Best laptops you can buy 2024 — top picks for February

The best laptops are powerful enough to handle your day-to-day work and play, comfy enough to carry all day and efficient enough to ensure you won't run out of juice when you're in the lurch.

Not a lot to ask, right? Luckily lots of great laptops are on the market these days, but that abundance also makes finding the best laptop for you awful tricky. You can get a Chromebook or a compact, speedy Windows 11 laptop for not a lot of money, and those who can afford to spend a bit more have access to a slew of the best laptops from the likes of Apple, Dell, HP, Lenovo and more.

That's why we test and review dozens of laptops from top manufacturers every year, then gather the very best together here in one easy-to-read list to help you make a more informed purchase.

You can count on the fact that every laptop on this list has been tested and reviewed by myself or one of my colleagues, so you know a real person has used it in real life and really likes it. Whether you're shopping for a sleek new ultraportable, a cheap Chromebook, a new gaming laptop or the best MacBook for your needs, you'll find at least one great option here!

Written by
Alex Wawro
Written by
Alex Wawro

Alex Wawro is a lifelong journalist who's spent over a decade covering tech, games and entertainment. He oversees the computing department at Tom's Guide, which includes managing laptop coverage and reviewing many himself every year. 

The quick list

In a hurry? Here's a brief overview of the laptops on this list, along with quick links that let you jump down the page directly to a review of whichever laptop catches your eye.

The best laptops you can buy today

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The best laptop overall

The best laptop for the money

Specifications

Display: 13.6 inches; 2560x1664
CPU: Apple M2
GPU: 8-core or 10-core GPU
RAM: 8GB-24GB
Storage: 256GB-2TB SSD
Weight: 2.7 pounds

Reasons to buy

+
Fast M2 performance
+
Brighter and bigger display
+
Great 1080p webcam
+
Long battery life 

Reasons to avoid

-
Notch distracting
-
Supports only one monitor
Buy it if

✅ You need a long-lasting laptop: The MacBook Air M2 lasted more than 14 hours in our battery test, which is remarkable. It's actually a bit less than its predecessor or the 13-inch MacBook Pro M2, but it's still better than most laptops.

✅ You want a small, fast MacBook: The M2 chip inside this MacBook Air gives it more than enough power for multitasking, and it pairs well with the long battery life and light weight. While it can't crunch video or play games as well as the MacBook Pro 2021, this is the ultimate MacBook for getting things done on the go.

Don't buy it if:

❌ You want to play games: While this laptop can play games, many aren't supported natively on macOS and the Air M2 lacks the power to run graphically demanding games. If games are important to you, consider looking elsewhere.

❌ You like multi-monitor setups: The MacBook Air M2 only supports a single external display, so it's not a great choice if you want to plug your laptop into a multi-monitor setup at home.

The bottom line

💻 The MacBook Air M2 is a bit pricey, but it justifies the premium with an unbeatable combination of performance, battery life, display quality and portability. 

More like this

1. The best MacBook: See all models compared
2. The best laptops for battery life
3. The best 2-in-1 laptops, for when you can't decide between a laptop and a tablet

What you need to know
The MacBook Air M2 is an excellent all-rounder that feels truly worthy of the Air name. Yes, the MacBook Air M1 was good — after all, it helped introduce the world to the power of Apple silicon. But Apple redesigned the laptop when it refreshed it with the faster M2 chip, and the result is spectacular.

The MacBook Air 2022 (from $1,199, tested at $1,899) is a breath of fresh you-know-what, and that’s because Apple paired that speedy M2 chip with a new design that’s markedly thinner and lighter. It's a potent blend of performance and portability, one we recommend as one of the best laptops for getting work done on the go for most folks.

Design: The MacBook Air M2 is so thin it could easily be mistaken for an iPad when closed (especially if the Apple logo is facing out). That’s how slim this notebook is. Measuring just 0.44 inches thick with the lid open, an everyday Bic pen looks chunky next to this machine. 

Overall, the Air M2 is 20% smaller than the previous Air in terms of volume, and yet you get a bigger 13.6-inch display, replete with a notch along the top bezel. 

Don't expect to get much in the way of ports, however. You get just a pair of Thunderbolt 4/USB 4 ports along the left edge, alongside a MagSafe power adapter. At least you also get a headphone jack.

Display: The MacBook Air M2 has caught up to the MacBook Pro in terms of display quality, and that’s a big deal. The 13.6-inch display offers a 2560 x 1664 pixel resolution and gets nice and bright in person, so it's a pleasant place to watch videos, write emails, edit photos and whatever else you want to do.  

The MacBook Air M2 did well in our display tests, too. When we tested it with our light meter we found it delivers an average brightness of 489 nits, peaking around 495 when viewing HDR videos.  That’s brighter than the Dell XPS 13 OLED’s 357-nit average, and better than its more powerful cousin the MacBook Pro M2 delivered (474/490 nits) in the same tests.

Performance: On Geekbench 5.4, which measures overall performance, the MacBook Air M2 hit 1,932 on the single-core CPU test and 8,919 on multi-core. That’s faster than its predecessor, though the MacBook Pro M2 was on a par with the Air M2, reaching 1,898 and 8,911. 

The Air is also nearly as fast as the Pro in our video editing and Photoshop tests, demonstrating the power of the M2 chip. For more details, check out our in-depth MacBook Air M2 benchmark results!

Battery life: The MacBook Air M2 is one of the longest-lasting laptops for the money. On the Tom’s Guide battery test the new Air averaged 14 h