Want a PC you can reach out and touch? These are the best touchscreen laptops
By Mark Coppock December 21, 2019 10:00AM PST
If you are looking for the best laptop around and want it to be touch screen then read on.The best touchscreen laptop you can buy is the HP Spectre x360 13. It’s super fast in both laptop and tablet mode, offering fantastic performance and portability. The added ability of its touchscreen give it a unique blend of ultra-functional computing that’s hard to beat for versatility.
But it’s not the only great touchscreen laptop out there. We’ve tested dozens of convertible laptops over the years, and we’ve got great recommendations for other brands, budget levels, and form factors. Below you will find a mixture of Chromebooks and Windows 10 PCs, with great budget and 15-inch models on offer across the board.
The best touchscreen laptops at a glance
HP Spectre x360 13 The best touchscreen laptop:
Why you should buy this: You want a flexible laptop that performs great in all categories.
HP Spectre x360 13 (2019)
An excellent laptop with incredible performance – this is an easy recommendation.$1,069 FROM AMAZON $850 FROM HP
Who’s it for: Professionals, perfectionists, and people who want a really good laptop.
Why we picked the HP Spectre x360 13:
It’s not often that we reward any laptops a perfect review score, but finding a laptop like the HP Spectre x360 13 is a rare occurrence. This incredible laptop has a beautiful “gem-cut” design, amazing battery life, a keyboard that feels great to use, and 2-in-1 features if you want to convert it to tablet form to sketch, takes notes, etc. It has a little of everything, and manages to do it all well.
The touchscreen itself is a bright HD display that comes with a handy power saving mode that can adjust the screen so your battery doesn’t waste too much juice on it. As can be expected with HP laptops, there are plenty of security features onboard, including a facial recognition camera and a fingerprint scanner. Ports include two USB-C with Thunderbolt 3 support, USB-A 3.1, and microSD.
The model we tested offered an 8th-gen Core i7 process, 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD, but these specs can vary based on your picks, and you can make the laptop significantly more powerful if you want. Even better, HP has announced an updated Spectre x360 13 that fixes the 2-in-1’s main issue — huge bezels — with a tiny-bezel design, ramps up the power with Intel’s new 10th-gen CPUs, and offers a new 4K OLED display option.
Chromebook: HP Chromebook x2
Why you should buy this: It’s a versatile and affordable laptop with speedy Chrome OS.
HP Chromebook x2
An affordable and high-quality Chromebook.$458 FROM AMAZON $479 FROM WALMART
Who’s it for: Students, on-the-go people who don’t need much storage
Why we picked the HP Chromebook x2:
There are a lot of Chromebooks out there to choose from, but HP’s Chromebook x2 is one of the best choices. The 2-in-1 design of the 12.3-inch laptop makes it easy to detach and use as a tablet when necessary, while both front and rear cameras allow you to use the laptop in a variety of ways. The display offers a healthy 2,400 x 1,600 resolution.
The light Chrome OS doesn’t need much under the hood, which is why the Chromebook x2 gets along just fine with an Intel Core m3-7Y30 1GHz processor, 23GB of SSD storage, and 4GB of RAM. There’s a USB-C port for attaching various accessories and more data out of the Chromebook as you need to, which means this model pairs especially well with a compatible external hard drive if you need more storage.
While the keyboard feels excellent for a 2-in-1 model, we did notice that the laptop is a little wobbly when attached to the keyboard, which could be annoying for some users. Also note that while our battery test lasted only around four and a half hours, it did perform better than similar models like the Pixelbook and Surface Pro.
2-in-1: Microsoft Surface Pro 6 a great touch screen laptop
Why you should buy this: It’s the best 2-in-1 you can buy, hands down.
Microsoft Surface Pro 6
A remarkable 2-in-1 for the professional world and beyond with great performance and a gorgeous screen.$649 FROM AMAZON
$473 FROM BLINQ
Who’s it for: Mobile professionals and those who want a Windows 10 tablet.
Why we picked the Microsoft Surface Pro 6:
When paired with a Surface keyboard, the Surface Pro 6 is one of the best touchscreen laptops around, sporting a particularly excellent and lightweight design that is nonetheless quite durable. If you need Windows 10 on the go, especially in tablet form, the Pro 6 is absolutely worth a look. We were especially impressed with the excellent 12.3-inch display with its 2,736 x 1,824 resolution and high brightness levels.
Inside, the Pro 6 uses an Intel 8-gen quad-core processor (i5 or i7) that’s an upgrade from older models, although not at the level of Whiskey Lake chips. You have options for anywhere from 128GB to 1TB of storage, and either 8GB or 16GB of memory. The battery life is excellent, offering around 9.5 hours of web browsing and more than 14 hours of video playback.
On the downside, the Surface Pro 6 only comes with USB-A, mini-DisplayPort, and a microSD, so ports are a bit limited especially if you are looking for USB-C. Speaking of USB-C, Microsoft just announced the Surface Pro 7 that includes the more modern port as well as updates to Intel 10th-gen processors.
The best laptop under $500: Dell Inspiron 14 7000
Why you should buy this: A solid laptop that’s more affordable than ever.
Dell Inspiron 14 7000 Series
An affordable, well-rounded laptop.$599 FROM AMAZON $358 FROM BLINQ
Who’s it for: Those who need a touchscreen on a budget but don’t want to sacrifice quality.
Why we picked the Dell Inspiron 14 7000:
This 14-inch Inspiron model offers a larger screen than many of our picks, and has a particularly low price for a lightweight touchscreen laptop, a great option for those looking to save money. The model has an Intel Core i5 processor and 6GB of RAM—upgrades to these specs are available, but that will also increase the cost. Storage, however, can easily go up to 1TB without affecting the price too much. Ports include USB-A 3.0, SD card slot, and HDMI and are well positioned, highlighting the strong design of this Dell laptop.
Of course, you do give up a bit for the lower price. The display is only 1080p, which serviceable for most tasks but disappointing if you were looking for ultra HD. There’s no USB-C option for more advanced connections either. Battery life is passable at around 8 hours and 10 minutes for our basic “Readers” test. Given the affordable price though, those negatives feel like understandable compromises.
The best laptop for students: Microsoft Surface Go
Why you should buy this: This 2-in-1 is an easy, durable choice when you’re always on the move.
Microsoft Surface Go (Silver)
The Surface Go is a great starter for students.$445 FROM AMAZON $371 FROM BLINQ
Who’s it for: Students and professionals who don’t need to get a Surface Pro.
Why we picked the Microsoft Surface Go:
Affordable, lightweight, and nimble, the Surface Go is an excellent compromise for those who aren’t really interested in Chromebooks but don’t need a Surface Pro model either. The Go is a smaller, 10-inch tablet that runs on an Intel Pentium chip and weighs only a little over a pound. The Type Cover accessory is, as with the Surface models, a simple magnetic attachment, but it’s also an extra $130 purchase, so keep that in mind when buying. Thankfully, ports include a USB-C connection as well as a headphone jack. The display itself is a great 1,800 x 1,200 resolution with surprisingly high brightness levels.
When buying, you can use between 4 and 8GB of RAM, and between 64 and 128GB of SSD storage. While the battery is rated at nine hours, our tests from that it made it to just over 8 hours on video playback with low brightness, and around five hours when web browsing.
Research and buying tips
Do touchscreen laptops use more battery?
They can, but this question is trickier than it seems. All sorts of laptop display settings can drain your battery, especially screen brightness.
Touchscreens use a simple capacitive layer on the display to detect your fingers, which uses hardly any electricity at all. However, as touchscreen laptops have grown more complex, there are more features “watching” for touch inputs, which can drain battery life over time. For a variety of reasons, touchscreen laptops tend to use their batteries faster than models without a touchscreen. Oh, and disabling the touchscreen won’t make a difference. Most laptops simply set the screen to ignore all touches, accidental or otherwise, but the battery-draining features are still there.
The real reason touchscreen laptops tend to get worse battery life is because sometimes they are limited to higher resolution configurations, such as with the Dell XPS 13. A 4K screen is the primary battery-sucker here, not the touchscreen addition.
Are touchscreen laptops good for drawing?
This is a very model specific question! Some touchscreen laptops are horrible for drawing, while others are actually very good at it. Look for a 2-in-1 model that’s stylus compatible with something like the Surface Pen (Microsoft’s Surface models, Lenovo Yoga models, etc.). Then look carefully at reviews and see if people find that the laptop model is good for sketching and drawing. If the display isn’t able to lay completely flat, it’s probably not a good choice as a drawing surface.
Does Apple have a touchscreen laptop?
Yes, it’s called the iPad Pro. We know, it’s not really a laptop, but hear us out! With mouse support and increased multitasking support in the recently-announced iPadOS, it’s becoming more and more like a laptop by the day.
Beyond that, Apple doesn’t have any interest in making MacBooks with touchscreens at this time, because Apple’s designers just don’t like the idea. However, with MacOS Catalina, Apple did introduce a feature called Sidecar. Sidecar allows you to connect your iPad to your MacBook so that the iPad screen shows your MacBook screen with direct syncing. You can then use the Apple Pencil or your fingers to interact with Mac apps. This is particularly helpful for drawing, but can be used for other tasks too.
Are all 2-in-1 laptops touchscreen laptops?
The term “2-in-1” means that the laptop can be converted to a tablet. Usually by folding the screen back or removing the keyboard . Since the laptop is designed to be used as a tablet when necessary, it absolutely has to have a touchscreen. There is no 2-in-1 laptop without touchscreen capabilities.
There are, however, some clamshell laptops with touchscreens. These are standard laptops, but they just happened to have a touch-capable display. Examples are the Surface Laptop 2 or some configurations of the Dell XPS 13.