The 13 Best Laptops of 2019

Shop for the best laptops for work, gaming, graphic design and more

The Ultimate Laptop Buying Guide
The Ultimate Laptop Buying Guide
Introduction

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.

Our Top Picks

Best Overall: Dell XPS 13 at Amazon

"Few laptops have as solid a reputation."

Best for College Students: Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 at Amazon

"Portable, has a great battery life, and fits your budget."

Best for High School: Google Pixelbook Go at Amazon

"A versatile and affordable option that’s perfectly suited to student needs."

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 15 at Amazon

"Features stunning 4K resolution with HP’s True Black HDR for truly beautiful visuals."

Best for Music Production: MSI Prestige 15 at Amazon

"Winner of the CES 2020 Innovation Award."

Best for Programming: Huawei MateBook X Pro at Amazon

"A surprisingly affordable and high-powered laptop that’s perfect for programmers."

Best for Kids: Asus C202SA at Amazon

"Durability and affordability take precedence."

Best for Graphic Design: Surface Pro 7 at Amazon

"Stylus compatibility makes it an ideal choice for graphic designers."

Best for Gaming: Razer Blade 15 at Amazon

"An absolute premium gaming laptop."

Our Top Picks

Best Overall: Dell XPS 13

Dell XPS 13

 Courtesy of Amazon

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 2019 model comes with a new set of updates that truly earn the XPS 13 its "Best Overall" spot. The new 8th-gen Intel Core i5 processor and 8GB of memory deliver speedy and reliable performance that’s perfect for multitaskers.

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 2.8 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.

Best for College Students: Microsoft Surface Laptop 3

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.

Best for High School: Google Pixelbook Go

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.

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.

Best for Video Editing: Apple MacBook Pro (16-Inch)

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.

You also get 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.

Best for Photo Editing: HP Spectre x360 15

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. Its 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 its Intel Core i7 processor, 512GB of SSD storage, and 16GB DDR4 RAM, this laptop has the power to handle complex programs and large files without missing a beat.

Best for Music Production: MSI Prestige 15

When it comes to music production, the priorities for a new laptop are clear: It needs major processing power. No matter what DAW software you use, it’s going to demand a lot from your computer. Our top pick for producers is the MSI Prestige 15 laptop, winner of the CES 2020 Innovation Award, as the first laptop powered by the 10th-gen Intel Core i7 processor and the Nvidia GeForce GTX1650 graphics card. The Prestige 15 is designed for heavy workloads and won't flinch if you need to upload massive libraries of audio files. If power is a priority, this laptop is on the bleeding edge of creative multitasking capabilities.

Besides raw processing power, the MSI Prestige 15 also offers a 15.6-inch 4K Ultra HD screen with True Color Technology for a top-tier viewing experience. It can also deliver a whopping 16 hours of use per charge, which means that running demanding programs won’t immediately tank your battery.

Best for Programming: Huawei MateBook X Pro

With a 13.9-inch 3K (3000x2000) touchscreen, plus an 8th-gen Intel Core i7 processor and 16GB RAM under the hood, the Huawei MateBook X Pro is a surprisingly affordable and high-powered laptop that’s perfect for programmers.

Its upgraded processing power means it can handle running your code over and over (and over) without missing a beat. It also has a 13.9-inch touchscreen with 3K resolution that feels even larger thanks to near-invisible bezels and a 91 percent screen-to-body ratio, a nice perk for a programmer when they’re away from their monitor setup. If you plan to use this laptop for both work and play, Dolby Atmos sound makes for a premium media-watching experience.

There are plenty of laptops out there that offer similar specs and less premium features, often at a higher cost. In terms of value and power, this laptop from Huawei is hard to beat.

Best for Kids: Asus C202SA

When you're shopping for a kid's laptop, durability and affordability take precedence. The Asus C202SA Chromebook fits the bill, with enough power for basic productivity tasks and entertainment and an ultra-durable chassis that can handle whatever kids might throw at (or spill on) it. Reinforced rubber edges around the entire body protect against bumps, and it’s rugged enough to survive drops up to 3.9 feet. The keyboard is spill-resistant and the 11-inch display has a 180-degree hinge that can lay flat, so you don't have to worry about the screen getting pushed too far back.

With an Intel Celeron N3060 processor, 4GB DDR3 RAM, and 16GB of flash storage, there should be enough room for kids’ files, photos, and games. It also runs the Chrome OS, which parents will appreciate — it updates automatically so your child’s device is always running the latest security features, plus it comes with built-in virus protection.

Best for Graphic Design: Surface Pro 7

Microsoft's Surface Pro 7 is defined by its versatility. A powerful upgrade to the Surface Pro 6, this device has three different modes: laptop, studio, and tablet. Each offers a different range of functions. This flexibility combined with the Surface Pro 7's stylus compatibility makes it an ideal choice for graphic designers. In studio mode, the screen is angled slightly for comfortable writing, drawing, or finely-detailed design work with a stylus. It can also be propped up vertically to display your work (or to watch your favorite TV show when you’re off the clock). For laptop mode, simply attach the keyboard and use it as you would a regular computer.

Graphic designers know how important it is to have sufficient processing power — depending on the software you use, you’ll need a decent amount of memory to keep things running smoothly. The Microsoft Surface Pro 7 can be configured with either an Intel Core i5 or i7 processor, up to 16GB RAM, and up to 1TB of storage. Even though the Surface Pro 7 can be used as a tablet, these specs are on par with full-size laptops.

Best for Gaming: Razer Blade 15

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 9th-gen Intel Core i7 six-core processor with blinding 4.5GHz max Turbo speeds, paired with Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Ti 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 nearly bezel-less and features 100 percent sRGB color with a 60Hz refresh rate. In short, your games will look amazing and you won’t miss a moment to laggy refresh rates. 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.

Best for Business: Lenovo ThinkPad E590

The Lenovo ThinkPad E590 means business. The sleek design, durable construction, and high performance make it the ideal no-nonsense business laptop. The 15.6-inch display is more than sufficient for multitasking, while the 8th-gen Intel Core i7 processor and up to 32GB of DDR4 RAM can handle any program you throw at it (alternate configurations are available with the more affordable, but still impressive i5 processors). With 1TB of storage, this laptop can hold a huge cache of work project without the need for an external hard drive.

The Lenovo ThinkPad E590 also has several features that make it an incredible asset for the traveling business person. The dependable 13-hour battery with Rapid Charge technology lets you keep working on the go without being tied down to an outlet and the combination of a dual-array microphone and 720p HD camera adds up to an impressive video conference performance. This laptop also comes equipped with robust security features to protect any sensitive business information it might store. An optional fingerprint scanner provides biometric authentification and the built-in trusted platform model encrypts your data at the hardware level. This business forward laptop is built to industry standards and should be considered by anyone in the market.

Best for Home Use: Apple MacBook Air

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.

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.

Best for the Money: Acer Aspire E 15

If you’re looking for an excellent value laptop, then the Acer Aspire E 15 is one of our favorites. With an 8th-gen Intel Core i3 processor boasting speeds up to 3.2GHz, 6GB dual-channel memory, and a whopping 1TB HDD, this is a reliable and well-performing laptop for an extremely wallet-friendly price. It has plenty of processing power for everyday home or business tasks, plus its 13.5 hours of battery life can put other more expensive laptops to shame. And if you use your laptop to watch videos, the 15.6-inch HD display and TrueHarmony audio provide a surprisingly good viewing experience.

The main disadvantage is its bulkier size — at 5.27 pounds, it’s definitely on the heavier end. But if you need an inexpensive laptop that performs above its price point, the Acer Aspire E 15 makes up for the design drawbacks in sheer value.

What to Look for in a Laptop

Screen size - Laptops come in all configurations and sizes, ranging from as small as 10 inches up to 20 inches (measured diagonally on the screen). If you’re often dashing between meetings or classes, you’ll need a laptop that’s small and light enough to tote around with you. If, on the other hand, you’ll be doing most of your work at home or are a designer, you may want to opt for something larger. 

Operating system - Are you an Apple fan or a diehard PC user? While it’s pretty easy to adjust to a new operating system these days, people tend to stick to what they’re familiar with. Both operating systems have their merits—with Mac being more intuitive and design-friendly and Windows being more secure and business savvy—but the choice is truly up to you.

Processor - If you need a PC that can handle heavy-duty work, pay close attention to its processor, or CPU. The battle between the manufacturers AMD and Intel gets fiercer every day, but AMD’s CPUs tend to be a bit cheaper. If money is no obstacle, look at the number of cores it has. More cores equal a faster and more efficient processor, and the high-end options out there pack up to 8 cores.

Our Process 

Our writers spent 4.5 hours researching the most popular laptops on the market. Before making their final recommendations, they considered 13 different laptops and read over 100 user reviews (both positive and negative), testing themselves. All of this research adds up to recommendations you can trust.