The Class of 2016: Innovative New Hardware

With a new 6th generation of Intel processors that emphasize mobile performance—including increased battery life, boosted graphics support and more raw power—2016 is a banner year for PC manufacturers.


Dell XPS 13The Dell XPS13 is an award-winning, ultra-portable standout, with a 6th generation Intel Core CPU and a nearly borderless, high resolution InfinityEdge display. With the XPS13, you get a powerful 13.3-inch Windows laptop that’s the size of an 11-inch notebook, packaged in an ultra-modern machined aluminum, Gorilla Glass and carbon fibre case. 

Laptops are able to drive displays that are higher resolution than ever, battery life has reached the point where a student can be in class and using their laptop all day without ever worrying about finding a power outlet, and even high demand tasks like 3D rendering can be done on a portable.

What makes the class of 2016 even better is an emphasis on innovation. There are still standout laptops in the traditional clamshell form factor (although they’re thinner and lighter than ever), but advanced CPU design and Windows 10 have resulted in some of the most modern and groundbreaking mobile devices ever released.


Switch Alpha 12Look no further than the Acer Aspire Switch Alpha 12 to see innovation and state of the art design in action. This 12-inch, QHD Windows tablet is powered by an Intel Core CPU with 4GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD yet runs silently thanks to its unique liquid cooling system. Snap on the included magnetic keyboard cover and it transforms into a Windows 10 laptop, making it ideal for students in any situation—taking notes, drawing diagrams, typing out an essay or watching streaming movies. Want to learn more about the Acer Aspire Switch Alpha 12? Read my full review (complete with video) here.

Microsoft BTS laptops featureWindows 10 Unlocks a Laptop’s Full Potential

As awesome as this new hardware is, what makes it truly shine is Windows 10, Microsoft’s groundbreaking and thoroughly modern operating system. Long-time Windows users will recognize the familiar features that make a Windows laptop easy to use. But along with the familiar, Windows 10 introduces new capabilities that make owning and using a laptop better than ever.


Dell inspiron 5000Dell’s Inspiron 5000 offers instant appeal to traditional laptop fans, including features like a whopping 1TB hard drive and an increasingly rare built-in optical drive. It’s a 15.6-inch laptop that doesn’t try to do anything fancy, yet delivers reliable Windows 10 performance with updated components like a 6th generation Core i5 CPU, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, USB 3.0, Bluetooth 4.0 and HDMI. And it does all this at an exceptional affordable price.

Windows Defender and free security updates ensure you and your data are safe and secure at all times. Cortana is always there as your personal digital assistant, ready to help you with everything from managing your schedule and sending you exam reminders to assisting you in tracking down the information needed for your research assignment. Microsoft Edge is Windows 10’s next generation web browser with features like an enhanced reading mode and the ability to mark up web pages. Use Windows Ink to handwrite notes or draw diagrams on a touchscreen-capable laptop.

Complete assignments faster and more effectively by installing the latest version of Office, the ultimate productivity suite that includes the software more students rely on: Word, Excel and PowerPoint.

Want a convertible laptop that combines an incredibly flexible design, cool looks and high performance with all the best of Windows 10—including full multi-touch support? The ASUS ZenBook UX360CA ticks all the boxes. Powered by a Core m3 CPU that delivers multi-tasking capability while sipping battery, the ZenBook UX360CA packs 8GB of RAM and a generous 256GB SSD. It’s a fully functional Windows 10 touchscreen laptop, but that 13.3-inch Full HD touchscreen display can rotate 360-degrees, turning it into a Windows tablet.

Sync your laptop with your phone using Phone Companion. And when the homework’s done and it’s time for a little gaming, you don’t even have to battle for time with the TV—you can stream Xbox games to your Windows 10 laptop and even use your Xbox controller! Many new Xbox titles also include Xbox Play Anywhere, so you can play them directly on your Windows 10 PC and share your progress between devices.


ASUS ROG GL752Gamers know a laptop needs to be big and powerful. But who says it also has to be bulky and super expensive? The ASUS ROG GL752 gaming laptop packs a serious punch at a student-friendly price. I reviewed one a few weeks ago and was seriously impressed by the anti-reflective, Full HD 17.3-inch LED display, quad-core 6th generation Intel Core i7 CPU and 16GB of RAM. With 1TB of fast hard drive storage and a lighting quick 128GB SSD for system level functions, this is one powerful laptop that serve any student who needs some serious processing muscle. But the star of the show (at least for gamers) is the Nvidia GeForce GTX 960M graphics card with 2GB of RAM. And the red backlit keyboard …

Choose a new Windows 10-powered laptop for everything you need and want in a portable PC: the coolest, most innovative and sleekly modern design, the performance you need to keep working into the future, battery life to banish electrical outlet anxiety and the features you want both in and out of the classroom. Here are a few more of the Windows 10 laptops Microsoft is excited about this year.

The HP Spectre x360 is easily one of the slickest-looking laptops released this year. This convertible combines the performance of a 6th generation Core i5 teamed with 8GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD. Rotate the display 360-degrees for tablet capability or put it in stand mode to watch movies on the stunning 15.6-inch Radiance Full HD Infinity IPS touchscreen display with premium Bang & Olufsen quad-speaker audio. Ultra slim, with a brushed aluminum body this laptop offers a full-sized keyboard and three high speed USB 3.0 ports for all your accessories and peripherals.

Acer Aspire R14Finally, the Acer Aspire R14 may just be the ultimate Windows 10 laptop for students going to a school far away from their home. Powered by an Intel Core i5 with 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD, it has the performance needed to power through any assignments and the flexibility to convert to a tablet for taking notes with its 14-inch touchscreen display. But when it comes time to call home, the Aspire R14 really shines. A Skype-certified HD webcam combined with Acer’s Purified Voice microphone, 360-degree flexibility for optimal viewing and the latest 802.111ac Wi-Fi ensure video calls to home are just like being in the same room with your family.

These seven Windows 10 “hero” laptops and many more back to school and everyday computing choices are available now at Best Buy.

Brad Moon
Editor Computing solutions
I’m a long-time electronics and gadget geek who’s been fortunate enough to enjoy a career that lets me indulge this interest. I have been writing about technology for several decades for a wide range of outlets including Wired, Gizmodo, Lifehacker, MSN,, Kiplinger, and GeekDad. I’m in my 10th year as a senior contributor for Forbes with a focus on reviewing music-related tech, Apple gear, battery power stations and other consumer electronics. My day job is with the Malware Research Center at AI-native cybersecurity pioneer CrowdStrike.