Why you can trust ZDNET : ZDNET independently tests and researches products to bring you our best recommendations and advice. When you buy through our links, we may earn a commission. Our process

'ZDNET Recommends': What exactly does it mean?

ZDNET's recommendations are based on many hours of testing, research, and comparison shopping. We gather data from the best available sources, including vendor and retailer listings as well as other relevant and independent reviews sites. And we pore over customer reviews to find out what matters to real people who already own and use the products and services we’re assessing.

When you click through from our site to a retailer and buy a product or service, we may earn affiliate commissions. This helps support our work, but does not affect what we cover or how, and it does not affect the price you pay. Neither ZDNET nor the author are compensated for these independent reviews. Indeed, we follow strict guidelines that ensure our editorial content is never influenced by advertisers.

ZDNET's editorial team writes on behalf of you, our reader. Our goal is to deliver the most accurate information and the most knowledgeable advice possible in order to help you make smarter buying decisions on tech gear and a wide array of products and services. Our editors thoroughly review and fact-check every article to ensure that our content meets the highest standards. If we have made an error or published misleading information, we will correct or clarify the article. If you see inaccuracies in our content, please report the mistake via this form.


The best laptops you can buy (and which operating system to choose)

Looking for a replacement, an upgrade, or a first laptop? You're spoiled for choice. The best laptops offer long battery life, numerous configuration options, excellent display, and more.

When faced with the question "What's the best laptop?", the first sensible response is, "What do you want to use it for?" That's because the best laptop for knowledge workers in the office or home, for example, will be very different from the kind of device that's suitable for power users and creators, or for students and the otherwise cash-strapped, and so on. 

Then there are the platform enthusiasts who will only consider Windows, MacOS, ChromeOS, or Linux devices, for whatever reason, and determined early adopters who must have the latest and greatest mobile technology.

AlsoThe best laptops under $1,000

As a result, this "best laptop" roundup covers a range of different use cases and computing platforms to provide a 2023 overview of the cream of the laptop market. 

As always, individual requirements and preferences will vary, so when choosing a laptop, check out other similar models, examine the specifications and price points, visit the manufacturers' online forums to see how customer relations are working out in practice, and get hands-on if you can to get a feel for the ergonomics. And of course, read the reviews.

Pros & Cons
  • Tons of configuration options
  • Excellent design pedigree
  • 4K display
  • Expensive
  • No Dolby Atmos or HDR support
  • No voice control integration
More Details

Dell XPS 17 specs: Display size: 17 inches | Display type: LED | Resolution: 4K | CPU: Up to 13th Gen Intel Core i7 | Graphics: Nvidia GeForce RTX 30 or 40 series | RAM: Up to 64GB | Storage: Up to 8TB SSD | Connectivity: 4x Thunderbolt 4, 3.5mm AUX, SD reader, Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth | Battery life: 10 hours 

ZDNET reviewed the Dell XPS 17 back in 2021 and gave it our top spot in our list of the best 17-inch laptops. The latest iteration of XPS 17 has tons of configuration options with either a 12th or 13th generation Intel Core CPU, up to an Nvidia GeForce RTX 4080 graphics card, up to 64GB of RAM, and up to 8TB of storage. 

Also: The laptops with the best battery life

It also features a 4K, LED display for crisp, clean detailing and rich colors for more lifelike images. The display also works with touch inputs for more ways to control your laptop and use your favorite programs. With Wi-Fi 6 compatibility, you'll get super-fast wireless internet speeds for smoother streaming, gaming, and virtual work or learning.

Pros & Cons
  • Under $500, AMD and Intel configurations
  • Lots of storage configurations
  • No dedicated GPU
  • Somewhat short battery life
More Details

Acer Aspire 3 specs: Display size: 15.6 inches | Display type:  | Resolution: 1080p HD | CPU: Intel Core i3-11154G4, Up to AMD Ryzen 5 7520U | Graphics: Intel UHD Integrated, AMD Radeon Integrated | RAM: 8GB | Storage: Up to 1TB | Connectivity: USB 2.0, USB 3.0, HDMI, AUX | Battery life: 8.5 hours 

This budget-friendly laptop from Acer retails for under $500 without sacrificing power or performance. It's built with an AMD Ryxen 5 7520U or Intel Core i3-11154G4 processor, 8GB of RAM, a 512GB storage drive, and either Intel UHD or AMD Radeon integrated graphics. 

Also: The best 2-in-1 laptops: Top flexible, hybrid, and convertible notebooks

This means that the Acer Aspire 3 is great for web browsing, streaming, homework, and casual home use. The 15.6-inch display produces excellent 1080p resolution, while the built-in webcam and microphone make it easy to join video calls, virtual meetings, or online learning courses.

Pros & Cons
  • Excellent components
  • Great display
  • MSI Pen 2 writes on paper and screen
  • Somewhat short battery life
  • Expensive
  • No 2-in-1 lid hinge
  • MSI Pen 2 sold separately
More Details

MSI Creator Z17 specs: Display size: 17 inches | Display type:  | Resolution: 2560x1600 | CPU: Intel Core i9-13950HX | Graphics: Nvidia GeForce RTX 4070 | RAM: 64GB | Storage: 2TB SSD | Connectivity: Wi-Fi 6, USB 3.2, Thunderbolt 4, HDMI, AUX, Bluetooth, SD card reader | Battery life: 7 hours 

The Creator Z17 HX Studio from MSI is designed from the ground up to be the ultimate machine for content creators and creative professionals. The 17-inch, QHD display not only gives you excellent color, detailing, and contrast, but it also supports touch inputs via the MSI Pen 2; which is great for anyone who wants to take notes during client meetings, create digital drawings and paintings, or have more control over your apps and programs. The MSI Pen 2 can also write on paper, meaning you won't have to worry about carrying around multiple writing implements for meetings and work. 

Also: What is the best rugged laptop, and what does military grade mean?

It's also built with 64GB of RAM, an Intel Core i9-13950HX processor, Nvidia GeForce RTX 4070 GPU, and a 2TB SSD for all of the power, performance, and storage you'll need for both raw and finished files. It also supports Wi-Fi 6 for faster wireless internet speeds as well as Thunderbolt 4 connectivity for quick file transfers, charging devices, and setting up secondary displays. The only downside is that you'll have to keep your charging cable handy as the battery only gives you about 7 hours of use on a full charge, and it doesn't have a 2-in-1 style lid hinge for drawing.

Pros & Cons
  • Elgato Stream Deck integration
  • Great power and performance
  • Excellent display
  • Great battery for a gaming laptop
  • Very expensive
  • No Intel version
  • On the heavy side at 5.3 pounds
More Details

Corsair Voyager a1600 specs: Display size: 16 inches | Display type: IPS/LCD | Resolution: 2560x1600 | CPU: AMD Ryxen 9 6900HS | Graphics: AMD Radeon RX 6800M | RAM: 32GB | Storage: 2TB SSD | Connectivity: Bluetooth, RF, Wi-Fi, AUX, USB | Battery life: 6 hours 

I was able to get some hands-on testing experience with the Corsair Voyager a1600, and I can confidently say that it's one of the best (if not the best) gaming laptops on the market. It's built with an AMD Ryzen 9 6900HS CPU, AMD Radeon RX 6800M graphics card, 32GB of RAM, and a 2TB SSD. This gives you tons of power and performance to handle just about any triple-A title in your library or on your wishlist as well as the ability to smoothly multitask for streaming on Twitch or play videos and music while you work or play games. 

Also: What are laptop docking stations and which is best for your setup?

The laptop also has Elgato Stream Deck integration, which means you'll get unprecedented control over your favorite programs as well as your laptop. It also has one of the better batteries in a gaming laptop that I've seen, giving you around 6 hours of use on a full charge. And while that does sound like it's on the shorter side, it's an eternity for gaming laptops where you might only average 3 hours before you need to plug in.

Pros & Cons
  • 1080p display
  • 10-hour battery life
  • Under $1000
  • 11th gen Intel processor
  • No Bluetooth support
More Details

Asus Chromebook Vibe C55 Flip specs: Display size: 15.6 inches | Display type: LCD | Resolution: 1080p | CPU: Intel Core i5-1135G7 | Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 630 | RAM: Up to 16GB | Storage: Up to 512GB SSD | Connectivity: USB, USB-C, Wi-Fi, SD card reader, AUX,  | Battery life: 10 hours 

Chromebook laptops have surged in popularity in recent years, with affordable pricing and user-friendly features. The Asus Chromebook Vibe C55 Flip is on the higher end of affordability, but still retails well under $1,000 and is well-suited for home use, work, and school. The 15.6-inch display gives you great 1080p resolution for working on homework, streaming videos, or viewing photos. 

Also: The best Chromebook laptops you can buy right now

You can choose between 8 or 16GB of RAM and either a 256 or 512GB SSD for your storage drive to give you the power and space you need. The 10-hour battery life also means that you can spend more time getting things done or enjoying your favorite shows and movies without having to worry about staying near a wall outlet or keeping your charging cable handy.

What is the best laptop?

My pick for the best laptop is the Dell XPS 17. It's the latest iteration of a long line of reliable laptops with either a 12th or 13th generation Intel Core CPU, GeForce RTX 3060 graphics card, 32GB of RAM, and a 1TB SSD. The 17-inch display gives you excellent 4K resolution for everything from streaming movies and shows to gaming, video calls, virtual learning, and streaming videos.

Best laptop



Display size/resolution

Dell XPS 17


Intel Core i7-12700H, Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060

17 inches, 4K

Acer Aspire 3


Intel Core i3-1115G4, Intel UHD Integrated

15.6 inches, 1080p HD

MSI Creator Z17


Intel Core i9-12900H, Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080

17 inches, 2560 x 1600

Corsair Voyager a1600


AMD Ryzen R9 6900HS, AMD Radeon RX 6800M

16 inches, 2560 x 1600

Asus Chromebook Vibe C55 Flip


Intel Core i5-1135G7, Intel UHD 630 Integrated

15.6 inches, 1080p HD

Which is the right laptop for you?

The key question when buying a laptop -- as with any product -- is: "What do you want to do with it?" Once you've established the use case, you will have a focus for your research, and should quickly get a feel for the key features to look out for. If you're a mobile knowledge worker, for example, you'll want a usable and performant combination of lightweight, flexible configuration, sturdy build, connectivity, security, battery life, and design credibility. But if you're a largely desk-bound graphic designer or creator who occasionally needs to visit a client with a laptop in tow, your priorities will be different.

Once you have a long list of potential candidates, your budget will likely trim it down at the top end, while your cautionary instincts should kick in at the bottom end (if something appears too good to be true, it probably is). Armed with a well-researched shortlist, you should have a good chance of ending up with a laptop that will satisfy your requirements.

Buy this best laptop...

If you need...

Dell XPS 17

A premium, well-rounded laptop. The Dell XPS 17 features a 4K display and top-tier components to give you the best balance between style and performance.

Acer Aspire 3

A budget-friendly laptop. This model from Acer retails for under $500 while still offering premium features like a CPU that can be overclocked to 4.1GHz and a 1TB storage drive.

MSI Creator Z17

A laptop tailor-made for content creators. With 32GB of RAM, up to a 2TB SSD, and RTX 30 Series graphics card, you'll have all the power and performance you'll need to edit videos and photos or create digital art.

Corsair Voyager a1600

A top-tier gaming laptop. With Elgato Steam Deck integration, you can streamline your workflow to run several programs at once.

Asus Chromebook Vibe C55 Flip

A Chrome-based laptop. The streamlined operating system, cloud storage backup, and quality components make it a great choice for students and casual home users. 

How did we choose these laptops?

Since the 1990s, I have been writing, commissioning, and editing reviews of laptops, along with many other types of tech products. The selection process for this "Best" list is based on a combination of personal usage and experience, participation in the ZDNET reviews process, and analysis of other reviews and roundups.

Why should you buy a laptop, and not a desktop or a tablet?

For most people these days, a "computer" is a type of laptop. While the desktop form factor, especially in the form of all-in-one (AIO) devices, still exists, laptops come in various sizes and cover many use cases (as mentioned above). They range from thin, light, and ultraportable to bulky, powerful, and deskbound. If a smaller laptop screen is an issue, an external monitor can always be connected. Additionally, many hybrid 2-in-1 devices straddle the divide between laptop and tablet. 

Which operating system should you choose: Windows, MacOS, Chrome OS, or Linux?

While every computing platform has its loyal supporters, most people end up using a particular operating system because of key applications running on it, employer preferences, or budgetary constraints. Windows, which ranges from budget to premium, and Apple's MacOS, which is mostly available in premium devices, cover a broad spectrum, while Chrome OS is mostly limited to affordable devices.

Also: Comparing the best Macs: Is a MacBook or Mac Studio right for you?

All Windows devices listed here meet the requirements for Windows 11. If you purchase a device with Windows 10 installed, you will be able to upgrade to version 11 if you choose to do so. Note that after October 14, 2025, Windows 10 support will end, and there will be no further security patches or feature updates.

What brand of laptop is best?

In general, the leading PC vendors have the most extensive range of offerings and the best-documented track records for product development and customer relations. Therefore, if you do not have a specialized use case or budgetary constraints, you will typically consider vendors such as Lenovo, HP, Dell, Apple, and Asus. These vendors currently lead the PC market in terms of shipments, along with several other well-known brands.

What are the best laptops for gaming?

The good news is that you don't need to have the biggest, best, newest components to get a decent gaming laptop. To play most triple-A and indie titles, you'll need a rig with at least 16GB of RAM, 512GB of storage, a 120Hz refresh rate for the display, and at least an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 graphics card. 

Also: Best gaming laptops you can buy right now

And if you want to try your hand at content creation, something like the Corsair Voyager a1600 is a sure bet with Elgato Steam Deck integration for streamlined workflows when editing videos and thumbnails, going live for streams, and even setting up Zoom meetings and video calls with channel moderators or collaborators.

What are the best laptops for students?

It really depends on the student, but there are some common factors to consider when shopping for a school-specific laptop. You'll want something small and lightweight for easier commutes to and from school, as well as between classes. 

Also: Students, take note: These are the best laptops for college

You'll also want something with at least an 8-hour battery life to get through a typical school day without needing to plug in (which is great for younger kids who may be forgetful and leave their charging cable at home). Also look for a laptop with at least 4GB of RAM, 256GB of storage, and cloud-storage backup to create duplicate copies of important files and classwork. You'll also want to avoid laptops with dedicated graphics cards that are aimed towards gaming to help cut down misuse and procrastination.

What are the best laptops for business?

Whether you're looking for a single laptop for yourself or a fleet for your business, the best laptops for work not only give you great components but also tons of connectivity options as well as robust, durable builds. 

You'll want to look for a model that has at least 8GB of RAM, a 512GB storage drive, quad-core CPU, and a display that is large enough to work on without feeling bulky and clunky to travel with. You'll also want a model with at least an 8-hour battery life to get through a typical shift without needing to plug in.

What are the best laptops for video editing?

Tech YouTuber and CEO of NBT Inc, Jacklyn Dallas, prefers to edit her videos on an M2 14-inch MacBook Pro as she uses Final Cut Pro, an editing software exclusive to the Mac ecosystem. 

Review: Apple 16-inch MacBook Pro (M2 Max, 2023): A content creator's dream machine

Therefore, Apple MacBook Pros are a popular choice as are any laptops with powerful processors, dedicated graphics cards, and high-resolution displays such as the Dell XPS 13 and 15. 

Are there alternative laptops worth considering?

There are many laptops on the market other than those listed above. If you're still looking around, consider these alternative best laptops listed below.

Lenovo Legion 5i


Lenovo Legion 5i - Great for work and play

The keyboard features understated RGB lighting that can be dimmed or turned off completely, making this gaming laptop perfect for anyone who is looking for one that will be as at home in the office as your game room.

View at Lenovo
Close-up of the MSI Stealth Studio laptop


MSI Stealth 14 Studio - Runner-up best for content creators

This is a great option for gamers looking to upgrade or buy their first gaming-specific laptop. It features a 165Hz refresh rate, 13th generation Intel Core i7 CPU, and an Nvidia GeForce RTX 4060 graphics card.

View at Best Buy
An Acer Enduro Urban N3 on a grey background


Acer Enduro Urban N3 - Great rugged laptop

This laptop is designed from the ground up to be able to handle anything your life throws at it. It has an antimicrobial surface and it's also tested against MIL-STD-810H standards for shock, drop, moisture, and temperature resistance.

View at Acer
Editorial standards