What's the best laptop? We round up the 20 best laptops you can buy in the UK in 2016, including best Windows laptops and best MacBooks. Best laptop reviews.
The best laptop is the Dell XPS 13, followed by the Asus ZenBook UX303U and the Microsoft Surface Book, but there are plenty of other options in our list of the best laptops 2016.
Despite the rise of tablets, there are still plenty of consumers still looking for the best laptop. Sometimes you just can't beat what a laptop can offer. What's the best laptop is an easy enough question to ask but the answer depends largely on what you want to do with it. If you simply want it to be top-notch in all departments then you've come to the right place as we've rounded up the best laptops that we've reviewed to date.
As with any product we review, the best laptops are rated in various categories - performance, build quality, features and value for money – along with an overall score, potentially with an award, too. Note that star ratings don't always dictate ranking as it applies to the date it was reviewed.
If you're looking for something specific, we have various other laptop charts including best budget laptops, best Chromebooks, best ultraportable laptops and best gaming laptops. You can also take a look at the best convertible laptops and tablets for the best of both worlds.
As much as we can, we make sure all the laptops in the chart are available to but in the UK. However, it's not something we can check every day so there's a chance you might not find the model listed. There are also often many different SKUs (versions/models) of a laptop so the specs might vary to those on the model we've reviewed (we can't always choose the sample).
Most laptops will come pre-installed with Windows 10 now but there's a chance you might find one with Windows 8.1. Really that's no bother since you can upgrade for free so don't be too put off if this is the case. For more details see: Will my PC or laptop get Windows 10?
Of course, our best laptops group test also includes the best MacBooks, which run OS X out of the box. Macs are often more expensive than Windows laptops, but Apple's laptops are better value than ever before. You might feel that the premium build quality and features warrant spending extra, although many Windows laptop manufacturers have stepped up their game recently.
Best laptops 2016: How much should I spend on a laptop?
In this chart, there's no cap on how much the device can cost – sometimes the best does come at a steep price. The big question here is do you really need to shell out bags and bags?
We ask because you can get a lot of laptop, even for under £250 – provided you only need to do basic tasks like browse the web, email and create the odd document. If so see the best budget laptops.
Spending a bit more, around £500 and above, will potentially get you a nice laptop but it's likely to have an entry-level set of specs. We're talking the most basic processor on offer, less storage and a lower resolution screen. It might also not be the thinnest and lightest.
Ramp up the amount you're happy to splash out - £800 and up - and you'll be looking at the best of the best with a blazing fast processor, plenty of RAM, hordes of storage and a gorgeous display. You should also expect excellent build quality and premium materials.
That's why it's crucial to read laptop reviews before you buy.
New MacBooks in 2016: Podcast discussion
Best laptops 2016: What screen size do I need?
The size of your screen is an important decision when buying a laptop. After all they typically range from 11- all the way up to 17in.
A smaller screen might be harder to work on but it means that the laptop will be far more portable, handy if you need to take it around with you wherever you go. Bear in mind that a smaller device means less space for features like ports.
At 17in, you're buying a desktop replacement laptop which isn't deigned to be moved around often. You'll likely get a full-size keyboard, lots of connectivity and possibly even an optical drive, too.
Generally, unless you're looking at either end of the spectrum, a 13in laptop is the sweet spot for us combining portability without scrimping on features. Make sure you check the reviews of each device and the specs to make sure it has what you need.
While many laptops have a resolution of 1366x768, you should look for something more if you want the best. Full HD (1920x1080) and higher should be a tick box and you can even get 4K laptops now, although arguably it's not necessary.
The couple more things to consider for the display is whether you need it to be touch sensitive. This normally adds to the cost and might be something which is essential or a waste of money, depending on your usage. Most laptops come with a glossy screen but most people prefer a less reflective matt finish so that's something to look out for, too.
Best laptops 2016: How much storage do I need?
As usual, storage 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 (manufactures can charge a premium on this area).
An SSD will mean you're laptop runs faster but doesn't provide as much space as a traditional hard drive. Some laptops come with a combination of the two but many due to size restrictions. Again, check the specs carefully before you buy if you don't want to end up carrying around an external drive.
Remember that there are also plenty of cloud storage options but this isn't so helpful when you don't have an internet connection.
Most people will benefit from a 500GB drive to store files such a photos, videos and music. However, if you're looking at storing large amount of data (perhaps you're a photographer shooting in RAW or you simply want all your box sets ready to go) then look for 1- or 2TB of space.
Also see: Best SSDs 2016.
Memory (RAM) is where programs and files are stored only while you're using them, and more is always better. Consider 4GB an absolute minimum, with 8- to 16GB the ideal figure if you can afford the upgrade. You can't have too much.
Best laptops 2016: Which laptop processor is best?
Unless you're going to run complex and demanding software or gaming, you don't need the latest top-spec processor. It doesn't hurt, of course, but it's best to find a nice balance as there's nothing worse than waiting for a app to load etc.
If you're happy to splash out then you're probably looking at the latest generation (6th) Intel Core i7 chip. Entry-level spec models are likely to offer a Core i3 or even a Core M processor instead. A Core i5 sits nicely in-between so check how much extra it is to upgrade before making a final decision.
If you're not sure which generation the Intel processor is, look at the model number as the first digit represents this. For example, a Core i5-6500 is a sixth-generation CPU.
While most come with Intel processors, you can still find AMD powered devices around. See AMD vs Intel for more information.
If you're looking to use the laptop for gaming, even if it might be primarily a work device, you won't want to fully rely on the built-in graphics which come part of any Intel chip. To game with decent resolutions and frame rates, you'll want a dedicated graphics card (a mobile version anyway, although some have been fitted with desktop class regardless). You'll probably want to go check out the best gaming laptops to find something.
The best laptops of 2016: 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 of them are perfect and what will suit your needs might not simply be the device ranked at number one.
Battery life and warranty are two things which vary between laptops. The latter may well 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, not only laptops but pretty much everything you buy. Check whether the company has a UK-based support line, and forums (including our own) are an ideal place to get an idea of whether a manufacturer is generally good or bad at carrying out work under warranty.
You might not even have to deal with the manufacturer directly if you have a fault in the first six months as it's the retailer's responsibility to deal with issues. This is when it pays to have purchased from Amazon, John Lewis and others which will often replace or refund without quibble.
After al that, it's also worth considering whether a laptop is what you really want. You can get some great bargains on desktop PCs these days, and if you don't want a large tower system taking up space there are plenty of all-in-one PCs to choose between. These integrate the computer behind the monitor, so they're much neater. Also, some tablets offer similar functionality to basic laptops. See our piece about choosing between laptop vs iPad, for instance.
Read on for our pick of the UK's 20 best laptops and links to our best laptop reviews.
20 best laptops 2016 UK - best laptop reviews
- Reviewed on: 22 February 16
- RRP: £1499 inc VAT
The Asu ZenBook Pro UX501 is a laptop that looks great on paper, if you’re not turned off by its price. It has plenty of power, high-quality build and an ultra-high resolution screen matched with a touchscreen. And it can even play games. It’s everything many people want in a laptop. However, a few little niggles stop it from being the MacBook Pro 15 and Dell XPS 15 killer you might be hoping for. First, the screen’s dated architecture limits the impact of the high resolution in most environments. It’s incredibly reflective on two different levels. That the CPU fan is a little irritating and the touchpad very loud are very minor points, but combined with the screen issue make for a laptop not quite up there with the very best. You can afford to be picky when you have this much money to spend.
Read our Asus ZenBook Pro UX501 review.
19. HP ZBook 15u G2
- Reviewed on: 20 May 15
- RRP: From £1320 (this model price TBC)
Hewlett Packard has done well to build a lighter weight 15-inch mobile workstation laptop with much of the strength and integrity of its traditional models that are far less mobile in real terms. Sacrifices have been made to the main CPU by fitting dual-core rather than quad-core, and the AMD GPU is a middleweight part rather than fire-breathing FirePro. But importantly the 15u runs cool and quiet enough not make itself a nuisance, even under load. Assuming the version we tested will cost under £2000 it could provide decent value, majoring on resilience more than style and sheer performance, but well enough equipped to prove attractive to the target professional audience.
Read our HP ZBook 15u G2 review.
18. Gigabyte P37X
- Reviewed on: 13 May 15
- RRP: £1750 inc. VAT
The Gigabyte P37X is built for gaming speed, based on a large 17-inch display chassis but in a thinner than traditional case. With the help of the best single-chip mobile graphics processor currently on the market it can play any game you want, up to very high rendering quality. It may not stand out in style but it gets the job done, albeit at a high price.
Read our Gigabyte P37X review.
- Reviewed on: 11 August 15
- RRP: £999 inc VAT
Sensibly powered for great games action, while remaining portable and comfortable to use, the GE62 is only compromised by tricky upgrade potential and disappointing battery life. It has a great display and respectable keyboard for gaming, and crucially plays games at high detail without distress.
Read our MSI GE62 2QD Apache Pro review.
- Reviewed on: 22 April 15
- RRP: £849 (with 128GB storage), £999 (with 256GB)
After some extensive testing, we found the MacBook Air (13-inch, Early 2015) to be little different overall to the 2014 model. The Thunderbolt 2 update will prove useful for connecting to high-resolution UHD displays, and a few percent of added processor power is never unwelcome. But hoped-for improvements in graphics performance and battery longevity did not arise in our testing, in spite of a new Intel processor which was expected to shepherd benefits in both areas. Launched at the same price as last year’s model it still deserves attention as one of the finest ultraportable laptops available - doubly so now that its flash-drive speed has shot up another 100 percent - and it will remain the more affordable option in lightweight notebooks when the new MacBook launches this month.
Read our 13-inch MacBook Air (early 2015) review.
- Reviewed on: 14 April 15
- RRP: £749 (128GB model), £899 (256GB model). More expensive build-to-order options available
Available at the same price as last year, the new 11-inch MacBook Air has the same super-fast storage as before, and around 10 percent increase in processor performance. Gaming performance was always borderline, and now we find it no better and even fractionally slower. But overall battery runtime increased by almost a third in our tests, a very useful upgrade on the already very decent 10 hour-plus battery life of the previous generation.
Read our MacBook Air (11 inch, early 2015) review.
- Reviewed on: 1 April 15
- RRP: £650 inc. VAT
The new ZenBook is a great home for Intel’s new Core M processor, which proved up to basic daily tasks in Windows with no obvious lag in the interface. Good battery life and decent screen quality are further plus points to a well-made case with a familiar design to Apple fans. At a price of £650 this is an attractive package as a carry-anyway Windows laptop.
Read our Asus ZenBook UX305F review.
- Reviewed on: 22 January 16
- Buy for From £639 inc VAT
A very decent laptop replacement, and an okay tablet, the Surface Pro 3 is undeniably impressive. If you need a single device to do everything we can't think of any better device. And when you consider the cost of buying a discrete laptop, tablet and desktop PC the Surface Pro 3 is priced to shift. The question remains as to whether people want a single device rather than multiple gadgets that are better at their individual tasks. Microsoft's latest results suggest that Surface Pro 3 is winning hearts and minds. Has it won yours?
Read our Microsoft Surface Pro 3 review.
- Reviewed on: 2 November 15
- RRP: £799.99 inc VAT
The Satellite P50t has high-end touches on a midrange model, such as UHD IGZO screen and nVidia gaming graphics, plus some metal machining to suggest premium build. It’s let down by a reflective screen and lousy battery life. Despite underwhelming benchmark results it should be speedy enough for general duties.
Read our Toshiba Satellite P50T-C-109 review.
- Reviewed on: 24 August 15
- RRP: £579.99 inc VAT
For under £600 the Aspire V3-574G is easy to recommend. It's a commendable balance of virtues from the IPS screen, to the precise trackpad and highly regarded CPU. Nvidia graphics allow fluid gameplay up to 720p. The five-hour battery life, while half that of the best, may even get you through half a day’s use away from the mains.
Read our Acer Aspire V3-574G review.
- Reviewed on: 30 June 16
- RRP: From £749 inc VAT (model tested £1079)
There is a great deal to like and rave about the Surface Pro 4. The design is thinner and lighter for starters. The screen is awesome, there's plenty of power available, the new Surface Pen is better and the Type Cover is a vast improvement on the last one. However, the design is inherently awkward at times, it's more expensive that a lot of laptops and the Type Cover, which you'll pretty much need, isn't included lowering the value.
Read our Microsoft Surface Pro 4 review.
- Reviewed on: 30 March 15
- Buy for From £999
While it looks just like every Retina-screened 13-inch MacBook before it, the Early 2015 revision is streets ahead of earlier models. Its storage speed is up to double the already ground-breaking speed of the 2013 model. The new Force Trackpad brings tangible benefits in touch control, with an intelligent coprocessor that helps interpret our digital movements. And the Broadwell processor, with other running changes too, has spearheaded just about the greatest upgrade any mobile computing user could ask for, namely insanely long battery life. Improvements in graphics performance were less emphatic in our tests, but at least always positive changes. The world’s finest 13-inch notebook is now unassailable, especially given it’s kept the same sub-£1000 price point as its predecessor.
- Reviewed on: 13 January 15
- Buy for 2116
Most ultraportables we test are dumbed-down MacBook Air clones with cheap construction and low-grade components. That's why it makes a particularly refreshing change to find a Windows laptop that not just matches but surpasses Apple's popular ultraportable in a key area like screen quality. The price is much higher than even the Retina-display 13-inch MacBook but if you must have a laptop built for Windows that can make a statement in build quality and top-class components, check out EliteBook Folio 1040 G1.
Read our HP EliteBook Folio 1040 G1 review.
- Reviewed on: 26 February 16
- Buy for From £1199 inc VAT (model reviewed £1499)
The Lenovo Yoga 900 is a laptop that really asks you to believe in its design style. After all, it doesn’t come cheap and for the price you can get a laptop with much more power if you’re not out for something immensely portable. That’s where this laptop excels: portability. As well as being slim, light and all-round lovely, the smart hinge lets it sit where most other laptops just can’t. The battery should last through a full day’s work as well. The trackpad can feel fiddly and the display isn’t perfect, but if you’re feeling flush this is one of the top ultraportables around.
Read our Lenovo Yoga 900 review.
- Reviewed on: 30 November 15
- RRP: £999 inc VAT
Lumpy but suggesting longevity, the Inspiron 15 7000 Series ought to survive as desktop replacement at home or the office. Powerful discrete graphics will please gamers and professionals, although the reflective screen and a trying trackpad knock points off usability. If you can live with these foibles, it's good value.
Read our Dell Inspiron 15 7559 review.
- Reviewed on: 8 June 15
- RRP: From £1,599
We must admit to feeling a tinsy bit short-changed by the no-show of quad-core Intel Broadwell processor in this year’s 15-inch MacBook Pro model. However this refresh sees two aspects expanded that are always in demand – faster graphics and longer battery life – while also introducing to the machine the highly versatile Force Touch trackpad interface. Meanwhile the uplift in flash storage speed may look like a nerdy numberfest but will reward any user with some real-life leaps in daily productivity. The 15-inch maintains its place as the premium mobile workstation laptop, and puts that much more clear distance between it and the Windows tributes.
4. HP Envy 13
- Reviewed on: 25 February 16
- RRP: From £649 inc VAT (model reviewed £799)
The HP Envy 13 gets a lot of things right. The design, the trackpad, the performance and the screen are all very good. Using this laptop is a real delight in most respects, its physical portability is fantastic and it has clearly been designed with a sensible budget in mind. It’s a good buy. There are a few issues, though. Unless use is very light, battery life is disappointing and the build quality is slightly less impressive than it at first appears – there’s some flex to the body, making it a bit less luxurious than you might expect looking at photos. Given the excellent combination of features, performance and value though, it’s only the battery life you need to really stop and think about before buying. The Asus UX305 lasts longer, and while that laptop lacks a backlit keyboard and some of the HP’s raw power, that might be enough to justify switching teams.
Read our HP Envy 13 review.
- Reviewed on: 30 June 16
- Buy for From £1,299 inc VAT
It's expensive but the Surface Book is an amazing piece of technology combining excellent (and unique) design, top-notch build quality and high-end specifications. Battery life is amazing and there's a lot you can do with the Surface Book model with the Nvidia GPU. The big question is can you afford one?
Read our Microsoft Surface Book review.
- Reviewed on: 16 December 15
- Buy for £899.99 inc VAT
At around £900 the ZenBook UX303U approaches the build finesse but lacks the unbeaten battery of the similarly priced MacBook Air, although it can claim faster processor performance and a superior full-HD matt display. This latest ZenBook is a well-balanced, smart and powerful Windows notebook.
Read our Asus ZenBook UX303U review.
- Reviewed on: 15 December 15
- RRP: From £849 inc VAT
The Dell XPS 13 9343 stands as a shining beacon of hope in the world of Windows laptops, a compact laptop that outdoes the obvious competition in some key respects like screen quality and near-borderless display. Here is a 13.3-inch laptop that takes up little more space than an 11.6-inch model. Poor thermal management needs to be improved, while a non-touchscreen version could answer other outstanding issues.
Read our Dell XPS 13 9350 review.