What is the best 15-16-inch laptop right now?

It is time to replace my 5-year-old Dell XPS 13. Despite multiple return trips to Dell for service, the computer has never worked properly, refusing to sleep when closed or even to sleep when “sleep” is selected from the power options at lower left (the only way to prevent the battery from being drained is “shutdown”). It lacks whatever mojo is required to run Windows 11:

I probably could have predicted this given that the machine runs out of CPU zorch on Zoom calls and warnings about compromised audio quality pop up. Also, having the camera at the bottom of the screen is an unbelievably bad idea for Zoom (others on the call will see your fingers as you type and, thinking that they’re on mute, will say “that guy has more chins than the Shanghai lockdown registry”).

The experience of being a Dell customer was traumatic, so I don’t want to repeat that. I’m not ready to abandon my love for all things Microsoft (the keyboard, the folding mouse, Windows itself) so I can’t join the young, hip, and stickered with MacOS. I haven’t enjoyed the 13″ screen, despite the high (3200×1800) resolution, but lugging a 17-inch laptop in the old days wasn’t fun.

[My 17-inch HP laptop died to support a worthy cause. A friend and I had it almost completely apart so that we could remove a failed component. Another friend walked in the door wearing a “women in STEM” T-shirt (“Maker Girl” or “Girls Code”?). She decided to assist us and, confused by a zero insertion force connection, rather than flick the male part out with a pinky, snapped the female portion off the main board (surface mount and therefore not field-repairable). (Are “male” and “female” terms for connectors obsolete in our 2SLBGTQQIA+ world? If so, what are the new names?)]

Back in 2019, I selected an LG Gram 17-inch laptop for Senior Management (see What laptop for Senior Management? and 17” laptop for seniors (note that Senior Management is not a senior!) and notice the lack of progress in specs; the LG Gram 17 had 16 GB of RAM, which is still the prevailing standard for higher-end laptops three years later). The machine is still functional, despite some abuse from the kids, and no tech support has been required either from LG or the Domestic IT Department (me). This machine will be used for travel and I like having a touchscreen, which LG still doesn’t make in a 17-inch version. So I am thinking about a 16-inch version. Last year’s model, which includes an 11th generation CPU, is marked down to $1200 at Costco (the newest 12th gen version isn’t quite available):

Given the feeble progress that I’ve noted in GPUs, for example, is there a practical difference between 12th and 11th gen Intel CPUs?

The Surface Laptop Studio direct from Microsoft is probably a great product, but the screen is only 14.4 inches in size. It is $1,550 with a 512 GB SSD (the minimum for me) and over $1,800 with the “i7” CPU. It also has the 11th gen CPU and a similar resolution (2400 x 1600).

What about gaming laptops for someone like me who mostly carries a machine into a conference room or a hotel room? Do they offer big advantages for sound quality, Zoom, etc.? I wouldn’t actually play games, though I would love to have (a) the time, and (b) the skill.

The old HP worked great until its encounter with Women in STEM and HP allows customers a certain amount of configuration flexibility. Maybe it is time to consider HP? Like LG, they won’t sell you a high-res 17-inch touchscreen, at least not on the Envy models. Maybe there is a conspiracy over in Asia to deny Americans 17-inch touchscreens? For $4,000+, HP will sell a laptop for “creators” with similar specs to the LG that I purchased in 2019: 16 GB of RAM and 256 GB SSD: HP ZBook Studio G8 Mobile Workstation. It has a 15.6″ screen.

I poked around on the Lenovo site and didn’t see anything comparable to the LG. They don’t seem to make 16-inch devices, for example, and their 17-inch laptop is low res (HD) and non-touch. Perhaps their specialties are 14-15-inch business laptops and gaming laptops?

Maybe this is why Apple is so beloved. Since they’re the monopoly hardware supplier, consumers don’t have to cope with a paralyzing array of choice.

Readers: Please help! I want to make sure that I have a good laptop in time for Hate Week in case I am traveling then! (prediction based on what I’m hearing right now here in Washington, D.C.: Ron DeSantis and Kathryn Kimball Mizelle will be featured)

(Separately, I tried using a supersized iPad and keyboard as a Windows substitute on one trip and was unsuccessful. I couldn’t figure out how to use Dropbox and Office 365 together effectively and found myself missing the Windows File System(!), despite having previously raged against the tyranny of a single hierarchy.)

24 thoughts on “What is the best 15-16-inch laptop right now?

  1. May I suggest Yoga Slim 7 Pro Gen 6 (16″ AMD)? Allowing you to break away from Intel tyranny. My personal preference is Lenovo Legion Slim 7 Gen 6 (15″ AMD), with a slightly smaller screen but it has a Nvidia card. Alsо, the Yoga line used to have touchscreens, I don’t know about now.

  2. I bought the 17″ LG Gram for my father a year ago. You’ll want to doublecheck, but the model I got shipped with a single 16GB sodimm and an empty socket; adding an extra 32gb sodimm was straightforward.

  3. I use that HP ZBook as a work laptop and it’s been great. I do use modest computers generally though: my home computers are a 2009 27″ iMac and a 2010 MacBook. Now that vintage computing is a trend, I’m with it baby.

  4. Don’t know that I’d characterize it as “best”, but I just got a Samsung 15.4″ (?) i7, 16GB, 1TB SSD, 1920×1080 laptop from Costco for about $1100. It seems to be serving my needs OK to this point. Of course, there’s lots of unwanted Samsung software, and it’s Win11, but so far that hasn’t been too annoying (once I got configurations set and installed Stardock Start11).

    I like it because it’s slim and light. The gaming laptops seem thick and clunky, but that does let them have better keyboards. Oh, and I gave up having an Nvidia GPU – my older HP laptop has one, but I’m not enough of a gamer to care.

  5. A surface mount connector is field reparable, but not by PhD’s in EE. Board rework tools are cheap compared to 30 years ago.

    Windows 11 is installed on obsolete CPUs by disabling an AllowUpgradesWithUnsupportedTPMOrCPU bit in the registry of the Windows 10 installation.

  6. My Senior Management is very satisfied with a Huawei MateBook (I think it is a D15 but have a look at their MateBook line for other models). 15″ screen, 512 GB SSD, AMD Ryzen processor. The screen resolution is probably low. However it has an aluminium case, it is very quiet and light.

  7. I and my son each use a Lenovo Yoga and are happy. I have always been unhappy with Dell products and, following lots of Dell repair issues, for years have used Lenovo. Their products seem to be made well though i am hardly an expert.

  8. I’m a latecomer to Macs. They’re honestly the best laptop around.

    All most people need is a browser and word processor, spreadsheet; all included. If you must have MS Office it’s available.

    Plus if you want to do Unix-y things, you don’t have to use WSL or VMs or whatever.

    • You can always dual boot (not sure if still an option) or run Windows using Parallels (people at my company doing this now).

      Used a Mac as a dev machine for my last company and loved it.

  9. I love my 2019 LG Gram 17. It’s not that hard to crack open, all you need is a strong suction cup (the kind that have a piston pump), pluck and save the plastic stickers that cover the screw holes, unscrew and use the suction cup to lift the cover. They’ve got two M.2 slots and two RAM sockets, one soldered. I run Linux on mine.

    Otherwise have a look at the Notebookcheck.com reviews, most thorough in the business.

    • If you are seriously considering a gaming laptop, the Gigabyte Aorus 17G is an excellent choice. I spent $1650 for mine at B&H, then about 30% again to max out RAM and SSD to 64GB and 4TB respectively. It has an honest to goodness mechanical keyboard, a very robust aluminum chassis, wonderful screen (albeit 16:9, an aspect ratio that needs to die). No touchscreen, but for me that’s a feature. About 3x faster graphics than my previous GTX1080 desktop gaming rig. It is a boat anchor, however.

    • laptop with mechanical keyboard would be good. The main downside to the gaming laptops is they are heavier, with a heavier power supply and don’t run as long on battery only. Checking the specs on the AORUS 17G

      AORUS 17G (RTX 30 Series)
      World’s Thinnest & Lightest 17″ Laptop with Mechanical Keyboard
      power supply 230W
      Weight 5.95 lb / 2.7 kg

    • Thanks, Fazal. I zipped over to Costco this evening and tried typing on the LG 16″ 2-in-1. The keyboard feels great. It is about 10 percent heavier than the LG 17″, I guess due to the 2-in-1 hinge hardware. The Notebookcheck.com folks ding it for display brightness, but I don’t sit at outdoor cafes with a laptop. So I bought one!

  10. Check out the Lenovo P1 Gen 4. IT administrator(me) recommended in an 175 person tech company. We had terrible motherboard issues/batteries swelling with Dell XPS 13’s and 15’s as well as the $2400 surface book 2’s base refusing to detach/charge after about 1-2 years. Playing around with the coupon codes on Lenovo’s site you can get the price down to approx. $1500 for a 16GB ram 512gb ssd(try: WSDEAL13)

    • Thanks for that. It got expensive when configured with a touch screen (which I seldom use, but I still want to have one).

  11. I’ve heard that Google internally requires connectors to be referred to as “plug” and “socket.” Also, “mainboard”, not “motherboard”. These may just be vicious internet rumors, though.

    No advice on laptops – I’m still dealing with the up-the-nose cam XPS 13 myself.

  12. For the relatively financially enfeebled, sometimes Backmarket.com has good deals on refurbished laptops, tablets, Chromebooks and Microsoft Surface machines. Newegg also.

    You have to do some searching and scrolling, it’s hit-or-miss, purely dependent on what they’ve got, but in the past I did purchase an HP ProBook for my Dad as a Father’s Day present. I found it on Backmarket.

    He’s a very stubborn man and wouldn’t countenance spending money on a new laptop, but I got literally sick and tired of hearing him scream and yell at his existing (circa 2009) Windows Vista laptop that he tried to press gang into running Windows 10 in 4GB of RAM. He just kept screaming, and one day I’d had enough of his self-inflicted masochism.

    So I bought the 2016 ProBook 645 G2 with 16 gigs, Win10 Pro, and 512 GB of SSD in secret. I bought him a decent carrying case, tested the laptop, prepped it with some software and minor tweaks, charged the battery, and put it all in the case.

    Then I waited until he started yelling at his machine, which didn’t take long. I walked up behind him and put it on the table in front of him. “Happy Father’s Day. Please stop yelling. And please recycle that laptop in whatever way you want. Just don’t use it any more. I don’t need to hear it any more coming from my Dad.”

    You will not get cutting-edge hardware from Backmarket but since I always try to think of people who have modest means, they’re worth considering. His HP has run perfectly for almost a year now, doing things he does (mostly programming, not so much graphics.) And he doesn’t scream at it.

    • Oh, I also bought him a cheap Microsoft Bluetooth mouse. He loved that, because he had been poking at that damned Vista laptop with his aging fingers for far too long. It was like I had invented sliced bread (or at least the Slap-Chop lol.) Then he gave me a big Father’s Day hug.

      He said: “All this didn’t cost a lot did it?”
      I said: “How much are your sanity and mine worth?”

  13. What is the best 15-16-inch laptop right now?

    Sorry, can’t help you. I use a 3 y/o $150 HP Chromebook. I do all my heavy computing at work.

  14. Phil won’t buy one, but for anyone else, the Macbook Air with the M1 chip has amazing performance and class-leading battery life. No fan means it’s quiet, too.

    If your needs are a web browser and MS Office, it’s a great laptop. If you want to game or you need to run Windows regularly, this is not the laptop you are looking for.

    • G C: In addition to having to learn a whole bunch of new interface conventions, the MacBook Air has only a 13″ screen, which I’ve already determined is too small.

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