Best Laptop 2017: 12 of the best notebooks

Best Laptop to buy in 2017: We take you through our top laptop reviews from cheap netbooks up to powerful multimedia machines, and everything in between.

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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.

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 dimish, 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 Core i3 now at Amazon

Also consider: Lenovo IdeaPad 710S 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.

At the time of writing it’s dropped from £230 to a stunning £170 on Amazon, which is a terrific deal.

View now at Amazon

Read the full Asus VivoBook E200HA review

Score

Key features:

  • 13.3-inch 1920 x 1080-pixel IPS display
  • Intel Core i7-6560U (i5 available)
  • 8GB RAM, 256GB PCIe SSD
  • Intel Iris Graphics 540
  • Weight: 1.1kg
  • Windows 10
  • Tested Battery Life: Around 8 hours
  • Review price: £899

The Lenovo Ideapad 710S costs more than the Acer Swift 3, but for good reason. The 400g weight reduction alone is a big deal, and the screen is quite a lot better. The version we tested cost £900, but it’s available for as little as £700 with a Core i5 processor. Since our original review, the 710S has been updated to feature Intel’s latest 7th-gen ‘Kaby Lake’ processors.

This is a quick laptop for photo- and video-editing tasks, and while it won’t match the performance of a quad-core machine such as the Dell XPS 15 for out-and-out power, it’s still fast enough for almost everything you’ll want to do on it.

It’s really light, too, at 1.1kg, so it’ll go into any bag without much fuss. The Full HD screen is brilliant for the price as well.

A small minus point: Battery life doesn’t match the likes of the Dell XPS 13 or MacBook Air, and the touchpad could be better. But that doesn’t detract much from what is a great laptop that hits a nice price sweet spot.

View now at Amazon

Also consider: Dell XPS 13 at Amazon

Read the full Lenovo Ideapad 710S review

Acer Swift 5

4 of 12

Score

Key features:

  • 14-inch, 1920 x 1080-pixel IPS display
  • Intel Core i5-7200U
  • 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD
  • Intel HD Graphics 620
  • Weight: 1.36kg
  • Windows 10
  • Tested Battery Life: Around 9 hours
  • Review price: £699

The 14-inch Acer Swift 5 is a great option if you want a larger screen without adding too much weight. It weighs 1.36kg, which is light for the size.

There’s also a fingerprint scanner, which is great for logging into Windows 10 with just the touch of your finger. The screen is bright and colourful, and battery life is excellent and will happily go all day if you don’t push it too hard.

It has a similar spec to the Lenovo, so will perform just as well in day-to-day tasks. It doesn’t feel as well built as some rivals, so might not survive too many bumps and scrapes.

View now at Amazon

Read the full Acer Swift 5 review

Dell XPS 13

5 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: £1,299

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.

There are loads of different storage and processor options – our review model was perhaps the best value, but you can spend quite a lot less if you don’t need raw power or loads of storage.

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.

Competition is now very tight with the new Microsoft Surface Laptop, which starts at a slightly lower £979 for a base model with a Core i5 processor, 4GB of memory and a 128GB SSD. The XPS 13 still remains our top pick, but any price cuts from Microsoft could see the Surface Laptop make an entry onto this list.

View now at Amazon

Also consider: 2016 13-inch MacBook Pro 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

Also consider: Dell XPS 13 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

8 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

Score

Key features

  • Intel Core i7-6500U
  • 8GB RAM
  • Intel HD Graphics 520
  • SSD + hard disk
  • Weight: 1.45kg
  • Windows 10
  • Tested Battery Life: Around 4 hours
  • Review price: £800

The ZenBook UX310UA represents a whole range of laptops that start at £580. Our review model cost £800, but you can mix and match your spec down to a Core i3 model, which will still offer reasonably decent performance thanks to the sprightly SSD. Some models also come with a high-capacity secondary hard disk.

With a quality Full HD screen and a relatively light weight of 1.45kg, the UX310UA represents a decent middle ground of performance and build quality, which students who want a light but powerful-enough laptop to lug to and from campus will appreciate.

The only drawbacks worth mentioning are that battery life isn’t brilliant and you only get 4GB of RAM.

Buy Now at Amazon

Read the full Asus ZenBook UX310UA review

New Surface Pro

10 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.

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. 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

Also consider:
15-inch MacBook Pro 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

Also consider: Asus ROG Strix GL702VM

Read the full Gigabyte Aero 14 review

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