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Dell at dell.com
"If you buy your PC directly from Dell, you can customize it exactly how you like it."
HP at www8.hp.com
"The company makes laptop and desktop models of all types, all with reasonable pricing for most budgets."
Apple at apple.com
"Owners benefit from a level of customer support that easily tops the often unreliable services of other PC manufacturers."
Lenovo at lenovo.com
"Most models are priced affordably, understated in design, and built for effective use."
Microsoft at microsoft.com
"Microsoft makes its biggest impact through Windows, which is the operating system found on most computers around the world."
Asus at asus.com
"Its ROG brand is a top choice for gaming hardware with everything from entry-level laptops to beastly, and costly, desktop rigs."
Acer at acer.com
"Acer brings with it a vast selection of products at all price levels, from high-end to budget-oriented PCs."
Courtesy of B&H Photo
A big reason Dell is one of the top computer brands today is the broad selection of high-quality machines the company offers. No matter your goals, it most likely has a product just for you — plus, if you buy your PC directly from Dell, you can customize it exactly how you like it. In general, Dell machines can be a bit pricier than others you can find out there, but you can feel good about getting a solid, dependable computer that’s just right for your needs.
The best of Dell’s offerings are embodied by the impressive line of XPS ultraportable laptops, led by the XPS 13. It’s one of the best laptops around: Powerful yet compact and stylish, premium in price but packed with performance and features. Both the XPS 13 and the larger XPS 15 come in 2-in-1 convertible tablet forms as well.
Filling out the bulk of the company’s mid-range options are its Inspiron computers, a wide array of laptops and desktops ideal for a lot of homes and offices. There are also Inspiron all-in-one desktops that include well-designed Dell displays, along with an Inspiron Chromebook running Google’s Chrome OS for basic computing needs. For business use, Dell has the Latitude line of notebooks, and for serious PC gamers, it wields the iconic Alienware brand.
Jostling with Lenovo for the biggest PC market share in the world, HP is a brand that’s hard to miss. The company makes laptop and desktop models of all types, all with reasonable pricing for most budgets. Its Pavilion computers are popular with everyday consumers looking for dependability and value, with the Envy line representing a slight step up in quality and price. There’s also everything from entry-level Chromebooks and Stream laptops, to the relatively new Omen line of gaming products, to the powerful and durable workstation-class ZBook laptops for professionals.
The latest entries in HP’s high-end Spectre lineup, in particular, are turning heads, rivaling other premium laptops from competitors like Microsoft and Apple. The Spectre x360, a slick 2-in-1 that swivels on a 360-degree hinge, is a testament to ultraportability. Swing it the right way, and it's a very usable 13- or 15-inch tablet. HP is also blazing its own paths with the unique, high-class look of the Spectre Folio 13. Cased in genuine leather that can support the slim, 3.4-pound convertible in a variety of positions, the Folio lets you do business while showing you mean business.
For a lot of people, Apple is more than a brand: It’s a way of life. Even looking past the iPhones, iPads, and Apple Watches that we’ve gotten used to seeing everywhere we turn, the Cupertino tech giant continues to produce desktops and laptops with the same trendsetting designs, gorgeous displays, and ease of use we’ve come to expect.
The iconic iMac all-in-one desktops dress to impress with their Retina displays and 4K and 5K resolutions, as does the iMac Pro, which is adored by graphics pros and other creatives alike. MacBook laptops are thin and light, with even thinner MacBook Air and beefier MacBook Pro variations. Throughout the lineup, Apple’s recent focus has been on improving internal hardware, which gives the Macs a welcome boost in performance. Owners also benefit from a level of customer support that easily tops the often unreliable services of other PC manufacturers.
macOS still occupies a much smaller portion of the operating system market than that of Windows, and Apple products tend to come with significantly higher price tags than their comparable competitors. But for the devoted fanbase, Mac users, or anyone with other Apple devices, there’s nothing like another Apple to seamlessly round out your digital life.
As the biggest computer manufacturer at the time of writing, it makes sense that Lenovo boasts perhaps the biggest selection of products. It covers the whole spectrum of price ranges, from entry-level to premium, for everything from homes to offices. Business-oriented PCs are some of Lenovo’s most popular offerings, including its ThinkCentre desktops and ThinkPad notebooks, with a newer, sleeker ThinkBook line geared at small businesses. Most ThinkPad models are priced affordably, understated in design, and built for effective, secure office use. The ThinkPad X1 Carbon, though, stands out as a premium ultraportable with an attractive look and enough hardware to put in serious work.
On the home consumer front, IdeaCentre desktops and IdeaPad laptops come in an assortment of flavors meant for entertainment and family use. Also in its product catalog, you'll find the affordable Flex 2-in-1 laptops as well as higher-end Yoga 2-in-1s like the versatile 13.9-inch Yoga C930. The new Legion gaming brand has turned out some solid performers too, giving Lenovo an even wider reach. The company looks poised for the future, too, having announced plans to launch the first-ever foldable laptop.
Microsoft might make its broadest impact through Windows, which is still the operating system found on the majority of computers around the world. But the company has also become an important player in the laptop market with its line of Surface devices. Though the selection is pretty limited and their prices are on the higher side, Surface products have shown themselves to be an attractive option for their blend of high-performance components and portability.
The 12-inch Surface Pro 6 tablet-laptop hybrid delivers the definitive Surface experience. However, the Type Cover — with its excellent keyboard — is an almost mandatory expense. The addition of the 10-inch Surface Go offers an even more compact option, not to mention more budget-friendly. You can also choose between the more-laptop-than-tablet detachable Surface Book 2 and the not-tablet-at-all Surface Laptop 2.
Microsoft makes only one desktop PC, but it’s quite the heavyweight. The all-in-one Surface Studio 2 features a breathtaking 28-inch, 4500x3000-pixel touchscreen, fully adjustable thanks to its smooth “zero-gravity” hinge. Despite, or perhaps because of, its high cost, it’s the ultimate virtual drawing table for artists, architects, and designers.
Courtesy of Amazon
Browse Asus’s full collection of PCs and you’ll find a solid mix of quality, innovation, and value. It boasts plenty of performance, even for its entry-level Chromebooks, making the 2-in-1 Chromebook Flip C434 an excellent computer for the price and one of the best budget-friendly laptops on the market.
The diverse Asus ZenBook range also has widespread appeal, demonstrating the company’s design excellence in terms of not only looks but in terms of innovation as well. Newer models like the ZenBook Pro 15 incorporate a futuristic ScreenPad touchpad, serving as a small second display, and the upcoming ZenBook Pro Duo’s 4K ScreenPad Plus runs the full width of the keyboard area.
You can also find more examples of inspired Asus design in its Republic of Gamers (ROG) brand. ROG is a top choice for gaming hardware with everything from entry-level laptops to beastly, and costly, desktop rigs.
Founded but a few years earlier than fellow Taiwanese manufacturer Asus, Acer brings with it a vast selection of products at all price levels, from high-end to budget-oriented PCs. But Acer has the edge in the sheer number of options, with laptop lines that include the affordable Aspire, the convertible Spin, the detachable Switch, the impossibly slim Swift (the Swift 7 is touted as the world’s thinnest laptop), and Chromebooks galore. Acer’s desktops include a vast range of towers and all-in-one PCs including the simple but effective, Chrome-powered, 24-inch Chromebase.
Despite the breadth of choices, not many Acer models stand out dramatically from the crowd. But it’s a different story when it comes to the Predator series of gaming machines. Premium PCs like the Triton 700 laptop and the Orion 3000 desktop rock an intimidating look and powerful specs to satisfy even the most serious gamers.