Picking the best laptop for your needs and budget is now more important than ever. Many of us are feeling the effects of rising bills and taxes, and combined with a lot of us working from both home and the office, due to the ongoing pandemic, if you're going to buy a new laptop, you'll want to make sure it's right for you.
This is where we can help, as we've used our expert knowledge to put together this list, which covers a wide range of laptops for various budgets. Every laptop on this list has been extensively tested by us (you can read about how we test laptops), and we've reviewed hundreds of devices over the years - so you can trust our advice.
Instead of filling this guide with extremely powerful (and expensive) laptops, we've curated it to include a range of suggestions for all kinds of budgets instead.
The big news is that the MacBook Air (M1, 2020), which has been at the top of this list for almost two years, has finally been replaced... by the new MacBook Air (M2, 2022). Also new is Huawei's stunning new MateBook X Pro which is the best Windows laptop to get.
The new MacBook Air comes with a stunning new redesign that makes it lighter and thinner, while also featuring a bigger and brighter screen, and improved webcam and speakers, plus the powerful new M2 chip for even better performance. It's a great upgrade, but it comes with a higher price tag.
That means the older MacBook Air is still on our list as well, this time as a value pick, as it still offers brilliant performance for the price, which will hopefully drop further now the new model is out.
We also have the Lenovo IdeaPad Duet Chromebook on this list as our pick of the best budget laptop, since it delivers enough power for day-to-day tasks and long battery life for an incredibly low price.
From cutting-edge Ultrabooks to affordable Chromebooks - and everything in between, our top picks below are worth checking. Along with our built-in price comparison tool, you can buy in confidence knowing you've got the best deal for the best laptop for you.
Best laptops 2022
As we had hoped, the new Apple MacBook Air (M2, 2022) is the best laptop you can currently buy, improving on Apple's previous model (which is still on this list), in a range of important ways.
It's got a brand-new design that gives it a more modern feel, while making it thinner and lighter, and in our review, we loved the fact that it also features a larger, brighter, screen.
There's even more good additions with this new model, including a larger Touch ID sensor for logging in with your fingerprint, and a 1080p webcam, which makes the new MacBook Air a brilliant laptop for people who make a lot of video calls - and these days, that's most of us. Meanwhile, the new MagSafe charging port makes topping up the battery of the new MacBook Air easy, safe and fast.
The insides of the MacBook Air are just as revolutionary as the outside, with the powerful new M2 chip offering excellent performance for a range of tasks such as 4K video editing. The MacBook Air (M2, 2022)'s battery life is also absolutely fantastic, lasting over 16 hours in our tests, so if you're looking for a laptop that is thin, light and powerful, and can be taken almost anywhere, this is for you.
However, it is more expensive than the previous model - by quite a bit, so if you're looking for something more affordable, consider the still-excellent MacBook Air (M1, 2020), which is our pick as the best value laptop of 2022.
Make sure you check out all the best MacBook Air deals and sales available now before you buy.
Read the full review: MacBook Air (M2, 2022)
If you prefer Windows over Mac, then you'd be hard pressed to find a laptop as good as Huawei's latest MateBook X Pro. It has just about everything you'd expect from a high-end laptop including a beautiful design that's thin and light, a gorgeous screen that's high resolution and refresh rate, performance that you can crank up and features that stand out.
If security is your thing, the new Huawei MateBook X Pro supports Windows Hello with not only an IR camera, but also a fingerprint scanner. The keyboard is fantastic to type on and the large glass trackpad can do some neat tricks with gestures that help with everyday usage. The four mics and speakers make you sound good on video calls while sounding great when listening to media.
The laptop features the latest Intel 12th gen processor but goes into overdrive with performance mode that increases the TDP to 30 watts when plugged in for better performance out of it. The battery life is mediocre which is somewhat expected with all that you're getting but a 90w fast charger juices it up very quickly.
The brand-new MacBook Pro 14-inch is easily the best productivity laptop you can buy in 2021. For creative professionals such as photographers, video editors and music producers, the MacBook Pro 14-inch (2021) is a dream to use, thanks to a choice between powerful new M1 Pro or M1 Max chips that can handle even the most intensive workloads with ease.
Not only that, but its Liquid Retina XDR display with mini-LED technology is absolutely stunning, and the best screen you can get on a laptop right now. Add in a 1080p webcam and boosted port selection, and you have a brilliant business and productivity laptop. It won't be for everyone – the price and power will be too much for most people's needs – but if you want a killer laptop to do creative work on, this is the laptop to get. For everyone else, check out the MacBook Air (M1, 2020) instead.
Read the full review: MacBook Pro 14-inch (2021)
While Apple blew us away with the new MacBook Air (above), arch rival Microsoft has also impressed us with its Surface Laptop 4. As with previous Surface devices, build quality and design is absolutely top-notch here, and its gorgeous PixelSense touchscreen really sets it apart from the competition (a touchscreen is something we've yet to see on an Apple laptop, as Microsoft likes to remind us).
It also comes with a brilliant keyboard that's a joy to type on, and some pretty great specs as well, which ensures that Windows 11, and all your favorite apps, run extremely well. Battery life is also very impressive – lasting over 13 hours in our tests – and the price is impressively competitive as well.
Read the full review: Microsoft Surface Laptop 4
The Huawei MateBook 14s is easily one of the best Ultrabook you can get right now. It has an excellent screen size of 14.2-inches with a high-resolution and fast refresh rate. It also comes with Intel's high powered Core i7-11370H Processor, 16GB or RAM and 512GB of storage.
It's also part of Huawei's 'Super Device' lineup, meaning it can wirelessly interact with select Huawei tablets and smartphones to - quite literally - extend your screen's desktop or even run mobile apps, or simply to drag and drop files between devices. It's an uncanny offering for sure, but one that we're sure will be the norm fairly quickly.
On the security side, Windows Hello is supported through a fingerprint scanner or the camera. Add to that all kinds of ports such as HDMI, USB3.2 and USB-C along with fast charging and a 60 Wh battery and you have a laptop that it just about perfect.
Beyond the Acer Swift 3's modest exterior, you'll find an excellent laptop that boasts plenty of power for work and study. The Swift 3 (not to be confused with the Switch 3 another laptop from Acer) is an inexpensive laptop; however, that plain chassis is all-aluminum and packed with beefy components.
In terms of performance, it gets surprisingly close to the far more expensive Microsoft Surface Laptop. Its display is a little lower-res, but the two are otherwise strikingly similar - other than the price.
This laptop is incredible to use as well, with its roomy trackpad as well as its backlit keyboard that offers a comfortable typing experience with decent travel. If you're going to be writing a lot – whether you’re traveling or at the office, this is one of the best budget laptops 2021 has on offer.
Read the full review: Acer Swift 3
At this point, we doubt that the Dell XPS line can do anything wrong. Its yearly updates have consistently made it to our best laptops list, and they’re only getting better. The Dell XPS 13 (2020) is not only a gorgeous piece of kit. It also comes, as expected, with excellent performance, a stunning display and long battery life, alongside a few others.
Much like its predecessor, it’s a pricey investment – but that is barely reason enough for us to discourage Ultrabook fans. This is among the best laptops of 2021, and it’s worth every penny.
Read the full review: Dell XPS 13 (2020)
This luxurious thin and light gaming laptop from Razer just oozes class, and is an ideal laptop for people who want a gaming device they can take around with them. It's solidly built, so you won't worry about it getting damaged during your travels, and it's one of the nicest looking modern gaming laptops we've seen.
It's not all about looks, however, as the Razer Blade 14 comes with cutting edge components as well, including the awesome AMD Ryzen 9 5900HX processor and up to an RTX 3080 graphics card. This means you'll be able to play any AAA game you want in all its glory. It's by far the best gaming laptop you can buy in in 2022, but it does cost a lot of money.
Read the full review: Razer Blade 14
The LG Gram 17 is one of the best laptops of 2021, and the new version once again features an incredibly light design, and comes with some of the best mobile tech in the world.
That includes Intel's new 11th generation processors and Iris Xe graphics as well as two Thunderbolt 4 USB-C ports, and coupled with up to 16GB of RAM and speedy SSDs, means this is a laptop that is brilliant for day-to-day tasks. Battery life is also phenomenal, easily lasting around 12 hours on a single charge.
It's one of the best laptops for carrying around for school and work, then. However, it is expensive, and the design is a little plain.
The long battery life and stunner of a screen are back, though so too is its steep price tag. It’s worth it though if you want the power and portability of Ultrabooks yet also need a bigger screen.
Read the full review: LG Gram 17 (2021)
The new Apple MacBook Air (M1, 2020) isn't just the best laptop Apple has ever made, it's the best laptop money can buy right now. This is the first time a MacBook has topped our list, but the MacBook Air (M1, 2020) is worthy of this spot. Thanks to the revolutionary ARM-based Apple M1 chip that powers the new MacBook Air (Apple has ditched Intel for these new laptops), this is a stunning achievement: a thin and light laptop that offers great performance, even with 4K video editing, while also offering incredible battery life.
Easily managing over 11 hours on a single charge, this is a laptop you can easily carry around with you at work or school, and its price is incredibly competitive compared to Windows 10 rivals like the Dell XPS 15 (below). Running both new and old Mac apps, the new MacBook Air can now also run iOS apps for iPhone and iPads, giving it access to hundreds of brilliant mobile applications and games as well.
Even if you've only ever used Windows laptops before, the MacBook Air (M1, 2020) is well worth getting and making the jump to macOS. Yes, it really is that good. Make sure you check out all the best MacBook Air deals and sales available now before you buy.
Read the full review: MacBook Air (M1, 2020)
What should you look for when buying a new laptop?
There are certain things you can look out for when buying a new laptop in 2021 that can ensure you get the best laptop for your money.
Make sure you take a look at the specifications of a laptop before buying. This is a good way of quickly seeing how powerful a laptop is, and what it is capable of – as long as you know what you’re looking for.
First of all is the processor. This is essentially the brain of the laptop, and a laptop will usually have a processor (also known as a CPU) made by either Intel or AMD. Intel is by far the most popular CPU maker for laptops, though we’re seeing an increasing number of AMD-powered laptops as well.
As a general rule of thumb, Intel processors offer better performance, but AMD processors are better value.
To make things more simple, both Intel and AMD have numbered their processors to give you a rough idea of what sort of tasks a laptop with that processor can perform.
If you’re after a budget laptop for simple tasks like browsing the web or watching Netflix, then a laptop with an Intel Pentium, Intel Core i3 or AMD Ryzen 3, processor will do that job without making the laptop too expensive.
If you’re after something with a bit more oomph – perhaps to do more complex task like editing your home videos or playing games – then go for a laptop with an Intel Core i5 or AMD Ryzen 5 processor as a minimum.
The best laptops for media creation, and more complex tasks, come with an Intel Core i7 or Core i9 processor, or an AMD Ryzen 7 processor. Laptops with these processors in them are top-of-the-range laptops that will provide brilliant performance no matter what you want to do – but be warned that they are often found in the most expensive laptops.
Finally, keep an eye on how new the processor is. Intel handily gives its processors generations, so the higher the generation, the newer it is. The latest generation is the 10th generation, though 9th generation Intel Core processors are also pretty recent.
A newer processor performs better and is more power efficient – so battery life will last longer. They are more expensive, though.
RAM (Random Access Memory) is another important specification to look for in a laptop. You’ll want 4GB at the very least for a Windows laptop – though we’d actually recommend for many people to go for 8GB. That will ensure that the laptop runs well for years to come.
When it comes to graphics, you don’t need to worry too much, as laptop processors come with built-in (integrated) graphics. However, if you want to play PC games on your laptop, then you’ll want a gaming laptop with a discrete GPU – either from Nvidia or AMD.
How to pick the best laptop for you
So, what makes a laptop worth buying? First, it needs to offer excellent value for money. That means budget laptops below the $400/£400 price point need to still offer good performance and build quality.
Meanwhile, ultra-expensive devices need to justify their high price tags with best-in-class performance, premium build quality and lengthy battery lives.
If you want something to work on, a laptop with a modern processor, at least 8GB of RAM and a large screen (and comfortable keyboard) are worth considering.
For gaming, you'll want the best gaming laptop with a dedicated graphics card and fast and responsive screen.
Check out our guide on what you should look for when buying a new laptop at the end of this page for more in-depth advice on buying a laptop.
What are the best laptop brands?
The best brands for laptops include Apple, Dell, Lenovo and HP, and they all have their strengths. For example, Apple make brilliantly-designed slim and light laptops, while Dell does a great range of high-end ultrabooks, as well as affordable devices and Chromebooks as well. Lenovo's well known for making solidly-built business laptops (and some great 2-in-1 laptops as well), and HP’s also been making some gorgeous laptops recently that are some of the best laptops in the world.
When it comes to gaming, the best laptop brands include Alienware, Asus and Acer.
How much RAM does a laptop need?
RAM (Random Access Memory) is an important specification to look for in a laptop. You’ll want 4GB at the very least for a Windows laptop – though we’d actually recommend for many people to go for 8GB. That will ensure that the laptop runs well for years to come. Budget Chromebooks can get away with less RAM, such as 1GB or 2GB.
Battery life considerations
Finally there’s battery life. This is likely to be one of the most important considerations you have when choosing what laptop to buy. The best laptops need to be able to let you work - and play - for hours on end without you having to scramble for a power adapter. Modern laptops are getting ever more power-efficient, which has led to longer battery lives. For a laptop to be included in our best laptops list, it needs to offer a battery life of five hours or more.
Bear in mind that the battery life that the laptop makers claim their device has could be quite different to what you actually experience. This is because many laptop makers test their batteries in very controlled environments, with the laptop used in ways that you might not necessarily use. So, while a laptop might have a claimed battery life of 10 hours, you may find that when using it for certain tasks – like streaming high definition content – your battery life could run out faster.
That’s where our in-depth reviews come in, as we run a series of tests on each laptop in this best laptops guide to see how long the battery life lasts under certain conditions. If a laptop’s battery is ridiculously short (or impressively long) we’ll tell you.
Which type of laptop is best for you?
General laptops: Where the best cheap laptops (opens in new tab) are found, 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 AED 1,500 or SAR 1,500.
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 (opens in new tab) will cost a pretty penny.
2-in-1 laptops: Where notebooks that double as tablets are located. The Surface Book 2 might be a ways off (opens in new tab), but many of the best 2-in-1 laptops (opens in new tab) are available right now. 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 (opens in new tab) 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 your general laptop.
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 (opens in new tab). These machines can get super pricey and they’ll likely be the ones to take advantage of AMD’s laptop-grade Ryzen processors (opens in new tab) first. If you're really on a budget, then you can check out the best cheap gaming laptop deals (opens in new tab).
Laptop-tablet hybrids: Designed from the tablet-first approach to laptop-tablet hybrids, the best Windows tablets (opens in new tab) pack beyond-HD touchscreens, sometimes with kickstands in their frames or provided via keyboard covers. These generally shine with a stylus, and range from the budget to the premium price ranges.
How we test laptops
We know that buying a new laptop can be a huge investment, so every laptop in this list has been extensively tested by us. When we test laptops, we use them in our day-to-day lives to see who they perform. We look at their design, including how stylish they are, or if they are thin and light enough to carry around with, and how comfortable they are to work on.
When it comes to performance, we use a mix of real-world tests and synthetic benchmarks to see how powerful (or not) these laptops are. This means using Windows 10 (or Chrome OS on Chromebooks and macOS on MacBooks) and running various apps and seeing how fast they load, noting down any problems.
These days, the webcam and microphone in a laptop is also incredibly important, so we take time to test out these as well. When it comes to gaming laptops, we’ll run more benchmark tests, as well as fire up games to play on them as well (it’s a hard job, isn’t it?)
Battery lives are also important, so we’ll keep track on how long we can use the laptop without needing to charge. We also run our own battery life benchmark that plays a looped 1080p movie until the battery dies. We also run the PC Mark 10 battery life benchmark, which replicates real-world usage, such as web browsing and document creation. These tests give us an excellent idea of how long the batteries in these laptops last.
We then take everything we’ve learned about the laptop and compare it to its price, to see if it offers the best value to customers.