I recently praised five of the best laptops of 2023, ranging from the excellent and affordable Asus ZenBook 14 OLED to the luxurious and expensive $5,000 HP Specter foldable PC. But not all laptops of 2023 make our list of best laptops.
Some of them were downright disappointing. They may be excessively expensive, provide poor performance, or otherwise fail to live up to expectations. I’m covering six of these disappointing laptops here.
lg gram style
The LG Gram Style was one of the most attractive laptops introduced in 2023. It has a gorgeous aesthetic with an iridescent coating that changes color as the light changes, as well as a hidden haptic touchpad with LEDs that illuminate on the sides. LG got that part right.
The Gram Style is lightweight at just 2.76 pounds, making it one of the lightest 14-inch laptops we’ve reviewed. Unfortunately, this is due to the magnesium chassis which exhibited significant bend in the lid and flex in the keyboard deck.
Additionally, the Gram Style was one of the slowest laptops we’ve reviewed using a 28-watt Intel Core i7-1260P processor. Generally, that CPU delivers excellent performance for demanding productivity tasks, but in Gram style, it wasn’t much faster than lower-powered options. And battery life was average.
Overall, the Village Style had more style than substance, making it a poor choice at a price over $2,000.
surface laptop go 3
The Surface Laptop Go 3 is probably the most disappointing of the group. This is the third generation of Microsoft’s most affordable Surface Laptop, and while it received some marginal spec upgrades, its price also increased significantly.
What started out as a competitive budget laptop at $500 with mediocre surface build quality has turned into an $800 laptop that is too slow and poorly configured to compete. Compared to the ZenBook 14 OLED mentioned above, the Surface Laptop 3 Go is an inferior laptop.
For starters, the 12.4-inch 3:2 display clocks in at just 1,536 x 1,024 pixels. Its resolution is too low to play 1080p video and it shows the display’s pixels as text. Furthermore, its build quality was very flexible and its plastic construction did not live up to its price. Ultimately, its performance and battery life were far below the competition.
There are some excellent entries in Microsoft’s Surface lineup. Unfortunately, the Surface Laptop 3 Go is not one of them.
Dell Inspiron 14 2-in-1
Budget laptops are much better than they used to be. For just $700, you can get great performance, battery life, and OLED display quality from the Asus Zenbook 14 OLED. But not all budget machines are so great, as the Dell Inspiron 14 2-in-1 demonstrates.
Read the spec sheet of the laptop carefully and you will come away impressed. At $650 at the time of review, it has an AMD Ryzen 5 7530U that delivers good productivity performance and solid battery life in few of the laptops we’ve reviewed. The 14-inch 16:10 IPS display isn’t the highest resolution, but the display is fine for the size and price of the laptop.
When I reviewed it, I found the performance to be good and the battery life to be excellent. But the display was very disappointing with poor brightness, color and contrast. And the plastic construction was poor.
Unless you’re looking for a laptop priced at $500 or less, you can’t afford to offer inferior displays and build quality. The Inspiron 14 2-in-1 has both these shortcomings.
MSI Prestige 16 Studio
On paper, the MSI Prestige 16 Studio looks like a great laptop. It has a faster CPU and GPU as well as a mini-LED running at 165Hz. It was also relatively inexpensive at the time of review, costing $2,100 for a very well-equipped configuration.
However, once it was subjected to our review process, things fell apart. To start, its Mini-LED display was disappointing, especially when compared to Apple’s amazing implementation of the technology in its latest MacBook Pros. In standard dynamic range (SDR) mode, the Windows default out of the box, the Prestige 16 Studio’s mini-LED panel wasn’t as bright and didn’t provide nearly the same deep contrast as Apple’s. Turn on High Dynamic Range (HDR) mode and brightness and contrast increased, but colors were noticeably worse.
The MSI Prestige 16 Studio displayed the same Jekyll and Hyde character in its performance. In balanced mode, the laptop was slower than most machines with similar components. In performance mode, it was only average, but the fans spun at very high speed and the laptop ran absolutely hot regardless.
Overall, Prestige 16 Studio failed to live up to its promise. Subsequently, we made it one of the lowest rankings compared to many of the laptops we reviewed in 2023.
lg gram 17 pro
It may seem like we’re picking on LG, but that’s not the case. The company has produced some excellent laptops. But the LG Gram 17 Pro lags in a few key areas.
To begin with, LG was a little careless with the “Pro” moniker. Typically, this is reserved for laptops with more powerful components and performance. The LG Gram 17 Pro has a mainstream CPU and an entry-level and last-gen GPU that was slower than some other laptops. The result was below-average performance and poor battery life for a Pro machine.
My review unit was also pretty bad, which is unusual. Even worse, LG sent me a replacement unit that displayed the same problems. A small touchpad and average keyboard rounded out the disappointing aspects of this expensive laptop.
Dell Inspiron 16 Plus
The number of 16-inch laptops that are excellent for creators is growing. Many of them are available at reasonable prices. The Dell Inspiron 16 Plus promised just that.
Unfortunately, it fell short in some key areas. The first was the unusually flexible construction, which made me think it was an entirely plastic construction. This turned out to be wrong, making the aluminum shell even more ineffective.
Back then, the keyboard was bad and the touchpad was too small, making input options ineffective. The Inspiron 16 Plus had good performance, but it got quite hot and the fan was loud under load. It’s not a deal-breaker, but many competing laptops are just as fast and much cooler and quieter.
In the end, while the IPS display was fine for productivity users, it wasn’t good enough for the laptop manufacturers were targeting. And there was no better option available. Overall, the Inspiron 16 Plus doesn’t live up to its competitors.