This content originally appeared on Mashable for a US audience and has been adapted for the UK audience.
Choosing a new laptop isn’t just about picking a gadget that looks halfway decent. It’s a lifestyle choice. Your job and other life essentials (like Netflix) are vastly improved by the purchase of a slick, reliable laptop.
It’s not a decision that should be made based on simply price or looks. It’s what’s on the inside that counts.
Beginners need something user-friendly and straightforward. Frequent travellers need something light with a long battery life. Designers and gamers need top-notch 4K graphics and quick central processors. And everybody needs something that’s not just going to break after a year. If you’re stuck on a decision, we can help.
What are the best laptop brands?
Apple reigns supreme as the most popular laptop manufacturer and its flagship models — such as the MacBook Pro and MacBook Air — regularly top lists of the very best laptops that money can buy. But it’s far from the only option out there.
The Microsoft Surface has been seriously impressing since its launch in 2012, peaking, in our opinion, with the Microsoft Surface 4 (though newer versions are available). HP offers a range of laptops that span price options and capabilities. Dell is another trusty and versatile manufacturer, with a laptop range including 2-in-1 models and dedicated gaming options. Lenovo is also worth your attention.
What are the best gaming laptops?
If you’re a hardcore gamer, you need a laptop that’s built for gaming. Manufacturers such as Asus, Gigabyte, Razer, and Acer produce laptops that are dedicated to gaming and handling the latest software, combining powerful CPU, GPU, and RAM specs for smooth, uninterrupted gameplay. Household name brands such as HP and Dell also have machines built for top-flight gaming.
What are the most important laptop features?
Not every laptop will suit everyone’s needs. But there are important inner components that every laptop has and it’s important to know what they are:
CPU — Also known as the the processor, this is the brain of the laptop. It controls and communicates with everything else. For general web-surfing, emails, and essay-writing, you won’t need an all-singing, all-dancing CPU. But if you’re a serious gamer, video editor, or graphic designer — or do anything that requires you running big-time software — look for a machine with a solid, up-to-the-minute CPU processor.
GPU — The graphics processing unit, otherwise known as the graphics card. This is responsible for your laptop’s visuals. Once again, the GPU will depend on your laptop activity. You might not need eye-popping graphics for answering emails or writing coursework, but for design work or — perhaps most importantly — rendering visuals in the latest games, choose a machine with the latest, supremely powerful GPU.
RAM — This stands for random-access memory. It’s for running various applications at the same time and using them as and when you need to access. (How many apps are open in your dock right now? That’s all thanks to RAM.) This basically controls the speed and dexterity of your laptop. 8GB of RAM is a good starting point if you’re a multitasker or do heavy-duty gaming and creative work.
Storage — You’ll notice that laptops usually come with one of two types of storage space — hard-disc drive (HDD) or a solid-state drive (SSD) storage. HDD is essentially a hunk of metal inside the machine that holds onto all your info. SSD stores the info on little flash-memory chips. A HDD typically holds more but it’s slower than SSD. Premium and higher-ticket laptops usually come with SSD as standard. There are also cloud and external storage options, depending on your storage needs.
Display — If you’re a gamer or designer, a stunning, high-resolution display is absolutely essential. We recommend a HD 1080p resolution as a base level. Some laptops also have touchscreen capabilities, doubling up as laptop-tablet combos. This is one area where size does matter. Laptops built for gaming and creative work tend to have 15-inch displays but more portable laptops may be 13 or even 11 inches.
How much should a laptop cost?
As with anything in life, you get what you pay for. Just as there’s a laptop specification to suit everyone, there’s a price point too. The laptops included in this list range from around £280 to £3,060. Remember that a laptop is an investment in not just your work but your life too. It’s sometimes worth spending a little extra to get a laptop that will perform harder, faster, and better.
What is the best laptop for you?
It’s overwhelming but this is the kind of stuff we enjoy researching. We’ve put together a definitive guide of the best laptops on the market right now. We compare top brands that you probably have in mind like Apple and Dell, as well as other players you may not have considered otherwise. You’re in good hands.
These are the best laptops in 2023.