IF you’re looking for an i5 computer, you know you want a laptop that is powerful, but not too expensive. You may also want a computer with other characteristics like a light weight or small form factor. On this list are a wide variety of PCs spanning basic home and office use laptops, super thin, attractive laptops, and gaming PCs.
Included with every PC is a “Passmark” score. This score is from Passmark, a site that does objective measurements of various processors. While the Passmark score isn’t the end-all-be-all indicator of a computer’s speed, it does indicate the kind of performative differences between i5 processors included on this list. You can learn more about Passmark here.
Some other factors to consider when buying an i5 laptop include: RAM, graphics card, hard drive and weight. The RAM is important if you are a habitual multi-tasker. Some people like to just open a few tabs or apps at once. For those among you who just need a few things going on at once, it is fine to have 8 or even 4GB of RAM. For many people, however, 16GB is preferable.
In terms of graphics cards, unless you are a gamer, a graphics card is not a mandate, but they still help with the performance of one’s PC. Graphics cards add to the price of the computer dramatically so it can be nice to use an “integrated” card; this essentially means that the graphics are output from the i5 itself.
That said, for many applications including photo editing (in Photoshop, but not Adobe Lightroom) the computer is able to use the graphics card for enhanced performance. For any video applications, graphics cards generally have a notable effect on rendering times and speed and smoothness when editing. For playing modern games, graphics cards are absolutely necessary. A final perk to graphics cards is the ability to output to more screens. While most integrated cards can handle this feature, having a graphics card mean the output will be as high fidelity and smooth as possible. For instance, if one wants to use their laptop’s monitor at full resolution and output to a 4K screen.
Another factor is that of the hard drive. Hard drives are straight forward. There are two kinds: HDD and SSD. HDDs have moving parts and this can affect the longevity of your PC, but they generally have larger capacity. SSDs are more expensive, have no moving parts, and respond to the computer much quicker. If you don’t need a lot of room, an SSD is always a better choice as it makes for a smooth experience. If you need a lot of storage, however, HDDs are better since they have a larger capacity for the price. However, one can always opt for an external drive if this is compatible with say, your video editing work flow.
Weight is a final factor to be aware of. Four pounds is about the average for laptops. For average sized people, this isn’t too much, but prolonged carrying times can lead to back strain. There are a few light laptops on this list and moving down to two pounds can have a dramatic impact, particularly if you’re going to be in situations where you carry your laptop long distances or if you are a smaller person.
With all that out of the way, here’s the top 10 best i5 laptops from lowest to highest price.
1. Acer E 15
Processor i5-7200U | Passmark 4689 | RAM 8GB DDR4 | Graphics Card 940MX | Hard Drive 256GB SSD | Weight 5.27lbs | Display 15.6″, 1080P |
It may be the cheapest of the bunch, but this Acer E15 is a no compromises i5 laptop. Boasting solid RAM, a decent processor and an SSD, fast performance is guaranteed. Not only that, it also includes a graphics card, the 940MX. While this card is not exactly cutting edge, it will help in exporting videos and playing modern games, mostly at lower settings. Still, for this price, it’s a solid bargain.
While every aspect can be improved as you’ll see with other products on this list, there truly is nothing about this laptop that is lacking; it’s rare to be able to say that at such an affordable price point. If you’re going to use your PC primarily for creating documents, some light photo or video editing, and for non-graphically extensive gaming, there’s just no reason to spend more.
Price: $549.99 (5 percent off MSRP)
- Minimal brushed, black look
- Great price for the performance
- Can play modern games at low to medium settings
- Snappy for student or office use
- RAM and SSD can be upgraded
- Can edit 1080P video
- On the heavy side
- Wireless card can be iffy
2. Acer Swift 3
Processor i5-7200U | Passmark 4689 | RAM 8GB DDR4 | Graphics Card Integrated | Hard Drive 256GB SSD | Weight 3.31lbs | Display 14″, 1080P |
This Acer Swift 3 sacrifices the graphics card above, but keeps things more or less the same. That said, it lives up to its name with a sleek form factor and low weight of only 3.31lbs. For those looking for a Macbook-esque experience, this PC delivers and at a massively cheaper price. It also has a few features a Macbook doesn’t such as the ability to rest the screen completely flat. The Macbook’s only real advantage here is the operating system and its superb, high-resolution display. This is a fast, light, and effective PC.
- Great value for a document, work, or student PC
- Snappy processor with enough RAM for decent multitasking
- Lightweight and affordable
- Some may call it a “poor man’s Macbook,” but it’s more powerful and less than half the price
- Excellent battery life
- Screen can be perpindicular to keyboard (180 degree flexibility)
- Can be noisy
- On/Off button is just a normal key on the keyboard, can lead to accidental presses
3. Samsung Notebook 7
Processor i5-6200U | Passmark 3932 | RAM 8GB | Graphics Card Integrated | Hard Drive 1TB HDD | Weight 3.9lbs | Display 1080P, 13.3″ Touch |
For those who want a touchscreen with their i5 laptop, this Notebook offers similar specs to the above PCs, but throws in a 13.3″ touch screen. If you’re one to doodle or handwrite notes, this is a great option. It has a fast-charging battery and a great form factor. It weighs in similarly to the first laptop on our list, and isn’t dramatically more expensive.
If you know you need a touch screen, this is one of the more affordable models to provide one. That said, since it lacks a graphics card and has a normal hard drive, it’s not the fastest PC out there, but for student and office use, it will get the job done.
- Small, convenient form factor
- Battery charges quickly
- Attractive appearance
- Easy to install additional SSD
- Trackpad could be better
- Keyboard doesn’t feel great
4. ASUS UX360
Processor i5-7Y54 | Passmark 3613 | RAM 8GB DDR3 | Graphics Card Integrated | Hard Drive 512GB SSD | Weight 4lbs | Display 13.3″, Touchscreen, 1080P – IPS |
Combining all of the features mentioned in the models above, this tablet/laptop boasts a large SSD (512GB) and a great touch screen. If you want plenty of capacity and to be able to have tablet-like functionality, this is a great laptop to go with. It has an IPS screen which means the colors have solid contrast and brightness. It has a sleek and smooth appearance and weighs about the average of 4lbs.
- Great tablet/laptop form factor
- High quality display
- Solid value if you need a tablet
- Sleek and smooth appearance
- Processor isn’t very fast
- No dedicated graphics card
5. Asus Zenbook 13.3″
Processor i5-7200U | Passmark 4689 | RAM 8GB DDR3 | Graphics Card Integrated | Hard Drive 256GB SSD | Weight 2.6lbs | Display 13.3″, 1080P |
Now this is a sleek computer. Boasting a slim design and a lightweight of only 2.6lbs, this Zenbook is a not-so-subtle attempt at a Windows Macbook. It lives up to the task in every way but one: the Macbook has a stunning display with more resolution. If you’re the type to notice pixels, then this may bother you. Otherwise, this is a great way to get a PC that lighter than a notebook, just as fast, and much cheaper. It’s lighter and prettier than the Swift, but in terms of raw performance, it’s not substantially different at all.
If you want a sleek PC, it’s a great option, but it’s not the most cost-effective choice.
- Excellent battery life of 12 hours
- Built-in fingerprint reader for great security
- Extremely light weight
- Fast SSD, acceptable RAM for multitasking
- SSD can be expanded, but this voids the warranty
- IPS display has solid color and contrast
- Some coil whine (high pitched sound)
- No touch screen or flip design
- Screen could be brighter
- No dedicated graphics card
6. Dell Gaming Laptop
Processor i5-6300HQ | Passmark 6046 | RAM 8GB DDR3 | Graphics Card GTX 960M – 4GB | Hard Drive 256GB SSD | Weight 6lbs | Display 15.6″, 1080P – IPS |
If you’re looking for a PC that can do it all, this i5 laptop boasts great performance in every regard except one, it’s a bit on the heavy side. Clocking in at 6lbs, this notebook can be a bit of a drain on the shoulders. That said, once you get where you’re going, it offers a GTX 960M which is capable of playing modern games at low and medium settings. Plus it has a fast SSD, a high quality IPS screen, and enough RAM for multitasking.
This is a great notebook that won’t break the bank, though it may strain the back a bit. If you need performance, this is a great price for a lot of computing power.
- Great performance for the price
- Solid graphics card for playing modern games at medium to high settings
- Fast SSD and enough RAM for multitasking
- More than enough for student or office use
- Solid build quality
- Sharp IPS screen
- On the heavy side
- Some light bleed on the display
7. Lenovo Y520 (Editor’s Choice)
Processor i5-7300HQ | Passmark 6847 | RAM 8GB DDR4 | Graphics Card GTX 1050 Ti | Hard Drive 256gb PCIe SSD | Weight 5.28lbs | Display 15.6″, 1080P |
This Lenovo truly does it all at a reasonable rate and with impressive specs. Boasting the most powerful i5 we’ve seen on this list yet, a GTX 1050 Ti (one of Nvidia’s new Pascal cards), and a weight that while on the heavy side, isn’t too much, it’s the perfect balance of everything. At this price, this is a lot of PC bang for one’s buck. It’s great for playing modern games at medium to high settings, has a fast SSD, and enough RAM for multitasking.
If you don’t need to game or edit photographs or videos, then it’s probably overkill. If you want the flexibility and power to do just about anything, including edit 4K video, this is an excellent, affordable option.
Price: $819.03 (12 percent off MSRP)
- Zero compromise computer in terms of performance
- Can edit 4K video or play modern games at high to ultra settings
- Sleek gaming aesthetic
- RAM can be upgraded
- Excellent price for the performance
- Display is a bit drab and dim
- RAM could be better for max performance
- On the heavy side
8. Microsoft Surface Laptop
Processor Core i5-6360U | Passmark 5038 | RAM 4GB | Graphics Card Integrated | Hard Drive 128GB SSD | Weight 2.76lbs | Display 13.5″, 2256 x 1504 |
Microsoft has made some waves with their foray into the hardware market. Compared to the Macbook at number 10 on our list, this model demonstrates a lot of similarities. It’s not really fair to characterize it as a laptop, however. The SSD space is small and the RAM is rather low, but so is the weight. This is truly a tablet that can work as a laptop. For student and office use, this is really an iPad killer, not a viable or affordable laptop option.
If you want the functionality of an iPad, however, this PC offers that and a lot more. Plus, the screen is high-res, decently above 1080P, meaning it looks crisp and sharp. It’s not for everyone, but the touchscreen on this PC is very nice and if you’re into that, this is the best model for getting work done using a touch screen. Beyond this, however, this is a very niche product.
- Unreal battery life of 14.5 hours (playing video)
- Solid performance for student or office use
- Superb, high quality keyboard made with Alcantara fabric
- Touchpad is superb
- Great construction
- Very high price for the performance
- Not great for multitasking with only 4GB of RAM
- No dedicated graphics card means most games are off the table
9. LG Gram 14″ Touchscreen
Processor i5-7200U | Passmark 4689 | RAM 8GB | Graphics Card Integrated | Hard Drive 256GB SSD | Weight 2lbs | Display 14″ 1080P, IPS |
For those who want low weight over everything, LG has your back. This touchscreen model’s specs are nothing too crazy, but the weight is half our average of four pounds. It also boasts a slim profit and a nice 1080P screen. Plus, just like the Mac, it can be charged with USB-C. This is a great choice for users who want a nice, attractive laptop, want to save a few bucks on getting a Macbook, and still have more powerful left over. That said, this is not a gaming machine by any stretch.
If you want a light PC that is capable of decent multi-tasking and is great for student or office use, then this is a fine laptop to go with.
Price: $1099 (8 percent off MSRP)
- Backlit keyboard
- Full touchscreen display
- Can use USB Type C input
- Great battery life
- Slim bezel
- One of the lightest laptops
- Not very powerful for the price
- No dedicated graphics card
- Not for gaming
10. Apple Macbook
Processor Core m3-7Y32 @ 1.10GHz | Passmark 3527 | RAM 8GB DDR3 | Graphics Card Integrated | Hard Drive 256GB SSD | Weight 3.4lbs | Display 2304 x 1440 |
For all that’s written about how overpriced Macs are, it is equally true that you get what you pay for. Mac OSX is the most reliable operating system. Macbooks last longer and they hold their value better. Macs look and work amazingly. So why do some people still buy PCs?
Macs aren’t really for gaming and they are crazy expensive. This Macbook is great for student and office use, but that’s it. The display is stunning, but beyond this, this computer’s components simply aren’t very powerful. It has no graphics card and the processor is very weak (check out that Passmark score, yikes!).
If you want a really nice computer that will last a long time and work great, this is a beautiful option. Just realize that this isn’t a machine one can game on. It’s not great for multitasking, editing photos or videos, or anything processor intensive, but it does “just work.” That’s the Mac trade-off.
- Stunning Retina display
- Fast enough for student or office applications
- Mac OSX is the most reliable operating system
- High quality keyboard and trackpad
- Excellent compatibility with iOS devices
- Not good for gaming
- High price for the performance