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The best laptops for 2020

The best laptop is one that checks all the boxes: Great battery life, beautiful design, and top-notch performance.

This article was last updated by Digital Trends computing editor Luke Larsen on 8/21/2020.

We’ve tested and reviewed well over 400 laptops over the years, searching for the best of the best. So, when it comes to picking the best laptop overall for 2020, there was a clear winner:

The Dell XPS 13

. With fantastic performance, a display with modern-looking thin bezels, a well-built keyboard and touchpad, and great battery life, the Dell XPS 13 performs well in every important aspect of a laptop.

But if you’re looking for the best Chromebook, gaming laptops, or 2-in-1, we’ve made choices for these as well.

Why should you buy this: It’s portable, fast, attractive, and reasonably priced.

$1006 from B&H Photo Video

Who’s it for: Everyone except gamers.

Why we picked the Dell XPS 13:

No laptop in the past few years has been more influential than the XPS 13. It started this race to thinner bezels back in 2015, which has now spread to every gadget that has a screen.

In its latest iteration, Dell’s taken things even further. The 2020 XPS 13 has made the screen larger using a 16:10 aspect ratio, all while shrinking the bottom bezel. The result is a larger screen without needing a larger overall laptop.

This year’s XPS 13 also gets a larger keyboard and touchpad, making use of every possible surface of the device. Of course, it’s just as powerful and long-lasting as before, not sacrificing function over form. It’s no longer a cheap laptop, but as far as I’m concerned, the XPS has earned its spot as a premium brand. It all adds up to what is undoubtedly the best laptop you can buy.

Read our in-depth Dell XPS 13 (2020) review

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Why should you buy this: Those who want something shiny to bring to school.

$950 from Amazon

Who’s it for: Students and Apple fans.

Why we picked the MacBook Air:

With the recent announcement that Apple is moving to its own ARM-based silicon in future Macs, you should proceed carefully about buying a new MacBook today. Rumors hint that a new MacBook Air or MacBook Pro could be the first to get the all-important update to Apple Silicon later this year. However, the current MacBook Air is a solid choice if you absolutely must have a new Mac laptop today.

It’s not the most powerful laptop in the world, but it makes up for raw performance with an excellent screen, world-class build quality, and a surprisingly good set of speakers. For a laptop that starts at just $999 (or $899 for students), it’s hard to beat. Even the keyboard is a delightful experience, now that Apple has ditched the troublesome butterfly keyboard. If you’re doing any kind of content creation, bumping up to the MacBook Pro is wise.

For most college students, though, the MacBook Air is as much laptop as you’ll need.

Read our in-depth MacBook Air review

The best budget laptop: Lenovo Yoga C640

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Why you should buy this: Good performance for so little money, and a complete complement of hardware features.

$800 from Lenovo NA

Who’s it for: Those who want a do-everything Windows laptop without breaking the bank.

Why we picked the Lenovo Yoga C640:

Spending under $1,000 on a laptop is dangerous. I say that not because there aren’t good options, but because there’s a lot to dig through to find the gems. The Yoga C640 is the brightest of them. It offers a beautiful 1080p screen, a large keyboard and touchpad, and fantastic battery life. For a laptop that starts at $600, it’s hard to ask for more.

The dual-core, 10th-gen Intel Core i3 isn’t the fastest processor, though it’ll handle basic computing tasks just fine. If your daily routine consists of no more than Chrome, Slack, YouTube, and Spotify, you’ll find plenty of performance here under the hood.

For those that rely on intense multitasking or need to do some occasional heavy lifting, moving up to the $690 model will get you four cores and twice the storage as well. Even at that price, you’re getting an incredible value laptop that should last you for many years. For even cheaper laptops, check our choices for the best laptops under $500.

Read our in-depth Lenovo Yoga C640 review

The best Chromebook: Google Pixelbook Go

View photos Google Pixelbook Go screen More

Why should you buy this: You want an inexpensive but well-built Chromebook.

$649 from Best Buy

Who’s it for: Students, people who need only basic functionality, anyone who wants a cheap laptop to use as a second PC.

Why we picked the Google Pixelbook Go:

Chromebooks are best-known as cheap alternatives to Windows PCs, and there are plenty of good options for under $500. The Pixelbook Go, though, makes a serious case for a Chromebook with a bit more finesse. It’s beautifully designed, rigidly built, and a joy to use.

Thanks to its ultra-light 2.3-pound weight and fantastic battery life, it’s a great option for students and people taking their work on the go.

With a starting price of $649, it’s not a significant cut from the $999 original Pixelbook. You do, of course, face the usual limitations with Chrome OS. It’s designed around Google’s Chrome web browser, meaning you can’t download your normal Windows applications. It’s wonderfully simple and intuitive to use, however, and with the inclusion of the Google Play Store, you can fill some of the gaps in software with Android apps.

Read our in-depth Google Pixelbook Go review

The best 2-in-1 laptop: Microsoft Surface Pro 7

View photos Microsoft Surface Pro 7 front More

Why should you buy this: You want a great laptop and a good tablet.

$729 from B&H Photo Video

Who’s it for: Anyone who needs versatility on top of performance.

Why we picked the Surface Pro 7:

The Surface Pro line has earned its dedicated following over the years with its excellent detachable keyboard and full Windows 10 performance. It’s the familiar PC experience you’re used to, with the added interest of 2-in-1 capability, Surface Pen stylus compatibility, and a tablet mode. It’s a supremely well-built device, complete with a beautiful, high-resolution display and rock-solid kickstand.

The latest model, the Surface Pro 7, doesn’t make any substantial changes to the formula, but it does offer a couple of key upgrades. You now get a USB-C port rather than a mini-DisplayPort, as well as upgrade performance with 10th-generation Ice Lake processors from Intel. That means snappier performance and improved integrated graphics.

Do we wish the Surface Pro 7 had the slimmer chassis and smaller bezels of the new Surface Pro X? Of course. But the Surface Pro 7 is cheaper, faster, and more universal in terms of app support.

Read our in-depth Surface Pro 7 review

The best business laptop: HP Elite Dragonfly

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Why you should buy this: This is a business laptop unlike any other.

$1663 from B&H Photo Video

Who’s it for: Business pros who want a laptop that won’t embarrass them.

Why we picked the HP Elite Dragonfly:

Business laptops have a certain stigma around them. It’s often assumed that they need to be clunky, ugly, and full of bloatware. Not so.

The Elite Dragonfly has everything your IT department will need (and you’ll appreciate), without getting in the way of a supremely beautiful and modern laptop. The ideal person for the Dragonfly is someone who takes their work on the go with them, whether that’s in long flights or subways. That’s where the Dragonfly really comes alive as a highly portable laptop that might actually fit on your pull-down tray.

On top of all that, the Dragonfly is one of the first 5G-enabled laptops, which could come in handy as the faster connectivity standard rolls out.

Read our in-depth HP Elite Dragonfly review

The best gaming laptop: Razer Blade 15

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Why should you buy this: It provides a fantastic gaming experience on the go.

$1599 from Razer

Who’s it for: People who want a fantastic laptop that can also game.

Why we picked the Razer Blade 15:

From the exterior, you might not even know the Razer Blade is a gaming laptop. It’s as light and thin as a MacBook Pro, with thin bezels, a world-class keyboard and touchpad, as well as a bright, vivid, 15-inch display. Even if it weren’t a gaming laptop, the Razer Blade would probably still be a contender for one of the best 15-inch laptops. The fact that it can play games at respectable frame rates makes it a bit of a miracle.

Now with new RTX Super graphics, maxing out at the RTX 2080 Super, and a 300Hz refresh rate display, the Razer Blade is a killer gaming machine. The Razer Blade made short work of just about everything we threw at it — as long as you stay away from 4K, of course. Razer redesigned its thermal system to ensure that despite some throttling, the Blade can play nearly any game with settings maxed. That includes heavy loads like Assassin’s Creed Odyssey and Battlefield V.

Simply put, this is the most elegant, beautiful gaming laptop you’ve ever seen. If you need something a bit more affordable, the new AMD-powered Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 is an excellent choice.

Read our in-depth Razer Blade 15 review

The best laptop for video editing: Dell XPS 17

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Why should you buy this: You want a portable PC that can churn through your video editing projects.

$2850 from Dell

Who’s it for: Video…

John Hall

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