Best Laptop 2018: 13 notebooks, Chromebooks and convertibles for every budget

Here’s why you should trust our list of the best laptops:

We’ve reviewed laptops for over a decade and know exactly what to look for when hunting for the perfect convertible, clamshell or Chromebook as a result.

All our reviews are unsponsored, so all our buying advice is honest and impartial as a result. We may make money if you click one of the links to buy a laptop, however. That means we want you to be happy with your purchase, so you come back to us the next time you need something.

best overall laptop

Dell XPS 13 (9370)

The new Dell XPS 13 is our pick for the best overall laptop right now. It features the trademark Infinity Edge screen, which means razor-thin bezels, and includes top-notch performance from Intel 8th gen processors.

£1,279
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Before rushing out to buy a new laptop, ask yourself, do I really need one this very second? If not a number of new decent looking laptops from big name companies, including Asus and Acer are set to hit the market in the very near future. These include updated version of the Asus Zenbook Pro, Zenbook SAcer Swift 5 (2018) and Chromebook Spin 13, as a result it may be worth holding off any big purchases.

If that’s not an option, of the hundreds of laptops we’ve already tested, two stand out. Featuring top-end specs, one of the best screens we’ve tested and a beautiful, no-compromise design, the Dell XPS 13 is one of the best all-round laptops you’ll find. But if you’re not made of money, featuring above average specs for its price and next to no serious weaknesses, the Lenovo IdeaPad 720S is the best value option.

How we test laptops

Best value laptop

Lenovo IdeaPad 720s 14" Laptop

This gets our pick for best value. The IdeaPad 720S won our laptop of the year award for 2017 and for good reason. Considering everything you get for the money, it's outstanding value with great build quality and performance.

£849.99
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We put every laptop we test through a set of synthetic benchmark tests to gauge its GPU, CPU and SSD performance. We then test its screen using a colourometer and DispCalGUI. Finally we run a battery test by synthetically looping 10 minutes of web browsing and five minutes of video playback until it runs out of juice. Afterwards the reviewer uses the device as their primary work and personal laptop for at least a week before giving it a final score.

Related: Best laptop deals

Dell XPS 13

Pros:

  • Beautiful design
  • Great audio
  • Comfortable keyboard
  • Solid performance

Cons: 

  • No full-sized SD card reader or USB ports
  • Screen not ideal for artists

The XPS 13 is the best 13-inch laptop money can buy right now. It features an improved version of the iconic, near bezel-less design seen on last year’s model, a more spacious keyboard and updated new gold and white option that looks outright gorgeous.

It also doesn’t compromise on hardware. Kicking off, you now get a 4K resolution, touchscreen option. Coupled with Dell’s Cinema optimisations and the laptop’s new quad speaker setup the screen makes the laptop an ideal choice for Netflix binging.

Under the hood you’ll also get your pick of i5 and i7 Intel 8th gen CPUs and be able to load it with up to 16GB of RAM. The top specced Core i7 CPU, 16GB of RAM version we tested blitzed through our synthetic tests and earned the XPS 13 a place as one of the fastest laptops currently available, in most situations.

The only slight issue is that you’re limited to Intel HD graphics. The lack of Iris, or dGPU options mean it won’t be able to enjoy even moderate gaming, or edit video in 4K. But considering the fact its cheaper than other laptops with these options, this omission is more than forgivable.

Buy now: Dell XPS 13 for £1,279 from Dell

Lenovo IdeaPad 720S

Pros:

  • Slim, stylish, all-metal exterior
  • Great screen
  • Excellent overall performance
  • Good connectivity

Cons:

  • Nvidia graphics not necessary for all
  • 14-inch form factor adds weight

The IdeaPad 720S won our 2017 Best Laptop award at the Trusted Reviews Awards. While its slightly large 14-inch frame means overall weight is relatively high at 1.55kg, this is is still very much an Ultrabook.

It’s powerful, with a decent Intel Core i5-7200U processor that’s ripe for video and photo editing, along with dedicated graphics from Nvidia. The GPU isn’t worthy of the latest games at high resolutions, but if you have a hankering for older titles then it will do just fine.

Battery life is good – we tested at around nine hours – and build quality is excellent for the money. It’s more expensive and heavier than the Acer Swift 5, but with the extra screen real-estate and graphics power, it goes a long way to justify itself.

Buy now: Lenovo IdeaPad 720S for £849.99 from Currys

LG gram (15Z980)

Pros:

  •  Lightweight build
  •  Impressive display
  •  Long battery life

Cons:

  • Integrated graphics
  • Bottom-mounted speakers

The new LG gram 15Z980 notebook is a solid choice for mobile professionals always on the move.
It boasts a seriously lightweight chassis, despite its 15.6-inch size. It doesn’t compromise on the specs or build quality, either.

The 15.6-inch IPS panel is as strong as expected from LG, who obviously know a thing or two about eye-pleasing visuals. For a start, the Full HD resolution keeps everything pin-sharp. High-definition movies look great, photos are packed with intricate detail.

Performance is certainly reliable enough for everyday tasks, even at that base clock level. A generous 16GB of DDR4 RAM helps to keep everything running smoothly, even when you have a half-dozen or more apps all active at once.

Even when multitasking non-stop with office apps, browsers and music-streaming software, I managed to get a full seven hours of play time before the laptop gave up. If you dial down the screen brightness and knock off the non-essential features, you’ll get even longer.

The slender edges also sport a respectable number of ports. You get three full-sized USB 3.0 connections, plus a Type-C USB for fast data transfer. There’s an HDMI port and a microSD card reader, providing plenty of options for hooking up to peripherals and managing your data.

This device is tougher than a tank, while packing some premium components to boot. It’s impressive in terms of performance, battery life and build quality.

Buy Now: LG gram (15Z980) for £1.440 / $1,146  at Amazon

Lenovo Yoga 920

Pros:

  • Versatile form factor
  • Excellent battery life and good overall performance
  • Decent stylus included

Cons:

  • Screen isn’t up to pro use
  • Speakers sound harsh
  • No card slots

The Lenovo Yoga 920 might not be a huge departure from the old 910, but it’s still one of the best Ultrabooks around. The watch-band hinge means the 13.3-inch touchscreen (Full HD or 4K) can fully fold back on itself for tablet use, or into a tent shape for video viewing.

The Full HD screen we tested is good for everyday use, but not up to professional tasks that require wide coverage of the Adobe colour gamut. The supplied Active Pen 2 stylus is excellent, though.

Thanks to Intel’s 8th Gen i5 and i7 processors, performance is really impressive, too. But the headliner is the battery life – this is one of the few laptops that could get you through a full working day without charging.

Add to that a beautiful design and premium build quality and there’s not much to dislike – unless you’re a creative pro or want something that’ll cope with gaming.

The range starts at an i5-8250U model with 8GB of RAM, a 256GB SSD and Full HD screen.

Buy now: Lenovo Yoga 920 for £1269.99 / $2,014 from Amazon

Asus Zenbook 13 UX331U

Asus Zenbook 13 UX331U

Pros

  • Very slim and light
  • Strong usability
  • Well-designed screen

Cons

  • Pricey
  • Weak audio

The Asus ZenBook 13 UX331U is being marketed as ‘the thinnest laptop on the planet’. Measuring in at a meagre 13.9mm thick it’s certainly one of the smallest we’ve tested, only losing out to the even dinkier 9mm Acer Swift 7.

Despite being super thin it packs some solid hardware. You’ll have a choice of Eighth Gen Intel Core i5 or i7 CPUs, both of which’ll come with 8GB of RAM. Whichever CPU you opt for the combo will power through most everyday offices tasks.

It’s 13-inch, FHD screen is above average at this price and coupled with the Zenbook’s stellar keyboard and trackpad make the laptop a great choice for any buyer looking for a device that neatly balances portability and performance.

The only downside is that its super thin dimensions mean you only get integrated graphics, which will be an issue for gamers and people that want to edit video or photos on it.

Acer Swift 5 Review

Acer Swift 5

Pros:

  • Solid performance, quiet running
  • Pleasingly slim and light

Cons:

  • A couple of keyboard issues
  • Integrated graphics

Affordable ultrabooks are normally, at best, a mixed bag. That’s why the Acer Swift 5 is such a pleasant surprise. It’s one of a select few ultrabooks that delivers in nearly every area, despite costing less than £1000.

Featuring a lightweight design, the Swift 5 comes with a wealth of solid hardware that’s sure to meet most users’ needs. Highlights include a choice of Intel 8th Gen CPUs, plus an above-average 1080p display.

If you’re on the market for a swish, portable, reasonably powerful laptop that won’t break the bank, then you should definitely check out the Acer Swift 5.

The only minor issues stopping it from earning our top score are its complete lack of graphics upgrade options, and the keyboard, which doesn’t have the best key travel.

Asus E200HA

Asus VivoBook E200HA

Pros: 

  • Super-cheap
  • Attractive design
  • Slim and light
  • Good keyboard

Cons: 

  • Screen is fairly basic
  • A little slow
  • Small amount of storage

The Asus Vivobook E200HA is a brilliant little netbook that 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.

With that crazy low price and weight come performance compromises – but if you only use a few browser tabs at a time, you’ll be right at home.

Since we reviewed this lovely little netbook, the price has dropped to below £200 at most retailers, although it varies week by week.

Buy now: Asus Vivobook E200HA for £199.99 from Scan

 

MacBook Pro 13-inch

Pros: 

  • Outstanding design and build
  • Lots of Thunderbolt ports
  • High-quality screen
  • Great performance

Cons:

  • Please, sir, can I have some adapters?
  • Inconsistent battery life with some workloads

In terms of hardware, Apple is verging on perfection with the latest MacBook Pro 13. 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 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.

It isn’t perfect, however. It’s very expensive compared to the XPS 13, lacks certain features, such as an SD card slot, and there have been question marks over the consistency of its battery life. You can read our long-term review for more information.

The MacBook Pro is now fully updated for 2017. Our review model is a 2016 edition, but the main difference between the 2016 and 2017 models is a slightly more powerful processor, improved battery life and a lower starting price (thanks to a smaller SSD on the base model).

Buy now: Macbook Pro 13-inch for £1,370 / $1,299 from Amazon

HP Spectre x360 G2

HP EliteBook x360 G2

Pros:

  • Attractive design
  • Lots of security features
  • Good performance
  • Decent battery life

Cons:

  • Slower SSD on this model
  • Stylus costs extra in UK

The EliteBook x360 G2 is one of HP’s finest laptops to date and was shortlisted for Best Laptop of 2017 at the Trusted Reviews Awards.

It’s very much a business machine, but its price isn’t totally out of reach of someone who just wants a premium Ultrabook. Weighing in at just 1.29kg, it’s super light. And with its 13.3-inch form factor, you’ll have no problem chucking it in a bag to take home from work. It’s loaded with security features, too.

Performance is good – although, for the money, the Dell XPS 13 offers more power – and the screen is ready for Windows Ink if you buy it with the optional stylus. The whole package is expensive for a plain laptop, but given its premium design, sturdy hinge and draw-ability, it doesn’t seem quite so crazy.

Buy now: HP EliteBook X360 G2 for £1,530 / $1,212 from Amazon

Surface Book 2

Pros:

  • Excellent performance
  • Great laptop battery
  • Improved keyboard hinge
  • Surface Dial support

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Screen isn’t great for artists working in physical media

The Surface Book 2 is the ultimate, money-no-object machine in Microsoft’s current hardware lineup.

It sits above the company’s regular Surface Pro convertible and brings with it a number of great upgrades. Chief of these is an improved keyboard dock that not only uses a physical hinge to the tablet, but also adds a sizable secondary battery and optional dedicated GPU.

The secondary battery let the top-specced 8th-Gen Intel i7, 1TB Surface Book we tested survive an amazing 16 hours running our standard Powermark test – which synthetically loops five minutes of video streaming and 10 minutes of web browsing with the screen set at 150 nits.

The score puts it a cut above most competing Ultrabooks when it comes to battery life, but it’s the secondary GPU that really sets it apart. The GPU makes the Surface Book 2 powerful enough for light gaming, video editing, CAD design and large-scale digital photography and painting projects, despite the Surface Book 2 being small enough to fit in even the smallest of satchels.

The Surface Book 2’s support for the Surface Dial and Surface Pen stylus further aid the device’s allure for power users and creatives. The improved Surface Pen can detect a whopping 4000+ sensitivity levels, and the Surface Dial makes it quick and easy to adjust tip sizes or blitz between active layers in Photoshop.

The only downside is that its slightly lacklustre Adobe RGB coverage limits its appeal to creatives who need true colour accuracy. But for everyone else, the Surface Book 2 is a seriously impressive piece of kit.

Buy now: Microsoft Surface Book 2 for £1,830 / $2,562 from Amazon

Surface Pro

Surface Pro

Pros:

  • Best battery life on a Windows convertible
  • Robust performance
  • Most sensitive Surface Pen to date
  • Full-fat Windows 10 is great for creatives

Cons: 

  • Very expensive
  • Not a huge upgrade over the Surface Pro 4

If the Surface Book 2 is above your price range then the Surface Pro 4 and New Surface Pro‘, both remain good deals. The newer model is more powerful and its Core m3 and Core i5-powered editions are fanless, meaning they run completely silently.

Both machines are similar, requiring some fairly pricey upgrades to turn them into proper laptops – namely, a TypeCover keyboard and a Surface Pen for taking notes and doodling.

You pay a premium for the 2017 Surface Pro, but it offers better battery life than its predecessor and the rest of the 2-in-1 competition. It’s a superb choice, but not a no-brainer upgrade for someone who already has a Surface Pro 4.

Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

Pros:

  • Excellent performance, even when gaming
  • Solid build quality
  • Fantastic keyboard
  • Amazing screen

Cons:

  • Very loud when running intensive processes
  • Battery life could be better

If you’re after a power-house 15-inch laptop that can do everything from video editing to lightweight gaming, then you’ll want to check out Dell’s XPS 15 2-in-1.

The convertible is one of the first laptops to run one of Intel’s G-series chips. The chips are the result of an unprecedented between Intel and its arch-rival AMD. Specifically, the chip combines Intel’s CPU architecture with AMD’s Vega graphics.

The combination works a treat and means the XPS 15 2-in-1 is a powerhouse machine that can match laptops with discrete GeForce 1050 graphics on performance.

Add to this its top notch 4K screen and foldable, Yoga-like, hinge mechanism and the XPS 15 2-in-1 justifiably earns its place as one of 2018’s best laptops.

Buy now: Microsoft Surface Pro for £791 / $1,164 from Amazon

15-inch MacBook Pro

Pros:

  • Stunning screen
  • Top-notch processor
  • Classy design
  • Excellent connectivity
  • MacOS continues to be brilliant

Cons:

  • Inconsistent battery life
  • Fairly weak graphics performance

The MacBook Pro 15-inch is the best laptop choice for multimedia professionals – if you or your company are willing to part with that sum of cash.

There are a few reasons for this. First, the outstanding 15.4-inch 2880 x 1800-pixel screen. This a pro-level panel in every sense, producing more colours and greater accuracy than any other laptop panel we’ve ever tested.

Performance, too, is stellar. The quad-core Intel Core chips that comes as standard in this laptop are powerful enough for 4K video editing and rendering, and the graphics chips have been upgraded since our review to AMD Radeon Pro 500-series. The latter are good enough for light gaming and will assist with 3D, video and photography work.

In addition, you get four ultra-high-speed ThunderBolt 3 ports for the most modern and high-performance peripherals.

Our one slight concern isn’t so much that battery life is poor, but that it’s inconsistent. We were happy enough with performance to take a slight compromise on battery life, but this won’t be true of everyone.

Buy now: MacBook Pro 15-inch for £1,919 / $2,549 from Amazon

Eve V

Eve V

Pros:

  • Good-quality screen (but not one for accuracy)
  • Great value with included accessories
  • Lots of ports
  • Decent performance
  • Backlit keyboard cover works independently

Cons:

  • Some minor build quality issues
  • So-so battery life
  • Can currently only be bought direct in flash sales

Eve-Tech is a plucky upstart looking to take on the well-established Microsoft Surface Pro with its Eve V, a 2-in-1 convertible that looked to the crowd in deciding its features and specifications.

For the money, it’s a solid alternative to the Microsoft Surface Pro, undercutting it in price when comparing similar configurations. A big part of that value comes from including a keyboard type cover and stylus as standard, when they’re added expenses for the Surface Pro.

You get decent performance and battery life for anyone looking for a productivity workhorse. Battery life isn’t the best but it’ll be enough to get you through a working day under light use. The display is plenty sharp with a high resolution and great contrast, even if it isn’t the most colour accurate out there.

While it has some minor issues around build quality, the Eve V manages to hold its own against the big boys. Unfortunately, getting hold of one can prove tricky as they only go on sale in sporadic ‘flash sales’, part of how Eve manages to keep the costs low as they’re made to order.

Those are our top picks of the best laptops. If you want to know more about what to look out for when buying a laptop then read on.

How much should I spend on a laptop?

What you decide to spend on a laptop will be determined by what you’re likely to want to use the laptop for. If you simply want to do a bit of web browsing and send and receive a few emails then a cheap 11-inch netbook or Chromebook for under £200 will do the job.

It’s best not to buy an ultra-cheap laptop and push it to its limits, though. Saving up for a more expensive laptop that can undertake a greater number of tasks at once will be worth it if you don’t need the ultimate in thin and light budget machinery.

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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 carry out the basics without slowing to a crawl. It will even handle a little Minecraft and photo editing.

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 they’re not pushed too hard. If you want premium build and a great screen, expect to pay at least £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. Two-in-ones have reversible screens that can be versatile in small spaces, while tablet hybrids are great for drawing and taking notes. The latter 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 laptops sold in the UK. However, if you’re buying a cheap laptop, Google’s ChromeOS is likely to be a better bet. It’s lightweight – it’s essentially a glorified web browser – but with so many excellent web-based applications now available, most people on a budget will be able to 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 then 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.