Whether you're looking for portability, performance, or a low price, one of these computers should fit the bill
Artur Pietruch, a Consumer Reports tester, measures the glare on laptop screens in our lab.
By Nicholas De Leon
If you’re looking for a new laptop for school, work, or play, you’ll find lots of interesting options.
Over the past several months, PC manufacturers like LG and Samsung have released models that score quite well in our labs, exhibiting muscle not only for routine productivity tasks but also for more demanding workloads like high-resolution video editing. They often ship with Windows 11, which brings a refreshed and more “modern” user interface to Microsoft’s long-running operating system. And if they don’t come with Windows 11, you can easily upgrade to it free of charge.
For Mac fans with demanding workloads, Apple’s 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pros are a great choice, too. If your computing needs are more Microsoft Word than Adobe Premiere Pro, though, the MacBook Air remains a smart pick.
We test dozens of new laptops every year, evaluating them for ergonomics, battery life, display quality, and portability so that you don’t waste your money on a clunker. We buy all the products we test—from headphones to SUVs—at retail, because samples sent directly from a manufacturer may be tweaked to perform better in a reviewer’s tests.
We also incorporate brand reliability and owner satisfaction data collected from surveys of our members into each laptop’s Overall Score.
Below are some of the best laptops covering the five screen-size categories we track, ranging from highly portable 10- to 11-inch models to hulking desktop replacements that span 17 to 18 inches.
10- to 11-Inch: Microsoft Surface Go 3 (Pentium)
This 10.5-inch model might not be the most powerful model in our ratings, but it could be a good choice if you value portability more than raw horsepower.
It has an Intel Pentium processor, 4 gigabytes of memory, and 64GB of solid state storage. You can find models with a more powerful Intel Core i3 processor, but our testers don’t feel there’s a big enough performance difference between the two to warrant the extra $200.
Despite the somewhat pokey performance (typical for laptops this small), there’s a lot to like here, including generous battery life of almost 14 hours, a bright and accurate touch screen display that detaches from the keyboard for use as a tablet, and a built-in webcam that can be used to log in to Windows via facial recognition. Of course, the small size and light weight (1.7 pounds) make it easy to throw the laptop into a bag and take it to the local Starbucks, too.
Microsoft Surface Go 3 (Pentium)
12- to 13-Inch: Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 360
This 13-inch model is a well-rounded laptop, combining power and performance in a package that’s small enough to carry around without giving it a second thought. The model has an Intel Core i7 processor, 16 gigabytes of memory, and 512GB of solid state storage, placing it in the higher end of laptops in 2022.
Our test results bear this out, with the laptop earning strong performance and portability scores while offering 20 hours of battery life in our web-browsing trials. And because this model is a convertible, you can bend the display behind the keyboard via a 360-degree hinge and use it like a tablet. And given how well the display scored, you may find yourself doing that frequently to watch Disney+ and Netflix.
Apple’s MacBook Air is another good choice at this size, though it didn’t score quite as well in terms of battery life (roughly 13 hours) or versatility (it lacks a built-in memory card reader, for example).
Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 360 (13-inch)
14-Inch: Apple MacBook Pro
Apple’s latest MacBook Pro is available in 14- and 16-inch sizes. The 14-inch model we purchased and tested has Apple’s homegrown M1 processor, 16 gigabytes of memory, and 1 terabyte of solid state storage. All of that may be overkill if you spend most of your day inside apps like Safari or Microsoft Teams, but it comes in handy when you tackle more demanding tasks in Final Cut Pro or Logic Pro.
This year’s Pro does have some heft to it, weighing in at 3.5 pounds. That may be surprising if you’re coming from one of Apple’s recent Pros, but the benefit here is a battery that lasts almost 13 hours.
For a more detailed evaluation of the model, take a look at our hands-on review.
Apple MacBook Pro 14 (10 Core)
15- to 16-Inch: LG Gram 16
Another year, another well-executed Gram from LG. This 16-inch model offers a good combination of power and portability, but there are 14-, 15-, and 17-inch models, too.
You may be thinking, “How exactly is a 16-inch laptop portable?” Despite the big display, the thing weighs a mere 3.2 pounds and has a battery that lasts more than 18 hours on a single charge. So it can very easily accompany you to the local coffee shop without requiring a seat near a power outlet—or an afternoon of squinting at documents scaled down by 50 percent.
As for specs, the model has an Intel Core i7 processor, 16 gigabytes of memory, and not one but two 1-terabyte solid state drives. That’s a huge amount of fast storage for high-resolution photos, videos, and other large files. If you’re looking for something thin and light but don’t want to settle for a smaller display, this laptop could do the trick. It’s a convertible, too, so it can do double duty as a tablet.
LG Gram 16 (Core i7)
17- to 18-Inch: MSI Crosshair
This model from MSI is the prototypical desktop replacement. It has a powerful Intel Core i7 processor, 16 gigabytes of memory, 512GB of solid state storage, and a dedicated Nvidia graphics card.
With that much power under the hood, there’s not much that will slow this notebook, whether you’re chewing through complex spreadsheets or playing the latest games.
It’s not the best choice if you’re interested in long battery life, lasting just under 4 hours in our 4K video tests and 5.5 hours in our web browsing tests. But if your goal is to more or less plop a powerful laptop on a desk and get to work, the model will help you complete almost any task.
MSI Crosshair 17 A11UDK-643
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