Laptop Buying Guide

Your laptop is your go-to device for everything from productivity and gaming to social networking, so you should pick the system that matches your needs and budget. With dozens of choices at different prices and sizes–ranging from $199 11-inch Chromebooks to $2,000, 17-inch gaming behemoths–picking the right portable can pose a challenge to even the most tech-savvy consumer. That’s why we’re here to help.

Just answer the questions below and we’ll provide custom recommendations based on your needs.

What size laptop do you want?

No Preference
10 to 12 inches: The thinnest and lightest notebooks around have 10 to 12-inch screens. However, you may sacrifice keyboard size for portability. Many laptops in this class double as tablets.
13 to 14 inches: Provides the best balance of portability and usability. Laptops with 13- or 14-inch screens usually weigh between 3 and 4.5 pounds.
15 inches: The most popular size, 15-inch laptops are the least expensive and provide plenty of desktop real estate. While most 15-inchers are easy to take from room to room, some are on the bulky side.
17 to 18 inches: If your laptop stays on your desk all day, a 17- or 18-inch system will likely provide everything you need for work and play. Many gaming notebooks are in this size category.

Avram Piltch
Avram Piltch
The official Geeks Geek, as his weekly column is titled, Avram Piltch has guided the editorial and production of since 2007. With his technical knowledge and passion for testing, Avram programmed several of LAPTOP's real-world benchmarks, including the LAPTOP Battery Test. He holds a master’s degree in English from NYU.
Avram Piltch on
Facebook Twitter Google+
Email* (will not be published)
*Indicates required field
Submit Comments

  1. Casey Says:

    Perhaps I’m just dull, but which questions below? There is… nothing showing up for me? :/

  2. teresa Says:

    Casey, it’s not you…it’s them.

  3. Scott Says:

    Your Laptop Interactive site will not allow me to select the screen size that I’m looking for. I can’t go any farther because of that.

  4. hussein Says:

    There are no questions. Thanks for your help.

  5. diane Says:

    Don’t bother with this site – unable to use of it due to prompts which do not make sense.


    request guide for best laptop

  7. Shoatmeister Says:

    To everyone who can’t see the questions: disable your adblock. Why the hell do you people even use it if you don’t even know what you’re getting yourself into?

  8. mata Says:

    thanks to spend my time for nothing, after answering to all your questions about which laptop I want, the results are NULL

  9. Matt Says:

    Terrific. Looked for questions, found none. Immediately left site (after writing this). The same will be true for most surfers. What an own-goal.

  10. Larry Grout Says:

    I don’t know what I’m asking for. Where will my dollars be best spent? I think I want an i7, 16Gb, 15.6 or 17″ 256 or 512SSD and maybe a 7200 750 + HD as well. What’s important to me is a backlit keyboard, large arrow buttons like on the Asus 17″ gamer, & the “end” and “delete” keys close together & low like the #1 button for end and the decimal for delete on the number pad. Touch would nice but I can live without it.

  11. Lee Says:

    Why is no one providing search based on specs? The hardest features to find are SC card support, number USB, USB3, HDMI, GPS, digitized pen support. easier, but you still have to dig are at full HD, keyboard quality, touchpad quality, Ethernet jack, wide angle view, etc., etc.

    These specs translate into ability to perform tasks which are buying criteria. For each of my needs that are met, this lower the number of different devices need to accomplish the task and INCREASES the amount of money I am willing to spend.
    For example:
    1. I am real Estate agent and need the ability to sign documents. This requires a digital pen and the ability to lay the laptop flat or go into tablet mode.
    2. I drive a lot and would like a large detailed view of where I am at to expand the view of my cars gps and ensure that I am going to where I want to be. Require internal GPS.
    3. Ability to use laptop in car. Requires low glare, ability to function in tablet mode as there is insufficient room in a car for a client to hold an open laptop. This also dictated a tablet in the 12 to 13 inch range.

    And so it goes. Most any search will work for the fluffheads who spend all their time on face book. They will buy what their friends are using and what their techy friends recommend. The techy people like hard data, not fluff.

  12. May Says:

    Started out good, but when I got to the results, it gave me mostly 1,100-1,600$ machines, when I specified my budget as $600. Useless.

  13. craig Says:


  14. AlisonM Says:

    Thank you so much for the interactive buying guide! I needed a new laptop after the one I hated died and didn’t know where to start. I didn’t want to end up hating it like I did with the last one. I had purchased it without any research. After using your site I got the perfect laptop for me! No more buyers remorse!

  15. Ella Says:

    This is really helpful, thanks. You need to disable Ad Block to see the questions, but it definitely helped me narrow down the field. Great place to start.

  16. Dylan Says:

    r u getting back to me?

  17. De Says:

    Would be a nice site but it will not allow me to select a size and I can’t proceed. .

  18. Emma Says:

    I have disabled my AdBlock, but I still can’t see any questions.

  19. Janice Says:

    Good morning Avram, I am looking for a laptop that will allow me to use AutoCad2 and SolidWorks and my husband to use ProTools and then just basic things like ITunes, e-mail, etc.


  20. Gail Says:

    Where are the questions?

  21. l.alrep Says:

    Dear Madam/Sir,

    I am seaching a Lemote Yeelong, is possible that you will help me with information about it please?

    Thanks a lot!

  22. PC King Says:

    Seriously.. laptopmag is a fucking joke!

  23. sherry Says:

    Tried opening this in Firefox to no avail — tried again using IE and it works fine. Boo..

  24. Mechbond Says:

    I read this article, answered the questions and my perfect match was the 2014 13″ MacBook Air.
    I was using a 2014 13″ MacBook Air! Somehow, in India, the 11″ MacBook is the least expensive and the most capable ultra-portable laptop, followed by the 13″ MacBook Air. I couldn’t believe it at first. Sure did make buying easier!!!

  25. Olivia Says:

    It just doesn’t work on Chrome. If you go to internet explorer, the plug in works just fine.

  26. John Says:

    Used to be a big fan of the Macbook Air. But today I would not spend $1000 on a MBA again. Because, I don’t really think the 11.6″ MBA is a primary device for me. Its too small and yes it has really good hardware for a small notebook. But I could easily get by with a core i3 CPU and not a core i5 on such a small device. I would most likely buy a 13 to 14 inch notebook that would easily be a travel and a primary notebook. Right now I use a Chromebook for travel which is dreadfully under powered and has a pathetic OS. If my choice was a 11″ MBA or a Chromebook I would have to say buy the Macbook Air. If your considering a Macbook Air go with the bigger 13 and accept the weight hit and it will definitely be a better investment over the smaller 11″ MBA.

  27. john Says:

    Useful as part of doing research.Will continue to do more research but did find the guidelines described helpful.

  28. Cindy Says:


  29. Diann Roberts Says:

    Not happy with your service please have a manager call me 404-255-0897

  30. Helmut Says:

    Hello Avram,

    I read and write online while listening to good soft music.
    I watch some videos & Netflix. I like a
    big screen, Full HD, great speakers, windows7 Laptop under $800.00?

    Thanks, Helmut

  31. Man Says:

    This is a pretty awful laptop finder… none of the recommendations match how I answered the questions.

  32. Thomas Says:

    Turn off your adblock to see the questions you dolts.

  33. TotallyC Says:

    You people need to turn off your ad block or similar software to get the questions. I have ABP and the questions appear as soon as I disable for this site. It’s not them IT’S YOU lol

  34. JuneMae Says:

    None of the laptops at the end were even close to the price range I specified. Is it really that hard to find a laptop that is 13-15 in. all purpose with a decent battery life for under $600? I guess so. So I am left unsatisfied with my large laptop that doesn’t fit in my backpack and has a battery life of about 10 minutes. I could replace the battery but that might cost as much as a new laptop itself! The computer industry is ripping us all off.

  35. debbie Says:

    whats the point of asking how much i am willing to spend and then having all the recommendations cost significantly MORE??? !!!

  36. Udaya Ranga Says:


    Thanks a lot for laptop buying guide.
    I have a short-list of Dell15 & LenovoW series. Can you suggest a list of laptops that are good for professional software development?

  37. Anna Attkisson, Laptop Mag & Tom's Guide Managing Editor Says:

    For those who are reporting a problem seeing the questions, we have discovered this is a technical problem with those running ad blockers. While this content is not an ad, these programs seem to perceive them as ads. We are working on a fix.

  38. leon Says:


    I need a new low cost Chromebook asap

    When will the dell chromebook 11, with an Intel i3 chip in, be on sale?

    How much will it be in the UK?

    Why should i not buy the (also cheap) Acer 720 / 720P with i3 chip instead?

  39. Khullakpam Mujaheed Says:

    I’ve no comment

  40. GRAHAM Says:

    I went all the way through the laptop questions, but nothing appeared in the window. Didn’t want anything special.

  41. peter shiels Says:

    this interactive buying guide is absolute rubbish even with adblock disabled – no results just a black space where the results should be

  42. allen Says:

    it dosent show me anything but it say the products above is recommened WHERE ARE THEY?

  43. DM Says:

    the recomendations aren’t useful

  44. Joanne Barry Says:

    I did the laptop quiz to see which laptops were best for me, and I tried twice with slightly different input but nothing showed up. I chose up to $1000 and only used for business. I find it hard to believe there was nothing to recommend.


  45. Shana E. Says:

    What a waste of time. You answer the questions, then it says see product recommendation above but there are no recommendations.

  46. Duncan Says:

    Wasted my time answering questions, in the end NO results at all!
    “Thanks for answering all of the questions. The products above are our best recommendations for you based on the information you have provided.” Where above?

  47. John Cena Says:

    Wow, I have tried various browsers yet none show up the results. I desperately in need for a portable laptop cause I am always on the road. Along with portability I want good specs because I do like to do some light gaming even though people think I wouldn’t? Any suggestions people!?

    -John Cena, WWE Superstar

  48. Dude Says:

    Total crap, did not show any laptops at all.

  49. Buster Says:

    5 times through choosing different options each time and all 5 times 0 results.

  50. Tristan Says:

    This used to be great and work fine, but it doesn’t come up with any results anymore!

  51. Charlotte George Says:

    So that was entirely pointless…answered the questions and got NO recommended products

  52. deepak Says:

    i want 15 inch laptop

  53. TenThousandTries Says:

    I selected “creative professional” and “tablet form-able” and all of the results are regular laptops for gamers. /facepalm

  54. Wiliam W Gorman Jr Says:

    I have the original Eee PC 1000h and I love it. It is a bit underpowered and I looking to upgrade but still have the small screen and most of all the small footprint. I prefer a computer to a tablet and I want to lad Office 2010 on it(with the menu program)(The Eee PC will only accept Office2003 with its Atom processor

  55. Pierre Says:

    About the choice of the OS, it would be nice to at least leave an “Other” option. In my case, I am exclusively using Ubuntu, definitely no MS Windows (checked because as I had to select one) and it best correspond to the kind of computer I am buying.

  56. Luba Segal Says:

    I filled all the questions for best laptop search but didn’t get any answers…..

  57. Shadrach Says:

    14Inch, 4gb

  58. daren Says:

    Dilemma I need some help with.
    I want a laptop first and foremost to be able to stream HD quality tv from BBC, Skysports, Acestream and any other future developments to my HD 40 inch TV via hdmi or smart tv links.
    Currently focusing on macbook pro retina 13 2014 with 8 gb and 128gb.
    my dilemma is does it justified the price when all i want to do is link it to a tv 90% of the time.
    perhaps there is a much better suitably priced option.
    Thoughts greatly received.

  59. Kustaa Nyholm Says:

    This was such a waste of time!

    Conflicting useless question loaded with the pre-conceptions of what I want.

    I have a fairly good idea of what I want, 8 GB RAM, 11″ display, SDD drive … now go through the questions in this quiz here and reflect how do you find a matching laptop … you won’t!

  60. Nigus besufekad Says:

    Please send me laptop

  61. joe Says:

    want to be able to play call of duty armed assault

  62. jamie Says:

    nothing came up for me either

  63. mack mckenzie Says:

    The final results didn’t resemble the information i checked in the questionnaire. Difficult to believe recommendations when your evaluation process is so flawed. I wouldn’t recommend this process to anyone.

  64. jim Says:

    I requested a laptop under $600 and you gave me 4 over $1,000 :/

  65. Darlene Says:

    Thanks so much, I have a chromebook now and really didnt have a clue what type of laptop I wanted next.
    You took all the guess work out. for me, it was alittle overwhelming, trying to figureout all the specs and such! thanks again.

  66. MOHAMMED Says:

    There is an Operating System that you missed to indicate as another alternative choice: Linux based distributions.

  67. ilUVFREEWIFI Says:

    Did you say coming end of January ? So far, the other bloggers are saying some time in March 2015.

  68. Ryan Says:

    I would like to comment on the portion regarding the “OS” type. I personally run gnu/linux on all laptops I’ve owned. The question kind of limits my ability to select a laptop based off of hardware when the OS portion takes that away. Maybe a “Other” or “Doesn’t matter” would help people like me.

  69. JRB Says:

    After completing the process I get stat again and NO recommendations. OK Laptopmag.

  70. RENATE Says:


  71. Elham Says:

    I want to buy a laptop
    My. Budget is mostly 600$
    I use it for downloading movies
    And watch them online.
    My current laptop is very slow
    And I have problems with my video players.
    So, I need it fast , light and with large capacity.

    I hope it’s possible to find such one:))

  72. Elvio Ciganotto Says:

    I hope your Interactive site will allow me to select the laptop that I’m looking for.

  73. Lance Says:

    Filling out the questionaire, and getting 10 recommendations that first-and-foremost missed my number 1 attribute, a 17″ monitor or larger is EXACTLY why I don’t do surveys or take online advice on a computer. ALIENWARE wasn’t even offered as a solution! What a joke, a LENOVO? FOrget your advice!

  74. Marcel Ruth Says:

    I’m in search of purchasing my very first laptop. Been reading up on them because I don’t know much except newer is better and a good processor means everything This laptop I need I’m mainly buying for mainly using to do recording studio type activities. Making instrumental beats, recording audio, mixing songs etc. The usual producer / rapper type things. Can anyone please suggest some computers fit for the job.

  75. James Says:

    Are there any 15-inch laptops with a standard keyboard (no numeric keypad) centered on the laptop?

    I want a 15.6-inch or larger display without my hands shifted to the left. I (and many others) NEVER use the numeric keypad and would rather not have it.

    Any manufacturer that makes a good laptop w/o the numeric keypad and *with* the touchpad centered between the G-H keys (where it should be for touch typists) gets my business!

    I wish Dell, ASUS, etc would learn from the 15-inch MacBook.

  76. Harry Says:

    Why is everyone saying that the questions aren’t showing up? I’m using Chrome and I can see them just fine.

    Looks like my perfect laptop (i7, 250-500 GB hard drive, 4-8 GB RAM, 13″ screen, dedicated graphics, Chrome OS) doesn’t exist yet, but the Acer C720 sure gets close. Thanks very much laptopmag!

  77. matt ruby Says:

    guess i’m a victim of good marketing because i’d expected MS surface to place well in the rankings for 2-in-1 criteria. Your insight as to what MS surface is lacking would be appreciated. Also, many years ago i had bad experiences with Dell and have not purchased even a Dell mouse since. That said, I see they now rank well. So, hesitantly curious if I should give them another chance. Thanks for your thoughts,
    MR in NYC

  78. Garry Says:

    Great little tool but needs some tweaks….if I say I want Windows, and a 2 in 1, and can spend up to $1k…you gave me SOME very valid suggestions, but also a MAC Air, an HP Stream $290 POS and some others that were ‘not-so-valid’ (to be kind)

  79. mikem Says:

    Are there any laptops available that have rear connections? Do all ultrabooks have SSD’s?

    Thank you-

  80. John Reading Says:

    As I read your article on my brand-new lap top I had to chuckle a little. Your choice of OS ignored the only choice for me – Linux. I tried to boot Windows when I bought the machine, but it insisted I needed a “Microsoft Account” (whatever that is) in order to boot. I slipped in a Live Linux DVD, and voila – No need for Microsoft Account!

  81. Steven Marcato Says:

    The world in which Avram Piltch is one devoid of Linux and programmers. Bland inoffensive men and women in casual business attire pulled straight from getty stock photos gather around their laptop, shoving corn snacks into their endlessly grinning cake holes while playing terrible Mac appstore games or editing their powerpoints, are the sole inhabitants of his computing world. Forget anything but Mac, Windows, and ChromeOS. Forget coders, developers, programmers. This is a terrible survey for terrible people.

  82. Tara Says:

    I literally put I did not want a tablet laptop, with the detachable screens, and that was most of my top choices. Hmmm…

  83. tyf Says:

    I can’t get any further than how much would I spend: it keeps saying I’ve not selected… I need Windows 7 Pro (64 bit): to operate XPS (sp 3) files w/Adobe CS5. Adobe is out of business: they’ve got a creative cloud scheme (criminally insane plot) going but that’s it, so I’m limited to the CS5 because 6 is a dirty rat. MS crashed all the 8 8.1 during Feb 2015 (I got an Dec 2014 update–though they promised never again–to remove my anti-virus software) and 7 Pro offered as a downgrade to the purchase of 8.1 is a 7 pro license, so why no installation (recovery) media? I asked if a bought the 7 Pro seperate then (as a part in addition) or what about 2 screens, one touch/none-touch? Dell isn’t selling; MS is crazy. Amazon’s heads in the cloud with Adobe (they’re hosting). I’d like a new laptop and I’m willing to spend about $1000 on a Windows 7 Pro 64 bit 500 HDD (no ss hybrids) w/at least 2.0 GH, dvd/rw/cd slot, camcorder would be okay but not necessary and a re-installation disc (I would pay extra for that).

  84. Lalit kumar Says:


  85. Neil McGuire Says:

    Hi Avram
    Many,many thanks for this. I am a 70 year old who needs a new laptop and I wasn’t sure what to look for. Your comments have given me the confidence to make a purchase.
    Thanks again

  86. Bhumil Pathak Says:

    Can you please provide a review on Dell Inspiron 15 7548

  87. oseikelvin Says:

    i want to borrow forGodseek anycompany can buy a laptop for and if grow up i will pay the 289.555 million iam a boy of 12 year i stay at jasikan in the volta region of ghana i stay at st. complex school in a school how someone me and at the u will be rewarded

  88. Tricia Says:

    Very helpful site.

  89. Rose Says:

    Asus 15.6c178gb its 2gb graphic model x550ldv-x0552h just want to know what reviews about this laptop regards Rose

  90. Yoseph Says:

    It was nice guide though I couldn’t pick a laptop within my budget range.

  91. Bob Says:

    It ended up recommending a Mac and a non-touch screen, when I had answered ‘Windows-only’ and ‘touch screen only’. Do I smell a bias towards sponsored machines?

  92. Camp Says:

    I chose Windows for OS, and one of the close matches was a Mac… how close is that?

  93. Joann Says:

    i need to syn my iTunes via “computer”. No longer have work computers to do that. What should I get to syn my iTunes ? Will a laptop do the job?

  94. mike Says:

    Sadly there’s no choice between glare & no-glare displays. You recommendation
    for a mobile & light surfbook (Asus x205) looks excellent at first glance but with a glossy display it’s no option for usage during train rides or in the park.

  95. kai Says:

    This tool is rubbish. It completely ignores all the inputs. I input that I wanted a windows computer for $400 or less and half my results are chromebooks and 80% of them are $1000 or more : P

  96. michelle salmonson Says:

    Hi, My tablet”Samsung” died just after 2 years of use! I paid almost $538.00 this included more memory. The only thing I really liked about the tablet, light, didn’t have to worry about virus. I need a laptop, but I’m a “Huge” gamer! Female mature, please advise if HP 17′ on HSN for $599.00 on sale right now would be the best for me? I can’t keep spending, I’m on a tight budget.Thank you so much for your help. Sincerely &with care Michelle Salmonson

  97. Eyal Says:

    This is a bad laptop picker since it is only a picker for dummies and it is not useful. for example I can not search for a 14 inch ,backlight keyboard laptop

  98. DAVID HOLDER Says:

    Switch to Windows vista 10 or stay with Windows vista 8?

  99. Valiant Says:

    While I was attracted to your laptop interactive buying guide, the option I was looking for is not included: I am a musician looking for a Windows laptop for music live performances that will allow me to run VST instruments without glitches.

  100. Nathaniel Momolu Says:

    I need a white touchscreen laptop

  101. Mars Says:

    What operating system do you prefer?

    Gnu/Linux is not an option and I could not proceed without selecting an operating system I certainly don’t want.

  102. talida Says:

    No Matches for my preference. But I know there is the t300 chi which fits all of my preferences. This guide is not very good.

  103. Fidorama Says:

    i know that “MSI” laptops don’t show up under any sort of matching but they are THE best in quality and THE best in value. i recently bought one of their mid-range models; the Apache pro, and I am nothing but over the moon with it. I am not a gamer yet i want a high spec laptop. i wanted an alien ware at first but a buddy said i should look into an “msi”. I don’t regret it. Nothing but perfect for a university student who wants a laptop to last for more than a year. even if my i7 chip goes out of date, i can buy a new chip and simply slide it into the port and have a perfectly new computer. I HIGHLY recommend “MSI” computers.

  104. Shadyaf Says:

    Garbage. The recommendations didn’t adhere to ANY of my criteria. I highly recommend you do not trust this tool.

  105. Edwin Says:

    Breaks after third question. Please fix.

  106. Crystal Says:

    Too bad that I have to select between the OS. I would like to have recommendations based upon all other factors.

  107. sidmax Says:

    I want to buy a good laptop for my ABAP practice,with a reasonable rate.

  108. LB Says:

    Selected no for tablet, got three that detatch screens as a tablet. Did again with different options, results identical, just in different order. Clearly being paid to display certain models.

  109. The Name Says:

    Hi , I need a laptop for school In 6th grade and also plan to maybe use to watch some movies videos and play some MINECRAFT .someone help me !
    Can someone reply quick and tell me what to get .Preferably ASUS or HP or DELL 😀😉 Oh oh and I also need to use Microsoft word and stuff for presentations .Can the software be windows 8.1
    Oh oh and it should be under about $300 . 😎😎😎

  110. X-Ray Says:

    I indicate a display size over 17″ and they recommend a 12.5″ Lenovo. Really helpful!

  111. mycosys Says:

    wow – so i stopped at 17/18″ and up to 1k, and not a single ‘close match’ is in this category – there are a bunch of ultrabooks and one 18″ SLI machine, which is THREE GRAND.
    Maybe you should have chosen a person who could code and knew computers rather than an english grad. Any second year engineering student could do better.

  112. Privacy Is Important Says:

    There is no Windows 10.

  113. Joe "Savin'" Jenkins Says:

    Would only recommend expensive laptops. Accidentally purchased 2k$ dell. Damn you Avram Piltch.

All Product Types Accessories Cars Digital Camcorders Digital Cameras eReaders GPS Laptops MP3 & Video Players Projectors Smartphones Software Storage Tablets / MIDs VoIP Wi-Fi
All Subcategories
All Subcategories All-Purpose Budget Business Desktop Replacement Gaming Multimedia Netbook Nettop Rugged Student Tablet PCs Ultraportable
Acer Alienware Apple Archos ASUS Averatec BenQ CTL Corp. Dell Digital Storm eMachines Emtec Everex Fujitsu GammaTech Gateway General Dynamics Getac Gigabyte Hercules HP HTC iBuyPower Intel Lenovo MSI Nokia Nvidia OCZ OLPC OQO Origin Panasonic Sager Samsung Sony Sylvania Systemax TabletKiosk Toshiba Verizon Viewsonic Viliv VooDoo Workhorse PC ZT Systems
Minimum Rating
Any Rating 4.5 Stars 4.0 Stars 3.5 Stars 3.0 Stars
Screen Size
10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 20 4 5 6 7 8 9
1024x576 1024x600 1024x768 1200X800 1280 x 720 1280x1024 1280x768 1280x800 1366x678 1366x768 1440x1050 1440x900 1600x768 1600x900 1680x1050 1680x945 1920x1080 1920x1200 800x400 800x480
Weight Range
10.1 - 12.0 pounds 12.1 - 14.0 pounds 14.1 - 16.0 pounds 2 lbs 2 pounds and under 2+ lbs 2.1 - 4.0 pounds 4.1 - 6.0 pounds 6.1 - 8.0 pounds 8.1 - 10.0 pounds Over 16 pounds Under 2 pounds
more options