When it comes to buying a laptop, particularly a new one, there are so many factors to consider. How often will I be traveling with it? How long does the battery last? Does it have the computing power to do everything I need it to do?
It can be overwhelming, especially once you start to realize how many options are out there. Luckily, we have put together a list of the best laptops to get in 2018 to help you out.
What you need from a laptop is pretty subjective and personal, so the first step in finding a laptop from our list is deciding what your priorities are. Do you hope to make a lot of art, or edit video on your laptop? Do you want something easy to carry so you can take a lot of notes in different places?
Make a list of what you liked in your last laptop, and what you wished was better. From there, you should be able to see what you really want your laptop to do, and be good at, and can therefore use our list to find your dream machine.
So enjoy the list below, and see which laptops are worth buying in 2018!:
Simple laptop with basic functionality
You’re someone who really doesn’t need a lot from a laptop. Sure, you send emails and need to type documents occasionally, but you really don’t need anything very fancy or technical. Another scenario: You’re getting a preteen their first laptop ever or a college student who needs a portable device for the classroom. In either case, it’d be great to save some money, since you’re looking for a simple laptop computer that can serve some simple functions.
Enter the ASUS Chromebook Flip C302CA. Chromebooks are laptops designed by Google that have very simple and limited functionality. They run on a Google Chrome OS and mostly operate via the Internet, allowing users to run web-based applications like Google Docs, and otherwise browse and stream from whatever sites they like. Typically, their storage is kept to the Cloud, and they’re very affordable machines.
Recently, the Chromebook has started working with apps downloaded from the Android app store. This lets the machines have more functionality than ever, and the ASUS Chromebook Flip is one of the best models of Chromebook you can find.
The Flip is extremely lightweight, just 2.65 pounds, and it has a 360-degree hinge that can let you use the 12.5 inch screen as a tablet or a laptop. A full battery will let the laptop last an entire day, and with quick startup and shutdown times, and an aluminum chassis that makes it fairly durable, it’s a seriously great, easy to transport computer.
The machine has just 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage, so it’s not very impressive tech-wise. However, 4GB is enough computing power for most general computer functions. With its low price point under $500 for an Intel Core m3 processor, or a little more for an Intel Core m5, the ASUS Chromebook Flip C302CA is a great introductory laptop for someone, or just a nice simple machine for casual use — or even just portable use, if you have a desktop with more oomph somewhere else.
Best laptop for creative types
If you’re more artistically inclined, particularly a digital artist, you need a computer that can match your artistic output. Ideally, that computer could also be portable, allowing you to work on graphic design or film editing projects on the go. This means looking at laptops with great graphics, solid storage and good computing power. Apple’s MacBook Pro, with touch bar and without, hits all of these points and more.
Apple has led the pack in being a great computer option for artists for years, and while other computers are catching up, the MacBook Pro is still the best option. With Retina display and True Tone technology in its 13-inch options giving you 2560 x 1600 pixel resolution, and which only improves in the 15-inch size and up, you won’t get much better graphics in a laptop form. Many artistic programs are Mac compatible, and available from Apple’s app store, so it’s easy to start creating on the device — and since it’s less than an inch thick and weighs just 3.02 pounds, you can do that creating from basically anywhere.
If you get the MacBook Pro with a touch bar included, you get a wonderful accessory that helps you operate certain apps more efficiently. You can more easily open tabs and save bookmarks in your web browser, and scroll through videos you have open or are streaming. It can help you take screenshots without having to remember keyboard shortcuts, and can let you select colors and tools in some drawing and editing programs. It also gives your computer Touch ID, which can really secure it against people using it that aren’t you.
The big downside to the MacBook Pro, particularly with the touch bar, is the price tag. The 13 inch model with the touch bar, 8GB of RAM, and 512GB of storage (you can customize the amount of RAM and storage your particular laptop has, they all come with an Intel Core i5 or i7 processor regardless) costs $1,899, and without the touch bar and with 256GB of storage it’s $1,499.
There’s also the issue of ports. MacBook Pros come with USB-C ports, 4 in the touch bar model, and 2 in the non-touch bar model. These ports won’t work with traditional USB chargers and connectors. You need to get adapters for the new ports, something else that adds to the price.
It’s an investment that pays off though, in that Apple computers are very reliable. You’re getting a great computer for that amount, and it’ll last you years. Adapters for the USB-C ports also aren’t very expensive, and you can charge your computer from any of the ports, which can simplify how and where you plug in. Plus, the USB-C ports are getting more popular, so soon more devices will be immediately compatible.
In the meantime, investing in some easy to find adapters lets you have a computer with a 10-hour battery life that’s perfect for the creative mind.
When it comes down to choosing between a tablet and a computer, you have trouble making that call. You want a touch screen, and a stylus for things like drawing and editing, but you also want decent computing power, the full versions of many apps and programs rather than the mobile and tablet ones, and an actual keyboard. Luckily for you, tablet/laptop hybrids exist, and you can get one of the best ones out there right now by getting the Surface Pro 6.
The Surface Pro 6 has the computing power of a laptop, with an Intel Core i5 or Intel Core i7 processor, but can also be used as a tablet with a 2,736 x 1,824 pixel display, and a ton of pressure sensitivity with the pen. With all day battery life and a weight of 1.7 pounds with the lightest processor, it’s pretty easy to carry around, and you can do so with or without a keyboard Type cover. The Type cover adds a bit of weight, but protects your Surface Pro’s screen as you travel, and it lets you have a full keyboard that’s pleasant to type on.
The Surface Pro 6, like its predecessors, comes with a built in kickstand so you can use it in multiple positions — as a tilted-back laptop screen, as a propped up studio for drawing, or flat for reading or tablet use — and the pen magnetizes to the device itself, so it’s difficult to lose.
Like the MacBook Pro, you can customize the Surface Pro 6, getting 8GB or 16GB of RAM, and 128GB, 256GB, or 1TB (an especially impressive amount) of storage on the computer. The Type cover comes in a variety of colors, as does the pen, so that’s another opportunity to customize. The Surface Pro has Windows 10 built into it, so the OS is pretty much set, but this is one of Microsoft’s more successful OS endeavors, so it’s definitely worth owning.
Laptop for gaming that still gets work done
For those of you that frequent Steam and Origin, you want a computer that can handle gaming. But, there’s a reason you don’t just invest in video game consoles — you also need a computer to get work done, and maybe even record your gameplay so you can share it online. Tasks like these require some serious computer power, and amazing graphics, and that can be hard to find in a portable laptop. But that laptop does exist, and the best one in 2018 is the MSI GS65 Stealth THIN.
With an anti-glare screen, a 15.6 inch display, and a NVIDIA GeForce GTX1060 6G GDDR5 graphics card, the MSI Stealth THIN is here to give you great visuals for a great gaming and computing experience. The laptop comes with 16GB of RAM, but can be upgraded to 32GB of RAM if you want, and can be purchased with 256GB, 512GB, or 1TB of storage.
With all that computing power, games run smooth as butter, and so do things like web browsing and word processing, which you might need to do in addition to your gaming. On top of that, the Stealth THIN is ultra thin, VR-ready, and the keyboard is customizable so it can light up in different colors per key. It’s a sleek, powerful, machine, and totally capable of capturing your screen and streaming it online.
The computer is heavier than most of the others on this list, coming in at 4.14 pounds. That might be inconvenient for those who need to travel outside with a computer often, but for those who mostly need to just move around the house to game or work in different spots, it’s a very usable weight.
There’s an option to set up your Stealth THIN with Expert help, but that option costs a little more. The computer comes with Windows 10 as its OS, so it’s at least a great choice that lets a majority of computer games be playable (Mac and Linux systems have more limited libraries), and it comes with all the Microsoft programs that are so great for working and organizing.
The lightest and brightest laptop
When it comes right down to it, what you really want is for your laptop to be incredibly portable. You’re constantly on the move, working in different locations, in different cities, and you always need to be able to work on your presentation, or to write, or to video call people back home. With all that traveling, you need something that’s lighter than air, but that can still handle your workload.
Look no further than the Dell XPS 13 Ultrabook. With a 13-inch screen, this laptop weighs just 2.67 pounds, a little more than the Surface Pro 6, but it’s still slimmer — the computer is just 0.3 inches tall. This lets the laptop be stored in all sorts of bags and compartments, and be almost like carrying nothing at all.
This Ultrabook features a 15-hour battery life, another handy thing to have on the road, and it doesn’t have to just sit in your lap to be used. The hinge of the screen can be bent around, allowing you to set up the laptop upside down, which, with the InfinityEdge display giving the computer almost no border, can be quite striking as an impromptu display. The computer also has touch-screen capabilities, making it a bit like a tablet, and further making it good for displays, and you can even get a Dell Active Pen to use on the screen as well for drawing and writing purposes.
This being the smallest 13-inch computer on the market, it does have fewer ports than other laptops. It has 3 USB-C ports, as well as a headphone jack, and that’s it. So much like you have to do with the MacBook Pro, you need to get USB-C adapters to use some of your current tech with this computer, something that might be annoying when you’re looking for something easy to use on the go. But many devices don’t need to communicate with a computer today anyway. Just invest in a USB-C to HDMI cable for presentation purposes, and do your best not to lose it on your journeys.
Get the laptop that’s best for you
All of the laptops we have here are great options for you, or for a loved one that needs a new computer. You just have to know what you’re looking for, and you can find some great options — like the 5 laptops we think are the best to get in 2018.
The year may be over soon, but these machines will still be great weeks and months from now. The holiday deals might end soon though, so make sure you click through on the laptop you like best, and enjoy the perfect device for you in 2018 and beyond!