Best Laptop 2020: Which Laptop Should I Buy?

Trying to find the best laptop money can buy? Here at Tech Advisor we test, review and rank many models with only the top devices making this list. 

Below you’ll find our pick of the top 15 laptops available in the UK right now, along with our final verdict on each and live pricing to ensure you get the best deal. You can also click through to read the original review to find out more information.

If none of the laptops we’ve listed here are quite right for you, let us arm you with the knowledge you need to help you chose what laptop to buy. Below our chart you’ll find extensive buying advice that covers everything from what processor is suitable to how much storage you’ll need and whether or not you should be looking for a more portable option.

If value is your primary concern, we’ve also scoured the web for the best laptop deals and the best budget laptops.

Best laptop reviews

1. HP Envy 13 (2019)

HP Envy 13 (2019)

It might not look any different from the previous model, but the Envy 13 is still a firm favourite at Tech Advisor towers. Yet again, HP is offering outstanding value for money here.

Even the cheapest model has decent specs including an Nvidia MX250 graphics card where many rivals are using the older MX150 or simply integrated graphics. It’s also got something quite rare these days in the form of a humble microSD cards slot.

There might not be Thunderbolt 3 support but that shouldn’t be too much of a big deal for most users. HP has importantly improved the trackpad, battery life and the screen is much better than last year’s model too.

If you want a premium laptop at a reasonable price without scrimping on specs, then the Envy 13 is the one.

Read our HP Envy 13 (2019) review.

2. Dell XPS 13 9380 (2019)

Dell XPS 13 9380 (2019)

The 2019 XPS 13 is much more about refinement than innovation but easily remains one the best 13in laptop around.

Webcam placement aside, the combination of a small form factor, incredibly impressive aesthetics and engineering and the option of a powerful Core i7 or cheaper i3 processor make it an ideal companion for almost anyone.

This isn’t a gaming laptop, as the on-board graphics are unimpressive, and if you need GPU grunt for things like video editing then there are similarly priced, or even cheaper, rivals that have dedicated graphics cards if you need it..

Last year’s model also remains an excellent buy too if you’re looking for a slightly more budget option.

Read our Dell XPS 13 9380 (2019) review.

3. Microsoft Surface Laptop 2

Microsoft Surface Laptop 2

The Surface Laptop 3 is now here to replace this model, but we’re not convinced it’s worth spending extra on. 

Microsoft hasn’t changed a huge amount so you’ll be splashing on on a collection of small upgrades. They do make for a better laptop but while the Surface Laptop 2 is available at a much cheaper price, we recommend getting a better value deal.

The main reason would be to get the larger 15in size, but the 13in model will be more popular anyway we imagine. The Surface Laptop 2 remains an excellent choice for design, features and performance.

Read our Microsoft Surface Laptop 2 review.

4. Acer Swift 5 (SF514-54T)

Acer Swift 5 (SF514-54T)

The Acer Swift 5 is a decent laptop choice if you’re looking for a combination of style, portability, price and power.

It ticks all these boxes with ease and also has a good selection of ports and decent battery life to boot. There’s little to dislike then but it’s not quite perfection.

The screen and keyboard are sub-par and you can get a dedicated graphics card inside the HP Envy 13 for the same price, or less at some retailers.

Read our Acer Swift 5 (SF514-54T) review.

5. Asus ZenBook S13

Asus ZenBook S13

Asus has been making dependable laptops for years without earning the hype of Dell or Apple’s latest, but the ZenBook S13 is a sign that this is an under-appreciated company operating at the top of its game.

Right now you cannot find an ultrabook that crams specs like this (including an i7, discrete graphics, and 512GB SSD storage) into a body this small, and the S13 does it all while under-cutting most of the market on price. That’s not even mentioning the reverse notch – what could have been a design gimmick but in fact keeps the bezels slim while providing an unexpectedly handy lip for opening the laptop.

The silver finish might be a bit bling and the trackpad isn’t the best, but those are minor complaints in the grand scheme of things. If you can afford to drop a grand and a half and want discrete graphics in an ultra-portable package, the S13 is a very easy recommendation.

Read our Asus ZenBook S13 review.

6. Huawei MateBook X Pro

Huawei MateBook X Pro

The Matebook X Pro is a great deal, especially if you can stretch to the flagship model which offers a Core i7 processor and Nvidia MX150 graphics.

Factor in the high-resolution touchscreen and you’re getting much better value than the flagship Dell XPS 13 9370. 

It’s frustrating that you still can’t buy the Matebook X Pro in the UK, but if you’re in the US where you can order it from the Microsoft store, it should be firmly on your shortlist.

The MateBook X Pro for 2019 is official but you can’t buy it so we’re leaving this model in the chart until that time comes.

Read our Huawei MateBook X Pro review.

7. Asus ZenBook 14 UX433

Asus ZenBook 14 UX433

The ZenBook 14 is a very promising shakeup to the Asus laptop line. It’s smaller, lighter, and better looking than any of the previous models, without having to sacrifice either ports or powers. There aren’t many laptops around that can offer you a 14in display in a body this compact while still giving you USB-A and HDMI ports, not to mention a Core i7 processor.

Unless you’re an Excel addict you can probably safely ignore the glowing numpad – it’s a fun gimmick, but most of us will probably forget it’s even there, and without tactile feedback it’s hardly a proper replacement for the keys. Still, this is a strong enough laptop elsewhere that it doesn’t need that gimmick to get by, and there’s plenty to recommend it otherwise.

The only question mark is pricing. In the US this is unquestionably good value, with some serious specs on offer for just over a grand. In the UK you get lower specs for almost the same price. It’s not quite enough to make the ZenBook 14 a bad choice – you’re still getting a lot of laptop for your money – but it’s no longer the no-brainer it is in the States.

Read our Asus ZenBook 14 UX433 review.

8. LG gram 17

LG gram 17

The Gram 17 sets itself apart from the competition with it’s pretty 17-inch display while weighing just 2.95 lbs.

A laptop that light, with a large pretty screen, military grade 810G endurance testing and 8th generation core i7 processors make for a whole lot of power and display potential in an extremely light package.

If you want the most portable, powerful laptop you can find that still holds a nice big 17-inch 2650 x 1600 display then look no further than the Gram 17.

Read our LG gram 17 review.

9. Apple MacBook Air (2019)

Apple MacBook Air (2019)

The MacBook Air remains a good choice for a portable laptop that’s powerful enough to do various tasks. Our disappointment comes from how similar it is to last year’s model and the fact the power is actually slightly down on the 2018 Air.

It’s still something of a classic in the world of laptops but is just a little bit samey. It now comes with an improved keyboard, although it’s still not perfect, and True Tone screen technology. 

It might be a little cheaper than before but Windows rivals are still often better value.

Read our Apple MacBook Air (2019) review.

10. HP Spectre Folio

HP Spectre Folio

The HP Spectre Folio isn’t for those looking for a powerful machine. Instead, the focus here is on style and versatility.

In those areas, the Folio excels with its gorgeous and well-made combination of metal and leather and the various ways in which you can use the device – both like a laptop and a tablet.

Highlights include the excellent screen and amazing battery life. Downsides include a lack of power for any advanced tasks and a shallow keyboard.

Read our HP Spectre Folio review.

11. Asus ZenBook Pro Duo

Asus ZenBook Pro Duo

The ZenBook Pro Duo is an oddity: a premium creative-focussed device that pairs top specs with 4K displays. Yup, that’s ‘displays’ plural.

The main 4K OLED panel is paired with a secondary LCD screen built into the body at the same pixel density (so it’s technically not 4K, but it basically counts). You can use it for multi-tasking with multiple apps, extending a single program into the extra space, or simply to drag distractions like Slack or Twitter down and away from your main project.

Beyond the dual display novelty, specs range up to a Core i9, 32GB RAM, 1TB of storage, and RTX 2060 graphics, meaning this will breeze through even demanding creative work and comfortably game at 1080p (or 4K if you don’t mind iffier frame rates).

There are downsides though. The Pro Duo is big, it’s heavy, the battery life is rubbish, and it’s often uncomfortable thanks to the cramped keyboard and trackpad. It’s expensive too, though it’s not too unreasonable given the specs inside.

Don’t write the ZenBook Pro Duo off as a mere novelty without trying it though. This may or may not be the future of laptops, but for creatives, multi-taskers, and the attentionally challenged, the second display quickly makes a case for itself. The question isn’t really whether you need an extra display then – it’s how much you’re willing to compromise elsewhere to get it.

Read our Asus ZenBook Pro Duo review.

12. Acer Swift 3 SF315

Acer Swift 3 SF315

The Acer Swift 3 is not a killer laptop in any one area. But it gathers enough appeal in a wide variety of areas to make a lot of sense for people after a laptop that can do just about anything. It has better games performance than your average Intel machine, though, and the screen is fairly good even if its colour depth is limited.

Most of all, though, it looks and feels nicer than a lot of 15.6in laptops in this class. And costs less than other premium models that match it for build. That said, if we had £799 to spend we’d be very tempted by the 14in Swift 3 with an Intel Core i5 CPU and MX150 GPU. It will handle games that bit better.

Read our Acer Swift 3 SF315 review.

13. Huawei MateBook 13

Huawei MateBook 13

It may sound a bit obvious to compare the MateBook 13 to the MacBook Air, but it’s hard not to. With such similar designs there’s little to tell the laptops apart on aesthetics, and as soon as you look at the internals Huawei’s laptop pulls sharply ahead.

The base model offers double the storage of Apple’s for £300/$200 less, while the more expensive one manages to include a faster processor, double the storage, and a discrete GPU (though the UK doesn’t get the GPU), and still comes out cheaper than Apple’s £1,399/$1,399 setup.

The only real compromises are on webcam picture quality and battery life, though the latter could be a dealbreaker for anyone seriously considering switching from San Cupertino.

Read our Huawei MateBook 13 review.

14. Microsoft Surface Book 2 13.5in

Microsoft Surface Book 2 13.5in

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. For the average Joe, a cheaper rival will suffice such as the Surface Laptop.

If you want you can also opt for the 15in version – reviewed here.

Read our Microsoft Surface Book 2 13.5in review.

15. Apple 15in MacBook Pro (2019)

Apple 15in MacBook Pro (2019)

We’re still waiting for a physical redesign, but the MacBook Pro remains a decent laptop choice if you’re looking for high-performance on the go. The design is hardly bad, but Apple still hasn’t sorted out the keyboard issue – although if it does affect you, the firm will sort it out for free.

The headlines for this 2019 refresh are new 9th-gen Intel processors with up to eight cores and new graphics cards, too. The 15in model is your best choice in the current range if you need power since the 13in size has only been given a small processor bump.

While the MacBook Pro is still a stunning device, the price is very high, especially if you don’t want the entry-level specs. If you’re not set on macOS then there are a few Windows rivals available for less.

Read our Apple 15in MacBook Pro (2019) review.

How to choose the best laptop for you

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 you spend on a laptop? 

Sometimes the best does come at a steep price, but equally you can get a lot of laptop for under £500 or even £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. Many laptops these days are above £1,000.

Students, this selection of laptops is just for you.

Laptop buying guide 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 you 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 you 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.

These Google-powered laptops might struggle to make it into this chart, but we have rounded up the best Chromebooks if they are more suited to you.

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 are looking for something for games, we have a separate round-up of best gaming laptops.)

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. 

Read our comparison of Intel vs AMD.

Which laptop should I buy?

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.

When you’ve bought a new laptop, be sure to take a few minutes to configure it so you can track your laptop should it ever be stolen or lost.

Source link