If you’re looking for the best laptops, Windows is probably your operating system of choice because of its dominant market share. According to StatCounter, Windows accounts for 75.1% of the desktop (and laptop) market as of November 2022, followed by macOS at 15.6%. On the other hand, Linux (2.77%) and Chrome OS (2.48%) are still stuck in the single digits.
Windows dominates the PC operating system market thanks to its long history of availability on a wide range of OEM (and most recently Microsoft) hardware. This led to a wide variety of software being written for the platform. That doesn’t necessarily make it the “best” OS, but you need to have a good reason to ignore it in favor of macOS, Chrome OS, or Linux.
Dell XPS 15
When ZDNET reviewed Dell’s XPS 15 in 2020, we described it as “the new benchmark for 15.6-inch laptops,” while calling the 2021 model “the standard by which other laptops are measured.” It’s pricey, but you get a solid industrial design and flexible configuration options that can be customized for a variety of use cases.
The $1,449 entry-level configuration features a 12th-gen Core i5 processor with integrated Intel UHD Graphics, 8GB of RAM, a 512GB PCIe SSD, and an FHD+ (1920 x 1200) non-touch InFinity Edge display with 500 nits of brightness. At the high end of the scale, you can spend $4,674 for a Core i9-12900HK processor, a discrete GeForce RTX 3050 Ti GPU, 4GB of dedicated video memory, 64GB of RAM, 8TB of SSD storage, and a UHD+ (3840 x 2400 ) touch display with maximum brightness for 500 nits. There’s also a 3.5K (3456 x 2160) OLED touchscreen option with 400 nits of brightness for the same price as the UHD+ display.
Dell XPS 13
The Dell XPS 13 has always been a favorite for its size, weight and performance, as well as its overall aesthetics. In 2020, Dell made laptops smaller, with bigger screens, and improved performance for CPU- and graphics-intensive tasks. In 2022, the XPS 13 gets smaller and lighter, keeps its starting price at $999, and introduces the latest 12th-generation Intel processors.
We found it to be reasonably priced and have great battery life, albeit underpowered. Remember, if you’re looking to save money, the 2021 XPS 13 with 11th-gen Intel chips is available for less right now. Read our Dell XPS 13 review.
Acer Swift 3
This 14-inch laptop features an AMD Ryzen or Intel Core processor, a wider screen than a 13-inch laptop, and is still surprisingly light—under 3 pounds. The larger display is also nice, covering 100 percent of the sRGB color space (better than is usually the case with sub-$700 starting prices). It also has a backlit keyboard, a fingerprint reader, and USB Type-C and HDMI ports. A 2022 version of the Swift 3 with a 12th-generation Intel Core i-series CPU can be had for less than $1,000. But the 2021 model still sells for around $600. Read our Acer Swift 3 (14-inch, 2020) review.
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10
Lenovo’s 14-inch ThinkPad X1 Carbon has set the benchmark for business laptops, and the latest 10th-gen model offers 12th-gen Intel Core processors, OLED screen options, Wi-Fi 6E (supports 6GHz), and a 1080p webcam. In addition to these features, you also get a compact, lightweight and durable design, a variety of ports including Thunderbolt 4 and HDMI, and optional LTE or 5G mobile broadband.
The keyboard is as good as you’d expect from a ThinkPad, and the Dolby Atmos four-speaker system delivers excellent sound quality for a midsize laptop. The ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10 delivers flawless performance running mainstream productivity apps and less demanding games, but its integrated GPU rules out more serious graphics-intensive workloads. Battery life is probably the main downside of this great laptop, and you might struggle to get through an 8-hour day without a plug. It also lacks an SD or MicroSD card slot.
Dell XPS 13
Knowledge workers spend a lot of time staring at screens and typing, mostly running various productivity and collaboration applications. In addition to a decent screen and keyboard, knowledge workers need all-round performance, a spare port for an external display (if needed), and a good webcam/mic/speaker combo for handling video calls This is especially important when working). Many devices can get the job done, but we think the Dell XPS 13 leads the pack in this area.
Compact, lightweight and durable, the 2022 (9315) model is powered by a 12th Gen Intel Core i5 or i7 processor with integrated Intel Iris Xe graphics. The minimal bezel InfinityEdge display offers 16:10 FHD+ resolution and 500 nits of brightness (with or without touch), while the keyboard is responsive and uncluttered. This model lacks a 3.5mm audio jack, but it does include a USB-C adapter in the box. Performance is decent for normal productivity workloads, and with the 51 Wh battery, you should be able to achieve a full day of battery life depending on the workload mix and screen brightness settings.