1) MACBOOK AIR
Appearance-wise, this laptop has a lot in common with the Intel-powered MacBook Air that Apple released earlier this year, including the same 2560 x 1600 screen, Touch ID, 720p webcam, fingerprint sensor, and scissor-switch keyboard.
But the new processor is the star of the show here; it’s fast. In our testing, it handled intense photo- and video-editing workloads better than almost any Intel-powered laptop we’ve tried this year. It was also able to run Shadow of the Tomb Raider at close-to-playable frame rates, which is quite a feat for integrated graphics. At launch, these apps hadn’t yet been optimized for the M1 processor and were running through Apple’s Rosetta 2 translation layer — but they still worked fine.
Asus surprised us this year with its Chromebook Flip CX5, a gorgeous $800 laptop that happens to run Chrome OS. It’s as sturdy and well-built as all kinds of Windows laptops at higher price points, and sports a unique smooth texture. It includes fully-fledged laptop specs, including Intel’s 11th-Gen processors and a 57Wh battery, which provide speedy performance, long battery life, and quick charging.
You get all kinds of ports, including an HDMI and a microSD slot. The speakers sound great, and the keyboard is comfortable. Asus hasn’t skimped on CX5’s chassis or its performance — it’s absolutely the product to buy if you’re looking for a Chromebook with a big screen.
The 16-inch MacBook Pro is the most powerful laptop Apple has ever made. If you’re willing to pay the price (and it’s a steep price), you’ll almost certainly be satisfied with what this machine can do.
In our benchmarks, which test a variety of creative tasks including encoding, playback, and export time, the MacBook Pro 16 did better than any laptop we’ve ever used — the only other machines that have come close to matching this thing in some of our benchmarks are high-end desktop PCs. The battery life is also record-shattering. The 16-inch configuration with the M1 Pro processor lasted 16 hours in my testing — making it the longest-lasting laptop we’ve ever reviewed. (The M1 Max configuration doesn’t last quite as long, but still got us through a work day.)
Elsewhere, we have basically no complaints about the newest MacBook Pro. It has a gorgeous display that can reach 1,000 nits when playing HDR content. It pairs that with the best set of speakers we’ve ever heard from a laptop. If you’re looking for a machine that can accommodate a demanding workload while also serving as an excellent multimedia device when you’re off the clock, the MacBook Pro 16 is the best device for you.
At just over four pounds, the Zephyrus G15 is one of the lightest 15-inch gaming laptops you can buy. But you’re not compromising performance for that portability. The G15 is powered by the top mobile chips AMD and Nvidia have to offer, and pairs thim with a fast 165Hz QHD display. In our testing, the system was able to handle even the toughest AAA titles at QHD resolution.
Almost everything else about the G15 is great too: the audio sounds good, the keyboard and touchpad are some of the best on the market, the port selection has just about everything you’d need, and the battery can last over eight and a half hours to a charge. If you’re looking for a high-powered gaming machine that also works great as a daily driver, the Zephyrus G15 should be at the top of your list.
It’s hard to come up with a single complaint about the Spectre x360 14. It’s a drop-dead gorgeous machine with a sturdy build and a premium look and feel.
On the outside, the Spectre includes a roomy 3:2 display, and if FHD resolution doesn’t suit your fancy, there are OLED and 1,000-nit options available. There’s even a packaged stylus, which attaches magnetically to the side of the Spectre — handy if you’re using the device as a tablet. Pretty much every other aspect of this laptop, from its comfortable keyboard and smooth touchpad to its bass-heavy audio and practical port selection, rivals or exceeds the best convertibles on the market.
But the Spectre x360 14 isn’t just pretty to look at: it’s also a pleasure to use as a daily work driver. Intel’s latest 11th Gen processors and Iris Xe integrated graphics deliver snappy performance with no slowdown or freezes that we observed. And we got an average of 10 hours of battery life out of the device — one of the best results we’ve ever seen.
If you’re a creative professional who doesn’t quite want to pay the price of the MacBook Pro 16, or you’re looking for something more compact, you’re probably better suited to the 14-inch MacBook Pro. This device is thinner, lighter, and less expensive than its 16-inch counterpart, but it comes with the same monstrous processor options and the same stellar screen, albeit at a smaller size.
We didn’t see much of a difference in benchmark scores between the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBooks with the same processors — the 14-incher actually outperformed the 16-inchers in some of our tests. The primary difference to consider, apart from the sizes of these devices, is battery life. The 16-inch chassis allows for a significantly bigger battery, and the 16-inch M1 Pro model lasted several hours longer than the 14-inch M1 Pro model did in our testing.
On the outside, Apple has fixed many of the issues that reviewers had with previous MacBook Pro models. There are ports galore on this device, including an HDMI, an SD slot, and multiple Thunderbolt 4 ports. The much-maligned Touchbar is also no more. While you can get plenty of great 14-inch laptops for half the price of this MacBook, it’s the one to buy if money is no object.