The year started with some great— from to . Despite some delays and shortages, many of those options are now available. So we — CNET’s Dan Ackerman, Lori Grunin and I — picked a few of our favorites that we’ve tested so far this year.
This is just a fraction of the laptops CNET has reviewed in the past year, though. Check out our list ofor, if you’re looking for a specific style of laptop, here are our best gaming laptops, 15-inch laptops, two-in-ones and Chromebooks, as well as the best choices for college students, creatives and MacBook Pro alternatives for the Windows set. Plus, if you just want pure power or battery life, our rankings of battery life and performance are for you. Need to stay as low as possible on price? Check out our picks for budget laptops and budget gaming laptops. See all of CNET’s laptop reviews.
We like the whole 2020 XPS lineup, including the new XPS 15, but the XPS 13 has been our go-to Windows ultraportable pick for a couple of years now and for 2020 Dell gave us more screen in a smaller body with its new 13.4-inch display. The thing is pretty much just a display and keyboard, with good performance and long battery life.
The 2020 Air is a winner mostly because Apple switched to a new Magic Keyboard. The older butterfly keyboard design was a literal sticking point for buyers, and this new design is definitely an improvement. Apple also returned to a $999 starting price, which makes Apple’s least expensive laptop slightly more affordable.
The 15.6-inch Element gaming laptop was born from a collaboration with Intel. It’s a slim, stylish, 4-pound black slab that hits the right gaming notes for its size — like a 144Hz display, an optomechanical keyboard with per-key RGB lighting and either an Nvidia 1660 Ti or RTX 2070 Max-Q for graphics. There’s no bloatware either, and Maingear has great support to back it all up.
Asus is out in front with dual-screen laptops like the ROG Zephyrus Duo 15. The gaming laptop comes with a choice of 15.6-inch main displays, but comes standard with a secondary tilting 14-inch touchscreen just above the keyboard. The second display comes in handier than you might think, especially if you don’t have room for an external display on your desk. Inside you’ll find up to an Intel Core i9 processor and an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Super Max-Q graphics card, so you’ll have plenty of gaming power. But you’ll pay for it, too, with a starting price of $3,000.
Read our Asus ROG Zephyrus Duo 15 hands-on.
This detachable little 10.1-inch two-in-one starts at $299 and includes its snappy magnetic keyboard cover. It’s a great around-the-house or a work-anywhere device that delivers above its price.
Read our Lenovo Duet Chromebook hands-on.
Yes, yes, I know, the C940 was announced in 2019, but I reviewed it in March so I’m including it, because it’s one of my favorites that I’ve used this year. Though it’s not a huge leap over the Yoga C930, its improvements make it a pleasure to use. I also regularly recommend its streamlined cousin, the Yoga C740, because it’s just a better deal if you want premium design but not necessarily high-end extras.
There were also a few laptops that showed up at the tail end of June that we’ve just started testing, but already look promising. The Gigabyte Aorus 15G, for example: A gaming laptop that starts at $1,699 with a Pantone-certified 15.6-inch display, a sports car-inspired aluminum chassis and a mechanical keyboard with Omron blue switches.
We’re also seeing more laptops with the latest AMD Ryzen chips such as the 13.3-inch HP Envy x360, a beautiful two-in-one that starts at $699 and can be configured with one of three Ryzen 4000-series mobile processors and a 1,000-nit display. There’s also thethis year with a Ryzen 7 4700U that is just a straight-up good value at $650.
What do you think of our list? Are there any other laptops you think we missed or that we should look at for the second half of 2020? Let us know in the comments.