Best Windows Laptops Windows Central 2020
It's a great time to be a fan of Windows laptops, and if you're in the market for a new device, there are plenty of options for a wide number of uses. Dell's XPS 13 2-in-1 (7390) is no doubt the best bet for most people who are looking for a premium convertible laptop for everyday use, thanks to high build quality, brilliant touch display, and powerful performance from 10th Gen Intel Core processors (CPU). However, there are a bunch of other great laptops, which we've rounded up here.
- Best Overall: Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 (7390)
- Runner-up: Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 13.5
- Second Runner-up: HP Spectre x360 13
- Best 13-inch: Dell XPS 13 (7390)
- Best 15-inch: Dell XPS 15 (7590)
- Best 17-inch: LG gram 17
- Best 2-in-1: Microsoft Surface Pro 7
- Best Gaming: Razer Blade 15 Advanced
- Ultra Portable: Microsoft Surface Go
- Best Business Convertible: Dell Latitude 7400 2-in-1
- Best Business Mobility: Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon
Best Overall: Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 (7390)
The original Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 was a bit of a letdown due to underpowered Intel Y-series CPUs and disappointing battery life, but the refreshed 7390 model has cleaned things up. You're now able to get 10th Gen Intel Core CPUs and a full workday of battery life, which is impressive from a convertible with this grade of touch display. It's sized at 13.4 inches with a 16:10 aspect ratio, available in either 1920x1200 or 3840x2400. With Dolby Vision HDR400 certification and excellent colour, you're going to love this laptop every time you open the lid.
The slim chassis is understated and gorgeous, with a dual-hinge setup that lets you rotate the display around for tent, stand, and tablet modes. Combined with an active pen, this laptop is quite versatile. Platinum, silver finish is available for the outer shell, while you have black carbon fibre or artic white woven fibre interior options. Ports include two Thunderbolt 3, a microSD card reader, and a 3.5mm audio jack. The design means you can't get inside to upgrade hardware yourself, but there are plenty of configuration options available from Dell.
The second-gen maglev keyboard included here for a responsive feel, and there's a large Precision touchpad to promote productivity. If you're interested in consuming media, know that the down-firing speakers on the XPS 13 2-in-1 are quite loud and full. For some extra security, a fingerprint reader is built into the power button.
- Dazzling HDR anti-glare touch display
- Robust audio
- Eight-hour battery life
- Clean, minimalist design
- 10th Gen Intel hardware
- Ports limited but powerful
- Hardware not upgradeable
Stunning display and looks that packs a punch
The new XPS 13 2-in-1 is a spectacular and fun convertible Ultrabook that brings the best of today's technology into one device.
Runner-up: Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 13.5
The Surface Laptop 2 was a fine Ultrabook, and Microsoft has made numerous small changes to the 13.5-inch Laptop 3 to make it even better. It's now available with 10th Gen Intel Core CPUs and up to 16GB DDR4x RAM, as well as Wi-Fi 6 connectivity and a faster solid-state drive (SSD) up to 1TB that can be replaced. It's also now rocking a USB-C port, as well as USB-A, Surface Connect, and a 3.5mm audio jack. The keyboard and touchpad are both quieter than the Laptop 2, and typing is about as good as it gets. The touchpad is about 20% larger, and it's using Precision drivers for the best experience possible.
The overall design is as good as ever, with hidden antenna lines for a more streamlined look. If Alcantara — the fabric finish that we saw on the palmrest of the Laptop 2 — isn't your thing, the Laptop 3 can be had with a standard aluminium finish throughout. An IR camera sits above the display for extra security through Windows Hello.
The 13.5-inch touch display is a knockout. It has a boxy 3:2 aspect ratio with 2256x1504 resolution, and it's compatible with the Surface Pen for a stellar inking experience. It would be nice to see Dolby Vision or some anti-glare properties, but at least it hits nearly 400 nits brightness to help combat bright lights. Expect battery life to hit somewhere between seven and eight hours on a charge.
- Gorgeous design and craftsmanship
- Now with USB-C
- Superb keyboard and touchpad
- Intel 10th Gen hardware
- Some parts can be upgraded
- No Thunderbolt 3
- No Dolby Vision or anti-glare display
Small changes add up fast
With the addition of USB-C, Wi-Fi 6, and Intel 10th Gen CPUs, the Surface Laptop 3 delivers a solid follow up to the Laptop 2.
Second Runner-up: HP Spectre x360 13
HP's 13-inch Spectre x360 has for the last few years been close to perfection, though it did have a few major flaws. With the refreshed 2019 mode, however, HP has done some great things. It now has a Precision touchpad for better pointing experience, and the relatively thick bezel has been slimmed by 66%.
The webcam still sits above the display despite the new bezel, and HP has even managed to cram in IR hardware for facial recognition through Windows Hello. Overall, the laptop's chassis has shrunk, and the once top-firing speakers now live on the bottom. Still, there's a 60Wh battery that delivers excellent battery life.
Grab the 13.3-inch touch display in either FHD or 4K AMOLED. The latter has anti-reflective glass to cut glare, and sRGB, AdobeRGB, and DCI-P3 presets offer excellent colour straight from the factory. For better performance, the Spectre x360 has been upgraded to 10th Gen Intel Core CPUs, as well as up to 16GB of RAM and a 2TB M.2 PCIe SSD. Wi-Fi 6 connectivity is a nice final touch.
- 10th Gen Intel Core CPUs
- Wi-Fi 6 and LTE connectivity
- Precision touchpad
- 4K AMOLED touch display with thin bezel
- Big 60Wh battery
- Speakers moved to bottom of chassis
- Less expensive options available
They fixed almost everything
The HP Spectre x360 only had a few things keeping it from greatness, and now those things are here.
Best 13-inch: Dell XPS 13 (7390)
The Dell XPS 13 is well-loved here at Windows Central, and its latest 7390 refresh is better than ever. It's now equipped with 10th Gen Intel Core hardware for excellent performance, and it can be configured with up to 16GB of LPDDR3 RAM and a 2TB M.2 PCIe SSD. This is all contained in a slim, premium chassis with a starting weight of just 2.56 pounds (1.16kg). Ports include two Thunderbolt 3, a microSD card reader, and a 3.5mm audio jack.
The webcam has been moved back above the display where it belongs, and the bezel is still as thin as ever. The 13.3-inch display seems to stretch from edge to edge, made even more brilliant if you opt for 4K touch instead of FHD touch and non-touch options. Colour is outstanding in any of the displays, and you get up to 400 nits brightness to help combat glare.
Grab it in gold and white colours, and you can still opt for the classic dark look with the carbon fibre and silver combination. The keyboard has the same key travel and backlight as before, but it's using a new maglev mechanism to help fit the slim body. The Precision touchpad is still one of the best around, and it's sized to fit the rest of the laptop.
- Alpine-white and gold chassis is gorgeous
- Strong performance and good battery life
- IGZO 4K anti-glare display is best-in-class
- Windows Hello support
- Full Thunderbolt 3 USB C ports
- Might want a convertible
An outstanding 13-inch notebook
It's well known by this point how much we love the Dell XPS line, and the updated XPS 13 7390 has 10th Gen Intel performance.
Best 15-inch: Dell XPS 15 (7590)
The refreshed 7590 model of the XPS 15 is an awesome Ultrabook, available with a few display options. If you want the best, go with 4K OLED non-touch with 100% DCI-P3 colour reproduction, or choose 4K LCD with 500 nits brightness to save a bit of money. There's likewise an FHD display with 100% sRGB and 500 nits brightness.
For performance hardware, get up to a 9th Gen Intel Core i9-9980HK CPU, though the i7-9750H CPU is also stellar. Combined with an NVIDIA GTX 1650 GPU with 4GB of VRAM, this is a laptop that can handle some specialized design and editing work.
The aluminium and carbon fibre chassis offers decent port selection, including Thunderbolt 3, two USB-A 3.1, HDMI 2.0, an SD card reader, and a 3.5mm audio jack. The power button includes a fingerprint reader for Windows Hello, and the webcam sits back above the display for a better angle. A massive 97Wh battery inside gives you a workday of life without needing to find a plug.
- 4K OLED or 4K LCD touch display
- Powerful Intel 9th Gen CPU options
- Dedicated NVIDIA GTX 1650 GPU
- Premium aluminium chassis
- Huge 97Wh battery
- Not as versatile as a convertible
- Less expensive options available
- No Wi-Fi 6
Beautiful display options, stellar performance
Dell's XPS 15 is one of the slimmest 15-inch laptops out there, boasting impressive performance and knockout 4K display options.
Best 17-inch: LG gram 17
A 17-inch laptop is great for multitasking thanks to the enormous display, but you often trade portability. However, the LG gram 17 weighs in at just 2.95 pounds (1.34kg), making it as light as a lot of 13-inch Ultrabooks. The huge display has a 2560x1600 resolution that's great for photo editing, and it has a battery that will last for a full day before needing a charge.
Performance hardware includes up to an 8th Gen Intel Core i7-8565U CPU, 16GB of RAM, and a 512GB SATA SSD, which is slower than PCIe versions but still far better than a standard HDD. Ports include Thunderbolt 3, HDMI, three USB-A 3.0, and a microSD card reader for generous connectivity.
The Precision touchpad seems small compared to all the available space, but it tracks well. Typing for long periods shouldn't be an issue on the keyboard, and a fingerprint reader built into the power button adds security through Windows Hello.
- 2K display with 16:10 ratio
- Light build despite size
- All-day battery life
- Respectable port selection
- Fingerprint reader
- Slow SATA SSD
- Keyboard and touchpad relatively small
A huge laptop that remains light
The LG gram 17 is an extraordinarily light and capable 17-inch Ultrabook that's great for students, photographers, and other pros.
Best 2-in-1: Microsoft Surface Pro 7
Microsoft's Surface Pro 7 is back and better than ever. Instead of a Mini DisplayPort it now has a USB-C 3.1 port that's capable of handling dual 4K displays, rounded out by USB-A, a microSD card reader, Surface Connect, and a 3.5mm audio jack. Wi-Fi 6 connectivity is available for blazing wireless speeds, and Bluetooth 5.0 is also included. The Pro 7 now has Instant On, meaning it's ready to go as soon as you need it.
10th Gen Intel Core CPU options boost performance and add Intel Iris Plus integrated graphics, and models can be configured with up to 16GB of LPDDR4x RAM and a 1TB SSD. The display hasn't changed, but that doesn't mean it's not gorgeous. The 12.3-inch touch screen still has a 3:2 aspect ratio and 2736x1824 resolution, complete with Surface Pen compatibility for a quality inking experience.
The Pro 7 keeps cool under load, and you can expect about eight hours of battery life from a model with Core i5 CPU. For some extra security, an IR camera is included for Windows Hello.
- Excellent performance from 10th Gen Intel hardware
- Now with a USB-C port
- Eight hours of battery life
- Instant On and resume
- Premium build quality
- No Thunderbolt 3
- No LTE
- Bezels are a bit thick
Type-C and 10th Gen Intel are game-changers
Microsoft has finally added a loaded-out USB Type-C port to the Surface Pro 7, as well as 10th Gen Intel hardware.
Best Gaming: Razer Blade 15 Advanced
If you need a powerful gaming laptop, the Razer Blade 15 Advanced should be your first choice (though it is expensive). Based on the hardware you want — up to an NVIDIA RTX 2080 Max-Q GPU, 9th Gen Intel Core i7-9750H six-core CPU, and 16GB of dual-channel DDR4 RAM — you'll get access to different display options, including up to 4K OLED with 100% DCI-P3 colour reproduction, 60Hz refresh rate, and HDR400 certification. Razer is also offering an NVIDIA Quadro RTX 5000 GPU for specialized design work.
This is all wrapped up in a squared, symmetrical metal chassis that comes in either black of Mercury White colour options. Keyboard travel is a bit short, but it has customizable RGB, and the Precision touchpad is huge for times when you're not using an external gaming mouse plugged into one of three USB-A 3.2 ports. Other connectivity includes Thunderbolt 3, HDMI 2.0, and DisplayPort 1.4.
- 4K OLED display is stunning
- Outstanding audio
- Excellent gaming performance
- Keeps cool
- Premium build quality
- Keyboard has short travel
- Very expensive
A gaming laptop that is almost picture-perfect
The Blade 15 Advanced offers stellar performance hardware and up to 4K OLED HDR touch display with 60Hz refresh rate.
Ultra Portable: Microsoft Surface Go
The Surface Go might appear underpowered at first — and no doubt won't cut it for a lot of people who are dealing with specialized work — but it's actually a versatile, portable device with a lot to offer.
Performance hardware includes up to an Intel Pentium Gold 4415Y CPU, 8GB of RAM, and a 128GB SSD, enough to tackle everyday productivity tasks and even some light gaming. The addition of 4G LTE options means you can stay connected just about everywhere, and you'll get a full workday of battery life from a charge.
The 10-inch display has an 1800x1200 resolution and 3:2 aspect ratio, it's compatible with the Surface Pen for a stellar inking experience, and by adding a Type Cover, you get a true laptop. Ports include USB-C, a microSD card reader, and a 3.5mm audio jack.
- Optional 4G LTE connectivity
- Premium compact design
- Beautiful touch display with inking
- Great battery life
- Starts at a low price
- Limited ports
- Not enough performance for some
The best combination of size and power
Microsoft's Surface Go delivers a high-quality computing experience that you can take with you when you hit the road.
Best Business Convertible: Dell Latitude 7400 2-in-1
Dell's Latitude 7400 2-in-1 blurs the lines between business and standard consumer laptop, offering up 15 hours of battery life (wow), a durable brushed aluminium all-metal body, and a great selection of ports. It's a bit on the heavy side compared to some other convertibles, but the large battery and touch display are worth it.
There's no 2K or 4K options available, but the FHD low-watt display does have great colour and contrast, especially for a business device. It hits 100% sRGB and 77% AdobeRGB, both excellent results, and you can add an optional Active Pen to the mix for quality inking. Above the display, set into the thin bezel, is an IR camera that will lock and unlock your laptop for you as soon as you sit down or walk away from the device.
For those who want to stay connected at all times, there is a 4G LTE option you can choose at checkout. A SIM slot resides on the right side of the laptop, below the microSD card reader; other ports include two USB-A, 3.5mm audio, two Thunderbolt 3, and HDMI.
- Gorgeous low-watt FHD display
- Good audio
- Impressive battery life
- Premium build quality
- Great port selection
- On the heavy side
- No 2K or 4K display option
Best Business Convertible
Excellent battery, super adaptive
Dell's revamped Latitude 7400 2-in-1 for 2019 leads the pack for 14-inch Ultrabooks and overall battery life.
Best Business Mobility: Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon
The refreshed 7th Gen ThinkPad X1 Carbon still brings a black carbon finish for the durable chassis that's been put through a bunch of durability tests. It's an ideal laptop if you're working in the field, especially thanks to LTE connectivity. Unfortunately, there's no Wi-Fi 6.
A 14-inch display is available in a few different flavours, from efficient low-power FHD to stunning 4K with Dolby Vision HDR400. For something in between, there's a QHD option. All displays have precise colour, and the bezel is slim for a premium look. A PrivacyGuard feature can be added, which helps keep your display private when working in public. Other notable security features include a fingerprint reader, camera shutter, and IR camera for facial recognition.
10th Gen Intel Core i7 CPU options offer lots of power and can be combined with 16GB of RAM, and a 1TB M.2 PCIe SSD. Ports include two Thunderbolt 3, two USB-A 3.1 (Gen 1), HDMI 1.4, Ethernet extension, and 3.5mm audio.
- 10th Gen Intel Core CPU options
- FHD, QHD, or 4K displays available
- Varied port selection
- Comfortable keyboard and touchpad
- Durable ThinkPad build
- No Wi-Fi 6
- Relatively pricey
Best Business Mobility
Keep up with work wherever you are
With 4G LTE modem, powerful performance, and a brilliant display, get a premium business laptop ideal for staying connected.
There's a Windows laptop for every kind of user, including the one that wants to save money, spend a lot, or look forward to experimental form factors. Want to have a laptop to use just for work? There's a model for you. Does your work involve intensive tasks like photo or video editing? There's one for you, too. With all this in mind, the Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 (7390) still offers the best combination of display, quality, and performance for the average Windows user.
You get stellar performance from 10th Gen Intel hardware, and the battery should last through a full workday, so you don't have to worry about plugging in. The touch display has a boxier 16:10 aspect ratio that's better for tablet mode, and it comes in either 1920x1200 or 3840x2400 resolutions. Either choice makes for a stunning display, complete with a slim bezel. This is through and through a premium laptop, and the added versatility from the convertible design means it will appeal to a large audience.
Credits — The team that worked on this guide
Kennedy Maring is a freelancer who loves playing games, her little animal family along with her husband, and the great outdoors. Although she is a nerd through and through, she is looking to complete her cosmetology certificate in the next year.
Cale Hunt is a staff writer at Windows Central. He focuses mainly on PC, laptop, and accessory coverage, as well as the emerging world of VR. He is an avid PC gamer and multi-platform user and spends most of his time either tinkering with or writing about tech.
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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