Buying the best Window laptop doesn't have to cost a fortune. It's all about knowing what you're looking for.
Our long experience testing laptops has taught us that, in general, the pricier a Windows laptop, the faster it is. So right now, if you're a hardcore gamer or using powerful creative software like Photoshop or Maya, you'll be looking at an expensive model with a processor like an Intel Core i7-i9, along with a high-end graphics card such as NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060. Yet for lightweight tasks like typing in Word, creating spreadsheets, surfing the web and watching movies, a mid-range laptop will probably plenty fast enough.
With that in mind, we list the best Windows laptops available today below, and explain what sort of tasks each one is best suited to, based on years of having tested out hundreds of Windows laptops ourselves. For further suggestions, see our guides to the most powerful laptops, the best laptops for graphic design and the best laptops for video editing.
The best Windows laptops right now
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The best Windows laptop overall
If price is no object, then here's our pick of the best Windows laptops on the market today. The Dell XPS 17 9710 is big and impressively slim, and it manages to cram a whole load of performance into its svelte frame. In fact, it's very likely to be seriously overpowered, even for most design tasks, especially when specced up to the max. But if you need something for complex 3D projects or effects-laden 4K video, it'll be more than up to the task.
For example, during our tests, it took just under three minutes to export 100 high-resolution images with basic editing from RAW to JPEG in Lightroom and less than 17 seconds when keeping the same RAW format. We got similar results when rendering video: a 10-minute and 32-second 4K video in HEVC (H.265) on Premiere Pro only took around 4 minutes and 30 seconds.
As well as bringing top performance, it's really well-built with plenty of connectivity, including four Thunderbolt 4 ports and even an SD card slot. It's a joy to use, with a comfortable and responsive keyboard and trackpad, and we love its looks too. The only niggle is that when it's running at full pelt, its cooling system can get a bit noisy. Find out more about why we rate this laptop in our Dell XPS 17 9710 review.
The best Windows laptop for students
For the best Windows laptop to take to university you probably don't want to be spending a fortune on high-end performance. More likely you'll need a laptop that can cope with coursework and run whatever Adobe apps you need, and that's portable enough to take with you anywhere.
The HP Pavilion 14 fits the bill perfectly. You can spec it up to meet your needs without breaking the bank, and at 14 inches it's easy to lug around without being too tiny to use comfortably for hours on end. The touchscreen display's an added bonus, and it comes with just enough ports: a USB-C, a pair of USB-A ports, HDMI and even an microSD card slot.
The best Windows laptop for video editing
When you're working with video you need plenty of CPU and GPU power, naturally, but you also need a quality display so that you can keep an eye on the fine details. And that's where the Asus ProArt Studiobook 16 OLED comes into its own. As you might have guessed from the name, it has a 16-inch OLED display that we found looks simply amazing, with 4K resolution and impressive colour gamut coverage: 100% DCI-P3 and sRGB, and 97% AdobeRGB.
It's no slouch, either, with high-end AMD chipsets instead of the usual Intel CPU and NVIDIA GPU. And there are some nice extra touches that we enjoyed when we reviewed it, including a versatile trackpad that can double up as a drawing tablet, and the Asus Dial for quickly swapping between tools and controls.
In our tests, the ProArt Studiobook 16 OLED provided smooth performance across creative apps including Maya, Blender and Photoshop. As for gaming it handled Cyberpunk 2077 well capably too. For more details, see our Asus ProArt Studiobook 16 OLED review.
The best 2-in-1 Windows laptop
When you're torn between investing in the best Windows laptop and a tablet, a 2-in-1 laptop can be the perfect compromise. It'll give you all the features you need from an ordinary laptop, but you can also fold the screen around and use it in tablet mode for straightforward simplicity. And for us, HP's Spectre x360 is the best option right now.
It's a well-specced laptop with plenty of CPU power, and its Intel Iris Xe graphics can cope with most applications even if they don't have the raw grunt of a discrete Nvidia chipset. And while at 14 inches it makes for a slightly unwieldy tablet, there's a lot to love about it including edge-to-edge anti-reflection Gorilla glass, and an included stylus for easy drawing and sketching.
The best 2-in-1 Windows laptop
Let's be clear: you'd be hard pushed to find a laptop that you can't use for Zoom, because a built-in webcam and microphone is an absolutely standard laptop feature. However if you're specifically after the best Windows laptop for Zoom, we'd suggest the Microsoft Surface Laptop 4.
It's a fine and great-looking laptop with plenty of power, even in its most basic specification, but where it really stands out is in its videoconferencing capabilities. There's a 720p f2.0 camera that'll capture you perfectly, even in low light, and you'll sound good too, thanks to a pair of far-field studio mics. Finishing up the package is a set of Omnisonic speakers with Dolby Atmos, so you should never miss out on what everyone else is saying on that call. See what else is on offer, as well as where the Surface Laptop 4 doesn't perform as well (spoiler: it's not so great with 3D animation and game development) in our Surface Laptop 4 review.
The best cheap Windows laptop
If price is your absolute priority, decent laptops don't come much cheaper than Dell's Inspiron 15 3000. As you'd expect there's not much in the way of power; the punchiest option we can find has a Core i7 with 8GB RAM, Intel UHD graphics and a 512GB SSD, and that's still cheaper than pretty much every other option in this round-up.
The very cheapest option would be woefully underpowered for most design work, but you should be able to pick it up with change from $300/£300 and it still has much of what you'll need including a webcam and microphone, three USB ports plus HDMI, and a sizeable 5.6-inch display.
The best Windows laptop for gaming
Got money to burn? Need literally all the performance? Then let us introduce you to the Razer Blade 17. It's absolutely the best Windows laptop for gaming, and needless to say it's also an astonishingly powerful workstation for the most demanding creative jobs.
It our tests of a 32GB model, it ran every program we threw at it smoothly, reliably and quickly. For instance, we experimented with running the laptop with as many chrome tabs as possible, alongside streaming a show on Netflix, streaming music on Spotify and running Blender on another display, with no problems at all.
In its top-end configuration you'll get a 14-core i9 CPU along with a blistering GeForce RTX 3080 Ti with 16GB VRAM, although you'll pay a lot for the privilege Thankfully the lower-spec models still bring a stack of power most people will struggle to fully use, along with a beautiful display and of course, because this is a gaming laptop, RGB backlit keys. For more details, see our Razer Blade 17 (2022) review.
The best Windows laptop for coding
Programming's something you can do on just about any laptop. Of course it helps to have decent performance so that you can test your messy, unoptimised code without everything grinding to a halt, but that still leaves you with plenty of choice. However, if you want a laptop that'll make your coding life that little bit easier, we'd have to recommend the Asus ZenBook Duo 14.
The reason? This one comes with not one but two screens; there's a 13.4-inch main display, but there's also a slim 12.6-inch touchscreen mounted behind the keyboard. You can use it for multitasking or as a drawing surface, but it's also the perfect size for your code editor, enabling you to work on your code while seeing the results on the main display, without the need for plugging in a secondary display.
How to choose the best Windows laptop
How to choose the best Windows laptop
To choose the best Windows laptop, it's good to start by looking at the most respected brands in this area, which include Dell, HP, Lenovo and Asus. Each of these companies offers a range of devices to suit different price brackets, and in general the more you spend, the better it will be. It's also worth checking out Microsoft, which doesn't offer a wide variety of laptops but focuses on making its Surface range the best it can be. Finally, if you're looking at gaming laptops, Razer, Alienware and Origin PC are specialists in this area, but you will pay a lot for them.
Factors to consider when choosing a laptop include screen size: they come in a variety of screen sizes, typically ranging between 11 inches to 17 inches. Also pay attention to the processor, as a more advanced processor will run your laptop faster, although this will make the laptop cost more. The amount of memory, measured in RAM, will also affect this. More memory will allow you to run more programs at the same time and to switch between programs more quickly.
Other things to check is the amount of storage, which used to store your programs, files, and other data, and battery life, which is important if you plan on using your laptop on the go.
What is a CPU?
A CPU (central processing unit) is often just called a 'processor', and is basically the brain of a computer. It is responsible for executing instructions from programs and processing data. The CPU is the most important component in a computer, and its performance has a significant impact on the overall performance of the system.
CPUs are often described by their speed, which is measured in gigahertz (GHz). A higher GHz rating means that the CPU can execute instructions more quickly. However, the speed of the CPU is not the only factor that determines its performance. Other factors, such as the number of cores, the cache size, and the architecture of the CPU, also play a role.
What is a GPU?
A GPU (graphics processing uni), is a specialized electronic circuit designed to accelerate the creation of images on your computer's screen. If you're using creative software, playing high-end games or editing video, you'll need an advanced GPU to make everything run quickly and smoothly.
Is an SSD better than an HDD in a Windows laptop?
Yes, an SSD (Solid State Drive) is faster and more durable than an HDD (Hard Disk Drive). So if you're looking for faster performance and startup times, you should choose a laptop with an SSD. However, this will probably make the laptop more expensive.