Product Reviews

These Are Our Top Picks For The Best Laptops

Need a new laptop? We've got you covered.

Simplemost does the hard work by spending hundreds of hours testing and researching popular products. We also incorporate the scores of other experts. The result is the Simplemost Product Score which represents the overall unbiased rating of a product based upon a 1-10 scale.

Our Top Recommended Laptops

2. Best Overall

Apple MacBook Pro, 15″ Retina 16GB

The Apple MacBook Pro, 15″ Retina 16GB earned a score of 8.9. If you’re looking for quality and reliability, you can’t go wrong with the Apple MacBook Pro, 15″ Retina 16GB. You’ll get peak processing power and the great user experience that defines Apple products. We love how easy this MacBook is to use..

 

3. Best Value

Acer Chromebook 11, 11.6″

The Acer Chromebook 11, 11.6″ earned a score of 8.5. With an eye-popping display and access to a full range of features, the Acer Chromebook 11, 11.6″ is a great deal for the price. The processor in this model is an upgrade from previous versions, so you’ll likely find your applications zip along. The low cost makes this a great option for students and families on a budget..

 

4. Also Consider

Acer Chromebook 14

The Acer Chromebook 14 earned a score of 8.3. The Acer Chromebook 14 has a reliable keyboard, a dependable battery and a sleek design. We think the 14-inch screen is perfect for watching shows on Netflix. You’ll also get a display that protects your eyes against strain, even when you’re working or playing for long periods of time.

Our Laptop Buying Guide

The days of being stuck at a desk all day are history. Today, you can work from your home, an office or a beachfront vacation home. But to do that, you need a powerful, yet portable laptop. A laptop with a battery that can go for hours on a charge, while also letting you stream the latest season of “Stranger Things” while you scroll through your social media feed.

The good news is, laptops are becoming more lightweight and powerful each year. You no longer have to pay a fortune for a laptop that will handle everything you need to do, whether you’re a college student or a high-powered executive. Newer laptops are both affordable and robust, giving you a wide range of options for your budget.

But with the latest round of laptop models, peripheral support is a huge factor. As consumers have embraced streaming, manufacturers have done away with DVD-ROM drives. But now that streamlining also applies to USB ports, with many newer models coming only with two or three. As the market moves toward USB-C charging, you may also find you need connectors for each of the ports you don’t plan to use for your power cord.

Storage is another consideration when you’re choosing a computer. Yes, the cloud has made this less important, but you’ll still want plenty of space for all the applications and documents you’ll need to store. If you decide to download a few Netflix movies to watch on long flights, you’ll need at least 280 megabytes per hour of standard-definition video. Over time, you’ll also find operating system upgrades and software updates take up an increasing amount of hard drive space. All of that combined simply means that the more storage you invest in upfront, the less likely you are to need a new computer in a few years.

Thanks to the app ecosystem, consumers have a wider range of options in the devices they use for work and play. This means you can buy an affordable laptop and rely on the power of the cloud for everything you need. This has also made it easier for manufacturers to create laptops that are inexpensive, making them accessible to a wider consumer market. But there are so many affordable laptops now available, it can be difficult to choose one. Fortunately, by looking at your own budget and listing the features you feel are most important, you can narrow down the options.

Fun Facts About Laptops

Laptops date back much further than you probably realize. The first-known laptop was the Grid Compass, designed in 1979. It was later used as part of the space program. But the first fully functional laptop computer is often credited as being the Gavilan Computer, which was introduced in May 1983 as the smallest and lightest MS-DOS computer at the time. However, in 1982, Grid introduced the Compass 1101, which came up with the innovation of folding a screen over the keyboard. Even earlier than that, though, Osborne Computer Corporation released the Osborne 1, which was billed as a portable computer. Following these innovations, both IBM and Microsoft came out with their own laptops and the rest is history.

Tip and Advice

  • Before you shop for a laptop, take some time to outline the items that are most important to you. Look at your current devices and consider the things you like most and least about them. If you’re a gamer and your device overheats and locks up after a few minutes of play, CPU strength will be at the top of your list. If you still rely heavily on external hard drives and card readers, port count will be important.
  • Operating system preferences will narrow the field considerably. If you’re a Mac person, you probably won’t look any further than the latest MacBook Pro or MacBook Air, such as the Apple MacBook Pro, 15″ Retina 16GB. If you prefer Google’s operating system, though, you have a wide range of choices. Acer Chromebook 11, 11.6″, for example, is both affordable and lightweight.
  • Performance is all in the processors, and many top-rated laptops pack plenty of power. The Apple MacBook Pro, 15″ Retina 16GB includes a 6-Core Intel Core i7 processor. Chromebooks use an Intel Celeron processor and in this area, you can’t go wrong with the Acer Chromebook 14’s Intel Celeron N3160 processor. Still, any variations you see in performance among newer processors will likely be minimal.
  • If you need more than one USB port, pay close attention to the options. You’ll get only two USB ports with most of the laptops you consider, but splitters are available if you need to hook up multiple devices.
  • As important as CPU power is while your laptop is running, wake-up times are also important. If you walk away or close your device lid, how long will you have to wait to use it again once you return? The Chromebooks are known for their rapid startup time, waking up from sleep quickly and even booting up from shutdown in only seconds.
  • If you own a laptop, chances are you’ll at least occasionally be carrying it around. In the race to provide the lightest laptop, the Acer Chromebook 11, 11.6″ ranks toward the top, weighing in at only 2.43 pounds. The Asus Water Resistant Chromebook is close, though, with a weight of only 2.65 pounds. Compare this to the o Apple MacBook Pro, 15″ Retina 16GB’s 4 pounds and you’ll see how much of a difference these Chromebooks make. But the Acer Chromebook 14 is slightly heavier than other Chromebooks, at 3.42 pounds.
  • Few things can be as annoying as getting away from home, only to have your battery die. The Asus Water Resistant Chromebook has a battery life that wows, lasting for more than 12 hours on a charge. With the Apple MacBook Pro, 15″ Retina 16GB and Acer Chromebook 11, 11.6″, you’ll get only 10 hours of battery life, although you can extend the life on the Acer Chromebook 11, 11.6″ by running it in low brightness and minimizing your activity.
  • Logging in can become cumbersome over time. The Apple MacBook Pro, 15″ Retina 16GB builds in the same Touch ID found on its tablets and smartphones, making login a breeze.
  • If you’re tech-challenged, you may want to consider an extended warranty. Each laptop comes with a limited warranty, but you can upgrade to an extended warranty for a fee. AppleCare, for example, provides not only extended care for your devices, but technical support help as well.
  • When you’re in the office or at home, you may prefer to connect your laptop to a monitor. You can do this with the help of cables, but if it’s going to be a regular occurrence, a docking station will offer you easy access to a keyboard, mouse and monitor while you’re at your desk.
  • Another important consideration is whether you can use your laptop’s trackpad or an external mouse. A wireless mouse may be the best option, since you’ll be using it on the go.
  • Despite the name, your lap isn’t the best place to rest your laptop while you’re working. Laptops need good air circulation, so invest in a good laptop desk or make sure you always sit at a table while you’re working on it.
  • At one time, laptops used nickel-metal hydride batteries, which could eventually forget their charge capabilities if you only allowed them to drain halfway before recharging. Today’s lithium-ion batteries don’t have that issue. Still, some experts believe you can extend a battery’s life by avoiding letting it drain to less than 20 percent.
  • A laptop’s portability also makes it vulnerable to theft. A cable lock can help, but make sure you also equip your computer with a difficult-to-guess password. If your laptop is stolen, at least your personal information won’t be at risk.
  • For those times when you’re using your keyboard in a dimly-lit room, having light behind your keys can be a big help. If you want backlit keys, you’ll need to shop specifically for a laptop that features that.
  • Traditionally, you’d purchase a laptop, then worry about loading it with software that you had to buy separately. But with today’s laptops, it’s all about the apps. If you opt for a MacBook, Apple’s basic office software is included. With Chromebook, you’ll be steered toward the Google Play store, where you can access Google Docs, as well as numerous other apps. You’ll still be able to purchase your favorite apps for your laptop, as well.
  • When it comes to price, it’s hard to ignore the affordability of Chromebooks. Sure, the MacBook Air has a long list of benefits, but so do both the Acer and Asus Chromebooks. The Acer Chromebook 11, 11.6″ and Acer Chromebook 14 each retail for less than $250, while Asus’s version typically stays below $300. Compared to Apple’s more-than-$2,000 price point for the latest MacBook Pro, Chromebooks are well worth considering.
  • Before you finalize your purchase, prepare a way to carry your new laptop around. Whether you choose a backpack or a laptop bag, make sure it’s padded enough to protect your laptop wherever you take it.
  • Once you have your laptop, make sure you protect it from viruses using the top software on the market. Both Asus and Acer Chromebooks have security features built-in. MacBooks are virus-resistant by nature, but it can’t hurt to look into antivirus apps for your chosen operating system.

We were not paid to write this story. The products and services mentioned below were selected independent of sales and advertising. However, Simplemost may receive a small commission from the purchase of any products or services through an affiliate link to the retailer's website.