The 9 Best Laptops to Buy in 2018

Shop for the best laptops for work, gaming, graphic design and more

We're always on-the-go these days, which means our electronics are as well. Laptops allow us greater mobility, and between work and personal use, you spend so much time on it, so it's important to make sure you're buying the right one.

Are you looking for a gaming laptop that’ll play the latest titles without skipping a frame? Want a slick notebook that’ll turn heads in the boardroom? Or perhaps you’re on a budget, and want the best laptop money can buy for less than $400. Laptops have different specializations, and recent innovations are even blurring the line between tablet and laptop (hey there, Lenovo's Yoga 910). So whatever your laptop needs are, we've got you covered. Read on to discover the best laptops of 2018.

Best Overall: Best Overall: Apple 13" MacBook Pro

Apple’s latest upgrade to the MacBook Pro might look identical to its previous model on the outside, but on the inside, it makes some massive upgrades. It packs in a 2.3GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor with Turbo Boost up to 3.6GHz, plus 8GB RAM and 256GB SSD storage. And now, the 13-inch 2560 x 1600-pixel display produces eye-popping details and accurate colors at 123 percent of the sRGB spectrum, making it a perfect pick for digital designers. While this version comes complete with a Touch Bar — a multi-touch OLED display panel that offers up contextual controls and visual settings that change depending on what app you're using — you can also purchase a version without it.

Apple has come under fire for its keyboard design in the past, but the latest model upgrades to the more responsive second-generation butterfly keyboard design. It also comes equipped with speakers that will blow you away for an ultraportable. So whether you’re an Apple fanboy or a devout PC user, there’s no denying that Apple’s newest MacBook Pro is hands-down the best laptop of 2018.

Best 2-in-1: Lenovo Yoga 910

Lenovo’s Yoga 910 series is summed up easily as it’s a superb blend of good looks, power and portability. The Yoga series is best known for its watchband hinge that allows you to use the computer in practically any position. Add in a nearly-bezel-free 13.9-inch display, 2.7GHZ Intel Core i7 processor, 16GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD hard drive and you’ve compiled a standout computer. All the good looks and charm combined with around 10 hours of battery life help the Yoga 910 in continuing to stand out from the pack.

The all-aluminum unibody case feels durable and solid and, at just a half-inch thin, it’s under three-pound weight makes it feel as portable as it does attractive. The addition of the 13.9-inch 3840 x 2160-pixel display adds more than 10 percent screen real estate than the once default 13.3-inch computer display. The 6mm wide bezel is a nice addition that makes the screen feel like it's floating right in midair.

When it comes to performance, the blend of the 910’s internals mean you’ll have no issue with running more than a dozen tabs in Chrome, Netflix and a Word document without interruption. The dual bottom-mounted JBL speakers are good enough for movie viewing, but there’s room for improvement in the next iteration of the Yoga series. Two USB 3.0 Type-C ports help future-proof the 910, as does the built-in fingerprint reader for added security.

Need some more help finding what you're looking for? Read through our best 2-in-1 laptops​ article.

Best Under $400: Asus F556UA-AB32

If you're looking for a quality laptop without forking over a ton of money, and you don't need the latest processor and greatest graphics card, budget laptops are more than capable of satisfying most of your needs. The current best-selling laptop on Amazon is the Asus F556UA-AB32, and it’s a winner at less than $400.

The F556UA-AB32 is a 15.6” laptop with a 2.3 GHz Core i3 processor, Intel HD integrated graphics, 1,000 GB HD and 4 GB of RAM. The display offers full HD (1920 x 1080) and you get three USB ports, HDMI-out and VGA-out. In essence, Asus has built a laptop that offers everything the general user wants without any extra bells and whistles that would drive the price up. This is the perfect choice for school or office, and can play demanding videos full-screen without any issues.

It has fast WiFi, thanks to the latest 802.11ac wireless technology, and is protected by concentric circles in a matte black finish. One feature that sets it apart from other laptops in the budget category is an ergonomic keyboard with IceCool technology to keep the palms cool, even as the laptop is pushed to the limit. With a capable processor, a massive hard drive and attractive design features, the F556UA-AB32 is unbeatable in its price range.

Need some more help finding what you're looking for? Read through our best budget laptops article.

Best for Portability: 13.3" Apple MacBook Air

We recommend the 13.3" MacBook Air as the most portable laptop on the market. Weighing under three pounds, the .68" thick MacBook Air is slim enough to slip into any backpack or carry-on bag. It has a larger screen than the later model and more connecting ports (Thunderbolt 2, SD card slot, two USB ports), making for a more practical choice than the 12” model.

It may look a bit dated now compared to some of the top picks above, but that’s because the design hasn’t really been updated significantly since its introduction in 2010. For many, it’s a perfect design. The large trackpad is the best on the market, with a smooth glass surface that responds to time-saving gestures. Another benefit is that Apple’s iLife suite is included free of charge, which gives you access to proprietary software such as GarageBand and iMovie.

The MacBook Air has excellent build quality, fantastic 12-hour battery life and a very capable 1.6 GHz Intel i5 processor paired with Intel HD Graphics 5000 or above. It also has 8 GB of RAM and 1600MHz memory speed. The maximum resolution is 1440 x 900 – a deal-breaker for those who like to watch 1080p movies in full resolution on their laptop, but on the plus side the high-speed 128 GB internal flash storage hard drive makes the 13.3" MacBook Air zip along at speeds many other laptops can’t reach.

Best for Work: Lenovo ThinkPad T450s

Need a laptop with a battery that can last a trans-Pacific flight? What if it also had an award-winning ergonomic keyboard for extra comfort, and a 14" HD screen for reviewing mock-ups and presentations? If yes, then it sounds like you need the Lenovo ThinkPad T450s, the latest and greatest in Lenonvo’s line of laptops specifically designed for business use.

This powerful computing machine comes with a three-cell lithium ion battery that can last seven to eight hours of continued usage, and you can even upgrade to a six-cell battery that can keep you connected for around 10 hours. It is also only 3.8 pounds, which is light enough that you won't mind carrying it back and forth to meetings. As for durability, it has a carbon-fiber lid and a magnesium body, and even passes rigorous MIL-SPEC tests for high temperatures and humidity.

The tech specs are also sufficient, though not the best on the list. A 500 GB SSD and Intel 5th Generation Core i5 CPU make this a fast laptop, but the 8 GB SDRAM DDR3 isn’t the best out there. It has plenty of connectivity features, including three 3.0 USB ports, VGA, a Mini DisplayPort and Bluetooth 4.0 technology that lets you video conference with a wireless headset. And good news for those who are prone to spilling coffee: The 6-row keyboard is spill-resistant. The biggest drawback? Its trackpad, which leaves a lot to be desired in terms of responsiveness.

Need some more help finding what you're looking for? Read through our best business laptops article.

Best for Gamers: Razer Blade (GeForce GTX 1060) 14" HD

If you’re in the market for a top-notch gaming laptop, specs will be no doubt be on your mind. You’ll want an exceptional display, a powerful core and a graphics card that has a lightning fast frame rate.

As they say, you get what you pay for, and that’s exactly true with this premium gaming laptop. Its specs are stacked: the 14-inch IPS Full HD has exceptional visual clarity (1920x1080 pixels) and crisp colors; the 2.8 GHz 7th Gen Intel Core i7-7700HQ processor with 512GB PCIe SSD and 16GB RAM delivers unprecedented performance that lets you boot and launch games faster; its battery lasts a respectable eight hours and the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 graphics are among the best. (Nvidia recently launched its 10-series parts and, given the cost increase of the 9-series, are definitely worth the splurge.)

Carry out commands with voracious speed, thanks to its anti-ghosting keyboard, which registers concurrent keystrokes impressively. The Razer’s Synapse software also lets you program macros and remap your keys, plus customize lighting — each key is capable of reproducing 16.8 million colors.  

Clocking in at a super thin 13.6 x 9.3 x .7 inches and weighing just over four pounds, the Razer Blade is the perfect combination of power and portability. (If you prefer the larger 17-inch screen, perhaps opt for a desktop instead.) All in all, this computer is a masterpiece that looks as good as it performs.

Need some more help finding what you're looking for? Read through our best gaming laptops and best gaming laptops under $1,000 articles.

Best for Creatives: Razer Blade Stealth 4K

Gamers aren’t the only ones who require fast processors, plenty of RAM and the latest GPUs in their laptop. Artists and graphic designers need fast and powerful machines to render models in 3D, and high resolution HD screens for best image quality. Considered to be the best Apple MacBook Pro alternative, the Razer Stealth matches Apple in terms of processing power and eclipses it in resolution with a stunning 4K touchscreen.

Although Razer is thought of as a gaming company, that reputation just means it built the Stealth with the speed and processing power to run the most demanding design programs. Take for, for example, the 2.7GHz 7th generation Intel Core i7 processor that can be overclocked to 3.5GHz for the most demanding applications. And it has a very fast 16 GB of dual-channel onboard memory RAM.

But what really makes this laptop the best choice for artists and graphic designers is the 12.5-inch 4K Touch Display screen. It delivers 100 percent Adobe RGB color space coverage for incredibly bright images at an unparalleled resolution of 3840 x 2160. A powerful Intel HD Graphics 620 card gets the best out of your visuals, and with USB-C Thunderbolt 3 technology, this is the laptop to edit footage in 4K.

The design is also quite modern and portable. It is incredibly thin (.52") and a featherweight 2.8 pounds, and it's all packed into a durable chassis made out of aircraft grade aluminum. Just don’t expect the battery to last that long. At heavy usage, it will survive a middling eight hours.

Runner-Up, Best Portability: Acer Swift 7

At just under 10mm thick, Acer’s Swift 7 is a fantastic looking ultrabook featuring a 7th generation Intel Core i5-7Y54 processor, 8GB of RAM, a 256GB SSD hard drive and a 13.3” 1920 x 1080-pixel full HD widescreen display. Incredibly, at just .39” thin, Acer manages to squeeze up to nine hours of battery life inside what is one of the thinnest laptops in the world. All that battery life will help you enjoy the 2x2 802.11ac with MU-MIMO technology, which is three times faster than standard WiFi.  

While the inside has plenty to rave about, Acer’s gold-colored Swift 7 includes a pair of USB-C ports for both charging and additional accessories along with a headphone jack. The thin size does mean some sacrifices (Acer left the cooling fan on the design floor but that’s OK, since heat never appears to be an issue. Additionally, Acer included an oversized touchpad that’s 5.5 inches wide and three inches deep, almost double a more traditional touchpad, and its great to use with Windows 10 multi-touch gestures such as tap-to-click.

Overall, the Intel Kaby Lake Core i5 processor offers just enough “oomph” in terms of day-to-day performance, but the exceptional design offers a powerful tradeoff. The bottom line with performance is that the Swift is more than good enough for all but the most demanding tasks such as Photoshop and movie editing, but won’t match beefier computers like the MacBook Pro.

Interested in reading more reviews? Take a look at our selection of the best Acer laptops

Runner-Up, Best 2-in-1: Microsoft Surface Book (Intel Core i5, 8GB RAM, 128GB)

It’s odd to call this souped up Surface Book a runner-up because it certainly holds its own against other devices. Though we’ve snuck it into the 2-in-1 category, it’s really a 3-in-1, functioning equally beautifully in laptop mode, clipboard mode (vertical orientation) and draw mode (horizontal orientation) with help from the Surface Pen.

Featuring an Intel Core i5 processor and up to 12 hours of video playback, there’s really nothing second-rate about it. The 13.5” PixelSense touchscreen with 3000 x 2000 resolution produces sharp images with realistic color. It shines when using intensive software such as SolidWorks 3D CAD, AutoCAD Revit and Adobe Premiere Pro, making it another solid choice for creative folks.

At 12.3 x 9.14 x 0.9 inches and 3.34 pounds, it’s heftier than our some others, but still a viable on-the-go option. Customizable for your unique needs, you can opt for an i5 or i7 processor, 8GB or 16GB or RAM and up to 1TB of storage. It’s pricey compared to other ultraportables, but again, that depends largely on your configuration.


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