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Best Laptop 2020: What Laptop Should I Buy?

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Tablets never took over as some predicted and we’re glad the humble laptop is here to stay. Still, it isn’t easy to choose one, with so many manufacturers, designs and specs to consider. Luckily, we’re on hand to test them out so you can find the best one for your needs.

We’ve reviewed and ranked 15 top laptops you can get right now and we’re adding more (and getting rid of old models) on a regular basis. You’ll find a summary along with our expert rating and where you can buy each laptop, but make sure you click through to each review for more details.

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 laptop deals and the best budget laptops.

Top laptop reviews

1. Dell XPS 15 – Best Overall

2. Huawei MateBook X Pro 2020 – Best Luxury

Huawei MateBook X Pro (2020)

3. Honor MagicBook 14 – Best Value

Honor MagicBook 14

4. Huawei MateBook D 14 – Best Mid-Range

Huawei MateBook D 14

5. Acer Swift 5 – Best Portability

Acer Swift 5 (SF514-54T)

6. Asus ZenBook S13 – Best Ultrabook

Asus ZenBook S13

7. Lenovo Yoga C740 – Best Convertible

Lenovo Yoga C740

8. LG Gram 17 – Best 17in Laptop

LG gram 17 (2020)

9. Samsung Galaxy Book Flex – Best with Stylus

Samsung Galaxy Book Flex

10. Dell XPS 13 – Best Keyboard

Dell XPS 13 9300 (2020)

11. Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 – Best Design

Microsoft Surface Laptop 3

12. Samsung Galaxy Book S – Best Battery Life

Samsung Galaxy Book S

13. Apple MacBook Air 2020 – Best MacBook

Apple MacBook Air (2020)

14. Asus ZenBook Flip 15 – Best for Creatives

Asus ZenBook Flip 15 (UX563FD)

15. Asus ZenBook Pro Duo – Best Dual-Screen

Asus ZenBook Pro Duo

How to choose a laptop

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.

Around £500 or above can get you a solid 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, loads of storage and a gorgeous display. You should also expect excellent build quality and premium materials. Many laptops these days are above £1,000, which is when you start getting the likes of 4K touchscreens and ultra lightweight builds.

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. Generally, 13- or 14in is the sweet spot for portability and usability.

While some cheap laptops have a resolution of 1366×768, there are Full HD, Quad HD and even 4K laptops available. A touchscreen will add to the cost and generally isn’t needed on a laptop, but it is an extra convenience. Also look out for a matt, 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. They’re great for basic tasks and online work, but not much more.

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 (10th) 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. 

Note that many laptop manufactures will refresh laptops with Intel 11th-gen Tiger Lake processors, but typically the device is no different. It’s likely you’ll be able to choose the latest model as well as the last one, which may well be cheaper. Our reviews still stand, but the new chip may improve performance.

Read our comparison of Intel vs AMD.

You can also find laptops with Qualcomm processors, the firm normally known for smartphone and tablet chips. While these are getting better with each new generation it’s still early days. They offer incredible battery life but performance is behind Intel and AMD, plus there are compatibility issues with some software.

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. 

You’ll also likely miss out on ports and connectivity – some ultrabooks include USB-C and nothing more, which makes it more difficult to connect to ethernet, HDMI, or even a standard USB-A accessory like a mouse. You might need a USB-C dock.

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.





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