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Best laptop overall

Apple MacBook Air M2

Thanks to a new design, a larger display (13.6 inches versus the previous 13.3 inches), a faster M2 chip and a long-awaited upgrade to a higher-res webcam, the 2022 version of the MacBook Air remains our top choice for the most universally useful laptop in Apple’s lineup, with one caveat. At $1,199, the $200 increase over the traditional $999 MacBook Air starting price is a disappointment. That’s why you’ll still find the M1 version of the Air retains a spot on our best laptop list. Still, we like everything else about it and it’s our first choice if you’re considering an Air and don’t mind spending more.

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$850 at HP

Best Windows laptop

HP Pavilion Plus 14 (2023)

There are a lot of Windows laptops. A lot. Which makes narrowing it down to just one more than a little tricky. However, the HP Pavilion Plus is exemplary because it can meet the needs of a lot of people while still being affordable. It’s available in 14- and 16-inch sizes; we tested the 14-inch, which is small enough for travel but big enough that you won’t feel cramped while working. HP offers AMD and Intel processors, and it can be configured with entry-level discrete graphics too. There are also multiple displays to match your budget, including a beautiful OLED panel.

The starting price is $850, but we recommend getting that OLED screen if you can afford it. It adds about $100 to the package, but it’s worth it. The good news is that HP regularly has deep discounts, so you can get the OLED and a faster processor or more storage and still be around $1,000

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$849 at B&H Photo-Video

Best MacBook for students

Apple MacBook Air M1

Despite the availability of the new bigger and better M2 MacBook Air, the M1 MacBook Air (one of the first to switch from Intel to Apple silicon) is staying around and that’s a good thing. As Apple’s entry-level laptop it is still our go-to recommendation for a MacOS laptop for basic everyday use. It has great performance and long battery life — up to 18 hours — and is a solid choice for school or work.

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$630 at HP

Best Windows laptop for students

HP Pavilion Aero 13 (2023)

HP packed a lot of value into the Aero 13: Eye-pleasing magnesium-aluminum chassis, strong processing performance, long battery life, a bright, colorful display and a weight of just 2 pounds (0.94 kilogram). Amazingly, with all that it offers, it doesn’t break the bank in terms of price at around $800 well configured, but it’s frequently discounted for hundreds less.

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$559 at Walmart

Best cheap laptop

Acer Aspire 5

The Acer Aspire 5 continues to be one of the best Windows laptop deals around. Available in 14-, 15.6- and 17.3-inch sizes, I am partial to the 15.6-inch size because it’s relatively compact and lightweight but still full-featured. Acer has a wide range of configurations to choose from, starting under $500. This budget laptop also features a USB-C Thunderbolt 4 port, two USB-A 3.2 Gen 1 ports, Ethernet and an HDMI port. Aside from internal components, the Acer Aspire 5 has changed little since we first reviewed it in 2020. However, the components inside continue to improve, continuing to deliver excellent performance and features for its price.

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$1,000 at HP

Best Chromebook

HP Dragonfly Pro Chromebook

Most Chromebooks fall below $500, and for general use, they’re all most people will need. However, Google’s ChromeOS is capable of doing much more than it could more than a decade ago when it first appeared. Consider this HP the MacBook Pro of Chromebooks: beautiful design, excellent display, keyboard and touchpad and enough processing power to take advantage of today’s ChromeOS features. And if you’re an Android phone user, it’s the perfect companion. But, it is $1,000, and if that’s more Chromebook than you need, check out our full list of the best Chromebooks we’ve reviewed.

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