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.
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.
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.
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.
Sign up for the newsletter
Get news, competitions and special offers direct to your inbox
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.
1 of 13
- 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.
New Surface Pro
8 of 13
- 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.