Best laptop 2015 - 12 top picks and laptop buying guide

Discover the best laptops to buy in 2015 from under £200 to £1,499, and learn how to choose a laptop with our buying guide

Page 1 of 3Best laptop 2015 - 12 top picks and laptop buying guide

With so much choice on the market, finding the perfect laptop for your needs can be hard. That's where we come in, with our definitive list of the best laptops that we've reviewed and are available to buy in 2014. To help make your choice easier, we've split this article up by type. On this page we have the best general-purpose and gaming laptops. If you're looking for either a super-powerful desktop replacement or super-light and long-lasting ultraportable laptop, then check out page two of this article. Each laptop we recommend has a link to the full review for full information, plus the latest live prices. No matter what your needs or requirements, then, you'll be able to find your perfect laptop.

Having trouble deciding what you want? Take a look at our 2015 Laptop Buying Guide for tips on how to choose the right laptop for you.

General-purpose and multimedia laptops

You don't have to break the bank to get a laptop that does the basics well. These are the laptops we think present great value for money for students and families who want to be able to browse the web, send emails, write documents, watch movies and perhaps play a few games.

Asus N551JK - a capable multimedia and gaming machine - £582


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If portability isn't a top priority, you can do much worse than buy the Asus N551JK. It has a Full HD screen, an excellent dedicated graphics card in the form of an Nvidia GeForce GTX 850M and a decent Intel Core i5-4200H processor.

At 2.6kg it's not exactly bag-friendly but considering the specifications - that also include 8GB of RAM and a 1TB hard disk - it's hard to complain. Battery life isn't great; we measured it at 4h 10m in our moderate usage test, but we've seen worse from powerful laptops in the past. What's more, you even get a dinky little subwoofer in the box to enhance the audio quality of the laptop's merely average built-in speakers. 

It's even elegantly styled. For under £600, you can't go wrong with the Asus N551JK.

Price when reviewed: £582. For the latest prices, see our full Asus N551JK review

Key specs
Processor Dual-core 2.8GHz Intel Core i5-4200H
RAM 8GB
Size 383x255x31.5mm
Weight 2.7kg
Screen size 15.6in
Screen resolution 1,920x1,080
Graphics adaptor Nvidia GeForce GTX 850M
Total storage 1TB hard disk
Operating system Windows 8.1
Parts and labour warranty One-year collect and return
Details www.asus.com
Part number N551JK-CN073H

Dell Inspiron 15 5000 - A top-notch general purpose laptop for familes and students - £499 or £549

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Our Expert Opinion Laptop manufacturers are constantly trying to find a niche, with crazy hybrid devices and fancy form-factors that suit Windows 8. In the Inspiron 15 5000, Dell has rekindled our love for the basic general-purpose laptop. Not only does it have the signature Dell build quality and a reasonable screen, it also has a surprisingly powerful processor and even squeezes in a dedicated graphics chip. Not only that, it survived more than six hours in our battery burn test, which is important for working on the move.

Priced at less than £600, this is a terrific buy for anyone looking for a jack-of-all-trades laptop for a bit of web browsing, video watching and essay writing. This laptop is often found on "special offer" at £499, so if you see it on sale for more than that, you should wait until Dell drops the price again. 

Price when reviewed: £549. For the latest prices, see our full Dell Inspiron 15 5000 review.

Key specs
Processor Dual-core 2GHz Intel Core i7-4510U
RAM 8GB
Size 380x259x21.8mm
Weight 2.38kg
Screen size 15.6in
Screen resolution 1,366x768
Graphics adaptor AMD Radeon HD R7 M265
Total storage 1TB hard disk
Operating system Windows 8.1
Parts and labour warranty One-year collect & return
Details www.dell.co.uk
Part number Inspiron-15-5547

Asus EeeBook X205TA - a brilliant bargain Chromebook beater - £180


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Our expert opinion The X205TA is Asus' super cheap answer to the Chromebook. Costing just £180 and coming pre-loaded with a year of Microsoft Office 365 personal and 1TB of OneDrive storage (worth £60) it looks to be amazing value. normally with ultra cheap laptop, things fall apart when it comes to build. Yes, this is an all-plastic machine but we reckon it's one of the best-looking netbook-style devices ever made. Performance is perfectly reasonable, too, as long as you don't push it too hard. It's happy to browse the web, edit documents and play videos, which is about as much as you should expect from it. 

Price when reviewed: £180. For the latest prices see our full Asus EeeBook X205TA review.

SPECIFICATIONS
Processor Quad-core 1.33GHz Intel Atom Z3735F
RAM 2GB
Size 286x193.3x17.5mm
Weight 980g
Screen size 11.6in
Screen resolution 1,366x768
Graphics adaptor Intel HD Graphics
Total storage 32GB eMMC
Operating system Windows 8.1 "with Bing"
Parts and labour warranty One-year collect and return
Details www.Asus.com
Part number X205TA-BING-FD15BS

Apple 13-inch Macbook Pro with Retina Display - The ultimate laptop just got even better - £1499

Apple 13in Macbook Pro with Retina Display
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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

Gaming laptops

You pay a premium for the portability of gaming laptops, but they offer freedom to gamers that a 15kg desktop PC simply can't match. You can play Splinter Cell on your sofa, Fallout at your friend's house and LoL at a LAN party without being constrained by the size of your rig. If you're looking to play games on decent settings, you'll probably want to spend at least £800, although you can spend well in excess of £3,000 if you want desktop levels of performance. 

Acer Aspire V15 Nitro (VN7-591G) - Stylish design and great performance at a surprising price - £849


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Our Expert Opinion Acer hasn't released a proper gaming laptop in years, so we we curious as to how it would turn out. It was a pleasant surprise, with a wonderfully-built 15.6in chassis with a textured lid and matt black wrist rest. The Full HD screen is one of the better panels we've seen on a laptop and its Intel Core i7 processor and Nvidia GeForce GTX 860M graphics card make it a capable multimedia and gaming machine. It's slightly cheaper than its rivals, too, although the model we reviewed lacks an SSD, which may put some people off. Nonetheless, it's one of our favourite gaming laptops of the year.

Price when reviewed: £849. For the latest prices, see our full Acer V15 Nitro review.

SPECIFICATIONS
Processor Quad-core 2.5GHz Intel Core i7-4710HQ
RAM 8GB
Size 23.9x389x257mm
Weight 2.4kg
Screen size 15.6in
Screen resolution 1,920x1,080
Graphics adaptor Nvdia GeForce GTX 860M
Total storage 1TB hard disk (with 8GB SSD cache)
Operating system Windows 8.1
Parts and labour warranty One-year RTB
Details www.acer.co.uk
Part number NX.MQLEK.002

Chillblast Defiant 2 Mini - A petite powerhouse gaming laptop - £899

Chillblast Fusion Defiant Mini
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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

Scan 3XS Graphite LG156 - A great value gaming laptop - £899


Scan 3XS Graphite LG156 3/4

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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

Aorus X3 Plus - a light, pretty and powerful 13in gaming machine - £1548

Aorus X3 Plus
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Our Expert Opinion Aorus gaming laptops are the definition of premium performance, but we were so blown away with the performance of this super-light and ultra-thin gaming laptop, we can't help but recommend it. With a top-end Intel Core i7 processor, Nvidia GeForce GTX 870M GPU and high performance SSD storage, you'll be able to play any current game in Full HD at high settings. The "3K" screen is incredible, too, although if you choose to run your games at its native 3,200x1,800 pixel resolution you'll be sacrificing a fair amount of performance for not that much extra quality. Still, the screen is great for photos and movies when you're not gaming. It's expensive, but hugely desirable.

Price when reviewed: £1548. For the latest prices, read our full Aorus X3 Plus review.

SPECIFICATIONS
Processor Quad core 2.4GHz Intel Core i7-4860HQ
RAM 16GB
Size 330x263.5x22.9mm
Weight 1.8kg
Screen size 14in
Screen resolution 3,200x1,800
Graphics adaptor Nvidia GeForce GTX 870M
Total storage 512GB (2x 256GB SSD)
Operating system Windows 8.1
Parts and labour warranty Two-years RTB
Details www.scan.co.uk
Part number X3PLUS-CF1

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