The Best Laptops of Early 2024: A Comprehensive Guide
A Glimpse into the Future
Before we delve into our curated list, it's imperative to acknowledge that, while this compilation is current as of late 2023 and early 2024, the tech landscape is ever-evolving. In the imminent weeks and months, Intel's new Meteor Lake CPUs and AI features are poised to usher in a wave of novel laptop models. Although the impact of these first-gen models with NPUs on the average user remains uncertain, one foreseeable outcome is that existing Windows laptop models will become even more enticing with attractive discounts – a trend that's already manifesting.
Navigating the Laptop Landscape
Our comprehensive guide encompasses a myriad of laptop categories, ensuring that there's a recommendation tailored to your specific needs. We've categorized laptops as ultraportables, productivity-focused models, and budget-friendly options, with a special section dedicated to the best gaming laptops for enthusiasts.
Unveiling the Top Contender for Lightweight Laptops
If your quest is for the ultimate lightweight laptop, look no further than the MacBook Air M2. Apple's transition to its M-series SoCs has redefined the laptop landscape, with Apple laptops emerging as the preferred choice for a diverse array of users.
MacBook Air M2 Highlights:
- Compact Design: The MacBook Air M2 takes the already slim profile of its predecessor and trims it down further, achieving a mere 0.44 inches in thickness and a featherweight 2.7 pounds.
- Stunning Display: It boasts a vibrant 13.6-inch True Tone display with a resolution of 2560 x 1664 and an impressive brightness of 500 nits.
- MagSafe 3 Charging: Embracing the MagSafe 3 charging connector, the MacBook Air M2 delivers both convenience and security.
- Touch ID: Enjoy seamless authentication with the integrated Touch ID feature.
- Immersive Audio: High-quality speakers elevate your audio experience.
- Exceptional Typing: The full-height scissor-switch keyboard is a typing delight.
- Enhanced Webcam: A 1080p webcam is integrated into the screen notch, although this design choice has sparked some controversy.
In terms of performance, the MacBook Air M2 outpaces competitors such as the Dell XPS 13, courtesy of its Apple SoC. The M2 chip, equipped with 8 CPU cores and the option of 8 or 10 GPU cores, sets a new standard for laptops in the same price range. Moreover, it excels in energy efficiency, translating into remarkable battery life.
To accommodate more demanding workloads, the MacBook Air M2 offers an upgrade option of up to 24GB of RAM. Storage choices span up to 2TB, with the base configuration featuring 8GB of RAM and 512GB of storage. While the starting price is $1,200 (closer to $1050 in retail as of the time of writing), it may seem pricier than certain Windows counterparts. However, it's crucial to consider that you're investing in the same level of display quality, build, and hardware.
Nonetheless, the MacBook Air M2 is not without its imperfections. The screen notch has garnered its share of criticism, and the inclusion of only two Thunderbolt/USB 4 ports may pose some limitations. Nevertheless, as of now, the MacBook Air M2 reigns supreme in its category, with murmurs of an M3 iteration expected in the first half of 2024.
Budget-Friendly Alternatives: MacBook Air M1
For those seeking a more budget-friendly option with a slight compromise in performance, the MacBook Air M1 presents an attractive choice, currently priced at $749 on Amazon.
Apple's macOS, while not universally appealing, remains a robust operating system distinguished by frequent updates and full OS upgrades at no extra cost. However, for Windows enthusiasts, our dedicated Windows laptop category below offers a wealth of superb ultra-lightweight options.