This is why you should trust our list of the best laptops:
We’ve been reviewing laptops since 2003, when Trusted Reviews first opened its test lab. Since then our team of experts has reviewed more laptops, ultrabooks, 2-in-1s and Chromebooks than can easily be counted. All our reviews and impartial and unsponsored. All our buying advice is honest and impartial as a result.
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Of the hundreds of laptops we’ve already tested, two stand out. Featuring top-end specs, one of the best screens we’ve tested and a beautiful, no-compromise design, the Macbook Pro 13-inch is one of the best all-round laptops you’ll find. But if you’re not made of money, featuring above average specs for its price and next to no serious weaknesses, the Lenovo IdeaPad 720S is the best value option.
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 colourometer and DispCalGUI. 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.
*** Note : £1 = $1.40
MacBook Pro 13-inch
- Outstanding design and build
- Lots of Thunderbolt ports
- High-quality screen
- Great performance
- Please, sir, can I have some adapters?
- Inconsistent battery life with some workloads
In terms of hardware, Apple is verging on perfection with the latest MacBook Pro 13. The aluminium unibody, incredible speakers, ultra-fast SSD, pro-quality screen and silky-smooth software make for an unrivalled experience.
It’s powerful enough to edit photos and videos with ease, and it’s light enough to pop into your bag without thinking too much about it. There’s even the innovative Touch Bar – although we haven’t yet seen its full potential for making tasks quicker.
It isn’t perfect, however. It’s very expensive compared to the XPS 13, lacks certain features, such as an SD card slot, and there have been question marks over the consistency of its battery life. You can read our long-term review for more information.
The MacBook Pro is now fully updated for 2017. Our review model is a 2016 edition, but the main difference between the 2016 and 2017 models is a slightly more powerful processor, improved battery life and a lower starting price (thanks to a smaller SSD on the base model).
Buy now: Macbook Pro 13-inch for £1,370 from Amazon
Lenovo IdeaPad 720S
- 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 IdeaPad 720S won our 2017 Best Laptop award at the Trusted Reviews Awards. While its slightly large 14-inch frame means overall weight is relatively high at 1.55kg, this is is still very much an Ultrabook.
It’s powerful, with a decent Intel Core i5-7200U processor that’s ripe for video and photo editing, along with dedicated graphics from Nvidia. The GPU isn’t worthy of the latest games at high resolutions, but if you have a hankering for older titles then it will do just fine.
Battery life is good – we tested at around nine hours – and build quality is excellent for the money. It’s more expensive and heavier than the Acer Swift 5, but with the extra screen real-estate and graphics power, it goes a long way to justify itself.
Buy now: Lenovo IdeaPad 720S for £849.99 from Currys
Asus VivoBook E200HA
- 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.
Buy now: Asus Vivobook E200HA for £199.99 from Scan
HP EliteBook x360 G2
- Attractive design
- Lots of security features
- Good performance
- Decent battery life
- Slower SSD on this model
- Stylus costs extra in UK
The 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 crazy.
Buy now: HP EliteBook X360 G2 for £1,530 from Amazon
Surface Book 2
- Excellent performance
- Great laptop battery
- Improved keyboard hinge
- Surface Dial support
- Screen isn’t great for artists working in physical media
The Surface Book 2 is the ultimate, money-no-object machine in Microsoft’s current hardware lineup.
It sits above the company’s regular Surface Pro convertible and brings with it a number of great upgrades. Chief of these is an improved keyboard dock that not only uses a physical hinge to the tablet, but also adds a sizable secondary battery and optional dedicated GPU.
The secondary battery let the top-specced 8th-Gen Intel i7, 1TB Surface Book we tested survive an amazing 16 hours running our standard Powermark test – which synthetically loops five minutes of video streaming and 10 minutes of web browsing with the screen set at 150 nits.
The score puts it a cut above most competing Ultrabooks when it comes to battery life, but it’s the secondary GPU that really sets it apart. The GPU makes the Surface Book 2 powerful enough for light gaming, video editing, CAD design and large-scale digital photography and painting projects, despite the Surface Book 2 being small enough to fit in even the smallest of satchels.
The Surface Book 2’s support for the Surface Dial and Surface Pen stylus further aid the device’s allure for power users and creatives. The improved Surface Pen can detect a whopping 4000+ sensitivity levels, and the Surface Dial makes it quick and easy to adjust tip sizes or blitz between active layers in Photoshop.
The only downside is that its slightly lacklustre Adobe RGB coverage limits its appeal to creatives who need true colour accuracy. But for everyone else, the Surface Book 2 is a seriously impressive piece of kit.
Buy now: Microsoft Surface Book 2 for £1,830 from Amazon
- Best battery life on a Windows convertible
- Robust performance
- Most sensitive Surface Pen to date
- Full-fat Windows 10 is great for creatives
- Very expensive
- Not a huge upgrade over the Surface Pro 4
If the Surface Book 2 is above your price range then the Surface Pro 4 and New Surface Pro‘, both remain good deals. The newer model is more powerful and its Core m3 and Core i5-powered editions are fanless, meaning they run completely silently.
Both machines are similar, requiring some fairly pricey upgrades to turn them into proper laptops – namely, a TypeCover keyboard and a Surface Pen for taking notes and doodling.
You pay a premium for the 2017 Surface Pro, but it offers better battery life than its predecessor and the rest of the 2-in-1 competition. It’s a superb choice, but not a no-brainer upgrade for someone who already has a Surface Pro 4.
Buy now: Microsoft Surface Pro for £791 from Amazon
15-inch MacBook Pro
- Stunning screen
- Top-notch processor
- Classy design
- Excellent connectivity
- MacOS continues to be brilliant
- Inconsistent battery life
- Fairly weak graphics performance
The MacBook Pro 15-inch is the best laptop choice for multimedia professionals – if you or your company are willing to part with that sum of cash.
There are a few reasons for this. First, the outstanding 15.4-inch 2880 x 1800-pixel screen. This a pro-level panel in every sense, producing more colours and greater accuracy than any other laptop panel we’ve ever tested.
Performance, too, is stellar. The quad-core Intel Core chips that comes as standard in this laptop are powerful enough for 4K video editing and rendering, and the graphics chips have been upgraded since our review to AMD Radeon Pro 500-series. The latter are good enough for light gaming and will assist with 3D, video and photography work.
In addition, you get four ultra-high-speed ThunderBolt 3 ports for the most modern and high-performance peripherals.
Our one slight concern isn’t so much that battery life is poor, but that it’s inconsistent. We were happy enough with performance to take a slight compromise on battery life, but this won’t be true of everyone.
Buy now: MacBook Pro 15-inch for £1,919 from Amazon
Dell XPS 15
- Stylish design
- Great CPU and GPU performance
- Good battery life
- Excellent screen
- A little heavy
- Could do with another ThunderBolt port
- Noisy fans
As the 15-inch MacBook Pro gets even more expensive, the Dell XPS 15 becomes more attractive to those who don’t need the higher-end features of Apple’s machine.
It has a powerful quad-core Intel Core i7 processor (i5s also available) and a great graphics card in the form of the GTX 1050, which gets 4GB of video memory.
This means that not only is this a highly capable laptop for video editing, it’s also a brilliant Full HD gaming machine. The fast SSD, great screen, superb build quality and good battery life seal the deal for us.
The price you pay is that it gets loud when gaming, and it’s pretty heavy at 2kg. But those are small drawbacks for a brilliant laptop.
Buy now: Dell XPS 15 for £1,619.99 from Amazon
Gigabyte Aero 14
- Lightweight for a gaming laptop
- Great GPU and CPU performance
- Excellent screen
- So-so touchpad
- Plastic construction
If you don’t want your gaming laptop to be a huge, ugly brick, your options are limited. The Gigabyte Aero 14 crams amazing specifications into a thin-and-light chassis and costs just £1700.
The GTX 1060 graphics card is capable of great Full HD and 1440p gaming performance, while the high-end quad-core processor will make light work of games and video editing. You get a super-fast, high-capacity SSD as well, and the screen is excellent. We also loved the huge battery; it lasts far longer than any other gaming laptop we’ve seen.
The Aero 14 in its current specification is running out of time; Gigabyte has recently launched the Aero 15, which will likely cannibalise Aero 14 sales. As a result, it looks like the Aero 14 will be down-specced to a GTX 1050 Ti. Get ’em while they’re still on sale.
Buy now: Gigabyte Aero 14 for £1,649.99 from Amazon
- Good-quality screen (but not one for accuracy)
- Great value with included accessories
- Lots of ports
- Decent performance
- Backlit keyboard cover works independently
- Some minor build quality issues
- So-so battery life
- Can currently only be bought direct in flash sales
Eve-Tech is a plucky upstart looking to take on the well-established Microsoft Surface Pro with its Eve V, a 2-in-1 convertible that looked to the crowd in deciding its features and specifications.
For the money, it’s a solid alternative to the Microsoft Surface Pro, undercutting it in price when comparing similar configurations. A big part of that value comes from including a keyboard type cover and stylus as standard, when they’re added expenses for the Surface Pro.
You get decent performance and battery life for anyone looking for a productivity workhorse. Battery life isn’t the best but it’ll be enough to get you through a working day under light use. The display is plenty sharp with a high resolution and great contrast, even if it isn’t the most colour accurate out there.
While it has some minor issues around build quality, the Eve V manages to hold its own against the big boys. Unfortunately, getting hold of one can prove tricky as they only go on sale in sporadic ‘flash sales’, part of how Eve manages to keep the costs low as they’re made to order.
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 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.
It’s best not to buy an ultra-cheap laptop and push it to its limits, though. Saving up for a more expensive laptop that can undertake a greater number of tasks at once will be worth it if you don’t need the ultimate in thin and light budget machinery.
Want something a little bigger? You can pay between £300 and £400 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 efficient dual-core Intel Core i5 and i7 processors, these machines are 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.
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.