Samsung

Need a new laptop but haven't quite kept up with all the latest product releases? Well, we've got you covered - this guide profiles all the best options on the market in a variety of categories, from basic home use to work on the go to pro-level gaming. 

Heading into Winter 2017, we're seeing serious innovation in the laptop space. First, you have Intel's "Skylake" 6000-series and "Kaby Lake" 7000-series CPUs, which are so efficient that they finally allow laptop designers to dip way below the 3-pound barrier that ultra-light laptops have been stuck at for so long. As an example, the Samsung NP900, shown here is a scant 1.9lb., despite packing in plenty of computing power. The main difference between the 6000- and 7000-series CPUs, by the way, is that the latter models have more advanced 4K video processing. If you're a Netflix streaming afficianado, this might be helpful, otherwise, it doesn't have a lot of applications yet, and in fact is available in only a handful of laptops at the moment. There's also a new generation of graphics chips based on Nvidia's "Pascal" design, and these have actually proven to be big news for the laptop market. They finally allow desktop-class performance in a portable chassis. This guide includes gaming-specific laptops featuring the GTX 1060, GTX 1070, and GTX 1080 graphics chips. We'd advise serious gamers to avoid all older chips, as they pale in comparison.

By the way, a bit of bad news for Apple fans: we've dropped Apple entirely from our coverage, as the company seems intent on becoming a smartphone vendor first and foremost, with its previously class-leading MacBooks languishing in the background. It is most definitely no longer the leader when it comes to laptop design.

One important tip for buyers who haven't been in the laptop market for a while: the trend is no longer to include internal DVD drives in laptops, as they add a lot of weight and bulk. Therefore very few of the models we list include one. If you decide you'd like an ultra-slim laptop but still need a DVD drive, we recommend picking up an inexpensive external DVD burner, like the sleek Samsung SE-218GP model, for software installations or backups.

Laptops - Winter 2017

    The Basic Home Laptop:

    HP Stream 11.6 4GB

    We'll let you in on a little secret: the only reason that heavy 15.6" laptops are so common in the budget category is that with a big, low-resolution screen, manufacturers can get away with selling you a bulky, low-tech laptop too. We instead recommend the 2.6-pound Stream, featuring an 11.6" 1366 x 768 screen, an ultra-efficient Intel Celeron dual-core processor, 4GB of memory, a 32GB solid-state drive, and 802.11ac wireless networking. Frankly, it's the ideal low-cost personal PC. Note that its processor is tuned for battery life rather than speed (the Stream will run about 8 hours), but the zippy SSD storage makes up for that, allowing this system to feel every bit as fast as much larger, heavier laptops stuck with older hard drive technology.

    The Guru's Tip:

    The SSD in this laptop is small, but plenty big for basic productivity apps. For media strorage, you'll want to add a SanDisk 64GB microSD card.

    The Budget Convertible Tablet:

    Asus Transformer Book T100HA-C4-GR

    Behold, the latest incarnation of the ground-breaking Asus T100. Each year, Asus makes this model even better than before, and the newest version includes a faster Intel Atom processor, 4GB of RAM, and a big 64GB solid-state drive, pre-loaded with Windows 10. Its 10.1" touchscreen features a resolution of 1280x800, perfect for use both in laptop and tablet mode (typical widescreen monitors end up too tall and narrow when used as a tablet). Plus it weighs less than ever, at 2.3lb., while still offering an incredible 12 hours of battery life!

    The Guru's Tip:

    This model has a new quick-charge mode, getting the battery to 80% full in 2 hours. The older model required 8 hours for a full charge and had no quick-charge mode, leading to a lot of complaints from reviewers and users alike

    The Midrange Media Laptop:

    Asus F556UA-AB32

    We go up in size with this category to step up to a big 15.6" 1920 x 1080 screen, all the better for watching movies and having multiple application windows open. The F556UA comes in at a surprisingly low price, despite being equipped with the fast Intel Core i3-6100U 2.3GHz dual-core processor. It also features 4GB of RAM and a huge 1TB hard drive, making it perfect for enjoying plenty of media content. Being a new model, it includes such cutting-edge features as 802.11ac networking and USB 3.1 Type-C, the future of wireless and wired connectivity, respectively. Plus, it's fairly nimble at just 5.1 pounds and 1" thick.

    The Guru's Tip:

    Just to be clear, this is not what we'd consider a particularly portable PC. Due to its large size, this is a great laptop for use as your regular home PC, offering exceptional value and a very usable screen and keyboard.

    The Work/School Laptop:

    Asus ZenBook Flip UX360CA Core M

    If you're going to be on the move with your laptop and looking to get serious work done, you need a lot of power packed into a small chassis. Enter the Asus UX360CA. Equipped with Intel's ultra-efficient Core m3-6Y30 dual-core CPU with TurboBoost to 2.2GHz, it has plenty of processing power, along with 8-10 hours of battery life. It's also equipped with a 13.3" 1920x1080 touchscreen, which can flip into tablet mode, making it perfect for giving presentations or sharing photos. It comes equipped with 8GB of RAM and a 256GB solid-state drive, and weighs just 2.9lb.

    The Guru's Tip:

    Note that one of the advantages of using the Core m3 processor is that no cooling fan is required, making this a completely silent laptop!

    The High-End Convertible:

    Dell Inspiron i5378

    The Inspiron 13 offers the absolute latest in tech, headlined by Intel's brand-new Core i7-7500U 2.7 dual-core CPU with Turbo to 3.5GHz! You also get 8GB of  RAM, a 256GB SSD, and a 1920 x 1080 touchscreen display, which can flip 360 degrees to allow for tablet use. Despite the heavy-duty specs, it's just 3.5lb., making it very portable indeed!

    The Guru's Tip:

    The Core i5-7500U is the fastest dual-core laptop chip Intel has ever released, and as of our most recent update, the fastest CPU currently available based on the brand-new "Kaby Lake" design.

    The Extreme Ultralight:

    Samsung NP900X3L

    Coming in at a mind-blowing 1.9lb, this surprisingly-affordable model offers all the latest features, including a Skylake-based Core i5-6200U processor, a crisp 1920 x 1080 13.3" screen, 8GB of RAM, and a 256GB solid-state drive. Frankly, if you're looking for the mid-range laptop to beat, the  NP900 is the one. Just keep in mind that to hit its ultra-low weight, Samsung couldn't include a touchscreen, but for many laptop users, the tradeoff is well worth it.

    The Guru's Tip:

    Samsung is no stranger to high-end mobile device design, but it has turned the laptop world on its head with the NP900, which out-competes established players like Lenovo, Asus, and LG in terms of both design and price!

    The Midrange Gaming Laptop:

    MSI GP62MVR Leopard Pro

    Need an ultra-portable, ultra-capable gaming PC? Look no further than the Leopard Pro from MSI. It gives you the ultra-fast Intel Core i7-6700HQ 2.7 GHz quad-core with Turbo up to 3.5 GHz, a desktop-class Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 3GB video card, 8GB of RAM, a 1TB hard drive, and a 1080p 15.6" screen. Given how much is packed into this model, the price is simply jaw-dropping!

    The Guru's Tip:

    At 4.8lb. and 1.1" thick, this model is impressively-portable given how much power it packs in!

  • The High-End Ultrabook:

    HP Spectre x360 2-in-1

    The brand-new Spectre x360 sets the standard for what consumers should expect of a serious Ultrabook. Despite undercutting many of its competitors in weight (it's just 2.84lb.!), it offers a full 360-degree hinge, allowing you to use its 13.3" 1080p touchscreen in any number of ways. It's also among the very first laptops to feature the 7th-Generation Intel Core i7-7500U mobile processor, which offers better performance and battery life along with all-new 4K decoding options for streaming video. It's backed up by a generous 16GB of RAM and a 512GB, making it a real workhorse.

    The Guru's Tip:

    This laptop is so new that it's impossible to find anywhere but at Best Buy, where's it's currently an exclusive! It retails for $1,300, which is a great deal given its capabilities.

    The Ultimate Gaming Laptop:

    ASUS GL502VS-DB71 ROG

    Just when you thought things couldn't get any better for mobile gamers, Asus and Nvidia team up to drop a bombshell on the gaming laptop world. The new GL502 packs in the desktop-class GTX 1070 8GB video card for absolutely amazing performance. Backing up this powerhouse is the Skylake-based Intel Core i7-6700HQ 2.6GHz quad-core CPU with Turboboost to 3.5GHz, 16GB of RAM, a 1TB hard drive, a 256GB solid-state drive, and a G-Sync-enabled 15.6" 1920 x 1080 screen for the smoothest laptop gaming experience ever!

    The Guru's Tip:

    Despite all the performance this laptop provides, it's still truly portable, at just 4.8lb and 0.94" thick!

    The Ultimate Business Laptop:

    Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Core i7 14" Ultrabook

    Billed as the lightest business-class 14" laptop in the world, the 4th-gen X1 Carbon is the high-end laptop by which all others are judged. This sleek member of the ThinkPad line of business-ready laptops combines excellent features with unmatched durability, support, and expandability. It features an ultra-crisp 2560 x 1440 14" display, Intel's potent Core i7-6600U 2.6GHz dual-core CPU, 16GB of RAM, and a 512GB solid-state drive, all of which make it very fast. But what makes it truly business-ready are a spill-resistant keyboard with dual pointing devices, a slim 0.65" profile, and a weight of just 2.6lb. It's actually lighter than nearly every 13.3" laptop on the market, despite offering a bigger, better screen. All this and it offers an amazing 11 hours of battery life. Oh, and of course, it's made of carbon!

    The Guru's Tip:

    Note that the 2016 version of the X1 Carbon, featuring Intel Skylake processors, was released in March of 2016, and we suspect that the updated version using Kaby Lake processors won't surface until Spring of 2017.

    The Supreme Dream Machine:

    MSI GT73VR Titan Pro

    As many of the readers of our Do-It-Yourself PC Buyer's Guides know, we spec out a Supreme Dream Machine build every month that features the very best in PC gaming. No, it's not cheap, and no, it's not value-packed. But that's what makes it a dream machine! So it is with the new GT73VR Titan Pro from MSI, which falls into the category of "hey, we can do it, so why not!" It packs the Intel Core i7-6820K processor, offering Turbo speeds up to 3.6GHz, 64GB of RAM, dual 512GB SSDs in RAID0, and a 1TB hard drive. Oh yeah, MSI also made room for a desktop-class Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 8GB, which will provide ultra-smooth gaming on the 17.3" 1920 x 1080 120Hz screen!

    The Guru's Tip:

    At over 8.5lb. and nearly 2" thick, this beast isn't meant to be tucked into a shoulder bag, but you'll have no problem getting it into a backpack for gaming on the go!

  1. The Basic Home Laptop HP Stream 11.6 4GB ($200.00)
  2. The Budget Convertible Tablet Asus Transformer Book T100HA-C4-GR ($269.00)
  3. The Midrange Media Laptop Asus F556UA-AB32 ($365.00)
  4. The Work/School Laptop Asus ZenBook Flip UX360CA Core M ($570.00)
  5. The High-End Convertible Dell Inspiron i5378 ($700.00)
  6. The Extreme Ultralight Samsung NP900X3L ($869.00)
  7. The Midrange Gaming Laptop MSI GP62MVR Leopard Pro ($1149.00)
  8. The High-End Ultrabook HP Spectre x360 2-in-1 ($1300.00)
  9. The Ultimate Gaming Laptop ASUS GL502VS-DB71 ROG ($1598.00)
  10. The Ultimate Business Laptop Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Core i7 14" Ultrabook ($1849.00)
  11. The Supreme Dream Machine MSI GT73VR Titan Pro ($3349.00)