Asus

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. 

For Summer 2017, we've updated this guide with our favorite picks starting at $200 and going all the way to $3,000. Our personal favorite is the 2.6lb Asus Zenbook shown here, which comes in at a wallet-friendly price of $700, although there are also some great options for users who need more power for getting work done or playing games. Speaking of gaming, Nvidia's "Pascal" GPU design has finally provided 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 touchscreen fans: as much as these add value to laptops (TBG's work laptops all include touchscreens), they are becoming harder to find as manufacturers look to compete on cost and weight. That means that only a single model in our guide (the Asus Zenbook Flip) actually has a touchscreen this time around, and even it is likely to be discontinued soon.

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 - Summer 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 Midrange Media Laptop:

    Acer Aspire E 15 E5-575-33BM

    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 Aspire E comes in at a surprisingly low price, despite being equipped with the fast Intel Core i3-7100U 2.4GHz dual-core processor. It also features 4GB of RAM and a big 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 5.3 pounds and 1.2" 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, and even a built-in optical drive, a true rarity in laptops these days.

    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 and completely fanless (i.e., silent!) operation. 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:

    With touch-enabled Ultrabooks now fading from the limelight, the Zenbook flip ends up being the only touchscreen laptop in our lineup.

    The Affordable Ultralight:

    Asus ZenBook UX330UA-AH54

    Way back in 2012, Intel started the "Ultrabook" initiative to remake the Windows laptop industry, taking a cue from Apple's revolutionary Macbook Air. One of the very first manufacturers to rise to the challenge was Asus with its Zenbook, and it continues in that tradition to this day, even as the term Ultrabook has pratically been forgotten. The latest Zenbook is lighter (2.6lb), more powerful (thanks to the Core i5-7200U 2.5GHz CPU), and less expensive ($700!) than ever. And it remains one of the best-looking laptops on the market.

    The Guru's Tip:

    Interestingly, one of the biggest miscalculations Intel made a few years after starting the Ultrabook program was requiring a touchscreen. As much as we love touch in 2-in-1 devices, it adds unnecessary cost and bulk to standard laptops, which led to the collapse of the Ultrabook market. The Zenbook does not feature a touchscreen, but that's how Asus is able to make it so powerful, light, and inexpensive.

    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 i7-7700HQ 2.8 GHz quad-core with Turbo up to 3.8 GHz, a desktop-class Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 3GB video card, 16GB of RAM, a 256GB solid-state drive, 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 also truly portable.

  • The Ultimate Business Laptop:

    ThinkPad X1 Carbon 5th Gen

    Billed as the lightest business-class 14" laptop in the world, the 5th-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 14" 1920 x 1080 display, Intel's potent Intel Core i5-7200U dual-core CPU, 8GB of RAM, and a 128GB solid-state drive, all of which make it quite fast. But what makes it truly business-class are a spill-resistant keyboard and drop-resistant magnesium chassis, a slim 0.6" profile, and a weight of just 2.5lb. 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 15.5 hours of battery life, with the ability to get an 80% charge in just one hour!

    The Guru's Tip:

    As of our most recent update, there are three configurations available for this system, and the upgraded models add RAM, drive capacity, and more powerful processors.

    The Ultimate Gaming Laptop:

    ASUS ROG Strix GL702VS

    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 newest GL502 packs in the desktop-class GTX 1070 8GB video card for absolutely amazing performance. Backing up this powerhouse is the Kaby Lake-based Intel Core i7-7700HQ 2.8GHz quad-core CPU with Turboboost to 3.8GHz, 16GB of RAM, a 512GB solid-state drive, a 1TB hard drive, and a G-Sync-enabled 17.3" 1920 x 1080 120Hz screen for the smoothest laptop gaming experience ever!

    The Guru's Tip:

    Despite all the performance this laptop provides, it's still quite portable, at just 6lb and 0.94" thick!

    The Supreme Dream Machine:

    Asus ROG G701VI OC Edition

    Don't think you can have it all in a gaming laptop? Think again. Witness the latest from the Asus Republic of Gamers line. This model comes packing an Intel Core i7-7820HK Processor with Turbo up to 3.9GHz, a 17.3" 1080p G-Sync display with an ultra-fast 120Hz refresh rate, a GeForce GTX 1080 8 GB video card, 32GB DDR4 Memory, dual 256GB PCIe-based SSDs in RAID 0, and a 1TB HDD.

    The Guru's Tip:

    At 1.3" thick and 7.9lb., this is no lightweight, but it's still reasonably portable, far more than many competing models.