Apple MacBook Pro with Retina Display

Cnet rating: 4 stars out of 5

The good: Apple adds new Intel CPUs, faster memory, longer battery life and its new Force Touch trackpad to the standard 13-inch MacBook Pro, which keeps its generous selection of ports.

The bad: The 2015 updates make only a minor difference to the hands-on experience, while similar high-end 13-inch laptops continue to get thinner and lighter.

The cost: $1,180 to $1,400

The bottom line: While the 12-inch MacBook has all the buzz, this 13-inch system gets a handful of updates to remain a top choice for combining power and portability.

Dell XPS 13

Cnet rating: 4 stars out of 5

The good: Dell’s revamped XPS 13 has a nearly borderless display, a small body for a 13-inch laptop and the latest Intel CPUs. Battery life in this lower-end configuration gets a big boost.

The bad: Dropping the higher-resolution screen and edge-to-edge glass overlay means the look is not as slick, and losing touch makes Windows 8 harder to use.

The cost: $889

The bottom line: Taking a second look at the new XPS 13, this lower-end version costs less and has better battery life, but isn’t as tightly designed.

Lenovo LaVie Z

Cnet rating: 4 stars out of 5

The good: The Lenovo LaVie Z is incredibly light, with a powerful processor and a decent set of ports and connections.

The bad: It’s more expensive than other premium slim laptops, battery life is merely OK, and a frustrating keyboard makes typing a pain.

The cost: $1,240 to $1,260

The bottom line: Despite a few design quirks that make it feel less than premium, the Lenovo LaVie Z can’t be beat for a combination of light weight and processor power.

Apple MacBook

Cnet rating: 4 stars out of 5

The good: The new 12-inch Apple MacBook is amazingly thin and light, has a premium look and feel, and is available in three colors. It offers better battery life than other laptops with Intel’s Core M processors, and performance that’s as good as or better than those models. The new USB-C port allows you to charge from an external backup battery pack.

The bad: Its performance and battery life falls short of the MacBook Air and Pro. The new keyboard is shallow and takes some getting used to, and sharing a single port for all accessories as well as the power cord is almost immediately frustrating.

The cost: $1,230 to $1,299

The bottom line: If you can live with its limitations, the new 12-inch MacBook delivers a groundbreaking design that points the way to the next chapter in laptops.

The following Cnet staff contributed to this report: Dan Ackerman and Laura K. Cucullu. For more reviews of personal technology products, visit