Our expert laptop reviewers have tested and reviewed more than 500 laptops over the years, searching for the best of the best. But to earn the crown as the best laptop in 2023, it needs to have it all: gorgeous design, killer performance, a productive keyboard, long-lasting battery life, and much more.
Each of the laptops below has been vetted thoroughly by us here at Digital Trends. Whether it's an affordable Chromebook or a top-of-the-line gaming laptop, they've all been subjected to real-world testing, as well as benchmark and battery tests, to collect data to objectively pit them against each other.
Dell XPS 13 (9315)
|CPU:||Intel Core i5-1230U|
|GPU:||Intel Xe Graphics|
|Screen:||13.4-inch 1920 x 1200 IPS|
|Dimensions:||11.63 x 7.85 x 0.55 inches|
There are two things you need to know about the Dell XPS 13 before buying one. First, it doesn't have a headphone jack. Second, its performance is a bit lackluster compared to many of the latest 12th-generation Intel-powered laptops.
With those downsides in mind, that might make you wonder why a laptop like this is still showing up on this list at all. Well, it really all comes down value. If you can set those two negatives aside, you'll find a gorgeous little laptop priced like none other. The base configuration tends to fluctuate in price, but it ranges between $749 and $999, making it the cheapest the XPS laptops have ever sold for. Keep in mind, you're getting 512GB of storage in that model, too. That makes a lot of laptops on this list seem overpriced, especially considering how good the battery life and display are. That's even true sitting next to the M1 MacBook Air. It's a fantastic value — so long as you can accept the lack of a headphone jack.
Of course, you'll also find a laptop here with premium features, such as a comfortable keyboard, a great touchpad, and a killer IPS screen. And, of course, the design is stellar. The compact little 13-inch laptop continues to have remarkably thin bezels, and the new color options are both unique and tasteful. It's very hard to find a laptop under $1,000 that hits all those marks, especially without sacrificing anything major.
You might wonder why we've included the XPS 13 on the list rather than the XPS 13 Plus. After all, the Plus model is more powerful and has some really excellent features, such as the seamless haptic feedback trackpad and the larger, edge-to-edge keyboard. Those features are all neat and certainly make it a futuristic-feeling laptop, but we're not sure they're worth the extra cost over the standard XPS 13, which comes in hundreds of dollars cheaper.
Read our Dell XPXS 13 (9315) review.
Apple MacBook Air M1
|CPU:||Apple M1 Chip|
|GPU:||Apple M1 8-Core|
|Dimensions:||11.97 x 8.36 x 0.63 inches|
The M1 MacBook Air is a nearly 2-year-old laptop, yet it remains at the top of our list for the incredible value provided by this little MacBook.
The M2 MacBook Air is a flashier design. No doubt about it. It's a bit more powerful, too. But the M1 MacBook Air remains a mind-boggling good value for the amount of laptop on offer — that includes great performance, battery life, and much more. We won't begrudge for buying the admittedly solid M2 MacBook Air over the M1; just know that the M1 model is still the better deal.
Chalk it up to the game-changing nature of the M1 chip, which transformed this otherwise plain MacBook into one of the most important laptops of the past decade. Before the M1 MacBook Air, laptops in this line were painfully underpowered. They just weren't capable enough to get real work done for most people. But with the M1, the MacBook Air is not only impressively powerful again, but it also stays completely fanless and gets insane amounts of battery life. Two years later, and there are still no Windows laptops that can compete in that regard. That's how important the power efficiency of ARM-based chips is.
The only real downside to the M1 MacBook Air is its external monitor support. Despite coming with two USB-C ports and a MagSafe 3 charging port, the M1 MacBook Air can only connect to a single external monitor. For many people, that will rule out this laptop device entirely. But if you're a college student or just prefer to do a lot of your work on the go, the M1 MacBook Air is a shocking amount of laptop for the money. If you can catch it when it's on sale (which it often is), that's even better.
Read our Apple MacBook Air M1 review.
Lenovo Chromebook Duet 3
|Screen:||11-inch 2000 x 1200|
|Dimensions:||10.16 x 6.57 x 0.3 inches|
Laptops that cost $300 shouldn't be this good. Seriously. Most laptops you can buy at that price have serious deficiencies, like pitiful performance or awful 720p screens. That's often true, even on Chromebooks.
But the Lenovo Chromebook Duet 3 manages to deliver a great laptop experience, albeit on a very small device. But this little 10.9-inch is perfect for students or anyone who just needs a compact device to take on the go. The screen resolution is even better than 1080p, reaching up to 2000 x 1200. That's very sharp for a screen of this size, making it excellent for writing and reading text. It even gets up to 400 nits of brightness, meaning working near windows isn't an issue. Again, this is unheard of for a laptop of this price.
Surprisingly, the Lenovo Chromebook Duel 3 also comes with a 5-megapixel camera for solid videoconferencing. It has just about everything it needs to compete with the iPad (especially with the recent price jump). The iPad is undoubtedly a better tablet. It's lighter and has a wide range of gestures and apps to support touch-only controls. The Lenovo Chromebook Duet 3 will disappoint you in that regard, even with support for Android apps. But that's nothing new for ChromeOS tablets.
The Lenovo Chromebook Duet 3 excels, though, as a work or school device. As good as iPads have become at doing work, if you're needing to do actual work or school work, having a normal desktop browser and a full keyboard goes a long way toward being more efficient. The magnetic back cover also gives the tablet a kickstand for lots of angles, and you can even bundle in the Lenovo Digital Pen for stylus use.
Read our Lenovo Chromebook Duet 3 review.
Best Gaming Laptop
Razer Blade 14
|CPU:||AMD Ryzen 9 5900HX|
|GPU:||Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080|
|Screen:||14-inch QHD 165Hz refresh rate|
|Dimensions:||12.59 x 8.66 x 0.66 inches|
Gaming laptops are their own class of laptop that demand their own list, but we wanted to include some here that could easily double as your standard laptop -- of course, with the added benefit that these can do some serious gaming after work.
The Razer Blade 14 might be the best example of such a premise. In many ways, it doesn't feel like it shouldn't be possible. Up to an RTX 3080 in a thin, 14-inch laptop? Yep, that's right. And it does it with some pretty impressive performance, too. It comes with a 1440p screen with a 165Hz refresh rate, ensuring that you're never bottlenecked by the display. Then again, the 1080p model comes with an RTX 3060 and manages to land under $2,000, which is a rare feat for a Razer laptop. This also just happens to be the only AMD Ryzen-powered Razer Blade 14, which is why this gets the best battery life of any gaming laptop we've tested.
Yes, this bad boy's expensive. But what you're paying for is the ability to switch between work and play without batting an eye. The Razer logo on the lid and the per-key RGB backlighting might catch some attention at the office, but hey, this is a gaming laptop through and through.
There will always be room for larger gaming laptops like the Razer Blade 15 or Lenovo Legion 5 Pro, but the Razer Blade 14 still feels like a miracle. It's the first AMD-powered Razer laptop, featuring the powerful Ryzen 9 5900HX. It also sports a 1440p 240Hz screen, ensuring that you're never bottlenecked by the display. Amazingly, the Razer Blade 14 does all this at a few hundred dollars cheaper than the Razer Blade 15.
But no, it's not the cheapest gaming laptop. Nor is it the most powerful. It is, however, the best overall gaming laptop you can buy, especially if you want something small and portable.
Read our Razer Blade 14 review.
Best 2-in-1 Laptop
Microsoft Surface Pro 9
|CPU:||Intel Core i5|
|Screen:||13-inch PixelSense Flow|
|Dimensions:||11.3 x 8.2 x 0.37 inches|
For many years, the Surface Pro was all on its own. Other manufacturers had given up on the 2-in-1 form factor, and Windows wasn't doing much to improve touch interfaces. But that changed this year when multiple new Surface Pro-like devices were released, no doubt thanks to the momentum Microsoft is building with Windows 11.
That means the Surface Pro 9, the latest model in the line, has some serious competition. But even with challengers like the Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 available, the Surface Pro 9 remains on top. Microsoft has been perfecting this hardware for years now, and it shows. The buttery smooth 120Hz display is a highlight, especially with the thin bezels introduced in last year's model. Microsoft has a more polished product, and even though it asks for more money, the product experience is totally worth it.
Interestingly, though, the Surface Pro 9 is also the first to offer both an Intel model and an ARM configuration. The ARM model uses the Microsoft SQ3, the company's latest collaboration with Qualcomm, and you might be wondering if it's finally become a better option than the more conventional Intel model. It certainly gets more battery life, and the addition of 5G connectivity is a bonus. But if performance is what you're looking for, the Intel model is still the way to go, especially since these latest 12th-gen chips bring quite a performance jump over last year's generation.
As it stands, that's the way most people should go, though we wouldn't blame you for wanting to try something new with the SQ3 model. It seems like many companies want ARM to be the future of Windows PCs, and portable 2-in-1 devices seem like a category ripe for more efficient chips.
Read our Microsoft Surface Pro 9 review.
Best Business Laptop
Lenovo ThinkPad Z13
|CPU:||AMD Ryzen 5 Pro 6650U|
|GPU:||Integrated AMD Radeon 660M|
|Dimensions:||11.59 x 7.85 x 0.55 inches|
Business laptops don't have to be boring, and the ThinkPad Z13 proves it. Its faux-leather lid looks unique while still feeling classy, with just enough touches across the chassis to feel modern. Not that you need to work for a big company to love what the ThinkPad Z13 has to offer. The ThinkPad Z13 is the kind of business laptop that the average person would likely be delighted to use — so long as you appreciate the ThinkPad brand and buttoned-up aesthetic.
Of course, the ThinkPad Z13 is more than just an interesting-looking new laptop. It's one of the best laptops to run on AMD's new Ryzen 6000 chips, which provide excellent performance and long-lasting battery life. Yes, the security features come baked-in too, but it's the battery life that really sold us on these chips. With MacBooks leading the charge in battery life, it's great to see a Windows option that lasts almost as long that doesn't have an Apple logo plastered to the lid.
The ThinkPad Z13 also includes a 1080p webcam that produces some solid results for videoconferencing. That's as important as ever, and Lenovo's design even highlights the feature with its brushed metal Communication Bar. It's a significant jump up in clarity and sharpness over older laptops with 720p and follows the trend of improving image quality for remote work. There's even an OLED model if you really want to take the screen to the next level, though we found the cheaper IPS display to be solid on its own.
All of it comes together in a package that feels both unique and appropriate for the office, which is especially hard to pull off at this price. Unlike many high-end business laptops and ThinkPads in general, the ThinkPad Z13 isn't extravagantly overpriced, which makes the excellent performance, battery life, and features even more noteworthy.
Read our Lenovo ThinkPad Z13 review.
Best HP Laptop
HP Spectre x360 13.5
|CPU:||Intel Core i5-1235U|
|GPU:||Intel Iris Xe|
|Dimensions:||14.21 x 9.84 x 0.76 inches|
Competition for thin and light laptops with 13-inch screens has never been tighter. But that's a great thing for laptop buyers, now with so many excellent choices such as the HP Spectre x360 13.5.
The HP Spectre x360 series of convertible laptops have long been among our favorites. But the Spectre x360 13.5 is the best of the line in a very long time. It brings together a unique yet elegant sense of style with high-end components such as its stunning OLED display and great battery life. It doesn't have the same weaknesses in ports (it has a headphone jack!) and performance as the XPS 13, either. This is a plenty-fast machine for your work needs, even when using it as a dock to connect to multiple external monitors — though, if it's discrete graphics you want, you'll want to opt for the Spectre x360 14.
The only complaint is that it's a bit more expensive than we'd like, especially compared to new options like the Dell XPS 13 or the M1 MacBook Air. HP prices the Spectre x360 quite high, and in a world where Apple's MacBooks continue to push the boundary of what's possible in terms of battery life and performance, it's been increasingly hard for Windows laptops to compete — especially if they're not being priced down appropriately.
Fortunately, HP does have a cheaper option in the Envy x360 13, which uses the same form factor but comes in well under $1,000. Like the XPS 13, the Envy x360 does a fantastic job undercutting the M1 MacBook Air in terms of the value it offers.
But if the premium look is what you want, the Spectre 360 x360 13.5 delivers in a big way. It's the complete package — and sometimes, that's worth paying for.
Read our HP Spectre x365 13.5 review.
Best MacBook Pro Alternative
Dell XPS 15 (9520)
|CPU:||Intel Core i5-12500H|
|GPU:||Intel Iris Xe|
|Screen:||15.6-inch full HD|
|Dimensions:||13.56 x 9.06 x 0.73 inches|
Truthfully, it's hard for a laptop like the Dell XPS 15 to compete with the MacBook Pro 16-inch. Performance is similar, but the MacBook Pro wins in almost every other category, from the port selection to the screen, even with more minor features like the speakers or webcam. And that's not to mention battery life, where the MacBook Pro is in another league.
But Macs aren't for everyone. Many applications or organizations require Windows — and hey, many of us just straight-up prefer it. Content creators need a solid option that is as premium as the MacBook Pro while still providing excellent performance. And that's where the Dell XPS 15 comes into play.
This is a gorgeous laptop, still using the carbon-fiber weave texture across the keyboard deck and palm rests. That may change in the coming years to align with the XPS 13 and XPS 13 Plus, but for now, we love the look and design. And despite having a 15-inch screen, the overall size of the XPS 15 is far smaller than the bulky 15-inch laptops of yesteryear. That's thanks to the tiny bezels, of course.
It even comes with four powerful Thunderbolt ports and a full-size SD card slot for convenient transfers directly from your camera. But the performance is what really counts for video-editing laptops. Between the 12th-generation Core i9 processor and a Nvidia RTX 3050 Ti, the Dell XPS 15 is one of the most powerful consumer-class content-creation laptops we've ever tested.
If you don't need all that extra performance, Dell even offers cheaper versions of the XPS 15 that don't come with discrete graphics, though you may want to consider thinner and cheaper devices that aren't meant for heavy loads, such as the LG Gram 16, Surface Laptop 5 15, or even Dell's own Inspiron 16.
Read our Dell XPS 15 (9520) review.
Best Laptop for Photo and Video Editing
MacBook Pro 16-inch
|CPU:||Apple M1 Pro|
|GPU:||Apple M1 Pro|
|Dimensions:||9.77 x 14.01 x 0.66 inches|
The MacBook Pro 16-inch has fixed a lot of the problems with the "Pro" line in the past few years. The Touch Bar is gone. The extensive port selection is back. It's even thicker and better-cooled now.
But it's more than just an apology tour. The 120Hz mini-LED screen is the best laptop screen we've ever seen, especially when viewing HDR content. The M1 Pro and M1 Max, meanwhile, add discrete-level graphics to the incredible efficiency of the M1. Heck, we even tested out HDR gaming on this screen in Resident Evil Village — and it's astounding. We're not saying this is a proper gaming laptop, but the hardware is certainly there to support it.
And then there's the battery life. It's one thing for a smaller laptop like the MacBook Air to get world-class battery life, but we didn't expect that with the larger and more powerful 16-inch MacBook Pro. To our surprise, this thing lasts for just as long. Many Windows laptops with discrete graphics, such as the Dell XPS 15 or the Razer Blade 15, only get four or five hours of battery life. The 16-inch MacBook Pro can last over 18 hours in those same tests. Let that sink in.
On top of that, there are a number of quality-of-life enhancements to the MacBook Pro this time around, such as the improved 1080p webcam and even bassier speakers, both of which are best-in-class.
The price and performance mean it's not for everyone, though. The average person doesn't need more than the MacBook Air. But if you need a powerful laptop for content creation, the MacBook Pro is the best "pro" laptop you can buy. The 14-inch model is equally good, but stay clear of the M2 MacBook Pro 13-inch, which uses an outdated chassis and won't bring the pro-level performance you're looking for.
Read our MacBook Pro 16-inch review.
Best Laptops Compared
|Dell XPS 13 (9315)||MacBook Air M1||Lenovo Chromebook Duet 3||Razer Blade 14||Microsoft Surface Pro 9||Lenovo ThinkPad Z13||HP Spectre x360 13.5||Dell XPS 15 (9520)||MacBook Pro 16-inch|
|CPU:||Intel Core i5-1230U||Apple M1 Chip||Snapdragon 7cG2||AMD Ryzen 9 5900HX||Intel Core i5||AMD Ryzen 5 Pro 6650U||Intel Core i5-1235U||Intel Core i5-12500H||Apple M1 Pro|
|GPU:||Intel Xe Graphics||Apple M1 8-Core||N/A||Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080||Built-in||Integrated AMD Radeon 660M||Intel Iris Xe||Intel Iris Xe||Apple M1 Pro|
|Screen:||13.4-inch 1920 x 1200 IPS||13.3-inch Retina||11-inch 2000 x 1200||14-inch QHD 165Hz refresh rate||13-inch PixelSense Flow||13.3-inch IPS||13.5-inch touchscreen||15.6-inch full HD||16-inch Retina|
|Storage:||256GB SSD||256GB SSD||128GB eMMC||1TB SSD||128GB SSD||512GB SSD||512GB SSD||512GB SSD||512GB SSD|
|Dimensions:||11.63 x 7.85 x 0.55 inches||11.97 x 8.36 x 0.63 inches||10.16 x 6.57 x 0.3 inches||12.59 x 8.66 x 0.66 inches||11.3 x 8.2 x 0.37 inches||11.59 x 7.85 x 0.55 inches||14.21 x 9.84 x 0.76 inches||13.56 x 9.06 x 0.73 inches||9.77 x 14.01 x 0.66 inches|
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