For most of us, video conferencing has become the standard, especially in the post-pandemic period. The majority of businesses go for Zoom. Here are the 5 best-rated alternatives for 2022, whether you’re a college student pursuing engineering, law studies, art, medical, or work-from-home professional, or a teacher who requires a laptop for video conference sessions on applications like Zoom, Skype, or Google Meet.
You’re presumably in one of these groups, and you’re trying to figure out which laptop is best for video conferencing. Well, wonder no longer; the machines on our list are not only capable of video calling, but also of high-end jobs such as machine learning, gaming, and video editing.
To join in a video conference, you don’t need a costly Intel i9-powered laptop. For Zoom, you’ll require a device with a good webcam and good sound, as well as 4GB of RAM and a dual-core CPU. However, you will not only use a laptop for video conferencing; you will also use it for other jobs, so be sure the one you purchase meets all of your requirements.
Aside from that, remember that you’ll need a solid, fast connection with at least 1.5Mbps/1.5Mbps (up/down) speed, which the current wireless standards can handle. Now you don’t have to wonder any longer.
Hundreds of laptops were initially put through their paces to verify they met Zoom and video conferencing requirements. Let’s take a look at five of the best laptops on the market to fulfill your Zoom and other computing demands, according on your budget and usage. The models are divided into three categories: budget, performance, and portability.
If you require a laptop that can do more than just video conferencing, such as stream videos, execute professional duties, work on huge excel sheets, or edit photographs with Adobe Photoshop, this is the laptop for you.
If Zoom is your primary priority, however, prioritize the aforementioned specs while selecting a laptop with enough security. Built-in capabilities to prevent cyber threats, privacy shutters for the webcam, and other features could be included.
1. Acer Swift 3
The Acer Swift 3 is an ultra-thin, sleek, silver, zippy performer designed to help college-bound youngsters transition to the next level of their education and lives. The Swift 3 is lighter and smaller than the five-subject notebook that was tucked under my Trapper Keeper in the late 1980s, weighing only 2.6 pounds and measuring less than an inch thick.
Also, thanks to its 11th Gen Intel Core i7 CPU, 16GB of RAM, and 512GB of storage, it’s a real machine that can handle heavy work. The Swift 3’s 14-inch IPS FHD display makes me want to go back in time and set fire to my Trapper Keeper and give young me a list of stocks to buy in the coming years.
The Intel Core i5-1035G4 engine, 8GB of RAM, a 256GB SSD, Intel Iris Plus graphics, and a 13.5-inch, 1080p display are included in the Acer Swift 3’s base configuration, which starts at $729.99.
Our test device costs $999.99 and comes with a vivid 14-inch IPS 1080p FHD display, an Intel Core i7-1165G7 CPU with 16GB of RAM, a 512GB PCIe SSD, and an Intel Iris Xe GPU. The Acer Swift 3 is a silver, all-metal, the ultra-thin laptop that directly competes with the 13-inch MacBook Air.
Its profile and pricing are identical. Acer is seeking to carve out a niche for itself in the market. The silver lid of the unit is covered with metallic flecks and has a chrome Acer logo in the center when closed.
This laptop isn’t overtly attractive or flamboyant, but it does have a certain appeal thanks to the elegant accents Acer has utilized to distinguish the Swift 3. The Acer Swift 3 can be easily opened thanks to the well-designed depression on the front.
The Swift 3’s 14-inch FHD screen is enclosed in a thin bezel with chrome accents when you open the lid. The regular 720p HD webcam is snuggled inside the bezel above the center of the display. As you find it down, you’ll notice the backlit chiclet-style keyboard, which has matte silver keys centered within the deck.
A fingerprint scanner compatible with Windows Hello is located just below the keyboard on the right, allowing you to lock and unlock the laptop with your fingers. I was surprised to see that Acer did not include a camera shutter to provide the user some privacy. The palm resting on the deck is a good size, and the touchpad is somewhat left of center beneath the keyboard.
The Swift 3 is slightly lighter than the MacBook Air, measuring 12.7 x 8.4 x 0.6 inches and weighing 2.6 pounds (2.8 pounds and 12 x 8.4 x 0.6 inches). Both are significantly lighter than the HP Envy x360 15, which weighs 4.42 pounds and measures 14.1 x 9.6 x 0.74 inches.
The Microsoft SurfaceBook Pro 7+ is our lightweight winner, measuring 11.5 x 7.9 x 033 and weighing only 1.8 pounds. The Swift 3 has all of the ports that most students and people will require to connect to their peripherals. One 3.5 combo audio port, a USB-Type A port, and a Kensington lock slot can be found on the right.
The Acer Swift 3 scored 72.9 percent of the DCI-P3 color gamut when our team of professional mad scientists measured the panel’s color reproduction, which is lower than the ultraportable average of 77.3 percent. Our group was led by the MacBook Air, which received an 80 percent DCI-P3 score, followed by the HP Envy x360 (77 percent), and the Surface Book Pro (70 percent) (75.5 percent ).
The Swift’s display averages 300 nits of brightness, which is brighter than the HP Envy’s 266-nit display but well behind the Macbook Air, which scored 386 nits, and the Surface Pro, which scored 385 nits (358 nits).
The sound quality of the Acer Swift 3 earned it some points. The audio is crisp, with some depth in the lower frequencies. Although it isn’t a bass thumper, the two speakers performed a good job of producing distinct bass, mid, and high notes.
In a medium-sized space, the speakers were loud enough to be heard clearly. The 14-inch Acer Swift 3’s backlit chiclet-style keyboard isn’t the biggest, and I was a little concerned because of my obnoxiously enormous hands. The clicky keys, on the other hand, had a great amount of travel between them, which helped me type faster.
When I took the 10fastfingers.com test, I got a score of 78 words per minute with 86 percent accuracy, which is really good considering I have thick hot Italian sausage fingers that aren’t always the most nimble. When accessing webpages or documents, the 4.2 x 2.7-inch touchpad is responsive.
Windows 10 movements such as two-finger swipes and three-finger taps are easy to accomplish on a smooth surface. When utilizing the right or left clicks, the bottom corners provide firm feedback and are quite clicky.
The Swift 3 is a compact workhorse with an Intel Core i7-1165G7 processor, 16 GB of RAM, a 512GB PCIe NVMe SSD, and Intel Iris Xe graphics that will easily manage all of your daily emails, YouTube breaks, Netflix binge-watching, papers, and work.
The Acer Swift 3 outperformed the ultra-portable laptop average score of 5,342 in our synthetic benchmark tests, scoring 6,205 in Geekbench 5.4. With a score of 6,851, the HP Envy x360 (AMD Ryzen 7 5700U processor, 16GB RAM, and 512GB PCIe SSD) outperformed our Swift. This outperformed the MacBook Air’s 5,962 (M1 Chip, 16GB 1TB SSD) and the Surface Pro’s 4,825 score (Intel Core i5-1135G7 CPU, 16GB, 256GB SSD).
During the Handbrake video-editing test, our review unit outperformed the ultra-portable laptop average (15:02), transcoding a 4K video to 1080p in 12 minutes and 59 seconds. The HP Envy x360, on the other hand, outperformed everyone by converting the identical footage in just 8 minutes.
With a time of 9 minutes and 15 seconds, the MacBook Air performed admirably. The Microsoft Surface Pro 7+, on the other hand, took a long time to finish, clocking up at 23 minutes and 41 seconds.
I wouldn’t recommend the Acer Swift 3 for serious gaming because it has Intel Iris Xe integrated graphics. However, during Sid Meier’s Civilization VI: Gathering Storm test, our test unit held its own, scoring 38 frames per second (1080p). The MacBook Air (37 fps) and the HP Envy x360 (35 fps) came in second and third, respectively.
At 15 frames per second, the Surface Pro 7+ came in last. The Swift 3 offers all-day battery life as well as other features. This means you can go around all day without having to worry about finding an outlet. The Acer Swift 3 outlasted the ultraportable average by 14 hours and 48 minutes when we ran the Laptop Mag Battery Test, which involves continuous web surfing over Wi-Fi at 150 nits of brightness (12:45).
With a runtime of 11 hours and 23 minutes, the HP Envy x360 finished in second. The MacBook Air came in third (9:31) while the Surface Pro 7+ came in last once more (8:49).
The Aspire performs admirably in terms of heat dissipation. There was no visible spike in temperature when I opened 30 tabs on Google Chrome, all of which were playing various Full HD YouTube videos while working on a manuscript.
After 15 minutes, our team played a full-screen HD video and measured particular places on the laptop. The temperature of the touchpad was 79 degrees Fahrenheit, significantly below our 95-degree comfort criterion. We received a reading of 83 degrees between the G and H keys, and 86 degrees on the underside.
The Acer Swift 720p webcam is basic but effective. The color is a touch off in tone and the details are blurry, as with most webcams, especially if the lighting isn’t ideal. If you want greater quality, I recommend investing in an external webcam. The Swift 3’s camera, on the other hand, will suffice for Zoom and Google Meet calls.
The Acer Swift 3 ships with Windows 10 Home, which includes Skype, Netflix, Dropbox, Microsoft Solitaire Collection, and Spades, among other bloatware programs. The Swift 3 from Acer isn’t a game-changer. It has a good design with some cool chrome elements that provide a little flair.
The 11th Gen Intel Core i7 CPU will deliver adequate performance and acceptable rendering from the Intel Iris Xe GPU, but it won’t blow you away. You can acquire a decent, budget-friendly ultra-thin laptop and travel companion that won’t slow you down for just $729.99. However, if you go all out, you’ll be looking at around $1,000, which is reasonable given the features and performance you get.
2. Inspiron 15 3000
While many of the best Windows laptops cost more than $750, you don’t have to spend that much money to acquire a solid piece of hardware. Usually, lowering the price below $500 results in low-quality laptops that aren’t worth the money, but that isn’t the case with the Dell Inspiron 15 3000. (3511).
It’s almost impossible to review a laptop like this because there’s so nothing about it that’s unexpected. Anyone who has bought an Inspiron device, or pretty much any Dell laptop, is used to getting a decent piece of hardware with the good build quality. This is true here, as the Inspiron feels substantial and well-made.
The Inspiron 15 3000 is a more economical laptop that is geared for work. Even though it is essentially a consumer laptop, Dell frequently puts it in business laptop deals. With a starting price of $350, you won’t receive the same level of fit and finish as the Latitude series or the consumer-oriented XPS range. What you do get is a low-cost laptop that is capable of handling everyday tasks.
The Inspiron 15 3000 is a low-work laptop designed for folks who need to get things done. The variant with an 11th Gen Intel Core i3-1115G4 processor, 4GB of RAM, and 128GB of SSD storage start at $350.
For an additional $50, you can increase the RAM to 8GB, bringing the total to $400. For the most part, this is probably worthwhile. In some workflows, 4GB of RAM may suffice, but 8GB will give you more room to work with.
There are several configuration possibilities, with the most expensive model costing $680 and featuring an Intel Core i7-1165G7 CPU, 12GB of RAM, and 512GB of storage. Surprisingly, the Intel Core i5-1135G7 model isn’t listed on Dell’s website. It is, however, available for $609 on Amazon.
It’s called the Inspiron 15 3000 on the packaging. It’s a laptop with a low price tag. It boasts a 15.6-inch display, a full numeric keypad, and a slew of legacy connectors. The Inspiron 15 3000 shocked me with how much it can accomplish despite its basic specs.
Although the model I tested had only an Intel Core i3 processor, it is sufficient for online browsing, Office, and general productivity. I normally prefer Core i5 processors, but reviewing this device made me realize how far the Intel Core i3 family has come in recent years.
Don’t overlook Core i3 models if you’re looking for a laptop for light work and productivity, especially if you’re on a budget. Dell crammed a lot of computing power into the Inspiron 15 3000’s 14-inch laptop. The bezels around the 15.6-inch display are thin, but not as thin as those on high-end laptops.
Despite its compact size, the laptop features a huge screen as a result of this. An ErgoLift hinge raises the screen slightly when you open the Inspiron 15 3000, which is a nice touch. The keyboard is also at a better angle thanks to its hinge.
The Inspiron 15 3000 has good battery life. The battery will be depleted in roughly six hours if you stream 1080p material at full brightness. The Inspiron 15 3000 features a lot of connectors, but none of them are USB-C.
On a laptop, having an HDMI port, SD card slot, headphone jack, and three USB-A connections are excellent, but the lack of a single USB-C port is unfortunate. Some people value legacy support, but I believe Dell could have replaced one of the USB-A ports with a USB-C port. Alternatively, the business might have replaced the barrel charging connector with a USB-C port that could also be used to charge the laptop.
It makes sense to have older ports because many of the top webcams for Windows PCs use USB-A, but certain PC accessories use USB-C. Some of the best external hard drives, for example, connect via USB-C.
In addition, the Inspiron 15 3000 lacks a built-in option to unlock the laptop through Windows Hello. You can use a fingerprint reader or webcam that supports Windows Hello instead of having built-in hardware, but it’s not as seamless.
The Inspiron 15 3000’s trackpad is a little loose and hollow, especially towards the bottom corners. It is clickable and follows movement well, however, the trackpad is one of the places that reveal the device’s pricing.
While the Dell Inspiron 15 3000 is a nice laptop for the laptop, it’s not the only one available for between $350 and $500. The HP 14z Laptop is a reliable gadget that starts at $430. It includes a lot of connectors, including one for USB-C, and has good battery life.
One of the greatest budget laptops available in the ASUS Vivobook 15. The Vivobook 15 boasts a 15.6-inch FHD display and a slew of legacy connectors, just like the Inspiron 15 3000. The Vivobook 15 sports backlit keys, a fingerprint reader, and a USB-C connector, unlike the Inspiron 15 3000.
The Surface Laptop Go is more expensive than the Inspiron 15 3000, but it’s comparable to several Dell midrange versions. The Surface Laptop Go from Microsoft is a fantastic laptop that costs $550. It features a vivid display, strong performance, and long battery life.
3. HP Pavilion 15
The Pavilion line has traditionally been HP’s popular mid-range brand, and this 15-inch laptop fits right in; it’s a not-quite-ultrabook laptop with a lot of features. The model we have here is jam-packed with high-end components, including 16GB of RAM, a fast 512GB SSD, a touch-screen 15.3-inch FHD display, and an AMD Ryzen 7 processor from the 4th generation.
For the most part, it performs admirably with those components, yielding performance that, while not quite reaching the stratospheric heights achieved by Intel’s 11th-generation mobile processors, are certainly commendable.
All of those guts are crammed (literally) into a gorgeous and resolutely attractive case, a slim-enough form that appears fancier than it is, and given more than enough ports to make this completely functional no matter what you have planned for it. There’s a full-size keyboard that’s a joy to type on, as well as a huge trackpad that didn’t disappoint.
This has what it takes for everyday desktop work, whether it’s casual photo editing, web browsing, or ‘working’ in front of a movie or two, and it doesn’t get too hot (or, more importantly, too noisy) while doing it.
But, of course, we’re talking about a laptop that costs $849 (£850, or around AU$1,000), and HP isn’t known for its ability to pull off miracles. There have been some cuts, but they’ve been made with care and are likely to be things you can live without.
There’s no keyboard lighting, for example, and the case is made of plastic, no matter how well-braced it is. There are no discrete graphics options, so the HP Pavilion 15 is forced to rely on the Ryzen SoC’s marginally better-than-average integrated processor, which will certainly turn off consumers searching for a full-fledged entertainment laptop or those with specialized creative professional use cases.
We don’t see why you wouldn’t choose the HP Pavilion 15 if you’re content with its limitations. It precisely fits the expectations of its price point, sitting alongside computers like the Lenovo Think book 15.
It doesn’t feel compromised – at least not until you try to play a game or go off-grid for an extended period, relying on its somewhat limited battery – and it doesn’t look compromised either.
This is a winner if your constraints match those of the HP Pavilion 15. The HP Pavilion 15-eh0014na, also known as the eh0015cl, is the big brother of the HP Pavilion 15 family, and as such, it commands one of HP’s mid-range line’s highest pricing.
That’s not to say it’s prohibitively costly; in the United States, it costs $849.99, while in the United Kingdom, it costs £850. In Australia, you’ll have to settle for the eh0065AU, which lacks the touchscreen and replaces the 512GB SSD with a 1TB model; it’s also somewhat more expensive at AU$2,199.
When you’re looking for a mid-range system, cutting back on things like storage space makes sense, and you might be able to get away with 8GB RAM – though we’d recommend 16GB if you can afford it.
When compared to, say, HP’s stylish but pricey Envy series, the Pavilion appears to be a better deal, however, the Pavilion’s lack of discrete graphics means it can do significantly less in the office and doesn’t have the Envy’s far-reaching home potential.
A more realistic comparison might be the Acer Swift 3, which has hardware on a comparable (albeit somewhat less powerful) level and is priced similarly: it’s lighter and smaller, but we think it fits into the same niche.
The Ultrabook category is difficult to categorize. If you define the term as “any laptop that has the illusion of being slim,” then this laptop fits right in. The HP Pavilion 15- (2021) appears to be an excellent value for the money, with HP slashing costs significantly.
The screen, for example, is quite thin (though the modest protective black rim around the edges adds a little thickness) and far stiffer than we’d anticipate from a plastic-cased laptop. Because it doesn’t have the benefit of a glass front to provide extra rigidity, it’s visibly well-braced on the inside.
This makes operating the touchscreen a little more difficult than doing so on a glass display, but it’s a minor concession that can easily be made to meet a pricing goal. The base has a slimline appearance as well, with cunning angles used to conceal its slightly bulbous belly.
That brings us to the alternative possible definition of the term Ultrabook, which we’d define as “any slim and light laptop” – with the focus on the actual thinness and lightness rather than the implied. The HP Pavilion 15 comes close, but it doesn’t quite cut.
Sure, there have been bulkier and heavier machines, but the 15-eh0014na does not fit neatly into either category. It’s not a one-handed device like the LG Gram, yet it’s also not as thin as the MacBook Air. In its unique manner, it’s quietly dense.
If we had to guess, it appears that HP had some difficulty fitting this Ryzen 7 internals into the chassis. The base has a little bump; we weren’t sure if it was a trick of the eye after staring at it for so long, but a straight edge placed on the back part indicates that it is slightly bowed.
It’s not something for which we’ll lose points, but it is an aesthetic speedbump. It may be crammed in, but it isn’t designed. With a USB Type-A plug on each side of the machine, a multi-function Type-C connector on the left, a full-size HDMI output, and a built-in microSD reader, there’s a fair, if not overly generous, amount of port provision.
In the laptop market, things are complicated. Where the Ryzen 4000-series CPU in this computer may have been the crown gem of laptop chips just a few months ago, Intel’s 11th-generation CPUs have suddenly come along and outsparkled it.
Given that this machine can’t quite equal its rival’s benchmark scores in some areas, it’s tempting to conclude that it’s subpar, but that’s far from the case.
The Ryzen 7 4700U is still a terrific mobile processor, giving it a perfectly snappy feel and allowing it to easily keep up with day-to-day desktop chores (in conjunction with its quick storage and generous RAM supply). This does not appear to be a budget laptop.
What it can’t do, though, is provide a lot of gaming performance. You’re stuck with the integrated Radeon Graphics solution, which, while not completely useless, produces benchmark results comparable to the Nvidia GeForce GTX 960M, a 2015 card.
It can handle esports titles if they’re scaled back a bit, but anything more demanding will be too much for it. On the desktop, however, everything feels completely smooth. It wouldn’t make sense to penalize it for not having a discrete graphics solution because it isn’t promoted on its gaming potential.
The current configuration is sufficient to offer more than ample power without requiring excessive cooling or compromise. Even when we were hammering the SoC with benchmarks, the fans hardly cranked up. When they did happen, they were tolerable, and the well-tuned B&O sound system was able to drown them out. We don’t keep the down-firing speakers on all the time (there has to be a better way), but this works well.
The screen is adequate but not amazing. It has a resolution of 1,920×1,080, which provides enough pixel density to prevent things from seeming grainy to the naked eye, and is extremely reflective, which helps to offset the IPS panel’s somewhat disappointing contrast, but also means it’s not enjoyable to use with a window behind you.
Although we’ve seen greater fingerprint magnets, it’ll be useful to have a microfiber towel on hand if you’re poking at this surface daily.
There’s no denying that the HP Pavilion 15’s battery life is a major letdown. Given its size, we expected the battery to be large enough to last at least a full day’s work; as it stands, you’d have your work cut out for you to squeeze eight hours out of it. Our movie test didn’t last much more than six hours, and PCMark’s battery test lasted a half-hour longer.
Sure, it’s not the worst – some gaming laptops’ inadequate batteries can die after a couple of hours, and this is significantly better – but it’s more indication that HP may have run out of space inside the HP Pavilion 15’s chassis or at the very least cut one too many corners. It does, however, quick charge, reaching half capacity in around half an hour.
4. Asus ZenBook 15
Asus knows how to design a stunning laptop. The company also understands how to turn gimmicks into genuine features. On the ZenBook 15, Asus blends the best of both worlds (UX534F). The laptop, which costs $1,399, defies the silver/rose-gold trend by sporting a seductive blue chassis that is both robust and attractive.
ScreenPad is also being reintroduced, this company with a larger functionality and more features. With an Intel Comet Lake processor, discrete graphics, and extended battery life, this laptop is ideal for mobile workers who don’t want to spend the extra money on the 16-inch MacBook Pro.
The UX534F, like most Zenbooks, is a visual treat. The royal-blue aluminum chassis, which is lined with Asus’ signature concentric-circle pattern, evokes images of a beautiful but restless sea.
The Asus logo, located in the center of the lid, gleams like a golden haven among the choppy seas. The shiny lid is cool to the touch, but it attracts fingerprints, as I learned when I tried to caress it.
When you open the lid, you’ll see even more of the blue-and-gold theme. The entire deck is made of royal-blue aluminum, with a gold vent in the center embossed with Asus ZenBook. A blue keyboard with gold lettering is also available. Below that is a huge touchpad that also serves as Asus’ proprietary ScreenPad 2.0. (more on that later).
When you open the lid, you activate Asus’ ErgoLift hinge, which slightly lifts the keyboard deck for a more comfortable typing experience. The elevated deck also provides for better cooling, resulting in improved performance. It also creates a little gap between the bottom-mounted speakers and a flat surface, which improves audio quality.
The 13.9 x 8.7 x 0.7-inch ZenBook 15 stands up to its billing as one of the world’s most compact 15-inch computers, weighing in at 3.7 pounds. The MacBook Pro 16 (4.3 pounds, 14.1 x 9.7 x 0.6 inches), Dell XPS 15 (4.5 pounds, 14.1 x 9.3 x 0.50.7 inches), and 15-inch HP Spectre x360 are all lighter and smaller (4.6 pounds, 14.2 x 9.8 x 0.8 inches).
The MSI Prestige 15 measures 14.4 x 9.2 x 0.6 inches and weighs 3.6 pounds. Don’t be fooled by its attractive exterior; the ZenBook 15 is a robust notebook. MIL-STD-810G testing has been performed on the laptop to ensure that it can withstand a beating and continue to function. Extreme altitudes, humidity, drop, shock, vibration, and temperature tests were all passed by the laptop.
Asus included the ZenBook 15 with a TPM 2.0 module to protect your sensitive data. This module lets IT, managers, implement secure user authentication and other high-level security measures. The webcam is equipped with 3D IR technology, which is useful for facial recognition software such as Windows Hello.
It’s been a while, but I’m back! Asus’ ScreenPad technology returns as ScreenPad 2.0, bigger and better than before, with more features than before. ScreenPad 2.0, which is powered by the ScreenXpert software, is intended to be an add-on to Microsoft Office to increase productivity. The LCD touchpad has a resolution of 2160 x 1080 pixels and a 60 Hz refresh rate.
The huge touchpad houses ScreenPad 2.0, which you can enable or disable by pressing F6. To switch between the touchpad and ScreenPad when it has been activated, press the X button in the top-right corner of the touchpad to access ScreenPad and the touchpad symbol in the lower left to switch back.
When you turn on ScreenPad 2.0, it comes with nine preloaded apps, including Number Key, which turns the pad into a large digital number pad; Handwriting, in case you need to scribble anything down; and Spotify, for when you need some working music.
Quick Key, which allows you to create hot buttons that may be used in specific apps, is still my favorite ScreenPad software. Quick Keys’ default hotkeys, for example, match to Windows 10 shortcuts like cut, paste, and copy.
Slide, Doc, and SheetXpert, all from Microsoft, function in unison with PowerPoint, Word, and Excel. As amazing as it is, I no longer use Office 365, so I’m hoping Asus is working on something with Google. You can also use ScreenPad to add third-party apps like Spotify for quick access.
These apps can be utilized in ScreenPad 2.0 or by using the App Switcher function on the main screen to interface with them. You can also pin an app in the ScreenPad to make it easier to access by dragging it onto the Add icon.
ScreenPad 2.0’s finest feature isn’t some shiny new app. It’s the new power efficiency, which reduces battery usage and switches ScreenPad to battery-saving mode while not in use. That meant the laptop lasted more than 8 hours for me, but I’d like to see how it would perform with a 4K panel.
Engineering and design miracles, oh my! Asus managed to squeeze a 15.6-inch display with a resolution of 1920 x 1080 into a 14-inch chassis. The laptop also boasts super-slim bezels, which adds to the appeal. Although not as thin as the Dell XPS 15’s InfinityEdge bezels, this laptop is still quite amazing.
It also helps that the display is attractive. Issa Rae’s marigold outfit stood out against her mocha-brown skin and reddish-brown hair in the 1080p teaser for The Photograph. It had the appearance of a real, breathing sun. I could see the soft ripples in her long, flowing hair because the details were so crisp.
I was surprised to see that the ZenBook 15 only replicated 103 percent of the sRGB gamut, as gorgeous as the screen appears.
It’s higher than our minimum of 100 percent, but not nearly as high as the 123 percent premium laptop average or the 157, 159, and 210 percent achieved by the Spectre x360, Prestige 15, and XPS 15, respectively. The 16-inch MacBook Pro, which received 114 percent, was within striking distance.
The brightness of the ZenBook 15 was another area where it fell short, with the panel averaging 279 nits. It outshines the Spectre x360, which had 247 nits. However, it’s a far way from the 358-nit average or the 418, 428, and 429 nits put off by the XPS 15, Prestige 15, and MacBook Pro, respectively.
I was pleasantly impressed by how excellent the ZenBook 15’s stereo speakers sounded. The Harmon/Kardon speakers flooded my modest bedroom with Donell Jones’ sweet voice on his cover of “Knocks Me Off My Feet,” aided by a smart amplifier and Asus’ Audio Wizard software.
Music became my go-to preset out of the three (Bypass, Music, and Movies) since it delivered the best overall performance.
That implies that, despite the absence of a subwoofer, the low end has some weight without distorting the mids and highs. The keyboard on the ZenBook 15 is snappy, well-spaced, and most importantly, comfy. Because of the large size of the keys, I never had to worry about my fingers bottoming out, and I never had to worry about accidentally striking the wrong key.
It’s also noteworthy that the company incorporated a number pad without having to reduce the size of any of the main keys, and yet left enough for arrow keys. The illumination is my greatest problem; I wish it shone through the writing, which would make typing in the dark easier.
The laptop’s 5.1 x 2.6-inch touchpad provides plenty of room for navigating documents and online sites, as well as performing Windows 10 gestures. It was swift and responsive to perform pinch-to-zoom, two-finger scroll, and three-finger tap. The pad’s bottom corners provided a springy response with a satisfying click.
Asus is one of the first laptop laptops to introduce Intel’s 10th Gen Comet Lake processors to the market. A 1.8GHz Intel Core i7-10510U processor and 16GB of RAM power the ZenBook 15. Comet Lake processors, which are 14 nanometers thick, are the next generation of Whiskey Lake CPUs.
They’re all about big performance, especially when it comes to severe workloads and multitasking. Comet Lake CPUs, according to Intel, deliver 16 percent better overall performance than previous-generation chips.
During my multitasking test, the laptop performed admirably. While working on a big spreadsheet in Google Docs, I opened 30 tabs in Google Chrome, half of which were streaming content from YouTube or Twitch. Even when I started running formulas, I didn’t notice any symptoms of slowing. During our synthetic benchmarks, however, the ZenBook 15 was less outstanding.
The ZenBook 15 scored 4,410 on Geekbench 5.0, which evaluates overall performance, outperforming the 4,367 premium laptop average. The Prestige 15 with its Core i7-10710U CPU, on the other hand, reached 4,390. With their Core i9-9900HK CPUs, the XPS 15 and MacBook Pro scored 7,584 and 7,201 points, respectively.
On the Handbrake test, the ZenBook 15 took 13 minutes and 17 seconds to transcode a 4K video to 1080p. That time was faster than the Prestige 15’s 14:46 and the category average of 21:41. The Spectre x360, on the other hand, came in at 10:45, while the XPS 15 and MacBook Pro came in at 8:00.
The ZenBook 15’s 1TB PCIe NVMe SSD took 6 seconds to duplicate 4.97GB of multimedia files on the File Transfer test. Except for the MacBook Pro, whose 2TB M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD recorded a stunning 1,017.9 MBps, that’s a transfer rate of 771.1 megabytes per second, which was enough to blow past most of the competitors, including the 538.8-MBps average.
With the ZenBook Pro’s Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 Max-Q GPU and 4GB of VRAM, you won’t be able to play Red Dead Redemption 2 (at least not properly), but you should be able to play several AAA games. However, when it comes to mid-level content creation and multitasking, the separate graphics card is there to aid with the heavy work.
Despite this, the notebook easily outperformed the 60-fps category average on the Dirt 3 benchmark, scoring 153 frames per second. The Spectre x360 and Prestige 15 achieved 61 and 181 frames per second with their own 1650 Max-Q GPUs, respectively, while the XPS with its full 1650 generated 80 frames per second. Except when it comes to battery life, two screens are better than one.
With ScreenPad 2.0 turned off, the ZenBook 15 lasted 8 hours and 34 minutes on the Laptop Mag battery test (continuous web surfing over Wi-Fi at 150 nits of screen brightness). That’s a significant improvement over last year’s ZenBook Pro 15, which only lasted 5:14 minutes. It should be noted, however, that my ZenBook 15 only has a 1080p display, as opposed to the Pro’s 4K display.
With two screens and relatively high-powered components, the ZenBook should be a crotch incinerator. Despite this, the touchpad only reached 84 degrees Fahrenheit after 15 minutes of watching a full-screen YouTube movie.
That’s significantly below our preferred temperature of 95 degrees. The laptop’s center reached a temperature of 88 degrees, while the undercarriage reached a temperature of 90 degrees. The ZenBook 15 comes with a small set of preinstalled apps from Asus.
The most helpful of the Asus-branded software is MyAsus, which allows you to run system diagnostics, contact tech support, and even modify the display’s color temperature.
Evernote, Spotify, McAfee Personal Security, Netflix, and Nvidia GeForce Experience and Control Panel are examples of third-party software. Candy Crush Friends and Microsoft Solitaire Collection, as well as the usual Windows 10 bloatware, make an appearance.
5. MacBook Air with M1 (Apple)
The new Apple MacBook Air with M1 has thrown your idea of what a MacBook Air is out the window. Yes, it has the same classic wedge design as before, but Apple Silicon gives it significantly more power and capability than before.
As a result, the MacBook Air entered a new age, with Pro-grade performance that rivals, if not outperforms, Intel-based Windows PCs.
As a potential MacBook buyer, I’m pleased to report that the new MacBook Air outperforms its predecessor in terms of performance and battery life by many hours. This evaluation of the MacBook Air with M1 will show why it is one of the greatest laptops available.
The majority of the apps I’ve used on the MacBook Air are still Intel versions, which macOS Big Sur converts to function on its ARM-based processor using Rosetta 2. App developers will be able to produce Universal versions of their apps, which will let them run even quicker on Apple silicon systems, like this M1-based MacBook Air.
The MacBook Air with M1 is priced at $999, however, it is available for $899 to educational users. That variant comes with an 8-core CPU and a 7-core GPU, as well as 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD. With 512GB of SSD storage and an 8-core GPU, the $1,249 variant is a little more packed.
The MacBook Air with M1 will be available on November 17, 2020, although those who have waited longer may be rewarded. Thinner bezels and MagSafe charging are rumored for the MacBook Air 2022. However, if you do not require a new laptop immediately, you may wish to wait a few months. Bloomberg’s latest report claims that a redesigned MacBook Air will be released in 2022.
The performance of the MacBook Air is excellent, thanks to the M1 processor and 16GB of RAM. I never noticed anything close to a hitch when I divided the screen between 20 Chrome (Intel, not Universal) tabs and a 1080p YouTube video — plus Apple’s Mail and Photos app, Pixelmator (again, an Intel program), and 1Password (Intel, again) in the background.
Oh, and 20GB of 4K video was being AirDropped in the background, all while everything remained smooth and stable. I even found time to mess around with iOS apps during a group call, downloading and opening the Overcast podcatcher, HBO Max, and the game Among Us.
I messed around in each of those apps while a 4K YouTube video of a chef cooking played on my laptop monitor, so I could start an Adventure Time episode, download a podcast, and drag my tiny Among Us person around on the screen. Yes, I’m an expert multitasker.
Most of the time, the MacBook Air with M1 felt identical (if not faster) in terms of performance to the 2020 Core i5 MacBook Pro I used to test Big Sur or the 2017 Core i7 MacBook Pro-business machine I used. This was true even when I had an external monitor connected.
Even with Apple’s claims of 3.5x increased performance over the Intel MacBook Air announced earlier this year, I was hesitant because I’ve always pushed my MacBooks to their limits, and needed a MacBook Pro, not an Air, to accomplish my work. What is this MacBook Air? It has the feel of a pro.
Let’s see how that translates to benchmarks – keep in mind that not all of our testing was conducted with Universal versions of apps, and Intel versions aren’t optimized for the M1.
On the Geekbench 5.1 (Intel) multicore test, the Air scored 5,962, which was nearly identical to the 5,925 from the M1 MacBook Pro. On the equivalent Geekbench 5.2 test, the Air smashed the 5,084 from the ZenBook 13 and the 5,319 from the XPS 13 (both with the Intel Core i7-1165G7 CPU and 16GB of RAM). Only 2,738 were generated by the outdated Intel MacBook Air Y-series Intel CPU.
The MacBook Air took 9 minutes and 15 seconds to convert a 4K video to 1080p in our Handbrake (Universal) video conversion test, while the MacBook Pro took 7:44 (on a beta version of Handbrake tuned for Apple silicon). Those times beat the ZenBook 13 (17:51) and XPS 13 (18:22) times, as well as the Intel MacBook Air’s 27:10 time from earlier this year.
Apple also promised twice the speed of storage, which they fulfilled. On the Black Magic Disk Speed Test (Intel), the 1TB SSD in the MacBook Air we tested hit a read speed of 2692 MBps, more than double the Intel MacBook Air’s read rate of 1,301.9 MBps.
The MacBook Air scored 653 in the PugetBench Photoshop (Intel) test, beating the XPS 13’s 588 but falling short of the ZenBook 13’s 743. (a rare win for the x86 crowd). With a score of 649, the MacBook Pro came close.
Our test MacBook Air boasts an 8-core GPU, which (at first glance) appears to alter the Mac in the minds of certain gamers. Bioshock 2 Remastered (at the native 2560 x 1600 resolution) was my first game, and it ran perfectly, with rippling water flowing through the rooms I walked, electroshocks hitting adversaries, and all the underwater life outside the passageways I explored moving without a hiccup.
But, since that was an older game, I pulled out Rise of the Tomb Raider (also at 2560 x 1600 and set to Medium graphics), which ran well on the MacBook Air — and I never expected to see a MacBook Air run such a demanding AAA game.
Lara Croft moved as she should whether I was climbing a frigid polar peak or roaming Syria’s deserts. Oh, and both of these games are Intel versions that run with Rosetta 2, not Universal ones (yet).
Sid Meier’s Civilization VI: Gathering Storm (Intel) played at 37 frames per second on the MacBook Air (where 1440 x 900 was the highest resolution available), outperforming the Intel MacBook Air’s 7 fps score and coming in just behind the M1 MacBook Pro’s 38 fps time.
The ZenBook 13 and XPS 13 (which could run the game at a slightly higher resolution of 1080p) recorded 21 and 16 frames per second, respectively.
Surprisingly, the Air and Pro scored nearly identically on the GFXBench Metal Aztec Ruins graphics test (Universal): 54 on High and 60 on Normal (both rounded down).
I had hoped Apple would add a higher-resolution camera to its MacBooks, but they discovered a different approach to upgrade the MacBook for the Zoom era. The M1 chip has an image signal processor that improves your appearance in several ways.
I set the webcam on the New MacBook Air up against the webcam on the early-2020 Intel-based MacBook Pro, and both joined the same Google Meet call. Looking at both of us at the same time, my boss remarked that the video from the M1-based MacBook Air had superior colors, including skin tones, and was brighter overall.
Other calls I made on the MacBook Air, where we didn’t have a live comparison, didn’t show anyone with the video quality, proving that a better webcam is still needed. The MacBook Air with M1 has the same appearance and feel like the early 2020 MacBook Air that I reviewed in March.
That is, after all, the point. Because Apple appears to want to ease consumers into the Apple Silicon age, this MacBook Air has the same wedge-shaped machined-aluminum chassis (available in gold, silver, and space gray) that we’re used to.
So the M1 MacBook Air, which measures 12 x 8.4 x 0.6 inches and weighs 2.8 pounds, appears just like its Intel-based predecessor (11.9 x 8.4 x 0.6 inches and 2.8 pounds). And, to be honest, there’s still room for it to shrink.
The Asus ZenBook 13 (11.9 x 8 x 0.5 inches) is slightly lighter, while the 2.8-pound Dell XPS 13 has a smaller 11.6 x 7.8 x 0.6-inch footprint, thanks to its InfinityEdge bezels. The MacBook Air is available in gold, silver, and space gray.
I prefer gold, and I truly wish Apple would make it available for the MacBook Pro (which it does not). Like its Intel-based predecessor, the M1 MacBook Air sports two Thunderbolt 3 USB 4 ports on the side, as well as a headphone jack (which I pray Apple never removes).
While the XPS 13 has two USB-C ports on the left side, they are split between the left and right sides, making it easier to connect devices on your right side.
Other laptops simply have a larger number of ports. The XPS 13 also includes a microSD card reader, something the MacBook Air lacks. There is no headphone jack on the ZenBook 13, although it does have a complete HDMI out and a USB-A port.
Are you annoyed that the MacBook Air lacks the previous MagSafe charging port? Worry not, the MacBook Air 2021 is expected to include the more convenient charging standard. The ZenBook has also passed various MIL-STD 810G certifications, indicating that it is built to last (including extreme temperatures and altitudes, drops, shocks, and vibrations).
The pinks, yellows, and blues of the graffiti, as well as the greens of the arachnid that bit into young Miles Morales, exploded off the screen when I watched Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse on the MacBook Air M1.
With the hairs on that spider, the thousands of Ben-Day dots in the entire film, and the grains of the wood flooring in Bong Joon-Parasite, Ho’s the MacBook Air’s 2,560 x 1600-pixel Retina display showed precise details. The ZenBook 13 and XPS 13 both come with 1080p panels that aren’t as sharp as the XPS 13.
We’re still waiting for an OLED MacBook, as the Dell XPS 13 OLED just debuted to rave reviews for its stunning display. However, as I said in the battery life section, a better screen comes at a significant cost.
The MacBook Air with M1 generates 114.3 percent of the sRGB spectrum, according to our Klein K10-A colorimeter, which is somewhat higher than the M1 MacBook Pro (110.6 percent), Asus ZenBook 13 (107.5 percent), and Dell XPS 13 (114.3%). (97.9 percent ).
The Intel MacBook Air had a comparable score of 113 percent, and the OLED XPS 13 had a slightly better score of 117.3 percent.
Our colorimeter also says the new MacBook Air’s display can produce up to 365.8 nits of brightness (a little less than the company’s estimate of 400 nits), which is comparable to the display on the Intel-based MacBook Air (386 nits) and the ZenBook 13 (365.8 nits) (370 nits). The XPS 13 (469.2 nits) and the M1 MacBook Pro (434.8 nits) both get brighter.
When you observe the panel 30 degrees to the left and right, the extra brightness may assist it to avoid colors from dimming. Using the Magic Keyboard on the MacBook Air, I typed 74 words per minute on the 10fastfingers typing test, which is close to my 80 wpm average.
This keyboard, like the early 2020 MacBook Air, was the improvement Apple needed after its too-shallow Butterfly-switch keys became a point of contention, with many claiming they were prone to sticking when little detritus or dust got into the keys.
The 4.8 x 3.2 glass Force Touch trackpad of the MacBook Air provides accurate input recognition and smooth scrolling. Apple continues to use haptic feedback instead of clicks, which appears to be a successful option (though I preferred it the old way).
I noticed how the MacBook Air’s stereo speakers get loud enough to fill my rather large living room with lovely sound when I played Rage Against The Machine’s “Bulls on Parade.” Synths and guitar riffs were true, Zach De La Rocha’s vocals were audible, and the speakers have a pretty big soundstage, creating an immersive experience.
Also, because the MacBook Air supports Dolby Atmos, when I watched Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse on the Air, I felt like I heard the film’s booming score more than on earlier laptops. The movie just sounded better, whether it was because of Post Malone and Swae Lee’s “Sunflower” or because of Nicolas Cage’s voice for the Spider-Noir persona.
When you’re on a video conversation, Siri can hear you (properly) even if you’re speaking away from the laptop thanks to the trio of built-in microphones. I noticed the MacBook Air became a touch warm on my lap while writing this review, watching videos, and syncing my personal and professional email in the Mail.app. But not to an unpleasant degree. That’s good news because the new Air lacks a fan.
Our heat gun detected low temperatures on the MacBook Air’s touchpad (78 degrees Fahrenheit), keyboard (80.5 degrees), and underside (83 degrees), all of which are below our 95-degree comfort criteria. Several of the applications we used to test and benchmark the MacBook Air were developed for Intel processors, as you’ve probably observed.
These applications will not run natively on the Apple M1 processor or any future Apple hardware. Fortunately, Rosetta 2 — Apple’s utility for ensuring that programs run smoothly — is now available, and it executes this task automatically upon installation, allowing such applications to run without interruption. Hopefully, developers will release Universal versions of these apps sooner rather than later, allowing the M1 Macs to run at their full capacity.
Apple silicon chips, such as the M1, let you run iPhone and iPad apps on your Mac. They’ll be available in the Mac Software Store, but watch for the wording “Not verified for macOS” to see if the developer has validated that their app works well on the Mac.
Developers can opt out of having their apps appear in the Mac App Store, so don’t expect everything to arrive there. I’ve tried a few of my faves, like Overcast, and it’s good to have the HBO Max program on the Mac, which allows you to save movies to watch later.
It took some getting used to playing Among Us without a touch screen. Finally, macOS Big Sur is at the heart of the new MacBook Air, and I’ve liked playing with it in betas throughout the summer. Its bright UI makes extensive use of transparency and translucency, which may necessitate some tweaking depending on your personal preferences.
The most significant change in Big Sur is Safari’s ability to compete with Chrome by adding a customized home screen and new tab previews.
This MacBook Air with M1 review has demonstrated why the MacBook Air’s incredible endurance and startlingly fast speed combine to propel it to new heights. If the new MacBook Air had a couple of extra ports and slimmer bezels, it would be a 5-star machine.
The Dell XPS 13 features reduced bezels, but it lacks the performance and battery life of the MacBook Air. A similarly equipped $999 Asus ZenBook 13 would save you $650 and add a few ports, but you’d be sacrificing performance and around an hour of battery life. The new MacBook Air, on the other hand, is the smoothest purchase you’ve made in a long time for people who live and work in the Apple ecosystem.
Any video conferencing laptop must have a high-performance processor. A good processor means that you don’t have any problems or delays when streaming video. At the absolute least, get a newer generation dual-core processor. Regardless of which mobile SoC you choose, try to avoid those that require active cooling because fans might degrade audio quality.
2. Memory (RAM)
For any video streaming program, a large quantity of RAM is always recommended. For social-related films, such as connecting with friends, you’ll need at least 4GB of RAM.
If you’re using Zoom for business, you’ll need at least 8GB of RAM. The rule of thumb is that the more RAM you have, the better your performance will be. However, a laptop with 32GB or 64GB RAM is overkill for your needs, so you don’t have to go that route.
Another thing to think about while buying a laptop for Zoom is the display. It would be ideal if you could see the folks you’re meeting with on a high-quality display. It will also make it easier to see any details presented in a video or graphic. Consider obtaining an 11-inch display with full HD quality at the very least.
Low or bad audio quality makes it impossible to conduct a video conference efficiently. This can be determined by looking at the laptop’s specifications. Keep an eye out for the Dolby Surround System logo, or at the very least, front-firing stereo speakers.
Get a laptop with a good microphone and audio system. Alternatively, get a high-quality headset separately. These are offered separately and may necessitate further investigation. Brands like Logitech and Microsoft, on the other hand, offer excellent systems.
Zoom video conferencing can be done with your laptop’s built-in camera. Anything with a resolution higher than 720p will be of good quality. As long as both ends of the internet connection are fast enough, 1080p and better video quality will be available.
Keep in mind that the camera’s quality is determined by the laptop you’re using. You can upgrade to a Microsoft HD web camera or a Logitech HD web camera for higher quality.