Best Windows Laptop Windows Central 2019

The Microsoft Surface Laptop 2 is our pick for best Windows laptop thanks to a slim, premium design, powerful hardware inside, and an outstanding touch display.

Our pick

Surface Laptop 2

A notebook for everyone.

With a slim, light chassis available in four colors, the Surface Laptop 2 has the portability and performance needed to get through a day's work. It has a high-resolution touchscreen with 3:2 aspect ratio, battery life that lasts through a workday, and it comes standard with Windows 10 in S mode.

Who should buy this Windows laptop

The Surface Laptop 2 is one of the finest Windows laptops on the market, ideal for those who can appreciate a perfect mix of art and technology. It has the performance to easily handle productivity tasks, and it has the look to blend into a professional or casual environment. If you like the idea of a clamshell notebook, definitely consider the Surface Laptop 2.

Is it a good time to buy this laptop?

The Surface Laptop 2 was released October 16, 2018, so it is still quite fresh. Based on the previous releases, a third generation won't be expected until at least the latter half of 2019. As for internal hardware, you have your pick of relevant 8th Gen Intel Core processors (CPU).

Reasons to buy

  • High-res touch display
  • Alcantara fabric palmrest
  • All-day battery life
  • Speedy SSD
  • IR camera for Windows Hello

Reasons not to buy

  • Pricey
  • No USB-C or Thunderbolt 3

Why the Surface Laptop 2 is the best Windows laptop

The Surface Laptop 2 is a 13.5-inch clamshell notebook with a touch display that supports the Surface Pen for a premium inking experience. It has a 2,256 x 1,504 resolution and 3:2 aspect ratio, with a relatively thin bezel. In our testing, color accuracy hit 99 percent sRGB and 81 percent AdobeRGB, both excellent results that contribute to a vivid picture.

High-resolution touch display, Alcantara palmrest, and comfy keyboard contribute to this laptop's greatness.

Inside is a faster solid-state drive (SSD) compared to the original Surface Laptop, this time able to hit read and write speeds in the area of 1,500 MB/s and 811 MB/s, respectively. Both Core i5-8250U and Core i7-8650U Intel CPU options have four cores for robust performance, you can add up to 16 GB of DDR3 RAM, and the SSD size goes up to 1 TB.

You can expect to get between eight and ten hours of life from the battery when going about general tasks, allowing you to leave your charger at home. An IR camera for Windows Hello logins is seated above the display, and the keyboard and touchpad are some of the best around, with an Alcantara palmrest adding a bit of luxury. If you're in the market for a clamshell notebook, don't sleep on the Surface Laptop 2.

Alternatives to the Surface Laptop 2

The Surface Laptop 2 might be our pick for the best Windows laptop, but you might need something less expensive, something with a different set of features, or something with a focus on a specific task. Luckily, there are plenty of alternatives available.

Also great

Surface Book 2

Power, performance, and style.

Available in 13- and 15-inch configurations, Microsoft's Surface Book 2 is one of our top choices thanks to modular design, beautiful display, and powerful hardware inside.

The Surface Book 2 has a modular design, allowing you to remove the display from the keyboard and use it alone as a tablet. Together, you get impressive performance from 8th Gen Intel Core CPUs and dedicated NVIDIA graphics (GPU), and battery life is able to reach double digits during regular use. If you need a desktop replacement, definitely consider the Book 2.

Runner-up (notebook)

Dell XPS 13

Beautiful build, great performance, competitive price.

If you need a standard notebook, the XPS 13 9370 should be near the top of your list. It's built well, it has a beautiful display with almost no bezel, and performance will get you through a day's work.

Sporting one of the best-looking bodies of all laptops, the XPS 13 9370 is a powerhouse. The 13.3-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 a 4K touch display option for an incredible view, or stick with 1080p to save a few bucks and to extend the already stellar battery life. There are plenty of hardware configurations to choose from, up to an 8th Gen Intel Core i7-8550U CPU, 16GB of DDR3 RAM, and a 2TB PCIe SSD.

Runner-up (convertible)

HP Spectre x360 13

One of the finest convertibles on the market.

This is a well-built laptop that converts into tent, stand, and tablet modes. The Spectre x360 also has a beautiful display, pen support, and all-around great performance.

A recent refresh to the Spectre x360 lineup has brought us a new angular design that keeps the same features as previous models, including Thunderbolt 3 ports, 8th Gen Intel Core CPUs, FHD or 4K touch display options, active pen support, and an all-day battery. New models start at about $1,480, but you can still snag the previous generation starting at about $970.

Best gaming

Razer Blade 15

The new 15.6-inch Razer Blade continues the tradition of slim gaming.

With a body that's just 0.68 inches thick, it's hard to believe Razer was able to cram this much hardware inside. Discrete GPU, six-core CPU, and plenty of other configuration options make this an outstanding gaming laptop.

Razer's 15.6-inch Blade gaming laptop is a beast. It has up to a NVIDIA GTX 1070 GPU, an 8th Gen Intel Core i7-8750H six-core CPU, 16GB of DDR4 RAM, and 2TB PCIe SSD. The IPS display is available in either FHD (144 Hz refresh rate) or 4K, and is plenty bright so you can game everywhere. A large precision touchpad, backlit keyboard, and plenty of ports round out the specs.

Best 2-in-1

Surface Pro 6

The golden standard for 2-in-1 laptops.

A lightweight design, built-in kickstand, and compatibility with the Surface Pen makes this 2-in-1 a truly versatile device. It has the hardware inside to cut through a day's work, and the touch display will wow you with a 2,736 x 1,824 resolution and 3:2 aspect ratio.

Microsoft's Surface Pro 6 received a minor refresh, bringing a new black color finish and options for 8th Gen Intel Core CPUs. Get up to a Core i7-8650U CPU, 16 GB of DDR3 RAM, and a 1TB SSD, sign in securely with an IR camera, and enjoy battery life that lasts a full workday. Combined with the Surface Pen you get a premium inking experience, and it all comes together when a Type Cover is added to the mix.

Ultra portable

Surface Go

The best combination of size and performance.

Microsoft's most affordable Surface is the Go, yet it delivers a high-quality computing experience. It's built well, it has great battery life, and it's small enough to bring with you pretty much anywhere.

The Surface Go might appear underpowered at first glance, but in reality, it's a versatile, portable device. It can handle light gaming, word processing, video streaming, and web browsing, and its 10-inch frame sports a gorgeous touch display with 3:2 aspect ratio and 1,800 x 1,200 resolution. Add a Type Cover and Surface Pen, and you have a true notebook. Grab a model with LTE connectivity to truly stay connected everywhere.

Best 14-inch convertible

Lenovo Yoga C930

Sleek covertible with soundbar hinge.

Lenovo's premium 14-inch convertible Yoga C930 had its watchband hinge replaced with a soundbar hinge that pumps out quality audio, plus it's stocked with updated hardware and all-day battery life.

Like the previous Yoga 920, the Yoga C930 has a premium design and build with features and performance to match. A fingerprint reader adds security, a webcam shutter ensures no one looks in on you, and a built-in active pen provides a natural inking experience when coupled with the 13.9-inch touch display available in FHD or 4K. Inside, get up to an 8th Gen Intel Core i7-8550U CPU, 16 GB of DDR4 RAM, and a 1 TB PCIe SSD.

Best 15-inch convertible

Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

Most of what you love about the XPS 15, now in 2-in-1 form.

It's big at 15.6-inches and weighs more than a lot of smaller convertibles, but performance and design win out here. Great display, plenty of configuration options, and a high-quality build make this a top convertible.

If you love Dell's XPS lineup and want a 2-in-1 laptop, definitely check out the XPS 15 9575. Get inside up to an 8th Gen Intel Core i7-8705G CPU, 16 GB of DDR4 RAM, and a 2 TB PCIe SSD. Opt for a 4K touch display if you like the extra pixels, and enjoy a Radeon RX Vega M GL discrete GPU with 4GB of HMB2 for better performance.

Best mobility

Samsung Galaxy Book2

Always connected wherever you go.

This 2-in-1 device looks a lot like a Surface Pro 6, but it has some interesting hardware inside, as well as 4G LTE connectivity for those who need to stay connected at all times. A 12-inch sAMOLED touch display with 2,160 x 1,440 resolution and active pen support really makes this PC pop.

Samsung's Galaxy Book2 is the first PC to use Qualcomm's Snapdragon 850 quad-core CPU, a lightweight piece of hardware tuned specifically for Windows 10. It's not going to handle heavy gaming, but it will get your through daily productivity tasks while need a charge after about 12 hours of use. The Book2 has a slim, premium chassis, USB-C ports, and the ability to stay connected everywhere thanks to a Snapdragon X20 LTE modem.

Best business

Lenovo X1 Carbon

A beautiful Ultrabook focused on business.

The ThinkPad is legendary in the business world, and Lenovo has created here something that's thin, powerful, and full of security features. All-day battery life, HDR display, and optional LTE are just some of the perks to look forward to.

The 2.49-pound (1.13kg) 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 (also available in 1080p) minimizes glare and is bright enough to be visible no matter where you're working. The battery lasts for a full day of work, so you won't be stuck trying to find an outlet. Configurations go up to an 8th Gen Intel Core i7-8650U CPU, 16 GB of DDR3 RAM, and a 1 TB PCIe SSD.

Best MacBook twin

Huawei MateBook X Pro

A display that puts the rest to shame.

Huawei's MateBook X Pro has a display with near-perfect color and almost no bezel at all, all-day battery life, and a good selection of ports. If you like the look of MacBooks but prefer Windows, this is a great choice.

The MateBook X Pro is respectably thin and light for its class at 0.57 inches (14.6 mm) thick and 2.9 pounds (1.3kg). Inside, get up to an 8th Gen Intel Core i7-8550U CPU, 16 GB of DDR3 RAM, and a 512 GB PCIe SSD. The 13.9-inch touch display is stunning with its 3,000 x 2,000 resolution and 3:2 aspect ratio, and a fingerprint reader allows for quick sign-ins through Windows Hello.

Best design

HP Spectre 13t

A premium build with an executive look.

We couldn't finish a list without HP's Spectre 13t, a laptop with perhaps the nicest design around right now. The look is complemented by an outstanding 4K display and great performance.

The Spectre 13t's chassis is just 0.4 inches (10.4 mm) thick, it's available in two different color combinations — ceramic gold with white or dark ash with copper — and the whole thing weighs just 2.45 pounds (1.11 kg). For internal hardware, get up to an 8th Gen Intel Core i7-8550U CPU, 16 GB of DDR3 RAM, and a 1 TB PCIe solid-state drive (SSD), and take advantage of a keyboard and touchpad made for easy productivity.

Bottom line

Microsoft's Surface Laptop 2 is our top pick for a Windows laptop thanks to a premium clamshell design, all-day battery life, luxurious Alcantara fabric palmrest, and high-resolution touch display compatible with the Surface Pen. If you don't need a clamshell or need something with a bit more focus, there are plenty of quality alternatives available.

Credits — The team that worked on this guide

Cale Hunt is a full-time writer for Windows Central, focusing mainly on PC hardware and VR. He is an avid PC gamer and multi-platform user, and when he has some free time you can usually find him practicing guitar or reorganizing his ever-growing library. If you hear him say "Sorry!" it's only because he's Canadian.

Daniel Rubino is executive editor of Windows Central. He has been covering Microsoft since 2009 back when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Surface, HoloLens, Xbox, and future computing visions. Follow him on Twitter: @daniel_rubino.

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