The 9 Best Laptops of 2019

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The Rundown

Our Top Picks

Best Overall: Apple 13" MacBook Pro (2018)

Apple 13-inch MacBook Pro (2018)

 Courtesy of Best Buy

The 13-inch MacBook Pro from Apple has been a solid laptop for the last few years already, but with the most recent upgrades to its processing power, the 2018 model has become an obvious choice for our top pick. Whether you're a creative professional or just in the market for a reliable and powerful laptop, the latest version of the MacBook Pro corrects users' complaints about the older versions while enhancing the display and adding a few cool pieces of new technology.

This laptop is outfitted with an 8th-generation, quad-core Intel i5 processor that gives you sustained speeds up to 2.3 GHz and turbo-charged speeds up to 3.8 GHz, plus 8Gb of RAM and a choice of solid state hard drives in 256GB or 512GB. It has four Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) ports, a solid aluminum construction, and the dazzling Retina Display that is now the gold standard for Apple machines. As part of the latest upgrade, Apple has also included True Tone technology, which reads the color of the ambient light in the room and optimizes the screen colors accordingly. (It’s a great extra feature for visual artists, but those just looking to consume media will appreciate it, too.)

The 2018 MacBook Pro also includes Apple's new Touch Bar feature, which replaces the top row of function keys with a touch-sensitive panel that integrates app controls into your keyboard and allows you to unlock your laptop with Touch ID. All in all, it’s an amazing machine that gives you a good amount of screen real estate, especially for a device that weighs just over three pounds. 

Best Budget: Acer Chromebook R 13

Often overlooked in favor of its Windows and Mac counterparts, the Acer Chrome R 13 is an extremely underrated machine and an incredible value at under $400. Powered by Google’s Chromebook OS, the entire system is based on the Google Chrome browser and features built-in virus protection, lightning-fast boot speeds, and regular auto-updates from Google that continually enhance its performance. With thousands of downloadable apps available in the Google Play Store, the Chromebook environment can easily mimic a Windows or Mac laptop with downloadable versions of ubiquitously used apps like Microsoft Office, along with popular photo and video editing apps. It's also a lot more versatile than a typical laptop — with 360 degrees of flexibility, the R 13 can switch between tablet mode, laptop mode or presentation mode for screen sharing.

Internally, the Chromebook R 13 runs a MediaTek quad-core CPU and has 4GB of RAM and 32GB of storage (that's not including the 100GB of Google Drive space that’s provided with every Chromebook purchase). The 12-hour battery life far outpaces competitive models in this price range. Additionally, Acer keeps things moving quickly with 802.11ac Wi-Fi and 2x2 MIMO for catching the best signal.

Best 2-in-1: LG gram 2-in-1

The LG gram 2-in-1 embodies the flexibility and performance needed to excel both as a laptop and as a tablet. At 2.5 pounds, the 14-inch machine has a very noticeable lightness to it. It sports a 1920 x 1080-pixel touchscreen that benefits from the crisp display and wide viewing angles offered by in-plane switching (IPS) technology, and it comes with a responsive and accurate Wacom AES 2.0 active stylus pen. Switching over to laptop mode gives you a keyboard with decent travel to the keys and a traditional buttonless touchpad below it. A USB-C port is among the ultraportable’s inputs, though there’s no support for the faster Thunderbolt 3 connection.

This model is available in only one configuration: a 1.8 GHz Intel Core i7 processor, 16GB RAM, and 512GB solid-state drive (SSD) storage space. The quad-core “Whiskey Lake” processor is one of Intel’s most powerful CPUs for ultraportables, so there’s more than enough oomph for most productivity work and some media editing. Still, even with its power and size, it gets longer battery life (listed at 21 hours depending on usage) than a lot of other ultraportables in its class. 

Best for Gamers: ASUS ROG Strix Hero II

If you’re on the hunt for a gaming laptop that checks off all the most important boxes, the ASUS ROG Strix Hero II is an excellent choice. This premium laptop includes just about everything a dedicated PC gamer could want, including a powerful processor, lots of storage and a super-fast display refresh. The customizable AURA RBG gaming keyboard adds some extra flare as well as a lighting bar for a unique ambient lighting effect.

Inside the laptop, an 8th generation Intel Core i7 processor, GeForce GTX 1060 6GB graphics card, 16GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD and 1TB of HDD storage keep things moving at a lightning-fast pace. The 15.6-inch Full HD IPS screen has a super slim 5mm bezel for minimal distraction and a 144Hz refresh rate which is best in class. With all that power, you’ll need to keep the laptop cooler during intense gameplay — luckily ASUS has thought of everything, and added a HyperCool Pro thermal system with 12V fans to eliminate the risk of overheating.

Need some more help finding what you're looking for? Read through our best gaming laptops and best gaming laptops under $1,000 articles.

Best Design: Dell XPS 13

Dell XPS 13

 Dell.com

The Dell XPS 13 is a premium ultraportable laptop designed not only for looks but also for functionality and performance. One noticeable and welcome design change in the 9380 model is the placement of an improved webcam above the 13.3-inch screen, instead of previous versions that awkwardly aimed it up your nose from below the screen. But going beyond that, the XPS 13 maintains or improves on the features and build that make it a top-of-the-line machine.

Whether you opt for a classic platinum silver exterior or a more fashionable frost or rose gold, the XPS 13 embodies style and elegance. Thanks to its “InfinityEdge” design, you’ll get almost impossibly thin bezels surrounding an attractive IPS display. It weighs a very portable 2.7 pounds, but its slimness—0.46 inches down to 0.3 inches at its thinnest—is even more impressive. This doesn’t leave room for HDMI or full-size USB-A ports, but Dell does include three USB-C ports, two of which have Thunderbolt 3 capability.

You have several customizable hardware configurations to choose from, with high-end versions packing a 1.8 GHz Intel Core i7 processor with 16GB of RAM. The top models also offer SSD hard drives with up to 2TB of storage and a 4K Ultra HD touchscreen option that adds striking visuals to its already great-looking, hard-working design. 

Best for Work: Lenovo ThinkPad T450s

Lenovo ThinkPad T450s
Courtesy of Amazon.com

Need a laptop with a battery that can last a trans-Pacific flight? What if it also had an award-winning ergonomic keyboard for extra comfort, and a 14" HD screen for reviewing mock-ups and presentations? If yes, then it sounds like you need the Lenovo ThinkPad T450s, the latest and greatest in Lenonvo’s line of laptops specifically designed for business use.

This powerful computing machine comes with a three-cell lithium ion battery that can last seven to eight hours of continued usage, and you can even upgrade to a six-cell battery that can keep you connected for around 10 hours. It is also only 3.8 pounds, which is light enough that you won't mind carrying it back and forth to meetings. As for durability, it has a carbon-fiber lid and a magnesium body, and even passes rigorous MIL-SPEC tests for high temperatures and humidity.

The tech specs are also sufficient, though not the best on the list. A 500 GB SSD and Intel 5th Generation Core i5 CPU make this a fast laptop, but the 8 GB SDRAM DDR3 isn’t the best out there. It has plenty of connectivity features, including three 3.0 USB ports, VGA, a Mini DisplayPort and Bluetooth 4.0 technology that lets you video conference with a wireless headset. And good news for those who are prone to spilling coffee: The 6-row keyboard is spill-resistant. The biggest drawback? Its trackpad, which leaves a lot to be desired in terms of responsiveness.

Need some more help finding what you're looking for? Read through our best business laptops article.

Best Portability: Microsoft Surface Go

Microsoft Surface Go
Courtesy of Best Buy 

The most recent additions to the Surface line have been powerhouse machines, but the smaller, 10-inch Surface Go is a lighter and more compact model with a more wallet-friendly price tag. Microsoft keeps costs down by equipping this with a Pentium Gold Processor rather than a more powerful i-series processor. But you still get a lot of bang for your buck with this versatile little device. The clip-on Type Cover (sold separately) has a keyboard and trackpad to give you full 2-in-1 functionality.

The tablet-sized 10-inch display sports Microsoft’s impressive PixelSense density with a great touchscreen response. And that responsiveness is important because it's built to support Microsoft's Surface Pen stylus (sold separately). Forget heavy, cumbersome laptops: weighing in at barely over a pound, the Surface Go can slide right into a bag or briefcase, and it's so unobtrusive you might just forget it’s there. With up to nine hours of promised battery life, when you do remember it’s there, it’ll probably still have some juice.

There are some great multitasking features on the latest Windows 10 Home (though you might be a bit limited by the processor if you're doing anything very heavy-duty), and it is compatible with Microsoft Office. There’s even an adjustable kickstand to set up the device at whatever angle you need. This configuration offers 4GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage. So, if you’re looking for a 2-in-1 with the function of a laptop but the size and form factor of a tablet, this might just be for you.

Want to take a look at some other options? Read through our best 2-in-1 laptops​ article.

Runner-Up, Best Portability: Acer Swift 7

Acer Swift 7
Courtesy of Amazon.com

At just under 10mm thick, Acer’s Swift 7 is a fantastic looking ultrabook featuring a 7th generation Intel Core i5-7Y54 processor, 8GB of RAM, a 256GB SSD hard drive and a 13.3” 1920 x 1080-pixel full HD widescreen display. Incredibly, at just .39” thin, Acer manages to squeeze up to nine hours of battery life inside what is one of the thinnest laptops in the world. All that battery life will help you enjoy the 2x2 802.11ac with MU-MIMO technology, which is three times faster than standard Wi-Fi. 

While the inside has plenty to rave about, Acer’s gold-colored Swift 7 includes a pair of USB-C ports for both charging and additional accessories along with a headphone jack. The thin size does mean some sacrifices (Acer left the cooling fan on the design floor but that’s OK, since heat never appears to be an issue. Additionally, Acer included an oversized touchpad that’s 5.5 inches wide and three inches deep, almost double a more traditional touchpad, and its great to use with Windows 10 multi-touch gestures such as tap-to-click.

Overall, the Intel Kaby Lake Core i5 processor offers just enough “oomph” in terms of day-to-day performance, but the exceptional design offers a powerful tradeoff. The bottom line with performance is that the Swift is more than good enough for all but the most demanding tasks such as Photoshop and movie editing, but won’t match beefier computers like the MacBook Pro.

Interested in reading more reviews? Take a look at our selection of the best Acer laptops

Best with Stylus: Samsung Notebook 9 Pro

Samsung Notebook 9 Pro

 Best Buy

You can put the 2.9-pound 0.6-inch-thick Samsung Notebook 9 Pro to work in a number of ways. Type on the backlit keyboard in laptop mode, then swivel it around on its sturdy 360-degree hinge to use it as a tablet with a full HD touchscreen. It’s available in 13- or 15-inch varieties, and the base model’s 2.7 GHz dual-core Intel Core i7 processor with 8GB RAM is enough to provide solid on-the-go performance and battery life.

But don’t be surprised to find yourself using it most often with the included S Pen stylus, a lightweight and impressive accessory that will be very familiar to users of Samsung’s Galaxy Note line. The S Pen is an inductive stylus that doesn’t need battery power and is always paired. A built-in storage slot at the front of the Notebook 9 Pro ensures it’s always on-hand and accessible. Writing or drawing on the screen with the S Pen feels as precise and fluid as writing on paper, thanks to tilt controls and over 4,000 levels of pressure sensitivity. Combined with Windows Ink and Samsung’s Air Command menu of options, the S Pen offers a smart, seamless experience for doodling, note-taking, highlighting, and more.