The best laptops of 2016: Budget PCs, 2-in-1s, Ultrabooks and more


The number of laptop options in 2016 has been wide and varied. Form factors like convertibles and 2-in-1s have become as common as traditional clamshells, and the release of Nvidia’s Pascal GPU architecture may forever change our expectations of gaming laptops. No matter what you’re hunting for, it’s been a great year for anyone buying a new system.

To help you with your decision, we’ve been hard at work evaluating more laptops—our latest reviews include the Lenovo Yoga 910, 2016 HP Spectre x360, Acer Predator 15, Acer Swift 7, and 2016 Surface Book i7. Competition’s been fierce, and so we’ve also got new winners in our Best Ultrabook (2016 Kaby Lake Dell XPS 13), Best Convertible (2016 HP Spectre x360) and Best Gaming Laptop (MSI GT73VR Titan) categories, plus a couple of fresh runners-up, too. And with the launch of Nvidia’s game-changing Pascal GPUs, we’ve even introduced a new category: Best Portable Gaming Laptop.


  • Best ultrabook laptop
  • Best convertible laptop
  • Best budget ultrabook laptop
  • Best luxury laptop
  • Best hybrid laptop

Best ultrabook laptop

Dell might be sticking to the adage of “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” when it comes to the XPS 13, but that strategy keeps producing the best ultrabook of the bunch. The Kaby Lake XPS 13 shares the same design as its predecessors: a quality aluminium exterior and carbon-fiber top, and that wonderfully compact, bezel-free 13-inch screen.

Dell actually released two updates to the XPS 13 in 2016: The one at the start of the year swapped in a Skylake CPU, added a USB Type-C port that served as an alternative charging port, and offered upgraded storage options. The most recent refresh—and our new pick for Best Ultrabook—keeps the same chassis changes as the Skylake XPS 13, features a jump to Intel’s new Kaby Lake processor, and sports a slightly larger battery. You get improved performance across the board, with a nice bump of an extra half-hour of battery life during video playback.

Kaby Lake Dell XPS 13Gordon Mah Ung
The Kaby Lake version of the Dell XPS 13 maintains that balance between portability, compact size, and performance that we like so much.

Our only lingering complaint is the small keyboard, but overall, you can’t lose with the newest XPS 13. It’s a truly compact ultrabook that punches out of its class.