Enjoy a safe, convenient shopping experience.Learn more

Main Content

Buying Guide

Laptops

 
 

Whether you’re looking to play games, stream movies, or stay connected while traveling or at home, the latest laptops balance portability with the performance and power you need. Start your search for the perfect laptop with our overview of the most important features to consider.

 

Shopping for a new laptop.

How will you use your laptop?

  • Light use: Browsing the web, paying bills online, email and social networking, organizing and sharing digital photos.
  • Average use: Storing and streaming music and movies, tasks like spreadsheet and document creation.
  • Demanding use: Multitasking with multiple tabs and programs, sophisticated graphics and photo editing, and video production.

More demanding users will want to invest a bit more in a higher resolution screen, a more powerful processor, more system memory, and a larger hard drive or a fast solid state drive.

Does your laptop look and feel right?

You can learn a lot about a laptop by handling it. As portability is a key factor for laptops, consider the model’s overall weight and whether it will be comfortable to hold and carry as you move around your home, walk around campus, or commute to work. Hinges and clasps should feel sturdy enough to withstand daily use. Test the lid and body — typically made from plastics or aluminums — to see if they are adequately rigid while being lightweight. Make sure the keyboard’s spacing and depth allow for comfortable typing. The trackpad and mouse buttons should allow you to solidly click, scroll and zoom without skipping. Also, if you rely on 10-key for data entry, be sure the machine you select has a numeric keypad.

If you won’t have an opportunity to view a laptop in person before buying, you can still check product pages and user reviews for recurring comments about look, feel and build quality.

2-in-1s vs. traditional laptops.

 

When it comes to a laptop’s form factor, you will need to choose between traditional “clamshell” laptops and versatile 2-in-1 laptops. These 2-in-1s combine a powerful laptop and a go-anywhere tablet in one lightweight, portable device (and may also be called “convertible” or “hybrid” laptops).

 
Laptop

2-in-1 models typically feature a flip-and-fold display on a 360° hinge, or sometimes a detachable keyboard. These designs let you adjust the laptop to best suit your activity — whether typing documents, watching movies, reading e-books, playing games, or browsing online. And compared to a separate tablet, 2-in-1s typically include more USB ports and other connectivity options, making it easier for you to transfer files and photos or attach a range of accessories.

Shop 2-in-1 laptops

Operating systems.

The operating system is the heart of your laptop. It manages all software and hardware, including files, memory and connected devices. Most importantly, it lets you interact with your laptop and your programs in a visual way (otherwise, you’d be typing a bunch of computer code to get anything done).

 

macOS

Installed exclusively on Mac computers, macOS boasts an elegant and easy-to-use interface to complement Mac’s sleek aesthetics and impressive battery life. Macs have historically had fewer issues with viruses and malware. However, MacBooks start at a higher price point than other laptops, and no Mac model to date includes touch-screen functionality.

Shop by Mac operating system

Windows

Windows is designed specifically around an intuitive touch-screen interface (though it can be used with a traditional mouse and keyboard), expanding your navigation options. The integrated Windows Hello feature lets you log in quickly using a look or a touch instead of a password, while remaining enterprise-grade secure. It also offers an updated task manager, streamlined file management and a suite of built-in apps.

Shop by Windows operating system

Learn more about Windows 10

Chrome OS

Chromebooks are laptops that run Chrome OS — the fast, simple and secure operating system built by Google. Chrome OS is built for the web and is tailor-made to run on Chromebook hardware. Chromebooks leverage the Google Play Store, which means they can run millions of apps, including games, document creation, and photo editing apps. Google collaborates closely with popular manufacturers to ensure every Chromebook has built-in security, boots up and performs fast, and stays easy-to-use with automatic updates.

Shop by Chrome operating system

Learn more about Chromebooks

Screen features.

Touch screens

Touch-screen laptops make navigating on your computer more intuitive. Tap to select, hold and drag to move items, swipe to scroll and pinch to zoom, just as you would on a smartphone or tablet. Currently available on many Windows laptops and select Chromebooks.

Shop touch-screen laptops

Screen size

Laptop screen sizes range from about 11 up to 17 inches, measured diagonally. A larger screen is ideal for gaming, watching movies, photo and video editing, and viewing documents side by side. Keep in mind, a big screen can increase the overall size, weight and power consumption of a laptop.

Shop by screen size:

Resolution

Higher resolution equals better picture quality. Laptop screens come in a range of resolutions (measured in pixels, horizontal x vertical).

  • 4K Ultra HD: 3840 x 2560 and 3840 x 2160 resolutions boast four times the pixels of Full HD, creating rich colors and images for viewing and editing incredibly lifelike images and graphics. Watch a video comparing 4K Ultra HD and Full HD
  • QHD (Quad HD) and QHD+: With 2560 x 1440 and 3200 x 1800 resolutions, respectively, the extremely high pixel density creates crisp detail and sharp text, ideal for professional photo and graphics work as well as high-def movies and games.
  • Retina display: 2560 x 1600 and 3072 x 1920 resolutions are found in Apple’s 13" and 16" laptop displays, respectively.
  • Full HD: 1920 x 1080 resolution allows you to watch Blu-ray movies and play video games without losing any level of detail. Watch a video comparing Full HD and HD
  • HD+: 1600 x 900 resolution is great for casual gaming and watching DVD movies.
  • HD: 1366 x 768 resolution is standard on mainstream laptops. Good for web surfing, email and basic computing tasks.

Shop by resolution:

Display types

Different display technologies yield different colors and brightness levels. Many laptops employ LED backlighting, which can display bright colors without draining the battery. If you plan to use your laptop to watch movies and shows with a friend, choose a display with an IPS panel for wider viewing angles. Screens with a glossy finish generally provide richer colors and darker blacks, while matte displays will reduce glare if you frequently work outdoors or near windows. Laptop models featuring a narrow bezel — the border around the screen — allow for more display space to fit within the laptop’s form factor.

Shop ultrathin-bezel laptops

Processors.

Your laptop’s processor is like its brain. Working in combination with system memory, the power of the processor determines the complexity of software you can run, how many programs you can have open at the same time, and how fast those programs will run. Most laptops feature an Intel® or AMD processor.

Variances exist within processor classes. Laptops designed for exceptional battery life often incorporate an ultra-low-voltage version of the listed processor, which usually sacrifices some processing speed.

For heavy graphics work or gaming, choose a laptop with a dedicated graphics card and video memory. Having separate resources for your graphics allows for faster, smoother processing while you’re watching movies, playing games or multitasking.

Intel® processors.

Intel’s processors give you the widest range of laptop choices among brands, form factors, display options, and even operating systems. Most prevalent are Intel’s Core™ series of multicore processors.

  • Core i9: Intel's top-tier processor for gaming experiences and high-demand content creation and editing, including 4K or 360° videos, high-resolution photos and high-quality audio.
  • Core i7: A popular choice for “power users” like gamers, graphic designers, photographers and videographers. It excels at serious multitasking and multimedia creation for projects in 3D or high definition.
  • Core i5: Mid-grade Core processor that is powerful enough for most computing tasks, and multitasks well so you can stream a football game while looking up stats and sending emails.
  • Core i3: The entry-level Core processor, more than adequate for everyday email, internet browsing and productivity tasks. It’s also fine for common activities like listening to music.

In value-priced laptops, you’ll also see Intel’s Pentium® and Celeron® processors. These are adequate for basic email, internet and productivity tasks, but their speed and multitasking capabilities are limited relative to those of the Core family.

AMD processors.

From work to play, AMD Ryzen mobile processors with Radeon Vega graphics deliver multitasking performance, stunning visuals and healthy battery life, while allowing for a sleek form factor. Options include:

  • Ryzen 3: Start here for performance on the go. Maximize browsing, streaming and creating with 4 ultraresponsive 7 nm Zen 2 cores and AMD Radeon graphics. Great for home, school and office productivity with up to 4K resolution.
  • Ryzen 5: The responsiveness you need for all-around multimedia performance. Ideal for home, school and office, 6 ultraresponsive 7 nm Zen 2 or Zen 3 cores with integrated AMD Radeon graphics stream in up to 4K. Great for AAA and esports gaming, as well as image and video editing.
  • Ryzen 7: Accelerate everything you do. Experience desktop-caliber performance with smooth frame rates while editing videos, running demanding applications. and playing the latest games and esports. 8 high-performance 7 nm Zen 3 cores are optimized for pairing with high performance discrete graphics cards.
  • Ryzen 9: AMD’s premium processor delivers performance for elite gaming and content creation. 8 high-performance 7 nm Zen 3 cores are optimized for pairing with high performance discrete graphics cards. Great for AAA and esports gaming, intensive image and video editing, and gaming while streaming and recording.
  • Athlon 3000 Series with Radeon graphics: Discover a world of quick apps, beautiful entertainment, modern features, and long-lasting battery life. Ideal for everything from completing everyday tasks to streaming your favorite movies ― at home or on the go.

AMD A Series processors prioritize value and are geared toward your everyday productivity tasks.

Apple processor

The Apple M1 chip is Apple’s first chip designed specifically for Mac, and can be found in the latest generations of MacBook Pro and MacBook Air. The Apple M1 system on a chip (SoC) integrates the CPU, GPU, Neural Engine, I/O and more, and delivers on performance, custom technologies and power efficiency.

 

Shop by processor brand:

Memory.

Memory

Random-access memory, or RAM, is important because it helps your processor tackle multiple tasks at once. A minimum of 2 gigabytes (GB) is required for basic computing, and 12GB or more is recommended if you’re into graphics and advanced photo or video editing. Most laptops have 4GB–12GB pre-installed, and some have up to 64GB. If you think you might need more memory later, choose a model that lets you expand the RAM.

Shop laptops with 12GB memory or more

Internal storage.

Traditional hard disk drives (HDDs) offer larger storage capacities, but add to a laptop’s weight and thickness while generating heat and noise. Alternatively, solid state drives (also known as SSDs) and flash storage are much lighter, faster, cooler and quieter than hard drives — but they’re also more expensive per GB, so typically provide less storage space.

Watch a video comparing HDDs and SSDs

When it comes to storage capacity, 32GB will get you by if you predominantly use a cloud service or stream, although a minimum of 64GB will give you more flexibility when you’re offline. If you intend to store high-res photos and videos on your laptop, consider a drive of 256GB or more. And if you will be downloading games and 4K movies to your laptop, plan on a capacity of at least 512GB.

Hard disk drives

Traditional, mechanical hard disk drives are still found in some laptops because they’re relatively inexpensive and offer huge capacities for your money. However, as noted above, they also add significantly to a laptop’s weight and thickness, and generate both heat and noise. Hard drives come in two standard speeds — 5400 rpm drives, sufficient for day-to-day web surfing, emailing and document creation, and 7200 rpm drives, which transfer data more quickly. The faster 7200 rpm is worth considering if you regularly work with large files.

Shop HDD laptops

Solid state drives

SSDs are many times faster than hard disk drives, but typically offer less capacity (although their overall affordability has improved considerably in recent years). SSDs also offer tremendous advantages in physical size, weight and power efficiency, along with negligible heat production and noiseless operation, making them an ideal choice for ultraslim, ultralightweight laptops. And unlike hard disks, SSDs have no moving parts to wear out; this also makes them better able to withstand bumps and jolts as you carry them with you.

Some laptops employ an SSD for all storage. Others dedicate a smaller SSD to house the operating system and applications (enabling faster start-up) and add a traditional hard drive for general data storage.

Shop SSD laptops

Battery life.

 

Manufacturers’ battery-life claims range from just a few hours up to 12 hours or more.

Laptop enhancements — such as increased processing power, larger and higher resolution screens, faster hard drives, or the addition of an optical drive — will drain your battery more quickly. Other laptop features — for instance, a solid state drive instead of a mechanical hard drive — can improve power efficiency.

 

Additional features.

Connectivity

Laptops typically provide several options for staying connected to the internet as well as to other devices. Most laptops provide the latest Wi-Fi 6 wireless networking standards plus Bluetooth capabilities, so you can easily sync your smartphone, speakers and other accessories.

Some laptops also feature a voice assistant. Some of the latest MacBook models include Siri, and a growing number of laptop PCs have Amazon Alexa built in, which helps you easily keep track of tasks, control connected smart home devices, and more.

Learn more about Alexa for PC

Shop laptops with Alexa built in

Ports

Keep an eye out for the following ports that are commonly used for connecting to TVs, cameras and other devices.

  • USB Type-A: This legacy port lets you connect external drives, gaming controllers, headphones, and other accessories. USB 3.0 ports are distinguished by a blue insert and transfer data faster than USB 2.0 when used with USB 3.0 devices. They are backward-compatible with legacy USB 2.0 devices, but limited to 2.0 speeds.
  • USB Type-C: This latest iteration provides blazing speeds and versatile power. USB-C features connectors with identical ends that plug in upside down or right-side up. Adapters allow for video as well as backward compatibility with Type-A ports.
  • Thunderbolt: Ultra-high bandwidth for fast data transfer between devices featuring a Thunderbolt or MiniDisplayPort connection.
  • HDMI or mini HDMI: Connect a projector or display HD media on your flat-screen TV.
  • Media card slots: Transfer photos from the memory card in your digital camera or camcorder.

Security

Some laptops offer additional physical security features to help safeguard you and your information. Look for laptops with a fingerprint reader to easily unlock your laptop, or a webcam privacy shutter or kill switch to prevent hackers from seeing in through the camera.

Watch a video about privacy feature options

 

Gaming laptops.

Designed specifically for high-performance games and tasks on the go, gaming laptops provide boosted power and beefed-up features. Advanced processors and graphics cards allow for faster, smoother gameplay, while enhanced speakers and larger screen sizes help bring the game to life. Laptops labeled “VR Ready” fulfill system requirements to add a virtual reality headset and lose yourself in 360° experiences. Some gaming laptops also include programmable keys, RGB backlit keyboards and additional ports for convenient connectivity.

However, these resource-intensive features often heat up the laptop while cutting down on battery life and portability. Consider how often you’ll be taking your gaming on the road, and choose a laptop with a cooling system that leaves your hands comfortable and your graphics smooth.

Learn more about PC gaming

Shop gaming laptops:

Laptop accessories.

An ergonomic mouse or extra layer of padding can make a world of a difference when you’re using your laptop on the go. Best Buy is your one-stop shop for all your laptop accessories.

  • Microsoft 365 and Office: Popular applications like Word, Excel and PowerPoint for portable productivity.
  • Printers: Quickly print your reports, assignments and photos right from your laptop. Most printers offer wireless and mobile print options.
  • Sleeves and bags: Safely and stylishly transport your laptop and accessories.
  • Mice: Precise, comfortable control for quick navigating, scrolling and gaming.
  • Storage drives: Supplement or replace your laptop’s capacity for greater storage space and faster speeds.

Shop by:

Trade-In and recycling.

Just because you’re replacing an older device doesn’t mean it has to go to waste. Use our trade-in program to swap your old laptop for a Best Buy Gift Card, or take advantage of Best Buy’s free and easy recycling program.

Learn more about Best Buy Trade-In

Learn more about Best Buy’s recycling program

 

Geek Squad services.

Whether you’re backing up files, installing software or removing viruses, Geek Squad can provide helpful service and advice. Consult one of our experts by calling, chatting online, or visiting your nearest Best Buy store.

Learn more about Geek Squad computer and repair services

Geek Squad

Shop online or in store.

Find a wide variety of laptops on BestBuy.com. Your local Best Buy store also has a great selection of laptops. Plus, our friendly Blue Shirts are there to answer questions and help you find all the must-have accessories to go with your new laptop.