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Best laptops 2020: Reviews and buying advice

The best laptops of 2020 are experiencing a seismic shift. With the near-simultaneous launches of AMD’s Ryzen 4000 and Intel’s Comet Lake-H mobile CPUs, we have a real fight for the first time ever: Ryzen 4000’s cores vs. Intel’s clock speeds. At the same time, a lot of mainstream users actually don’t need to wait for Ryzen 4000 and Comet Lake H); they stand to get good deals on laptops for home or work-from-home use, with existing processors that already have solid performance and great battery life.

On the gaming side (where the GPU matters more than the CPU), Nvidia has unveiled a new generation of mobile graphics technologies. Check out the latest news and reviews below. 

Laptop buyer’s cheat sheet

Our quick-hit recommendations

Latest laptop news and reviews

Laptop news and reviews are heating up, because of new AMD and Intel mobile CPUs coming soon. Here’s the latest. 

  • What’s the best laptop for home use, or working from home? A lot of mainstream laptops available today could fit the bill. We work out the essential specs and features and make some buying recommendations.
  • The first Ryzen 4000 CPU made a splash on March 30th when it debuted in the Asus ROG Zephyrus G14. This 3.5-pound laptop outpaced gaming laptops weighing two to three times as much. The Ryzen 9 4900HS chip is only the first one out of the gate. We can’t wait to see more Ryzen 4000 laptops, and they should be coming soon. 
  • Intel fired back April 2 with Comet Lake-H, a mobile CPU that emphasizes clock speeds over cores. We’re not sure this will be enough to hold back the Ryzen horde, but we’ll see when we have a chance to test it. 
    asus rog zephyrus g14Asus

    The Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 was the first laptop out of the gate with AMD’s Ryzen 9 4900HS mobile CPU.

  • Nvidia is making things even more interesting with its long-awaited GeForce RTX Super GPUs, plus improvements to its more power-efficient Max-Q line, and price drops too! Discrete GPUs in thinner, lighter, and faster gaming laptops? Yes please!
  • Laptops that debuted simultaneously with new Intel and Nvidia parts included: the Acer Predator Triton 500, the Gigabyte Aero and Aorus lines, the Lenovo Legion 5i and 7i lines, the MSI Creator 17, the Razer Blade 15
  • Our own Gordon Mah Ung talks about who should wait for Ryzen 7 4000 or Comet Lake H laptops before buying, and who can be just as happy with laptops available right now—some of them at discount! 
  • Meanwhile, Apple announced a new MacBook Air on March 18, with new hardware and most notably, a new keyboard. Early MacBook Air reviews seem positive, so stay tuned for more when we have a chance to test it.

Best thin-and-light laptop

It’s official: You can have both performance and light weight in the same laptop, and Dell’s new XPS 13 7390 is here to prove it. With its 6-core Intel Core i7-10710U CPU, this thin, light machine (available via Dell.com) has actually outpaced bigger workhorse models.

And no, before we get you too worked up: The XPS 13 7390 and its Comet Lake-U CPU aren’t going to outpace a current workstation with, say, a smoking-fast, state-of-the-art Core i7-9750H. But it is the first ultraportable laptop to actually outrun older 7th-gen “H”-class CPUs in heavier laptops, including those in its XPS 15 cousins.

The amount of performance in this amount of portability was simply unheard of just, well, earlier this year. Read our full review

[$1,620 as tested; available on Dell.com]

Best laptop under $500

The Motile M142 14-inch notebook PC may be the best budget laptop you’ve never heard of, by a company that understands low prices. That’s because the Motile M142 is Walmart’s house brand, and it’s one that the retailer itself often passes over to promote brand-name PCs. 

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