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Published May 18, 2022 1:30 PM

There are dozens of Windows laptops to choose from, many of which offer similar features and designs, so finding the right one can be challenging. Are you looking for a powerful gaming machine or do you need something that’s more portable? Maybe you want something a little more versatile, in which case a 2-in-1 might suit your needs. We know buying a laptop is a big decision, so we’re here to explain what’s important, what isn’t, and what to avoid altogether. From Dell to HP to Razer, the best Windows laptops currently available can be found here.

How we picked the best Windows laptops

I’ve tested and reviewed numerous laptops from every category and major manufacturer for publications like TechnoBuffalo, XDA Developers, and Android Central. I use a laptop every day for work and when I need to do more intensive tasks, like editing photos and videos. A laptop is also my go-to device for travel because it provides me with the performance, battery life, and screen size to do my best work. To arrive at this list, we analyzed offerings from all the major manufacturers and compared models based on fundamental specs such as battery life, screen size and resolution, and overall power level. 

Things to consider when shopping for the best Windows laptops

Before purchasing a laptop, there are numerous factors to consider, including performance, battery life, and display size. Your choice also depends on how you plan to use your device, how often you’ll use it, and what you can afford. The good news is there is a Windows laptop for every user, whether you’re constantly on the road or doing creative work. Here’s what to look for during your search.

Processor

The Central Processing Unit, or CPU, is one of your laptop’s most essential components. Newer Windows laptops generally feature either 11th or 12th Generation Intel Core i5 and i7 processors, which can offer 6 or 8 processor cores. Some machines opt for processors from AMD, including the Ryzen 5000 or 6000. One of the easiest ways to assess a laptop’s compute power is to look at its clock speed, measured in GHz, and the number of cores in the CPU. A processor with higher clock speeds and more CPU cores can complete tasks more quickly and are suitable for users who plan to do intensive work, like editing high-resolution video. This is one area in which you’ll want to invest because you won’t be able to upgrade this hardware after the fact.

Memory

Your computer’s Random Access Memory, or RAM, plays an integral part in your laptop’s performance. RAM provides applications with a place to temporarily store and access data. If you use a lot of applications at once, you’ll want a laptop with more RAM. We recommend at least 8GB of RAM for more basic tasks but recommend 16GB if you use creative apps. The more memory your laptop has, the faster it will complete tasks. Laptops typically don’t allow users to upgrade memory after the fact, so you may be stuck with the configuration you buy.

Storage

Most modern laptops rely on solid-state drives (SSD) to store and access data. An SSD uses different technology than a traditional hard drive and is generally faster and more reliable than a conventional hard drive because SSDs lack moving pieces. They can reduce the time to load files and other applications, which is particularly good for gaming and content creation. We recommend a laptop with a 256GB SSD, but if you can afford to do so, you should upgrade to 512GB or even 1TB because storage can fill up quickly as you use it over time.

Graphics

Your computer’s Graphics Processing Unit, or GPU, displays the data processed by your device’s CPU. Without a GPU, you wouldn’t see anything on your screen. When it comes to laptops, you have two options: integrated or dedicated. A laptop with integrated graphics finds the GPU included on the same chip as the CPU. However, laptops designed for more intensive tasks feature dedicated graphics cards with their own memory. 

Laptops with a dedicated graphics card, like Nvidia’s 30-series GPUs, can display higher-fidelity graphics at higher frame rates. One of the downsides of laptops with dedicated graphics is that they’re usually bigger and heavier, so they’re less portable. They also require more power, which means you may have to monitor your battery life throughout the day more closely.

Display

How you plan to use your laptop can help determine the proper display size and resolution that best fits your needs. A laptop with a smaller screen is generally lighter and good for people who constantly move from place to place. If you plan to carry your laptop every day, a 13- to 15-inch display is a comfortable size. However, if you only occasionally travel with your laptop, you might want to consider something even larger. A bigger screen will give you more screen real estate for multitasking and looking at timelines in video editing apps like Final Cut Pro and Premiere Pro. Remember that laptops with larger screens usually contain more powerful components and are generally heavier.

A 1080p (Full HD) display will be fine for general use like browsing the web and writing papers. We recommend a high-resolution display for creative work and gaming—either 1440p (Quad HD) or 3840×2160 (4K). A higher resolution will make the screen look sharper and allow you to see more minor details in your photos and video. Some of the options on our list feature OLED displays, where an LED independently backlights each pixel, allowing for precise control over color and contrast. It’s the same technology you’d find in OLED TVs.

A display with reliable color accuracy is also ideal for creative work because you’ll be able to make your images and video look as close to real-life as possible. You want a screen covering 90% to 100% of the sRGB color gamut. Some laptops take a step beyond this with support for DCI-P3, which offers 26% more color space than sRGB, which means DCI-P3 provides a greater range of colors for a more saturated and vibrant image.

Connectivity

The ports in a laptop allow you to work smarter, faster, and longer by plugging in various peripherals like a monitor and an external hard drive. USB-A ports were the industry standard and still play an essential role, but you’ll want your next laptop to have more modern high bandwidth ports, like USB-C and Thunderbolt 4, to quickly import and export media. An Ethernet port will allow you to connect directly to your home network and is more reliable than Wi-Fi, while an HDMI port can connect your laptop to an external display. Meanwhile, if you handle a lot of photos and videos, a built-in card reader is nice because it eliminates the need for extra dongles.

If you need additional ports, you can purchase a USB hub to augment your laptop with additional connection options. However, nothing beats the convenience of a built-in port.

Battery life

The fun of owning a laptop is being mobile and away from a power outlet. It feels nice to have the freedom to work from any location. But that freedom also adds a layer of anxiety. If you run out of battery while working in the field, it could mean not being able to send an email or finish an important project (like this roundup). 

How long your laptop’s battery lasts is determined by multiple factors, including how you use it and what processor is under the hood. The more processing power you have under the hood, the more frequently your laptop will need to be charged. No matter what your day looks like, a modern laptop should have a battery that can survive a hard day’s work.

Size and weight

Your daily workflow will help determine which laptop’s size and weight is right for you. A good middle-ground for weight is 3 pounds to 5 pounds and a screen between 13 inches and 16 inches. If you care only about portability, a laptop with a 13-inch display is a comfortable size and offers a good balance of performance and battery life. On the other hand, if you game or edit a lot of photos and videos, you might want to consider something larger. The downside to having more screen real estate is your laptop will likely be heavier and less portable. There’s no perfect size, so you should choose what feels suitable for you.

The best Windows laptops: Reviews & Recommendations

Knowing what to look for in a Windows laptop is the first step. The next step is vetting the numerous options, and then choosing the one that works best for you. As we previously mentioned, there are a lot of models and configurations at different prices, so picking just one is easier said than done. We tried to make your job as easy as possible by finding the best options in specific categories.

Best overall: Dell XPS 15

Buy it used or refurbished: eBay

Why it made the cut: With the latest specs, an OLED touchscreen, and a sturdy, elegant design, the Dell XPS 15 is still the best around.

Specs

  • Processor: Intel Core i5, i7, i9
  • GPU: Intel Iris Xe, Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050, Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 TI
  • RAM: 8GB, 16GB, 32GB, 64GB
  • Storage: 512GB SSD, 1TB SSD, 2TB SSD
  • Screen size: 15.6-inch FHD+ (1920×1200), 15.6-inch OLED (3456×2160), 15.6-inch UHD+ (3840×2400)
  • Dimensions: 13.56 x 9.06 x 0.73
  • Weight: 4.06
  • Connectivity: 2 Thunderbolt 4, 1 USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C, 1 USB 3.2, Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.2

Pros

  • Beautiful OLED touchscreen
  • Numerous ports
  • Sturdy, elegant design

Cons

  • 720p web camera

Dell’s XPS line has long been a favorite among reviewers and consumers for its performance, portability, and design. The XPS 15, updated for 2022, carries the mantle forward while carving its place in the crowded Windows market. With a 12th Generation Intel Core processor (i5, i7, and i9), up to 64GB of RAM, and a 15.6-inch OLED touchscreen (16:10 aspect ratio), the XPS 15 is the closest challenger to Apple’s M1-equipped MacBook Pro in terms of performance and design.

If you can afford it, you can upgrade the XPS 15 with a GeForce RTX 3050 Ti graphics card, giving you plenty of power to play games and edit high-resolution videos. You can also configure the device with 2TB of SSD storage, which is plenty of storage for files, images, and video. The XPS 15 also features two Thunderbolt 4 USB-C ports, a USB 3.2 Type-C port, and a built-in SD card reader. Other configuration options include a Full HD Plus (1920×1080) non-touch display and an Ultra HD Plus (3849×2400) touch display, which features 500 nits of brightness.

The XPS 15 is hard to beat for design and performance, and there are several configuration options to meet specific needs. That’s why Dell’s XPS is so beloved in the Windows market and why the XPS 15 is our best overall pick.

Best gaming: Asus ROG Zephyrus G15

Buy it used or refurbished: eBay

Why it made the cut: The Asus ROG Zephyrus G15 offers an impressive balance of power, portability, and price.

Specs

  • Processor: AMD Ryzen 9
  • GPU: Nvidia GeForce 3070 Ti, Nvidia GeForce 3080 Ti
  • RAM: 16GB
  • Storage: 1TB SSD
  • Screen size: 15.6-inch WQHD (2560×1440)
  • Dimensions: 13.98 x 9.57 x 0.78
  • Weight: 4.19
  • Connectivity: HDMI 2.0b, 2 USB 3.2 Type-A, LAN, 2 USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C, microSD card reader, Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.2

Pros

  • Thin and lightweight for a gaming laptop
  • Excellent battery life
  • Capable of playing the latest AAA titles on high settings

Cons

  • 720p web camera

Asus ROG’s Zephyrus G15 GA503 is a lightweight gaming laptop that doesn’t compromise performance, portability, or battery life. Equipped with a 15-inch 240Hz WQHD display and weighing in at just over 4 pounds, the Zephyrus G15 is powerful enough to handle AAA titles, and any Zoom calls you have planned.

All of the available configurations offer AMD’s Ryzen 9 6900HX processor, and you can now equip it with Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 3080 Ti. You can also choose between 8GB or 16GB of RAM, while all models offer a 1TB SSD and a combination of ports, including HDMI 2.0b, two USB 3.2 Type-A, two USB 3.2 Type-C, a Display Port, and a microSD card reader. The Zephyrus G15 also supports Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.2, and a battery that can last around 8 hours on a single charge.

For the price, the Asus ROG Zephyrus G15 is an impressive gaming laptop that offers excellent performance, an excellent display, and a long-lasting battery.

Best affordable: HP Envy x360 13

Buy it used or refurbished: eBay

Why it made the cut: The Asus ROG Zephyrus G15 offers an impressive balance of power, portability, and price.

Specs

  • Processor: AMD Ryzen 7
  • GPU: AMD Radeon
  • RAM: 16GB
  • Storage: 512GB SSD
  • Screen size: 13.3-inch FHD (1920×1080)
  • Dimensions: 12.07 x 7.66 x 0.65
  • Weight: 2.87
  • Connectivity: 1 USB-C, 2 USB-A, Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.2, microSD card reader

Pros

  • Thin and lightweight
  • Sleek convertible design
  • Under $1,000

Cons

  • Limited port selection

Despite what some hardware snobs will tell you, solid laptops can cost less than $1,000. The HP Envy x360 is one of the best budget options available, thanks to its sleek 2-in-1 design and impressive performance. It comes equipped with a 13.3-inch FHD display, AMD Ryzen 7 processor, and 16GB of RAM. Meanwhile, the display also supports touch input and features an 88-percent screen-to-body ratio and support for HP’s MPP2.0 pen. 

There’s also a convenient row of hotkeys that will let you mute the microphone and turn on/off the webcam. There are a few different versions of the Envy x360 13, including one with an AMD Ryzen 7 processor and AMD Radeon graphics. Whichever one you choose, HP’s laptop is an affordable option that strikes a nice balance between performance, design, and features.

Best 2-in-1: Lenovo Yoga 9i

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Buy it used or refurbished: eBay

Why it made the cut: The Lenovo Yoga 9i’s convertible design and 4K OLED display make it a fantastic device for creating and consuming media.

Specs

  • Processor: 12th Gen Intel Core i5, i7
  • GPU: Intel Iris Xe
  • RAM: 16GB, 32GB
  • Storage: 512GB SSD, 1TB SSD
  • Screen size: 14-inch OLED (3840×2400)
  • Dimensions: 12.52 x 9.06 x 0.6
  • Weight: 3.02
  • Connectivity: 3 USB Type-C, Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.1

Pros

  • 1080p webcam
  • 4K OLED display
  • Comes with stylus

Cons

  • Nowhere to store the stylus

These days, nearly every manufacturer offers a laptop with a convertible design, but Lenovo’s Yoga 9i is at the top of the heap. The device stands above the rest thanks to its elegant design and rotating soundbar (designed by audiophile favorite Bowers & Wilkins) located in the hinge. This mechanism allows the speakers to face outward for the best possible sound no matter how the device is positioned.

The Yoga 9i features an OLED display with a 2880×1800 resolution and 16:10 aspect ratio. Lenovo also offers a non-OLED version with a 1920×1200 resolution, as well as a 4K OLED version (pictured) if you want the most possible pixels. The device comes with a stylus, although there’s no place to store it, so you’ll have to carry it separately.

The keyboard has also been tweaked to include a row of function keys on the right side, making it easy to change power profiles, audio profiles, and even toggle dark mode. As far as 2-in-1 laptops go, the Yoga 9i does just enough to stand out as our top convertible pick.

Best college: Dell XPS 13 Plus

Buy it used or refurbished: eBay

Why it made the cut: The Dell XPS Plus adds capacitive function buttons, an expansive haptic touchpad, and a more comfortable keyboard.

Specs

  • Processor: 12th Gen Intel Core i5, i7
  • GPU: Intel Iris Xe
  • RAM: 8GB, 16GB
  • Storage: 512GB SSD, 1TB SSD, 2TB SSD
  • Screen size: 13.4-inch FHD+ (1920×1200), 13.4-inch OLED (3456×2160), 13.4-inch UHD+ (3840×2400)
  • Dimensions: 11.63 x 7.84 x 0.6
  • Weight: 2.71
  • Connectivity: 2 Thunderbolt 4, Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.2

Pros

  • Haptic touchpad
  • OLED display
  • Slim and lightweight

Cons

  • Limited port selection

Thanks to its power, portability, and reliability, the Dell XPS 13 Plus is an excellent pick for students. Again, Dell’s XPS line has long been a favorite among critics and fans, and the smaller 13-inch model makes for the perfect device to write papers, do research, and haul around campus.

Dell recently gave the XPS 13 a makeover by adding new speakers, a new keyboard, a new camera, and capacitive function keys. The display (there are three different options, including an OLED touchscreen) also now features a 16:10 aspect ratio, giving users slightly more room to get work done. The changes give the XPS 13 a more modern look without compromising what made the laptop so good in the first place.

The XPS 13 also features a haptic touchpad similar to what you’d find in Mac laptops. Instead of an actual click, the touch-sensitive surface provides haptic feedback to mimic that old-school feeling of clicking a button.

FAQs

Q: How long do Windows laptops last?

There’s no definitive timeline for a laptop’s lifespan, and a modern PC that’s well cared for should be able to last three to five years or even longer. I’m currently writing this on a machine from 2017 and it’s more than enough for my needs, which include web browsing, photo editing, and running apps like Spotify, Slack, and Notion. The longevity of your laptop largely depends on how you use it. If your work requires you to perform intensive tasks, like editing video, you may need to upgrade your machine more regularly to keep up with the demands of creative apps.

Q: How much should I spend on a laptop?

If you don’t plan to do much beyond writing papers and browsing the web, you can find something in the $600 to $800 range. If you need something that’s powerful enough to handle gaming or more intensive creative apps, you’ll likely need to spend upwards of $1,000. More powerful laptops are generally more expensive, but they last longer because their specs hold up better over time.

Q: Which brand is the most reliable?

All of the brands on our list have been making consistently good laptops for years. When considering reliability, we pay close attention to performance, battery life, keyboard, display, etc., and how they age over time. If you repeatedly run into issues with any of these components, your laptop isn’t very reliable. However, that doesn’t mean they won’t wear out over time. You may have to replace your battery after a few years as it degrades, but you shouldn’t have to fix keyboard and display issues regularly. As we said above, a good laptop should generally last between three to five years or even longer without any significant problems.

A final word on the best Windows laptops

There is an abundance of options in the Windows laptops market, ranging from gaming powerhouses to sleek convertibles. Our picks offer the best-in-class performance, design, and portability, but you can easily find an alternative if our picks don’t fit your needs. It comes down to what you’re looking for in your laptop and how much you’re willing to spend. No matter what you choose, now is an excellent time to pick up a new Windows laptop because the options at your disposal have never been better.

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