What laptop? Best laptop reviews UK: Windows Laptop & MacBook Buying Advice

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Want more help deciding which is best for you? Read our buying advice for the What Laptop?

1. Dell XPS 13 9360

2. Asus ZenBook UX310UA

Asus ZenBook UX310UA

3. Microsoft Surface Laptop

Microsoft Surface Laptop

4. Dell XPS 15 9560

Dell XPS 15 9560

5. Huawei MateBook X

Huawei MateBook X

6. Lenovo IdeaPad 720S

Lenovo IdeaPad 720S

7. Acer Swift 5

Acer Swift 5

8. Acer Swift 3

Acer Swift 3

9. Microsoft Surface Book

Microsoft Surface Book

10. MacBook Pro 15-inch

MacBook Pro 15-inch

Your Buying Guide for the Best Laptops in 2017

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 I spend on a laptop? 

Sometimes the best does come at a steep price, but equally you can get a lot of laptop for under £300 – provided you need only complete basic tasks such as web browsing, writing emails and creating the odd document. If so, see the best budget laptops.

Around £500 or above can get you a nice 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, hordes of storage and a gorgeous display. You should also expect excellent build quality and premium materials.

What screen size laptop do I 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. You’ll likely get a full-size keyboard and potentially an optical drive.

Generally, 13in is the sweet spot for portability and usability.

While many laptops have a resolution of 1366×768, full-HD, Quad-HD and even 4K laptops are available. A touchscreen will add to the cost. Also look out for a matte, non-reflective screen.

How much laptop storage do I 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.

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’re happy to splash out you’re probably looking at the latest generation (7th) 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. 

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. 

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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