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Power laptop buying advice

How to buy a laptop for more than £1,000

Invest £1,000 or more in a laptop, and you can be reasonably sure of getting a high-quality piece of machinery. Here is our laptop buying advice for those for whom performance matters more than budget. (See all Laptop buying advice.)

Sometimes that money will be spent on getting the thinnest and lightest notebook while sacrificing the least amount in performance (see What is an Ultrabook?). Else, you may be needing an industrial laptop able to withstand workforce abuse, with a rugged build to match. Or simply a performance-first high-powered workstation in laptop form. At the higher price point you’ll also find laptops dedicated to gamers, sporting the best mobile graphics processors and large screens to play out on.

At this price accept no compromises in build quality. Some manufacturers still cut corners and costs by using cheaper plastics, often camouflaged with silver paint.

For enduring looks and dependable strength, the body should be constructed of lightweight metal such as aluminium or magnesium, or with advanced composites such as carbon fibre. Quality of fit and finish should be beyond reproach.

Where budget laptops almost universally are fitted with low-grade displays with poor viewing angles and reduced colour gamut, £1000+ models should take the best panels – you’ll even find IPS technology in professional graphics workstations. As with any laptop, beware of glass or shiny screens that will impact on viewing comfort in all but darkened room conditions.

In the ultraportable field, there are still limits to what can be squeezed into a thin and light chassis. But extra expenditure here will be rewarded with increased performance and larger storage – where entry-level ultraportables may get 128GB or 64GB of flash storage – or even hard disks in some cases – the higher price band will allow for a 256GB or greater SSDs.

Workstation laptops will have faster processors, often quad-core components. Do beware though that Intel Core i7 processors for mobile use are not universally quad-core as the flagship name implies; some are dual-core only

Another vital asset is a capable graphics processors. These will typically be professional versions of consumer gaming graphics – nVidia, for example, makes the Quadro range of GPUs for advanced 3D graphics modelling.

Ruggedised laptops are engineered for strength, at the expense of lightness and sleek looks. Professional notebooks from HP, Dell and Panasonic may have battle-ready dress, with reinforced chassis and more attention to securing ports and sockets against the ingress of dirt and moisture. While a fully waterproof laptop remains a rare thing, these industrial portables can withstand some of the elements as well as severe knocks and drops. Look out for military-specification (milspec) standard ratings such as MIL-STD-810G.

Also at this price level are solid general-purpose notebook computers featuring a wide range of connectivity options, high-grade components throughout and extra care taken in build quality and attention to detail. Familiar placements in our Top 5 chart for £1000+ laptops will be Apple notebooks such as the MacBook Pro. These may feature consumer-grade reflective glass screens but all other details have meant they’ve historically staked out this ground for best all-round user experience and highest standards of build and materials.

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