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Best All-Purpose Laptops

Though ultra-portables are great affordable options, anyone who needs more processing power will have to spend a little more on an all-purpose, full-power laptop. These are still relatively portable machines, most having 13 or 14-inch screens and weighing around two kilos. Gaming is still off the menu for most, but these machines offer good battery life and very good performance and have integrated optical drives.

Editor's Choice

HP Pavilion dm4 | £640
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This was probably the easiest choice in any of our categories, as the HP Pavilion dm4 offers up outstanding performance, design and features for the circa £650 asking price. Aside from gaming there's very little this machine isn't good at.

Read our HP Pavilion dm4 review
See the best HP Pavilion dm4 deals
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Acer Aspire TimelineX 4820TG | £649 to £850
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Normally the 4820TG retails for around £750 to £800, but at the moment PC World and other DSGi stores are selling it for an incredible £650. At this money this machine, which can last a decent five and a half hours and can play games to a reasonable level, is a simply astounding deal. Indeed, were this deal to become permanent, it would probably be our choice in this category.

There are caveats, however. Though it weighs a portable 2.0kg, its 14-inch screen makes it a little large for comfortable carrying and the chassis lacks a little refinement. The build quality is only so-so, and the keyboard's key actions are rather shallow and imprecise. It also relies on a graphics switching system that's poorly explained. Not a machine for a novice, then, but an astounding deal if you fancy a punt.

Read our Acer Aspire TimelineX 4820TG
See the best Acer Aspire TimelineX 4820TG deals

Samsung Q330 | £570
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If you like the look of the HP Pavilion dm4 but can't quite stretch to its asking price, the Samsung Q330 is a good alternative. It's around £100 cheaper, and isn't quite as attractive or as fast, but it's still perfectly adequate and is excellent value for money.

Read our Samsung Q330 review
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Apple MacBook and MacBook Pro | From £780 to £1,249+
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A perennial favourite among more affluent students, Apple's MacBook and 13-inch MacBook Pro are both excellent laptops and students get modest discounts via Apple's Higher Education site. As ever there are comprises to be made and you can never consider an Apple laptop a bargain, but if you have the budget they shouldn't be ignored.

Read our Apple MacBook review
See the best Apple MacBook deals

Read our Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch review
See the best Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch deals

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