On the look out for a new laptop? Whether you’re a student, office worker or creative professional, this guide will help you find the best laptop.
Before you start your search though, be mindful that laptops flaunting Intel’s 9th Gen mobile processor are on the horizon, bringing along faster processing speeds, more stable wireless connections and potentially slimmer designs.
Can’t wait util then? Not a problem if you’re an Apple fan, as you can go for one of the latest MacBook Pro or MacBook Air laptops. If you need something for sketching, digital art, or photo work, you may want to consider a convertible with a stylus, like a Microsoft Surface Pro 6.
If you’re looking for an ultra-portable laptop meanwhile, then the Dell XPS 13 is currently our pick of the bunch with the 2019 refresh improving an already top-class ultrabook. It’s genuinely surprising how much power this device can pack in such a small form factor. Check out our round up of the Best Ultrabooks for more cost-efficient options.
Then, you have to think about your budget, how much you’re willing to spend up front, or whether you can pick something up on finance. Chromebooks are generally more affordable options that’ll meet word processing and office needs as well as casual web browsing and Netflix sessions – we’ve rounded up the best Chromebooks here.
Here to help you get the perfect laptop for your specific needs and budget we’ve created a definitive list detailing the best laptops we’ve currently tested. Also check out our Laptop Deals and Tablet Deals articles for round-ups of the latest offers, bundles and bargains.
1. Dell XPS 15 2-in-1
Winner of the ‘PC of the Year’ gong at the Trusted Reviews Awards 2018
- Excellent performance, even when gaming
- Solid build quality
- Fantastic keyboard
- Amazing screen
- Very loud when running intensive processes
- Battery life could be better
If you’re after a power-house 15-inch laptop that can do everything from video editing to lightweight gaming, then you’ll want to check out the Dell XPS 15 2-in-1.
The convertible is one of the first laptops to run one of Intel’s G-series chips. The chips are the result of an unprecedented partnership between Intel and its arch-rival AMD. Specifically, the chip combines Intel’s CPU architecture with AMD’s Vega graphics.
The combination works a treat and means the XPS 15 2-in-1 is a powerhouse machine that can match laptops with discrete Nvidia 1050 graphics on performance.
Add to this its top notch 4K screen and foldable, Yoga-like, hinge mechanism and the XPS 15 2-in-1 justifiably earns its place as one of 2019’s best availble laptops.
- Read our full Dell XPS 15 review
2. Dell XPS 13 (2019)
The best all-round Windows 10 ultrabook you can buy
- Quality design and display
- Improved performance and battery life
- Webcam moved back to top
- Huge range of configurations
- Still no full-sized SD card reader or USB ports
- SSD slow at saving data
- Screen not ideal for artists
The Dell XPS 13 is the best 13-inch laptop money can buy right now, especially after its 2019 refresh. Since last year’s model it features an improved Whiskey Lake processor and has moved the webcam back to its rightful place above the screen.
There are a lot of customisation options here too. Plump for the 4K resolution (which includes a touchscreen), and coupled with Dell’s Cinema optimisations and the laptop’s new quad speaker setup, you’ve got the perfect setup for Netflix binging.
Under the hood you’ll also get your pick of i5 and i7 Intel 8th gen CPUs and be able to load it with up to 16GB of RAM. The top-specced Core i7 CPU, 16GB of RAM version we tested blitzed through our synthetic tests and earned the XPS 13 a place as one of the fastest laptops currently available, in most situations.
The only slight issue is that you’re limited to Intel HD graphics. The lack of Iris, or dGPU options mean it won’t be able to enjoy even moderate gaming, or edit video in 4K. But considering the fact its cheaper than other laptops with these options, this omission is more than forgivable.
- Read our full Dell XPS 13 review
3. Asus VivoBook E200HA
This is the best budget laptop available right now
- Attractive design
- Slim and light
- Good keyboard
- Screen is fairly basic
- A little slow
- Small amount of storage
The Asus Vivobook E200HA is a brilliant little netbook that 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.
- Read our full Asus Vivobook E200 HA review
4. Apple MacBook Air (2018)
This is the upgrade MacBook Air fans have been waiting for
- A classic design, refreshed for 2018
- Lightweight, premium-feel body
- Retina Display screen
- Pro features for a lower price
- Two USB-C ports
The MacBook Air 2018 is a long-awaited refresh of Apple’s line of lightweight laptops, which, since 2015, had only seen tiny, iterative updates instead of big leaps forward.
The 2018 line-up brings a 2560×1600 Retina Display screen, which boasts fantastic levels of colour accuracy and decent levels of brightness and contrast. There’s Touch ID, which lets you unlock the MacBook Air with a tap of your finger, and the T2 security chip, which encrypts your files on the go. The stereo speakers also offer sound quality that’s among the best of any laptop we’ve seen recently. For everyday use, the battery gave us 9-10 hours of power, too.
Downsides include the fact that you get just two USB-C ports. They support the Thunderbolt 3 standard, so you’ll be able to charge and transfer files quickly and hook your Air up to all manner of monitors, drives, eGPUs and other accessories, but, when you’re working on the go, this will be very limiting.
Pricing for the range starts at £1199, which is a good for a premium laptop of this pedigree, but the higher up in the MacBook Air range you go, you’ll start to see prices equivalent to what you’d pay for a (much more powerful and versatile) MacBook Pro – so if you’ve got the cash to splash, you may want to consider picking one of these up instead.
- Read our full MacBook Air 2018 review
5. Asus ZenBook 15 (UX533F)
An excellent, high performance laptop
- Solid performance
- Fantastic battery life
- ErgoLift shape makes for easier typing
- Dedicated graphics card
- Trackpad issues
- Low Adobe RGB and DCI-P3 coverage on anti-glare version
The Asus ZenBook 15‘s colourful and lightweight style is complemented by exceptional battery life and excellent performance, thanks in part to it being powered by an Intel Core i7-8565U, an Intel processor that’s designed specifically of high-end laptops. It features a nifty ‘ErgoLift’ design, which makes for a more comfortable typing position, and also lets warm air escape from the main vent more easily. As well as that, the ZenBook 15 gives you plenty of ports – two Type-A USBs, Type-C USB, HDMI, and SD card slot. The only real downside here is the lack of an Ethernet port, but that’s mitigated by the fact that you get a USB-A-to-Ethernet adapter in the box.
This means if you need a laptop primarily for writing reports, essays and articles on, you won’t have to shell out for multiple dongles in order for you to your work done, and the long lasting battery means you can work for over ten hours without having to reach for your charger. The Asus ZenBook 15 isn’t cheap, but it’s a solid investment.
There’s a dedicated graphics card too, an Nvidia GTX 1060, and up to 16GB of RAM, which means you can get some video editing and gaming done on the side. The ZenBook 15 isn’t a star performer here, and if you’re after a laptop primarily for wasting fools on Apex Legends on, then you’re better off looking at our Best Gaming Laptop round up, or waiting for machines featuring Nvidia 20 Series cards like the RTX 2080 to hit shelves. If gaming’s of secondary import though, and you want a performance Windows 10 laptop, the Asus ZenBook 15 is worth a look.
- Read our full Asus ZenBook 15 review
6. LG Gram (14Z980)
The 14-inch LG Gram is an excellent – if expensive – laptop
- An ultra-portable machine weighing just 1kg
- Speedy processing power
- Superb battery life
- 256GB storage isn’t plentiful
- Some might expect a dedicated GPU at this price
The LG Gram 14Z980 is the best ultrabook out there right now. It manages to cram three USB 3.0 ports (including USB-C), a microSD card reader, and an HDMI port into a tiny, lightweight frame. Despite the name, the LG Gram 14Z980 weighs a fraction less than 1kg.
Despite the slender build and lightweight frame, battery life, processing power and overall performance is exceptional.
The LG Gram 14Z980’s display is also impressive, offering decent maximum brightness, and respectable colour space reproduction. Netflix and YouTube looks fantastic. With the LG Gram covering 94.9% of the sRGB gamut, designers ought to be able to work easily on this too, though the low Adobe RGB and DCI-P3 colour gamut scores of 67.5% and 70.6% mean this isn’t one for photographers.
The only area where we feel the LG Gram is a letdown is internal storage. There’s only one option and that’s to pick a 256GB SSD. If you’re primarily after a laptop for work and streaming media, this will likely not be an issue, but others might find themselves running out of space sooner than they’d like.
- Read our full LG Gram review
7. Lenovo IdeaPad 720S
2017’s laptop of the year, now for a lower price
- Slim, stylish, all-metal exterior
- Great screen
- Excellent overall performance
- Good connectivity
- Nvidia graphics not necessary for all
- 14-inch form factor adds weight
The Lenovo IdeaPad 720S is a model from last year – it won Laptop of the Year at the Trusted Reviews Awards 2017 – meaning you can now pick this up for less if you shop around. For your money you get a laptop with a 14-inch Full HD screen. Battery life is solid, giving us around nine hours in testing and the all-metal jacket gives it a premium feel.
Processor options include an Intel Core i5-7200U or Core i7-7500U, along with an Nvidia GT 940MX dedicated graphics from Nvidia, 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD. This isn’t anywhere near enough to play latest games at the highest settings, but it’ll handle older titles easily, and those specs will give you plenty of power if you just want something for regular work. In terms of ports, you get two USB 3.0 ports, HDMI, Thunderbolt, and an SD card reader, which is pretty generous – not every laptop will pack in as many connections.
While it’s a 2017 laptop, the IdeaPad 720S still has plenty going for it.
- Read our full Lenovo IdeaPad 720S review
8. LG Gram 2 in 1
The best value 2 in 1 laptop around
- Fantastic versatility with touchscreen
- Super-fast CPU performance
- Plenty of ports
- Long-lasting battery
- Design awkward in tablet mode
- Low GPU performance will scare away artists and creatives
- Lid is easily scuffed
Most convertible laptops are either incredibly expensive or restricted to a Chromebook performance. The LG Gram 2 in 1 hits the sweet spot, offering a quality ultrabook and a decent tablet bundled into one product.
With a high-speed CPU performance, long-lasting battery and a plethora of ports, the Gram 2 in 1 is a fantastic option for office workers. By day its a powerhouse portable ready for your spreadsheets and Powerpoint presentation, and by night it can be flipped into a tablet for Netflix in bed and Microsoft Paint doodling thanks to the boxed stylus.
Mind, with a low-performing integrated graphics card and low-latency touchscreen, this isn’t a 2-in-1 laptop aimed at creatives. Plus, the design does feel awkward once in tablet mode, with the keyboard sitting at the back and the absence of a volume button. If you can forgive these flaws though, then you’re getting incredible 2-in-1 value with the Gram.
- Read our full LG Gram 2 in 1 Review
9. Microsoft Surface Laptop 2
The Surface Laptop 2 is a stylish and powerful daily driver
- Excellent display
- Battery that’ll easily last you a day
- Lightweight and attractive design
- Nicely spaced keyboard
- No USB-C ports
The Microsoft Surface Laptop 2 is a svelte, alcantara-covered aluminium that boasts an impressive 2256×1504 resolution display and a very durable battery life. Most days, we’ve been able to get ten hours of power out of the Surface Laptop 2.
While it’s not a high-performing gaming laptop – and therefore is unsuited to high-end gaming and video work – it’s got more than enough processing and graphical power to get you through the day and have enough left over in the tank to binge through your favourite Netflix show or play some Fortnite.
As with a lot of slimline laptops, you don’t get many ports. You get a mini DisplayPort, USB-A, and a proprietary Surface Connect port, and that’s it. No HDMI, no USB-C, no SD card reader. There are adapters available if you need more connectivity, but having to embrace the dongle life after stumping up, in most cases, over £1000, is a bit of an ask. If this is a stumbling block for you, then maybe the LG Gram would be a better choice.
But, if you’ve ever wanted a Windows 10 laptop that can match the Apple MacBook Air in terms of looks and style without compromising on performance, the Surface Laptop 2 is for you.
- Read our full Microsoft Surface Laptop 2 review
10. Microsoft Surface Pro 6
Lightweight, flexible and powerful, the Surface Pro 6 is one of the best Windows 10 convertibles we’ve tested
- Great screen
- Good battery life
- Solid performance
- Lightweight and portable hybrid design
- Pricey accessories
- Keyboard dock may be too small for some
The Microsoft Surface Pro 6 is lightweight, flexible and pretty powerful. As a convertible 2-in-1 Windows 10 device, it’s got a foot in both the tablet and laptop camps.
Our review model ran full fat Windows 10 out of the box, not the safety scissors Windows 10 S version Microsoft sometimes installs on its Surface devices, like the Surface Go.
An excellent 12.3-inch screen, solid performance and a battery which gives you around 7-8 hours of use on a single charge mean that the Surface Pro 6 is ideally suited to office work, giving you enough power to get through the working day. The high quality screen means that it’s also perfect for streaming media on at the end of the day (or during the day, if your job really is that bad).
A downside is the small number of ports and the absence of USB-C. While it’s normal for tablets and convertibles not to have much in the way of physical ports, there are few dongles available from Microsoft’s store. On that note, TypeCover keyboard dock, which is sold separately, costs £150. While it allows for excellent, fast typing (especially considering its size), it’s on the pricey side.
However you skin it, you’re going to have to drop some extra cash in order to turn the Surface Pro into a fully-fledged work laptop. If you don’t mind splashing out, then the Surface Pro 6 will no doubt delight.
- Read our full Microsoft Surface Pro 6 review
11. Lenovo Yoga 730
Lenovo’s Yoga 730 is a cheaper alternative to the Dell XPS 15 2-in-1
- Decent power for applications and games
- Excellent exterior design
- Comfortable ergonomics
- Solid screen and speakers
- Cheaper than its key rival
- Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 has more speed
- Screen could be a little better
- Battery life inconsistent
It’s a powerful and literally quite flexible machine, that’s a compelling (not to mention cheaper) alternative to our current favourite, the Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 – connections-wise, you get two full-size USB 3.0 ports, a Type-C Thunderbolt port and a full-sized HDMI port, which for some, will beat the XPS 15 2-in-1’s twin pairs of Type-C USBs.
A 4096-point active stylus comes includes, and there’s a slot for that too, and the aforementioned Nvidia GPU (plus 4GB of vRAM) suggests that this is a shoe-in for creatives, too. Unfortunately, the display covers just 84.1% of the sRGB colour gamut, 61.5% of the Adobe RGB gamut, and 68% of the DCI-P3 gamut, which compares poorly to rivals.
Battery life also varies wildly depending on what you’re doing. In our looped video test, the Lenovo Yoga 730 gave us an impressive 15 hours of power, which would see you right through most Netflix and iPlayer binges no sweat. When doing something intensive, like gaming, we saw between 1-2 hours.
- Read our full Lenovo Yoga 730 review
12. Apple MacBook Pro (2018, 13-inch)
The MacBook choice for people who need power on the move
- Outstanding design and build
- High res display with excellent colour, contrast and brightness
- Thunderbolt 3 ports
- Cramped and uncomfortable keyboard
- Touchpad depresses awkwardly
- Your port options are Thunderbolt, buy an adapter, or go home
Apple’s recently refreshed range of MacBook Pro’s covers a lot of bases, from the 13-inch entry level versions, aimed at photographers and anyone who wants a powerful laptop for general work, to the 15-inch versions that are more geared towards editing and exporting video on the the go.
We’ve reviewed the highest-end 13-inch MacBook Pro 2018, which features an Intel 8th Gen Core i7 CPU (i7-8559U), 16GB of LPDDR3 (2133 MHz) RAM and a 2TB SSD.
The 2560 x 1600 Retina display is incredibly impressive in terms of detail (227 ppi), colour temperature (6514K) and colour gamut, covering 100% of the sRGB gamut, 84% of Adobe RGB and 98.9% of DCI P3.
Overall performance is excellent, something that’s reflected in the high Geekbench scores of 5378 (single-core) and 18885 (multi-core) and Blackmagic read and write speeds of 2631.2MB/sec and 2281.1MB/sec, but not Cinebench (594cb). Real-world testing showed that the 13-inch MacBook Pro could render 4K video quickly in Final Cut Pro, but it took a sizeable chunk out of the battery.
Downsides include a lack of any ports besides Thunderbolt 3 and the overall price of the series. While you do get a level of basic support from Apple’s high street stores, and the option of buying these direct from Apple on 0% finance, they’re still priced very highly.
- Read our full Apple MacBook Pro 2018
13. LG Gram (15Z980)
The 15-inch LG Gram is bigger, more powerful (and more expensive) than its 14-inch counterpart
- Lightweight build
- Impressive display
- Long battery life
- Integrated graphics
- Bottom-mounted speakers
The new LG Gram 15Z980 notebook is a solid choice for mobile professionals always on the move.
It boasts a seriously lightweight chassis, despite its 15.6-inch size. It doesn’t compromise on the specs or build quality, either.
The 15.6-inch IPS panel is as strong as expected from LG, who obviously know a thing or two about eye-pleasing visuals. For a start, the Full HD resolution keeps everything pin-sharp. High-definition movies look great, photos are packed with detail.
Performance is certainly reliable enough for everyday tasks, even at that base clock level. 16GB of DDR4 RAM helps to keep everything running smoothly, even when you have a half-dozen or more apps all active at once.
You get three full-sized USB 3.0 connections, plus a Type-C USB for fast data transfer. There’s an HDMI port and a microSD card reader, providing plenty of options for hooking up to peripherals and managing your data. For such a slim laptop, that’s seriously impressive.
The LG Gram is tougher than a tank, while packing some premium components to boot. It’s impressive in terms of performance, battery life and build quality. And if you’re happy to sacrifice a little bit of power in favour of improved portability, then the LG Gram 14Z980 is a solid choice too.
- Read our full LG Gram 15Z980 review
14. Asus ZenBook 13 UX331U
Slim and stylish, the ZenBook 13 is ideal for everyday office work
- Very slim and light
- Strong usability
- Well-designed screen
- Weak audio
The Asus ZenBook 13 UX331U is being marketed as ‘the thinnest laptop on the planet’. Measuring in at a meagre 13.9mm thick it’s certainly one of the smallest we’ve tested, only losing out to the even dinkier 9mm Acer Swift 7.
Despite being super thin it packs some solid hardware. You’ll have a choice of 8th Gen Intel Core i5 or i7 CPUs, both of which’ll come with 8GB of RAM. Whichever CPU you opt for the combo will power through most everyday offices tasks.
It’s 13-inch, FHD screen is above average at this price and coupled with the ZenBook’s stellar keyboard and trackpad make the laptop a great choice for any buyer looking for a device that neatly balances portability and performance.
The only downside is that its super thin dimensions mean you only get integrated graphics, which will be an issue for gamers and people that want to edit video or photos on it.
- Read our full Asus ZenBook 13 UX331U review
15. Acer Swift 5
One of the best sub-£1000 Windows 10 laptops out there
- Solid performance, quiet running
- Pleasingly slim and light
- A couple of keyboard issues
- Integrated graphics
Affordable ultrabooks are normally, at best, a mixed bag. That’s why the Acer Swift 5 is such a pleasant surprise. It’s one of a select few ultrabooks that delivers in nearly every area, despite costing less than £1000.
Featuring a lightweight design, the Swift 5 comes with a wealth of solid hardware that’s sure to meet most users’ needs. Highlights include a choice of Intel 8th Gen CPUs, plus an above-average 1080p display.
If you’re on the market for a swish, portable, reasonably powerful laptop that won’t break the bank, then you should definitely check out the Acer Swift 5.
The only minor issues stopping it from earning our top score are its complete lack of graphics upgrade options, and the keyboard, which doesn’t have the best key travel.
Take note, though, a new edition of the Acer Swift 5 – which is rocking Intel’s Whiskey Lake CPU – will be launching in Europe in early 2019 with a starting price of €999. While there’s no UK price or solid release date just yet, it may still be wise to wait that little bit longer for its inevitable arrival.
- Read our full Acer Swift 5 review
16. HP EliteBook x360 G2
A high-end laptop aimed at business users
- Attractive design
- Lots of security features
- Good performance
- Decent battery life
- Slower SSD on this model
- Stylus costs extra in UK
The HP 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 extravagant.
- Read our full HP EliteBook x360 G2 review
Those are our top picks of the best laptops. If you want to know more about what to look out for when buying a laptop then read on.
How we test laptops
We put every laptop we test through a set of synthetic benchmark tests to gauge its GPU, CPU and SSD performance. We then test its screen using a colorimeter and DisplayCal. Finally, we run a battery test by synthetically looping 10 minutes of web browsing and five minutes of video playback until it runs out of juice. Afterwards the reviewer uses the device as their primary work and personal laptop for at least a week before giving it a final score.
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.
Though be warned most Chromebooks run on low-powered CPUs, and, while they will handle most common PC tasks with ease, don’t expect to be able to do anything too intensive, like photo editing, on a Chromebook.
Want something a little bigger? You can pay between £300 and £500 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 more efficient dual-core and quad-core Intel Core i5 and i7 processors, these machines are far more 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. A laptop with a dGPU, as opposed to a laptop running on the integrated graphics of a CPU, will be far more capable of handling games and photo editing.
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.