Finding the best 15 inch laptops means sifting through computer finder after computer finder, trying to expose the most perfect device for your needs. Here, we’ll help you narrow down your picks. Most of your choices bear heavily on what you want to use your laptop for.
How are you going to use it?
So what do you want to use your new laptop for? The best 15 inch laptops come in such a wide array of specs that they are suitable for most anybody’s needs. From gamers to scientists, and everyone in between, these laptops are suitable for work, play or a little of each. Generally speaking, screen size has little to do with your options unless you need an exceptionally wide resolution for competitive gaming. It’s then that you may have to look elsewhere.
However, if you aren’t a competitive gamer or someone else with a desperate need to see for miles across your screen, a 15 inch laptop will probably suit you just fine. But which brand? What specifications match what your use case? Obviously, a more strongly powered video card will be needed for high-intensity games. HDMI ports may be nice additions for those using their laptop in frequent business meetings where they may need to hook into projectors and the such like.
Another wonderful tip to remember is that most companies will allow serious customization of even their most basic brands. While the parts have to fit together for the system to work, most of the time the sky is the limit. If you need more ram for your laptop, simply ask the company’s customer support. They can probably do that for you.
When dealing with typical office computing, processors need not be a particularly hefty topic. The internet, email and most pertinent software like Microsoft Office are so simplistic that you can almost run them on your toaster. More power may be nice, but it’s probably not really necessary. If your computer can handle basic applications like flash, powerpoint, Microsoft Office, and a half dozen other lightweight programs, you’re probably in the clear. Just check with your local technology department to make certain that the operating system will sync up with whatever software your team is currently running.
If doing more than paperwork, your needs will highly depend on your job. Electricians, for example, may need incredibly specific hardware that needs a powerful processor to run diagnostic scans to hunt down network problems. When in doubt, speak to your technology department and your human resources department. The usual basic minimum is an Intel i3 as of this writing for simple work.
Students may find themselves lagging behind with an i3, however. Though students are mostly producing papers, research time comes at a premium. You need something to move a bit faster than this trusty old tortoise. Intel’s i5 should give you plenty of speed at a student affordable price.
Gamers will want to find the best 15 inch laptops with i7. They don’t make them faster and you’ll be able to keep up with anyone – so long as internet lag doesn’t drag you down.
Budget options: Intel Core i3 processors
Mid-range: Intel Core i5 or i7 U-series (i7-7500U etc)
Gaming: i7-6700HQ, i7-7700HQ or better
With almost every motherboard in modern times comes an “onboard” graphics chip. This will probably be more than enough for those using their laptop for simple work like student or business reports.
Graphics cards really only matter when your work involves graphics, or you are using your laptop to a game. Nvidia’s graphics chips are released in numerical order, with the lower numbers being less current or less powerful. For instance, the GTX 1080 is, of this writing, the top of the line graphics card available. The 960M is a few years old, but still perfectly capable of running most visually intensive programs.
Beyond that, you do start to see a drop-off in frame rates. Thankfully, everything in the 900’s and 1000’s is very common in today’s 15-inch laptops and should not be difficult to find even on a fairly strict budget.
Non-gaming: no need for a discrete graphics card
Gaming: GTX 960M to GTX 1060
Enthusiast-level gaming: 1070 or 1080
You can’t go wrong with more memory, also known as RAM. Gamers will need at least 12 GB of RAM for most of the more popular games on the market today. More is ideal. Again, when dealing with non-gamer computers you have a lot of leeway. It’s difficult to find a 15 inch laptop without at least 8 GB of RAM as a minimum.
While 8 GB of memory would be considered rather low-end these days, that doesn’t mean it won’t do the job for simplistic word processing. It certainly will. No doubt about it. Lack of memory is only noticeable if you use 5+ applications at once (or you like to have ~30 websites open in your browser at any time).
With external storage being so cheap these days, storage is probably one of your lesser concerns when looking for a laptop. Games, essays and projects can all be stored on easily portable external hard drives that allow you to eternally expand your internal hard drive.
That said, the least you’ll run into even on the cheapest models is like 500 GB hard drives. A few 250 GB hard drives may still exist out there, but they are on their way out of the general market line of 15 inch laptops.
This does bring up the debate between SSD and disc-based hard drives. SSDs are also called solid state drives. These work much differently than the hard drives of 10-15 years ago but ultimately they do the same job.
What disc based hard drive lacks in speed, it makes up in raw storage size. So if you need a lot of storage (1 TB or more), then you have only 4 options:
- Buy an expensive laptop with a large Solid State Drive (at least $1,500)
- Buy a laptop and then install a large SSD (~$1,300)
- Buy a laptop with a small SSD (120 – 256 GB) and an HDD on the side
- Buy a laptop with a large HDD and no SSD
If you can spend a sizeable amount of money for the best 15.6″ laptop, I’d just get a laptop with a large SSD storage. But if I wanted to save $100 – $300 on a laptop, I’d buy a machine with an HDD and then install ~500GB SSD. Most 15 inch laptops have 1 bay for SATA drives (usually occupied by an HDD) and a single M.2 2280 connection. Just make sure you’re getting NVMe drive (such as Samsung Evo 960) for NVMe-ready laptops and non-NVMe (AHCI) for laptops that do not support NVMe.
Need to get at your data at the speed of light? Chip in for a large SSD hard drive. You won’t regret it.
The average battery life of a 15-inch laptop heavily depends on how much juice the graphics chip and the processor are pulling from the battery. Most of the other parts of a laptop require very minimal energy. Obviously, laptops with higher specs or those with more fans to keep it cool will drain a battery faster.
Take the ASUS VivoBook X540SA. This little 15-inch laptop is a great buy for anyone looking for a utility laptop to take to classes or run around the office with. It packs five solid hours of battery life and only needs two to charge back up.
Then look at the ASUS ROG STRIX 15 inch gaming laptop. ROG, or Republic of Gamers, is a well-respected brand for gamers and is enjoying much of the same publicity that Alienware received some years ago. This laptop in particular states an average of around 3.5 hours of battery life due to its energy draw- mostly from the graphics chip unit.
Ports are really only an important feature for those who will be using them frequently. Plenty of accessories come with the ability to hook into a single USB port and create multiple ones for peripherals such as an external mouse or a detached keyboard.
Those who often find themselves needing to use these accessories may do better to just go ahead and upgrade to a laptop with more ports internally. These ports are usually attached to the motherboard directly, which dictates what processors and types of RAM you can use. This may limit your choices on those parts. If stuck, choose a better processor and RAM over one or two more USB ports.
If absolutely necessary, be certain that you are not being upsold on ports but downgraded in the hardware department. Try to keep the same processors, hard drives, RAM, and graphics card once you’ve found a combination that suits you, even if you must upgrade the motherboard.
When dealing with 15 inch sized laptops, screen quality probably isn’t your highest concern. It should, however, make the list since poor screen quality will wear your eyes down and cause you to tire earlier than you may otherwise.
Look for a laptop that has at least 60hz screen refresh rate. This is what modern computers have gotten us used to. A higher refresh rate, with higher numbers, will mean an even clearer picture. Higher refresh rates are absolutely required for those using their laptop for gaming or for any sort of graphics intensive work.
With the introduction of operating systems beyond Windows 7, finding a laptop that gives you a wide array of brightness options has become rather tricky. For those that need a very bright laptop, look at ASUS, HP, Dell and Apple. For those looking for a less bright screen, Acer, Gigabyte and MSI laptops will likely be more up your alley (there are plenty of exceptions).
Few 15 inch laptops will weigh more than a few pounds unless they are heavy duty gaming or performance systems. Still, those shouldn’t weigh more than another pound or two. To look back at the ASUS ROG we talked about earlier, it only weighs 0.25 pounds more than it’s lower performing cousin.
Laptops have, over the years, lost more and more mass due to the incredibly tiny parts within them. This not only saves your shoulder carrying your bag around but your wrists while handling the laptop itself. A lighter laptop is never a bad thing and will reward you in the end.
Lighter laptops also have the plus of allowing you to carry other things, such as cooling mats or external keyboards, all inside your laptop bag. Generally speaking, they are more slender and let you carry them and their friends along at the same time.
Here are the recommended 15-inch laptops
- 2-in-1 convertible Lenovo laptop (screen is not detachable, but you can flip it 360-degree)
- 16 GB RAM is maximum and there is only 1 memory channel which means only one memory stick can be installed, so if you want to upgrade RAM amount, you’ll need to replace current 8 GB RAM stick with 16 GB RAM
- 2 Core 7th Generation processor
- Fingerprint scanner doesn’t always work.
- i5-6300HQ 4 Core processor is slower than i7-6700HQ, but is still capable of running many of the latest AAA games with VR Ready GPU.
- Full-sized backlit keyboard and colored WASD keys.
- HDMI, Display Port and USB 3.1C Ports allows you to connect more than two monitors.
- 1 TB 7200RPM (Hard drive speed) HDD which is faster than average HDDs
- Performance gets weaker whenever charger isn’t plugged in and battery drains out very fast when on heavy usage.
- Heavy charger block.
- 4K Touchscreen.
- Full-size island-style backlit keyboard
- 32GB RAM might be an overkill, when CPU is 2 core and there is no dedicated GPU.
- Slightly unresponsive touchpad
- Poor battery life.
- Speedy SSD (It is connected via NVMe pinout which allows delivering faster speed than SATA or 2.5″ connections) and Above-Average HDD (7200 RPM Speed; Average speed is 5400RPM)
- Relatively lightweight for such performance specifications
- G-Sync Technology (Syncs Display and Monitor refresh rates so there is no delay between them)
- Full-sized keyboard with highlighted WASD keys.