The battery may be a laptop’s most critical feature. That’s what makes it a laptop, after all, and not just a semi-portable replacement for a desktop PC. If you’re a frequent traveler, you know the crushing feeling of having to close a laptop mid-movie or mid-meeting because you just couldn’t find a power port on that airplane or in that conference room. Let us fix that for you.
There are two ways to make sure you don’t run out of juice on a long travel day: Buy and charge an external battery pack, or just buy a laptop with really long battery life. We’ll focus on the second option here, as there’s no separate device to pack, carry, or charge.
Bear in mind that the following laptops were selected primarily based on their ability to last for hours and hours between charges—not just more than the 8 hours we define as the minimum for all-day life, but more than 10 hours. We’ve included laptops that have optional high-capacity internal batteries you can buy at the time of purchase, but not aftermarket or physically separate extended batteries.
These are the endurance athletes, the long-lived few that lead their respective categories in battery life. Some extend battery life by reducing the demand for power, sacrificing performance and components in order to stretch the battery life for another hour or two. Others simply provide more power at the outset, pairing standard hardware with giant batteries. And finally, there are some that fall in between, pruning the list of components, optimizing the power usage, and backing it up with an all-day battery.
Laptop vs. Tablet?
Our top 10 list focuses on traditional laptops, but another good way to get a portable computer with very long battery life is to go with a Windows tablet and purchase an optional snap-on keyboard, or a 2-in-1. Take the Asus Transformer Mini T102HA-D4-GR, for example. It can be used as either a standalone slate tablet or, once you snap on the included keyboard, a clamshell laptop, and in our tests it had a battery life of 14 hours, 14 minutes.
When you’re buying a traditional laptop, you still have to pay attention to your battery options. Lenovo’s Thinkpad line lets you sock an extra battery into the laptop’s front bay, making it heavier but achieving very long battery life. That’s an option you need to select at purchase. Since the batteries are swappable, you could also switch between lighter batteries for daily use and long-lasting batteries when you intend to travel.
No matter what kind of laptop you have, take a look at our tips for improving your laptop’s battery life.
If you don’t need Windows, Mac laptops and chromebooks can offer excellent battery life in slim form factors. Chromebooks have an amazing bang for the buck. The Acer Chromebook 15 (CB3-532-C47C), for example, costs only $199 but lasted more than 14 hours in our battery rundown test. That’s pretty amazing. Chromebooks aren’t ideal for long-distance air travelers, though, as they don’t have a lot of local storage. While you can watch some movies and edit documents offline, they’re really Web machines. If you’re lucky enough to have working Wi-Fi on your flight, using a Chromebook is a pleasant, if slow, experience.
Mac laptops also typically have excellent battery life—and remember, they run Windows quite well, too. We didn’t include the 13-inch MacBook Air this time around (it’s from 2015), but it’s one of our battery life champs, with a time of 17 hours, 36 minutes. But even the newest 15-inch MacBook Pro—the one with that fancy touch bar—hung on for 11:19.
So if you have a long plane flight or road trip ahead of you, or if you will just be too busy to stop around a power outlet for long enough, any of these laptops will have your back and keep you productive throughout the day and into the evening.