Laptops have thwarted the attempts of tablets to take over and remain a staple of the tech world, especially in the new hybrid working era brought about by the pandemic. There are almost endless amounts to choose from with a complicated range of models and specs so we’ve reviewed and ranked the best right here.
We’ve tested and ranked 15 top laptops you can get right now and we’re adding more (and getting rid of old models) on a regular basis – 2022 models will arrive as soon as we can get them. You’ll find a summary along with our expert rating and where you can buy each laptop, but make sure you click through to each review for more details.
If none of the laptops we’ve listed here is quite right for you, let us arm you with the knowledge you need to help you choose what laptop to buy. Following the chart, you’ll find extensive buying advice that covers everything from what processor is suitable to how much storage you’ll need and whether or not you should be looking for a more portable option.
The MateBook 14s, a tweaked version of the also-excellent MateBook 14, is another desirable all-rounder in the laptop market, especially now the webcam is back above the screen rather than hidden in the keyboard.
It’s only 720p but supports Windows Hello login and the 14s is impressive almost everywhere else starting with components going up to an H-series i7 processor and 16GB RAM.
Furthermore, the 2.5K display offers a smooth 90Hz refresh rate and there are plenty of ports, too. It’s just a shame that Thunderbolt 4 is limited to the top-spec model and there are thinner and lighter rivals around if portability is a priority.
The MacBook Air may not look any different to its predecessor, but it’s what’s on this inside that counts.
Offering a significant boost compared to the 10nm Intel chipset of the earlier MacBook Air range, the 5nm M1 chipset is blisteringly fast in operation, handling light video editing and gaming via Apple Arcade without breaking a sweat.
It’s faster than many Intel-based Windows alternatives, offering great bang for your buck from Apple’s entry-level ultralight laptop. There’s also a big jump in battery life and the display is top-notch, as are the keyboard and trackpad.
It’s fanless, which brings the benefit of silent running, but it also means that the laptop will throttle performance to keep things cool. Those that want to edit video for hours on end may be better off with the fan-equipped MacBook Pro M1, even though it doesn’t add any more ports.
We didn’t think LG could make the gram 17 much better, but the latest model has really nailed it.
It’s still an incredibly lightweight marvel of engineering and now improves on the niggles we had before, all inside a more attractive design. Our main complaints were the speakers and trackpad which are both better.
The laptop also has incredible battery life, gets an upgrade to Thunderbolt 4 and has an excellent screen. It’s just not touch-sensitive and some users may prefer a crisper keyboard action.
Still, this remains the 17in laptop to beat and LG now has the gram 16 if you want something slightly smaller and cheaper.
The Dell XPS 15 remains one of the best-looking business laptops on the market thanks to its aluminium and carbon fibre finish.
It excels in many other areas, too: its Core i7-11800H processor is very fast, it’s got loads of memory and it has a superb keyboard.
The display is hugely vivid, so work tasks look bold, and it has great speakers. It’s also got the battery power to handle a day of work in most scenarios.
XPS machines are never cheap, though, and the 9510 is not perfect. You’ll want to look elsewhere if you want near-perfect colour accuracy, and you’ll be able to find better battery power and a broader selection of ports elsewhere.
Despite the mid-range nature of the laptop, Huawei has done a great job at making the MateBook D 14 look like a premium option.
It sports AMD internals that can give similarly priced laptops a run for their money, and despite not being billed as a gaming laptop, the Radeon Vega 8 graphics are enough to power casual games like Fortnite and Rocket League with no issue. There’s also all-day battery life on offer, at just over 10 hours in our benchmark, and 65W fast charging means it can replenish 43 percent of battery power in only half an hour.
It’s lightweight, portable and powerful, making the MateBook D 14 a tough one to beat in the mid-range arena.
The HP Envy 13 looks decent, it’s got a superb screen, and it has rock-solid everyday computing power in its Core i5 guise. It’s also got a solid keyboard and good battery life. In many respects, it’s an impressive everyday ultraportable.
HP’s core laptop has been a favourite of ours for years but the 2021 model has taken a dip and the 2020 model is now hard to find.
It’s still a good laptop and comes at an affordable price unless you’re looking at the i7 SKU, and you might not enjoy the lack of HDMI and Thunderbolt either. You can find sturdier designs elsewhere and better trackpads, too.
It might not have a fingerprint scanner or an Ethernet port but the Yoga Slim 7 is otherwise hard to fault and the latter is rare anyway.
Lenovo provides the vast majority of things that most people will be looking for in a laptop at an affordable price. It’s lightweight and portable as the name suggests, although doesn’t have a 360-degree hinge like many Yoga models.
There’s a choice of Intel or AMD processors, decent screen, solid battery life, Dolby Atmos speakers, Wi-Fi 6 and more. Overall, a very good value for money package.
Acer continues to impress with the Swift 5, an excellent laptop that’s a great all-rounder.
It’s not quite as affordable as the last version but it’s incredibly compact and lightweight, yet remains premium and offers a good selection of ports including Thunderbolt 4.
It doesn’t have the best keyboard or speakers but the display is improved and performance is solid and battery life is very impressive, too. Overall, there’s very little to dislike here as Acer continues to refine its best laptop.
Samsung continues to make excellent convertible 2-in-1 laptops since its return to the laptop market and this is our new favourite, even though the Galaxy Book Flex 2 is still a great option.
The screen could be a bit brighter and there’s no dedicated graphics card here but the excellent design and stylus support make the Book Pro 360 a versatile machine that will cope with a wide range of regular and creative tasks.
Performance is still solid, battery life is formidable and you can even opt for 5G mobile data if you need it.
The XPS 13 was once the undisputed king of the ultrabook world, but the competition has stepped up its game and Dell isn’t quite doing enough to keep pace.
A beautiful 16:10 display and the best keyboard you’ll find anywhere are enough to mean the XPS 13 is well worth a look for anyone considering a Windows ultrabook, but the caveats feel more pointed than ever – namely poor port selection and a steep price.
This late 2020 edition with 11th-gen Intel is improved on thermal side with better performance but it’s still not perfect with loud fans. It might mean you can find the older 9300 cheaper if you’re ok with the downsides.
12. Huawei MateBook X Pro (2021) – Best Luxury Design
11th-gen Intel chips
Below-average battery life
No discrete GPU option
Awkward keyboard webcam
The design is getting a little tired after four years, especially the webcam placement when video calling is more important than ever, but the X Pro still looks slick and has premium build quality.
Better battery life can be found elsewhere and there’s no longer an option for a dedicated graphics card which is a shame. It’s not as Pro as before but remains an excellent choice in various other ways.
The latest Intel chips are fast, the 3:2 screen is decent and the X Pro is among the best for keyboard and trackpad.
Look out for the X Pro 2022 which we’ve rated highly and should go on sale soon.
13. Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio – Best 3-in-1 Design
Great 120Hz screen
All three modes work well
Impressive battery life
Limited to three fixed positions
Not enough ports
If you’re looking for a 2-in-1 laptop, well how about a 3-in-1 which Microsoft has achieved with the Surface Laptop Studio.
The screen might not detach like the Surface Book but a slick hinge design means you can quickly alter the Studio between three useful modes, although we’d like to adjust the angles on some.
The laptop also has a gorgeous 120Hz display, which can automatically adjust depending on what you’re doing. This should boost already-solid battery life, while a dedicated RTX 3050 Ti GPU at the higher end helps deliver impressive performance.
Combined, these features make it a well-rounded and versatile laptop. It is at the premium end in terms of price and we’d like more ports but the Surface Laptop Studio could make an excellent choice for some users.
The innovative ZenBook Duo hinges, quite literally, around its second screen and makes for an interesting setup if you like the idea of having two screens without having to plug one in.
It makes for impressive multi-tasking for certain situations once you get used to it and performance is good for a wide range of tasks as well as decent battery life. It’s also surprisingly light and portable for a machine with two displays.
That second screen does have downsides though, mainly the knock-on effect to the keyboard and trackpad, making them small and awkward.
The Zenbook 14 might be at the bottom of this list, but that still makes it one of the best laptops you can buy right now.
Highlights include a stunning 14in OLED display, premium design and lots of ports, all within a 1.35kg chassis. Battery life is also excellent, while Intel’s latest CPUs deliver solid performance. Some people might miss a dedicated GPU and the webcam isn’t great, but these are minor inconveniences.
If you can afford one of the more expensive models with an OLED display, this is a great option.
Sometimes you just can’t beat a bigger screen, a keyboard and Windows for getting stuff done, and then your only choice is a laptop. There are many different kinds, including hybrids that can be either laptop or tablet, high-end gaming laptops, cheap and cheerful budget models, and even those running macOS rather than Windows 10.
How much should you spend on a laptop?
Sometimes the best does come at a steep price, but equally you can get a lot of laptop for under £500 or even £300 – provided you need only complete basic tasks such as web browsing, writing emails and creating the odd document.
Around £500 or above can get you a solid laptop, but it’s likely to have an entry-level set of specs. We’re talking a relatively basic processor, minimal SSD storage and a relatively low-quality screen. It might also be on the heavy side.
Pay £700 or more and you should get a blazing fast processor, plenty of RAM, loads of storage and a gorgeous display. You should also expect excellent build quality and premium materials. Many laptops these days are above £1,000, which is when you start getting the likes of 4K touchscreens and ultra-lightweight builds.
We’ve shown you our favourite laptops available right now and offered some advice on how much to spend, but if you’re still undecided we might be able to help break down your options further. Here we talk about screen size, storage, processors and more to help you make your decision.
What screen size laptop do you need?
Laptop screens range from around 11in to 17in. A smaller screen might be harder to work on and offer fewer ports, but it will be more portable.
A 17in laptop, on the other hand, is a desktop replacement laptop and not designed to be moved around often. Generally, 13- or 14in is the sweet spot for portability and usability.
While some cheap laptops have a resolution of 1366×768, there are Full HD, Quad HD and even 4K laptops available. A touchscreen will add to the cost and generally isn’t needed on a laptop, but it is an extra convenience. Also lookout for a matt, non-reflective screen.
What you won’t find here is a laptop with a high refresh rate display, with that technology primarily used in gaming hardware. However, there are signs that more consumer laptops with screens of 90Hz and above could arrive soon.
Laptops with Mini-LED displays are on the way soon.
How much laptop storage do you need?
How much storage you need depends on what you want to use a laptop for. As a general rule of thumb get as much as possible without wasting money on the upgrade.
An SSD will help your laptop run faster, but offers less space for your files (consider supplementing it with a portable USB drive). You can also use cloud storage – but only when you have an internet connection.
Memory (RAM) is where programs and files are stored only while you’re using them, and more is always better – up to a point. Consider 4GB a minimum, unless it’s a Chromebook, with 8- to 16GB the ideal.
These Google-powered laptops might struggle to make it into this chart, but we have rounded up the best Chromebooks if they are more suited to you. They’re great for basic tasks and online work, but not much more.
Which laptop processor is best?
Unless you’re going to run complex and demanding software or gaming, you don’t need a top-spec processor. If you are looking for something for games, we have a separate round-up of best gaming laptops.
If you’re happy to splash out you’re probably looking at the latest generation (10th or 11th) Intel Core i7 chip. Entry-level spec models are likely to offer a Core i3 or even a Celeron or Pentium processor instead. A Core i5 is a good mid-range choice so check how much extra it is to upgrade before making a final decision.
The letters after the model name are important: Y and U mean they are ultra-low-power chips, which won’t be great for demanding tasks but should translate to longer battery life. H means high-performance graphics; Q means quad-core.
Note that many laptop manufactures will refresh laptops with Intel 11th-gen Tiger Lake processors, but typically the device is no different. It’s likely you’ll be able to choose the latest model as well as the last one, which may well be cheaper. Our reviews still stand, but the new chip may improve performance.
AMD has come a long way in recent years and the Ryzen chips are excellent, often outperforming their Intel counterparts so they come highly recommended.
You can also find laptops with Qualcomm processors, the firm normally known for smartphone and tablet chips. While these are getting better with each new generation it’s still early days. They offer incredible battery life but performance is behind Intel and AMD, plus there are compatibility issues with some software.
Buying an Ultrabook or ultraportable laptop
Buying an ultraportable laptop is really no different than any laptop, except that your priorities are likely to be different. You might want an ultraportable laptop that’s light and will last a long time away from the mains.
However, other people want an ultrabook that’s powerful and can handle demanding applications without breaking your back when you carry it around. Both types are available.
Some compromises are inevitable if you want a thin and light laptop, though. There’s less space for a battery, so it’s typical to find shorter runtimes.
Thin laptops tend to have shallow key travel, so if you need to do a lot of typing read our reviews to find out whether a keyboard is a joy or a pain to use.
You’ll also likely miss out on ports and connectivity – some ultrabooks include USB-C and nothing more, which makes it more difficult to connect to ethernet, HDMI, or even a standard USB-A accessory like a mouse. You might need a USB-C dock.
Warranty and other considerations
We recommend all the laptops here: there isn’t a duff one among them. However, we urge you again to read through the full review before spending your hard-earned cash. None is perfect and what will best suit your needs might not be the device ranked at number one.
Battery life and warranty vary between laptops. The latter may differ depending on where you buy the laptop from, too. John Lewis, for example, tends to offer longer warranty than rivals.
After-sales service is something you should consider for everything you buy. Check whether the company has a UK-based support line, and forums (including our own) are an ideal place to ascertain whether a manufacturer is generally good or bad at carrying out work under warranty.
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