Fall 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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.