Gram

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 Fall 2017, we've updated this guide with our favorite picks starting at $250 and going all the way to $2,500 and beyond. Our personal favorite is the 2.1-pound LG Gram, shown here, which comes in at a wallet-friendly price of $900, despite impressive specs (and that impressive weight!). In addition to the Gram, we list nine other great options, split between home office and gaming-specific models. Speaking of gaming, Nvidia's "Pascal" GPU design has finally provided desktop-class performance in a portable chassis. This guide includes three 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.

And here's the most important news of all - we've revised our Fall 2017 guide to include two brand-new laptops featuring Intel's latest 8th-gen Core processor, the mesmerizing Core i7-8550U, the first quad-core chip designed for ultra-lights! Just a few years ago, this much power could only be found in laptops over five pounds. Now you can get a 3lb. laptop with the same computing power!

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 LG GP65 USB 2.0 model, for software installations or backups.

Laptops - Fall 2017

Home/Small Office

  • The Chromebook Option:

    Acer Chromebook R 11 Convertible

    There are a lot of Chromebooks out there, but in all honesty, most of them are really only suitable for kids. The R 11 from Acer, on the other hand, is a serious laptop that just happens to run ChromeOS. Featuring a 11.6" touchscreen, a 360-degree hinge that allows for tablet and "tent" use, 4GB of RAM and a 32GB solid-state drive, it offers a premium user experience at a very affordable price. Just keep in mind that you can't run standard Windows software on ChromeOS, so you'll be limted to what's available in the app store.

    The Guru's Tip:

    We'd strongly recommend you avoid all the cut-rate, discontinued, refurbished Chromebooks that make an apperance from time to time on the Web. You get what you pay for, and you'll get very little with these models.

    The Budget Laptop:

    Asus L403SA

    Taking cues from its Chromebook competitors, Asus uses low-cost components in the L403SA, but loads a full version of Windows 10, making it a full-fledged laptop. It's powered by a 1.6 GHz Intel Pentium N3710 Quad-Core, and features 4GB of RAM and 64GB of solid-state storage. It also boasts an impressively-large14" 1920 x 1080 display, and yet comes in at just 3.3 pounds and 0.7" thick!

    The Guru's Tip:

    We've decided that we can no longer recommend laptops that run off off hard drives rather than solid-state drives, as their performance is so abysmal. Yes, you can find laptops at this pricepoint with "better" specs, but their hard drives make them a no-go in our book.

    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 i5-7Y54 dual-core CPU with TurboBoost to 3.2GHz, 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 512GB solid-state drive, and weighs just 2.9lb.

    The Guru's Tip:

    With touch-enabled Ultrabooks now fading from the limelight in pursuit of the slimmest profile, the Zenbook flip ends up being one of only three touchscreen laptops 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 Quad-Core Convertible:

    Acer Spin 5

    Intel has just delivered the biggest year-to-year jump in performance in the history of laptops! This thin-and-light convertible laptop packs in the brand-new 8th Generation Intel Core i7-8550U Processor, a quad-core processor with Turbo up to 4.0GHz. Yes, you read that  right, quad core! You also get a 13.3" 1920 x 1080 touchscreen, 8GB of memory, a 256GB solid-state drive, and up to 13-hours of battery life. At 3.31 pounds and 0.63" thick, this powerhouse is quite portable too.

    The Guru's Tip:

    As befits the "Spin" name, this laptop can flip 360 degrees into tablet mode - which is what makes it a convertible, also known as a "2-in-1". If you'd be willing to trade that functionality for a slimmer, lighter model, check out the HP listed below.

    The Quad-Core Ultrabook:

    HP Envy 13-ad120nr

    From our point of view, this is now the ultimate professional laptop. Sure, you could spend more, but why? Featuring Intel's brand-new Core i7-8550U quad-core CPU with Turbo up to 4GHz, it's blazing fast, yet it still gets up to 14 hours of battery life and weighs just 2.92 pounds. Packed inside its stylish "edge" chassis is 8GB of RAM, a PCIe-based 256GB solid-state drive, and a 13.3" touchscreen with ultra-slim bezels. It also has two USB Type-A ports, two USB Type-C ports, and a microSD memory slot.

    The Guru's Tip:

    Packing this much power into a sub-3lb. laptop is simply incredible, and it's what makes the latest CPUs from Intel truly revolutionary.

    The Extreme Ultra-Light:

    LG Gram 13Z970

    LG's Gram line has been around for a few years now, and while its original claim to fame was that it weighed under a kilogram (2.2lb.) at a questionable pricepoint, it's now earning its wings as a serious, full-featured laptop at a great price. You get a huge amount of value in the newest LG Gram, including a 13.3" touchscreen display, which none of its lightweight competitors offer, making it a true "Ultrabook" according to Intel's criteria. You also get an Intel Core i5 2.5GHz dual-core processor, 8GB of RAM, a 256GB solid-state drive, and a big 60Wh battery. And since it weighs just 2.1 pounds, it can still wear the "Gram" badge proudly!

    The Guru's Tip:

    A few other notable features included on the Gram that are hard to find in other ultra-lights: a fingerprint reader, a microSD card memory slot, a full-size HDMI port, and two full-size USB 3.0 Type-A ports plus a USB Type-C port. The tradeoff is that it's not quite as thin as its competitors, but we think the few added millimeters are well worth it!

Gaming

    The Midrange Gaming Laptop:

    Acer Predator Helios 300 w/ 2TB Hard Drive

    Need an ultra-capable gaming PC at a bargain-basement price? Look no further than the Helios 300 from Acer. 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 6GB video card (a huge upgrade from the 3GB model most laptops come with), 16GB of RAM, a 256GB solid-state drive, and a 1080p 15.6" screen.

    The Guru's Tip:

    There's just one catch when it comes to the Helios 300: Acer hit an absurdly-low pricepoint by skipping the hard drive entirely. The 256GB SSD is nice for the OS, but you won't be able to load more than a handful of games on it. That's why we insist that you go with the laptop/hard drive bundle offered from Amazon. It's there for a reason: the standard Helios 300 just isn't usable out of the box.

    The Lightweight Gaming Laptop:

    ASUS ROG Strix GL502VS-DS71

    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, despite coming in at an amazing 4.8lb. and 1.2" thick. You also get an Intel Core i7-7700HQ 2.8GHz quad-core CPU with Turboboost to 3.8GHz, 16GB of RAM, a 128GB solid-state drive, a 1TB hard drive, and a G-Sync-enabled 15.6" 1920 x 1080 120Hz screen for the smoothest laptop gaming experience ever!

    The Guru's Tip:

    If you want a truly portable gaming machine, this is the one!

    The Ultimate Gaming Laptop:

    Acer Predator 17 X GX-792-703D

    Don't think you can have it all in a gaming laptop? Think again. Witness the latest Predator laptop from Acer. 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 8GB video card, 32GB DDR4 Memory, dual 256GB PCIe-based SSDs in RAID 0, and a 1TB HDD.

    The Guru's Tip:

    We want to make something abundantly clear: on a laptop, we'd take a 1080p 120Hz G-sync screen over a 4K screen any day of the week. On a 17" screen, you'd be hard-pressed to tell the difference in resolution, but you'll definitely be able to tell how smooth 120Hz feels versus the 60Hz that 4K screens are locked at. And no laptop GPU can drive 4K resolutions anyway.