Best Laptop 2018: 13 of the best notebooks for all budgets

Best laptop 2018: Check out our in-depth buying guide and list of recommendations to find which laptop to pick up this year.

2018 may still be in its infancy, but we’ve already seen a wealth of great laptops and components get announced. Highlights include a swanky set of new laptops that’ll be powered by Intel 8th Gen CPUs with AMD Vega graphics.

The CPUs will be used on swish new machines, like the newly announced HP Spectre x360, and, according to Intel and AMD, will be able to handle everything from light gaming, to 4K video editing.

Related: Intel 8th Gen CPUs with AMD Vega graphics explained

If battery life is a bigger concern, Qualcomm’s also set to join the laptop market this year, with updates to Microsoft’s Windows OS meaning that a wave of new devices running its latest Snapdragon 845 CPU are in the pipeline. According to Qualcomm the new laptops will offer users a marathon 20-hour-plus battery life.

If you can’t wait for a new laptop, you can check out our top picks of 2017 below. But before you make a final decision, read our in-depth buying guide to make sure you pick up a machine that meets your individual needs.

Related: Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 laptops explained

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.

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 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.

Related: Best desktop PCs

Recent laptop reviews

Not every laptop we review makes our list of the best laptops. This could be for a multitude of reasons, but it doesn’t mean they might not be the right laptop for you, depending on your needs. Take the Asus ZenBook UX430UA, this thin and light laptop weighs only 1.25kg, so it’s perfect for anyone who needs to dart between meetings. Unfortunately, its battery life was a little underwhelming, but this won’t be as much of an issue if you don’t plan on spending a lot of time away from a power socket.

We also recently looked at the Acer Switch 3, a Microsoft Surface Pro competitor. This convertible starts from just £499 and comes with a keyboard cover and stylus, making it great value for money. It’s not the most powerful convertible out there, but otherwise you’d be spending a lot more money. If you only have basic needs, it could still be a great choice.

You can find our curated list of the best laptops below, covering a multitude of use cases. Be sure to read the full reviews for all the details.


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

This 14-inch laptop is a great buy if you want a light, all-metal laptop that can tackle 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 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 bag-friendly, and the choice of specifications available mean you can spend from £500 to £750 on one. The model we reviewed cost £650, and offers the best value, but the £500 Core i3 model is great for those who will just be doing a bit of light web browsing and document work. At the time of writing, Ballicom is stocking the Core i5 model we reviewed for a competitive £580, 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. Plus, it’s heavier than some slightly more expensive rivals, such as the Lenovo IdeaPad 720S.

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Read the full Acer Swift 3 2016 review


Key features:

  • 11.6-inch 1366 x 768 display
  • Intel Atom X5-Z8350 processor
  • 2GB RAM
  • 32GB SSD
  • Weight: 980g
  • Tested battery life: Around 12 hours
  • Review price: £230
  • New price: £180

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 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.

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Read the full Asus VivoBook E200HA review


Key features:

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

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.

Read the full Lenovo Ideapad 720S review

Dell XPS 13

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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

It may be last year’s model, but the Dell XPS 13 is still 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 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 – a great combination. If you’re a Windows fan, or a 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.

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Read the full Dell XPS 13 review


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 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).

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Read the full 13-inch MacBook Pro review


Key features:

  • 13.3-inch IPS (UHD or FHD) IPS touchscreen
  • 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 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.

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Read the full HP EliteBook x360 G2 review

Surface Book 2

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Key features:

  • 13.5-inch or 15-inch ‘Pixel Sense’ display
  • Intel Core i5 and i7 (reviewed) available
  • 8-16GB RAM
  • 256GB-1TB SSD
  • Backlit attachable keyboard
  • Weight: Dependent on configuration
  • Windows 10
  • Tested battery life: Around 16 hours (docked)
  • Review price: From £1500

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.

Read the full Surface Book 2 review

New Surface Pro

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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

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.

Buy now at Amazon


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 then 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


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 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.

Read the full 15-inch MacBook Pro review

Dell XPS 15

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Key features

  • 15.6-inch 1920 x 1080-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 becomes more attractive to 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.

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Read the full Dell XPS 15 review

Gigabyte Aero 14

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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 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

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Read the full Gigabyte Aero 14 review

Eve V

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Key features

  • 12.3-inch, 2880 x 1920-pixel display
  • Intel Core i7-7Y75
  • 16GB DDR3 memory, 512GB SSD
  • Weight: 925g
  • Tested Battery Life: Around 6 hours
  • Review price: £1440

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.

Read the full Eve V review