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Best Laptop 2017: 11 of the best notebooks for all budgets

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Best Laptop 2017: We take you through how to choose a laptop, then list our recommendations of the best notebooks, starting at around £200/$200.

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How much should I spend on a laptop?

This is the question that you have to answer yourself, but it can easily be answered with another query: What are you going to be using it for? You can buy a cheap 11-inch netbook or Chromebook for under £200 if you just browse the web and do a few emails. It's best not to buy an ultra-cheap laptop and stretch it to its limits, though, and saving up for a more expensive laptop that can do more tasks at the same time is always worth doing if you don't need the ultimate in thin and light budget machinery.

Want something a little bigger? You can pay between £300 and £400 for a 15.6-inch laptop powered by an Intel Core i3 processor that’s powerful enough to do the basics without slowing to a crawl, and will even handle a little Minecraft and photo editing.

Video: How to choose a laptop

If you want something thin and light, expect to spend upwards of £500 for a sub-1.5kg laptop. Powered by efficient dual-core Intel Core i5 and i7 processors, these machines are suitable for light photo and video work and should last all day on a single charge if you don’t push them too hard. If you want premium build and a great screen, don't expect to pay less than £1,000.

Related: Top 10 things to look for when buying a laptop

You’ll need to spend at least £700 on a gaming laptop, and considerably more if you want to future-proof it. Look for “discrete” or “dedicated” graphics from AMD or Nvidia, and check online benchmarking figures to see how well your favourite games will play.

There are alternative form factors, too. 2-in-1s have reversible screens that can be versatile in small spaces, while tablet hybrids are great for drawing and taking notes and often come with attachable keyboards for when you want to get typing work done.

What’s the best operating system?

Windows 10 remains the most versatile operating system around, and you’ll find it on the vast majority of laptop sold in the UK. However, if you’re buying a cheap laptop, Google’s ChromeOS is probably a better bet. It’s more lightweight – it’s essentially a glorified web browser – but with so many excellent web-based applications now available, most people on a budget can get by with just that.

MacOS is tied into MacBook laptops, so you’ll always pay a premium to get Apple’s operating system. It’s undeniably slick, smooth and reliable, so if you have the money, it offers a better experience than Windows for many people.

Don’t want to pay the Windows tax? Some laptops now sell with Ubuntu Linux installed. This free OS is powerful if you know what you’re doing, and it has the advantage of costing next to nothing.

Related: Best desktop PCs

Upcoming laptops in 2017

In early May, Microsoft announced its own laptop, the aptly-named Surface Laptop. This Dell XPS 13-rivalling machine could cause a serious challenge in the world of premium laptops, although coming equipped with the slightly cut-down Windows 10 S instead of full-fat Windows 10 might put some people off. And it'll cost you money to remove those limitations.

Acer also recently refreshed its line-up, updating its Swift line (see below) with some new models set to come out in the middle of the year. It also announced the Switch 5, a potential Surface Pro 4-beater, along with the impressive Triton 700 gaming laptop.

Finally, it looks like Apple might be refreshing its MacBook and MacBook Pro lineup with updated processors. It's not thought to be a major update, though, although any leftover stock of this current generation may well see a small discount in retailers if it does indeed happen.

Video: The laptops to look out for in 2017

Our experts

Michael Passingham: As TrustedReviews’ Computing Editor, there’s not a laptop that passes through the office that doesn’t end up in Michael’s hands. He’s seen almost every Ultrabook that’s launched in the last three years and is a harsh master when it comes to handing out TrustedReviews’ coveted Recommended awards.

Edward Chester: A 10-year veteran of tech journalism, Ed has reviewed just about every type of technology you care to mention, and even had a stint as TrustedReviews’ Mobile Phones Editor. Edward’s seen dozens of budget and mid-range laptops and has acquired a keen sense of what makes a cheap laptop excel. He’s also your man to solve Wi-Fi woes: surely nobody in the UK has seen more wireless extenders than Edward.

Alastair Stevenson: Alastair is TrustedReviews’ Reviews Editor and has been reviewing laptops for more than five years. An avid gamer and artist, he has a particular interest in touchscreen hybrids and beefy gaming laptops.

This Week's Best Laptop Deals

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Acer Swift 3
Key features:
  • 14-inch Full HD IPS display
  • Intel Core i3, i5 (reviewed) and i7 available
  • 8GB RAM
  • 256GB SSD
  • Backlit keyboard
  • Weight: 1.5kg
  • Windows 10
  • Tested battery life: Around 8 hours

The best laptop for most people

Why buy? This 14-inch laptop is a great buy if you want a light, all-metal laptop that can manage basic tasks as well as a bit of light photo editing.

Its 1.5kg weight and small footprint make it very bag friendly, and the choice of specifications available mean you can spend from £500 to £750 on one. The model we reviewed cost £650, which is the best value, but the £500 Core i3 model is great for those who’ll just be doing a bit of light web browsing and document work.

And why not? The display lacks the most vibrant colours so won’t be suitable for people who edit photos on a professional basis, and it's heavier than some slightly more expensive rivals, such as the Lenovo IdeaPad 710S.

Michael says: "Acer’s on a bit of a roll of late, producing some quality mid-range laptops that are hard not to recommend. The Swift 3 here has hit a real sweet spot and should be on everybody’s short list.”

View now at Amazon

Also consider:
Lenovo IdeaPad 710S (£849.99)


Asus E200HA
Key features:
  • 11.6-inch 1366x768 display
  • Intel Atom X5-Z8350 processor
  • 2GB RAM
  • 32GB SSD
  • Weight: 980g
  • Tested battery life: Around 12 hours
  • Review price: £230

New entry: The best netbook

Why buy? This brilliant little netbook weighs less than a kilogram but still manages to pack all the features you could want from a budget laptop. With 12 hours of battery life in normal usage and a dinky footprint, this is the most baggable laptop we've ever tested.

And why not? It's pretty slow and you'll be limited to three or four browser tabs at a time.

Edward says: "Surprisingly slim and stylish, this incredibly cheap little laptop lasts for ages on battery and provides enough performance to get the basics done, making it ideal for students and backpackers. Consider a Chromebook if you want something even cheaper."

View now at Amazon

Lenovo Ideapad 710S 13ISK
Key features:
  • 13.3-inch 1920 x 1080-pixel IPS display
  • Intel Core i7-6560U (i5 available)
  • 8GB RAM, 256GB PCIe SSD
  • Intel Iris Graphics 540
  • Weight: 1.1kg
  • Windows 10
  • Tested Battery Life: Around 8 hours
  • Review price: £899

The best-value thin and light laptop

Why buy? The Lenovo Ideapad 710S costs more than the Acer Swift 3, but for good reason. The 400g weight reduction alone is a big deal, and the screen is quite a lot better. The version we tested cost £900, but it’s available for as little as £700 with a Core i5 processor.

This is a quick laptop for photo- and video-editing tasks, and while it won’t match the performance of a quad-core machine such as the Dell XPS 15 for out-and-out power, it’s still fast enough for almost everything you’ll want to do on it.

It’s really light, too, at 1.1kg, so it’ll go into any bag without much fuss. The Full HD screen is brilliant for the price as well.

And why not? Battery life doesn’t match the likes of the Dell XPS 13 or MacBook Air, and the touchpad could be better.

Edward says: “This was arguably the best-value laptop we reviewed in 2016. Lenovo has hit a great sweet spot with the 710S. It’s also worth considering the Asus ZenBook UX303UA, which is a fabulously light laptop with equally good performance for £700, although it lacks the build quality of the IdeaPad.”

View now at Amazon
Acer Swift 5
Key features:
  • 14-inch, 1920 x 1080-pixel IPS display
  • Intel Core i5-7200U
  • 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD
  • Intel HD Graphics 620
  • Weight: 1.36kg
  • Windows 10
  • Tested Battery Life: Around 9 hours
  • Review price: £699

Also Consider: A larger Lenovo alternative

Why buy? The 14-inch Acer Swift 5 is a great option if you want a larger screen without adding too much weight. It weighs 1.36kg, which is light for the size.

There’s also a fingerprint scanner, which is great for logging into Windows 10 with just the touch of your finger. The screen is bright and colourful, and battery life is excellent and will happily go all day if you don’t push it too hard.

It has a similar spec to the Lenovo, so will perform just as well in day-to-day tasks.

And why not? It's not as well built as some rivals, so might not survive too many bumps and scrapes.

Edward Says: “The Swift 5 is a really nice mix of low price and attractive build, and performance is more than good enough for most people. It’s hard to find anywhere aside from Acer’s online store, and it deserves to be seen by more people.”

View now at Amazon



Key features
  • 13.3-inch 3200 x 1800-pixel touch IPS display
  • Intel Core i7-7500U
  • 8GB RAM, 256GB PCIe SSD
  • Intel HD Graphics 620
  • Weight: 1.29kg
  • Tested Battery Life: Around 9 hours
  • Windows 10 (also available with Ubuntu)
  • Review price: £1,299


The best 13-inch laptop

Why buy? The Dell XPS 13 is the no-compromise option. We think it’s the best thin-and-light laptop you can buy right now. A great design, stunning screen and fantastic performance make this the ideal alternative to a MacBook Pro.

There are loads of different storage and processor options – our review model was perhaps the best value, but you can spend quite a lot less if you don’t need raw power or loads of storage.

Most importantly, it’s more powerful yet cheaper than the rival MacBook Pro, which is a great combination. If you’re a Windows fan, or wavering Apple one, this is the laptop for you.

And why not? It lacks the wow factor and 100% faultless build quality of the latest MacBook Pros. Oh, and the webcam looks up your nose.

Michael says: “Year after year, the XPS 13 sets the benchmark for high-end Windows Ultrabooks, and it did so again in 2016. I think this is the last year Dell will get away with this design, though – in 2018 the company will need to refresh it a little. A fantastic thin-and-light alternative is the Asus ZenBook 3, which is well worth a look.”

View now at Amazon


Also consider: Asus ZenBook 3 (£1059.99)




Key features
  • 13.3-inch 2560 x 1440-pixel “Retina” display
  • Intel Core i5-6267U
  • 8GB RAM, 256GB PCIe SSD
  • Intel Iris Graphics 550
  • 4x USB-C 3.1/ThunderBolt 3 ports
  • Weight: 1.37kg
  • MacOS
  • Tested Battery Life: Around 8 hours
  • Review price: £1,749

Also Consider

Why buy? In terms of hardware, Apple is verging on perfection with the latest MacBook Pro. The aluminium unibody, incredible speakers, ultra-fast SSD, pro-quality screen and silky-smooth software make for an unrivalled experience.

It’s powerful enough to edit photos and videos with ease, and it’s light enough to pop it into your bag without thinking too much about it. There’s even the innovative Touch Bar, although we haven't yet seen its full potential for making tasks quicker.

And why not? It’s very expensive compared to the XPS 13, lacks certain things like an SD card slot, and there have been question marks raised over the consistency of its battery life.

Michael says: “Apple attracts a lot of well-directed criticism for how much it charges for its laptops, but it’s very hard to argue with the high price of the top-end 13-inch MacBook Pro. I will never own one, but I’d really, really like to. It’s also worth considering the base-model 13-inch MacBook Pro without Touch Bar. It’s slightly slower, but this is still a great laptop with the same stunning screen and build quality.”
HP Pavilion 15-au072sa
Key Features:
  • Intel Core i3-6100U processor
  • 8GB RAM
  • 1TB hard disk
  • 15.6-inch 1,366x768-pixel display
  • DVD/RW drive
  • Weight: 2.04kg
  • Tested Battery Life: Around 5 hours
  • Review price: £399

A decent general purpose laptop for families

Why buy? HP Pavilion 15 laptops never find themselves currying much favour with reviewers, but they’re the machines you find most frequently in the likes of Currys and PC World. And, for many people, they’re absolutely fine.

The au072sa we looked at typifies the range: a cheap dual-core processor in a chunky chassis and an HD screen. It’s the ideal spec for a sub-£400 family laptop that stays at home.

And why not? We found the screen on this particular model to be slightly sub-par and the hard disk was a little slow.

Edward says: "The Pavilion 15 range is a stalwart of UK retailers, and it’s hard to find a lemon. Still, they’re never going to set the world alight."
Asus ZenBook UX310UA
Key features
  • Intel Core i7-6500U
  • 8GB RAM
  • Intel HD Graphics 520
  • SSD + hard disk
  • Weight: 1.45kg
  • Windows 10
  • Tested Battery Life: Around 4 hours
  • Review price: £800


Best for Students

Why buy? The ZenBook UX310UA represents a whole range of laptops that start at £580. Our review model cost £800, but you can mix and match your spec down to a Core i3 model, which will still offer reasonably decent performance thanks to the sprightly SSD. Some models also come with a high-capacity secondary hard disk.

With a quality Full HD screen and a relatively light weight of 1.45kg, the UX310UA represents a decent middle ground of performance and build quality, which students who want a light but powerful-enough laptop to lug to and from campus will appreciate.

And why not?
Battery life isn’t brilliant, you only get 4GB of RAM and some of Asus’ other ZenBooks are decent value.

Michael says: "The UX310UA is a bit of an odd duck, priced at nearly £600 for a Core i3 processor model. There’s not a huge difference between Core i3s and i5s at that price point, however, so the performance gulf isn’t as big as you might think. Alternatively, the Asus ZenBook UX305 is unbelievably thin and light for just £650, although it is less powerful."
Surface Pro 4
Key features
  • 2736 x 1824-pixel display
  • Intel Core i5-6300U
  • 4GB RAM, 128GB SSD
  • Weight: 770g
  • Optional keyboard
  • Stylus included
  • Tested Battery Life: Around 6 hours
  • Review price: £749

Best Windows 10 tablet

Why buy? Despite being nearly 18 months old, the Surface Pro 4 remains our favourite tablet/laptop hybrid. Its age can be used to your advantage – it’s often put on offer at various retailers and the Microsoft Store, meaning it’s hard to buy one at full price any more.

The Surface Pen is among the best styluses you can buy, and the screen is fantastic. If you practice digital painting as a hobby or professionally, it’s the best choice out there right now. The optional Type Cover keyboard is also very good, and turns this tablet into a proper laptop.

There are lots of specifications available, but we’d recommend the Core i5, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD model for a good blend of price and performance.

And why not? It is getting old, and we’re expecting a replacement to arrive some time in 2017.

Alastair says: “This remains my favourite sub-£1,000 tablet for drawing on, and as a digital comic artist I don’t say that lightly. The only cheap alternative I could recommend is the Samsung Galaxy TabProS, and we’re expecting that to be replaced this year as well – so you could grab yourself a bargain. The Wacom MobileStudio Pro is a big step up, but if you’re serious about your work it’s well worth a look.”
Dell XPS 15
Key features
  • 15.6-inch 1,920x1,080-pixel display
  • Intel Core i7-7700HQ
  • 16GB RAM, 256GB PCIe SSD
  • 4GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050
  • Weight: 2kg
  • Tested Battery Life: Around 9 hours
  • Review price: £1,499

The best laptop for video editing

Why buy? As the 15-inch MacBook Pro gets even more expensive, the Dell XPS 15 looks more and more attractive. It has a powerful quad-core Intel Core i7 processor (i5s also available) and a great graphics card in the form of the GTX 1050, which gets 4GB of video memory.

This means that not only is this a highly capable laptop for video editing, it’s also a brilliant Full HD gaming machine. The fast SSD, great screen, superb build quality and good battery life seal the deal for us.

And why not? It gets loud when gaming, and it’s pretty heavy at 2kg.

Michael says: “If you don’t need MacOS, there really is no better option than the Dell XPS 15 for video editing and a bit of light gaming. Upgrade to the 4K screen option if you want a display as good as the one on the 15-inch MacBook Pro.”
Gigabyte Aero 14 2
Key features
  • 14-inch, 2560 x 1440-pixel display
  • Intel Core i7-6700HQ
  • 6GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060
  • 16GB DDR4 memory, 512GB PCIe SSD
  • Weight: 1.89kg
  • Tested Battery Life: Around 7 hours
  • Review price: £1,699


The best gaming laptop

Why buy? If you don’t want your gaming laptop to be a huge, ugly brick, your options are limited. The Gigabyte Aero 14 crams amazing specifications into a thin-and-light chassis and costs just £1,700.

The GTX 1060 graphics card is capable of great Full HD and 1440p gaming performance, while the high-end quad-core processor will make light work of games and video editing. You get a super-fast, high-capacity SSD as well, and the screen is excellent. We also loved the huge battery; it lasts far longer than any other gaming laptop we've ever seen.

And why not? You pay a premium for that thin-and-light design, so some cheaper alternatives will offer similar performance.

Alastair says: "The Aero 14 offers great value and, for the money, is the best option. If you want to spend less on a similar specification, the £1,200 Asus ROG Strix GL702VM is a brilliant, albeit large, alternative. If you want something that’s better built, the Razer Blade is also worth a look."

Read our Best Gaming Laptops article for more options

Summary

There are some laptops that we’ve reviewed very positively but haven’t included here. The 12-inch MacBook is certainly an honorable mention, but it doesn’t represent amazing value when you consider how strong the Asus ZenBook 3 is for similar money.

We also didn’t include the Microsoft Surface Book. This expensive device is incredibly innovative but undeniably niche where a Surface Pro 4 or Dell XPS would be a better bet.

The MacBook Air is also absent. This product has been effectively abandoned by Apple, no longer receiving hardware updates each year. This means it’s looking very dated, with a poor screen and old processors – it’s no longer a good deal.

Further reading:

There’s loads more to learn about the world of computing, so take a look at our other guides

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