If you're looking at getting yourself a new laptop but don't really know where to start, you're in luck – that's the entire point of this very page!
Here at TechRadar, we get to review the full breadth and width of currently-available laptops, so we're well and truly across what's worth the dosh and what's not.
Whether it's Apple's freshest MacBook Pro, or the latest winner in the Dell XPS range, we've painstakingly compared and contrasted each one in order to give you a rundown on the laptop with the best value.
We've taken into account ultrabooks, gaming laptops, 2-in-1s, and every other shape and size that laptops come in these days – so don't worry if you're in it for work or play, we've got you covered.
The best laptops of 2018:
What is it about the Dell XPS 13 that's given it pole position on our best laptop list for three years running? In short, it really is the PC response to the MacBook. The 2018 Dell XPS 13 is a slimmer, more powerful version of the award-winning laptop with a stunning 4K display and a gorgeous Rose Gold on Alpine White colour option. The Dell XPS 13 rocks an 8th-generation Intel Core i5 or i7 processor and a bezel-less ‘Infinity Edge’ display, this Dell XPS 13 continues to be the most popular Windows laptop in the world. What’s more, there’s a wide range of customisation options, so you can really make the Dell XPS 13 the best laptop for your needs.
Read the full review: Dell XPS 13
The latest refresh of the ZenBook Flip S gives Asus a seriously powerful competitor in the 2-in-1 sphere. The Flip S UX370 has a new Kaby Lake R 8th-generation processor powering the device, plenty of RAM and a super-fast PCIe SSD in certain models. Its 2-in-1 design means you can use it as both a laptop and a tablet, and while it's not as affordable as some machines on this list, if you have the budget you'll be really happy with this fantastic device.
Read the full review: Asus ZenBook Flip S UX370
If you're after the latest and greatest laptop from Apple, we suggest you look into the 2018 model of the 13-inch Macbook Pro with Touch Bar. While Microsoft had the performance edge over last year's MacBook Pro, with the Surface Book 2, Apple has come out swinging with some seriously beefed up specs for the 13-inch MacBook Pro 2018, and even more so if you go for the larger 15-inch model. The headline Touch Bar – a thin OLED display at the top of the keyboard which can be used for any number of things, whether that be auto-suggesting words as you type or offering Touch ID so you can log in with just your fingerprint – is again included. It's certainly retained Apple's sense of style, but it comes at a cost. If you're open to switching to a PC you should consider the XPS 13, but, if you're a steadfast Apple diehard, this is definitely the best laptop for you!
Read the full review: Apple Macbook with Touch Bar 13-inch (2018)
The new MSI GS65 Stealth has knocked our previous choice of the best gaming laptop, Asus ROG Zephyrus GX501, off this list, thanks to its excellent array of cutting edge components, which includes an 8th-generation Intel Core i7-8750H CPU and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 GPU. It's also more reasonably priced than the Zephyrus GX501, and its subtle design means that it can double as a work or study laptop without raising any eyebrows. If you're looking for a more affordable gaming laptop, however, check out the Dell Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming below.
Read the full review: MSI GS65 Stealth
Last year’s Dell XPS 15 was already one of the best laptops you could buy, but now that Dell has taken the beautiful redesign of the Dell XPS 13 and applied it here – while also making it a convertible. Well, it’s amazing. Not only do you get one of the most aesthetically pleasing 15-inch laptops on the market, but it also packs one of those new Intel Kaby Lake G-series CPUs featuring ‘discrete-class’ Radeon graphics. This means that this laptop packs serious power – even if it can get a little loud.
Read the full review: Dell XPS 15 2-in-1
If you’re looking for a thin and light gaming laptop, but you gasp whenever you see the price of the Razer Blade, the Dell Inspiron 15 7000 might be for you. Not only does this laptop pack a powerful CPU, it now includes a Nvidia GTX 1060 Max-Q – capable of running all of the latest games – in a laptop less than an inch thick. You won’t find a Nvidia MaxQ equipped laptop cheaper than the Dell Inspiron 15 7000, and it looks good, to boot.
Read the full review: Dell Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming
When it comes to the best Chromebook laptop, you have a choice between two stark alternatives. There's the premium Chromebook Pixel, which we list further down this page, and then there's the excellent Asus Chromebook Flip C302, which combines premium features in a much more affordable package. For many people, Chromebooks are excellent and affordable laptops that are perfect for students, and the Asus Chromebook Flip C302 is easily one of the best Chromebooks, and one of the best laptops, money can buy. It comes with an Intel Core processor, full 1080p display, touchscreen, backlit keyboard and USB-C port.
Read the full review: Asus Chromebook Flip
With the Surface Book 2 (13.5-inch), Microsoft has crafted one of the most powerful 2-in-1 laptops in the world. The Surface Book 2 has some powerful enough components to handle most day-to-day tasks, and even some light gaming and video editing if you go for a model with a dedicated graphics card. Brilliant build quality and excellent battery life makes this a wonderful device for using as either a laptop, or as a powerful Windows 10 tablet. It also comes in a 15-inch version, which is more powerful and with a larger screen. If you're after a more affordable 2-in-1 device, then the Acer Switch 3, below, is well worth checking out.
Read the full review: Microsoft Surface Book 2 (13.5-inch)
Last year's iteration of the MacBook is another win for Apple, and it's once again won us over with a gorgeous design, excellent performance and best-in-class battery life. Apple has updated the processors with Intel's 7th-generation Kaby Lake range, which means you get improved performance and longer battery life without sacrificing the thin and light design that the MacBook is famous for. While the MacBook 2017 is not designed as a pure productivity machine, like the more powerful and versatile MacBook Pro above, or as a gaming machine like the Asus ROG Zephyrus GX501, it's still one of the best laptops in the world right now thanks to being a super slim and light MacBook that you can take anywhere without even noticing the weight, and being a powerful showcase for macOS High Sierra. If you're after a MacBook, this year's model is easily one of the best.
Read the full review: Apple MacBook
The best Chromebooks have experienced huge success in recent years as a result of their accessibility, and the Google Pixelbook is no exception. Even though it costs twice as much as the average Chrome OS device and doesn’t come with a stylus as you may expect, the Pixelbook is built to withstand the future. It features a pair of Thunderbolt 3 ports for accessories and super fast file transfers, a hinge that flips inside out for watching movies on planes and a taste of Android. You get full access to the Google Play store on the Pixelbook, from playing Sonic the Hedgehog to watching videos in VLC. The icing on this pixelated cake is its long battery life – it lasted nearly 8 hours in our own testing, so you shouldn’t need to worry about the Pixelbook dying on you.
Read the full review: Google Pixelbook
- This product is only available in the US and UK at the time of this writing. Australian readers: check out a fine alternative in the Asus Chromebook Flip C302
Some of the very best laptops in 2017 have been 2-in-1 devices, and Lenovo has added to that list with the excellent Lenovo Yoga 920. It features a wonderfully slim design, and its build quality is exceptional. The 360 degree hinge allows you to convert the laptop into a tablet-like device, making it flexible in all senses of the word. It's cheaper than the Surface Book 2, and while it doesn't offer quite the same quality when in tablet mode, it's an excellent device with plenty of power and bags of battery life. It's definitely a worthy alternative, and it's easily one of the best laptops we've seen this year.
Read the full review: Lenovo Yoga 920
Which type of laptop is best for you?
General laptops: This broader category is dedicated to devices that focus more on practicality than style, portability or power. That’s not to say they can’t be fast, but you’ll typically find a non-Ultrabook clamshell laptop with an HD screen and spinning drive-based storage for less than $1,000.
Ultrabooks: Where you’ll find thin-and-light notebooks sporting SSD storage and display resolutions that exceed 1080p. Paired with powerful, albeit mobile-centric components and especially long battery life, the best Ultrabooks will cost a pretty penny – closer to $1,000 to $3,000.
2-in-1 laptops: Where notebooks that double as tablets are located. Outfitted with both detachable and 360-degree rotating hinges, these hybrids are the most versatile way to experience Windows 10 (or Chrome OS) on a touchscreen.
Chromebooks: Where you’ll find the best Chromebooks running Chrome OS. These do much of what Windows and macOS can in the browser, focused on cloud storage over local, while recently getting Android app support for touchscreen models. They generally cost less than $500.
Gaming laptops: Need a laptop to play games (almost) just like a shiny desktop PC can? Then you’ll want one of the best gaming laptops. These machines generally cost more than $1,000 and can quickly get into the $4 – 5,000 range for the beastlier models.