There's plenty of great ultra light laptops for working on the go in 2023 with Intel's 13th generation processors taking on new offerings from AMD and Apple to make it a truly competitive year for laptop processors. There's still a few devices running 12th generation Intel processors and even an original Apple M1 chip in the mix here as we wait for the second half of 2023 laptop launches, but theT3's Aussie review team has managed to get its hands most of the top contenders so far – so this guide is all you’ll need to find the best laptop for any budget. It's regularly updated and expertly curated, so it'll lead you right to the best laptops for working, gaming, designing, studying and anything else.
Apple returns with a range of M2 silicone that offers improved performance and market leading battery life (especially in the higher performing MacBook Pros). That said Intel continues to throw additional cores at it's 2023 laptop processors that make them the highest performing processors in a number of laptop categories. AMD has returned to the fight this year too, with a Ryzen 9 processor that is topping the performance charts for our top gaming laptops.
If you’re specifically looking for something that can play the latest games, then you might want to check our best gaming laptop guide, and if you're a student who’s a little tight on cash then we also have a best laptops for students list.
It's fair to say that the best laptop might be different for everyone, so we've covered a wide selection of system types, prices and designs here – no matter what your needs, you should find something that fits. If you’re after a specific type of laptop, however, you may want to dip into the following guides:
Best laptop 2023: The top 3
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The best laptop for most people is the Apple MacBook Air (M2, 2022). Whether for work or play, Apple's M2-powered machine is a near-perfect blend of size, power and price.
The best premium laptop is the Dell XPS 13 Plus. Want a premium design and sumptuous screen? You'd be hard-pressed to better this Windows machine, which looks stunning and performs just as impressively.
The best value laptop is the Asus Zenbook S 13 (UX5304). Nipping at the heels of the MacBook Air (M2, 2022) this Windows based alternative offers decent performance, great battery life and a vibrant OLED display.
Think thin and light laptops have to sacrifice power? Not anymore. Or that big performance means smaller battery life? Nope. Or that getting all of these things in one machine would be expensive? Wrong again. This is the best of all worlds.
It's all thanks to the M2 processor – the second-gen Apple-made silicon for Macs – which is effortlessly powerful. Combined with the speediest storage in the business, this laptop is fast. But it also runs cool enough that it doesn't need any fans at all, so it's silent.
As we said in our review: "It's super powerful, has excellent battery life, and aside from some heat due to no fan cooling and the inclusion of a notch on that new 13.6-inch screen, it's a laptop that's truly hard to fault." There's now also a 15.3-inch MacBook Air model, too, which might be an even better option if you're seeking a larger screen format.
Sound like the go-to macOS laptop for you? Read more about why it's an ideal match for most people in our M2 2022 Apple MacBook Air review.
The Dell XPS 13 series has consistently wowed us here at T3, and while the '9315' version of that laptop is super, it's the newer, longer-lasting and all-around better XPS Plus that takes it opportunity to shine.
With great Intel processors and up to 32GB of RAM, this is a portable PC that's going to be able to handle everything that you throw at it. From late-night Netflix to early-morning report writing, you'll find the Dell XPS 13 Plus a highly capable laptop.
It's that 13.4-inch display with the super-thin bezels that really makes this laptop stand out though: you can go from Full HD through to 3.5K or greater-than-4K options, the choice is yours (as is the expense). Whichever you choose for your needs, though, you won't be disappointed by this stellar laptop.
Think the Dell sounds like your next laptop match? Read our full XPS 13 Plus review for all the info
The Asus Zenbook S 13 OLED is the classic Ultrabook: Slim, lightweight and packing enough power to do professional workloads on the go, but there’s a couple of things that make this 2023 release a little different to earlier ultra-portables.
The first is the price, which comes down quite a way from the lofty $2.5K-plus you were looking at for premium laptops over the last year to a more approachable $2,099 starting RRP for the Zenbook S 13 OLED. The second, hard to miss twist is the 13.3-inch OLED 2.8K panel that offers a 550 nit brightness and pro level DCI-P3 colour.
We got over 10 and a half hours of 1080p movie playback from the 63Wh battery and 13 hours and 12 minutes in light office benchmarks… which is pretty close to what was offered by the Apple MacBook Air 15-inch.
The Zenbook S 13 OLED offers an additional HDMI and USB-A port over the Macbook Air, you’ll get an SSD that’s roughly twice as fast, the screen is brighter and offers rich OLED contrast, and you’ll get faster Wi-Fi 6E (rather than just Wi-Fi 6).
Read our Asus Zenbook S 13 OLED review to see why it's one of the best value laptops
Best laptops 2023: The best of the rest
The HP Spectre X360's big point of difference is the presence of its 2-in-1 style, meaning the hinge can rotate through a full circle for more versatile use-case scenarios.
In addition to that funky design, the keyboard is superb, the screen is bright and clear, and it’s a genuinely good-looking machine with great ergonomics and strong security to boot. The only real criticism we can think of is that the fans can get a bit noisy when you drive it hard.
But that noise is no surprise: although this isn’t a gaming laptop, it’s perfectly powerful for other kinds of work. All while being capable of 13 hours from a single charge. Impressive.
Want to know more? Read our full HP Spectre X360 review for the lowdown
Apple updated its top-tier 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pro laptops with its M2 Pro and M2 Max processors. The result? Top-level performance yet hugely impressive battery life. If you want the very best laptop that Apple has to offer and the Air won't cut it then this is the powerhouse you want.
While this 2023 model doesn't change anything visually speaking compared to its predecessor, it's still a great laptop with superb battery life, plus small new additions such as HDMI 2.1 (for 4K/240Hz output) and Wi-Fi 6E speeds. Gone is the Touch Bar (it still lives on in the 13-inch 2022 Pro model though), and while the display still has a notch (just like the MacBook Air M2), we think it's hard not to fall in love with its bright Mini LED charms.
Oh, and that's before mentioning just how insanely capable M2 Pro or M2 Max is. The latter can feature up to 96GB unified memory, which is untouchable in this space. Perfect for content creators no doubt. It doesn't come cheap though, obviously.
Looking for super power and are on team Mac? Read our full MacBook Pro 2023 review to see why it's so spectacular
As the name suggests, the Surface Laptop 5 is the fifth incarnation of this particular laptop, so Microsoft has had plenty of opportunity to get it right – and we think it's a real success story.
From the quality of the screen to the battery life, the Surface Laptop 5 gets plenty right. It's very configurable in terms of power, too, with Intel CPUs available, together with a wide-ranging choice of RAM and storage options. That means you can bend it to fit your budget best as possible.
Perhaps above all else, though, it's the style of this laptop that really appeals. We think the finish is arguably better-looking than a MacBook Air, making this a contender for the Windows crown.
Read our full Microsoft Laptop 5 review to find out the fulls highs and lows about this Windows machine
There are 2-in-1s and then there are Microsoft 2-in-1s. The long-established Surface series has evolved into the Laptop Studio, which is ideal for creators given the number of ways in which you can manipulate the screen for your advantage.
However, it's a rather pricey bit of kit, and you'll need to fork out extra in order to buy the stylus Surface Pen, too, further adding to the cost.
But we think it'll be worth every penny for creators, as this unique fold-over design is unlike anything else you'll find on the market. It's practical too.
Want to know more about the best laptop for creators? Read our full Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio review
We called Lenovo's IdeaPad Duet 5 Chromebook "a vision of beauty" in our review, which is high praise indeed for a Chromebook. But this is no ordinary Chrome OS laptop, really, as its 2-in-1 construction and super OLED screen set it apart from the typically cheap and cheerful options elsewhere on the market.
Chrome OS won't suit all, though, as it's more based around Google apps and Android apps, but that's fine for lightweight working, so idea for students and those who need to go big on word processing, browsing and streaming. It'll do all this no problems and last an age whilst doing so too.
Is Chrome OS and a Chromebook the best laptop pick for you? Read our full Lenovo IdeaPad Duet 5 Chromebook review to find out more
The Razer Blade 14 has long been one of the best ultraportable gaming laptops around, but a close partnership with AMD and Nvidia in 2023 means the latest device is even more powerful than you might expect.
Blade 14 can outpace a MacBook Pro (M2 Max) in Cinebench R23 image rendering benchmarks and it doubles the performance of the 13th Gen Intel U series processors we’ve tested in some CPU performance, but it does still lag behind the M2 Max in Geekbench 5 multi-core work tasks by up to 28 percent.
Although this processor is lower wattage than its predecessors, it’s not as efficient as either Apple’s M2 or Intel’s U series processors and it’s got a 140W Nvidia Graphics that’ll contribute to draining the 68Wh battery in just four to five hours.
How to choose the best laptop for you
The laptop market continues to evolve, with new components and price pressure from low-end Chromebooks meaning you can now get more bang for your buck than ever before: it really is a great time to be choosing a laptop. If you're not familiar with the jargon you're coming across, we'd recommend first heading to our laptop terms and specs explainer first.
Picking the best laptop for 2023 for you is all about compromise. If you want something as powerful as possible, then it's going to be bigger and less easy to lug around on your travels. If you want something slim and ultra-light, then you simply can't pack in as many components.
Another important consideration is which operating system you're going to go with: you may already have a favourite, but Windows is best for gaming, MacOS is great for creatives, while Chrome OS is brilliant as a lightweight computing platform. Look at the strengths and weaknesses of each before committing.
Make sure you've weighed up exactly what you need to do with your laptop and the features that it needs to have before parting with any cash – otherwise you could be looking for an upgrade sooner rather than later.
Of course price is going to play a big part in your decision-making as well, and with that in mind we've included links to all the latest and greatest deals on the web for easy reference.
Types of laptops explained
General purpose laptops: These laptops come in a variety of types, from the best cheap laptops to serious, silicon-stuffed systems that deliver massive power and performance. These sorts of systems work well if you're just looking for a solid all-round system that is geared mostly toward work and productivity.
Gaming laptops: The best gaming laptops are ideal for serious gamers, as they come with dedicated graphics cards. These dedicated GPUs mean that you can play video games at higher resolutions and higher framerates, as well as enjoy advanced graphical effects like real time ray tracing. They tend have a higher entry price than general purpose laptops.
Ultraportable laptops: Ultrabooks and the best lightweight laptops are specialists at portability, and often come with thinner and lighter designs that general purpose or gaming laptops. These systems are a good choice for working professionals who need to carry their laptop around with them and travel frequently. Specs vary, but due to the lithe designs these laptops tend to retail for more than general purpose laptops.
Hybrid laptops: The best 2-in-1 laptops on the market offer two-fold functionality, capable of being used both as a laptop and a tablet. This obviously makes them very versatile and can also be a great way to save money, as you can buy one product instead of two. Some 2-in-1 laptops have fixed screens that can be rotated all the way round on 360-degree hinges, while others have screens that actually detach from their keyboard base.
Chromebooks: If you find yourself shopping on a budget for a new system then scoping out the best Chromebooks is a smart call. That's because these systems are cheap to buy and typically highly portable. Where they differ to other laptops is that they run Google's Chrome OS, which is designed primarily for use while connected to the internet. Chrome OS isn't as feature-packed as Windows or macOS, but it is streamlines and offers excellent access to all of Google's G-Suite apps such as Gmail, Gdocs and Google Calendar.
Student laptops: As you would expect, the best student laptops tend to ring in cheaper than other specialist laptops, and there is often crossover to Chromebooks due to this. Student laptops tend to offer small to medium-sized laptop screens and mid-tier specifications, although more premium recommendations can stretch into Apple MacBook Air territory. These laptops aren't the most powerful on the market, but they're designed to do the basics well and not cost too much, while also remaining portable.