Tablets never took over as some predicted and we’re glad the humble laptop is here to stay. Still, it isn’t easy to choose one, with so many manufacturers, designs and specs to consider. Luckily, we’re on hand to test them out so you can find the best one for your needs.
We’ve reviewed 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. 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 are quite right for you, let us arm you with the knowledge you need to help you chose what laptop to buy. Below our 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.
If value is your primary concern, we’ve also scoured the web for laptop deals and the best budget laptops.
Top laptop reviews
1. HP Envy 13 – Best Overall
It might not look any different from the previous model, but the Envy 13 is still a firm favourite at Tech Advisor towers. Yet again, HP is offering outstanding value for money here.
Even the cheapest model has decent specs including an Nvidia MX250 graphics card where many rivals are using the older MX150 or simply integrated graphics. It’s also got something quite rare these days in the form of a humble microSD cards slot.
There might not be Thunderbolt 3 support but that shouldn’t be too much of a big deal for most users. HP has importantly improved the trackpad, battery life and the screen is much better than last year’s model too.
If you want a premium laptop at a reasonable price without scrimping on specs, then the Envy 13 is the one.
Read our full HP Envy 13 (2019) review
2. Huawei MateBook X Pro 2020 – Best Luxury
The MateBook X Pro 2020 looks an awful lot like the last two MateBook X Pros, but that’s no bad thing. This was one of the best laptops you could buy last year, and the upgrade to 10th-gen Intel chips and a lush new green colour keep things that way.
With specs that go up to a Core i7, 16GB RAM, MX250 GPU, and 1TB storage this can be a bit of a beast if you want it to be (though many will do just fine with the cheapest i5 spec), but that power is backed by a lightweight design, beautiful display, best-in-class keyboard and impressive battery life.
Literally the only complaints are the dodgy webcam placement (under the keyboard, which looks cool but gives a deeply unflattering camera angle) and the fact that it’s priced to match all that performance, meaning you can get almost as much bang for a lot less buck elsewhere.
Read our full Huawei MateBook X Pro (2020) review
3. Honor MagicBook 14 – Best Value
Honor’s first laptop in the UK is a knockout for the price – both looking and performing like a much more expensive device.
Despite the MagicBook 14 being a dainty and lightweight laptop, it still boasts a decent AMD processor and Radeon graphics card, which means that it can easily handle a couple of games or high-performance programmes. In addition, the longevity of the battery life will give you more than 10 hours of work or play time.
Spec nuts will notice that this laptop is almost identical to Huawei’s MateBook D 14. However, the one key difference is that this laptop is less expensive.
Read our full Honor MagicBook 14 review
4. Huawei MateBook D 14 – Best Mid-Range
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.
Read our full Huawei MateBook D 14 review
5. Acer Swift 5 – Best for Portability
The Acer Swift 5 is a decent choice if you’re looking for a very portable lightweight laptop with solid battery life and a good selection of ports.
It also offers good performance from just a Core i5 but you can get a dedicated GPU elsewhere for the same price from HP. Both the screen and keyboard are sub-par compared to to rivals but Acer does have a good value option here.
Read our full Acer Swift 5 (SF514-54T) review
6. Asus ZenBook S13 – Best Ultrabook
Asus has been making dependable laptops for years without earning the hype of Dell or Apple’s latest, but the ZenBook S13 is a sign that this is an under-appreciated company operating at the top of its game.
Right now you cannot find an ultrabook that crams specs like this (including an i7, discrete graphics, and 512GB SSD storage) into a body this small, and the S13 does it all while under-cutting most of the market on price. That’s not even mentioning the reverse notch – what could have been a design gimmick but in fact keeps the bezels slim while providing an unexpectedly handy lip for opening the laptop.
The silver finish might be a bit bling and the trackpad isn’t the best, but those are minor complaints in the grand scheme of things. If you can afford to drop a grand and a half and want discrete graphics in an ultra-portable package, the S13 is a very easy recommendation.
Read our full Asus ZenBook S13 review
7. Lenovo Yoga C740 – Best Convertible
For those looking for an all-rounder convertible, Lenovo has done it again with the Yoga C740.
This is a high-quality 2-in-1 laptop with an attractive and flexible design and long battery life. There’s also a excellent screen, included Active Pen and speedy performance, too.
More ports would be ideal but it’s unsurprising for a modern laptop and this also isn’t the lightest laptop around either but these are pretty minor points.
Read our full Lenovo Yoga C740 review
8. LG Gram 17 – Best 17in Laptop
LG has once again proven that you can have a 17in laptop and not sacrifice portability. It’s a marvel of engineering.
The latest gram hasn’t fixed all the issues but is undoubtedly the laptop to go for if you need a screen this large inside an unbelievably light chassis combined with very strong battery life. Despite no improvement on the previous gen, it still lasts longer than most.
You also get a good selection of ports, a decent keyboard and the upgrade to 10th-gen Intel brings a nice performance boost, too. The real question is whether you want to spend this much compared to cheaper rivals with smaller screens.
Read our full LG gram 17 (2020) review
9. Dell XPS 13 – Best Keyboard
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 – poor ports, overheating problems, and a steep price.
This is by no means a bad laptop – it’s a great piece of kit, and improves on the previous edition in several ways. If you buy one you’ll probably love it, but the flaws hold this year’s XPS 13 back from being the best.
Read our full Dell XPS 13 9300 (2020) review
10. Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 – Best Design
The Surface Laptop 3 is the most versatile entry in the product family to date. Not only does it come in more finishes than its predecessors, with the option of a metal deck alongside the existing Alcantara, as well as more colour options, like the new Sandstone, but Microsoft has also created two discreet sizes for this generation.
The 13.5in model can be had with either a 10th-gen Intel Core i5 or i7 chip and up to 1TB of storage, while the larger 15in SKU sports custom Ryzen 5 or 7 processors, along with up to 512GB of internal space.
For the first time, USB-C also joins the fray, however, power users might struggle with that fact that there’s only a single Type-C port and it tops out at USB 3.1, not Thunderbolt 3.
Read our full Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 review
11. Samsung Galaxy Book S – Best Battery Life
The Galaxy Book S is a stylish laptop that’s well-made and extremely compact, albeit with a lacklustre keyboard.
Combine this with the longest battery life we’ve seen to date and you may have just found your perfect travel companion if the price isn’t too high.
However, despite the good work done by Qualcomm to improve Windows on Snapdragon, there are performance and compatibility issues that will put more demanding users off.
Read our full Samsung Galaxy Book S review
12. Apple MacBook Air 2020 – Best MacBook
It might have the same design as the previous model, but the MacBook Air finally has a Magic Keyboard with scissor switches for a greatly improved experience.
Apple has also dropped the cheapest option down to an Intel Core i3 processor to achieve a more affordable price. When you factor in Apple’s included suite of useful applications, the 2020 Air represents good value for money and is once again the best MacBook for the vast majority of users.
However, it’s not flawless as battery life could be better, the webcam is poor and you’re limited to USB-C. Better performance can be found on Windows rivals for the same or less money if you’re not tied to macOS.
Read our full Apple MacBook Air (2020) review
13. Asus ZenBook Flip 15 – Best for Creatives
The Asus ZenBook Flip 15 is a high-end 2-in-1 laptop, geared towards designers and creatives who are searching for a convertible device that can be used for both business and personal use.
Combining 10th-gen Intel Core i7 smarts with 16GB RAM, it’s quick to respond to both everyday tasks as well as demanding programmes. Not to mention with the 4K screen backed up by an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Max-Q graphics card – you get a high-depth contrast of colours, and watching media is a joy on this device.
The ScreenPad on the device doesn’t always work as expected and the speakers don’t always sound great, depending on how you position the laptop. However, this is still a compelling option for creatives looking for a high-end versatile offering.
Read our full Asus ZenBook Flip 15 (UX563FD) review
14. Asus ZenBook Pro Duo – Best Dual-Screen
The ZenBook Pro Duo is an oddity: a premium creative-focussed device that pairs top specs with 4K displays. Yup, that’s ‘displays’ plural.
The main 4K OLED panel is paired with a secondary LCD screen built into the body at the same pixel density (so it’s technically not 4K, but it basically counts). You can use it for multi-tasking with multiple apps, extending a single program into the extra space, or simply to drag distractions like Slack or Twitter down and away from your main project.
Beyond the dual display novelty, specs range up to a Core i9, 32GB RAM, 1TB of storage, and RTX 2060 graphics, meaning this will breeze through even demanding creative work and comfortably game at 1080p (or 4K if you don’t mind iffier frame rates).
There are downsides though. The Pro Duo is big, it’s heavy, the battery life is rubbish, and it’s often uncomfortable thanks to the cramped keyboard and trackpad. It’s expensive too, though it’s not too unreasonable given the specs inside.
Don’t write the ZenBook Pro Duo off as a mere novelty without trying it though. This may or may not be the future of laptops, but for creatives, multi-taskers, and the attentionally challenged, the second display quickly makes a case for itself. The question isn’t really whether you need an extra display then – it’s how much you’re willing to compromise elsewhere to get it.
Read our full Asus ZenBook Pro Duo review
How to choose a laptop
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.
Students, this selection of laptops is just for you.
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 deigned 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 look out for a matt, non-reflective screen.
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) Intel Core i7 chip. Entry-level spec models are likely to offer a Core i3 or even a Celeron, Pentium or AMD 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.
Read our comparison of Intel vs AMD.
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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