The Best Laptops Of 2018 – 10 Essential Choices For Every Use

Time to ditch that slow old notebook and grab a faster portable computer with better specs? With thousands of potential picks, you could spend days (or weeks!) trying to find the perfect laptop.

There’s no need to sift through all the subpar off brands or deal with machines that have major design flaws, though. We’ve looked through them all and found you the nine best laptops available in 2018!

Best laptop buying guide

The portable computer landscape has recently undergone radical changes. With touch screens and the ditching of optical drives, your typical notebook looks quite different from just a few years ago.

From expensive machines to portable, budget-friendly laptops for reading ebooks, an unbelievable range of different options are readily available.

Whether you need a fast laptop for your business or a stable machine for researching school papers will determine what is your one “best” laptop.

The contenders for best laptop in 2018

1. Best overall laptop – Acer Aspire E

  • Top-of-the-line processor
  • Optical drive
  • Dedicated graphics card
  • Less storage space than other laptops in the price range
  • 8GB of RAM instead of 16

Should this be your choice?

Want an absolutely killer processor with decent RAM and SSD specs for covering any kind of usage? This should be your pick!

Different versions of the Aspire E are available in varying configurations, and they often beat the competition in terms of overall specs.

For the best overall laptop, our favorite pick is all about the processor. Capable of reaching up to 4.0GHZ, the i7-8550U is one of the best 8th gen processors on the market right now.

With a solid state drive and a dedicated graphics card, you are covered on anything from school projects to gaming as well.

Keep in mind that other models in this price range will typically come with 12 – 16GB of RAM. Unless you are using very specific memory-intensive programs, however, that amount isn’t usually needed.

Some of the most frequently mentioned features brought up by reviewers are the DVD-RW and the ability to add another drive for more storage space.

One potential downside that is often referenced is the positioning of the power cable, which is in the way on the right side.

Hardware specifications for Acer Aspire E
ProcessorIntel Core i7-8550U (4.0GHz)
RAM8GB DDR4 RAM
Storage256GB SSD
GraphicsGeForce MX150
Display15.6-Inch Full HD IPS Display (1920 x 1080 Pixels Resolution)
Operating SystemWindows 10 Home 64 bit
Battery Life15 hours
Weight5.27 lbs

2. Best 2-in-1 laptop – HP Spectre x360-13t

  • Large SSD
  • 8th gen processor
  • Flip touch screen
  • Smaller display size
  • No dedicated graphics card

Should this be your choice?

If money is no object and you need the absolute best hybrid laptop with killer specs, this should easily be your pick!

The current Cadillac of 2-in-1 laptops for work or school is easily the HP Spectre. This one isn’t just great for a hybrid machine, it has flat out great specs for any style of notebook.

As a hybrid, you can use this model as a full work laptop or fold it to use as a touch style tablet. Even with that dual functionality, you don’t lose out on the extras.

Two Thunderbolt USB ports, a fully backlit keyboard, and a discrete fingerprint scanner are all included.

Buyers don’t often have a lot of negative feedback on this model. There is one potential issue often brought up when using the keyboard instead of the stylus or touch display, however.

The Spectre’s touchpad is located directly beneath the keyboard and offset to the right. This means you may accidentally end up clicking the top edge of the touchpad while typing.

As with the VivoBook Flip listed below, this isn’t a machine meant for running games at high graphics settings. For that functionality, take a look at our best gaming machines listed below.

Hardware specifications for HP Spectre x360-13t
ProcessorIntel Core i7-8550U (4.0GHz)
RAM16GB DDR3 RAM
Storage512GB SSD
GraphicsIntel UHD Graphics 620
Display13.3-Inch FHD IPS Micro Edge Touch Display, 1920 x 1080 Pixels Resolution
Operating SystemWindows 10 Home 64 bit
Battery Life16 hours
Weight2.87 lbs

3. Best Chromebook – Google Pixelbook

  • Incredibly thin and light
  • High end specs
  • Larger SSD than most Chromebooks
  • Different viewing screen form factor
  • Chrome OS rather than Windows 10

Should this be your choice?

Ready to pull the plug on Windows entirely and get a thin Chrome OS machine instead? This should be your pick!

Most users spend the majority of their time on a web browser, rather than using any particular executable program.

If you’re in that boat, a Chromebook can be a better option than a full Windows laptop. Surprisingly, the Pixelbook actually has still better specs than many other full notebook computers.

With a Chromebook, you typically get 16 – 64GB of storage space at maximum. Here, you get a full 128GB SSD just like with a normal laptop.

Since the bloated Windows 10 OS isn’t eating up the drive space, that’s a bigger deal than you might think. Now that you can use Android apps on Chrome OS, you don’t actually lose much functionality by ditching Windows entirely.

The overall design is the feature most frequently referenced by buyers. They consistently praise the silicone palm rests, incredibly responsive touchpad,  and thin style.

One potential downside could mar this as your choice, though — it takes time to get used to the different form factor. This 12 inch display is a 4:3 screen instead of the normal 16:9, which makes some apps (like YouTube videos) look slightly more cramped.

Hardware specifications for Google Pixelbook
Processor7th Gen Intel Core i5 (3.3 GHz)
RAM8GB DDR3 RAM
Storage128GB SSD
GraphicsIntel HD 615
Display12.3-Inch Touch Screen Display, 2400 x 1600 Pixels Resolution
Operating SystemChrome OS
Battery Life10 hours
Weight2.45 lbs

4. Best ultraportable laptop – 2018 Dell XPS 13

  • Extremely light and thin
  • Great specs for such a small unit
  • High price
  • No ability to upgrade

Should this be your choice?

When you need an extremely light computer that doesn’t take up much room in your backpack, this should be your pick, if you don’t mind the high price!

Normally going the ultraportable route means giving up higher end specs. That’s not the case here, as Dell managed to cram some top shelf components into a tiny space.

At under three pounds, you get both an 8th gen processor and a full 16GB of RAM. Throw in the touch screen and you’ve got a killer laptop that’s still easy to carry around to school or work.

Of course you’ll pay a premium for those high end specs in such a small package. Keep in mind this model also isn’t intended to be upgraded, as the slim design prevents access to internal components.

Most users don’t ever crack open their laptop cases anyway, so that may not be a problem for you. If you are a power user who loves to upgrade components, you’ll need to look elsewhere.

Love the style and specs but want something more like a tablet instead?  For an extra $100, you can get the XPS in a 2-in-1 flipbook version.

For another look at a very light machine, be sure to take a look at the Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon listed below.

Hardware specifications for 2018 Dell XPS 13
ProcessorIntel Quad-Core i7-8550U (1.80 – 4.0 GHz)
RAM16GB DDR3 RAM
Storage512GB SSD
GraphicsIntel UHD 620
Display13.3″ QHD+ Infinity Touch Screen Display,  3200 x 1800 Pixels Resolution
Operating SystemWindows 10 Home 64 Bit
Battery Life7 hours
Weight2.7 lbs

5. Best budget laptop under $500 – HP Pavilion Touch Screen Laptop

  • Touch screen
  • DVD-RW
  • No keyboard backlighting
  • No M.2. slot

Should this be your choice?

Looking for a budget touch screen laptop that still has great specs and lots of hard drive space? This should be your pick

With 8GB of RAM and a 7th gen processor, this Pavilion model will meet the needs of most users for work or school.

Although the Intel 620 chip isn’t specifically meant for gaming, it can also run plenty of games at medium settings.On top of all those specs, you get the full functionality of a touch screen.

So what’s the downside here? This is the price point where solid state drives aren’t quite standard yet.

Instead of a quick-booting SSD, the Pavilion comes with a slower 5400 RPM SATA hard disk drive. Unfortunately there’s also no M.2. slot for easily adding in a solid state drive later on.

Buyers who reviewed this model tend to mention the responsive touch screen. They also tend to note that it’s odd for a laptop of this price to not include keyboard backlighting.

Hardware specifications for HP Pavilion Touch Screen Laptop
ProcessorIntel Core i3-7100U (2.40GHz)
RAM8GB DDR4 RAM
Storage1TB HDD
GraphicsIntel HD Graphics 620
Display15.6-Inch HD Touch Screen Display, 1366 x 768 Pixels Resolution
Operating SystemWindows 10 Home 64 bit
Battery Life7 hours
Weight4.52 lbs

6. Best business laptop – Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon

  • SSD with full 1TB of space
  • Fingerprint scanner
  • High end processor and RAM
  • High price
  • No touch screen

Should this be your choice?

If you don’t need touch screens for your employees, this is the absolute best work laptop available at the moment.

For a business operation — large or small — you want the absolute most bang for your buck when it comes to a laptop.

Your investment needs to be worthwhile, and that’s what you get with the Thinkpad X1 carbon. If you need to buy a bunch of machines for a group of employees, you can’t go wrong here.

With these high end specs, your work laptop won’t be out of date anytime soon. Best of all, the Carbon has a full 1TB drive that also happen to be solid state, rather than the older HDD design.

What you get here is thin, portable, durable, fast, and has a staggering amount of storage space. When you need files to stay confidential, you also get a fingerprint reader for security.

Since this model is aimed at business rather than gaming, the lack of a dedicated graphics card means it stays cooler and runs quieter.

With the HDMI port, you can also hook up to an external display for presentations during meetings.

Hardware specifications for Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon
ProcessorIntel Core i7-8650U (4.20GHz)
RAM16GB DDR4 RAM
Storage1TB SSD
GraphicsIntel UHD Graphics 620
Display14-Inch HDR WQHD IPS Glossy Display, 2560 x 1440 Pixels Resolution
Operating SystemWindows 10 Pro 64 Bit
Battery Lifehours
Weight2.49 lbs

7. Best laptop for school – 2018 ASUS VivoBook Flip

  • SSD
  • Touch screen
  • 16GB of RAM
  • No dedicated graphics card
  • Touch screen is a fingerprint magnet

Should this be your choice?

Want a great college laptop that’s the size and weight of a Chromebook, while still getting the full Windows 10 OS? This should be your pick!

The VivoBook Flip delivers on nearly all fronts, offering a lot of power in a tiny package. This model is extremely thin in comparison to your average laptop, but without sacrificing much screen size.

It also stays cool and quiet, and comes with a fingerprint lock for the security-minded. You want have to worry about noisy fans in class or lugging around a heavy machine.

There is one potential downside here — this is very much intended for the actual school projects, and not the extracurricular stuff after class. This simply isn’t meant to be a gaming machine.

With no dedicated graphics card, that’s just not the focus of this particular model. You will still be able to play games like League Of Legends or Fortnite, but AAA games with high graphics requirements aren’t going to work here.

When reviewing their Asus Flip, buyers often bring up the excellent battery life and fast speeds. The shiny touch display attracts fingerprints easily however, so get yourself a nice cleaning cloth or a screen protector.

Hardware specifications for 2018 ASUS VivoBook Flip
ProcessorIntel Core i7-7500U (2.7 – 3.5GHz)
RAM16GB DDR4 RAM
Storage256GB SSD
GraphicsIntel HD Graphics 620
Display14-Inch Full HD Touch Display, 1920 x 1080 Pixels Resolution
Operating SystemWindows 10 Home 64 bit
Battery Life7 hours
Weight3.31 lbs

8. Best gaming laptop – MSI GT75 Titan-055

  • GTX 1080 graphics card
  • 17” screen
  • Huge storage capacity
  • Very high price
  • Heavy
  • Low battery life

Should this be your choice?

Do you want the single best graphical performance available in any laptop, anywhere? This should be your pick, if you’ve got deep enough pockets.

For gamers, it doesn’t really get more high end than this. Until the new GeForce 2080 series makes into mobile form next year, this laptop features the best graphics card you can buy.

For a gaming rig, that should be your main deciding factor. A GTX 1080 will chew up and spit out absolutely any game you throw at it and still ask for more!

Gamers typically want extras besides just high specs, and you get that as well with the mechanical, per-key RGB. Yes, you can literally change the color of every individual key on the keyboard.

If you want a truly absurd amount of power, you can manually upgrade from 16GB to 64GB of RAM. With that amount of memory you get a beast of a machine that will still play anything at ultra settings for years (and years) to come.

With that much power under the hood, the Titan drains battery life at an astonishing speed, which is the biggest complaint from most buyers. You should expect to be plugged in for any sort of extended gaming session.

Be aware that as a desktop replacement, this thing weighs almost 10 pounds, which is more than twice the weight of your average business laptop.

Hardware specifications for MSI GT75 Titan-055
ProcessorIntel Core i7-8750H (2.2 – 4.1GHz)
RAM16GB DDR4 RAM
Storage512GB SSD + 1TB HDD
GraphicsGeForce GTX 1080
Display17.3-Inch FHD Anti-Glare Wide View Angle Display, 1920 x 1080 Pixels Resolution
Operating SystemWindows 10 Home 64 Bit
Battery Life2 hours
Weight9.92 lbs

9. Best budget gaming laptop under $1,000 – MSI GV62

  • High end processor
  • Dedicated graphics card
  • Lots of storage space
  • Low battery life
  • Only 8GB of RAM

Should this be your choice?

Looking for a great gaming rig without spending an absurd amount of money? This should be your pick!

This model not have the raw power of the GT75 Titan listed above, but it will also cost you about $2,000 less. It also manages to weigh half as much as the Titan, so there’s much more portability here.

When you’ve got some money to spend but can’t go crazy for the latest bleeding edge tech, this is an excellent mid-point option.

You get an SSD for fast booting into Windows and an extra HDD for storing your large installation files. The 8th gen processor is also great for gaming or normal computer tasks.

The Ti edition of the GTX 1050 is also a solid graphics card for running games at medium-high settings. It will run nearly anything, although it may struggle with VR applications, so you may want to get something more expensive for using the Oculus Rift.

8GB is about the baseline for RAM at this point, so if you want a smoother experience don’t be afraid to upgrade to 16GB later on.

As with most other gaming laptops, the big downside is the extremely low battery life, which is constantly mentioned by reviewers.

Don’t forget you still get all the extra bells and whistles though, like an RGB backlit keyboard and cooling boost option.

Hardware specifications for MSI GV62
ProcessorIntel Core i7-8750H (2.2 – 4.1GHz)
RAM8GB DDR4 RAM
Storage128GB SSD + 1TB HDD
GraphicsGeForce GTX 1050Ti (4GB)
Display15.6-Inch Full HD eDP IPS Display, 1920 x 1080 Pixels Resolution
Operating SystemWindows 10 Home 64 Bit
Battery Life3 hours
Weight4.8 lbs

10. Best 15” laptop – LG Gram Thin & Light Laptop

  • Extremely thin and light
  • Amazing specs for the size
  • High battery life
  • Very high price
  • Not meant for upgrading

Should this be your choice?

Do you want all the functionality of a touch screen and extremely high end specs while staying at the 15” size? This should be your pick!

When you need to stick to a mid-sized machine instead of going ultra portable, LG’s Gram is the reigning king. While still having a touch display, you get the full 15” screen and some amazing specs.

Not many laptops provide a full 1TB of space while using solid state drives, but you get that here. With an 8th gen process and 16GB of RAM, this LG can run pretty much anything you care to install without skipping a beat.

With a fingerprint scanner and an incredibly slim profile, there’s not many downsides to this machine.

Only two concerns are often brought up by buyers when reviewing the Gram. You get the full 10 key here, but due to the layout of the keyboard it can feel a bit cramped compared to other laptops.

Second, the memory is arranged as two 8GB sticks of RAM, and one is soldered directly to the motherboard. Essentially, that means this laptop isn’t ideal for upgrading the memory in the future.

Hardware specifications for LG Gram Thin & Light Laptop
ProcessorIntel i7-8550U (1.8GHz)
RAM16GB DDR4 RAM
Storage1TB SSD (2x500GB)
GraphicsIntel UHD Graphics 620
Display15.6-Inch FHD IPS Touch Screen Display, 1920 x 1080 Pixels Resolution
Operating SystemWindows 10 Home 64 Bit
Battery Life16.5 hours
Weight2.4 lbs

What do I really need from a new laptop?

Are your main tasks with a laptop simply word processing, sending emails, and watching YouTube vids? In many cases, a budget machine with 4GB of RAM will more than fit your needs.

When you expect to run dozens of tabs at a time and use higher end software, that’s when it’s time to more closely check the specs.

8GB of RAM is becoming the norm for business operations, and a 7th or 8th gen processor will keep your laptop running smoothly.

When possible, go with a solid state drive or a hybrid SSHD over the standard HDD. The speed and extremely quiet operation are well worth the reduced storage space.

After considering those specs, check to see what extra features a laptop offers that appeal to you.

Want a fingerprint scanner for security? Are you planning upgrading the memory later on? Do you need an SD card reader?

These options can vary wildly between models, so pay close attention to the fine print!

Should I pick a touch screen?

The traditional concept of a laptop is rapidly changing. What was once thought of as a bulky machine to sit directly on your lap is now becoming much thinner and lighter.

Although it’s not quite industry standard yet, nearly every manufacturer is putting out touch screen models.

These hybrid laptops let you operate the normal keyboard and touchpad, or instead use your finger like with a tablet. Not everyone needs this functionality, however, and in some cases it may not be worth the cost.

Are you used to typing on a keyboard, or do you have a toddler who likes to tap the screen? A touch display probably shouldn’t be high on your list of priorities in those cases.

Do I Want A Laptop With An Optical Drive?

Much like with the touch screen option, another previously standard piece of hardware is changing in new laptops. Most devices these days simply don’t have an optical drive for reading or burning DVDs.

Due to the prevalence of cloud-based backup services and cheap USB storage, DVD-RW drives aren’t as necessary.

Do you still have a large collection of installation discs sitting around? Do you prefer CDs over digital media?

In those cases, going out of your way to find a laptop with a built-in optical drive is worth the hassle. If the programs you use for school or work are all available to download however, then save yourself the money and space by ditching the optical drive.

Conclusion

From first time college students to professionals who need a machine for trading stocks all day, one of these laptops will perfectly fit your needs and budget!

What did you think of our picks for the best laptop in 2018? Let us know what styles and features you prefer, and be sure to leave a comment if you plan on buying any of these computers!

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