We characterize and compare the performance of various commercially available lasers in terms of their absolute frequency stability, lineshape, linewidth, and frequency noise. The frequency stability, linewidth and lineshape are evaluated using an 'optical ruler' - a carrier-envelope stabilized optical comb. The frequency noise is measured over an extended spectral range starting from 2 Hz. The performed analysis gives data necessary when deciding which laser to use in a particular application.© (2011) COPYRIGHT Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE). Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.