A good laptop has to perform a number of different functions. It needs to be portable, have a good battery life and a decent screen.
But it also needs to have enough power under the hood for practical applications – otherwise you’d just be using a tablet.
It’s also important to choose a computer that will be able to last you for some time. Most of us only replace our laptops every four or five years – so you’re going to want something that stays useful long after your smartphone contract has expired.
That’s why we’ve rounded up the top ten choices worth your consideration for 2018.
Whatever your budget and your needs, you’ll find something worth considering in the list below.
1. Apple MacBook Pro with Touch Bar – £2,699
Apple’s all-powerful MacBook Pro is the daddy of the laptop scene and will set you back an astonishing £2,699 for the top-spec version that comes with the Touch Bar above the keyboard.
But that astronomical price gets you the very best performance and components, including a 2.7GHz 6th generation processor, 16GB of RAM and 512GB of SSD.
The real killer is the 15.4-inch Retina Display screen with a pixel density of 2,880 x 1,800. It’s a bright and crisp LED-backlit display that’s perfect for video and photo editing.
The OLED Touch Bar at the top of the keyboard changes depending on what you’re doing – such as auto-suggesting words while typing. It also boasts Apple’s Siri assistant and fingerprint ID that means you can log on securely.
This laptop comes running the latest version of Apple’s MacOS, boasts a 10-hour battery life and weighs 1.83kg. The sleek, metallic design is hard to beat – although the famous Apple logo doesn’t light up any more.
2. Dell XPS 13 – £1,199
Dell’s brilliant XPS range has been on top of the laptop game for years and the XPS 13 crams a 13.3-inch screen into an 11-inch chassis. It does this thanks to the “Infinity Edge” display which minimises the bezels to almost nothing.
The cheapest configuration comes in at £1,199 but you get a lot for your money. The 2018 version is packed with 8 generation Intel processors and a 256GB solid state hard drive. There are plenty of useful ports including USB-C, USB 3.0 and an SD card slot that photographers will appreciate.
At just 1.2kg of weight and a battery life of 22 hours, this powerful little laptop will keep going all day. Despite it being a smaller body, the keyboard is comfortable for extending typing sessions. All told, this is a remarkably impressive laptop. You can read our full review right here.
3. Asus ZenBook UX430UA – £999
Taiwanese manufacturer ASUS has turned out a sleek alternative to Apple’s MacBook Air with this metallic Royal Blue laptop.
Although technically a 13-inch laptop, you actually get a 14-inch screen because of the reduced bezels around the edge of the display. This is an excellent choice for those that want their computers lightweight: it’s only 15.9mm thick and weighs 1.25kg. ASUS says the battery life will last for 9 hours – even with the backlit keyboard.
Despite the slim credentials, it’s got a full range of ports including USB ports and an HDMI port for connecting it to an external monitor or TV. The ZenBook is powered by a 7 generation Intel processor with 8GB of RAM and a 256GB hard drive. The speakers have been tuned by Harmon Kardon – so it sounds pretty decent too.
4. Microsoft Surface Book 2 – £2,999
Microsoft jumped into the hardware scene a few years ago with its Surface brand and the pinnacle for laptop buyers is the Surface Book 2.
It’s the most powerful laptop the company has made and comes with an 8 generation Intel processor and a discrete video card made by Nvidia. Although you can use it for photo and video editing, it’ll also handle video games on the move.
Because it comes from Microsoft, you can also be sure it’ll get the latest Windows 10 updates and security patches – meaning this is a decent long-term investment.
There’s a massive 17-hour battery life and a 3,000 x 2,000 pixel screen. The display can be detached and used as a tablet and supports multi-touch input if you wanted to combine it with the Microsoft Pen stylus. The only drawback is the unforgiving £3,000 price tag.
5. Acer Switch 3 – £479.99
If you’re looking to save money, but still want a laptop that’s thin and light then Acer’s Switch 3 from last year is a good alternative.
The components are a little bit more pedestrian – with an Intel Pentium processor and 4GB of RAM. Storage is limited to 64GB and the screen resolution manages 1,366 x 768 pixels. However, the real draw is how portable this laptop is. It weighs a mere 1.25kg and the battery will last for up to eight hours.
Just like the Microsoft Surface Book 2, the screen will detach from the body so you can use it as a tablet when you want to watch a movie on the couch. Windows 10 is capable of switching from desktop to tablet mode to make it easier to use.
If you want more power, Acer offers different component combinations although you’ll end up paying more.
6. Lenovo Ideapad 320s – £299
The affordable Lenovo Ideapad range punches above its weight in the style stakes with a premium aluminium finish and a minimalist design.
There’s a 14-inch high definition screen and two Harmon speakers that mean you can happily watch movies on the go. It’s a bit heavier than other laptops on this list at 1.69kg but there’s a 128GB solid state hard drive on board which means saving and loading is quick and quiet. It’s got 4GB of RAM memory and three USB ports for accessories.
The USB ports are sleep-and-charge, so you can use them to juice up your other gadgets even when the laptop is switched off.
Where it struggles is in battery life. According to Lenovo, the Ideapad 320s will manage five and a half hours per charge. But at 19mm thick, at least it won’t take up much space on the desk.
7. HP Envy 13 – £949
The HP Envy 13 is a solid mid-tier laptop that will handle the majority of day-to-day tasks with a decent 14-hour long battery life.
It’s got a sleek metallic design and a nearly borderless display that boasts a full high definition 1,920 x 1,080 resolution. At 1.38kg, it’s light enough to be carried around all day and the 8GB of RAM means there’s enough memory to comfortably run a number of applications at once.
There’s also an Nvidia graphics co-processor which steps in to handle the graphical needs of video editing or even some light gaming. If you want to plug in accessories then there are two USB-C ports and two regular USB-A ports.
HP has fitted this computer with quad HP speakers that boast professional audio tuning by Bang & Olufsen.
There’s also an SD card slot for moving data around quickly. If you want to spend more, there are higher-spec models that boost the storage to a whopping 1TB, for a price.
8. Lenovo Yoga Book – £549
The Lenovo Yoga Book is an innovative new take on the portable, low-powered devices and can be folded back on itself to become a tablet.
Rather than have a button-based keyboard, the Yoga Book has a “physical halo keyboard” that appears only when you need it. There are the usual features like predictive input, auto-correct/complete, artificial learning and haptic feedback as well as a backlight.
Although it uses a low-powered Intel Atom processor, the battery life is a staggering 15 hours. You can also use it with a stylus for note-taking and at only 689g, you won’t notice it weighing down your laptop bag.
There’s not enough power here for demanding programs but if you’re after a versatile and portable mobile computer at a decent price then this is a great choice.
9. Acer Chromebook 15 – £400
Acer’s Chromebook 15 uses Google’s cloud-based Chrome OS which means that it needs to be connected to the internet for most of the features to work. There are still some basic features – like word processing and calendars that can be used offline, but you don’t get a lot of storage space (only 64GB) to work with.
Outwardly, the brushed aluminium chassis looks premium and very similar to Apple’s MacBook Air. The 15.6-inch screen manages a 1,920 x 1,080 pixel display and Acer says the battery life is good for 12 hours of mixed use.
Don’t expect to use this for advanced video gaming or editing but because it uses all of Google’s software it will sync up beautifully with your existing documents or contacts. If you’ve got an Android phone then this is a good accompaniment.
10. Alienware 17 – £1,799
If you’re specifically after a laptop for gaming, then there’s none better than Alienware.
The top-level Alienware 17 has a massive 17.3-inch screen a high definition resolution and IPS anti-glare coating. This immovable slab won’t venture away from the desk very often, due to the fact it weighs 4.42kg and the average battery life of 10.5 hours will dry up extremely quickly if you start gaming heavily.
All the power is under the hood as Alienware has packed it with 16GB of RAM and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060M graphics card. There’s also 1TB of hard drive space – which you’ll need considering that modern games can take up to 60GB of space.
While it’s not much for portability, this futuristic-looking machine is all about maximum performance. And you can also colour-code the keyboard and touchpad backlights to make it look even cooler when you switch the lights off for a late-night gaming marathon.
11. Microsoft Surface Laptop – £980
If you don’t want to go for the fully-featured Surface Book 2, you can also pick up Microsoft’s in-house laptop at a bit of a sweeter price.
It’s got a 14.5 hour battery life, a 13.5-inch screen and a swanky, material-covered keyboard. The 720p HD camera on the front of the screen also means you can sign in with just your face through Windows Hello.
There’s a choice of configurations when it comes to internal memory, from 4GB up to 16GB with SSD storage available from 128GB all the way up to 1TB.