You may have had laptops you’ve absolutely loved, while others have fallen short of the mark. The best way to avoid the second scenario is to know exactly what you need the laptop to do. Will you use your new laptop for sophisticated digital work or content creation or are you just going to use it to surf the web and let the kids chat with friends? Knowing your goals can help you decide on a whole bunch of things—from the amount of storage and RAM you need to how much weight you’ll be willing to carry. (Have questions about specs? We’ve answered a few at the bottom of the article.) Now it’s time to scan through our list of 2021’s top notebooks to find the best laptop for you.
What type of laptop are you looking for?
Best Budget Laptop
Weight: 2.9 pounds | CPU: Intel Celeron N4020 | Storage: 64GB | RAM: 4GB
A 14-inch Windows laptop with a Full HD screen that’s so thin it could be mistaken for a pad of paper? And at a price that you might be willing to spend on a pair of concert tickets? Yes, such a laptop exists and you’re looking at it. Asus’ entry-level portable PC won’t win any races, but it’s a lightweight, affordable fit for everyday use.
|At just 0.7 inches thick, it’s as thin as two smartphones stacked together.||It’s ideal for light daily use but won’t have enough power for editing high-quality photos and videos (you’ll want a minimum of 8GB RAM) or playing graphically demanding video games.|
|The Full HD screen does a fine job with streamed high-definition content.||If you want to shop online and watch YouTube videos, you’ll have plenty of storage space. But if you plan to regularly download photos and install new software, just 64GB of onboard disk space may mean you’ll need to sign up for a cloud storage service.|
|It runs Windows 10 in S mode, providing a safe, simple user experience.|
Best Gaming Laptop
Weight: 5.3 pounds | CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 | Storage: 512GB | RAM: 8GB
Acer’s entry-level gaming notebook has everything you need to get your game on, including a discrete graphics chip and a large, bright Full HD screen. If you want a notebook that will let you play a game like Call of Duty without leaving a smoking hole where your credit card used to be, this model is a good place to start. (Our best gaming laptops roundup also has more picks that you might like.)
|The fast, Full HD screen is a perfect match for this notebook’s processing power.||Gaming laptops tend to be heavier than other types of laptops and this model is no exception at 5.3 pounds.|
|A speedy solid-state drive means you’ll be dropped into the action before you can finish the first swig of your favourite energy drink.||The GeForce GTX 1650 is an entry-level gaming graphics card but is sufficient for most games.|
|Sleek design and colourful accents help this notebook stand out at game parties.||Just 8GB of memory will limit the smoothness and fidelity of some games.|
Best Laptop for Photo and Video Editing
Weight: 2.8 pounds | CPU: 11th Generation Intel Core i5-1135G7 | Storage: 512GB | RAM: 8GB
Photo and video editing demand an amalgam of power and creative flexibility, and HP’s Spectre convertibles provide just that. With the latest Intel core processors and a fast SSD, this hybrid quickly churns through complex tasks, while a responsive touchscreen and rechargeable Tilt Pen turn the display into a digital canvas.
|Windows 10 Home means you get full PC functionality with no limitations on productivity or content creation tools.||While 512GB of storage would probably be enough for most people, it’s not a ton of space for creative projects. You’ll probably have to purchase an external hard drive or cloud space.|
|The 11th Generation Intel CPU cranks through complex editing operations with incredible speed.||The 13.3-inch touchscreen is great for drawing and creation, but you may want to connect to a larger monitor when completing other time-intensive tasks at home or work. (We love these monitors from Walmart.)|
|It delivers a no-compromise Windows tablet experience, complete with stylus.|
Best Laptop for Students
Weight: 3.6 pounds | CPU: Intel Pentium Silver N6000 | Storage: 256GB | RAM: 8GB
Chromebooks are great for students, but if your kid wants something with a bit more kick for not much more money, this Windows 10 Home notebook is worth a look. It’s equipped with a spacious 15.6-inch Full HD screen—great for schoolwork and streaming video—as well as built-in stereo microphones and speakers for video calls.
|A full edition of Windows 10 Home combined with an Intel processor and 8GB of RAM make this model an upgrade from a basic school laptop.||Weak integrated graphics prohibit playing the latest, greatest games.|
|With more than seven hours of battery life, kids can easily power through a full school day.||The SSD is speedy but smallish at 256GB. If you’re a regular downloader, you may also want to consider a cloud storage subscription or external hard drive.|
|The brushed-metal aesthetic elevates this notebook above standard student workstations.|
Best Laptop for Working from Home
Weight: 4 pounds | CPU: Intel Core i3-1115G4 | Storage: 256GB | RAM: 8GB
An unreliable laptop is an obstacle to productivity and profitability. Enter Asus and the VivoBook, an inexpensive, dependable and versatile notebook made with professionals in mind. It’s got more than enough processing power to get your work done and plenty of practical extra features—like a fingerprint sensor—to boot.
|The speedy SSD lets you power up, open apps and shut down in seconds.||At four pounds, this notebook could be a tad heavy for long backpack commutes.|
|Practical business-friendly features include a physical number pad, two USB ports and fast dual-band Wi-Fi.||If you tend to work late into the night—or from bed—the lack of keyboard backlighting could be an issue.|
|The spacious 15.6-inch Full HD screen is also perfect for streaming your favourite shows and movies once the workday is done.|
Best 2-in-1 Laptop
Weight: 3.3 pounds | CPU: Intel Core m3-8100Y | Storage: 128GB | RAM: 4GB
Asus’ Chromebook Flip is for folks who can’t decide whether to get a laptop or a tablet. It serves as a fully functional notebook with a traditional physical keyboard, but when you can also bend the display back to enter tablet mode. The 2-in-1 laptop format gives you all the flexibility and accessibility of a large-screened Android slate with the practicality of a regular clamshell notebook when you need it.
|The 14-inch Full HD touchscreen is crisp, bright and almost frameless.||It runs on Chrome OS, so don’t expect all the functionality and app availability of a Windows notebook.|
|The bend-back design lends itself to tented configurations—ideal for watching movies in cramped areas, such as planes.||It’s larger and heavier than a typical slate (which is often in the neighbourhood of one pound) when used in tablet mode.|
|It has good specs for a Google tablet, including a speedy Intel processor that’s great for multitasking.|
Weight: 3.2 pounds | CPU: Intel Celeron N4020 | Storage: 32GB | RAM: 4GB
If all you really need is a notebook that will let you do a little shopping from your couch, catch up on your email and maybe stream a show while preparing supper, then let us introduce you to HP’s affordable—and stylish—Chromebook. This portable PC is practical and dependable.
|Chrome OS will have you up and running in moments, with no extraneous features or doodads to clutter things up.||The screen resolution is less than full HD, so it’s best for YouTube videos and Netflix shows rather than visual masterpieces.|
|A built-in 720p camera, mic and stereo speakers are perfect for Zoom meetings and Skype calls.||32GB of storage isn’t enough to keep more than a small library of pictures and songs.|
|The silver-and-white styling is a lovely fit for modern living spaces.|
Weight: 2.5 pounds | CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 5500U | Storage: 512GB | RAM: 8GB
If your secret goal is to turn heads when you walk into a meeting, Asus’ Zenbook will do the trick. Just half an inch from top to bottom—nearly as slim as some smartphones—it’s a marvel of svelte engineering, with luxe materials and a gorgeous OLED screen to match.
|The stunning OLED screen is everything you could want in a display for Full HD movies and premium TV.||It’s not much more powerful than many cheaper notebooks, so you’re paying mostly for looks and that great screen.|
|The side panels contain an unexpected wealth of connectivity options, including a USB-C port.||It’s a tad heavier than you might expect of such a small, thin notebook (but you can chalk it up to excellent build quality and military-grade durability).|
|The touchpad doubles as a number pad with light-up digits and functions keys.|
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Your Questions, Answered
What are the main types of laptops?
There’s a laptop for every need—from lightweight models for travel to high-performance notebooks for gaming and video editing.
- Notebook or laptop: These are general terms for full-sized clamshell laptops (meaning they open and close on a hinge) that are portable.
- 2-in-1 laptop: If versatility is key, then a laptop with a touchscreen that can be detached or bent back and used in tablet mode is just what the doctor ordered.
- Ultraportable: Typically weighing just a couple of pounds, ultraportables can go everywhere you do without slowing your stride.
- Chromebook: Built to run Chrome OS, these small and inexpensive notebooks are great for simple tasks like word processing and surfing the web.
- Performance: Equipped with powerful core processors and gorgeous screens, performance laptops are purpose-built for gaming, content creation and digital editing.
- MacBook: Apple’s laptops are beautiful, fast and reliable but all this goodness comes at a premium price.
What laptop features should you consider?
Don’t worry too much if you don’t know diddly about tech specs. Most of us only need to know a few key terms and numbers in order to buy the best laptop for our needs. Here’s a quick list of things to be aware of while shopping. (Check out our laptop buying guide for a deeper dive.)
- Operating system: Windows 10 is complex but extremely versatile, while Chrome OS is simpler but less multipurpose. macOS splits the difference.
- Screen size: The generally accepted sweet spot is 13 to 15 inches, with bigger screens (which are meant to aid content creation, media viewing and gaming) adding noticeable weight.
- Resolution: Start at Full HD for standard uses such as school or work and go higher (QHD or 4K) if you’re going to play a lot of games, watch movies or edit media.
- Storage: If you store video files or big applications such as games, shoot for at least 512 gigabytes of storage and opt for a solid-state drive (SSD) for better performance.
- CPU: The central processing unit is your computer’s brain and it handles everything from booting up to web browsing. Quicker core processors mean better performance. In general, a higher number means a newer and more powerful CPU. An Intel Core i9, for example, is quick but expensive, while an Intel Core i5 is more mainstream.
- GPU: More powerful notebooks ditch the CPU’s integrated graphics for a discrete graphics processing unit (GPU), resulting in improved graphics performance.
- RAM: Random access memory (RAM) affects everything from games to content editing. 4GB is fine for everyday tasks but more is always better.
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How we choose products: Simply put, we don’t recommend any products we wouldn’t buy ourselves. Our writers leverage a number of sources as a starting point, including reputable third-party reviews, Walmart.ca user reviews, and Walmart Canada’s category specialists. theHUB editorial staff has final say for all products included in this guide.
Any product claims noted are provided by the manufacturer, unless otherwise stated.
Prices shown are subject to change. Please check Walmart.ca for the latest pricing.
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