Best Laptop 2018: What laptop should you buy?
The Dell XPS 13 is an excellent ultraportable laptop, the best 13-inch Windows model going for many. Dell hasn’t aimed for a single superlative feature, a potential gimmick.
Its footprint is smaller than the competition, but it’s thicker. Its screen resolution is excellent, but display colour is normal rather than super-saturated. There’s also a mix of old and new connections, and a combo of a large battery and smart power management means the Dell XPS 13 lasts significantly longer than most a lot of the time.
The balance is just right – we’d spend our own money on it.
The Lenovo Yoga 920 is an excellent hybrid laptop. It has amazing battery life, great build, good looks, real power and a high-quality screen with a pressure sensitive stylus. What’s not to like?
It’s not great for gaming, and a few similarly slim laptops now have discrete graphics. Display brightness could be higher too and it would be good to see the 4K option come to the UK. However, as that will also come with a higher price we can’t honestly say we’d necessarily recommend it over this model.
The Surface Laptop isn’t the most affordable but it’s not outrageously expensive compared to rivals.
Microsoft has done a great job of creating a well-made, thin and desirable laptop. We’d tweak the ports on offer and upgrade from Windows 10 S to Pro, but we can live with the niggles considering the specs and excellent battery life.
The Dell XPS 15 is an amazingly flexible laptop, despite looking like an ordinary high-end one on the surface. It’s very powerful but has unusually good battery life for its class.
It has a 15in screen but is smaller than almost all other 15in laptops with one. And is its 4K version the XPS 15 has the colour performance for pro design work.
It’s also good-looking, and while not ultra-portable is not that heavy given the components inside. It makes the new MacBook Pro with Touch Bar seem a bit frivolous in comparison, not to mention extremely expensive.
The Lenovo IdeaPad 720S is a laptop that proves you can sometimes get more if you pay less.
Its more versatile than a lot of GBP1000-plus portable laptops because it has a separate graphics card, making it a passable gaming machine. That it adds this without ruining battery life or portability is excellent. It is one of the most versatile portables around.
The one regret is that the laptop doesn’t have Nvidia’s latest GeForce MX150 graphics, using the older 940MX kind instead.
However, maybe we shouldn’t complain too much if such a move would have added substantially to the price.
The HP Envy 13 is a great laptop for those who want something portable, good-looking, long-lasting and able to play games almost improbably well for such a slight machine.
It‘s more expensive than the Lenovo IdeaPad 720S or Acer Switch 3, but is far better than either for gaming thanks to its GeForce MX 150 graphics.
The one niggle you need to consider is the trackpad. While it has a lovely glass surface, the action is more laboured than the best.
The Acer Swift 3 is a near-perfect laptop for those who want an ultraportable, but don’t want to fork out GBP1000+. Build quality is great, battery life very good, and performance a match for much more expensive laptops.
There are just two areas where the low price shows. First, it’s a little thicker and heavier than some ultrabooks. It looks good enough, but limited maximum brightness and fairly poor colour reproduction limits its usefulness in certain situations.
The HP Spectre x360 13 is a charming laptop that looks great and has enough power for most productivity jobs, thanks to the use of Intel’s impressive 8th Gen CPUs.
Among its peers the main draw is the 4K-as-standard screen. Not just sharp, it’s colourful and provides excellent contrast. You need to decide whether you’d prefer to have a super-sharp screen or killer battery life.
The Lenovo Yoga 920 lasts hours longer than the HP, and performs better in benchmarks and games with the same CPU (although if this is thanks to the Meltdown vulnerability, the playing field is effectively levelled).
For our use, which would boil down to at least 80% work, we’d likely pick the Yoga 920. However, those who will appreciate the HP’s rich 4K screen may well be swayed in this laptop’s direction.
The Surface Book 2 is a stunning piece of work from Microsoft once again. It’s a great example of a premium laptop with top-level design, performance and features.
We only have a few minor quibbles such as the lack of Thunderbolt. It might be one of the best laptops you can buy but not everyone should rush out and get one. The price means that it’s only justifiable for those who will really make use of its modes, features and performance.
It’s excellent news that Apple has moved to the seventh generation Intel Kaby Lake processors, we are also pleased to see new graphics cards. Performance is outstanding. The 15-inch MacBook Pro would still benefit from a few other pro features, a 4K display for one, 32GB RAM being another.
Yet at the already high price point, Apple may well be saving us from staring down a GBP3,000+ buying decision. For now, this is the best MacBook Pro but it comes at a cost that alienates new users and with ports that will frustrate pro users.
What’s the best laptop you can buy?
If you’re looking to buy a laptop, we can help. Here at Tech Advisor, we’ve tried and tested a huge range of laptops to determine which are the best.
Here, you’ll find our pick of the top 10 laptops you can buy right now, and offer a verdict on each. You can follow our links to the full review of each laptop if you want to find out more, or go straight to the best place to buy the laptop today.
We’ve also got laptop buying advice further down in this article to help you figure out what you need from a laptop and what specs and features you should look out for depending on your needs. 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 GBP300 – 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 GBP500 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 GBP700 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.
Many these days are above GBP1,000.
Best laptop deals
If you’re looking for a great laptop deal, check out our hand-picked bargains in the carousel below. And for our pick of the 10 best laptops you can buy, continue reading.
Best laptops 2018 reviewed
Your Buying Guide for the Best Laptops in 2018
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 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 and generally isn’t needed on a laptop. 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 (8th) 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.
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.
- ^ buying advice for the Best laptops 2018 (www.techadvisor.co.uk)
- ^ Read full review for Dell XPS 13 9360 (www.techadvisor.co.uk)
- ^ Dell XPS 13 9360 review (www.techadvisor.co.uk)
- ^ Read full review for Lenovo Yoga 920 (www.techadvisor.co.uk)
- ^ Lenovo Yoga 920 review (www.techadvisor.co.uk)
- ^ Read full review for Microsoft Surface Laptop (www.techadvisor.co.uk)
- ^ Microsoft Surface Laptop review (www.techadvisor.co.uk)
- ^ Read full review for Dell XPS 15 9560 (www.techadvisor.co.uk)
- ^ Dell XPS 15 9560 review (www.techadvisor.co.uk)
- ^ Read full review for Lenovo IdeaPad 720S (www.techadvisor.co.uk)
- ^ Lenovo IdeaPad 720S review (www.techadvisor.co.uk)
- ^ Read full review for HP Envy 13 (www.techadvisor.co.uk)
- ^ HP Envy 13 review (www.techadvisor.co.uk)
- ^ Read full review for Acer Swift 3 (www.techadvisor.co.uk)
- ^ Acer Swift 3 review (www.techadvisor.co.uk)
- ^ Read full review for HP Spectre x360 13 (2018) (www.techadvisor.co.uk)
- ^ HP Spectre x360 13 (2018) review (www.techadvisor.co.uk)
- ^ Read full review for Microsoft Surface Book 2 (www.techadvisor.co.uk)
- ^ Surface Laptop review (www.techadvisor.co.uk)
- ^ Microsoft Surface Book 2 review (www.techadvisor.co.uk)
- ^ Read full review for 15in MacBook Pro (www.techadvisor.co.uk)
- ^ 15in MacBook Pro review (www.techadvisor.co.uk)
- ^ gaming laptops (www.techadvisor.co.uk)
- ^ Windows 10 (www.techadvisor.co.uk)
- ^ best budget laptops (www.techadvisor.co.uk)
- ^ a portable USB drive (www.techadvisor.co.uk)
- ^ Best cloud storage (www.techadvisor.co.uk)
- ^ Intel Coffee Lake details (www.techadvisor.co.uk)
- ^ Intel vs AMD (www.techadvisor.co.uk)
- ^ John Lewis (www.johnlewis.com)