The best laptops to buy in 2023

The best laptops for all budgets range from the newest MacBooks to a 2-in-1 Chromebook.
By Leah Stodart , Dylan Haas , and Haley Henschel  on 
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Best Windows laptop

Dell XPS 15 (9530)

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Best 2-in-1 laptop

Lenovo Yoga 9i

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Best laptop for photo and video editing

Apple MacBook Pro (16-inch, M2 Max)

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Best repairable laptop

Framework Laptop 13

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See 3 More

UPDATE: Aug. 8, 2023, 5:00 a.m. EDT This story has been updated with new picks for the best laptops of 2023.

The back-to-school season is prime time for laptop shopping, with many stores offering deals for students and teachers in need of new tech. But trying to pinpoint the very best laptop of 2023 isn't a quest for the faint of heart: Not all laptops are created equal, and the sheer number of models out there is enough to make anyone's head spin. To put things in perspective, Apple is selling three different MacBook Pros and three separate MacBook Air models as of mid-2023, and almost all of them come in multiple configurations with different M-something chips. That's not even counting the older models still floating around at various third-party retailers (often at tempting discounts).

When choosing a laptop, consider three main questions: What sort of technical specs do you care about most? How are you going to be using your machine? And perhaps most importantly, what's your budget?

Keep reading for Mashable's guide to the best laptops, including the newest Apple MacBook Air and MacBook Pro, plus models from Dell, Microsoft, and Lenovo.

Note: All listed specs and prices apply to each model's base configuration.

Best deals on laptops this week

Our Pick

The latest (and thinnest) 13-inch MacBook Air M2 is often plugged as one of the best laptops for students because of its lightweight, ultra-portable design and reasonable price; the base configuration now sits right above $1,000. But we'd go broader and recommend it as the best Apple laptop for pretty much anyone.

Powered by Apple's zippy M2 chip with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of SSD storage to start, this all-aluminum laptop "delivers everything you need any job centered around using a computer," writes tech and games reporter Alex Perry. That includes a "solid battery life, a larger 13.6-inch display than previous models, a keyboard that’s to die for, and enough horsepower to handle everyday tasks with ease." Other highlights include a 1080p FaceTime HD camera that produces a clear picture in low light and a four-speaker setup with Spatial Audio and Dolby Atmos support. It could use more ports and a better refresh rate, but as a complete package, it's a winner of our Mashable's Choice Award and a worthy upgrade from any older MacBook you're still holding onto.

As of mid-2023, the M2 MacBook Air also now comes in a 15-inch model with two extra speakers starting at $1,299.

Read Mashable's full review of the 13-inch Apple MacBook Air (M2).

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Priced at $600 but often on sale for around $450, last year's Microsoft Surface Laptop Go 2 is the best budget laptop for users who don't want a total clunker. It's actually somewhat of a dupe for Apple's MacBook Air, says Mashable contributor Callum Bains, with a stylish and slim design featuring an aluminum lid (available in four finishes) that looks more expensive than it really is.

The specs under the Surface Laptop Go 2's hood are indisputably mediocre, but they're sufficient for its price point: It runs on an 11th-gen Intel Core i5 processor with 4GB RAM, and it starts out with 128GB of SSD storage (which you can replace and upgrade down the road). Those are some big improvements over the Intel Celeron N Series CPUs and sluggish eMMC (embedded MultiMediaCard) flash storage you'll find in many laptops under $500. Its 12.4-inch, 3:2 PixelSense touchscreen display has a not-great resolution of 1536 x 1024 pixels, or just under Full HD, but it's bright and clear enough for most settings. When you factor in its "serviceable" webcam and "respectable" battery life, per Bains, you've got a decent all-rounder for basic web browsing and streaming.

Read Mashable's guide to the best cheap laptops.

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The newest version of the Dell XPS 15 is a 15.6-inch machine from the brand's premium laptop line with solid build quality, a beautiful edge-to-edge display, and specs that can crush everyday tasks right out of the gate. (Its base configuration easily justifies its $1,499 price tag with a 13th-generation Intel Core i7 processor, 512GB of storage, 16GB of RAM, and an Intel Arc A370M GPU, though we saw it on sale for $200 less at the time of writing.) For those in need of even more oopmh, optional upgrades like NVIDIA GeForce graphics for gaming, up to 4TB of storage, up to 64GB of RAM, and a vivid OLED touchscreen will turn the XPS 15 into a bona fide desktop replacement.

The experts over at PCMag (owned by Mashable's publisher, Ziff Davis) gave the XPS 15 a 4.5/5 rating and an Editor's Choice distinction, calling it "one of the best and most flexible luxe laptops for a range of audiences" despite their disappointment with its 720p webcam and limited selection of ports. (It does come with a free USB-C to USB-A and HDMI adapter, at least.)

Note that the base XPS 15 has a lackluster listed battery life of up to nine hours, but the PCMag team was able to squeeze over 14 hours of use out of its upgraded testing unit.

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For those who can't decide between a laptop or a tablet, the refined Yoga 9i from Lenovo's popular line of convertibles is everything you could want in both devices. Its star attraction is a vibrant 14-inch OLED touchscreen with a welcome 90Hz refresh rate (plus the option to upgrade to 4K), which flips on a 360-degree hinge around its attached keyboard to switch between the two different modes. It can also be propped up like a tent for movie-watching. Notably, it comes with a rechargeable stylus for drawing and sketching — the $59.99 Lenovo Precision Pen 2 — so there's no need to buy one separately.

The base configuration of the Yoga 9i includes a 13th-gen Intel Core i7 processor with 16GB of RAM and 512GB of storage to breeze through multitasking. The rest of the features on its spec sheet are equally impressive, from its 1080p webcam to the Bowers & Wilkins speaker bar with Dolby Atmos support. It should come as no surprise that it's an Editor's Choice pick over at PCMag, which deemed it "the premium 2-in-1 laptop to buy." It could use a battery bump in its next iteration, but that's a minor gripe somewhat nullified by its fast-charging feature.

Read Mashable's guide to the best 2-in-1 laptops.

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The latest iteration of the best gaming laptop we've tested packs more punch but retains the same thin, polished design as its predecessor. The 2023 Lenovo Legion Slim 7i's new 13th-gen Intel Core i9 processor and NVIDIA GeForce RTX 40 Series graphics can plow through AAA titles with no problem, and its vibrant 16-inch, 16:10 PureSight display has a 240Hz refresh rate for silky-smooth gameplay. (There's also an HDMI output if you want to connect it to a separate monitor.) It comes with a full-sized RGB-backlit keyboard with a full numpad and interchangeable WASD keycaps, plus built-in Harman speakers for immersive sound.

Four-and-a-half pounds is a little hefty for a traditional laptop, but for a gaming machine, the Legion Slim 7i sits comfortably in a featherweight class. If you're in the market for a gaming laptop that's basically a portable rig, look no further — but be prepared to pay up, as it retails for $2,099.99. (On the plus side, it does include a three-month Xbox Game Pass subscription.) "It’s an investment for sure, but a more sensible one than most," writes Mashable contributor Bains, who tested the previous model. Keep an eye out for discounts on it at Best Buy.

Read Mashable's guide to the best gaming laptops.

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The new Acer Chromebook Spin 714 is doing its best to shed this category's dinky and cheap associations, marrying competent mid-range specs like a 13th-gen Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM, 256GB of SSD storage, and a QHD webcam with ChromeOS security features (including automatic updates and cloud data storage). It's also managed to translate that signature Chromebook ruggedness into a sleek 2-in-1 design: Its build is rated for military-grade shock resistance, and its 14-inch touchscreen and touchpad are made with Antimicrobial Corning Gorilla Glass that may protect them from lingering stains and odors. It should make your shortlist if you're hunting for a basic, user-friendly laptop the whole family can use.

While this particular model hasn't been hands-on tested by Mashable or PCMag yet, the latter gave last year's Chromebook Spin 714 a 4.5/5 and an Editor's Choice Award for its 16:10 display ("a great balance between work and play"), 1080p shuttered webcam, durable metal chassis, and garaged stylus. The 2023 version has unfortunately ditched the stylus, but its upgraded processor, improved webcam, and slightly lower price maintains its overall excellence in our book.

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a man wearing a red shirt in a recording studio working on an m2 max-equipped apple macbook pro

Apple MacBook Pro (16-inch, M2 Max)

Best laptop for photo and video editing

If the M2 Max-equipped MacBook Pro from early 2023 was an actual workhorse, it would be one of those jacked Budweiser Clydesdales. Currently the largest, most powerful, and most expensive laptop in Apple's roster, this 16-inch, recycled aluminum laptop combines that formidable in-house silicone with a gorgeous Liquid Retina XDR display (a mini-LED screen with ProMotion technology, aka a 120Hz refresh rate), a 38-core GPU, an industry-leading 22-hour battery life, and a solid port selection with support for WiFi 6E and 8K displays. It prices out most users at $3,499 for the base configuration with 32GB of RAM and 1TB of storage — ouch — but according to PCMag, it's well worth that steep cost for professional creatives who run intense software on a regular basis.

"Sure, we can nitpick about the screen notch or the lack of touch capability, but the fact of the matter is that this is as close to perfect as any laptop we have reviewed," writes our sister site (which gave it an extremely rare 5/5 score and an Editor's Choice nod). "The machine looks and feels fantastic, and it will rip through the most demanding computing tasks like a buzzsaw."

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Repairability doesn't seem like a big deal until your MacBook's battery conks out and you have to haul it into the Genius Bar to replace the entire bottom half of the machine. The Framework Laptop 13 is the latest version of a previous Mashable's Choice Award-winning device that's specifically designed to be fixable by you at home, even if you have zero prior experience with DIY repairs, with replaceable CPUs, memory, storage, keyboards, displays, and even expansion cards for ports. What's more, these components can all be individually upgraded whenever Framework introduces new ones — it doesn't get more future-proof than that.

The pre-built, ready-to-use Framework Laptop 13 features a new 13.5-inch matte display, improved hinges, and a better battery life than the previous iterations, and it starts with a 13th-gen Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM, 256GB of SSD storage, and Windows 11 Home. You can also opt for the DIY Edition, which can be customized with the specs (even operating system) of your choosing.

Read Mashable's review of the Framework Laptop (2021).

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How we tested

Mashable staff or contributors have personally hands-on tested the M2 Apple MacBook Air and the Microsoft Surface Laptop Go 2, as well as previous versions of the Lenovo Legion Slim 7i and the Framework Laptop 13. (After extensive research, we're confident that their current iterations meet or surpass the expectations set by their stellar predecessors.) Meanwhile, the experts at our sister site, PCMag, have thoroughly reviewed the Dell XPS 15, the Lenovo Yoga 9i, last year's Acer Chromebook Spin 714, and the M2 Max MacBook Pro.

Each model snagged a spot on this best laptop guide for different reasons related to their specific use cases, but all of them hail from reputable brands and provide solid value for their features, with specs that'll last you for years to come. (None of them are more than a year and a half old.) They also have reliable availability and are easily found in stock on their brand/manufacturer's website or at major retailers as of mid-2023.

The specific specs we took into consideration when choosing these laptops include the following:

  • Processor: The central processing unit (or CPU) is a chip inside a laptop's motherboard that's responsible for executing all tasks and commands — it's often referred to as the machine's brain or control center. The newer and more powerful it is, the faster your laptop will be.

  • Graphics processor: The graphics processing unit (or GPU) is a specialized chip that's responsible for rendering visuals. It's especially important for gaming and photo/video editing.

  • RAM: A laptop's random-access memory is where it temporarily stashes the data its CPU needs for any active applications. The more RAM a machine has, the more tasks it can handle simultaneously.

  • Storage: 256GB of SSD (solid-state drive) storage is a good starting point for most people. If you're committed to spending well under $500, you may have to settle for a laptop with eMMC (embedded MultiMediaCard) flash storage, which is going to be much slower and cap off around 128GB.

  • Resolution: The higher your screen's resolution, the sharper its picture is going to be. Full HD (or 1920 x 1080 pixels) should be your baseline if you're going to be using your laptop for streaming or gaming.

  • Refresh rate: A laptop screen's refresh rate (measured in hertz) refers to the number of times it updates its picture per second; the higher the refresh rate, the smoother motion looks. 60Hz is pretty average for an everyday laptop, while nice gaming laptops range from 120Hz to 480Hz. (The high end of that spectrum is definitely overkill for most people, FYI.)

  • Webcam: While still pretty common in newer laptops, 720p cameras are just passable. We recommend aiming for 1080p (Full HD) if you plan on using your computer for regular video calls.

  • Ports: Different types of ports let you plug in different accessories and peripherals (like headphones and monitors).

  • Battery life: Eight to ten hours should get you through a day's work, but generally speaking, more is more.

  • Weight: Laptops that weigh three pounds or less will be easiest to take on the go, but (usually) less powerful than their heftier peers.

Frequently Asked Questions

Choosing the best laptop is mostly dependent on what you'll be using it for. Beginner laptop owners need something user-friendly and straightforward, frequent travelers need something light with a long battery life, designers and gamers need top-notch graphics and high refresh rates, and everyone needs something that will last. Take stock of what you need and what you'd like your new computer to accomplish. For example:

  • Do you want to be able to zip between browser tabs at lightning speed? Look for a laptop with a good amount of RAM — at least 8GB.

  • Do you want to be able to run video games? You’ll need a fast processor, a great graphics card, and as much RAM as you can afford. You’ll also want to look for a laptop with a good amount of storage space — upwards of 512GB SSD (solid-state drive) or even 1TB or more — to stash all your game save files.

  • Do you need to run demanding programs, like those used for editing photos and videos? Similar to gamers, you’ll want to seek out bigger laptops with lots of RAM and storage space alongside a powerful processor and a nice display.

  • Do you need to be able to switch from a laptop to a tablet at a moment's notice? A convertible 2-in-1 laptop is a versatile choice that can switch between laptop, tent, and tablet modes for typing, streaming, and note-taking or drawing.

Answering the above questions and thinking honestly about how you plan to use your laptop will help you narrow down exactly what type of laptop you need, and in turn, which brands you should be directing your attention to.

Your optimal laptop size will ultimately be decided by two factors: personal preference and lifestyle. On the personal preference front, you really just need to figure out if you want a huge display, or something more portable that you can chuck into your backpack. 

Lifestyle, on the other hand, is where practicality comes into play. If you commute daily or travel often and need to have your computer on your person, you're going to want to go with something more lightweight, slim, and compact in the 11- to 13-inch range. Alternatively, if you're a huge movie buff, a gamer, or a graphic designer who doesn't normally take their laptop on the road with them, you can easily spring for a 15- to 17-inch screen.

The price of your next laptop is really going to come down to one thing: how much you’re personally willing to spend.

While we’d all like an unlimited budget for tech purchases, realistically speaking you probably have a general range in mind for how much cash you’re willing to part with. If you rely on the machine day in and day out — and it’s not something you only occasionally spend time on — then getting the computer that’ll get the job done well (and is built to last) is super important. It’ll cost you more upfront, but it’ll be worth it in the long run. 

That said, be aware of getting caught up in extras that seem really cool, but that you might not ever use. For example, a 2-in-1 laptop with a touchscreen and a stylus is really cool for folks who plan to draw or take handwritten notes with their laptop, but it’s not necessarily a must-have for everyone.

In general, you should (again) think hard about what you're going to use your laptop for. If you need a device with lots of power under its hood and ample storage space, aim for something in the $1,000-and-beyond range. If you're only using your laptop to edit the occasional Google Doc or Excel spreadsheet, then you can probably get away with spending below the $600 mark.

You really do get what you pay for, but some cheap laptops can take you pretty far these days. It's all about knowing which one to select — and depending on what you use your laptop for the most, staying stingy might be your best option. For more intel, check out our guides to the best budget laptops under $500 and best budget laptops under $300.

Leah Stodart
Leah Stodart
Senior Shopping Reporter

Leah Stodart is a Senior Shopping Reporter at Mashable. She covers shopping trends, gift ideas, and products that make life easier, specializing in vacuums, TVs, and sustainable swaps. She graduated from Penn State University in 2016 and is watching horror movies or "The Office" when she’s not shopping online herself. You can follow her on Twitter at @notleah.

author photo
Dylan Haas
Lead Shopping Reporter

Dylan Haas is a Lead Shopping Reporter for Mashable, where he covers all things gaming, pets, fitness, and sleep. Before joining the team at Mashable, Dylan received a B.A. in Communications from Pace University and contributed to publications like Paste Magazine, Bandsintown, and others following a brief stint as a Marketing and Management Assistant in the music industry.

When he's not writing or testing products, you can find Dylan playing lots of video games, working out, spending time with loved ones (especially his dog, Stevie), or watching reality TV. Follow him on Twitter at @iamdylanhaas, or send him an email at [email protected].

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Haley Henschel

Haley is a Mashable shopping reporter based in Chicago. Before joining the team, she covered politics for The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, wrote about exotic pet ownership for the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism, and blogged for several Jersey Shore stars. In her free time, she enjoys playing video games and hanging out with her parrot (Melon) and dog (Pierogi). You can follow her on Twitter at @haleyhenschel or reach her via email at [email protected].

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