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 $1300.

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, Panel type (TN, IPS, etc.), 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 $1300.

Looking for all our articles on laptops?

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

A few reminders:

Summary

Click on any of these links to jump to the section that interests you. Alternatively, scroll down to see them all, in the same order as they are presented here.

The best mid-range laptops:

  1. Ultrabooks: thin, lightweight
    Standard screen ultrabook
    – 2-in-1 convertible screen Ultrabook
    – Detachable screen ultrabook
  2. Apple Macbook
  3. Gaming laptops
  4. Traditional 15.6″ laptop
  5. 17.3″ entertainment and desktop replacement laptop
  6. Business laptops
  7. Workstations

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 December 6th 2016.

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 Zenbook is by definition an ultrabook: It’s highly portable with its 13.3″ screen, its weight of 2.6lbs and it is only 0.5″ thick. 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 which also greatly improves the booting speed of the device.

All of  this makes it the perfect travel laptop.

Pros:

  1. Equipped with a Intel Core i5-7200U Dual-Core + Hyper-Threading 2.5-3.1GHz CPU.
  2. 256GB SSD that is a lot faster than a regular HDD, it greatly improve 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 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.

ASUS ZenBook UX303UB:

– Click here to see the price on Amazon

About the ASUS ZenBook UX303UB:

This model is basically an upgraded version of the model above. Ideal if want more storage space (512GB), an even higher resolution (3200 x 1800) display that offers touch support and more RAM (12GB) to improve multi-tasking.

It is equipped with a slightly older 6th generation CPU that’s just as powerful Intel i7-6500U CPU and a dedicated Geforce GT 940M video card, allowing you to 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 plenty of storage and is a lot faster than a regular HDD, it greatly improves responsiveness especialy 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 play some of the latest games on a low resolution.
  6. Quad HD 3000 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.

Alternative

ASUS ZenBook UX310UA:

– Click here to see the price on Amazon

About the ASUS ZenBook UX310UA:

If you are looking for an alternative without a touchscreen, more memory and more storage capacity, this could be a better option for you.

Its i5-6200U CPU is a bit slower but not that much, it has an impressive 16GB amount of RAM, a Full HD 1920 x 1080 matte IPS display and 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.

Acer Swift 7:

Click here to see the price on Amazon
$1045.05 at Newegg

About the Acer Swift 7:

This is the world’s thinnest laptop, as of December 2016. It is an incredible 0.39″ / 9.9mm thin.

I don’t recommend it if you need sustained high-performance, like for photo or video editing, but for the everyday casual tasks, it is plenty fast, with its latest 7th generation Intel Core i5 7Y54 CPU, 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SDD.

It is ultra portable as it only weight 2.48lbs and is an incredible .39″ thick and the battery life lasts up to 9hrs which is more than great. This makes it a perfect tool to travel with.

Pros:

  1. Equipped with an Intel Core i5 7Y54 Dual-Core + Hyper-Threading 1.2-3.2GHz CPU.
  2. 256GB SSD which is a lot faster than a regular HDD, 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 resolution.
  6. IPS panel: Great contrast, accurate color reproduction and large viewing angles.
  7. Great battery life of around 9 hours for web surfing with Wifi.
  8. 2 x USB 3.1 (Type C) ports, one of them support video output
  9. Included USB Type-C to Type-A and USB-C to HDMI adapters
  10. Fanless = No noise
  11. HD Webcam
  12. 802.11ac WiFi featuring 2×2 MU-MIMO technology
  13. Bluetooth 4.0
  14. Corning Gorilla Glass to make the screen more damage resistant.
  15. Extremely portable: 12.78 x 9.04 x 0.39″ and 2.48lbs
  16. In my opinion it is a very good looking and stylish design.

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 RJ45 Ethernet port.
  4. 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)
– $789.00 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 pretty much 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.
  2. 512GB SSD which is fairly high capacity for a SSD and is a lot faster than a regular HDD, it greatly improves responsiveness especially when booting the laptop.
  3. 8GB of DDR3 RAM to run multiple programs.
  4. Windows 10
  5. 2-in-1 convertible screen to switch to tablet mode for whatever suits your needs.
  6. Great Battery : up to 8hrs.
  7. Full HD 1920 x 1080 1080p sceeen, anti-glare so it doesn’t reflect light.
  8. IPS display panel for better contrasts, accurate colors and wider view angles.
  9. Micro SD card reader.
  10. HD Webcam.
  11. Decent keyboard layout.
  12. 2 x USB 3.0 and 1 x USB 3.1 (Type C) port.
  13. micro-HDMI output to plug in your display on a external screen.
  14. Ethernet RJ45 output.
  15. Thin and light: 12.60″ x 8.66″ x 0.55″ inches and 2.87lbs
  16. 802.11ac Wireless
  17. Bluetooth 4.1
  18. In my opinion it has a beautiful design and good looking finish.
  19. 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.
  20. 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.

Acer Aspire R 14:

– Click here to see the price on Amazon
– $799.00 at B&H (Worldwide shipping)
– $819.99 at Newegg

About the Acer Aspire R 14:

If you are looking for a convertible laptop that has a more powerful CPU and a bigger screen than my previous recommendation, the Acer Aspire R 14 is the right choice for you.

It has a more powerful i7 6500U that is capable of handling heavier workloads than the ASUS ZenBook UX360CA which means you can run programs that require a more sustained performance without any problems. It keeps a great amount of storage with a 512GB SSD that increases responsiveness and booting speed and also has 8GB of RAM to handle multiple programs at the same time.

This laptop is 0.73″ thin and weights 4.19lbs which is pretty good for a 14″ ultrabook.

Pros:

  1. Equipped with an Intel Core i7-6500U Dual-Core + Hyper-Threading 2.5-3.1GHz CPU.
  2. 512GB M.2 SSD that is a lot faster than a regular HDD, it greatly improves responsiveness especially when booting the laptop.
  3. SSD can be upgraded by removing the bottom panel of the laptop. M.2 SATA III SSD
  4. 2-in-1 convertible screen to switch to tablet mode for whatever suits your needs.
  5. Windows 10
  6. 8GB of DDR3 RAM.
  7. Great Battery: up to 9hrs.
  8. Thin and light : 13.54″ x 9.65″ x 0.73″ and 4.19lbs
  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. Docking port.
  13. Backlit keyboard
  14. Good trackpad
  15. Good build quality
  16. Solid screen hinges
  17. 2 x USB 3.0 port,  1 x USB 2.0 port and 1 x USB 3.1 port (Type-C).
  18. HDMI output to connect your display on external screens.
  19. 802.11ac WiFi
  20. Good speakers
  21. Bluetooth 4.0
  22. Dedicated volume buttons

Cons:

  1. Keyboard layout could be better : There are keys right above the left and right arrow keys.
  2. No optical drive. You can get an external USB powered optical drive, if you want to.
  3. RAM is soldered, cannot be upgraded

Lenovo Yoga 900:

– Click here to see the price on Amazon 
– $949.00 at B&H (Worldwide shipping)
– $1049.99 at Newegg

About the Lenovo Yoga 900:

This model is equipped with a powerful i7-6500U 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 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 i7-6500U Dual-Core + Hyper-Threading 2.2-3.2GHz CPU.
  2. 256GB SSD which is plenty of storage and is a lot faster than a regular HDD, it greatly improves responsiveness especialy 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. 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.

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 my first recommendation in the convertible ultrabooks but it is equipped with an huge 1TB SSD.

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

Detachable screen ultrabook

Acer 12″ Aspire Switch Alpha 12:

Click here to see the price on Amazon
$709.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)
$709.99 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 dailty tasks such as browsing the internet, emails and watching videos.

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. Battery life is average, expect 4-5 hours
  3. Terrible speakers
  4. Front camera is only 2MP

Acer 12″ Aspire Switch Alpha 12:

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

About the Acer 12″ Aspire Switch Alpha 12:

This a more powerful version of the Acer Switch Alpha 12 with a i7-6500U CPU. It also holds double of the storage space.

Pros:

  1. Equipped with an Intel i7-6500 Dual-Core + Hyper-Threading 2.5-3.1GHz CPU.
  2. 512GB SSD for fast boot, good amount of storage 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 for the tablet and keyboard
  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

Cons:

  1. Trackpad is average, better on the Windows Surface Pro.
  2. Battery life is average, expect 4-5 hours
  3. Terrible speakers
  4. Front camera is only 2MP

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, it is equipped with a quite powerful i7 CPU, 8GB of RAM and has a large 512 GB SSD. This device is also a beautiful Quad HD 2160 x 1440  resolution display.

Pros:

  1. Equipped with an Intel i7 CPU.
  2. 512GB SSD for fast boot, good amount of storage and a more responsive system.
  3. 2-in-1 detachable screen to switch to tablet mode for whatever suits your needs.
  4. Windows 10
  5. 8GB of DDR3 RAM.
  6. USB 3.0 port.
  7. Great kickstand
  8. Thin and light: 0.36″ and 1.7lbs for the tablet
  9. Quad HD 2160 x 1440 resolution
  10. MicroSD card reader to add an extra MicroSD card to add more storage for your music, videos and images.
  11. Mini Displayport allows you to connect an external monitor to it.
  12. 802.11a WiFi
  13. Bluetooth 4.0
  14. Good battery life: up to 8 hours.
  15. Included Surface pen

Cons:

  1. Type cover is not included
  2. Not a fanless design

Alternative

Microsoft Surface Pro 4

This is the newer version of the surface Pro series. It has more recent specs with the 6th generation 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 seperatly.

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 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. Longest 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 MacBook Pro 13.3″

– Click here to see the price on Amazon

About the Apple MacBook Pro 13.3:

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 13.3.

This model also has double the storage space of the MacBook Air MMGF2LL/A: 256GB , which is not that much but Apple has cloud storage options such as iCloud to store your data.

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.

Apple MacBook 2015 model

– Check the price on Amazon

About the Apple MacBook 2015 model:

If you are looking for a Macbook that is as lightweight as possible, has a long battery life and is ideal for web browsing, office work, emails, watching movies and listening to music, the Macbook (12″) is the perfect laptop for you.

This MacBook has a Intel Core M Dual-Core CPU which isn’t a powerhouse but is perfect for casual tasks, 8 GB of RAM to run multiple programs and a beautiful 2304 x 1440 Retina display with a IPS panel for better contrasts, accurate colors and larger view angles.

This model has a high capacity 512 GB SSD which is plenty of storage and improves the laptop’s responsiveness and booting speed.

Pros:

  1. Incredibly thin and lightweight: 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 12″ MacBook 2016 model

– $1149.99 at B&H (Worldwide shipping)

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 a slightly 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 lightweight: 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 13.3″ MacBook Pro MF839LL/A

– $1179.00 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

About the Apple 13.3″ MacBook Pro MF839LL/A:

This MacBook Pro model is the early 2015 model which is more recent than the other MacBook Pro 13.3 recommended above, that means it packs a slightly better CPU than its predecessor and higher performance memory (RAM)

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 ME293LL/A

– Click here to see the price on Amazon

About the Apple MacBook Pro ME293LL/A:

If you are looking for the Macbook that offers the best CPU performance at this price range, this is the model for you. It has a 4th generation i7 Quad-core processor, 8GB of RAM to run multiple programs and a 256GB SSD for storage.

This model is ideal if you are looking for a professionnal laptop that can run some heavy applications do to tasks such as photo and video editing with heavy files.

Pros:

  1. Outstanding display: 2880 x 1800 15.6″ Retina display, with an IPS panel for accurate colors and great viewing angles.
  2. Equipped with an Intel i7 4750HQ Quad-Core + Hyper-Threading 2.0-3.2GHz CPU.
  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 for a 15.4″ laptop: 4.46 lbs and 0.71″ 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

Cons:

  1. 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.
  2. No LAN port. You can a USB adapter for 10/100 speed, or a Thunderbolt adapter for Gigabit speed.
  3. No optical drive. You can get an external USB powered optical drive, if you want to.
  4. No Numpad
  5. 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.

Gaming laptops

ASUS ZX53VW-AH58

– Click here to see the price on Amazon

The ASUS ZX53VW-AH58 is quite an interesting gaming laptop.

You get a powerful Intel Core i5 Quad-core CPU, a great Nvidia Geforce GTX 960M 4GB GDDR5 dedicated video card, 8GB of RAM, a 512GB SSD, a high resolution 1920 x 1080 matte screen with an IPS panel for accurate colors, great contrast and large viewing angles and a backlit keyboard.

Video games should be playable at a resolution of 1920 x 1080 with medium, high or maximum details.

You’re getting a laptop with a 6th generation Intel Core i5 quad-core, a Geforce GTX 960 4GB, a 512GB SSD, an IPS 1080p screen, a backlit keyboard and more at this price!

Pros:

  1. Nvidia Geforce GTX 960M 4GB dedicated video card
  2. Intel Skylake 6th generation quad-core CPU: Intel Core i5-6300HQ 2.3-3.2GHz Quad-Core
  3. 8GB of DDR4 RAM
  4. RAM can be upgraded to 32GB (2x16GB DDR4). See our recommended RAM upgrades toward the end of the article.
  5. High performance 512GB M.2 SSD.
  6. 802.11ac WiFi
  7. Screen with a 1920 x 1080 resolution, anti-glare
  8. Screen with an IPS panel for more accurate colors, large viewing angles and great contrast
  9. ASUS accidental damage warranty covers drops, spills and electrical surges, with free 2-way shipping
  10. Backlit keyboard
  11. 1x USB Type-C, 2x USB 3.0 port, 1x USB 2.0 port
  12. Great sound system, for a laptop
  13. HDMI
  14. LAN RJ-45 port

Cons:

  1. No optical drive: Get an external USB optical drive if you want one. I recommend some further down in the article.
  2. Battery life could be better: Up to 6 hours battery life with low brightness and no WiFi. Realistically, expect 2-4 hours for web browsing, 1-2 hours for gaming.
  3. Not exactly lightweight: 15.1 x 0.8 x 10″, 5.5 pounds

ROG Strix GL502VM 15.6″

– Click here to see the price on Amazon
$1274.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)
$1336.78 at Newegg

This laptop is a significant upgrade from the previous model as it has a Nvidia Geforce 1060 6GB graphic card which offers about 25% more performance than the 980m graphic card, so a lot more than the 960m featured in the laptop above.

Compared to the recommendation above, this is also a major upgrade for different reasons. First of all, you have a better CPU going to the i7-6700HQ from the i5-6300HQ. On top of that add a more powerful video card combined with Nvidia G-Sync which prevents screen tearing and minimizes stutter and input lag.

On top of that this laptop is extremely portable for a gaming laptop as it only weights 4.8 lbs. Anything below 5lbs is light for a gaming laptop. As a matter of a fact, you couldn’t get a gaming laptop that powerful and that lightweight until now due to the new 10xx series Nvidia graphic cards.

Pretty much all games should be playable at a 1920 x 1080 resolution with medium, high or even maxed out details.

This is one of the best mid-range gaming laptop for your money as of today.

Pros:

  1. Equipped with the Nvidia Geforce 1060 6GB GDDR5
  2. Intel Core i7 6700HQ 6th gen Skylake Dual-Core + Hyper-Threading 2.6-3.5GHz CPU
  3. Two sticks of 8GB (16GB) of DDR4 RAM. Can be upgraded to 32GB if you replace the two 8GB by two 16GB of RAM
  4. RAM can be upgraded to 32GB (2x16GB DDR4). See our recommended RAM upgrades toward the end of the article
  5. RAM and hard drive are easy to access, if you want to upgrade them.
  6. Screen is equipped with an IPS Panel which means greater viewing angles, better contrast and more accurate colors.
  7. Matte screen that doesn’t reflect sunlight.
  8. 1920 x 1080 1080p Full HD display
  9. Supports Nvidia’s G-Sync which prevents screen tearing, minimizes stutter and input lag for an improved and smoother gameplay.
  10. 1 TB hard drive so you have plenty of space for your games and all your content.
  11. Pretty light and thin for a gaming laptop : 0.94″ thick and 4.8 lbs
  12. Numpad
  13. HD webcam
  14. Decent keyboard for typing
  15. Bluetooth 4.0
  16. 802.11ac WiFi
  17. HDMI and Mini DisplayPort output.
  18. Windows 10
  19. Empty m.2 SSD slot to add an extra storage device.
  20. 4 USB ports: 3 USB 3.0 and 1 USB 3.1 (Type C) ports.
  21. Backlit Keyboard.
  22. SD card reader
  23. ASUS covers this model with an accidental damage warranty for a year.

Cons:

  1. Keyboard layout could be better. For example, the right arrow key overlaps with the Numpad on the right. This can be annoying for some people.
  2. No Optical drive
  3. Average battery life : up to 5hrs so expect around 1-2 hours while gaming.
  4. TN panel: Poor contrast, not accurate color reproduction and poor viewing angles.

Traditional 15.6″ laptop

Eluktronics W650RZ1:

About the Eluktronics W650RZ1:

This laptop comes off at a surprising price considering what it’s composed of. It has a powerful Intel Core i7-6700HQ Quad-Core + Hyper-Threadinvg CPU and 16GB or 32GB of RAM depending on the configuration which is more than enough to run multiple programs that require a lot of resources.

This model comes in different configurations so you can easily find one that suits your needs.

All of this with a Full HD 1920 x 1080 that gives you a beautiful display combined with the IPS panel that gives accurate colors, great contrasts and large view angles.

At this price point, when it comes to a powerful model, you won’t get a better traditional laptop than this!

If you are looking for something that is more lightweight, check out the alternatives below.

Pros:

  1. Equipped with an Intel Core i7-6700HQ Quad-Core + Hyper-Threading 3.4-4GHz CPU.
  2. 16GB or 32GB of DDR4 RAM which is a considerable amount of memory.
  3. SSD drive that improves responsiveness and booting speed.
  4. Matte screen that doesn’t reflect sunlight.
  5. RAM can be upgraded to up to 32GB.
  6. Screen with a Full HD 1920 x 1080 resolution
  7. Great battery life: up to 12 hours per charge but you can expect a bit less, realistically, while working on it.
  8. Dedicated left and right click buttons.
  9. Good build quality
  10. Easy maintenance : There is a panel in the back that is held by two screws. It is easy to undo and get to the storage drive or RAM to upgrade it.
  11. No bloatware : there is no pre-installed software other than a clean windows install on the computer
  12. 3x USB 3.0 ports, 1x USB 2.0 port, and 1x USB 3.1 (Type C) port.
  13. HDMI and VGA Output to plug in your display to an external screen.
  14. SD card reader for SD Cards : Can be useful for extra storage or to upload media from devices such as cameras.
  15. 802.11 ac WiFi
  16. Optical drive
  17. Full HD webcam
  18. Numpad
  19. Bluetooth 4.2

Cons:

  1. Keyboard layout could be better: the right arrow key overlaps with the numpad so that could be bothersome.

Get the Eluktronics W650RZ1:

256GB SSD and 16GB of RAM : $899.99 at Newegg
512GB SSD and 16GB of RAM : $999.95 at Newegg
1TB SSD and 32GB of RAM : $1199.95 at Newegg

Alternative

ASUS K401 14″

$999.00 at Newegg

About the ASUS K401 14″

If you are looking for an alternative from the 512GB SSD Eluktronics  model, this one is more portable with a 14″ screen and a weight of 3.7lbs and holds the same amount of storage space. It’s not as powerful as it only holds 12GB of RAM and a 17-5500 CPU but it still is far more then enough to do plenty of tasks and even some light gaming with the NVIDIA Geforce 940m.

17.3″ entertainment and desktop replacement laptop

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.

Eluktronics W670RN:

– $999.99 at Newegg

About the Eluktronics W670RN:

This is a high performance laptop at a great price with a powerful Intel Core i7-6700HQ Quad Core CPU, 16GB of RAM and a fast and responsive 256GB SSD.

It also comes with a NVIDIA GeForce 940MX 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 i7-6700HQ Quad Core + Hyper-Threading 2.6GHz-3.5GHz CPU.
  2. 256GB SSD drive: Much faster than a regular hard drive and an even faster booting speed.
  3. Dedicated NVIDIA GeForce 940MX graphics card, which allows you to play most games on low visual settings with decent FPS and some games on medium settings well.
  4. Windows 10
  5. 16GB of DDR4 RAM.
  6. Full HD 1920 x 1080 resolution
  7. Matte screen that doesn’t reflect sunlight.
  8. Keyboard Backlight
  9. 3 x USB 3.0  and 1 x USB 2.0 ports.
  10. HDMI and VGA output to connect your display and a external screen.
  11. Ethernet RJ45 port for a direct internet connection.
  12. Easy maintenance : only two screws in the back that hold a penel where you can upgrade the RAM or storage
  13. Extra slot to add an SSD or HDD.
  14. 9-in-1 card reader.
  15. 802.11ac WiFi
  16. Bluetooth 4.2
  17. Optical drive
  18. Numpad

Cons:

  1. TN panel: Poor contrast, not accurate color reproduction and poor viewing angles.
  2. 1.43″ thick and more than 6lbs: Not that portable
  3. Keyboard layout could be better: The arrow keys overlap with the numpad.

Lenovo Y700-17ISK

– $1099.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)
$1079.99 at Newegg

About the Lenovo Y700-17ISK:

If you are looking for a 17.3″ Laptop that is powerful, responsive, has a considerable amount of storage space and is also fit for gaming, this is the right model for you.

It has a powerful Intel Core i7-6700HQ Quad Core CPU, 16GB of RAM and a 512GB PCIe SSD  which are the fastest drives when it comes to responsiveness and booting speed. It also has a 1TB HDD to greatly improve the storage capacity of the laptop.

This model also is equipped with a NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960M graphic card that can run the most recent games at low, medium and even some at high visual settings with a decent FPS rate.

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 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 sunlight.
  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.

Eluktronics W670RN

1299.95 at Newegg

This model is the same as my first recommendation in the 17.3″ laptops but has double the amount of RAM : 32GB and a large 1TB SSD!

Pros:

  1.  Equipped with an Intel Core i7-6700HQ Quad Core + Hyper-Threading 2.6GHz-3.5GHz CPU.
  2. 1TB SSD drive: Plenty of storage and also much faster than a regular hard drive with an even faster booting speed.
  3. Dedicated NVIDIA GeForce 940MX graphics card, which allows you to play most games on low visual settings with decent FPS and some games on medium settings well.
  4. Windows 10
  5. 32GB of DDR4 RAM.
  6. Full HD 1920 x 1080 resolution
  7. Matte screen that doesn’t reflect sunlight.
  8. Keyboard Backlight
  9. 3 x USB 3.0  and 1 x USB 2.0 ports.
  10. HDMI and VGA output to connect your display and a external screen.
  11. Ethernet RJ45 port for a direct internet connection.
  12. Easy maintenance : only two screws in the back that hold a penel where you can upgrade the RAM or storage
  13. Extra slot to add an SSD or HDD.
  14. 9-in-1 card reader.
  15. 802.11ac WiFi
  16. Bluetooth 4.2
  17. Optical drive
  18. Numpad

Cons:

  1. TN panel: Poor contrast, not accurate color reproduction and poor viewing angles.
  2. 1.43″ thick and more than 6lbs: Not that portable
  3. Keyboard layout could be better: The arrow keys overlap with the numpad.

Business laptops

HP 14″ ProBook 440 G3 Notebook:

Click here to see the price on Amazon

About the HP  ProBook 430 G3:

If you are looking for a model that has a great portability, good performance and decent storage capacity this laptop will do the trick. It has 16 GB of RAM which is plenty to run multiple programs. A quite powerful Intel Core i7-6500U CPU and a 256GB SSD and good security features for all your business needs!

This laptop is also pretty light as it weights 3.6lbs which makes it easy to carry around.

It also has security features such as a fingerprint reader, BIOS protection and a HP security software to encrypt your hard drive data.

Pros:

  1. Equipped with an Intel Core i7-6500U CPU Dual-Core + Hyper-Threading 2.5-3.1GHz CPU.
  2. 256GB  SSD that is a lot faster than a regular HDD, it greatly speeds up your overall performance and booting speed.
  3. 16GB of DDR3 RAM allows you to run a few programs at once.
  4. Windows 7 pro
  5. Battery life of around 5 hours for web browsing with WiFi on.
  6. Matte screen finish so it doesn’t reflect sunlight.
  7. Full HD 1920 x 1080 1080p resolution.
  8. SDXC card reader: Useful to expand the storage capacity, transfer pictures from digital camera, etc.
  9. 2 USB 3.0  and 1 USB 2.0 port.
  10. 1 HDMI and 1 VGA output to plug your display on external screens.
  11. Dedicated touchpad right and left click buttons.
  12. Easy maintenance : a maintenance hatch makes it easy to change RAM and hard drive.
  13. The battery can be easily removed and changed.
  14. There is a free M.2 SATA slot to add extra storage.
  15. Bluetooth 4.2
  16. 802.11ac WiFi
  17. RJ45 Ethernet output
  18. HD 720p webcam.
  19. Finger print reader for better authentication security.
  20. Encryption platform
  21. SD card reader to add SD cards for extra storage.
  22. Good  build quality.
  23. Highly portable: 13.4 x 9.6 x 1″ and 3.6lbs

Cons:

  1. No optical drive, so if you want to listen to music on audio CDs or to DVDs or Blu Ray disks, you’ll need to use an external USB optical drive.
  2. No numpad
  3. Screen equipped with a low-quality TN panel: Poor contrast, not accurate color reproduction and poor viewing angles.
  4. Keyboard layout could be better : the up and down arrow keys are half sife which can be bothersome.

If you are looking for more storage space, this model has an version with a 512GB SSD in it:

Get the HP  ProBook 430 G3 512GB SSD : $999.00 at Newegg

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

Lenovo ThinkPad X250 12.5″:

$1299.00 at Newegg

About the Lenovo ThinkPad X250:

If you are looking for a very portable laptop that with a lot of storage capacity and a battery that can easily last the work day the Thinkpad X250 will fit your needs.

It is equipped with an older but quite powerful i7-5600U and 8GB of RAM. It has a large 1TB SSD for a great amount of storage and a superior responsiveness and booting speed. It is also thin and lightweight at 12″ x  8.2″ x 0.8″ and 3.13lbs.

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

If you are looking for a similar model with a bigger display, check out the alternative below!

Pros:

  1. Equipped with an Intel Core i7-5600U Dual-Core and hyper-threading 2.6-3.2GHz CPU.
  2. Average battery life: Expect 5 hours of web browsing with WiFi
  3. Huge 1TB SSD for a great amount of storage and better responsiveness and booting speed.
  4. Windows 10 Pro
  5. 8GB of DDR3 RAM.
  6. IPS display panel for better contrasts, accurate colors and larger view angles.
  7. Keyboard has spillage protection.
  8. Easy maintenance : you only have to remove the bottom cover and the memory, drive, battery and fan are accessible.
  9. HD 1366 x 768 resolution
  10. 2 x USB 3.0 ports
  11. RJ45 Ethernet port
  12. HDMI output
  13. SD card reader and Smart card reader to read SD cards and Smart cards
  14. Finger print reader for better authentication security.
  15. Security software for data protection.
  16. Dedicated touchpad buttons for left and right click.
  17. Trackpoint.
  18. Keyboard Backlight
  19. Great keyboard for typing.
  20. solid build.
  21. Good keyboard layout
  22. 720p HD webcam
  23. 802.11ac WiFi
  24. Bluetooth 4.0
  25. Good weight  : 3.13lbs

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.

Alternative

Lenovo ThinkPad T450s
$1299.99 at Newegg

About the Lenovo ThinkPad T450s :

If you are looking for a ThinkPad alternative that has more RAM and a bigger screen, the T450s is a good choice. The extra RAM allows you to run more programs at once and it has a 14″ IPS  full HD 1080p 1920 x 1080 screen.

Otherwise it has similar features as the ThinkPad x250.

Workstations

HP 15.6″ OMEN Pro:

Click here to get the price on Amazon
$999.00 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

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

Lenovo ThinkPad P50:

Click here to get the price on Amazon

About the Lenovo ThinkPad P50:

If you are looking to upgrade to more performance and storage space this model is a good choice. You are going for 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.

This model has some extra security features such as a fingerprint 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 sunlight
  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 pe
  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.