How To Choose A Laptop
Whatever is most important to you, theres a laptop tailored for your needs. The main components that everyone should strive to look for are:
- Battery life No one wants to be halfway through work, classes, or a gaming match just to have their laptop die when they need it most. If youre out more often, consider a laptop with longer battery life. If youre mainly at home, think about purchasing one that has more power at the expense of less battery.
- Performance A good processor means that your computer will load apps faster, run multiple programs at once, and most importantly wont lag or slow down while doing so.
- Weight/ Size Do you want to be able to throw it into a backpack and go? Prefer a bigger screen for movies and games? Consider what size and build of laptop you want and weigh the pros and cons for what you need most from your new portable computer.
- Design While maybe not a top query for everyone, if youll be using your laptop every day You may as well choose a computer that you enjoy looking at and showing off.
Should You Consider Buying A Refurbished Laptop
Absolutely. You can get some serious discounts by picking up refurbished laptops. But remember a few things.
Firstly, you should only buy refurbished laptops from certified sellers. Lenovo and Dell both have official outlet websites, where you can pick up refurbished laptops that have been checked over and restored to as good a working condition as possible by certified engineers.
You should be a lot more careful when buying refurbished laptops from unofficial sellers as theres basically no guarantee that youre not getting some clapped out old hand-me-down.
The Best Laptop Of 2021
The late-2020 MacBook Air, powered by Apples M1 processor, is the best laptop you can buy. The base model, which includes 8GB of RAM and 256 GB of storage, starts at $999.
Appearance-wise, this laptop has a lot in common with the Intel-powered MacBook Air that Apple released earlier this year, including the same 2560 x 1600 screen, Touch ID, 720p webcam, fingerprint sensor, and scissor-switch keyboard.
But the new processor is the star of the show here its fast. In our testing, it handled intense photo- and video-editing workloads better than almost any Intel-powered laptop weve tried this year. It was also able to run Shadow of the Tomb Raider at close-to-playable frame rates, which is quite a feat for integrated graphics. At launch, these apps hadnt yet been optimized for the M1 processor and were running through Apples Rosetta 2 translation layer but they still worked fine.
And the processing power didnt even weigh down the battery life: we got between eight and 10 hours of sustained work.
Another benefit of the M1 processor is that it enables the MacBook Air to run iPhone and iPad apps natively on macOS. As of this writing, there still isnt a huge selection of mobile apps available, and some that have been released arent quite optimized for the laptop screen. Still, its a benefit we can look forward to as time goes on.
The MacBook Pro is an excellent laptop for video editing and intensive work.
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Apple Macbook Pro 16in : A Powerhouse Laptop With Great Battery Life
Price: From £2,399 |
Apple’s M1 processors go from strength to strength in the 2021 MacBook Pro range of laptops and the 16in is quite simply the best all-round portable computer we’ve reviewed. It comes with the barnstormingly quick Apple M1 Pro processor inside, from 16GB to 64GB of RAM and SSDs ranging from 512GB to a huge 8TB in capacity.
Its 16.2in, 120Hz ProMotion mini-LED display is the real star of the show, however. With peak brightness of up to 1,600cd/m2, black response levels nearly as good as an OLED screen, and a choice of professional-level colour calibrations to choose from, it’s the best screen we’ve ever seen on a laptop.
Not only that, but Apple has brought back the HDMI port and SD card slot for this edition, and it has banished the Touch Bar in favour of a full-sized function key row and a lovely large Escape key.
Prices start at £2,399, which means this powerhouse won’t be for everyone. However, if you’re a creative professional in need of serious computing power on the move, there is no better laptop.
Read our full Apple MacBook Pro 16in review for more details
Key specs Display size: 16.2in Resolution: 3,456 x 2,234 Type: mini-LED CPU: Apple M1 Pro or M1 Max Graphics: 16-core or 32-core RAM: 16GB, 32GB or 64GB Storage: 512GB, 1TB, 2TB, 4TB or 8TB SSD Dimensions: 356 x 248 x 17mm Weight: 2.1kg , 2.2kg
Dell Xps Keyboard And Touchpad
No, your eyes aren’t deceiving you, the XPS 13’s edge-to-edge keyboard is sporting larger keycaps 9% larger to be exact. Despite the bigger size, the keys are still well-spaced and none of them were downsized to make room. I also like the backlighting that is bright enough for me to make out every key character in a darkened room.
Typing on the keys proved to be a comfortable experience, although I prefer a bit more feedback. Still, I reached 71 words per minute on the 10FastFingers typing test, which is slightly above my 70-wpm average.
My fingers glided effortlessly over the glass Precision touchpad. At 4.4 x 2.6 inches, the touchpad is 17% larger than previous iterations, giving me extra room to navigate web pages. Performing Windows 10 gestures such as pinch-zoom and three-finger swipe were seamless in execution. The bottom corners of the touchpad delivered firm, clicky feedback.
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What Processor Should I Buy
The most popular CPUs for laptops today are Intels eighth-generation Whiskey Lake processors that include low-power Y-series and fast and efficient U-series. For most productivity Windows 10 users, we recommend a minimum of the Core i5-8265U, which is a highly capable processor that can handle most productivity tasks without slowing down. Its also efficient, meaning youll enjoy great battery life. If you skip back to older generations of Intel processors, youll find slower clock speeds and fewer cores at your disposal, meaning you may run into bottlenecks while multitasking or running multi-threaded applications.
Chromebook running on Googles more efficient Chrome OS can utilize slower processors and still perform well, such as an Intel Core i3 or even a Pentium processor. Not many Chromebooks bother with the fastest Core i7 CPU.
If youre looking for a gaming or content creation laptop, we recommend either last years eighth-generation or the most current ninth-gen, ultra-power H-series CPUs. Youll find these in laptops ranging from the Dell XPS 15 to the Razer Blade 15.
What To Look For In A Laptop
This is the brain of your computer. The number of cores, processing power and price range is a good indicator of the overall level of CPU power on offer.
Laptops generally use low-power-consumption CPUs for better battery life.
Be careful in comparing the Intel family of CPUs with those from AMD their main competitor as quoted speed figures aren’t directly comparable.
The same goes for the sub-families of each brand for example, Intel Core i3, i5, i7 and i9 are increasingly high performance, even at the same quoted frequency figure in GHz likewise with the M series processors designed for highly mobile computers. The same goes for AMD’s Ryzen series of processors.
Each new generation of processors is usually faster than the previous generation, even at the same chip frequency. Thus, you can expect a 2.4GHz 10th-generation CPU to be faster than a 2.4GHz 9th-generation CPU, or earlier generation.
A lack of RAM will slow your computer when running multiple programs, using a lot of web browser tabs or performing labour-intensive tasks, such as image processing.
Expect a minimum of 4GB even in a budget Windows system, but ideally aim for at least 8GB for most general-use laptops and 16GB or more for high-end models. Don’t skimp on RAM at purchase time as it’s likely you may not be able to upgrade/increase it later.
CHOICE tip: Choose a larger screen if you’re planning on regularly watching TV or movies on your laptop.
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Microsoft Surface Pro 2017 123 Inches
This is a premium laptop cum tablet running on Windows 10 Pro OS. It is powered by a Kaby Lake Intel Core i5 7th generation 7300U clocking at a speed of 3.5 GHz, combined with a RAM of 8 GB DDR4 and an internal storage of 256 GB SSD. The graphics card is Intel HD Graphics 620.
The hinge bends back well to a Studio mode of 165 degrees angle. The cover is the Alcantara type, which is very comfortable. It comes with a 12.3 inches screen, having the ClearType Full HD Plus PixelSense Touchscreen and has a resolution of 2736 x 1824 pixels. The dimensions of the Microsoft Surface Pro laptop are 11.5 x 0.3 x 7.9 inches and it weighs 1.7 pounds.
The Surface Pen offers excellent pressure sensitivity of 4096 levels, making it useful for creators, with its new tilt detection support. The battery life averages about 13.5 hours of video playback and the rear web camera come with a resolution of 8 MP. The Surface Pro, Signature Type Cover, as well as the Surface Pen, are sold separately.
- Routine browsing and other home use purposes.
- Also suitable for creative people who will find the Surface Pen very sensitive and useful for creating lines, designs and for illustrations.
Best Laptop For Long Battery Life
- Occasional app compatibility issues and sluggish performance
- Limited availability of 5G coverage
- No Wi-Fi 6 or Thunderbolt 3 port
- Relatively cramped 256GB storage drive
- Fully rugged without being a hulk
- Bright, full HD touch display
- Dual, hot-swappable batteries
- Secure port covers and garaged stylus
- Quiet operation
- Accidental damage included in three-year warranty
A laptop wont revolutionize the minutiae of your life the way a smartphone can. You cant easily whip one out to kill time in the elevator, capture a breathtaking sunset, or pay for a cup of coffee.
But in the years since smartphones took on all these jobs, laptops have honed their own talents. Amazing battery life and breathtaking screens are now common, if you look in the right place for them. The graphics muscle to play games at full HD is affordable. And those basic old-guard features that you wont find on any mobile device, such as touchpads and full-size keyboards, tend to get better with almost every generation.
With great features, though, has come great fragmentation. Amazon, Newegg, and even your local electronics megamart have a dizzying array of cheap laptops, gaming laptops, 2-in-1 laptops, Chromebooks, and ultraportables. Here at PC Labs, we review as many laptops as we canhundreds each yearso weve seen pretty much every remix of laptop you can buy.
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Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon
Best overall business laptop
Reasons to avoid
Lenovo made several welcome changes to the 9th Gen edition of its flagship business laptop. Along with fast performance from 11th Gen Intel CPUs, you get longer battery life , powerful quad speakers, a new 14-inch display with a 16:10 aspect ratio, and plenty of ports, all in an impossibly lightweight chassis .
But it’s still those classic ThinkPad features a durable design , best-in-class keyboard and stealthy black/red aesthetics that carry the X1 Carbon to greatness.
Yes, we wish the ThinkPad X1 Carbon had a better webcam and hadn’t ditched the SD card reader in the previous. Also, top configurations can get very expensive still, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better business laptop.
Reasons to avoid
Welcome to the new era of Apple computing. Apples M1 custom SoC marks the first step in Apples conscious uncoupling from Intel. The ARM-based 5-nanometer chip has 16 billion transistors, which is the most the company has ever put into a chip. In addition to all those transistors, the SoC features an eight-core processor, integrated graphics, a unified memory architecture, Apples Neural Engine, an improved image signal processor and Apples Secure Enclave. The result is a faster, more powerful laptop that’s a force to be reckoned with.
Reasons to avoid
For these reasons, the EliteBook x360 1040 is the best HP laptop for business users.
Reasons to avoid
Reasons to avoid
Reasons to avoid
Reasons to avoid
Reasons to avoid
The Best Laptop In 2021 For Big
Even if youve used a light laptop before, its difficult to explain how light the LG Gram 17 is. It has a massive 17-inch display, but its somehow only three pounds. Picking it up messes with your mind you feel like youre not holding anything.
But the Gram 17s weight isnt the only standout feature. It also has some of the best battery life you can get, lasting over 12 hours in our testing. Add a great keyboard, a solid port selection, quiet fans, and a fast processor, and theres very little not to like about this device.
Not everyone needs a 17-inch display, and many folks who do are looking for a heavier-duty workstation that probably doesnt get moved very often. But if youd just really like a large screen for your daily office work and Netflixing, youre the target demographic for this machine. Its a niche, but truly impressive device without much real competition in todays market.
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Acer Chromebook Spin 713
Tired of trying to work on documents or spreadsheets on a small widescreen display? The Acer Chromebook Spin 713 uses one of Acer’s bright VertiView displays, a 13.5-inch 2,256×1,504-pixel touchscreen with a 3:2 aspect ratio. As the name implies, it gives you more vertical room to work, but it still has the width of a typical 13.3-inch laptop with a 16:9 ratio. Between that and its battery life, which lasted nearly 13 hours in our tests, you’ll be able to get more work done in a day with this Chrome OS laptop — and it’s still thin and light enough for an everyday carry.
The latest version of this Chromebook is the first to receive Intel’s Evo verification, which means you’ll be getting the best possible mobile experience with this model. It’s also the first with Thunderbolt 4 support, which lets you connect to multiple external displays as well as providing fast data speeds and networking.
Best Pc Laptop: Microsoft Surface Pro 3
Microsoft was late to the hardware game, but the Surface 3 proves just how much ground its made up over the last three years with a laptop thats easy to use and easy to love.
The laptop has a quad-core Intel i5 processor, 8GB of memory, 256GB of storage, and a high-resolution 13.5-inch touch screen. It has a 720P HD webcam, which can be used with Microsofts Windows Hello feature to scan your face and unlock your machine. Surprisingly, the Surface Laptop 3 supports WiFi 6, the latest version of the wireless standard that allows you to use the internet a lot more quickly if you have the right router.
This machine sports one USB-C port, one USB-A port, and Microsoft Surface Connect port, so you can plug in a wide range of accessories without needing an adapter. Speaking of accessories, you may want to get a Surface Pen, Microsofts stylus, if you intend to use the Surface Laptop 3s screen as a drawing tablet.
Microsofts Surface 3 Laptop weighs 2.8 pounds, and is .57 inches thick all the way across, so its also very backpack-friendly. Like the MacBook Air, its only real technical downside is its integrated graphics chip, which matters more here because Windows is the dominant PC gaming platform. That aside, the Surface Laptop 3 is an excellent portable PC for anyone who enjoys a clean-looking, fast machine that runs Windows.
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How We Test Business Laptops
We put each laptop through extensive benchmark testing both synthetic and real-world before they end up in the hands of our reviewers. We evaluate each aspect of the laptop, including its performance, battery life, display, speakers and heat management.
In our benchmark testing, we use a Klein K10 colorimeter to detect the brightness and sRGB color gamut of the laptop’s display. For performance testing, we run the laptop through a gauntlet of benchmarks, including Geekbench 4.3 and 5.0 and 3DMark professional graphics tests.
To determine real-world performance, we task the laptop to convert a 4K video to 1080p resolution and to duplicate a 4.97GB multimedia file. Our real-world graphics test is the Dirt 3 benchmark with medium settings at 1080p resolution.
We also run heat tests by playing a 15-minute full-screen video and measuring temperatures in different areas of the laptop. Last but not least, our battery test consists of continuous web surfing over Wi-Fi at 150 nits of brightness. For MacBooks and premium Windows 10 laptops, a runtime of over 9 hours is considered a good result whereas gaming laptops and workstations that can stay powered for longer than 5 hours deserve praise.
These tests are complemented with extensive hands-on testing from our reviewers who critique everything from the laptop’s materials to the feel of its touchpad.
Pick A Platform: Windows 10 Vs Mac Vs Chrome Os
This is not an easy question to answer, especially if you’re not familiar with both Macs and PCs. But this quick overview of each platforms strengths and weaknesses should help.
Most laptops come with one of three operating systems: Windows, Chrome OS or MacOS . Choosing the right one is a personal preference, but here’s a quick summary of what each offers.
The most flexible operating system, Windows 10, runs on more laptop models than Chrome OS or MacOS. Windows notebooks range in price from under $150 to several thousand dollars and offer a wide array of features from touch screens to fingerprint readers to dual graphics chips. Windows 10, the latest version of Microsoft’s flagship operating system, provides a number of improvements over Windows 7 and 8, including the ability to switch between tablet and desktop modes, a revamped Start menu with Live Tiles and the Cortana digital assistant.
Since its launch in July 2015, Windows 10 has also added a host of improvements, including the ability to use follow-up questions with Cortana, search your email using natural language and use your stylus to scribble almost anywhere. Windows 10 laptops are great for students, researchers and business users, and they’re the only machines gamers should consider.
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