Some say that laptops are dying and that tablets can do everything. We’ll we aren’t quite there as yet and for most people a laptop with a full keyboard and a big screen are essential. Uses of laptops range from business, graphic design, college projects, gaming to home entertainment and we pick the best in each category.
We have recommended only non-touch laptops in this article. Touch laptops are great for making presentations, watching movies, etc but are not for everyone. We are currently testing and will come up with a “Best touch laptops”article soon.
Update: 1. We’ve removed the Macbook Air as our top pick since it didn’t get any update in design or hardware and seems to be at the end of its lifecycle.
The best laptop for most people
The best Windows Ultrabook
1. Dell XPS 13 – non touch
2. Asus Zenbook UX330UA
The best budget Windows Laptop
1. Acer Aspire E E5-573G
The best Power Laptop
The much awaited new Macbook Pro 2016 is here. The new Macbook Pro is smaller in size than it’s predecessor and the 13 inch with retina Display is the best combination of portability and performance currently in the market. The retina display is fantastic and is an industry standard with graphic professionals. The MacBooks are powerful, built well, have one of the best trackpads and keyboards and are backed by stellar service from Apple. Get the 13-inch if portability is important, else you’ll love the real-estate of the 15-inch. We think the new Touchbar interface is good to have but not essential, and hence recommend the non-touchbar version.
The best business laptops
1. Best Business Laptop – Lenovo Thinkpad T460
2. Best Budget Business Laptop – Lenovo Thinkpad E460
Why should you trust us?
We have spent over 160 hours of research in shortlisting the best laptops in the india, reading and filtering expert reviews and participating and reading customer forum discussions. We also spend most of our time working on laptops and hence very serious about getting the best for our money.
Should I buy a Laptop now?
If you’re happy with your current laptop, don’t get a new one. If your laptop is giving you problems or is more than two years old, get a new one. But really, getting a laptop depends on what you are going to use it for.
If you are upgrading look for the latest generation Intel processors which are more battery efficient. Look for better screen resolution and ideally and SSD which will make your computer faster and snappier.
Which Laptop should I buy?
Consider this – If you are spending Rs 30 – 40 thousand on a smartphone, budget atleast double of that on a laptop since you’ll be able to get much more done with it. Try to invest on a good screen. It will go a long way into making your eyes strain lesser and you’ll appreciate that in the longer run. If you are going to be on the move, then get a laptop with excellent battery life so that you are not running around for power outlets in coffee shops. Other things to look out for in specifications are 1. RAM – a minimum of 4GB – the more the better. 2. SSD’s – SSD’s are hard disks with no moving parts and are hence faster. Any laptop will SSD’s will make lesser noise and will be more faster in booting and overall performance. Do not get anything older that Intel’s 5th generation processors.
Our best laptop for most people is of people who will use it mainly for work , email , online browsing, watching videos, downloading etc. Choose between Windows and OSX wisely after reading our section below. for people with specific needs, we have picked laptops in other categories too. Consider your requirements carefully and arrive at a budget and then select from our top picks.
Should I get a touchscreen Laptop ?
Windows has taken a unique approach thing to unify the tablet and the Laptop. So windows laptops have the option of having a touchscreen although how useful it is in day to day use we are not so sure. The Surface 4 is an example of the direction that windows wants to go. The Surface has a foldable keyboard that goes into the laptop with ease and becomes a tablet. In case of Laptops that have full sized keyboards, we have found it clunky to shift regularly between the Laptop mouse and the touch screen. It is handy if you wish to present to people or watch movies, but really for most people , touch is not a necessity yet. In most cases you will find touch screens adversely affecting the battery life and also slightly adding to thickness and weight. In our view, touch is good to have, but not yet essential in laptops.
What about Chromebooks?
If you spend most of your time in a Chrome browser and if you’re on a tight budget get a Chromebook. Chromebooks have Chrome browser as the main software and thats where you do everything. That means you play music online, watch streaming videos, edit and save documents on the web, etc. They cannot install softwares like MS office, nor do they have much storage to save files on the hard disk. Its great if you can work on the cloud using and saving documents on google drive, using google docs or Office 365 or other web versions. For most people however this will be severely restrictive and we recommend going for a budget Windows laptop.
MacOS or Windows ?
Many people consider buying only a Mac laptop. We ourselves prefer using Mac for work purposes. The machines are solidly built and come with a stable, easy-to-use operating system – The macOS. They also have on of the best service and support and work brilliantly with other Apple products like the iPhone or the iPads.
The new MacBooks have just been launched and Apple has updated the MacBook Pro lineup. The Macbook Pros have become thinner and smaller than the MacBook Air and Apple has introduced a new keyboard, a larger trackpad and new “TouchBar” on the Keyboard. The Touchbar is an interactive touch strip on the top line of the keyboard that is contextual and changes the buttons depending on which application you are using. It means you’ll get new shortcuts on your keyboard which Apple says will increase your productivity.
The MacBook Air design hasn’t been updated since 2010 and it hasn’t seen a major hardware update since early 2015. The MacBook Air unfortunately did not get any update this year and while Apple is still selling them, the Air is now looking old, thanks to a non-Retina TN display, an older processor, and a lack of USB-C and Thunderbolt 3 ports. The Air, it seems has reached the end of its life cycle.
The 12- inch Macbook which was released in April 2015, did not get any update this year. The MacBook, because of the Core M processor, is just about enough for basic tasks such as email, Web browsing, word processing, spreadsheets, and social media. If you push it for anything more intensive like say photo-editing, it lags.
The MacBook Pro Retina was launched in 2012 and has been getting minor hardware updates till now. The new TouchBar and the smaller form-factor is the only major innovation on the Macs in 5 years.
On the other hand Windows Laptops have seen a renaissance of sorts. In 2012, with Windows 8, out came a whole new range of touch-screen laptops. Since then laptop manufacturers have introduced multiple new forms of laptops, the 2-in-1 convertibles, detachable screen laptops, etc. Screens have updated to Quad-HD screens beating the Retina Display. You get windows laptops today, comparable to the performance of the Macbooks for a lot cheaper.
MacBooks ship with OSX for free which runs only on Apple computers. What few people realise is how powerful and complete it is as an OS. It comes with a fully featured Office suite along with several programs and you don’t really need to buy any additional software for basic work. Windows with its latest OS Windows 10 has really improved upon the shortcomings of win 8.1 and while it is paid, it comes licensed with most laptops. You will have to shell out for Microsoft office suite though and most probably, you will do that if you need MS Office on a MAC too. Windows 10 has the additional benefit of being backward compatible with a variety of older hardware. OSX is fairly restrictive and unless you have specific drivers for the OS version, it will be difficult to run various hardware. So if you are in an office environment and you need to work with a variety of older peripherals and other windows machines, we advice you go for a Windows laptop. Otherwise for most cases of personal use, Macbooks will work just fine.
Side note : Dongles are very hard to get working with the OSX because of driver problems – we have had a lot of issues getting Tata, Reliance internet dongles to get working with newer updates of OSX.
The best laptop for most people
Ultrabooks – If you use your laptop a lot and carry it around regularly, get an ultrabook. Ultrabooks are thin and light and come with long battery life. They have enough power to do most of the tasks regular laptops do and since they are light weight, it means no more lugging around big and heavy backpacks. You shouldn’t buy an ultrabook if you have gaming or video editing work, or if you need a business laptop with lots of ports. Get the Dell XPS 13 or the Asus UX 330 and if you like Macs, get the MacBook Pro.
1. Dell XPS 13 – non touch
The Dell XPS 13 is the laptop that dethroned the MacBook Air. The highlight of the laptop is its amazing bezel-less screen which makes the laptop look stunning. The virtually borderless infinity display maximizes screen space by squeezing a 13-inch display in an 12-inch frame. This means the laptop has a smaller footprint and is easy to carry around. With a bezel only 5.2 mm thin, weighing in at only 1.2kg and measuring a super slim 9-15 mm, the XPS 13 is exceptionally thin and light. There are a few Ultrabooks which are slimmer than the XPS 13; like the HP Spectre or the Asus Zenbook 3. However they lag far behind the XPS 13 in battery life.
The Dell has a good keyboard and a trackpad that’s responsive and comfortable to type on. The Dell’s 13.3-inch IPS screen is brilliant, with excellent color reproduction and fantastic viewing angles. It is particularly impressive because of its tiny 5.2 mm bezel. The Dell comes in two variants – a full-HD non touch option and a Quad HD touch screen. We think that for most people the Full HD version should be good enough. The higher resolution of the Quad HD means you do get more real estate on the screen, something that you’ll appreciate if you do photo editing or work on large excel sheets. However it costs much more and the touch version means you trade off on battery life.
The laptop comes with the latest 7th Generation Intel Core i5 processor, 8Gb ram and 256SSD hard disk. Thanks to the latest generation power efficient processor, in our tests the laptop managed to last 10 hours – a full days work. The Dell XPS 13’s aluminum body is sleek and sturdy, and the lid has minimal flex. The XPS 13 has no dedicated video-out ports such as HDMI or DisplayPort, and you have to use the Thunderbolt 3 port for display extension.
Service and Warranty –
We contacted DELL to enquire about the warranty and extended warranty. Dell confirmed that purchase from Flipkart and Amazon are authorised, but sometimes, their official website compuindia.com seemed to offer the best price.
Dell is providing 1 Yr ProSupport with a Next Business Day Onsite Service w/Accidental Damage for the XPS 13. The Pro Support gets you 24 hours Telephone support and On-site service. Dell has an at home service where the technicians arrive at home and inspect the laptop. The accidental damage covers damages caused by Liquid, Electrical surge and even Damaged or broken LCD due to a drop or fall. What’s not covered: Damage due to fire, Intentional damage, Normal wear, Cosmetic damage, Theft. This is excellent and provides great peace of mind. Dell also has the option to renew this warranty by another two years. You can extend the warranty on the dell website or by calling Dell. When we checked, The cost of extending the warranty by additional year is Rs 14,000 for hardware defects and Rs 17,000 for accidental warranty. For two years additional warranty the price is Rs 24,000 for hardware defects and and Rs 27,000 for accidental damage. This is more expensive than Apple Care, but we think you should go for atleast a one year extended hardware warranty.
For those looking to get a easy to carry, every day laptop, the Dell xps 13 with its gorgeous 13.3 inch screen and amazing build quality is a great choice. The Dell XPS 13’s excellent battery life, comfortable keyboard, good trackpad make it the best ultrabooks for getting work done in the office or on the go. Paired with Windows 10, this is one of the best experiences on Windows.
1. Great build quality , amazing full HD Infinity Edge Display screen
2. Light weight
3. Good battery life – approx – 8-10 hours
1. Expensive Laptop and additional warranty.
2. Asus Zenbook UX330UA
The Asus UX330UA is a slim and sleek, lightweight ultrabook that is well built and is a great deal for the price. The elegant aluminum-alloy unibody chassis is an just 13.5mm thin, and weighs a feather-light 1.2kg. The Asus has the same specifications as the Dell XPS but is much cheaper. The laptop has the latest 7th Gen Intel Core i5 Processor, 8GB RAM, 256 GB hard disk and a brilliant 13.3 inch Full HD display. The only differences as compared to the XPS 13 are a slower SSD, a not so good trackpad and a slightly larger size and its lack of a Thunderbolt port.
The ZenBook UX330UA is designed to go everywhere you go. Weighing a mere 1.2kg and just 1.23cm thin this is one of the lightest laptops in the market. The design looks premium with an aluminium body and a tapered front. The ultra-sharp screen is full-HD with a resolution of 1920 x 1020 pixels. The screen is bright with good viewing -angles.
Connectivity is great with two USB 3.0 port, a micro HDMI port, SD Card slot and also a USB Type C port. The Type C port is USB 3.1 Gen 1 and the laptop cannot charge via this port. The laptop measures 12.7 inches wide, 8.7 inches deep which is nearly an inch wider than the Dell XPS 13. It’s slightly bigger, but lighter than the Dell XPS 13. The battery lasts around 8 hours compared to almost 10 hours of the Dell and is good enough for an average days use.
Service and Warranty –
We contacted Asus to enquire about the warranty and extended warranty. Asus confirmed that Flipkart, Amazon, Snapdeal and PayTM are authorised websites. The Laptop comes with a standard 1 year limited warranty. Asus has a onsite service where the laptop will be serviced or picked up from the customers residence. Asus also offers very affordable extended warranty. However you need to buy this within 7 days of the purchase of your Laptop after registering on the Asus Website. We recommend that you call ASUS and ask for ongoing offers for extended warranty. The cost for extending the warranty for additional two years for the UX330UA at the time we enquired, is Rs 1400 /-. Very affordable indeed.
The Asus UX305FA is a perfect laptop for those looking for portability and basic computing.
- Good design, slim and light
- Good keyboard and screen
- Good battery life
- Excellent value for money
- Many Service complaints with ASUS
The Best Windows Budget Laptop
1. Acer Aspire E5
The Budget range of laptops is filled with models that have similar entry level hardware. It is difficult to shortlist a budget laptop since prices keep changing and models keep going out of stock. Also there are many models with minor changes in configurations. You should look at getting at-least the following – Intel i3 /i5 processor – 5th generation or above, 4GB Ram, 500 Gb Hard disk with Windows 10 installed.
The Acer Aspire stands out slightly due to the inclusion of a dedicated video card which no other laptops offer at this price currently. The laptop has a 15.6-inch display, a 2GHz Intel Core i3 5th Gen processor, 8GB RAM, 1TB Serial ATA hard drive and a Nvidia GeForce 920M Graphics Card.
The laptop is big and heavy and ideal for those not wanting to move it around much. The laptop looks largely unremarkable in its staid black design. The screen is non-HD with a 1366 x 768 resolution. It is bright with just about passable color reproduction. The hardware though is good for its price. The 5th Gen Intel Core i3 processor is good for daily home use and the 8Gb RAM with 1 TB hard-disk is perfect for storing movies and music. The dedicated Nvidia GeForce 920M Graphic Card is good for playing most games in low settings. While it doesn’t make this a gaming laptop, it will certainly perform better than on board graphics and will help in video playback also. The laptop is Perfect for home use and light gaming.
Other laptops in this category which are similar but without the graphic card are Dell Inspiron 15, the Ideapad Lenovo G50 and the Asus A555 and the HP Imprint Core i3. Affordable extended warranties are available in most of these models easily. Make sure you go to the manufacturer’s website to check the process immediately after purchase of the laptop.
The best Power Laptop
The much awaited new Macbook Pro 2016 is here. The Macbook Pros have become thinner and smaller than the MacBook Air and Apple has introduced a new keyboard, larger Trackpad and a new “TouchBar” on the Keyboard. The new Macbook is smaller in size than it’s predecessor and the 13 inch with retina Display is the best combination of portability and performance currently in the market. It is also one of the most expensive laptops.
The retina display is fantastic and is an industry standard with graphic professionals. If you are looking to do graphic intensive work like photo and video editing and you want a laptop that’s more powerful than an ultrabook, with a larger, higher-resolution screen with excellent color reproduction, look at the MacBook Pros. The laptops are ideal for professionals or students wanting to do audio, video, or photo editing, or 3D modeling in a portable laptop.
Before you read further make sure you read our MacOS or Windows ? section above.
The 13-inch MacBook Pro is the best-looking laptop on the market right now. The aluminium chassis is machined from a single piece of metal. It’s also incredibly light at just 1.37kg. There is also a new choice of colors, classic aluminium or a darker Space Grey. The footprint of the new Macbooks are smaller than previous 13-inch MacBook Pros, but the screen size remains the same.
There are 2 USB 3.1 Type C/Thunderbolt 3 combination ports and any of them can be used for charging. There are no standard USB ports or SD card slots and for using any of these, you’ll need adapters.
The MacBook Pro 13 inch comes with a LED-backlit display with IPS technology; 2560×1600 resolution what Apple calls the Retina display. The 15.4-inch has a slightly higher resolution; 2880×1800. Bothe these screens are knows as the industry standard in color reproduction and is the preferred choice of designer world over. Even if you are not a designer you will appreciate the stunning displays. Text looks crisper and colors more vivid with excellent viewing angles. The screen alone is a reason to get this. Take note that the screens do not run at the mentioned resolutions – It defaults to a scaled resolution of 1280×800 pixels. So the screens end up displaying four pixels in the place of one pixel, and hence more detailed. The Pro actually has less screen real estate at its default setting than the MacBook Air, but everything on the Pro’s display is much sharper.
Our choice is the 13 inch which comes with a Intel Core i5 processor , 8 GB RAM and a 256 GB SSD and the Intel Iris Graphics 540 integrated graphics processor and weighs 1.37 KG. All put together this makes it a much faster machine than the MacBook Air. The non–Touch Bar machine comes with a 2GHz Core i5 processor and Intel Iris 540 and two USB-C ports. The Touch-Bar model gets a speed bump and four USB-C ports. For the additional price, you get a 2.9GHz dual-core Core i5 processor and Intel Iris 550 graphics. We think most people won’t notice the difference, though if you do intend to use it for video editing or 3D rendering, you will appreciate the higher speed.
If you want a bigger screen with slightly more firepower then the 15 inch MacBook might be for you. Our pick of the 15-inch macbook has an Intel Core i7 processor , 16 GB RAM and a 256GB SSD and the more powerful Radeon Pro 450 Graphics card. This is fantastic for 3d modelling or video processing. The Macbook Pro 15 inch weighing 1.83 KG is the best combination of portability and performance currently in the market. The retina display is fantastic and its packed with a Quad core CPU and a faster GPU. If portability is important, go for the 13 inch and you’ll trade off on performance a bit.
The new macbooks introduce a new touch-interface called the Touch-bar. It’s optional in the 13 inch but is part of the 15-inch model. The Touch Bar replaces the function keys on the keyboard and replaces it with a contextually aware touch interface. That means everytime you open a supported app, the buttons change and show you the most relevant options which are usually hidden away in menus. It makes the workflow easier and saves time by putting shortcuts upfront on the keyboard. It seems small but when properly implemented by the app, is quite helpful. However, not all 3rd party apps support Touch Bar right now and the additional price seems a little too much currently. The Touch bar also brings in the Touch ID fingerprint sensor and now you can use it to unlock your Mac, just like the Iphone.
Another change is the new Trackpad and keyboard. The keyboard is excellent and is the same one found in the 12-inch Macbook. The trackpad is gigantic, and has Force Touch technology employed. It’s pressure-sensitive, too, so you can press harder on certain on-screen items to get a different result.
Battery life is one area where the new macbooks take a hit. While the older ones were workhorses, easily pushing upto 10 to 12 hours on a single charge, the new Macbooks seem to average only between 5-7 hours.
The MacBooks are powerful, built well, have one of the best trackpads and keyboards and are backed by stellar service from Apple. Get the 13-inch if portability is important, else you’ll love the real-estate of the 15-inch. We think the new Touchbar interface is good to have but not essential, and hence recommend the non-touchbar version in the 13 ínch as our top pick.
1. Great build quality and battery life
2. Faster processors and the best screen in the market
3 .Fantastic service and support
1. Cannot be used for gaming.
2. Inconsistent Battery life
3. No connectivity Ports
4. Expensive with the Touch Bar
The best business laptops
1. Best Business Laptop – Lenovo Thinkpad T460
The Thinkpad range of laptops from Lenovo are famed for their rugged design and business friendly features. The T series has long been the best of the Thinkpad Laptops and their latest is one that stays true to its reputation. The 14inch laptop comes with a FullHD screen, the latest 6th Gen Intel Core i5 6200M, 4GB RAM and a 1 TB SATA HD. The T460 is a stable,study, highly mobile business laptop.
But why should you get a Thinkpad? Ultrabooks are slim sleek and light, but they are usually more delicate and have very less connectivity and upgrade options. The Thinkpad series stands for very rugged laptops with hardware that can be easily opened and upgraded. They also usually have most ports like ethernet, standard USB 3.0 , Mini DisplayPort, HDMI, Card reader which makes them very easy to connect to projectors and other peripherals found in offices.
At the first glance the T460 looks just like any other Thinkpad – which is not bad. The all- black matte design with a soft touch glass fibre looks and feels good on touch. The iconic red trackpad is retained at the middle of the keyboard. The 14-inch screen is a full-hd 1920×1080 FHD anti-glare display with an IPS panel .The display is good with vivid colors and good viewing angles. The keyboard and the trackpad are fantastic and respond well. The keyboard is a spill-resistant one that easily handle small splashes. The Lenovo comes with only 4 GB RAM but is easily expandable.
The laptop is not the lightest, but weighs only 1.7Kgs for the 3cell variant and 1.87 kg for the 6cell battery. Battery life is stellar with the laptop easily giving 6-8 hours of usage with an easily swappable battery.
The thinkpads are tough machines and are Military-specification tested for ruggedness. Military-specification testing validates the ruggedness, durability, and quality of this laptop by testing against 11 parameters: high pressure, humidity, vibration, high temperature, temperature shock, low pressure (15,000 ft), low temperature, solar radiation, fungus, salt fog, and dust.
The Laptop ships with 3 Years Onsite Support that Extendable upto 2 years, Total support of up to 5 years including base warranty.
- Long battery life
- Durable design
- Comfortable keyboard; Accurate touchpad and TrackPoint
- No SSD
2. Best Budget Business Laptop – Lenovo Thinkpad E460
The Thinkpad E series are their entry level laptops in the Thinkpad range. They carry the same matte-black top lid rugged build and the bright red track-point resting in between an excellent keyboard. The build quality, though sturdy, uses plastic unlike the more expensive Thinkpads. The E460 comes with a 14inch screen, 6th Generation Intel i5 processor, 4GB ram, 1TB SATA hard disk and Windows 10 Pro. Although it doesn’t have the same military specification sturdiness of the T460, the E450 did pass Lenovo’s custom rugged testing for shock, bump, drop and dust. The E450’s keyboard is spill resistant too.
The laptop weighs around 1.9 Kgs and comes with a 6 cell battery that lasts around 6-8 hours depending on usage.Like most Thinkpad computers, the laptop is easily upgradable and one can upgrade the RAM or replace the Hard disk easily. The swappable 6-cell battery means the laptop lasts upto 5 hours with average use.
The specifications are all what you would expect in an entry level laptop. The 6th generation i3 processor paired with the 4Gb RAM is capable enough for most office tasks. What you get in addition to the entry level laptops are the sturdy construction, a finger-print reader and a large 6 cell battery for good battery life.
The Lenovo ThinkPad E450 is a decent budget laptop for business use. The E450 probably isn’t the best choice for those who run graphically intensive applications, but for general office usage, this is a great budget buy. Its an entry level laptop with the ThinkPad build quality.
Warranty – The Laptop comes with a standard 1 year warranty with on-site support, that is expandable to an additional two years from the lenovo website.
- Decent battery life
- Well built
- Non swappable battery.
- Plasticky build doesn’t feel too premium.