Shopping for the best laptop for you? There are lots of options and plenty of things to consider: are you best matched with MacOS or Windows, or would a Chromebook suit your needs?
Not to mention price, of course, which is why we've broken our 10 best laptops guide down to address a variety of budgets, whether you're seeking a premium style machine, a budget workhorse, or a gaming laptop with added grunt (and, of course, cost).
If you already know what brand you prefer, or if you have specific requirements you’re after, then you may find some of our specific guides more useful, such as our in-depth guide to the best Dell laptops, the best MacBooks for Apple fans, and another for the best Chromebook. We also have a guide to the best gaming laptops, a guide to the best lightweight laptops, and the best 2-in-1 laptops.
Here are our top laptop picks, followed by the best of the rest.
The best laptop for most people is the Apple MacBook Air (M1, 2020). Whether for work or play, Apple's M1-powered machine is a near-perfect blend of size, power and price.
The best premium laptop is the Dell XPS 13 OLED. Want a premium design and sumptuous screen? You'd be hard-pressed to better this Windows machine, which looks stunning and performs just as impressively.
The best budget laptop is the Acer Swift 3. If your budget doesn't stretch quite as far then Acer always delivers the goods when it comes to affordability, delivering reliability and longevity.
The best laptops you can buy 2022
Think thin and light laptops have to sacrifice power? Not any more. Or that big performance means smaller battery life? Nope. Or that getting all of these things in one machine would be expensive? Wrong again. This is the best of all worlds.
It's all thanks to the M1 processor – the first Apple-made silicon for Macs. It's an eight-core chip that's as powerful as what you find in the higher-end MacBook Pros, but uses a fraction of the power. Combined with the speediest storage in the business, this laptop is fast. But it also runs cool enough that it doesn't need any fans at all, so it's silent.
It's a shame that it only has two USB-C ports (one of which must also must be used for power), so that means you'll probably need adapters. There can also be some issues with software compatibility owed to the new processor, but this tends to only be with really niche apps.
Sound like the go-to MacOS laptop for you? Read more about why it's an ideal match for most people in our M1 2020 Apple MacBook Air review.
The Dell XPS 13 series has consistently wowed us here at T3 and shows no signs of letting up in this OLED-screen guise. It's powerful, supremely well built, and compact thanks to its 13.4-inch display – essentially just about everything you could possibly want in your search for the best laptop.
From exterior beauty to interior elegance – there's an 11th Gen Intel processor and up to 16GB of RAM – this portable powerhouse will be ideal for Windows users who want optimum screen quality. There's 4K resolution and that OLED panel promises inky blacks and perfect whites.
You can see how the Dell XPS 13 shapes up against our top pick in our Dell XPS 13 (2020) vs Apple MacBook Air (M1, 2020) showdown. Or read our full Dell XPS 13 review to get the full info about this super laptop.
This 14-inch compact star really shines if you're looking for an affordable Windows machine that still delivers ample oomph (there are plenty of configurations available to choose from).
Its lightweight design isn't as premium as some other laptops out there, but that's the compromise for bagging a more affordable alternative.
Okay, so the battery life isn't fantastic, but it should still get you through the working day quite comfortably. And given the pedigree of previous Acer machines we've tested, we'd wager that the Swift 3 will last for years.
Read our full Acer Swift 3 review to see why it's the best of the budget laptops
Best laptops 2022: The best of the rest
Apple has updated its top-tier 14-inch MacBook Pro laptop with its new M1 Pro and M1 Max processors. The result? Top-level performance yet hugely impressive battery life. If you want the very best laptop that Apple has to offer and the Air won't cut it then this is the powerhouse you want.
Apple has even got all of the little touches right this time around, from the 1080p webcam upgrade to the removal of the Touch Bar (which never seemed like a well-thought-through idea). It's only really the high prices – especially as you start to ramp up the RAM and the SSD storage – that counts as an obvious downside here.
We reviewed both the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro laptops, so take a look at T3's full article to see which one might be best suited for your needs.
As the name suggests, the Surface Laptop 4 is the fourth incarnation of this particular laptop, so Microsoft has had plenty of opportunity to get it right – and we think it's a real success story.
From the quality of the screen to the battery life, the Surface Laptop 4 gets plenty right. It's very configurable in terms of power, too, with Intel and AMD CPUs available, together with a wide-ranging choice of RAM and storage options. That means you can bend it to fit your budget best as possible.
Perhaps above all else, though, it's the style of this laptop that really appeals. We think the finish is arguably better-looking than a MacBook Air, making this a contender for the Windows crown.
Read our full Microsoft Laptop 4 review to find out the fulls highs and lows about this Windows machine
The HP Spectre X360's big point of difference is the presence of its 2-in-1 style, meaning the hinge can rotate through a full circle for more versatile use-case scenarios.
In addition to that funky design, the keyboard is superb, the screen is bright and clear, and it’s a genuinely good-looking machine with great ergonomics and strong security to boot. The only real criticism we can think of is that the fans can get a bit noisy when you drive it hard.
But that noise is no surprise: although this isn’t a gaming laptop, it’s perfectly powerful for other kinds of work. All while being capable of 13 hours from a single charge. Impressive.
Want to know more? Read our full HP Spectre X360 review for the lowdown
There are 2-in-1s and then there are Microsoft 2-in-1s. The long-established Surface series has evolved into the Laptop Studio, which is ideal for creators given the number of ways in which you can manipulate the screen for your advantage.
However, it's a rather pricey bit of kit, and you'll need to fork out extra in order to buy the stylus Surface Pen, too, further adding to the cost.
But we think it'll be worth every penny for creators, as this unique fold-over design is unlike anything else you'll find on the market. It's practical too.
Want to know more about the best laptop for creators? Read our full Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio review
We called Lenovo's IdeaPad Duet 5 Chromebook "a vision of beauty" in our review, which is high praise indeed for a Chromebook. But this is no ordinary Chrome OS laptop, really, as its 2-in-1 construction and super OLED screen set it apart from the typically cheap and cheerful options elsewhere on the market.
Chrome OS won't suit all, though, as it's more based around Google apps and Android apps, but that's fine for lightweight working, so idea for students and those who need to go big on word processing, browsing and streaming. It'll do all this no problems and last an age whilst doing so too.
Is Chrome OS and a Chromebook the best laptop pick for you? Read our full Lenovo IdeaPad Duet 5 Chromebook review to find out more
The Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 does what a lot of laptops strive to but can't pull off – it delivers a portable and powerful system that also has some genuine gaming chops. Thanks to its Nvidia RTX 2060 graphics card this machine can play the latest AAA games with state-of-the-art special effects like real-time ray tracing activated.
It looks professional rather than 'gamery' from the outside, too, making it useable in a business setting, meaning it's just as at home in the office as it is at the heart of a battle station.
The only downside to this system is that it does not come with a built-in webcam, so streamers and those who need to partake in office meetings will need to invest in a separate one.
Read our full Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 review to see why it ticks basically every box you could want from a compact gaming laptop
Well, well, where to begin with this beast? Because that's what Razer's 17-inch laptop is: an absolute powerhouse, with stacks of power to handle top-tier gaming and present it back to you on its massive 17.3-inch screen (resolution options range from Full HD to Ultra HD, it depends how rich you're feeling).
All that adds up to what we called "simply one of the best performing gaming laptops around" in our review. Such premium quality and scale doesn't come cheap though, so while it's very much in our top 10 best laptops, this Razer isn't going to be for the masses.
Read our full Razer Blade 17 review to see why this gaming laptop is such a superstar
How to choose the best laptop for you
The laptop market continues to evolve, with new components and price pressure from low-end Chromebooks meaning you can now get more bang for your buck than ever before: it really is a great time to be choosing a laptop. If you're not familiar with the jargon you're coming across, we'd recommend first heading to our laptop terms and specs explainer first.
Picking the best laptop for 2022 for you is all about compromise. If you want something as powerful as possible, then it's going to be bigger and less easy to lug around on your travels. If you want something slim and ultra-light, then you simply can't pack in as many components.
Another important consideration is which operating system you're going to go with: you may already have a favourite, but Windows is best for gaming, MacOS is great for creatives, while Chrome OS is brilliant as a lightweight computing platform. Look at the strengths and weaknesses of each before committing.
Make sure you've weighed up exactly what you need to do with your laptop and the features that it needs to have before parting with any cash – otherwise you could be looking for an upgrade sooner rather than later.
Of course price is going to play a big part in your decision-making as well, and with that in mind we've included links to all the latest and greatest deals on the web for easy reference.
Types of laptops explained
General purpose laptops: These laptops come in a variety of types, from the best cheap laptops to serious, silicon-stuffed systems that deliver massive power and performance. These sorts of systems work well if you're just looking for a solid all-round system that is geared mostly toward work and productivity.
Gaming laptops: The best gaming laptops are ideal for serious gamers, as they come with dedicated graphics cards. These dedicated GPUs mean that you can play video games at higher resolutions and higher framerates, as well as enjoy advanced graphical effects like real time ray tracing. They tend have a higher entry price than general purpose laptops.
Ultraportable laptops: Ultrabooks and the best lightweight laptops are specialists at portability, and often come with thinner and lighter designs that general purpose or gaming laptops. These systems are a good choice for working professionals who need to carry their laptop around with them and travel frequently. Specs vary, but due to the lithe designs these laptops tend to retail for more than general purpose laptops.
Hybrid laptops: The best 2-in-1 laptops on the market offer two-fold functionality, capable of being used both as a laptop and a tablet. This obviously makes them very versatile and can also be a great way to save money, as you can buy one product instead of two. Some 2-in-1 laptops have fixed screens that can be rotated all the way round on 360-degree hinges, while others have screens that actually detach from their keyboard base.
Chromebooks: If you find yourself shopping on a budget for a new system then scoping out the best Chromebooks is a smart call. That's because these systems are cheap to buy and typically highly portable. Where they differ to other laptops is that they run Google's Chrome OS, which is designed primarily for use while connected to the internet. Chrome OS isn't as feature-packed as Windows or macOS, but it is streamlines and offers excellent access to all of Google's G-Suite apps such as Gmail, Gdocs and Google Calendar.
Student laptops: As you would expect, the best student laptops tend to ring in cheaper than other specialist laptops, and there is often crossover to Chromebooks due to this. Student laptops tend to offer small to medium-sized laptop screens and mid-tier specifications, although more premium recommendations can stretch into Apple MacBook Air territory. These laptops aren't the most powerful on the market, but they're designed to do the basics well and not cost too much, while also remaining portable.