The Microsoft Surface Book is the best overall Windows laptop you can buy. Its versatile design lets you get the most done no matter what you do.

Update 5 January 2017: It's new laptop season! This article has been refreshed to include all the exciting new models unveiled at CES 2017, including the convertible Dell XPS 13, the updated Samsung Notebook 9, the gorgeous new ThinkPad X1 Carbon, and more.

Best overall

Microsoft Surface Book

See at Microsoft Store

Microsoft's Surface Book is the best Windows laptop on the market today. Its removable keyboard and touchpad, Surface Pen, and 13.5-inch touchscreen together create the perfect tool no matter what you use it for. Battery life is solid, the keyboard is a pleasure to type on, and the touchpad is precise. What more could you ask for?

Bottom line: For a powerful desktop replacement with a beautiful display and removable keyboard, you have to go with the Surface Book.

One more thing: If you love the Surface Book but need more power, have a look at the Surface Book with Performance Base. It has an upgraded GPU and a battery that lasts even longer.

Why the Surface Book is the best

True desktop performance in a Windows laptop that weighs only 3.34 pounds.

The first thing you'll notice about the Surface Book is the display. Unlike most other laptops, it has a 3:2 ratio — the result is a taller display that you can fit more onto, perfect for multimedia editing and drawing with the Surface Pen. The display has an incredible 3000x2000 resolution that really pops thanks to high contrast and deep colors.

The second thing you'll notice about the Surface Book is its keyboard and touchpad. Microsoft really took their time with the design; the keys are spaced perfectly and comfortable to type on, and the touchpad's precision has competitors scratching their heads wondering just how they can meet that mark. Perhaps the best feature of the keyboard is that it's completely removable so you can use the display as a thin and portable tablet.

The Surface Pen sets the Surface Book apart — it offers great pressure sensitivity for an unparalleled drawing and writing experience.

The Surface Book utilizes an Intel Skylake processor, has up to 16GB of RAM, and there is even an option to throw in a dedicated NVIDIA GPU. The battery, even while under considerable load, can last up to about 9 hours without a charge. As far as ports go, you have two USB 3.0, an SD card reader, a Mini DisplayPort, and the useful Surface Connect for hooking up to a TV or monitor.

We have to talk about the included Surface Pen. It is an incredibly useful tool that really sets your Surface Book experience apart from others. Not only does it have 1024 levels of pressure sensitivity to offer an unparalleled drawing experience, it also has multiple shortcuts built right in. Click once to open OneNote, click and hold to summon Cortana, or double-click to take a screenshot.

For those of you who like to put their laptop through a ringer, the Surface Book's magnesium alloy chassis can withstand a beating without even showing a scratch. You can even detach the display and stick it back on backwards to lay nearly flat. The only downside of the Surface Book is that it's not cheap — getting the best means paying a premium price. Configurations starts at about $1250, and run all the way up to about $3200.

Best for gaming

Razer Blade

Razer Blade

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Razer's new Blade gaming laptop is a beast. It has a full NVIDIA GTX 1060 graphics card with 6GB of GDDR5 VRAM, a Skylake Intel Core i7-6700HQ processor with a clock speed up to 3.5GHz, and 16GB of DDR4 RAM. The 14-inch IPS display has a 1920x1080 resolution, has an anti-glare coating and is plenty bright so you can game everywhere. Get up to a 1TB PCIe SSD to boot Windows crazy fast and hold all your games, and enjoy a Razer Chroma keyboard with 16.8 million color combinations for your keys. Configurations start at about $2000.

Bottom line: For the best gaming laptop out there, check out the new Razer Blade.

One more thing: Check out the Razer Blade Pro for even more power in its NVIDIA GTX 1080 graphics card.

Best non-convertible

Dell XPS 13

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Sporting one of the best-looking bodies of all laptops, the Dell XPS 13 is a powerhouse. The 13-inch display sits in a chassis the size you'd expect for an 11-inch display, owing its compactness to the nearly-eliminated bezel around the screen. Choose an 1800p touch option for an incredible view, or 1080p non-touch option to save a few bucks. There are plenty of hardware configurations to choose from, up to a 7th-generation Intel Core i7-7500U processor, 16GB of DDR3 RAM, and a 1TB PCIe SSD. Base models start at about $800.

Bottom line: For the best non-convertible laptop, check out the beautiful Dell XPS 13.

One more thing: Revealed at CES 2017, the XPS 13 now has a convertible model. Starting at about $1000, get a 7th-generation Kaby Lake processor, up to 16GB of RAM, and up to a 1TB PCIe solid-state drive. These laptops are available for purchase now!

Best convertible

Lenovo Yoga 910

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The Lenovo Yoga 910 is a convertible laptop that's all about style and performance. The chassis is only 0.56 inches (1.42cm) thick and the entire thing weighs only 3.04 pounds (1.38kg). Configure your Yoga 910 as you see fit; options go up to a 7th-generation Intel Core i7 processor, 16GB of DDR4 RAM, and a 1TB PCIe solid-state drive. The 13.9-inch touch display comes in 1080p, but for only a few hundred dollars more, you can upgrade to beautiful 4K. Configurations start at about $1050.

Bottom line: For a high-performing convertible with lots of style, go with the Lenovo Yoga 910.

One more thing: Use the built-in fingerprint reader to log in with Windows Hello.

Best for mobility

Samsung Notebook 9

Samsung Notebook 9

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The Samsung Notebook 9 is one of the most underrated laptops out there. Samsung makes great displays, and this 13.3-inch with a 1920x1080 resolution is no exception. Inside you're getting a Skylake Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM, a 256GB SSD, and a battery that lasts about 10 hours on a charge. The all-metal body is very durable but only weighs about 1.9 pounds (0.86kg) and is 0.53 inches (13.4mm) thick. This laptop starts at about $950.

Bottom line: If you love having a laptop with you wherever you go, the Samsung Notebook 9 is a great travel companion.

One more thing: Watch out for the updated Notebook 9 — the 13-inch model comes in at under 2.5 pounds 1.13kg), making it the lightest laptop of its size. The screen has way less bezel, and you're getting a 7th-generation Kaby Lake processor. Expect to pay about $1000 for the Core i5 model; a release date has not been set.

Best budget convertible

HP Spectre x360

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The HP Spectre x360 has a fantastic build quality and a chassis that is only 0.54 inches (1.37cm) thick. The 13.3-inch, 1080p touch display works well while in tablet, stand, or tent modes, and the keyboard and touchpad are a joy to use while in notebook mode. Inside you get a 7th-generation Intel Core i7-7500U processor with a clock speed up to 3.5GHz, up to 16GB of RAM, and a 512GB solid-state drive.

Bottom line: For a convertible laptop that looks like it cost a fortune, go with the HP Spectre x360.

One more thing: Need something with a bit more screen? The 15.6-inch model of this convertible laptop is available in Full HD or 4K versions, and you of course get a 7th-generation Kaby Lake processor, up to 16GB of RAM, and up to a 512GB solid-state drive. This updated laptop is available now and starts at about $1500.

Best for business

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon

ThinkPad X1 Carbon

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The 2.6-pound (1.17kg) ThinkPad X1 Carbon will put up a strong fight against spills, drops, and bumps — it gets its name from the carbon-fiber reinforced chassis it's built on. The 14-inch, 1440p display minimizes glare and is bright enough to be visible no matter where you're working. The battery lasts up to 10 hours under a standard workload, so you won't be stuck trying to find an outlet. Configurations go up to a Skylake Intel Core i7 processor, 16GB of RAM, and a 512GB PCIe SSD — prices start at about $1150.

Bottom line: For a light laptop with a great battery, go with the business-oriented Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon.

One more thing: Look out for the updated X1 Carbon available February 2017. It's sporting a 14-inch, 1440p display in a smaller chassis with a reduced bezel, it comes in silver and black options, and it has a Windows Hello IR camera. The standard ThinkPad build quality is still here, and it will all start at about $1350.

Best for photography

Dell XPS 15

Dell XPS 15

See at Dell

The 15.6-inch touch display on the Dell XPS 15 has a 4K resolution that is perfect for photographers. Get up to a Skylake Intel Core i7 processor, 16GB of RAM, an NVIDIA GTX 960M GPU, and a 512GB SSD — plenty of power for multimedia editing. Those of you with plenty of devices will appreciate the array of ports, including HDMI, USB 3.0, and Thunderbolt 3. Configurations start at about $1000.

Bottom line: Love the XPS line and need a 4K display? Check out the Dell XPS 15.

One more thing: Coming soon is the updated XPS 15 with 7th-generation Kaby Lake processor, up to a 1TB PCIe solid-state drive, and up to a whopping 32GB of DDR4 RAM at 2133MHz. If 4K is your thing, grab the nearly bezel-free 15.6-inch display powered by an NVIDIA GTX 1050 graphics card. Prices start at about $1000 for the FHD model, and you can expect to pay about $2650 to have everything maxed out. A release date has not yet been announced.

Conclusion

For the best non-convertible Windows laptop out there, check out the Dell XPS 13. For an extremely mobile laptop, have a look at the Samsung Notebook 9. If you're a gamer, you'll love the Razer Blade laptop, and anyone with business to attend will want to consider the Lenovo X1 Carbon. The best convertible laptop is the Lenovo Yoga 910, and the best budget convertible is the HP Spectre x360. The best Windows laptop, however, remains the Microsoft Surface Book.

Best overall

Microsoft Surface Book

See at Microsoft Store

Microsoft's Surface Book is the best Windows laptop on the market today. Its removable keyboard and touchpad, Surface Pen, and 13.5-inch touchscreen together create the perfect tool no matter what you use it for. Battery life is solid, the keyboard is a pleasure to type on, and the touchpad is precise. What more could you ask for?

Bottom line: For a powerful desktop replacement with a beautiful display and removable keyboard, you have to go with the Surface Book.

One more thing: If you love the Surface Book but need more power, have a look at the Surface Book with Performance Base. It has an upgraded GPU and a battery that lasts even longer.