Skip to main content
  • HP Envy x360 15z

  • Apple MacBook Air (2020)

  • Apple MacBook Pro (2020)

  • Microsoft Surface Laptop 4

  • Asus Zenbook 14 (Q407IQ-BR5N4)

Product image of HP Envy x360 15z
HP Envy x360 15z

Fast, beautiful, and affordable, the 15-inch HP Envy x360 is a dream for those in need of a larger laptop that won't break the bank. Inside its beautiful body, the 15-inch Envy packs an AMD Ryzen 5 processor that trades blows with laptops twice its price—perfect for photo editing, light gaming, and even a bit of video editing.

The HP Envy’s 15-inch display is nothing short of glorious. It’s huge, it’s bright, it’s vibrant, and it’s touch-enabled. While the laptop is a little bulky for tablet use in 2-in-1 mode, it’s nice to have the ability to tent your laptop. What's even more impressive is that it can hit all the marks while still delivering almost seven hours of battery life. It's undoubtedly one of the best 15-inch laptops in its price range, and we doubt we'll see a worthy contender for its crown anytime soon.

Pros

  • Excellent performance

  • A beautiful design

  • Sturdy 2-in-1 hinges

Cons

  • So-so battery life

  • Heavy

Product image of Apple MacBook Air (2020)
Apple MacBook Air (2020)

With almost thirteen hours of battery life, a crazy-powerful M1 processor, and an incredibly smooth trackpad and keyboard, it should be no surprise that the MacBook Air M1 shoved our previous top laptop out of its spot.

The new Air ditches Intel’s processors for Apple’s own M1 processors. Apple claimed this new M1 chip would be so amazing that we’d want to ditch our old Intel Macs. It delivered, with the M1 processor packing over 60% more power than its predecessor. The only processors that compete with the M1 for raw performance are the flagship Intel Core i9 and AMD Ryzen 9 processors. Basically, this laptop performs better than most laptops twice its price.

But it’s not just about speed. The most astonishing feature of the MacBook Air is its battery life. Our battery test is designed for real-world performance rather than optimal circumstances, so we expected the claimed 15-hour battery life to turn into 9 hours—instead, we got almost thirteen hours. It shattered the record for longest battery life we’ve seen from a laptop running Chrome. The only laptop able to beat the Air is the M1 MacBook Pro 13, which gets you an extra hour of battery life but costs a fair bit more.

The MacBook Air M1 comes with the same aluminum chassis and Retina screen we loved in the earlier 2020 Intel MacBook Air, although we’d love to see a redesign for the MacBook Air’s next iteration (thinner bezels, perhaps?). This is one of the most surprising releases we’ve seen in years, and we can’t imagine anyone not falling in love with the M1 MacBook Air.

Pros

  • Jaw-dropping battery life

  • Incredible performance

  • Iconic build quality

Cons

  • Poor port selection

Product image of Apple MacBook Pro (2020)
Apple MacBook Pro (2020)

While the M1 MacBook Air offers the best performance and value for most folks, the M1 MacBook Pro 13 packs a little extra juice. Its best-in-class Apple M1 processor broke our records in both benchmarks and real-world testing. Its power is on par with that of the flagship Intel Core i9 and AMD Ryzen 9 processors, but the base MacBook Pro 13 is actually quite affordable.

What's really impressive, however, is its battery power. The MacBook Pro 13 lasted fourteen hours in our Chrome-based battery test, which routinely chews through battery power faster than a video-based test. The longest-lasting Windows competitor, the HP Spectre 14t, lasted 9 hours before giving up.

The M1 MacBook Pro 13 ships with the same amount of ports and fans as the base Intel MacBook Pro 13: two Thunderbolt 3 ports and a single fan. However, unlike the last generation, the M1 MacBook Pro 13 rarely needs its single fan as its ultra-efficient processor stays cool even during exceptionally taxing tasks, like video editing.

If you’re interested in getting a new MacBook, there are only two reasons to turn away from the M1 MacBook Pro 13. Either you need an Intel-based Mac or discrete GPU (i.e. a MacBook Pro 16), or you’re considering the M1 MacBook Air 13. The MacBook Air 13 offers almost the same features for a more modest price tag. Upgrades over the Air include a Touch Bar, a bigger battery (the Air lasted one hour less than the Pro in our battery test), and a fan. For most people, the Air will be the better pick but it could be worth splurging on the Pro if you can afford it and you want a few extra features.

If you’re debating between an M1 MacBook and a premium Windows laptop, the M1 MacBooks win. They’re more powerful, have a significantly better battery life, and have a wonderful aesthetic and user experience. Unless you’re using Windows-only apps and features, we recommend the MacBook Pro 13 and MacBook Air.

Pros

  • Class-leading battery life

  • Insane performance

  • Premium build quality

Cons

  • Poor port selection

Related content

Product image of Microsoft Surface Laptop 4
Microsoft Surface Laptop 4

If you spend all day typing away, you will adore the Surface Laptop 4’s gentle but tactile keyboard. It’s just about perfect for typing quickly and accurately without all that finger fatigue. Meanwhile, its 3:2 screen ratio is crisp and vibrant, with plenty of vertical space to get work done.

We tested the Intel Core i7 model, which was one of the fastest laptops we’ve reviewed so far, but there is also an AMD Ryzen model available with even better performance and battery life. We only managed to squeeze eight hours of battery life from our unit, but many users claim they can get north of ten hours or more. This inconsistency holds it back from being the best Windows laptop we’ve tested, but it’s still a darn good laptop.

Pros

  • Beautiful stylus-enabled touchscreen

  • Incredible keyboard and trackpad

  • Strong performance

Cons

  • Configuration options are limited

  • Battery life shorter than advertised

Product image of Asus Zenbook 14 (Q407IQ-BR5N4)
Asus Zenbook 14 (Q407IQ-BR5N4)

Compared to last generation’s Zenbook 13, the Zenbook 14 trades in an aluminum chassis and a gorgeous display for markedly better performance and battery life—all while maintaining the Zenbook line’s admirable portability. We're a little disappointed to see the premium build quality go, but we would still say this is a good midrange buy with some of the best battery life and weight in its class.

Its keyboard is deep and easy to type on, and it’s not as cramped as the Zenbook 13’s keyboard. The extra inch makes a difference. This model’s trackpad isn’t the glassy glider from, say, a Macbook, but it’s nonetheless comfortable to use thanks to its width and its excellent fingertip detection.

To be frank, we were not impressed with the Zenbook 14’s screen. This matte 1080p panel's black level gets darker than last gen’s glossy screen, but it’s also 70 nits dimmer at max brightness. Its colors are also a bit more washed out than those of the Zenbook 13’s display.

One aspect where the Zenbook 14 far surpasses its predecessor is in performance, arguably the aspect that most affects your experience with a laptop. Its new Ryzen 5 4500U processor is blazing fast, crushing the old Intel Core i5-8500U in benchmarks, and its lower power consumption means the Zenbook 14 has a battery life of almost eight and a half hours. If you’re looking for a laptop that’ll get you through the day for well under a grand, the Zenbook 14 is an awesome choice.

Pros

  • Fantastic battery life

  • Solid performance

  • Decent keyboard

Cons

  • Display is somewhat dull

Meet the testers

TJ Donegan

TJ Donegan

Executive Editor

@TJDonegan

TJ is the Executive Editor of Reviewed.com. He is a Massachusetts native and has covered electronics, cameras, TVs, smartphones, parenting, and more for Reviewed. He is from the self-styled "Cranberry Capitol of the World," which is, in fact, a real thing.

See all of TJ Donegan's reviews
Alex Kane

Alex Kane

Editor, Search & Updates

@alexjkane

Alex Kane is an editor at USA Today’s Reviewed.

See all of Alex Kane's reviews
Joanna Nelius

Joanna Nelius

Senior Editor, Electronics

@JLNwrites

Joanna specializes in anything and everything gaming-related and loves nerding out over graphics cards, processors, and chip architecture. Previously she was a staff writer for Gizmodo, PC Gamer, and Maximum PC.

See all of Joanna Nelius's reviews

Checking our work.

Our team is here for one purpose: to help you buy the best stuff and love what you own. Our writers, editors, and lab technicians obsess over the products we cover to make sure you're confident and satisfied. Have a different opinion about something we recommend? Email us and we'll compare notes.

Shoot us an email