The best laptop 2024: top portable picks for all budgets

PRICE
VERDICT
REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID
VERDICT
REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID
Surface Laptop with screen open on purple background
(Image credit: Microsoft / Future)

Looking for the best laptops you can buy in 2024? Then we're here to help, as on this page you'll find a wide variety of laptops, MacBooks, Chromebooks and more that are ideal purchases for a wide range of needs and budgets - and every single one has been tested by our laptop experts here at TechRadar.

As well as using the laptops as our day-to-day devices, we also put them through a wide range of benchmark tests, and only the very best performing laptops make it onto this page. You can read more on how we test laptops, which lists all the ways we put laptops through their paces during our reviews.

Since joining TechRadar in 2014 I've reviewed hundreds of laptops, and for the past few years this buying guide has been dominated by MacBooks. However, I'm excited to say that for the first time ever, the best laptop of 2024 is a device from Apple's arch nemesis Microsoft. That's right, the best laptop you can buy today is the brilliant Surface Laptop 7, a truly brilliant all-rounder with a gorgeous design and all-day battery life. This could be the start of a renaissance for Windows 11 laptops.

However, if you don't fancy a Windows laptop, I've included a huge range of other options, including MacBooks, budget Chromebooks, powerful gaming laptops and everything in between. With a new generation of artificial intelligence-enabled laptops hitting the market (including the Surface Laptop 7), there has never been a more exciting time to buy, so read on for our top picks.

Recent updates

This page has been updated as of 04/07/2024 with a new entry at number one: the Surface Laptop 7.

The best laptop overall

Microsoft's refreshed Surface Laptop is the best laptop you can buy in 2024

Specifications

Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon X Elite
Screen size: 14-inch / 15-inch
RAM: Up to 64GB
Storage: Up to 1TB
Battery life (TechRadar test): 10 hours and 10 minutes
Size: 11.85 x 8.67 x 0.69 inches (301mm x 220 x 17.5mm) / 12.96 x 9.42 x 0.72 ins (329 x 239.3 x 18.3mm)
Weight: 2.7 lbs (1.24kg) / 3.67lbs (1.66kg)

After years of this year being dominated by various MacBook Air models, Microsoft has surprised us all with the release of the Surface Laptop - a device that's stylish, powerful and with a long lasting battery, and has earned its place as the best laptop for most people in 2024.

Microsoft is calling the 2024 edition simply the Surface Laptop, in a bid to highlight that despite this actually being the seventh version, it's a major reinvention - and for once, this isn't just marketing bluff. Thanks to the revolutionary Qualcomm Snapdragon X Elite chip that powers the new Surface Laptop, not only does Windows 11 feel fast and responsive, but thanks to how efficient it is, battery life is seriously impressive - and the fans rarely kick in, so you're not distracted by their whirring.

As a flagship entry in a new range of 'Copilot+ PCs', the Surface Laptop also has deeply integrated AI (Artificial Intelligence) features included, such as the Copilot assistant and Cocreator tool that turns your scribbles in Paint into AI-generated art. Most of this is all done on-device thanks to the Snapdragon X chip, which means you don't need an internet connection, and your data is kept safe and secure. The AI features are currently in their infancy and far from essential, but the potential is huge - and even without them, the Surface Laptop is a brilliant device that will the ideal laptop for most people. Microsoft has finally come up with a MacBook killer.

Reasons to buy

You want the best laptop in the world: The new Surface Laptop is a stunning reinvention, offering build quality, performance and battery life that puts most competitors to shame.

You want a long-lasting portable laptop: The Surface Laptop comes in 14-inch and 15-inch configurations, and even the larger model is thin and light enough to carry around - and its battery life means you won't need to look for a plug socket.

You want a great productivity machine: The Surface Laptop comes in 13-inch and 15-inch configurations, and even the larger model is thin and light enough to carry around - and its battery life means you won't need to look for a plug socket.

Expert Verdict
Allisa James
Expert Verdict
Allisa James

💻 The Surface Laptop is truly an incredible portable machine, all thanks to the Qualcomm Snapdragon chip it's equipped with. Performance, battery life, light and thin, price, sound quality, and more are all top-notch, making it an easy pick for best laptop of 2024. Read the full review: Microsoft Surface Laptop 7

The best budget laptop

The best affordable laptop around

Specifications

Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 7c Gen2
Screen size: 13.3-inch
RAM: 8GB
Storage: 128GB
Battery life (TechRadar test): 16 hours 20 minutes
Size: 12.04 x 7.35 x 0.28 inches (305.86 x 186.74 x 7.23mm)
Weight: 2.24lbs (1.02kg)

The Lenovo IdeaPad Duet 5 Chromebook is the best ultra-low price laptop you can buy, and it's a brilliant follow-up to the original IdeaPad Duet. While it’s been out for a while, Chromebooks don’t date as quickly as Windows laptops, and it's still one of the best Chromebooks we've used. If you're a Chromebook skeptic, the IdeaPad Duet 5 Chromebook just might convert you. It can be used as both a laptop and a tablet thanks to its detachable keyboard, while also boasting an impressively long battery life. You're simply not going to find a Windows 11 laptop that can outlast the over 16-hour battery life the Lenovo IdeaPad Duet 5 Chromebook offers – especially at this price. It’s a particularly good choice for students who want something reliable, flexible and affordable.

Reasons to buy

You want an OLED Chromebook: An OLED display on a Chromebook is uncommon, so if that's what you're looking for, this is the best choice. 

You need long battery life: It's possible to squeeze over 16 hours of battery life out of this Chromebook if you make the right adjustments in settings.  

You want a more robust system than Android or iOS can offer: As powerful as Android and iOS have become, mobile operating systems are still far more restricted than Windows, macOS, or Linux OS.

Expert Verdict
John Loeffler
Expert Verdict
John Loeffler

💻 The Lenovo IdeaPad Duet 5 Chromebook packs a punch with outstanding battery life, a gorgeous display, and a new form factor that improves on last year's model – as long as you're looking for a laptop more than a tablet. Read the full review: Lenovo IdeaPad Duet 5 Chromebook

The best MacBook

Apple's latest MacBook Air is the best MacBook money can buy right now

Specifications

Processor: Apple M3
Screen size: 13.6-inch
RAM: 8GB - 24GB
Storage: 256GB - 2TB
Battery life (TechRadar test): 14 hours and 19 minutes
Size: 11.97 x 8.46 x 0.44 inches (304 x 215 x 11.3mm)
Weight: 2.7 lbs (1.24kg)

The Apple MacBook Air 13-inch (M3) is the best MacBook you can buy right now. The design remains thin, light and stylish, and it's packed with Apple's latest M3 chip, giving this slimline laptop excellent performance for day-to-day tasks - and it even does a great job of handling more intensive workloads like editing videos. A new lower price for the entry-level model means this is an easy recommendation for people looking for a brilliant all-rounder of a laptop, but be warned: the base model’s specs - especially the 8GB of memory and 256GB SSD storage - feel a bit outdated in 2024.

Reasons to buy

You want the best MacBook for your money: The new MacBook Air 13-inch is now the MacBook we'd recommend to pretty much anyone thanks to a great design, excellent performance and relatively affordable price. 

You want a laptop for traveling with: The stylish thin and light design, plus the long battery life, makes this an excellent laptop for going out and about with. 

You want power - but not too much: The new M3 chip powering the MacBook Air is great at day-to-day tasks, as well as video editing and AI.

Expert Verdict
Managing editor Matt Hanson
Expert Verdict
Matt Hanson

💻 The MacBook Air 13-inch (M3) is easily the best MacBook (and one of the best laptops overall) that money can buy for most people, though we recommend boosting the memory and storage space when ordering. That makes it more expensive, but far more future-proof. Read the full review: Apple MacBook Air 13-inch (M3)

The best for Windows 11

The best Windows 11 laptop in 2024

Specifications

Processor: Intel Core Ultra 7
Screen size: 14.5-inch
RAM: 16GB - 64GB
Storage: 512GB - 4TB
Battery life (TechRadar test): 9 hours 35 minutes
Size: 12.59 x 8.5 x 0.74 inches (320 x 215.98 x 19mm)
Weight: 3.97lbs (1.80kg)

When it comes to making the best Windows laptops, Dell is the company to beat. Its XPS 13 series have made regular appearances in this guide over the years, and its brand-new XPS 14, which ups the screen size while keeping a slim and light design that XPS laptops are famous for, continues that fine tradition. Packing a svelte look that puts other laptops - including MacBooks - to shame, and cutting-edge hardware from Intel and Nvidia, the Dell XPS 14 offers you the best Windows 11 experience in a laptop. It's a powerful performer that will easily handle any day to day tasks, and even more intensive creative workloads as well. 

Reasons to buy

You want a powerful Windows 11 laptop: The Dell XPS 14 comes with some of the best mobile hardware out there.

You want good battery life: The Dell XPS 14 doesn't quite reach MacBook Pro-levels of battery life, but it easily beats most Windows 11 laptops when it comes to lasting power. 

You want the best Windows 11 laptop: The solid, stylish and lightweight design, excellent performance and stunning screen makes the Dell XPS 14 the best Windows 11 laptop out there.

Expert Verdict
John Loeffler
Expert Verdict
John Loeffler

💻 The Dell XPS 14 is a fantastic new entry into the storied XPS lineup, and it gives the MacBook Pro 14-inch its strongest competition yet thanks to its gorgeous OLED display, powerful processor and GPU. It's not cheap, however, and there are some design quirks that many might not like. But overall, there are few Windows laptops that can compete right now. Read the full review: Lenovo IdeaPad Duet 5 Chromebook