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Laptops With the Best Battery Life

Life is too short to worry about whether you're going to make it through the day on a single charge

woman using a laptop to illustrate long battery life
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There are always things you can do to stretch the battery life of a laptop. But if you rely on your computer to deliver a full day's work before giving out, you want a model that packs plenty of power.

The laptops on the list below (available to members) offer a variety of benefits, including in some cases the ability to fold up and double as a tablet. But the thing that makes them stand out is generous battery life.

The HP Spectre Folio, for example, delivers nearly 19 hours' worth of unflagging productivity, according to our testers. That's enough to power you through the workday and watch a movie before you go to sleep.

Because people depend on their laptops day and night, we test the battery life on every model that enters our labs. And according to Antonette Asedillo, who oversees that testing, the protocol is designed to resemble real-world use.

We start by setting the brightness of the computer's display to 200 nits, a level that works indoors and out. Then, with the battery fully charged, we cycle the laptop through a series of 10 web pages, downloading them continuously until the laptop shuts down.

The web pages are stored on a server in our lab and transmitted over a WiFi network set up specifically for this purpose. We use the computer’s built-in browser—Internet Explorer for Windows 10 laptops (we plan to switch to Edge next year), Safari for Apple laptops, and Chrome for Chromebooks.

We recently added a second battery test in which the laptop plays a locally stored 4K video (as opposed to one streamed over WiFi) until the power is fully drained.

“It's a good way to gauge how well a battery will hold up during heavier workloads,” Asedillo says.

Under these conditions, we get a fair read on how almost any laptop will perform for the average user. Your actual battery life will vary depending on what you're doing. The important thing is that we test each laptop exactly the same way, so you can compare models with confidence.

And based on our test results, it's safe to say you can readily find well-made laptops that cross the 13-hour threshold. Of course, you may also stumble across models that provide less than half that. The 14-inch Avita Clarus, for example, lasts only 4 to 5 hours before being drained. Make sure you have a power cord handy.

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HP Spectre Folio
HP Spectre Folio

    HP Spectre Folio

    The first thing you’ll notice with the 13.3-inch HP Spectre Folio is that it’s fully clad in leather. The second thing? The 18.5-hour battery life, of course. That makes this Spectre Folio not only the longest-lasting 12- to 13-inch laptop in our ratings but also the longest lasting laptop in our ratings, period.

     

    The model is available in different configurations. The $1,400 version we bought and tested has a powerful Intel Core i7 processor, 8GB of memory, and 256GB of solid-state storage. The only thing that separates it from a high-end gaming PC is the lack of a dedicated graphics card required to play games at the highest settings. Everything else you need a laptop to do should be easy, including managing Excel spreadsheets, streaming high-resolution Netflix videos, and editing photos.

     

    Of course, the Spectre Folio isn’t perfect. There’s no built-in memory card reader, which means you’ll need a dongle or other adapter to transfer digital photos from a camera. Our testers also noted that the track pad, while responsive to the touch, is on the small side for such a high-end laptop.

     

    An HP laptop we haven’t tested yet but looks promising is the new Spectre x360, a two-in-one convertible that should be available later in October. HP claims it offers up to 22 hours of battery life on a single charge, which is impressive and would make it the laptop with the best battery life in our ratings. But the claim is one we’ll have to verify in our labs once it’s released. 

    2

    LG Gram 13 8th Gen
    LG Gram 13 8th Gen

      LG Gram 13 8th Gen

      At 2.2 pounds, the 13-inch LG Gram is among the lightest laptops in our ratings. Combine that with a battery that lasts 16.25 hours while browsing the web and you’ve got a compelling package.

       

      LG didn’t skimp on the core components, either. There’s an Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB of memory, and 512GB of solid-state storage. That’s double the amount of storage space you’d typically find in this class of laptop.

       

      One concern raised by our testers—and this applies to all sizes of the Gram—is that there tends to be quite a bit of flex to the laptop itself. It feels like you could almost bend it. That doesn't mean it actually bends or that we found a durability issue, but the sensation of it being almost too slight takes a little getting used to.

      3

      Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch (2018, MR9Q2LL/A)
      Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch (2018,...

        Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch (2018,...

        Apple’s latest MacBook Pro, like previous versions of the laptop, is among the computers with the best battery life in our ratings. But this year’s model actually has slightly worse battery life than the previous year’s.

         

        While the 2018 13-inch MacBook Pro clocked in at nearly 18 hours in our testing, this year’s model reached only 16 hours. That’s enough of a dip for it to tumble from our No. 2 slot to No. 3—still impressive, yes, but a dip nonetheless.

         

        Of course, the MacBook Pro is still as capable as ever, especially if you own an iPhone and enjoy being able to do things like send iMessages without having to take your hands off the keyboard while at work. Our model has an Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB of memory, and a 512GB solid-state drive, which is more than enough to carry out all but the most demanding tasks (like playing high-end video games). It’s light, too, coming in at only 3 pounds.

         

        One thing you may have to get used to is the lack of older USB-A ports. (These are the USB ports that have been around since the late 1990s.) Technology companies like Apple are embracing a new standard called USB-C, which is smaller and able to transfer data faster than USB-A.

        This MacBook Air only has USB-C ports, which means if you want to connect older accessories, like a comfy mouse or an older printer, you’ll need to buy a separate adapter, which will run you about $40 or more, depending on how many ports you want.

        4

        Microsoft Surface Book 2
        Microsoft Surface Book 2

          Microsoft Surface Book 2

          Microsoft’s Surface Book 2 is unique among the laptops featured here because it’s a two-in-one detachable. That means you can physically remove the keyboard from the display and use it like a tablet. As a tablet it may not function as well as an iPad—Windows simply doesn’t have as many bespoke tablet apps as Apple's operating system—but for lots of people it beats having to buy both a laptop and a tablet.

           

          As for battery life, our testers found that the Surface Book 2 delivered 16 hours for web browsing and 10.25 for video viewing. And the device has strong specs, including an Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB of memory, and 256GB of solid-state storage.

           

          Gamers should look elsewhere, but for consumers hoping to get some work done at the local coffee shop without access to a power outlet, this laptop is worth consideration.

           

          One thing to keep in mind is that Microsoft will release updated Surface devices later this month, including a model, called the Surface Pro X, that the company claims will last up to 13 hours on a single charge.
           

          While less than the Surface Book 2, it will offer cellular connectivity to more easily connect to the web. We’ll have to test the battery life once we get it in our labs, but expect to see the Surface Book 2 on sale over the coming weeks as retailers clear out older inventory to make room for the new model.

          5

          Dell XPS 15 (2019)
          Dell XPS 15 (2019)

            Dell XPS 15 (2019)

            The largest laptop in this list, Dell’s latest XPS 15 is a 15-inch notebook that continues the XPS tradition of including powerful specs inside a sleek package. It’s also got very good battery life, clocking in at 14 hours while browsing the web before needing to be topped up.

             

            About those specs: Here you’ll find an Intel Core i7, 16GB of memory, a 512GB solid-state drive, and a dedicated Nvidia graphics card. That’s good news if you’re into blowing off steam by playing “Apex Legends” or “Path of Exile,” and could help reduce the amount of time spent editing hi-res photos or very large photos. 

             

            It's a sleek-looking machine, too. That doesn’t influence our ratings, but this is a good laptop if you want gaming-ready performance without flashing lights and loud colors. 

             

            One more feather in the XPS’s cap: It’s one of the first laptops in our ratings that supports WiFi 6, the new standard that promises faster speeds and better support for handling multiple devices. You’ll need a WiFi 6 router to take advantage of the faster speeds, of course, but it’s a nice, future-proof feature to have as we approach the end of 2019. Read here for more on why WiFi 6 is important.

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