Picking the best laptop is no easy task and finding the right balance between power and a fair price can make for a daunting search for even experienced buyers.
And every year the list of top picks changes. As new models are released and reviewed recommendations change as new challengers emerge.
With so much choice just a few clicks away, The Telegraph has broken down some of the main questions you should be asking when making a purchase and selected some of the best laptops, notebooks and Chromebooks you can buy, from the top performers to those which won’t break the bank.Read more ↓
Even before you get down to the details it helps to know what sort of device you are looking for. Do you need your device for the home or on the move? Will you only use it for email and web browsing? Will you want to stream videos or play video games?
For something cheap and portable a smaller Chromebook or laptop with low weight and a screen of around 11 inches would work, such as the Acer Chromebook R11 or the HP Steam 11.
A number of laptops are now also ‘two-in-one’ devices, that can act as a tablet by detaching from the keyboard. Other laptops also feature touchscreens with stylus pens, such as the Lenovo Yoga Book or the Microsoft Surface Laptop .For gaming you will need a more powerful device with a quality graphics card. The Dell Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming is at the cheaper end of the scale for this, more expensive brands can cost thousands of pounds. And if you demand the highest specifications for video or photo editing you may want to look to a powerful MacBook.
Current devices broadly run on three different operating systems that run on the three main varieties of laptop:
These are some of the most common devices and run Microsoft’s Windows operating system. They are able to perform some of the widest ranging tasks and also have the greatest variety in models, brands and pricing. Microsoft has also recently released Windows 10 S, which is designed to compete with ChromeOS, limiting some apps and downloads. Windows laptops have also been considered more vulnerable to viruses.
The MacBook Pro, MacBook and MacBook Air are all Apple laptops running on macOS. They are generally seen as powerful, smooth and highly reliable. They are best for high performance software and connectivity to other Apple products, but are expensive.
Google’s ChromeOS used on Chromebooks is largely limited to online use, essentially operating like a web browser. Rather than installing programs users access them through Google’s Chome Web Store. They have limited storage capacity, but are fast and inexpensive.
The most important consideration to many buyers is cost; a low price doesn’t always have to mean sacrificing performance if your laptop can still run the tasks you need.
Nowadays you can pick up a cheap laptop or Chromebook for less than £250. You will be quite limited in terms of performance on a laptop, although you could get a decent Chromebook for around that price.
For between £500 and £750 you should be expecting at least an Intel Core i5 processor with 8GB of RAM or better, which will perform more complicated tasks faster.
Spending £1,000 and up you would be looking at a premium product sporting the latest generation of Intel Core i5 or i7 processors. You would want this for high intensity work such as video editing or gaming. A recent price surge from some Apple products and others has pushed more top laptops into this bracket.
What else to consider
- Screen size: Obviously a smaller screen means a smaller laptop, increasing its portability. Larger screen models will also need high resolution to create the perfect picture, but can be better if you want a more accessible screen or want to open lots of tabs.
- Weight: If you plan to lug your laptop to classes or work, you may want something that weighs 1.5kg or less. If it is going to sit on your desk most of the day you can always go for a bulkier model, which may be cheaper than a sleek ultrabook.
- Battery life: If you’re going to be using your laptop at your desk for most of the time, battery life will be less of an issue, but if you work on the go or in a coffee shop, you don’t want to get caught without power at a crucial moment. Some dedicated gaming laptops may only last four hours when under strain, while ultraportables can manage 12 hours or better.
This year there have been a raft of excellent new Windows laptops, throwing the gauntlet down to Apple’s Macbook Pro range among the high-end range. If money is not object, the Dell XPS 13 is a superb Macbook Pro alternative, but Apple’s own device remains king of the top tier.
Among the extremely competitive mid-range laptops under £1,000, we loved the Microsoft Surface Laptop, although there are plenty of great laptops from Lenovo and Dell depending on your preferences. Among cheaper laptops, the Lenovo Ideapad 320s would be a solid pick under £500.
Screen: 14 inches
Battery life: 7 hours
For a simple Windows-running performer, the new Lenovo 320s will meet your needs with a 7th generation Intel i3 processor, 128GB SSD and 4GB of RAM. Power-wise it should be enough for most basic tasks, and it has
The Lenovo 320s is fairly connection-friendly too, with two USB ports, USB-C and an SD card slot. It comes with a 1366 x 769 resolution screen and a reasonable 7-hour battery life. You can currently save £180 on this model at Currys, bringing its price comfortably under £400.
Price: £399 from Currys
Screen: 14 inches
Weight: 1.7 kg
Battery life: 9.25 hours
For a bigger screen Chromebook this HP is a useable device at a reasonable price. The HP Chromebook 14 lacks some of the flashy touch screens of the latest generation, but comes with plenty of practical features including three USB ports, an SD card slot and HDMI connection.
In addition, the 1920×1080 screen resolution will provide a crisp, quality picture. This larger Chromebook will easily see you through most routine tasks.
Price: £270 from Currys Business
Screen: 11.6 inches
Weight: 1.25 kg
Battery life: 9 hours
At the budget end of the market, the Acer ChromeBook R11 comes in at less than £250 and looks good with a crisp white finish and aluminium top panel. It has an 11-inch touchscreen that can be quickly flipped for use in tablet mode and comes with the Chrome OS operating system.
The R11’s resolution is a little low at 1366 x 768 pixels, but it will look fine on the smaller screen. A solid battery life of around 9 hours with its slimmer size and portability make this ideal for use on-the-go.
Price: £229 from Amazon
Screen: 10.1 inch
Weight: 0.689 kg
Battery life: 15 hours
A stunning laptop/tablet hybrid launched last year, the Lenovo Yoga Book features an innovative keyboard and touchpad that stand out from the latest generation of devices.
The Yoga Book features no physical keyboard, instead presenting a virtual one which only switches on when you start using it. As well as a touch screen, the Yoga Book pushes itself as a device you can really write on, clipping a notepad over the virtual keyboard sees notes and drawings transmitted onto the main screen.
While it’s an exciting offering the keyboard is considered tricky to get used to, but the overall product is light, portable, and certainly something different. It has now come down below £500 with Windows 10 from John Lewis.
Price: £449 from John Lewis
Screen: 13.5 inch
Weight: 1.25 kg
Battery life: up to 14.5 hours
Microsoft’s new Surface Laptop is an attempt to “reset the category”. There’s no doubt it is an excellent device, with excellent battery life, a slim build and a unique Alcantara fabric keyboard, that feels almost warm to touch. It’s also without doubt the most beautiful Windows device this year .
Drawbacks include the fact this laptop is built to run on Windows 10 S, Microsoft’s new operating system that limits access to some apps. It should mean the laptop runs better in the long-run, but this has yet to be tested. The entry level model also comes with just 4GB of RAM, quite low for this price point.
Price: £959 from Currys
Screen size: 12.3 inch
Battery life: 10 hours
Google has launched its new Pixelbook laptop for the most advanced Chromebook ever. This laptop comes with a dedicated Google Assistant key, which allows you to access Google’s voice activated virtual aide. It is also hugely powerful for a laptop running on Chrome OS, with 7th generation Intel i5 and i7 processors inside.
It’s one of the first laptops to work with both Android and Chrome apps, meaning you can use apps like Snapchat and Instagram on your laptop. You can also buy the Pixelbook Pen, a stylus which works with the laptop’s touchscreen. We also enjoyed features like its brilliant keyboard and trackpad and found the device portable and light, although the screen size may put off some people.
Price: £999 from Google
Screen: 14 inch
Weight: 1.6 kg
Battery life: 8 hours
A rival to the MacBook Air, the Lenovo IdeaPad 720s has been noted for its similarity in design to Apple’s cheapest model, matching its aluminium bodywork . But it comes as a cheaper alternative, for £849 from most retailers and includes extra functions such as a fingerprint sensor.
It’s packed with 8GB of RAM and a USB-C and two USB 3.0 ports, with an HD screen and 7th generation Intel i5 processors. With a display that can rotate to 180 degrees it is also flexible, but on battery life it is not as competitive as some other brands.
Price: £849 from John Lewis
Screen: 15.6 inches
Battery life: Up to 10 hours
If you are not willing or unable to spend thousands of pounds on a gaming laptop, the Dell Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming is a decent backup option. It is not going to outrun the high end machines, but for casual gaming you’ll get the performance you need. It comes with top of the range processors, with a i5-7300 quad core processor inside.
The cheapest model comes in at under £1,000, which is a steal for a gaming ready device. The design includes Ethernet, SD, HDMI and USB ports and comes in a smart black and red finish.
Price: £899 from Dell
Screen: 13.3 inches
Battery life: 13 hours
The highly rated Dell XPS 13 is considered the lead challenger to the MacBook Pro. The XPS 13 features a virtually borderless 13.3 inch Infinity Edge display, which is available with touch.
Dell also claims the laptop offers up to 22 hours of battery life, although in practice this is more like 12 to 13 hours when streaming video. It also is one of the first laptops to feature 8th generation Intel processors for an even more power.
Without the touch display you could currently pick up the new model for £1,149, but with it included the XPS 13 will set you back £1,279. The main drawback is an awkwardly placed webcam, sitting to the bottom left of the screen.
Price: £1,299 from Dell
Screen: 13.3 inches
Battery life: 10 hours
Coming four years after Apple’s last high-end laptop, the latest MacBook Pro is thinner, more powerful and features innovations not seen on other laptops, such as its ‘Touch Bar’ and a Touch ID fingerprint scanner. The Touch Bar offers shortcuts and replacing function keys, but is not supported on many apps just yet.
And the new edition has done away with some staple features, dropping support for standard USB sticks and SD cards, meaning you may have to buy new dongles or wires for its USB-C ports. Following a 2017 refresh to its range, models with the Touch Bar and fingerprint scanner will set you back £1,749, while the price of the standard 13-inch model has dropped to £1,249.
The new MacBook Pro remains the top performing device for Apple lovers, with a beautiful screen, exquisite ‘butterfly’ keyboard and easy-to-use trackpad.
Source by msn..