Best Laptops of 2020

Whether you're looking for portability, performance, or a low price, one of these computers should fit the bill

CR tester Artur Pietruch measures the glare on laptop screens
Artur Pietruch, a Consumer Reports tester, measures the glare on laptop screens in our lab.
Photo: Brian Finke

It used to be relatively easy to choose a laptop. You picked the screen size and looked for the thinnest, lightest model you could afford. But these days there are more factors to consider.

Do you buy a 2-in-1 convertible, which lets you fold the screen back and use the device like a tablet? Do you spring for a dedicated graphics card, which helps you play popular games like Fortnite and Civilization VI at high settings, as well as edit video more easily? And what exactly is the difference between Intel Core i5 and i7 processors?

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We can help you with those decisions.

Every year we test dozens of new laptops, evaluating them for ergonomics, battery life, display quality, and portability so that you don’t waste your money on a clunker. We buy all the products we test—from headphones to SUVs—at retail, because samples sent directly from a manufacturer may be tweaked to perform better in a reviewer’s tests.

We also incorporate brand reliability and owner satisfaction data collected from surveys of our members into each laptop's Overall Score.

Below are some of the best laptops in our ratings in five screen-size categories, ranging from highly portable 10-to-11-inch models to hulking desktop replacements that are between 17 and 18 inches.

10- to 11-Inch: Microsoft Surface Go 2

Not a lot of laptops on store shelves are this small, but the best of the bunch is the Microsoft Surface Go 2.

It’s tiny, weighs only 1.7 pounds, and has a battery that should last as many as 12 hours on a single charge. It’s hard to beat the Surface Go 2 if you want a full-fledged Windows laptop that you can slip into a bag and take with you without thinking twice. It replaces the Surface Go 1, which was released in mid-2018.

There are a couple ways you can configure the Surface Go 2, but our model (which is the base configuration) has an Intel Pentium processor, 4GB of memory, and 64GB of solid-state storage.

Those are modest numbers compared with other laptops on this list. Our testers note that performance is good enough to handle basic tasks like email, word processing, browsing the web, and conducting video calls but perhaps not quite there for more demanding tasks like editing photos or video.

It's not a performance powerhouse, but the Surface Go 2 stands out for a few features, including a display that's rated Excellent, a detachable keyboard (which means this laptop effectively doubles as a tablet), and a built-in 4.9 megapixel webcam, which is great for videoconferencing apps like Zoom.

The webcam even supports facial recognition, so you don’t have to input your password every time you open or turn on the laptop. 

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