Best Products Computer & Laptops 87 87 people found this article helpful The 10 Best Laptops of 2020 Shop for the best laptops for work, gaming, graphic design and more by Alan Bradley Alan Bradley is a Senior Tech Editor for Dotdash and the head of commerce for Dotdash. He joined the company in September of 2019, and is an experienced culture and tech writer/editor, with a background in journalism and reporting. our editorial process Alan Bradley Updated on November 24, 2020 The Ultimate Laptop Buying Guide The Ultimate Laptop Buying Guide Introduction Laptop Basics Laptop Size & Weight Guide Laptop Networking Guide Laptop Memory Buyer's Guide Laptop Processor Buyer's Guide Display & Graphics Guide Types of Laptop Drives Guide Netbook vs Laptop Hybrid vs Convertible Laptop Understanding Laptop Warranties Best Laptops Best Laptops Best Places to Buy a Laptop Best Linux Laptops Best Windows Laptops Best Laptops for Under $200 Best Laptops for Under $500 Best Touchscreen Laptops Best Laptops at Walmart Best Workstation Laptops Best Laptops by Size Best 14- to 16-Inch Laptops Best 13-Inch Laptops Best 17-Inch and Larger Laptops Best Lightweight Laptops Best Mini Laptops Best Laptops by Brand Best Lenovo Laptops Best Dell Laptops Best Acer Laptops Best ASUS Laptops Best HP Laptops Best Gaming Laptops Best Gaming Laptops Best Gaming Laptops for Battery Life Best Gaming Laptops for Under $1,000 Best Gaming Laptops Under $1,500 Best Laptops for Fortnite Best Laptops by Lifestyle Best Business Laptops Best Laptops for College Students Laptops for Engineering Students Best Laptops for Graphic Design Best Laptops for Kids Best Laptops for Photography Best Laptops for Video Editing Best Laptops for VR Best Laptops for Writers Individual Laptop Reviews Acer Aspire E 15 Review Apple MacBook Pro 13-Inch (2019) Review HP 15-BS013DX Review HP Notebook 15 Review HP Pavilion 15z Touch Review HP Spectre x360 15t Touch Review Best Laptop Accessories Portable Battery Chargers Compact Desks & Stands Rolling Laptop Bags Best Laptop Backpacks Best Laptop Bags Laptop Cases and Sleeves Laptop Cooling Pads Best Laptop Mounts Laptop Computer GPS Tweet Share Email Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about our review process here. We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links. The Rundown Best Overall: Dell XPS 13 7390 (2020) at Amazon "That latest iteration of Dell's famous XPS line packs an incredible 4K touchscreen and powerful 10th generation processor." Best for Gaming: Razer Blade 15 at Amazon "An absolute premium gaming laptop." Best Ultraportable: Microsoft Surface Laptop Go at Amazon "The Surface Laptop Go is the ideal ultrabook for students and travelers due to its 3:2 screen and long-lasting battery." Best High-end: Acer Predator Triton 500 at Amazon "The Triton 500 is a powerful beast perfectly suited to practically any task." Best Design: ASUS ROG Zephyrus G14 at Amazon "Thin, light, powerful, balanced—The Zephyrus is an amazing machine." Best for Video Editing: Apple MacBook Pro (16-Inch) at Amazon "A dream for anyone working in visual media." Best for Photo Editing: HP Spectre x360 15t at Amazon "Features stunning 4K resolution with HP’s True Black HDR for truly beautiful visuals." Best for College Students: Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 at Amazon "Portable, has a great battery life, and fits your budget." Best for Home Use: Apple MacBook Air 13 at Amazon "An all-purpose laptop that’s portable and powerful enough for your daily needs." Best for High School: Google Pixelbook Go at Amazon "A versatile and affordable option that’s perfectly suited to student needs." in this article Expand Our Picks How We Tested About Our Trusted Experts The Ultimate Laptop Buying Guide In much the same way as the best smartphones, the best laptops are constant companions in the age of information. They accompany on our commutes, to the office, on vacation, ensuring we're always plugged in (and, in vaguely dystopian terms, always productive). But they can also be an escape, a portal to abandon the oppressive anxieties of reality and lose ourselves in virtual worlds for a while. The key to shopping for the best laptop is to determine what you're going to be primarily using it for. If you want a gaming machine, you'll need a discrete, powerful video card. For productivity, you'll likely want to focus on a capable CPU and ample local storage (ideally a speedy SSD, which are becoming increasingly ubiquitous). Regardless of which configuration you're looking for, this week's best laptop deals roundup has some great sales, or keep reading for our picks of the best laptops overall. Best Overall: Dell XPS 13 7390 (2020) Buy on Amazon What We Like 4K UHD touch display Only 2.9 pounds Upgraded processor for faster performance Durable unibody design What We Don't Like Relatively small screen Few laptops have as solid a reputation as the Dell XPS 13. Lightweight and powerful, this is a great laptop for both work and play. The 2020 model comes with a new set of updates that truly earn the XPS 13 its "Best Overall" spot. The mighty new 10th-gen Intel Core i7-10710U processor and 16GB of RAM deliver speedy and reliable performance that’s perfect for multitaskers. There's also a spacious 1TB SSD, plenty of lightning-fast storage that will ensure speedy boot and load times. No matter what you use your laptop for, the 4K Ultra HD touch display makes all your media look its best — and while the screen is on the smaller side at 13.3 inches, the InfinityEdge design with ultra-thin bezels makes it feel larger without the added bulk of a big-screen laptop. In fact, the XPS 13 is made from a single block of aluminum and weighs only 2.9 pounds, so it has the portability and durability that’s especially important for students and commuters. With the newest round of upgrades, there’s a lot to love about the Dell XPS 13. It earns this spot as a tried-and-true favorite that just keeps getting better. The previous model, the Dell XPS 13 9370 "The Dell XPS 13 doesn’t just feel like a facsimile of the other premium competition, and that’s a distinctive edge that helps set it apart from the pack." — Andrew Hayward, Product Tester Best for Gaming: Razer Blade 15 4.2 Buy on Amazon What We Like Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 graphics 10th-gen Intel Core i7 processor Crisp, 144hz display What We Don't Like Slightly pricey If you’re looking for an absolute premium gaming laptop, the Razer Blade 15 is as good as it gets. Let’s just jump right into the specs: It has a 10th-gen Intel Core i7 six-core processor with blinding 5.0GHz max Turbo speeds, paired with Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 graphics. Combine that with 16GB dual-channel memory and the Razer Blade can run your favorite games at crazy frame rates without a hiccup. And of course it’s upgradeable, so you can keep its performance fully maxed out into the future. The 15.6-inch full HD display is fully capable of keeping up with those blistering frames rates with an incredible 144hz refresh rate, meaning no tearing or visual artifacting even when that mighty hardware pushes your FPS over 100. In short, your games will look amazing and silky smooth, even at high settings. Whether you’re looking to play all your favorite major titles or simply take your Fortnite skills to the next level, the Razer Blade 15 will be the envy of every other gamer you know. Razer Blade 15 Review Best Ultraportable: Microsoft Surface Laptop Go Buy on Amazon Buy on Best Buy Buy on B&H Photo Video Microsoft Surface Laptop Go Review Microsoft has long endeavored to create compelling consumer hardware to complement its ubiquitous operating system, but too often its devices have priced out most potential customers. The Microsoft Surface Laptop Go bucks that trend by offering a premium ultra-portable computing experience at an affordable price point. Though it lacks significant graphical horsepower, a large amount of storage capacity, and has only a few ports, the Surface Laptop Go is nonetheless a great option for getting work done. Its 12.4-inch 3:2 aspect ratio touchscreen is bright and ideal for productivity, and its trackpad and keyboard are large and responsive. It comes equipped with a 10th gen Core i5 and 8GB of RAM, with a zippy solid-state drive for storage. This means that for light tasks it feels like a much more powerful machine. The Surface Laptop Go is so thin and light that it's a breeze to carry around, and the design has a professional, yet colorful and distinctive appearance. At its $549 price point, this laptop is an attractive alternative to cheap-feeling budget devices and expensive high-end products alike. "The 12.4-inch display on the Surface Laptop Go seems larger than the size would suggest, thanks to its 3:2 aspect ratio." — Andy Zahn, Product Tester Best High-end: Acer Predator Triton 500 Buy on Amazon What We Like Powerful hardware Reasonably priced Spectacular display What We Don't Like Underwhelming webcam If you've got the budget for it, the Predator Triton 500 is one of the best laptops currently available. While it's marketed primarily as a gaming machine (and is an absolute monster for even the most demanding triple-A games, with its RTX 2080 Super graphics card and 300Hz display), it's got the horsepower for virtually any task you throw in its path. On top of the impressive GPU, it's got a speedy 10th Gen Intel i7-10875H CPU and 512GB of SSD storage. The 32GB of RAM is a thoughtful flourish, and a welcome touch of future proofing. The keyboard on the Triton 500 is delightfully tactile and, for those with traditional gamer sensibilities, RGB backlit to accommodate rainbow spectacle while you hunt noobs in Fortnite. And despite all the impressive hardware and 15.6-inch display, the Triton weighs in at a mere 4.63 pounds, so it's incredibly portable. Our tester, Senior Tech Editor Alan Bradley, loved the Triton's blend of mighty components and slick aesthetics. "It's not cheap, but you get what you pay for: the Triton 500 is a great value." — Alan Bradley, Senior Tech Editor Best Design: ASUS ROG Zephyrus G14 4.7 Buy on Amazon Buy on Best Buy What We Like Excellent design Desktop power in an ultraportable laptop Awesome 120Hz display What We Don't Like No webcam While the Zephyrus is marketed primarily as a gaming laptop, the reality is it's a fantastic machine for almost any purpose. It's thin, light, and expertly designed. At its core are a powerful AMD Ryzen 9 4900HS processor and Nvidia's mighty RTX 2060 GPU, their Turing cards with dedicated cores for DLSS and ray tracing. It's also got a high-end, 1TB SSD, so you get plenty of fast storage, and it comes in at a very reasonable price point for everything included in this package. It wins high marks for design due to it's understated flash and slick vaguely futuristic, slender aesthetic. Our reviewer Andy called the Zephyrus nothing less than the fulfillment of a long-time dream, a notebook with next to no significant compromises at a very palatable price point. Asus Zephyrus G14 Review "A portable powerhouse for gamers and creators, ideal both for work and for play." — Andy Zahn, Product Tester Best for Video Editing: Apple MacBook Pro (16-Inch) Buy on Amazon Buy on Best Buy Buy on Apple What We Like Largest screen on a MacBook Tons of processing power for complex software Touch Bar feature is compatible with many video editing programs What We Don't Like Expensive Some device integration features only work with other Apple products Sporting a dazzling 16-inch Retina Display with True Tone technology, the newest MacBook Pro and its extra-large screen is a dream for anyone working in visual media. But we wouldn’t recommend it based on the display alone — it also features a 9th-gen six-core Intel Core i7 processor and 16GB RAM to support memory-hungry video editing software. If you work with even more demanding media (like 3D rendering or libraries of super high-res footage), then you can pack in even more power with the Intel Core i9 processor option, additional SSD storage, and up to 64GB of DDR4 memory for truly maxed-out processing power. Our reviewer particularly liked the inclusion of signature Apple features with the MacBook Pro including Touch ID fingerprint authentication and the Touch Bar feature that works seamlessly with many popular video editing programs. Between its incredible processing power and the beautiful 16-inch screen, the new MacBook Pro is our top choice for video editing. Apple 16-inch MacBook Pro Review "With the 16-inch MacBook pro, Apple’s delivered a professional’s mobile dream system. The new Magic Keyboard is, in fact, almost magical, the return of the escape key is laud-worthy, and that screen is just plain gorgeous." — Lance Ulanoff, Product Tester Best for Photo Editing: HP Spectre x360 15t 4.6 Buy on Amazon What We Like HP True Black HDR screen HP Display Control for accurate color calibration 2-in-1 design for use with a stylus What We Don't Like Keyboard not detachable If you’re primarily planning to use your laptop for photo editing, then display quality is paramount. No one wants to find out their printed product — or the product on a client’s website — looks strange because it was edited on a subpar laptop screen. If color accuracy is what you’re after, the HP Spectre x360 15 has your back. Our tester loved the 15.6-inch OLED screen features stunning 4K resolution with HP's True Black HDR for truly beautiful visuals, plus HP Display Control color calibration. This feature actually has a "photo editing" setting that automatically adjusts the display color for the highest level of color accuracy. But the Spectre x360 offers more than just accurate colors. It has a 360-degree hinge that lets you flip the screen all the way around to use its touchscreen as a tablet. Depending on the editing software you use, touch and stylus compatibility can be a huge advantage. And with the latest, powerful processor from Intel (the 10th gen Core i7-10750H), 1TB of SSD storage, and 16GB DDR4 RAM, this laptop has the power to handle complex programs and large files without missing a beat. We thoroughly tested the Spectre for our full product review and were wowed by the remarkable display and the added flexibility offered by its 2-in-1 design. HP Spectre x360 15t Touch Laptop Review "Instead of flat edges and square angles, the edges of this beauty are cut to reveal shining metal surfaces that catch the light and draw the eye." — Jeremy Laukkonen, Product Tester Best for College Students: Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 4.1 Buy on Amazon Buy on Microsoft What We Like Over 11 hours of battery life per charge Can be configured with up to 1 TB of storage Affordable price point What We Don't Like More powerful configurations quickly become more expensive Some reports of port and other hardware issues after several months If you’re a college student looking for the perfect school laptop, you’ll want something that’s portable, has a great battery life, and fits your budget. The Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 checks all those boxes and costs a lot less than many similar devices. It has a 13.5-inch touchscreen, an Intel Core i5 processor (it can also be configured with an i7 processor if you have a little extra money to spend), and 8GB of RAM with 128GB of storage. These should be powerful-enough specs for most students, but the Surface Laptop 3 can also be configured with 16GB RAM and up to 1TB of storage if your major requires lots of large files or complex software packages. It’s also ready for all-day use with up to 11.5 hours of battery life per charge. And if you’re running low on power, the Surface Laptop 3 has fast-charging capabilities that can charge up to 80 percent in just one hour. It’s available in four different colors: Matte Black, Platinum, Cobalt Blue, and Sandstone. Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 Review Best for Home Use: Apple MacBook Air 13 4.5 Buy on Amazon Buy on Best Buy What We Like 13.3-inch Retina Display Now with smaller bezels Only 15.6mm thick What We Don't Like Thunderbolt ports only Some device integration features work only with other Apple products If you’re looking for an all-purpose laptop that’s portable and powerful enough for your daily needs, then check out the ever-popular MacBook Air. With an 8th-gen Intel Core i5 dual-core processor and up to 16GB memory, it’s perfect for entertainment, productivity tasks, and quick switching between applications. At only 2.75 pounds and a mere 15.6mm thick, the Air lives up to its name as a lightweight and super portable laptop that can go with you anywhere. When our reviewer put the MacBook Air through its paces for our review, testing proved out just how excellent this big, bold display is in practical use, and he loved the speedy, responsive MacOS experience. This ultra-thin laptop has been updated with the signature Retina Display with True Tone technology, enhanced clarity, and 48% more colors than Apple's non-Retina screens. The bezels have been shrunken as well, so you get even more display real estate. It also has the battery life to last all day — up to 12 hours — so you can browse, watch, or work without scrambling to find an outlet. But if you’re already an Apple user, then one of the biggest advantages of the MacBook Air is its seamless integration with your existing devices. Apple MacBook Air (2018) Review "The 2018 MacBook Air keeps everything that was great about the original while making it a fully useful and competitive premium laptop for today." — Andrew Hayward, Product Tester Best for High School: Google Pixelbook Go 4.2 Buy on Amazon Buy on Best Buy Buy on Google.com What We Like Very compact and lightweight Automatic security updates with Chrome OS What We Don't Like Less processing power 256GB max hard drive storage High school: It isn’t just paper notebooks and binders anymore. Laptops are becoming essential school supplies for high school students, too. If you’re a high schooler (or shopping for one), the Google Pixelbook Go is a versatile and affordable option that’s perfectly suited to student needs. It weighs just over two pounds, so it won’t add bulk to an already heavy backpack, and it has a whopping 12 hours of battery life that can last a full school day and beyond. That's not just marketing copy, either: our tester found the battery just as long-lasting as advertised, and was also deeply impressed by the sheer portability of the Pixelbook Go. The m3 processor is plenty speedy for homework and media streaming, though it can be configured with an Intel Core i5 or i7 processor if you need extra power. We chose the configuration with 8GB RAM and 64GB storage — this can also be upgraded to 16GB RAM and a 256GB SSD. For parents’ peace of mind, the Pixelbook Go also has Chrome OS, which brings automatic security updates to keep your teen’s device secure. Google Pixelbook Go Review "Nearly everything about using this quiet, slim device is enjoyable". — Jonno Hill, Product Tester Final Verdict If you want a high powered laptop with generous specs and a beautiful 4K touch screen, our top pick, the Dell XPS 13, is an amazing option. For an absolute monster of a gaming machine, check out the Razer Blade 15, which packs a powerful Nvidia graphics card and a high refresh rate display to ensure your games are always silky smooth, even at higher settings. How We Tested Our expert reviewers and editors evaluate laptops based on design, hardware specs and performance, display quality, and features. We test their real-life performance in actual use cases, both as on-the-go devices we commute with and take home from the office every day, as well as proper desktop replacements. We also consider each unit as a value proposition—whether or not a product justifies its price tag, and how it compares to competitive products. All of the models we reviewed were purchased by Lifewire; none of the review units were furnished by the manufacturer or retailer. About Our Trusted Experts Emmeline Kaser is an experienced tech writer and e-commerce expert. In her time as a commerce editor for Lifewire, she assigned and edited hundreds of product reviews. This combined with her background as an Editor's Choice curator at eBay means she's accumulated a ton of experience scouring listings for the best products. Andrew Hayward, who reviewed our top pick, the Dell XPS 13, is a Chicago based writer with over 14 years of experience covering tech and gaming. He loved the XPS for its lavish design and excellent performance, and also reviewed the Apple MacBook Air, our "Best for home use" selection, which he found slim, attractive, and packed with useful features. Jeremy Laukkonen also penned a pair of reviews for the machines in our roundup. His obsession with technology tempted him away from the automotive industry to become a full-time ghostwriter for several major tech trade publications and a product tester for Lifewire. He loved the Acer Aspire E 15's full HD display and long-lasting battery, and called the HP Spectre x360 15t a "high water mark" for 2-in-1s. Our own Editor-in-Chief, Lance Ulanoff, has been reviewing products for over three decades. As an industry veteran and award-winning journalist he's previously been EIC of PCMag and Mashable, and has covered just about any iteration of laptops and PCs you can imagine. He reviewed the latest 16-inch Macbook Pro from Apple, and liked their design refinements and substantive improvements. Andy Zahn has been writing for Lifewire since 2019, covering the last tech and consumer gadgets. He focuses particularly on laptops, desktops, and gaming, and reviewed several devices on this list including the Surface Laptop Go and ROG Zephyrus G14. The Ultimate Laptop Buying Guide Buying a laptop can be a stressful experience if you don’t know what to look for. With all of the technical terminology, specifications, brands and manufacturers, where do you even begin? What size laptop should you buy? How much storage do you need? How do you know how much RAM you need? What type of CPU should you look for? All of these questions can quickly become overwhelming. If you go into your purchase armed with the right knowledge, your experience will be much easier, and you’re more likely to get a laptop that better suits your needs. This guide will cover all of the laptop buying essentials, so you can make a smart purchase, armed with our storehouse of knowledge and experience. Laptop vs. Hybrid Hybrid laptops, or 2-in-1 laptops, are designed to serve as both a laptop and a tablet. These are devices like the Surface Pro, Asus Chromebook Flip, and the Dell XPS 13 2-in-1. Hybrids typically have a touchscreen, and they have either a removable keyboard or a hinged keyboard you can flip around and out of the way when you want to use the device as a tablet . Although 2-in-1 devices offer additional flexibility, you have to be even more careful when selecting a hybrid. Some have undersized keyboards, some perform well as a tablet but poor as a laptop, and others lack processing power. You may end up with an expensive device that serves as a mediocre laptop and bulky tablet, when you could spend the same money and get a stellar laptop. This is not to say there aren’t good 2-in-1 options out there. It just means you have to consider the device’s merits in both categories, and decide whether that flexibility is worth the extra cost. Lifewire / Nick Jaynes Screen size Screen size is one of the first things people look at when buying a laptop. Like TV and smartphone screens, laptop screens are typically measured corner-to-corner (diagonally), and not from side-to-side. Most people want a screen that’s large enough so they won’t be squinting when trying to read an email or research a topic, but people have different preferences when it comes to portability. Some people want a laptop that’s as lightweight and portable as possible, while others are going to keep the unit stationary for the most part, and only move it around the house occasionally. Compact: 11- to 14-inch display If you’re looking for something ultra-lightweight you can take with you on-the-go, a compact laptop may be a good solution. You can easily find a compact laptop that’s extremely lightweight (under four pounds), and many have slim profiles. Some people think that compact laptops come with bottom-end specifications, but going with a compact size doesn’t necessarily mean you have to sacrifice performance. You can absolutely find compact laptops that are powerful enough for work, like the MacBook Pro 13-inch and the Dell XPS 13. If you don’t want to spend a lot of cash, and you just want a more basic unit, you can also find budget compact laptops for under $300, like the Lenovo IdeaPad S310. Average: 15- to 16-inch display Although there’s not exactly a standard when it comes to laptop screen sizes, the 15- to 16-inch range is pretty common—you’ll often see laptops sized at 15.6 inches. This size is ideal for those who keep their laptop at a desk for the most part, but still like to have the option to take it along with them on-the-go. The price you’ll pay for a laptop this size depends largely on the specifications and the brand. The MacBook Pro 16-inch will cost you upwards of two grand, while you can buy the Acer Aspire 5 for under $500. You can find a Chromebook this size for around $300 to $400. Large: 17 inch display or larger Large laptop displays often come with the advantage of better viewing angles. The 17.3-inch size is common in gaming laptops, as a larger screen can make for a better gaming experience. Gamers may find the compromise in portability is well worth it for a bigger, better screen, especially if this new laptop is acting as a desktop replacement. Typically, you’re going to pay upwards of a grand for a good laptop this size. Budget options in this size are rarer, but you can occasionally find options this size for around $500, like the Lenovo IdeaPad 340. Screen resolution and graphics If you’re buying a laptop for gaming or graphic design, factors like refresh rate and graphics processing are much more significant. Gamers will want a higher refresh rate and a discrete graphics processor from a brand like NVIDIA. But, if you’re buying a laptop for any other purpose, an integrated graphics card is sufficient. When you look under specifications, each laptop will indicate its screen resolution. Most laptops, even dirt cheap models, will offer at least 1366 x 768 HD resolution. But, if you’re spending any significant amount of cash, it’s best to look for a laptop with at least 1920 x 1080 (FHD). A 4K laptop might be worth it if you’re opting for a large screen size, but not if you’re going with anything smaller than 14 inches. Keyboard and controls Although it sometimes gets neglected during the shopping process, the keyboard is an essential part of a laptop’s quality, functionality, longevity, and comfort. You want your hands to be able to comfortably and naturally sit while you’re typing, so you don’t have to scrunch up or stretch out your fingers to reach all of the keys. Therefore, most people will want to aim for a laptop with a full-size keyboard, which is common in most laptops larger than 11.6 inches. Chiclet-style keyboards are also common in laptops. These keyboards have only slightly elevated keys, and space between the keys, so the keyboard stylishly blends into the laptop’s housing. What features do you want in your keyboard? Many keyboards have additional features like backlighting to help you see the keys in the dark. Security features like fingerprint readers are becoming more common as well, and you can also find different keyboard layouts. Depending on how you’re going to use the laptop, you may prefer a numeric keypad, as opposed to having top-row numbers. Chromebook keyboards are unique from traditional keyboards in that they don’t have function keys, and they have a search key. Lifewire / Jeremy Laukkonen CPU A laptop's CPU, or central processing unit, is a chip that acts as its brain. Several factors affect a CPU’s performance, from heat to other components in the system, but these are some of the main factors to look at in a CPU that can quickly help determine its quality: The manufacturer, the number of cores, and the clock speed. For years, Intel has been known for creating powerful and reliable CPUs. You’ll also see brands like AMD. Both Intel and AMD are a pretty safe bet when it comes to processor brands, and it’s a good idea to opt for a more recent generation, rather than choosing a laptop with a processor that’s three generations old. Most modern processors will have at least two cores. What are CPU cores? Well, they’re basically separate CPUs. And, since a computer isn’t like a human—its brain isn’t as good at multitasking as ours—a computer can benefit from having more than one “brain.” The more cores a computer has, the better it can multitask, and the faster it can compute (generally speaking). If you have a dual core processor, does that mean your computer can only perform two tasks at a time? Not really. Processor cores have threads as well, which also help the computer multitask. So, even if your laptop is only a dual-core, modern hyper-threading makes it possible for laptops to efficiently perform multiple tasks simultaneously. You should opt for a higher-core processor if you’re going to be working extensively on your laptop, performing a lot of video or photo editing, or conducting time-consuming research. Even more important than the number of cores, your processor’s speed is essential for day-to-day operation. You want a laptop that can keep up with your demands. Speed is measured in Ghz, and it’s important for tasks like gaming and watching videos. RAM RAM, or random access memory, is important in a laptop because it helps the machine access information it needs quickly. Imagine RAM like your bedroom closet. When you need something from your closet, you can just go in and grab it, as opposed to driving all the way to the storage unit or going into the attic and searching through a bunch of boxes. You can randomly access the items in your closet, without having to go through too much effort or take too much time. RAM is similar for a computer. That’s why more RAM is better. The more it can randomly access (without having to go through too much effort), the better and faster it can perform. You want a laptop with at least 8GB of RAM if you’re doing any sort of demanding tasks like working. But, if you’re only using your laptop for basic tasks, the bare minimum amount of RAM you can get away with is 4GB. You may also see laptops with DDR4 RAM and DDR3 RAM. DDR stands for Double Data Rate, and the number represents the version. DDR4 RAM is more efficient, and therefore, it’s preferable over DDR3. SSD vs. HDD storage Some laptops will have a SSD (solid state drive), some will have a HDD (hard disk drive), and some will even have both an SSD and an HDD. Because they don’t have any moving parts, SSDs are generally faster and more reliable than HDDs. However, SSDs are significantly more expensive, so for the same cost, you won’t get nearly as much SSD storage space as you’d get with an HDD. But, with cloud storage becoming cheaper and more readily available, storage capacity isn’t as important as it once was either. If you’re using your laptop for basic functions, 256 GB of SSD storage should be more than sufficient. You may even be able to get away with 128 GB, and you can always add an external hard drive if needed. However, if you’re planning on using your laptop for gaming, video editing, or media, you’ll want a laptop with more storage. Ports Does the laptop have enough USB ports? Does it have an HDMI port? What about a card reader? How about a headphone jack? Examine all of the devices you plan on connecting to your laptop—mice, headphones, speakers, monitors—and make sure the laptop has compatible ports for each of your devices. Battery Capacity Battery capacity is especially important for those who plan on taking their laptop on the go. If you’re keeping your laptop at a desk most of the time, battery capacity isn’t as important. A laptop with a stellar battery life, like the LG Gram 15, will last around 12 to 13 hours on a single charge. Some laptops will have a much shorter capacity of around five or six hours. Chromebooks tend to have long battery lives because the operating system doesn’t require as much power to operate. Apple 13-inch MacBook Air. Lifewire / Lance Ulanoff Other features If you’re planning on watching a lot of content or listening to music on your laptop, check out the speakers. Most laptops have stereo speakers, but some speakers have special tuning that leads to better sound. Do a lot of video chatting and social networking? You may want a laptop with a good-quality webcam, and you can also find webcams that support features like face tracking or facial recognition. Do you use a voice assistant? Check and see if your laptop includes Siri, Cortana, or Google Assistant. Lastly, if you want a touchscreen, you don’t necessarily have to go with a 2-in-1. If you’re not the typing type, a lot of laptops offer touchscreen technology as well. But, keep in mind these features use a lot of battery power, so you may not want to opt for a touchscreen laptop if you’re seldom going to take advantage of the feature. Operating systems, brands, and manufacturers Which is better: Windows or Mac? This has been a great debate for quite some time, and now Chrome has entered into the operating system war. So, should you go with Windows, Mac, or ChromeOS? It depends. MacOS MacOS laptops are pricey, but the OS is generally considered reliable, secure, and user-friendly. Mac is ideal for work and general use, but it’s not as good for gaming. If you want a MacOS laptop, you don’t have as many product options as you would if you were to go with Windows 10 or ChromeOS. The most affordable MacBook, the MacBook Air, starts at $999 retail, while the most expensive MacBook, the MacBook Pro 16-inch, starts at $2399. ChromeOS ChromeOS is a more minimalistic OS, and it’s designed for basic computing, social networking, and web-based activities. Chromebooks run fast, and they typically have good battery capacity. You can also find Chromebooks at very low price points, but they’re much more limited in terms of their features. If you’re doing most of your work online and in collaboration programs like Slack, you could probably even use a Chromebook for work. You can find Chromebooks from a variety of different manufacturers, including Google, HP, Samsung, Lenovo, and Acer. Windows 10 A Windows 10 laptop will serve well for just about anyone from gamers to professionals to basic users. Windows offers a great deal of flexibility, a variety of programs and features, and you can find Windows laptops at virtually every price range. Windows 10 laptops come in brands like Dell, HP, Lenovo, Asus, and more. Conclusion When buying a laptop, focus your attention on how you’re going to be using the device, and seek out features and specifications that meet your needs. What makes a model the best laptop in 2020? There’s not exactly a set of blanket specifications that make a good laptop because each person has different preferences. Some people simply want the most laptop they can get for a specific price point, while others want the most powerful laptop (regardless of the price). As a general rule, try to go for at least 8 GB of RAM, seek out a recent generation processor (Intel is on its 10th generation), and look for SSD storage. You may also want to look for additional features like a full-size keyboard, at least two USB 3.0 ports (which are faster than USB 2.0), at least one HDMI port, audio ports for headphones and speakers, and a lengthy battery life.