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Best laptops and desktops to give as holiday gifts in 2020

Best laptops and desktops to give as holiday gifts in 2020

This story is part of Holiday Gift Guide 2020, CNET’s gift picks with expert advice, reviews and recommendations for the latest tech gifts for you and your family.

By now everyone is probably equipped for working from home or remote learning, but it’s also likely that some folks are pining for an upgrade from whatever system they’ve been slogging on to get by. Make someone’s everyday life — and gaming evenings — a little better with an upgrade from their slow or clunky old faithful. We’ve got holiday gift recommendations of laptops and desktops from brands like Dell, Apple, Acer, HP, Lenovo and more that are bound to brighten someone’s 2021.

Here are our initial computer gift picks, starting at the less onerous end of the price scale. We’ll be back regularly with updated recommendations for this gift guide, so check back. If you can’t wait, you can check out all of CNET’s laptop reviews and pick your own.

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This is a 10-inch tablet running Chrome OS that’s bundled with a detachable keyboard and touchpad starting at less than $300. It’s a little small, but that makes it a great gift option for young kids.

Dell G5 15

Great gaming under $1,000

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Dell’s G-series gaming laptops are cheaper than those from its Alienware division, but still capable of playing the latest AAA titles. There are three separate models that could make the perfect gift for the gamer in your life — the G3, G5 and G7 — available in 15- and 17-inch sizes. The midrange G5 15 hits the mark with an excellent price-to-performance ratio, build quality and design. The newest versions start at $910, including a special-edition model with AMD’s impressive Ryzen 5 4600H processor.

Read our Dell G5 15 5590 review.

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For someone on your shopping list who’s feeling cramped working or schooling on a small laptop, the HP Envy 17 is a premium-feeling 17-inch laptop that’s faster than a bargain model but not insanely expensive, either.

Read our HP Envy 17 (2020) review.

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HP’s small two-in-one brings all the convenience of the convertible design without sacrificing usability. For your favorite workaholic, it has an instant mic mute button, which joins other privacy and security features like an IR camera and fingerprint reader and switch to disable its webcam. Plus, it’s available with 4G LTE wireless to let them work anywhere.

Read our HP Spectre x360 13 (late 2019) review.

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This is our go-to recommendation for those in search of a MacOS laptop for everyday basic use. Apple dropped the entry price back down to $1,000, making its most affordable laptop a lot less painful on your wallet — for Apple. But it remains one of the best laptops available for battery life, performance and design. Keep in mind that Apple just released versions of the Air which incorporate its own M1 processor rather than Intel chips. We found the performance pretty impressive, but there are still software issues, so tread carefully before buying.

Read our Apple MacBook Air 2020 review.

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Regularly available for less than $750, this thin, three-pound convertible is a solid choice for a gift recipient who needs a laptop for office or a student who needs one for schoolwork. The all-metal chassis gives it a premium look and feel, and it has a comfortable keyboard and responsive, smooth precision touchpad. Plus, it has a long battery life to boot.

Read our Lenovo Yoga C740 (14-inch) review.

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With an improved webcam over previous models, this veteran favorite desktop becomes better suited to our new remote realities of 2020. And you know there’s probably at least one Mac-lover on your gift list who’s in need of an upgrade.

Read our Apple iMac (27-inch, 2020) review.

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If you’re searching for a great PC gift for someone who needs (or wants) a desktop capable of a little bit of everything, the Envy 32 sports a smart, compact design with all its space devoted to a big, bright 4K screen and delivers better-than-average power for photo or video editing, a speaker system decent enough for basic audio editing and entertainment.

Read our HP Envy 32 All-in-One review.

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