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 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.
Apple 2022 MacBook Air Laptop with M2 chip
Best laptop for 2024
Dell XPS 13 Plus
Best Windows laptop
ASUS ROG Zephyrus G14
Best gaming laptop
Lenovo - 2022 - IdeaPad Flex 5i - 2-in-1 Chromebook Laptop Computer - Intel Core i3-1115G4 - 13.3" FHD Touch Display - 8GB Memory - 128GB Storage - Chrome OS
HP Pavilion Aero
Best budget laptop
Microsoft Surface Pro 9 (2022), 13" 2-in-1 Tablet & Laptop, Thin & Lightweight, Intel 12th Gen i5 Fast Processor for Multi-Tasking, 8GB RAM, 256GB Storage with Windows 11, Sapphire Microsoft Copilot
Best convertible laptop
What to consider before buying a laptop
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.
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.
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.
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.