Looking for a new laptop? These are the best models we’ve tested
If you’re after the best laptop money can buy, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve collected all of the best laptops in one place to help you find the perfect machine for your needs in 2023.
Wondering why you should listen to us? Simple. Every year, dozens of the latest and greatest laptops pass through the Expert Reviews labs – along with plenty of not-so-great laptops, too. Each device is subjected to our rigorous in-house testing, so when we recommend a laptop you can be sure of one thing: it’s a laptop we would be happy to buy ourselves.
Read on and you will discover everything from the best business-class laptops to super-sleek ultraportables, gaming laptops and 2-in-1 hybrids. In short, there’s something for everyone. And if you’re really not sure what to go for, our laptop buying guide will point you in the right direction.
Best laptops: At a glance
|Best laptop overall||Asus Zenbook 14X OLED||Check price at Asus|
|Best 13-14in laptop||13.6-inch M2 Apple MacBook Air (~£1,119)||Check price at John Lewis|
|Best budget laptop||Acer Chromebook Spin 714 (~£699)||Check price at Amazon|
|Best 15in laptop||Asus Vivobook S15 OLED (~£1,299)||Check price at Amazon|
|Best 16in laptop||Huawei MateBook 16s (~£1,100)||Check price at Huawei|
How to choose the best laptop for you
Buying a brand-new laptop is no easy task. There are so many brilliant devices to choose from each year, with prices ranging from £200 to £2,000 or more. Cost can also vary massively between different configurations of the same laptop, which only adds to the confusion. In this brief buying guide, we will help you make the right choice by outlining the most important factors to consider before you bust out the bank card.
What do you need your laptop for?
Your personal requirements should dictate what sort of laptop you go for. A typical university student will have different tech needs to a professional video editor. Some may need a laptop that can process large files at rapid speeds, while others may just want to use Google Docs or browse the web. Ultimately, it all comes down to what you want your laptop to do.
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What about performance and battery life?
The most powerful laptops are those with the most powerful CPUs and the highest amount of RAM. A laptop’s CPU power is measured in gigahertz (GHz), and each processor has a baseline frequency as well as a maximum frequency. Other factors can impact overall performance, including poor temperature control, which can lead to thermal throttling. Ideally, any laptop you buy should have at least 4GB of RAM as a minimum. Processors aren’t as easy to pin down – they might be dual-core, quad-core or hexa-core and can range greatly in power.
An Apple MacBook Pro (or Windows equivalent such as the Dell XPS 15) has a much more powerful CPU and more RAM than a cheap Chromebook because people expect them to run multiple demanding applications.
Battery size is measured in milliamp-hours (mAH) or Watt-hours (Wh) – the biggest battery will (in theory) last the longest, but it all depends on how much power the various components inside the device use (the display, CPU and GPU have the biggest impact). An ultra-budget laptop with a small battery size may last longer than a premium notebook with a huge battery because its internal hardware isn’t as demanding. We run a standardised video rundown test on every single laptop we review, with the longest-lasting performers tending to be a mix between efficient high-end ultraportable laptops and low-powered Chromebooks.
What operating system should you go for?
Whether it’s Windows, macOS or Chrome OS, each operating system has its own strengths and weaknesses. macOS is only found in Apple’s own laptops, while Windows powers all sorts of laptops from manufacturers such as Acer, Asus and Lenovo. Google’s low-powered Chrome OS is also rising in popularity and can be found on a wide range of devices.
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What’s the best display resolution?
When it comes to laptop displays, the resolution isn’t everything. If the same laptop has the option of a Full HD (1,920 x 1,080) display and a 4K (3,840 x 2,160) display, the latter is usually more expensive but not necessarily sharper. How sharp a display look depends on two factors: the size of the screen and how far away you sit from it.
In our experience, you don’t really need more than 1,920 x 1,080 on a screen 14in or smaller. In fact, if you have 20/20 vision, you would have to be viewing the display at a distance closer than 56cm. Given that laptops with higher-resolution panels typically suffer a bit in the battery life department, it’s often worth opting for the lower resolution, and cheaper, option if you can.
The quality of a laptop’s display has little to do with the resolution of the screen, however. There’s no guarantee of a laptop’s maximum brightness, colour accuracy or contrast ratio no matter how sharp it is. We measure all these when testing each laptop because a dim, muddy or washed-out display can ruin a great product.
How many ports should a laptop have?
In addition to a power socket and headphone jack, most new laptops will come with at least one USB-C and a couple of USB-A ports. When it comes to connections, the general rule of thumb is the more the merrier.
It’s worth paying attention to the type of USB-C ports you’re getting, however; although they might look the same, they often have different capabilities from machine to machine. For the fastest transfer speeds, look for Thunderbolt 3 USB-C ports; USB-C isn’t as quick.
And don’t assume every USB-C port on a laptop can carry video, power and data. Although the standard allows for this, manufacturers sometimes limit what each port can do.
It’s extremely useful to have a full-sized HDMI connector for hooking up the laptop to additional monitors, too, although these aren’t particularly common on slimmer laptops. And an SD card reader doesn’t hurt, either – an addition that’s sorely lacking on Apple’s laptops these days.
How we test laptops
The writers and editors at Expert Reviews have decades of experience reviewing laptops but we still put every laptop through a battery of demanding tests. That way we can be sure we’re being as objective as possible in our assessment of each laptop that is sent in for review.
We run our own in-house benchmarking software along with third-party applications and games benchmarks to assess overall performance, mixing synthetic and real-world tests to ensure we give a balanced view. We also test the brightness, contrast and colour accuracy of the screen using the DisplayCAL software and an X-Rite colorimeter.
We test battery life by timing how long it takes to drain the battery from 100% to shut down, playing a video on loop. And, of course, no laptop review would be complete without actually using it for at least part of our working day – to write the review itself, watch video, carry out video calls and more.
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The best laptops you can buy in 2023
1. Asus Zenbook 14X OLED: Best laptop overall
Price when reviewed: £1,499 | Check price at Asus
The Asus Zenbook 14X OLED is a fantastic ultraportable laptop. It’s powerful – available with 13th Gen H-series CPUs and a discrete GPU – but it also has among the best displays we’ve seen on any laptop: a 120Hz, 14.5in AMOLED touchscreen that’s bright and superbly colour accurate. This laptop is lightweight and compact, too, and it look utterly gorgeous, especially in its beige “plasma ceramic” finish. At today’s prices, this laptop is also one of the finest bargains around, meaning it’s currently our favourite laptop.
Read our full Asus Zenbook 14X OLED review for more details
Key specs – Display size: 14.5in; Resolution: 2,880 x 1,800; Type: OLED; CPU: Intel Core i7-13700H; Graphics: Intel Iris Xe integrated graphics; RAM: 16GB; Storage: 1TB; Dimensions: 322 x 226 x 16.9mm (WDH); Weight: 1.56kg
2. 13.6-inch Apple MacBook Air (M2): Best 13-14in laptop
Price when reviewed: £1,119 | Check price at John Lewis
We loved the M1 MacBook Air but the second-generation M2 model is even better. With an entirely new chassis design that moves away from the classic wedge shape of older models, it’s even prettier than before. The display is larger, too, with a 13.6in, 16:10 aspect ratio screen and the webcam – at long last – is of higher quality now, moving to 1080p resolution from the rather grainy and soft 720p camera in the M1.
What really sets this latest MacBook Air apart, however, is its M2 processor. Not only is this much faster than before it’s also more efficient and that means superior battery life. The MacBook Air (M2) lasted a whopping 17 hours in our video playback test, which – in the words of our reviewer – “puts most Windows laptops to the sword”.
The only caveat is that it’s more expensive than its predecessor, which might put some people off. Otherwise, though, it’s a joy to use and quite clearly the best laptop in its class.
Read our full Apple MacBook Air (M2) review for more details
Key specs – Display size: 13.6in; Resolution: 2,560 x 1,664; Type: IPS; CPU: Apple M2; Graphics: Apple M2; RAM: 8-24GB; Storage: 256GB-2TB; Dimensions: 304 x 215 x 11.3mm (WDH); Weight: 1.24kg
3. Acer Chromebook Spin 714: Best budget laptop
Price when reviewed: £699 | Check price at Amazon
With Chromebooks now featuring modern and powerful CPUs, decent amounts of local storage and the capacity to run Linux as well as Android apps, they are much more than just thin-client terminals to access the web and your Gmail account. Among all the new Chromebook Plus and Gaming Chromebook models the £699 (often on sale for £100 less) Acer Spin 714 stands out as the most versatile, stylish and competent.
Built around a decent 14-in 1,920 x 1,200 IPS 16:10 touchscreen, a 13th generation Intel Core i3-1315U CPU with 8GB of RAM, and 256GB of storage, the Spin 714 isn’t burdened with any of the dated or cheap design that often ruins the user experience in laptops in this price bracket. Beyond the quality basics, you also get a good backlit keyboard, decent loudspeakers and a convertible form factor that lets you fold it into a (rather fat) tablet or tent it on your desk. There’s even a bundled stylus.
The 13th Gen Intel Core i3 processor lacks the performance of its Core i5 and Core i7 brethren but, thanks to two of its six cores being “performance” cores, it has enough grunt to run Linux apps like Gimp and Handbrake at a reasonable clip. And, being a Chromebook, battery life is very impressive, with the Spin 714 running for 13hrs 20mins in our standard video rundown test. For the money, it’s an impressively versatile and high-quality laptop.
Read our full Acer Chromebook Spin 714 review for more details
Key specs – Display size: 13.5in; Resolution: 2,256 x 1,504; Panel type: IPS touchscreen; CPU: Intel Core i3-1315U; Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics (integrated); RAM: 8GB; Storage: 256GB SSD; Dimensions: 312 x 224 x 18mm (WDH)
3. Asus Vivobook S15 OLED: Best 15in laptop
Price when reviewed: £1,299 | Check price at Amazon
Traditionally, OLED screen laptops have been either small or expensive or both, which is a shame because if you plan on using your laptop to watch videos or want to look at HDR content, OLED really is the best choice. Asus has come to the rescue with the Vivobook S15, which is a solid multipurpose laptop with a good OLED screen and a price tag that’s very reasonable indeed.
The screen might be an old-school 15.6in Full HD 60Hz affair but it can generate some serious levels of brightness (630cd/m2 in HDR), and the colour reproduction is excellent at 102.2% of DCI-P3. That combines to earn the Vivobook S15 a VESA DisplayHDR True Black 600 certificate. Add a very good Harmon Kardon-tuned speaker system into the mix, and you have a media machine par excellence.
Performance is strong, too, thanks to a 14-core Core i7-13700H CPU with 16GB of DDR5 RAM. The 35W Intel Arc 350M GPU won’t let you play Returnal (we tried) but it does mean that the Vivobook S15 has an edge over machines depending on Intel’s integrated GPU for graphics processing. Battery life is solid at 10hrs 40mins, the keyboard is quiet, pleasant to use and backlit, and the 1080p webcam is well above average. As a general-purpose laptop for the price, nothing comes close.
Read our full Asus Vivobook S15 review for more details
Key specs – Display size: 15.6in; Resolution: 1,920 x 1,080; Panel type: OLED; CPU: Intel Core i7-13700H; Graphics: Intel Arc 350M; RAM: 16GB; Storage: 1TB SSD; Dimensions: 356 x 229 x 18mm (WDH)
4. Acer Swift Go 14: Best value laptop
Price when reviewed: £700 | Check price at Currys
The Acer Swift Go range packs an impressive amount in for less than £1,000. The base machine costs a mere £750 and comes with an AMD Ryzen 5 7530U CPU and a Full HD IPS display. We loved the model with the OLED screen and that’s the one to choose if you can find it. Alas, availability has been scarce.
It’s still a great laptop, even without the OLED display, though. Build is solid, there’s a great range of ports and sockets and the range of specifications available is consistently excellent value for money. Our pick is the model with the Intel Core i7-13700H CPU, 16GB of RAM and 512GB SSD, which goes for £899. With a Full HD touchscreen, it’s simply great value for money.
Read our full Acer Swift Go 14 review for more details
Key specs – Display size: 14in; Display resolution: 1,920 x 1,080 (touchscreen); Panel type: OLED; CPU: Intel Core i7-13700H; Graphics: Intel Iris Xe (integrated); RAM: 16GB; Storage: 512GB SSD; Dimensions: 313 x 14.9 x 218mm (WDH); Weight: 1.3kg
5. Asus ROG Strix Scar 16 (2023): Best gaming laptop
Price when reviewed: £3,400 | Check price at John Lewis
The Asus ROG Strix Scar 16 may be expensive but it is absolutely stacked with high-end components that deliver the very best gaming performance.
Inside the laptop we reviewed was a 24-core Intel Core i9-13980HX processor, paired with an Nvidia GeForce RTX 4080 GPU, 32GB of RAM and a huge 2TB of SSD storage, all packaged in a chassis that superbly stylish – if you like RGB lights, that is.
The star of this particular show is the Strix Scar’s mini LED Nebula HDR screen, which has 1,024 individual lighting zones, an incredibly smooth refresh rate of 240Hz and delivers absolutely incredible gaming performance, especially when it comes to brightness and HDR capability. None of the current alternatives is as well-balanced or as fast as this.
Read our full Asus ROG Strix Scar 16 review for more details
Key specs – Display size: 16in; Resolution: 2,560 x 1,600; Type: Mini-LED; CPU: Intel Core i9-13980HX; Graphics: Nvidia GeForce RTX 4080; RAM: 32GB; Storage: 2TB SSD; Dimensions: 395 x 282 x 234mm (WDH); Weight: 2.9kg
6. Huawei MateBook 16s: Best 16in laptop
Price when reviewed: £1,100 | Check price at Huawei
Huawei’s 2023 refresh of the MateBook 16s delivers 13th Gen Intel Core i9 power and now, a few months after release, a significant price drop compared to the 2022 model. Performance from the new 14-core 5.4GHz Intel Core i9-13900H chip is impressive, with the MateBook 16s scoring a whopping 406 in our 4K multimedia benchmark test. And all for just £1,099, including 16GB of RAM and a 1TB SSD.
The most obvious star of the show is the 3:2 ratio 2,520 x 1,680 189ppi touch-enabled IPS display. It’s bright, sharp, vivid and colour-accurate, –everything a good laptop display should be. It only refreshes at 60Hz, which is a bit of a shame, but the size and quality makes it ideal for both creative and office work and watching video. The speaker system is superb; one of the very best fitted to any laptop we’ve tested.
The high-quality 1080p webcam and microphone array come with a wide range of clever features that are grouped together under Huawei’s Smart Conference banner, making the MateBook 16s a go-to option for remote workers. Add an excellent keyboard, Thunderbolt 4 and 6GHz Wi-Fi 6E connectivity, plus strong battery life into the mix (12hrs 30mins in our testing), and there’s an awful lot to like about the MateBook 16s. At 2kg, it is a little on the heavy side, though.
Key specs – Processor: 14-core Intel Core-i7 13900H; Display size: 16in; RAM: 16GB; Display resolution: 2,520 x 1,680; GPU: Intel Iris Xe; Refresh rate: 60Hz; Storage: 1TB SSD; Weight: 2kg
7. Asus ROG Zephyrus M16 (2023): Best laptop for power users
Price when reviewed: £4,099 (GU604VY-NM001W) | Check price at Asus
Describing the Asus ROG Zephyrus M16 runs the risk of running out of superlatives. With an Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090 GPU, Intel Core i9-13900H CPU and 2TB of fast storage inside, it’s arguably the most powerful laptop on the market and is capable of epic feats of performance. The SPECviewperf 3dsmax 3D modelling benchmark test ran at 195fps at 1080p, a feat only Alienware’s truly monstrous m18 can (almost) match.
The 16in, 2,560 x 1,600 Nebula HDR display has a Mini-LED backlight that can top 1,000cd/m2 in HDR playback, and there’s colour aplenty with 97.2% coverage of the DCI-P3 colour gamut. Measured against the sRGB profile, the average Delta E colour accuracy came in at exactly 1, while versus DCI-P3, it landed at 1.3, both of which are excellent scores. Compared to the ROG Strix Scar 16, the M16 looks more grown-up and has a far superior 1080p webcam with facial recognition security.
At launch, the last superlative has to be reserved for price: £4,099 is a heck of a price for a laptop, no matter how good, but at the time of writing, you can pick it up for a LOT less than that. Only battery life lets it down, the M16 spluttering and dying after just a little longer than five hours in our video rundown test.
Read our full Asus ROG Zephyrus M16 (2023) review for more details
Key specs – Screen size: 16in; Screen type: Mini-LED; Processor: Intel Core i9-13900H; RAM: 8GB or 16GB; Display resolution: 2,560 x 1,600; GPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090; Refresh rate: 240Hz; Storage: 2TB SSD; Dimensions: 355 x 246 x 23mm; Weight: 2.4kg
8. Asus TUF A16 Advantage Edition: Best laptop for gaming and work
Price when reviewed: £1,399 | Check price at Asus
If you see the words Advantage Edition on a laptop, it means you’re getting a machine with an AMD CPU and an AMD GPU. AMD reckons this delivers a level of integration you don’t get from attaching an Intel and an Nvidia GPU to the motherboard and hoping for the best. AMD Smart Access Memory is one of the headline features of this integration, allowing the CPU to access the video RAM when needed to aid performance.
The end result in the Asus TUF A16 is a nicely balanced package with strong gaming performance from the 95W RX 7600S GPU, especially in titles that support AMD’s new FSR3 upscaling technology. The 16in QHD+ display is impressive, with excellent motion handling and plenty of colour, and the speaker system isn’t half bad, either, pumping out a balanced and pleasant sound.
The TUF A16 also offers good battery life. It lasted 8hrs 30mins in our tests. It gives you the option to add a second SSD and more RAM post-purchase, and its MIL-STD-810H-rated, so it should shrug off the odd knock or drop. The keyboard is typical Asus TUF, which means it’s very good, and the whole package doesn’t look overly “gamey”, making it perfect for serious work and serious play.
Key specs – Processor: AMD Ryzen 9 7940HS; GPU: AMD RadeonRX 7600S; RAM: 16GB; Storage: 1TB SSD; Display resolution: 2,560 x 1,600; Display size: 16in; Refresh rate: 240Hz; Weight: 2.2kg
9. Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 (2022): Best 2-in-1 laptop
Price when reviewed: £1,441 | Check price at Dell
If you want a very light and slim Windows tablet, the 2-in-1 version of Dell’s XPS 13 is the one to go for. It weighs a mere 736g and is a piffling 7.4mm thick. Performance is brisk thanks to a choice of Intel Core i5-1230U or Core i7-1250U processors while the 13in 2,880 x 1,920 touchscreen is impressively bright, maxing out at 462cd/m2, and colourful with 99.5% of the sRGB gamut covered. A Gorilla Glass Victus covering should keep it scratch-free.
The Dell XPS 13 is very good value, too. At the time of writing, prices start from £1,279 thanks to a £320 discount on one of the Core i7 models, but the Core i5 model has a regular RRP of £1,399 and comes with an excellent folio keyboard, which has Dell’s “zero lattice” layout and a blacklight. Battery life isn’t bad for such a thin Windows device, with the 49.3Wh pack lasting almost eight hours.
A superb 1080p webcam, a surprisingly competent 2160p primary camera, two Thunderbolt 4 ports, and 6GHz Wi-Fi 6E round out this impressive little package. The only downside is the lack of a 3.5mm audio jack, but since most of us own Bluetooth earphones these days, that’s arguably not an issue.
Read our full Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 review for more details
Key specs – Processor: AMD Ryzen 7 6800U; GPU: AMD Radeon 600M; RAM: 16GB; Storage: 1TB SSD; Display resolution: 3,840 x 2,400; Display size: 16in; Refresh rate: 60Hz; Weight: 1.17kg