In Which’s latest laptop tests, we’ve reviewed everything from a wallet-pleasing £250 model to a £950 Apple MacBook Air 13-inch. But, is it worth spending close to a grand on a laptop when there are such cheap alternatives around?
How much money do you really need to spend to bag a decent laptop? Our tests have found that price isn’t everything, with some cheap models outperforming others that cost twice as much. In our latest results, we’ve also found a Don’t Buy laptop that isn’t worth its asking price, as well as excellent Best Buys that deserve serious consideration.
Laptop reviews – Read our reviews of the latest laptops
Apple MacBook Air 13-inch – £950
The 2017 version of the Apple MacBook Air might not be cheap, but you’re getting more for your money than ever before with this model, thanks to a specs bump at no extra cost compared to the 2016 version. It follows Apple’s modus operandi for 2017, issuing small improvements to its core range. In this case, it’s a slightly faster processor, which is good news for anyone who held off purchasing last year’s model.
The 128GB SSD means that you’ll get faster boot times and your programs will load quickly, but it’s not much space for all your documents, compared to a traditional laptop that will usually come with a (cheaper) standard hard drive. Traditional hard drives won’t start as quickly, but they tend to have at least three times as much storage space.
To find out how the latest MacBook did in our tests, check out our full review of the Apple MacBook Air 13-inch (2017)
Asus ZenBook Flip UX360 – £650
Is it a laptop? Is it a tablet? Well, actually, it’s both. The ZenBook Flip, as the name suggests, lets you rotate its touchscreen 180-degrees to serve as a tablet instead of a laptop. With the latest generation i5 Intel processor, coupled with a 256GB SSD, it’s a nippy machine.
When it comes to laptop/tablet hybrids, there’s usually a sense of compromise. But, while there’s no doubt that the ZenBook Flip is a little chunkier than your average iPad in tablet mode, we found it actually managed to pull off both functions fairly well.
Is the ZenBook Flip the ultimate combination of tablet and laptop? Find out in our full review of the Asus ZenBook Flip UX360
HP Notebook 14 – £250
No, that’s not a typo, this 14-inch laptop really is £250. It’s an undeniably small asking price, but the specs reflect this, with a basic AMD E2-7110 processor and 4GB of Ram. At least the 1TB hard drive leaves you with plenty of space. While it may not be a powerhouse, there’s no reason why a laptop with these specs couldn’t be a competent everyday machine for those looking to do light tasks.
You’ll need to read our review to discover how this model did in our tests, but don’t be put off by cheaper laptops. More expensive models are packed with the latest bells and whistles, but many of us will never realise the full potential of a top-of-the range machine.
Is this one of the budget models you should be looking out for? Find out in our full review of the HP Notebook 14.
Asus ZenBook UX530 – £1,000
The most expensive laptop on test this month, the Asus ZenBook UX530 is aimed at the more serious enthusiast, packing in a super-speedy latest generation i7 Intel processor, 8GB of Ram and an NVIDIA GeForce 940MX graphics card. All this means that it would be rather wasted on a life of making Facebook updates and sending emails (although it would be able to do so at a blistering pace).
The specs mean that it could be a good choice for anyone looking to do some serious office work, aided by a decent battery life that means you can happily spend hours untethered from the plug socket without concern.
In terms of raw tech specs, this Asus seems just the ticket, but there’s so much more to a laptop than what’s under the hood, as our tests regularly reveal. How easy it is to use, how comfortable to type on, the visibility of the screen and the clarity of the audio are all important factors, and naturally, all are included in our lab tests.
To find out how this laptop did in all these areas, and more, read our full review of the Asus ZenBook UX530.