Best laptop for 2020 – CNET

With more people now working from home and remote learning, your current laptop might not be meeting your new needs. This list has all the best laptops we’ve tested for work or entertainment, for home or travel, or a two-in-one or traditional clamshell. We’ve considered all of the details — from processor performance and battery life to the quality of the laptop screen and keyboard — and all from the best brands in the market: Dell, Apple, Acer, HP, Asus, Microsoft, Lenovo and more. 

There are a lot of different types of laptops, though, so here’s where you’ll find our best gaming laptops, 15-inch laptopstwo-in-ones and Chromebooks, as well as the best choices for college studentscreatives and MacBook Pro alternatives for the Windows set. Plus, if you just want pure power or a long-lived battery, our rankings of battery life and performance are for you. Need to stay as low as possible on price? Check out our picks for budget laptops and budget gaming laptops. See all of CNET’s laptop reviews

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We already had the XPS 13 as a top pick for anyone looking for great performance and battery life in the smallest chassis possible for a 13.3-inch screen size display. But for 2020 Dell made the laptop even smaller, while making the screen larger and increasing performance for both CPU and graphics-intensive tasks. It’s not a huge leap, but it’s still the best in the category. 

Read our Dell XPS 13 (2020) review.

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HP outdid itself on its latest ultraportable premium two-in-one. At first glance it might seem like little more than a processor update — it’s running on a great 10th-gen Intel CPU — the latest x360 is significantly smaller than its predecessor without sacrificing usability. New features like an instant mic mute button join other privacy and security features like an IR camera and fingerprint reader and switch to disable its webcam. Plus, it’s available with 4G LTE wireless so you can get your work done wherever and whenever you want. 

Read our HP Spectre x360 13 (late 2019) review.

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The combination of the larger MacBook Pro’s hardware and MacOS extracts the maximum performance from the components while delivering class-leading battery life in a way Windows systems never seem to do, and the high resolution display screen remains terrific. Plus, this model’s keyboard uses scissor-style switches under the keycaps, rather than the much-derided butterfly-style switch. You pay for it, though — base price for the 16-inch model of this device is $2,399. 

Read our Apple MacBook Pro (16-inch, 2019) review.

Read more: Best laptops, desktops and tablets for designers and creatives in 2020

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Although it’s not the Surface Laptop, the Surface Pro continues to hit all the right notes if you’re looking for a do-it-all Windows tablet that doubles as a Windows laptop. These powerful laptops feature 10th-gen Intel Core processors, fast Wi-Fi 6 wireless and long-lasting battery life. It’s also the first to feature an honest-to-goodness USB-C port.

Read our Microsoft Surface Pro 7 review.

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This is our go-to recommendation for those in search of a MacOS laptop for everyday basic use. The MacBook Air was updated for 2020 with new processors and, most importantly, a new keyboard. Apple also dropped the entry price back down to $1,000 making its most affordable laptop more affordable. Still, it’s not exactly a bargain and you can get a lot more computer for your money if you go with Windows. Regardless, the Air remains one of the best laptops available for battery life, performance and design. 

Read our Apple MacBook Air 2020 review.

Read more: Best 2-in-1 PCs in 2020 for when you need a laptop and tablet in one

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A remarkable deal for simple tasks like email, word processing and much more, thanks to the new AMD Ryzen 5 and Ryzen 7 processors. This device has a backlit keyboard, a fingerprint reader and a USB Type-C port, too. It’s also incredibly light — less than 3 pounds — for a laptop that can be found for less than $600.  

We’re also fans of the Acer Aspire 5, which has a larger 15.6-inch display. It’s available in a variety of configurations starting as low as $400, but can go up to $730 if you want entry-level discrete graphics for basic gaming and content creation.  

Read our Acer Swift 3 (14-inch, 2020) review.

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This is essentially a Chrome version of the first Microsoft Surface Go, and you’re not wrong. Like the Go, the Duet is a 10-inch tablet with a detachable keyboard and touchpad. Unlike Microsoft, though, Lenovo includes the keyboard. It also costs much less than the Go (including the new Go 2), starting at $279 for a 64GB version or $299 for one with 128GB of storage. It’s essentially a smaller, albeit less powerful, Pixel Slate that makes more sense for more people with a price that’s more in line with what people expect a Chromebook to cost.    

It is a small screen, however, so if you’re regularly using it at a desk, we recommend attaching an external monitor to its USB-C port. You’ll probably want to connect a wireless keyboard and mouse, too. 

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Dell’s G-series gaming laptops are cheaper than those from its Alienware division, but still capable of playing the latest AAA titles. There are three separate models — the G3, G5 and G7 — available in 15- and 17-inch sizes. The midrange G5 15 hits the mark with an excellent price-to-performance ratio, build quality and design. The newest versions start at $830, including a special-edition model with AMD’s impressive Ryzen 5 4600H processor.

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There are simply no other 17-inch laptops that are this light and also have long battery life. The Gram 17 lasted 13 hours on our streaming video test, beating last year’s model by 47 minutes on the same test. Processor performance is stepped up some from the 2019 version, too, thanks to the addition of a 10th-gen Intel Core i7-1065G7 CPU. This is partnered with more powerful Iris Plus integrated graphics as well, giving you a little extra speed for photo and video editing and casual gaming.

Read our LG Gram 17 (2020) review.

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Though HP and Dell have excellent premium two-in-one convertible laptops, they have small 13.3- and 13.4-inch displays. If you want a bit more room for your work or entertainment, the 14-inch C940 is a great choice. One of Intel’s Project Athena laptops, the C940 is tuned to be more responsive and for longer battery life. Everything about it is fast. Plus, it’s one of the few that come with a pen, which stores and charges in the body. 

Read our Lenovo Yoga C940 (14-inch) review.

Read more: Best tablets in 2020

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Regularly available for less than $750, this thin, 3-pound convertible is a solid choice for anyone who needs a laptop for office or schoolwork. The all-metal chassis gives it a premium look and feel, and it has a comfortable keyboard and responsive, smooth precision touchpad. Though it’s light on extra features compared to its premium linemate, the C940, it does have one of Lenovo’s sliding shutters for its webcam that gives you privacy when you want it. And it has a long battery life to boot.

Read our Lenovo Yoga C740 (14-inch) review.

Lori Grunin / CNET

Yes, the best gaming laptop at the moment is the same as our top pick for a MacBook Pro alternative. There is one small exception, though: While we recommend getting this Blade Pro laptop with its 4K-resolution display option for creators, gamers will want to get the display with a 300MHz refresh rate that Razer offers for this model.  

Read our Acer Predator Triton 500 review.

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Originally published last year and updated periodically.