Best laptops of 2020 – CNET


If you’re looking for the best of our top-rated laptops, you’ve come to the right place. Some of our top picks are here for battery life and performance, others for style and features, and a couple because they’re just all-around good deals. Whether you’re looking for something for work or entertainment, for home or travel, or a two-in-one or traditional clamshell, this list has them all. We’ve considered all of the details — from processor performance and battery life to the quality of the laptop screen and keyboard — and all from the best brands in the market. 

If, however, you’re looking for a specific style of laptop, here are our best gaming laptops, 15-inch laptops, two-in-ones and Chromebooks, as well as the best choices for college students, creatives and MacBook Pro alternatives for the Windows set. Plus, if you just want pure power or battery life, our rankings of battery life and performance are for you. Need to stay as low as possible on price? Check out our picks for budget laptops and budget gaming laptops. See all of CNET’s laptop reviews. 

Best Windows ultraportable

Dell XPS 13 2020

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We already had the XPS 13 as a top pick for anyone looking for great performance and battery life in the smallest chassis possible for a 13.3-inch screen size display. But for 2020 Dell made the laptop even smaller, while making the screen larger and increasing performance for both CPU and graphics-intensive tasks. It’s not a huge leap, but it’s still the best in the category.  Read our Dell XPS 13 (2020) review.

Read more: Best laptop backpack for 2020  

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HP outdid itself on its latest ultraportable premium two-in-one. At first glance it might seem like little more than a processor update — it’s running on a great 10th-gen Intel CPU — the latest x360 is significantly smaller than its predecessor without sacrificing usability. New features like an instant mic mute button join other privacy and security features like an IR camera and fingerprint reader and switch to disable its webcam. Plus, it’s available with 4G LTE wireless so you can get your work done wherever and whenever you want.  Read our HP Spectre x360 13 (late 2019) review.

Read more: Best laptops, desktops and tablets for designers and creatives in 2020

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Though HP and Dell have excellent premium two-in-one convertible laptops, they have small 13.3- and 13.4-inch displays. If you want a bit more room for your work or entertainment, the 14-inch C940 is a great choice. One of Intel’s Project Athena laptops, the C940 is tuned to be more responsive and for longer battery life. Everything about it is fast.  Read our Lenovo Yoga C940 (14-inch) review.

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The Surface Pro continues to hit all the right notes if you’re looking for a do-it-all Windows tablet that doubles as a Windows laptop. These powerful laptops feature 10th-gen Intel Core processors, fast Wi-Fi 6 wireless and long-lasting battery life. It’s also the first to feature an honest-to-goodness USB-C port. Read our Microsoft Surface Pro 7 review.

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Asus wowed us when we first saw the B9450 at CES 2020 and again when we got to actually use it. Several novelties make the 14-inch ExpertBook B9450 stand out from a crowd of me-too business laptops, in addition to the yowza 16-plus-hour battery life as tested. Read our Asus ExpertBook B9450 review.

Read more: Best 2-in-1 PCs in 2020 for when you need a laptop and tablet in one

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The combination of the MacBook Pro’s hardware and MacOS extracts the maximum performance from the components while delivering class-leading battery life in a way Windows systems never seem to do, and the high resolution display screen remains terrific. Plus, this model’s keyboard uses scissor-style switches under the keycaps, rather than the much-derided butterfly-style switch. You pay for it, though — base price for the 16-inch model of this device is $2,399.  Read our Apple MacBook Pro (16-inch, 2019) review.

Read more: Best tablets in 2020

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Razer’s featureless-slab aesthetic slips seamlessly fits into almost any environment, and if you opt for one of the higher-end configurations it’s (unsurprisingly) a great laptop for both creative work and gaming.  If you’re willing to go with black and an emptied wallet, you can get an Adobe RGB calibrated 4K OLED display and a GeForce RTX 2070 for $3,300. 

If you need workstation-class graphics and Windows, you can step up to the Studio Edition of this laptop, which is also a nicely balanced combination of design, speed and features. Read our Razer Blade 15 Advanced review.

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This is our go-to recommendation for those in search of a MacOS laptop for everyday basic use. The MacBook Air was updated for 2020 with new processors and, most importantly, a new keyboard. Apple also dropped the entry price back down to $1,000 making its most affordable laptop more affordable. Still, it’s not exactly a bargain and you can get a lot more computer for your money if you go with Windows. Regardless, the Air remains one of the best laptops available for battery life, performance and design.  Read our Apple MacBook Air 2020 review.

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Regularly available for less than $750, this thin, 3-pound convertible is a solid choice for anyone who needs a laptop for office or schoolwork. The all-metal chassis gives it a premium look and feel, and it has a comfortable keyboard and responsive, smooth precision touchpad. Though it’s light on extra features compared to its premium linemate, the C940, it does have one of Lenovo’s sliding shutters for its webcam that gives you privacy when you want it. And it has a long battery life to boot. Read our Lenovo Yoga C740 (14-inch) review.

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There are simply no other 17-inch laptops that are this light and also have long battery life. The Gram 17 lasted 13 hours on our streaming video test, beating last year’s model by 47 minutes on the same test. Processor performance is stepped up some from the 2019 version, too, thanks to the addition of a 10th-gen Intel Core i7-1065G7 CPU. This is partnered with more powerful Iris Plus integrated graphics as well, giving you a little extra speed for photo and video editing and casual gaming. Read our LG Gram 17 (2020) review.

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A gaming powerhouse with a Core i Processor in a thin and light package. The keyboard isn’t terrific and it can run hot and loud, and like any gaming laptop the battery life is pretty short. But if you need maximum graphics, a quick refresh rate and CPU performance in a reasonably portable laptop, this is a good option. Read our Acer Predator Triton 500 review.

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This update to Asus’ excellent Chromebook Flip C434 steps up performance, thanks to new 10th-gen Intel Core i3 and i5 processors, faster NVMe SSD storage and speedy Wi-Fi 6. It’s pricey starting at $800, but if you already know the value of Google’s lightweight operating system, the C436 is built to deliver the best Chrome experience in an ultraportable two-in-one design.  Read our Asus Chromebook Flip C436FA review.

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Acer knows how to put together a solid budget-friendly laptop and the Aspire 5 is a fine example. A remarkable deal for simple tasks like email, word processing and the like, it’s also thin and relatively light for a 15.6-inch laptop. This device has a backlit keyboard, Intel Core i5-8265U processor, a fingerprint reader and a USB type-C port. It’s available in a variety of configurations starting as low as $400, but can go up to $650 if you want entry-level discrete graphics for basic gaming and content creation.  Our $530 version ably balances performance and affordability.  Read our Acer Aspire 5 (2019) review.

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The midrange G5 15 hits the mark with an excellent price-to-performance ratio, build quality and design. Dell’s G-series gaming laptops are cheaper than those from its Alienware division, but still capable of playing the latest AAA titles.  Read our Dell G5 15 5590 review.

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Originally published last year and updated periodically.

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