The best laptops to buy in 2023, The back-to-school season is prime time for laptop shopping, with many stores offering deals for students and teachers in need of new tech. But trying to pinpoint the very best laptop of 2023 isn’t a quest for the faint of heart: Not all laptops are created equal, and the sheer number of models out there is enough to make anyone’s head spin. To put things in perspective, Apple is selling three different MacBook Pros and three separate MacBook Air models as of mid-2023, and almost all of them come in multiple configurations with different M-something chips. That’s not even counting the older models still floating around at various third-party retailers (often at tempting discounts). When choosing a laptop, consider three main questions: What sort of technical specs do you care about most?
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Apple MacBook Air (13.6-inch, M2)
The best laptops to buy in 2023, The latest (and thinnest) 13-inch MacBook Air M2 is often plugged as one of the best laptops for students because of its lightweight, ultra-portable design and reasonable price; the base configuration now sits right above $1,000. But we’d go broader and recommend it as the best Apple laptop for pretty much anyone. Powered by Apple’s zippy M2 chip with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of SSD storage to start, this all-aluminum laptop “delivers everything you need any job centered around using a computer,” writes tech and games reporter Alex Perry. That includes a “solid battery life, a larger 13.6-inch display than previous models, a keyboard that’s to die for, and enough horsepower to handle everyday tasks with ease.” Other highlights include a 1080p FaceTime HD camera that produces a clear picture in low light and a four-speaker setup with Spatial Audio and Dolby Atmos support. It could use more ports and a better refresh rate, but as a complete package, it’s a winner of our Mashable’s Choice Award and a worthy upgrade from any older MacBook you’re still holding onto.
Microsoft Surface Laptop Go 2
Priced at $600 but often on sale for around $450, last year’s Microsoft Surface Laptop Go 2 is the best budget laptop for users who don’t want a total clunker. It’s actually somewhat of a dupe for Apple’s MacBook Air, says Mashable contributor Callum Bains, with a stylish and slim design featuring an aluminum lid (available in four finishes) that looks more expensive than it really is.
The specs under the Surface Laptop Go 2’s hood are indisputably mediocre, but they’re sufficient for its price point: It runs on an 11th-gen Intel Core i5 processor with 4GB RAM, and it starts out with 128GB of SSD storage (which you can replace and upgrade down the road). Those are some big improvements over the Intel Celeron N Series CPUs and sluggish eMMC (embedded Multi Media Card) flash storage you’ll find in many laptops under $500. Its 12.4-inch, 3:2 PixelSense touchscreen display has a not-great resolution of 1536 x 1024 pixels, or just under Full HD, but it’s bright and clear enough for most settings. When you factor in its “serviceable” webcam and “respectable” battery life, per Bains, you’ve got a decent all-rounder for basic web browsing and streaming.
Dell XPS 15 (9530)
The best laptops to buy in 2023, The newest version of the Dell XPS 15 is a 15.6-inch machine from the brand’s premium laptop line with solid build quality, a beautiful edge-to-edge display, and specs that can crush everyday tasks right out of the gate. (Its base configuration easily justifies its $1,499 price tag with a 13th-generation Intel Core i7 processor, 512GB of storage, 16GB of RAM, and an Intel Arc A370M GPU, though we saw it on sale for $200 less at the time of writing.) For those in need of even more oopmh, optional upgrades like NVIDIA GeForce graphics for gaming, up to 4TB of storage, up to 64GB of RAM, and a vivid OLED touchscreen will turn the XPS 15 into a bona fide desktop replacement.
The experts over at PCMag (owned by Mashable’s publisher, Ziff Davis) gave the XPS 15 a 4.5/5 rating and an Editor’s Choice distinction, calling it “one of the best and most flexible luxe laptops for a range of audiences” despite their disappointment with its 720p webcam and limited selection of ports. (It does come with a free USB-C to USB-A and HDMI adapter, at least.)
Lenovo Yoga 9i
For those who can’t decide between a laptop or a tablet, the refined Yoga 9i from Lenovo’s popular line of convertibles is everything you could want in both devices. Its star attraction is a vibrant 14-inch OLED touchscreen with a welcome 90Hz refresh rate (plus the option to upgrade to 4K), which flips on a 360-degree hinge around its attached keyboard to switch between the two different modes. It can also be propped up like a tent for movie-watching. Notably, it comes with a rechargeable stylus for drawing and sketching — the $59.99 Lenovo Precision Pen 2 — so there’s no need to buy one separately.
The base configuration of the Yoga 9i includes a 13th-gen Intel Core i7 processor with 16GB of RAM and 512GB of storage to breeze through multitasking. The rest of the features on its spec sheet are equally impressive, from its 1080p webcam to the Bowers & Wilkins speaker bar with Dolby Atmos support. It should come as no surprise that it’s an Editor’s Choice pick over at PCMag, which deemed it “the premium 2-in-1 laptop to buy.” It could use a battery bump in its next iteration, but that’s a minor gripe somewhat nullified by its fast-charging feature.
Lenovo Legion Slim 7i (Gen 8)
The latest iteration of the best gaming laptop we’ve tested packs more punch but retains the same thin, polished design as its predecessor. The 2023 Lenovo Legion Slim 7i’s new 13th-gen Intel Core i9 processor and NVIDIA GeForce RTX 40 Series graphics can plow through AAA titles with no problem, and its vibrant 16-inch, 16:10 PureSight display has a 240Hz refresh rate for silky-smooth gameplay. (There’s also an HDMI output if you want to connect it to a separate monitor.) It comes with a full-sized RGB-backlit keyboard with a full numpad and interchangeable WASD keycaps, plus built-in Harman speakers for immersive sound.
Four-and-a-half pounds is a little hefty for a traditional laptop, but for a gaming machine, the Legion Slim 7i sits comfortably in a featherweight class. If you’re in the market for a gaming laptop that’s basically a portable rig, look no further — but be prepared to pay up, as it retails for $2,099.99. (On the plus side, it does include a three-month Xbox Game Pass subscription.) “It’s an investment for sure, but a more sensible one than most,” writes Mashable contributor Bains, who tested the previous model. Keep an eye out for discounts on it at Best Buy.
Acer Chromebook Spin 714
The new Acer Chromebook Spin 714 is doing its best to shed this category’s dinky and cheap associations, marrying competent mid-range specs like a 13th-gen Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM, 256GB of SSD storage, and a QHD webcam with ChromeOS security features (including automatic updates and cloud data storage). It’s also managed to translate that signature Chromebook ruggedness into a sleek 2-in-1 design: Its build is rated for military-grade shock resistance, and its 14-inch touchscreen and touchpad are made with Antimicrobial Corning Gorilla Glass that may protect them from lingering stains and odors. It should make your shortlist if you’re hunting for a basic, user-friendly laptop the whole family can use.
While this particular model hasn’t been hands-on tested by Mashable or PCMag yet, the latter gave last year’s Chromebook Spin 714 a 4.5/5 and an Editor’s Choice Award for its 16:10 display (“a great balance between work and play”), 1080p shuttered webcam, durable metal chassis, and garaged stylus. The 2023 version has unfortunately ditched the stylus, but its upgraded processor, improved webcam, and slightly lower price maintains its overall excellence in our book.
Apple MacBook Pro (16-inch, M2 Max)
If the M2 Max-equipped MacBook Pro from early 2023 was an actual workhorse, it would be one of those jacked Budweiser Clydesdales. Currently the largest, most powerful, and most expensive laptop in Apple’s roster, this 16-inch, recycled aluminum laptop combines that formidable in-house silicone with a gorgeous Liquid Retina XDR display (a mini-LED screen with ProMotion technology, aka a 120Hz refresh rate), a 38-core GPU, an industry-leading 22-hour battery life, and a solid port selection with support for WiFi 6E and 8K displays. It prices out most users at $3,499 for the base configuration with 32GB of RAM and 1TB of storage — ouch — but according to PCMag, it’s well worth that steep cost for professional creatives who run intense software on a regular basis.
“Sure, we can nitpick about the screen notch or the lack of touch capability, but the fact of the matter is that this is as close to perfect as any laptop we have reviewed,” writes our sister site (which gave it an extremely rare 5/5 score and an Editor’s Choice nod). “The machine looks and feels fantastic, and it will rip through the most demanding computing tasks like a buzzsaw.”
Framework Laptop 13
Repairability doesn’t seem like a big deal until your MacBook’s battery conks out and you have to haul it into the Genius Bar to replace the entire bottom half of the machine. The Framework Laptop 13 is the latest version of a previous Mashable’s Choice Award-winning device that’s specifically designed to be fixable by you at home, even if you have zero prior experience with DIY repairs, with replaceable CPUs, memory, storage, keyboards, displays, and even expansion cards for ports. What’s more, these components can all be individually upgraded whenever Framework introduces new ones — it doesn’t get more future-proof than that.The pre-built, ready-to-use Framework Laptop 13 features a new 13.5-inch matte display, improved hinges, and a better battery life than the previous iterations, and it starts with a 13th-gen Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM, 256GB of SSD storage, and Windows 11 Home. You can also opt for the DIY Edition, which can be customized with the specs (even operating system) of your choosing.