Shopping for a notebook is more than just poring over spec lists. Whether you want a simple budget PC, a productivity workhorse, or a screaming machine for gaming, our deep-dive guide has the advice you need to find the best laptop to fit your needs.
By Tom Brant, Updated June 2, 2021
A laptop won’t revolutionize the minutiae of your life the way a smartphone can. You can’t easily whip one out to kill time in the elevator, capture a breathtaking sunset, or pay for a cup of coffee.
But in the years since smartphones took on all these jobs, laptops have honed their own talents. Amazing battery life and breathtaking screens are now common, if you look in the right place for them. The graphics muscle to play games at full HD is affordable. And those basic old-guard features that you won’t find on any mobile device, such as touchpads and full-size keyboards, tend to get better with almost every generation.
With great features, though, has come great fragmentation. Amazon, Newegg, and even your local electronics megamart have a dizzying array of cheap laptops, gaming laptops, 2-in-1 laptops, Chromebooks, and ultraportables. Here at PC Labs, we review as many laptops as we can—hundreds each year—so we’ve seen pretty much every remix of laptop you can buy.