THE BEST 2-IN-1 LAPTOP
Why should you buy this: You want a great laptop and a good tablet.
Who’s it for: Anyone who needs versatility on top of performance.
How much will this cost: Starts at $800
Why we picked the Surface Pro:
2-in-1 laptops are still something of an acquired taste, but if you’re not sure about laptops-as-tablets, the Surface Pro might change your mind. First and foremost, it’s a stylish, lightweight, and powerful tablet that pulls double duty as a laptop.
Worried about the Surface Pro as a laptop replacement? Think of it as a laptop with a detachable keyboard. Seriously, this thing can do anything you need a laptop to do and more. With a full version of Windows 10 and a super-light form factor, the Surface Pro is just as capable for a workday at the office as it is for laying on the couch watching cat videos.
Coming in at just 0.33 inches thick, and weighing 1.73 pounds, it’s easily the most portable laptop on this list. Toss it in a bag and you’d never notice the extra weight. The form factor is even more impressive when you consider the power it packs. There are a few different configurations with different price points, starting at $800 for students and topping out at $2,700. No matter which configuration you choose, you get the 7th-generation Kaby Lake processor under the hood — our review unit was one of these top-spec machines.
That extra oomph really shows. Not only did it perform spectacularly well in our benchmarks, it’s excellent as an everyday workhorse. It’s quick, snappy, and versatile, everything you could want out of an ultra-portable laptop — plus it’s the best tablet around when you need it to be.
Our full Surface Pro review
THE BEST BUDGET LAPTOP
Asus Zenbook UX330UA
Why should you buy this: You want an affordable Windows PC that’s also a joy to use.
Who’s it for: Everyone except gamers, other power users.
How much will it cost: $600 to $800
Why we picked the Asus Zenbook UX330UA:
The Dell XPS 13 starts at $800. We don’t think that’s a lot for a laptop, but the world obviously disagrees; the average selling price of new laptops has hovered around $600 for years.
One option is to watch out for a sale. You shouldn’t have to wait long. Refurbished models have sold for as little as $470, and budget laptops sometimes dip near the $600 mark. Keep an eye out for coupons on Dell’s site and for sales at major retailers including not just the usual suspects but also the Microsoft Store, which carries a selection of the best Windows laptops.
If that doesn’t work, then we suggest the Asus Zenbook UX330UA, another ultrabook we’ve awarded an Editor’s Choice to. The Zenbook isn’t as powerful as the Dell XPS 13, and doesn’t emulate the Dell’s strikingly thin bezels. But otherwise, it’s an incredible machine, worthy of our best laptops list.
And its value is incredible. The base model, which is routinely priced at $700 on Amazon, has a 7th-generation Intel Core i5 processor, eight gigabytes of RAM, and a 256GB solid state drive. That’s twice the memory and storage of the $800 Dell XPS 13 — and far better than what you’ll find in other competitors. The laptop also has a successor called the ZenBook UX331, which includes the Intel 8th generation-processor treatment for $750.