Hot Holiday Gift Guide 2016: Tablets, Smartphones, Laptops, and Systems

Article Index

Neat and Nifty Notebooks

HP Pavilion X360 - Find it on Amazon starting at $399

HP's Pavilion x360 series comes with hinges that let the display fold back into tablet mode, similar to the Asus ZenBook Flip, certain Dell models, and the Lenovo Yoga line. The Pavilion x360 also comes in 11.6-inch, 13.3-inch and 15.6-inch display models. We chose the 13.3-inch Pavilion x360 13t, a good middle-of-the-road model. For the value ($759 MSRP for the model we tested with SSD), you get a quality-built laptop with solid battery life and integrated graphics for light gaming. There are plenty of upgrade options if you want more power. Read our review here.

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ASUS Zenbook 3 - Buy it on Amazon starting at $1099

For an ultra-thin notebook, the Zenbook 3 packs a lot of high-performance hardware. We're talking a Core i7 processor, NVMe PCIe SSD, 802.11ac 2x2 MIMO Wi-Fi, a backlit keyboard, and a Windows Hello-compatible fingerprint reader. You also have the choice of 8GB or 16GB of RAM. For a super-thin notebook it had acceptable heat thermals and battery life near the top of our list. Thanks to the Kaby Lake processor, one of the first ultrabooks with the new chip, HD video performance is excellent as well. It's a little stingy on ports to be sure, but that's sometimes comes with the territory in a laptop as thin as a cell phone. Read our review here.

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Dell XPS 13 - Find it at starting at $799

Dell's XPS line has always been a solid performer and the latest XPS 13 is no exception. It comes with an Intel Skylake or more recently Kaby Lake 7th Gen processor with integrated Intel HD 520/620 graphics, up to 32GB of LPDDR3 memory, an NVMe PCI Express solid state drive, and that beautiful InfinityEdge UltraSharp Touch display with resolutions up to 3200X1800. All in a 2.9 pound package. Dell spares you bloatware with just an antivirus program and a few Dell management apps pre-loaded. It's also relatively quiet and is strapped with carbon fiber composite in palm rest and keyboard area. In our opinion the Dell XPS 13 is the best-looking ultrabook on the market and it's great the company has kept its internals so current. Read our review here.

XPS13 Lid Open

Lenovo X1 Yoga OLED - Buy on Amazon starting at $1084

The Thinkpad X1 Yoga retains its flat black ThinkPad look but it's a different animal in so many other ways. It has a 360 degree hinge and pen stylus, for starters, but that's just the beginning. Lenovo upgraded the ThinkPad X1 Yoga with an OLED display with a native WQHD resolution of 2560X1440, a major upgrade in terms of both image quality and brightness as well that make it well worth the $240 price premium over Lenovo's standard IPS display. That combined with its solid specs put it over the top for us as an outstanding business (or pleasure) notebook. Read our review here.

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Gaming Notebooks:

Alienware 13 R3 OLED - Buy at starting at $1,199

Alienware offers three sizes of laptop but the littlest brother, the 13-inch model, got the biggest bump this year. The Alienware 13 R3 was bumped from dual-core to Skylake-generation quad core and given a GeForce GTX 1060 GPU along with a beautiful OLED screen. The result is a slightly thicker but sturdier notebook with not one but two M.2 slots so you will never run out of fast internal storage. The result is a notebook that beats all traditional expectations for performance of notebooks in this size and weight class. It performed like a 15 - 17 inch desktop replacement machine, and it offered top-shelf gaming performance even at high or ultra image quality settings in cutting-edge current generation game titles. Read our review here.

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Asus ROG G752 - Buy on Amazon starting at $1899

The ROG G752 can be summed up with two words: "hefty" and "powerful." It's price tag is $2,999, its screen is 17.3-inches and it weighs in at nearly 10 pounds. The only reason to sink this kind of cash into a laptop this big is to get absolutely killer gaming performance and full desktop replacement functionality - and that's exactly what you get. The system we tested features an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 Pascal GPU with an Intel Core i7-6820HK processor, an NVMe SSD, and the potential for four 16GB DDR4-2400 memory modules, for a total of 64GB in the machine. It smokes other laptops in its class, thanks in part to the GTX 1070. It's truly a killer gaming notebook in every sense. Read our review here.

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MSI Apache Pro - Buy on Amazon starting at $1,349

If the Asus ROG G752 is a bit too much for your wallet, there's always the MSI Apache Pro. For the $1,599 config we tested, you get a Core i7-6700HQ processor, a Nvidia GTX 1060 GPU, 16GB of DDR4-2133 RAM, and a 256GB M.2 SATA SSD for the OS paired with a 1TB HDD. The Killer Gaming LAN adapter prioritizes gaming traffic and keeps latency to a minimum. That puts it a step or two below the ROG performance-wise but also a fraction of the price. Gaming performance with bad boy is outstanding. Read our review here.

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