Though some regions outside the US prefer 14-inch laptops, American consumers like the 15-inch size as a middle child between expensive, big-screen 17-inch models and smaller, less powerful 13-inch laptops. The best 15-inch laptops strike a balance between size, performance and price.
We selected the contenders for best 15-inchbased on performance for a given set of specs (aka, their configuration), design and features for the price. Specs and availability are often in flux, so we limited our choices to models that are current that we’ve actually tested. For example, the blew us away with its and light weight back in March 2018, but it isn’t listed here because we haven’t run our battery tests on current configurations.
We include both premium and budget laptops, and take into consideration features like battery life, GPU and graphics card, processor, hard drive, SSD storage, whether or not it has a touchscreen, fingerprint reader, 4K display or a backlit keyboard, and more. Screen size shouldn’t be the only thing dictating your laptop computer purchasing decisions!
If you’re looking for a focus on lower prices or a broader set of options, check out our picks forand . And picking just a handful out of a sea of hundreds pretty much ensures that you’ll miss some important devices, especially if you’re looking for a more powerful laptop that’s tailored to specific needs, like video editing, so you should also head over to see our , and , as well as the , our picks of and the best for the Windows set. We update this list periodically with new products and information.
It’s hard to find a budget laptop that’s also thin and light, much less one that has decent performance and battery life. The Aspire, which starts at less than $500, hits all those targets and more, including a solid assortment of ports (including a USB type-C port) and easily upgradable hard drive storage and memory. It’s got a budget build, but you can’t expect everything for so little money.
Razer’s featureless-slab aesthetic fits seamlessly into almost any environment, making it the best 15-inch laptop for work and play. If you opt for one of the higher-end configurations and specs — like a great graphics card — the Razer Blade 15 Advanced is a great device for creative work and is a stellar gaming laptop. If you’re willing to go with a black Razer Blade and an emptied wallet (this is among the most premium laptops), you can get an Adobe RGB calibrated 4K OLED display and a GeForce RTX 2070 Max-Q for $3,300. The less-expensive Base Edition starts at $1,800 and isn’t too shabby, either.
A middle ground between smaller 13-inch ultraportable two-in-ones and heavier, faster or more expensive models — it weighs about the same as a 16-inch MacBook Pro, at 4.4 pounds (2 kg) — the Yoga C940 incorporates a six-core Intel Core i7 processor and Nvidia GTX 1650 Max-Q discrete graphics. The result is quite respectable performance for a two-in-one. Plus, you gain design flexibility — kiosk mode (also called “stand mode“) and tent mode (my personal favorite), which are the best ways to use a laptop with a touch screen that hangs around the house.
If, like me, you’re not a big fan of OLED screens for photo editing — they’re not optimized for Adobe RGB and aren’t great at tonal range in the shadows — then what you need is a laptop with a good IPS display. The Dell XPS 15 9500 with the 4K screen option delivers that, and it’s not as reflective as the OLED screens I’ve seen. It doesn’t qualify as an “RTX Studio” laptop because it tops out at a GTX 1650 Ti, but that graphics processor is sufficient for most photo editing and you don’t need the Nvidia Studio drivers for most photo editing. Dell’s PremierColor software isn’t perfect, but it gives you more control over screen settings than most I’ve seen, and it’s got two Thunderbolt 3 controllers to make your external drives happy.
If you’re willing to go a little bigger for a lot more graphics power, the 17-inch XPS 17 9700 doesn’t feels smaller than it looks.
Best 15-inch budget gaming
Dell G5 15
Dell’s G series comprises some of the best mainstream gaming laptops you can find, with strong performance, a variety of component options and a more travel- and user-friendly design than most. Plus, battery life is a lot better than a typical gaming laptop’s, and a solid-performance base configuration starts at less than $1,000.
Note: This 2019 model is no longer available; our testing for the 2020 model is in progress, but we don’t expect it to be a weak competitor in this category. Don’t assume it will continue to be an Editors’ Choice, however.
OLED displays have a combination of color gamut (100% P3) and contrast that IPS panels are struggling to match, but need calibration to keep your colors from chaos. The 15-inch Gigabyte is sleek and powerful — it’s got all the Nvidia Studio specs, it just lacks the logo, and you can download the more creative-application-focused Studio driver yourself. A color-profile switcher utility makes it more convenient to use, and it’s a well-designed laptop that performs solidly. Note that the battery life isn’t great, though better than a lot of the gaming notebooks these laptops are based on, and the webcam is in a ridiculous spot.
The Acer Chromebook 715 started life as a premium model targeted at a growing business market for Chrome OS devices. Along with its smaller sibling, the Chromebook 714, the 715 has a premium all-aluminum chassis built to survive drops from up to 48 inches (122 cm) and downward force up to 132 pounds (60 kg). You could also get the Chromebook 715 with a fingerprint reader, a backlit keyboard, an Intel Core i5 processor and 16GB of memory for around $750. Or, you can get a much more affordable version that dials back on the specs and extras but keeps the premium build quality, making it a fantastic choice for a home office or student Chromebook.
It may now have a 16-inch screen, but the MacBook Pro remains a 15-incher in size and spirit. I’m not a fan of the Touch Bar, but at least the keyboard’s improved, and the combination of the MacBook Pro’s hardware and MacOS extracts the maximum performance from the components while delivering class-leading battery life in a way Windows systems never seem to do, and the Retina Display screen remains terrific. You pay for it, though — base price for the 16-inch MacBook Pro model is $2,399.
Given that there are only really two dual-screen options available at the moment — the other is the fast HP Omen X 2S gaming laptop — choosing one doesn’t seem that big a deal. But the ZenBook Pro Duo has a lot going for it, including a color-accurate OLED screen plus a smaller IPS panel below it. The secondary display may be only about half an extra screen, but it’s still really useful for video editing and other tasks when you want to fit more video or photos on the main 15-inch monitor or work in a small space. The ZenBook Pro Duo’s primary OLED touchscreen display provides excellent color accuracy for Adobe RGB and P3, plus it’s got a high-powered i9-9980HK eight-core processor, making it a portable powerhouse. It’s relatively heavy for its class at 5.5 pounds, though, and the high-end model we loved costs $3,000 — don’t expect blazing speed from the less expensive Core i processor and RTX 2060 configuration (though it should be respectable). Plus, the battery life isn’t very good and the keyboard can be uncomfortable without the wrist rest.
It’s not for everyone — it’s not from a mainstream manufacturer and it’s not an Intel processor — but for pure speed in something smaller than a megalithic 17-inch, the Eon15-X’s Ryzen 3900 desktop processor packs in the CPU cycles, turning it into a rendering powerhouse. With its GeForce RTX 2070 it’s not quite a gaming powerhouse, though.