The laptop market has undergone significant changes in recent years, and there will now be more confusion in the notebook throughput than at any other time. Today’s models include everything from lightweight, true-to-life ultraportable devices that barely tilt the scale to less than 2 pounds of flying poisoners of 10 pounds or more. And choosing the Best laptops of 2020 among them is a bit difficult task.
Your standard laptop does not always look the same, with dozens of convertible designs that reconsider the standard clamshell to take benefits of touch interfaces. Some laptops are double as tablets, with hinges that fold and fold, while other touch-enabled PCs are slate tablets with hardware keyboards for notebook-style use. There is too much variation in the laptop space for one size or style to meet everyone’s needs.
Best Laptops of 2020
That is what this buying guide comes with. We will inform you about the latest designs and specifications, and analyze the current trends so that you can find out what functions you need and how to find the laptop you need.
Dell XPS 13
The XPS 13 from Dell has remained our favorite consumer laptop in recent years thanks to the beautiful, almost boundless display, lightweight, and sleek aesthetics. Now, after several generations stick to the same chassis, Dell’s premium flagship has a new design with leaner dimensions and a beautiful white-and-gold color scheme. In other improvements, the XPS 13 9370 also offers an optional 4K screen, a better webcam, support for GPUs, and a cooling system that promises stronger, durable performance.
If you put the last few generations of the XPS 13 in a row, you can not separate them unless you have looked at the CPU sticker on the deck. The XPS 13 9370 is notable for its new optional gold-white color scheme, along with a slightly slimmer and lighter profile. Dell also sells the 9370 in the traditional silver and black aesthetics of the XPS 13.
We tested the Dell XPS 13 9370 with both a 3840 x 2160 (4K, Ultra HD) touchscreen and a 1920 x 1080 non-touch screen. Both models offered impressive clarity, color quality, and sharpness, although the 4K display was noticeably better. The high-end model had a Core i7-8550U CPU, 16GB RAM, a 1 TB SSD, and a 4K touchscreen, while the standard model features a Core i5-8250U processor, 8 GB RAM, a 256 GB SSD and a 1080p non-compatible touch screen. From surfing the internet to light gaming and writing parts of this review, both versions of the XPS 13 9370 have handled everything we’ve done with them, without a hitch.
Unfortunately, when slimming down the XPS 13, Dell had to drop down to 0.46 inches. The standard USB Type-A ports and full-size SD card reader that appeared on all previous generations. On the left of the XPS 13 9370, you will find two Thunderbolt 3 ports, which can charge the laptop or connect to high-speed peripherals. There is also a Noble lock and a battery meter, which shows the charge level of a series of five white lights.
The XPS 13 9370 with a 1080p non-touch screen ran 12 hours and 37 minutes on our battery test, which requires continuous surfing via Wi-Fi. The model with the 4K display lasted for around 8 hours and 53 minutes. Read our Dell XPS 13 Review
Apple MacBook Pro 13
The non-“Pro” Apple MacBook is perhaps the most portable macOS laptop, but the 13-inch Apple MacBook Pro with Touch Bar is the most versatile. Smart configuration options let it serve as an everyday ultraportable for a frequent independent traveler or a wealthy student, a platform for light to mediocre video and photo editing, and many applications in between. The main improvements in the Apple of 2021 model include more processor cores and threads (the biggest deal, for most people considering upgrades), better security, and a custom keyboard and screen.
At first glance, the 13-inch MacBook Pro of 2021 seems identical to the version introduced by Apple of 2021. It is a sleek, ultra-wearable, upholstered with silver or space-gray aluminum finish that has produced many clones, such as the near-dead ring tone Huawei MateBook X Pro. Unlike many Windows machines, there are no Intel decals that affect the aluminum finish, although Intel technology supports the system’s operation. With 0.59 by 11.97 by 8.36 inches (HWD) and 3.02 pounds, their dimensions and weight are averages for a high-end 13-inch ultraportable.
On the other hand, the screen quality is excellent, thanks to the same Retina display that has been decorating the ultra-portability of Apple for a few years now. With a standard resolution of 2,560 x 1,600 pixels, this panel is incredibly bright, and thanks to In-Plane Switching (IPS) technology, image quality remains unchanged even when viewing the screen from extreme angles. Inside, there is a new 2.7GHz quad-core, eight-wire Intel Core i7 “Coffee Lake” CPU whose clock speeds can reach 4.5GHz, as well as 16GB of RAM and up to 2TB PCIe NVMe solid-state drive.
The new MacBook Pro includes Bluetooth 5.0, compared to version 4.2 of the old version. The 802.11ac Wi-Fi is unchanged, just like the port selection: four USB Type-C/Thunderbolt 3 connections and a 3.5 mm audio connection. Four Thunderbolt 3 ports are more than most competitors of the MacBook Pro, but you have to buy an adapter to connect almost any parent peripherals. The MacBook Pro lasted 8 hours and 43 minutes on our battery test. Read our Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch Review
Microsoft Surface Book 2
Microsoft sets the bar for the 2-in-1 laptops market with the Surface Pro line and started to push the market further of 2021 with the even more laptop-like Surface Book. After a year with an iterative upgrade, the full-fledged sequel has arrived in the aptly named Surface Book 2. This beautifully designed device can do it all while retaining its distinctive ability to detach the screen from the keyboard while now being a legitimate instrument serves to deliver gaming laptop and performance levels for near-workstations.
It is immediately apparent that the core design of the Surface Book 2 has not changed compared to the previous model. That is not a bad thing since the original magnesium alloy of the original was one of our favorite aspects. It is still thin, relatively light, and has an expensive feeling that reassures you that you are getting value for money. The striking dynamic pivot point hinge is back and leaves an opening between the screen and the keyboard again when the system is closed. That may disturb someone worried about the debris that comes between the two, but that risk is rather minimal, and it offers versatility when loosening the tablet.
Whether you’re docking or working in tablet mode, the whole experience revolves around the PixelSense screen. Fortunately, it is a beautiful screen with a resolution of 3.240 x 2.160 in an aspect ratio of 3: 2 with a contrast ratio of 1.600: 1 and multitouch with 10 points. As mentioned earlier, this model is fully loaded and packs an Intel Core i7-8650U processor (an eighth-generation, Kaby Lake R chip), 16 GB memory, and the Nvidia GTX 1060. These specs are again more in line with those of last year’s “performance-based” Surface Book (including a GTX 965M and a Core i7 Skylake CPU) than the original, but the Surface Book 2 is a notch above.
The keyboard is comfortable, with illuminated keys that are satisfying to tap, silent with a pleasant journey without getting tired. On the left side, there are a few USB 3.1 ports and an SD card reader, and on the right side, a USB Type-C port and a patented Surface Connect port. There is another Surface Connect port on the bottom of the tablet so that you can recharge it independently. The headphone socket is located on the right side of the tablet, which is not very convenient because you have some cable play.
With its basis attached, the Surface Book 2 will run all day and then a pair. It took 13 hours and 7 minutes on our battery test, which continuously surfs the web via Wi-Fi with a fixed brightness. Read our Microsoft Surface Book 2 Review
Asus ZenBook UX333FA
A premium laptop does not have to break the bank. Just look at Asus’ ZenBook 13 UX333FA, which features a powerful 8th Gen Core i5 processor and an absurdly good battery life, all packaged in a stunning chassis for a very reasonable $849. That’s hundreds less than competing systems like the Dell XPS 13. However, there are some cons, including the schematic screen of this device, the short keyboard platform, and poor speakers. Despite this, the ZenBook 13 is a reliable premium laptop that is sold at a feasible price.
The shiny, golden Asus logo in the middle of the hood of the ZenBook 13 is like a raindrop falling in the middle of a calm, royal blue aluminum ocean, creating a symmetrical ripple effect over the entire lid. It was fascinating – until I held it in my hands for a little longer than 5 minutes and noticed that it was forgiven from fingerprints. The lid of the ZenBook 13 extends along the hinge, so when I lifted the top, the keyboard raised a tiny bit as if it were trying to greet me. The typeface of the keyboard and the edge of the hinge are lathe red in fashionable rose gold.
The 13.3 inch, 1920 x 1080, glossy panel of the ZenBook 13 is colorful but on the weak side. Equipped with an Intel Core i5-8265U processor with 8 GB of RAM, the ZenBook 13 shredded through 40 Google Chrome tabs and three 1080p YouTube videos without even stuttering.
I also found that the almost bezel-less screen is incredibly refreshing compared to those on laptops that refuse to cut down on the bottom edge. Although thin and light, the ZenBook 13 has room for a USB Type-A port and even an HDMI port. The left side contains a power connector, an HDMI 1.4 port, a USB 3.1 port, and a USB Type-C port, while the right side has a microSD card slot, a USB 2.0 port, and a headphone jack. Although it has a solid selection of gates, we regret that there is no Thunderbolt 3 on this chassis. Check our Asus ZenBook 13 UX333FA Review
HP Spectre x360
The original HP Spectre x360 was a hit when it debuted of 2021, and we liked the 2016 model even more. It is back again this year and keeps a lot of what we like, but with a refined design and a super-sharp 4K touchscreen. In addition to the UHD display, the latest HP Spectre x360 offers 13 USB-C with Thunderbolt 3, lots of fast SSD storage, and a new color scheme. Given the updates to what was already our first choice for high-end convertible laptops.
A genuinely ultraportable, the Spectre x360 13 is seriously slim and light. The new Spectre x360 13 keeps the compact shape of its predecessor and has the stylish aesthetics of the non-convertible HP Specter 13. On our test unit, this means a very modern anodized aluminum housing with a steel gray and copper color scheme. The chopper cuts the edges of the system and is used as an accent in different places. HP uses a similar design approach with the 15-inch Spectre x360 that we tested earlier this year, and it looks sharp in both situations.
The Spectre x360 is available in both Full HD and 4K resolution. Our rating unit has a 13.3-inch 4K screen with touch capabilities, and the image on the 4K display is seriously sharp with vibrant colors. Despite its small size, the Spectre x360 is reasonably fast. The 2.7GHz Core i7-7500U processor, 512 GB SSD, and 16 GB memory ensure spicy loading times across the board. I saw no delay after splitting my screen between a 1080p YouTube video and a dozen Chrome tabs, including Giphy, Slack, TweetDeck, and Google Docs.
The Spectre x360 bundles the gates of both today and tomorrow, with two Thunderbolt 3 ports on the right and a boxy USB 3.1 port on the left, next to the headphone jack. We are also glad to see that HP gave a microSD memory reader to this current version because this card port was missing in the previous model. Because it is a convertible, the fingerprint reader of the Spectre x360 and the power and volume buttons on the edges can be found next to the ports.
The Spectre x360 battery should come through most of the day, but other systems last longer. During our battery test, which logs continuously on the internet via Wi-Fi, this HP took 8 hours and 26 minutes. Read our HP Spectre x360 Review
Apple MacBook Air
The once-beloved MacBook Air finally gets the function it needs most. Yes, that high-res Retina screen that Apple gave the MacBook Pro in 2012 finally arrived on the MacBook Air. That is just one of many, many changes: this new MacBook Air also offers users a Touch ID sensor for biometric security, super-fast SSD storage, great sound, and dual Thunderbolt 3 ports. The new device from Apple is also better for the environment because the machine is made of 100 percent recycled aluminum.
The curves of the lid and the bottom of the new MacBook Air and the edges of the screen are tapered from previous years. This makes the MacBook Air look like a brother and sister – and not a long-lost family member – on the MacBook Pro and the 12-inch MacBook (which you would now love to buy). The Air’s iconic wedge design is intact and helps distinguish the machine from those other laptops. While the Air is being sold in traditional silver and a new golden hue, the model we have tested is a Space Gray that looks pretty attractive.
Apple made these new MacBook Airs from 100% recycled aluminum, but you could not see it on the device. This processed metal looks and feels just like the same material that Apple used for previous MacBooks. The MacBook Air has two fast Thunderbolt 3 ports (which allow much faster data transfer rates) on the left, with a headphone jack on the right. That may be an upgrade of the single, slower USB Type-C port of the MacBook, but compared to most competitors, it lacks Type-A USB ports.
The Retina display with 2560 x 1600 pixels is the real star of the new MacBook Air and offers sharp details and solid colors. The MacBook Air now comes with an Intel Core i5-8210Y processor. Y-series processors are known for providing less-than-premium performance, as found in the decidedly 12-inch MacBook. To learn more about this latest Macbook, read our Apple MacBook Air Review
Lenovo Yoga 920
The Yoga 920 is the first time I have seen a convertible hybrid laptop that does not shave a little bit on the performance side. Yes, there have been improvements in technology over the last few years, but if you are someone who wants to have soft-as-butter computing on a smaller PC, you will love it. The Yoga 920 offers stable build quality and some quality changes that make it one of the smoothest Windows notebooks I have been allowed to use.
The yoga set-up of Lenovo has always been a sort of the unofficial face of the hybrid laptop scene, and the Yoga 920 comes in place of the already pretty good Yoga 910, albeit with a whole series of improvements, varying from subtle design changes. A little bit redesigned keyboard, changed webcam location – to paradigm-changing enhancements that we will discuss in a bit of bit. None of the changes made offer any significant difference in the overall aesthetics of the laptop. With the closed lid, the Yoga 920 usually seems indistinguishable from some slim laptops.
Our evaluation unit has a standard 13.9-inch touchscreen with a resolution of 1980×1080, but there is also a 4K version available. The screen has fantastic viewing angles and incredibly sharp colors. The Yoga 920 includes an Intel Core i7-8660U processor that operates at 1.8 GHz. The evaluation unit that was delivered to us was supplied with 8 GB of RAM and a 256 GB SSD, both of which can be updated. If it is just the old computing power that you are looking for, you do not have to worry about upgrading something.
The Yoga 920 has a decent combination of ports for a system that is so thin. The left side contains two Thunderbolt 3 ports, which can be used for charging or connecting to high-speed peripherals and docks. The right side of the laptop includes a USB 3.0 port for connection to traditional USB devices, along with a 3.5 mm headphone jack. There is also a fingerprint reader with one touch on the deck, so you can use Windows Hello to log in with just one touch of the OS.
The Yoga 920 offers an impressive battery life so that you can leave your charger at home. The 2-in-1 lasted 12 hours and 22 minutes on our battery test, which requires continuous internet via wifi.
HP Envy 13
The new HP Envy 13 was all I hoped would be the new Apple MacBook Air: fast, attractive, and affordable. The company provided us an even better version this year, with a more elegant design, a bright and vibrant display, and first-class speakers. Combine all this with long battery life (on the 1080p version), a comfy keyboard, and a reasonable price, and it becomes difficult to understand why someone would buy the Apple’s latest MacBook Air over the Envy 13.
I can’t remember the last time I discussed an Envy, Spectre, or EliteBook that didn’t shame Apple’s MacBook design. Following the appearance of its predecessor, this of 2021 Envy 13 has a slim, silver-metal frame with a stylish chrome HP logo in the center of the lid. Open the lid, and you will find an interior similar to that of the beautiful Spectre x360. The most obvious similarity is the triangular pattern on the speaker grill just above the keyboard.
The 13.3-inch Full-HD 1080p non-touch display on the Envy 13 base is just as good as the 4K touch option, if not better. Although both touch panel panels are very sharp and clear, the FHD version is even more vivid than the panel with a higher resolution. When I watched a trailer for Mulan’s live adaptation, I saw the intricate floral pattern in the traditional warrior robe and the small beads on her helmet. Mulan’s battle robe was a vibrant red, contrasting with a bare, snowy landscape. Read more in our HP Envy 13 Review
Microsoft Surface Laptop 3
Surface Laptop 3 is a new beginning for the traditional Microsoft laptop series. This year, a more substantial, 15-inch model debuts with a metal-coated chassis and AMD processors. What has not changed is the attractive appearance and remarkable portability of the Surface Laptop 3. As such, this sleek device is one of the slimmest and lightest 15-inch laptops I have ever seen, and yet it has retained the beautiful design of its predecessors.
Microsoft has cast a spell that has stretched the Surface Laptop 3 into a 15-inch machine without making it thicker than its 13.5-inch predecessors. The result of this trick is an ultra-portable laptop with a large screen. The Surface Laptop 3 has the refined aesthetics of its Surface siblings but now comes in a fully metal version. I liked the metal finish more than I expected.
The Surface Laptop 3 has a beautiful 15-inch touchscreen (not the standard 15.6 inches) with a resolution of 2496 x 1664 and an aspect ratio of 3:2. If you are used to the traditional 16:9 aspect ratio, 3:2 screens are longer but narrower (more square), making them ideal for viewing documents and websites. Videos are a bit shorter (expect black bars at the top and bottom).
On the left side of the Surface Laptop 3, there is a USB 3.1 Type-A port, a USB-C port, and a headphone jack. The only connection on the right side of the Surface Laptop is the Surface Connect port for charging via a magnetic power cable (just like Apple’s retired MagSafe) and for connection to the Surface dock. Check out our Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 Review
Acer Swift 7
Acer has pushed all the boundaries of laptop design in all directions between the lightweight Swift 5 and the monstrous Predator Helios 700. Now it is improving on a laptop we fell in love with last year: the Swift 7. This year, just like its predecessors, the Swift 7 has an impossibly thin chassis that you want to show to all your friends. And while portability is the main highlight of the Swift 7, this attractive laptop also offers a beautiful 14-inch screen and a surprisingly long battery life.
Manufacturers bragged about how their laptops were comparable to the size of a traditional notebook. Acer can better compare its latest flagship with sheets of paper. I can go on about the incredible slenderness of the Swift 7, but this is a case of “You have to see it yourself to believe it.” A better comparison can be made between the Swift 7 and a modern smartphone; The new Pixel 4XL from Google and the Apple iPhone 11 Pro are both 0.3 inches thick. Add a thick cover to those phones, and they can even be above Swift 7.
I enjoyed watching videos and surfing the internet on the 14-inch 1080p touchscreen of the Swift 7. Thin bezels caught my eyes in the wide panel, which greeted me with fairly vivid colors and decent brightness. When I watched a trailer of Jumanji: The Next Level, Kevin Hart’s saturated red scarf stood out against the lush green jungle. The screen-captured enough details to see individual strands of white hair in Danny DeVito’s beard and the vicious fangs of an angry mandrill whose face had natural blue and red hues.
To make such a thin design possible, Acer has equipped the Swift 7 with a low-power Y-series CPU. In particular, the Intel Core i7-8500Y. Given the energy-efficient chip, I expected the Swift 7 to slow down during my practical tests, but the laptop pulled along without too much hassle. I noticed a short skipping when animations were loaded on a significant web page, but otherwise, I had no problems surfing the web, even with 15 Google Chrome tabs open and four 1080p video streams in the background. Read more in our Acer Swift 7 Review
The FAQ for Buying The Best Laptops
Laptops By Size: At the end of the spectrum on the small screen, laptops of 12 and 13 inches, or ultraportable devices (more below), are worth considering if you plan to bring your laptop. These models are small enough to weigh 3 pounds or less but are large enough to have a full keyboard and a decent-sized screen. The disadvantage is that port selection is usually minimal because of the limited amount of available space on side panels. These laptops offer generally simple needs, such as surfing the web or modest word processing, and they are an excellent choice for business travelers who regularly have to carry a laptop.
Laptops with 14- to 15.6-inch screens are the most popular because they hit the right place between portability and features that most users find desirable. Yes, they may weigh a few pounds more than their smaller screen brothers, but in exchange, you get easy to read on a larger screen, more space for different I/O ports, better internal components, and extra battery cells. On this screen size, you can weigh a maximum of 3 or 4 kilos, but that is still easy to carry in an office building or your home.
The most massive screens that are available are usually displayed in workstation-class and game laptops, but there are also a few options for replacing desktop computers. A 17-inch screen is big enough to share for presentations, or if you need the extra pixels to immerse yourself in your graphics projects or 3D games. The extra space in the chassis can be used for one or more graphics processors, desktop-class CPUs or multiple banks of hard drives and SSDs. The larger frame usually also means a more spacious keyboard. The weight is generally more than 6 kilos at this screen size and sometimes 10 pounds or more for game installations.
Display: Almost all offer screen resolutions of at least Full HD or 1,920 by 1,080 (often abbreviated as “Full-HD” or “1080p”). At the same time, an increasing number of functions are displayed with the resolution of 4K on a large screen (3,840 by 2,160 pixels). Between 4K and 1080p is a new resolution in panels of this size Quad-HD or 2,560 by 1,440 pixels; QHD appears in a few elite-level machines, such as specific high-end configurations of the Alienware 17. But 1080p is by far the most common resolution you will see. Also, know: touchscreens are rare in this size.
Portability: Walkthrough a laptop aisle, and you will notice that the selection of laptops has become dramatically thinner and slimmer in recent years. Each of these wafer-thin systems represents a new vision for ultra-portable computers: an uncompromising laptop that is so light that you forget it’s in your bag, with a durable battery that keeps you working even when no power outlet is available. Fast storage, including 128 GB, 256 GB, or 512 GB solid-state drives (SSD), or more affordable, 32 GB to 64 GB slower eMMC flash, gives these ultraportables the ability to resume work in seconds after being inactive for days have been asleep.
The most important thing is that the whole category has generally been thinned out. Whether you look at super thin ultraportables, regular PCs, or even gambling machines, laptops of every taste are now thinner, lighter, and better suited for life on the road. The Best of these models will still cost you a hefty penny, especially if you’re looking for a business system that will not burden you when you’re traveling. Still, they offer remarkable performance and often have different quality features as well.
Processor: The most dominant processor chips come from Intel, which launched its eighth-generation Core (codenamed “Coffee Lake”) mobile processors in April. Made with ultraportable and hybrid designs in mind, these new CPUs (recognizable by model numbers in the 8000s as opposed to the 7000s and 6000s used in the previous generation “Kaby Lake” and “Skylake” parts) not only the battery life, they also have improved graphical processing.
The eighth-generation processors also have more cores than predecessors so that you will find a right quad-core CPU in your Core i5 laptop with more power than an older dual-core. Coffee Lake chips are now readily available in gaming, regular, and business laptops. However, another strain of eighth-generation chips based on a variant of the older Kaby Lake architecture called “Kaby Lake R” is still prevalent.
Build-Quality: As designs become tighter and slimmer, manufacturers use a range of materials in their construction. Plastic (or polycarbonate) is the least expensive and most used material in laptop frames, but manufacturers have shown great ingenuity in making plastic that does not look cheap. The most used technique is in-mold decoration or in-mold rolling, a process that has become popular by Acer, HP, and Toshiba, in which decorative patterns are applied between plastic layers. This process has evolved into etched prints and textures, often seen on laptop covers.
Ultimately, however, plastics are often associated with low-priced laptops, while higher models rely on metal. Common premium choices include aluminum, which has a more luxurious appearance and can be formed in a thinner chassis than plastic. Unibody construction, where the entire frame is made from a single piece of metal, has become the gold standard, as seen on Apple’s MacBook and MacBook Pro lines. Other all-metal designs mimic the same look-and-feel and link two separate layers together safely.
2-in-1: There are two types of 2-in-1. The first is the convertible hybrid, which transforms from a laptop to a tablet and back again by turning all the way around on the hinge of the screen. You can also stop at different positions along the way, if you want to leave the screen on the keyboard like a kiosk screen, or if you’re going to balance it on the edges, in tent-style, so that you can only use the touch screen in very little space. This design is best if you are interested in a tablet, but expect to need a proper keyboard with a specific frequency.
If the keyboard is less important, the second type, the detachable hybrid, is perhaps the better way to go. These are mainly tablets that you can pair with an accessory keyboard for laptop-like functionality. Some of these designs offer docking keyboards with secondary batteries that recharge all day, while others opt for Bluetooth keyboards, with the majority of a hinge disengaged and wirelessly connected.
Selecting “The Best laptop” is a bit different than choosing The Best smartphone or even a tablet. The need for buyers for their desired laptop can vary greatly. Some users have to perform video editing and have to pay for a professional and expensive laptop. Others only need a good keyboard trackpad and a few chrome tabs; then, a less powerful laptop will do for them. Some may want a super thin and lightweight laptop that can sometimes turn in to a tablet. Our Best Laptops article contains the laptop for all types of users.
There may be many laptops that have many of those features, but if you’re looking for a notebook that touches enough of those points, the obvious choice is the right choice. Our article on The Best laptops will be renewed regularly when new laptops are released and reviewed, so make sure you look back every time you are looking for a new laptop.