Every year, tech companies release a slew of new laptop hardware. This year was no different, with plenty of new portable computing devices trying to capitalize on the increase in people working remotely.
However, not every laptop is equal. As such, I compiled this list of our favourite laptops of the year covering multiple different facets — gaming, general-purpose Windows, Mac and more. We also kept it to laptops that we got to test this year — if a laptop you like from a certain manufacturer is missing, there’s a good chance we didn’t get a chance to review it this year.
Let’s dive in.
Favourite Windows laptop: LG Gram (2020)
Of all the Windows laptops I tested this year, the LG Gram was one of the more impressive devices I used. What struck me the most was the weight. Despite trying the company’s positively massive 17-inch Gram laptop, it felt like one of the lightest laptops I used this year.
Back when I tested the Gram, we hadn’t gone into lockdown yet, so I was still commuting to the office every day. It was a pleasure bringing the Gram along since it was so light.
Sure, the Gram isn’t perfect — the construction felt cheap and the whole thing was a bit pricey — but overall, it was a top-notch portable PC with plenty of battery life, power and more.
You can learn more about the LG Gram here.
Favourite tiny Windows laptop: Surface Laptop Go
While I enjoyed used the LG Gram since it was so light, my heart still belongs to the tiny Surface Laptop Go. Microsoft’s newest Surface Laptop isn’t winning any awards for its price or performance, but if all you care about is having a tiny, well-designed laptop, this is the one to get.
The Surface Laptop Go is an absolutely beautiful computer — especially in the ‘Ice Blue’ colour. Plus, it has a top-tier keyboard, solid (if small) trackpad and overall works well, as long as you don’t need to rely on it for any demanding tasks.
Hands down, this is my favourite laptop of the year. At the same time, I recognize it likely isn’t the best choice for most people — it’s not hard to find a laptop with similar (or better) specs for significantly less. Still, if a tiny and capable laptop is your priority, you’ll love the Laptop Go.
You can learn more about the Laptop Go here.
Favourite gaming laptop: HP Omen 15 (2020)
HP refreshed its Omen 15 this year with a sleek new design that’s much less gaudy than in years past. Aside from the more reserved look, it’s also packed with a ton of excellent hardware if you want to get your game on.
I’ve never been a big fan of gaming laptops, typically because I find the trade-offs between portability and performance lead to a sub-par experience. At the same time, many people only need one PC, and having something that’s portable while also offering solid gaming chops is enticing.
The Omen 15 (2020) fits the bill well with great performance, a 144Hz display and more. It doesn’t have the best battery life, and the weight makes it a pain to lug around, but overall it’s a great option for those seeking a gaming laptop.
You can learn more about the HP Omen 15 (2020) here.
Favourite MacBook: M1 MacBook Pro
Apple launched a few Mac computers this year, but by far the most exciting were the new M1-equipped MacBook Air, Pro and Mac mini. Of the three, the new MacBook Pro was a favourite, offering impressive power (thanks to the new M1), portability and the excellent — if dated — MacBook design we’ve come to expect from Apple.
The M1 is the star here. It’s Apple’s first crack at a laptop chip and it blows Intel’s comparable offerings out of the water. And, since it’s the first attempt, I’d expect future Apple Silicon chips to go even further.
However, the M1 is also likely the biggest issue preventing some people from upgrading. Because of the new architecture, a lot of early adopters encountered software issues, such as apps not working properly or other odd issues (for example, MobileSyrup managing editor Patrick O’Rourke has had issues getting a 4K second display to work with the M1 MacBook). Still, most of these are software problems and, as developers update their apps to support the M1, those problems should go away.
Ultimately, whether you should buy an M1 Mac comes down to how comfortable you are troubleshooting computer issues. Early adopters who love to tinker and mess around with their devices will likely feel right at home on the M1, while those who are less tech-savvy may want to wait a few months for the bugs to get ironed out. Either way, the M1 MacBook Pro is one of the best MacBooks — and best laptops — you can buy right now.
You can learn more about the M1 MacBook Pro here.
Favourite Chromebook: Acer Spin 311
Last, but certainly not least, we’re rounding out the list with our favourite Chromebook of 2020. The Acer Spin 311 is by no means the prettiest laptop on the market, but that hardly matters. It’s a low-cost machine that offers an excellent browsing experience, solid performance and excellent battery life.
The Acer Spin 311 checks the box as a great device for kids or teens who need something to do schoolwork on. One highlight is the decent keyboard, which is great for typing up assignments. Another plus is the display, which folds around to turn the device into a makeshift tablet.
Ultimately, if you’re looking for a reasonably priced laptop for some light web browsing, homework assignments or entertainment, the Acer Spin 311 is an excellent choice, especially if you find one on sale.
You can learn more about the Spin 311 here.