Desktops

Best Laptops for Every Budget

During the holiday season, you might find yourself stressing over which is the best laptop to gift that special someone in your life. The selection is so vast, it's hard to break them all down—even when that special someone is you. (Hey, no judgment here.)

So, to help you make the right choice, we've put together a list of options at various price points. All come recommended by our testers. Feel free to pick the one that best fits your budget.

Go to Consumer Reports' 2016 Holiday Gift Guide for updates on deals, expert product reviews, insider tips on shopping, and much more. Be sure to check our Daily Gift Guide, and sign up to get an e-newsletter with top picks, trusted product reviews, and the latest news from CR.

Asus VivoBook E200HA-US01

At roughly $200, this Asus is a steal. It has Microsoft's latest operating system (Windows 10 Home) pre-installed and a battery life that stretches to more than 15 hours. And, with 2 GB of RAM, it has enough memory for browsing the web, posting on social media, and streaming movies.

But there are a few caveats. If you're looking to do a lot of gaming or to use task-heavy software like Photoshop, it's probably best to keep looking. And, with only 32 GB of storage, you may need to resort to flash drives or a service like Dropbox to archive your files.

Microsoft Surface 3

The Microsoft Surface line is all about delivering the best of two worlds to those who want a laptop and a tablet. With this third-generation 2-in-1 model, the manufacturer provides a lot of value at a nice price.

Thin and light, the 10.8-inch 4G-capable computer has an excellent display with a built-in kickstand. The full-fledged Windows operating system is a step up from what you'll find in a comparably-priced Windows RT or a Chromebook. And the battery lasts a good 10 hours.

The stylus and keyboard cover will cost you extra. But, hey, you can always pick those up during the post-holiday sales.

HP Spectre x360 13t

This 13.3-inch convertible notebook has a lot of power under the hood. Thin and light (2.8 pounds), with a battery life of over 20 hours, it can follow you anywhere. And the overall performance is excellent.

The touchpad supports multi-finger gestures, the touchscreen display was rated very good by our testers, and the backlit full-sized keyboard folds backwards to allow the device to function like a tablet.

Microsoft Surface Book

This $1,500 laptop received a very good score from our testers for performance. In fact, it’s one of the fastest models to pass through our labs. With a 128 GB solid-state hard drive (which uses less power and accesses data more quickly than a traditional hard disk drive) and 8 GB of memory (plenty for most activity, including demanding software like Photoshop or Final Cut Pro), it’s a smart choice if you’ve got the cash.

The 13.5-inch touchscreen can be detached from the keyboard and used as a tablet. The battery lasts up to 15 hours. (Hopefully, your workday doesn't go any longer than that.) And for those who want to get a little creative, the laptop comes with a pen that lets you draw directly on the screen.

If you're fond of more demanding fare—like, say, the video game Overwatch—you can also spring for the optional Performance Base. In that case, the whole package will cost you closer to $2,000.

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