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ZDNET's reviewers spend weeks to months testing each laptop on this list, using it for both everyday tasks like browsing, streaming, and gaming, to more performance-intensive work like photo and video editing. We aim to give you a view into how each laptop could actually fit into your life and workflow, and the pros and cons of their various features like performance, display, and battery life.

Whether your laptop is your ultimate workstation or source of entertainment, its design, display, and even portability determines how you interact with the unit.

For many, laptops are essential for workflow and communication. The best laptops promise efficient speed and performance, powered by the best and latest chipsets (like the Apple M2 Max).

It's likely you'll use a laptop to store key documents or memories and the best models have plenty of room for you to do so.

We strive to answer the question, "what laptop should i get if ___" as we know you have different workflow and entertainment needs and preferences, from graphic design to gaming.

The best laptop can be a pricey investment, so we considered qualities that assure you'll get your money's worth.

If you're looking for the best laptop, a Windows machine is most likely going to be your first choice. The operating system completely dominates the PC and laptop market thanks to its long-time availability on a wide range of hardware, completely eclipsing the competition (yes, including Macs).

This success has resulted in a huge variety of Windows-specific software. In this past year, Microsoft has been incorporating more artificial intelligence into its software products, like its Edge browser. The tech giant has even installed AI features directly into Windows 11. In its current state, a Windows laptop can bring work productivity to a whole new level. There are signs this capability will grow even further in the near future.

Also: The best Chromebook laptops

Our pick for the best Windows laptop overall is the Dell XPS 15 which can handle everything from mainstream productivity to creative workloads -- and even gaming. Of course, there are plenty of other options out there. Read on to find a list of other top Windows laptops on the market and how each one caters to a variety of use cases and budgets.

Dell XPS 15 tech specs: Operating System: Windows 11 (Home, Pro) | CPU: 13th Generation Intel Core i9-13900H | GPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX 4070 | RAM: 16GB-64GB | Camera: 720p HD | Battery: 86Wh | Dimensions: 344.40mm x 230.10mm x 18.54mm | Weight: 4.22 lbs- 4.62lbs

The Dell XPS 15 is arguably the most well-rounded laptop, let alone a Windows laptop, that you can buy right now. The company's flagship line of computing comes in three sizes, but the 15-inch model is the one most people are familiar with, coming in a slim-bezel design, brushed aluminum finishing, and an SD card slot on top of the three USB-C ports (two of which support Thunderbolt 4).

The feel and finish of the XPS 15 screams premium, and the best part is that no matter how you configure the laptop, you won't sacrifice on form factor. What sets the Dell apart from the competition is the 3.5K resolution AMOLED display, which delivers crisp and vibrant visuals that are optimal for photo and video-editing tasks. Prosumers will also get a kick out of the reliable battery life; ZDNET reviews editor June Wan quotes six to seven hours of usage before the 10% lower battery warning appears.

Covering everything from mainstream productivity to power user, creative, and some gaming workloads, the Dell XPS 15 is our choice for the best Windows laptop overall.

Samsung Galaxy Book 3 Ultra tech specs: Operating System: Windows 11 (Home, Pro) | CPU: Intel Core i7-13700H or i9-13900H | GPU: Nvidia RTX GeForce 4050 or 4070| RAM: 16/32GB with 512GB/1TB | Camera: 1080p | Battery: 76Wh | Dimensions: 13.99 x 9.86 x 0.65 inches | Weight: 3.95lbs

With Galaxy ecosystem integration features, Samsung's new Galaxy Book 3 Ultra is looking to compete with Apple's MacBook Pro. Toting a stunning 16-inch OLED display, a dedicated GPU, and Galaxy Syncing features, it finally lets Samsung users integrate multiple devices. 

Featuring what ZDNET reviews editor June Wan calls a "textbook design," the Galaxy Book 3 Ultra "gives you a lot for the money, including a dedicated graphics card, one of the best-looking laptop displays on the market, and an uncompromising keyboard experience."

While there could be some improvement regarding battery life, loud cooling fans, and the inclusion of a dedicated SD slot, ZDNET's take is that it's a stand-up laptop for professionals, content creators, and most importantly, Samsung fans. 

Review: Samsung Galaxy Book 3 Ultra

ASUS Zenbook 14 Flip OLED tech specs: Operating System: Windows 11 Home | CPU: 13th Gen Intel Core i5-1340P | GPU: Intel Iris Xe Graphics | RAM: 16GB | Camera: 1080p with IR | Battery: 75Wh | Dimensions: 311mm x 223mm x 16mm | Weight: 3.31lbs

Convertible 2-in-1 laptops are handy because they can satisfy a variety of use cases, depending on the specification. This brings us to what is, in my opinion, the 2-in-1 device on the market today: the Asus Zenbook 14 Flip OLED. On specific aspects, you could argue that there are better options out there, but in terms of a complete package, you can't beat this, based on my testing.

The Zenbook 14 Flip OLED sports a stunning, vibrant 14-inch OLED screen outputting 2.8K resolution, covering 100% of the DCI-P3 color gamut. It also has a contrast ratio of 1,000,000:1, which is notable because it allows the laptop to show off incredible detail. The image is so clear on the Zenbook 14 Flip OLED you can see the pixels on the screen, which is truly the best thing about it. All this is housed in a sturdy yet lightweight 3.31-pound aluminum frame. Under the hood, you'll find a 13th Gen Intel Core i5 processor, an Iris Xe graphics card, and 16GB of memory -- excellent hardware for good all-around performance.

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

Other important features of the Zenbook 14 Flip are its 1080p IR webcam (perfect for video calls), a keyboard with a great typing feel, and a decent assortment of connections. While the laptop has a thin form factor, it has a USB-C port, a headphone jack, and an HDMI input on top of the Thunderbolt 4. 

However, keep in mind that there isn't a lot of storage space in this laptop. While 512GB, which is fine for a work laptop, 1TB would have been better. 

Also: Asus Zenbook 14 Flip hands-on review

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10 tech specs: Operating System: Windows 11 Pro 64 | CPU: 13th Gen Intel Core i5 (1340P), Core i7 (i7-1360P, i7-1370P vPro) | GPU: Integrated Intel Iris Xe Graphics | RAM: up to 16GB | Camera: 1080p Full HD IR Hybrid with Privacy Shutter | Battery: 49.6Wh | Dimensions: from 14.8 x 293.3 x 208.1 mm (0.58 x 11.54 x 8.18-inches) | Weight: from 2.13lbs

Lenovo's ThinkPad X1 Nano Gen is our pick for the best Windows business laptop since it is a great combination of top-tier hardware and software features. The machine is super lightweight, clocking in a little over two pounds, and yet it packs a lot of muscle in that slim frame. Under the hood, it can host a 13th-gen Intel Core i7-1370P processor, 16GB of RAM, and 1 TB of storage. If you want to save a bit of money, you can opt for an Intel Core i5-1340P CPU alongside a 512GB SSD.

What I found most interesting about this laptop during my testing is that it feels like Lenovo purposely built it to specialize in video calls, because there are so many features and components catering to that specific use case. It comes equipped with a 1080p webcam above the display ensuring you look good to your audience. Dolby Atmos and Dolby Voice are both supported as well. The former is a type of surround sound technology enveloping the listener in sound while the latter makes sure your voice comes through to the other side crystal clear.

Speaking of being crystal clear, the ThinkPad X1 houses an awesome-looking 13.3-inch, 2K resolution display which is covered in an anti-glare coating. If you don't know what that is, it's a special layer OEMs install onto the display to reduce reflections and minimize glare from sunlight. This is great to have as it allows you to use the laptop outdoors while still being able to see the screen.

Also: Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Nano Gen 3 hands-on review

Acer Aspire 3 tech specs: Operating System: Windows 11 Home 64 | CPU: 12th Gen Intel Core i3, i5, i7 • AMD Ryzen 3 3250U, 3 7320U, 5 7520U, 7 5700U | GPU: Intel Iris Xe Graphics, UHD Graphics • AMD Radeon Graphics | Storage: 4GB, 8GB, 16GB | Camera: HD (720p) | Battery: 45W | Dimensions: from 19 x 363 x 457mm (0.74 x 14.3 x 9.4 inches) | Weight: from 3.75 lbs

Buying a laptop can be an expensive endeavor. Not everyone can afford their first choice, but that doesn't mean you have to settle for a substandard machine. All of the top-tier manufacturers have affordable in their laptop lineups, but out of everything that's out there, I have to give the crown to the Acer Aspire 3. It's a device that, in my opinion, manages to perfectly balance good hardware performance and affordability. All the models cost less than $1,000, and in a few cases, below $300.

The Acer Aspire 3 comes in three display sizes: 14-inches, 15.6-inches, and 17.3-inches. There are about 30 individual models to choose from so you have a wide selection at your fingertips. The reason there are so many of them is because each laptop has different hardware. Half of them house an Intel Core processor ranging from an i3-N305 to an i7-1165G7 CPU. The other half comes equipped with AMD hardware. The Intel options are arguably better performing, but the AMD machines tend to have more storage space. It's up to you whatever you prefer.

Also: The best cheap laptops, starting at $350   Other notable features of the Aspire 3 include a wide comfortable keyboard (believe me, your hands will thank you), a wide array of ports, and a robust cooling system. 

Do keep in mind, that because this is the budget option, it won't be as powerful as the rest of the entries on this list. You may experience a significant slowdown in speed during high workloads nor is the display the greatest. There have been reports of people complaining about its short battery life, however in my opinion, that's debatable. On average, the Aspire 3 lasts about 8.5 hours on a single charge. That's enough to get you through the day, but not much else. Despite that, I would still recommend the Aspire 3 for budget-conscious customers.

Microsoft Surface Pro 9 tech specs: Operating System: Windows 11 Pro | CPU:12th Gen Intel Core i5/i7 or Microsoft SQ3 (based on Qualcomm)7 | GPU: Surface Pro 9: Intel Iris Xe Graphics | RAM: 8GB, 16GB, 32GB | Cameras: front: 1080p full HD video • rear: 10MP autofocus camera with up to 4K video | Battery: Up to 15.5 hours | Dimensions: tablet: 287mm x 209mm x 9.3mm | Weight: tablet: 1.94 lbs

Detachable 2-in-1 devices can operate in laptop mode or separate the keyboard and screen sections to use the latter as a tablet. Microsoft's Surface Pro devices exemplify (and indeed began) the 'tablet-first' genre of detachable 2-in-1s, where the screen section is propped up by a kickstand when in laptop mode rather than using a traditional screen/keyboard hinge. And Microsoft's Surface Pro 9 kicks it up a notch further. 

ZDNET's testing found that the Microsoft Surface Pro 9 could satisfy graphic design needs and photo editing on Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom, deliver excellent front camera performance without giving an "unnatural blush," and the Corei7 processor handled heavy workloads gracefully. 

Regarding battery life, ZDNET reviews editor June Wan reported averaging "six hours of battery life per charge...with 120Hz permanently on and brightness set to about 65 percent." Taking that into account, he considers the Surface Pro 9 to be a "solid B-tier as far as endurance [goes]." It's good for the most part, but there's room for improvement on the next model.

Review: Microsoft Surface Pro 9: Impressive, but is it worth the price of an M2 MacBook Air?  

Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio 2 tech specs: Operating System: Windows 11 Home | CPU: 13th Gen Intel Core i7-13700H | GPU: Intel Xe Graphics, 6GB Nvidia GeForce RTX 4050, 8GB Nvidia GeForce RTX 4060, 8GB Nvidia RTX 2000 Ada Generation Laptop GPU, | RAM: 16GB, 32GB, 64GB | Cameras: 1080p | Battery: 58Wh | Dimensions: 323mm x 230mm x 21.8mm | Weight: Iris Xe: 4.18 lbs; Nvidia graphics: 4.36 lbs

Microsoft's Surface Laptop Studio 2 is unlike any other laptop on the market right now: The screen is held up by a tiltable hinge that lets it switch from laptop mode to stage mode (where the display is angled like a tablet in a stand) to studio mode (where the display is laid flat, screen-side up, like a tablet flat on a table).

Under the hood, you have a 13th Gen Intel i7 processor paired up with a Nvidia GeForce RTX 40-series or Iris Xe graphics card -- your choice. You also have up to 64GB of RAM and 2TB of SSD storage supporting these components. You have a laptop capable of handling various workloads, from everyday productivity to demanding creative projects. ZDNET reviews editor June Wan got to go hands-on with the device, compared it to the MacBook Pro in terms of its aluminum frame and large touchpad.

Also: The best laptops for graphic designers, according to experts who use them

The display has a 14.4-inch PixelSense touchscreen outputting a resolution of 2400 x 1600 pixels with a maximum refresh rate of 120Hz. That last number is significant because it enables smooth scrolling and performance. Moreover, the Surface Laptop Studio 2 has a contrast ratio of 1500:1, certified for VESA DisplayHDR 400. This means the screen can output bright, vivid imagery with an unparalleled amount of detail. It's even made out of Corning Gorilla Glass 5 to resist damage. Depending on your configuration, the battery can last 19 hours of typical device usage.

The Surface Laptop Studio 2 is expensive, starting at $1,999 for the lowest configuration. However, you have to consider what you're getting: a stacked laptop that handles all sorts of use cases with aplomb.

Also: I demoed Microsoft's Surface Laptop Studio 2 and was left all kinds of jealous

Panasonic Toughbook 55 tech specs: Operating System: Windows 11 Pro | CPU:13th Gen Intel Core i5-1345U vPro, 13th Gen Intel Core i7-1370P vPro | GPU: Intel Iris Xe Graphics, Intel UHD Graphics RAM: 16GB, 32GB, 64GB | Camera: 2MP + privacy cover | Battery: 6500mAh (10h, 20h with 2nd battery) | Dimensions: 272mm x 345mm x 33mm (10.7 x 13.6 x 1.3 inches) | Weight: 4.6 lbs (HD model), 4.9 lbs (touch model)

If you looking for a laptop to brave the outdoors and be OK with a few bumps, look no further than Panasonic's ToughBook 55. It's a tough machine able to withstand drops from up to three feet in the air and protect important components by surrounding them with thick bezels. It's made out of a magnesium alloy, a material that is tougher than the more common aluminum. Panasonic built this laptop to be able to withstand intense vibrations, dust, high altitudes, and extreme temperatures. The only thing it doesn't do well against is water -- don't submerge this.

Also: Panasonic ToughBook 55 hands-on review

What's interesting about the ToughBook 55 is that it's modular, meaning you can swap out certain parts and replace them with something else. For example, you can buy a laptop that has two batteries and then replace one of them with a fingerprint reader for better security or another memory component. You have a variety of xPak extensions to choose from like an extra SSD drive to a Blu-Ray player. You also have the option to replace some of the rear ports with an array that better suits your needs. Do be aware that you can't change everything. The display, for example, will remain fixed.

In case you're curious, the ToughBook 55 can last up to 10 hours on one battery, but if you add in a second, you can double that amount. If the modularity wasn't enough, the laptop supports satellite connectivity so you don't even need Wi-Fi to hop on the internet. It's a super useful feature to have for when you are off camping and want to watch a movie far from home.

Also: The 5 best rugged laptops of 2024

Razer Blade 17 tech specs: Operating System: Windows 11 Home | CPU: 12th Gen Intel Core i7-12800H | GPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 Ti Laptop (8GB) | RAM: 32GB |  Camera: 1080p + IR | Battery: 61.6Wh | Dimensions: 395 x 260 x 19.9 mm | Weight: 5.2lbs

Not only is the Razer Blade 17 the best gaming laptop on the market, but it's also the best 17-inch laptop. The reason is its perfect blend of power and portability. To put it lightly, this machine is stacked. Starting models come with a 12th Gen Intel Core i7-12800H, although you can upgrade it to an Intel Core i9 for better performance. 

Whatever you choose, it'll be paired up with an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 TI graphics card, 32GB of RAM, and a stunning Full HD 360Hz display for a world-class gaming experience. Of course, it has all the goodies you expect from a gaming laptop, like a Chrome RGB keyboard plus the Vapor Chamber Cooling system to keep the operating temperature low. To top it all off, the Blade 17 is great as an all-around laptop thanks to a wide array of ports. It's compatible with USB-A, Thunderbolt 4, and even SD cards.

Also: The best gaming laptops of 2024

The best Windows laptop overall is the Dell XPS 15, due to an impressive combination of display, CPU, GPU, battery life, and other features. Below is a table where we compare every thing according to their prices, CPU, and graphics. 

13th-gen Intel Core i7, i9

Intel UHD Graphics, Iris Xe Graphics, Nvidia GeForce RTX 4050/4060/4070

Samsung Galaxy Book3 Ultra 

Intel Core i7-13700H or i9-13900H

13th-Gen Intel Core i5-1240P

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Nano Gen 3

13th-gen Intel Core i5/i7

12th-gen Intel Core i3, i5, i7 • AMD Ryzen 3, 5, 7

Intel Iris Xe Graphics, Intel UHD Graphics • AMD Radeon Graphics

Intel UHD Graphics (Core i3), Intel Iris Xe Graphics (Core i5, i7)

11th-gen Intel Core i5, i7

Intel Xe Graphics, 6GB Nvidia GeForce RTX 4050, 8GB Nvidia GeForce RTX 4060, 8GB Nvidia RTX 2000 Laptop GPU

13th-gen Intel Core i5, i7

Intel Iris Xe Graphics, Intel UHD Graphics

12th Gen Intel Core i7-12800H

Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 Ti Laptop GPU

The key in deciding which Windows laptop is best for you starts with asking and evaluating what you want or need it for. 

For example, if you're a mobile knowledge worker, you'll want a combination of lightweight, flexible configuration, sturdy build, connectivity, security, battery life, and design credibility. But if you're a largely deskbound graphic designer or creator who occasionally needs to visit a client with a laptop in tow, your priorities will be different.

The table below provides a quick breakdown to help you further narrow your choices based on your needs. 

A well-rounded 15-inch laptop for work and home use with incredible display, CPU, and power. It even has an OLED display option.

An integrated and comprehensive Samsung ecosystem with an OLED display. This laptop can also sync with other Galaxy devices. 

A 2-in-1 convertible laptop with a gorgeous touchscreen display, 1080p webcam, and a long-lasting battery life. 

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Nano Gen 3

A great performing 13-inch laptop for business users that's lightweight and houses a 2K display. It also has a powerful audio system for immersive audio. 

An affordable laptop for students and at-home users. Plus, it comes in a variety of sizes and hardware configurations to meet people's needs.

A capable 13-inch 2-in-1 detachable with optional 4G LTE. The laptop runs on the 12th Gen Intel Core i5/i7 processor. 

A great 14-inch creator laptop sporting a multi-mode touch screen, powerful hardware, and a 19-hour battery life.

A modular and highly configurable rugged laptop. This machine can be customized for a wide array of challenging use cases.

A powerful 17-inch gaming laptop with a stunning FullHD 360GHz display and an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 TI GPU.

We selected these laptops after conducting thorough research and real-world testing by ZDNET experts. In our evaluation, we weighed the following aspects:

These days, a "computer" for most people is a laptop of some kind. The desktop form factor — particularly in the shape of all-in-one (AIO) devices — is by no means finished. Still, laptops span the range from thin, light, and ultraportable to bulky, powerful, and deskbound. 

If small screens are a problem, you can always attach an external monitor. There are also plenty of hybrid 2-in-1 devices that straddle the divide between laptops and tablets.

Every operating system has its committed supporters, but most people end up using a particular one either because of key applications run on it, it was chosen for them by their employer, or their familiarity with the OS. Windows spans the range from budget to premium, Chrome OS is largely confined to the affordable end of the market, while Apple's macOS laptops are mostly premium devices.

All of the Windows devices listed here qualify for Windows 11. So if you buy one with Windows 10 installed, you'll be able to upgrade to the newer version. If you don't, note that Windows 10 support ends on October 14, 2025, after which there will be no more security patches or feature updates.

Generally speaking, the leading PC vendors have the broadest range of offerings and the best-documented track records in terms of product development and customer relations. So in the absence of certain use cases or budgets, you're usually looking at the likes of Lenovo, HP, Dell, Apple, and Acer; all of which currently lead the PC market plus a handful of other well-known brands.

We've covered just about every situation where you'd need a Windows laptop, including rugged models for field work, ultra-powerful workstations for developers, and content creation. But if you're still looking to weigh your options, here are two more Windows laptops we consider great choices.

While not the most powerful, the Acer Nitro 5 is a great laptop for people on a budget. Sporting a 15-inch Full HD display, Intel i5 CPU, and an Nvidia GPU, this machine will satisfy all but the most hardcore gamers. 

The Surface Go 3 takes the best of both worlds by being a portable, 2-in-1 laptop with high-performing hardware, 1080p HD cameras, and up to 11 hours of battery life.

With an 11th gen Intel Corei7 CPU, Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 graphics, and nine-hour battery life, this rugged computer is ready for professional and creative endeavors. 

The best Windows laptops of 2024: Expert tested and reviewed | ZDNET

Upvc Welding Machine Former ZDNET editor Christina Darby contributed to this story.