Best laptops to buy in 2014

Published 
14 Aug 2014
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Discover the best laptops to buy in 2014 and read our in-depth laptop reviews, as rated by our team of expert reviewers.

Discover the best laptops to buy in 2014 and read our in-depth laptop reviews, as rated by our team of expert reviewers. Not sure if a laptop is right for you? We've got something for everyone here, from 11in budget bargains to the latest flagship models and laptop-tablet hybrids from all the major brands. Our always up-to-date list will help you make the right choice.

Microsoft Surface Pro 3 - Third time lucky for the premium hybrid tablet

Microsoft Surface Pro 3 with Type Cover

Microsoft has had two bites of the tablet/laptop hybrid cherry and has seen moderate success with both its devices. However, with 2014's Surface Pro 3 we finally saw the firm master the art, with its devices division putting into action the lessons it learned from the first two Surface iterations. What we have here is a refined, sleek tablet combined with a great keyboard (at extra cost) and stylus. This, combined with a wide range of specifications means it has real mass-market appeal.

We were pleased with both its performance and its superb 2,160x1,440 pixel screen, although when hard at work the metal chassis did get fairly warm. We also loved the new and improved kickstand which can hold the tablet from 0 to 150 degrees, making it very versatile and more suitable for lap-based usage than ever before.

It's expensive, but it's the benchmark-setter for Windows-8 based devices and we highly recommend it.

Price when reviewed: £849. Fort the latest prices, see our full Microsoft Surface Pro 3 review

Key specs
Processor Dual-core 1.9GHz Intel Core i5-4300U
Screen size 12in
Screen resolution 2,160x1,440
Rear camera 5-megapixel
Storage 128GB
Wireless data N/A
Size 292x201x9.1mm
Weight 800g
Operating system Windows 8.1 Pro
Warranty One-year RTB
Details www.microsoft.com
Part code Surface Pro 3

Chillblast Defiant 2 Mini - A petite powerhouse gaming laptop 

Chillblast Fusion Defiant Mini

Our Expert Opinion Chillblast's  laptop is a superb 13-inch gaming system with a powerful quad-core Core i7 i7-4710MQ processor and a super fast 2GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 860M graphics processor. It not only manages to combine all the speed and power of larger gaming systems into its smart 13in chassis, but it does so at a competitive price without any compromises in performance. The quality of the chassis is perhaps the biggest surprise; off-the-shelf chassis almost always put function over form and are boxy and plain. The chassis in use here is a nice break from the norm; its matt lid and spaceship-style vents at the rear are a refreshing change.

It's a terrific little machine perfect for regular LAN party attendees of simply for those who wnat to game while sitting on the sofa.

Price when reviewed: £899. For the latest prices, see our full Chillblast Defiant 2 Mini review

Key specs
Processor 2.4GHz Intel Core i7-4710MQ
RAM 8GB
Dimensions(HxWxD) 32x330x227mm
Graphics 2GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 860M
Weight 2.1kg
Screen size 13.3in
Screen resolution 1,920x1,080
Total storage 1TB
Operating system Windows 8 64-bit
Parts and labour warranty one year RTB
Part number Defiant Mini

Asus Transformer Book T100TA - The definitive budget two-in-one laptop 

Asus Transformer Book T100TA

Our Expert Opinion The Asus Transformer T100TA has redefined what we can expect from a sub-£300 laptop. It's far from the most powerful device on the market with its Intel Atom processor, but if you're after the ultimate in flexibility combined with great built quality and reasonably long battery life, you should absolutely pick the T100TA. 

It does come with Microsoft's controversial Windows 8 operating system, but it's this sort of device that the software was designed for. If you embrace its oddities and idiosyncrasies, Windows 8 can be a very effective operating system for an ultra-portable, multi-form factor device. 

Price when reviewed: £349. Fort the latest prices, see our full Asus Transformer Book T100TA review.

Key specs
Processor 1.3GHz Intel Atom Z3740
RAM 2GB
Dimensions(HxWxD) 24x263x171mm
Graphics Intel HD Graphics
Weight 1.1kg
Screen size 10.1in
Screen resolution 1,366x768
Total storage 32GB
Operating system Windows 8.1 64-bit
Parts and labour warranty one year RTB
Part number T100TA-DK002H

Apple 13-inch Macbook Pro with Retina Display - The ultimate laptop just got even better 

Apple 13in Macbook Pro with Retina Display (Late 2013)

Our Expert Opinion The new 13in MacBook Pro is very expensive, but when this year’s best model costs just £50 more than last year’s, you’re getting much more for your money. With a large SSD, powerful hardware and improved graphics performance, the 13in MacBook Pro stands head and shoulders above every other ultraportable available today.

It's also immensely stylish and can't be mistaken for anything other than an Apple device. The 2,880x1,800 pixel Retina display is a brilliant piece of tech that puts many other laptop screens to shame. While we're seeing plenty of business-end laptops reaching into the realms of 2,560x1,600 pixel displays, its fantastic colour accuracy combined with Apple's well-tuned UI scaling that makes MacBook Pro's screen not only technically brilliant, but visually stunning as well. 

Price when reviewed: £1,499. For the latest prices, read our full Apple 13-inch Macbook Pro with Retina Display review.

Key specs
Processor 2.6GHz Intel Core i5-4288U
RAM 8GB
Dimensions(HxWxD) 18x314x219mm
Graphics Intel HD Graphics 5100
Weight 1.6kg
Screen size 13.3in
Screen resolution 2,560x1,600
Total storage 512GB
Operating system MacOS X Mavericks
Parts and labour warranty one year RTB
Part number ME866B/A

Acer Aspire V3-772G - A powerful 17.3in desktop replacement

 

Acer Aspire V3-772G

Our Expert Opinion The Acer Aspire V3-772G is rather more imposing than your average desktop replacement, but this huge 17.3in laptop has some seriously powerful components inside its chunky chassis, including a quad-core Intel Core i7-4702MQ proccessor and 2GB Nvidia GeForce GT 750M graphics chip.

As a result, Acer's machine is a very capable all-purpose machine, meaning you could feasiby use it to play the latest games at Low or Medium settings without too much trouble. The screen on the Aspire V3-772G is very pretty indeed, while battery life is an respectable 5 hours 8 minutes. We were impressed with this laptop, and would thoroughly recommend it; if you can find one new or refurbished you won't be disappointed.

Price when reviewed: £770. For the latest pri ces, see our full Acer Aspire V3-772G review.

Key specs
Processor 2.2GHz Intel Core i7-4702MQ
RAM 8GB
Dimensions(HxWxD) 34x415x275mm
Graphics 2GB Nvidia GeForce GT 750M
Weight 3.2kg
Screen size 17.3in
Screen resolution 1,920x1,080
Total storage 750GB
Operating system Windows 8 64-bit
Parts and labour warranty one year RTB
Part number NX.M74EK.001

Asus Zenbook UX302LA - Stylish performance for under £1,000

Asus Zenbook UX302

Our Expert Opinion There is an awful lot to like about the Asus Zenbook UX302 which makes it worth the fairly steep asking price. The most obvious of these is excellent build quality; the 13.3-inch chassis isn't just gorgeous, it also feels like it could take a few knocks and stand several years of abuse.

It also has a great screen, the 1,920x1,080 panel is bright and vibrant and excelled in our screen benchmarking tests. On top of all of this, you get an Intel Core i7-4500U processor and 500GB of storage, too. It's a great all-round package and it performs brilliantly in simple tasks and has some processor punch when it's needed for challenges like photo editing and video transcoding.

Price when reviewed: £999. For the latest prices, see our full Asus Zenbook UX302 review.

Key specs
Processor 1.8GHz Intel Core i7-4500U
RAM 4GB
Dimensions(HxWxD) 17x325x226mm
Graphics Intel HD Graphics 4400
Weight 1.5kg
Screen size 13.3 in
Screen resolution 1,920x1,080
Total storage 500GB
Operating system Windows 8.1
Parts and labour warranty one year RTB
Part number UX302LA-C4008H

Scan 3XS Graphite LG156 - A great value gaming laptop


Scan 3XS Graphite LG156 3/4

Our Expert Opinion The Scan 3XS Graphite LG156 typifies gaming laptops with a boxy and fairly plain chassis. While it's not pretty, it's certainly not offensive and is evidence that your money has been spent mostly on its smouldering performance rather than superfluous visuals.

It has the latest Nvidia GeForce GTX 860M mobile graphics chip on board, along with a quad-core 2.5GHz Intel Core i7-4710MQ and 8GB of RAM. These are the perfect ingredients for a powerful, yet good-value gaming laptop, and it powered through our standard benchmarks with ease. We also tested it with the likes of Watch_Dogs and Titanfall and were impressed to see how far we could turn up the graphics settings. This is certainly a gaming machine you'll be able to rely on for years to come.

Price when reviewed: £899. For the latest prices, read our full Scan 3XS Graphite LG156 review.

Key specs
Processor Quad-core 2.5GHz Intel Core i7 4710MQ
RAM 8GB
Dimensions(HxWxD) 42.7x374x250mm
Weight 2.7kg
Screen size 15.6 inches
Screen resolution 1,920x1,080
Total storage 1TB hybrid hard disk
Operating system Windows 8.1 Enterprise
Parts and labour warranty Two-years RTB
Part number 3XS Graphite LG156

Apple 13-inch Macbook Air - Apple's super thin laptop just got even better 

Macbook Air

Our Expert Opinion The Macbook Air has always been one of the slimmest and lightest laptops around, but this year's model now has an even lower price and 18 and a half hours of battery life. 

Our only real complaint is that its screen isn't quite as good as we'd expect for a laptop in this price range, and we're particularly disappointed with the lack of a full-HD panel. Its other specifications are great, however, and it'll speed through any task you throw at it with relative ease, while maintaining excellent battery life that'll see you being able to work for a whole day while unplugged.

Price when reviewed: £949. For the latest prices, read our full Apple 13-inch Macbook Air review.

Key specs
Processor 1.3GHz Intel Core i5-4250U
RAM 4GB
Dimensions(HxWxD) 17x325x227mm
Graphics Intel HD Graphics 5000
Weight 1.4kg
Screen size 13.3 in
Screen resolution 1,440x900
Total storage 500GB
Operating system OS X 10.8
Parts and labour warranty one year RTB
Part number 13-inch Macbook Air

Toshiba Chromebook CB30-102 - Bigger Chromebook, low price

Toshiba CB30-102 Chromebook

Our Expert Opinion Chrome OS will be shock to the system for anyone moving away from Windows, or OS X, but this browser-based operating system is brilliantly lightweight for those with modest laptop usage ambitions. Use Google Docs, Sheets and Slides to create and share documents, and embrace the cloud with generous free Google Drive storage. The Toshiba Chromebook CB30-102 has similar specifications to most of the other Chromebooks on the market at the moment, but it has the added advantage of being a little bigger, at 13.3 inches. The Intel Celeron processor isn't powerful, and the 16GB hard drive is tiny, but if you are a light user, this is a great choice.

One thing to bear in mind now is that later in 2014, Chromebooks will be going on sale with more powerful Intel Core i3 processors on board, so it may pay to wait a little while to see whether these new devices pack the promised punch while maintaining an attractively low price.

Price when reviewed: £230. For the latest prices, read our full Toshiba Chromebook CB30-102 review.

Key specs
Processor 1.4GHz Intel Celeron 2955U
RAM 2GB
Dimensions(HxWxD) 328x227x20mm
Graphics Intel HD Graphics
Weight 1.5kg
Screen size 13.3 in
Screen resolution 1366x768
Total storage 16GB
Operating system Chrome OS
Parts and labour warranty one year RTB
Part number CB30-102

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