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Best Gaming Laptops 2023: Beginners and Gamers How To Find The Right Gaming Laptops
Budget: If you are a gaming freak, you can end up spending anywhere between $800 to $5,000 on a system depending on your lifestyle, budget, and passion for the games you want to play.
“Tip: We suggest, if you are going for a gaming laptop, you should always look for a high-end configuration rather than settling for less. You can play low-end titles like Candy Crush with a regular one but what if you change your game? I am sure you are not going to change the laptop for your new game.”
Graphics: The most powerful and renowned name in graphics is Nvidia’s RTX 2080. If this doesn’t fit into your pocket, you may also look for older versions of Nvidia models such as GTX 1050 for a good frame rate. If you want to use a VR, don’t settle for anything lesser than GTX 1060. You also need to be sure that you know how to check your VRAM.
RAM: When it comes to gaming or multitasking we should use a minimum of 8GB to 32GB of RAM for an uninterrupted performance.
“Tip: One should always avoid touch screen laptops for gaming as they are much expensive and drain the battery much faster.”
Refresh Rate: One should always get a laptop with a minimum of 60-Hertz refresh rate and up to a millisecond response time to cut down on input lag and ensure smoother images.
Screen Size: Generally for gaming, people use a high-end laptop with 17 or 18-inch screen however some 15-inch laptops comes with serious muscle and solves the purpose. High-end laptops are hard to carry and handle while on the other hand, few portable 13- and 14-inch models are also available with gaming versions which are easy to carry though lacks higher-end components.
“Tip: If you want to make an online purchase for some hefty discounts, ensure that you go and try the laptop, its keyboard and console on a local store before you buy one.”Top 5 Gaming Laptops in Budget
Product Razer Blade 15 Advanced Model – 2023 Alienware Area-51m MSI GS65 Stealth – 2023 Lenovo Legion Y740 (17-Inch) Acer Predator Triton 500
Lowest Price $2,399.99 $1,932.00 $1,999.00 $2,299.99 $2,499.99
Best For Hardcore Gamers, Travelers Hardcore Gamers Style-Conscious Gamers, Travelers Hardcore Gamers Hardcore Gamers
Platform Windows 10 Windows 10 Windows 10 Windows 10 Windows 10
Processor Name Intel Core i7-8750H Intel Core i9-9900K Intel Core i7-9750H Intel Core i7-8750H Intel Core i7-8750H
Processor Speed 2.2 GHz 3.6 GHz 2.6 GHz 2.2 GHz 2.2 GHz
RAM 16 GB 32 GB 16 GB 16 GB 16 GB
Graphics Card Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 (Max-Q) Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Ti Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 (Max-Q) Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 (Max-Q)
Storage Capacity 512 GB 2 TB 512 GB 1.25 TB 512 GB
Screen Size 15.6 inches 17 inches 15.6 inches 17.3 inches 15.6 inches
Resolution 1920 x 1080 1920 x 1080 1920 x 1080 1920 x 1080 1920 x 1080
Weight 4.63 lb 9 lb 4.39 lb 6.4 lb 4.6 lb
Battery Rundown 6:03 2:06 7:11 3:30 2:47
Read Review Razer Blade 15 Advanced Model – 2023 Alienware Area-51m MSI GS65 Stealth – 2023 Lenovo Legion Y740 (17-Inch) Acer Predator Triton 500
Buy NowCategory Wise Options
Best 17-inch gaming laptop – MSI GS75 Stealth – $ 2,999.00
Best 15-inch gaming laptop – Razor Blade 15 – $2,124.99
Best budget gaming laptop – Dell G3 15 Gaming Laptop – $752.55
Best Price-Not-An-Issue gaming laptop – Alienware 17 R5 – $4,999.00Wrapping Up
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HP’s Pavilion Gaming Laptops are jumping straight into a massive, multiplayer battle royale, as PC vendors vie for mainstream gamers’ money. The Pavilion Gaming line, announced Wednesday, is due to ship in late May or early June (and also includes desktops). It closely follows the Dell G series competition announced April 3 and shipping later this month. Meanwhile, Lenovo’s Legion gaming line and Acer’s Nitro affordable gaming PCs are already on the field.HP Pavilion Gaming Laptop prices and features
The Pavilion Gaming Laptop’s angled corners have large vents chiseled into them.
HP’s Pavilion Gaming Laptops start off with just one 15.6-inch laptop form factor, and many possible configurations.
For the $799 starting price you get an Intel Core i5-8300H CPU with 8GB RAM, and a 15.6-inch, 1920×1080 display. The storage has two upsides: the 1TB hard drive runs at 7,200rpm, when we’re seeing a lot more 5,400rpm drives in this price range. A 16GB Intel Optane Memory module provides fast cache to make the drive feel a lot faster. On the other hand, the AMD Radeon RX 560X discrete GPU is a bit less powerful than the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050s you’ll find on similarly priced models.
HP does better at the $909 price point: You get the same Intel Core i5-8300H CPU with 8GB RAM, but graphics graduates to a GTX 1050 Ti. Storage remains generous compared to the competition: a 1TB, 5,400rpm hard drive for files, plus a 128GB SSD to speed up your OS and applications.
Backlighting choices include Ghost White, Ultraviolet, and Acid Green (shown).
If your budget stretches to $1,000, you have a few new choices. The $1,019 configuration of the Pavilion Gaming Laptop comes with Intel’s faster Core i5-8750H and 8GB of RAM. The GTX 1050 Ti remains, but HP upgrades the display from 60Hz standard to a zippy 144Hz refresh rate. Storage returns to a 1TB, 7,200rpm HDD and 16GB of Intel Optane Memory, but that display could be a worthwhile tradeoff. There’s also a 4K display option, but that component will eat your battery life.Gaming-friendly details
The keyboard deck is made of durable aluminum so you can bang on it a bit during intensive gameplay.
To HP’s credit, the company sweated some details in the Pavilion Gaming Laptop’s design. The chassis color is a simple black, but you can choose a backlight color: Ghost White, Acid Green, or Ultraviolet. The display has narrow bezels to maximise screen space. The keyboard’s not mechanical, but an aluminum keyboard deck adds durability in case you’re the type to take things out on your computer when the game’s not going your way. The speaker grille runs above the keyboard to maximize sound output, the better to immerse yourself in gameplay.
Shop for a mainstream gaming PC, and you’ll quickly find a bunch of very similar competitors jostling around certain, sweet price ranges. The HP Pavilion Gaming Laptops jump right into the fray, with their own share of good points and nice details compared to rivals. I’d say the storage options deserve the most credit for carefully balancing speed and capacity. We’ll tell you more if we have a chance to review it.
Gaming laptops are so good now you’ll wonder why you bothered with a big clunky desktop system or underpowered console in the first place. Add the money you’ve saved from not buying those things to your regular laptop budget, and you’re set.
We’ve spent an unhealthy amount of time on Amazon racking our brains about which machine offers the best laptop gaming experience for no more than $2000. After lots of coffee and dreams about GPUs, here’s what we found.
Table of ContentsWhat to Look For in a $2000 Gaming Laptop
With a budget of up to $2000, you’re right in the price-to-performance sweet spot for gaming laptops. In this price bracket, you can access some of the fastest available laptop CPUs and GPUs, but you’ll still have to make some compromises in build quality or some features that aren’t directly related to performance.
Our criteria for laptops in this price range aren’t complicated. At the time of writing, NVIDIA has just released its first 40-series GPUs, so there is a bit of confusion about whether gamers should go for discounted last-generation laptops or these new shiny systems. We’ve included great laptops from both generations, although it’s usually better to go with newer systems when possible. However, the state of the computer market being what it is, you’re likely to have a hard time finding the latest laptops in stock, so we’ve gone for a mix of new and slightly older machines that might be easier to buy.
Our strategy at this price point is to select laptops with the best possible performance components while accepting small sacrifices in areas such as build quality, screen specifications, or other irrelevant gaming factors. Each laptop has a slightly different purpose, but that’s the main thrust of our filter. We want something that can handle demanding games and stay relevant for some time.
We’re not considering laptops under $1500, but we have a dedicated review roundup for the best gaming laptops under $1500 if that’s a price tag you find more agreeable. For the most affordable options, head to our best budget gaming laptop roundup. If you’re not looking for a laptop in particular and want to know about the budget options, we also have a roundup of the best gaming systems under $1000.The Best Gaming Laptop Under $2000: ASUS ROG Strix G16 (2023)
This is the latest ROG (Republic of Gamers) Strix G16 at the time of writing and comes in at exactly our upper budget limit. You can donate the 1c of change to a charity of your choice.
This is a high-performance machine that’s geared toward gamers and power users. It comes with Windows 11, a 13th Gen Intel Core i9-13980HX processor, and an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4070 Laptop graphics card at 140W Max TGP, which delivers impressive frame rates for gaming and multitasking. This is about as good as it gets at this price point, and really you might be getting a taste of more expensive laptops here with this visual design.
The Strix G16 has a fast FHD 165Hz refresh rate panel with 100% sRGB color space coverage, Dolby Vision, Adaptive-Sync support, and a thin bezel 90% screen-to-body ratio offers a great gaming and viewing experience. QHD would have been nice, but at least you won’t have issues hitting that 165Hz high refresh rate.
Between its solid cutting-edge specs and Cyberpunk-inspired design, this laptop is at the top of our wishlist for this budget segment if you can find one!Last Year’s High-end: Asus ROG Zephyrus G15
The NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 8GB GDDR6 and ROG Boost up to 1345MHz at 80W (100W with Dynamic Boost 2.0) means plenty of gaming performance at the screen’s native resolution and medium-detail 4K gaming if you hook it up to an external display. The AMD Ryzen 9 5900HS processor and 16M Cache offer plenty of power for multitasking, despite being a slightly older generation of AMD CPU.
The 15.6” 165Hz IPS-Type Quad HD display with adaptive sync is a nice touch, offering sharp visuals. That said, some reviewers think this panel isn’t as vibrant and colorful as it could be.
The 16GB 3200MHz DDR4 RAM and 1TB PCIe NVMe M.2 SSD provide ample storage and memory, although new laptops are moving to DDR5 now, and 32GB should be on everyone’s medium-term upgrade list. The new memory standard isn’t worth the cost right now, but some future applications may benefit more from DDR5, so if you want to buy a laptop to use for an extended period, you might want to look for something newer in this roundup.
The main “problem” with this laptop is the RTX 3080 GPU. At this wattage, it won’t perform any better than an RTX 3070 Ti. So you’re better off buying the version of this laptop with the GPU model one tier down. Unfortunately, we couldn’t find any in stock as we wrote this. However, the 3080-equipped model is still a great deal in isolation at this price, so we still recommend it. Just note that this laptop has no webcam! Would you even notice?That Alienware Magic: Alienware m15 R7
Alienware has quite the reputation for gaming laptops that have great specs and performance and bring something different to the design department.
The Alienware m15 R7 is equipped with a crisp QHD (2560×1440) 240Hz display, and the AMD Ryzen 9 6900HX processor and 32GB DDR5 RAM should be plenty for even the most demanding non-gaming tasks.
With 170W of total power available, its 3070 Ti might not get to stretch its legs as much as with larger laptops, but it should be more than enough for QHD gaming at up to ultra settings depending on the game.
The updated Cryo-tech cooling system and hexagonal-shaped vents help to maintain performance by maximizing air movement and dissipating heat during high-performance tasks. This helps to keep the laptop cool even during long gaming sessions. This also plays into Alienware’s signature style, and we think it looks fantastic, but that’s highly subjective.The Dark Horse Option: Lenovo Legion 5 Pro
Lenovo is better known for making retro-styled ThinkPad laptops, but its Legion line of gaming laptops has slowly been building a reputation for performance at a fair price.
The Lenovo Legion 5 Pro 16″ boasts some impressive specs for the money. Its WQXGA (2560×1600) 165Hz display delivers vibrant visuals with remarkable clarity and offers that golden 16:10 aspect ratio to make this a great machine for gamers who also do creative work. The NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070 Ti 8 GB GPU offers more than enough power to run modern games at the panel’s native resolution, and don’t forget that most new big games have DLSS support.
The Lenovo Legion 5 Pro comes with 32GB of fast DDR5 4800 MHz RAM and a 1TB SSD, allowing faster performance for memory-hungry applications and multitasking. It may not yet be one of the go-to laptop gaming brands, but you’d be making a mistake if you overlook the Legion 5 just because it’s not established in the gaming laptop space yet.Business in the Front, Party in the Back: MSI Stealth 15
MSI makes various gaming laptops, including its enormous desktop-killer Titan series and the uber-gamer Raider series. Its Stealth laptops are the antithesis of those machines, packing serious gaming hardware into an understated chassis that wouldn’t draw any attention in the boardroom.
This 15.6″ FHD 144Hz Gaming Laptop has no trouble living a double life. The 13th Gen. Intel Core i7 processor offers reliable performance for gameplay, multitasking work, and productivity. Depending on your needs, you may want to opt for the QHD option, although that will push the laptop’s price well over our budget limit here. The good news is that with an RTX 4060 mobile chip in play, you’ll have no trouble hitting the 144Hz limit of the panel at 1080p.
The laptop has USB Type C and DDR5 memory, which you’d expect in an up-to-date 2023 machine, but sadly no Thunderbolt 4 connectivity. MSI’s latest Cooler Boost Trinity+ cooling system includes 3 fans, 7 pipes, and (they claim) the world’s thinnest 0.1mm fan blades, which help to ensure optimal thermal dissipation. In a thin-and-light gaming laptop like this, noise and thermals are always a central issue, but based on user reviews, it seems like whatever MSI is doing here is keeping noise at bay. Although the laptop does get quite hot by all accounts.
One minor issue is that when using this laptop for non-gaming purposes, such as watching videos or browsing the web, it is just short of six hours. That should be fine for most people’s mixed usage, but if you need more battery life than that, you’ll have to look elsewhere. Gaming on battery power is just as pointless here as on any modern gaming laptop.
If you don’t care about portability and live for that gamer aesthetic, there are better choices than the Stealth 15, but if you want a single laptop that can be used for work, play, and any creative hobbies you may have, it’s a killer machine. However, you may also want to consider a Razer Blade if you have more to spend.
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Written By Brandon Russell
Published Apr 15, 2023 6:00 AMHow we picked the best laptops for photo editing
I have over five years of experience editing photos, and more than 10 years of experience reviewing consumer electronics for websites like Popular Science, TechnoBuffalo, XDA Developers, and more. I’ve owned a ridiculous number of cameras over the years and I don’t go anywhere without one around my neck (preferably a Fujifilm X100v).
For this roundup, I pulled from my own experience editing photos and also consulted photographers who write for our sister site Pop Photo. I also looked at editorial reviews, user impressions, and forums from around the industry to gain more perspective on the features photographers value most in a laptop.Things to consider before buying a laptop for photo editing
To find the best laptops for photo editing, we prioritized a number of criteria, some of which are broadly important, while others cater specifically to photographers and other creatives. At the top of our list are performance, screen resolution, and battery life. These features allow photographers to perform their best work without the hardware and software getting in the way. We also considered weight and design, connectivity, and price. Your top pick will depend on your own workflow, but these are the main features to look out for when shopping for a laptop for photo editing.Performance
Editing photos requires ample processing power, especially if you’re editing multiple RAW files, which many photographers prefer over JPEGs for their abundance of image data and editability. We looked at laptops with higher CPU performance, which can be measured in clock speed (GHz), and the number of cores it contains. Most modern laptops marketed to creators come with 10th Generation Intel Core i5 and i7 processors, which can offer 6 or 8 processor cores.
We also looked at Apple’s lineup of laptops that contain its M-series chip, which can offer up to 10 processor cores. The higher the clock speed and the more processor cores you have at your disposal, the better your laptop will be at performing intensive tasks. The amount of RAM also makes a difference, because it provides applications with a place to store and access data on a short-term basis and can directly impact how fast a computer feels. Finally, a good GPU, like an Nvidia GTX or RTX card, will help the CPU during graphics processing.Display
A high-resolution display with good color accuracy is critical for photographers who want their photos to look as close to real-life as possible. You’re going to be staring at your screen for extended periods of time, so you want that high-resolution display to give enough room for an editing software’s interface along with a big version of the image itself. We recommend laptops with a resolution of 3840 x 2160, or 4K, and a screen that’s 13 inches and above. Screens smaller than that can feel very cramped.
As for color accuracy, you want a screen that covers 99% to 100% of the sRGB color gamut. Some laptops take a step beyond this with support for DCI-P3, which offers 26% more color space than sRGB. This means DCI-P3 offers a greater range of colors for a more saturated and vibrant image.Weight and design
Looks aren’t everything, but a laptop with a design that’s thin and light will be easier to carry with you in the field. We looked for laptops that offer great performance but are under 5 pounds and around half an inch thick, give or take. We also took screen size into consideration. Anything under 13 inches is too small for longer editing sessions, while screens that are 17 inches feel a bit too large to constantly haul around. Of course, your preferences might differ from ours but, in general, we feel like a good middle ground for a laptop is roughly 3 to 5 pounds with a screen size between 13 and 16 inches.Connectivity
Photographers carry around a lot of accessories, from external hard drives to CF cards. Laptops that offer a variety of connectivity options allow photographers to connect peripherals, back up their images, and more—ideally without annoying dongles. That means having high bandwidth ports like Thunderbolt/USB-C for quickly importing and exporting files, and an HDMI port to connect your laptop to an external display (and don’t forget the HDMI cables). It’s also nice when laptops have a CF card reader built in—something that disappeared briefly in some circles in the tech industry.Battery life
While laptops are getting thinner and more powerful, one of the first things to take a hit is battery life. That means you’ll have to monitor your usage when you’re not near a power outlet. The laptops on our list should generally last you a full workday, but if you’re out in the field processing hundreds of RAW files, your battery could drain very quickly. If battery life is your biggest concern, larger laptops typically come equipped with larger batteries, but the tradeoff is typically a heavier machine.Price
Laptops designed for creatives are generally more expensive than something you’d use to write term papers and browse the web. If that’s more your speed, you should check out an ultrabook, which is thinner, lighter, and less powerful than laptops designed for creative work. You get what you pay for, as they say, and a pro laptop has increased performance, screen resolution, and port selection. Most high-end laptops start around $1,500 and can be more than $3,000. Prices can quickly climb if you upgrade things like RAM and internal storage. Some companies also give you the option to upgrade a laptop’s screen resolution and technology.
As you’re doing your research, you should ask yourself how serious you are as a photographer. Do you consider yourself a hobbyist who will occasionally edit photos? If so, you might not need 32GB of RAM and 1TB of storage—a base pro model will likely suffice. If you plan to edit thousands of RAW images, spending the extra cash on upgrades will be worthwhile thanks to the time it will save you.
A laptop in the $1,500 to $1,800 should provide plenty of power for hobbyist photographers who do light editing. If price is a real concern, I would recommend upgrading RAM but going with a lower storage option. Your computer will last longer and keep up with the demands of modern applications. You can always purchase an external hard drive, which tends to be less expensive than upgrading a laptop’s internal storage.The best laptops for photo editing: Reviews & Recommendations
RAW images can be as big as 200MB—and even larger if you own a medium-format camera—which can quickly push a high-end laptop to its limits. That’s why your next laptop needs a powerful processor, plenty of RAM, and the right ports. It’s also nice to have a high-resolution display, so you can see every detail in the images you’re editing. Depending on your needs, you may not want to upgrade to the highest possible RAM your machine supports, but with photo editing software requiring more powerful minimum specs, paying a little extra could be worth it in the long run.
Why it made the cut: Apple’s newest MacBook Pro offers excellent performance, battery life, and a variety of ports.
Processor: Apple M1 Pro or M1 Max
GPU: Apple M1 Pro or M1 Max
RAM: Up to 64GB
Storage: Up to 8TB
Screen size: 16 inches
Screen resolution: 3456 x 2234
Long-lasting battery life
Apple’s 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models come equipped with the latest Apple M1 silicon, which integrates the system memory with other components, including the CPU, GPU, and neural engine. This results in an efficient, seamless experience between Apple’s hardware and software, and provides users with desktop-like performance and fantastic battery life.
Apple’s newest MacBook Pro models also bring back the ports that creators actually use, like the SD card reader and HDMI port. The high-resolution screen features Mini-Led backlighting, can achieve a peak brightness of 1600 nits, and supports the P3 color gamut, so you can get your images looking exactly right in post-production. We recommend the 16-inch model with M1 Pro for editing photos because it offers the best balance of performance, features, and price; the M1 Max is a nice bump in power, but better suited for people who do a lot of video editing.Best portable: MacBook Air with M1
Why it made the cut: The MacBook Air with M1 chip is the perfect blend of performance and portability.
Processor: Apple M1
GPU: Apple M1
RAM: Up to 16GB
Storage: Up to 2TB
Screen size: 13.3 inches
Screen resolution: 1680 x 11050
Fantastic battery life
Lacks SD card reader and HDMI port
The MacBook Air may not have “pro” in its name, but it still offers plenty of power thanks to Apple’s M1 chip (you can check out our Air vs. Pro comparison for more head-to-head details). Even the base model is good enough for light photo editing, and its thinner design makes it easy to haul around. The battery also lasts long enough that you won’t need to worry about a charger when you’re on location.
While there’s a lot to like about the MacBook Air, there are a few downsides. It doesn’t include an SD card reader or HDMI port—features that are only found in the Pro model. Luckily, there are plenty of USB-C hubs and adapters available, so connecting your accessories shouldn’t be a huge problem. If you need a little more oomph, the 13-inch MacBook Pro offers basically the same hardware with the addition of a fan-based cooling system, which helps boost performance during long editing sessions. It doesn’t add much bulk or cost.Best Windows laptop: Dell XPS 15
Why it made the cut: The Dell XPS 15 offers great all-around performance that continues to be one of the best Windows laptops money can buy.
Processor: Intel Core
GPU: Nvidia RTX
RAM: Up to 64GB
Storage: Up to 2TB
Screen size: 15.6 inches
Screen resolution: 3456 x 2160
Gorgeous OLED display
Ample upgrade options
No HDMI port
The Dell XPS 15 sports a gorgeous 15-inch 3.5K OLED display with a resolution of 3456 x 2160 and a 16:10 aspect ratio (check out our TV screen tech primer for more on why OLED impresses). The taller screen gives users a bit more space to get work done, and the minimal bezel eliminates distractions. The cherry on top: The XPS 15’s display is 100% AdobeRGB, so colors look rich, saturated, and accurate.
There are a few different versions to configure with 12- or 14-core Intel processors, and you can upgrade the RAM all the way up to 64GB, which is more than enough for editing a large batch of images. The laptop also includes an SD card reader and three Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C ports. This has been one of the top models for several generational refreshes now. Dell has figured out what works and stuck with it, which we’re glad about.Best rugged: Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme
Processor: Intel Core
GPU: Nvidia RTX
RAM: Up to 64 GB
Storage: Up to 2 TB
Screen size: 15.6 inches
Screen resolution: 3840 x 2400
Beautiful 4K display
Thicker designBest 2-in-1: HP Spectre x360 15
Why it made the cut: The HP Spectre x360 15 takes hybrid work to a whole new level.
Processor: Intel Core
GPU: Intel Iris Xe
RAM: Up to 16 GB
Storage: Up to 1 TB
Screen size: 15.6 inches
Screen resolution: 3840 x 2140
Limited to 16GB of RAM
Featuring an Intel Core i7 processor, 16GB of RAM, and a 15.6-inch 4K display, the HP Spectre x360 would be great even if it was a typical clamshell laptop. But HP went the extra step by turning the Spectre X360 into a laptop/tablet hybrid that comes with a stylus. The stylus features 1024 levels of pressure and supports the Microsoft Pen Protocol (MPP), so you can use it with other Windows devices that also support MPP. The 2-in-1 design makes it easy to get precise with your edits when tweaking colors and boosting shadows; there’s something about editing photos with touch that makes it feel more immediate.FAQs Q: Should I buy a Mac or Windows laptop?
If you’re already tied to a particular platform, you should stick with the one you already use. Neither Mac or Windows is necessarily better for editing photos and both have access to the most popular apps and services. For example, Lightroom, one of the most widely used services for editing photos, is available on Mac and Windows. In the rare situation when there is an app exclusively on one platform, you can likely find an alternative for the other platform that’s just as good. Personally, I would recommend an Apple laptop. Not only has the company worked to optimize the hardware and software of its newest machines, but if there’s an Apple Store nearby, you can make an appointment to get it fixed—something that’s harder to do if you own a Windows laptop.Q: Is 32GB of RAM overkill for photo editing?
Popular photo editing software continually adds features, which can increase the power it requires to run smoothly. As a result, faster processors and more RAM are necessary to run big programs. Lightroom requires a minimum of 8GB of RAM to run but recommends 16GB of RAM for the best performance. These requirements will likely increase at some point, and while you may not need 32GB of RAM right now to edit photos, you may need it in the future. If you plan to edit a large volume of RAW files, having more RAM will make a big difference to how quickly you can process, edit, and export photos. For people who make a living shooting weddings, upgrading to more RAM will make a big difference.Q: What processor is best for photo editing?
There’s no “best” processor when editing photos, but the most popular photo editing programs do have minimum and recommended requirements. At the very least, you need a processor that includes 64-bit support and a clock speed of 2GHz. Like we mentioned earlier, you should look out for a laptop with six or eight processor cores. These will ensure you get the performance you need without generating too much heat and eating up too much battery. Intel, AMD, and Apple make powerful CPUs that can deliver the performance needed to edit photos.A final word about the best laptops for photo editing
The best laptops for photo editing should offer a blend of performance, screen resolution, and battery life. The choices on our list offer plenty of power and color-accurate screens—features that will help photographers get the most out of their images. At the end of the day, no specific laptop will make you a better editor or photographer—that comes with practice. But the one you choose will keep up with your workflow and the demands of modern software.
We’ve carefully examined the best back-to-school deals on tech gear from online retailers like Amazon, Best Buy, Walmart, and more, with an eye for what devices students will want to take with them to college, high school, and more. We’ve taken what we’ve learned from our extensive laptop reviews, dissected the ongoing back-to-school sales, and will tell you what we recommend, and why.Best back-to-school laptop deals
Our back-to-school laptop deals focus mainly on productivity, tending towards 1080p or 1200p displays and long battery life for all-day studying. Consult our list of the best laptops and best laptops for college students for more ideas.
The Swift X discount isn’t profound, but the laptop won an Editor’s Choice award. Note that we’ve included two different versions; the more expensive model includes a faster processor and GPU, but comes with a substantial price premium. A student should be able to make do with the cheaper model.
Remember that the Surface Pro 8 (review) is last year’s model, as is the Surface Laptop 4. While that doesn’t matter that much, remember that the Surface Pro 8 is a tablet (and includes Thunderbolt) while the Surface Laptop 4 is Microsoft’s traditional laptop, and lacks Thunderbolt.
The Lenovo Yoga 7i is just a solid laptop at a solid value, and the little brother of the Yoga 9i.
Both of the HP deals are slightly iffy. HP’s Envy 2-in-1 has a cutting-edge processor, but the memory and storage are a little skimpy. That’s perfectly fine for a writing degree, but not for the hard sciences. (You can add storage with an external SSD and can upgrade the laptop memory with our how-to guide.) The HP 15, oddly enough, was on sale last year for back-to-school, and it’s a perfectly fine (but 2-year-old) laptop. Oh, and we’ve included a gaming laptop (don’t tell Dad!) just for fun.
Not sure whether to buy a laptop or a Chromebook? We can help.Best back-to-school Chromebook deals
We’ve picked the best back-to-school Chromebook deals for you. Don’t be afraid of buying an older Chromebook, but we’ve considered the trade-off between price and performance in our back-to-school recommendations. Want more ideas? Start with PCWorld’s list of the best Chromebooks.
College life generally runs on laptops and not Chromebooks. Chromebooks are still useful for elementary and even middle-school students, though, especially as secondary machines. If you can, prioritize a 1080p screen, 8GB of RAM, and (if possible) a 1080p display when you buy a Chromebook. The Acer Chromebook 315 for $205 is a fantastic bargain, and some people don’t mind 4GB of RAM at all. Otherwise, we’d recommend that you buy either the second Acer Chromebook 315 for $279.99 or the Asus Flip C433, as they meet our spec requirements.
Right now, we’re seeing sharp cuts on a bargain-basement HP Chromebook at the top of our list, though the Acer 315 should provide good performance at an aggressive price. We’re not a huge fan of the Asus CX1500 deal, but the price is solid and the display is large and easy on the eyes. The N3350 is a 5-year-old processor and was discontinued last year, probably incenting the discount.
The Asus 16-inch Chromebook pushes into laptop-quality components at a price that enters cheap-laptop territory, too. You won’t have to worry about performance with this model, though.Best back-to-school MacBook deals
MacBook back-to-school sales just aren’t as pronounced as in Windows laptops, though Apple’s stock of older M1 hardware means you can buy an older MacBook at a surprisingly good price — for Apple, that is. That B&H deal, for example, is crazy but the company has continually been tweaking it to adjust the price and discount.
MacBooks rarely carry heavy discounts, unfortunately, so snap these up if you can.Best back-to-school iPad and tablet deals
If students need a tablet for when they go back to school, we think that these suggestions offer the best deals for now. We may see better deals as the season goes on.
Amazon has some small discounts available for back-to-school tablets. We’ve shied away from Amazon’s own Fire tablets only because students will need flexibility to add apps that they may use in school.Best back-to-school monitor deals
College dorm rooms and lecture halls don’t offer an enormous amount of space for additional monitors, so there aren’t as many back-to-school monitor deals as you otherwise might expect. Samsung, though, appears to be having a sale.
We’ve (mostly) emphasized 60Hz displays, with a mix of 1080p and 4K. We’ve included two gaming monitors, though, for those willing to spend a little more. Also consider a monitor mount for a dorm room: assuming a lack of desk space, mounting a display or two may maximize productivity. Just double-check the weight of each display you’re attaching, as the mounts have weight limits for what they can support.
For even more options, check out our daily monitor deals.FAQ
1.When do back-to-school sales begin?
Back-to-school sales have begun for 2023, in part because retailers cater to those parents who prep early. You can shop back-to-school sales at Amazon’s back-to-school page, Best Buy’s back-to-school page (catering to college students), Newegg’s back to school page, Target’s back-to-school page for kids’ electronics, and Walmart’s back-to-school page, too.
2.When will back-to-school sales end?
Retailers often won’t tell you when these sales end, though it’s likely they’ll be available into the first week of September. Students may go back to school and find they have the wrong equipment. Prices may change as retailer stock fluctuates.
We’d expect that retailers will try to hold on to their sales until possibly September, though expect the quality and quantity of back-to-school deals to diminish as retailers sell through their available inventory. Carpe diem… or maybe carpe deal. (Sorry.)
3.When are tax-free weekends scheduled?
Tax-free weekends are run by some U.S. states to encourage shopping, especially for items like back-to-school purchases that usually include computers. (Note: There are some price limits on certain purchases — in New Mexico, for example, PCs must be under $1,000 to qualify for the tax holiday.)
Five states—Alaska, Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire, and Oregon—never charge sales tax. We’ve listed the states that are scheduling tax-free weekends, as well as a link to the fine print. Virginia has cancelled their tax-free weekend for 2023.
For example, if you live in Arkansas and buy a laptop from Amazon on August 5, you won’t pay sales tax. There are some exceptions that vary by state: In New Mexico, retailers aren’t required to participate. Each state has different exemptions that apply to different products at different price ranges, and these discounts (generally) apply to national retailers. Check the details!
Alabama: July 21-July 23, at midnight. Details.
Arkansas: Aug. 5-Aug. 6, at midnight. Details.
Connecticut: Aug. 20-Aug. 26. Details.
Florida: July 24-Aug. 6. Details.
Iowa: Aug. 4- Aug. 5, at midnight. Details.
Maryland: Aug. 13-Aug. 19, at midnight. Details. (No electronics)
Massachusetts: Aug. 12-Aug. 13. Details.
Mississippi: July 28-July 39, at midnight. Details.
Missouri: Aug. 4-Aug. 6 at midnight. Details.
New Jersey: Aug. 26-Sept. 4. Details.
New Mexico: Aug. 5-Aug. 7, at midnight. Details.
Ohio: Aug. 4-Aug. 6, at midnight. Details. (No electronics)
Oklahoma: Aug. 5-Aug. 7 at midnight. Details. (Very limited.)
South Carolina: Aug. 4-Aug. 6, at midnight. Details.
Tennessee: Back-to-school tax-free weekend runs July 28-30 at midnight. Details.
Texas: Aug. 11-Aug. 13. Details. (No electronics)
4.PCs vs. Chromebooks: Which is better for school?
A Chromebook is better for school if your child will be working “online,” meaning in the classroom but on a website that’s authorized by the teacher. A PC is more useful if your child will be using apps, such as Minecraft for Education, or transitioning from elementary school to middle school, or from middle school to high school. The extra flexibility to run apps (and, yes, games) will be appreciated by your child. Colleges and universities almost always ask their students to bring PCs or Macs with them, so a laptop is most appropriate.
5.What should I look for in a monitor for dorm rooms?
Dorm rooms typically prioritize the efficient use of space, so laptops will be the most typical. Any way that you can use the extra space, though, is useful. A high-resolution display may mean that you can more effectively “fit” more information into the space with smaller fonts. But a monitor mount, like we’ve included in our list of monitors, can clamp on to a desk and allow for a second display, which vastly increases productivity and can also be used to stream video for friends, too. Our back-to-school list of monitors includes both cheap 1080p options as well as 4K displays and even gaming displays for after hours.
Additional reporting by Ashley Biancuzzo. Updated at 2:20 PM on July 21 with new deals.
Have you picked up your laptop lately? If it’s getting long in the tooth, it’s probably as heavy as it is slow. Fortunately there’s no better time to look for a more portable and modern machine than during the holidays. Even if you can’t find a year-end deal on the particular model that interests you, you’ll be able to impress family and friends when you whip out your new laptop at holiday gatherings.
Thanks to the performance and efficiency of Intel’s Core-branded processor platform, Ultrabooks are gradually gaining in popularity. These machines provide great performance and long battery life, despite weighing less than 4 pounds. They’re also a traveler’s best friend—slim and light, with quick boot times owing to built-in solid-state memory drives.
That said, if you need more raw power and are willing to compromise on portability, you can find plenty of great traditional laptops. These machines may weigh more, but they also carry larger screens, which are helpful in countless multitasking scenarios.
To help you with your purchasing decision, we’ve compiled a list of the best Ultrabooks and laptops available right now. PCWorld staffers test as many models as possible—and then we pass our experiences on to you.
Without further ado, let’s start with a look at our four favorite Ultrabooks, and then follow up with four great traditional laptops.Vizio CT15-A2 Vizio CT15-A2
The CT15-A2 is the 15.6-inch version of the 14-inch CT14-A2, which impressed us last August with its sleek, minimalist design. Though the 14-inch model is no longer available, you can pick up the 15.6-inch model for the same low price—despite its extra screen real estate.
The keys are shallow, but large and easy to locate even for the clumsiest fingers; and the accompanying touchpad supports multitouch gestures. Best of all, the CT15-A2 delivers strong performance at an affordable price. In our WorldBench 7 benchmarking gauntlet, it earned a mark of 81 for overall performance, keeping pace with some of the highest-rated Ultrabooks, at for a much lower cost. Read our full review of the 14-inch model here.
[$1199 for a 15.6-inch Ultrabook with a 1600-by-900-pixel display, a Core-i7 processor, and Windows 7]Asus Zenbook Prime UX31A
Asus Zenbook Prime UX31A
The UX31A upgrades last year’s UX31E with a new touchpad and an Intel Ivy Bridge CPU. It rivals other top-rated Ultrabooks in overall performance, and sports a beautiful full HD IPS display with an excellent antiglare filter to reduce annoying reflections.
The UX31A demolished our demanding WorldBench 7 benchmark suite with a score of 150, meaning that it was 50 percent faster than our baseline desktop system. When you factor in thoughtful extras such as an SD Card reader that supports the latest SDXC high-capacity cards, and a USB-to-ethernet adapter, the newest Zenbook prime is a home run. Read our full review here.
[$1449 for a 13.3-inch Ultrabook with a 1600-by-900-pixel display, Core i7-3517u processor, and Windows 7]Acer Aspire S7-391
Acer Aspire S7-391
The Aspire S7-391 offers solid performance, despite weighing a mere 2.8 pounds. Couple its light weight with a svelte chassis that is just 11.9mm wide and yet is demonstrably rigid, and you have an Ultrabook that could double as a ninja star.
This Windows 8 machine features a 13.3-inch touchscreen covered in Gorilla Glass 2, a pair of 128GB SSDs in RAID 0, and a Core i7-3517U processor. The S7 achieved a score of 72 on our brand-new WorldBench 8 benchmark suite (which is expressly designed for Windows 8). Read our full review here.
[$1649 for a 13.3-inch Ultrabook with a 1920-by-1080-pixel display, a Core i7-3517U processor, and Windows 8]Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 13
Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 13
The aptly named Yoga 13 is the most flexible machine we’ve seen. It bends, swivels, and downward-dogs to perform dual duty as both a Windows 8 tablet and Ultrabook.
The keyboard, trackpad and bezel-less 13-inch multitouch screen are all top-notch and comfortable to use, making Microsoft’s new OS easy to navigate by touch, keyboard, or mouse. Lenovo managed to squeeze an Intel Core i5-3317U CPU, 4GB of RAM, and a 128GB SSD into the Yoga, which achieved an overall mark of 60 on our new WorldBench 8 benchmark suite. Whether you need a laptop or a tablet—or maybe just something to prop up and watch a movie on—the economically priced Yoga 13 won’t disappoint you. Read our full review here.
[$1099 for a 13-inch Ultrabook with a 1600-by-900-pixel display, a Core i5-3317U processor, and Windows 8]
That’s the Ultrabook story. If you’re looking for stronger performance, though, and are willing to surrender some portability, consider a traditional laptop. We name our favorites after the jump!
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