Whether you’re jotting down notes, sketching a masterpiece or just quickly zooming in on a photo, touch screens add a lot of versatility to your average laptop.
Fortunately, thanks to technological advances, laptop touch screens have gone through vast improvements in accuracy and speed as well as battery efficiency. And it doesn’t hurt that with the sinking cost of touch-sensitive displays, laptop prices overall are coming down. Whether you’re a mobile or creative professional, a student or multimedia maven, here are the best touch-screen laptops for every budget and need.
News and Updates (March 2019)
- Lenovo unveiled at MWC several new IdeaPads available with optional touch-screen displays. The company will also release the ThinkPad X390 Yoga, a business 2-in-1, later this year.
- Looking for a slick business convertible? Check out our recent review of the HP EliteBook x360 1040 G5.
Our favorite 2-in-1 of 2018, the Lenovo Yoga C930 is an excellent overall system that offers strong performance and more than 10 hours of battery life in a stylish aluminum chassis. As a 2-in-1, the Yoga C930 can bend into a tablet or be positioned in tent mode for content viewing on its colorful 13.9-inch, 1080 touch-screen display. You also don’t have to worry about losing its stylus since the Yoga C930 has a convenient slot on the back for storing the included pen when you’re done jotting down notes or making finishing touches to your artwork.
Other reasons to opt for the Yoga C930 include its clever soundbar hinge that pumps out clear and dynamic audio.The laptop also includes a bunch of bonus features, including a slider that covers your webcam.
Pros: Thin, lightweight design; Good overall performance; Long battery life; Powerful speakers; Garaged pen
Cons: Shallow keyboard; 1080p display is average
Key Specs — Display: 13.9, 4K or 1080p | CPU: Up to Intel Core i7-8550U | GPU: Intel UHD 620 | RAM: Up to 16GB | Storage: Up to 1TB SSD | Battery Life: 10:10 (1080p) | Size/Weight: 12.6 x 8.9 x 0.6 inches/3.1 pounds
Microsoft’s Surface Pro 6 is the best detachable yet, and its bright, colorful 12.3-inch, 2736 x 1824-pixel display is a big reason why. Whether you’re binging Netflix shows or touching up photographs, the Surface Pro 6’s touch-screen panel will reward your eyes with saturated, lucid images. And because it’s a detachable, the Surface Pro 6 is an awesome travel companion if you want to take your work on the go. Not to mention, the kickstand on the back lets you tilt the display and use it like a drafting table.
Furthermore, Microsoft addressed the biggest problems we had with last year’s Surface Pro. Not only does the new model stretch the battery life of its predecessor by more than 2 hours, but its new quad-core CPUs offer massive improvements to performance. And while the Surface Pro 6 has a familiar design, it avoids looking stale thanks to a slick new black color variant.
Pros: Fast performance; All-day battery life; Bright, colorful display; Responsive stylus
Cons: No USB-C; Slow SSD
Key Specs — Display: 12.3-inch, 2736 x 1824-pixels | CPU: Up to Intel Core i7 | GPU: Intel UHD 620 | RAM: 8GB, 16GB | Storage: Up to 1TB SSD | Battery Life: 9:20 | Size/Weight: 11.5 x 7.9 x 0.3 inches/2.4 pounds
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon
The ThinkPad X1 Carbon is the complete package, combining a gorgeous 14-inch display with powerful performance and all-day battery life in a slim and remarkably lightweight chassis. For content creators, Lenovo offers the ThinkPad X1 Carbon with a 2560 x 1440-pixel HDR touch-screen display that’s one of the most vivid panels we’ve ever tested. And with a peak brightness of 469 nits, you won’t have any issues viewing content outside, even when sunlight is beaming directly down on the responsive touch screen.
With the X1 Carbon, Lenovo took everything we loved about its ThinkPad laptops — their durable chassis’, comfortable keyboards and useful security features — and put them in a modern, sexy package. To that end, this MIL-STD-810G-tested machine is 0.6 inches thick and weighs just 2.5 pounds. Business users will appreciate the laptop’s built-in fingerprint sensor and they should opt for the optional IR camera.
Pros: Sleek, sexy chassis; Thin and lightweight; Long battery life; Best-in-class keyboard
Cons: Subpar speakers; Average webcam
Key Specs — Display: 14-inch, 1080p or 2560 x 1440-pixel | CPU: Up to Intel Core i7-8650U | GPU: Intel UHD 620 | RAM: Up to 16GB | Storage: Up to 1TB SSD | Battery Life: 11:01 (1080p), 10:28 (1440p) | Size/Weight: 12.7 x 8.5 x 0.6 inches/2.5 pounds
Dell’s XPS 13 laptops have topped our best laptops ranking year after year and the new model is no different. Yes, the XPS 13 has one of the sleekest designs out there, but you’ll be so busy reveling at its vivid, detailed 4K touch-screen display to even notice the chassis. The razor-thin bezels Dell championed years ago are still effective at drawing your eyes toward the machine’s luscious panel. Note that while the 4K model has a super-responsive touch screen, the 1080p is non-touch.
Dell made a few crucial improvements to the 2019 model. New Whiskey Lake processors provide a nice performance boost, which should be a real boon for enterprise users who use CPU-intensive software. But perhaps the best reason to upgrade to the new model is for the new webcam, which is now positioned above the display. Yes, Dell has finally put an end to the nosecam.
Pros: Vivid 4K display; Strong performance; Slim, lightweight design; Improved webcam
Cons: Subpar battery life (for 4K model)
Key Specs — Display: 13.3-inch, 1080p or 4K | CPU: Up to Intel Core i7 | GPU: Intel UHD 620 | RAM: Up to 16GB | Storage: Up to 1TB SSD | Battery Life: 7:50 (4K) | Size/Weight: 11.9 x 7.8 x 0.5 inches/2.7 pounds
Want a powerful touch-screen laptop but don’t want a spend a fortune? The $749 HP Envy 13t is the best sub-$1,000 touch-screen laptop on the market. While its 13-inch, 1080p display could be brighter, the panel is plenty vivid. In fact, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better touch screen in this price range. If you need the very best display, then go for the optional 4K touch screen, but be sure to brace for a hit to battery life.
Just because you’re not signing away your paycheck on a laptop doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get a fast machine. That’s where the Envy 13t’s powerful 8th Gen Intel Core processors come in. Not only did the Envy 13t ace our performance benchmarks, but we didn’t experience any lag in our real-world testing. The Envy 13t also lasts nearly 10 hours on a charge, so you don’t need to bring a charger to work.
Pros: Premium aluminum design; World-class keyboard; Portable chassis; Good battery life; Strong performance
Cons: Display doesn’t pop; Tinny audio
Key Specs — Display: 13.3-inch, 1080p or 4K | CPU: Up to Intel Core i7 | GPU: Intel UHD 620 or Nvidia MX150 | RAM: Up to 16GB | Storage: 1TB SSD | Battery Life: 9:46 | Size/Weight: 12 x 8.5 x 0.6 inches/2.9 pounds
You’ve never seen a laptop like the HP Spectre Folio. Clad in 100 percent genuine leather and featuring a one-of-a-kind hinge, the Folio is HP’s (mostly) successful attempt to redefine the 2-in-1. Instead of folding back into a bulky tablet or detaching from a flimsy keyboard, the Spectre Folio transforms via a detachable display, which pops off from its frame and slides into a forward position. When positioned in tablet mode, the bright and colorful 13.3-inch, 1080p display sits at the perfect angle for sketching or taking notes.
Although the Spectre Folio isn’t the most powerful machine, its Y-series CPU enables long battery life. We were also impressed with its clicky, comfortable keyboard.
Pros: Premium leather design; Clever flexible hinge; Comfortable keyboard; Long battery life
Cons: Weak audio; Middling performance
Key Specs — Display: 13.3-inch, 1080p | CPU: Up to Intel Core i7-8500Y | GPU: Intel UHD 615 | RAM: Up to 16GB | Storage: 256GB SSD | Battery Life: 10:18 | Size/Weight: 12.6 x 9.2 x 0.6 inches/3.4 pounds
Asus packed its flagship 15-inch laptop with two touch-screen displays. The ZenBook Pro 15’s traditional display is a 15.6-inch, 4K glossy touch screen that bursts with color. The secondary panel is what Asus calls a ScreenPad. This 4.8 x 2.6-inch surface flaunts a 1080p LCD touch screen that can be used as a touchpad or as an extension to the primary display. These dual high-res displays dig into the ZenBook Pro 15’s battery life, but the endurance trade-off is worth it when you consider how productive you’ll be on the ZenBook Pro 15.
While the ScreenPad soaks up the spotlight, there are plenty of other reasons to buy the ZenBook Pro 15. For example, the laptop’s blue-and-gold design is luxurious, and its Core i9 CPU and discrete Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti GPU offer excellent overall performance.
Pros: Captivating dark-blue chassis; ScreenPad improves productivity; Powerful overall performance; Discrete graphics; Vivid 4K display
Cons: Underwhelming battery life; Poor webcam
Key Specs — Display: 15.6-inch, 1080 or 4K; 4.8 x 2.6-inch 1080p ScreenPad | CPU: Up to Intel Core i9 | GPU: GeForce GTX 1050 Ti | RAM: Up to 16GB | Storage: Up to 512GB SSD | Battery Life: 4:23; 5:14 with ScreenPad off | Size/Weight: 14.4 x 9.9 x 0.7 inches/4.2 pounds
While it’s not a 2-in-1, we had no problems using our fingers to navigate the web on the MateBook X Pro’s 13.9-inch, 3,000 x 2,000-pixel display. The fact that the panel is extremely bright and vivid didn’t hurt, either.
The MateBook X Pro offers just about everything you could ask for in a laptop. While eerily similar to the MacBook Pro, the MateBook X Pro’s aluminum chassis is thin and lightweight, and unlike certain competitors, like the ThinkPad X1 Carbon, this machine is surprisingly affordable. For “just” $1,500, you get a Core i7 CPU, 16GB of RAM, a 512GB SSD and a discrete MX150 GPU.
Pros: Strong performance; Vivid, detailed display; Good keyboard; Long battery life
Cons: Limited availability
Key Specs — Display: 13.9-inch, 3,000 x 2,000-pixel | CPU: Up to Intel Core i7 | GPU: GeForce MX150 | RAM: Up to 16GB | Storage: Up to 512GB | Battery Life: 9:55 | Size/Weight: 12 x 8.5 x 0.6 inches/2.9 pounds
Chromebook users who want the benefits of a touch screen should look no further than the HP Chromebook x2. Although it’s on the pricey side for a Chromebook, at $599, this machine has a lot to offer for those who have switched over to Google’s desktop operating system. YouTube videos and Netflix shows look great on the Chromebook x2’s detailed and vivid 12.3-inch display, and its battery life, at 8 hours and 50 minutes, is comparable to the Surface Pro 6.
Although the Chromebook x2 has a detachable keyboard, the typing experience is actually pretty great. Yes, the keys are shallow, but they have a pleasant tactile clickiness. Business professionals and power users should take note that the Chromebook x2’s Core m3 CPU isn’t the fastest, but this detachable Chromebook should be powerful enough for most folks.
Pros: Bright, detailed display; Long battery life; Comfortable keyboard; Good speakers
Cons: Heavy for a detachable; Subpar performance
Key Specs — Display: 12.3-inch, 2400 x 1600-pixel | CPU: Intel Core m3-7Y30 | GPU: Intel HD 615 | RAM: 4GB | Storage: 32GB eMMC | Battery Life: 8:50 | Size/Weight: 11.5 x 8.3 x 0.3 inches/3.2 pounds
The Surface Go is the best touch-screen device for content creators on a budget, bar none. In fact, you could even argue that it’s the best secondary travel laptop on the market, thanks to its super-lightweight chassis. But the real highlight is the Surface Go’s outstanding 10-inch, 1800 x 1200 display, which is brighter, more colorful and more detailed than most displays we find on premium laptops.
Realistically, the Pentium Gold 4415Y CPU inside the Surface Go won’t provide enough power to run Photoshop, but it’ll do the trick for streaming content or even light photo and video editing.
Pros: Colorful, bright display; Comfortable keyboard; Windows Hello facial recognition
Cons: Disappointing battery life; Thick bezels
Key Specs — Display: 10-inch, 1,800 x 1,200-pixel | CPU: Intel Pentium Gold 4415Y | GPU: Intel HD Graphics 615 | RAM: 4GB | Storage: 64GB eMMC | Battery Life: 6:06 | Size/Weight: 9.7 x 6.9 x 0.3 inches/1.7 pounds
LG is struggling to make inroads in the smartphone industry, but its Gram 14 2-in-1 is making a serious statement in the laptop space. The Gram 14 2-in-1’s 14-inch, 1080p display isn’t the brightest, but it exhibits sharp details and vibrant colors. Artists and those who prefer to take notes by hand will appreciate the Gram’s responsive touch screen and included stylus.
Like the LG laptops before it, the Gram is impossibly light (2.5 pounds), and now has military-grade durability. Even though the Gram 14 2-in-1 is lightweight, it carries a big enough battery to last more than a day on a charge. Furthermore, this 14-inch machine packs some powerful components, including a Core i7 CPU and up to 16GB of RAM.
Pros: Lightweight design; Excellent battery life; Good performance; Vivid display
Cons: No Thunderbolt 3; Relatively dim display; Weak audio
Key Specs — Display: 14-inch, 1080p | CPU: Up to Intel Core i7 | GPU: Intel UHD 620 | RAM: Up to 16GB | Storage: Up to 512GB | Battery Life: 11:28 | Size/Weight: 12.8 x 8.3 x 0.7 inches/2.5 pound
Unless you have an unlimited budget, feel free to skip the zBook Studio x360 G5. But for those who are part of the 1 percent (or can expense it on the company card), the zBook Studio x360 G5 will fill your every need, and then some. Part of a rare breed of 2-in-1 workstations, the zBook Studio x360 G5 has a surprisingly versatile design that quickly transforms from a laptop into a tablet. If you’re spending this much money, you may as well upgrade to the optional 4K touch-screen display, which is one of the brightest and most colorful in its class.
HP somehow packed a Xeon E-2186M CPU and a Quadro P1000 GPU inside a sleek chassis that weighs less than 5 pounds, and its over 9 hours of battery life is practically unheard of in this product category. Other reasons to splurge on the zBook Studio x360 G5 are a comfortable keyboard and responsive stylus.
Pros: Stunning 4K display; Insanely powerful; Military-grade durability; Long battery life; Flexible, slim design
Cons: Exorbitant priced; Lid flexes; Poor webcam
Key Specs — Display: 15.6-inch, 4K | CPU: Intel Xeon E-2186M | GPU: Quadro P1000 | RAM: Up to 32GB | Storage: Up to 4TB SSD | Battery Life: 9:06 | Size/Weight: 14.2 x 9.7 x 0.8 inches/4.9 pounds
How We Test Laptops
When we bring a laptop into our lab, our goal is to see how it would work if you brought it into your home or office. While we use a number of industry-standard benchmarks, such as Geekbench and 3DMark, we focus heavily on real-world tests that we have developed in-house.
To test endurance, the Laptop Mag Battery Test surfs the web at 150 nits of brightness until the system runs out of juice. To judge pure processing power, we use a giant spreadsheet macro that matches 65,000 names with their addresses, a video transcoder that converts a 4K video to 1080p and the Geekbench 4 synthetic test. We measure graphics prowess with both 3DMark Ice Storm / Fire Strike and a series of actual game titles.
We use a colorimeter to measure screen brightness and color gamut while other instruments help us determine a laptop’s key travel and ambient heat. See this page on How We Test Laptops for more details on our benchmarking procedures.
Specs: 1080p / Core i5 / 8GB Are Best Bets
You can spend a lot of time delving into specs, but here are the key components to think about when buying a 17-inch laptop. If you just want really good mainstream performance, go for a Core i5 CPU, 8GB of RAM, a 256GB SSD and a 1080p screen.
- Screen Resolution: Unfortunately, 66 percent of consumer laptops and 51 percent of business systems have low-res screens. If possible, get a display with a 1920 x 1080 (aka 1080p, or Full HD) or higher resolution.
- CPU: An Intel Core i5 provides good mainstream performance. Some budget systems will come with Core i3, Celeron or Pentium CPUs, which are good for basic tasks, but not heavy multitasking. Get a Core i7 or a quad-core processor (serial number ends in HQ or HK) for gaming or high-end productivity tasks such as video editing and 3D modeling.
- RAM: 8GB is ideal for most users, but power users will want 12 or 16GB. 4GB is acceptable for budget systems. Secondary laptops and Chromebooks may have less.
- Storage: Unless you’re a gamer or a power user, 256GB of internal storage is probably enough. If possible, get an SSD (solid-state drive) rather than a hard drive, because it’s going to make your computer a lot faster.
- Graphics Chip: Gamers and creative professionals need to do some research and figure out which discrete GPU from Nvidia or AMD is good enough to run their favorite software. Everyone else will be happy with the built-in Intel HD Graphics that come with the CPU.
Credit: Laptop Mag