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The best laptops for 2024

There's no shortage of sleek and powerful laptops and Chromebooks out there. These are our top picks.

Photo by Devindra Hardawar / Engadget

We’ve kicked off 2024 with a slew of new processors from Intel, NVIDIA and AMD, which means there should be plenty of refreshed laptops on the horizon. This year, the term you’ll probably hear the most is AI PCs, that is, computers with neural processors designed to speed up AI tasks. While it’s not necessary for you to buy a laptop just for the sake of AI this year, it’s a good thing to keep an eye on for future-proofing as more companies bring the likes of Microsoft’s Copilot or ChatGPT to their systems. Some notebooks even have dedicated Copilot buttons on the keyboard to make it easier to summon generative AI help.

Even if you’re willing to wait out the AI hype while you shop for your new laptop, there are still plenty of other specs to consider. Should you pay extra for more memory, or get a notebook with a larger screen? We've tested and reviewed dozens of the latest laptops, including Apple's latest M3 MacBook Air, to come up with top picks for the best laptops you can buy right now, along with buying advice that will hopefully help demystify the market.

Quick Overview
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What to consider before buying a laptop

Price

You probably have an idea of your budget, but just so you know, most modern laptops with top-of-the-line specs cost between $1,800 to $2,000 these days. That doesn’t mean you won’t find a good system for under $1,000 — a grand is the base price for a lot of premium 13-inch ultraportables, with chips like Intel’s Core i3 or i5 series. And if that’s too expensive, you’ll still have respectable options in the $600 to $800 range, but they might come with older, slower processors and dimmer screens. You could also consider configurations with AMD’s processors, which have become more reliable and speedy in recent years, while sometimes costing less. I’ve included our favorite budget-friendly model in this best laptop buying guide but we have a list of more-affordable laptop picks that you can check out as well.

Operating system: Apple, Windows or Chrome OS

After working out how much money you want to spend, your next decision is what operating system to choose. As expected, that’s slightly easier for people who prefer an Apple MacBook. Now that the company has brought its M-series chips to the whole lineup, with the Pro models sporting the third generation of those processors — your only real considerations are budget, screen size and how much power you need.

Over on Team Windows, however, the shift to ARM-based chips hasn’t been as smooth and it’s quite unlikely you’ll be considering one in 2024. Though Apple laptops have been able to bring huge increases in battery life while maintaining (and in some cases improving) performance with their own silicon, PC makers have been limited by Windows’ shortcomings. For now, it’s still safer to stick with an Intel or AMD processor.

As for whether you want a PC with a dedicated AI button on the keyboard, that depends on how often you see yourself using Microsoft’s CoPilot generative tools. Given we’re only just seeing the first slate of AI PCs, it would be wiser to wait out the hype and see what improvements might come over time.

Finally, if you don’t really need your laptop for a lot of complicated tasks and mostly want it for Netflix, shopping and Google Docs, it’s worth remembering there’s a third and fairly popular laptop operating system: Chrome OS. If you do most of your work in a browser, then a Chromebook might be good enough, and they’re usually more affordable, too.

Dell XPS 13
Devindra Hardawar / Engadget

Connectivity

It’s worth pointing out that some recent models have done away with headphone jacks. While this doesn’t seem to be a prevalent trend yet, it’s a good reminder to check that a machine has all the connectors you need (otherwise, you'll have to spend more money on the necessary adapters). Most laptops in 2024 offer WiFi 6 or 6E and Bluetooth 5.0 or later, which should mean faster and more stable connections if you have compatible routers and devices. While 5G coverage is more widespread now, whether you need support for that depends on how much you travel and your need for constant connectivity sans-Wi-Fi.

Display size

Where you plan on taking your laptop also helps in deciding what size to get. Many companies launched new 14-inch machines in the last year, straddling the line between ultraportable and bulkier 15-inch laptops. For most people, a 14-inch screen is a great middle ground. But if you’re worried about weight and want a more portable laptop, a 12- or 13-inch model will be better. Those that want more powerful processors and larger displays will prefer 15- or 16-inch versions.

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Photo by Devindra Hardarwar / Engadget

Display: 13.6-inch Liquid Retina | CPU: 8-core M3 | GPU: Up to 10-core | RAM: Up to 24GB | Storage: Up to 2TB | Weight: 2.7 lb

Read our full review of the 13-inch MacBook Air M3

Apple isn't changing much with the latest MacBook Air, but that's to be expected considering the last entry was the most significant redesign in almost a decade. This year, the 13-inch MacBook Air gets a faster M3 chip, as well as the ability to run dual external monitors (but only when the lid is closed) and support for Wi-Fi 6E. There’s also a finger-print free finish for the black “midnight” model that actually works!

It's hard to improve on a laptop we previously considered near-perfect, but a new chip certainly helps. The M3 processor is around 20 percent faster than the M2 for both single-core and multi-core tasks, and it offers a significant GPU bump, along with support for real-time ray tracing. Battery life remains best in class, with enough juice to get you through multiple work days without reaching for a charger.

It also has one of the best keyboards we’ve ever seen in a laptop – it’s wonderfully tactile and responsive – and the trackpad is spacious and smooth to the touch. Even the speakers are light years beyond what you’d find on most other systems. The only major knock against the MacBook Air is that it only has a MagSafe charging port and two USB-C connectors on its left side. That makes charging a bit more awkward if your plug can only reach the right side of the machine. But hey, at least there’s still a 3.5mm headphone jack, something that’s become increasingly hard to find in ultra-thin notebooks these days.

If you need more screen space, the 15-inch MacBook Air will serve you well. It's a half-pound heavier, but its larger display makes it more useful for media editing. It also has a six speaker array for even more explosive sound.

Pros
  • Sturdy and sleek design
  • Fast performance thanks to M3 chip
  • Excellent 13-inch screen
  • Great keyboard and trackpad
  • Solid quad-speaker array
Cons
  • Charging and USB-C ports are only on one side
$999 at Amazon
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$1,099 at Apple
Photo by Devindra Haradwar / Engadget

Display: 13.4-inch InfinityEdge FHD+ | CPU: Intel Core Ultra 7 | GPU: Intel Arc | RAM: Up to 64GB | Storage: Up to 2TB | Weight: 2.6 lb (1.23 kg)

The XPS 13 (previously called the XPS 13 Plus) offers a solid balance of speed and attractive-yet-minimalist design. This year, it’s powered by a new Core Ultra 7 processor, which makes it an “AI PC.” Thanks to a built-in NPU (neural processing unit), it can handle a few AI tasks, like Windows Studio Effects for video chats, without taxing your CPU or battery life. But it also has everything we previously liked about the XPS 13 Plus: An edge-to-edge keyboard with lusciously large keys, along with a huge “invisible” trackpad nestled within its glass wrist rest. And of course, it features a nearly border-less “Infinity Edge” screen, which has been a mainstay of the XPS line for almost a decade.

When it first debuted, the XPS 13 Plus was a more powerful alternative to Dell’s thinner and weaker XPS 13. While we’ll miss the previous XPS (which you can still find refurbished), it makes sense for Dell to lean into its stunning new aesthetic. The 2024 XPS 13 Plus looks more refined than the vast majority of Windows ultraportables, and like the Infinity Edge display, it raises the bar for what other PC makers should emulate.

If you need a bit more screen space and power, there’s also a new XPS 14 model this year, which can be equipped with NVIDIA’s RTX 40-series graphics.That machine is more than a pound heavier than the svelte 2.6-pound XPS 13, but the tradeoff may be worth it for demanding users. For most people though, the XPS 13 should be all the Windows notebook you need. Just give yourself a bit of time to get used to its unique trackpad.

Pros
  • Stunning design
  • Excellent performance
  • Gorgeous display
Cons
  • Frustrating invisible trackpad
  • No headphone jack
$1,399 at Dell
Photo by Sam Rutherford/Engadget

Display: 14-inch, 2,880 x 1,800 | CPU: AMD Ryzen 9 8945HS | GPU: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4070 | RAM: Up to 32GB | Storage: Up to 1TB | Weight: 3.31 pounds

Read our full review of the ASUS ROG Zephyrus G14

The beauty of the ASUS ROG Zephryus G14 is that it features an all-new unibody aluminum chassis, a vibrant 120Hz OLED display, solid performance and tons of ports–all for hundreds less than an equivalent Razer Blade 14. It even has a built-in microSD card reader and presets for several color gamuts, so it can easily pull double duty as a photo/video editing machine. Its audio is also way above average thanks to punchy up-firing stereo speakers. Battery life is solid too, with the Zepyrus lasting just shy of eight hours on our rundown test. And to top it off, the G14 weighs almost half a pound less than rival laptops with similar designs. The main downsides are that its GPU caps out at an RTX 4070 (instead of a 4080 like on the previous model) and that its RAM is soldered in. But if you want a really great all-rounder that offers big power in a portable package, this system has to be at the top of your list. — Sam Rutherford, Senior Writer, Reviews

Pros
  • Beautiful understated design
  • Gorgeous OLED screen
  • Strong performance
  • Good port selection
  • Punchy speakers
Cons
  • Bottom vents can get a bit toasty
  • Keyboard only has single-zone lighting
  • Armoury Crate app is kind of messy
  • RAM is soldered in
$2,000 at Best Buy

Display: 14 inches FHD | CPU: 13th-generation Intel Core i3 | RAM: Up to 8GB | Storage: 128GB | Weight: 3.52 lb (1.6 kg)

Our favorite Chromebook is Lenovo’s Flex 5 Chromebook, which Engadget’s resident Chrome OS aficionado Nathan Ingraham described as a tremendous value. This laptop nails the basics, with a 14-inch Full HD touchscreen, a great backlit keyboard and a 13th-gen Core i3 processor. The latest model has an upgraded 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, which when paired with the Core i3 CPU, make for a speedy, capable machine. It’s also nice to see one USB-A and two USB-C ports, six hours of battery life and a 360-degree hinge that makes it easy to use the Flex 5 as a tablet. This could be the ideal laptop for Chrome OS fans, and it’ll hit the sweet spot for a lot of other buyers out there, providing a level of quality and performance that’s pretty rare to find at this price point.

Pros
  • Great overall performance for the price
  • Nice display
  • Solid keyboard and trackpad
Cons
  • Mediocre battery life
  • A bit heavy and chunky
$499 at Amazon

Display: 13.3-inch FHD | CPU: 10th-generation Intel Core i3 | RAM: Up to 8GB | Storage: 128GB | Weight: 3.52 lb (1.6 kg)

Read our full review of the Lenovo Flex 5 Chromebook

Our favorite Chromebook is Lenovo’s Flex 5 Chromebook, which Engadget’s resident Chrome OS aficionado Nathan Ingraham described as “a tremendous value.” This laptop nails the basics, with a 13-inch Full HD touchscreen, a great keyboard and a 10th-generation Intel Core i3 processor. Its 4GB of RAM and 64GB SSD may sound meager, but in our testing the Flex 5 held up in spite of this constraint. It’s also nice to see one USB-A and two USB-C ports, eight hours of battery life and a 360-degree hinge that makes it easy to use the Flex 5 as a tablet. That’s a bonus, especially now that Chrome OS supports Android apps. Though the Flex 5 is two years old by now, this Lenovo Chromebook is a solid deal at around $400. In fact, you can sometimes find it on sale for as little as $300, making it a great option for anyone who needs a basic machine for things like web browsing and online shopping but doesn't want to spend a lot of money.

Pros
  • FHD touchscreen
  • Good performance
  • Solid battery life
Cons
  • Boring design
  • Only 4GB of RAM
$444 at Amazon
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Photo by Daniel Cooper / Engadget

Display: 13.3-inch micro-edge | CPU: AMD Ryzen 5000 series | GPU: AMD Radeon | RAM: 16 GB | Storage: 256GB | Weight: 2.2 lb (<1 kg)

Read our full review of HP Pavilion Aero

If you’re looking for a budget laptop priced around $800, your best bet is the HP Pavilion Aero 13. For around $799 (or often less when on sale), you’ll get a Full HD screen with a 16:10 aspect ratio and surprisingly thin bezels, as well as a comfortable keyboard and spacious touchpad. Importantly, the Aero 13 provides solid performance and relatively powerful components compared to others in this price range, with an AMD Ryzen 5000 series processor and Radeon graphics. Plus, this pick for best budget laptop has a generous array of ports and all-day battery life.

Pros
  • Good performance
  • Lightweight design
  • Generous port selection
Cons
  • Boring design
  • Backlit keyboard only available on custom orders
$800 at HP
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$835 at Best Buy

Display: 13-inch PixelSense | CPU: Intel Evo i5 | GPU: Intel Iris Xe graphics | RAM: Up to 32GB | Storage: Up to 1TB | Weight: 1.95 lb (883 g)

Read our full review of Microsoft Surface Pro 9

For those who need their laptops to occasionally double as tablets, the Surface Pro series is our pick for the best 2-in-1 laptop. Compared to notebooks with rotating hinges, tablets with kickstands are often much slimmer and lighter. The Surface Pro 9 is Microsoft's latest 2-in-1 laptop model and if you've had your eye on a Surface for a while, just know to get the Intel version of this machine rather than the ARM model. In our testing, we found that the 5G ARM version of the Pro 9 was much slower than a flagship convertible should be and that's mostly due to the fact that lots of the Windows apps readily available on Intel's x86 hardware have to be emulated to work on Microsoft's custom ARM SoC. Considering you'll pay at least $1,000 for any Surface Pro 9 model, you might as well get a configuration that has as few limitations as possible.

While we have our gripes about the Pro 9's overall ergonomics, it's undoubtedly one of the thinnest and lightest laptop alternatives you can get. It's attractive and has a gorgeous 13-inch display, and we still consider Microsoft's Type Cover to be one of the best you can get, period. They will cost you extra, though, so be prepared to shell out another $100 to $180 for one. Microsoft's Slim Pen 2 is another highlight, and it will be a must-buy stylus for anyone that loves to draw or prefers to take handwritten notes. Overall, if you want a machine that can switch seamlessly from being a laptop to being a tablet, the Intel Surface Pro 9 is one of your best bets. Of course, if you're married to the Apple ecosystem, you should consider an iPad Pro.

Pros
  • Excellent hardware
  • Removable SSD
  • Great AI webcam features
Cons
  • Expensive
  • Still suffers from Surface ergonomic issues
$800 at Amazon
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$1,000 at Microsoft

Other laptops we tested

Apple 15-inch MacBook Air M3

This Apple laptop is just a larger version of the 13-inch M3 MacBook Air. It's still quite portable at 3.3 pounds, and some will appreciating having just a tad more screen real estate all the time. Configuration options are the same as well; you can spec out the 15-inch Air with up to 24GB of RAM and 2TB of storage. But considering it starts off $200 more than the smaller model, it's primarily best for those who absolutely need a larger screen and are willing to pay for it.

FAQs

What is the average battery life of a laptop per charge?

Battery life will vary depending on the type of laptop you have and what you use it for. Gaming laptops have some of the shorter average battery lives in the notebook space because playing laborious titles causes battery to drain faster. You can expect between five and eight hours of life on a single charge with most gaming laptops, but don't be surprised if you actually get less use per charge if you're doing heavy things with it. As for regular laptops, you can expect roughly ten hours of life on the best models, but some will fall on the lower and higher ends of the spectrum.

What is the best storage capacity for a laptop?

There is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to laptop storage. Most of the best laptops will have configurations with 128GB, 256GB, 512GB and 1TB storage options, and we think most people will be served best by either of the two middle options: 256GB of 512GB. If you use your laptop to store tons of documents and files, or photos and videos, we recommend springing for extra built-in storage or investing in a portable SSD with which you can backup your most important files. It's also worth noting that Chromebooks tend to come with less built-in storage — 32GB, 64GB or 128GB — since Chrome OS encourages users to save their files in the cloud rather than on a device.