Best Laptop 2019 – Buyer’s Guide

The best laptops available now offer performance, features and battery life which would have been unthinkable a few years ago. The choice is also outstanding – which doesn’t help when you’re trying to narrow the options down.

Whether you’re looking for a simple yet fast Chromebook, the best laptop for under £500, a laptop with a DVD drive or one which can handle all your gaming, we have rounded up our pick of the best laptops available to buy online right now. Our impartial reviews tell you why they stand out, and the buying guide at the bottom of the page will help you out if you need some help.

We have also picked and reviewed some of the best computer monitors around in case you decide you need a more permanent setup, larger screen and a bit more power from a desktop PC.

From touchscreen ability to long battery life and lightweight manoeuvrability, we have a computer for all of your wishes.

The Best Laptops – Our Top Picks

IMAGE PRODUCT DETAILS
Asus ZenBook UX433FA Laptop
  • Battery Life: 14 Hours
  • Screen Size: 14 Inches
  • Resolution: Full HD
  • RAM: 8 GB
  • Storage: 256GB SSD
  • USB Ports: 3
  • Dimensions: 15.9 x 31.9 x 1.9cm
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Lenovo 120S Cloudbook Laptop
  • Battery Life: 8 Hours
  • Screen Size: 14”
  • Resolution: 1366 x 768
  • RAM: 4GB
  • Storage: 32GB
  • USB Ports: 3
  • Dimensions: 18.6 x 33.4 x 23.5
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HP Pavilion Power 15-cb004na Gaming Laptop
  • Battery Life: 9 Hour
  • Screen Size: 15.6
  • Resolution: 1920 x 1080
  • RAM: 8GB
  • Storage: 256GB SSD
  • USB Ports: 4
  • Dimensions: 2.4 x 37.8 x 25.2
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Best Windows Laptops

Asus ZenBook UX433FA Laptop

We have crowned this as the best laptop for business needs for various reasons. Firstly, it is ultra-lightweight, so when you are having to transport it around in a laptop bag from office to office or while you are on the commute, it isn’t going to be too bothersome.

There is a very generous battery life too, of 14 hours, so you have the convenience of a portable computer without the strain of having to plug it in every few hours. A built-in microphone and quality, both fantastic quality, will help when you need to make a Skype call, and the fab Intel UHD graphics will make everything a pleasant experience, whether you’re editing videos or simply typing up reports.

It is quick too, so when you’re jumping from task to task or you have to have 1923729 Google Chrome tabs open, it isn’t going to strain under the pressure and leave you waiting before it loads.

There is both Wi-Fi and Ethernet ability, although the lack of headphone socket could put some off. Easily resolves with a pair of wireless headphones, though. A good amount of space will help keep your precious photos and videos in one place, and the sound is excellent without using external options. It may just come in under £1000, but there is no denying you get your money’s-worth.

We say it is the best laptop for business, but we would also say it is the best laptop overall which we reviewed.

Specifications

  • Battery Life: 14 Hours
  • Screen Size: 14 Inches
  • Resolution: Full HD
  • RAM: 8 GB
  • Storage: 256GB SSD
  • USB Ports: 3
  • Dimensions: 15.9 x 31.9 x 1.9cm

We like

  • NumLock feature on keypad for easy data entry
  • Thin and lightweight
  • Nice tilting angle
  • Only need light pressure on keypad

We dislike

  • We had to be picky, but there is no USB C charging which many modern high-end laptops are now developing

Final Verdict

Superb in all areas, and perfect for pretty much any use, whether it is business or pleasure. Definitely a model which is ahead of the curve

Lenovo Ideapad 530S Laptop

In our opinion, one of the best Lenovo laptops available to buy online at the moment. Thanks to an eight hour battery life, you won’t be tethered to one position, and a nice clear screen helps when it is movie time.

There is also a 256GB solid state drive, so you have a great amount of storage to keep all of your precious photos and videos in one place, but it is also quick to get everything up and running as soon as possible with a fast boot time.

An 8GB RAM is enough to help you multitask, whether you are listening to music as you type up your work or need quite a few programmes open to get the job done. It is also pleasantly quiet in operation, no matter how much it is pushed to the limits. You get a bit of a cooling fan noise if you’re very busy and for a few minutes after it is turned on of course, but nothing disturbing.

Something which will appeal to those who don’t like a plastic build is that the casing is completely aluminium, so it feels classy as well as looking very dapper indeed. Great if you want something luxurious and modern, yet it is still a really nice weight and size.

Using the File History feature, you will probably be able to copy files from your old laptop too, which takes the headache out of manually transferring it all. There is no CD/DVD drive, but this is something common with modern laptops, so a separate attachments can be bought if necessary.

Specifications

  • Battery Life: 8 Hours
  • Resolution: Full HD
  • Screen Size: 15.6 Inches
  • RAM: 8 GB
  • Storage: 256GB SSD
  • USB Ports: 2
  • Dimensions: 24.5 x 35.9 x 1.7

We like

  • Screen edges are thin for better visual output
  • Little reflection or glare in sunlight
  • Easy set up via Cortana

We dislike

  • Fingerprint scanner can sometimes be hit and miss (but this is rare)

Final Verdict

Fast startup of under 10 seconds, and there is no denying the overall look and design is a winner. Perfect for those bothered about aesthetics and materials

HP Pavilion Power 15-cb004na Gaming Laptop

If you are looking for the best gaming laptop under £1,000, then HP have made a product for you in the form of the 15-cb004na.

It may be a budget pick when compared to a lot of other gaming models out there, but that by no means is evident when using it. There is still a high-quality NVidia GeForce GTX 1050 graphics card, which is not far behind the one that models which are 3x the price use.

A nine hour battery life means you are free to take it wherever you please, whether you want to sit on the sofa or at a desk. You’re not going to have to hunt for a mains socket for a little while. There are also four USB sockets so you can easily attach additional equipment or access external storage, such as photos or music on a stick.

It is largely quite in use, particularly when considering it is primarily a gaming laptop. There is the option to turn the fan off in BIOS if you are only going to be using low-demand tasks. It seems to charge quickly, too, and the sound is loud even if it lacks a bit of bass.

You don’t get as much storage as with many over £2,000, and RAM may also be a bit less. But on the whole, for the saving you make, it is worth the compromise. You still get a great gaming laptop on a budget, and it doesn’t come with too much bloatware so you can really personalise everything installed

Specifications

  • Battery Life: 9 Hour
  • Screen Size: 15.6
  • Resolution: 1920 x 1080
  • RAM: 8GB
  • Storage: 256GB SSD
  • USB Ports: 4
  • Dimensions: 2.4 x 37.8 x 25.2

We like

  • Nice sleek build
  • Boots fast
  • Backlit keyboard for better experience

We dislike

  • Fan can get very loud if it is showing visuals

Final Verdict

Quick with minimal setup, and a good all rounder whether it is playing Fortnite or surfing the web

Asus X540MA Laptop

Budget laptops can be very hit and miss, especially when they fall into the ‘under £300’ category. But for light multitasking, this laptop offers brilliant value.

It still has all of the specifications you’d expect from a modern day laptop, from the Full HD display, to the nice slim lightweight size. A few unique extras include ASUS IceCool Technology, which keeps the area you rest your palms between 28 and 35 degrees for optimum comfort for hours on end, and ASUS EyeCare which reduces blue light by up to 33% to protect from eye fatigue and tiredness.

You may get a low battery life and RAM when compared to some more expensive models, but they are sacrifices which have to be made if you want to save some pennies. They aren’t issues which should affect your experience or usability, though. On a high point, as it uses hard drive storage, this is massive so it is great for anyone who likes to keep digital copies of all of their photos from years gone by.

There is no ethernet connection, but Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are present. It is very lightweight which makes it good for sitting on your knee on the sofa or taking on the commute, and the screen is anti-glare, which models 10x the cost can sometimes lack.

If you just need an affordable laptop for surfing the web, studying and school work, MS Office, or maybe for family use/as a child’s first computer, then it ticks all those boxes. By far one of the best laptops for basic use

Specifications

  • Battery Life: 4 Hours
  • Screen Size: 15.6”
  • Resolution: Full HD
  • RAM: 4GB
  • Storage: 1TB Hard Drive
  • USB Ports: 3
  • Dimensions: 27.2 x 38.1 x 25.2cm

We like

  • Price
  • Good extras to boost usability
  • Lightweight

We dislike

  • Battery life
  • Very plastic build (forgivable for price)

Final Verdict

A fantastic price for a laptop which surprisingly offers so much. Great for everyday tasks, and nice and easy to set up

Best Chromebooks and Notebooks

Acer CB3-431 Chromebook

If your main concern is battery life, then the Acer CB3-431 is our pick for the absolute best laptop for battery life.

It will give you up to 14 hours of work in one go without charging, which is over a day’s work depending on what you are doing. If you want to be able to take it to a cafe or library for a few hours without trailing your charging cable with you or relying on there being a plug, then it will see you through.

Because it is a Chromebook, it is very Google-centric. Perfect if you do all of your work on Google Docs and share it to the Drive, needing to share the folders and give access to your work colleagues or seminar group at university.

As the files are stored online, you will be able to access them anywhere. That makes Chromebooks one of the best options for those people who are always on-the-go, yet a bit too forgetful to always remember to carry their USB stick or email it to themselves beforehand.

There is also AC Wi-Fi, which makes things a lot quicker without even changing your router or modem. A concentrated beam of Wi-Fi is delivered so you can be further away from the router and still get great signal. It is the fastest available, so you’ll have no buffering on Netflix and will receive shared files instantly.

Safety will likely be an issue, so the built-in antivirus should give you peace of mind when you are surfing the web and entering personal details. You also have access to millions of additional apps to boost your personal experience, as it runs on Chrome OS as opposed to Windows. Just use the Play Store to browse through them all.

Of course, as you may have seen in the specifications, RAM is low. But as everything is pretty Cloud-based, there is little need for a big powerful processor and oodles of storage, unless you’re running a few installed programmes in which case you may need to give it a breather.

Specifications

  • Battery Life: 14 Hours
  • Screen Size: 14”
  • Resolution: 1366 x 768
  • RAM: 2 GB
  • Storage: 15GB Cloud
  • USB Ports: 2
  • Dimensions: 1.7 x 34.1 x 23.7cm

We like

  • Quick start up and logging off
  • Price
  • Design and looks are excellent

We dislike

  • A second screen can’t be used as a sole monitor (has to be mirrored or extended which negatively affects resolution)

Final Verdict

Portability and boot times are top-level, and it feels great to type on. Amazing for under £300

Lenovo 120S Cloudbook Laptop

Students need a few things ticked off when it comes to finding the perfect laptop. They need a good price, a fast startup, generous battery life for those hours spent in the library, and a processor which can handle the 1736292 Google Chrome tabs you need open for reference while you type away at the last minute.

Notebooks are therefore great for university. You get easy access to free programmes such as Google Docs and Slides, which can make it easier to type up all of those essays and create presentations, as well as store them and access from anywhere. No more trekking to the library to realise you have forgotten your USB stick, or paying for subscriptions to Microsoft Office.

If you do need Microsoft Office however, you can buy and use on this Cloudbook. You also get a free Office 365 Personal 1-Year Subscription with the purchase of the laptop. And as it uses Windows 10, you will have full choice of additional programmes to download and use, whether it be Origin for your gaming or Spotify for your music.

Life isn’t all work and no play when you’re a student though, so the 14” HD screen will allow you to catch up on all your Netflix boxsets, and the 32GB storage will let you store up to 10,000 of those hi-res night out photos.

You have the essentials too, such as speakers, camera, HDMI, headphone socket and three USB ports. It is nice and lightweight to carry around, and the 8 hour battery life will give you plenty of time before you have to reach for the charger.

Specifications

  • Battery Life: 8 Hours
  • Screen Size: 14”
  • Resolution: 1366 x 768
  • RAM: 4GB
  • Storage: 32GB
  • USB Ports: 3
  • Dimensions: 18.6 x 33.4 x 23.5

We like

  • Nice price
  • Generous battery
  • Stylish slim design

We dislike

  • Poor webcam

Final Verdict

Smooth to load and reliable - perfect to get you through a stressful couple of years without any fuss or complication

Help and Resources

Laptops and Chromebooks Buying Guide

Battery Life

The stated battery life statistics are usually the absolute maximum time it will run. You will need to have screen brightness and maybe even quality reduced, and be running tasks on the basic side. If you are gaming, or running several high-demand programmes at once, it isn’t going to reach the number in the specifications.

Having said that, you will still want to opt for a high battery life if you know you will be on the move more.

Storage Types

  • SSD – Solid State Drives are fast and slim, which helps with booting up your laptop in a quick time, and also keeping it running at a good speed no matter the pressure it is under. As there are no moving parts to the drive, they are less likely to go wrong compared to hard drives
  • Hard Drive – Bulkier and slower than SSD options, but usually offer a lot more space for your money and come in cheaper laptops
  • Hybrid Drives – Usually a happy medium between the previous two options, giving you the best of both worlds. Although just which bits they pick (space, size or speed) can vary widely

Screen Size

The most common you will find with standard laptops is 15.6”. This gives you a decent screen, with enough room to display everything you need in one place.

With Chromebooks, it is usually 14”. They are designed more for on-the-go needs and quick startups, so this is seen as the ideal size for being able to fit on all of those train tables/work desks/on your knee.

Computer Type

When picking a new laptop, you have three broad options fighting for your cash. Is Windows, Chromebook or MacBook best for you? These are the general pros and cons of each to make it easier to choose the right laptop:

Windows Pros

  • Most popular so vast choice and different brands/specs/prices available
  • Traditional option so you will likely be familiar with the system
  • Widest range of traditional programmes and support such as Adobe and Microsoft programmes
  • Usually best for games
  • Usually the largest screens
  • Frequent updates and it is easy to upgrade

Windows Cons

  • Windows love an update and a few of the latest have been problematic
  • Can start to get slow over the years
  • Easier and most popular target for hackers and viruses
  • Huge choice available can often be overwhelming – there are a lot of duds out there

Chromebook/Cloudbook Pros

  • Very fast, as there are no extra unnecessary installed programmes
  • Usually the cheapest option
  • Usually the best battery life
  • Available in smaller sizes
  • Simple to get used to, as no extra apps are necessary

Chromebook/Cloudbook Cons

  • Internet and Cloud based so restricted if you’re offline
  • Still limited in app availability (many Adobe programmes not available on all for instance) – check whether your favourites and essentials are supported first
  • Sparse choice of games
  • As some are budget options, you may have to compromise on speaker/build/screen quality

MacBook Pros

  • Ability to use alongside iPhone for iMessage etc
  • Compatibility with App store if you’re familiar with this over the Google Play Store
  • Usually superior graphics and screen quality
  • Great camera and microphone for video calls
  • MacOS has won many awards for being sleek and user friendly (after you get over the learning curve)
  • Premium designs and metal finishes so reliable for long-term
  • Best for those in the creative industries as premium editing software is available and pre-loaded

MacBook Cons

  • Price – often at least £1,000, and later models are £2,000+
  • Games for Mac can be more expensive, or not widely available, especially with older games
  • Free Mac programmes such as Pages or TextEdit lack the depth Microsoft programmes can give you, so you may need to buy these licenses as extra
  • Can lack ‘everyday’ functionality such as HDMI ports, CD/DVD drives, or full-sized USB ports so you’ll need to buy extras again

To Summarise

Choose:

  • Windows if you…Like familiarity, regularly use extra applications and programmes, have a long list of essential specifications so need a wide choice
  • Mac if you…Love having the latest tech, are familiar with Apple, want longevity and have a budget of ~£1,000
  • Chrome/Notebook if you…Are on a budget, need something fast and simple for basic tasks, prefer to work on web-based systems and use Cloud storage

FAQ’s

Which Brand Should I Go For?

The most important consideration is which operating system you prefer, but you may also have to think about the manufacturer if you’re not opting for a MacBook.

Some popular laptop brands are HP, Lenovo, Dell, Toshiba, Linux, Acer, Microsoft, Asus, GEO, LG and Huawei. Big gaming names include Razer, Alienware and MSI, and Chromebook names are usually the same as laptops with the addition of Samsung and Google themselves.

You may have a favourite, loyal brand out of all of those, but in general, the specs and build are going to be more important.

Can I Connect My Laptop To The TV?

You will be able to do this in two ways, either by an HDMI or VGA cable, or wirelessly by casting. Chromebooks are great for casting if you have a Chromecast as they link well.

If it is going to be something you need often though, opt for a laptop with an HDMI port if your TV is compatible, as this is the most reliable option.

What Can I Do With My Old Laptop?

If you are buying a new laptop, that means you are probably getting rid of an old one. You have a few choices:

  • Sell It – Whether it is working or not, there is a market. It could be used for parts, or repaired by someone who knows what they’re doing. If still working, someone may just need a cheap option to get by. Make sure you clear all your data and reset it first though
  • Recycle – You may be able to contact a local electronics or computer store, or your town may have an electronics recycling point
  • Donate It – It could be used by a family who can’t otherwise afford it, by a local school or by a charity if it is still in good working order. Charities may want to train people to use technology, offer access for anyone who needs it, or help people apply for jobs