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Laptops
Tablets and convertibles may be enticing for some, but others prefer a good old clam-shell laptop. If you're among that number, we think these are the ones most worth your while.

Product Specs Starting price

Asus X551MAV
Display: 15.6" 1366x768
Processor: Intel Celeron N2840
RAM: 4GB
Storage: 500GB mechanical hard drive 
Battery life: 4 hours
Connectivity: 802.11n
Thickness: 1.2"
Weight: 4.7 lbs
$249.99

Asus ZenBook UX305
Display: 13.3" 1920x1080
Processor: Intel Core M-5Y10
RAM: 8GB
Storage: 256GB SSD 
Battery life: 8 hours
Connectivity: 802.11n, Bluetooth 4.0
Thickness: 0.5"
Weight: 2.6 lbs
$699.99

Dell XPS 13
Display: 13.3" 1920x1080 or 3200x1800
Processor: Intel Core i3-5010U, i5-5200U, or i7-5500U
RAM: 8GB
Storage: 128GB or 256GB SSD
Battery life: 15 hours
Connectivity: 802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.0
Thickness: 0.6"
Weight: 2.6 lbs
$799.99
(
Core i3 CPU,
128GB SSD,
1080p screen)

Dell XPS 15
Display: 15.6" 1920x1080 (3840x2160 touch optional)
Processor: Intel Core i3 dual-core, Core i5 and i7 quad-core (Skylake)
RAM: 8GB or 16GB
Storage: 500GB or 1TB hard drive, 256GB or 512GB PCIe SSDs
Battery life: 17 hours
Connectivity: 802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.1
Thickness: 0.66"
Weight: 3.9 lbs
$999.99
(Core i3 CPU, 8GB RAM, 500GB hard drive + 32GB SSD)

Apple MacBook
Display: 12" 2304x1440
Processor: Intel Core M 
RAM: 8GB or 16GB
Storage: 256GB or 512GB PCIe SSD
Battery life: 9 hours
Connectivity: 802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.0
Thickness: 0.5"
Weight: 2 lbs

$1299.99
(256GB SSD,
1.1GHz CPU,
8GB RAM)


Apple MacBook Pro 13"
Display: 13.3" 2560x1600
Processor: Intel Core i5 and i7 dual-core (Broadwell)
RAM: 8GB or 16GB
Storage: 128GB, 256GB, or 512GB PCIe SSDs
Battery life: 10 hours
Connectivity: 802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.0
Thickness: 0.7"
Weight: 3.5 lbs
$1299.99
(128GB SSD,
2.7GHZ CPU,
8GB RAM)

Asus X551MAV
For those with modest needs and modest means, the $250 Asus X551MAV looks like a good bet. This notebook comes with 500GB of mechanical storage, 4GB of RAM, and a Bay Trail Celeron N2840 CPU. The 1366x768 screen is a bit underwhelming, and you're not going to be playing Crysis on this thing, but hey: it's only $250, and you get full-fat Windows 8.1. Hard to argue with that value.

Asus ZenBook UX305
Asus' ZenBook UX305 might be all of the computer most people ever need. It's wafer-thin, it features a gorgeous 13.3," 1080p screen, and it comes with 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD. With completely passive cooling, this system has no moving parts, much like a tablet. The all-aluminum body only weighs 2.6 pounds, too. Scott loves his UX305, and it's pretty amazing that all of this Core M-powered goodness only rings in for $700.

Dell XPS 13
Dell's XPS 13 has been making waves in the notebook market since its release, as well. Its signature feature is a nearly-borderless "infinity display" that packs a 13.3" screen into a chassis that's no bigger than many 11" laptops. The XPS 13 can also be had in several configurations, packing 1080p or 3200x1800 displays and Broadwell Core i3 or Core i5 CPUs. If you want more room for customization than the ZenBook UX305 offers and don't mind spending a bit more to get there, the XPS 13 seems like a fine pick at $800 and up.

Dell XPS 15
For those who need extra graphics power out of their Windows laptop, or just prefer bigger screens, Dell's newly-updated XPS 15 looks like a good place to start. The company has updated this 15.6" machine with the same ultra-thin bezel design as its 13" counterpart, along with Intel's Skylake CPUs. The base model starts at $999 with a Core i3-6100H processor, 8GB of RAM, and a 500GB hard drive. We'd step up to the $1,399 model with a Core i7-6700HQ quad-core CPU, 8GB of main memory, a GeForce GTX 960 graphics card with 2GB of RAM, and a 256GB PCIe SSD, though.

Apple MacBook
Readers, please put down your flamethrowers. We know Apple's latest MacBook is polarizing. Hear us out. At only half an inch thick and a breath over two pounds, the MacBook is barely a tangible thing, yet Apple somehow managed to cram a 12" Retina display (re-engineered to be thinner, brighter, and more efficient) and a full-sized keyboard in there. The Force Touch trackpad is slimmer than traditional clickpads, but feels a lot like one thanks to a clever electromagnetic haptic feedback system. Meanwhile, the system's battery life stretches beyond eight hours, thanks in part to the display's ability to let more light pass.

The MacBook's Core M processors aren't going to set any speed records, but they should be plenty of CPU for the average user. The one true pain point might be the lone USB-C port, which handles everything from charging to peripheral I/O to display output. That's a nice vision for the future, but it does mean living in a dongle-filled present. Some folks may be willing to tolerate these limitations for a taste of tomorrow today. The new MacBook starts at $1300. 

Apple MacBook Pro 13"
If your computing needs include more demanding apps like Photoshop or Final Cut Pro, and you prefer OS X, the newest 13" MacBook Pro makes the most sense to us. You get the same Force Touch trackpad as in the MacBook, a slightly bigger and higher-res Retina display, beefier dual-core Broadwell processors with Iris 6100 graphics, and more ports for $1300 and up. 

Gaming laptops
Here's another case where you'll need to hear us out. Yes, gaming laptops are still sort of a crazy idea, but not everybody interested in PC gaming wants to haul around a desktop and its associated peripherals. The world of PC gaming laptops just got to be more interesting now that some systems are available with Nvidia's G-Sync variable-refresh-rate display technology. G-Sync can help provide buttery-smooth gameplay even on more thermally constrained mobile PCs.

No, these laptops won't last anywhere near as long on a battery charge as saner notebooks, and they weigh several times as much. Those are tradeoffs that gamers on the go will have to accept.

Product Specs Starting price

Asus ROG G752
Display: 17.3" 1920x1080
Processor: Intel Core i7-6700HQ
Graphics card: 3GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 970M 
RAM: 16GB
Storage: 1TB mechanical drive, 128GB SSD
Connectivity: 802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.0
Thickness: 1.5"
Weight: 8.8 lbs
$1,799.99

Aorus X5

Display: 15.6" 2880x1620
Processor: Intel Core i7-5700HQ
Graphics cards: 2 x 4GB Nvidia GTX 965M in SLI
RAM: 16GB
Storage: 1TB mechanical drive, 512GB SSD
Connectivity: 802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.0
Thickness: 0.9"
Weight: 5.5 lbs

$2299.99

Asus ROG G752
If "big and bulky" isn't a turn-off for you in a gaming notebook, we think Asus' ROG G752 is worth a look. Asus' past 17.3" notebooks are well-liked for their solid builds and relatively quiet cooling systems, and the G752 looks to continue that trend. The G752 we've chosen pairs a 1080p G-Sync display with a GeForce GTX 970M graphics card with 3GB of RAM. Intel's Core i7-6700HQ CPU, 16GB of RAM, and a 128GB SSD paired with a 1TB mechanical hard drive make this machine a true desktop replacement.

Aorus X5
For those with deeper wallets who also want a more compact machine, the G-Sync-enabled Aorus X5 (made by Gigabyte) might also be worth a look. This newcomer pulls out all of the stops: its 5.5-pound, 0.9"-thick body contains twin 4GB GTX 965M graphics cards in SLI driving a 15.6," 2880x1620 IPS panel. The X5 features a Core i7-5700HQ CPU with 16GB of RAM. 512GB of solid-state storage and a 1TB hard drive round out this $2300 package.

A note on Chromebooks
No, we're still not recommending Chromebooks. The prices may be tempting, but compared to the $250 Asus laptop with Windows we've selected, Chromebooks are more limited in pretty much every way. Unless you've carefully studied the restrictions of Chrome OS and concluded that it's something you can live with, we would continue to steer clear.