Looking for a new laptop? These are the best models we’ve tested
If you’re after the best laptop money can buy, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve collected all of the best laptops in one place to help you find the perfect machine for your needs in 2023.
Wondering why you should listen to us? Simple. Every year, dozens of the latest and greatest laptops pass through the Expert Reviews labs – along with plenty of not-so-great laptops, too. Each device is subjected to our rigorous in-house testing, so when we recommend a laptop you can be sure of one thing: it’s a laptop we would be happy to buy ourselves.
Read on and you will discover everything from the best business-class laptops to super-sleek ultraportables, gaming laptops and 2-in-1 hybrids. In short, there’s something for everyone. And if you’re really not sure what to go for, our laptop buying guide will point you in the right direction.
How to choose the best laptop for you
Buying a brand-new laptop is no easy task. There are so many brilliant devices to choose from each year, with prices ranging from £200 to £2,000 or more. Cost can also vary massively between different configurations of the same laptop, which only adds to the confusion. In this brief buying guide, we will help you make the right choice by outlining the most important factors to consider before you bust out the bank card.
What do you need your laptop for?
Your personal requirements should dictate what sort of laptop you go for. A typical university student will have different tech needs to a professional video editor. Some may need a laptop that can process large files at rapid speeds, while others may just want to use Google Docs or browse the web. Ultimately, it all comes down to what you want your laptop to do.
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What about performance and battery life?
The most powerful laptops are those with the most powerful CPUs and the highest amount of RAM. A laptop’s CPU power is measured in gigahertz (GHz), and each processor has a baseline frequency as well as a maximum frequency. Other factors can impact overall performance, including poor temperature control, which can lead to thermal throttling. Ideally, any laptop you buy should have at least 4GB of RAM as a minimum. Processors aren’t as easy to pin down – they might be dual-core, quad-core or hexa-core and can range greatly in power.
An Apple MacBook Pro (or Windows equivalent such as the Dell XPS 15) has a much more powerful CPU and more RAM than a cheap Chromebook because people expect them to run multiple demanding applications.
Battery size is measured in milliamp-hours (mAH) or Watt-hours (Wh) – the biggest battery will (in theory) last the longest, but it all depends on how much power the various components inside the device use (the display, CPU and GPU have the biggest impact). An ultra-budget laptop with a small battery size may last longer than a premium notebook with a huge battery because its internal hardware isn’t as demanding. We run a standardised video rundown test on every single laptop we review, with the longest-lasting performers tending to be a mix between efficient high-end ultraportable laptops and low-powered Chromebooks.
What operating system should you go for?
Whether it’s Windows, macOS or Chrome OS, each operating system has its own strengths and weaknesses. macOS is only found in Apple’s own laptops, while Windows powers all sorts of laptops from manufacturers such as Acer, Asus and Lenovo. Google’s low-powered Chrome OS is also rising in popularity and can be found on a wide range of devices.
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What’s the best display resolution?
When it comes to laptop displays, the resolution isn’t everything. If the same laptop has the option of a Full HD (1,920 x 1,080) display and a 4K (3,840 x 2,160) display, the latter is usually more expensive but not necessarily sharper. How sharp a display look depends on two factors: the size of the screen and how far away you sit from it.
In our experience, you don’t really need more than 1,920 x 1,080 on a screen 14in or smaller. In fact, if you have 20/20 vision, you would have to be viewing the display at a distance closer than 56cm. Given that laptops with higher-resolution panels typically suffer a bit in the battery life department, it’s often worth opting for the lower resolution, and cheaper, option if you can.
The quality of a laptop’s display has little to do with the resolution of the screen, however. There’s no guarantee of a laptop’s maximum brightness, colour accuracy or contrast ratio no matter how sharp it is. We measure all these when testing each laptop because a dim, muddy or washed-out display can ruin a great product.
How many ports should a laptop have?
In addition to a power socket and headphone jack, most new laptops will come with at least one USB-C and a couple of USB-A ports. When it comes to connections, the general rule of thumb is the more the merrier.
It’s worth paying attention to the type of USB-C ports you’re getting, however; although they might look the same, they often have different capabilities from machine to machine. For the fastest transfer speeds, look for Thunderbolt 3 USB-C ports; USB-C isn’t as quick.
And don’t assume every USB-C port on a laptop can carry video, power and data. Although the standard allows for this, manufacturers sometimes limit what each port can do.
It’s extremely useful to have a full-sized HDMI connector for hooking up the laptop to additional monitors, too, although these aren’t particularly common on slimmer laptops. And an SD card reader doesn’t hurt, either – an addition that’s sorely lacking on Apple’s laptops these days.
How we test laptops
The writers and editors at Expert Reviews have decades of experience reviewing laptops but we still put every laptop through a battery of demanding tests. That way we can be sure we’re being as objective as possible in our assessment of each laptop that is sent in for review.
We run our own in-house benchmarking software along with third-party applications and games benchmarks to assess overall performance, mixing synthetic and real-world tests to ensure we give a balanced view. We also test the brightness, contrast and colour accuracy of the screen using the DisplayCAL software and an X-Rite colorimeter.
We test battery life by timing how long it takes to drain the battery from 100% to shut down, playing a video on loop. And, of course, no laptop review would be complete without actually using it for at least part of our working day – to write the review itself, watch video, carry out video calls and more.
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The best laptops you can buy in 2023
1. Apple MacBook Air (M2): Best laptop overall
Price when reviewed: £1,119 | Check price at John Lewis
We loved the M1 MacBook Air but the second-generation M2 model is even better. With an entirely new chassis design that moves away from the classic wedge shape of older models, it’s even prettier than before. The display is larger, too, with a 13.6in, 16:10 aspect ratio screen and the webcam – at long last – is of higher quality now, moving to 1080p resolution from the rather grainy and soft 720p camera in the M1.
What really sets this latest MacBook Air apart, however, is its M2 processor. Not only is this much faster than before it’s also more efficient and that means superior battery life. The MacBook Air (M2) lasted a whopping 17 hours in our video playback test, which – in the words of our reviewer – “puts most Windows laptops to the sword”.
The only caveat is that it’s more expensive than its predecessor, which might put some people off. Otherwise, though, it’s a joy to use and quite clearly the best laptop in its class.
Read our full Apple MacBook Air (M2) review for more details
Key specs – Display size: 13.6in; Resolution: 2,560 x 1,664; Type: IPS; CPU: Apple M2; Graphics: Apple M2; RAM: 8-24GB; Storage: 256GB-2TB; Dimensions: 304 x 215 x 11.3mm (WDH); Weight: 1.24kg
2. Asus Vivobook Pro 16X OLED: Best OLED laptop
Price when reviewed: £2,099 | Check price at AO
Although the main draw of this laptop is its stunning 4K OLED display, it has some underrated power under the hood. It comes with two variants, but the more powerful version that we tested has an AMD Ryzen 9 CPU with a dedicated Nvidia Geforce RTX 3050 Ti GPU, and a ridiculous 32GB of RAM. Given the spec and the beefy 4K display, you might expect battery life to suffer, but that’s not the case – Asus added a 96Wh battery that lasted almost 11 hours in our in-house tests before it needed to be charged. So there you have it: a full paragraph of this laptop’s biggest strengths, and we’ve barely mentioned the screen yet.
The first thing you may notice when you start using this laptop is that the display seems bigger than other 16in laptops. And you would be right – it has a taller-than-usual 16:10 aspect ratio which, combined with the 4K resolution, means everything looks beautiful. While some other 2022 OLEDs had slightly better colour accuracy, the Vivobook Pro 16X’s panel had an excellent colour range, reproducing 171% of the sRGB colour space in our review tests. As expected from an OLED, it produced dark scenes very efficiently, too. If you’re a photographer, there are more accurate OLED displays, but the Vivobook Pro 16X is a sturdy workhorse that will let you take your 4K work on the go without worrying about needing to recharge.
Read our full Asus Vivobook Pro 16X OLED review for more details
Key specs – Display size: 16in; Resolution: 3,840 x 2,400; Panel type: OLED; CPU: AMD Ryzen 9 5900HX; Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3050 Ti; RAM: 32GB; Storage: 1TB SSD; Dimensions: 361 x 259 x 19mm (WDH)
3. Acer Swift 3 (NX.ABNEK.00A): Best budget compact laptop
Price when reviewed: £700 | Check price at John Lewis
If what you want out of a laptop is a good screen and good battery life combined with low weight and low price then the latest Acer Swift 3 is the machine for you. It has a well-made aluminium chassis, weighs just 1.2kg and is small enough to slip into even the most petite of backpacks, plus its 14in 1,920 x 1,080 panel is bright, sharp and colourful.
Acer hasn’t scrimped on the internal specification, either. The Swift 3’s 11th Gen Intel Core i5 CPU may not be quite the latest thing but it does the job; there’s also a decent 8GB of RAM and a pretty quick 512GB SSD for storage. Connectivity is generous (2x USB-A, 1x Thunderbolt 4 USB-C, 1x HDMI 2.1) and the keyboard comes with a nice bright backlight. There’s also a fingerprint reader to add some biometric security into the mix.
With decent battery life – In our video run-down test, the Swift lasted nearly 11-and-a-half hours, which is impressive – and fast charging this is a fantastic compact laptop at a very reasonable price. The only criticism we can make is that the RAM is soldered to the motherboard and can’t be upgraded.
Read our full Acer Swift 3 review for more details
Key specs – Display size: 14in; Display resolution: 1,920 x 1,080 (non-touchscreen); Panel type: IPS; CPU: quad-core Intel Core i5-1135G7; Graphics: Intel Iris Xe (integrated); RAM: 8GB; Storage: 512GB SSD; Dimensions: 323 x 212 x 16mm; Weight: 1.2kg
4. Honor MagicBook 15: Best budget laptop
Price when reviewed: £440 | Check price at Amazon
Extra inches of display can sometimes mean a much higher price tag, but the Honor MagicBook 15 bucks that trend, offering a generous 15.6in display for a fraction of the cost of its close rivals. Everyday tasks are handled with ease thanks to the MagicBook 15’s 8GB of RAM and efficient AMD Ryzen 5 processor. It is a tad disappointing that there aren’t scalable models with faster processing and more storage, although a 512GB SSD is a pretty decent bargain for the price you’re paying here.
It might not be the absolute fastest laptop on this list, but if you’re looking for an efficient machine that can handle your day-to-day life without breaking the bank, the MagicBook 15 is made for you. It recorded great results in our in-house CPU, battery life and colour accuracy tests, meaning it could be a budget option for creative work too.
Design has to be given some credit with the MagicBook 15 as well. The 1.3mm actuation point for the keyboard meant it was satisfying and quiet to type on, and the smooth metal body with a matte finish seems far more classy than the price would suggest. For connecting your peripheral devices, you will get two USB-A ports (one 2.0 and one 3.2 Gen 1), a USB-C socket, 3.5mm headphone jack and an HDMI output port. If you ask us, this is a solid all-round package for someone on a budget.
Read our full Honor MagicBook 15 review for more details
Key specs – Processor: AMD Ryzen 5 5500U with Integrated AMD Radeon GPU; RAM: 8GB; Storage: 512GB SSD; Panel type: IPS; Display size: 15in; Screen resolution: 1,920 x 1,080; Weight: 1.5kg; Dimmensions: 50.8 x 50.8 x 152.4mm
5. Huawei MateBook 16s: Best 16in laptop
Price when reviewed: £1,100 | Check price at Huawei
Huawei’s 2022 refresh of the MateBook 16 has brought several interesting new features to the table, primarily 12th generation Alder Lake CPUs in both Core i7 and Core i9 guises and a smart 1080p webcam that is designed to make life easier for people working from home or on the go whose primary link to the office is now via Teams or Zoom rather than face to face. Performance from the new 14-core Intel chips is very impressive, the MateBook 16s scoring 366 in our 4K multimedia benchmark, three times what you would expect to see from an 11th generation Core i7 processor.
The most important feature of the MateBook 16s is undoubtedly its 3:2 ratio 2,520 x 1,680 189dpi touch-enabled gloss display. It’s bright, sharp, vivid and colour accurate, everything a good laptop display should be. It only refreshes at 60Hz though unlike the panel on the MateBook 14s which refreshes at 90Hz. I assumed – wrongly – that all MaterBook s models would have fast-refreshing screens. The size and quality of the display makes it ideal for both creative and office work.
The trick webcam features a virtual background feature as well as something called FollowCam which keeps your head in the middle of the screen and Eye Contact which maintains eye contact if your gaze wanders elsewhere. Combined with various voice call enhancements systems under the Smart Conference banner Huawei clearly thinks these systems will make its new SmartBooks the go-to options for remoter workers. They may be right. With an excellent keyboard, Intel Evo accreditation and a pretty decent battery life there’s a lot to like about the MateBook 16s.
Read our full Huawei MateBook 16s review for more details
Key specs – Processor: 14-core Intel Core-i7 12700H; Display size: 16in; RAM: 16GB; Display resolution: 2,520 x 1,680; GPU: Intel Iris Xe; Refresh rate: 60Hz; Storage: 1TB SSD; Weight: 2kg
6. Lenovo Legion Slim 7i Gen 7: Best laptop for gaming and working
Price when reviewed: £1,627 | Check price at Amazon
The Lenovo Legion Slim 7i Gen 7 is a superb multi-role laptop. You get plenty of kit for the £1,880 asking price, including a rather fine 1080p webcam, a full numeric keyboard and a 1TB SSD. The combination of an Intel Core i7-12700H processor and 100W Nvidia RTX 3060 GPU gives the Slim 7i enough performance to run the vast majority of AAA games at high Full HD frame rates, and quite a few at the native 2,560 x 1,600. The 165Hz refresh rate should keep all but the most demanding gamers happy, while the bright and very colour-accurate panel will appeal to creatives and professionals alike. For productivity, the 16:10 aspect ratio is perfect.
The Slim 7i also boasts a broad range of I/O ports, including three USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A ports, two Type-C (one Thunderbolt 4 spec), an HDMI port and an SD card reader. By stuffing a 99.9Wh battery inside, Lenovo has given the Slim 7i a run time in excess of 10 hours, which for a laptop with serious gaming pretensions is very impressive. Despite the big battery, the overall weight is just a shade over 2kg.
Read our full Lenovo Legion Slim 7i Gen 7 review for more details
Key specs – Processor: Intel Core i7-12700H; GPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060; RAM: 16GB; Storage: 1TB SSD; Display resolution: 2,560 x 1,600; Display size: 16in; Refresh rate: 165Hz; Weight: 2.05kg
7. Huawei MateBook 14s: Best-value premium ultraportable
Price when reviewed: £1,300 (1TB) | Check price at Amazon
Huawei has a history of producing top-quality, great-value compact laptops but it has surpassed itself this time around. The MateBook 14s is well made, performs superbly and, best of all, Huawei has finally removed the webcam from the keyboard and put it in a more sensible place at the top of the display.
Not only that but the display sees an upgrade to 90Hz and, coupled with the Intel Core i7-11370H CPU, it’s a very strong rival to the M1 Apple MacBook Air. At this price, with a 1TB SSD and 16GB of RAM, the MateBook 14s is a brilliant laptop.
8. Microsoft Surface Pro 9: Best Windows 2-in-1 laptop
Price when reviewed: From £929 | Check price at Microsoft
Representing a significant upgrade over the Surface Pro 8, the Surface Pro 9 offers new, improved CPU options, with Microsoft giving users the choice between a 12th Gen U-series Intel Core i5, Core i7 or a Microsoft SQ3 chip. This upgrade to the internals makes the Surface Pro 9 a worthy successor to the already superb Surface Pro 8, and the new champion of Windows 2-in-1 laptops.
The screen is excellent, with a smooth 120Hz refresh rate, a sharp 2,880 x 1,920 resolution and good gamut coverage and colour accuracy when we put it to the test. We recommend picking up the Surface Pro Signature Keyboard (sold separately): it delivers a sublime typing experience for something so unobtrusive and is the best keyboard cover to pair with the Surface Pro 9.
Elsewhere, the quality of the webcam and microphones is impressive – ideal for anyone expecting to do a lot of video conferencing – and the laptop is thin, lightweight (879g) and attractive, thanks in large part to the slim black borders and simple matte aluminium rear panel.
Read our full Microsoft Surface Pro 9 review for more details
Key specs – Processor: Intel Core i5-1235U, Intel core i7-1255U or Microsoft SQ3; RAM: 8GB, 16GB or 32GB; Storage: 128GB, 256GB, 512GB or 1TB SSD; Screen resolution: 2,880 x 1,920; Weight: 879g (tablet), 1.14kg (with Signature Keyboard)
9. Asus ROG Zephyrus G14: Best compact gaming laptop
Price when reviewed: £1,800 | Check price at Amazon
With great power, usually comes great weight – at least when it comes to high-end gaming laptops. Not so with the Asus ROG Zephyrus G14, which stands apart from the competition by offering the same high performance you would expect from a high-end gaming laptop in a much more compact package. Weighing a mere 1.7kg, the G14’s portability rivals that of the 14in MacBook Pro.
Unusually, it’s powered by AMD components on the CPU and GPU side (both 6000-series parts) but performance doesn’t suffer at all. And in combination with a superb 120Hz QHD+ display, it’s as good a laptop for creative professional work as it is AAA gaming. Even battery life isn’t bad.
If all that isn’t enough and you want a bit more gimmick for your buck, the G14 also comes with a nifty “Anime Matrix LED” lid display that features hundreds of tiny customisable LEDs you can set to display anything from words to your favourite gaming logos. For the money, they don’t come more powerful than this.
Read our full Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 (2022) review for more details
Key specs – Processor: AMD Ryzen 9 6900HS or Ryzen 7 6800HS; GPU: AMD Radeon RX 6700S or Radeon RX 6800S graphics card; RAM: 16GB DDR5; Display size: 14in; Display Resolution: 2,560 x 1,440; Refresh rate: 120Hz; Storage: 1TB SSD; Weight: 1.7kg
10. Apple MacBook Pro 16in (2021, M1 Pro): A powerhouse laptop with great battery life
Price when reviewed: From £1,875 | Check price at Amazon
Apple’s M1 processors go from strength to strength in the 2021 MacBook Pro range of laptops and the 16in is quite simply the best all-round portable computer we’ve reviewed. It comes with the barnstormingly quick Apple M1 Pro processor inside, from 16GB to 64GB of RAM and SSDs ranging from 512GB to a huge 8TB in capacity.
Its 16.2in, 120Hz ProMotion mini-LED display is the real star of the show, however. With peak brightness of up to 1,600cd/m², black response levels nearly as good as an OLED screen, and a choice of professional-level colour calibrations to choose from, it’s the best screen we’ve ever seen on a laptop.
Not only that, but Apple has brought back the HDMI port and SD card slot for this edition, and it has banished the Touch Bar in favour of a full-sized function key row and a lovely large Escape key.
Prices start at £2,197, which means this powerhouse won’t be for everyone. However, if you’re a creative professional in need of serious computing power on the move, there is no better laptop.
Read our full Apple MacBook Pro 16in review for more details
Key specs – Display size: 16.2in; Resolution: 3,456 x 2,234 (254ppi); Type: mini-LED; CPU: Apple M1 Pro or M1 Max; Graphics: 16-core (M1 Pro) or 32-core (M1 Max); RAM: 16GB, 32GB or 64GB; Storage: 512GB, 1TB, 2TB, 4TB or 8TB SSD; Dimensions: 356 x 248 x 17mm (WDH); Weight: 2.1kg (M1 Pro), 2.2kg (M1 Max)
11. Asus ROG Zephyrus M16 (2022): Best gaming laptop for work and play
Price when reviewed: £1,899 | Check price at Very
The Asus ROG Zephyrus M16 (2022) can play the latest AAA games, but it’s portable and subtle enough to be used as an everyday work machine. Inside, you get Intel’s 12th-generation Core i9-12900H processor and a choice of Nvidia GeForce RTX graphics (3050 Ti, 3060, 3070 Ti or 3080 Ti), along with 8GB or 16GB of RAM and a 1TB or 2TB SSD.
Those specs blew the our benchmarks to smithereens, with the Intel chip proving to be a whopping 68% faster than 2021’s Core i9-10900H. Gaming performance was similarly impressive, although not quite up there with some of the higher-spec behemoths you can buy. It’s a loud machine when pushed to its limits, though.
Elsewhere, the 16in display gives you plenty of space for projects, while its refresh rate of 165Hz will please gamers who are after fast response times. The all-black design is a far cry from the spaceship-like LEDs on other laptops and it’s 100g lighter than Apple’s MacBook Pro 16in. The keyboard is pleasant to use and it boasts plenty of ports, including two USB-Cs.
With a result of just under seven hours in our video rundown test, its battery life isn’t anything to write home about, but it should still see you through most of a working day. And that’s the Asus ROG Zephyrus M16’s main selling point: it’s a work laptop that can moonlight as a potent gaming device.
Read our full Asus ROG Zephyrus M16 (2022) review for more details
Key specs – Screen size: 16in; Screen type: IPS; Processor: Intel Core i9-12900H; RAM: 8GB or 16GB; Display resolution: 2,560 x 1,600; GPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 Ti, 3060, 3070 Ti or 3080 Ti; Refresh rate: 165Hz; Storage: 1TB or 2TB SSD; Dimensions: 355 x 243 x 20mm; Weight: 1.42kg
12. HP Envy 13: Best sub-£1,000 laptop with a discrete GPU
Price when reviewed: £800 | Check price at HP
Ultra-compact laptops housing discrete GPUs are a rare find under £1,000, but the HP Envy 13 manages to squeeze an Nvidia GeForce MX450 graphics chip into what is a very appealing package.
The 11th-gen Intel Core i5 processor powering the Envy 13 ensures it’s up to speed with its similarly priced competitors, while the 13.3in touchscreen sports impressive contrast, decent brightness and commendable colour accuracy.
Battery life is good too, but it’s the MX450 GPU that really sets the Envy 13 apart from its rivals, allowing the device to sustain some pretty serious gaming and excel at intensive tasks such as video rendering. If either of those activities are high on your list of laptop requirements, the Envy 13 is hard to beat in the sub-£1,000 price bracket.
Read our full HP Envy 13 review for more details
Key specs – Display size: 13.3in; Resolution: 1,920 x 1,080 (touchscreen); Type: IPS; CPU: Intel Core i5-1135G7; Graphics: Nvidia GeForce MX450; RAM: 8GB; Storage: 512GB SSD; Dimensions: 306 x 194 x 16.9mm (WDH); Weight: 1.3kg
13. Asus ROG Strix Scar 17 (2022): Best gaming laptop
Price when reviewed: £3,100 | Check price at John Lewis
The Asus ROG Strix Scar 17’s combination of a 12-generation Intel Alder Lake processor and an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 Ti GPU blasts all of its gaming laptop rivals out of the water.
As well as traditional RGB LEDs around the front, it boasts per-key lighting and you can put the laptop into Turbo mode via Asus’ KeyStone dongle. You’re getting plenty of ports, including USB-C, along with expandable internal storage via the empty SSD bay. Meanwhile, the chiclet-style keyboard is as satisfying to use and comes with five handy hotkeys.
The 2,560 x 1,440 IPS display is excellent, with a 240Hz refresh rate and a maximum brightness of 309cd/m². Colours are rich and vivid, while there are eight display profiles that are tailored for everything from racing games to first-person shooters. Elsewhere, the speakers provide a punchy sound and a battery life of 7hrs 15mins in our video-rundown test is decent for such a behemoth.
As for performance, the Scar 17 made mincemeat of our benchmarks. It was the first laptop to exceed the 500-point barrier in our media test, beating the second-place Acer Helios 500 by a vast 150 points. In our gaming-specific tests, it took running demanding titles in its stride and even managed 98fps at Wolfenstein: Youngblood’s toughest possible settings. Those are brilliant totals.
Other gaming laptops with 12-generation Intel chips will be released soon, but the Asus ROG Strix Scar 17 is currently the best gaming laptop you can buy.
Read our full Asus ROG Strix Scar 17 review for more details
Key specs – Display size: 17.3in; Resolution: 1,560 x 1,440; Type: IPS; CPU: Intel Core i9-12900H; Graphics: Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 Ti; RAM: 32GB; Storage: 2TB SSD; Dimensions: 395 x 282 x 234mm (WDH); Weight: 2.9kg
14. Dell XPS 17: Best big-screen laptop
Price when reviewed: £2,899 | Check price at John Lewis
If you are the kind of person that values the extra sprawl space of a Super King bed or the extra leg room of an Economy Plus airline seat then the Dell XPS 17 is the laptop for you because it manages to fit an expansive 17in 16:10 display into a form factor that’s barely any larger or heavier than many 15.6 and 16.1in laptops. It’s trick made possible, and made visually dramatic, by the InfinityEdge display that takes up an impressive 93% of the XPS 17’s footprint. At 2.3Kg the XPS 17 isn’t a super lightweight like the 1.35Kg LG gram 17 but its still eminently portable.
You can get the XPS 17 with a FullHD display but it’s the 3,840 x 2,400 touchscreen model that you really want because it’s bright, colourful, colour accurate and has a higher pixel density than the 16in MacBook Pro. The UHD+ panel is a £300 extra cost option but you won’t spend a better £300 and I’d thoroughly recommend it. As is usual with Dell you can select various levels of RAM from 16GB to 64GB and storage from 512GB right up to 2TB but upgrading the RAM and adding a second SSD can be easily done post-purchase.
While the latest XPS 17 is externally indistinguishable from the already very stylish 2021 model the new Alder Lake Core i7 and Core i9 processors inside make a world of difference to the performance and thanks to either an Nvidia RTX 3050 or RTX 3060 GPU (albeit down-tuned to a lowly 60W TGP) the XPS 17 is a serious performer scoring an impressive – and MacBook Pro 16 beating – 392 in our in-house media conversion and multitasking benchmark.
Read our full Dell XPS 17 review for more details
Key specs – Processor: 14-core Intel Core-i7 12700H; Display size: 17in; RAM: 32GB; Display resolution: 3,840 x 2,400; GPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050; Refresh rate: 60Hz; Storage: 512GB SSD; Weight: 2.3Kg
Also consider: LG Gram 17 (2021)
The 2021 refresh of LG’s ultra-lightweight 17in laptop is even better than the 2020 model, which is no mean feat. The latest iterations house 11th-gen Intel processors and these provide a healthy boost to performance and battery life. The Gram 17 now charges via USB-C and looks better thanks to a rougher matte finish and more angular chassis. The keyboard has also undergone a makeover and now includes a number pad and a larger touchpad, while the keys are slightly bigger and have less space between them. These changes help deliver an improved typing experience, although it still can’t quite match that of the MacBook Air or Dell XPS 13.
15. Microsoft Surface Laptop 4 13.5in: Quick, ultraportable and beautifully designed
Price when reviewed: £645 | Check price at Amazon
The latest Surface Laptop won’t win any awards for innovation – it’s essentially exactly the same laptop as its predecessor but with updated internals – but it’s still a great device that pushes our favourite laptop, the M1 MacBook Air, close on a number of fronts. In fact, when it comes to its display and its result in our 4K media benchmark test, the Surface Laptop 4 has Apple’s offering beaten.
Available in a range of configurations housing both AMD and Intel processors, the Surface Laptop 4 is both beautifully designed and practical to use. It’s lightweight, the keyboard has a three-stage backlight and is a joy to type on, while the trackpad is decent, too. The 13.5in touchscreen covers over 95% of the sRGB colour gamut with excellent accuracy, the 3:2 aspect ratio is more practical than most of its rivals and the display is bright enough for use in most lighting conditions.
Battery life lags behind a number of the other entries on this list and graphics performance leaves a bit to be desired, but as a day-to-day machine for work, the Microsoft Surface Laptop 4 is a very attractive choice.
Read our full Microsoft Surface Laptop 4 13.5in review for more details
Key specs – Display size: 13.5in; Resolution: 2,256 x 1,504; Type: IPS; CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 4860U; Graphics: AMD Radeon; RAM: 8GB; Storage: 256GB SSD; Dimensions: 308 x 223 x 14.5mm (WDH); Weight: 1.27kg
16. Dell Inspiron 15 7000: Best-value 2-in-1 laptop
Price when reviewed: From £429 | Check price at Dell
Offering big-screen thrills for a sub-£1,000 price, this convertible laptop from Dell is an excellent mid-range machine. It sits neatly between Dell’s workaday Inspiron 5000 series and its more expensive XPS range, managing a compelling combination of value for money, power, convenience and style.
Its 2-in-1 design lets you fold the Dell Inspiron 15 7000 through 360 degrees into a “tent” mode that functions much like a touchscreen tablet. It looks smart and stylish and feels well made, although the keyboard is fair-to-middling rather than outstanding. This can be forgiven, though, when you consider the other strengths of Dell’s machine.
Performance, for example, punches well above its weight, and is more than up to the job of doing anything 99% of laptop users will require – and doing it quickly. It’s also chock full of ports, including a much desired USB-C connector that supports Thunderbolt 4, Power Delivery and DisplayPort. Taken all together, along with a modest price tag, and you get great value for money.
Read our full Dell Inspiron 15 7000 review for more details
Key specs – Display size: 15.6in; Resolution: 1,920 x 1,080 or 3,840 x 2,160; Type: WVA; CPU: 11th-gen Intel Core i5-1135G7 or Core i7-1165G7; Graphics: Intel Iris Xe; RAM: 12-16GB; Storage: 512GB-1TB PCI-E NVMe SSE; Dimensions: 359 x 224 x 20mm (WDH); Weight: 2kg
17. Lenovo Yoga Slim 7i Carbon Gen 7: The best ultraportable laptop for features
Price when reviewed: £1,100 | Check price at Amazon
The Yoga Slim 7i Gen 7 is a reasonably priced ultraportable laptop that combines a high-quality display and impressive performance with a slim, light and solid construction.
Despite being 14.8mm thick and weighing just 984g the Yoga Slim 7i Gen 7 doesn’t skimp on features. The display is a 13.3in 90Hz 2.5K IPS touchscreen with good colour accuracy and contrast ratio while the Harman-branded Dolby Atmos stereo speakers deliver a pleasing, punchy sound with distinct bass and no distortion. The battery life is also good for an Intel machine, clocking in at over 9 hours.
Performance-wise, the Core i7-1260P processor and 16GB of quad-channel LPDDR5 RAM stacks up reasonably well compared to its rivals and it proved especially snappy for an ultraportable in our shorter test.
Taking all this into account, it’s easy enough to overlook the modest 720p webcam and limited physical connectivity (you’re looking at two USB-C ports – one Thunderbolt 4, the other USB 3.2 Gen 2×2) that might sink a lesser laptop.
Consider the Yoga Slim 7i Gen 7 if you’re after a sleek, powerful and well-made machine that won’t break the bank.
Read our full Lenovo Yoga Slim 7i Carbon Gen 7 review for more details
Key specs – Display size: 13.3in; Resolution: 2,560 x 1,600 (touchscreen); Type: IPS; CPU: Intel Core i7-1260P; Graphics: Intel Iris Xe GPU; RAM: 16GB; Storage: 1TB SSD; Weight: 984g
18. HP Pavilion Plus 14: Best compact laptop with discrete graphics
Price when reviewed: £1,099 | Check price at HP
The HP Pavilion Plus 14 is a compact laptop with a difference. It has a Nvidia RTX 2050 GPU: this is definitely a budget graphics card, but with 4GB of VRAM and support for DLSS and ray tracing, it gives the Pavilion Plus 14 an edge over laptops with integrated graphics when it comes to video rendering and gaming. The Pavilion Plus 14 managed 39fps at 1080p in our 3D rendering test, which is three times as fast as an unassisted Core i7-12700H can manage. Games such as Halo Infinite, Hitman 2 and Wolfenstein: Youngblood will all run at a decent frame rate, as long as you set the resolution to Full HD and dial the video detail way down low.
With a score of 174 in our 4K media benchmarks, meanwhile, the Pavilion Plus 14’s Intel Core i7-1255U has more than enough processing power for everyday tasks. The 14in 2,880 x 1,800 OLED display is sharp, bright and colourful, while the sound system delivers buckets of volume (albeit with little subtlety). There’s a wide selection of ports and the keyboard is great for getting work done, too.
Battery life is no more than average (around seven-and-a-half hours when tested) but that’s not enough of an issue to put the brakes on our verdict. If you need a compact with oomph in the graphics department, the Pavilion 14 Plus remains a very solid choice.
Read our full HP Pavilion Plus 14 review for more details
Key specs – Processor: Intel Core i7-1255U; GPU: Nvidia RTX 2050; RAM: 16GB; Storage: 512GB SSD; Display resolution: 2,880 x 1,800; Display size: 14in; Refresh rate: 90Hz; Weight: 1.4kg
19. Acer Swift Edge: Best lightweight 4K laptop
Price when reviewed: £1,500 | Check price at Acer
Making 16in laptops that weigh near to 1kg is becoming all the rage, with this model weighing in at 1.17kg. Samsung has the Galaxy Book 2 Pro, LG the Gram 16 and now Acer has weighed into the fray with its Swift Edge – a laptop with a secret weapon in the form of a 4K OLED display.
And what a display it is. Delivering comprehensive colour gamut coverage, a superb Delta E colour accuracy score of less than 1, and a healthy maximum brightness of 390cdm/², the only real criticisms you can level at it are the humdrum 60Hz refresh rate and the absence of a touch interface.
Where the Acer stumbles slightly is with the keyboard, which is rather shallow and bouncy, and the speaker system – which, while tuneful and punchy, lacks volume. The battery life could be better, too, although nine and half hours isn’t actually bad and will happily get you through a full day at the office.
Built around an all-AMD chipset that combines an 8-core Ryzen 7 6800U processor and a Radeon 660M graphics chip with 16GB of quad-channel RAM, the Swift Edge is a solid performer, just beating the MacBook Air in our 4K media benchmark.
Rounding things out is a more than decent range of I/O ports, which includes a selection of Type-A and Type-C USB ports and an HDMI 2.1 video output. It’s only a shame there’s no card slot to facilitate the easy transfer of media files onto the Edge and, of course, being an all-AMD package there’s no Thunderbolt connectivity, either.
Read our full Acer Swift Edge review for more details
Key specs – Processor: AMD Ryzen 7 6800U; GPU: AMD Radeon 600M; RAM: 16GB; Storage: 1TB SSD; Display resolution: 3,840 x 2,400; Display size: 16in; Refresh rate: 60Hz; Weight: 1.17kg
20. Dell Inspiron 16 7620 2-in-1: Best value convertible
Price when reviewed: £999 | Check price at Amazon
Don’t buy a 2-in-1 Windows laptop to use as a tablet – they’re just too heavy for that: at 2.2kg, the Inspiron 16 7620 weighs in at more than three times an iPad Pro. No, the point of a 2-in-1 is that it can be used in “tent” mode (think A-frame) or “stand” mode, with the device sitting on the keyboard with the screen angled back.
The Inspiron may be heavy, then, but its chunky, all-aluminium build makes it more solid than rival devices from the likes of Samsung and LG – both of which weigh around 800g less, but feel far more flimsy. At 19mm thick, the Dell isn’t all that slender, either; but it does house a decent array of I/O ports to the tune of two Thunderbolt 4 and two USB Type-A 3.2 Gen 1 data ports, an HDMI 1.4 video output, and an SD card reader. Performance is pretty decent thanks to a 12th Gen Core i7 1260P processor with 16GB of dual-channel RAM. In addition, the 16in 1,920 x 1,200 IPS display might not be the brightest around, but there’s good gamut coverage and it’s colour-accurate, too.
Where the Inspiron 2-in-1 really shines, however, is with its superb battery life that lasted nearly 14 hours in our standard test; the speaker system, which is one of the loudest and best to be found on any laptop in this price range; and value for money, with the perfectly decent entry-level model costing £799 while the top-end, all-singing and all-dancing model with a 4K OLED screen and Nvidia MX550 discrete graphics comes in at £999. As a do-it-all convertible workhorse, the Inspiron 16 2-in-1 really does take some beating.
Read our full Dell Inspiron 16 7620 2-in-1 review for more details
Key specs – Processor: Intel Core i7-1260P; GPU: Intel Iris Xe; RAM: 16GB; Storage: 512GB SSD; Display resolution: 1,920 x 1,200; Display size: 16in; Refresh rate: 60Hz; Weight: 2.2kg