Whether you’re a business professional, a college student, or simply someone who is constantly on the move, finding a laptop with all-day battery life is essential these days. The team at Notebook Review pulled together a list of our favorite laptops that offer the best battery life to help you find the perfect travel laptop, work laptop, or school notebook that will last all day without needing a power cord.
Don’t worry about getting stuck with a laptop that has terrible battery life simply because you have a limited budget. Gone are the days when only the most expensive business laptops with giant batteries offered a full day of computing away from a power outlet. The notebooks listed below cover almost every category from affordably priced lightweight consumer laptops with detachable tablets to high-end mobile workstations designed for serious business. If you need a laptop with the longest battery life then you’ll almost certainly find what you’re looking for below.
Here is our list of notebooks that deliver the best battery life and deliver exceptional value with a healthy combination of features and affordability.
HP Spectre x360
The first laptop on our list isn’t the least expensive option starting at $899.99, but it offers the best “total package” in terms of great battery life and exceptional performance wrapped in a premium shell. The HP Spectre x360 is different from previous Windows-based MacBook competitors because HP and Microsoft worked closer than ever before during the development process of this notebook. While this is an “HP” product, you would be forgiven for thinking this laptop was co-developed by HP and Microsoft to deliver the best possible user experience with Windows 8.1.
While the exterior of the Spectre x360 might look a lot like a MacBook Air, this is arguably the best Windows laptop currently available (assuming you don’t need high-end dedicated graphics for gaming). The screen quality is excellent, the LED-backlit keyboard is second to none, and this laptop is jaw-droppingly fast in terms of Windows start up and switching between applications. Of course, the Spectre x360 wouldn’t be on our list if it didn’t deliver great battery life. You can expect this notebook’s battery to last between 8 and 13 hours depending on use.
Asus Transformer Book T100 or T200
If you’re looking for something more affordable, the latest incarnation of the Transformer Book T100 features a refined design with a brushed aluminum cover, power-efficient Atom processors and improved battery life. This 10-inch detachable Windows tablet with a keyboard dock is a great laptop replacement for a student looking for a portable notebook at a low price ($399).
While we’re mentioning it, the Transformer Book T200 is essentially a slightly larger version of the T100, with an 11.6-inch screen, a slightly faster processor, and more system memory. This larger 2-in-1 also packs an Ethernet port and an extra USB 2.0 port in the included keyboard dock. The most notable design change beyond the larger screen and the extra ports is that the keyboard dock on the T200 features a “Smart HD Bay” where users can upgrade the dock with a standard 2.5-inch laptop hard drive or SSD.
The real reason to consider spending an extra $100 on the T200 ($499) is the noticeably larger keyboard and touchpad. This might seem like an almost insignificant thing, but the T200 keyboard dock delivers a far more pleasant typing experience, and the new touchpad is just large enough to get things done without making you feel like you need a Bluetooth mouse. Unfortunately, the larger screen not only means added weight but slightly worse battery life (9 hours on the T200 compared to 11 hours life on the T100).
Lenovo ThinkPad W550s
This business-oriented mobile workstation packs a 15.5-inch 3K touch display, Nvidia Quadro graphics and one of the longest battery runtimes we’ve measured. Simply put, the Lenovo ThinkPad W550s was designed specifically for professionals who need exceptional battery life but still require discrete graphics for CAD work or other 3D rendering on location.
What makes the W550s interesting is that it’s based around a low-wattage Intel Core i7 dual-core processor as opposed to the typical quad-core processors found inside most mobile workstations. The W550s in addition has a relatively anemic Nvidia Quadro K620M graphics card. These performance trade-offs result in a thinner body and battery life that we described as “epic.” If you combine both the internal 3-cell battery and the high-capacity 6-cell external battery you can easily expect the W550s to last more than 15 hours away from a power outlet.
Love them or hate them, MacBooks continue to deliver good battery life with an easy-to-use operating system wrapped in an elegant package. The new 2015 MacBook is thinner and lighter than the previous generation MacBook Air thanks in large part to a diminutive logic board containing the low-voltage Intel Core i5-5200U dual-core processor and the use of a single, smaller USB-C port. While the new MacBook (starting at $1,299) won’t win any prizes for speed or computational performance, you can expect this laptop to get your through a school day.
Apple claims the MacBook delivers “up to 9 hours of wireless web” use, or “up to 10 hours of iTunes movie playback” but we didn’t get that kind of battery life with the screen brightness set to auto and moving somewhere between a brightness setting around 11 and the maximum brightness of 16. We consistently triggered the MacBook’s battery alert after 5-6 hours of non-stop web browsing, video streaming, and light productivity (typing in a Pages document or editing a photo in iPhoto). That being said, the high-resolution Retina display certainly consumes the majority of battery power; you should be able to get more than 7 or 8 hours of battery life if you manually set the screen brightness to a lower level.
Lenovo ThinkPad T450s
Typical consumers may dismiss the new ThinkPad T450s as just another boring business notebook wrapped in a non-descript black shell, but many business professionals are privileged enough to know the joy of working for an employer that provides T-series ThinkPads to employees. Lenovo’s ThinkPad T450s (starting at $881) delivers the latest Intel processor technology, a rugged build, best-in-class battery life, a high-quality display, and arguably the best keyboard you’ll find on any 14-inch laptop.
Just like the ThinkPad W550s that we mentioned above, the T450s features both an internal battery and an optional external battery pack. The optional 6-cell battery combined with the internal 3-cell battery gives the T450s enough juice to last roughly 20 hours based on MobileMark 2012 (between 12 and 15 hours of real-life use). The T450s will only deliver a little more than half that much battery life if you don’t buy the optional 6-cell battery and stick to the standard 3-cell combo, but even 6-10 hours of battery life is pretty impressive.
More power-friendly laptops to consider
As always, if none of our recommendations look like the perfect laptop for your needs then be sure to seek out buying advice in our “What Notebook Should I Buy?” discussion forum. Our forum members, moderators, and editorial staff will graciously offer their insights to help you pick the best laptop.