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best laptopsFall is a big season for laptop manufacturers and retailers. It encompasses back-to-school purchases and much of the holiday shopping season. This means there’s a lot of stores offering deals to attract a crowd. It’s a buyer’s market.

But what do you buy? Now that’s a tough question. There are a lot of good laptops on the market and many categories to choose from. Ultrabooks, multimedia laptops, gaming laptops, ultraportables – and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Luckily for you, we’ve narrowed down the search to the five best laptops that every laptop buyer should consider.

Acer Aspire Timeline M5

best laptops

The Acer Aspire Timeline M5 is the best ultrabook on the market. Surprisingly, it’s also one of the most affordable thanks to a base MSRP of $680.

The M5 is available in either a 14-inch or 15-inch version. It’s thicker than the thinnest ultrabooks, though that’s not entirely a disadvantage. Ignoring the laptop market’s rendition of The Biggest Loser allows Acer to offer this product at reasonable prices without sacrificing build quality or performance.

In fact, the M5 offers the most powerful graphics solution in any ultrabook sold today. The NVIDIA GT 640M packed inside is capable of proper gaming, even in modern titles, though you’ll often be restricted to medium detail. Don’t think the GPU will break your budget, either. Choosing the discrete graphics upgrade raises the price by only $100.

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There’s more. The battery is decent. The keyboard is enjoyable. The touchpad is large. It even has an optical drive. What else could you ask for?

Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E530

best rated laptops

If you want an inexpensive but functional laptop, look no further. You’ve found it. The Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E530 is easily the best laptop you can buy for under $600.

There are a couple reasons why the E530 is awesome and they are all rooted in its ThinkPad heritage. Keyboard quality beats the pants off the typical consumer laptop and the touchpad is also a joy to use. You may end up ignoring it, however, because the E530 includes a trackpointer. All Edges come with Lenovo’s useful Think Vantage software suite as a bonus.

Other advantages include an optional anti-glare display, excellent endurance with the inexpensive 6-cell extended battery and a starting price under $500. The Edge is not the most attractive laptop, and it’s definitely not the thinnest, but you won’t find a more usable computer for less.

ASUS G55 and G75

best rated laptops

Recommending a gaming laptop is difficult because there are so many excellent options. Still, if pressed to provide a definitive choice, I always recommend the ASUS G-Series The 5 Best Gaming Laptops To Buy Now [Gadget Corner] The 5 Best Gaming Laptops To Buy Now [Gadget Corner] Read More .

ASUS has been a leader in the gaming laptop market ever since it introduced the original G-Series laptops years ago. Those products have been refined into the excellent matte-black slaps of gaming goodness available today.

It’s not the performance that makes the G-Series exceptional. Truth be told, most laptops of similar price offer similar performance. What makes the G-Series stand out is its everyday usability. These laptops can game, but you can also use them just like any other desktop replacement. They have excellent keyboards, good touchpads and some are available with matte displays that can be used in sunlit rooms that would render a glossy display unreadable.

These laptops are also affordable. Prices start at around $1,200 and max out around $2,000. Most competitors don’t even both offering a 15.6” gaming laptop below $1,500.

Apple MacBook Air 13.3”

best rated laptops

You didn’t think that this article would get away without an Apple product, did you? Of course not. This isn’t merely a handout, however. Apple’s MacBook Air 13.3” remains one of the best laptops on the market.

There are a couple reasons why it’s great. One is its size and weight. The Air is no longer the thinnest laptop on the market, but it’s the thinnest laptop anyone actually wants to buy. It also manages to provide much better battery life than competitors of similar girth. Laptops of this size are meant to be portable, so that’s kind of a big deal.

Other advantages include a great display, excellent keyboard and a touchpad that continues to beat the world years after its introduction. The Air also benefits from the Macification of the competition. Repairing this laptop is a bit of a pain and upgrades are nearly impossible – but the PC alternatives have made the same sacrifices in their attempts to replicate the Air’s success.

Samsung Chromebook Series 550

best laptops

I’m probably the only laptop reviewer on the Internet who likes the Chromebook. No matter. I don’t at all mind being the only person that’s correct.

I know what you’re thinking. But it can’t do anything without Internet access! Well, first, that’s no longer true. You can now use Google Docs and many Chrome apps offline. Second, who cares? When’s the last time you used a laptop without having access to the Internet? I can’t remember ever doing so over the last year.

But enough with the defense. Here’s why the Chromebook rocks. It is small and light. It has great battery life. It comes standard with a matte display. It offers a better processor than any ultraportable that has an MSRP within $100 dollars. And it provides a much better web browsing experience than any ultraportable sold for under $800.

It’s what the netbook was supposed to be, but never was – a computer that provides an amazing browsing experience at a very low price.

Conclusion

Obviously, narrowing down a list to just the five best laptops is going to leave out a lot of good products. Some laptops that I considered by ultimately did not choose include the HP Envy 14 Spectre, the Lenovo ThinkPad T430s and the ASUS N56.

Do you agree with these choices, or has another laptop caught your attention? Let us know in the comments.

  1. Geroff
    November 16, 2012 at 4:39 pm

    Have you considered Asus N76VM (17.3 inch) Notebook Core i7 (2670QM) 2.2GHz 8GB 750GB Blu Ray Combo WLAN BT Webcam Windows 7 HP (Nvidia GT635M 2GB Dedicated Graphics) - not far short of perfection for me!

  2. Tarek Ramadan
    October 30, 2012 at 11:22 pm

    have a look to ASUS U36SG-AS71

  3. Félix S. De Jesús
    October 29, 2012 at 5:17 am

    Yo opto por la Chromebook hehehehe!! <3

  4. Anonymous
    October 27, 2012 at 8:11 pm

    Today laptops are available in such a great varieties making it very tough to select one

  5. Kv19971
    October 18, 2012 at 7:21 pm

    Cromebooks have an MSRP for $100??
    When i went to the website it's shows the starting price as $249 for the basic chromebook.
    :/

    • Jennifer Drower
      February 20, 2013 at 8:34 pm

      Kv19771: You misunderstood the sentance, which was easy to do if you weren't reading carefully. As written, it reads: "It offers a better processor than any ultraportable that has an MSRP within $100 dollars," meaning you won't find an ultraportable with a better processor unless you spend at least $100 more. Atleast that's how I understood it. I also just happened to read the article accompanying the giveaway of a Chromebook where it gives its MSRP as $249.

  6. Kev
    September 30, 2012 at 12:45 pm

    Asus ux31a rocks too

    • Charles
      September 30, 2012 at 2:13 pm

      Waiting for the ux21a with the 1080p display.
      Or hoping that the HP sleekbooks being released in october have a 1080p option.

  7. wilL Toxic
    September 30, 2012 at 9:01 am

    asus looks good. but mac all the way!!

  8. Marko Resnik
    September 29, 2012 at 6:18 pm

    I'm drooling over here! :)

  9. xbalesx
    September 29, 2012 at 3:46 am

    great article, thank you for sharing. I use articles like this combined with Consumer Reports to make an educated buying decision.

  10. Greg
    September 29, 2012 at 2:04 am

    I love the Macbooks! I'm trying to find a laptop that can compete against the Pro or the Air and still haven't found it :(

  11. Yang Yang Li
    September 28, 2012 at 9:08 pm

    Hold off buying a labtop and wait for the Microsoft Surface. That is my best advice to anyone looking to buy a labtop right now.

  12. Richard Steven Hack
    September 28, 2012 at 6:40 pm

    If you're going to recommend laptops, the least you can do is specify the CPU speed, RAM, hard disk space and screen size, as well as the GPU. I know I can look up the full specs, but I'm not going to do that just on a random article recommending what's "best".

    Those minimum specs if present would motivate me to investigate further. As it stands, I really can't tell if I should bother researching any of these.

    • Matt Smith
      October 2, 2012 at 7:02 pm

      Virtually all laptops come in multiple variants. Most also can be customized by the user before purchase. Listing specifications is not possible.

  13. infmom
    September 28, 2012 at 6:18 pm

    Without a doubt I'd go for the MacBook Pro. I'm saving up to buy one. At the rate I'm going I can have one in my hot little hands in about 13 months. :)

    • qox
      September 28, 2012 at 8:05 pm

      Which means you can have the same performance in 2 months but without an apple on it :|

  14. Dimal Chandrasiri
    September 28, 2012 at 5:35 pm

    Asus G series! sound like a good choice for me! :D

  15. Jeff
    September 28, 2012 at 5:15 pm

    I'm about to buy a MacBook Pro and was hoping it might have been up there! I'm switching from pc to mac as my acer has started to switch off for no reason. Extra money but you're buying reliability

    • D. K.
      September 28, 2012 at 7:28 pm

      Recently I wanted to buy a MacBook pro, too. But I decide for a MacBook Air 13" (15" is to large for my use). The reasons were the better display resolution and in the Pro is only a normal HDD, in the Air (a smaller) SSD (in my case 128 GB is enough). The CPU and Graphics performance of the Air is for my use enough, but sometimes I have to wait a little longer 'cause of the Processor (I usually don't play any games).
      I think the current MacBook Pro is compared to the Air for most people to expensive, because today an ULV i5 is for most users more than enough unless you want to edit videos or something else that need much performance.

      • Jeff
        September 29, 2012 at 7:32 am

        I had thought about an air but the storage and optical drive were big factors. By the time I up-spec an Air it costs more than the pro and I have to cart about a separate cd drive. I would have loved the air though for its size and weight.

    • Matt Smith
      October 2, 2012 at 7:03 pm

      I like the Pro fine but it's no longer a top choice in my opinion. I think Apple needs to do something with the design, which frankly is showing its age. It also need a better standard display resolution. Retina is great, but users paying $1,500 for a less expensive model should at least get 1600x900 if not 1080p.

  16. Marc
    September 28, 2012 at 5:09 pm

    Now, which one of these laptops can be upgraded to 16gb of ram? If none of them can support it what laptop would you recommend for upgrade to 16gb of ram.

    • GrrGrrr
      September 28, 2012 at 6:34 pm

      why would u even think of 16Gb ram?

      • Marc
        September 29, 2012 at 4:05 pm

        To run Solidworks. Assemblies can get very large and the biggest recommendation I have gotten was to upgrade to at least 16gb ram

        • Feri
          September 29, 2012 at 9:14 pm

          Asus can be upgraded with 16gb rams. I have this version too. I like it very much. It is a laptop for engineers! It has Geforce GTX 670 with 3gb ram! :) Its a pleasure to work with this.

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