Which is the best laptop or notebook?
If you’re searching for a new laptop and aren’t sure which model represents the best deal, read on to discover our list of top picks.
We’ve assembled a list of laptops to suit every budget and need, whether you’re a student, a gamer or a videographer who wants an absolute powerhouse machine.
We’ve summarised our pick of best laptops below and you can also scroll down to find our in-depth reviews of the best 10.
- 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 17in 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 do we test laptops?
We put every laptop we review 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 10mins of web browsing and 5mins of video playback until it runs out of juice, which simulates a typical range of usage. Afterwards the reviewer uses it as their primary device at work and home for at least a week, before giving it a final score. You’ll find a link to each full review at the end of each of the following summaries.
1. Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 (2019)
The best all-round Windows 10 laptop you can buy
- Gorgeous display and design
- Small, lightweight form
- Integrated graphics allow 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 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 at this 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, so you’ll be able to play casual games and use 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 at a lower price
- Slim, stylish, all-metal exterior
- Great screen
- Excellent overall performance
- Good connectivity
- Nvidia graphics not necessary for all
- 14in 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 14in Full HD screen. Battery life is solid, giving us around 9hrs 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 a Nvidia GT 940MX dedicated graphics card, 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD. This isn’t anywhere near enough to play the 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, top-performing laptops you can buy
- Classy, ultra-portable design
- Excellent performance
- Stunning 3:2 display
- Available in four colours
- Average battery life
- Lack of Thunderbolt 3
The Surface Laptop 3 13-inch comes the closest to challenging the Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 for sheer quality. It packs the latest and greatest components including Intel’s 10th-generation Ice Lake processor, which also features integrated graphics for casual gaming and Photoshop work.
One area where Microsoft is arguably better than Dell is in the looks department, as the Surface Laptop 3 is available in four different colours and looks drop-dead gorgeous, while the iconic Alcantara design is 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 big enough flaws to make this ultrabook miss out on the top spot, but these are arguably minor problems for 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 being powered by an Intel Core i7-8565U, an Intel processor that’s designed specifically for high-end laptops. It features a nifty ErgoLift design, which makes for a more comfortable typing position and lets warm air escape from the main vent more easily. The ZenBook 15 also 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.
All this means that if you need a laptop primarily for writing reports, essays and articles, you won’t have to shell out for multiple dongles in order to get your work done, and the long-lasting battery means you can work for over 10hrs without having to reach for your charger. The Asus ZenBook 15 isn’t cheap, but it’s a solid investment.
There’s a Nvidia GTX 1060 dedicated graphics card and up to 16GB of RAM, so you’ll be able to 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 to waste some fools on Apex Legends, 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 the shelves. If gaming’s a secondary consideration, however, 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 17in laptop
|LG Gram 17Z990-R.AAS9U1 Thin and Light Laptop, 17" (2560 X 1600) IPS Display, Intel 8th Gen Core i7, 16GB RAM, 1TB (512GB x 2) Nvme SSD, Up to 19.5 Hour Battery, Thunderbolt 3, Dark Silver||$1,499.00|
- Gorgeous 17in Quad HD display
- Outstandingly lightweight design
- Plenty of ports
- Processor now outdated
- Slow read and write SSD speeds
- Battery life is average
Laptops with a 17in 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 1.34kg.
Given how lightweight it is, the Gram 17 may seem like a miracle laptop, 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 to stream the web and watch Netflix, there are few better for the price that the LG Gram 17.
- Read our full LG Gram 17 review
LG Gram 17 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
6. Apple MacBook Air (2018)
The best MacBook for day-to-day use
- 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 range of lightweight laptops, which had only seen tiny, iterative updates, instead of big leaps forward, since 2015.
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 9-10hrs of power.
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 this will be very limiting when you’re working on the go.
Pricing for the range starts at £1199, which is good for a premium laptop of this pedigree. If you head higher up in the MacBook Air range, however, you’ll start to see prices equivalent to those you’d pay for a (much more powerful and versatile) MacBook Pro – if you’ve got the cash to splash, you may want to consider picking up one of these instead.
- Read our full MacBook Air 2018 review
7. Surface Pro 7
The best Windows laptop/tablet hybrid
- 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 to buy the Type Cover, which is sold separately. If you do splash out on this Microsoft accessory, though, you’ll have 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. If you’re after a lower-priced alternative, the Surface Pro 6 is a great option and is available for £100 less.
Still, if you’re after a high-performance, future-proofed Windows convertible, then the Surface Pro 7 is our top recommended device.
- Read our full Surface Pro 7 review
8. HP Envy 13
Excellent 13in 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 that’s the ideal choice for anyone looking for a solid Windows 10 laptop that looks great, performs well, and 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 13in machine. 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.
Drawbacks include the average 6hrs of battery life, which is just about good enough to get you through a working day. On laptops we’ve tested with similar processors, we’ve been able to get 8–10hrs.
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 include 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 startlingly 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 it’s 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.
With a low-performing integrated graphics card and low-latency touchscreen, however, this isn’t a 2-in-1 laptop aimed at creatives. Also, the design does feel awkward in tablet mode, as the keyboard sits at the back and there’s no volume button. If you can forgive these flaws, though, the Gram offers incredible value.
- 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
If money is no object, the Dell Inspiron Chromebook 14 7000 2-in-1 currently gets our recommendation as the best Chromebook you can buy.
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 solid screen, good battery performance and, thanks to EMR stylus support and a foldable 2-in-1 design, a tablet experience.
- 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, the Dell Inspiron Chromebook 14 7000 2-in-1 is easily able to run Spotify and Photoshop Express – apps which lesser-specced Chromebooks struggle to run well, or even 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?
How much you decide to spend on a laptop will be determined by what you’re likely to want to use it for. If you simply want to do a bit of web browsing and send and receive a few emails then a cheap 11in 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, they probably won’t be able to do anything too intensive, such as photo editing.
- Want something a little bigger? You can pay between £300 and £500 for a 15.6in 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 £1000.
- You’ll need to spend at least £700 for 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 one 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 typing work.
Which is 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.
- macOS: macOS is tied into MacBook laptops and you’ll always pay a premium for Apple’s operating system. It’s undeniably slick, smooth and reliable, however, and it offers a better experience than Windows for many people.
- Chrome OS: if you’re buying a cheap laptop and don’t need to run Windows software, then Google’s ChromeOS is likely to be your best bet. It’s lightweight –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 this.
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.