Best Laptops for Every Budget
If you're shopping for a new computer, here are a few smart options recommended by our testers
Choosing a laptop can be difficult—the selection of models, sizes, and configurations is vast. It can help to first decide on a budget, and then consult Consumer Reports' test results.
Here's a list of options at various price points. Most of these are convertibles, able to switch between laptop and tablet modes. All are recommended by our testers.
At under $300, this Asus is a steal—as long as you have light computing demands. It has Microsoft's latest operating system (Windows 10 Home) preinstalled and a battery life that stretches to more than 15 hours. And, with 2GB of RAM, it has enough memory for simultaneously running several browser windows or streaming movies.
But it's not right for everyone. You'll find it hard to run multiple applications at the same time. And if you're looking to do serious gaming or to use task-heavy software like Photoshop, it's best to keep looking for a laptop with a faster processor and more memory.
Because it has only 32GB of storage, this machine will be most satisfying when paired with an external drive or heavy use of a cloud service for storing photos and other files.
The Acer Aspire R5-571T-57Z0 is a clear standout in the versatility game. With a comfortable full-sized keyboard, large trackpad, 15-inch multitouch screen, and 360-degree hinge that lets the screen fold backward and function like a tablet, this computer grants you many of the benefits of much more expensive laptops.
Battery life is decent at 9 hours—the laptop won't need a break before you do. On the downside, it weighs a rather hefty 5 pounds, making it less easily portable that other 15-inchers.
We've seen this 2-in-1 priced between $450 and $550. If a retailer is close to the top of that range, try a bit of haggling. According to a recent subscriber survey, that strategy pays off in most cases.
This 13.3-inch convertible notebook has a lot of power under the hood. Thin and light (2.8 pounds), with a battery life of over 20 hours, it can go with you anywhere. And the overall performance is excellent.
The touchpad supports multifinger gestures, the touch-screen display was rated Very Good by our testers, and the backlit full-sized keyboard folds backward to allow the device to function like a tablet.
This $1,500 laptop received a Very Good score from our testers for performance. In fact, it’s one of the fastest models to pass through our labs. Additionally, it has a respectable 128 GB solid-state hard drive and 8 GB of memory, more than enough to run demanding software.
The 13.5-inch touchscreen can be detached from the keyboard and used as a tablet. And the battery lasts up to 15 hours. (Hopefully your workday doesn't go any longer than that.) And for those who want to get a little creative, the laptop comes with a pen that lets you draw directly on the screen.
If you need even more performance—like, say, the equipment to play a video game like Overwatch—you may want spring for a Surface Book with Performance Base. The laptop can click into a keyboard base that houses an upgraded graphics processing unit. That helps if you're doing tasks such as video editing or using CAD software. That version will cost you close to $2,000.