The following post is sponsored by Best Buy. Head over to Best Buy for your holiday gift buying needs.
If you’re in the market for a new laptop or desktop, or you want to buy one for a loved one in the final moments of this holiday season, then you’ve come to the right place. We went through Best Buy’s site and scoured some of the best rated laptops and desktops and, combined with our own opinions, created a list of what we think are some of the best choices this holiday season.
We tried to cover all budgets, including entry-level and high-end, though we didn’t overload any of our choices with hardware in an effort to keep costs reasonable (you can always beef up these systems). We also tried to cover a variety of operating systems, including Windows 8, OS X and ChromeOS. Without further ado, let’s dive in.
HP 14-inch Chromebook
HP recently released the brand new HP 14-inch Chromebook (also known as the Chromebook 14), an affordable device that costs a fraction of the other laptops on this list. Chrome OS isn’t as powerful as OS X or Windows 8.1, but it does offer a unique experience for anyone who is highly invested in Google’s apps and services. For $299 you’ll get an Intel Celeron processor clocked at 1.4GHz, 2GB of RAM, a 14-inch LED display with a 1366 x 786-pixel resolution, two USB 3.0 ports, one USB 2.0 port and a 16GB solid state hard drive. That’s not a ton of local storage, but this device is all about the cloud, and you’ll get 100GB of Google Drive storage for two years free. If it’s the Web you’re after, look no further than the HP Chromebook 14.
13.3-inch MacBook Pro
The MacBook Pro with Retina Display is one of the finest laptops on the market right now, though its aluminum unibody design and super sharp screen come at a cost. You can pick up the MacBook Pro with Retina from Best Buy with 8GB of RAM and a 256 hard drive for $1,425. We recommend going with the added RAM and additional hard drive space because this machine is all about power, and you may want that storage and horsepower when you’re editing large batches of photos and videos. Under the hood you’ll also find a 2.4GHz Intel Core i5 processor, 802.11 a/c Wi-Fi, Intel Iris graphics and up to 9 hours of battery life. It’s not cheap, but we know you’ll love it.
13.3-inch MacBook Air
If you want one of the thinnest, lightest and most attractive notebooks on the market, check out the 13.3-inch MacBook Air. We prefer the larger screen size over Apple’s 11.6-inch model because it’s still super portable but is a bit easier on the eyes. To help keep the price down, we recommend the 1.3GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 model with 4GB of RAM and a 128GB hard drive, which will set you back $1,050. It’s still powerful enough for most tasks, though video editors will want to consider the MacBook Pro instead. You’ll get 802.11 ac Wi-Fi, up to 12 hours of battery life, an Intel HD Graphics 5000 chip and a laptop you can carry around in a backpack all day without ending up with sore shoulders.
Asus Ultrabook 13.3-inch Touch-Screen Laptop
If you’re a Windows user, consider the Asus Ultrabook 13.3-inch touchscreen laptop. It offers a mix of power and usability, thanks to its 1080p touchscreen display which allows you to interact with Windows like never before. Inside, you’ll find 4GB of RAM, a 128GB solid state hard drive, a 1.7GHz Intel Core i5 processor, Intel WiDi support for streaming HD content to your TV, two USB 3.0 ports and more. As an ultraportable, it’s also super thin and light, weighing in at just 2.9 pounds and measuring just 0.7-inches thick. Best Buy is offering the laptop on clearance right now for $250 off of the MSRP, which means you’ll only spend $950.
Apple 21.5-inch iMac
Apple’s Mac Pro may be the most powerful OS X machine on the block, but it isn’t shipping just yet. In the meantime, you may want to consider one of Apple’s other desktop solutions, like the 21.5-inch iMac. It ships with an Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM, a 1-terabyte hard drive and offers a stellar 21.5-inch edge-to-edge 1080p display and a super thin body. It’s equipped with four USB 3.0 ports, a FaceTime HD camera, 802.11 a/c Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, and two Thunderbolt ports. Meanwhile, you’ll also find an Apple wireless keyboard and Magic Mouse in the box. Best Buy is selling the device for $1,140, about $160 off of the MSRP.
HP Pavilion 500 Desktop – 8GB memory, 2TB hard drive
The best way to save on a desktop computer is to buy one separate from a monitor. The HP Pavilion Desktop is a good choice if want to go this route, because you’re only paying for hardware and you can pick up whatever monitor you want at a later time. To keep costs down, you can find a nice entry-level desktop in the HP Pavilion, which will set you back less than $600. Under the hood it has a quad-core AMD A8-5500 processor, Radeon HD 7560D graphics, 8GB of RAM, 1.5-terabytes of hard drive space, built-in wireless and more. Again, it’s not top of the line, but it’s a great starting point at its price, provided you don’t want to build one yourself.
Samsung ATIV One 5
Samsung’s ATIV One 5 offers a full-touch Windows experience in an all-in-one form factor, sort of like what the iMac offers. You’ll find a 21.5-inch touchscreen 1080p display, 6GB of RAM, a 500GB hard drive, an Intel Core i3 processor clocked at 2.8GHz, Bluetooth 4.0, a 64-bit version of Windows 8 and more, all for $699.99 shipped. Like the iMac, it comes with a wireless keyboard and mouse. Microsoft is even tossing in a $25 gift card to the Windows Store with your purchase, so you can grab a few apps as soon as you boot up.
Acer Aspire 23-inch Touch-Screen All-in-One
If you like the idea of a touch-screen all-in-one desktop and are willing to spend a bit more than the ATIV One 5, check out the Acer Aspire 23-inch all-in-one. It offers a larger 23-inch LED 1080p touchscreen display, 6GB of RAM, an Intel Core i3 processor clocked at 2.5GHz, a larger 1-terabyte hard drive, a 2-megapixel camera, a rewriteable DVD drive, a wireless keyboard and mouse and more for $750. Like the ATIV One 5, you’ll get a $25 gift card to the Microsoft Windows Store while supplies last.
We think we’ve covered most of the bases in this guide, which should give you a good selection of choices from varying price points, manufacturers, operating systems and form factors. If you dare, you may also want to consider buying various parts and building your own desktop, which can sometimes save you a bit of money. You’ll even find most of the parts you need at Best Buy. Happy holidays!