10 Best Laptops, Ultrabooks and Hybrids 2015
Is now the right time to buy a new laptop? It’s often hard to decide, but our best laptop round-up picks out the best ultrabooks and best hybrids right now and ones worth waiting for.
One of the most annoying things about buying a new laptop is finding out a newer, better one is due out weeks after you bought yours. That's why our pick of the best laptops and best ultrabooks is split into two sections – we’ve included the best laptops available right now and the ones worth waiting for.
We’ve updated our list with two new models, both of which can be considered devices designed for the 'iPad generation'. The 12-inch MacBook is a small laptop with a shallow keyboard, a haptic keyboard and a single port, while the Surface 3 is a cheaper, more portable version of the excellent Pro 3. Each is attention-grabbing and impressive for different reasons.
Browse the list below, or hit the 'Next' arrow to begin our round-up.
TrustedReviews Recommended Laptops
Best Under £200 / $200 – HP Stream 11 – An 11.6-inch Windows 8.1 laptop that costs less than £200 and comes bundled with a free Office 365 Personal subscription
Best Chromebook – Toshiba Chromebook 2 – A sleek, 13-inch Chromebook with an outstanding display that defies its budget price tag
Best Affordable Ultrabook – Asus Zenbook UX305 – An exciting 13-inch laptop with excellent battery life and a generous selection of connections
Best Ultrabook – Dell XPS 13 2015 – A stunning new 13-inch ultrabook that has ultra-slim bezels and terrific battery life
Best 13-inch – 13-inch MacBook Pro (2015) – A 13-inch laptop that's powerful enough for photo editing and comes with Apple's Force Touch trackpad
Best Tablet Hybrid – Microsoft Surface Pro 3 – A 12-inch hybrid with a versatile kickstand and impressive stylus, which is great as a laptop and a tablet
Best Cheap Tablet Hybrid – Surface 3 – A 10.8-inch hybrid that's cheaper and more portable than the Pro 3, coming with a free Office 365 subscription NEW ENTRY
Best for Video Editing – Apple MacBook Pro 15-inch – A 15-inch laptop that’s great for video editing and has class-leading battery life
Best 12-inch – 12-inch MacBook (2015) – A 12-inch MacBook with a dramatically different keyboard and Touch Force trackpad NEW ENTRY
Best for Gaming – Alienware 15 – A 15-inch gaming laptop with an excellent screen, which delivers impressive performance
Intel Processors Explained
Intel has a selection of new processors, all of which offer improved performance while using less power. This means the latest laptops and tablets that use the new Intel 5th generation Core i and new Intel Core M processors will have better battery life and run cooler.
Because of the latter, many of the new laptops and hybrids have smaller, quieter fans – some might even have no fan at all. They’re also lighter, thinner and faster, all of which makes waiting a good idea.
If you're unsure whether the laptop you're looking at has a new processor, check the spec sheet for what 'generation' of Intel processor is included. A "4th generation Core i" processor means an older, but still very good, processor. New ones are labelled "5th generation Core i processor" in the spec sheet. Older machines are still worth considering if you find a good deal, though.
Related: Intel's 14nm processors explained
What kind of laptop should I buy?
A lot will depend on how much you have to spend, but here’s a quick summary of the options to help you decide.
Laptop Tablet Hybrid – (£300 to £1,000 or more)
If you’ve ever been tempted by an iPad, but still need a Windows laptop, then a hybrid is a good choice. There’s a huge amount of choice in both size and price. The main things to consider are how much you want to spend and how you’re going to use it. Need a laptop more than a tablet? Go bigger and more expensive. The opposite is true if you really want a tablet that you can use as a tablet.
Convertible Laptop – (£500 to £1,000 or more)
This is a twist on the hybrid that differs in execution. Pure hybrids have detaching tablet segments that connect to a keyboard, while convertibles are normal laptops with clever hinges that rotate. They’re a good choice if you mainly need a laptop but would like a little flexibility.
Thin & Light Laptop – (£700 to £1,000 or more)
Sometimes referred to as ‘Ultrabooks’, a thin and light laptop will have an 11-inch or 13-inch screen and… well, be thin and light. The MacBook Air is a thin and light laptop, and there are many Windows alternatives.
Desktop Replacement – (£250 to £1,000 or more)
This describes any laptop with a larger 15-inch or 17-inch screen and they vary hugely in price. They’re good workhorses with large, easy-to-use screens. Spend anything over £600 and you gain some advanced features and better-quality screens that are great for films.
Multimedia Laptop – (£1,000 to £2,000 or more)
These are for more serious users who want to regularly edit video and RAW photo files. These laptops are about all-out performance and have high-quality screens. If you’re not sure you need to spend this much, you probably don’t.
Google Chromebook – (£150 to £350)
If you’re a big Google user then its cheap laptops are worth considering. They use its Chrome OS operating system and rely heavily on web apps. They’re simple and cheap and lack the bloatware, such as anti-virus, that often plagues cheap Windows laptops.