Lenovo

Need a new laptop but haven't quite kept up with all the latest product releases? Well, we've got you covered - this guide profiles all the best options on the market in a variety of categories, from basic home use to work on the go to pro-level gaming. 

For Winter 2018, we've updated this guide with our favorite picks starting at $400 and going all the way to $2,500 and beyond. Our personal favorite is the 2.2-pound Lenovo 720s, shown here, which comes in at a wallet-friendly price of $800, despite impressive specs (and that impressive weight!). In addition to the 720s, we list nine other great options, split between home office and gaming-specific models. Speaking of gaming, Nvidia's "Pascal" GPUs featured in all of our gaming picks provide impressive desktop-class performance despite slipping into true portable systems. This guide includes three gaming-specific laptops featuring the GTX 1060, GTX 1070, and GTX 1080 graphics chips. We'd advise serious gamers to avoid all older chips, as they pale in comparison.

And here's the most important news of all - Intel's latest 8th-gen low-voltage processors allow ultra-light machines to pack in four of Intel's latest "Coffee Lake" cores. Just a few years ago, this much power could only be found in laptops over five pounds. Now you can get a 2-pound laptop with the same computing power!

One important tip for buyers who haven't been in the laptop market for a while: the trend is no longer to include internal DVD drives in laptops, as they add a lot of weight and bulk. Therefore very few of the models we list include one. If you decide you'd like an ultra-slim laptop but still need a DVD drive, we recommend picking up an inexpensive external DVD burner, like the sleek LG GP65 USB 2.0 model, for software installations or backups.

Laptops - Winter 2018

Home/Small Office

    The Budget Laptop:

    Asus F402BA-EB91 VivoBook 14

    Taking cues from its Chromebook competitors, Asus uses low-cost components in the F402BA, but loads a full version of Windows 10, making it an actual laptop. It's powered by an AMD dual-core A9-9420 processor running at 3.0 GHz with Turbo up to 3.6GHz, and features high-powered Radeon R5 integrated graphics, 8GB of RAM, and a 1TB hard drive. It also has built-in 802.11ac Wi-Fi.

    The Guru's Tip:

    Unlike most of its competitors in the low-cost laptop market, this model uses a 14" screen rather than a 15.6" screen. Is that a bad thing? Not at all! It offers just as much resolution (1920x1080) in a much smaller size, allowing this laptop to come in at 0.9" thin and 3.6 lbs., which in remarkably better than most budget models.

    The Perfect Family PC:

    Acer Aspire 3 15.6"

    Offering a big step up in performance versus the budget model above, the Aspire 3 features an Intel Core i5-7200U dual-core CPU, 8GB of RAM, and most importantly, a speedy 256GB solid-state drive, which together propel it into a completely different performance class. Just note that this 15.6" model isn't quite an ultra-light at 4.6 pounds, so we think it's best used around the house.

    The Guru's Tip:

    It's really, really hard to find any laptop with an SSD around the $500 pricepoint, so Acer's offering here is truly something special.

    The Work/School Laptop:

    Dell i5379-5893GRY Inspiron 2-1

    If you're going to be on the move with your laptop and looking to get serious work done, you need a lot of power packed into a small chassis. Enter the Dell Inspiron 2-in-1, weighing in at just 3.43lb. Equipped with Intel's incredible new 8th-generation Core i5-8250U 1.6GHz quad-core processor that can turbo to 3.4GHz, 8GB of DDR4-2400MHz RAM, a quick 256 GB solid-state drive, and a 13.3" 1920 x 1080 IPS touchscreen display, you'll be set for wherever the road takes you!

    The Guru's Tip:

    Being a 2-in-1, this model flips into tent or tablet mode, which can be really useful when travelling.

  • The Affordable Ultralight:

    Lenovo Ideapad 720s 13"

    If you simply want the lightest, most powerful laptop you can buy for the money, you want the new Lenovo 720s. Coming in at just 2.2lb and .53" thick, it still manages to pack in an 8th-generation Intel Core i5-8250U quad-core 1.6GHz CPU with Turbo to 3.4GHz, a 13.3" 1920x1080 screen,  8GB of DDR4-2400 memory, and a 256GB solid-state drive.

    The Guru's Tip:

    This system may be light on the frills, but that's what makes it so incredibly lightweight!

    The Quad-Core Ultrabook:

    HP Envy 13-ad120nr

    From our point of view, this is now the ultimate professional laptop. Sure, you could spend more, but why? Featuring Intel's brand-new Core i7-8550U quad-core CPU with Turbo up to 4GHz, it's blazing fast, yet it still gets up to 14 hours of battery life and weighs just 2.92 pounds. Packed inside its stylish "edge" chassis is 8GB of RAM, a PCIe-based 256GB solid-state drive, and a 13.3" touchscreen with ultra-slim bezels. It also has two USB Type-A ports, two USB Type-C ports, and a microSD memory slot.

    The Guru's Tip:

    Packing this much power into a sub-3lb. laptop is simply incredible, and it's what makes the latest CPUs from Intel truly revolutionary.

    The Extreme Ultra-Light:

    LG Gram 15Z975

    LG's Gram line has been around for a few years now, and while its original claim to fame was that it weighed under a kilogram (2.2lb.), it's now earning its wings as an a serious productivity machine. You get a huge amount of value in the newest LG Gram, including a big 15.6" 1080p touchscreen display, which none of its lightweight competitors offer. You also get Intel's new Core i7-8550U 1.8GHz quad-core CPU with Turbo up to 4GHz, 16GB of RAM, a 512B solid-state drive, and nearly 12 hours of battery life. All this and the Gram is just 2.5lb., which is simply shocking given its big screen and powerful specs.

    The Guru's Tip:

    A few other notable features included on the Gram that are hard to find in other ultra-lights: a microSD card memory slot, a full-size HDMI port, two full-size USB 3.0 Type-A ports plus a USB Type-C port.

    The Ultimate Productivity Machine:

    Microsoft Surface Book 2

    OK, let's say you want it all: a device that works equally well as a laptop or a tablet. Intel's most powerful 8th-gen quad-core CPU. Amazing battery life. A portable chassis. And a brand-name you can trust. Then go for Microsoft's latest Surface Book 2. Featuring a 13.5” display with a resolution of 3000 x 2000, an Intel Core i7-8650U 1.9GHz quad-core with Turbo to 4.2GHz, Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 graphics, a 1TB PCIe-based solid-state drive, 16GB of RAM, 17 hours of battery life, and a weight of just 3.6lb. This is the one!

    The Guru's Tip:

    What's amazing about the Surface Book is that it works as a full-fledged Surface tablet once you separate it from its keyboard, allowing you to be productive on the move (as in literally, while you're walking!).

Gaming

    The Midrange Gaming Laptop:

    Acer Predator Helios 300 w/ 2TB Hard Drive

    Need an ultra-capable gaming PC at a bargain-basement price? Look no further than the Helios 300 from Acer. It gives you the ultra-fast Intel Core i7-7700HQ 2.8 GHz quad-core with Turbo up to 3.8 GHz, a desktop-class Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 6GB video card (a huge upgrade from the 3GB model most laptops come with), 16GB of RAM, a 256GB solid-state drive, and a 1080p 15.6" screen.

    The Guru's Tip:

    There's just one catch when it comes to the Helios 300: Acer hit an absurdly-low pricepoint by skipping the hard drive entirely. The 256GB SSD is nice for the OS, but you won't be able to load more than a handful of games on it. That's why we insist that you go with the laptop/hard drive bundle offered from Amazon. It's there for a reason: the standard Helios 300 just isn't usable out of the box.

    The Lightweight Gaming Laptop:

    MSI GE63VR Raider-075

    Just when you thought things couldn't get any better for mobile gamers, MSI and Nvidia team up to drop a bombshell on the gaming laptop world. The new Raider packs in a desktop-class GTX 1070 8GB video card for absolutely amazing performance, despite coming in at a svelte 4.85lb. and 1.1" thick. You also get an Intel Core i7-7700HQ 2.8GHz quad-core CPU with Turboboost to 3.8GHz, 16GB of RAM, a 128GB solid-state drive, a 1TB hard drive, and a 15.6" 1920 x 1080 120Hz screen for an ultra-smooth gaming experience. Its keyboard even has per-key RGB backlighting, allowing for the ultimate in customization.

    The Guru's Tip:

    If you want a truly portable gaming machine, this is the one!

    The Ultimate Gaming Laptop:

    Acer Predator 17 X GX-792-703D

    Don't think you can have it all in a gaming laptop? Think again. Witness the latest Predator laptop from Acer. This model comes packing an Intel Core i7-7820HK Processor with Turbo up to 3.9GHz, a 17.3" 1080p G-Sync display with an ultra-fast 120Hz refresh rate, a GeForce GTX 1080 8GB video card, 32GB DDR4 Memory, dual 256GB PCIe-based SSDs in RAID 0, and a 1TB HDD.

    The Guru's Tip:

    We want to make something abundantly clear: on a laptop, we'd take a 1080p 120Hz G-sync screen over a 4K screen any day of the week. On a 17" screen, you'd be hard-pressed to tell the difference in resolution, but you'll definitely be able to tell how smooth 120Hz feels versus the 60Hz that 4K screens are locked at. And no laptop GPU can drive 4K resolutions anyway.