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How to Choose the Best HP Laptop for You
July 20, 2021
Reading time: 13 minutes
Finding the best HP laptop for your needs can be a serious challenge. Chances are that it will be your go-to device for work, play, and maybe even school if you’re a student. Yet you face so many choices for display, processors, memory, storage, battery life, and loads of other options. You’ll want to do your research to find the best laptop to buy for both your lifestyle and your budget
How to choose a laptop? Start with this laptop buying guide to explore the best laptops from HP that click with your habits and budget.
What to look for in a laptop
Before we get down to business, you’ll want to have a sense of what you’re looking for when you ask yourself “What’s the best laptop for me?” Do you need something lighter you can easily carry around with you? Or do you want a larger model with additional screen real estate that also offers more flexibility than your office desktop? Will you be running multiple power-hungry programs at once?
Here’s what to consider when buying a new laptop:
It’s probably a good idea to first decide what the form factor of your laptop will be. They include:
Traditional clamshell: This is the standard configuration of laptops, with the keyboard and display at 90-degree angles.
2-in-1: These may also be called “hybrid” laptops. These models are detachable to use as a tablet.
360-degree convertible: These laptops bend backward via adjustable 360-degree-rotating hinges that protect the display and keyboard, offering four convenient modes that include:
Laptop: angled display and flat keyboard, ideal for traditional usage such as typing, creating, playing, gaming, browsing, and more.
Tablet: display folds back against the back of the keyboard, offering touch screen functionality for reading, watching movies, note-taking, creating, drawing, and more.
Tent: screen is rotated and optimized for touch screen use, while the keyboard is hidden.
Stand: keyboard is flipped back as a stand for hands-free usage and presentations.
Mobile workstation: These laptops typically feature powerful processors and graphics, a generous amount of memory and storage, brilliant displays, and many ports. They are perfect for creative professionals who require high-performance processing power for visuals and number-crunching.
If you’re concerned with portability, aim for a laptop that’s between 12 and 14 inches. Anything smaller, like a tablet, won’t be as effective as an all-around computing tool. At the larger end of the spectrum, 15-inch to 17-inch laptops, you begin to lose some portability, though this range makes sense if you use your laptop as a desktop PC replacement, especially if you don’t bring it with you everywhere you go.
You’ll be looking at your laptop for hours at a time, which means you want to make sure you’re getting something you can comfortably view whether you’re watching a show, playing games, or hammering out your latest work or school assignment.
You’ll also want to consider the resolution of your screen. For example, a low-res screen means it’ll be harder to read text or watch videos. A 1080p screen (or FHD) is ideal for most people, while a 4K monitor (or 2160p) is better for photo and video editing.
Windows is a familiar option that you’ll find on most HP computers in our lineup. Equipped with the latest version, Windows 10 laptops offer a range of tools like Cortana, the return of the start menu, and Microsoft Edge, which replaces Internet Explorer.
Chrome OS is Google’s operating system, which you’ll find in HP Chromebooks. This OS is much simpler than Windows and you will use the Google Play store to add applications to your OS. It’s ideal for people who don’t need much computing power and want to keep things simple. Bear in mind, though, that you’re limited to the Chrome browser and the Android and Google Play stores.
The central processing unit (CPU), or processor, is essentially the brains of the whole operation and controls all of the calculations your computer needs to do in order to carry out its functions. Processor quality plays a role in performance, but what you’ll need depends on your usage.
CPUs with more cores are more powerful and efficient than those with fewer cores. They range from dual-core processors (2 cores) to octa-core processors (8 cores). Both AMD® and Intel offer a host of choices when it comes to CPUs in laptops.
An Intel® Core i5, for example, will work for most users, while an i7 processor brings more power to the table and is best for people using high-demand programs or playing a lot of computer games. AMD Ryzen mobile CPUs are on par with the i5s and i7s.
The graphics processing unit (GPU), which is also called the video card or graphics card, speeds the processing and rendering of images, graphics, and video. Just as critical as the CPU for many performance requirements in laptops, the GPU helps the CPU perform other tasks.
There are two kinds of GPUs, integrated GPU (or embedded GPU), which shares memory with the CPU and discrete GPU, which has its own distinct memory. Integrated graphics are more common in smaller form factor systems like laptops, but you’ll also find them in desktop PCs for those who don’t need to run high-performing visual applications.
Both AMD and NVIDIA offer high-quality, top-performing graphics cards, some of which you’ll find are included in the laptops of this very guide. You can read more about graphics cards in our HP Tech Takes article here.
To run basic programs on your laptop, you’ll want to have at least 4GB of memory (or RAM). Ideally, 8GB is the sweet spot for memory requirements on your laptop and will let you easily and efficiently download, browse, and run programs. And if you’re a power user or gamer, 16GB and above will more than meet your needs.
Like the CPU, GPU, and RAM, the amount of storage on your laptop will either hinder or help its performance. Solid state drives (SSD) are ideal in laptops since they use flash-based memory, which is faster than mechanical drives, plus they’re lighter and therefore better able to withstand jarring movements or accidental drops. And SSDs using the PCIe NVME standard are faster than traditional SATA drives.
Look for at least 256GB of PCIe NVME SSD. And if you’re looking for even more storage capabilities, and can afford to, increase that amount to 512GB and you’ll be set for a while.
If you’ll be traveling with your laptop, consider its battery life. This is an especially important feature if you’ll be in areas that don’t have the best internet connectivity options or if you lack easy access to recharging outlets.
Laptops with decent battery life offer at least 8 hours of charge to get you through the day. Those with 12 hours or more are even better.
Best laptops for every application
1. HP ENVY x360 convertible notebook – Best laptop for everyday use
When you’re searching for a laptop that will power you through your daily work and activities yet be flexible and portable enough to bring it along with you, look no further than the HP ENVY x360 convertible laptop.
Up to an 8-core AMD Ryzen 7 4700U processor with 4.2 GHz of blazing speeds and AMD Radeon graphics, as well as plenty of storage, give you the high-performing specs that you need for everyday use.
This convertible notebook offers the convenience of four modes (traditional laptop, tablet, tent, or stand) to fuel all of your working and creative activities thanks to the innovatively engineered, durable, and easily adjustable 360-degree-rotating hinges. Use the touch and pen input to capture your notes, sketches, or drawings while in tablet or tent mode, or flip the screen to make hands-free presentations while in the stand mode.
Security: HP Sure View Privacy Screen; unhackable camera privacy shutter; dedicated microphone mute button
2. HP ProBook 450 G9 laptop – Best laptop for business
With a new compact design, the HP ProBook 450 G9 laptop is an ideal business laptop that lets you work wherever your work takes you. Its compact, light, slim 0.78-inch chassis has aluminum components that make it easy to carry around, yet it’s brimming with the performance, durability, and security specs that business professionals need in their PCs.
It’s the best business laptop for small and medium-sized business users thanks to a roomy 15.6-inch Full High Definition (FHD) screen and an available 32GB of RAM. The HP ProBook comes with the coveted HP Premium spill-resistant, quiet, and responsive keyboard with numeric keypad and multi-touch gesture support for next-level productivity.
To geek out to the latest Marvel or Overwatch offering with enhanced clarity, trick it out with an integrated Intel UHD or Iris Xe graphics and discrete NVIDIA GeForce MX570 or MX570A GPU. You’ll get 3.5-times faster graphics processing than integrated graphics. Business owners should put the full HP ProBook review first in their reading list.
CPU: Up to an Intel Core i7-1255U
Memory: 8GB to 32GB
Storage: 128GB to 1TB PCIe NVMe SSD
Battery life: Up to 12 hours and 30 minutes
Weight: 3.83 lbs
Dimensions: 14.14 x 9.2 x 0.78 inches
Security:HP Wolf Security for Business provides a hardware-enforced, always-on, and resilient defense with constantly evolving solutions that help protect your PC from modern threats; defend against firmware attacks with the self-healing BIOS of HP Sure Start Gen6; get peace-of-mind with a built-in HP Privacy Camera that blocks your camera’s lens.
3. HP Spectre x360 convertible laptop – Best laptop for power users
If you’re looking for the best laptop for power users, meet your new favorite machine. The HP Spectre x360 convertible touch laptop packs an ocean of cool into a smartphone-thin 0.67-inch chassis at less than 3 lbs.
Yet this vanishingly thin workhorse can deliver up to a 2TB SSD, a full-size island-style keyboard that’s a dream to type on, and a 4K edge-to-edge display. That’s arguably the best HP laptop screen going.
This 2-in-1 laptop offers the versatility you need in a form factor that can tent, stand, or morph into a tablet. Grab an optional HP Pen for sketching, rocking Photoshop, or note-taking with pen-on-paper feel. If you thirst for the most usable office 2-in-1 laptops that disappear into a messenger bag or backpack, make a B2B-line for the complete HP Spectre review.
CPU: Intel Core i7-1065G7 4-core processor
GPU: Intel Iris Plus graphics
Storage: 512GB up to 2TB SSD
Display: 13-inch diagonal 4K touch screen display
Weight: Starting at 2.88 lbs
Dimensions: 12.08 x 7.66 x 0.67 inches
Battery life: Up to 22 hours
Webcam: HP TrueVision HD IR Camera with integrated dual array digital microphone
Connectivity: Intel Wi-Fi 6 AX 201 (2x2) and Bluetooth 5 Combo
4. HP ZBook Firefly mobile workstation – Best laptop for creative professional
An ideal laptop for the creative professional is the HP ZBook Firefly 14 G8 mobile workstation. This portable but powerful laptop is geared toward designers, architects, engineers, and other creative and multimedia workers.
It can take on serious file sizes, data sets, and processing jobs without breaking a sweat. Customize it with up to an Intel Core i7-1185G7 vPro processor, with 4 cores and up to 4.4 GHz of Intel Turbo Boost processing speeds.
Want other envy-inducing specs? What about an NVIDIA T500 graphics card to open large files, run apps simultaneously, or crunch 3D CAD jobs? Or 64GB of RAM? You’ll have the oomph of a desktop with up to 2TB of SSD, which is enough to store detailed 3D Death Star plans.
At just 0.71 inches at its thickest point, you won’t feel like you’re schlepping a desktop around. Plus, to ensure the ultimate durability, this workstation was put through 19 of the most intense MIL-STD 810H tests.
Display: 14-inch diagonal FHD LED anti-glare, color-accurate DreamColor display
Battery life: Up to 14 hours
Weight: Starting at 2.98 lbs
Dimensions: 12.73 x 8.45 x 0.71 inches
Security: HP Sure Sense; HP Sure View Reflect; HP Sure Start; HP Tamper Lock
Connectivity: Intel Wi-Fi 6 AX201 (2x2) and Bluetooth 5 combo, non-vPro
5. HP OMEN gaming laptop – Best laptop for gaming
The HP OMEN brand, which offers systems with maximum gaming performance and cutting-edge features, was made for gamers. The HP OMEN 15z gaming laptop, in particular, is a serious contender on any list of best gaming laptops.
Choose up to an AMD Ryzen 7 5800H processor with 4.4 GHz speeds to rock Overwatch or Dota 2 like a champ. Equip your new HP laptop with your choice of NVIDIA graphics cards, like the hush-inducing GeForce RTX 3070 with NVIDIA G-SYNC for desktop-level performance at championship frame rates.
The HP OMEN’s sleek and portable design profile of 0.91 inches high means you can dock it or carry it anywhere. And its 15.3-inch diagonal FHD with up to 165 Hz refresh rate and anti-glare screen with a narrow bezel and Tempest cooling technology will keep you icy in a steady barrage of husklings and zappers.
OS: Windows 10 Home 64/Windows 10 Pro 64
Memory: 8GB up to 16GB
Storage: 512GB SSD up to 1TB SSD
Dimensions: 14.09 x 9.44 x 0.91 inches
Battery life: Supports fast-charge and up to a 50% charge in 45 minutes
Weight: Starting at 5.43 lbs
Efficiency: ENERGY STAR certified; EPEAT Silver registered
6. HP Elite Dragonfly notebook – Best laptop for travel
The best laptops for travel have certain features in common. They are lightweight, portable, durable, secure, and have long battery lives. A bonus? When they look cool, too. The HP Elite Dragonfly G2 customizable notebook PC hits all of these marks and more.
This premium, ultralight, yet high-powered laptop weighs only 2.18 pounds, stands 0.63-inches high, and boasts a super long battery life that starts at 24.5 hours. It’s built with lightweight yet durable magnesium, featuring a stunning iridescent dragonfly blue finish and diamond-cut accents – giving you bragging rights wherever you take it.
You can do that with peace of mind, too, because this notebook provides security features from HP that work together to help protect it from threats from the BIOS to the browser. HP Sure Sense, for instance, helps defend against firmware and malware attacks, while HP Sure View Reflect instantly blocks prying eyes by making your screen appear dark and unreadable from the side.
CPU: 11th Generation Intel Core i5 or i7 processor with 4 cores
GPU: Intel Iris Xe Graphics
Memory: 16GB RAM up to 32GB
Storage: 256GB up to 2TB SSD
Display: 13.3-inch diagonal BrightView LED FHD touchscreen with Corning® Gorilla® Glass display
Battery life: Starting at 24.5 hours
Weight: Starting at 2.18 lbs
Dimensions: 11.98 x 7.78 x 0.63 inches
Connectivity: Intel Dual Band Wireless-AX201 802.11a/b/g/n/ac (2x2) Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5 Combo vPro
7. HP Chromebook 14 notebook – Best laptop for budget users
If you’re in the market for the best budget laptop in HP’s lineup, take a hard look at the HP Chromebook 14 notebook. This modest superhero hides 4GB of RAM, 32GB of storage, and a 2.8 GHz dual-core Intel Celeron processor in its 0.70-inch profile.
You can binge-watch your favorite shows in comfort with its dual speakers, and video conference like a media professional with an HP Wide Vision 720p HD camera and microphone.
The best part? The HP Chromebook 14 can be had for the price that’ll make you wonder if it’s a typo (it’s not). Plus, you can charge its battery approximately 50% in only 45 minutes, and dock like a pro with 2 USB Type-C ports.
Storage: 32GB up to 64GB eMMC
Display: 14-inch FHD anti-glare display
Weight: Starting at 3.24 lbs
Dimensions: 12.82 x 8.6 x 0.70 inches
Connectivity: Realtek Wi-Fi 5 (2x2) and Bluetooth 5 Combo (MU-MIMO supported) Intel WiFi 6 AX 201 (2x2) and Bluetooth 5 combo (supporting Gigabit file transfer speeds)
The top HP laptops in this list bring a treasure chest of features a good laptop should have for every style of user. Whether you’re a budget warrior, boardroom pro, gamer, or binge-viewing comfort-lover, you’ll find plenty to excite you in the HP laptop lineup.
We encourage you to look around to find what makes sense for you. Just factor in things like how often you're commuting with your computer to how much memory and power you'll need. We also offer weekly PC deals, so be sure to check out all of our laptops on sale. You never know, maybe the computer of your dreams is now at the right price, too.
About the Author: Jolene Dobbin is a contributing writer for HP Tech Takes. Jolene is an East Coast-based writer with experience creating strategic messaging, marketing, and sales content for companies in the high-tech industry.
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