What’s the best laptop or notebook?
If you’re on the search for the best laptop this Black Friday, but not sure which represents the best deal, we’ve made a list of our tops picks.
We’ve assembled a list of laptops to suit every single person’s needs, whether you’re a student, gamer or a videographer who wants an absolute powerhouse machine.
With Black Friday deals currently underway, you can also get some of these incredible laptops on the cheap, even Microsoft’s Surface Laptop 3 and Surface Pro 7 despite both releasing just one month ago.
We’ve summarised our pick of best laptops below, but you can find our full assessments of the best 10 by scrolling below, via a link to the full, definitive review.
- Best overall laptop: Dell XPS 13 2-in-1
- Best value laptop: Lenovo IdeaPad 720S
- Best for style: Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 13
- Excellent high performer: Asus ZenBook 15
- Best 17-inch laptop: LG Gram 17
- Best MacBook: Apple MacBook Air 2018
- Best laptop / tablet hybrid: Surface Pro 7
- Best budget laptop: HP Envy 13
- Best 2-in-1 laptop: LG Gram 2-in-1
- Best Chromebook: Dell Inspiron Chromebook 14 7000 2-in-1
best overall laptop
Still as stylish as the day it came out, Dell's swish XPS 13 laptop is now cheaper than it's ever been.
How we test laptops
We put every laptop listed below through a set of benchmark tests to gauge processor (CPU), graphics card (GPU) and SSD performance. We then test its screen using a colorimeter, an X-Rite i1 DisplayPro which measures the intensity of colours, and DisplayCal, which tells us how accurate those colours are.
Finally, we run a battery test by looping 10 minutes of web browsing and five minutes of video playback, until it runs out of juice. This simulates a typical range of uses. Afterwards the reviewer uses the device as their primary work and personal laptop for at least a week, before giving it a final score. You’ll find a link to each full review below each of the following summaries.
With all that out of the way, here’s our rankings of the laptops we’ve tested. And don’t forget to check out our Laptop Deals and Tablet Deals articles for round-ups of the latest offers, bundles and bargains.
1. Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 (2019)
The best all-round Windows 10 laptop you can buy
- Gorgeous display and design
- Small and lightweight form
- Integrated graphics allows for casual gaming
- Lack of USB-A ports
- Gaming performance rarely exceeds 30fps
The Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 is extremely close to being the perfect all-round laptop. It has an accessible price, an absolutely stunning design and display and the versatility of both a laptop and a tablet with its 2-in-1 form.
It’s also boasts a cracking performance thanks to Intel’s brand new 10th Generation Ice Lake processor. This isn’t the highest performing laptop you’ll find for the price, but it’s easily fast enough to blast through productivity tasks such as web browsing, spreadsheets and video streaming. It also features an integrated graphics engine, allowing it to play casual games and entry-level media editing applications. Don’t expect to be playing AAA games here, but high-end configurations can run the likes of Fortnite and Overwatch with dialled back graphics settings.
One of the only issues holding this laptop back from a perfect score is the lack of USB-A ports, but a USB hub can immediately solve this issue. Plus, the USB-C replacements are future-proofed for years to come.
- Read our full Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 review
2. 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 has been out a while – it won Laptop of the Year at the Trusted Reviews Awards 2017 – so 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
3. Surface Laptop 3 13-inch
One of the most stylish and top performing laptops you can buy
Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 13-inch Black Friday deal
Microsoft's 13-inch Surface Laptop is packed full of exciting new features, including Intel's 10th Gen i5 processor for a blazing fast performance.
- Classy, ultra-portable design
- Excellent performance
- Stunning 3:2 display
- Available in 4 colours
- Middling battery life
- Lack of Thunderbolt 3
The Surface Laptop 3 13 comes the closest to challenging the Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 for sheer quality. It’s packing the latest and greatest components with Intel’s 10th Generation Ice Lake processor, which also features integrated graphics for casual gaming and Photoshop work.
One area Microsoft does arguably beat Dell is in the looks department, as the Surface Laptop 3 is available in four different colours which look drop dead gorgeous, while the iconic Alcantara design is entirely optional this time round.
Why isn’t the Surface Laptop 3 at the top of rankings? An underwhelming battery life and the frankly absurd exclusion of a Thunderbolt 3 port are great enough flaws to make this ultrabook miss out on the top spot, but these are arguably minor flaws in an otherwise superb laptop.
- Read our full Surface Laptop 3 13-inch review
4. 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
5. LG Gram 17
An incredibly lightweight 17-inch laptop
LG Gram 17 Black Friday deal
The LG Gram 17 is one of our favourite laptops of 2019, weighing only 1340g despite having a massive and gorgeous 17-inch display. With an Intel 8th Gen Core i7-8565U processor, it also offers an excellent performance easily powerful enough for students and office workers
- Gorgeous 17-inch Quad HD display
- Outstandingly lightweight design
- Plenty of ports
- Processor now outdated
- Slow read and write SSD speeds
- Battery life middling
Laptops with a 17-inch display are almost unheard of these days outside the gaming and pro-level creative markets – they’re just too large and heavy to fit in a bag for daily commutes. The LG Gram 17 is one of the only portable systems to offer best of both worlds, with a blockbuster Quad HD display and a super-thin design that only weighs 1340g.
You’d think this is a miracle laptop when realising how light it is, but LG has had to make sacrifices. The 8th Gen Intel Core i7-8565U processor isn’t one of the fastest around, and the battery doesn’t offer a huge amount of stamina compared to major competitors.
But if you simply want a laptop for streaming the web and watching Netflix, there are few better for the price that the LG Gram 17
- Read our full LG Gram 17 review
6. Apple MacBook Air (2018)
The best MacBook for day-to-day work
- 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 x 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
7. Surface Pro 7
The best Windows laptop / tablet hybrid
Microsoft Surface Pro 7 Black Friday Deal
This 12.3-inch tablet / laptop convertible features the new Intel Core 10th generation i5 processor and 8GB RAM for a super-fast performance, while also seeing an SSD with 128GB storage
- Full-fat Windows 10 application library
- Excellent connectivity
- Solid build quality
- Type Cover costs extra
- Not a big step up on the Surface Pro 6
The Surface Pro 7 isn’t strictly a laptop, especially if you don’t bother buying the sold-separately Type Cover. If you do splash out on the Microsoft accessory though, you’ll have yourself one of the most versatile devices available. This is the best device on this list for tablet duty, while the Type Cover offers such a great typing experience it can easily compete with laptop competitors.
The latest model sees Intel’s 10th Gen Intel Core processor, while also sporting the new USB-C port for speedy data transfers. After that, there’s not much else that has improved since the Surface Pro 6, and that’s available for £100 less if you’re after a low-priced alternative.
Still, if you’re after a high-performance, future-proofed Windows convertible, then the Surface Pro 7 is our top recomended device.
- Read our full Surface Pro 7 review
8. HP Envy 13
Excellent 13-inch laptop offering high performance for budget price.
- High-quality touchscreen display
- Excellent colour space coverage
- Nicely priced
- Average battery life
- No Thunderbolt 3
The HP Envy 13 is a fantastic laptop ideally suited for anyone after a solid Windows 10 laptop that both looks great and performs well, but won’t cost the earth.
As well as boasting an excellent, near-perfect display offering decent levels of brightness, contrast and colour fidelity, the keyboard is one of the most comfortable we’ve seen on a 13-inch machine. Equally capable at tearing through essays, reports, and light photo work, it’s an ideal choice for office workers and students alike.
Privacy-conscious users will also appreciate the webcam killswitch – which beats sticking a piece of masking tape over the lens any day – and the fingerprint scanner, which means you don’t have to use a PIN or password to lock the HP Envy 13.
Drawbacks include the on average six hours of battery life, which is just about good enough to get you through a working day, but on laptops with similar processors we’ve tested, we’ve been able to get between eight-ten hours.
The USB-C port also doesn’t feature Thunderbolt 3 technology – this admittedly is not a dealbreaker, especially if you don’t intend to hook your laptop up to a monitor, but when you consider that the XPS 13 and MacBook Air 2018 includes this technology, its absence here is a slight negative.
- Read our full HP Envy 13 review
9. 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
10. Dell Inspiron Chromebook 14 7000 2-in-1
The best premium Chromebook you can currently buy
- Great build quality
- Good display
- Excellent battery
- Nice, eye-catching design
- Chrome OS app support is still limited
- Speakers are not optimally positioned
The Dell Inspiron Chromebook 14 7000 2-in-1 currently gets our recommendation for the best Chromebook you can buy, if money’s no object.
Chromebooks can be largely divided into two camps – the cheap laptops just about good enough for essay writing, or Google’s own PixelBook and Pixel Slate laptops and tablets, which are very good, but expensive for what they are.
Enter the Dell Inspiron Chromebook 14 7000 2-in-1, which comfortably sits between these two worlds, offering excellent performance, a tablet experience thanks to EMR stylus support and a foldable 2-in-1 design, a solid screen, and good battery performance.
- Related: Best Chromebook
The all-metal body gives the Dell Inspiron Chromebook 14 7000 2-in-1 a degree of style and lustre you don’t always get with Chromebooks, and while at £650, it’s more expensive than most Chrome OS laptops, it’s also cheaper than the £1000 and £750 you’d have to pony up for a PixelBook or Pixel Slate.
While app support for Chrome OS is still lacking we were able to easily run Spotify and Photoshop Express on the Dell Inspiron Chromebook 14 7000 2-in-1, apps which lesser-specced Chromebooks struggle to run well, or at all.
If you want an inexpensive but premium laptop to do basic PC work, and you’re already using Gmail and Google Docs for your communications and word processing, you should pick up a Dell Inspiron Chromebook 14 7000 2-in-1 instead of opting for a more expensive Windows equivalent.
- Read our full Dell Inspiron Chromebook 14 7000 2-in-1 review
How much should you 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. (check out our guide to the Best student laptop).
- 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: Windows 10 remains the most versatile operating system around, and you’ll find it on the vast majority of laptops sold in the UK.
- Mac OS: Mac OS (styled as ‘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.
- Chrome OS: However, if you’re buying a cheap laptop and don’t need to run Windows software, then 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 and with a Google account will be able to get by with just that.
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.