Top five laptops for 2021
We all use our laptops in a variety of different ways, whether it's to compose complicated spreadsheets, catch up on the latest blockbuster via a streaming service, or simply follow friends on Facebook.
The models below are the ones we think are some of the best laptops to pick up right now This is the first section of our four-page guide to the you can buy, including the the for all budgets, the and the to choose for your given task. See our cheap laptop guide for and our picks for the best laptops for students. Use the navigation buttons at the top or bottom of this page to find the right guide for you.
On this page we've also picked out some of the worst laptops we've tested so you can see what you should be avoiding. Nobody should have to put up with sluggish processors, tinny speakers and dull screens.
These are our experts' pick of the top five laptops right now. We have some high scorers but also a couple of examples of fantastic value that show you don't need to spend a huge amount of money to get something good.
Table updated December 2020
Laptops to avoid
Cheap but not cheerful, and packed with slow processors, limited Ram, unpleasant keyboards and screens that are hard to make out, these are laptops to avoid.
Five tips for picking a laptop
Essentially the brains of the machine, the processor is instrumental in making sure your laptop runs smoothly and quickly. Pick a slow one, and you'll be left drumming your fingers as you wait for your program to load. The most common type is Intel's Core i3, i5, and i7 range, with AMD's equivalent being Ryzen 3, 5 and 7. The Core i3 / Ryzen 3 will fit the bill for basic tasks like word processing and web browsing, but if you're looking to do anything more intensive, such as graphics editing or playing games, you'll need a beefier processor.
You'll also see the likes of Celeron and Pentium, too - these vary wildly in quality so check our reviews to see how they fare.
Ram is the memory of the laptop, and the more of it there is, the snappier it will be. 4GB is the minimum we'd recommend nowadays, but 8GB is a better bet. It's also worth checking how many Ram slots the laptop has, as it may be possible to add more Ram at a later date to give a flagging laptop a second wind.
Battery life can make or break a laptop. If a machine is packed with the latest specs, but only lasts a couple of hours untethered from the plug socket, it's going to be something of a letdown. Some of the models we've tested can last up to a whopping fifteen hours between charges, but realistically, seven upwards is more than reasonable to look for.
A laptop screen is a simple thing to overlook, but it's an important consideration. The very best are bright, crisp and clear. The worst are dulled and lacking in colour. Pick one of these, and you'll be peering into the virtual world through a dirty window. Our tests break down how good screens are in different conditions.
How much you can store on your laptop will depend on the size of its drive. Around 1TB should be more than enough for most, but if you start looking at solid state drives (SSD), you'll notice that these come in much smaller configurations than traditional hard drives. The upshot is that they are much faster to access information, meaning that your laptop will start faster and load quicker. If speed is key, go with an SSD. If sheer space is more important, opt for a hard drive.