Best Laptop for 2022: Here Are 14 Laptops We Recommend

Spring is one of the best times to hunt for deals on a new laptop outside of Black Friday. There are lots of new 2022 laptops rolling out now, which means you’ll see many 2021 models that you can pick up at a significant discount. That includes new versions of two of our favorites, the MacBook Air and Dell XPS 13. Plus, there are plenty of big sales events around this time for Father’s Day, Memorial Day and graduations.

At CNET, our laptop and computer experts have spent collective decades testing and reviewing laptops, covering everything from performance to price to battery life. This hand-curated list covers the best laptops across various sizes, styles and costs, including laptop computers running on Windows, MacOS and Chrome. (Microsoft released the full version of its Windows 11 operating system in October 2021; all of the Windows laptops on this list should fully support that new OS.)

If you want more laptop brands and options for a particular category, we also have specialized lists you can look at, including the best gaming laptops, best 15-inch laptops, best two-in-ones and best Chromebooks, as well as the best laptops for college students, designers and the best MacBook Pro alternatives. If you need to stay as low as possible on the price of a new laptop computer, check out our best budget laptop and best budget gaming laptop picks.

This best laptop list is updated periodically with new models we’ve tested and reviewed. It’s a great place to get an idea of what’s available. If you need advice on whether a particular type of laptop or two-in-one is right for you, jump to our laptop FAQ at the bottom of the list.

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Apple MacBook Air M1 2020
Best MacBook Air
Apple announced a fully updated version of the Air with its new M2 chip, a larger 13.6-inch display, a four-speaker audio system and a 1080p webcam. It’s also now $200 more and it won’t be available until sometime in July.

However, the M1 MacBook Air (one of the first to switch from Intel to Apple silicon) is sticking around as Apple’s entry-level laptop and is still our go-to recommendation for a MacOS laptop for basic everyday use. It has great performance and long battery life — up to 18 hours — and is a solid choice for school or work. Read our MacBook Air M1 review.

$949 at Amazon
$999 at Apple
$1,095 at eBay

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Dell XPS 13
Best MacBook Air alternative
The Dell XPS 13 is a perennial favorite for its size, weight and performance and just overall good looks. In 2020, Dell made the laptop even smaller, while making the laptop screen larger and increasing performance for both CPU and graphics-intensive tasks. For 2022, it made the XPS 13 even smaller and lighter, kept its sub-$999 starting price the same and dropped in the latest 12th-gen Intel processors.

While we haven’t had a chance to test the new model yet, we expect it to be a strong Windows alternative to the MacBook Air. Also, if you want to save money, the 2021 XPS 13 with 11th-gen Intel chips is available for less now.

$853 at Dell

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HP Pavilion Aero 13
Best small laptop under $1,000
HP packed a lot of value into the Aero 13: Eye-pleasing magnesium-aluminum chassis, strong processing performance, long battery life, a bright, colorful display and a weight of just 2 pounds (0.94 kilograms). Amazingly, with all that it offers though, it has a regular starting price of less than $700. Read our HP Pavilion Aero 13 review.

$690 at HP

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Acer Swift 3
Best laptop on a budget
A remarkable deal for simple tasks like email, word processing and much more, thanks to AMD Ryzen 5 and Ryzen 7 processors. It’s available with 11th-gen Intel processors, too. This budget laptop has a backlit keyboard, a fingerprint reader and a USB Type-C port, too. The Acer Swift 3 is also an incredibly lightweight laptop — less than 3 pounds — for a machine that can be found for less than $700.

In addition to this Acer Swift, we’re also fans of the Acer Aspire 5, which has a larger 15.6-inch display. The Acer Aspire 5 is available in a variety of configurations starting as low as $400, but can go up to $690 if you want entry-level discrete graphics for basic gaming and content creation. Read our Acer Swift 3 (14-inch, 2020) review.

$709 at Amazon
$568 at Amazon

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Lenovo Yoga 7i (14-inch)
Best two-in-one under $1,000
Regularly available for less than $800, this thin, 3-pound convertible is a solid choice for anyone who needs a laptop for office or schoolwork. The all-metal chassis gives it a premium look and feel, and it has a comfortable keyboard and a responsive, smooth precision touchpad. Though it’s light on extra features compared to its premium linemate, the Yoga 9i, it does have one of Lenovo’s sliding shutters for its webcam that gives you privacy when you want it. And it has a long battery life to boot.

$950 at Best Buy
$999 at Amazon

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Acer Chromebook Spin 713
Best Chromebook
Tired of trying to work on documents or spreadsheets on a small widescreen display? The Acer Chromebook Spin 713 uses one of Acer’s bright VertiView displays, a 13.5-inch 2,256×1,504-pixel touchscreen with a 3:2 aspect ratio. As the name implies, it gives you more vertical room to work, but it still has the width of a typical 13.3-inch laptop with a 16:9 ratio. Between that and its battery life, which lasted nearly 13 hours in our tests, you’ll be able to get more work done in a day with this Chrome OS laptop — and it’s still thin and light enough for an everyday carry.

The latest version of this Chromebook is the first to receive Intel’s Evo verification, which means you’ll be getting the best possible mobile experience with this model. It’s also the first with Thunderbolt 4 support, which lets you connect to multiple external displays as well as providing fast data speeds and networking. Read our Acer Chromebook Spin 713 review.

$699 at Best Buy
$866 at Walmart

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Lenovo Yoga 9i Gen 7
Best 14-inch 2-in-1
Lenovo launched the Yoga line 10 years ago with Windows 8 and now, with Windows 11, the flexibility of the design has only gotten better. The company’s flagship 14-inch Yoga 9i Gen 7 has an updated look with comfortable, rounded edges and 12th-gen Intel processors that give it a big multicore performance jump. A beautiful OLED display and improved audio make it excellent for work, video conferences and entertainment. Lenovo includes an active pen and a laptop sleeve to complete the premium package.

The powerful speakers do add some vibration to the palm rests when turned up and Lenovo has cluttered the laptop with pitches for optional services and software. But, overall, the latest Yoga 9i is the two-in-one convertible laptop to beat. Unfortunately, its availability is limited at the moment so you might have to wait to buy one. Read our Lenovo Yoga 9i Gen 7 review.

$1,080 at Lenovo

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Samsung Galaxy Book 2 Pro 360
Best 15.6-inch 2-in-1
Samsung’s latest big-screen two-in-one doesn’t look all too different from its predecessor, but inside is a new, 12th-gen Intel processor that gives it a sizable multicore performance bump. Plus, the other, smaller updates Samsung made to the Pro 360 improve the overall user experience, making it one of the best two-in-ones available right now. Read our Samsung Galaxy Book 2 Pro 360 review.

$1,250 at Samsung

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Apple MacBook Pro (2021, 16-inch)
Best MacBook Pro
New Apple silicon, new display, new design and all the ports we’ve been asking for: The latest 16-inch Apple MacBook Pro is the best Pro ever. The combination of the larger MacBook Pro’s hardware and MacOS extracts the maximum performance from the components while delivering excellent battery life. The new mini-LED high-resolution display is gorgeous. And if an HDMI output and SD card reader were on your shortlist for features, you’ll find those here too.

You pay for it, though: Base price for the 16-inch model of this premium laptop is $2,499. Read our Apple MacBook Pro review.

$2,299 at Amazon
$2,299 at Best Buy

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Dell Inspiron 16 Plus
Best 16-inch laptop for creators on a budget
There are plenty of 15.6-inch laptops, but 16-inch models like the Dell Inspiron 16 Plus are something of a rarity. The 16-inch display is a great size since the laptop is barely bigger than a 15.6-inch model, but you get more room for work and a roomier keyboard and touchpad along with it. For this Inspiron, Dell packed in performance parts including Nvidia discrete graphics (though it’s nearly half the price if you go with Intel integrated graphics) and the display covers 100% sRGB and 81% AdobeRGB color gamuts, which is good enough if you’re getting started with creating web content. Also, the laptop has a more premium fit and finish than we’re used to seeing in the Inspiron line. Read our Dell Inspiron 16 Plus review.

$804 at Dell

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Microsoft Surface Pro 8
Best Surface laptop
Although this Microsoft Surface laptop is not the Surface Laptop, the Surface Pro continues to hit all the right notes if you’re looking for a do-it-all Windows tablet that doubles as a Windows laptop. Microsoft recently overhauled it for the Surface Pro 8, which has a larger 13-inch display, 11th-gen Intel Core processors and two Thunderbolt 4 USB-C ports. The Surface Pro 7 is still around for the time being at a discount, and an updated version called the Surface Pro 7 Plus will stay in the lineup, so you’ll still be able to get the classic Pro design but with new processors. Read our Surface Pro 8 review.

$870 at Target
$870 at Amazon
$900 at Best Buy

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Razer Blade 14
Best MacBook Pro 14-inch alternative
There’s a lot to love with the Razer Blade 14, which incorporates one of the fastest mobile CPUs available (for now, at least), the AMD Ryzen 9 5900HX, and top-end mobile graphics with the GeForce RTX 3070 or 3080. Its display can go pixel-to-pixel with the MacBook’s. And its high-quality build is up there with the best MacBooks but, like an Apple, it’s not necessarily the best laptop deal, even compared to other premium laptops. Read our Razer Blade 14 review.

$2,600 at Razer
$2,650 at Amazon
$2,720 at Best Buy

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Dell G15
Best entry-level gaming laptop
Dell streamlined its G-series gaming laptops, going from three models down to just one — and it’s all for the best. Instead of having to decode the various feature and quality differences between them, there’s just one chassis available with a variety of configurations with up to an 11th-gen Intel processor or AMD Ryzen 5000 H-series processor. Updated versions with 12th-gen Intel processors are available now, too. All of the processors can be paired with up to a 6GB Nvidia RTX 3060, 8GB or 16GB of memory and up to 1TB of storage. They’re basically more budget laptop-friendly versions of those from its Alienware division, but still capable of playing the latest AAA games. Due to availability issues, prices are unstable but do normally start below $1,000.

$784 at Dell

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Razer Blade Pro 17
Best gaming laptop for impressing at work
If you’re going for the best, go big. Yes, there are faster 17-inchers, but I draw the line at dual humongous power bricks. The Blade Pro is fast and provides powerful gaming performance with an Intel Core i7 processor and Nvidia GeForce RTX 30-series graphics, but doesn’t sacrifice its svelte figure. While I recommend getting this Blade Pro laptop with its 4K-resolution display option for creators, gamers will want to get the display with a 360Hz refresh rate that Razer offers for this model.

$2,758 at Amazon
Best Laptops of CES 2022
Laptop FAQs
How much does a good laptop cost?
Setting a budget is a good place to start when shopping for the best laptop for yourself. The good news is you can get a nice-looking, lightweight laptop with excellent battery life at prices under $500. If you’re shopping for a laptop around $500 or less, check out our top picks here, as well as more specific buying advice for that price range.

Higher-end components like Intel Core i-series and AMD Ryzen processors and premium design touches like thin-display bezels and aluminum or magnesium bodies have made their way to laptops priced between $500 and $1,000. You can also find touchscreens and two-in-one designs that can be used as a tablet or a laptop — and a couple other positions in between. In this price range, you’ll also find faster memory and ssd storage — and more of it — to improve performance.

Above $1,000 is where you’ll find premium laptops and two-in-ones. If you’re looking for the fastest performance, the best battery life, the slimmest, lightest designs and top-notch display quality with an adequate screen size, expect to spend at least $1,000.

Which is better, MacOS or Windows?
Deciding between MacOS and Windows laptop for many people will come down to personal preference and budget. Apple’s base model laptop, the M1 MacBook Air, starts at $999. You can sometimes find it discounted or you can get educational pricing from Apple and other retailers. But, in general, it’ll be at least $1,000 for a new MacBook, and the prices just go up from there.

For the money, though, you’re getting great hardware top to bottom, inside and out. Apple recently moved to using its own processors, which resulted in across-the-board performance improvements compared to older Intel-based models. But, the company’s most powerful laptop, the 16-inch MacBook Pro, still hasn’t been updated to Apple silicon.

But, again, that great hardware comes at a price. Also, you’re limited to just Apple laptops. With Windows and Chromebooks (more on these below), you get an amazing variety of devices at a wide range of prices.

Software between the two is plentiful, so unless you need to run something that’s only available on one platform or the other, you should be fine to go with either. Gaming is definitely an advantage for a Windows laptop, though.

MacOS is also considered to be easier and safer to use than Windows, especially for people who want their computers to get out of the way so they can get things done. Over the years, though, Microsoft has done its best to follow suit and, with Windows 11 here, it’s trying to remove any barriers. Also, while Macs might have a reputation for being safer, with the popularity of the iPhone and iPad helping to drive Mac sales, they’ve become bigger targets for malware.

Are Chromebooks worth it?
Yes, they are, but they’re not for everyone. Google’s Chrome OS has come a long way in the past 10 years and Chromebooks — laptops that run on Chrome OS — are great for people who do most of their work in a web browser or using mobile apps. They are secure, simple and, more often than not, a bargain. What they can’t do is natively run Windows or Mac software.

What’s the best laptop for home, travel or both?
The pandemic changed how and where a lot of people work. The small, ultraportable laptops valued by people who regularly traveled may have suddenly become woefully inadequate for working from home. Or maybe instead of needing long battery life, you’d rather have a bigger display with more graphics power for gaming.

If you’re going to be working on a laptop and don’t need more mobility than moving it from room to room, consider a 15.6-inch laptop or larger. In general, a bigger screen makes life easier for work and is more enjoyable for entertainment, and also is better if you’re using it as an extended display with an external monitor. It typically means you’re getting more ports, too, so connecting an external display or storage or a keyboard and mouse are easier without requiring a hub or dock.

For travel, stay with 13- or 14-inch laptops or two-in-ones. They’ll be the lightest and smallest while still delivering excellent battery life. What’s nice is that PC-makers are moving away from 16:9 widescreens toward 16:10- or 3:2-ratio displays, which gives you more vertical screen space for work without significantly increasing the footprint. These models usually don’t have discrete graphics or powerful processors, though that’s not always the case.

Which laptop is best for gaming or creating?
You can play games and create content on any laptop. That said, what games you play and what content you create — and the speed at which you do them — is going vary greatly depending on the components inside the laptop.

For casual browser-based games or using streaming-game services like Google Stadia, Nvidia GeForce Now and Xbox Cloud Gaming, you don’t need a powerful gaming laptop. And similarly, if you’re just trimming video clips, cropping photos or live-streaming video from your webcam, you can get by with a modestly priced laptop or Chromebook with integrated graphics.

For anything more demanding, you’ll need to invest more money for discrete graphics like Nvidia’s RTX 30-series GPUs. Increased system memory of 16GB or more, having a speedy SSD for storage and a faster processor such as an Intel Core i7 or AMD Ryzen 7 will all help you get things moving faster, too.

The other piece you’ll want to consider is the display. For gaming, look for screens with a high refresh rate of 120Hz or faster so games look smoother while playing. For content creation, look for displays that cover 100% sRGB color space.

How we test computers
The review process for laptops, desktops, tablets and other computer-like devices consists of two parts: performance testing under controlled conditions in the CNET Labs and extensive hands-on use by our expert reviewers. This includes evaluating a device’s aesthetics, ergonomics and features. A final review verdict is a combination of both those objective and subjective judgments.

The list of benchmarking software we use changes over time as the devices we test evolve. The most important core tests we’re currently running on every compatible computer include: Primate Labs Geekbench 5, Cinebench R23, PCMark 10 and 3DMark Fire Strike Ultra.

A more detailed description of each benchmark and how we use it can be found in our How We Test Computers page.

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Computing
Best Cheap Gaming Laptop Under $1,000 for 2022
Good entry-level graphics chips can mean terrific performance for less money.

Joshua Goldman headshot
Joshua Goldman
June 10, 2022 3:00 a.m. PT
6 min read

Dell G15
$779 at Amazon

Acer Nitro 5
$735 at Walmart

HP Pavilion Gaming 15
$772 at Amazon

Lenovo Legion 5/5i
$919 at Amazon
Gaming laptops have come a long way in recent years and you no longer need to spend a fortune to grab a decent rig. There are plenty of great options out there that start under $1,000, without sacrificing all the handy features that make gaming so much fun. In fact, we’ve found quite a few affordable gaming laptops that start as low as $700 and offer a decent gaming experience for their value.

That means that you’re not limited to low-res gaming on cheap gaming laptops and can get an immersive experience playing games like Fortnite, Minecraft, Apex Legends, CS:GO and PUBG. It still costs a pretty penny to get what’s considered an affordable gaming laptop, but frugal gamers can save even more money if they look for the best cheap laptop deals on a refurbished or open-box option from the likes of Amazon, Micro Center and Woot.

Read more: How to Buy a Gaming Laptop

The recommendations below are based on our reviews and testing. Our aim is to help you get your ideal gaming experience on a cheap laptop. And if you want to improve your gaming and work-from-home experience, you may want to look into some inexpensive gaming gear to help you do it. We’ll update this list of the best cheap gaming laptop options as we review new products. Also, if you need help deciphering what specs to look for on a good, cheap gaming laptop, we’ve got some advice below.

Dell
Dell G15
Dell streamlined its G-series gaming laptops, going from three models down to just one — and it’s all for the best. Instead of having to decode the various feature and quality differences between them, there’s just one chassis available with a variety of configurations with an 11th-gen Intel processor or AMD Ryzen 5000 H-series processor, though those models start at $1,200 or more. All of the processors can be paired with up to a 6GB Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060, 8GB DDR4 RAM or 16GB DDR4 RAM and 256GB SSD or 512GB SSD. They’re basically a more budget-friendly version of those from its Alienware division, but still capable of playing the latest AAA titles. Prices have been up and down lately due to supply issues, so if you’re a gamer on a budget you may have to wait to get the best deal. This gaming laptop has eight USB Ports and the laptop is available in two colors.

$779 at Amazon

Sarah Tew/CNET
Acer Nitro 5
The Acer Nitro 5 is the best affordable gaming laptop that comes in both 17.3- and 15.6-inch sizes. A 17-inch cheap gaming laptop is a rarity with entry-level gaming laptops; most sub-$1,000 gaming laptops have 15.6-inch displays, and the Acer’s larger screen lets the gamer sink in and get lost in the chosen gaming world. Unfortunately, the larger screens are currently just above $1,000 at the moment. This cheap gaming laptop comes with an 11th Gen Intel Core processor with 8GB RAM and 256GB SSD.

$735 at Walmart

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HP Pavilion Gaming 15
It’s the bright screamin’-green backlit keyboard that really gives away that HP’s 15.6-inch Pavilion Gaming laptop isn’t just a normal midsize notebook. Sure, there are some pretty large rear fan vents, but otherwise the chassis is fairly tame and all black except for a slight green tint to the HP logo on the lid. Inside the gaming notebook is an excellent mix of components that are good for gaming as well as work.

$772 at Amazon

Lenovo
Lenovo Legion 5/5i
The Legion 5 is an updated version of the Y540, which was one of our favorite gaming laptops for its design and best gaming laptop value. There are a few changes to this gaming machine’s design, but mostly it’s what’s inside that’s changed, including a choice between AMD (Legion 5) and Intel (Legion 5i) processors. Prices still start at just under $1,000 for the AMD models but if you can spend closer to $1,300, you’ll get more for your money. If you are a gamer who needs to keep costs down, the company’s budget gaming IdeaPad Gaming 3 laptop starts down around $650.

$919 at Amazon
Frequently asked questions
Are budget gaming laptops worth it?
You can find a good cheap gaming laptop, but they certainly have performance limitations compared to more expensive laptops. The components necessary for an enjoyable PC gaming experience are expensive, which means even entry-level gaming laptops are still typically between $700 to $1,000. Also, because these models use lower-end components, the gaming performance they’ll have on today’s demanding AAA games might not hold up for future titles.

Cheap gaming laptops are worth considering if you typically play older games or games that aren’t graphically demanding or you’re OK playing at reduced graphics quality to maintain fast frame rates. They’re also a suitable option if you’re looking for a laptop for work or school, but with enough graphics power for casual gaming during your downtime.

What should I look for in a cheap gaming laptop?
For the best gaming experience with a budget gaming laptop, you want to make sure you get the most graphics power affordable from the start since this can’t be upgraded later, unlike memory or storage.

A cheap gaming laptop with an entry-level Nvidia GTX 1650 normally starts around $700, though the current chip shortage has prices up and supplies low. That chip gives you enough graphics performance to play the newest demanding games at medium settings. Spending between $800 and $1,000 (or perhaps a little more) will get you a laptop with a GTX 1650 Ti, a 1660 Ti or even a 3050 Ti for a better gaming experience.

If you’re on a strict budget when shopping for a cheap gaming laptop, again, go with an Nvidia GTX 1650 graphics chip. If you can afford to spend closer to $1,000, you’ll be better off in the long run as you’ll be able to play more demanding games now and later.

What other components should I look for in a cheap gaming laptop?
With the CPU, memory and storage, your choices are a little more flexible for a budget gaming laptop, especially the latter two. Because many games such as first-person shooters rely more on the graphics chip than the CPU, you don’t necessarily need the fastest available. Going with a more midrange CPU like an Intel Core i5 or AMD Ryzen 5 is a safe bet.

Also, gaming laptops, especially cheaper ones, let you easily expand or upgrade your memory and storage. If you’re going to skimp, this is the best place to do it with the expectation you’ll upgrade eventually and put your cash into the GPU and CPU instead.

Beyond the graphics chip, look for:

A 10th-, 11th- or 12th-gen Intel Core i5 or i7, or AMD Ryzen 4000 or 5000 series processor.
At least 8GB of memory (aka RAM) and the capability to add more post-purchase.
At least a 512GB solid-state drive or a combo of 256GB SSD storage and a larger hard drive.
Do budget gaming laptops have good displays?
Most of your money is going toward components, so the other parts — the display, keyboard and trackpad and build quality — are going to be OK, but not fantastic. This is why I lean toward models like the Dell G15, which has its power input and other ports on the rear for a cleaner setup when connected to external peripherals. It also has a decent battery life, which is something that typically falls by the wayside on cheap gaming laptops.

That said, display quality has improved on entry-level gaming laptops in the past couple of years, particularly when it comes to refresh rates. It’s now common to find 120Hz or 144Hz displays offered, which will make fast movement in your games look smoother and give you a more responsive experience. It’s not worth paying extra for, though, unless the GPU is capable of faster frame rates for your games, too.

How we test computers
The review process for laptops, desktops, tablets and other computer-like devices consists of two parts: performance testing under controlled conditions in the CNET Labs and extensive hands-on use by our expert reviewers. This includes evaluating a device’s aesthetics, ergonomics and features. A final review verdict is a combination of both those objective and subjective judgments.

The list of benchmarking software we use changes over time as the devices we test evolve. The most important core tests we’re currently running on every compatible computer include: Primate Labs Geekbench 5, Cinebench R23, PCMark 10 and 3DMark Fire Strike Ultra.

A more detailed description of each benchmark and how we use it can be found in our How We Test Computers page.

See also
Best Gaming Laptops for 2022
Best Cheap Gaming Laptop Under $1,000 to Get in 2022
Best Gaming Desktops for 2022

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