In our never-ending quest to find the best laptops, we’ve scoured the market looking for the top options in all categories—from premium laptops to budget laptops to gaming laptops and everything in between. In the list below, you’ll find our top picks for October 2023.
Why you should trust us: Hey, it’s in our name! PCWorld prides itself on laptop experience and expertise. We’ve been covering PCs since 1983, and we now review more than 70 laptops every year. All of the picks below have been personally tested and vetted by our experts, who’ve applied not only performance benchmarks but rigorous usability standards. We’re also committed to reviewing PC laptops at every price point to help you find a machine that matches your budget.
Acer Aspire 3, AMD Ryzen 5 7520U CPU/AMD Radeon graphics/8GB RAM/512GB SSD/15.6-inch 1080p touch display, $379.99 ($220 off at Best Buy)
HP Omen, Intel Core i9-13900HX CPU/Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090 GPU/32GB RAM/1TB SSD/17.3-inch 1440p display, $2,389.99 ($810 off at eBay)
All of these are great, but the deal on the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Nano is so spectacular, we gave it its own separate write-up. It’s a couple generations old (hence the immense discount) but you’re getting a powerful, highly polished laptop that used to retail for thousands more.
Acer Aspire 3 – Best budget laptop
Spacious keyboard with number pad
Solid video playback performance
Decent business app performance
Workday-long battery life
Poor gaming graphics performance
Basic 1080p display
Small 128GB storage drive
Price When Reviewed:
With its affordable price point, decent performance, and robust build, the Acer Aspire 3 is a good budget option for most people. It might not be the most aesthetic laptop, but the build is surprisingly rugged. It has a solid, durable feel reminiscent of laptops with much higher price points. The full-size keyboard is nice, too. It has a spacious layout, which is perfect for longer typing sessions. With a budget laptop you will need to accept sacrifices in terms of performance, but the Aspire 3 is plenty fast enough for general use tasks like writing emails and browsing the web. If you’re shopping around for a solid everyday laptop that won’t break the bank, the Aspire 3 offers plenty of bang for relatively few bucks.
Price When Reviewed:
From £1,298.99 | Model reviewed £1,998.98
The Dell XPS is not only an excellent ultraportable, but it comes with leading-edge performance and a stunning OLED panel. The 14-core Intel Core i7-1280P CPU means it’s no slouch in processing performance either. It’s not only great for general-use, but it can easily handle photo editing tasks as well. This device also comes equipped with Intel Xe graphics, 16GB of RAM, and 512GB of SSD storage.
Despite being only 13.4 inches, the OLED touchscreen is absolutely gorgeous. With a resolution of 3456×2160, the picture is sharp and vibrant. Unfortunately, since the design is so compact, it lacks some connectivity and the battery life is only mediocre. If you can forgive those limitations, then the Dell XPS 13 Plus is a good option for most people who need a laptop to travel with.
Want the attractive design, high efficiency, and strong performance of a MacBook Pro but in a Windows device? Then you should definitely consider the HP Dragonfly Pro. It comes about as close as possible to Apple’s line of premium laptops. HP partnered with AMD to trick out this laptop with a next-gen Ryzen 7 processor with eight high-performance cores and a Radeon 680M graphic card, making it much more powerful than its slim 0.7-inch thick figure would make you believe.
It impresses with an attractive design and high-quality feel made from aluminum and polycarbonate. You’ll even find that HP took a cue from the MacBook’s minimalist approach to ports as there are only two USB 4 Type-C ports and one USB-C 3.2 port. This makes for a clean look, but it may not appeal to users since it makes plugging in a lot of accessories a bit tricky. And while the display is good enough, it unfortunately can’t live up to Apple’s best. Still, for a laptop that is significantly cheaper than the current line of MacBook Pro models, this Dragonfly Pro laptop from HP is a more than worthy competitor—plus you have the flexibility of Windows and the ability to play games during your downtime.
The CPU performance is suitable for a range of productivity tasks
It has a long battery life
Connectivity includes two Thunderbolt 4 ports
The display could be a little brighter still
The function keys are quite small
Intel Iris Xe graphics only
From the stunning OLED display and affordable starting price to the long battery life and fast-performing CPU, the Asus Zenbook 14 Flip OLED is a fantastic 2-in-1 laptop. It weighs 3.31 pounds and measures 0.63 inches at the chassis, so it’s a pretty lightweight machine. The review unit we looked at came with a 1800p OLED display, which covers 100 percent of the DCI-P3 color gamut (according to Asus). Our reviewer found a “high level of detail” in images and colors were “remarkably bright and saturated.” As for CPU performance, it blasted right through Maxon’s R20 multithreaded benchmark, earning a score of 3,437, which means it’s more than capable of handling demanding programs.
The Zenbook 14 Flip comes equipped with an Intel Core i7-1360P CPU, Intel Iris Xe graphics, 16GB of RAM, and 1TB of PCIe SSD storage. In addition to running more resource-heavy programs, the Flip will whiz through day-to-day tasks as well. It also last to the 12-hour mark during our battery test, which runs a 4K movie on repeat. Still not convinced? Well, the $999 starting price is pretty darn good if I say so myself, especially for such a premium machine. The Flip really has it all, which is why we’d highly recommend it.
For people who enjoy the simplicity and convenience of the cloud-based ChromeOS over Windows, the Acer Chromebook Spin 514 is a worthy option. It certainly bucks the stereotype of Chromebooks being lesser laptops, with a sophisticated and sturdy design, peppy CPU performance, and a spectacular keyboard and touchpad. In addition to that it features dual USB-C ports with Power Delivery and DisplayPort Alternate Mode—meaning you can use either port for powering and charging the device or running video out to a secondary USB-C monitor.
The Spin 514 comes equipped with an AMD Ryzen 5 5625C CPU, AMD Radeon graphics, 8GB of RAM, and 128GB of SSD storage. The display, which folds back 360 degrees thanks to the 2-in-1 form factor, features a resolution of 1920×1080 and is touch-enabled. Of course, this degree of capability and versatility commands a higher price than other more bare-bones Chromebook variants. But if you can swing the $699.99 price tag, this machine won’t disappoint.
The keys are quick but can sometimes feel a bit mushy
The audio sounds a bit flat at times
The top-tier configuration is quite pricey
The Razer Blade 14 is a real standout as far as gaming laptops go, as it’s both portable and powerful. This machine weighs a little over 4 pounds, which is super lightweight for a gaming laptop. For context, most gaming laptops tip the scales at 6 pounds or more. It’s impressive under the hood, too. You’re getting an AMD Ryzen 9 7940HS CPU, an Nvidia GeForce RTX 4070 GPU, 32GB of RAM, and 1TB of PCIe SSD storage. In other words, it’s powerful enough to run most games (even those fast-paced, competitive ones) on the High or Ultra graphics preset. The 14-inch display has a resolution of 2560×1600, a refresh rate of 240Hz, a response time of 3ms, and an aspect ratio of 16:10. Our reviewer really liked the tall aspect ratio in particular, as it allowed him to have a “large viewing area” to enjoy his games and videos. It also has AMD’s FreeSync technology built in, which keeps games running nice and smooth.
If you have the budget for it, the Razer Blade 14 truly offers the ultimate gaming experience.
Let’s face it. Gaming can be a serious (sometimes expensive) hobby with all of the peripherals, hardware upgrades, and so on. If you’re strapped for cash, the HP Victus 15 laptop is a fantastic budget option for most gamers. Inside, you’ll find an Intel Core i5-12450H CPU, an Nvidia FTX 1650 GPU, 8GB of RAM, and 512GB of SSD storage. It can handle most games at 30 FPS, but 60 FPS may not be attainable. That said, this is still a great value buy, especially if you’re a young college student looking to game after class. The 15-inch display has a resolution of 1920×1080, a refresh rate of 144Hz, and a maximum brightness of 250 nits. Gameplay is smooth thanks to the high refresh rate, but it lacks Nvidia’s G-Sync technology, which is designed to help prevent screen tearing issues.
If you don’t mind playing games at 30 FPS, then the HP Victus is definitely worth considering.
The 18-inch QHD+ display is large and brilliantly colorful
Aura Sync RGB light bars lighten things up
Battery life is just average
The trackpad is too firm for all-day use
A 1080p webcam would have made it more suitable for creators
Want a giant 18-inch screen on your laptop? How about if that giant screen is a QHD+ display with a refresh rate of 240Hz? Well, you already had us at 18-inch screen. The Asus ROG Strix 18 is about as close to a true desktop replacement as you can get. This laptop is absolutely loaded with great performance features that include a Core i9-13980HX processor, an RTX 4090 GPU, 32GB of RAM, and a 1TB SSD. But that’s not even the best part—the ROG Strix 18 comes with a mouth-watering 18-inch QHD+ (2560×1600) ROG Nebula panel with 100% DCI-P3 and sRGB coverage and an outstanding 240Hz refresh rate.
At first glance, the price of the Asus ROG Strix 18 might turn some people away, but it can be found for a lot cheaper than some competitors’ models such as Razer and MSI with the same configuration. The size can either be an upside or downside depending on what you’re looking for from a laptop, but if you want a desktop replacement complete with an outstanding display then there are currently none better than the Asus ROG Strix 18.
Price When Reviewed:
From £2,698.99 | Model reviewed £3,579
Dell’s updated XPS 17 boasts a huge 17-inch screen, 13th-gen Intel Core i7-13700H CPU, and a GeForce RTX 4070 GPU. Not only is that enough performance to breeze through all of your content projects, but it also brings a 1TB SSD giving you plenty of storage for all of them as well. By packing its 4K, touch screen panel into such a compact laptop, and loading the notebook itself with every feature professionals ask for (hello, SD card reader and abundant Thunderbolt 4 ports), the XPS 17 is the poster child for what a content creation workhorse laptop should be.
The one real downside is that the XPS 17 weighs just under five and a half pounds, so it’s a real beast. The webcam is only 720p, as well, which may be a downside if you have to do any online classes or video-conferencing. Buy if you can live with those minor shortcomings, the latest XPS 17 is a phenomenal choice for all content creators.
Samsung Galaxy Book3 Pro 360 – Best laptop for students
Stunning OLED upgrade in resolution, performance, more
One of the first 13th-gen Core laptops
Top-notch battery life
1080p webcam and very good audio
Good, not great, performance
Webcam effects are iffy
Price When Reviewed:
From £1,549 | Model reviewed £1,849
The Samsung Galaxy Book3 Pro 360 checks off a lot of boxes when it comes to laptops for students. It’s powerful and long lasting, and it has great audio and video capabilities. Our review unit lasted a little over 13 hours on a single charge, which is great if you’re jumping from class to class. This configuration includes an Intel Core i7-1360P CPU, Intel Iris Xe graphics, 16GB of RAM, and 512GB of SSD storage. In other words, it has enough juice for things like writing papers, conducting research, checking e-mail, and so on. The 16-inch AMOLED display has a resolution of 2880×1800 and a maximum brightness of 400 nits. The picture is lovely, but you’re going to want to only use this laptop in a well-lit room, as the screen is quite glossy and reflective. It also comes with a 1080p webcam, which will come in handy if you’re taking online classes.
If a marathon battery life is what you’re after then the Asus Chromebook CM34 Flip is your best bet. The fantastic battery on this Chromebook just doesn’t seem stop. In fact, it lasted an unbelievable 19 hours on a single charge in our testing—just to make sure we even ran the benchmark twice. For most laptops it’s impressive if you can eek out 10 hours on a single charge—the CM34 Flip almost doubles that number.
Despite its affordable price tag, it’s no slouch when it comes to performance either. It comes with an AMD Ryzen 3 7320C processor and 16GB of RAM. This 2-in-1 also comes with a colorful touchscreen display, comfortable touchpad, and high-quality 1080p webcam. Weighing in at just over 4 pounds it’s not the most portable though. But if you’re on the hunt for a long-lasting everyday machine that won’t break the bank, you can’t get much better than the CM34 Flip.
Price When Reviewed:
From £1,049 | Model reviewed £1,469
If you’re someone who likes to tinker with your computers to continually upgrade them, repair broken parts, or add the latest performance components, then the Framework Laptop 13 is a dream come true. Framework doesn’t just make reparability possible, it makes it a mainstream feature that anyone can do as long as they have a screwdriver—which is included with the laptop. It even comes with swappable, modular ports that can be changed as needed. You can also buy mainboards with new processors installed, achieving the holy grail of a truly upgradeable laptop.
Plus, beyond just its tinkering capabilities the Framework laptop is just a great all-around laptop straight out of the box. It comes stocked with the latest 13th-gen Core i7-1360P processor, Intel Iris Xe integrated graphics, 16GB of RAM, an a respectable 512GB SSD. It also has a surprisingly good 3:2 IPS panel with a resolution of 2256 x 1504p that comes with a glare-cutting matte screen. Overall, it’s a laptop that not only delivers right away but actually promotes upgradability and reparability which should serve you for years and years to come.
The PCWorld team puts each and every Windows laptop through a series of benchmarks that test GPU and CPU performance, battery life, and so on. The idea is to push the laptop to its limits and then compare it against others we’ve tested. Chromebooks, on the other hand, go through a series of web-based tests. It wouldn’t be fair or possible to run the same kinds of tests on a Chromebook, as they’re Chrome OS-based machines. Below, you’ll find a breakdown of each test and the reasons why we run them.
PCMark 10: PCMark 10 is how we determine how well the laptop handles lighter tasks like web browsing, word processing, spreadsheets, and so on.
HandBrake: HandBrake is more intensive than PCMark 10. It basically measures how long a laptop’s CPU takes to encode a beefy 30GB file.
Cinebench: Cinebench is a brief stress test of the CPU cores. It does this by rendering a 2D scene over a short period of time.
3DMark: 3DMark checks if 3D performance remains consistent over time by running graphic-intensive clips.
Video rundown test: To gauge battery life, we loop a 4K video using Windows 10’s Movies & TV app until the laptop dies.
CrXPRT 2: The CrXPRT 2 benchmark tests a Chromebook’s battery life.
Speedometer 2.0: This test determines a Chromebook’s web browser performance. It simulates this by adding, completing, and removing a to-do list.
Basemark Web 3.0: This benchmark gauges how well a Chromebook can handle web-based applications.
What form factor is best for a laptop?
The first question you should ask yourself is what kind of laptop you’re looking for. There’s traditional clamshells, 2-in-1’s, Chromebooks, and much more. The displays on convertible laptops (aka 2-in-1’s), for example, can swing around 360 degrees. This allows you to use the laptop like a tablet. They can also be propped up like a tent for viewing movies or participating in video calls. Chromebooks, on the other hand, exclusively run Google’s web-focused Chrome OS and are generally used for everyday tasks. All you need is a Gmail account and boom, you’re in. There are pros and cons to each of them. Chromebooks are affordable and generally have good battery life whereas convertibles are normally lightweight and portable.
How much processing power will I need in a laptop?
If it’s CPU power you’re looking for, look for processors with higher numerical names. A Core i7 is more suited to gaming and more intense work than everyday tasks. Intel processors are available in Core i3, Core i5, Core i7, and Core i9. The higher the number, the more powerful the CPU. If you don’t need a ton of power, Intel Core i5 processors are your best bet, as they offer good performance at a decent price. Basic office and web work gets along just fine on a Core i3. As for AMD options, the Ryzen 3 is good for basic productivity and web browsing, while Ryzen 5 chips rival Intel’s Core i5 as solid all-arounders. If you need more power, the Ryzen 7 chip is well suited for content creation like video editing. Finally, if you’re dealing with 4K video, spring for a Ryzen 9.
Discrete graphics vs. integrated graphics?
You’ll want a discrete graphics card for hardcore gaming or editing videos. It’s separate from the processor, so you can expect higher performance out of it. Integrated graphics, on the other hand, are attached to the CPU and uses less power as a result. This is perfectly fine for everyday tasks, especially if you’re not doing anything that’s graphics-intensive.
What much memory will I need in a laptop?
8GB of RAM is zippy enough for general use. If you’ve got a gaming laptop, 16GB of RAM is the way to go, and content creators will want even more.
Do I need a big display on a laptop?
If you’re a video editor or someone who does a lot of multimedia work, you’ll want a display that’s anywhere from 15- to 17-inches. The sweet spot is really anywhere from 13- to 14-inches, though. The bigger the display, the heavier your laptop is going to be. A 13- or 14-inch display is the best in terms of portability and value.
How long should my laptop last on a single charge?
If you plan on taking your laptop anywhere with you, aim for something that can last 10 to 12 hours on a single charge. That’s more than a full work day, so it should theoretically get you through long flights or a day of classes. Obviously, more is always better. Just know that the bigger the battery, the heavier the laptop. Read our round-up of the best laptop chargers.
How much should I spend on a laptop?
The price really depends on your budget. If you’re strapped for cash (been there, trust me), go for a Chromebook or an entry-level business laptop. These laptops are good choices for students or young professionals. If you can afford to spend more, the versatility of a 2-in-1 laptop is really worth it.
Are connectivity options important on a laptop?
A wide array of ports is always a plus in my book, as it eliminates the need for an adapter. I’d recommend a laptop that has both USB-C and USB-A. An HDMI port is good, too. This is especially useful for when you want to hook up to an external monitor.