The Best Mid-Range Laptops?

By that, I mean the laptops that offer the best features according to their category, at multiple price points from $700 to $1350.

Why write this article?

How much time do you have to research the best computer?

Many of us don’t have much time to read, or the knowledge to understand, detailed laptop specifications nor reviews and just want to know:
What’s the best laptop for my needs and budget?

My goal:
Help you easily choose the best laptop for your needs and budget.

Put all of this together and you get this article. Because if you’re about to buy a laptop, might as well get the one that offers the best features possible for your budget, right?

I’m here to help you with this article. I believe that you deserve the computer that is the best match for your needs. That way, your computer is working for you and not the other way around. This allows you to focus your full potential on realizing what you want, without being limited by your computer.

With 16 years of experience with computer hardware, researching, always up-to-date research with the newest parts, performance and prices, I know what matters in a computer.
See my About page for more information on me, Mathieu Bourgie, and this website, Hardware Revolution

Here are the features that I evaluate in order to make my recommendations:

1. Price
2. Performance: CPU, RAM, Storage, Graphic Card and Wireless Adapter
3. Screen: Size, Resolution, Matte or Glossy, Brightness, Contrast, Viewing Angles and Color Accuracy
4. Portability: Dimensions, Weight, Real-life battery life during average web browsing
5. Usability: Keyboard: Layout, Key size, Travel/Pressure, Key Shape and any additional Function keys. Touch pad quality, trackpoint, backlit keyboard, numpad, Operating System, which ports are offered, Webcam resolution, sound quality, optical Drive, noise levels.
6. Reliability: How solid is the chassis? Are the temperatures under load reasonable? How solid are the screen hinges? Is the keyboard spill-resistant? Overall manufacturer long-term reliability? How easy is it to service the laptop?
7. Warranty: Warranty length? What does the warranty cover?

I then recommend laptops that I think are the best at a given price, according to those features that I evaluated on the hundreds of laptops that I’ve considered during the research that I do to write this article.

I offer to you the result of that research, by making recommendations for the best mid-range laptops at multiple price points ranging from $700 to $1350.

Looking for all our articles on laptops?

Visit the Best Laptops For Your Money category page, for all our articles on laptops.

Summary

Click on any of these links to jump to the section that interests you.

The best mid-range laptops:

  1. Ultrabooks: Lightweight, small, thin, great battery life. Ideal for traveling.
    Standard screen ultrabook: If you want a regular lightweight laptop. 
    – 2-in-1 convertible screen: 360 degree hinge touchscreen, use it as a tablet, tent, etc.
    – Detachable screen ultrabook: Detach the screen from the base, use it as a tablet.
  2. Apple Macbook: The iconic Apple laptops, available in multiple models (12, Air 13, Pro 13/15).
  3. Gaming laptops: The best gaming performance at a given price.
  4. Traditional 14-15.6″ laptop: Larger screens than ultrabooks but a bit heavier too
  5. 17.3″ entertainment: Laptops with an even larger 17.3″ screen and good speakers.
  6. Business laptops: Better security, solid build, easy to service, fairly powerful, portable and lightweight
  7. Power Users: Ideal for photo/video/3D editing: Powerful CPU, lots of RAM, high-performance storage.
  8. Workstations: Powerful, reliable and with workstation-class video cards

Upgrade your laptop:

  1. Upgrade the RAM
  2. Upgrade the hard drive to a larger/faster model or to a SSD
  3. USB DVD and Blu-ray External Burners
  4. The Best WiFi Routers, WiFi Adapters and Bluetooth Adapters

This article is based on the prices that I’ve seen at B&H, Newegg and/or Amazon on February 9th 2017.

Prices and availability are subject to change. While I can’t keep up with ever changing prices, I do suggest to you outstanding laptops that you won’t regret buying.

Ultrabooks: Thin, lightweight

Standard screen ultrabook

ASUS Zenbook UX330UA:

– Click here to see the price on Amazon

About the ASUS Zenbook UX330UA:

The ASUS Zenbook is the definition an ultrabook: It is highly portable with a 13.3″ screen, a weight of 2.6lbs and it is only 0.5″ thick. On top of that, it offers up to 12 hours of battery life.

While being thin and lightweight, it is also quite powerful with its latest generation Intel Core i5-7200U CPU, 8GB of RAM and it is super responsive with a 256GB SSD that greatly improves the laptop’s booting speed.

All things considered, its power, weight and battery life make it the perfect travel laptop.

The best part is that it offers all of that at a better price than the competition!

Pros:

  1. Equipped with a Intel Core i5-7200U Dual-Core + Hyper-Threading 2.5-3.1GHz CPU.
  2. 256GB SSD: a lot faster than a HDD, it greatly improves responsiveness, PC boots quickly.
  3. Windows 10.
  4. 8GB of DDR3 RAM allows you to run multiple programs at once.
  5. Full HD 1920 x 1080 1080p resolution.
  6. IPS panel: Great contrast, accurate color reproduction and large viewing angles.
  7. Matte screen that doesn’t reflect sunlight.
  8. Amazing Battery life of up to 11-12 hours for web surfing with WiFi.
  9. Pretty good speakers
  10. Backlit keyboard: it’s easier to see your keys when typing where there is less light.
  11. SD card reader: Useful to expand the storage capacity.
  12. 2 x USB 3.0  and 1 x USB 3.1 (Type-C) port
  13. Mini HDMI port to connect your display on a external screen.
  14. Solid aluminium build quality.
  15. HD Webcam
  16. Bluetooth 4.1
  17. 802.11ac WiFi
  18. Build-in fingerprint reader with one-touch login via Windows Hello feature.
  19. Highly portable: 8.7 x 12.7 x 0.5″ and 2.6lbs
  20. ASUS International damage protection warranty for a year.

Cons:

  1. No optical drive. You can get an external USB powered optical drive, if you want to.
  2. Keyboard layout could be better : for example the power button on the top right corner is part of the layout, this can be bothersome.
  3. Mini-HDMI port will most likely require you to buy a new cable with a Mini-HDMI connector, or a Mini-HDMI to HDMI adapter.
  4. No RJ45 Ethernet port.
  5. No numpad.

512GB higher performance SSD:
Lenovo IdeaPad 710S:

– $949.ideapadmidrange99 at Newegg

Lenovo IdeaPad 710S:

This model is ideal if you are looking to get a higher capacity and even faster SSD storage drive as it is equipped with a 512GB PCIe SSD, which are 2 to 4 times faster than the SATA III SSDs found in the ASUS Zenbook, making your laptop even more responsive and faster.

Other than the storage, performance and portability (.55″ and 2.4lbs) is comparable to the ASUS UX330UA recommended above.

Battery life is on the shorter side, at up to 8 hours. You also lose the USB Type-C port.

Pros:

  1. Equipped with an Intel Core i7-6560U Dual-Core + Hyper-Threading 2.2-3.2GHz CPU.
  2. 512GB PCIe SSD which is plenty of storage and is a lot faster than a regular HDD and even most SSDs, it greatly improves responsiveness especialy when booting the laptop.
  3. Windows 10.
  4. 8GB of DDR3 RAM allows you to run multiple programs at once.
  5. Full HD 1920 x 1080 1080p resolution.
  6. IPS panel: Great contrast, accurate color reproduction and large viewing angles.
  7. Matte screen that doesn’t reflect sunlight
  8. Good battery life of around 7 hours for web surfing with Wifi.
  9. Backlit keyboard: it’s easier to see your keys when typing where there is less light.
  10. SD card reader: Useful to expand the storage capacity.
  11. 2 x USB 3.0 ports.
  12. Mini-HDMI port to connect your display on a external screen.
  13. Good build quality : magnesium-aluminum casing.
  14. HD Webcam
  15. 802.11ac WiFi
  16. Bluetooth 4.0
  17. Highly portable: 0.55″ thick and 2.4lbs

Cons:

  1. No optical drive. You can get an external USB powered optical drive, if you want to.
  2. Keyboard layout could be better : for example the power button on the top right corner is part of the layout, this can be bothersome.
  3. No RJ45 Ethernet port.
  4. Mini-HDMI port will most likely require you to buy a new cable with a Mini-HDMI connector, or a Mini-HDMI to HDMI adapter.
  5. Battery can’t be removed and replaced.
  6. No numpad.

Alternative with even more storage and 16GB of RAM

ASUS ZenBook UX310UA:

– Click here to see the price on Amazon

About the ASUS ZenBook UX310UA:

Like the first Zenbook, but want more memory (16GB) and more storage capacity? This could be a better option for you.

You get a slightly lower performance Intel Core i5-6200U CPU with an impressive 16GB amount of RAM and a Full HD 1920 x 1080 matte IPS display

Storage wise, it has a 256GB SSD combined with a 1TB hard drive for a considerable amount of storage without compromising the responsiveness and booting speed of the laptop.

On the downside, it is slightly heavier, at 3.2lbs but that’s still highly portable.

512GB SSD, 3200 x 1800 display, 12GB RAM and Geforce GT 940M graphic card
ASUS ZenBook UX303UB:

– Click here to see the price on Amazon
– $1249.00 at Newegg

About the ASUS ZenBook UX303UB:

The ZenBook UX303UB offers a better 3200 x 1800 Quad-HD resolution with an IPS display panel and a 512GB SSD combined with 12GB of RAM.

It is equipped with a slightly older 6th generation CPU, the quite powerful Intel i7-6500U CPU and a dedicated Geforce GT 940M video card, allowing you to accelerate photo/video editing and play some video games at low settings too.

This laptop is a bit heavier than the model above but it is still lightweight at 3.2lbs.

It is also good if you are looking for a touchscreen alternative to the other Zenbook models.

Pros:

  1. Equipped with an Intel Core i7-6500U Dual-Core + Hyper-Threading 2.5-3.1GHz CPU.
  2. 512GB SSD which is more storage and is a lot faster than a regular HDD, it greatly improves responsiveness especially when booting the laptop.
  3. Windows 10.
  4. 12GB of DDR3 RAM allows you to run multiple programs at once.
  5. Integrated Nvidia GeForce 940m that can accelerate photo/video editing and play some games at a lower resolution.
  6. Quad HD 3200 x 1800 resolution.
  7. IPS panel: Great contrast, accurate color reproduction and large viewing angles.
  8. Great battery life of around 7 hours for web surfing with Wifi.
  9. Backlit keyboard: it’s easier to see your keys when typing where there is less light.
  10. SD card reader: Useful to expand the storage capacity.
  11. 3 x USB 3.0 ports.
  12. HDMI and mini display port output to connect your display on a external screen.
  13. HD Webcam
  14. 802.11ac WiFi
  15. Bluetooth 4.0
  16. Highly portable:12.7 x 8.8 x 0.8″ and 3.2lbs
  17. ASUS International damage protection warranty for a year.

Cons:

  1. No optical drive. You can get an external USB powered optical drive, if you want to.
  2. Keyboard layout could be better : for example the power button on the top right corner is part of the layout, this can be bothersome.
  3. Poor sound quality.
  4. No RJ45 Ethernet port.
  5. No numpad.

Acer Swift 7:

Click here to see the price on Amazon

About the Acer Swift 7:

This is the world’s thinnest laptop, as of February 2017. It is an incredible 0.39″ / 9.9mm thin.

It also looks fantastic, with its gold and black color scheme. It feels like a premium laptop.

You won’t hear it: It’s a fanless computer.

It is ultra portable as it only weights 2.48lbs and has a battery life lasts up to 9 hours, which should be enough for most of your needs.

That said, I don’t recommend it if you need sustained high-performance, like for heavy photo or video editing, because its thinness and fanless design forces the CPU to throttle its performance to avoid overheating under heavy workloads.

It has no problem handling the everyday casual tasks, web browsing, Youtube, music streaming and basic office tasks.

If you have more demanding workloads but don’t want to sacrifice the portability, see the HP Spectre 13 below.

There are only two USB Type-C ports, but Acer includes an USB Type-C to Type-A adapter, as well as an USB Type-C to HDMI adapter.

Pros:

  1. 256GB SSD which is a lot faster than a regular HDD, it greatly improves responsiveness especially when booting the laptop.
  2. Windows 10.
  3. 8GB of DDR3 RAM allows you to run multiple programs at once.
  4. Full HD 1920 x 1080 resolution.
  5. IPS panel: Great contrast, accurate color reproduction and large viewing angles.
  6. Great battery life of around 9 hours for web surfing with Wifi.
  7. 2 x USB 3.1 (Type C) ports, one of them support video output
  8. Included USB Type-C to Type-A and USB-C to HDMI adapters
  9. Fanless = No noise
  10. HD Webcam
  11. 802.11ac WiFi featuring 2×2 MU-MIMO technology
  12. Bluetooth 4.0
  13. Corning Gorilla Glass to make the screen more damage resistant.
  14. Extremely portable: 12.78 x 9.04 x 0.39″ and 2.48lbs
  15. In my opinion it is very good looking and has stylish design.

Cons:

  1. CPU performance isn’t ideal if you need sustained high-performance, such as photo or video editing.
  2. No optical drive. You can get an external USB powered optical drive, if you want to.
  3. No native HDMI or USB Type-A ports, but you get included adapters
  4. No SD card reader
  5. No RJ45 Ethernet port.
  6. No numpad as it is usualy the case with 13″ laptops.
  7. Keyboard isn’t backlit.

HP Spectre 13 :
– Click here to see the price on Amazon

About the HP Spectre 13:

If you are looking for even more power and performance in a ultrabook, the HP Spectre 13 is the next logical step.

It is equipped with a quite powerful Intel Core i7-6500 CPU combined with 8GB of RAM so you can multi-task and run a decent amount of programs without affecting performance.

It has a 256GB PCIe SSD which are some of the fastest SSDs on the market up to now. They are 2 to 4 times faster than the SATA III SSDs and greatly help with the laptop’s responsiveness and booting speed.

On top of that, it is extremely lightweight, weighting only 2.45lbs and being only 0.4″ thick!

This model is also available refurbished, which means it has been restored to look and work like a new product. You also get a 90 days warranty. You can get it here from Amazon or $849.00 at Newegg.

Pros:

  1. Equipped with an Intel Core i7-6500U Dual-Core + Hyper-Threading 2.5-3.1GHz CPU.
  2. 256GB PCIe SSD which is a lot faster than a regular HDD, it greatly improves responsiveness especially when booting the laptop.
  3. Windows 10.
  4. 8GB of DDR3 RAM allows you to run multiple programs at once.
  5. Full HD 1920 x 1080 resolution.
  6. IPS panel: Great contrast, accurate color reproduction and large viewing angles.
  7. Great battery life that lasts around 11 hours.
  8. Backlit keyboard.
  9. 2 x USB 3.1 (Type C Gen 2) that support video output and 1x USB 3.1 (Type C Gen 1) ports.
  10. Included USB Type-C to Type-A and USB-C to HDMI adapters
  11. Good speakers
  12. Good build quality: aluminum and carbon fiber build.
  13. HD Webcam
  14. 802.11ac WiFi
  15. Bluetooth 4.0
  16. Corning Gorilla Glass to make the screen more damage resistant.
  17. Extremely portable: 12.8 x 9 x 0.4 ” and 2.45lbs
  18. In my opinion it is very good looking and has a stylish design.

Cons:

  1. No optical drive. You can get an external USB powered optical drive, if you want to.
  2. No native HDMI or USB Type-A ports, but you get included adapters
  3. No SD card reader
  4. No RJ45 Ethernet port.
  5. No numpad as it is usualy the case with 13″ laptops.
  6. Keyboard layout could be better : the up and down arrow key are half-size which, for some people, can be bothersome.

Dell XPS 13:
– Click here to see the price on Amazon
– $979.99 at Newegg

About the Dell XPS 13:

If you are looking for an even more portable model, the Dell XPS 13 keeps the 13.3″ screen size while being smaller thanks to its near bezel-less screen.

It is equipped with a fairly powerful latest generation Intel Core i5-7200 CPU combined with 8GB of RAM so you can run plenty of programs without any problems.

It has a 256GB PCIe SSD which are some of the fastest SSDs on the market up to now, they are 2 to 4 times faster than SATA III SSDs and they greatly help with the laptop’s responsiveness and booting speed.

It also has, in my opinion, a stylish design and looks very nice.

If you are need a variation of this model that has a better resolution, the Dell XPS 13 is available with a QHD (3200 x 1800) display resolution:
– Click here to see the price at Amazon

Pros:

  1. Equipped with an Intel Core i5-7200U Dual-Core + Hyper-Threading 2.5-3.1GHz CPU.
  2. 256GB PCIe SSD which is a lot faster than a regular HDD, it greatly improves responsiveness especially when booting the laptop.
  3. Windows 10.
  4. 8GB of DDR4 RAM allows you to run multiple programs at once.
  5. Matte screen that doesn’t reflect sunlight.
  6. Bezel-less screen.
  7. Backlit keyboard.
  8. Full HD 1920 x 1080 resolution.
  9. IPS panel: Great contrast, accurate color reproduction and large viewing angles.
  10. Amazing battery life that lasts up to 13 hours.
  11. 1 x USB 3.1 (Type C Gen 2) + Thunderbolt that support video output and 2x USB 3.0 ports.
  12. SD card reader.
  13. Good speakers
  14. Good build quality : aluminum chassis.
  15. HD Webcam
  16. 802.11ac WiFi
  17. Bluetooth 4.0
  18. Corning Gorilla Glass to make the screen more damage resistant.
  19. Thin and light: 11.98 x 7.88 x 0.6″ and 2.84 lbs.

Cons:

  1. No optical drive. You can get an external USB powered optical drive, if you want to.
  2. No RJ45 Ethernet port.
  3. No numpad as it is usualy the case with 13″ laptops.

2-in-1 convertible screen ultrabook

ASUS ZenBook Flip UX360CA:

– Click here to see the price on Amazon
– $749.00 at B&H (Worldwide shipping)
– $779.00 at Newegg

About the ASUS ZenBook Flip UX360CA:

This laptop is a great deal if you are looking for a touchscreen ultrabook that can be flipped all the way back, to use as a tablet, is great for web browsing, emails and watching videos, offers plenty of storage space and a beautiful display.

The m3-6Y30 CPU is by no means a powerhouse but it offers a good performance for everyday tasks, combined with its 8GB of RAM for improved multi-tasking and a  512GB SSD  that offers a good amount of storage and also improves the laptops responsiveness and booting speed.

The ZenBook Flip is also pretty light and extremely thin : 12.60″ x 8.66″ x 0.55″ and 2.87lbs.

It also has a fanless design that makes it silent.

This model is also covered by an international damage protection warranty for a year which is pretty good.

Pros:

  1. Equipped with an Intel Core M3-6Y30 Dual-Core + Hyper-Threading 0.9-2.2GHz CPU which sips power.
  2. 512GB SSD which is fairly high capacity for a SSD. There’s also a 1TB model available, see below.
  3. SSD is a lot faster than a regular HDD, it greatly improves responsiveness especially when booting the laptop.
  4. 8GB of DDR3 RAM to run multiple programs.
  5. Windows 10
  6. 2-in-1 convertible screen to switch to tablet mode for whatever suits your needs.
  7. Great Battery : up to 8hrs.
  8. Fanless: Silent
  9. Full HD 1920 x 1080 1080p sceeen, anti-glare so it doesn’t reflect light.
  10. IPS display panel for better contrasts, accurate colors and wider view angles.
  11. Micro SD card reader.
  12. HD Webcam.
  13. Decent keyboard layout.
  14. 2 x USB 3.0 and 1 x USB 3.1 (Type C) port.
  15. micro-HDMI output to plug in your display on a external screen.
  16. Ethernet RJ45 output.
  17. Thin and light: 12.60″ x 8.66″ x 0.55″ inches and 2.87lbs
  18. 802.11ac Wireless
  19. Bluetooth 4.1
  20. In my opinion it has a beautiful design and good looking finish.
  21. Certified with Microsoft Cortana with Voice-Premium, which means that UX360 will work well at a distance and in more challenging conditions, such as increased noise levels.
  22. 1-year International Warranty with 1-year Accidental Damage Protection

Cons:

  1. CPU isn’t ideal if you need sustained high-performance, such as photo or video editing.
  2. No optical drive. You can get an external USB powered optical drive, if you want to.
  3. No full HDMI port means you’ll like have to get a micro-HDMI to HDMI cable or an adapter.

ASUS ZenBook Flip UX360CA 1TB SSD:

– Click here to see the price on Amazon

About the UX360CA 1TB:

This model is exactly the same as the one above, except for one difference.

You get an higher capacity 1TB SSD so you get more storage for documents, music, applications, images and videos.

So if you need a convertible ultrabook that provides a stable and responsive performance while being equipped with a good amount of storage, this one is for you.

Lenovo Yoga 900:

– Click here to see the price on Amazon
– $1149.99 at Newegg

About the Lenovo Yoga 900:

This model is equipped with an older but powerful i7-6560U processor, 8GB of RAM and a 256GB PCIe SSD which are the fastest SSDs up to date and are great to improve the responsiveness of the laptop and its booting speed.

Not only is this laptop fast and responsive it is also equipped with a beautiful QHD 3000 x 1800 resolution display with an IPS panel for a great contrast, accurate color reproduction and large viewing angles.

This laptop is 0.6″ thin and weights 2.8lbs which is quite lightweight.

Pros:

  1. Equipped with an Intel Core i7-6560U Dual-Core + Hyper-Threading 2.2-3.2GHz CPU.
  2. 256GB PCIe SSD which is a lot faster than a regular HDD, it greatly improves responsiveness especially when booting the laptop.
  3. 2-in-1 convertible screen to switch to tablet mode for whatever suits your needs.
  4. Windows 10
  5. 8GB of DDR3 RAM.
  6. Great Battery: up to 10hrs.
  7. Thin and light : 0.6″ thin and 2.8lbs
  8. Quad HD 3000 x 1800 resolution
  9. IPS display panel for better contrasts, acurate colors and larger view angles.
  10. SD card reader to add an extra SD card to add more storage for your music, videos and images.
  11. HD Webcam.
  12. Backlit keyboard
  13. 1 x USB 2.0, 2 x USB 3.0 port and 1 x USB 3.1 port (Type-C).
  14. Video Output over USB Type-C port
  15. 802.11ac WiFi
  16. Decent speakers
  17. Bluetooth 4.0

Cons:

  1. You’ll need an USB Type-C to VGA or USB Type-C to HDMI adapter if you want to connect an external monitor/projector.
  2. No optical drive. You can get an external USB powered optical drive, if you want to.
  3. Power brick blocks two outlets.
  4. No numpad

Detachable screen ultrabook

Acer 12″ Aspire Switch Alpha 12:

Click here to see the price on Amazon
$699.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)
$699.99 at Newegg

About the Acer 12″ Aspire Switch Alpha 12:

If you are looking for a relatively powerful, portable and visualy stunning detachable laptop and considered the Microsoft Surface 4 Pro, but found it too expensive, the Acer Aspire Switch Alpha 12 is an excellent alternative that’s available for far less money.

It is equipped with a Intel i5-6200 Dual-Core processor and 8GB of RAM so it is perfect for any daily tasks such as browsing the internet, emails and watching videos.

Despite the higher power CPU, it is a fanless design, thanks to a unique cooling design, so it is a completely silent computer.

It has a 256GB SSD which is considerably faster than a regular hard drive and improves the laptop’s responsiveness and booting speed.

It also has a beautiful Quad HD 2160 x 1440 resolution display with a IPS panel for better contrasts, accurate colors and larger view angles. This model is also highly portable being 0.6″ thick and weights 2.76lbs.

It’s also available with an higher performance Core i7 CPU and a larger capacity 512GB SSD, recommended below.

Pros:

  1. Equipped with an Intel i5-6200 Dual-Core + Hyper-Threading 2.3-2.8GHz CPU.
  2. 256GB SSD for fast boot and a more responsive system.
  3. 2-in-1 detachable screen to switch to tablet mode for whatever suits your needs.
  4. Unique fanless cooling, despite using higher performance CPU than the usual fanless Core M CPUs.
  5. 8GB of DDR3 RAM.
  6. Detachable backlit keyboard included.
  7. 1 USB 3.0 and 1 USB 3.1 (Type C) Ports.
  8. Thin and light : 11.5 x 0.6 x 7.9″ and 2.7lbs
  9. Quad HD 2160 x 1440 resolution
  10. IPS display panel for better contrasts, accurate colors and larger view angles.
  11. MicroSD card reader to add an extra MicroSD card to add more storage for your music, videos and images.
  12. Micro HDMI port
  13. 1x micro USB 3.0 port
  14. 802.11a WiFi
  15. Bluetooth 4.0
  16. Good battery life : up to 8 hours.

Cons:

  1. Trackpad is average, better on the Windows Surface Pro.
  2. Terrible speakers
  3. Front camera is only 2MP

Acer 12″ Aspire Switch Alpha 12:

Click here to see the price on Amazon
$955.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

About the Acer 12″ Aspire Switch Alpha 12:

This is the same laptop with an even more powerful Intel Core i7-6500U (2.5-3.1GHz) CPU and an higher capacity 512GB SSD storage drive.

Pros:

Microsoft Surface Pro 3

Click here to see the price on Amazon

About the Microsoft Surface Pro 3 :

This model is an older version of the Microsoft Surface Pro models,

Compared to the Acer, it is equipped with a lower performance Intel Core i7-4650U CPU, same amount of RAM and storage and a similar display.

The advantage of the Microsoft Surface is its pen, which is more precise and the touchpad on the type cover which is simply better than the one on the Acer.

Pros:

  1. 512GB SSD for fast boot, good amount of storage and a more responsive system.
  2. 2-in-1 detachable screen to switch to tablet mode for whatever suits your needs.
  3. Windows 10
  4. 8GB of DDR3 RAM.
  5. USB 3.0 port.
  6. Great kickstand
  7. Thin and light: 0.36″ and 1.7lbs for the tablet
  8. Quad HD 2160 x 1440 resolution
  9. MicroSD card reader to add an extra MicroSD card to add more storage for your music, videos and images.
  10. Mini Displayport allows you to connect an external monitor to it.
  11. 802.11a WiFi
  12. Bluetooth 4.0
  13. Good battery life: up to 8 hours.
  14. Included Surface pen

Cons:

  1. CPU isn’t as powerful as the competition
  2. Type cover is not included
  3. Not a fanless design

Microsoft Surface Pro 4

This is the newer version of the surface Pro series. It is more powerful with the 6th generation of Intel CPUs and has a better display with a 2736 x 1824 resolution screen. It is available in a wide variety of different of processors, storage and RAM.

One of the only downsides of this detachable is that the type cover is sold separately, making it considerably more expensive.

Pros:

  1. 2736 x 1824 high resolution screen
  2. Windows 10
  3. MicroSD card reader to add an extra MicroSD card to add more storage for your music, videos and images.
  4. Mini Displayport allows you to connect an external monitor to it.
  5. 1 USB 3.0 port.
  6. Included Surface pen
  7. Great kickstand
  8. Thin and light : 0.36″  and 1.7lbs
  9. Keyboard trackpad made of glass, with a fingerprint sensor
  10. 802.11ac WiFi
  11. Bluetooth 4.0

Cons:

  1. Keyboard/type cover not included
  2. Not a fanless design

Get the Microsoft Surface pro 4 :

Intel Core i5, 256GB SSD and 8GB of RAM: Click here to see the price on Amazon
Intel Core i7, 256GB SSD, 8GB of RAM and  Intel Iris Pro graphics: Click here to see the price on Amazon

Apple Macbook

Apple MacBook Air 13 MMGF2LL/A

Click here to check the price on Amazon

About the MacBook Air MMGF2LL/A:

This is a great choice if you want a new Apple Macbook 13.3″ at the lowest cost possible. This laptop is light weight, has an excellent battery life, great backlit keyboard and trackpad. This model has 8 GB of RAM and a Intel Core i5-5250U CPU which is older but still relatively powerful.

The Macbook Air is a reliable machine and is ideal for traveling.

Pros:

  1. Least expensive Macbook 13.3″ laptop, less expensive than the Macbook 12″
  2. Incredibly thin and lightweight: Only 2.96lbs and 0.11-0.68″ thick. Perfect if you’re traveling and often on the move.
  3. It’s an Apple computer: Mac OS X, Time Machine backup (automatically backs up system data to an external hard drive), many built-in apps, highly reliable, excellent customer service
  4. Excellent keyboard, great for typing
  5. Backlit keyboard
  6. High-end performance storage makes your computer feel more responsive.
  7. Very quiet: The fan is hardly audible, unless you push the CPU to 100% for a long time.
  8. Long battery life: 12 hours of web browsing, the best of all Macbooks.
  9. Solid chassis: All-aluminum unibody
  10. Solid screen hinge
  11. Excellent trackpad, with great multi-touch support
  12. MagSafe power connector which automatically detaches from your laptop if you pull on it, preventing your Macbook from accidentally falling if you trip on the power cord.
  13. Bluetooth 4.0
  14. Latest generation 802.11ac WiFi

Cons:

  1. Limited amount of ports: 2x USB 3.0, one ThunderBolt 2 (Mini DisplayPort via Thunderbolt port), SDXC card reader and a combo audio jack.
  2. Low screen resolution: Only 1440 x 900 resolution 13.3″. Poor compared to the Macbook 12″ or Macbook Pro with their high-resolution Retina displays.
  3. Average CPU performance: Great for web browsing, music, Office work and lightweight programs. Not ideal for heavy photo/video editing, heavy multitasking or demanding programs where high sustained CPU performance is required. You’ll want a more powerful CPU and possibly more RAM for better performance, so consider a Macbook Pro instead.
  4. Limited GPU (video card) performance. Forget playing modern video games or 3D rendering: you want a dedicated video card for that. Once again, a Macbook Pro would be a better option.
  5. No LAN port
  6. No optical drive. You can get an external USB powered optical drive, if you want to.
  7. No Numpad
  8. The Macbook Air RAM cannot be upgraded: It’s soldered. The SSD storage can be upgraded if you have the right tool, don’t mind following a guide to disassemble your Macbook Air and a guide to copy your data.

Apple 12″ MacBook 2016 model

– $1239.99 at B&H

About the Apple MacBook 2016 model:

The 2016 Apple MacBook model slightly differs from the 2015 model as it has a newer CPU with an improved architecture which means better performance. It also has a better graphic card, higher performance RAM, faster storage and a battery that can last an additional hour.

This model also has less storage space than the previous model: 256GB, but Apple has cloud storage options such as iCloud to store your data. That’s the trade-off: Better performance and a slightly longer battery life, but half the storage capacity. Of course you can get a 2016 model with 512GB of storage, but that’ll cost you more.

Pros:

  1. Incredibly thin and the lightest: Only 2lbs and 0.11-0.52″ thick. Perfect if you’re traveling and often on the move.
  2. It’s an Apple computer: Mac OS X, Time Machine backup (automatically backs up system data to an external hard drive), many built-in apps, highly reliable, excellent customer service
  3. 2304 x 1440 (16×10 ratio, 226 pixels per inch) high resolution Retina 12″ IPS display. 178° wide viewing angle, great contrast and accurate, vibrant colors.
  4. Outstanding out of the box grey scale and color accuracy
  5. Excellent keyboard, with new butterfly switches: More stable and they have the same feel to them no matter where on the key you press.
  6. Backlit keyboard: Each key is individually lit. The LEDs are calibrated for uniform brightness, so every key and character looks clear and sharp with minimal light around the keycap.
  7. High-end performance storage makes your computer feel more responsive.
  8. Silent: The use of the low power Core M processor allows the Macbook to be fanless. It contains no motorized parts and the only moving parts are the keyboard keys, the trackpad, and the screen hinge.
  9. USB-C port is reversible: Type-C connector is a clear improvement over Type-A if you’ve ever struggled with getting a device plugged in the first place. Either way is the right way, making it much easier to plug in USB devices.
  10. Long battery life: 9 hours of web browsing, 10 hours of Itunes movie playback.
  11. Solid chassis: All-aluminum unibody
  12. Solid screen hinge
  13. Force Touch trackpad: Excellent trackpad, with great multi-touch support
  14. Bluetooth 4.0
  15. Latest generation 802.11ac WiFi

Cons:

  1. Limited amount of ports: Only a single USB-C port and a combo audio jack. The Macbook 12″ uses its single USB 3.1 Type-C port for charging with the AC adapter too. If you plan on docking it to a screen, keyboard, mouse, etc., you’ll need an adapter or even two.
  2. Limited CPU performance: In sustained workloads (30 minutes +) the Core M will lower its frequency (and performance) to keep heat under control. Not ideal for heavy photo/video editing, heavy multitasking or demanding programs where high sustained CPU performance is required.
  3. Limited GPU (video card) performance. Forget playing modern video games or 3D rendering: you want a dedicated video card for that.
  4. No LAN port
  5. No optical drive
  6. No Numpad
  7. The Macbook cannot be serviced: RAM and storage cannot be upgraded, the battery is only replaceable by Apple.

Apple MacBook Pro 13 MF839LL/A

– $1199.00 at B&H

About the Apple 13.3″ MacBook Pro MF839LL/A:

If you are looking for a MacBook that offers better CPU performance than the MacBook Air, an high resolution display and is able to do small tasks such as web browsing, emails, listening to music, videos and even some entry level audio/photo/video editing, you should consider a MacBook Pro 13.

On the downside, the base model comes with only 128GB of storage. If that isn’t enough, you can pick a model with more storage, but it can be costly. I suggest a Macbook Pro 13An another option would be to pick a refurbished model

Pros:

  1. Outstanding display: 2560 x 1600 13.3″ Retina display, with an IPS panel for accurate colors and great viewing angles.
  2. High-performance 1866MHz memory.
  3. Better performance than the Macbook and Macbook Air: You still get dual-core CPUs, but with significantly higher frequencies, resulting in higher performance.
  4. Good amount of ports: 2x USB 3.0, two ThunderBolt 2 (Mini DisplayPort via Thunderbolt port), 1x HDMI, SDXC card reader and a combo audio jack.
  5. Thin and lightweight: 3.46 lbs and 0.7″ thick. Not as thin nor as light as the Macbook nor the Macbook Air, but still far from thick and heavy.
  6. It’s an Apple computer: Mac OS X, Time Machine backup (automatically backs up system data to an external hard drive), many built-in apps, highly reliable, excellent customer service
  7. Excellent keyboard, great for typing
  8. Backlit keyboard
  9. High-end performance storage makes your computer feel more responsive.
  10. Very quiet: The fan is hardly audible, unless you push the CPU to 100% for a long time.
  11. Long battery life: 9 hours of web browsing
  12. Solid chassis: All-aluminum unibody
  13. Solid screen hinge
  14. Excellent trackpad, with great multi-touch support
  15. MagSafe power connector which automatically detaches from your laptop if you pull on it, preventing your Macbook from accidentally falling if you trip on the power cord.
  16. Bluetooth 4.0

Cons:

  1. Good, but not the best CPU performance: The Macbook Pro 13.3″ is equipped with a dual-core CPU. For the highest performance, you’ll want the 15.6″ Macbook Pro, equipped with a quad-core CPU. Great for web browsing, music, Office work and lightweight programs. Not ideal for heavy photo/video editing, heavy multitasking or demanding programs where high sustained CPU performance is required. You’ll want a more powerful CPU and possibly more RAM for better performance, so consider a Macbook Pro instead.
  2. Limited GPU (video card) performance. Forget playing modern video games or 3D rendering: you want a dedicated video card for that. Once again, a Macbook Pro 15.6″ would be a better option.
  3. No LAN port. You can a USB adapter for 10/100 speed, or a Thunderbolt adapter for Gigabit speed.
  4. No optical drive. You can get an external USB powered optical drive, if you want to.
  5. No Numpad
  6. The Macbook Pro RAM cannot be upgraded: It’s soldered. The SSD storage can be upgraded if you have the right tool, don’t mind following a guide to disassemble your Macbook Pro and a guide to copy your data.

Apple MacBook Pro 13

256GB: – Click here to see the price on Amazon
512GB: – Click here to see the price on Amazon

About this Apple MacBook Pro 13:

This model is an older version of the Apple MacBook Pro 13 recommended above, which means that it has a slightly less powerful CPU and RAM. Although it is less powerful, it still offers a great performance and reliability.

What you get instead is twice (256GB) or four times (512GB) the storage space of the MacBook Pro 13 that I recommend above!

This model is refurbished meaning that it has been rebuilt to work and look like a new product. This also means it comes with a 90 days warranty. On the positive side, it’s far less expensive than a brand new one.

Pros:

  1. Outstanding display: 2560 x 1600 13.3″ Retina display, with an IPS panel for accurate colors and great viewing angles.
  2. Better performance than the Macbook and Macbook Air: You still get dual-core CPUs, but with significantly higher frequencies, resulting in higher performance.
  3. Good amount of ports: 2x USB 3.0, two ThunderBolt 2 (Mini DisplayPort via Thunderbolt port), 1x HDMI, SDXC card reader and a combo audio jack.
  4. Thin and lightweight: 3.46 lbs and 0.7″ thick. Not as thin nor as light as the Macbook nor the Macbook Air, but still far from thick and heavy.
  5. It’s an Apple computer: Mac OS X, Time Machine backup (automatically backs up system data to an external hard drive), many built-in apps, highly reliable, excellent customer service
  6. Excellent keyboard, great for typing
  7. Backlit keyboard
  8. High-end performance storage makes your computer feel more responsive.
  9. Very quiet: The fan is hardly audible, unless you push the CPU to 100% for a long time.
  10. Long battery life: 9 hours of web browsing
  11. Solid chassis: All-aluminum unibody
  12. Solid screen hinge
  13. Excellent trackpad, with great multi-touch support
  14. MagSafe power connector which automatically detaches from your laptop if you pull on it, preventing your Macbook from accidentally falling if you trip on the power cord.
  15. Bluetooth 4.0
  16. Latest generation 802.11ac WiFi

Cons:

  1. Good, but not the best CPU performance: The Macbook Pro 13.3″ is equipped with a dual-core CPU. For the highest performance, you’ll want the 15.4″ Macbook Pro, equipped with a quad-core CPU. Great for web browsing, music, Office work and lightweight programs. Not ideal for heavy photo/video editing, heavy multitasking or demanding programs where high sustained CPU performance is required. You’ll want a more powerful CPU and possibly more RAM for better performance, so consider a Macbook Pro instead.
  2. Limited GPU (video card) performance. Forget playing modern video games or 3D rendering: you want a dedicated video card for that. Once again, a Macbook Pro 15.6″ would be a better option.
  3. No LAN port. You can a USB adapter for 10/100 speed, or a Thunderbolt adapter for Gigabit speed.
  4. No optical drive. You can get an external USB powered optical drive, if you want to.
  5. No Numpad
  6. The Macbook Pro RAM cannot be upgraded: It’s soldered. The SSD storage can be upgraded if you have the right tool, don’t mind following a guide to disassemble your Macbook Pro and a guide to copy your data.
  7. Refurbished laptop: Battery life may vary

Gaming laptops

If you are looking for a mid-range gaming laptop, we have a whole article on the subject, click here to see the 4 Best Mid-Range Gaming Laptops.

Traditional 14-15.6″ laptop

Lenovo Flex 4:

– Click here to see the price on Amazon
– $849.00 at B&H (Worldwide shipping)

Lenovo Flex 4:

The Lenovo Flex 4 is an excellent laptop all around. It features the latest generation Intel Core i7-7500U, a dual-core + Hyper-Threading CPU capable of reaching up to 3.1GHz while sipping power, so that this laptop offers up to 9 hours of battery life.

You get 16GB of RAM, which is perfect to multi-task and handle multiple programs at the same time without running out of memory.

It has a 256GB SSD that increases responsiveness and booting speed.

If you ever find that a 256GB SSD is too little storage, there is a model available with a 512GB SSD that you can grab here for $839.99 at Newegg. Although this model only has 8GB of RAM, it is still quite capable of handling multiple programs and you can always add RAM.

Finally this is a convertible laptop, thanks to its 360 degree hinge and its touchscreen, allowing you to use this laptop in multiple modes.

Being a 14″ laptop, it’s roughly 20 to 30% lighter than the average 15.6″ laptop, weighting in at 3.81lbs compared to 5-6lbs for a 15.6″ laptop.

Pros:

  1. Equipped with an Intel Core i7-7500U Dual-Core + Hyper-Threading 2.5-3.1GHz CPU.
  2. 256GB SSD that is a lot faster than a regular HDD, it greatly improves responsiveness especially when booting the laptop.
  3. 2-in-1 convertible screen to switch to tablet mode for whatever suits your needs.
  4. Windows 10
  5. 16GB of DDR4 RAM.
  6. Great Battery: up to 9hrs.
  7. Being a 14″ laptop, it’s roughly 20 to 30% lighter than the average 15.6″ laptop, weighting in at 3.81lbs compared to 5-6lbs for a 15.6″ laptop.
  8. IPS display panel for better contrasts, accurate colors and larger view angles.
  9. SD card reader to add an extra SD card to add more storage for your music, videos and images.
  10. 720p HD Webcam.
  11. Backlit keyboard
  12. 2 x USB 3.0 port,  1 x USB 2.0 port.
  13. HDMI output to connect your display on external screens.
  14. 802.11ac WiFi
  15. Bluetooth 4.0
  16. Dedicated volume buttons

Cons:

  1. No optical drive. You can get an external USB powered optical drive, if you want to.
  2. No numpad

17.3″ entertainment:

DELL Laptop Inspiron 17-5765:

Click here to see the price on Amazon
$799.99 at Newegg

About the DELL Laptop Inspiron 17-5765:

This laptop is equipped with a decently powerful AMD FX-9800P APU, has 16 GB of RAM which is a considerable amount to run multiple programs and tons of storage space with a 2TB hard drive.

It is also equipped with a Full HD 1920 x 1080 resolution display and a Radeon R8 M445DX Dedicated graphics card that can run a few older games with a decent FPS rate on low, medium and even some on high settings but don’t expect much more out of any newer, more demanding game.

Pros:

  1.  Equipped with an AMD FX-9800P Quad-core APU 2.7-3.6GHz.
  2. 2TB hard drive which is a great amount of storage, more then enough to store plenty of music, videos, images and applications.
  3. 1920 x 1080 Full HD resolution.
  4. Matte screen that doesn’t reflect sunlight.
  5. Windows 10
  6. 2 x USB 3.0 and 1 x USB 2.0 ports.
  7. HDMI output to connect your display to an external display.
  8. Ethernet RJ45 port for a direct internet connection.
  9. Backlit keyboard.
  10. SD card reader.
  11. 16GB of RAM which is plenty to run multiple programs.
  12. HD 720p Webcam
  13. 802.11ac WiFi
  14. Bluetooth 4.0
  15. Optical drive
  16. Numpad

Cons:

  1. TN panel: Poor contrast, not accurate color reproduction and poor viewing angles.
  2. 5400 RPM Hard drive which is slower than SSDs and some other  hard drives as well as far as booting and responsiveness goes.
  3. No dedicated left and right click buttons.

MSI GL72 7RD-028:

Click here to see the price on Amazon
$1099.00 at B&H (Worldwide shipping)

About the MSI GL72 7RD-028:

This is a high performance 17.3″ laptop at a great price.

Equipped with a powerful Intel Core i7-7700HQ Quad Core CPU, 16GB of RAM and a fast and responsive 128GB SSD, you get a laptop that can handle pretty much anything you throw at it.

On top of that you also get a large 1TB hard drive to store plenty of music, videos, pictures and programs.

It also comes with a NVIDIA Geforce 1050 graphics card which is a decent card to run games at low or medium visual settings with a good FPS rate.
Pros:

  1. Equipped with an Intel Core i7-7700HQ Quad Core 2.8GHz-3.8GHz CPU.
  2. M.2 SATA 128GB SSD drive: Much faster than a regular hard drive and an even faster booting speed.
  3. Large 1TB Hard drive
  4. Dedicated NVIDIA GeForce 1050 graphic card, which allows you to play most games on medium visual settings with decent FPS and some games on high settings well.
  5. Windows 10
  6. 16GB of DDR4 RAM, which is plenty to run plenty of programs.
  7. Hard drive is a 7200rpm model, so it’s not as slow as 5400rpm hard drives.
  8. Full HD 1920 x 1080 resolution
  9. Matte screen that doesn’t reflect sunlight.
  10. Screen equipped with IPS panel: Great viewing angles, good contrast and good color reproduction.
  11. Keyboard Backlight
  12. Large font used for the keys on the keyboard makes it easier to read.
  13. 1 x USB 3.0 (Type C), 2 x USB 3.0 and 1 x USB 2.0 ports.
  14. HDMI and Mini DisplayPort output to connect your display and a external screen.
  15. Ethernet RJ45 port
  16. Easy maintenance: only two screws on the bottom that hold a panel where you can upgrade the RAM or storage
  17. SD card reader
  18. 720p HD Webcam
  19. 802.11ac WiFi
  20. Bluetooth 4.0
  21. Optical drive
  22. Numpad

Cons:

  1. 1.5″ thick and weights 5.95lbs: Not the most portable laptop but that’s to be expected from a 17.3″ laptop.
  2. Keyboard layout could be better: The arrow keys overlap with the numpad.

Lenovo Y700-17ISK

– $1199.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)
$1212.99 at Newegg

About the Lenovo Y700-17ISK:

If you are looking for a 17.3″ laptop that is equipped with an higher capacity and higher performance PCIe 512GB SSD, this is it. You still the 1TB hard drive, so in total you get 1.5TB of storage.

Performance wise, it is a bit slower than the MSI, due to the slightly older Intel Core i7-6700HQ CPU and older NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960M.

Still, it’s no slouch and it’s a good choice if you want the higher capacity and higher performance PCIe SSD.

Pros:

  1. Equipped with an Intel Core i7-6700HQ Quad Core + Hyper-Threading 2.6GHz-3.5GHz CPU.
  2. 512GB PCIe SSD drive: Much faster than a regular hard drive, even faster than regular SSDs and an even faster booting speed.
  3. 1TB HDD for plenty of storage capacity.
  4. Dedicated NVIDIA GeForce 960M graphic card, which allows you to play most games on low and medium visual settings with decent FPS and some games on high settings well.
  5. Windows 10
  6. Full HD 1920 x 1080 display
  7. IPS display panel for better contrasts, accurate colors and larger view angles.
  8. Matte screen that doesn’t reflect light.
  9. 16GB of DDR4 RAM that can be upgraded to 32GB (2 x 16GB).
  10. 2 x USB 3.0 port, 1x USB 2.0.
  11. SD card reader: Can be useful for extra storage or to upload media from devices such as cameras.
  12. Keyboard backlight
  13. HD 720p Webcam
  14. Good sound quality
  15. 802.11ac WiFi
  16. HDMI Output to connect your display on external screens.
  17. Bluetooth 4.0
  18. Numpad

Cons:

  1. 1.10″ thick and 7.70 lbs: Not the lightest portable
  2. No optical drive. You can get an external USB powered optical drive, if you want to.
  3. Keyboard layout could be better : The arrows keys overlap with the numpad.

Business laptops

HP 14″ ProBook 440 G4 Notebook:

– Click here to see the price on Amazon
– $899.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

About the HP ProBook 440 G4:

If you are looking for a model that has a great portability and good performance the HP ProBook 440 G4 is a great choice.

It has a newest generation and quite powerful Intel i7-7500U processor combined with 8GB of RAM to offer a reliable performance and the ability to multi-task with ease.

The RAM is easy to access and there’s a empty RAM slot, so you can add more.

It also has a M.2 SATA III 256GB SSD that gives you a better responsiveness and booting speed.

If 256GB isn’t enough for you, there’s an empty 2.5″ drive bay which is easy to access, allowing you to add a 2.5″ hard drive or a 2.5″ SSD.

This laptop is fairly lightweight for a 14″ model, weighting in at 3.61lbs which makes it easy to carry around which keeping a fairly large screen.

It security features such as a fingerprint reader and power-on password, but no smart card reader.

Also, be aware that the screen isn’t that great. Sure, it has a 1920 x 1080 resolution and it’s matte, so it doesn’t reflect light, but maximum brightness is low and it has poor contrast, limited color reproduction and poor viewing angles.

Alternative with a better screen:
It you need or want a better screen, you might want to consider the Lenovo Flex 4 that I recommend in the Traditional 14-15.6″ laptop section. It’s a 14″ laptop, with the same CPU, twice the RAM (16GB) so it’s better for multitasking and handling demanding programs but it’s limited to a maximum of 16GB (single RAM slot) unlike the HP which can have up to 32GB (2x16GB), a 256GB SSD, arguably a better build quality, fingerprint reader and a 14″ screen with a 360° hinge, a 1920 x 1080 resolution and an IPS panel for better viewing angles, contrast and color reproduction.

The screen does have a glossy finish though, being a touchscreen and accessing the components is a little harder, requiring you to remove quite a few screws to remove the entire bottom panel. It also has a pretty great keyboard but it’s not spill resistant, you lose the VGA output but you get a slightly longer 9 hours battery life. So there are pros and cons to both. Alternatively, you can also scroll down and see my other business laptop recommendations below.

Pros:

  1. Equipped with an Intel Core i7-7500U CPU Dual-Core + Hyper-Threading 2.7-3.5GHz CPU.
  2. 256GB SSD that is a lot faster than a regular HDD, it greatly speeds up your overall performance and booting speed.
  3. Single stick of 8GB of DDR4 RAM allows you to run a few programs at once.
  4. One empty RAM slot allows you to easily add RAM to the laptop.
  5. Windows 10 Pro
  6. Great battery life that provides up to 7 hours per charge while web surfing with WiFi
  7. Matte screen finish so it doesn’t reflect sunlight.
  8. Full HD 1920 x 1080 1080p resolution.
  9. MicroSD card reader
  10. 1 x USB 3.0 (Type-C), 1x USB 3.0 (Type-A)  and 1x USB 2.0 ports.
  11. 1 HDMI and 1 VGA outputs to plug external displays.
  12. Easy to upgrade: two maintenance hatch on the bottom make it easy to change/add RAM, M.2 SSD and access the empty 2.5″ drive bay.
  13. There is a free 2.5″ SATA III bay to add a 2.5″ hard drive or a 2.5″ SSD.
  14. Bluetooth 4.2
  15. 802.11ac WiFi
  16. RJ45 Ethernet output
  17. Keyboard is spill resistant
  18. HD 720p webcam.
  19. Finger print reader for better authentication security.
  20. SD card reader to add SD cards for extra storage.
  21. Overall good build quality.
  22. Highly portable: 13.4 x 9.4 x 0.8″ and 3.61lbs

Cons:

  1. No optical drive, but you can always use an external USB optical drive.
  2. Screen isn’t great. Maximum brightness is low and it has poor contrast, limited color reproduction and poor viewing angles.
  3. Screen build quality isn’t that great.
  4. Maintenance could be easier: No easy access to the cooling fan for cleaning.
  5. No Smartcard reader
  6. No numpad
  7. No Dedicated touchpad right and left click buttons.
  8. Keyboard layout could be better : the up and down arrow keys are half sife which can be bothersome.
  9. Single stick of RAM means single-channel memory, not dual-channel. Expect a small (average 5%) performance hit compared to dual channel. Add a second stick (preferably same capacity) for optimal RAM performance.

Alternative

Dell Latitude E5470

If you are looking for a less expensive and more powerful alternative, the Latitude E5470 is a great alternative, being 0.9″ thick and only 3.9lbs, it is still thin and light.

You get a powerful Intel Core i5-6440HQ CPU, a rare thing in a 14″ laptop, as well as 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD. It also has security features such as a finger print scanner and a smart card reader.

This item is refurbished meaning that it has been restored to work and look like a new product. It also has a 90 days warranty.

Get the Dell Latitude E5470

Click here to see the price on Amazon
$688.99 at Newegg

ThinkPad Yoga 260 12.5″:

– Click here to see the price on Amazon
– $1299.00 at B&H (Worldwide shipping)
– $1049.71 at Newegg

About the ThinkPad Yoga 260:

If you are looking for a very portable laptop that has a good battery that can easily last the work day, the ThinkPad Yoga 260 will fit your needs.

It is equipped with a fairly powerful Intel Core i5-6300U CPU and 8GB of RAM. It has a 256GB SSD for better responsiveness, fast booting speed and higher reliability compared to hard drives.

Note that this laptop is available with an Intel Core i7-6500, but the difference is a mere 100MHz, which clearly isn’t big enough to be worth paying the difference for, which is why I am recommending this model instead.

One of this model’s core feature is its weight and portability: It measures 12.2 x 8.7 x 0.7″ and only weights 2.9lbs. This makes it the perfect travel business laptop.

On top of that, this model is equipped with security features such as a fingerprint reader and a lock slot.

This laptop has a OneLink+ docking port on which you can add a OneLink+ dock if you ever need extra USB, Ethernet ports or Video ouputs such as HDMI or VGA. You can grab it here from AmazonB&H ($155.00) or Newegg ($143.95)

If you need more RAM and storage space, there is a model with 16GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD available. It also comes with the Intel Core i7-6500 CPU. You can grab it here from Amazon, B&H ($1699.00) and Newegg ($1749.99)

Pros:

  1. Equipped with an Intel Core i5-6300U Dual-Core 2.4-3.0GHz CPU.
  2. Battery life of around 6 hours while web surfing with WiFi
  3. 256GB SSD for better responsiveness and booting speed.
  4. Windows 10 Pro
  5. Single stick of  8GB of DDR4 RAM.
  6. Matte screen that doesn’t reflect sunlight
  7. IPS display panel for better contrasts, accurate colors and larger view angles.
  8. 2-in-1 convertible screen to switch to tablet mode for whatever suits your needs.
  9. Touchscreen display
  10. Keyboard is spill resistant
  11. Easy maintenance : you only have to remove the bottom cover and the memory and drive are accessible.
  12. Full HD 1920 x 1080 resolution.
  13. 2 x USB 3.0 ports
  14. Lenovo Onelink+ Docking port
  15. Mini Displayport and HDMI outputs.
  16. MicroSD card reader
  17. Finger print reader for better authentication security.
  18. Smartcard reader
  19. Dedicated touchpad buttons for left and right click.
  20. Trackpoint.
  21. Thinkpad pen included.
  22. Backlit keyboard
  23. HD webcam
  24. 802.11ac WiFi
  25. Bluetooth 4.1
  26. Great weight: 2.9lbs

Cons:

  1. No optical drive. You can get an external USB powered optical drive, if you want to.
  2. Single stick of RAM means single-channel memory, not dual-channel. Expect a small (average 5%) performance hit compared to dual channel. Add a second stick (preferably same capacity) for optimal RAM performance.
  3. No Ethernet port, on the other hand, although you can either use a docking station or you can easily use a USB 3.0 adapter. You can get it for $25.50 at B&H (Worldwide shipping)

Power Users

Lenovo IdeaPad Y700

– Click here to see the price on Amazon
– $808.99 at B&H (Worldwide shipping)
– $873.99 at Newegg

If you are looking for a smaller and lighter laptop that still a powerful Intel Quad-Core CPU, a dedicated graphic card, 16GB of RAM, a 256GB PCIe SSD and a 1TB hard drive, the Lenovo IdeaPad Y700 is what you want.

It has a powerful Intel Core i7-6700HQ Quad-Core CPU, combined with 16GB which is great as you can easily run multiple programs and multi-task with it.

You get a very high-performance PCIe 256GB SSD which are some of the fastest SSDs up to date. They make your laptop more responsive and boot much faster than a regular hard drives.

But fear not, you also get plenty of storage space with a large 1TB hard drive to go along with the SSD.

You also get a Full HD (1920 x 1080) matte display that doesn’t reflect light, equipped with an IPS panel for a more accurate color reproduction, great contrast and larger view angles.

You even get a dedicated video card: The AMD Radeon R9 M375 with 4GB of GDDR5 graphic memory, which will boost performance while doing photo or video editing in programs that support GPU acceleration as well as some light gaming at a 1366 x 768 low/medium setting and a decent FPS rate.

Pros:

  1. Equipped with an Intel Core i7-6700HQ Quad Core + Hyper-Threading 2.6GHz-3.5GHz CPU.
  2. PCIe 256GB SSD which greatly improves the laptop’s responsiveness and booting speed.
  3. Large 1TB HDD so you get a good amount of storage.
  4. 1920 x 1080 Full HD resolution.
  5. Matte screen that doesn’t reflect sunlight.
  6. IPS display panel for better contrasts, accurate colors and larger view angles.
  7. AMD Radeon R9 M375 GPU with 4GB of GDDR5 graphic memory: Great for photo/video editing performance and a plus if you want to play some video games.
  8. Windows 10
  9. 2 x USB 3.0 and 1 x USB 2.0 ports.
  10. HDMI output to connect your display to an external screen.
  11. Ethernet RJ45 port for a direct internet connection.
  12. Backlit keyboard.
  13. SD card reader.
  14. 16GB of DDR4 RAM which is plenty to run multiple programs.
  15. 720p Webcam
  16. 802.11ac WiFi
  17. Bluetooth 4.0

Cons:

  1. No dedicated left and right click buttons.
  2. No optical drive
  3. No numpad
  4. Maintenance isn’t easy to do: The bottom panel can be hard to remove as it is attached tightly.
  5. Not that lightweight nor thin for a 14″: 13.8 x 1.0 x 10.2″ and 4.84lbs. Then again, this is a powerful configuration, so this is to be expected.

Workstations

HP 15.6″ OMEN Pro:

Click here to get the price on Amazon

About the HP 15.6″ OMEN Pro:

This workstation is great at this price when you consider all the good features it comes with.

It is equipped with an older but still highly powerful Intel Core i7-4870HQ Quad-Core + Hyper-Threading 2.5-3.7GHz CPU, 16GB of RAM, a 512GB PCIe SSD and a NVIDIA Quadro K 1100m 2GB Graphic Card.

The PCIe SSDs are the fastest SSDs on the market right now and they offer some of the best performance responsiveness wise and also when it comes to the laptop’s booting speed.

Pros:

  1. Equipped with a Intel Core i7-4870HQ Quad-Core + Hyper-Threading 2.5-3.7GHz CPU
  2. Dedicated NVIDIA Quadro K1100m 2GB workstation class graphic card.
  3. Windows 7 Pro (pro or con)
  4. 512GB PCIe SSD for a good storage capacity and awesome responsiveness and booting speed.
  5. 16GB of DDR3 RAM
  6. Full HD 1920 x 1080 resolution
  7. Matte screen that doesn’t reflect sunlight
  8. IPS display panel for better contrasts, accurate colors and larger view angles.
  9. Keyboard backlight
  10. Mini display and HDMI Output
  11. Touchscreen support
  12. 4x USB 3.0 ports
  13. 1 RJ45 Ethernet port
  14. 1080p Webcam
  15. Dual-band 802.11 ac WiFi
  16. Bluetooth 4.0
  17. SD card reader to add extra storage.
  18. Optical drive
  19. 3 year Warranty onsite

Cons:

  1. No numpad
  2. Keyboard layout could be better : for example the up and down arrow keys are half size which can be bothersome.
  3. Battery could be better : up to 5 hours per charge
  4. No dedicated left and right buttons

Dell Precision M6800:

dellprecisionworkstation– $1099.00 at Newegg

About the Dell Precision M6800:

If you are looking for a more powerful alternative with more ports, the Dell Precision M6800 will meet your needs.

It has a slightly more powerful Intel Core i7-4800MQ Quad Core CPU with 16GB of RAM to multi-task and run several programs at the same time with ease.

It also has a better graphic card  The Nvidia Quadro K3100m with 4GB of graphic memory. This is ideal if you are running programs that require a better graphic performance such as 3D modeling and animation programs.

At this price range, this model is refurbished meaning it has been restored to work and look like a new product. You also get a 90 days warranty.

Pros:

  1. Equipped with an Intel Core i7-4800MQ Quad Core + Hyper-Threading 2.7GHz-3.7GHz CPU.
  2. Dedicated workstation class NVIDIA Quadro K3100m 4GB graphic card.
  3. Windows 10 Pro
  4. 2 x 500GB SSHD which aren’t as fast as SSDs but faster than regular hard drives.
  5. 16GB of DDR3 RAM
  6. Full HD 1920 x 1080 resolution
  7. Easy maintenance : By removing the battery and 2 screws, you can access all the components such as storage and RAM.
  8. Optical drive.
  9. Optical drive can be swamped by an HDD or SSD for extra storage.
  10. Dedicated left and right trackpad buttons
  11. Trackpoint
  12. Matte screen that doesn’t reflect sunlight
  13. Sturdy build.
  14. Keyboard backlight
  15. VGA, DisplayPort and HDMI Output
  16. 2x USB 3.0 ports and 2 x USB 2.0 ports.
  17. Smartcard reader for extra security.
  18. 1 RJ45 Ethernet port
  19. 1x 1394 Firewire port
  20. 1 x USB/eSata port
  21. 1080p Webcam
  22. Dual-band 802.11 ac WiFi
  23. Bluetooth 4.0
  24. SD card reader to add extra storage.

Cons:

  1. Keyboard layout could be better : The arrow keys overlap with the numpad which can be bothering for some.
  2. Battery could be better: up to 5 hours per charge, although that’s the norm for a workstation
  3. No dedicated left and right Trackpad buttons
  4. Quite heavy : 8.4lbs

Dell Precision M5510:

– Click here to see the price on Amazon

About the Dell Precision M5510:

If you are looking for even more power in a lightweight workstation, the Dell Precision M5510 has plenty to offer.

It has a powerful Intel Core i7-6820HQ Quad Core CPU with 8GB of RAM which is great to run demanding tasks and multiple programs at once.

It also has a Nvidia Quadro M1000m 2GB Graphic card which is a more recent generation of Nvidia workstation class of graphic cards and as such, offers comparable performance to the Quadro K3100m.

Although it comes with a lower amount of RAM and a 500GB hard drive, this laptop can be easily be upgraded, with easy access to the storage and RAM slots, so I recommend it with that in mind.

At this price range, this model is refurbished meaning it has been restored to work and look like a new product. You also get a 90 days warranty.

Pros:

  1. Equipped with an Intel Core i7-6820HQ Quad Core + Hyper-Threading 2.7GHz-3.6GHz CPU.
  2. Dedicated workstation class NVIDIA Quadro M1000M 2GB graphic card.
  3. Windows 10 Pro
  4. 1 x 500GB Hard drive.
  5. 8GB of DDR4 RAM that can easily be upgraded to 16GB
  6. Full HD 1920 x 1080 resolution
  7. IPS display panel for better contrasts, accurate colors and larger view angles.
  8. Easy maintenance : By removing the base plate you can access the free storage slot, the existing hard drive and RAM.
  9. Free m.2 PCIe Slot if you need more storage.
  10. Matte screen that doesn’t reflect sunlight
  11. Quality aluminum build.
  12. Keyboard backlight.
  13. HDMI Output
  14. 2x USB 3.0 ports and 1x USB 3.0 (Type-C gen 2) port with video output.
  15. 720p Webcam
  16. Dual-band 802.11 ac WiFi
  17. Bluetooth 4.0
  18. PCIe card reader
  19. Lighweight for a Workstation : 4.4lbs

Cons:

  1. Keyboard layout could be better : The arrow keys overlap with the numpad which can be bothering for some.
  2. No dedicated left and right Trackpad buttons
  3. No numpad
  4. 5400 RPM hard drive aren’t the fastest drives. Although storage can easily be upgraded due to the easy maintenance of this laptop.

Lenovo ThinkPad P50:

Click here to get the price on Amazon

About the Lenovo ThinkPad P50:

If you are looking for more performance and storage space, this model is a good choice. You’re getting a more powerful Intel Xeon E3-1505m v5 processor, 16GB of RAM and a 256GB m.2 SATA SSD.

This laptop is also equipped with a workstation class NVIDIA Quadro M2000M 4GB graphic card and has a full HD 1920 x 1080 resolution screen with an IPS panel for accurate colors and wide viewing angles.

Being a Thinkpad, build quality is excellent. With 4 RAM slots, an empty M.2 slot and an empty 2.5″ drive bay, you can definitely upgrade this laptop according to your needs.

This model has some extra security features such as a fingerprint reader, smartcard reader and a boot power on password.

Pros:

  1. Equipped with a Intel Xeon E3-1505m v5 Quad-Core + Hyper-Threading 2.8-3.7GHz CPU.
  2. Dedicated workstation class NVIDIA Quadro M2000M 4GB graphic card.
  3. Pre-installed Windows 7 Pro. You can use Windows 10 if you prefer
  4. 256GB M.2 sata SSD that greatly improves the laptop’s responsiveness and booting speed.
  5. 16GB of DDR4 RAM and can be upgraded to up to 64GB.
  6. There are four slots of RAM and two are empty so the laptop can easily be upgraded to 32GB by adding 2 8GB memory sticks.
  7. 1 m.2 SSD empty slot and 1 2.5″ slot to add extra storage capacity.
  8. Full HD 1920 x 1080 resolution
  9. Matte screen that doesn’t reflect light
  10. IPS display panel for better contrasts, accurate colors and larger view angles.
  11. Keyboard backlight
  12. Mini display and HDMI Output
  13. Smart card reader for extra authentication security.
  14. Fingerprint reader for extra authentication security.
  15. 4 x USB 3.0 ports and 1 x USB 3.1 (Type C) Port.
  16. 1 RJ45 Ethernet port
  17. 720p Webcam
  18. Dual-band 802.11 ac WiFi
  19. Bluetooth 4.0
  20. Dedicated left and right click buttons.
  21. Great build quality
  22. Battery can be easily removed so it can be changed.
  23. SD card reader to add extra storage.
  24. Trackpoint
  25. Good keyboard for typing.
  26. Spill-resistant keyboard
  27. Numpad

Cons:

  1. Storage space by default is a bit small. Adding a hard drive or a second M.2 SSD might be a good idea
  2. SSD based on the M.2 SATA III protocol: A PCIe SSD would offer significantly higher performance
  3. No Optical drive

Upgrade your Laptop:

Upgrade your RAM:

RAM can easily be upgraded on most laptops. Do note that some laptops cannot be upgraded at all, due to their unique design. A quick google search should provide that info. Feel free to ask me in the comment section if you aren’t sure and can’t find the info.

Visit The Best Computer Memory (RAM) article for my recommendations. Note that you’ll want SODIMM RAM, either DDR3 or DDR4 depending on your laptop.

Upgrade your hard drive:

You can upgrade your hard drive to a faster and/or a larger hard drive. See our article on The Best Hard Drives (HDD) For Your Money and scroll down to the best 2.5″ hard drives for my recommendations.

Some laptops accept hard drives with a 7mm height, others with a 9.5mm height.

Upgrade to a SSD or upgrade your current SSD to get higher capacity and/or higher performance!

A SSD (Solid State Drive) is far faster than a hard drive (See our SSD FAQ) and it also consumes less power than a hard drive, so replacing a hard drive by a SSD will slightly boost your laptop’s battery life.

If you want to upgrade your hard drive to a SSD, I recommend that you read our The Best SSDs (Solid State Drives) For Your Money article.

I also recommend getting an external hard drive enclosure, so you can put your hard drive in it and use it for additional storage

When you replace the hard drive that your laptop came with, I recommend putting it in the Sabrent USB 3.0 2.5″ SATA Hard Drive Enclosure from Amazon or from B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

This particular enclosure comes with a retractable cable that is connected to the enclosure, so you don’t lose/forget it and it makes the whole package more compact too. It comes with an extension cord if you need it.

Looking for a different external case or need a specific cable? Leave a comment if you need assistance with finding what’s best for your needs.

USB DVD and Blu-Ray Drives

If your laptop doesn’t come with an optical drive and you want one, here are my recommendations for external USB optical drives.

USB DVD Burner

The LG GP60NB50 8x, from Amazon or from B&H (Worldwide Shipping), is the one with the best customer reviews.

USB Blu-Ray Burner

I recommend three USB Blu-Ray burner. Make sure to plug them in an USB 3.0 port to get the maximum speed possible.

In order of price and burning speed:
Pioneer BDR-XD05S 6x, from Amazon or $74.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

– ASUS BW-12D1S-U 12x from Amazon or $99.95 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

OWC Mercury Pro External USB 3.0 16x Blu Ray reader/writer, $129.50 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

WiFi routers, WiFi Adapters and Bluetooth adapter:

Need a WiFi router, an USB WiFi adapter or an USB Bluetooth adapter for your laptop? Check out our recommendations for The Best WiFi Routers, Best WiFi Adapters and Bluetooth Adapter.

Conclusion

I hope that you’ve enjoyed this article.

With this being such a long article with many recommendations and alternatives, you may find some typos.

Alternatively, you may believe that there’s a better option than my recommendation.

Or you may have some questions.

In any case, please leave a comment below and I’ll get back to you, to help find the best laptop for your needs and to answer your questions.