Memorial Day sales have officially begun and among the many retailers that are offering countless products on the cheap are Best Buy and Dell. Three of the best laptops you can currently buy, the Dell XPS 13 and Apple’s latest MacBook Air and MacBook Pro, are all on sale for as much as $900 off. We advise you act fast, though, as they’re selling like hot cakes.
Dell XPS 13 – $715, was $1,019
The Dell XPS 13 is one attractive Ultrabook. Its anodized aluminum chassis comes in Alpine White, Rose Gold, or Platinum Silver (all stunning), with a faint pearlescent sheen to it. The Dell logo sits solitary yet triumphant in the center of the lid. Although it has long been derided as the “nosecam” because of its unfortunate placement at the bottom of the screen, the webcam has now migrated to its rightful place at the top center. It also happens to be the tiniest webcam we’ve ever seen, although it can still take a decent picture. What’s more, the webcam is compatible with Windows Hello so you can log in with just your face. Outlining the screen is what Dell calls the InfinityEdge bezel, and it is beautifully scant and modern. With dimensions of 11.9 x 7.8 x 0.5 inches, this 2.7-pound laptop is super portable and would be the perfect partner of mobile professionals.
This laptop’s 13-inch FHD 1,920 x 1,080 non-touch display (the 4K touchscreen version will set you back by $300, and is a power hog) bursts with sumptuous colors, deep contrasts, and an incredible amount of detail. It also gets astonishingly bright, averaging 375 nits. Just like the display, the side-firing speakers are excellent. They can easily fill a medium-sized room with clear and rich sound, although the bass lacks punch, a clear compromise in exchange for its slimness.
Another fine feature of the XPS 13 is its backlit keyboard. This remains one of its greatest strengths, with a firm and tactile bottoming action. Finicky typists should be warned that the layout is still on the small side but with a typing experience this comfortable, who cares? Keeping up is the wonderfully responsive touchpad that boasts full Windows Precision Touchpad support.
Armed with an 8th-gen Intel Core i3 processor and 4GB of RAM, this laptop provides incredibly smooth and lightning-fast performance without any hint of lag. And with its 128GB PCIe SSD, transferring files is far from sluggish. However, its Intel UHD 620 Graphics GPU isn’t equipped to process graphically taxing games such as Battlefield V and Destiny 2. It will perform much better with older titles with less demanding graphics. In terms of battery life, as we’ve mentioned, we recommend you skip the 4K touchscreen model if you want the most endurance. In our continuous web surfing test, this unit was able to last over 12 hours.
The Dell XPS 13 is thin, fast, and long-lasting, making it our favorite ultraportable thus far. And now that the nosecam, the one thing that marred the previous model, has finally met its demise, it’s practically perfect. Get it for $715 – a huge $304 less than its normal retail price of $1,019 – on Dell’s official website.
13-inch Macbook Air – $950, was $1,000
The MacBook Air is now thinner and lighter than ever, yet still possesses the same power and solid build quality typical of Apple devices. The latest version of the MacBook Air normally retails for $1,000, but right now you can purchase it at Best Buy for $950 – a cool $50 off.
The latest version of the MacBook Air looks almost exactly like the previous one, with a few significant hardware and software upgrades. The older version is outfitted with a single Thunderbolt 2 port and two USB 3 ports; the latest one has two Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) ports instead. Although both models have a 13-inch Retina screen, the newer MacBook Air’s display is made better thanks to Apple’s True Tone technology. The screen now has the power to adapt to your environment’s ambient light to make images appear more natural, with accurate colors that aren’t oversaturated.
Working alongside an Intel i3 processor, this MacBook Air has 8GB of RAM and 256 GB of internal memory. It proved speedy and performed well when tasked with normal daily workflow, like streaming videos, working in Photoshop, word processing, and web browsing. We did, however, notice a bit of a slowdown when we had multiple browsers, apps, and programs open simultaneously, but not enough to raise concern. Its performance is like that of a Chromebook, except with Mac apps.
A couple of significant upgrades of the MacBook Air are its Magic Keyboard and Touch ID. The Magic Keyboard is responsive, clicky, and features a full millimeter of travel. It’s a delight to type on, quite reminiscent of the much-beloved MacBooks sold prior to the 2016 MacBook Pro redesign that introduced the butterfly switch keyboards. The Touch ID fingerprint sensor, on the other hand, is located on the top right of the function row, and doubles as a power button. It works extremely well, although we think Face login, which works so well on iOS devices, needs to be brought to Mac. Finally, the MacBook Air can last up to nine and a half hours with light web browsing, 10 hours with continuous video playback, and three hours when using heavier applications.
If you’re determined to buy a MacBook but don’t want to shell out too much money, then the MacBook Air is for you. It’s a well-rounded portable laptop that boasts a solid performance and premium build quality. Get the latest version of the MacBook Air for $950 at Best Buy.
15-inch Macbook Pro – $2,900, was $3,800
The 15-inch MacBook Pro looks almost exactly like its 2017 and 2016 predecessors, save for one significant hardware upgrade: The keyboard. One of the things we disliked about the older model was its low-travel keyboard, which left users feeling like they were typing on a block of wood. Thankfully, Apple has addressed this issue. The keys now have a softer feel and they’re no longer obnoxiously loud. Overall, typing has become a more pleasurable experience.
As usual, the MacBook Pro offers industry-leading display and sound. The 15-inch screen is a thing of beauty, with Apple’s 16:10 aspect ratio (most laptop screens are 3:2) providing more vertical space for a fuller view of your work. Colors are extremely accurate, black levels are great, and images look completely natural, which makes this a great laptop for photographers and creative professionals. In fact, the MacBook Pro is our choice for the best laptop for photo editing. The same goes for its up-firing stereo speakers, which offer an incredibly loud room-filling sound that retains the richness of spoken words and the subtleties of music.
Unfortunately, the MacBook Pro still lacks ports. There are four Thunderbolt 3 ports and a headphone jack. This decision may be forward-thinking as more and more peripheral devices are being outfitted with USB-C, but the lack of an SD card slot is odd since this is being marketed to creatives.
The MacBook Pro now boasts even more power courtesy of its Intel core i9 processor. With a jump up to eight cores, we saw a huge boost in performance. The improvement is also down to Apple’s MacBook Pro software patch which fixed a throttling issue. You can open multiple heavy programs like Photoshop and Final Cut Pro X simultaneously and operation will remain glitch-free.
This MacBook Pro includes the Touch Bar (units that don’t have this feature tend to be cheaper) but it’s honestly not very useful. It’s great to look at, and that’s about it. Yes, it provides a quick way to scroll through lists and can also be useful if you’d like to scroll through a video, but it is limited by its size. The miniature content previews it displays are helpful but are so small that it’s often hard to tell tabs apart, even with just three or four open. Opening even more tabs renders each of them impossible to tap. Sadly, it’s just not very integral to the MacBook experience.
Finally, this laptop’s battery life is decent. Apple claims it can last for 10 hours on a single charge, and we saw close to that in our high-definition video loop test. Web browsing was decidedly less impressive at eight hours. These numbers aren’t terrible, but we’ve seen better.
The MacBook Pro is the most powerful MacBook yet and has been future-proofed through its port selection. It comes at a high cost, but if it’s peerless performance you’re after, it won’t disappoint. Get the latest version for a huge $900 off at Best Buy. Instead of its usual hefty price of $3,800, get it for $2,900.
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