Your complete guide to the best laptops you can buy right now, from budget netbooks under £200 up to Ultrabooks and gaming laptops at over £1,000. We have our top picks for each category, as well as alternative options for you to choose from.
This age-old question must be answered by another question: how are you going to use it? You can buy a cheap 11-inch netbook or Chromebook for under £200 if you just browse the web and do a few emails.
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.
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.
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.
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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.
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.
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 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.
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.
There’s loads more to learn about the world of computing, so take a look at our other guides