Best Laptop 2017: 12 of the best notebooks for all budgets

Best laptop reviews 2017: The finest notebooks from budget netbooks to multimedia machines. There’s something for everyone here.

Click here to jump to the best laptops list

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.

Related: Best laptop deals

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

 

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

Microsoft Surface Pro 4 at Amazon.co.uk | Was £749.99 | Now £669

Microsoft Surface Pro 4 at Amazon.com
| Was $899 | Now $623

Score

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
  • Review price: £650

The best laptop for most people

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.

Be warned, however, that Acer has released a newer version of the Acer Swift 3, which we consider to be slightly inferior (it has a poorer screen) and is rather more expensive than the model we originally reviewed. The launch of the new 2017 model likely means stocks of the 2016 model will soon diminish, so grab them while you can.

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. At the time of writing, Argos is stocking the Core i5 model we reviewed for a very competitive £550, which is well worth a look.

The only minus points are that 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.

View now at Amazon

Read the full Acer Swift 3 2016 review

Score

Key features:

  • 11.6-inch 1366×768 display
  • Intel Atom X5-Z8350 processor
  • 2GB RAM
  • 32GB SSD
  • Weight: 980g
  • Tested battery life: Around 12 hours
  • Review price: £230

 

The best netbook

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.

With that crazy low price and weight comes 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.

View now at Amazon

Read the full Asus VivoBook E200HA review

Score

Key features:

  • 2.5-3.1GHz Intel Core i5-7200U
  • 2GB Nvidia GeForce GT 940MX
  • 8GB RAM256GB PCIe SSD
  • Weight: 1.55kg
  • 14-inch Full HD display
  • Backlit keyboard
  • Tested battery life: 8-9 hours
  • Review price: £850

The IdeaPad 720S is one of the most impressive laptops we’ve reviewed this year. 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, it’ll do just about fine.

Battery life is good, which 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.

Read the full Lenovo Ideapad 720S review

Dell XPS 13

4 of 12

Score

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: £1299

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.

Worth keeping in mind now is that the XPS 13 has been updated to 8th-generation Intel processors and now ships with quad-core processors instead of dual-core ones. That’s great news for buyers. As soon as we get a quad-core XPS 13 in for review we’ll update this entry.

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.

A couple of small minus points: It lacks the wow factor and 100% faultless build quality of the latest MacBook Pros. Oh, and the webcam looks up your nose.

View now at Amazon

Read the full Dell XPS 13 review

Score

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

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.

But, it’s not completely perfect: 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. 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 2016 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 at Amazon

Read the full 13-inch MacBook Pro review

Score

Key features:

  • 13.3-inch IPS (UHD or FHD) IPS touch scren
  • Intel Core i5-7300U
  • 16GB RAM
  • Intel HD Graphics 620
  • Fingerprint scanner and infra-red camera
  • 256GB M.2 SATA SSD
  • Weight: 1.29kg
  • Hybrid design
  • Windows 10
  • Tested battery life: Around 9 hours
  • Review price: £1378

The EliteBook x360 G2 is one of HP’s finest laptops to date. 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 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 at Amazon

Read the full HP EliteBook x360 G2 review

HP Pavilion 15

7 of 12

Score

Key Features:

  • Intel Core i3-6100U processor
  • 8GB RAM
  • 1TB hard disk
  • 15.6-inch 1,366×768-pixel display
  • DVD/RW drive
  • Weight: 2.04kg
  • Tested Battery Life: Around 5 hours
  • Review price: £499

 

A decent general purpose laptop for families

 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. You don’t get a great screen and the hard disk is slower than all of the premium laptops with SSDs featured here, but for the price it’s hard to complain.

The 2017 models of this laptop have now launched, and you’ll find updated specs in the likes of Currys and PC World.

Buy Now at Amazon

Read the full HP Pavilion 15 review

New Surface Pro

8 of 12

Score

Key features

  • 2736 x 1824-pixel display
  • Intel Core m3, i5-U or i7-U
  • 4-16GB RAM, 128GB-1TB SSD
  • Weight: 784g
  • Optional keyboard
  • Tested Battery Life: Around 8 hours
  • Starting price: £799

The Surface Pro 4 is has been ‘New Surface Pro‘, but both remain good deals. The newer model is more powerful and its Core m3 and Core i5-powered editions are fanless, and run completely silently.

Both machines are very 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 manages 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.

Buy now at Amazon

Score

Key features

  • Quad-core Intel Core i5-7500HQ (i7 available)
  • 4GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 (1050 Ti available)
  • 15.6-inch IPS Full HD display
  • Weight: 2.5kg
  • 128GB SSD + 1TB HDD
  • Tested battery life: Around 5 hours
  • Review price: £869

The ROG GL553 bucks the trend of sub-£1000 gaming laptops, packing not only great quad-core processing performance and Full HD gaming grunt, but it also manages to equip a good screen.

In other words, it’s the complete package as far as we’re concerned. There are some different specifications available – we think it’s better value at its cheapest, but if you spend a few hundred pounds more you can upgrade the processor to a faster Core i7 and the GTX 1050 graphics card to a better GTX 1050 Ti.

It might be a bit too outlandish for some, with its orange stripes and RGB backlit keyboard, but if you’re after the best-value gaming machine for under £1000, look no further.

Read the full Asus ROG STRIX GL553 review

Score

Key features:

  • 15.4-inch 2880 x 1800-pixel display
  • Quad-core Intel Core i5 and i7 available
  • 256GB-2TB SSD
  • Touch Bar
  • Weight: 1.83kg
  • MacOS
  • Tested battery life: 5-6 hours
  • Review price: £2349

The 15-inch MacBook Pro is the best laptop choice for multimedia professionals, if you or your company is willing to pay. There are a few reasons for this. First, the outstanding 15.4-inch 2880 x 1800-pixel screen. This a pro-level display in every sense, producing more colours and greater accuracy than any other laptop panel we’ve ever tested.

Performance is also stellar. The quad-core Intel Core chips this laptop comes with as standard 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, which are good enough for light gaming and will assist with 3D, video and photography work. Plus you get four ultra-high-speed ThunderBolt 3 ports for the most modern and high-performance peripherals.

Our one slight concern is not that battery life is poor, but that it’s inconsistent. We were happy enough with the levels of performance to take a slight compromise on battery life, but not everybody will.

Read the full 15-inch MacBook Pro review

Dell XPS 15

11 of 12

Score

Key features

  • 15.6-inch 1,920×1,080-pixel display (UHD available)
  • Intel Core i7-7700HQ (i5 available)
  • 16GB RAM, 256GB PCIe SSD
  • 4GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050
  • Weight: 2kg
  • Tested Battery Life: Around 9 hours
  • Review price: £1499

As the 15-inch MacBook Pro gets even more expensive, the Dell XPS 15 looks more and more attractive for those who don’t need the higher-end features of Apple’s machine. 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. The price you pay is that it gets loud when gaming, and it’s pretty heavy at 2kg. But those are small drawbacks for a brilliant laptop.

Buy Now at Amazon

Read the full Dell XPS 15 review

Gigabyte Aero 14

12 of 12

Score

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: £1699

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 £1700.

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.

The Aero 14 in its current specification is running out of time; Gigabyte has recently launched the Aero 15, which will likely cannibalise Aero 14 sales. As a result, it looks like the Aero 14 will be down-specced to a GTX 1050 Ti. Get ’em while they’re still on sale.

Read our Best Gaming Laptops article for more options

Buy Now at Amazon

Read the full Gigabyte Aero 14 review