The best laptops of 2020 are experiencing a seismic shift. With the near-simultaneous launches of AMD’s Ryzen 4000 and Intel’s Comet Lake-H mobile CPUs, we have a real fight for the first time ever: Ryzen 4000’s cores vs. Intel’s clock speeds.
On the gaming side (where the GPU matters more than the CPU), Nvidia has unveiled a new generation of mobile graphics technologies. Check out the latest news and reviews below.
Latest laptop news and reviews
Even budget laptops sometimes hold surprises. Like two Chromebooks we reviewed recently that are both affordable and good, and a laptop with16 hours of battery life:
- Stand back, there’s a new gold standard (and our top pick) for 15-inch workhorses: The Dell XPS 15 9500 ($2,254 at Dell.com) is the finely tuned, high-performance machine that could turn your head from the MacBook Pro 16. Read our full review.
- You used to get what you paid for with a Chromebook—the least-expensive models were often disappointing—but a couple of new models are changing the trend. The Lenovo Chromebook Duet is a 2-in-1 design with detachable keyboard ($300 at Best Buy), and the HP Chromebook x360 12b has a 360-degree hinge ($360 at Adorama). Both are affordable and good machines for everyday use.
- The Lenovo Yoga C640 we tested (a $600 Best Buy exclusive) may be saddled with a dual-core i3 processor and cramped storage, but it’s blessed with 16—yes, sixteen—hours of battery life. For budget users who need to be mobile, this is a godsend. Read our full review.
- We just reviewed two gaming laptops that sport 300Hz screens. That ultra-high refresh rate makes looking at your screen all day a delicious experience. Read our reviews of the MSI GS66 Stealth ($2,999 on Amazon) and the Acer Predator Triton 500 ($2,800 on B&H Photo).
- Are two screens better than one? The Asus ROG Zephyrus Duo ($3,699 on Asus.com) may be the first dual-screen laptop that gets things right. Read our full review.
Best thin-and-light laptop
It’s official: You can have both performance and light weight in the same laptop, and Dell’s new XPS 13 7390 is here to prove it. With its 6-core Intel Core i7-10710U CPU, this thin, light machine (available via Dell.com) has actually outpaced bigger workhorse models.
And no, before we get you too worked up: The XPS 13 7390 and its Comet Lake-U CPU aren’t going to outpace a current workstation with, say, a smoking-fast, state-of-the-art Core i7-9750H. But it is the first ultraportable laptop to actually outrun older 7th-gen “H”-class CPUs in heavier laptops, including those in its XPS 15 cousins.
The amount of performance in this amount of portability was simply unheard of just, well, earlier this year. Read our full review.
[$1,620 as tested; available on Dell.com]
Best laptop under $500
The Motile M142 14-inch notebook PC may be the best budget laptop you’ve never heard of, by a company that understands low prices. That’s because the Motile M142 is Walmart’s house brand, and it’s one that the retailer itself often passes over to promote brand-name PCs.
Yes, the M142 cuts some corners. At about 6.5 hours, its battery life is comparatively poor. The screen is somewhat dim, and lacks touchscreen capabilities. Given the price, however, it’s a laptop we wouldn’t mind recommending to friends and family with tight budgets. Read our full review.
Best 14-inch/15-inch workhorse
The Dell XPS 15 9500, an overdue refresh to the company’s high-end workhorse, arrives just in time for it to be truly considered the “MacBook Pro killer” it’s always aspired to be. Dell gave it a top-to-bottom redesign, including a 16:10 aspect ratio, 15.6-inch panel running 4K+ with HDR400 and Dolby Vision support—and the slenderest of bezels. The result is a stunning all-screen look that is likely to set the style for other laptop makers to emulate. Read our full review.
The Lenovo Yoga C940 15 is a workhorse laptop with a few bonus features: a touchscreen that flips around into tablet mode, a built-in stylus for writing or sketching, and—thank heavens—a full-sized USB-A port to complement its two USB-C connections. It even fits in a number pad without cramping its excellent keyboard. While screen backlighting is a bit uneven and audio quality could be better, it’s a solid choice for those who want a luxurious workhorse PC. Read our full review.
Best convertible laptop
HP’s latest Spectre x360 13t has something to say to other thin-and-light laptops, which, it seems, are all about taking good things away from you. Where others say No, the HP Spectre x360 13t simply says Yes. You want a standard M.2 SSD? Got it, the Spectre x360 13t says. NBA-level of travel in your keys? Sure thing. USB Type-A port?! Of course the Spectre x360 13t has that, too. When we head-to-head compared the HP Spectre x360 13t to the Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 7390, another leading convertible, the HP came out on top. Read our full review.
Dell’s Latitude 7400 2-in-1 (available via Dell.com) is a 14-inch business laptop that delivers all-day battery life and performance. It achieves a simply incredible 18 hours of battery life using a powerful Intel 8th-gen Whiskey Lake processor, and it offers a full complement of ports plus a slightly gimmicky feature called ExpressSign-in (yes, it’s really spelled that way). While our review unit clocked in at a whopping $2,800, the starting price is $1,599, meaning you could make prudent downgrades to the configuration to fit your budget. Read our full review.
Best budget convertible laptop
The Lenovo Yoga C740-15IML (currently $790 on Lenovo.com) is one of the most impressive 2-in-1 laptops we’ve seen in its price range. Weighing in at just three pounds and jammed with nifty features, the slim, sturdily built, Yoga C740 packs in plenty of productivity pep, and it can last the whole day without its AC adapter. A bright, Dolby Vision-enabled display plus Dolby Atmos sound provide plenty of eye and ear candy. A physical camera shutter (which, unfortunately, is a little tough to slide open and closed) and a fingerprint reader help to bolster security.
In a world where high-end laptops no one can afford get all the attention, and budget laptops can be a bucket of compromises, it’s nice to see a mid-priced laptop that has so much going for it. The Lenovo Yoga C740 easily earns our Editor’s Choice award and our top pick for budget convertibles.
[$900 MSRP; $790 as reviewed]
Best 2-in-1 / tablet / hybrid laptop
This category originally started out as the best “Surface” category because, well, for a time, there was nothing like Microsoft’s 2-in-1 / tablet / hybrid device. Competitors picked up the pace, and the Lenovo Miix 520reigned for over a year. No longer.
The Surface Pro 7 represents Microsoft’s return to form, both with an up-to-date 10th-gen “Ice Lake” processor inside, but also a tweaked, modernized design that recognizes that USB-C is the wave of the future. Some legacy ports have disappeared (adios, MiniDisplayPort) but otherwise Microsoft’s tablet retains its traditional light weight and form factor. Sadly, a pen and Signature Type Cover are still extra. Read our full review for more details.
[$1,499 SRP as reviewed, excluding keyboard and pen; currently $1,199 on Microsoft.com]
Keep reading for our top picks in gaming laptops and more.