The Best Mid-Range Laptops?

By that, I mean the laptops that offer the best features according to their category, at multiple price points ranging from $700 to $1500.

Looking for all our articles on laptops?

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

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 is to 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 17 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 $1500.

Summary: The Best Mid-Range laptops

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

  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.
  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: Security, solid, easy to service, fairly powerful, portable and lightweight
  7. Power Users: Ideal for photo/video/3D editing: High performance CPU, RAM and 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 July 21st 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 an Intel Core i5-7200U Dual-Core + Hyper-Threading 2.5-3.1GHz CPU.
  2. 256GB SSD storage drive: Greatly improves responsiveness, reduces boot time, more reliable and more shock resistant than an hard drive.
  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. Excellent 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. Not a touchscreen
  3. Keyboard layout could be better: for example the power button on the top right corner is part of the layout, this can be bothersome.
  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. No RJ45 Ethernet port.
  6. No numpad.

ASUS Zenbook UX310UA:

– Click here to check the price on Amazon
– $729.00 at B&H (Worldwide shipping)

About the ASUS Zenbook UX310UA:

Compared to other ultrabooks, the ZenBook UX310UA offers two big pros:
– A total of 4 USB ports and a full size HDMI port not requiring any adapter.
– An empty 2.5″ drive bay, so you can add a 2.5″ hard drive or a 2.5″ SSD to have additional storage along with the M.2 SATA III SSD.

On the other hand, you get a slightly heavier and thicker laptop at 3.2lbs and .7″ thick.

Pros:

  1. Equipped with a Intel Core i7-6500U Dual-Core + Hyper-Threading 2.5-3.1GHz CPU.
  2. 256GB SSD storage drive: Greatly improves responsiveness, reduces boot time, more reliable and more shock resistant than an hard drive.
  3. Empty 2.5″ drive bay, allowing you to add another storage drive.
  4. Windows 10.
  5. 8GB of DDR4 RAM allows you to run multiple programs at once.
  6. 1920 x 1080 display resolution.
  7. Matte screen that doesn’t reflect light.
  8. Decent battery life: 7-8 hours.
  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 2.0, 1x USB 3.0 and 1x USB Type-C 3.1 ports.
  12. HDMI output
  13. HD Webcam
  14. Bluetooth 4.1
  15. Intel 802.11ac WiFi: Highly reliable
  16. Highly portable: 12.7 x 0.7 x 8.8″ and 3.2lbs
  17. ASUS International damage protection warranty for a year.

Cons:

  1. Limited viewing angles
  2. Not a touchscreen
  3. No optical drive. You can get an external USB powered optical drive, if you want to.
  4. Keyboard layout could be better : for example the power button on the top right corner is part of the layout, this can be bothersome.
  5. No RJ45 Ethernet port.
  6. No numpad.

512GB SSD, IPS display and a 13 hours battery life:
ASUS ZenBook UX306UA:

– $929.00 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

ASUS ZenBook UX306UA:

This is an higher end model that offers a better display with an IPS panel, meaning that you get wide viewing angles, more accurate colors and better contrast.

You get an higher capacity 512GB SSD storage drive, which greatly improves responsiveness, reduces boot time, is more reliable and more shock resistant than an hard drive.

With up to 13 hours of battery life, this is one of the best option if you need a long battery life.

Pros:

  1. Equipped with an Intel Core i7-6500U Dual-Core + Hyper-Threading 2.5-3.1GHz CPU.
  2. 512GB SSD storage drive: Greatly improves responsiveness, reduces boot time, more reliable and more shock resistant than an hard drive.
  3. Windows 10.
  4. 8GB of high performance 1866MHz DDR3L 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. Excellent battery life: Up to 13 hours
  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. 1 x USB Type-C and one USB 3.0 port.
  12. Speakers sound decent for such a small laptop
  13. MicrHDMI port to connect your display on a external screen.
  14. Good build quality : Aluminum casing.
  15. Webcam
  16. 802.11ac WiFi
  17. Bluetooth 4.1
  18. Highly portable: 0.5″ thick and 2.6lbs

Cons:

  1. No optical drive. You can get an external USB powered optical drive, if you want to.
  2. Keyboard layout could be better: Arrow keys are half size.
  3. No RJ45 Ethernet port.
  4. Micro-HDMI port will most likely require you to buy a new cable with a Micro-HDMI connector, or a Micro-HDMI to HDMI adapter.
  5. Battery can’t be removed and replaced.
  6. No numpad.

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

– Click here to see the price on Amazon
– $1299.00 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, but it is the quite powerful Intel i7-6500U CPU. You also get a dedicated Geforce GT 940M graphic card, allowing you to accelerate photo/video editing and play some video games at low settings too.

Equipped with an HDMI and a Mini Displayport video output ports, you can connect two external displays.

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. Touchscreen with a Quad HD 3200 x 1800 resolution.
  7. IPS panel: Great contrast, accurate color reproduction and large viewing angles.
  8. Battery life of up to 8 hours.
  9. Metal body
  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. 3 x USB 3.0 ports.
  13. HDMI and mini display port output to connect your display on a external screen.
  14. HD Webcam
  15. 802.11ac WiFi
  16. Bluetooth 4.0
  17. Highly portable: 12.7 x 8.8 x 0.8″ and 3.2lbs
  18. ASUS International damage protection warranty for a year.

Cons:

  1. Glossy screen reflects light
  2. Hinges are made of metal, but where they attach to the display housing, it is plastic. Will not last as long as an all metal design.
  3. No optical drive. You can get an external USB powered optical drive, if you want to.
  4. Keyboard layout could be better : for example the power button on the top right corner is part of the layout, this can be bothersome.
  5. Sound quality leaves to be desired: Sound tiny, not that powerful.
  6. No RJ45 Ethernet port.
  7. No numpad.

Dell XPS 13:

Core i5-7200U / 8GB RAM / 256GB SSD:
– Click here to check the price on Amazon
– $1049.00 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

Core i7-7500U / 8GB RAM / 256GB SSD:
– Click here to check the price on Amazon
– $1199.00 at B&H (Worldwide shipping)

Core i7-7500U / 16GB RAM / 512GB SSD:
– Click here to check the price on Amazon

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 closer to dimensions of a 11.6″ laptop thanks to its near bezel-less screen. It’s also lightweight at under 3lbs, 2.86lbs to be exact.

This model comes in two different recommendations. One has a newest generation Intel Core i5-7200U CPU, 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD, this is ideal if you are looking for a smooth and responsive system that can do daily tasks and that can multi-task relatively easily.

The other configurations offer a more powerful Intel Core i7-7500U CPU, 8GB or 16GB of RAM if you need to do heavier multi-tasking and a choice of either a 256GB or 512GB SSD. I recommend going for this configuration is you are looking to do tasks that require more performance.

Pros:

  1. Equipped with either a Intel Core i5-7200U Hyper-Threading 2.5-3.1GHz or Intel Core i7-7500U Hyper-Threading 2.7-3.5GHz CPU.
  2. 256GB or 512GB SSD which is a lot faster than a regular HDD, it greatly improves responsiveness especially when booting the laptop.
  3. Windows 10.
  4. A choice of 8GB  or 16GB 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 or 3200 x 1800 resolution depending on your configuration .
  9. IPS panel: Great contrast, vibrant 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 usually the case with 13″ laptops.

2-in-1 convertible screen ultrabook

ASUS ZenBook Flip UX360CA:
– Click here to check the price on Amazon
– $679.00 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 be used as a tablet, is great for web browsing, emails and watching videos, offers plenty of storage space and a beautiful display.

The Core i5-7Y54 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 i5-7Y54 Dual-Core + Hyper-Threading 1.2-3.2GHz 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 10hrs.
  8. Full HD 1920 x 1080 1080p sceeen, anti-glare so it doesn’t reflect light.
  9. IPS display panel for better contrasts, vibrant colors and wider view angles.
  10. Micro SD card reader.
  11. HD Webcam.
  12. Decent keyboard layout.
  13. 2 x USB 2.0, 2 x USB 3.0 and 1 x USB 3.1 (Type C) port.
  14. micro-HDMI output to plug in your display on a external screen.
  15. Thin and light: 12.60″ x 8.66″ x 0.55″ inches and 2.87lbs
  16. 802.11ac Wireless
  17. Bluetooth
  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. Keyboard isn’t backlit.
  3. No optical drive. You can get an external USB powered optical drive, if you want to.
  4. No full HDMI port means you’ll like have to get a micro-HDMI to HDMI cable or an adapter.

Samsung 13.3″ Notebook 9:

i5-7200U, 8GB RAM
– Click here to see the price on Amazon
– $997.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

i7-7500U, 16GB RAM
– Click here to see the price on Amazon
– $1099.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

About the Samsung 13.3″ Notebook 9:

You are looking at one of the thinnest and lightest convertible laptops on the market as of now. The Samsung Notebook 9 is only 0.55″ thick and weights a mere 1.8lbs. This is an outstanding laptop to carry around, and it comes with two different configurations to make sure that there is something that fits your needs.

It is equipped with a choice of either an Intel Core i5-7200U and 8GB of RAM for a more regular type of usage and normal tasks, or a Intel core i7-7500U CPU with 16GB of RAM for handling heavier tasks or programs while being more effective at multi-tasking.

For storage, this laptop has a 256GB PCIe SSD which are some of the fastest SSDs as of now. They greatly improve responsiveness and booting speed.

This laptop also has extra security features such as fingerprint scanner and TPM software.

If you are looking for a convertible laptop that has a more beautiful display and is similar in power, check out my next recommendation below!

Pros:

  1. Equipped with either an Intel Core i5-7200U Dual-Core + Hyper-Threading 2.5-3.1GHz  or Intel Core i7-7500U Dual-Core + Hyper-Threading 2.7-3.5GHzCPU.
  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. Screen brightness can go up to 550 nits to reduce glare and offer a better visibility.
  6. 8GB or 16GB of DDR4 RAM.
  7. Great Battery: up to 10hrs.
  8. Thin and amazing light weight: 0.55″ thin and 1.8lbs
  9. Full HD 1920 x 1080 display 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. HD Webcam.
  13. Backlit keyboard
  14. Fingerprint reader for extra authentication security
  15. 1 x USB 2.0, 1 x USB 3.0 port and 1 x USB 3.0 port (Type-C).
  16. HDMI video output
  17. 802.11ac WiFi
  18. Bluetooth 4.1

Cons:

  1. No optical drive. You can get an external USB powered optical drive, if you want to.
  2. No numpad
  3. Build quality isn’t that great

Lenovo Yoga 900:

– Clichere to see the price on Amazon

About the Lenovo Yoga 900:

This model is equipped with an older but 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 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 lightweight.

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. 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. Display with a 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

HP Spectre x360:
16GB / 512GB SSD:
– Click here to see the price on Amazon

About the HP Spectre x360:

Compared to the Samsung Notebook 9, this laptop has a much better build quality (Aluminum chassis), better speakers, is equipped with Intel WiFi which is more reliable than others and comes with a stylus for the touchscreen display.

It comes with a newest generation Intel Core i7-7500U processor which is fairly powerful and can handle demanding programs without any problem. My recommendation has 16GB of RAM which makes multi-tasking easy and a 512GB SSD storage drive which greatly improves the responsiveness of the laptop, its booting speed, reliability and shock resistance compared to an hard drive.

This laptop is highly portable being only 0.5″ thick and weights only 2.9lbs which is quite lightweight.

Pros:

  1. Equipped with an Intel Core i7-7500U Dual-Core + Hyper-Threading 2.7-3.5GHz CPU.
  2. 512GB 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. Narrow Bezel display
  6. 16GB of DDR3 RAM.
  7. Great Battery: up to 10hrs.
  8. Thin and light : 0.5″ thin and 2.9lbs
  9. Full HD 1920 x 1080 resolution
  10. IPS display panel for better contrasts, acurate colors and larger view angles.
  11. SD card reader to add an extra SD card to add more storage for your music, videos and images.
  12. Full HD Infra-Red Webcam.
  13. Backlit keyboard
  14. Solid aluminum chassis.
  15. Great speakers
  16.  1 x USB 3.1 Gen 1 port that is also used for charging and 2 x USB 3.1 GEN 2 port (Type-C).
  17. Video Output over USB Type-C port
  18. 802.11ac WiFi
  19. Bluetooth 4.2

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 numpad

Detachable screen ultrabook

Acer 12″ Aspire Switch Alpha 12:

Intel Core i5-6200U CPU, 256GB SSD:
Click here to see the price on Amazon
$680.17 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)
$680.17 at Newegg

Intel Core i7-6500U CPU, 512GB SSD:
– Click here to check the price on Amazon
– $999.00 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)
– $999.00 at Newegg

About the Acer 12″ Aspire Switch Alpha 12:

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

It is equipped with either an Intel i5-6200 or Core i7-6500U CPU. They are both dual-core + Hyper-Threading CPUs, with the Core i7-6500U running at higher frequencies: 2.5-3.1GHz, compared to 2.3-2.8GHz for the Core i5-6200U.

8GB of RAM is fine for any daily tasks such as browsing the internet, emails and watching videos and allows for some multi-tasking.

Other than the lower cost, two big pros for the Acer compared to the Microsoft Surface are:
1- The Acer’s fanless design, thanks to a unique cooling design, so this is a completely silent computer, unlike the Microsoft Surface.
2- Not only is the keyboard included (unlike with the Microsoft Surface, driving its cost even higher!) but it’s also backlit, unlike the separately sold Microsoft type cover keyboard.

It’s available with either a 256GB or a 512GB 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.

Pros:

  1. Dual-Core + Hyper-Threading Intel i5-6200U 2.3-2.8GHz or Core i7-6500U 2.5-3.1GHz CPU.
  2. 256GB or 512GB 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 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
  16. Good battery life : up to 8 hours.

Cons:

  1. Trackpad is average, better on the Windows Surface Pro.
  2. Speakers are below average
  3. 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,

Compared to the Acer Aspire Switch, it is equipped with a lower performance Intel Core i7-4650U CPU, the 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 Multi-touch tablet

The Microsoft Surface Pro 4 is a full-fledged Windows computer in a tablet.

This is the new 2017 model which gets a few updates:

– The CPUs are now 7th generation Kaby Lake Processors, which means that they get a performance boost.
– All non-Intel Core i7 processor models now have a fanless design, which means they are more silent than their predecessors
– Battery life gets a boost from 9 hours to 13.5 hours, according to Microsoft
– The Surface pen has now been improved, it is four more times pressure sensitive, which means it’s more precise.
– The Surface pen latency has been cut in half, from 45ms to 21ms, meaning that drawing feels more natural, with less latency between your input and it displaying on the screen.
– The biggest downside is that the Microsoft Surface pen is now sold separably.

Pros:

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

Cons:

  1. The Microsoft type cover is sold separately: Amazon, B&H ($99.99) or Newegg ($99.99)
  2. The Microsoft Surface Pen is now sold separately: Amazon or B&H ($59.99)

Get the Microsoft Surface Pro 4

Entry-level Intel Core m3, 4GB of RAM, 128GB of storage
– Click here to see the price on Amazon
$799.00 at B&H (Worldwide shipping)
– $799.00 at Newegg

Mid range Intel Core i5, 4GB of RAM, 128GB of storage
– Click here to see the price on Amazon
$999.00 at B&H (Worldwide shipping)
– $999.99 at Newegg

Mid range Intel Core i5, 8GB of RAM, 256GB of storage
– Click here to see the price on Amazon
– $1299.00 at B&H (Worldwide shipping)
– $1299.00 at Newegg

High-End Intel Core i7, 8GB of RAM, 256GB of storage

– Click here to see the price on Amazon
$1599.00 at B&H (Worldwide shipping)
$1599.00 at Newegg


High-End Intel Core i7, 16GB of RAM, 512GB of storage
– Click here to see the price on Amazon
– $2199.00 at B&H (Worldwide shipping)
$2199.00 at Newegg

High-End Intel Core i7, 16GB of RAM, 1TB of storage
– Click here to see the price on Amazon
$2699.00 at B&H (Worldwide shipping)
$2699.00 at Newegg

Apple Macbook

If you are looking for an Apple Macbook, we have articles dedicated to them:

1. How to choose the best Apple Macbook 12″
2. How to choose the best Apple Macbook Air 11
3. How to choose the best Apple Macbook Air 13
4. How to choose the best Apple Macbook Pro 13
5. How to choose the best Apple Macbook Pro 15

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 Best Mid-Range Gaming Laptops article.

Traditional 14-15.6″ laptop

Lenovo Flex 4:

8GB RAM / 512GB SSD:
– Click here to check the price on Amazon
– $769.00 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

16GB RAM / 256GB SSD:
– 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 a powerful latest generation Intel Core i7-7500U, a dual-core + Hyper-Threading CPU capable of reaching up to 3.5GHz while sipping power, so that this laptop still offers up to 9 hours of battery life.

I recommend two different configurations: One with 8GB of RAM, enough for some multitasking, along with 512GB of storage or the other one where you get 16GB of RAM, which is perfect to multi-task and handle multiple heavy programs at the same time without running out of memory, along with 256GB of storage.

Finally this is a convertible laptop, thanks to its 360 degree hinge and its touchscreen, allowing you to use this laptop in multiple modes. Mind you, with its weight, it’s more convenient as a laptop, it’s quite heavy compared to a tablet, in its tablet mode.

On the plus side, its build quality is excellent, being all made of metal.

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 2.7-3.5GHz CPU.
  2. 256GB or 512GB SSD that is a lot faster than a regular HDD, it greatly improves responsiveness especially when booting the laptop.
  3. 360 degree hinged screen to switch to tablet mode for whatever suits your needs.
  4. Fingerprint login
  5. Windows 10
  6. 8 or 16GB of DDR4 RAM.
  7. AMD Radeon R5 430 2GB DDR3: Better than integrated graphics
  8. Great Battery: up to 9hrs.
  9. Solid metal build
  10. 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.
  11. IPS display panel for better contrasts, accurate colors and larger view angles.
  12. SD card reader to add an extra SD card to add more storage for your music, videos and images.
  13. 720p HD Webcam.
  14. Backlit keyboard
  15. 2 x USB 3.0 port,  1 x USB 2.0 port.
  16. HDMI output to connect your display on external screens.
  17. 802.11ac WiFi
  18. RJ-45 LAN port
  19. Bluetooth 4.0
  20. Dedicated volume buttons

Cons:

  1. No optical drive. You can get an external USB powered optical drive, if you want to.
  2. No numpad
  3. Graphic card performance is limited: Only older, less demanding games can be played at a low resolution, such as 1024 x 768, 1280 x 800 or 1366 x 768, with low or medium.

ASUS VivoBook S510:

16GB RAM / 128GB SSD + 1TB Hard Drive:
– Click here to check the price on Amazon

32GB RAM / 128GB SSD + 1TB Hard Drive:
– Click here to check the price on Amazon

32GB RAM / 250GB SSD + 2TB Hard Drive:
– Click here to see here the price on Amazon

CUK ASUS VivoBook S510:

This is an ASUS VivoBook S510 that’s upgraded by the CUK (Computer Upgrade King) company, hence why it’s recommended in three different configurations.

CUK offers a 3 years warranty, which is a nice pro.

16GB or 32GB of RAM:
You get the choice between 16 or 32GB of RAM. 16GB allows for heavy programs and lots of multitasking. 32GB allows you to run multiple heavy programs and handle many heavy files and heavy projects without any problem.

Dual storage drive setup: the best of both worlds
What I like about this laptop is its dual storage setup. With the SSD, you get a PC that boots fast, program that launch fast and overall a more responsive laptop, while the hard drive gives you a lot of storage space.

Lightweight 15.6″ laptop:
Despite being a laptop with a 15.6″ screen, it’s roughly 29% lighter than the average 15.6″ laptop, weighting in at 3.56lbs compared to 5lbs for an average 15.6″ laptop.

Pros:

  1. Equipped with an Intel Core i7-7500U Dual-Core + Hyper-Threading 2.7-3.5GHz CPU.
  2. 128GB or 250GB SSD that is a lot faster than a regular HDD, it greatly improves responsiveness especially when booting the laptop.
  3. 3 years warranty from CUK.
  4. Fingerprint login through Windows Hello
  5. Windows 10
  6. 16 or 32GB of DDR4 RAM.
  7. Highly portable for a 15.6″ laptop: 3.56lbs, 14.2 x 9.5 x 0.7 inches
  8. Narrow screen bezels allows for a more compact and lighter weight laptop compared to the average 15.6″ laptop.
  9. Brushed aluminum lid
  10. 15.6″ screen with 1920 x1080 1080p Full HD resolution
  11. Screen with fairly large viewing angles and decent color reproduction (82% sRGB).
  12. Screen with matte finish: Doesn’t reflect light.
  13. SD card reader to add an extra SD card to add more storage for your music, videos and images.
  14. Backlit keyboard
  15. Fast battery charging: Up to 60% in 49 minutes.
  16. 1x USB 3.1 Type-C, 1 x USB 3.0 port,  2 x USB 2.0 port.
  17. HDMI output to connect your display on external screens.
  18. 802.11ac 2×2 WiFi
  19. Bluetooth 4.1

Cons:

  1. No numpad despite being a 15.6″ laptop.
  2. No optical drive. You can get an external USB powered optical drive, if you want to.
  3. Plastic sides and deck
  4. Battery life is on the shorter side. Expect 6-7 hours of web browsing
  5. Graphic card performance is limited: Integrated Intel HD 620
  6. Webcam quality is awful. Low 640 x 480 resolution.

Samsung 15″ Notebook 9:

8GB RAM, Integrated Intel graphics
– Click here to see the price on Amazon
– $1146.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

16GB RAM, Dedicated Nvidia Geforce 940MX graphic card
– Click here to see the price on Amazon
– $1297.99 at B&H

About the Samsung 15″ Notebook 9:

When it comes to mid-range traditional 14-15.6″ laptops, this is my favorite model.

Why? Because of its combination of a large 15″ screen with an incredible low weight of 2.73lbs, while being only 0.55″ thick.

This is in the same weight class as smaller 13.3″ ultrabook laptops!

Not only that, but this model also has a great battery life at up to 12 hrs.

You get a quite powerful Intel Core i7-7500U CPU and depending on your configuration, either 8GB or 16GB of RAM, it’s powerful enough to handle pretty much any daily tasks without any problem.

Another interesting feature is that the model equipped with 16GB of RAM also comes with a dedicated Nvidia GTX 940MX graphic card. This is interesting if you are looking to do some light gaming or professional work with your laptop.

All of this makes the Samsung 15″ Notebook the best mid-range traditional laptop you can get at the moment!

Pros:

  1. Equipped with an Intel Core i7-7500U Dual-Core + Hyper-Threading 2.7-3.5GHz CPU.
  2. 256GB SSD that is a lot faster than a regular HDD, it greatly improves responsiveness especially when booting the laptop.
  3. Great 12 hours battery life.
  4. Full metal case, magnesium alloy
  5. Windows 10
  6. Fast and secure login with the fingerprint reader, through Windows Hello
  7. Great keyboard layout
  8. 8GB or 16GB DDR3L 1866MHz RAM, depending on your configuration.
  9. The 16GB of RAM configuration comes equipped with a Nvidia Geforce 940MX dedicated graphic card.
  10. Full HD 1920 x 1080 display resolution.
  11. Matte display that doesn’t reflect light.
  12. IPS display panel for better contrasts, accurate colors and larger view angles.
  13. Screen has a 99% sRGB color space coverage
  14. Screen goes up to 350 nits, bright enough to be usable outdoors, with its matte finish
  15. Screen opens all the way back, 180 degrees
  16. Thin bezels
  17. MicroSD card reader to add an extra MicroSD card to add more storage for your music, videos and images.
  18. HD 720p Webcam.
  19. Backlit keyboard
  20. Fast charging: 20 minutes = 2.3 hours of battery life, according to Samsung.
  21. 4 USB ports in total: 3 x USB 3.0 port,  1 x USB 3.1 (Type-C) ports.
  22. USB Type-C port supports Thunderbolt 3
  23. HDMI output to connect your display on external screens.
  24. 802.11ac WiFi
  25. Bluetooth 4.1
  26. Thin and light build : 0.55″ thick and 2.73lbs!
  27. Highly portable for a 15″ laptop: 12.18″ x 8.19″ x 0.55″

Cons:

  1. No optical drive. You can get an external USB powered optical drive, if you want to.
  2. No numpad
  3. Magnesium casing isn’t the most rigid, but it won’t flex under normal usage.

Powerful 14-15.6″ with Intel quad-core CPUs:
Are you looking for a more powerful 14-15.6″ laptop with an Intel quad-core CPU? See the Power Users laptops further down.

17.3″ entertainment:

ASUS ROG Strix GL753VE:

Geforce GTX 1050 4GB + 1TB hard drive:
– Click here to check the price on Amazon
– $1049.00 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

Geforce GTX 1050 Ti 4GB + 256GB SSD + 1TB hard drive
– Click here to see the price on Amazon
– $1244.00 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

About the ASUS ROG Strix GL753VE:

For those of you who prefer a laptop with a large 17.3″ display, the ASUS ROG Strix GL753VE is a great choice.

Whether it’s watching movies, audio, video or photo content as well as gaming, this laptop should have no problem handling it all.

For those of you who intend to work with 4K content, you’d be better off with our recommendation in the power users section, which is equipped with a 4K screen.

Equipped with a powerful Intel Core i7-7700HQ CPU, 16GB of RAM, you won’t run out of processing power.

Graphic wise, you have the choice between two dedicated graphic cards: The Geforce GTX 1050 and the more powerful Geforce GTX 1050 Ti. Both can run modern games at 1920 x 1080, although you’ll have to scale back details in the most demanding games. If you don’t mind slightly lower visual graphic settings in the latest games, only play older games or don’t care much for gaming, the Geforce GTX 1050 is a fine choice. Otherwise, if you want better visual details in video games thanks to a more powerful graphic card, pick the model with the Geforce GTX 1050 Ti.

The other reason to pick the model with the more powerful Geforce GTX 1050 Ti graphic card is the higher performance storage. That model also comes with a 256GB SSD drive, along with the 1TB hard drive, which means that your laptop will boot faster and it will be more responsive overall, while having plenty of storage space. The base model, with the Geforce GTX 1050, only comes with the 1TB hard drive, but with an available M.2 slot, so you can always add a SSD later.

It is also equipped with a Full HD 1920 x 1080 resolution 17.3″ display, along with an IPS panel, meaning that you get large viewing angles, better color reproduction and better contrast. All of which are ideal if you want to watch movies, photo or any visual content really.

Pros:

  1. Powerful Intel Core i7-7700HQ Quad-Core + Hyper-Threading 2.8-3.8GHz CPU.
  2. Geforce GTX 1050 4GB or Geforce GTX 1050 Ti 4GB dedicated graphic card
  3. On the GTX 1050 Ti model only: 256GB SSD storage drive which reduce loading and booting time, as well as improve overall computer responsiveness
  4. On both model: 1TB hard drive which is a greater amount of storage to store plenty of games, music, videos, images and applications.
  5. Hard drive is a 7,200rpm variant, not the slower 5,400rpm variant, so it offers higher performance.
  6. 1920 x 1080 Full HD resolution.
  7. Matte screen that doesn’t reflect sunlight.
  8. IPS panel: Good contrast, great color reproduction and wide viewing angles.
  9. Windows 10
  10. 1x Type-C USB 3.1, 3x x USB 3.0 and 1 x USB 2.0 ports.
  11. 1x Mini-Displayport and one HDMI video outputs, allows you to connect two external displays at once.
  12. Ethernet RJ45 port for a direct internet connection.
  13. RGB backlit keyboard with colors that can be customized. Customizable 4-zone lighting so you can adjust it as you see fit.
  14. Keyboard with 30-key rollover
  15. SD card reader.
  16. 16GB of DDR4 RAM which is plenty to run multiple programs.
  17. 802.11ac WiFi
  18. Bluetooth 4.0
  19. Optical drive
  20. Numpad

Cons:

  1. Being such a large laptop (16.3 x 1.3 x 10.7″), it’s less portable and much heavier at 6.2lbs
  2. Poor webcam quality
  3. Speakers are okay. Not bad, not great, okay. Maximum volume isn’t that loud.
  4. Limited battery life: Expect 3 to 5 hours of web browsing
  5. Build quality is okay, not great. Mix of metal and plastic.
  6. No dedicated left and right click buttons.

Business laptops

HP 14″ ProBook 440 G4 Notebook:
– $782.48 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 latest generation Intel Core i5-7200U processor combined with 8GB of RAM to offer good 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 i5-7200U 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. 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.

ThinkPad Yoga 260 12.5″:

– Click here to see the price on Amazon
– $839.99 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 ($159.00) or Newegg ($138.95)

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

ASUS ZenBook Pro UX501VW
New: – Click here to see the price on Amazon

Refurbished: – Click here to see the price on Amazon

If you are looking for a larger 15.6″ screen model that offers a great very high resolution 4K touchscreen display with an IPS panel which means vibrant colors, great contrast and large view angles, with a more powerful CPU and a dedicated graphic card, I suggest going for the ASUS ZenBook Pro.

You get a very high capacity 512GB high performance NVMe SSD with transfer rates up to 1400MB/s, as well as a fast Thunderbolt 3 USB Type-C port along with three USB 3.0 ports.

You also get ASUS 1 year International Warranty with accidental damage protection. It’s also fairly thin and light for such a powerful laptop.

With such a powerful CPU, 16GB of RAM, a dedicated graphic card and high-performance storage, this laptop can handle most tasks without any problem. It’s a great choice for photo and video editing.

Do you work with 4K content? In that case I’d suggest getting the model with the 4GB graphic card (960M 4GB, GPU) for optimal performance.

Pros:

  1. Equipped with an Intel Core i7-6700HQ Quad Core + Hyper-Threading 2.6GHz-3.5GHz CPU.
  2. 16GB of DDR4 RAM which is plenty to run multiple programs.
  3. Good battery life for a 15.6″ screen laptop with a 4k resolution : around 6 hours with WiFi on while surfing the web.
  4. PCIe 512GB SSD which greatly improves the laptop’s responsiveness and booting speed.
  5. Touchscreen display
  6. 4K 3840 x 2160 display resolution.
  7. IPS display panel for better contrasts, vibrant colors and larger view angles.
  8. Nvidia GeForce GTX 960m with 2GB of GDDR5 graphic memory: Great for photo/video editing performance and a plus if you want to play some video games.
  9. Windows 10
  10. 3x USB 3.0 and 1x USB 3.1 (Type-C) ports
  11. HDMI and 1 Thunderbolt 3  output to connect your display to an external screen.
  12. Ethernet RJ45 port for a direct internet connection.
  13. Backlit keyboard.
  14. SD card reader.
  15. Numpad
  16. Webcam
  17. 802.11ac WiFi
  18. Bluetooth 4.0
  19. ASUS 1 year International Warranty with accidental damage protection.
  20. Good weight and size for a 15.6″ laptop : 5lb and 0.8″ thick.

Cons:

  1. Glossy screen reflect light which means under bright light sources it can be hard to see.
  2. No optical drive

Dell XPS 15 9550

Core i7-6700HQ, 16GB RAM, 1TB SSD
-$1599.00 at B&H (Worldwide shipping)

Core i7-6700HQ, 32GB RAM, 1TB SSD: – $1749.00 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)dellxps15

If you are looking for a model that combines power, an outstanding display and portability, the Dell XPS 15 9550 is what you want.

Thanks to very thin screen bezels, it’s much smaller than the usual 15.6″ laptop, it’s more like a 14″ laptop, with dimensions of 14.1 x 0.7 x 9.3″. Weighting in at 4.5lbs, it’s one of the lightest 15.6″ laptop available: the only lighter models are no where as powerful as the Dell XPS 15.

This doesn’t come at the cost of power! You get the powerful Core i7-6700HQ Quad-Core + Hyper-Threading CPU.

The base model comes with 16GB of RAM while the highest-end model comes with 32GB, enough for more demanding workloads, multiple heavy programs at the same time and heavy multitasking.

For a limited time, B&H offers the highest configuration, with the Core i7-6700HQ, 32GB of RAM and a 1TB SSD for only $1799.00, a saving of $1000, so jump on it if you want a very powerful and lightweight machine at an outstanding price!

The 15.6″ touchscreen is outstanding: 3840 x 2160 resolution, IPS panel for great viewing angles, great contrast and vibrant colors. It covers at least 100% of the Adobe RGB color space, so it’s ideal for photo and video editing.

Thanks to the dedicated Nvidia Geforce GTX 960M 2GB graphic card, Adobe apps will benefit from GPU acceleration.

There is also a refurbished configuration of this model available here from Amazon. Refurbished models are restored to work and look like new products. You get a 90 days warranty on refurbished products.

Pros:

  1. Equipped with a Intel Core i7-6700HQ 2.6-3.5GHz Quad-Core + Hyper-Threading CPU.
  2. PCIe 1TB SSD which greatly improves the laptops responsiveness and booting speed.
  3. Good battery : up to 9hrs
  4. Covers 100% of the Adobe RGB colors which means you get a better color reproduction. Ideal for professional work such as photo editing.
  5. 3840 x 2160 4K resolution display.
  6. IPS display panel for better contrasts, accurate colors and larger view angles.
  7. Nvidia Geforce 960M GPU with 2GB of GDDR5 graphic memory: Great for photo/video editing performance and a plus if you want to play some video games.
  8. Easy maintenance : after removing the bottom panel screws you get an easy access to RAM, hard drive slot and m.2 slot if you ever need to upgrade these components.
  9. Windows 10
  10. 2 x USB 3.0 and 1 x USB 3.1 (Type-C) ports.
  11. HDMI and Thunderbolt 3 output to connect your display to an external screen.
  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 4.1
  18. Thin and light despite its screen size : 14.1 x 0.7 x 9.3″ and 4.4lbs

Cons:

  1. No dedicated left and right click buttons.
  2. No RJ45 Ethernet port
  3. No optical drive
  4. No numpad

Workstations

Dell Precision M6800:

dellprecisionworkstation– $999.00 at Newegg

About the Dell Precision M6800:

Equipped with a 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.

Graphic card wise, the Nvidia Quadro K3100m with 4GB of graphic memory can handle most projects.

Storage wise, you get two 500GB SSHD, or hybrid hard drives, which cache the most used files, so Windows boots faster, same goes for the programs that you use often. It’s better than regular hard drives, not nearly as fast as SSD, but no where as expensive either and you get plenty of storage space.

On the downside, it’s heavy.

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 swapped 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. Very heavy : 8.4lbs

Dell Precision M7510:

– Click here to see the price on Amazon

About the Dell Precision M7510:

If you are looking for even more power in a lighter workstation (4.4lbs!), 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.

You also get a 256GB SSD for a better responsiveness and booting speed.

Although it comes with a lower amount of RAM and a 256GB SSD, this laptop can be easily be upgraded, with easy access to the storage and RAM slots, so I recommend it with that in mind, if you prefer a lighter laptop.

You also get an excellent battery life, with up to 13 hours.

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. 256GB SSD for a better responsiveness and booting speed.
  5. 8GB of DDR4 RAM that can easily be upgraded to 16GB
  6. 4 memory slots, you can upgrade up to 64GB (4x16GB)
  7. Full HD 1920 x 1080 resolution
  8. IPS display panel for better contrasts, accurate colors and larger view angles.
  9. Easy maintenance : By removing the base plate you can access the free storage slot, the existing hard drive and RAM.
  10. Free m.2 PCIe slot if you need more storage.
  11. Matte screen that doesn’t reflect sunlight
  12. Quality aluminum build.
  13. Keyboard backlight.
  14. Excellent keyboard layout
  15. Trackpoint
  16. Dedicated mouse buttons, below and above the trackpad
  17. HDMI and Mini Displayport Output
  18. 4 USB 3.0
  19. 720p Webcam
  20. Dual-band 802.11 ac WiFi
  21. Bluetooth
  22. Card reader
  23. Excellent battery life: up to 13 hours

Cons:

  1. Relatively heavy: 6.16lbs, although some workstations are definitely heavier than that

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 GP65NB60, from Amazon or from B&H (Worldwide Shipping), is the one with the best customer reviews.

USB Blu-Ray Burner

I recommend two 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)

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.