In the market for a new laptop this summer?
With the market bubbling with variety—from featherweight portables to hefty gaming machines; ultra-slick (and expensive) MacBooks to budget Chromebooks; traditional clamshells to touch interfaces to two-in-one tablet/laptop designs—you may be baffled by all your options.
We’re here to guide you through the choppy waters of Currys and Amazon to find your best laptop for the summer of 2018, au courant rose gold colouring optional—but encouraged.
Best Overall: Dell XPS 13
Price: from £999
Screen: 13.3 inches
Weight: 1.21 kg
With very 2018 white and rose gold colour scheme (for £50 more than standard silver and black), the Dell XPS 13 is certainly fashionable. But don’t let its good looks mislead you. This is a serious, well-designed piece of machinery, with a quad-core processor, two ThunderBolt 3 ports, one USB-C 3.1 port (and helpfully, a USB-C to USB-A adapter in the box), and microSD card port, and all at a svelte 1.21 kg. It’s sleeker, more powerful, and cheaper than the MacBook Pro. The InfinityEdge display offers nearly edge-to-edge screen display, with a bezel so thin it’s barely noticeable, and a well-balanced, tactile keyboard.
Drawbacks: Touch screen doesn’t come standard (you’ll pay have to stump for the 4K display for the privilege) and the bezel-free display means the webcam is still lurking below the screen—and staring directly up your nose.
Best Budget Laptop: Asus ZenBook UX330UA
Screen: 13.3 inches
Weight: 1.2 kg
While not the cheapest budget laptop or the fastest, the Asus ZenBook hits all the essentials: good but not cutting-edge processing power from a 7th generation Intel Core i5, excellent battery life, good HD display, intuitive and un-cramped keyboard, the eye-catching brushed aluminium design the ZenBooks have made their trademark. It’s the perfect balance of economy and performance.
Drawbacks: The touch pad is finicky and loses vital space to the fingerprint reader (which is impressive for the budget here, but also temperamental).
Best for Gaming: MSI GS65 Stealth
Price: from £1849
Screen: 15.6 inches
Weight: 1.88 kg
Stealth indeed, the MSI GS65 hides its high octane gaming engine—an Intel Core i7-8750H CPU and a Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 GPU for crystalline graphics—under a slim chassis. It’s portable and lightweight but has the processing power to rival a desktop gaming rig. Dell should make notes too because the GS65 packs a nearly edge-to-edge thin-bezelled 15.6 inch screen and keeps the webcam at the top of the device.
Drawbacks: Might want to not put this baby on your lap. When all cylinders are running, the underside is scorching. The track pad is also stiff and has difficulty distinguishing between right and left clicks. Not a concern if you’re gaming with a mouse but frustrating if you’re relying on it.
Best for Students: Acer Swift 1
Screen: 13.3 inches
Weight: 1.3 kg
With an Intel Pentium CPU, 4GB RAM and 64GB storage, the Acer Swift 1 may have the stats of a tablet—but it also has the price of one, and for a fully-fledged laptop, it’s a steal. Its restricted CPU and storage will limit you largely to word processing, surfing the web, and Netflix but maybe that’s a good thing for university students. With deadlines looming, should you really be launching Steam? Thought so. The Swift 1 is affordable, portable, sturdy, and with its deceptively high-end aluminium cover, surprisingly stylish—at a distance, a great dupe for the MacBook and a less than a third of the price of an Air. The Swift is good for toting between class and the library and… the pub. And if it gets lost, broken, or stolen, at less than £350, it’s not a heartbreak.
Drawbacks: While the manufacturers advertise 10 hours of battery power, the reality is closer to 8—a full day’s work, maybe, but not ideal for all night essay crises and emergency revision sessions. Make sure you grab a seat near one of the library’s electrical sockets.
Best Macbook: 13-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar
Screen: 13.3 inches
Weight: 1.37 kg
Apple diehards will be appeased with this conservative update to the MacBook’s winning formula. The new model boasts updated dual core fire power and the controversial but fairly handy above keyboard Touch Bar. The now iconic all aluminium design is intact, in silver and “space grey,” and the hefty price tag as well.
Drawbacks: It comes equipped only with Thunderbolt 3 ports (Apple is that dedicated to making Thunderbolt happen) so you might need converters for all your devices. The Touch Bar is also polarising. If you’re unconvinced, spring for Pro without one and save yourself some cash.
Best Chromebook: Google Pixelbook
Screen: 12.3 inch
With massive a 128GB – 512GB of storage, a convertible design that doesn’t compromise on the screen or keyboard, and the ability to run native Android apps on top of the Linux-based Chrome OS, the Pixelbook is finally a Chromebook that can vie with the best Windows and Apple machines. It’s expensive for a Chromebook, to be sure, and if you’re wary of investing, you might be swayed by rumours that the so-called “AltOS” project will soon bring Windows 10 to Google laptops. Chromebooks are fast becoming the most versatile laptops on the market and it’s worth springing for one that can do it all.
Drawbacks: The stylus is sold separately, annoyingly, given how essential it is to utilising the tablet configuration. It’ll set you back £99.
Once you've selected a laptop, it's time to find a broadband package to use it with. Head over to our broadband comparison page to find the right deal for you.
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