Best laptop 2017: We’ve reviewed dozens of laptops over the last 12 months, from budget netbooks to video-editing powerhouses. Here’s our selection of the best.
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.
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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 do the basics without slowing to a crawl, and will even handle a little Minecraft and photo editing.
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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.
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.
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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.
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
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- 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, Ballicom is stocking the Core i5 model we reviewed for a very 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, and it’s heavier than some slightly more expensive rivals, such as the Lenovo IdeaPad 720S.
New Surface Pro
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- 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.