There’s never been so much choice when it comes to buying a laptop, which is great news for us – but it also means that there are more machines to sift through before you find your perfect portable. Even if you’re a tech enthusiast, that still means a time-consuming search as you sort through dozens of potential purchases. That’s not ideal – which is why we’ve picked out the best laptops in every key category.
Coming up in the next few months, we’re expecting to see a Google Pixelbook 2 and a 16-inch MacBook Pro. Here’s the best of what you can buy right now.
What’s the best laptop in 2019?
The Dell XPS 13 2019 (from £1,149) is thebest laptopyou can buy for most uses. The performance has been boosted and the price dropped with the same quality screen and slim, sturdy ergonomics.
If you just care about gaming performance, thebest gaming laptopis the MSI GE75 Raider 9SF (£2,200). There’s plenty of power for gaming and other computing with a large, absorbing screen and it’s cool and quiet too.
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Dell XPS 13 (2019)
WIRED Recommends: Dell’s XPS 13 is slim, light and capable
Weight:1.2kg |Size:11.6mm thick |Battery life:Up to 21 hours |Screen:13.3-inch 1080p/4K |RAM:8/16GB |Storage:Up to 1TB |CPU:Up to 8th gen Core i7 |OS:Windows 10 Home
We previously recommended the XPS 13 because it was a stunning, versatile machine – and sensible upgrades and small tweaks make the 2019 version even better. With the newDell XPS 13 (£1,070)you get Intel Whiskey Lake processors, which deliver improved efficiency and a performance boost. The webcam has moved to a more sensible position above the panel, and the existing silver and rose gold options have been joined by a bright, metallic finish called ‘frost’.
Elsewhere, the XPS 13 is the same – and that’s no bad thing. It still weighs 1.2kg and is just 12mm thin, and it’s sturdy thanks to aluminium and fibreglass construction. The bezel is tiny, the power button still doubles as a fingerprint reader, and you still get a solid selection of USB Type-C and Thunderbolt ports.
The screen remains available in 4K touch and 1080p non-touch variations, and quality is exceptional. The fast, consistent keyboard is one of the best on any ultraportable.
On the inside, those new Intel CPUs are joined by plentiful RAM and SSD options. Entry-level, Core i3 machines start at £999 – £100 cheaper than last year. There are loads of mid-range choices, and the £1,848 top-end model undercuts last year’s £1,929 laptop while offering a Core i7 CPU and vast SSD.
Any configuration will scythe through day-to-day computing, media playback and Office work. Core i7 models will run tough work tools, too, although you’ll need something beefier for particularly demanding software. And, finally, battery life is a little better – so expect a full day of use from the XPS 13, especially if you have the Full HD model rather than the UHD display. The lower prices are welcome, and presumably Dell’s response to the Huawei MateBook line. The XPS 13’s weak point remains its lack of a discrete GPU – something that the Huawei does offer.
Dell has retained the XPS 13’s best points while making helpful changes in key departments – all while dropping the price. The Dell XPS 13 is better than ever, which is why it remains our favourite laptop.
Pros:Updated processors; cheaper prices; fantastic ergonomics Cons:Still no dedicated graphics
Weight:1.68kg |Size:11.6mm thick |Battery life:Up to 14 hours |Screen:14-inch 720p/1080p |RAM:4GB |Storage:32GB |CPU:1.6 GHz dual-core Celeron N3060 |OS:Chrome OS
There aren’t many better options than a Chromebook if you want something portable and affordable, and Acer’sCB3-431 Chromebook 14 (£279)is the best of the bunch.
Chrome OS gives you the freedom to work online – which is perfect if you’re already familiar with Google’s products – and the Acer’s useful 12-hour battery life, Intel Celeron processor and 4GB of dedicated memory ensures that you’ve got enough power to zip around between tabs and apps. Those are, of course, modest specs but it’s capable enough for what you need from a Chromebook.
The well constructed aluminium alloy housing does a good job of balancing strength and weight, and the 14-inch Full HD display gives plenty of screen real estate. And, if you need more, Acer also sells a 15.6-inch variant. It’s light, affordable and versatile – and so Acer’s latest Chromebook is ideal for zooming around the web.
Also consider:If you prefer Windows, check out the equally good valueAcer Aspire 3 (£280).It’s a solid laptop for those on slim budgets with a Full HD screen, decent keyboard and solid Core i3 processor.
The MacBook Pro series has seen a few semi-controversial changes lately, most notably the fact that you can no longer buy a device without the Touch Bar and a slight price bump for the basic spec. Nonetheless, the latest13-inch MacBook Pro (now from £1,299)is still a neat alternative to the Dell and our top pick for campus companion.
Why? Well, there’s just no denying the combination of style and specs in a compact, backpack-friendly form factor. Whether it’s the beautiful 13.3-inch 2,560 x 1600 screen, the considerably powerful combination of a 1.4Ghz Core i5 processor (with a top Boost speed of 3.9Ghz), 8GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD. Plus if you think you’ll be dealing with say, large 4K video files, there’s the option to pay more for an up to 2TB SSD.
The base MacBook Pro can handle any task with ease but there’s also the 15-inch MacBook Pro’s AMD graphics and higher-res display on offer, though it is also, of course, larger and heavier. Elsewhere, the MacBook body is light, sturdy and ergonomic and there’s a choice of two or four Thunderbolt ports, again depending on how much you want to fork out.
Pros:Lots of power; lots of pixels; stunning design Cons:Expensive both for the minimum spec and upgrades
Weight:2.64kg |Size:28mm thick |Screen:17.3-inch 1080p |RAM:16GB |Storage:512GB SSD/ 1TB hard disk |CPU:9th gen Core i7 |OS:Windows 10 Home
There’s no denying that theMSI GE75 Raider 9SF (£2,200)is expensive, but this notebook delivers huge power with less compromise than its rivals.
The Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 delivers on gaming grunt. This GPU will run esports titles and today’s trickiest single-player games without breaking a sweat. The powerful graphics core is supported by a six-core i7 CPU, 16GB of memory and a 512GB SSD and a 1TB hard disk. That’s space for loads of games – and enough power for virtually any task. And, if you want to save some cash, RTX 2060 models cost around £200 less.
The 17.3-inch screen’s huge diagonal delivers great immersion, and there’s enough graphics power to deliver triple-figure framerates to the 144Hz screen – so smooth gaming is ensured. Quality is great, too, with stonking colours and acceptable contrast.
Remarkably, the MSI plays the latest games without making much noise – there is some fan noise but it’s quieter than most of its rivals. The speakers are decent, too, with ample volume and clarity.
The MSI’s exterior blends brushed aluminium with red accents, and there are plenty of ports. The networking is beefed up by gaming experts Killer, and the SteelSeries keyboard has more snap and travel than most chiclet units. The trackpad buttons offer a satisfying, crisp action. The downsides are not surprising. The MSI weighs a hefty 2.6kg, and battery life is expectedly mediocre.
In every department that counts, though, the GE75 is fantastic. The RTX 2070 is a powerhouse, the rest of the components are great, and the machine is impressively cool and quiet. The screen, keyboard, trackpad and speakers are all good too making this our gaming laptop of choice right now.
Pros:Huge gaming power; cool and quiet; absorbing, large screen Cons:Some noticeable fan noise; high price; poor battery life
Our favourite Chromebook and a genuine Windows replacement
Weight:1.45kg |Size:15.7mm thick |Battery life:Up to 10 hours |Screen:14-inch 1080p 16:9 |RAM:8GB |Storage:32/64/128GB |CPU:Intel Core m3/i5/i7 |OS:Chrome OS
With an aluminium shell, a bright, sharp 1080p touchscreen and a solid range of specifications,Asus’ Chromebook Flip C434 (£599)looks and performs like a laptop twice the price. In fact, it’s our pick for best Chromebook over Google’s high-end Pixelbook.
Aside from the plasticky trackpad – we’d prefer textured glass, to be perfectly honest – it’s difficult to find fault with the Flip C434, so called for its 360 degree hinge. There’s no stylus to use it in touchscreen mode, though.
Otherwise, it’s all rather pleasing. It’s an Intel generation ahead – for now – of the Pixelbook and performance is very reliable, plus there’s two USB-C ports, one full-size USB and a microSD slot, which is all very handy. The keyboard, too, is deep enough and responsive. Sure, you can’t forget this is still a Chromebook but for browsing and productivity apps, this works nicely, plus there’s Android apps or games too if you insist.
Also consider:Google is, by all accounts, on the verge of announcing a Pixelbook 2 and its first high-endPixelbookhas disappeared from pretty much all online retailers apart from Google itself, which still has some i7 models in stock.
Pros:Well specced; aluminium body; cheaper than Pixelbook Cons:Trackpad is plastic; no stylus (as on some rivals)
Weight:1.11kg |Size:14.9mm thick |Battery life:Up to 10 hours |Screen:13-inch 2160×1440 |RAM:8GB |Storage:256GB SSD |CPU:8th gen Core i5 or i7 |OS:Windows 10 Home
TheHuawei MateBook 13 (£800)is an updated version of the award-winning MateBook X Pro. Impressively, this latest version makes subtle refinements while also lowering the price. This year’s models cost £799 and £1,099 – while the Pro machines arrived at £949 and £1,149.
The screen is a noticeable alteration: last year’s model had a 13.9-inch panel with a 3,000 x 2,000 resolution, but this cheaper MateBook has a 13-inch screen at 2,160 x 1,440. You lose out on some crispness, but this touchscreen is still terrific. It’s sharp enough for every task, and its 3:2 aspect ratio provides extra vertical space. It’s bright and punchy, with stunning vibrancy. And, as an added bonus, the smaller screen means that the MateBook is narrower, lighter and not as deep as its predecessor. It also undercuts the MacBook Air and Dell XPS 13 for size in several departments.
Despite the reduced price and dimensions, Huawei maintains the MateBook’s performance. Its Core i5 or Core i7 CPUs handle Office tools and loads of browser tabs, and an Nvidia MX150 core tackles light gaming and photo-editing. The MacBook Air has weaker CPUs, and neither rival has discrete graphics.
You only get 8GB of memory rather than 16GB, but that’s a minor complaint. Battery life is good, but not great – you get eight hours from the Huawei, but no more.
On the outside, the MateBook retains its stunning metal chassis and satisfying keyboard. The power button doubles as a fingerprint reader. You get two USB-C ports, but no Thunderbolt – a rare mis-step.
The MateBook isn’t perfect, but it’s close – it refines last year’s machine and drops the price and the lightweight machine is better value than Apple and Dell’s rivals.
Pros:Ample CPU power; slim, light; outpaces rivals for GPU ability Cons:No Thunderbolt; Nvidia graphics aren’t standard
A high-end workstation for photo and video editing
Weight:1.11kg |Size:14.9mm thick |Battery life:Up to 10 hours |Screen:15/17.3-inch 1080p |RAM:8GB |Storage:256GB SSD |CPU:8th gen Core i5 or i7 |OS:Windows 10 Pro
If you regularly handle video editing, CAD design or huge database tools on the road, then you’ll need a mobile workstation – and none are better than theDell Precision 7730 (from £1,782).
On the inside, the Precision can be equipped with fast eighth-generation Core i7 processors or heavyweight Intel Xeon chips, and the powerful CPUs can be paired with AMD or Nvidia’s pro graphics chipsets – and with huge amounts of memory and storage. Indeed, the memory is now faster than the previous iteration, plus you get the benefits of a Thunderbolt 3 port. You simply won’t find a laptop with this much raw power – and, crucially, you won’t find any other laptop that has this many customisation options.
On the outside you can opt for screens with 4K resolutions, and the entire machine undergoes military testing – so you can be certain that it’ll survive life on the road.
The Dell Precision 7730 offers enormous power and versatility, but there are inevitable downsides. Battery life won’t be particularly good, and this 30mm thin, 17.3-inch machine weighs 3.17kg and depending on the specification. It’s hardly cheap, too, with prices starting at £2,014. If you do want true desktop power on the road, though, it’s worth paying for – and nothing does it better than the Precision 7730.
Pros:Unbeatable mobile power; unrivalled customisation Cons:Necessarily heavy and bulky design; expensive
Good for gaming and video with a THX-certified screen
Weight:2.75kg |Size:19.9mm thick |Battery life:2-4 hours |Screen:17.3-inch 1080p/4K |RAM:16-64GB |Storage:512GB-2TB SSD |CPU:2.6GHz 9th gen Core i7 |OS:Windows 10 Home
It’s understandable to think of Razer as a gaming brand, but pigeon-holing the company – and theRazer Blade Pro (from £1,650)laptop – does a disservice to a fantastic media machine. For starters, you’ve got the choice of two 17.3-inch displays: a Full HD model with 120Hz refresh rate for smooth gaming, or a pricey £3,350 4K touchscreen version for incredible media clarity. And, as an added bonus, the 4K screen is certified by THX – which ensures consistent image quality and punchy audio for what is undoubtedly a luxury purchase.
The Blade Pro serves up Thunderbolt and USB 3, an RGB LED keyboard and a trackpad that sits to the right of the keyboard. It’s designed to mimic sitting at a desk, and it’s intuitive – if initially disarming. Under the hood you’ve got Intel Core i7 hardware and Nvidia graphics, so the Blade Pro will handle work and play: you’ll be able to run the latest games, create video and edit photos, all on the same machine.
The Blade Pro is not subtle, small or cheap, but you get what you pay for – and, on this occasion, it’s a large, impressive laptop that has the chops to handle any kind of game or media.