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Best Core i5 laptop: Dell, Acer, Lenovo, and more

Acer Swift 3x Review
Acer Swift 3x Review (Image credit: Windows Central)

Intel Core i5 processors are ideal for folks who want solid performance for a great price, as they're less expensive than more premium options like i7 or i9 processors but are also significantly more performant than Intel's budget-class i3 CPUs. This balance has made the processors very desirable, and thus, there are tons of great mid-range laptops on the market that are equipped with Core i5 chips. Our favorite is the HP Pavilion 15 since it has quality specs, a premium design, and a good price, but there are plenty of other excellent options for best Core i5 laptop available as well.

Best overall: HP Pavilion 15

Source: HP (Image credit: Source: HP)

HP Pavilion 15

The mid-range king

Reasons to buy

+
Quality specs
+
Strong display
+
Premium design
+
Solid ports

Reasons to avoid

-
Battery life could be better

The HP Pavilion 15 offers a superb balance between performance, design, and price. It comes with a reliable 11th Gen i5-1135G7 processor, Intel's impressive Xe integrated graphics, 8GB of memory, and up to a 512GB SSD for storing files. The laptop's 15.6-inch micro-edge FHD touch display is nice, too, as it gets sufficiently bright and features great viewing angles and a fairly wide color gamut. Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0 are supported as well, giving you access to some of the best connectivity available. The 7-hour battery life falls a bit short of its advertised 8 hours, but it will still be good enough for most people.

Design-wise, the HP Pavilion 15 is as sleek and slim as many pricier premium Ultrabooks. The keyboard and trackpad are both durable and comfortable to use, and the inclusion of a USB-C port as well as dual USB-A ports means that you'll have no difficulty hooking up peripherals. The 720p webcam is good, too, making the HP Pavilion 15 a good choice if you often find yourself in video meetings. Overall, this is one of the best mid-range Core i5 laptops that money can buy, even if the battery life could be a little better.

Best premium: Dell XPS 13 Plus

Source: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central (Image credit: Windows Central)

Dell XPS 13 Plus

The best of the best

Reasons to buy

+
Top-notch specs
+
Incredible display
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Superb battery life
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Stellar design

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive
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No 3.5mm audio

While Core i5 chips are typically reserved for mid-range devices, they are available in some top-of-the-line Ultrabooks as well. Enter the Dell XPS 13 Plus, a stunning device that represents the best of Dell's premium XPS laptop lineup. With it, you can pair a i5-1240P CPU with Intel Xe graphics, up to 16GB of DDR5 memory, and up to 2TB of SSD storage. The 13-inch FHD display is nothing short of gorgeous, featuring a stellar peak brightness of 500 nits, excellent contrast, and an amazing range of colors. Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.2, and an excellent battery life of up to 14 hours round out the laptop's impressive specs.

In terms of design, the Dell XPS 13 Plus is arguably the best laptop on the market. Its keyboard is incredibly comfortable to use and features bright backlights, while its excellent trackpad is incredibly well built and is also quite large, making it very easy to mouse with. Dell includes dual Thunderbolt 4 ports for connecting accessories such as the best laptop docking stations, and Dell even includes a USB-C to USB-A converter in the box that you can use to hook up USB-A peripherals if needed. Aside from the high price, the only downside is that there isn't a 3.5mm audio port on the device, though Dell does include a USB-C to 3.5mm audio adapter in the box. Overall, despite the lack of 3.5mm audio support, there's no doubt in our minds that this is the best premium Core i5-equipped laptop available.

Best convertible: Lenovo Yoga 7i

Source: Lenovo (Image credit: Source: Lenovo)

Lenovo Yoga 7i

Adapt to any situation

Reasons to buy

+
Strong specs
+
Solid display
+
All-day battery life
+
Quality design

Reasons to avoid

-
Display could be less reflective
-
Trackpad can be a bit unresponsive at times

Most convertible laptops available today feature Core i7 chips, but the excellent Lenovo Yoga 7i also has a few configurations available with a Core i5 chip. You can pair a i5-1135G7 with Intel Xe graphics, up to 12GB of memory, and up to 512GB of SSD space. The 14-inch FHD touch display has a solid brightness of 300 nits and has decent contrast as well as great colors, though it's reflective and can be difficult to use outdoors due to sun glare. The device also has a solid 8-9 hours of battery life, Wi-Fi 6, and Bluetooth 5.0 support.

The laptop also features a sleek design with full 360-degree rotation on the display and rounded edges that are both comfortable and stylish. You also get dual Thunderbolt 4 ports and a USB-A port, which is great for a convertible device in this price range. The keyboard is excellent, but the trackpad can be a little unresponsive at times. Despite this and the device's reflective display, though, the Lenovo Yoga 7i is nevertheless a great convertible we wholeheartedly recommend.

Best portable: Acer Swift 3X

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

Acer Swift 3X

Get moving

Reasons to buy

+
Strong specs
+
Great display
+
Good battery life
+
Portability-focused design

Reasons to avoid

-
Trackpad is too resistant to clicks

All laptops are great for mobile computing, but few devices available with Core i5 configurations are like the Acer Swift 3X. This 14-inch device is one of the most portable laptops on the market thanks to its incredibly thin and light design, yet the performance for most productivity workloads is still great thanks to its i5-1135G7 processor, Intel Xe graphics, 8GB of memory, and 512GB of SSD storage space. The FHD display has great colors, 330 nits of peak brightness, and a matte finish that makes it enjoyable to use outdoors as well. The 9-10-hour battery life is respectable, and the connectivity benefits of Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0 are great as well.

The design of the Acer Swift 3X is mostly notable because of how thin and light the device is, but the keyboard is nice too, and the port selection of one Thunderbolt 4 and dual USB-A is solid. The trackpad's resistance to clicks is a bit too strong for our liking, but overall, the design is great, and the Acer Swift 3X is perfect for people who need something performant in a thin and light package.

Best for gaming: Acer Nitro 5

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

Acer Nitro 5 Gaming Laptop

A stellar HD gaming experience

Reasons to buy

+
Great gaming performance
+
Quality FHD 144Hz display
+
Solid battery life
+
Strong port selection

Reasons to avoid

-
Design is a little bulky
-
Webcam looks blurry

The Acer Nitro 5 is one of the best Core i5-equipped gaming laptops on the market, and while some people won't appreciate the device's unapologetically "gamer" aesthetic, everyone will love the Acer Nitro 5's strong specs and performance. Between its powerful i5-11400H CPU, its excellent NVIDIA GTX 1650 or RTX 3050 Ti, its 16GB max memory, and its max 512GB of SSD storage, the Acer Nitro 5 is a stellar device for 1080p gaming. The 15.6-inch FHD 144Hz display looks awesome, too, featuring great brightness, vivid colors, and strong contrast. The 7-hour battery life is solid as well, especially for a gaming laptop. The battery will drain rapidly when actually gaming, though, so you'll need to keep the charger on hand.

The design of the laptop is unique in that it's aggressively angular with lots of sharp edges, and it also has its trackpad placed on the left of the keyboard surface instead of the center. The keyboard and trackpad themselves are quality, and there are three USB-A ports as well as a single USB-C. The device is a little bulky and has a blurry webcam, but ultimately, the Acer Nitro 5 is one of the best Core i5-equipped gaming laptops out there.

Best budget: Dell Inspiron 15 3000

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

Dell Inspiron 15 3000

Budget excellence

Reasons to buy

+
Good specs
+
Solid display
+
Plenty of USB-A
+
Affordable

Reasons to avoid

-
No Wi-Fi 6
-
Various small drawbacks

Want the performance of a Core i5 in a more budget-friendly device? Look no further than the Dell Inspiron 15 3000, which is one of the best budget laptops currently available. You can configure it with a 10th Gen i5-1035G1 or an 11th Gen i5-1135G7, and it also features Intel UHD graphics, up to 12GB of memory (we recommend choosing 8GB to save some money), and up to 512GB of SSD storage. The 15.6-inch display is a bit dim and doesn't have the widest color gamut out there, but it still looks good overall and gets the job done. What more can you ask from a budget laptop? It also has a decent battery life of around 7 hours and supports Bluetooth 5.0, though it lacks Wi-Fi 6 compatibility.

In terms of its design, the Dell Inspiron 15 3000 has a relatively slim design that isn't as snazzy as what you'll get with more premium devices, but it's still compact and easy to carry. The keyboard is comfortable to use, though it doesn't have backlighting. Aside from some loose corners, the trackpad is nice as well. The device also features three USB-A ports, which is great. We'd have liked to see a USB-C slot, too, but its absence isn't a huge deal. Overall, despite the compromises that come with choosing a laptop like this, the Dell Inspiron 15 3000 is nevertheless a fantastic Core i5 budget laptop.

Bottom line

Devices that feature Intel's Core i5 processors are some of the best mid-range laptops available, and while we have plenty of favorites, we feel the best overall Core i5 device on the market right now is the HP Pavilion 15. With that said, you shouldn't overlook any of the alternatives we highlighted here, as all of them are excellent in their own way.

If none of the options in this list appeals to you, make sure you check out our roundup of the best Windows laptops. If you'd prefer devices that have more power under the hood and don't mind paying extra, you should also review our list of the best Core i7 Windows laptops.