 17-inch display and comes with a 4GB NVIDIA graphics card in it, though you can upgrade that to a faster chip with up to 8GB of video memory. It has an Intel i5 quad-core processor, which you can upgrade to an i7 CPU, and 8GB of DDR4 RAM, which you can upgrade to up to 64GB of memory. It comes with a 250GB solid state drive although you can upgrade that for more storage, and there's room for two solid state drives and a second hard drive for a ton of storage and incredibly fast performance. This model has both Wireless-AC and Bluetooth connectivity, along with USB 3.0 and 3.1 ports and there's even a fingerprint scanner to keep data safe and secure. One of the best things about Origin is they offer a ton of customization options and if they don't have a feature you want, then they'll track down and install it for you.

HP ZBook 15 G3 Mobile Workstation - V2W10UT#ABA

There are some great components in this mobile workstation, starting with 16GB of DDR4 memory, which keeps it running nice and fast even while working with some pretty demanding software. You also get an NVIDIA chip with 2GB of dedicated DDR5 video memory so it runs beautifully and helps the system look great, though the 15-inch display is a bit smaller than it really should be (and probably the sole weakness of this laptop). The Intel i7 processor is fast and this system includes a 512GB solid state drive, giving you a great amount of storage that ensures programs to run quickly and reliably. This mobile workstation supports Wireless-AC, Bluetooth 4.0, and includes three USB 3.0 ports, a Thunderbolt port, and even has an integrated HD webcam. It’s a great choice overall, and you can pick this one up at a very reasonable price, but it is certainly not the most powerful mobile workstation on the market.

MSI WS60 Workstation - Intel Xeonco

This is a great model from MSI that is almost as good as the MSI WT72, but at a much more budget-friendly price. You get the same Intel Xeon processor in this model as the WT72, along with 16GB of DDR4 memory for excellent performance while running just about any software. It comes with an NVIDIA Quadro video card with 4GB of dedicated GDDR5 memory since the 15-inch display includes UltraHD 4K resolution support. While the screen might be a bit smaller than most other high-end mobile workstations, the 4K resolution looks amazing and is great for analyzing data and creating presentations without excessive eyestrain. You get support for Wireless-AC and Bluetooth 4.1 connectivity with this model, along with a pair of USB 3.0 ports.

Lenovo ThinkPad P70 Mobile Workstation

There are a few different models of this workstation available from Lenovo, but this is the most powerful and most expensive one. It comes with an Intel Xeon CPU that offers fantastic performance and is ideal for handling data analysis and organization. This model has an NVIDIA Quadro M5000M video card with 8GB of dedicated GDDR5 memory, along with 32GB of general DDR4 RAM that's perfect for even the most demanding software. The 17-inch display on this workstation looks amazing thanks to UltraHD 4K support and a video card that can handle such a high resolution. It comes with a 512GB solid state drive which is great, but lacks a secondary hard drive. While you do not get a ton of customization options with this model, you can pick a few different components if you want something other than what's initially offered. It comes with Wireless-AC and Bluetooth 4.1 support, along with four USB 3.0 ports.

Dell Inspiron 15" 7000 Series Touch Gaming Laptop

Dell Inspiron 15" 7000 Series Touch Gaming Laptop

The touchscreen on this laptop is really just an added perk, but the components within it are the real reason to pick this one over other options on the market. You get a 6th Generation Intel i7 processor with this laptop which is perfect for serious PC gaming as well as a decent 16GB of DDR3 memory. The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960M graphics card is excellent with 4GB of dedicated GDDR5 video memory; this should be more than sufficient for most PC gaming although there are certainly more expensive gaming laptops with more powerful video cards. You get a 15-inch touch-sensitive display on this laptop which looks great thanks to UltraHD support and resolutions up to 3840 x 2160. This laptop supports Wireless-AC, Bluetooth 4.0, and has three USB 3.0 ports for all the connectivity you need.

Sager NP8657 Gaming Notebook

While this certainly isn't the least expensive option out there for a gaming laptop, it's still pretty budget-friendly and offers terrific performance with an HD 15-inch screen. The default build on this system has an Intel 6th Generation i7 quad-core processor and includes 8GB of DDR4 RAM, although you can upgrade to up to 64GB of memory if you need even faster performance and have the budget for it. This gaming laptop comes with an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970M graphics chip that has 3GB of dedicated GDDR5 video memory. There’s no upgrade option on the graphics card but the default setup is already quite good. You get a 1TB hard drive with this laptop which you can upgrade to up to 2TB of storage and there's a second bay that lets you add a solid state drive. This budget gaming laptop also includes support for Wireless-AC and Bluetooth connectivity. You get four USB 3.0 ports for a ton of connection options as well as an HDMI port and mini-DisplayPort.

Lenovo Ideapad Y700-15 80NV005CUS Laptop

There is a lot to like about this budget gaming laptop, with all the components packed into a slim design which boasts a 15-inch display. You get an Intel 6th Generation i7 processor in this laptop and it also includes 16GB of very fast DDR4 memory which both ensure it runs very well. The 1TB hard drive gives you plenty of storage for your games and other files, and it comes with a 128GB solid state drive for your OS and most common programs. You get an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960M video card with 4GB of dedicated graphics memory which keeps your games looking good and running smoothly. This laptop has support for Wireless-AC and Bluetooth 4.0, along with two USB 3.0 ports, a USB 2.0 port, and an HDMI connection. There are several other pre-built versions of this laptop, including ones offering even better performance, but this model really offers the best overall value.

HP Pavilion 15-ak010nr 15.6" Laptop

If you want a prebuilt system that you can pick and purchase quickly and easily then this is a great choice, although it does lack some options for customization or upgrades. However, what you get here is still a great budget gaming laptop with a 15-inch display. It includes an Intel i7 quad-core processor and 8GB of DDR3 memory which is good but you can get systems with DDR4 RAM for just a bit more money. You get a 1TB hard drive which offers plenty of space for games and other programs along with an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 950M graphics card with 4GB of dedicated video memory. However, it should be noted the graphics chip offers DDR3 memory while other budget laptops include GDDR5 video RAM. While you can't really upgrade these components, you also don’t really need to as this laptop should give you plenty of performance for PC gaming. Lastly, you get support for Wireless-N and Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity, along with two USB 3.0 ports, a USB 2.0 port, and an HDMI connection.

ASUS X550JX-DB71 15" Notebook Laptop

This is definitely among the most budget-friendly gaming laptops on the market that still delivers great performance. It has an Intel i7 processor and 8GB of DDR3 memory which should be enough for a lot of applications and PC games, but certainly falls short of what the best setups have to offer. With that in mind, you still get an NVIDIA GeForce GTX950M video card with 2GB of dedicated graphics memory, so this laptop is a great choice for PC gaming. However, considering the price on this one it's definitely ideal if your budget won’t let you go after something like the Sager NP8657 or Dell Inspiron 15. You still get a great looking 15-inch display and this laptop supports Wireless-AC and Bluetooth, with a pair of USB 3.0 ports and an included DVD drive.

Origin EON17-SLX Custom Gaming Laptop

Origin EON17-SLX Custom Gaming Laptop

Along with a 17-inch display, this model supports either one or two video cards with up to 8GB of graphics memory each although it comes with a 6GB NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970M in the default build. There are several different quad-core processors you can choose from for terrific speeds, with an Intel i5 3.2GHz model as the basic option. This high performance laptop also supports up to 64GB of memory even though it comes with only 8GB of DDR4 initially. That's about as much memory as you can possibly pack into this kind of laptop. It comes with a 250GB hard drive, but you can upgrade that to up to 2TB of storage, and there are options for multiple solid state drives. You get support for Wireless-AC and Bluetooth, along with USB 3.0 and 3.1 ports. One of the best things about this model is Origin really lets you customize everything about it, and you can even request components they don't normally offer.

15" MacBook Pro 2.5GHz with Retina Display MGXC2LL/A

One of the biggest selling points and strengths of this model is the retina display. While the screen may only be a modest 15-inch wide offering, the displays image quality more than makes up for it. Beyond the screen you get some terrific performance options from Apple in terms of the internal hardware. You get an i7 quad-core Intel processor; the default model has a 2.5GHz chip you can upgrade to a 2.8GHz processor. It comes with 16GB of memory with no option to alter that amount. This is terrific power for a laptop and this is the only MacBook that has an NVIDIA graphics chip with another 2GB of dedicated GDDR5 video memory. This one comes with 512GB of Flash storage, but you can upgrade that to 1TB if you want as much room for your files as possible.

Sager NP9778-S Notebook Computer

Sager markets this system as a gaming laptop but the same components that make it good for gaming also make it excellent for editing video or other media. There are a decent number of options for customization with this system and the default components already work well for editing. It has a 17-inch screen and comes with an Intel i7 quad-core processor. You also get an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970M graphics chip in this system which has 6GB of dedicated DDR5 video memory.

It comes with 16GB of DDR4 memory, but you have the option to upgrade up to 64GB of RAM. This system comes with a 1TB hard drive which is a great amount of storage and there's a 250GB solid state drive that works as the OS drive in this laptop. The default setup for this laptop is excellent and it’s a great option if you’re not looking for a ton of options but still desire a few upgrades.

MSI PE70 Prestige GTX 960M Laptop

This is really an ideal choice if you just want to choose a laptop for editing without making lots of additional decisions for customization. It is a pre-built system so you do not get to pick and choose your components, but it comes with all the hardware you probably need for just about any kind of editing. You get an Intel i7 processor in this laptop along with 12GB of DDR4 memory that runs very fast and is ideal for demanding video editing and handling HD media and large files. The 17-inch display looks great and gives you a lot of work area for your software, plus it comes with a DVD burner for backing up your data or work files.

This laptop has an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960M with 2GB of dedicated GDDR5 memory that's really ideal for handling video editing and a 1TB hard drive gives you plenty of storage for your raw and edited files. You get all of this at a very reasonable price which makes this pick a great choice for an amateur editor or student.

Dell Precision 17" 7000 Series Laptop (7710)

Dell Precision 17" 7000 Series Laptop (7710)

There is a lot to like about this laptop for editing, as long as you are not particularly interested in picking out a lot of custom options and components. It has an Intel i5 quad-core processor and comes with 8GB of DDR4 memory, which makes it a great choice for just about any kind of software, especially editing programs. While most laptops for editing come with an NVIDIA graphics card, this one has an AMD FirePro W5170M with 2GB of dedicated GDDR5 video memory, which works very well for editing, especially HD video or computer graphics. You get a 500GB hard drive in this laptop which gives you a good amount of storage although it's not particularly amazing. The 17-inch display looks great and it comes with four USB 3.0 ports and an HDMI output connection, so you can use this model with external displays or connect it to other devices.

Buyer's Guide

 

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.

Processor

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.

Memory

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.

Storage

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.

Extra Features

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.

Customization Options

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.

Convertible Options

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.

Greg Wiesen
With an AA in Computer Animation, I have spent years building computers and playing video games. I learned early on that the best way to figure out a new software program was to just start pushing buttons and see what happens (saving often, of course), and that is still my philosophy. From hard drives and motherboards to graphics cards and "holographic" keyboards, I enjoy checking out and playing with all the tech I can get my hands on. I have written hundreds of informative computer and technology articles in the past, and I believe that anyone can understand and use a computer. I'll worry about research and trying out different hardware, you just enjoy the results.
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