Best laptops 2024 tested — May top picks

The best laptops are fast enough to handle both work and play, comfy enough to carry all day and efficient enough to ensure you won't run out of juice when you're in the lurch.

Not a lot to ask, right? Luckily lots of great laptops are on the market these days, but that abundance also makes finding the best laptop for you awful tricky. You can get a Chromebook or a compact, speedy Windows 11 laptop for not a lot of money, and those who can afford to spend a bit more have access to a slew of the best laptops from the likes of Apple, Dell, HP, Lenovo and more.

That's why we test and review dozens of laptops from top manufacturers every year, then gather the very best together here in one easy-to-read list to help you make a more informed purchase.

You can count on the fact that every laptop on this list has been tested and reviewed by myself or one of my colleagues, so you know a real person has used it in real life and really likes it. Whether you're shopping for a sleek new ultraportable, a cheap Chromebook, a new gaming laptop or the best MacBook for your needs, you'll find at least one great option here!

The quick list

In a hurry? Here's a brief overview of the laptops on this list, along with quick links that let you jump down the page directly to a review of whichever laptop catches your eye.

The best laptops you can buy today

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The best laptop overall

The best laptop for the money

Specifications

Display: 13.6 inches; 2560x1664
CPU: Apple M3
GPU: 8-core or 10-core GPU
RAM: 8GB-24GB
Storage: 256GB-2TB SSD
Weight: 2.7 pounds

Reasons to buy

+
Powerful M3 performance
+
Bright and colorful display
+
Ultraportable design
+
Exceptional battery life
+
Dual monitor support

Reasons to avoid

-
Marginally better performance over M2
Buy it if

✅ You need a long-lasting laptop: The MacBook Air M3 lasted more than 15 hours in our battery test, which is longer than its predecessors. This laptop can last you all day and more.
✅ You want a small, fast MacBook: The M3 chip inside this MacBook Air gives it more than enough power for multitasking, and it pairs well with the long battery life and light weight. While it can't crunch video or play games as well as the MacBook Pros with M3 Pro and M3 Max chips, this is the ultimate MacBook for getting things done on the go.

Don't buy it if:

❌ You want to play games: While this laptop does a stellar job of running games optimized for Apple silicon, non-supported games have trouble running at acceptable frame rates. There's also the lack of developer support. If games are important to you, consider looking elsewhere.

❌ You own a MacBook Air 13-inch M2: The MacBook Air M3 is certainly powerful, completely outclassing its M1 counterpart. However, if you own an Air M2, you don't need its M3 variant since the performance difference between the two is minimal.

The bottom line

💻 The MacBook Air M3 is a bit pricey, but it justifies the premium with an unbeatable combination of performance, battery life, display quality and portability.

More like this

1. The best MacBook: See all models compared
2. The best laptops for battery life
3. The best 2-in-1 laptops, for when you can't decide between a laptop and a tablet

What you need to know
The MacBook Air M3 is an excellent all-rounder that feels truly worthy of the Air name. Though it's virtually indistinguishable from the excellent MacBook Air 13-inch M2 that previously topped this list, the M3 variant is hard to dismiss.

The MacBook Air M3 (from $1,099) is a breath of fresh you-know-what, and that’s because Apple paired that speedy M3 chip with the same ultraportable design of its predecessor. It's a potent blend of performance and portability, one we recommend as one of the best laptops for getting work done on the go for most folks.

Design: The MacBook Air M3 is so thin it could easily be mistaken for an iPad when closed (especially if the Apple logo is facing out). That’s how slim this notebook is. Measuring just 0.44 inches thick with the lid open, an everyday Bic pen looks chunky next to this machine.

Don't expect to get much in the way of ports, however. As before, you get just a pair of Thunderbolt 4/USB 4 ports along the left edge, alongside a MagSafe power adapter. At least you also get a headphone jack.

Display: The 13.6-inch display offers a 2,560 x 1,664-pixel resolution and gets nice and bright in person, so it's a pleasant place to watch videos, write emails, edit photos and whatever else you want to do.  

The MacBook Air M3 did well in our display tests, too. When we tested it with our light meter we found it delivers an average brightness of 476 nits, peaking around 496 when viewing HDR videos. That’s brighter than the Dell XPS 13 OLED’s 357-nit average.

Performance: On Geekbench 6, which measures overall performance, the MacBook Air M2 hit 3,082 on the single-core CPU test and 12,087 on multi-core. That’s faster than both its predecessors, though the performance gulf is widest between the old Air M1 and Air M3. For more details, check out our in-depth MacBook Air M3 benchmark results!

Battery life: The MacBook Air M3 is one of the longest-lasting laptops for the money. On the Tom’s Guide battery test, the new Air averaged 15 hours and 13 minutes, which is better than average.

Read the full review: MacBook Air 13-inch M3

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Ratings scorecard
TestNotesHow it stacks up
Battery life15:13 tested battery life★★★★★
PerformanceSpeedy, good for light work★★★★☆
DesignThin and elegant, light on ports★★★★☆
DisplayBright, colorful 13.6-inch panel★★★★☆

The best value laptop

Best laptop for the money

Specifications

Display: 13.3-inch 1080p OLED
CPU: AMD Ryzen 7 5700U
GPU: Integrated Radeon graphics
RAM: 8 GB
Storage: 512 GB
Weight: 2.5 pounds

Reasons to buy

+
Stellar battery life
+
Beautiful 1080p OLED display
+
Great performance

Reasons to avoid

-
Middling sound quality
-
Inconsistent webcam
-
No headphone jack
Buy it if

✅OLED is important: If you want a cheap, lightweight laptop with an OLED screen for under $1k, it's hard to find much better than the Asus Zenbook 13 OLED. While OLED displays are becoming more common in laptops and getting cheaper and cheaper, it's still rare to find one this good for this cheap.

✅ Battery life matters: The Asus Zenbook 13 OLED is one of the longest-lasting laptops we've tested, thanks in part to its power-sipping AMD CPU. While the latest CPUs from Apple and Intel are helping laptops last longer and longer, the Asus Zenbook 13 OLED remains a great choice if you want a lightweight, long-lasting Windows laptop.

Don't buy it if:

❌ You want a headphone jack: While Bluetooth headphones exist, those of us who prefer an old-fashioned physical 3.5mm audio jack are out of luck with the Asus Zenbook 13 OLED.

The bottom line

💻 The Asus Zenbook 13 OLED is a winning combo of price and performance. It's a zippy little ultraportable with a gorgeous display and oodles of battery life, and it can be yours for cheaper than most premium Windows laptops.

What you need to know
The Asus Zenbook 13 OLED remains one of the best values in Windows laptops despite its age, delivering good performance, great battery life and a beautiful OLED screen for under a grand.

Of course, you have to make some trade-offs along the way. The keyboard is unsatisfying, there's no headphone jack and the webcam sucks. But if you can live with those compromises you get a lot of laptop for not a lot of money with the Asus Zenbook 13 OLED. Of course, that's assuming you can find one —  we've kept this laptop on this list for years because it's such a great deal, but it's been superseded by newer, more expensive models that deliver less value, like the Asus Zenbook S 13 OLED.

Design: The Asus Zenbook 13 OLED looks good on a desk and is easy to carry, measuring 11.98 x 7.99 x 0.55 inches and weighing just over 2.5 pounds. 

There's a spun-metal finish sporting an offset Asus logo on the lid, and inside you'll find subdued black plastic hues. Along the sides of this slim ultraportable you'll find a decent port array, including USB-C and USB-A ports, a microSD card reader and an HDMI out. The lack of a headphone jack hurts, but the laptop comes with a USB-C adapter if you want to plug some in.

Display: One of the biggest selling points of this laptop is its 13.3-inch 1080p OLED display, which looks lovely and vibrant in person. OLED displays often appear to display brighter brights, darker blacks and deeper contrasts between light and shadow than traditional IPS panels, and it's rare to get one this good on a laptop that costs under $1k.

But you should be aware that this laptop is difficult to use outside in direct sunlight, as it doesn't get terribly bright and the reflections make it hard to see what you're doing. If you're chiefly planning to use it indoors, then there's nothing to worry about.

Performance: The AMD CPU powering our Zenbook 13 review unit proved more than capable enough to tackle daily computing tasks without issue. It also managed to do so while only sipping battery power, which you'll notice when you look down at your battery testing charts.

Note that since there's no laptop GPU onboard and only 8GB of RAM this plucky little laptop is a pretty poor gaming machine, but it's but it's plenty good enough for work and simple games.

Battery life: The OLED-equipped Asus Zenbook 13 lasted roughly 15 hours in our battery test, which is incredible for a Windows laptop. It rivals the best MacBooks in that regard, and even lasted longer than Asus' advertised 13 hours.

That's excellent battery life, and it should help you feel more assured about leaving the house without a charger when you take your laptop on the go.

Read the full review: Asus Zenbook 13 OLED

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Ratings scorecard
TestNotesHow it stacks up
Battery life15 hours of tested battery life★★★★★
PerformanceFast enough for work, but no speed demon★★★☆☆
DisplayBeautiful OLED screen, though not super-bright★★★★☆
DesignSmall, elegant design (but no headphone jack)★★★☆☆

The best Windows laptop